This story will be familiar to those who read my main blog, but about a year ago, my partner Lee and I were living with our 3-year-old, Mara, whom we hadn’t yet adopted, in a 90-year-old two-bedroom one-bath house. Although we were happy there, we felt crowded and were ready for something new. This was complicated since Mara had already moved once in October to come live with us rather than a foster family who were turning in their license and had had four moves in the year previous to that (from her mom to two different families each moving to a new home once) and so we wanted to be thoughtful about keeping the transition as easy as possible for her.

To that end, we started talking about our house as The Little House, that we loved The Little House but it was just so little! Meanwhile we were looking at other houses, houses that were bigger but wouldn’t have mortgages that were too, too much bigger. Lee and I were trying to agree on a cute cute bungalow in our dream neighborhood, the historical district of the next town over from where we’d been living, but Lee thought the bungalow would end up too little too. She listed what she wanted in a new house — a room for her, a room for me, bedrooms for Mara and us, a playroom for Mara, a living room, a dining room, two bathrooms — and she wanted to find it in our dream neighborhood. The next day, there was a new listing on the market for a six-bedroom house one street over from the bungalow going for something like $25K less.

I knew from the start that The Piano House would be perfect for us, though Lee had a harder time seeing past the ugly paint colors and the grime from 30 years of smoking the previous owners had done there. We decided quickly to call it The Piano House since the piano had caught Mara’s eye, and we put in an offer that asked for the owners to leave the piano. After a few times back and forth, everything was agreed, and all we had to do was get through mortgage hell (and it was hell!) and then we had our lovely house, built sturdy and with amazing details in 1903.

We’ve been living there almost a year now and so many things have changed in our lives. Mara has been legally adopted and has grown bigger and braver and has room to run around and dart through the sprinkler like she did last night or draw with chalk all over the sidewalk in the front yard. We spent almost five months out of the 10 or so we’ve been there so far as foster parents to a sibling group of two, Val and Alex, then 5 and 4, who are now living in another part of town with their family. We’ve also been able to make contact with Mara’s extended family, particularly the aunts who are raising her siblings, and her older siblings have gotten to sleep in the big spare room near her in probably their first night together under one roof.

We got the living room, dining room, and Mara’s room painted at the time we moved in, and then completely had the tiny first-floor bathroom where Lee showers completely redone. Our handyman just finished stripping three layers of wallpaper off our bedroom walls and ceiling and painted our bedroom and dressing room (!) to make them stunningly beautiful. Next he’s going to build a pergola and pave a little patio in the back yard. That’s probably all we can afford to pay someone else to do this year, but I’m working on a garden and we’re slowly improving the house.

After over a decade as a fairly serious knitter, I got a sudden urge to take up patchwork quilting and began English paper piecing in February. I have five projects going on right now, I think, and should be finishing some this week, which is why it seemed like a good time to start a new blog. I’m going to be taking the <a href=";Handstitched Class this summer, and so it seemed like a good idea to have a place where I can talk about quilting stuff. But since I don’t do a ton of quilting stuff and only work by hand, this will also be a blog where I can talk about other things going on in the house that aren’t just related to parenting and adoption and fostering and race and natural haircare (maybe that since cornrows and flat twists have a connection to quilting and knitting, right?) and the stuff that goes on in the other place. I’m on twitter as @motherissues and interested in talking about many things. So I’ll be back here to do that soon!