The Next Chapter

Sometimes when I tell the story of my life I talk about how at one point, before getting into memory keeping and before having any kids, I envisioned that I was on a path to being a stay-at-home-mom and having five kids while my husband worked to support our family.  

Life has a funny way of making things happen in ways we never expect. 

My story, like most of yours, has twists and turns and highs and lows. We imagine things are going to happen one way and then something entirely different happens - either by our own choice or the choices of others. That has definitely been the story of my life - from having a child with autism to my career to going through a divorce to finding a new partner. 

A couple weeks ago I posted the following on Instagram: 

Almost 4 years ago my friend Kim left me a message telling me about a friend of hers who was looking for a friend. "You have similar stories," she said. We met a couple days later when Katie and I went to the Twilight marathon at the movie theater (a great story for another time). Since then we've been to China, New York, Disneyland & Disneyworld, France, Hawaii, Peru, Mexico, and to the Gorge to see Dave Matthews the last three Labor Day weekends. We've had a zillion and one discussions about the past, the present and the future - about who we are and where we come from and can this actually work. We are both over-thinkers (which serves us well in certain areas of our lives) which can be a little tricky when it comes to forward movement in a relationship, especially when there are a bunch of other hearts & minds involved. All this to say, we are moving forward together. ❤️. Anyone want to buy my house?

Moving forward together. That's what this next chapter is all about. 

Since posting that on Instagram we've decided to stay in my house and make some modifications to hold everyone (my heart is super happy about this decision but I was also completely willing to move). We're in the process of having plans drawn up to create one additional bedroom and we are creating a room in the back of my garage as a space for Aaron's work and music. 

Aaron has three kids ages 7 (Audrey), 9 (Elliott), and 11 (Isaac). As most of you know, I have two kids (Anna - age 7 and Simon - age14). All together, as basic math would have it, that equals five kids. 

The crazy thing of life for us and our specific situation is that sometimes we'll have all five kids here in the house and sometimes we'll have none and sometimes it will be any other number combination. We both have caring ex-spouses who are very involved in their children's lives. All together we form a community of grown-ups who are working together for the greater good of these kids - one day at a time, one conversation at a time, one decision at a time. 

We take nothing for granted and no decisions lightly. And nothing is perfect. 

As I was writing this post I went back through all my photos for the last four years to share with you today. I've been taking photos all along since the day we met and since the day all our kids met. There have been many meals around tables and other adventures and celebrations and gatherings and everyday stuff. Not all of these photos and stories have been told or shared publicly. Some have made it into my Project Life® albums - many of those photos included the backs of kids' heads as it wasn't yet time to share them as part of the larger story of our lives. 

Two years ago (almost to the day) I wrote a post called A Story Of Two People. When I re-read that today what I love reading most is this, "We are learning as we grow. Alone and together about who we are as individuals and who we are together and what it means to have our families expand." Taking our time was important to us because the story includes so many more people than just him and me. 

As we begin the process of intentionally merging together it's with joy and enthusiasm from all the involved hearts. Simon told me, "I've always wanted brothers."

Here are some pieces of our story as it's evolved: 

Our first coastal adventure in December 2012. They have all grown so much over the last four years. Anna and Audrey will likely not remember what it was like before knowing each other (they were both three/almost four when we met).

Sunriver 2013. 

County Fair 2013.

Seattle 2014. 

Disneyland 2014 with Simon + Isaac. 

Out at the lake July 2014.

Spring Break RV trip 2015.

Reading Harry Potter by headlamp.

Traveling home from DisneyWorld July 2015.

And then there have been many adventures just me and Aaron: 

New York 2012. 

China 2013. 

Paris 2013. 

Dave Matthews 2013 (and 2014 and 2015).

Peru 2014 (can't wait to see you guys again Bob + Donna). 

San Francisco 2014.

Coos Bay 2014.

Spring Break 2015 at a Golden State basketball game in Oakland. 

One thing that I'm super excited about is that when we come home from a trip now we will be coming back to the same house instead of heading to our separate homes. 

And then there's just the everyday life kinda stuff - some at his house and some at my house:  

Playing music. 

Playing video games. 

Watching movies or shows. 

Talking about blogs. 

Reading books. Aaron is the very best at tucking his kids in for the night. Seriously impressive effort. 

"Maybe someday we'll be sisters."

And many times around the table. 

Here are some of the things I'm learning/re-learning/thinking about right now:

  • Life really does unfold in chapters. Some move the story forward with heartbreak and some with crazy amounts of joy. 
  • It's okay to just embrace what "is" right now. What "is" for us is a very big transition. We are taking our time. We are embracing the mess that is moving two complete households into one. We are conscious and aware of feelings and tensions and figuring it out one step at a time.
  • That in sticking with my life mantra of living the length and the width I need to let myself really be happy in this season without falling back into fear. 
  • I'm thinking a lot about and looking for ways to celebrate and honor the beginning of the next chapter. This is a big deal for all of us. The merging of personalities and my continued mission to celebrate each one for who they are. 
  • I'm treasuring and not taking for granted having a partner again under the same roof again. The give and take of it all. I'm so glad that I had a decent length of time to essentially be on my own in this house - to embrace that time for what it was and all that it taught me about myself and my kids and all that I learned about Aaron along the way. 
  • So much excitement for the creation of new traditions.
  • I'm researching and looking for ideas and tips for large family meal planning and organization. Even though they won't all be here all the time I want to have it be as organized as possible - I think we all operate better under those conditions. 

Here's to stories unfolding and hearts expanding and in-the-middle-of-the-mess-transitions and opening wider. 

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159 thoughts

  1. scrappysuenz says…
    07/28/2016

    <3

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. mtercha says…
    07/28/2016

    I heart you, Ali. That's all. Michelle t

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Julchen82 says…
    07/28/2016

    Love.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. shannan_mm says…
    07/28/2016

    Beautiful story, beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. danadew says…
    07/28/2016

    So, so happy for you Ali! And best wishes and lots of love to you and your whole crew!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Kaysie says…
    07/28/2016

    Love. It makes me cry. Such a beautiful story that has been building thru ups and downs, twists and turns and continues on with living LIFE to its fullest.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Leni says…
    07/28/2016

    Love... thanks for sharing! Looking forward to this next chapter for you:)

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. delia says…
    07/28/2016

    So incredibly happy for all 7 of you. Wishing you all a life time of happiness through the ebbs and flows of life. Enjoy - you deserve to!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. picki56 says…
    07/28/2016

    I am so happy for you guys! Congrats! Big families are the best!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. skvale says…
    07/28/2016

    I am so very happy for all of you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. dawnnikol says…
    07/28/2016

    So freaking awesome. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. scrappychick says…
    07/28/2016

    Go, Ali, Go!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. lewsue19 says…
    07/28/2016

    So happy for you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. iScrap says…
    07/28/2016

    Wishing you all many years of love and happiness and stories to treasure. Thanks for taking us along for the ride. :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. erxmo1 says…
    07/28/2016

    Love, Love, Love every word of this! <3

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Kaysa says…
    07/28/2016

    It's hard to always appreciate the moments while we're living them but they are chapters. Just pieces of the whole. Thank you for being a reminder to live everyday instead of constantly looking and wishing for the next thing. Here's to loving life. And change.

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. jstock17 says…
    07/28/2016

    Ali, I have been hoping and waiting patiently to see a post like this on your blog. I have been here since you first started your blog. I've "watched" you go through so many phases of your life and am so very very happy that this is your next phase. You and Aaron belong together. The families belong together. You seem happy as does he. These beautiful photos tell the story . . . your lives together. It will be crazy. It will be hectic. It will be stressful at times. But most of all, it will be right! Thank you for sharing so much. You always seem to put things in perspective and I appreciate that. Congrats, Ali & Aaron, on this new beginning. Love . . . it's a beautiful thing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. faithn1god says…
    07/28/2016

    GO ALI GO is right!!! So so happy for you guys and thank you so much for sharing your life, your stories and your love with us! You are so inspiring in so many ways to each one of us!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. rosegarden says…
    07/28/2016

    What an amazing blog post. I'm printing to remind myself of the "chapters". I'm thrilled for you. LauraC - Michigan

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. mimisala says…
    07/28/2016

    Congrats! And thank you for sharing your story. Love how you document it all, nice photos!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. amanda_hayes says…
    07/28/2016

    what a beautiful story! congrats and best wishes as you start this next chapter and thank you for sharing with all of us!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Jaynescraps says…
    07/28/2016

    Congratulations Ali! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and your big beautiful family. Let the real fun begin!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. JShimer says…
    07/28/2016

    Ali - I am so happy for you and your wonderfully expanding family. Bringing two families together will be a challenge for sure, but if you have love and patience, it will be a wonderful experience for everyone! I wish you all the best! And I love how you've chronicled it through the years - what an accomplishment! Don't overthink it - enjoy every day of your life, even in the craziness!!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Jeannew says…
    07/28/2016

    Just beautiful! Congratulations as you move forward. And thank you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. kiminia says…
    07/28/2016

    <3
    so happy you are so happy!!

    Reply 0 Replies

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