The Kitchen – It’s Happening!

We bought our house knowing it was a fixer. Well, I tried spinning it as a cosmetic project, but B knew the truth. This beast needs WORK. We both agreed we should live in the house for 6-12 months before doing any work so we’d know what our priorities were. Buuuuuuuuuut, after less than two weeks of cooking in my kitchen, I KNEW what my priorities were.

And so…. The kitchen is happening! As in, my house is literally covered with sawdust and extension cords and power saws.

To no one’s surprise, I was clearly overly optimistic about how much living in a construction¬†zone would suck. Brent was not. He’s had a vague “I told you so” attitude ever since the construction started. He was right. It’s miserable. But I feel like now that the old kitchen is gone and we can start bringing in the new stuff, it’s easier to get excited.

To refresh your memory, here’s what the kitchen looked like. This is the view of the north wall, facing the front of the house.


Please note the stained, cracked linoleum floors, and the crooked, plywood mint green cabinets. Also, who paints their kitchen poop brown? Ugh. Man, I swear I love our new, old house, but I HATED this kitchen. Really. Zero regrets about trashing it.

So, after two weeks of (other peoples’) work, here’s what that same view looks like.


I have seen the light! And it’s coming from our wall of windows in the dining room! And I can see from the kitchen into the playroom! So obvious we trashed the old floor, and had new fir floors installed to match the rest of the first floor. There is no stain on them, because they will eventually match the rest of the main floor, which still has the original (116 year old!) fir floors. That black pipe sticking up in the middle is the plumbing for the sink and dishwasher in the new island. Our new gas stove will be under that big rectangular opening. The stove has a downdraft so that we could avoid a hood. Giant metal hoods are generally not my jam. And i wanted to avoid too many “modern” looking elements in the new kitchen.

That doorway opening you see on the right is my walk in pantry, and no changes are being made there, because I looooooove it. But right now it’s covered in tools and sawdust.


Here’s the old view of the west wall.


A lot of things to note here. The dishwasher didn’t really fit because it was too deep for the shallow cabinets and counters. That sort of thing just happens when your kitchen predates dishwashers’ existence. Also, the shallow two basin sink is a big turd. Hate it. Oh, and see how the window kind of disappears behind the sink? It’s actually being covered by the sink and cabinets! Sad. The window is actually the only thing in this picture staying. And I kind of hand to fight for it!

Here’s the current view.


So all the way to the ¬†left was a weird built-in plywood unfinished desk area. We ripped it out and that little cove area will now be a closet! Brilliant because our parking pad is in the back of the house, so we frequently enter and exit from the sliding glass doors in the kitchen. Okay, and see that wood at the bottom of the window? That’s just covering up more of the window, so we’re taking that all off, revealing the whole window, and there will be a built-in window seat there. I think it’s going to be so adorable, and that quaint idea sold me on the particular designer we chose for the kitchen. I can’t wait to see it!

So we already ordered our cabinets, which are fairly traditional white, with inset drawers and doors, which matches the era of the house. And we just chose a slightly marble-looking white quartz counter.


It’s a lot of white, but I like a white kitchen, and Brent vetoed many of my other ideas. (I begged for teal cabinets!) He did promise I could throw whatever color I want on to the walls since those are easier to change.

Other details we’ve hammered out are the lighting fixtures. There will be recessed lighting, but we also have 12 foot ceilings and we need some detail, so for above the island we’re doing two reproductions of Victorian era lights that we have in other rooms in the house.


The shades will be different and the finish will be antiqued, but you get the idea. And we’ll have a simple single pendant above the window seat.


I think all we have left to choose is the cabinet hardware, and then I just have to impatiently wait until it’s complete! Our contractor double promised me it would be done before Christmas, so I’m sure we’ll survive until then.

In the meantime, we’re super fortunate to have a mother-in-law suite in the basement. So we’ve been using that kitchen.


I DO NOT LOVE IT. But I’m happy we have it. We’ haven’t even ordered out pizza or gone out to eat since construction has started. It’s fully functional, just dark and small. And basementy. I also helped out our future selves by making a bunch of soups and meatballs and such for the freezer before construction started, so that helps on nights when I’m sick of basement cooking. Tonight we had chicken sweet potato chili from the freezer. Thanks past Victoria.








Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month – Alfie’s Story

This post includes talk about stillbirth and loss. Please don’t read if you feel triggered by its contents.

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. I’m positive that I didn’t know this three years ago, but I do now. The organization that has helped me so much, and that I now do volunteer work for, P.S. of Puget Sound holds a Walk to Remember every October. I wanted to share a few of our pictures from the walk this morning, and more importantly, share my story. I’m not sure I’ve ever shared Alfie’s whole story on the blog.


On April 30th, 2014, I was just about 22 weeks pregnant with our second son. It had been a pretty crappy pregnancy, with a lot of sickness and regular trips to the hospital for IV infusions due to hyperemesis and dehydration, but I was surviving and excited about eventually being done with pregnancy and meeting my son. Brent was actually due to catch a plane to D.C. for a wedding and was just finishing up Cormac’s bath/bedtime routine before he grabbed a cab to the airport.

I went upstairs, sat down, and immediately knew something was wrong. I went into the bathroom and saw I was bleeding. A lot. I screamed for Brent, called my midwives’ after hours line, called my friend to come stay with Cormac, and Brent drove us to the hospital and tried to be the calm, rational one.


Once we got to the hospital they hooked me up to the monitors and immediately found Alfie’s heartbeat. Huge sigh of relief. I really believed nothing could be seriously wrong after that. His heart was beating at a normal rate. What else could I ask for? They did an ultrasound and a while later a doctor came in and basically said that things didn’t look quite right but he didn’t have any more information and they couldn’t help me there and would be transferring me to the high risk hospital near downtown. My midwife came in and repeated the same information. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t tell me whether he would be alright.

The next morning I was transferred via ambulance to the high risk hospital. It was a surreal experience. Once I arrived I was checked in by a completely clueless and not particularly emotionally astute nurse. They did another ultrasound. Remembering that ultrasound is especially painful for me. I knew there was something not quite right, but Alfie’s heart was beating and I could feel him moving, so I still held out hope maybe whatever the issue was could be fixed or wasn’t horrible. I remember making small talk with the ultrasound tech and joking about how Alfie wasn’t cooperating. I had no idea my world was about to implode.

Several hours later, my doctor came in. It’s a weird feeling to have about the man who tells you your son is going die, but Dr. G was honest and empathetic, and I felt relief of all things. Relief that I finally had an answer about why I was bleeding, and what that meant, and how our story would end. I hadn’t realized how desperately I needed an answer, even if it was the answer no parent wants to hear. He did not mince words. He used no euphemisms. He did not give us hope where there was none. He told us the truth.

Alfie’s brain had a massive bleed, so much so that it was certain he would not live outside the womb. Additionally, my placenta had started to die and detach and I was bleeding internally. It was a graphic description but one that I needed to hear to understand the next steps.


I was still bleeding a lot at this point, and so to minimize my risk and blood loss, Dr G explained a 4 day plan to get Alfie out and reduce risk to me. The next morning, May 2nd, several nurses came to wheel me out of my hospital room to a procedure room where they stopped Alfie’s heart. I don’t think there’s any way to describe the moment you know your child’s heart is going to stop beating. I focused on trying to breathe and just remember staring at the tears streaming down Brent’s face and desperately hoping we were both strong enough to survive this.

Over the next two days, they inserted laminaria to slowly dilate my cervix while monitoring my blood loss. I was scheduled for surgery May 5th, and I remember Brent’s face going absolutely pale when they came to take my blood to type and cross match to ensure they had enough blood on hand for transfusions during surgery if things got out of hand.


I was put under general anesthesia for surgery and when I woke up in the recovery room, it was the single worst moment of my life. I still can’t adequately describe the anguish I felt, and I had a mental break. I screamed incoherently for what felt like hours. The PACU nurse continued giving me pain medication, I guess assuming I was in pain. It was not the type of pain that narcotics can fix. When the doctor came to speak to me, I was apparently too incoherent to speak and very drugged up, which delayed me getting back to my room and freaked Brent out big time as he was told I would be back an hour and a half sooner than I was. All I knew was I was staring down at my belly and my baby was gone.

They wanted to keep me another 24 hours but I begged to be allowed to go home. I needed to be anywhere but there. I needed to see Cormac. After monitoring me for a few hours, they acquiesced and Brent and I were left to return home and pick up the pieces.


Alfie’s remains were sent to Seattle Children’s Hospital for an autopsy. We received them from the funeral home a few weeks later, and planted them under a tree in our yard. Most of you know how the story went. We received Alfie’s autopsy results. Cause of death, cytomegalovirus, which gave us the knowledge we needed to know the same thing wouldn’t happen again. We later got pregnant with Teddy, and brought him into the world, healthy. And I think a lot of people felt relief at that. While Teddy is not a replacement, of course, his pregnancy and birth did give me personally a lot of hope and happiness, which felt inconceivable during that long week in the hospital.


But Alfie changed me. There hasn’t been a day in over two years I haven’t thought about him. I am a fundamentally different person that I was before. My marriage is different. My parenting is different. My friendships are different. It’s not all horrifically bad. Alfie brought some amazing, beautiful, strong women into my life in the form of the support group I attended and the one I now help facilitate. It’s given me the ultimate perspective. I have no doubt I would have reacted differently to Cormac’s autism diagnosis and Teddy’s various health concerns had I not truly known what the worst case scenario was. Cormac and Teddy are here and breathing and happy, and that’s literally all I could want at this point. My marriage is different but stronger. Many of my friendships became deeper. I’m still a strongly imperfect person, but I like to think I’m a better one than I was.


Every day babies who are desperately wanted, prayed for and deeply loved are lost. And many women (and men!) suffer in silence feeling alone. I feel fortunate I never did, but I had so many people reach out to me and share their stories of loss and grief after I lost Alfie. This story is my small attempt at helping to break the silence.