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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158 thoughts

  1. lrweaver says…

    I read this with tears in my eyes-happy tears. What a wonderful transition in your life. Thank you for sharing your ups and downs and best of luck to you in your new adventure.

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  2. Bsthlf says…

    Congrats on the new chapter in your life! Wishing you, Aaron, (such a cutie), and all your beautiful children happiness and love! The best is yet to come......

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  3. ScrappinMyHeartOut says…

    Woo hoo! So happy for all of you! My motto is - when there's room in your heart, there's room in your home! And of course "the more, the merrier!"

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  4. Pat8 says…

    The black and white photos have such a strong impact - makes me want to do more in that regard.

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  5. jdscrappy says…

    I got a lump in my throat and cried happy tears as I read this. You've inspired me for years, and I'm so happy for you!

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  6. Radish38 says…

    Well this made my day. Been following since you were pregnant with your daughter. Give this a good go and enjoy the journey. Much love to you and yours.

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  7. LoriAnde says…

    You challenge me in the best way when you so openly and authentically share what is. I have always categorized my hard experiences as "the chapter I don't read out loud" even tho every one has those chapters. Thank you for showing your growth in such positive and inspiring ways. I wish years of love together for all of you. Those are five blessed kiddos!

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  8. KatieLee8 says…

    Ali, All of these pictures are absolutely precious! I loved reading the update on your family and am thrilled for you!!

    My husband was one of seven kids, and he and his siblings all talk affectionately about their "color" growing up. I guess each kid had a "color" to help keeps things organized. My husbands color was green, so I guess his laundry basket, toy box, hangers, etc. were green. I thought it was a cute idea and wanted to share. Congrats, Ali!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  9. ShellyK says…

    Oh Ali...!!!
    Super happy for this next chapter! You are so amazing and I've loved watching you and your inspire me beyond memory keeping! Congrats!!

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  10. Cookingmylife says…

    Yep, lump in throat post. So so very happy for you as you move forward with love and courage. (I know the feelings as I married for the second time at age 56 for me and 61 for him.) No advice from me because I know you'll learn what you need to learn when its time. It always is! Just love love love to all 7 of you!

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  11. ChristineCieri says…

    So happy for you and your families! That picture of Audrey and Anna towards the bottom is my favorite, so adorable and funny!!

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  12. younggirl says…

    What fun news to share! So happy for you, and sending happy thoughts and wishes your way! Transitions can be bumpy, but I'm excited for you guys!

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  13. kekirsch says…

    This is so lovely. Thank you for sharing. I got chills reading it; I wrote a similar post.

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  14. flashysoupcan says…

    Thank you for bravely sharing your story. Congratulations and best wishes to you and your family in this new chapter of life.

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  15. GroS says…

    You all look so great together. Your story is such an inspiration. The reflective and thoughtful pace, the time spent figuring out the answers, together. The respect for eachother and everyone else involved. I admire your control of fear. And I wish I could hear more about that. Being a divorcee for 8 yrs I wish I knew how to overcome my total fear of being heartbroken again. Good luck on your new chapter in life, and i look forward to reading about this big family.

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  16. scrapitgal says…

    I am so happy for you. You are truly a phenomenal story teller and such an inspiration to me personally. Thank you for sharing your life, your love, your sorrow, and just your everyday, regular kind of people stuff! You make me smile; you make me laugh; you make me cry - I love it all!

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  17. Donna_Clements says…

    So happy for you, Ali! Best wishes for much joy in this new chapter!

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  18. Raylene says…

    I have not been stopping by as often and Ali, I noted a HUGE shift in your voice! It is very clear that you are happy in this chapter of your life and I consider it a privilege having met both You & Aaron in Peru. Many blessing to you both and your blended family! WOW!

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  19. emlymom says…

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Family is so good. I'm excited to see yours growing in new ways. Your posts impact me as I reflect on my family, where its at and how its changing as well. Best wishes during this time!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. lisainlj says…

    Thank you for sharing so honestly, openly & beautifully ...

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. TiffanyH says…

    Thank you for sharing your story! I've been following you for many years--through the ups & downs, highs & lows. I'm so very happy for you! I know it's strange (we don't know each other) but I'm so excited for your next chapter. {{hugs}} to you!

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  22. lizness says…

    I just found myself thinking, I wonder what Ali's up to these days. Then, I saw this post. Wishing you the very best, my friend. Sending love, joy (seriously, doing a happy dance for you), and wishes for many good things to come.

    PS: Hi to your mom! =)

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  23. Dan078 says…

    This is so great. Thank you for sharing Ali! I've been following you for years and years and just love all that you do creatively and also as a mum. Love the pics as well. With love from Australia x

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  24. edillow says…

    Lovely, Ali. Best wishes through this transition!

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