Giving Thanks


I’m playing a little blog catch up. I meant to share this photo on Thanksgiving. Every day in November leading up to the holiday we would think of something we were thankful for and write it on the chalkboard wall. It was fun to hear what Ali would come up with. She answered “trees and leaves” or “leaves” at least three times. I think it’s safe to say she had fun playing in crunchy, colorful leaves this fall. My favorite, though, was when she’d say “Mommy-Daddy-Ali love” or “Mommy-Daddy love” or any combination of our names. I’m not really sure if it’s our love for her that she was thinking of, or if it was each unique relationship dynamic. Either way, it melted my heart. She also listed “baby brother or sister” and “messy [fried] eggs.”


Here’s my little heart melter on Thanksgiving. We hosted at our house but I failed to take any photos once the gathering began.


I snapped this selfie (bumpie?) of my baby belly and a grapefruit because at 19-20 weeks, the baby was supposedly about this size. I thought that seemed crazy until I looked at the photo. OK, I guess a grapefruit would fit in there.





Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all! Thanksgiving is one of my absolute favorites because I love good food, getting together with family and friends, and I love to be thankful. We have been blessed with so much and this day is all about giving gratitude to God for His provision and abundant blessings. I’ve been participating in the Twitter Trend #ImThankfulFor this month, each day listing another thing I’m thankful for. These have been pretty random based on whatever is happening each day. Here’s my list so far:

Day 1: #ImThankfulFor Good friends and a girls’ night out … even when the kiddies come along. Mostly I’m thankful for our awesome friends!

Day 2: #ImThankfulFor my daughter’s bio family and especially her bio mom – for carrying her, loving her and wanting the best for her.

Day 3: #ImThankfulFor honest, fair and hard-working business people like our contractors, our architect and our mechanic … to name a few.

Day 4: #ImThankfulFor my church @gracechurchnash and my pastor @LindellCooley. Every Sunday I’m both challenged and encouraged.

Day 5: #ImThankfulFor my husband @JAhlb814 getting to travel the world playing music. But, #jealous he has 12x more passport stamps than me.

Day 6: #ImThankfulFor my rights as a U.S. citizen and glad to live in this country. And, I’m grateful that campaign season is finally over!

Day 7: #ImThankfulFor a knowing smile from a fellow adoptive mom at the grocery story, when stories are exchanged without words.#adoption

Day 8: #ImThankfulFor the wonderful people I work with who are creative, hard-working, trusting, encouraging, independent and supportive.

Day 9: #ImThankfulFor Friday night shopping dates with my daughter whenever @JAhlb814‘s on the road, even if it’s to Kroger. We have fun.

Day 10: #ImThankfulFor friendship that has survived college, careers, motherhood and distance…the kind of friendship that lasts forever.

Day 11: #ImThankfulFor times apart because they make reunion oh so sweet. Thankful my awesome hubby & best friend @JAhlb814 is almost home!

Day 12: #ImThankfulFor inspiring people who are kind, hard-working, motivated and optimistic even after coming through horrific situations.

Day 13: #ImThankfulFor electricity and light, gas and heat, running water, four walls and a roof … It’s easy to take them for granted.

Day 14: #ImThankfulFor a mid-week night out with my two favorite people and warm Italian food on a cold, dark evening.

Day 15: #ImThankfulFor the miracle that happened one year ago today! … #fostercare #court#custody #adoption

Day 16: #ImThankfulFor family near and far, but especially the ones close by that are willing to babysit their granddaughter so often!

Day 17: #ImThankfulFor estate sales! Found all kind of great stuff today, haggled for good discounts & got a workout moving furniture, too!

Day 18: #ImThankfulFor siblings. My childhood would have been so dull without them. Happy bday to my favorite sister!

Day 19: #ImThankfulFor really big dreams and the first exciting/scary step of a new adventure.

Day 20: #ImThankfulFor Oreos. And the sweet guy who is willing to get them from the grocery store at 10:30pm. @JAhlb814 #itsthelittlethings

Day 21: #ImThankfulFor getting out of work while the sun’s still shining & an early start to a much needed 4 days off!

Day 22: #ImThankfulFor Father God, from Whom all blessings flow! I have so many, many things to be thankful for today. Praise the Lord!

Follow me on Twitter @mahlbrandt if you’d like.

Our Little Focus


I took a picture of our car. While we were in Pigeon Forge in October amidst the beautiful trees I had an impulse to take a photo of our car. We’re not car people and we’re not in love with our car; it just needs to get us where we’re going. So, we didn’t really have any intentional pictures of it.

This little green Ford Focus has taken us on a lot of journeys; about 150,000 miles worth. She was Jason’s and my first big purchase (read: first big loan), six months after we got married. This car drove us from Erie to Nashville and back many times before our move in 2004. It drove us up to my parents house in Pennsylvania for holidays, to my sister’s wedding reception in Philadelphia, on vacations to Virginia Beach, Hilton Head Island, Cincinnati and many a day trip to Atlanta. The weekend of this photo it took me halfway across the state to spend a much needed 3-day weekend with my husband. It has carted many friends and family members around to work, to church, to homes, to stores, to the airport and back. It’s carried amps and guitars, groceries, lumber, straw bales, 100s of pounds of rocks, loads of IKEA purchases, packages, luggage, dogs and moving boxes. It’s had it’s share of problems through the past seven years but our little vehicle has been good to us.

In the season of thankfulness, I’m extending some gratitude to our little engine that could:

Dear Green Meanie,

Thanks for running strong these seven years, for carrying us and our treasures all over the place, for stopping on a dime and taking off fast, for not quitting us even after two hit-and-runs, for turning sharply enough to parallel park in one try, for chugging along despite your bolted-up rather than truly fixed back windows, missing lug nut cover, cracked and dented front fender, dashboard stickiness from many a drink spill, and overdue oil changes. You’ve been the setting for many kisses and fights and important conversations. You’ve been sung in, slept in, kicked, washed infrequently, snowed on, rained on and hailed on. You’ve been worth ever payment we made, the chili cheese fries we ate in celebration of paying you off, and for every dollar we’ve paid for repairs and maintenance. Yes, you’ve been a good little car.

This year you got a new battery, a new alternator, a new driver’s side mirror, a new fender, new tires, new brakes and some other new parts I can’t remember the names of. Now, please accept this long overdue tune up as a token of our appreciation … and continue on for the next seven years!


Your Drivers