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. jjcorrigan says…
    07/28/2016

    Congrats! It's been amazing to watch your story as you tell it like no one else could. As for the large family meal planning, I have to say get a BIG skillet! We are constantly using our Pampered Chef stainless steel 12" covered skillet and our big Le Creuset dutch oven.....they are life savers! We keep saying we only have a few more years and we probably won't be using these on a regular basis. But for now they are staples in this family of 6.

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

    I'm really happy for you all!

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

    Love how you share your story with so much respect for each person in it and with such generosity to your readers. SO Happy for all seven of you (and looking forward to seeing that number crop up in your memory keeping now)!

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

    A beautiful & heartfelt story today. Loved reading this and wishing you all the best with your family.

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

    So very happy for all of you! I have been a fan of yours for it seems like forever. I went through divorce myself quite a few years back. It was a crushing blow to me. Slowly I started to heal. When I learned of your divorce, I was crushed again. I have to be honest, I hate divorce. BUT .... I know there is life after. There is so much more. Growing, learning, being open to new experiences and adventures, learning who I really am and how strong I can be. You have helped in so many ways with OLW, your blog, sharing your growth and experiences. I so appreciate you! Thank you for sharing your life with us! Wishing you all the best for this new chapter!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. jocelyn55 says…
      07/28/2016

      Hey JocelynK...I'm also Jocelyn K.! I was just about to post a comment on Ali's blog and was scrolling through and saw yours. For a split second I thought I had written this because you basically said EXACTLY what I was just about to write. The ONLY difference was that my relationship ended last year and not a few years back. How crazy!! But I, too, have found a tremendous amount of solace in following Ali's journey and seeing that there does appear to be a light at the end of this dark tunnel. (I also have two children but they are 2 and a half and 7 months, respectively). Hearing that another "Jocelyn" has been through the curveball of life makes me feel less alone. Here's to women getting stronger every day and not only "surviving" but THRIVING! :) (Maybe THRIVE should be my OLW for 2017) :)

  6. mugsie says…
    07/28/2016

    My two fav photos: Simon over Aaron's shoulders and the two girls with glasses. Adorable. I grew up in a similar situation/household Ali. 2 when my parents split, mom met someone new with 2 kids, eventually shared a home with them but that looked like just my sister and I most of the time then my step brother and sister on weekends and sometimes just them at our home while we were at my dad's. When we got older my brother lived with us full time. We are now 33, and 33, 34 and 35. And super, super close! My step sister (we are both 33 and have two young kids each) and I get together for playdates almost weekly since we are in the same city. Our family gatherings, which happen often at moms or here, are now enormous! 7 little ones running around now! I often think how boring it would have been if it had only ever been just my sister and I. As much as I hate that my parents split up (and for many years as a teen I was super resentful, be prepared for that) I am so glad thats the way our lives unfolded. I LOVE my big, blended family and wouldn't want it any other way xo

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  7. carrottop says…
    07/28/2016

    Wishing all the best to you, Aaron and the kids as all of you move forward...congrats. Also, we have six of us under our roof, and I love using the Paprika app. You can save recipes, plan weekly menus, and generate a grocery list. It has really saved my bacon!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Nosam875 says…
    07/28/2016

    I have been following you for years and at one point had asked your advice on some things in life!! I am so happy for you both and all the kids! Such a beautiful family the words you shared are priceless and amazing!

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

    I have always loved and appreciated how you tell your story in the "now" and embrace the "is". Living in the now is one of the greatest things I have learned.
    As for meal planning, you might want to look into Once a Month Meals, not for the once a month cooking, but to be able to make flexible meals ahead of time that could be made up for some or all of your family.

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

    Oh, one more thing haha. Since your doing renos and since time moves uber fast, I always found our dining/kitchen to be too small for so many people. As kids/teens we all loved being in the kitchen and also had to be most of the time if we wanted to eat haha so I'd highly recommend with a larger family to make that space a little larger or manuverable. On any given weeknight or weekend there was usually 8 kids in that space (the neighbour girls were often over or we were at their place).
    So excited for you Ali.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      07/28/2016

      Yes. One of the plans to to get a large table to put on the other side of our big couch - another space for a larger group to sit around a table :).

  11. sctoomey says…
    07/28/2016

    So SO happy for you all Ali. As I look through the photos you posted I see so much love. Congrats on this amazing new chapter! Embrace it--- you deserve it.

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

    So happy for all of you. What an amazing family you have and will continue to build together.

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

    Thank you so much for your brave, honest, words. Your sharing of this deeply personal part of your life makes me feel so sparkly inside. Sounds funny, but it is true. You are living out loud, and that is hard and cool. Rock on!!

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

    Love this collection of b&w photos, would make a lovely wall display in your "new" together home. Your thoughts here are awesome & real & full of life. Best wishes to you and your family as your adventure continues...

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

    Beautiful, happy story. Thank you for sharing. Blessings to you all.

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

    This made my day. Love your pictures and words. I'm soooo happy for you, Ali! :)
    Be blessed, y'all!

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

    Ali, you deserve all the happiness in the world.

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

    Lots of love and wonderful days ahead for all 7 of you. We only have 4 kids, but the chaos, fun, loud dinner table conversations, mounds of laundry, needing to be in 3 places at once and just side splitting laughs will be similar. You will all be a gift to one another. Enjoy the ride and play loud music a lot. xoxoxo, Lucy (Inspired Retreat May 2016)

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

    I love this. Every bit. Congratulations, huge hugs, and thank you for sharing. Congratulations on being bold and choosing love.

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

    "I've always wanted brothers."
    "Maybe someday we'll be sisters."

    So precious.

    Congrats! I got a little teary reading this. So glad that you and Aaron and the other parents are doing this co-parenting with respect and compassion. You guys rock.

    Love the pictures.

    Best wishes!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. jchurch2 says…
    07/28/2016

    "I've always wanted brothers." "Maybe one day we'll be sisters." The way you and Aaron look at each other......this story makes me so happy. The fact that you have shared so openly makes me feel like I know everyone in your story and I wholeheartedly look forward to this next chapter in your lives. It's going to be a good one!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. tuna13 says…
    07/28/2016

    This is such a brave and amazing and loving step from the both of you. I love reading your words. Thank you for putting your words and thoughts out in the world on this blog for so many people to be inspired by your journey. It means a lot. Thank you.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. kislanykim says…
      07/28/2016

      tunal3, you really said it so perfectly. "brave and amazing and loving step." Congratulations Ali to the both of you, and many blessings to your new family.

  23. Davida says…
    07/28/2016

    Yes! As others have said - I feel like I know you because you have shared so openly and my heart is so HAPPY for you and your family. The way you have navigated this chapter & thrived is such an inspiration. Hugs and much love to you all!! Can't wait to see this next chapter unfold :)

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

    So excited for you guys!

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

    This makes my heart so happy - thank you for always sharing and being authentic. You are truly a role model and even though we don't 'know' each other, you have influenced my life in so many ways. Cheers to you, Aaron and your merged family - the best is yet to come, I'm sure of it :)

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