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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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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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Introducing: Josephine Louise

08/04/2016

Josephine Louise was born July 13, 2016 at 5:46 am, weighing 6 lb. 9 oz. and measuring 18.5″ long

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Yesterday she turned 3 weeks old which seemed like a fine time to update my blog. However, I fell asleep halfway through putting this post together. That happens when you have a newborn. I’ll keep my words short for now (so I don’t put myself to sleep…) and share mostly photos. I will write out her whole birth story soon.

In short, she’s a wonderful baby and a sweet addition to our family. We’ve been calling her Jo, JoJo, Joey… trying out lots of nicknames. I also call her Peachie Pie because she has the softest peach fuzz on her warm little head. JoJo is one of those (rare?) babies that sleeps 20 hours a day, making life as easy as it could be with a newborn and two other small children. She’s doing great with breastfeeding and all around a pleasant, easy-going baby. Her big siblings love her. Ali wants to hold her many times a day, wants to match her outfit or at least pick out her clothes, and generally be near her all the time. Isaiah pats and rubs her soft head, brings her blankets and toys, and responds with a concerned “Baby!” anytime he hears her fussing. (He also sometimes calls her DoDo… hehe) Jason and I are smitten, tired, happy and most definitely outnumbered. Full hands, full hearts.

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Heading home from the hospital

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Josephine with her big brother, Daddy and Grandpa

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First morning at home, Ali and Zay couldn’t wait to come see her

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We’re a family of five! (3 day old JoJo here)

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First bath at home with big sister eager to help

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Josephine Louise – 39 Week Update

07/12/2016

I’m just a couple days away from my due date (July 15) and so far Baby JoJo is still hanging on. My last day of work was Wednesday and I’ve felt so much more patient and relaxed since my leave started. I think that feeling of trying to tie up loose ends everyday “just in case” and also that disappointment of “I guess I’ve got to go to work tomorrow after all…” was causing more stress than I realized. I’m using this potential week or two before she’s born to visit with friends who came in from out of town (check out #sistermomsonthefarm on Instagram if you’re curious!), hanging out with my sister and her kids who are coming to visit this week, and spending as much time as I can hanging out and playing with Ali and Zay: swimming, going to the park, walking at the mall (it’s too hot to walk outside!), swimming some more… And also making sure the nest is ready for our new little chickie to be welcomed home.

It seemed like my last update was some grumbling about things going wrong… particularly breaking my toe which led to waddling/limping and then some crazy back pain. I’m happy to report that my toe is 95% better. It’s still a little tender, especially if bumped, but I can walk pretty normally. I did 4-5 weeks of physical therapy for my back pain and I’m feeling significantly better than I was a few weeks ago. I’ve got a lot of stretches and exercises to work on, now and after the baby is born. Overall things are going really well. I’m very ready for labor to start and to meet our littlest lady face-to-face, but I’m also feeling patient most of the time. Isaiah was 5 days past his due date so I’m preparing myself for that possibility. Five days past Jo’s due date would fall on Ali’s 5th birthday, July 20. She goes back and forth between wishing for that and wanting to keep her birthday her own. She’s been hoping and praying for a baby sister for a long time so either way Josephine’s arrival will be a gift to Ali, as well as to the rest of us.

39 weeks:

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38 weeks:

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37 weeks:

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36 weeks:

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35 weeks:

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Here’s how Jason nests: He’s working his butt off with two careers (realtor and touring musician), and he then does gigantic landscaping projects (like building a retaining wall) as a way to decompress after a stressful day. Not to mention he’s also picking up a lot of my slack inside the house with cleaning and helping with the kids and groceries and things like that. He’s a rockstar! I am so thankful for him and all he does.

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Father’s Day 2016:

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This little guy takes after his daddy in a lot of ways! He’s currently a big fan of vacuuming and a sweet friend sent him a special one of his own in the mail.

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Ali is so excited about her baby sister! She hugs and kisses my belly several times a day and tells me how much she loves Josephine already.

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Practicing with a baby doll…

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Lots of hanging around together.

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Popcorn movie nights (when Mommy is too tired to do anything else!)

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Jason and I celebrated our 13th anniversary on June 14 by going to Josephine the restaurant for dinner. It was really lovely!

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13 Years!

06/14/2016

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Timehop made this easy for me. I’ll just repost what I said last year. 🙂

Before digital photography was common, before Facebook and iPhones existed, these two kids said “I do.” I met the love of my life when I was 14. A lot of people thought we were too young to get married (at 18 and 20) but our love only got deeper as we grew up together. For 13 years I’ve had the privilege of being Mrs. Jason Ahlbrandt. I thank God everyday for my best friend.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an examplefor the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

May your fountain be blessed,
    and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”
Proverbs 5:18


Quest for the Perfect Kid-Chasing Mom Sneakers

06/13/2016

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I’ve got these blue Adidas running shoes that I love. I bought them for jogging but with two little ones, I can’t seem to figure out when to go for an honest-to-goodness jog anymore. Also, I might die if I tried. But, I do a lot of running around just chasing the kids. These kicks are my go-to if we’re planning on a good amount of walking, especially while I’m pregnant…and especially after I broke my toe and I need good support. They’re getting pretty tired-looking and my birthday is coming up so I started searching for a replacement. Naturally, the journey began with inspiration from Pinterest…

I’m liking the black!

Meet the candidates (AKA my top choices):

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1. adidas NEO Men’s SE Daily Vulc Lifestyle Skateboarding Shoe (Black/Black/White)

2. New Balance Women’s WZ501V1 90’s Classic Sneaker

3. adidas NEO Men’s SE Daily Vulc Lifestyle Skateboarding Shoe (Navy/Clear Onix Grey/White)

4. adidas NEO Men’s Daily Lifestyle Skateboarding Sneaker (Black/Clear Onix Grey/Black)

5. New Balance Women’s WL574 Acrylic Pack Classic Sneaker

6. adidas NEO Men’s Daily Lifestyle Skateboarding Sneaker (Collegiate Navy/Collegiate Navy/Brown)

I’ll let you know what I end up with. I’m currently leaning toward #1.


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!