Just a month ago, my siblings and their spouse and kids came to visit from Pennsylvania. Two weeks later, Jason’s older brother Steve, his wife Char and their 3-year-old Aiden came to visit, too. It was so wonderful to see everyone. The cousins met each other for the first time. They were very sweet together…lots of hugging and kissing going on. We went out to dinner and ice cream one night.
Char with Precious and Aiden, being silly at Oscar’s Taco Shop:
…and looking normal:
Uncle Jason and Aunt Martina with Aiden at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams:
Another day we had a cookout at my in-laws house. I didn’t do a very good job of documenting the adults. Oops. The three cousins had fun playing together.
The three Ahlbrandt cousins looking sleepy together after dinner and afternoon of playing:
Yesterday was the first day of spring, though it has been looking and feeling like spring for weeks now in Nashville. I’ve always been a summer lover. Bring on the heat! Spring temps here are reminiscent of the summers of my childhood in Pennsylvania and Michigan, but the flowers here are just amazing! Especially the flowering trees like red buds, cherries, plums, pears, magnolias. It’s decidedly the more beautiful time of year. Monday morning I snapped pictures during Lucy’s and my morning walk and on my drive to work:
On Saturday my sister-in-law Ginger suggested we go to the Opryland Hotel to look at the Christmas decorations with the babies. My bro-in-law Dan, our friend Leila, her son Jaron, and my mom also came along. It’s a beautiful, huge hotel with massive indoor gardens, fountains, and even a river. And they really do it up for Christmas. I didn’t take a lot of pictures but I got a few good ones and Leila sent me some of hers.
Leila took this one of my mom holding Jaron and me with my baby. Precious reached out and took Jaron’s hand right before the picture snapped. So sweet!
Eliza is a tiny toddler. I love it! She’s 10 months old and a wee bit smaller than Precious but she’s going to be taking her first steps (without help) very soon.
What really struck me when I saw this picture is how much our lives have changed this year. My niece Eliza was born in February, our daughter was born in July and baby Jaron was born in October. Each came into his/her family a different way: born biologically, through foster care and through an agency adoption; respectively. We all became mamas this year—couldn’t have planned that better if we had tried. Also, I find it particularly amusing that these three babies are vanilla, caramel and chocolate.
As if we don’t have enough going on with Precious and her pending adoption, Jason and I have also been working on another big project. We’re building a house! Well, we will be once we sell our little mid-century modern ranch. But, we have purchased a piece of land. It’s really rare for land to become available in our 1950s-70s developed neighborhood, but the house that originally sat here was removed after a fire. This lovely, treed, flat, half-acre lot is less than a mile from our current home and just 6 houses down from my parents house. That probably sounds too close to most people but we have a great relationship and I love that Precious and our other future kids will be able to walk to over to Grandma and Grandpa’s.
We found a local architect, Ryan Thewes, that we’re really excited to work with. He’s studied with students of Frank Lloyd Wright and he does a lot of modern design. We think he’s the perfect architect to bring the mix of mid-century and modern that we’re hoping for. Building a house is something we’ve been dreaming of for a long time but assumed it would be in our distant future. When the perfect lot opened up, we decide to take a leap of faith. God has blessed us with great friends and family who helped us work everything out.
Our biggest motivation for moving out of the home we absolutely love: more space and bedrooms for more kids. We tossed around the idea of building on but ultimately decided to move on. Our home is three bedroom but one of the rooms is Jason’s studio which leaves just one room for kids. That worked great for the past 5 years but we’ve moved into a new season. Now that we have Precious for good, with DCS regulations for foster homes we would only be able to take one more child and she’d have to be a girl close to Precious’ age. We have it in our hearts to continue fostering more kids so more bedrooms are a must.
Here are some pictures I took on the property back in October the day we met Ryan there with our friend and real estate agent Jeremy (and his dog Maggie.):
You can bet I’ll be blogging about our experience all along the way. We’re super excited!
Are you a fan of Design*Sponge? It was one of my first favorite blogs and I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration through the site in the past few years. We submitted a before and after project a few years ago, some old office chairs we found in a dumpster and turned into a patio bench and chair. About a year ago, I was contact by one of the staff at Design Sponge asking if they could include our project in their upcoming book. Of course I agreed.
Well the book, Design*Sponge at Home, is out! Grace Bonney and the team have been doing a national book tour. When I found out they were coming to West Elm in Nashville on November 15th, I quickly bought a ticket to the pre-party craft event, which included a copy of the book and the opportunity to meet Grace and get my book signed. (Little did I know Nov. 15 was going to be such a crazy, landmark day in our lives…)
I went alone but ended up meeting a girl who lives on our street and running into a friend of a friend I haven’t seen in years. (Renata, Jenni says hi!) Since I arrived late, I got a short personal tutorial from Grace on how to make a freezer paper stencil to create a custom hand painted cloth napkin.
After the craft, Jason came to meet me for snacks, silly photos in the photo booth, and to get our book signed by Grace. (He took the photos with me in them. Thanks honey!) Grace seemed genuinely excited to meet us and asked more about our bench project. Plus, I now have my very own signed copy of the gorgeous book sitting on our coffee table, ready to inspire a bunch more projects.
First of all, Happy Birthday to my beautiful, smart, sweet big sister! I’m thankful we’ll be together next week. 🙂
Anyone want to buy this house? It’s in East Nashville (37206) and it’ll be on the market soon: 2 full bathrooms, 3 bedrooms (or 2 bedrooms and an office/studio), kitchen, living room, dining room, storage/mudroom, laundry room, cloffice. Still has the original 1955 hardwood floors through most of the house. Beautiful landscaping done by Jason. It’s 1420 sq ft and it’ll be listed somewhere around $220k. I know I’m pretty biased but I think it’s a rare gem. There is even a whole blog based around it!
I’m gonna leave you hanging on this one…details about WHY we’re selling coming soon.
Serious inquiries, please contact our agent at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We switched banks. That seems like a blog-worthy topic, right? Have you been or will you be affect by the recent increase in checking account fees among the major US banks? Jason and I had three checking accounts at one of the big corporate banks (I don’t want to slam them as it’s been industry-wide policy) and with the increased fees that are starting next month we were going to be paying around $45 a month just to have three checking accounts with debit cards. Whoa! So not worth it. I suggested we start carrying cash only and get pistols but Jason found a better solution. We have a small local bank chain called Avenue. We have been so pleased with their great customer service and of course, the lack of fees! They have a really cool vibe since they started out as a musicians’ bank. Beyond the pretty hummingbird logo, they have a city loft style lobby with free snacks and drinks and a guitar set up, ready to be played while we wait. But we never have to wait because their customer service is that good.
A great company is worthy of a blog post, I say. If you’re in Nashville, we highly recommend Avenue Bank. Switching banks is a big ole’ pain in the butt—it took us 6 weeks to get everything migrated to the next account—but worth it.
Pardon me if this is crass, but yes, this is real. Jason and I drove past it a few weeks ago (on Charlotte Pk. in Nashville) and busted out laughing. We had to go back for a photo.