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. pollyanna21 says…
    07/28/2016

    Life is full of surprises. I'm glad you have found happiness with Aaron. Congratulations!

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

    #go Ali go! Love this post. So very real life :)

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

    Congrats Ali! I'm so happy for you and both your families!

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

    My heart is full for all of you! You have shared this so beautifully!

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

    I say time and time again, everything happens for a reason. So very happy for you and your new "family".

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Ravenwood1950 says…
    07/28/2016

    Wishing you, Aaron and all the children much happiness and love. You so deserve it, God Bless!
    Darlene

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

    So excited for all of you.

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

    Crazy big, happy tears while reading this story and seeing all the beautiful faces premier in this story, the one we read through your shared memory keeping and your blog. Knowing that this is not the full story, because the full story is yours, and sacred, and private. But so grateful that you continue to share with us, that you invite us along to read this chapter, and that you continue to show us exactly what living the length and width of life can look like through big and small changes.

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

    Love your honesty in all that you share.

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

    This post brought such happy tears to my eyes :) Your story is a great one Ali! I'm always inspired by the clarity and perspective of your thoughts and words as they make their way here to this space.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. nicole2112 says…
    07/28/2016

    I read these updates with happy tears in my eyes. I am so incredibly happy that you have found each other and that your families are enjoying the process of coming together.

    You are amazing and you deserve someone equally as amazing!

    So many good thoughts being sent your way and, as always, thank you for sharing your life with us!

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

    Love... I just absolutely love this. So happy for you Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. raeoflight17 says…
    07/28/2016

    So happy for you and Aaron and the kiddos! Thank you for sharing your life so willingly. I can't wait to see this new chapter unfold! ❤️

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

    I just love this! So happy for all of you!

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

    Happy because you are happy. Much love to you all as you become a family under one roof together.

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

    I just love you guys. That is all.

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

    Your next chapter looks beautiful, Ali! SO happy for ALL of you! Prayers for a good transition and for the many new moments of life to be lived and captured! <3

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

    Thanks for sharing. I have "friends" who I've come to know in shopping local. Your willingness to share your life with your customers has made you the only nonlocal albeit online business that I have become truly vested in. I'm always interest d in my my "friend," Ali is up to. Congratulations to you and your family.

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

    I'm happy for you, Ali! I believe that God gives you what you ask for, if you're humble and kind in your request, and if you intend to serve others with His gift. You fulfilled those requirements and you've earned this. Take care of your loved ones and yourself. Those relationships matter. And keep us posted!

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

    Happiness to you all. Thanks so much for sharing your new extended family story. Time to change that "3" to a "7".

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

    oh ali. i'm so happy for you guys! typing this with tears in my eyes from my desk at work. i love how you tell stories. wishing you guys nothing but the best in this new chapter! so much love.

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

    One word.......Beautiful

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

    Congratulations! It sounds like you are doing all the right things on this new adventure.

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

    TEARS!! My heart is so happy for you. True testament of taking your time.

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

    I wish everyone the best as you move forward. I am most happy for those 5 lucky kids who have such loving and caring adults in their lives.
    Thanks for sharing your live with us.

    Reply 0 Replies

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