Overwhelmed by money, mostly in a good way.

Part of the front-end adoption process is establishing a budget. It’s not a set-in-stone thing but it is a ballpark thing. Agencies want to know, up front, if we can cover the fees associated with a particular situation.

Private domestic adoption fees range from $30,000 to $50,000. There’s a lot involved in that number: homestudy filing fees, background check fees, fees to cover a social worker’s time in completing a homestudy, attorney fees, court fees, agency fees, expenses for the expectant mom, and lots of other stuff.

We don’t have a spare $50,000. (We also don’t have a spare $30,000, either, in case you were wondering.)

We don’t have a ton of money saved. We have more now than a year ago, especially with me back at a full time job and us with two good incomes. However, we have debt, and our focus has been on paying that down – not on establishing an impressive savings account. That was part of why we never really pursued private adoption where we used to live. We didn’t have the income to even come close, not even for paying off any loans we took out.

Thankfully, our current situation is much different. We are used to living on one salary, so now that we have two we are moving quickly on paying things off. We’re also in a better position to pay off any loans we might take out.

We will be taking out loans. This will not be a debt-free adoption.

We’ve talked a lot about fundraising. That seems to be a thing potential adopters do. It’s not something we’re 100% comfortable with, though. Even writing about it makes me squirm. However, we’ve had a lot of friends and family ask what we’re doing, how they can help. Over the years, they just keep asking. And now we are at a point where we actually could use their support. So we did a shirt and posted “we’re adopting!” along with a link to the shirt.

The response was amazing. It wasn’t just people getting shirts; but it was the incredible notes of support, the “sharing” to their own accounts, the offers of further resources and support down the road. We were totally blown away. Suddenly, we feel hopeful. This is possible; this is doable. We have people behind us.

We probably won’t do much more “fundraising.” I can’t make any real claims about what will happen down the road. I just know where our comfort level is on asking for help and it’s already been surpassed.

But then, so have our expectations.

Kind of overwhelming. In a good way.


Adventure Cat

The cat, who has been a family member for almost 8 years, has always been an indoor cat. She rarely ventures near DOORS, nevermind outside.

At least, until we moved to this city. NOW the cat has decided, at eight years old, that she belongs outside.

adventure cat | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com

We’re still figuring it out. She’s not actually great at doing anything outside other than rolling on hot cement and hiding out under the one bush in the front yard.

FOOD omnomnom

I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate how much I’m loving the food situation here in our new place. Where we lived for eight years we had ONE RESTAURANT that was open for dinner. Every single night out, holiday, anniversary, etc happened at the same place.




We haven’t eaten at home much in the month we’ve been here in a big city.

FOOD omnomnom | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
Shrimp and Grits
FOOD omnomnom | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
Spam Moco
FOOD omnomnom | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
FOOD omnomnom | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
Gyro and Souvlaki and Spanakopita and Keftedes

One Month Walks and Whistles

We are one month into our new adventure in El Paso, Texas. It feels like we’ve been here for a lot longer, mainly because we both started work a week in and have been working full time ever since. Hubs has already been out of town for work once, with a few upcoming trips already planned. We’ve settled into a weekday routine and have done a pretty good job of planning our weekend like normal people.

For a while back in The Middle of Nowhere, we both had wildly different schedules from the norm, so if we did anything for fun it was any night of the week. It’s kind of weird to be back on a schedule that involves waking up at the SAME TIME every day and going to bed early on week nights.

One interesting discovery is that the small dog can whistle. At first it was a whine. But, as each day went by with us waking up at pretty much the exact same time and me taking them out for a good long walk, it developed into a full blown whistle. Now, if I hit the snooze button EVEN ONCE I can hear the whistle wafting up from downstairs, on the other side of the house. It’s obscene.

She really likes those walks.

one month walks | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com one month walks | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com one month walks | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com one month walks | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com

Moving Right Along

My last post was about moving, or changes leading up to moving. We’ve been living in the same general area of Texas for almost eight years and we are suddenly on our last 30 days. This time next month we will be living far away, in a new house and a new city, unpacking and prepping for our first days at our new jobs.

That’s right, I got a GREAT job! The offer, like everything else about this move, happened kind of suddenly and all at once. In less than a week I went from submitting one or two resumes a day and hearing back from NO ONE to being 100% employed. The interim included a phone interview, a day’s drive, two flights, frantic shopping for some professional garb, and a joyous job offer.

In just a few short weeks so many good things have happened! Hubs got an outstanding lateral transfer, we sold our house in DAYS, we found an outstanding house to buy in our new city, and I got an incredible job. Holy smokes! SO MUCH GOOD!

click photo for credit

It’s getting to the point now where I am starting to be anxious that something needs to go wrong. Everything has gone so smoothly and just so WELL for us that I am getting that suspenseful feeling you sometimes get during movies: “Things are going too well for these people; something BAD is going to happen!” In my head, I know it’s an unrealistic fear, but my emotions are another story. I’m absolutely not used to so much going so right in such a short amount of time. I really don’t know how to handle it!

What an excellent thing to type. Things are going so well that it’s starting to feel unreal. THAT is something to remember and hold on to.

Just wanted to share the good news, and somehow mark this excellent season in our life. Wahoo!!



So, we’ve had some changes here in our little bubble. Hubs’ work is transferring him to veryWest Texas (El Paso). Strange to live in a part of the world where moving 8 hours away keeps us in the same state! The turnaround time is pretty short so we have kept busy packing, cleaning, showing the house, and (for me) wrapping up local freelance projects.

El Paso | sundriedtomatoe.WordPress.com

Both of us are excited to soon be living in a city, rather than two hours outside of a city. We both grew up in cities, met in a city, spent our first few years together in the suburbs of a big city. Since then, we have been living in a bit of a rural oasis – big enough for us to get by (we do have a movie theater!) but definitely not what we are most comfortable with. Social interactions are distinctly different in a city suburb vs. a rural town. So are work opportunities…

And can I just say I am psyched about the opportunity for a career reset. While the last year has done wonders for my peace of mind and mental health, I miss a regular schedule, I miss someone else dealing with billing, I miss long-term goals and organizational movement. I miss the camaraderie that comes from daily work with other people. I miss a regular paycheck.

Man, do I miss a regular paycheck.

In other things to look forward to, we get a one-two punch on the foster/adopt front. El Paso is in a different CPS (Child Protective Services) region than San Antonio, so we might have better luck with the central office red tape. That’s not a sure thing, but it is something to look forward to. AND we will be LIVING within a few minutes of the central office, and all its centralized training and processing. This means we won’t encounter the weird limbo netherworld of rural foster care that we struggled with here. I’m excited about that.

And then, again, if all that doesn’t work I will be gainfully employed somewhere and we will be in a better financial position to pursue private adoption if we decide to go that route. So that’s another good thing.

All that being said, there’s some ambivalence about this move. Three years ago I was in a “get me out of here!” mindset and would not have looked back. That had more to do with my emotional and mental state than anything else.

I’m in a different place now, brain-wise, and it shows in how I’ve settled into this life we’ve built for ourselves. Life is quieter in some ways, but I’ve made more connections in the last 2.5-3 years than I did in the previous 10. Things just aren’t as frantic or as painful.

I guess I’m not trying to run away as much.

Unlike every other move in my life (there have been many) I feel like I’m leaving things behind, not just going somewhere new. There are people I will miss, and places and parts of the community that I will regret not having in a city environment. Three years ago I would NEVER have said that. Now I’m trying to figure out how to coerce people to move out there with us…

Just when that starts to get to me, however, I remember that now we will be within only a few hours of this:

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta | sundriedtomatoe.WordPress.com
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

And an easy day’s drive to this:

Breckenridge, Colorado | sundriedtomatoe.WordPress.com
Breckenridge, Colorado

And a weekend visit to my new niece who also happens to live here:

Las Vegas, Nevada | sundriedtomatoe.WordPress.com
Las Vegas, Nevada (from lasvegas.com)

And I can dip my feet in here on occasion:

Pacific Ocean, California coastline | sundriedtomatoe.WordPress.com
Pacific Ocean, California coastline (from kpbs.org)

I think we’re gonna’ be okay.

The House Gnome

We (Hubs and I) have this trick that I came up with a few years ago – we blame all irritating household habits on a House Gnome.

Clean clothes remain unfolded for several days? That’s how the House Gnome likes it.

Morning “get ready” kit got left askew on the bathroom sink? The House Gnome did it.

Dishwasher never got turned on? House Gnome.

Back door left unlocked? House Gnome.

All the credit for this guy is mine – I made him up because I came into the relationship with Hubs as a hardcore type-A in terms of housework and he came in as whatever the opposite of that is. I was the oldest in a big family and Chores were a huge part of daily life. He was the youngest of a smaller family, and by the time he came along everyone else had the whole home-care thing under control.

The first few years we were married I had this intense concern over the state of the house in general and Hubs had a deep discontent over a few specific things. After a few years and many Conversations, we got to a point where it was a relatively pleasant and livable situation for both of us, but we both still had our moments of “seriously?!” with the other one. And we both kind of hated that.

Enter the House Gnome. We can blame literally everything on that guy. And we both know that what we are really saying is “will you PLEASE do the dang dishes” or “for the love of PETE, put your morning kit away” but it doesn’t feel as direct. Or as cranky. And it doesn’t hurt any feelings.

So weird how that works. But there it is.

Anyway, we were telling some friends about the House Gnome a few weeks ago as we shared “get along” tips and tricks. (Their “get along” trick is Rock-Paper-Scissors.)

So when I got back from a conference, there was this waiting for me:

House Gnome | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com

My friend and Hubs had conspired to make the House Gnome a real thing.

And then I hid him somewhere and he was found out by Hubs a day or two later. And then yesterday morning I found this:

House Gnome | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com

Which made me laugh so hard I almost peed myself.