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. sparkle says…
    07/28/2016

    This is real life. Amazing, loving, giving and receiving, hearts opening, considering the whole, making room for joy...real life. Thank you for letting us see your lives. Heartwarming.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. thefinchesx5 says…
    07/28/2016

    so happy for you two!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. lizziet5 says…
    07/28/2016

    Oh Ali, I'm so totally delighted for you! Yes, there'll be ups and downs along the way - everyone has that, it's life, but stand together and all will be good! Enjoy the transition, it will be worth it! {Hugs}!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. copwife612 says…
    07/28/2016

    Oh Ali this is beautiful! Happy tears are falling for you guys. Thank you so much for sharing and I wish you all the best! GoAliGo!

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  5. elainerivera says…
    07/28/2016

    Beautiful story.

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

    I am so excited for you, I first started reading your words back in the early days of two peas in a bucket, loved the way you shared your life and family then and feel like I've journeyed along with you through your words and pictures ever since. It is so wonderful to see how someone can travel the highs and lows of life with such honesty, thoughtfulness and joy.....even in the hard times. Thank you so much for your willingness to share with us your friends that you don't even know you have.......I am so excited for you in this new phase of your life and know that amidst the changes and challenges ahead you will continue to live in a way that your family and readers can only sit back and smile and admire......
    You are truely an inspiration.
    XOX

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  7. jdj247 says…
    07/28/2016

    Love this post... I totally understand what it's like to have a blended family. we just recently moved from Alaska to Ohio. It was originally always the 4 of us, now it's down to three. (i have a child from a previous relationship, my hubby from a previous marriage and we have one of our own together, 16,15 and 5 yr old). My 15 yr old recently just moved in with her father this summer. it was an adjustment, hard one and its now part of life now. So now we see our 16 and 15 yr olds 3x during the year. so those times of during the year we are a Family of 5. =) Then it's a Family of 3 the other times during the year. But man, i am so grateful we have our 5 yr old, no "sharing..." LOL. We have had a lot of questions about our family &lifestyle...but for us...this is the norm. an AWESOME norm. thanks again for this post.

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  8. cerzen says…
    07/28/2016

    So happy for you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. BunnyLady876 says…
    07/28/2016

    Wishing all of you every happiness, Ali! Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. cnagel629 says…
    07/28/2016

    Oh Ali... so very happy for you, and Aaron, and all your kiddos too! As a longtime follower of yours, I feel I've watched you grow over the years, through your divorce, and now with Aaron. We've shared common life changes, and we share being mommas to teenage boys with Autism. I wish you all the best. Enjoy this chapter of your life!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Binxcat1 says…
    07/28/2016

    So excited for you all... In the middle of the mess there is so much joy and love, hard work and chaos too (remember... Embrace the imperfection)... Enjoy!

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

    I feel happy after reading your story... for you and for the fact that there are "different than we expected" paths in life that lead to wonderful things. I wish you the best!

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

    Thanks for sharing! This is beautiful and authentic and human! As always, very inspiring Ali!
    I rejoice with you!

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

    Thank you for sharing. I don't have the same experiences but reading your words causes me to pause and reflect both on my own family life and others. Your words are so genuine, down to earth and eloquent. You tread the line between sharing and sharing too much really well.
    I liked reviewing your photos and realising that some of the ones you showed in the past were carefully selected to only show what was appropriate at the time.

    Wishing you and your family all the best. Although I did pause when you said you wanted to be a stay at home mom of 5 ....which made me think, what wait, you might quit work altogether:-)

    As a (pretty much) working from home full time mom reading your blog allows me to step outside these walls and bring some of the outside in.

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

    Such a beautiful next chapter with so many new beginnings. I always love listening to your voice and it made my heart jump with joy for you all.

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

    Ali you look so happy. What a beautiful story. My heart is overflowing with joy for u and your family. I look forward to following you in your next chapter of life.

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

    I am so excited for you! The joy you feel in taking this next step is so evident.

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

    SO very excited for you all! What a lovely post. Accompanied by the most wonderful pictures. You are such an inspiration, on so many levels, but most certainly in your approach to living your life! Thanks for all you share with us, and all you do to inspire!

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

    I have loved following your story. I love how down to earth and 'normal' you are. I've only been on board for a couple of years but feel I've 'known' you forever.
    My own story is so different. I imagined roses round the door, a husband and 2 kids. I'm just over 50 now and still no husband and no longer a chance of my own children. But the story is still unfolding and there have been adventures I could never have imagined along with times of pain and heartache. And the story continues.
    I love reading your outlook on life and I continue to be in awe of how the world moves on for us all.
    Good luck with your new adventure and thank you so much for sharing the good and the not so good.

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

    go Ali go! wishing you ALL THE LOVE.

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

    It's so amazing what you write about chapters and life and living and transitioning. And I remember your "Story of Two People" so vividly because I pinned it because the words were so beautiful. Thank you for telling and sharing stories and your life.

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. peggy1958sue says…
    07/28/2016

    AWESOME ALI!!! Good luck with the remodel! Can't WAIT to see what you do with your beautiful home! Now you have to change the 3 in your kitchen to a 5!! Pretty cool!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. peggy1958sue says…
    07/28/2016

    P.S. where did Audrey get those really cool Lego glasses from? Well at least they LOOK like Lego glasses.....CURIOUS LEGO LOVER!!!!!

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

    Love seeing all these photos of your family...so happy for you!

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

    The evolution of social media and the sharing of ones life has been so fascinating to me. I have been following you for so long that I feel like we are old friends, even though you have no idea who I am. Reading the life stories you have shared have made me laugh and cry. This story in particular had me feeling all the feels! My heart is all warm and fuzzy! How cool is it that a person can connect with someone they've never met? You have inspired me with how you tell your stories and live your life. I am so grateful for what you share and what I have learned from you. Congratulations to you, Aaron and all the kids! I wish you all the best going forward in this next chapter of your lives.

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