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2017: Grow

02/14/2017

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I started out 2017 choosing Grow as my 2017 One Little Word as I was writing down some goals and dreams for the year. I want to grow as a wife, mother, friend, home educator, designer and I had some general ideas of how that might look. Four days into the new year I was laid off from my full time graphic design job, just a few weeks shy of a decade with the company. When I started out, I never expected to still be working there 10 years later. I had dreams of switching to all freelance but the safety net of a salary made it easier to stay, along with my bosses graciously allowing me to do most of my work from home. Ten years, three kids, five foster kids, three moves and the same faithful husband later; here I am. I’ve made the switch to all freelance graphic design work. I feel so…free! Occasionally scared. But mostly hopeful. I’m clinging to faith and trusting a good God who loves me and my family and will not forsake us. It’s pouring as I’m writing this and the Sara Groves’ song “Open My Hands” is playing in my head: I believe in a blessing I don’t understand/ I’ve seen rain fall on the wicked and the just/ Rain is no measure of His faithfulness/ He withholds no good thing from us/ No good thing, no good thing from us.


I haven’t blogged consistently in a while and I’m not sure if I will start back up now, but I wanted to write to update a few major life changes:

1. My freelance graphic design website is MartinaAhlbrandt.com and it’s freshly up and running with some portfolio images.

2. I’ve reopened my Etsy shop selling midcentury modern and vintage collectibles along with a few graphic design creations. It’s now ReAbide.Etsy.com.

3. I post frequently about my day-to-day with the kids, homeschooling, graphic design, vintage treasures, pretty pictures, etc. @mrsallbright on Instagram. A fraction of my photos there get pushed to my Facebook. I have a love-hate, mostly-hate, relationship with Facebook right now but I still love Instagram.

4. We’re still planning on building an investment property called Rosewood Heights House. It’s been a long time dream of ours and it’s slow going, but still going. I don’t have much to update currently while we’re waiting for a few essential pieces to fall into place. Follow @rosewoodheights on Instagram or Rosewood Heights House on Facebook to hear updates on our process.

5. Speaking of real estate, my husband Jason is rockstar. Literally, he’s a touring musician and recording artist, (currently working on his third album!) Also, he’s our rockstar real estate agent. When I lost my job/salary, he doubled down and has been working his tail off. I’m so proud of him, not just for how hard he works to serve his clients well and to provide for his family, but I really admire his integrity. There are some shady people running around in the real estate industry, who will tell people whatever they want to hear to get a listing or act like total jerks to other agents. Jason is perfect mix of hard working and highly motivated AND honest and moral. If you know of anyone moving to Nashville or within the area, we would be so honored if you would pass his name along. I’m his in-house assistant, designer and marketer.

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2015 – 5 Biggest Moments

12/31/2015

So much change has happened for our little family this year! Here is a recap of the top five most significant events of this year.

1. Isaiah’s birth. At the start of 2015, I was 23 weeks pregnant. We had just found out on Christmas that he was a he and were starting to prepare his place in our home. April 25 was a leisurely family Saturday, four days past my due date. Ali and I had a picnic lunch and went to the playground while Jason visited a friend. Then we all went window shopping and stopped by Chick Fil A to satisfy one of my cravings: frozen lemonade and waffle fries. We went back home, visited with some neighbors, and then went for a long, vigorous walk at Shelby Park. My labor started while we were there. We timed contractions while waiting to pick up a late dinner at Jet’s Pizza. After we ate and put Ali to bed we realized we needed to call the grandparents to come get her. After a sleepless night we were officially admitted to the hospital around 5:00 am on April 26. Isaiah was born at 8:07 pm. One of the most amazing moments of my life was when they placed him on my chest and I could finally look at the little face I had been imagining for many months. Jason and I cried as he stared back at my face like he had been wondering what I looked like, too. The next morning Ali met her baby brother and so maturely climbed up next to me in the bed and gently held him and touched his face. I’ve loved watching her blossom as a big sister. She is so kind and loving to him.

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2. Jason became a realtor. At the start of the year Jason was looking for ways to increase his income. He auditioned for a new touring gig with country artist Easton Corbin. When he initially didn’t get the job, he started classes to get his real estate license. Then he got a call back to become the acoustic guitarist for Easton. He managed to finish his online classes, much of it from his bunk in the tour bus while his bandmates partied around him. When he passed his licensing exams it was a cause for celebration!

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3. & 4. Jason quitting EC / Ali’s 4th birthday. Jason’s new tour schedule was rigorous. His income indeed increased and he had many amazing opportunities. Lifelong dreams were fulfilled. Huge crowds. Free gear. National television shows. But the time apart was hard on all of us, especially after Isaiah’s birth. Jason felt like he was missing out on so many of those first little milestones. And our sweet little Ali was starting to have a really hard time saying goodbye so frequently to her daddy. Home for a day and gone for four…home for 12 hours and gone for 6 days… It wasn’t working for us. When Jason made the decision to quit, it was a sigh of relief for all of us. It was a growing season and it was provision for a period when we really needed it. He came home from his last gig the day before Ali’s birthday which was a special gift for her. We spent her birthday all together as a family of four. She had a mermaid-themed pool party at my parents’ house. Perfectly appropriate for our water-loving girl. Jason returned to his previous touring gig with Guy Penrod (and a much lighter schedule) and hit the real estate market running. He had three closings in his first several months of working as a realtor.

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5. Pregnant again?! “Are you sure you’re not pregnant? Your belly looks…different,” Jason said. I think it’s just all those Nutter Butters I’ve been eating… Two days later, positive pregnancy test. We were surprised but not totally surprised because we weren’t preventing it and knew it was quite possible. It just happened a little faster than last time. But we’re all thrilled. Well, Isaiah has no clue what’s coming. But Ali is super excited and kisses my belly regularly. (She’s really hoping for a little sister this time.) I’m starting 2016 12 weeks pregnant with our third child. Foster parenting is currently on hold status, though we’re keeping our license open. We’re hoping to do some short term respite for other foster parents and we’re about to start mentoring new foster parents through a new program at DCS.

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Looking forward to in 2016: Family trip to Florida. Weekend getaway/”Babymoon” to San Francisco. Finding out Nutter Butter’s gender. Isaiah’s first birthday. Leaving my full time job after 9 years. Welcoming our new baby. Beginning homeschool kindergarten with Ali. Pursuing some big, exciting real estate ventures with Jason. It’s already fixin’ to be a great year!


Nesting

01/19/2015

I’m trying not to make all of my blog posts baby-related but I’m nesting so that’s where a lot of my creative energy is going these days. I’ve been doing more sewing; I’ll share more about that later. I got some new artwork for Baby Boy’s room. My favorite band, Needtobreathe, had an album out last year called Rivers in the Wasteland. It’s based on one of my favorite scriptures and the one I’m praying over this year, Isaiah 43:18-19. I looked for a poster based on their album cover art, which I also happen to love, and instead found this vinyl record.

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While perusing Target.com’s clearance the other day, I found these baby boy swimming trunks. Between an extra sale on clearance items and my REDcard’s 5% off and free shipping, these cost $2.59. I couldn’t resist. They seem gigantic for a newborn but maybe by the end of summer he’ll be ready to take some dips in my parents’ heated pool.

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I’ve really tried hard not to buy much for our son yet. We have a fair amount of baby supplies already and we got a lot of useful hand-me-downs from my sister (like that rainforest mobile attached to the crib above, play mats, a bumbo seat and a breast pump). One thing we’re lacking the most is clothing. I decided to pop into Goodwill the other day to look for some great deals. I walked away with 5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants for $10, all various sizes from 3m – 12m. This is the 7th child we’ve welcomed in our home but it’s the first time we’ve been able to plan ahead so far for a specific new addition. I love knowing that he’ll still be a part of our family when he’s 12 months old.

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Happy New Year!

01/02/2015

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I love New Years. Out with the old, in with the new. Christmas is packed up and stored away. I’m looking forward to so much in 2015, but most of all I’m excited for the birth of our son in April and settling in as a forever family of four. We don’t have a strict plan for the future of foster parenting and I know we’re not done forever, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we take most of 2015 off as we go through some significant transitions. I’m praying and believing for some big things this year and I’m excited to see what God is going to do.

Here’s a great song for the new year called “This Year” by JJ Heller:

The verse I’m praying for this year is Isaiah 43:18-19:

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

And the word I’m praying over this year is leap.

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I Think of Mary in Bethlehem

12/24/2014

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“The Last Christmas”

I feel your heart beating
Inside my own skin
And I think of Mary
In Bethlehem

That night in a stable
Our saviour was born
Yes, we have so much
To be thankful for

On the last Christmas
The last Christmas
The last Christmas
Without you

They’re choosing the colours
Preparing your room
For one day; Mid[spring]
The advent of you

Together we wait for
A heavenly gift
Is winter a wonder?
Enchanted that this is

The last Christmas
The last Christmas
The last Christmas
Without you

See the stars shining for above
Hear the singing
Praise to the Giver of Life and Love
Maker of Beautiful things

I feel your heart beating
Inside my own skin
And I think of Mary
In Bethlehem

When darkness was shattered
The dawn of God’s grace
And the journey’d begun
To the first Easter day

On this last Christmas
The last Christmas
The last Christmas
The very last Christmas

The last Christmas
The last Christmas
The last Christmas
Without you

(Sixpence None the Richer)

PS. Tomorrow we get a very special Christmas gift — we will find out if we’re welcoming a baby girl or a baby boy into our arms in April.

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Jason Ahlbrandt On Stage at the Ryman Auditorium

12/17/2014

My talented husband has had the opportunity to travel all over the world playing music—Iceland, Alaska, Amsterdam, Faroe Islands, more states than I can keep track of and many miles logging by tour bus and airplane. It’s a dream come true for him and nothing could make me happier as his wife than to see his purpose and destiny fulfilled as a professional guitarist, to see his passion satisfied by playing music every single day. I had a really special proud wife moment at the end of November when I got to see my best friend take the stage with his guitar at the famous Ryman Auditorium for Opry at the Ryman. For several years Jason has been Guy Penrod’s right-hand-man—literally at stage right most of the time, playing lead guitar—through many 100s of concerts. Several times a year I get to see a concert. This particular one was actually Jason’s third time on the Ryman stage but I missed the first two times and I was determined nothing would stand in my way this time. God sure has blessed us with amazing opportunities and friendships as we’ve pursued our dreams. Jason works so hard fine tuning his gifts and it’s a treat to see him play live. Such an honor to be in the audience that night.

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“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” & Christmas Classics

12/15/2014

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I hope you’ve seen this video of Jason playing the most beautiful acoustic guitar rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen that has ever been played.

I wanted to let you know he’s also giving away copies of the whole amazing album on his Facebook page this month. All you have to do is share the video and let him know you did. He runs a new contest each week so if this week’s hasn’t started yet, check back in a day or two.

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And if you don’t win but would like to buy one, you can do so through his website JasonAhlbrandt.com. We offer free shipping. They’re the same price in person and at his shows. He’s on iTunes, Spotify and other online/digital music retailers, too.

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