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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Isaiah Jason – 1.5 Years Old

11/30/2016

Last month Isaiah turned one-and-a-half. Our book-loving, vacuum-enthusiast, snuggle bug is such a special part of our family. In July, at 14 months old, he became a big brother. He’s very sweet and gentle with his baby sister. He gives JoJo soft kisses and pats her head. He likes to bring her pacifier to her, push her swing, turn on her bouncy seat music and carefully wipe drool off her chin. Ali is his best friend. He loves to follow her around and do whatever she’s doing. She plays really well with him most of the time. I’m glad our three kids have each other. Zay is still a Mama’s boy, which I love…except when he’s clinging to my legs while I’m trying to cook or walk. He loves his Daddy, too. He loves to watch Daddy work on projects and try to help or imitate him. His favorite show is Chuggington (about trains) and he also loves big trucks, sirens, dogs and dinosaurs. Zay is easy-going, affectionate, obedient, helpful and gentle most of the time. He has his toddler moments of frustration, of course, but overall he’s a very pleasant little guy. Well, big little guy. He’s still at the very top of the percentile charts for height. He’s wearing 2T clothes and size 7 shoes at 19 months.

Zay is talking a ton. He will repeat almost any word and even has some small sentences like, “A bite, please?” and “I love you.” He LOVES food. Especially popcorn and yogurt (which he still calls yo-yo). If he eats something he likes he nods and says “Yeah.” And then points and says, “Mo-ore peace” while still nodding. I love how he stretches 1-syllable words out, like “hayyer” for hair, “playyyat” for plate, “shoo-oo” for shoe, “deeyo” for deer. A couple of funny made up words we hear many times a day: Meeno is the name for his lovely that I call Snuggle Bunny. It’s also the word he uses for banana. Dee Dah is how he says thank you. I was teasing the other day that the way he says cracker (“tattoo”) sounds more like thank you than deeda. He was saying cookie last night and it sounded almost like turkey. He’s a goofball and he keeps us laughing with the funny things he says and his silly faces. I love his giggle.

I’m so glad God gave us a Zay-Zay. He is a precious gift to us. God knew how much our family needed him.

Pictures from July (14 months old) through November (18 months old):

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This is his default face…so frowny. Good thing he smiles a lot.

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He was excited about getting in the bath and forgot he was still dressed…

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Checking on “Doh-Doh” (AKA JoJo, Doughy, Jojie)

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Phone Photo Friday

09/23/2016

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Play Alone Time

09/19/2016

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A: Why do I have to play alone?
M: Because Mommy needs some alone time.
A: Can’t you just pretend to be alone?

My 5-year-old hates to be alone. Whether it’s her personality, a result of her past, because she was an only child for most of her first 4 years or a combination of all of those; she wants constant feedback and attention. She loves to perform and loves to talk. When her little brother was born and as she started out-growing naps, it became apparent to me that we needed to institute some quiet alone time. For my sanity. And to teach her a skill she is lacking. As I’m writing this post right now she’s sitting at the desk next to me writing letters to “sick people” and chattering out loud the whole time, asking for my attention every 30 seconds or so.

Play alone time.

I think I found this blog post on Pinterest when Isaiah was an infant and I was desperate for 5 minutes without someone talking to/at me. It seemed like one of those obvious parenting moves that I had regretfully overlooked for four years. We should have been teaching her all along to play alone. Don’t misunderstand; kids need time with peers and time with parents and loads of attention. But learning to be content alone and play alone are life skills. Starting with 5-minute increments and working up to an hour, I’ve been teaching my kids to play alone. My 1-year-old can currently play alone contently longer than my 5-year-old. (Again, I wish I had started teaching her this skill a long time ago!) We’re up to 15-30 minutes now.

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It’s amazing what I can get done in 15-30 minutes alone. It’s like a deep breath for my mind. I can get the dishwasher unloaded or dinner prepped. I can respond to emails. I can write a blog post. I can finish a graphic design project. Rachel, the writer of the blog post I mentioned above, has some great tips for how to teach your child to play alone. One benefit that I’m not sure if she mentions in her blog, my kids are more eager to play together after they’ve spent some time playing alone. Do yourself and your child a favor and start doing this if you don’t already!

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Nursing Mom at Work

09/14/2016

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That sounds better than “breast-pumping mom at work” right? I started back to work two weeks ago. I’m really grateful to get to work from home the majority of the time. When I do go to the office one day a week, I get to use a private office. My first project on my first day back to work was to hang a curtain over my window for privacy and to make a sign for my door to let my coworkers know that when my door is closed, I need to not be disturbed. (I also lock the door.) I thought I’d share the sign files in case any other working moms would like to print one. I made three versions:

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First Day of Kindergarten

09/06/2016

Alianna’s first day of kindergarten was August 8. At 5 years old her career goals are to be a mommy, wife and teacher (like mommy).

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First day self-portrait and a silly pose:

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We’re homeschooling. I’ve been able to do most of the teaching myself the past 3 weeks but as I start back to work at my graphic design job, Jason and I will be doing some tag-teaming with her schooling. We’re working on a curriculum for reading sight words, writing letters and basic math. We also do lots of reading: Bible, poetry, picture books and I also read her novels aloud while she does art projects. She does chores to learn home economics. She gets social interaction with other kids at weekly dance lessons, church Sunday school, as well as at regular field trips and play dates with other homeschool friends. And of course she gets lots of time playing and interacting with her siblings. We’re also starting to add in piano and soon Spanish. So far we are really enjoying this new experience. Ali and I agree that our favorite part is the reading aloud of novels. We’ve finished Charlotte’s Web (which made me cry!), a Junie B Jones book, and now we’re reading the first book of The Bobbsey Twins series. Here are a few highlights from our first few weeks.

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Phone Photo Friday

09/02/2016

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