Category Archives: Fun for Couples

Adoption Update

I have been trying to write an adoption update post for weeks! For some reason, I keep holding off. I write a bunch of stuff, only to delete it later. It’s not that it is anything bad, just that it is emotional and I’m not yet sure what is the right level of open for this blog.

Danny and I have always felt very open to (and passionate about) adopting a child. In the adoption process, we have prepared for and learned about being open to the birth family of that child. We have opened up every facet of our lives to examination, from finances to communication style to health history to familial relationships and more. We talk about it openly with family and friends. Yet, when I sit down to write, the words somehow don’t do it justice; the love we have to give, the lives we have to share and the fierce hope with which we wait. And while I may be willing to blog about a lot of personal things, nothing compares to the kind of openness one experiences with adoption–(and we are not even to the big, emotional part yet). Not just to the baby you have been dreaming of but also to his or her birth mother and father and whole extended family. Regardless of whether the adoption is open or not, regardless of whether those people ever see or speak to the child again, we, as adoptive parents, carry them with us for our child. And in turn, in a feeble and unworthy gesture, we open ourselves up to inspection. How many people can a heart hold? Actually, a lot.

I know, I know. That is not much of an update. That is me coming to terms with how raw my emotions are about how open and vulnerable Danny and I make ourselves by putting our profile out there. And it is finally out there! On this blog. On The Cradle’s website. And in print form and Nook form at The Cradle. We are officially a “Waiting Family.”

This means that if an expectant mother comes to The Cradle seeking to make an adoption plan that she may find out about us in a few ways. 1. She could see us on the website. 2. She could read about us on the Nook. 3. A Cradle counselor could recommend us to her if we fit her criteria and she, ours. If she wants to learn more about us, she will request to view our full profile, which is the printed book we’ve created over the last few months. It is longer than anything you could see online and it contains more detail about our lives, our family, friends, reasons for adopting and parenting. When someone requests our long profile, we will receive a Request for Profile, an RFP. The RFP will provide Danny and I will some details about the expectant mother and, hopefully also, father. Information like health history, prenatal care, race, age, and thoughts/notes from the expectant parent counselor about her/their interest in making an adoption plan. We then approve or deny the RFP. If we approve, the expectant parent takes our profile home along with 4-5 others. She then chooses one couple/person out of those 5-6 to meet. Then, the expectant mother (and potentially also father) and her counselor sits down with us and our counselor in, what I can only imagine is, the most awkward meeting ever.

The other way this could happen is that someone who is considering adoption finds our profile online (like through this blog or on The Cradle’s website) before contacting an agency to make an adoption plan. That is why if you share this post on Facebook, link to our adoption page on Year of Fun, or like The Cradle on Facebook, you help spread the word. You never know what friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend may find herself making this difficult decision.

Danny and I both appreciate all of the support and love from our families and friends that came with this announcement months ago and the announcement in April that we are finally LIVE. I promise to keep you all updated on the progress of the adoption. For now, we wait.

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Life, Work, and a Health Overhaul.

So…it’s been a while.

Life (read work) has taken over for the hubs and I. When we aren’t at work, we are doing work at home, and in the few moments we have to tear our eye balls aways from glowing computer screens (maybe while sleeping or shoveling food into our mouths), we think about work. May was just really busy for us both. Oftentimes, in those moments, I become stressed about everything I’m missing–friends, family, art, a walk in a park, blogging, FUN. I get all lost in, “I’m so busy. I’m so stressed and IT WILL NEVER END!!!” But it does end. It has ended. I’m home. Enjoying a cocktail of OJ and coconut water. The hubs made a roasted beet salad and honey, sesame glazed salmon for dinner, that we ate at the table like adults. We took Elphie for a nice walk before the sky broke open. And now, I’m writing again.

How do you live in the storm of work and still see through to the clouds parting (sun shining, birds chirping, etc)?

Like, for real. How do you do it? Does anyone actually do this??

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One thing I’m trying now is an eight-week health overhaul. It started when I read a blog post about a detox cleanse that made me want to try one. However, after discussing with friends, I decided a cleanse of protein shakes for meals was not really the way to go for me. Instead a more holistic–mind, body, soul–approach. My friend Emily (of wedding and pop up photography fame) came up with a plan/set of goals for herself (super rigorous and awesome) that I, with help from my buddy-and running enthusiast-John adapted for ourselves. Below is the full list, including the goals Emily outlined for herself and how I’ve adapted it for my life and my RA:

Emily–No alcohol, Sarah–same–this one is easy. I already limit my alcohol intake due to medications I’m on and I have to say, it is actually a lot less stressful not drinking than it is to think about, “How many drinks have I had this week? Is this beer really worth one of the two drinks I can have right now?” Also, even after a late night with friends, I wake up feeling just fantastic (instead of headachy and sluggish)

Emily–60 minutes of yoga a day, Sarah–20-30 minutes of yoga a day–I do a combination of what I remember from taking yoga classes, RA specific poses/stretches I found by surfing YouTube and core work a physical therapist taught me. This has changed my morning and all I did was take the time I was spending reading email on my phone in bed first thing and use it on yoga. So much better for the soul.

Emily–40 miles of running a week, Sarah–5 miles of running/walking per week–Here is where I have been struggling, not with the task but with finding the time. But I just have to do it. Aforementioned running enthusiast and friend John helped me come up with a run/walk program to ease me into running. I walk two minutes, run 30 seconds for eight sets for a total of 20 minutes (I can do about a mile and a half in this time right now). Slowly, like every week or so, I increase the running increment and decrease the walking increment until I am running the entire time. Still working on this one…

Emily–60+ ounces of water and green tea a day, Sarah–24oz of water per day plus green tea or OJ and coconut water–I gave up caffeine two years ago but green tea is so tasty and so good for you and doesn’t really have THAT much caffeine so I’ll have it once a week or so. But the water has made a huge difference. For real. I used to be one of those people who just didn’t drink things, not throughout the day, sometimes not even at meals. Very weird. Because now that I’m drinking water all the time, I feel really good. I’m sure the yoga and all this other stuff helps too, but on a very basic level, I can tell that water helped right away.

Emily–Oil pulling 1-2 times a day, Sarah–same. See my post on oil pulling. I love it.

Emily–Fish oil 1 time a day, Sarah–multi vitamin once per day–I eat a lot of fish and wasn’t sold on the whole fish burps thing so I started a multi-v. I’m sure I need all of that stuff. Oh, I also do chewable because, despite taking pills for most of my life, I’m really terrible at it.

Emily–Significantly reduce processed foods including sugars, Sarah–significantly reduce processed foods, especially sugars–I have a sugar addiction. I will eat cookies every day, multiple times a day then come home and have move cookies. I am an actual cookie monster and it just had to stop. It’s been two weeks and I have not had a single processed sugar item. I will tell you honestly that there have been days where the cravings were like, whoa. I mean. CRAZY. GIVE ME A COOKIE NOW OR I WILL STAB YOU feelings. But I have conquered them (for now). And while I may not ban sweets for life (I mean what’s Thanksgiving without pie crust?) I feel I am well on my way to kicking the habit. And most of my other meals have come from the organic produce section (of the fabulous new Mariano’s on Lawrence). I’ve also kept up with fruit for breakfast instead of–highly processed–cereal.

Emily–1 long dog walk a day, Sarah–1 dog walk a day–The hubs and I have thoroughly enjoyed this part. We do it together at the end of the night, when the sun has almost set and we reconnect. It’s nice outside, people are out with their dogs and our neighborhood feels like a community.

So that is what is keeping me sane these days. Anyone else want to join in on our challenge?

Sell!

Our condo is on the market. Woo hoo! Fingers crossed for a fruitful sale. Here’s some photo evidence of the efficient and affordable work we did to prep our home.

Kitchen Update

We went with cabinet re-facing instead of replacement because it is so much more affordable. The doors are new, but the faces are not–they have a new plate over the old one to match the new color. We upgraded to a granite countertop, an under-mount, stainless steel sink and modern hardware, all of which the cabinet re-facing company helped us do on a budget. Danny did the backsplash himself with this peel and stick tile from Home Depot. It took him a few hours, it looks great and it is easy to replace if the new buyers don’t like it. Instead of spending $30,000 on a total kitchen re-do, we spent $8,000 on a pretty fantastic facelift (if I do say so myself).08597806_3_1

Master Closet

I have always loved our Elfa closets in the master bedroom. However, when we had them installed, The Container Store told us we would get more shelf, rack, drawer space if we removed the bi-fold doors. We said, “yes please” and lived with open closets. I think, when it is organized, it looks really nice, however to accommodate a pickier buyer, we purchased tension wire from Ikea and curtains from West Elm to add an optional “door” to the closets. (We splurged on the curtains because we plan to use these same four panels to cover the huge windows in our master bedroom at the new place). The tension wires were easy to install, however one is working perfectly that the other has required additional repairs. It even pulled out of the wall once. It was also the first one we did, so maybe that was just user error.

08597806_6_1Hallway

We waved goodbye to all of our personal photos and put them in storage. Then we hired some guys to fill all the holes (from all the photos) and paint the wall. Yes, we could have hopped on the struggle bus and done this ourselves, but we felt the $200 was totally worth it for saving hours of our time and potentially sanity. There were a lot of holes…

The paint is photographing greener than it really is. Actually it looks more blue/grey in person.

The paint is photographing greener than it really is. Actually it looks more blue/grey in person.

De-Clutter

So far, we have sold two unnecessary pieces of Target furniture on Craigslist and gone through every closet and cabinet for items to sell, items to trash and reorganization. I also re-organized these bookshelves to make them a little less crowded.

Elphie, photo bomb!

Elphie, photo bomb!

Yes, I got rid of some books, but mostly I re-arranged everything. I put like colored books together, turned some things on their sids and tried to avoid long rows of just books. Honestly, I cannot wait to create styled vignettes throughout our new home, mostly using what I’ve learned from Young House Love and watching too much HGTV.

To Do

There are still some areas that need help. This mess, for one. Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetAnd obviously we couldn’t update/paint/fix everything. I would love to replace the blue carpet in the bedrooms, replace bathroom floors and vanities and put new hardware on all of the closet doors (right now they are white plastic and I still may get to this one), change the light fixtures, and re-paint the entire apartment except for the newly painted hall and the two green walls that I love. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset  Also, I pretend every day that this ceiling fan does not exist.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

However, I believe that with the work we’ve done, we will find a buyer who will love this place like we did–and who maybe even loves a gold-plated ceiling fan.

Hyde Park Night

I’m ashamed to admit that I am one of those Chicagoans that really sticks to their neighborhood. Or really the few neighborhoods that I already frequent–Buena Park, North Center, Andersonville and Lincoln Square. That’s it. So when my friend Allison said she wanted to do dinner, I said, “Why don’t we come to you?” She lives in Hyde Park, and the only times I’ve been there I have been picking stuff up either from her apartment or the University of Chicago–all for the theater. Shameful. So last Friday, Danny and I took Lake Shore Drive past the exit for I-55 to meet Allison and her beau and found Chicago, the college town.

Like for real, a college town with its mix of little independent shops and restaurants, the essential big box places and bars. It was a gorgeous night in Chicago so we ate dinner OUTSIDE (thank goodness) at Z & H. It was taco night and we had our fill of tacos, guac, chips, and quesadillas. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

It was delicious, even if ordering and receiving the food was slightly chaotic. They subscribe to the deli model of taking your name and then shouting when your food is ready, which would be totally fine if there weren’t very segregated seating areas. Not to worry, we got our food and ate. it. all.

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 presetNext, we attempted to go to the new, swanky A-10 for drinks, however were denied access–no seats available. And it clearly wasn’t a standing bar. So instead we went to what can only be described as the exact opposite of new and swanky, what I’m told is a Hyde Park classic, Jimmy’s. Which isn’t even its name, mind you. The official name is Woodlawn Tap, however I think if you call it that, you might get kicked out. This is a college bar. Bad beer, torn up seats, loud, dark, FUN. We got a pitcher of beer and chilled with some friends of Allison’s that had the same idea.

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Here’s the other thing about Hyde Park; apparently everyone knows everyone! Walking down the street, sitting at dinner and upon entering Jimmy’s we ran into no less than 5 people that either Allison or her beau knew. Craziness. Sure we were surrounded by people who did not look a day over 15 to me, but who I’m sure were in college, saying things like, “If I wanted tacos, I’d just go to Big Star.” But we had a fantastic time and I loved the vibe of the neighborhood. People just out and about having a great time. Thanks Allison and Sam for a great night showing us your hood!

Anniversary Times

Yesterday was the hubs and my second wedding anniversary. Our weekend of eating and cleaning was, in fact, part celebration. We did not leave our trip to West Elm completely empty-handed. Since the traditional two-year present is cotton, we splurged on some great sheets and a new quilt for our bed (Elphie has chewed many holes in the old one). I love the chevron pattern against the simple (yet double-sided) coral quilt. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We also went out for a drink and dinner on Friday night at Fountainhead (one of our favorites, fantastic rooftop deck in the summer), which is something we hadn’t done in a long time. We realized that we had both been so busy with work and adoption stuff that we had been neglecting date nights.

So yesterday, we tried to create another date night by walking to the cute corner store that sells alcohol, sandwiches, chocolates and pasta (a fine mix if you ask me) to grab a champagne split. We had also purchased some fish and brussels sprouts in preparation for making an anniversary dinner to enjoy at home.

Well, we tried a traditional french recipe on the fish–except we used some grapefruits instead of lemons–and it turned out horrible. I mean horrible. Like congealed fish with buttery/grapefruit flavor. We had to dump it. So we sat down with our champagne split and our delicious roasted brussels sprouts (just tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin then roasted for 40 mins at 400) to partake in our wedding anniversary tradition: watching the wedding video our friend Gregory made for us.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

The video is about 10 minutes long and, to me, it is perfect. It captures everything that was special to us about our day from getting ready and walking down the aisle (a wooden plank on the beach) to the canopy decorated with homemade tissue flowers (credit mostly due to my mom, though others certainly helped), to our best friends and family speaking and witnessing, to our kiss and the spontaneous hugging and dancing that immediately followed, to the dinner, drinks, and dances and, finally, to one of my favorite moments, the men’s exact dance replica of that heartfelt pop classic, N’Sync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye.”

We talked about watching it every year, about forcing our kids to watch it every year, and it made our night, congealed fish and all, so much better. Also, we may have then eaten a bunch of Haagen Dazs to make up for the fish. Happy Two Years to my boo!

Also, I’m sure we can’t be the only ones who have had anniversary plans fall through or not work out (though it did also kind of happen to us last year in London. Sheesh). Tell me about your not-so-perfect anniversary celebrations.

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