Treading Water


Let me tell you about this awesome guitarist I’ve been listening to lately. Maybe you’ve heard of him? His name is Jason Ahlbrandt. Of course you’ve heard of him! He’s my best friend.


You should hear that guitar resonate through our open home with the vaulted ceilings! It fills every pocket and corner of the house. About a year ago Jason released an instrumental album called Acoustic Lullabies. (It’s available on iTunes and lots of other online retailers, or on his website if you want a physical CD with lovely album art by yours truly…go get you one!)

Now that we’re in our new house, Jason has been spending a lot of time in his studio and I hear rumors of a second instrumental album in the works. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying these videos he’s been putting on YouTube. His newest one is an original called “Treading Water.” Please enjoy:

There are a few more goodies here on Jason’s YouTube page.

ReAbide New Photos


Remember that handsome Bassett dresser that we picked up a few weeks ago? Jason did an amazing job cleaning it up and restoring the top surface. It looks so gorgeous (and it’s also really functional storage for our master bedroom) so we decided not to put it up for sale on ReAbide for now. We’ll continue looking for more dressers because I know there is a demand… but for now, it’s ours.

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I’m working my way through rephotographing many of our items that were quickly and/or poorly documented during the time we were living in transition. Here are some new photos I added to yesterday:

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Tinkle Tinkle…


Guess who peed in the potty yesterday?!


Ali has been really curious about the whole bathroom process so we’ve been explaining to her how it works for the past couple of months. She’s not quite 18 months old and we weren’t planning on even introducing the potty seat until then. Since Ali got an Amazon gift card for Christmas, I went ahead and ordered the Prince Lionheart WeePOD seat attachment I had researched. One day after she was watching me go, I said “when you get bigger you can go pee in the potty, too.” She immediately tried to climb onto the toilet and I realized she may be ready to try this sooner than we thought. So here we are, after about 10x of practice/pretending on the seat, yesterday she told Jason “poop” and wanted to get on the potty. He put her up there and what do you know? She passed some gas and then peed! I don’t think she’s physically ready to be fully potty trained just yet (to be able to know and communicate that she has to go, and to be able to hold it until she gets to the potty…) however, we’re excited that she’s so interested and determined that she’s going to go how we go.

January Spring


Almost every January here in Nashville, we get at least one weekend of warmer temperatures. It’s a nice break from our [relatively mild] winter weather. Jason and I call it January Spring. Last week, we had a whole week of 60-70 degrees (…40s are more typical in January). It was AMAZING!

One day I took Ali out to draw with chalk in the driveway, blow bubbles and swing in her swing.

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Another day Jason did some gardening while Ali played in the dirt. Saturday afternoon while Ali was napping Jason refinished a table while I gave our cocker spaniel Lucy a haircut and a bath outside (using our warm/cold water tap).

Oh, it was a glorious January Spring! Thank you, God!

Now we’re back to winter. I feel like I’m fueled up and ready to face another month or so of cold weather.

Phone Photo Friday


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Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!

Adoption News: The Adoption Tax Credit is now Permanent


Did you hear that the Adoption Tax Credit became a permanent part of the tax code on January 2? Up until now it’s been temporary and was set to expire in 2012.


(Disclaimer: I’m explaining this to the best of my knowledge. I might be mistaken about somethings. Check with a CPA before filing your taxes. Also, I’m not sure if this information has officially been released as documentation from the federal government for 2013 and beyond.) The Adoption Tax Credit is a non-refundable $10,000 (adjusted annually for inflation…estimated to be $12,077 for 2013) credit applied to the year the adoption is finalized. It’s non-refundable which means you won’t get back more money than your annual tax rate and you have to have documentation to prove all of your adoption related expenses.

Example 1: Adoption costs $18,000
Couple’s annual tax rate is $15,000
Maximum amount of the tax credit – $12,077 is subtracted from their tax rate
Taxes owed: $2,923

Because their tax rate and their adoption expenses are more than the maximum credit, they get the full amount of the tax credit

Example 2: Adoption costs $40,000
Couple’s annual tax rate is $8,000
The maximum amount credited for their adoption is $8000
Taxes owed: 0

Even though their adoption cost more than the maximum credit, they can only get credited up to what they owe in taxes that year.

Example 3: Adoption costs: $5,000
Couple’s annual tax rate is $12,000
The maximum amount credited for their adoption is $5,000
Taxes owed: $7,000

Because their tax rate is higher than the cost of the adoption and the adoption is less than the maximum credit, they get all of their adoption expenses credited.

These numbers are all made up but I think it helps to see how it plays out with various scenarios. We fall into the third category. (Again, numbers made up for this example.) Ali’s adoption, finalized in 2012, cost less than the tax credit and is also less than our tax rate. It’ll still save us some money on our taxes this year which is nice.

Special needs (including some “hard to place”) adoptions are in a different class. They receive a refundable flat rate tax credit of some amount (I don’t know if it’s been released yet). That means families who adoption a special needs child get that amount of money back in the year of the finalization regardless of what the adoption cost and regardless of what their tax rate is. To that I say – Kudos. We need more people to adopt, ESPECIALLY special kids. And the financial and emotional strains on a family with a special needs child are typically much higher.

Photo above is from Alianna’s adoption day taken by Beth Rose Photography.

This is a good article and where I got most of my information.


This Age: 17 Months


The other day I was thinking about some things that are challenging about Ali’s age (17 months) and I was grateful that she will eventually mature and grow out of these.

Things I Will NOT Miss About this Age:

meal time messes and food throwing on the floor 

changing nasty, stinky diapers

testing every boundary we set

tangled car seat/crib hair

But it didn’t take long for me to start thinking about all of the sweet and fun things about this age, too. Starting with when I was folding laundry the other day.


Things I Will Miss About this Age:

tiny socks

neon, sparkly, colorful clothes

kisses with a “mwaw”

hugs with an “awe”

kisses without puckered lips

wonder and excitement about the simplest things

chubby little hands and feet

celebration when she says a word for the first time 

how she tries to imitate everything we do

pointing to what she wants and saying “yes” 

calling her sippy cup “this” 

the way she say “cacka” for cracker, “mo” for more, and “bow” for ball

how thrilled she is with her reflection (see below)

These were taken sequentially on self-portrait mode on my phone…

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The second list could easily go on and on. It’s nice to have a little perspective shift sometimes. 🙂 Even with the challenges, each age is more fun than the last.

Desk Calendar for 2013


My Pinterest BFF* (whether she knows it or not) and Instagram friend Jill Browning sent me this awesome retro 2013 desk calendar as a house warming gift. It’s made up of 12 printed 4×6 cards and a neat little clear case to display them. It’s sitting proudly on my desk:


Here are a few more pictures from her Etsy shop.




If you don’t have a 2013 calendar yet, go get you one!

*Do you have someone on your Pinterest feed who pins all the most amazing things? I feel like I could save myself a lot of time and just like and repin everything Jill pins. She’s a graphic designer, she’s a mom, she’s into mid-century modern style…she has great taste. Thanks again, Jill!

Art for Ali’s room


I don’t feel like I’m ready to do a “real” photo tour of any rooms in our new house until we have art hung. Is that weird? Ali’s room is the closest to finished. I hung a few more pictures the other day. We still need to get a curtain rod… then I’ll take better photos with my camera! Hahaha… for now, this is how it’s looking with phone photos:


She loves to look at herself in that full length mirror. She got the owl coat hooks as a housewarming gift from Aunt Jessica and the owl backpack for Christmas from Nana. The alphabet poster below is from Petite Collage. I won it from Design Mom years ago.


Ali loves monkeys and immediately said, “Ooh ooh ooh!” when she saw this French Paper poster that was a gift from my friend Renata. The needlepoint art was an adoption day gift from Nana. The polka dot blanket on her rocker is a gift from Ali’s great-aunt Janice.


The flower (below) and the A pillow (above) were adoption day gifts from my co-worker Dawne. The hand-painted burlap name banner is a gift from my high school youth group friend Emily. And you can’t really see it, but the quilt that she sleeps with in her crib was a gift from her great-aunt Linda. Wow! That’s a lot of thoughtful gifts!


Phone Photo Friday



Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!