Rosemary Almond Chicken Salad

February is always hard for me here in the land of eternal grey. Writing is work. Cleaning is work. Cooking is work. In years past, I’ve been able to escape for a week or so to more southern and sunnier climes. This year, with the baby, I’m lucky to escape to the bathroom for a nice long soak (still a February goal). So, since I can’t fly away, I’m trying a trick from my poverty-stricken grad school days, and acting like it’s spring inside my house.

This week, we cranked up the heat a bit, I pulled out a “transitional” clothing items (aka not wool), and we dined on one of our favorite summer dishes: Rosemary Almond Chicken Salad.

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Practical Hospitality: How Clean is Clean Enough?

Let’s talk housekeeping. Not ordinary housekeeping. Not “Do the Laundry on Wednesday and Clean the Bathrooms on Fridays” housekeeping. But, rather, “Friends are Coming Over Tonight, and We Need to Get the House Ready” housekeeping. What exactly, in that scenario does “get the house ready” mean?

This is an important question, because how you answer it determines: 1) How free you feel to have people over; and 2) How crazy you make yourself and everyone in your household prior to your guests’ arrival.

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Herb-Crusted Pork Loin

How do you do so much hosting with a new baby? That’s a question I’ve been getting a lot these days. The answer is mostly that Toby is a super-pleasant, super-easy baby…and there is only one of him. Turn Toby into a toddler or add another baby into the mix, and having friends over will most likely mean ordering a lot more pizza.

Until then, I’ll keep cooking as much as I can, although most of what I cook are dishes that don’t require a lot of time in the kitchen. Like the Baked Pesto Tortellini dish I cooked for Chris’ office Christmas party. And like the Herb-Crusted Pork loin I served along with it.

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Baked Pesto Tortellini

The other day, I was chatting on Facebook, and brainstorming about putting together an e-cookbook for entertaining. A friend, who has been reading the blog for the past year, suggested maybe I should start a food blog first.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about recipes, hasn’t it?

Well, in my defense, blogging about food when you don’t have a kitchen is hard. Blogging about food when you’re not cooking because of an adorable bundle of chunk who is keeping you up night and day? Even harder. But, now that we do have a kitchen, and the baby is sleeping through the night, I am back at the stove, so I figured it’s time to start putting up the occasional recipe—especially recipes that make it easier for you to invite friends over for dinner and keep the natives from burning down your house while you prepare the meal.

So, here you go.

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Two Years Later: A Before and After

Two years ago today, demo began on our house. You can read about it here. At the time, in my naïve, foolish, little head, I had visions of us speedily and efficiently transforming this house into a home in a little over six months. Just like you see on TV. Oh, sweet innocence of youth.

Three general contractors, mountains of debt, anxiety attacks on the regular, and about 600 martinis later, I’m still making my peace with our decision to buy and renovate this house. Our little guy is helping, though, and the more we fill this place with memories of him, the more peaceful I’m starting to feel about it all.

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The Very Best Kind of Hard

Last weekend, I was speaking in Denver, when a lovely woman came up, introduced herself as a reader of the blog, and then asked, “How is your adoption going?”

Surprised, I stepped aside, and pointed at the baby, sitting in the car seat at my feet (we had just arrived).

I was a little confused about the question, since I’ve bombarded Instagram and Facebook with pictures of Toby almost daily since his birth on July 25. But, as the woman explained, she’s not on social media; she just follows the blog. She’d been waiting months for an update and fearing the worst.

“Post an update,” she urged. “For those like me, who aren’t on Facebook.”

So, consider yourself updated, friends. Tobias James Connolly Chapman is here and perfect in every way.

Credit: Andrea Dahm

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Join Us in Praying the St. Anne Novena

I posted this on my personal Facebook page this morning, but wanted to post it here as well, for  those of you who don’t follow me there.

From Facebook:

The Novena to St. Anne starts today and concludes on July 25, which is the day before the Feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim and the day that Toby is scheduled to arrive (via c-section). Chris and I will be praying this novena for his safe and healthy delivery, peace for his parents, and sanity for us (okay, really me, Chris is in no danger of losing his sanity). We would love for as many of our friends as possible to join us in this.
 
For those of you not familiar with St. Anne and St. Joachim, tradition tells us that these are the names of Mary’s parents (and Jesus’ grandparents). The couple struggled with infertility through the whole of their marriage, until finally, after many years of prayer, God blessed them in their old age with a very special daughter: Mary.
 
Knowing this, Chris and I have sought St. Anne’s special intercession since the beginning of our marriage. On our honeymoon, we made a pilgrimage to St. Anne’s beautiful shrine in Quebec, to pray for the gift of a child, and we have prayed this Novena together, for the same intention, many times. We also are blessed to have a small third-class relic of St. Anne (sent by a kind reader of the blog) next to our bedside, and a beautiful statue of her and the Blessed Mother in our bedroom. Both devotional items have brought me so much comfort over these past two years, perpetually reminding me that I have a friend in heaven who has walked this same, hard path. I believe St. Anne has been a faithful prayer warrior for us throughout our marriage, and I trust she’s going to keep up those prayers during these final days of waiting.
 
Thank you for all the prayers offered up on behalf of Toby, his parents, and us. I can’t even imagine where we would be without them.
 
Here is the link to the novena for those of you who missed it above: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/st-anne-novena

 

Approaching Our Journey’s End: The Complicated Joy and Tragic Gift of Adoption

This past Friday, I spent hours and hours online, reading stories about failed adoptions. I did the same thing Thursday. And I’m fighting the temptation to do the same today.

I know. I have issues.

In my defense though, I am part Irish. It’s in my blood to expect the worst…or, as I call it, to be “extra realistic.” Besides that, this whole adoption process has been so fraught with problems, from first to last, that expecting these remaining days to be anything less than traumatic seems foolish.

Friends and family, trying to be helpful, keep telling me to relax, to put it in God’s hands, and trust that it’s going to be all right. But human hearts don’t trust on command. If they did, I assure you, mine would be trusting right now. I order it to trust God daily, explaining to my heart how loving and merciful He is, and how He is working with the mess we’ve handed Him to bring about the eternal good of everyone involved in this adoption.

But my heart can’t hear those explanations. It’s too busy flipping and flopping about in my stomach—anxious, distracted and overwhelmed—to really listen to what my head is telling it.

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Waiting and Hoping and Praying

Sometimes no news is good news. Other times, no news is…no news. That’s sort of the case with our adoption. I mean, there’s news. There’s dramatic news, sad news, confusing news, good news, infuriating news, unbelievable news, crazy news, and plain old newsy news, but generally, by the time I can get around to sharing the news, it’s become old news, which, really, is no news at all. Right?

In my head, I swear that makes sense.

Sadly, that is my answer to those of you who have been writing and asking for an update on the adoption situation here on the blog. The whole thing is just so changeable, that I’m not sure what to say.  I’ve tried to give regular updates on Facebook, but even that has become too difficult. I worry about saying the wrong thing…or about saying the right thing but having the wrong people read it. I also worry about jinxing myself, which I know is totally stupid and unCatholic and probably going to earn me an extra millennium in Purgatory, but non-stop, soul-crushing, bank account-draining stress does crazy things to your head. So, that’s my excuse.

Because so many of you have asked, though, I’ll try to give  the Cliff’s Note Version update. In a nutshell, we are waiting and hoping and praying.

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