Thursday, April 3, 2014

Akinya Kate @ 5 Months

Tuesday marked the start of a new month...and another "birthday" milestone for Akinya!  5 months!  Already!

Just a year ago, we told our family and our very closest friends that we were expecting.  The following day happened to be April Fool's Day and even though it hadn't crossed my mind, all of a sudden, some of our friends asked if our news from the day before was a prank.  No joke, here!  And a full year later, it's crazy to think we already have a 5-month old baby!

Here are some of Akinya's "accomplishments" from the past month...

-She weighs close to 20 pounds and has moved out of her infant seat to a convertible car seat

-Though rice cereal has been offered, no interest.

-She's starting to "recognize" people and lights up when she sees those she's frequently around

-Babbling...lots of it!  Akinya is constantly babbling; she now does it to put herself to sleep and a lot of times, we find her "talking" in her sleep!  She's also started "singing" for the daycare ladies and she has found a love for squealing!

-Her mouth is her way of exploring the world

-3 days after her 4-month well baby appointment, Akinya rolled over for the first time!  She's now able to turn herself around in the bouncer, stands with support, is very close to sitting up on her own and when on her tummy, has everything in place to crawl.  She's still just not going anywhere!

-Akinya's signature head full of hair is starting to become wavy (and not just when wet)

-The 6month clothes are being replaced with their 9-month counterparts

-She's back to sleeping through the night!  After several weeks of waking up numerous times to give her her pacifier, we're relieved that she no longer wants the crazy thing!

-She also had her first overnight stay at Cousin Marcella's house
-Akinya can hold her bottle for brief periods of time

-Daddy bought Akinya her first pair of "stunna shades" and a sunhat for, we're just waiting on warm weather, sunshine and NO wind so we can take the long overdue walks!
-Speaking of Daddy, Justin gives her "airplane" rides and Akinya absolutely loves them!

-Akinya also loves, loves, loves the dog.  She reaches for Mitzi and is always trying to pet her.  All was good until one day Akinya pulled, instead of petted, and thank god Mitzi just ran away.  Now, Mitzi's a bit more careful about letting the baby pet her ;-)-
AK & Mitzi at 5 month

AK & Mitzi at 1 month...BIG difference (in Akinya's size; not Mitzi's glare)!
-The other thing Akinya loves?  Kisses from Mommy!  A kiss on the cheek is guaranteed to make her smile, if not laugh.  And this little girl LOVES to laugh!  The other night, I popped out in a workout DVD for the first time in months and guess what she did???  She started cracking up--and I mean, belly laughing, cracking up--while watching me try to work out.  Guess that means I need to work-out more often!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Akinya at 4 Months

According to the calendar, today is the first day of March.  According to tonight's snow and sleet, though, it is still winter!!!

Being the first day of a new month, that means that it's another monthly "birthday" for Akinya!  I know it sounds so cliche, but seriously, how is she already 4 months old?!  Or, as I told Justin this morning, a third of the way to her first birthday?!

February was a month of many "firsts" for Miss Smiles.

The month started out with a major snowstorm...over 11" of snow in just a day's time!  We've actually had numerous snow falls this winter, but that one constituted a REAL storm.  As a result, Justin's company shut down for most of the week and then that Friday, he had surgery on his meniscus.  Needless to say, Akinya had LOTS of Daddy-time in February!

The following week, she started daycare.  We finally found somewhere that had an opening for an infant and so far, she's loving it there.  But it didn't take long before we experienced the contagious environment of a daycare facility...after she came home from her last day of her first week at daycare, she was sick with the stomach flu!  In fact, it was the first time she had ever been sick so we had no idea what was going on at first.  But I have to say, making it 15 weeks without any type of illness during the winter is a blessing!
Feeling better!  15.5 pounds at 15 weeks!
Once she and I were on the mend (yup, I was the lucky one who also caught the bug!), Akinya went to her first home inspection!  It was one of those deals where I made a phone call to see when the inspector could get us on his calendar and he was available in two hours.  My "work from home" day quickly turned into a "baby's coming along" day!  Fortunately, she was her typical happy self and once she was done learning about how a house should be maintained, we headed off to the title company to learn about how ownership is transferred.  Something tells me that once this little girl starts school, she'll be able to tell her teacher not only her ABC's, but all the inner-workings of the real estate industry!

Aside from all that, she's just growing and changing everyday!  She's now in 6-months clothes...and some of those have already been outgrown.  We've just moved up to a size 3 diaper and finally, finally she's now eating 6 oz each feeding.  And the feedings are now about 3 hours apart...vs 2 hours!  I feel like I get SO much more done now!  The hair?  It's still growing like crazy.  It's now long enough that it's laying down and starting to form the shape of a bob.

Developmentally, Akinya is leaps and bounds ahead of where she was just a month ago.  We're hearing LOTS of vowel sounds and her little hands are grabbing EVERYTHING!  She's nearly rolled over on several occasions and belly time finds her holding her head and chest straight up.  Akinya is also starting to "jump" when excited and she's learned to "throw" herself around, too.  When taking a bath, she kicks like crazy and just smiles, smiles, smiles.  She's exploring everything she can with her mouth and even though she hasn't had any teeth cut through yet, we're seeing more and more nubs in her gums with lots of drool and fists in the mouth.

It's still crazy to think our Miss Smiles is already 4 months old.  I still can't figure out where the time went.  In fact, today we finally had her "newborn" photo shoot that was scheduled for back when she was 2 weeks old!  lol...long story short, we had to reschedule and this was the first weekend that we were available!  Guess that gives a little bit of insight into how/why time has flown by!

For those of you who like to watch paint dry, these videos might be up your alley ;-)  lol...the first video is a 3-month old Akinya checking out her Baby Einstein and the second video is her at 4-months.  Quite a bit of difference, developmentally!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Akinya at 3-Months

Our little girl is coming alive!  Today marks "3-months of Akinya" and we love her more and more every day.  She's really starting to become more social and it's safe to say that we just can't get enough of her.  

Here are some of Akinya's highlights from the past month!

She learned to play the piano ;-)  She loves this thing and it usually preoccupies her for a good 15-20 minutes...I can get SO much done during that time!

And Akinya is starting to figure out her Baby Einstein...still a bit small for it, but she loves checking out all the toys and trying to bat at them!  Her hairline in the video is crazy, but more on that in a minute!

Akinya got all dressed up for her first Russian New Year's party.  We got there and she slept through most of the party!  She did wake up at the very end to eat and she went to bed as soon as we got home. If I must say so myself, I was impressed with her ability to be a good party guest:-)

She also made her first trip to half-court at Bramlage Coliseum.  A proud papa had to take her with him when he went down to be recognized for the K-State Legends weekend.

The dog...The dog loves Akinya.  One day, Akinya was napping on my chest (the only way she'd sleep during the day) and I had to get up and use the bathroom.  Put her down in the exact position she'd been in (I wasn't about to wake her up!) and came back to find this!  I think Mitzi will really enjoy it when Akinya is old enough to play with her.

And while I'm thinking of the dog, the other day I had AK doing tummy time while I laid next to her, checking email (the things you do when working from home and caring for an infant!)...Mitzi decided she wanted to join in and harass her, I mean, do doggy yoga while everyone was on the floor.

The biggest occasion of the past month was Akinya's Baptism.

For her Baptism, Akinya wore the same headband that she wore for her newborn pictures.  Our plan was to use her christening gown for any future siblings (IF that happens!), but later that night, I had an idea...

I don't want to spill the beans but Lord knows blogging will be non-existent when she's old enough to read, so I feel safe sharing my idea.  Plan is to have the dress cleaned and preserved, inclusive of her headband, the bonnet that came with her dress and the baptismal towel.  Then, many, many years from now (and I mean many--like 30 years from now), when she puts on a different white gown for another big celebration at church, we'll give Akinya her Baptismal box and celebrate the newest sacrament in her faith journey.  It's bittersweet to think so far ahead, but I believe it will be a great material reminder for her to always keep her relationship with God first.

Aren't the girls adorable?!  Love that cousin Marcella likes Akinya so much...even when she's asleep and boring!

But back to the past month...!  AK's hair is still growing like crazy.  Now that the wave is kicking in and it's starting to lay down in places, it doesn't look nearly as long as it is.  Just the other day, she lost a big chunk of hair next to her bald spot from where the vacuum had been used, so she'll be wearing lots of headbands until the spot fills back in!

Most of the month's changes have been fun!  There has been lots of smiles, cooing and that she's finding her voice, Akinya LOVES using it!  Some of the 0-3 clothes are now being put away and Akinya has moved into a size 2 diaper.  Thanks to the current growth spurt, we also bumped up to a larger bottle so she isn't left starving at the end of feedings.  AK continues to have a VERY strong neck and is as active as ever.  She's discovering the use of her legs and moves all around her crib at night.  For her Grandpa's birthday, we tried to do a video message, but she was so distracted by her legs and TV that she didn't "converse" as much as she usually does.

The not so fun change?  It seems Miss Akinya is teething!  Eeeek!  Oh well...if it's going to start this early, I just hope that those pearly whites come through sooner, rather than later.  Guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens--and what kind of developments we see during the next month!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Born a Wildcat--Baby's First Basketball Game!

Last weekend, we checked a "first" off of our list for Akinya...she went to her first K-State Basketball game!

We had talked about going to some games earlier in the season, but Justin was concerned about the noise hurting her, being around such a large number of people during cold & flu season made him even more anxious.

Then, the invitation came.  Legends Weekend was once again upon us and it was time for Justin to take his annual trip down to the hardwood for a halftime presentation.  You see, every year, K-State hosts a reunion for all of their former basketball players--there's always the game, plus some sort of meal.  I made the executive decision that we were going--after all, by mid-January, Akinya's immune system should be fairly strong!

Finally, the day was here.  We started at the new football West Stadium Center.

We were originally supposed to have breakfast and the recognition ceremony of the 1964 Final Four team at the Training Table...turns out, they had recruits down there, so we had to meet elsewhere.

We were moved to the concourse area of the West Stadium...I totally stole these two pictures off of the web, but the space was gorgeous!  It was a perfect spot to have breakfast and check out the field!

The morning sun was VERY bright, so our "tourist" photos didn't turn out the best...but you could still see the field in the background!

Miss Akinya Kate & her cousin, Marcella.  They were the two cutest AND best-behaved cheerleaders at both the breakfast and basketball game!

A "K-State Family" picture...we had the privilege of sharing breakfast with the very sociable George Shupe (class of 1968).  And if you know anything about K-State, once you put on the purple, we're all family!

Finally, it was time for the game at Bramlage we left the West Stadium, the Athletic Department had a 6-passenger Gator waiting to take us to the front door of the coliseum.  Considering how windy and cold it had become, we were more than happy to hop on board and let people think we were someone "important" as we zipped by them!  lol...

I was actually pretty excited about the game!  We were playing West Virginia--not only did they recently join our conference, but old Bob Huggins had been our head coach just several years ago.  After one season at K-State, he left to accept the WV job...lots of K-Staters had been hurt and angry about his choice, but fast forward to 2014 and I don't think there were any hurt feelings in the room!

After all, two coaches later and I think we've found something in Bruce Weber!

 Even though her parents were excited about the game, somebody managed to snooze through the first half!

Fortunately, Akinya woke up in time for the recognition ceremony...she waited with the guys (Justin, Schyler Thomas & Kyle Taylor) for the elevator to the tunnel.

Pretty sure there was a nice 80-year age difference between her and some of the older "Legends"!

Finally, it was time to go out on the court!  This is the picture of the "Legends" from the 2000's...neat part?  Kyle, Schyler & Justin were teammates.  Discouraging part?  There are 12 years of "2000's"  teammates out there that need to make the trip back for Legends Weekend!  I know Justin would absolutely love getting to spend time with the other guys!

Smiling for the crowd after his name was called!

And getting ready to wave "bye" to the crowd!

All in all, it was a great day to be a Wildcat!  Akinya did great--she pretty much slept, ate and just took in her surroundings.  It was definitely sensory central--so many new sights, sounds and smells--and I was worried how she would be later that night.   Our evening at home was a happy one and she only woke up once during the night.  Guess she enjoyed her day and getting to celebrate a win over West Virginia!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Baby on a Budget

I'm back to work.

Thank God.  Because having a baby is not cheap.

But I'm cheap.

That's all there is to it.  But much to my surprise, the two CAN go together!

When we found out we were having a baby, one of my first thoughts was "cha-ching."  I could hear the bank account getting sucked dry!  We knew babies were "expensive," but on top of that, my job is strictly commission.  Until I'm sitting at the closing table, I don't get paid...and in real estate, the average lag time from activity to paycheck is 45-60 days.  We knew to budget for a maternity leave of at least 6 weeks.  Thanks to an emergency c-section, that leave turned into 8 weeks.  Thus, we were automatically looking at a minimum of 4 months without me bringing home any income.  Let me tell ya, that definitely made the "cha-ching" only grow louder!

In order to soften the blow once we learned of the pregnancy, we started socking away what money we could--but we also tried to cut as many corners as possible.  Fortunately, no pain came with being cheap...the only pain came when we had to face expenses that just couldn't be found at a reduced rate elsewhere (ie the crazy hospital bills).

I know not all of you are mamas or daddies, so this might not apply.  But if you know someone who's is expanding their family, maybe some of these tips will help them?!  Who knows...but I thought I'd pass some of it on...

CONSIGNMENT SALES.  We bought things like bouncers, burp rags, bibs, basic onesies, play mats, stroller, you name it at our local semi-annual kid consignment sale.  Just the other day, we literally cut a onesie off of Akinya when she had a record setting blowout--considering we paid just pennies for the onesie, we weren't out anything.  You wouldn't want to buy everything there, but we managed to pay about 1/3 of the retail cost (including tax) for everything.  Uh-mazing!

MATERNITY CLOTHES.  A lot of women borrow maternity clothes, but honestly, my ridiculous inseam made that nearly impossible.  So, I hit up eBay for gently used high-quality clothes...and I also stalked GAP, Old Navy and Pea In The Pod until they had sales.  Surprisingly enough, their sale prices were cheaper than Target & Motherhood Maternity, and the items always laundered without developing holes, etc.  Plus, the designs were "normal" enough that people thought I was still wearing my "regular" clothes while I was pregnant and I'm still wearing some of it as I wait for my pooch to disappear!

WAIT IT OUT. We obviously bought some things ahead of time--bouncers, a swing, etc--but I wouldn't go crazy buying every little thing out there.  With the advent of and their overnight delivery, I would recommend waiting out some things to see what you truly need once the baby is here.  I always heard a white noise machine is "a must."  Turns out, Akinya could sleep through a freight train running through the backyard.  We never bought a white noise machine and at this rate, I doubt we'll need to.  There's a lot of stuff out there that you COULD buy for a baby, but how much of it do you really need???

WELLNESS INCENTIVES. Check with your health insurance provider to see if they have any prenatal wellness programs.  Our company offered one and if we went to just half of our prenatal appointments and called when the baby was born, they would give us a $250 Visa gift card.  You know how many diapers that will buy?! 

DON'T RELY ON YOUR REGISTRY.  My sister-in-law gave me this heads up and it was SO true.  While we certainly received much needed items from our registry, the seasoned moms in attendance usually gifted me items that I never would have thought of registering for--and now I find myself using those items all the time.  But, when it came to the leftover registry items that we wanted/needed, Amazon and Target offered post-baby-shower-date discounts for the items we took care of ourselves.  Discounts were from 10-15% so not huge, but every bit helps!

GOODWILL.  Maybe it's the transient nature of our community, but I have found super cute, name brand baby clothes at our local Goodwill.  There were times that I'd be in Goodwill and there were entire sections of baby clothes that still had the tags on them!  Hello, $35 Baby GAP sweater for just $2!  It's also a great option for basic sweats, onesies etc that are great during those first few weeks when you're pretty much home 24/7...or, those days when you go through 3-4 outfits!  

SECOND-HAND FURNITURE.  We scored well-loved "real" furniture on Craigslist that we had refinished.  It wasn't as cheap as buying the fiberboard alternatives, BUT, the stuff will last much, much longer--and it cost a fraction of what it would have cost to buy the items new at a furniture store. 

POST-DELIVERY MEALS.  Several months prior to my due date, I started buying items when they'd go on sale and when I would make one dish, I'd make enough to freeze for another meal.  I even did this with basic items such as taco and sloppy joe meat, sauteed diced chicken, etc.  Two and a half months into life with a baby, we're STILL digging into our stash of food.  We only order out once every blue moon as we always have something to eat and usually it's quicker to defrost taco meat than it is to wait on the pizza guy!  

However, if you do find that you are ordering out, pick up gift cards from your local Kroger/Dillon's for the restaurant.  It won't save you money on the cost of the food, but you get crazy gas points for buying the gift certificates at the grocery store.  Also, the holidays is a great time to snag deals on the cost of the gift cards.  For example, several weeks ago, Hy-Vee was offering $100 worth of gift cards for just $80 bucks.  

CREDIT CARD REWARD POINTS.  We have a credit card that we use for gas, groceries, etc...We discovered we had enough reward points to purchase a new crib and changing table and pay only $40 out of pocket.  Had we waited several more months, we wouldn't have had to pay anything, but it was more important to us that the items arrive while I was still able to help put them together.  Every month, we pay the balance on our card, so I love earning money when purchasing items that we already have to buy!

THANK YOU NOTES.  Go to Target and buy their bulk Thank-You cards.  You get 50 cards for about $8.  They are super cute and the quality is excellent.  And if you have any manners, you will write a LOT of thank-you notes once you have a baby.  At last count, we're at 120+ cards!  I definitely feel like we're doing our part to keep the Postal Service in business!  

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Garage is DONE!

With the completion of our garage, all of our projects for 2013 are done!!!

When we bought our house, we knew the garage had had past termite activity and subsequent damage. Being that we were twenty-some years old and leaving the world of renting, we didn't mind that the garage was rough around the edges.  After all, it would primarily house our lawn equipment and Justin's Caddy.

Then, in the Fall of 2012, the "restored" Caddy was sold.  A few months later, Justin decided he needed another "project," and this time he focused in on the garage. Aside from the foundation and roof, most everything needed replaced so I knew Justin would be able to spend LOTS of time on the garage.

And that's exactly what happened.  The weekend of Memorial Day 2013 was spent clearing out the garage and getting ready to tear into it...

About two years ago, the City road-grader hit the corner of the garage.  The inside boards were too rotted to nail the siding back onto and the hoops we'd have to jump through to file an insurance claim through the city were crazy.  So, we it just became an eyesore and *hopefully* a reminder for the road-grader not to get too close!
At some point in time, the garage was added on to and it was very obvious from the back...and the fact that it had multiple widths of siding didn't help make the addition inconspicuous, either!

Some of the lovely termite damage...the boards shattered like fine glass!
All the moldy paneling and insulation from inside the garage--and no, the pregnant lady only got close enough to take pictures!  And even then, the guys yelled at me for getting too close to it!
It was too scary how easily the walls came the garage didn't blow over with a strong wind was beyond me!
All the walls ended up getting reframed...

We had an electrician restore the power to the garage.  Now, we have lights, outlets and an electric garage door opener!
One wall of new siding...we went with wood in case we ever do seek the historical designation for our house.  The use of wood should allow the garage to count as a conforming building.
New siding, new door and trim!
Can't see it in the pics, but ordered door panels with beadboard inserts that coordinate with the house's beadboard soffits
All the siding matches :-)
Last night, the final trim work was done and after 7 months of work, we can say the garage is 'a wrap'!  Well, the siding joints still need caulked and the body painted, but at least the surfaces are all primed so the wood will survive any winter moisture.

After tearing into the garage, it was amazing what we I said, we knew about the termite damage.  But then we found water damage.  And framing that wasn't attached to the sole plate in numerous places.  In fact, some areas had the sole plate on a dirt foundation!  Between the amount of framing that wasn't attached to anything, and how damaged the structure was, I honestly don't know how the garage was still standing.

Now that the garage has practically been rebuilt, the structure shouldn't be going anywhere!  Thankfully, all the primer colors look fairly decent but I'm definitely excited to hit it with a paintbrush come Spring and get it matching our house.  What I'm most excited about, though, is having power to the garage...the old shin-splitter door was a PAIN in the butt, especially after a heavy snow, but now with the touch of a button, I can pull right into the garage!

I'm just glad that with only days left in 2013, we can say that all of our projects are completely wrapped up...our goal was to have the garage completely wrapped up before Akinya was born and obviously we missed that deadline by a few months.  But as they say, it's always better to be late, than never!