Once upon a time, I wrote blog posts several times a week. I hardly missed a day. Not always deep thoughts but I’ve enjoyed this as a place to journal and keep records of our lives the past six years (even more if I count my previous blogs). I sometimes wonder if there’s any value in sharing all of this but then I get an email from a fellow foster mom looking for support, a potential adoptive parent thanking us for telling our story or a casual reader just checking in to say hello since this space has been so quiet. Two months ago I thought I was back to blogging and then the weeks quickly slipped by and I haven’t blogged much since then. I’m not sure how to restart without doing a general update post. Our family has gone through so much change in the past 6 months.
It started back at the end of winter as I was entering my third trimester. We were looking toward an unpaid maternity leave and what life would look like with two forever kids. An unexpected door opened as we prayed for provision. Jason auditioned for a new gig with a busier tour schedule that would translate to better income. He didn’t get it and we wondered why. It sounded like it was going to the perfect answer to our prayers. When he didn’t get the job, he started taking classes to get his real estate license. Then he got a call back; he got the gig after all. The timing was perfect for our finances. He entered a busy season of touring just a couple weeks before Isaiah was born and my unpaid time off work began. From his bunk in the tour bus he continued working hard on his online classes, studying and taking tests for his real estate license. It was a lot to juggle but once he’s got his mind on a goal there is no stopping him. He missed one weekend of shows—two concerts in Texas—for Isaiah’s birth and then he was back on the road two days after we got home from the hospital. His tour schedule was lighter in May, thankfully, because my recovery was much harder than I anticipated. But in June things picked up again. I started back to work full time, working mostly from home now—a huge answer to prayer! And also a new juggling challenge. Jason had 6 full days off/home in June and managed to fit his real estate licensing exam in there. He passed! He’s now a fully licensed real estate agent. His schedule for July was even fuller than June and it was taking it’s toll on all of us. Half way through the month he had a hard conversation with the band leader about needing to step away to focus on his growing family and his new real estate venture. He was willing to stick it out for a few weeks to help their transition but God made a way for him to be home within days of that conversation without putting anyone out or severing any relationships. He returned to his previous gig with a much lighter touring schedule and started full steam into his real estate business. And that’s just the big stuff. There were also soccer games, visits from out-of-town family, and so many doctors appointments for check ups, dentists, PT, OB, dermatology, radiology. Phew!
All the transitions have sent our finances on some roller coaster loopy-loops and been exhausting in other ways, too. But God is good. These changes are good and I can see His hand on us through every change. It has not been easy or painless but the blessings have outweighed the struggles:
We have two beautiful children. I was able to keep my full-time graphic design job of 8+ years and be home with my kids 6 days a week. Jason was able to add a realtor hat next to the professional musician one—both flexible jobs that allow him to spend a lot of time at home. I trust that life will feel less tiring soon, and in the meantime I have a newfound love of coffee.
The photo at the top, taken by our friend Beth Rose, basically sums up the past several months. But here are some other memorable moments, too:
Leave a Comment » | Faith, Family, Family: Froggie/Isaiah, Family: Jason, Family: Me, Family: Precious/Ali | Tagged: career, changes, Family, life, new job, newborn, transition, work | Permalink
Posted by mahlbrandt
Ali Mae, you have grown and changed so much in the past month! You’re back to being an only child again after 3 months as a foster sister to Buzz. Right after that transition happened, I started working my way down my to do list (things to accomplish while we don’t have any foster placements in the home) which included some big changes for you. I turned your crib into a bed. I’m currently second-guessing that decision and we may go back for a while… You became potty trained for the most part, though we still have to remind you. The concepts of wet/dry have been learned pretty well. You started preschool two days a week and you are loving it! Every time we pick you up you’re having a blast dancing with your classmates and you say “I love you!” to your teachers when we leave. You’ve been talking more and more lately, often in sentences and starting to say some really funny things. Sometimes you get the order of the words mixed up, for example “I want cookie too Ali.” You have learned all of your colors (thank you Preschool Prep!) and are currently working on numbers and letters. There is no rush, of course. You have plenty of time before you need to have those things mastered. Because I’m a designer and Daddy’s a musician, we get particularly excited when we see you interested in art and music. We recently walked around the Parthenon replica at Centennial Park and when we walked up the back steps you looked up and said, “Deautiful.” You repeated it several times. That’s the first either of us have ever heard you describe a place or sight as beautiful. A couple days later we went into West Elm and your interior design loving parents were again amazed to hear you say it as you took in the atmosphere of the store. Music is also a big part of your day. Every time we get in the van you say, “music please” … repeatedly until we respond. At night you request “daddy’s music” on your CD player and often turn it on by yourself. Daddy set up a keyboard for you in the playroom which you love to play with and refer to as the “pino,” like pinot. We often catch you singing ABCs, Twinkle Twinkle and other simple songs all on your own, as well as singing along with the radio and CDs in the car. I love that your imagination seems to be growing and getting more creative while you play, too. You’ve always been a content and happy child mixed with a good amount of drama and passion. Lately your emotions have sometimes come bursting out so quickly that I think it’s catching even you off guard. We’re trying hard to be patient with you while encouraging you to develop self-control and regulation.
Speaking of beautiful, happy and dramatic… we recently had dinner with two of your biological siblings and their mom. You three have a lot in common! You had fun dancing to music together and dressing up with accessories and generally just having a silly, wild time together after dinner. It had been around a year since we’ve seen them last (a crazy busy year for our family) but we plan to get together much more frequently in the future, now that all three of you are finally old enough to really play together.
The other day while you were picking out your shoes, you said, “awesome.” I told you that I think you’re awesome. You responded, “Daddy’s awesome too, Mama.” I agreed and asked if you thought I was too. “Mommy’s awesome, too. Ali’s awesome, too.” I love you so much, Aligator. I think know being a mom would be so much fun. You make it way better than I ever imagined. You really are awesome, kid. I’m blessed to get to be your mom.
1 Comment | Family, Family: Adoption, Family: Extended Family and Friends, Family: Precious/Ali | Tagged: adoption, Ali, alianna, biological family, changes, daughter, foster care, growth, precious, siblings, two year old | Permalink
Posted by mahlbrandt
After Buzz went home and while Jason was gone to Europe, I went on a crazy reorganizing, cleaning, selling spree. While we had two energetic toddlers bouncing off of everything at our house, we decided that our vintage sofa was too precious for our home at this stage in our lives and foster parenting journey. Yes, the sofa we spent 80 hours last summer reupholstering. Gone! It now belongs to a young woman in Alabama where I’m sure it’s enjoying the single life and is no longer being jumped on by little pipsqueaks.
We’ve decided to resort back to IKEA. When we got married in 2003, we were all about IKEA. We had a few second hand items and gradually replaced everything with the big box Scandinavian modern. In 2007 when we bought our 1955 ranch, we started replacing IKEA items with vintage items…usually could sell the IKEA furnishings for much more than the estate sale and thrift store treasures we were scrounging up. This may be a first step in the other direction for us… we’ve sold a vintage piece of furniture and replaced it with an IKEA piece of furniture.
For now we have a very empty living room but
hopefully by the end of this week we’ll be picking up one of these:
We’re still trying to sell these American By Martinsville tables. I thought I had a buyer but they backed out. If you or anyone you know is interested, please let me know. We’re happy to negotiate.
2 Comments | Art: interior design, Art: mid-century design, Art: modern design | Tagged: changes, couch, interior design, living room, sofa | Permalink
Posted by mahlbrandt
I updated a few things on the ole blog design last week. If you, like me, use Google Reader or some other RSS feed to digest blog material, you might not have noticed. Click here to check it out.
I updated my blog header (which still had pictures from from 1-2 years ago).
I changed some of the main links at the top. Now I have:
Home | About | Inspiration | Timeline | Tour – New | Tour – Old | What is “MCM”?
I also updated most of the pages those links go to… Inspiration is a combo of 3 pages I had before. Timeline is new and gives an overview of our lives. Tour – New is a landing page for the New Home Tours I’m gradually revealing. Tour – Old is a tour of our old house. The others didn’t change.
Thanks for coming to my blog! It’s means a lot to me that people enjoy my ramblings enough to come back over and over again. I love interaction and it keeps me going to know that others read what I write. Please feel free to comment or email me anytime! I read each comment and respond to most.
Leave a Comment » | Art, Art: graphic design, Family, Family: Me | Tagged: blog, changes, update | Permalink
Posted by mahlbrandt
There is so much whirring around in my head but I can’t seem to organize any of it into a well packaged blog post.
There is everything and there is nothing.
Sorting through it is overwhelming.
I take a deep breath and keep going. Everyday.
One day at a time.
Looking too far ahead makes the butterflies in my tummy start flapping.
Reflecting on the past sometimes stirs up more pain than joy.
So I try my best to keep my head and my heart in today.
To be present.
To savor every moment I have with the people I love.
Last spring I wrote a post called On The Precipice as we were about to take the plunge into foster parenting. Right now, I feel like our toes are up to the edge of four different cliffs. It’s exciting times for our little family. And it’s a lot to take in. Jason’s mind is as full of spinning thoughts as mine…but it seems like when he’s pondering one thing, my brain is consumed with another. We’re doing our best to encourage and support each other. In some ways it feels like we’ve been disconnected lately with all that’s flooding in around us (or maybe just preoccupied) but at the same time, our foundation is as strong as ever and we’ve been holding each other up through each day. I’m so thankful to have my best friend right by my side.
It’s a strange season we’re in… or maybe it’s the change of seasons we’re feeling right now. Funny how the natural sometimes lines up with the spiritual. Driving to work through the park near our house one day last week, a shower of orange and yellow leaves rained down on my car as I drove under the trees. The beauty of it brought tears to my eyes. I love how God made the process of leavings dying into such a beautiful show.
(Image found through Google from here.)
3 Comments | Art, Art: God's creation, Faith, Family, Family: Jason, Family: Me | Tagged: changes, Faith, life, seasons | Permalink
Posted by mahlbrandt