It’s been a long time friends. But, I’ve been busy! There have been books and Endow studies and a whole lot of Instagram posts, which are faster and easier to write than blog posts when you only have one free hand and a ginormous toddler sleeping on you. One day, when I have both hands back, I hope to return to writing more in this little corner of the Internet. But, I’m kind of hoping that will be a while! We’re in the process of trying for a second adoption—hopefully a more peaceful process than last time around, but that’s up to God. I did want to pop on here, though, and let my non-Instagram/Facebook followers know about my newest project, an e-cookbook and essay collection, called Around the Catholic Table: 77 Recipes for Easy Hospitality and Everyday Dinners, which I wrote for a very special cause.
Are you thinking about a kitchen renovation? Do you have visions of subway tile and quartz countertops dancing in your head? Or are you still steeling your nerves at the thought of kitchen upgrades before you try to sell your house? Before you start calling contractors, stop, make yourself some coffee, and ask yourself the following questions.
(Really. Make some coffee. This is going to take a while. I’ve written book chapters shorter than this blog post.)
Okay. Ready? Here we go.
1.) How long will I be in this house?
Why? Because how you answer this question helps you determine three things: Your budget. Your style choices. The quality of materials used.
If you’re only looking at staying in your house for a few more months or few more years, your kitchen renovation is really about re-sale. Which means you can keep your budget small, limiting it to essential visual upgrades. It also means you can paint your cabinets that trendy dark blue or choose that floor tile that’s all over Pinterest; you won’t be around in five years, when all those choices look oh so 2019. They’ll look good now, which is all that matters. You also don’t have to invest in furniture-grade cabinetry…or even mid-grade cabinetry; if doors are falling off their hinges in 10 years and laminate finishes are peeling off, you’re not the one who will have to deal with it.
If, however, you plan to be in your house for another decade (or two or three), you have a vested interest in a renovation that lasts (because, trust me, you don’t want to do this again for a long, long time). You also have a vested interest in a renovation that doesn’t look dated five years down the line (unless, of course, you can afford to shell out big bucks every time backsplash trends change). The longer you’re going to be in your house, the more important it is to invest in quality materials that last and classic design choices that work with the rest of your house. If you can’t afford to do that now (or if a house full of destructive littles makes you leery of having nice things), it’s better to either live with what you have until you can afford it/the time is right OR make a few cheap upgrades now and save the major work for later.Continue reading
…Is coming up on the blog (and Instagram) this week. I know: It’s not the most Lenten-themed series imaginable. Regardless, I’m talking about kitchens this week because, well, I want to talk about kitchens. I like kitchens. I like spending time in kitchens. I like looking at kitchens. And I like what kitchens make possible: delicious food and happy evenings enjoying that delicious food with people I love.
Also, after creating this kitchen…
…where this duplex dining room…
…and duplex bathroom used to be…
…I have some thoughts to share on the whole topic of kitchen renovations. Fancy that.
Creating our kitchen was a stressful, grueling, dirty, exhausting, expensive, and yet, still, somehow, totally fun experience. I learned so much during the year—yes, year—that we worked on it, and if all I learned through that process can save you some stress when you get around to renovating (or even just reorganizing) your own kitchen, that will make all the headaches it gave me a little more worth it.Continue reading
Toby will turn six months this Friday. Six months! Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday when I was weeping and fretting and shopping for travel trailers in the Sierra-Nevadas? Seriously. I don’t know how we went from here…
so dang fast. (Let’s all now pause for a moment and contemplate the glory of those legs….)
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.
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.
The house is quiet today. And peaceful. The windows are open. The curtains are blowing. And some sweet smell from some flowering bush is filling the house. I don’t know my plants well enough to name genus and species. Just sweetness.
The contractors will be back tomorrow to finish up some odds and ends in the bathroom, then back again in June to do a little more to the fireplaces and build a couple of shelves for baby things. There is a bit of painting to do inside. A bit more outside. There are flowers to plant, grass to seed, some deep ruts in the yard, left by large trucks, to fill. And of course, curtains and pictures to hang. But the house is, nevertheless, by and large, done.
And it’s lovely. It’s whole. It’s what it was always supposed to be: a home, filled with life and light and the hope for days to come. Continue reading
Today we’re tackling the third and final (for now) installment in my series about our adoption process: $$$$$$$$. If you need to catch up, here is Part 1 (Discerning Adoption) and Part 2 (Picking a Path).
How Much Does It Cost?
As I mentioned yesterday, the current average cost of private domestic infant adoption is about $40,000. Let that number sink in for a minute. $40,000.
Adopting through foster care is practically free. Adopting children with special needs is likewise considerably less. And around the country, a few small local agencies manage to keep costs low(ish). But, beyond that, adopting most everywhere else, in 2018, costs more than I earned annually for the first 14 years of my adult life.
This is Part Two in a three-part series on our discernment of adoption and the process we’re currently in. Yesterday, we covered our initial discernment. Today, I’m talking about the path we finally chose.
By November of last year, I was feeling desperate. I so badly wanted to begin the process of adopting a baby, but, A) Neither our house nor our finances were in any way ready, and B) It seemed like every avenue we’d investigated was closed to us. Let’s review:
- Local Traditional Agencies: Too old;
- International Adoption: Too old, too long a wait, only older children available;
- Foster Care: Only older children available, too emotionally draining after 20 months of dealing with infertility, house couldn’t pass a foster care home study in any way, shape, or form.
Fortunately, I have a lot of awesome Facebook friends.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve received a steady stream of emails and phone calls asking how Chris and I discerned that we wanted to pursue adoption, as well as how we decided upon the particular type of adoption we’re doing. I don’t want to turn “The Catholic Table” into “The Catholic Adoption,” but because I don’t think these emails are going to stop coming, I decided to answer those questions on the blog—not just for those writing and asking, but also for those of you who want to better understand the process of adoption.**
In order to keep this post from becoming book length, however, I’m going to break it up into three parts, which I’ll post over the next three days. On today’s docket: How we discerned adoption and began discerning what kind of adoption we wanted to pursue.