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Baby Steps

We’ve talked about adoption for years.  It’s just been “the plan” for quite a while, now.  But it’s always been an “in the not-too-distant-future” kind of plan.

Not “today” yet because:

  • we are getting ready to move to another state
  • we have a ton of debt to pay down
  • we have to save up the money for the costs involved
  • we can’t afford for me to stay home full-time
  • and whatever else comes up that week

It’s not at all like we were putting it off.  On the contrary, in fact.  We have been ready for a really long time.  Both of us.  But I think if I’m completely honest, we’ve just been waiting for everything to align perfectly before “pulling the trigger”… and I think we are really realizing that this will probably never happen.

So we had a really good talk earlier this week and…

We are ready.

And this time, I don’t mean ready to just keep being ready.  But we’re ready to start down this path.  Ready to take our Baby Steps… steps toward bringing home our little one.

We are going to take our first step off of the path we are currently on and start really putting the work in to make this happen.

Currently, we are researching domestic adoption agencies (and actively looking for recommendations, if anyone has any!) and seeking out updated information on costs, especially since we’re still new to Texas.  And we’re also hoping to start collecting information on any/all available tax breaks, grants, adoption loans, etc. and to see what we can qualify for with our combined income and whatnot.  And we are counting people at these places, too.  Which is a huge step forward for us.

It’s really exciting.  I’m not sure why, but it feels so much more… real!  Submitting requests for adoption information packets from various organizations is quite an awesome step for us.  It doesn’t just feel like yet another thing sitting in our tomorrow basket, but it feels like we’re really on our way.  We’ll actually be answering questions and filling out applications and… really, truly getting the ball rolling. Eek!

It will definitely take time – the average wait for domestic adoption within the US is around 2 years.  And for those of you unaware, this is why I tend to look at little elephants as a kind of symbol for our little one, as the gestational period for an elephant is about 21 months.

So here we are ready and oh so eager to get this show on the road.  It may not be how we always pictured things playing out, but that’s life, right?  And if we always wait for things to be perfect before we do anything worth while, then we’ll never get there.

Please pray for us.  Please check in with us (I will be MORE than thrilled to answer questions at any time, trust me).  And if nothing else, stick around to see how everything plays out.  I can’t wait to share this journey with you guys!

~Hope

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Let Me Entertain You

When we bought this house, it came with quite an array of …. junk.  Only some of which is even worth mentioning.

We acquired a massive wood pile in the back yard (which may hold some possibilities, but is currently just a massive eye sore and most of it is unusable).  We gained a ridiculous amount of crap in the garage (seriously – how much fertilizer and bug killer does one need?).  And we inherited a massive entertainment center (left in a not massive room) that was too tall to just move into another room without first being completely disassembled.

Initially, this all just seemed to translate into a lot of work.  But once we started to really get a handle on things, much of it started to look more convenient than previously thought.  So we took stock and just added all it to the list.

THEN we found out that family was coming for Christmas and suddenly our list got rearranged and prioritized to an unrealistic amount of things that had to be done before mid-December.  Awesome.  But hey… what better time to just get stuff done, right?  We work better on a deadline anyway.

So as we went through the list and started to determine what we actually had time to accomplish before our guests arrived, we decided that we didn’t have enough time to build an entertainment center as I’d really wanted, and this beast would just take way more work than we really wanted to invest (since we didn’t plan to keep it long-term).  But we had to have something because our previous/current Tv Stand didn’t exactly fare well during the cross-country move.  Enter a certain discounted home furnishings website and our luck in finding the perfect Entertainment Center for what we really wanted in our space.  Boom!  Everyone’s a winner.  Huzzah!!

Unnnnntil we got an e-mail about it not possibly being delivered until the day after Christmas.  Wait – what?!  The website had initially said that it’d be shipped within 3-5 business days… back when we made the purchase at the end of November.  And we paid for standard shipping.  Stupid fine print!  Because it was considered an overpriced piece, the only method of shipment was to have it physically driven from somewhere in the middle of Illinois straight to our home in Texas.  And that alone would take at least 3 weeks.  Sheesh.  Sounds like the worst road trip ever.  NoThanks!

There we were… back to the drawing board.  And our options had now dwindled down to paying a stupid amount of money for a new Entertainment Center that wasn’t exactly what we wanted and would need to be refinished anyway (which seemed like a waste of said money) OR refinishing “the Beast.” And of course now we were only about 2.5 weeks away from guests arriving and were already planning to finish a dining room table and ottoman that were scheduled to be delivered sometime within that timeframe.  Murphy – you ol’ poopstick.  Why does your law always seem to win out?

Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a peak at the beast… in all of its original, left behind glory.  Oh – sorry for the awful lighting and terrible camera angles… this room is long and narrow and there weren’t really a ton of options for better perspective.

Yeah.  It’s pretty massive, right?

And has thus far become the dumping ground for all books and assorted “stuff” that didn’t yet have another home in the new house.

And before you start thinking anything like “it’s not so bad” or “that would be expensive if purchased anywhere”… let me give you a few close-ups from after we disassembled and explain what we discovered.

Among being built without much attention to detail, and without anything remotely close to some level of craftsmanship, it was also not stained until after it was assembled.  And though that may not seem that terrible, when I say “assembled,” I’m even including the insertion of the adjustable shelves.  None of it was stained before being put together.  AND it was stained INSIDE the home.  I know this because of the stain marks on the walls and on my tile floor.  *sigh

Anywho – without further delay, here’s a few close-ups of what we were working with (sorry again for the bad light spots and weird shots… I wasn’t thinking about the blog when I took these and I am kicking myself for that, now):

See those drips and all that goop? And how about some along the wide open sides (before you start thinking that it was just because it was near the floor… which they managed to get stain on anyway):

Yeah. Random and unnecessary.

I really wish I would’ve gotten some better shots, but I was taking them after daylight was pretty much gone and we had turned on the overhead lights (stupid stupid stupid!).

How about one more shot of the brush marks where you can tell they didn’t blend or wipe in the stain, but just brushed it on like paint and left it:

Not exactly my favorite look.  Call me crazy.

And it had also seemed to have taken a pretty good beating over the years – water spots and wax build-up aplenty:

Hott, right?

If you’re into that kind of thing.

So… now that you have a better idea of what we’re up against, let’s get into some progress shots.

Oh a Thursday night, I finally took the plunge.  I pull out my new Ryobi Orbital Sander (now THAT is a score I’ll have to tell you about sometime) and went to town.

Here’s everything laid our in the garage and you can tell that I’d already begun sanding everything:

You see that area in the bottom left corner of the image where it is really light?  Yeah… I hadn’t sanded that down, yet – that is just where the middle piece meet the side piece on this one.  See what I mean about not sanding until after it was assembled?  And if you look at the bookshelf furthest from the camera (*coughiPhonecough*), you can see where the adjustable shelves had been when they that piece was stained.  Nice and thorough, boys.  Nice. and. Thorough.

Anywho, as I got into sanding, the wood looked pretty nice.  Without the caked on stain and sealant it wasn’t so shabby and I was starting to see the possibility of a nice piece.  Just needed a little love and elbow grease to bring it out.

And when I say “little”, what I really mean is a ridiculous crap-ton, of course.  Obvs.  But look at the different!

Unfortunately, I had to get serious.  I do believe with the right stain color and the right technique (read: ANY actual technique) this could be a not-so-bad wood piece.  But I did NOT have time to stain the entire thing in a way that would bring out it’s beauty and still have time to apply a poly to ensure that it wouldn’t get worn too quickly or easily.

This meant that we were going to need to paint it.  My only hesitation to just paint from the beginning was that 1) there’s a lot of wood knots and texture to this piece and was worried that just straight painting would look a little cheap (and I did not have time to distress anything after applying paint), and 2) this is Texas.  If we really were considering selling this thing after sometime not to long after Christmas, I needed to appeal to the masses, right? Nothing too taste specific and nothing to crazy.

Here’s a close-up of some of the neat little knots and textures of the Beast:

See those pretty little bits?  If I was going to be stuck with this piece for any period of time, I was NOT going to lost any of that goodness.  But what would that mean as far as painting was concerned?

Frankly, I didn’t have time to second guess myself and flip-flop around with it.  I need to just make a decision and get to work.

And with that realization, paint became the name of the game.

So I got to work.  I didn’t want to hand paint the entire thing because… let’s get real.  In this day and age, that’s just silly.  So I decided I would “prime” the piece with some leftover paint I had and then spray it white. White is simple, not too taste specific, and all in all would work well in many spaces.  Now we had a plan.

It began.  And as I was working, I realized that the paint I was using as my primer, was actually a cream color and not a white (though you probably can’t tell from this distance).

Dadgummit!  Ah well.  Close enough.  No going back now, right?

Welp, this is where I stopped taking pictures.  Because frankly, this is where things started to get SUPER frustrating.

I had opted to spray paint the entire thing because of time and in order to get an even and non-strokey finish.  Since I hadn’t yet purchased a paint sprayer, but had asked for one for Christmas, I figured I’d super simplify things by just using good old fashioned spray paint.  I’ve done a ton of spray painting in my life and already had a good handle on technique and figured it wouldn’t take too much effort this way.  So why not, right?

Going into this project, I have always been a brand snob when it comes to spray paint.  When it comes to normal paint, I’m more of a color snob, but not really as concerned with brands.  But with regard to spray paint, I have always stuck with the original – Rustoleum.  To be clear, that was before.  I am no longer stuck on Rustoleum spray paint and it may take some kind of miracle (or severe shortage of other options) before I’m willing to purchase another can of their spray paint.

I purchased somewhere around 15 cans of spray paint for this project (though not all at once, because I initially figured I could get it done with much less).  Out of the total, at least 6 cans were defective.

That is over 1/3 of the total.  Are we serious??  Really?!  Come the HECK ON!  And it all translated to 3 total trips to the store for more because I’d need one or two more, would buy more than I thought I’d actually need in that trip, but then would get home and discover that several of them wouldn’t work.  And here are the categories of insanity that I was working with (read: the ways they were defective):

  • watery, yellow liquid rather than the glossy white paint it was supposed to contain
  • something I can only describe as some kind of paint turd slowly oozing out when the “trigger” was pulled, and then never stopping even with the trigger was released
  • messy, chunky bits randomly spewing out all over the piece
  • almost empty! no really – having taken the red stopper off myself, I hadn’t been spraying for more than 10 seconds when it was just done.  empty.  completely out of paint.

Needless to say, I was BEYOND furious.  How many times did this have to happen?  And I had even purchased them from different stores, so it’s not like it was just one bad pallet.  And when I’d run into another bad can, it felt infinitely worse than it probably would’ve been if I had just been starting because by then – I was spraying/spewing this awfulness onto the piece where I had already made so much progress and was trying to blend in where the previously sprayed areas were.  So as it was spreading its ridiculousness, it was ruining what I had just worked so hard to already finish and/or correct.

UGH!

A MILLION TIMES UGH!!

By the time I finished, I just needed to not even LOOK at the thing for a few days.  Seriously.  I convinced myself that it stayed in the garage to “set” before we brought it into the house, and that was true, but it really didn’t need to set for 4 days.  I was just beyond frustrated.

So here it is.  Far from my best work, and definitely in need of touching up and a little distressing, but it was what it was and it would stay that way for at least a month or more… or until I could build myself up to messing with it again, anyway.

(ignore the laundry basket filled with blankets… you see nothing!)

And here are a couple of close-ups so that you can see how the painting translated with those cute, quirky little knots and bits of texture that I wanted to preserve:

I do wish I had filled in just the little finishing nail holes and just left the natural wood roughness, but it all seems to blend for now, anyway.  Besides… you live and you learn, right?!

And here are a couple of shots (terrible angles, again.  sorry!) from when I finally got some decor up on the shelves (incl. some Christmas stuff).  Also… the Pup says hello?

As you can see, we had to get creative when it came to an end table for now.  These are just two stained crates stacked on top of each other, but it does the job for now.

Well, there ya have it.

I have big plans to switch up the stuff on the shelves, to hang something above the TV (to fill in that empty space when the Christmas tree garland is gone), and to put something on the top of the piece so that it’s not weird and naked when viewed from above.

You start to get a little glimpse into the height of this room in the shots above, but it’s really just soooo massive.  I need to not only put some things along the top of this piece, but then will still need to figure out something to do on the walls above it, too.  I have tons of things pinned as inspiration, but I’ll eventually have to narrow that down and formulate an actual plan.  And then do the same in the open space above the windows, and then the areas below the “window” openings from the floors above on the other two walls.

You know what they say about Great Rooms… with great room comes great responsibility.  Or something like that.

Now that this thing is “done” and back into the house (in a newer, larger room than before), for now, we have decided to keep it for longer than month or two.  It’s still probably not going to be a forever piece unless it really starts to grow on us (perhaps some touch-up paint and light distressing would help with that?), but it more than works for now.  And it’s funny, I can already picture a few things I’d like to do with it in the future (pallet wood backs to the shelves, filling the nail holes, lightly distressing the piece a bit, and many other things that will quite possibly never happen), but I’m not unhappy when I look at this wall, anymore.  And that, my friends, speaks volumes!

So what have y’all been working on, lately?  Any house projects taking up your time?  Is your “to do” list as massive as mine is?  I swear that thing has found a way to clone itself while I’m sleeping.

Hugs and awkward high fives!

~Hope

BIG Changes

My boss finally made the announcement, so… I guess that makes it official.

We’re moving!

GAAAAHHHHH!!

It still doesn’t feel real. We’ve been wanting to leave Maryland for years, but it’s actually relatively difficult to figure out how to relocate to a city where you know no one and still somehow find jobs for two different people. But alas, it’s finally happening.

We are BEYOND thrilled, but there’s a part of me that’s still just waiting for the other shoe to drop. For someone to step in and say “jk! Gotcha! You’re not actually going anywhere.”

Regardless, I know in my brain that it’s real. It’s happening. The official report date is still being ironed out, though we are looking at sometime in June, and soon I will begin the process of transferring my job, finding a home…. Starting a new life. Wow – it feels weird to say that. We get to completely start over!

How does one even begin to do that? I mean… It’s like getting a do-over. A “Try again” option in the video game of life (for those “metaphor whores” like me, out there). How stinking cool is that?!

Anyway – my family still doesn’t know. My sisters know that it’s probably going to happen at some point this year, but no sort of timeframe. My parents know NOTHING about us even leaving, so that will be an interesting reveal.

Study’s family is aware. We’ve kept them in the loop ever since this dream was born. His family is just much more laid back and, frankly, supportive of what we want and whatever works for us, whereas mine just found out yesterday. They are all very happy for us and excited to see us begin this new chapter in our lives. They’re happy because we’re happy. And isn’t that exactly how it should be?

However, this isn’t a post a post about family, in general, but rather about MY family and what’s coming next for us.

This move holds a LOT of opportunity for us and I can’t wait to take those first steps toward our future (stay tuned for more deets on those plans).

There’s no doubt in my mind that God has brought us to this moment. And in his timing… it is perfect. We have whined, cried, yelled, laughed insanely, and altogether just longed for this to happen for years, and time after time it just didn’t seem to be in the cards for us as each new opportunity seemed to fade away – some almost immediately, and some much more gradually. Nonetheless, it’s here now. It’s finally happening, and we are so beyond grateful for the privilege to take this BIG step forward.

So how about you – have any of you gotten the chance to start over, completely? And dreamers out there? Anyone feeling hopeless? Anyone too scared to take that first step?

Or what about those of you that LOVE your life and exactly where you are at the moment? Let’s hear it. 🙂

~Hope

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