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!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Our Simplified Christmas

This was our house just 8 days ago...flurries of snow and yes, our pumpkins (minus one that disappeared while I was in the hospital) were still out.

If anything, this picture is a perfect representation of what our life has been like lately!  Unfortunately, it still looks more like Fall than Christmas around our house!  I did get the pumpkins off the front porch this morning, but the interior decor is yet to be touched...

In years past, we hung wreaths on our someone once told me, the wreaths made our house feel very "Charles Dickens-ish"...and if that wasn't enough, the porch railing would be draped with more greenery.

Lights would be strung along the roofline, porch and as an addition last year, along the fenceline...

And the Christmas tree...I love, love, love our tree but hate, hate, hate all the loose glitter that comes with it!  It's also super fun to put up, but very time consuming to take down.  In fact, it didn't come down until mid-April last year...ooops!  

With adding a new baby to the mix, I was worried that if we put up very many Christmas decorations, they would never come down!  So this year, there is no tree...there are no wreaths nor garland...there are no lights. I did manage to get our vintage wooden sled and a wreath out to the front porch--but that's it.  Compared to years past, it's definitely a simplified Christmas! And it's not that we're trying to give old man Scrooge a run for his money--it's just that sometimes you have to pick your (time consuming) battles!

And the winner of every battle has and will be Miss Akinya.  She is an absolute doll and we just can't get enough of her!  As I write this, she just passed the 6-week mark but the picture below is from when she was just 2-weeks old.  Too sweet!  As soon as I saw the picture, I knew it was going on this year's Christmas card and I can't wait to see the finished product!

In the 4 weeks since Akinya had her photo shoot with Beautiful Isolations, she has really started to change.  And become fun!
1 month old!
First "just-for-fun" outing with Mom & Grandma!
5 weeks old and already making funny faces for the camera--seems to take after her Uncle Shawn!
Starting to see some "real" smiles!  5 wks & 5 days old

It's crazy to think she's already 6 weeks old!  I have no idea where the time has gone, but it certainly hasn't been spent sitting at home!  When I stop and think about it, since she's been born, she's had 4 of her own doctor's appointments with one of those appointments sending us to Kansas City for the day;  2 doctor's appointments of my own; there's also been an out-of-town birthday party, Thanksgiving, daytrip to Topeka, a Christmas party and several board meetings that I've already hauled her to!   And I wonder where the time has gone...ha!

At this rate, I imagine I won't be on here again until after the New Year, so here's to wishing each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas and the best of luck in 2014!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Our Very Thankful Thanksgiving

As this year was our first Thanksgiving as parents, we knew the holiday would have extra meaning...and be a bit more exciting, but little did we know just how thankful we would be to have a healthy baby girl!

Two days before Thanksgiving, Justin and I loaded up Akinya and took her to her appointment at the Cystic Fibrosis clinic at KU Med in Kansas City.  We were hoping to complete the daytrip without either Grandma calling to see what we were doing/how things were going...after all, we hadn't told ANYBODY about our appointment and we were hoping that once the appointment was over, we could share good news with everybody!

You see, it started the week before Thanksgiving when we received a letter in the mail from the Kansas Department of Health & Environment.  Apparently, when Akinya was in the hospital, they collected a blood sample from her for the typical newborn screening tests.  Well, all her levels came back normal, except for her IRT level.  Because it was elevated, they ran a DNA test and they found she had one of the gene mutations that causes Cystic Fibrosis.  With that, they were having our primary care doctor set us up with a referral to KU Med for further testing.

Once we got to their Cystic Fibrosis center, they did what is called a "sweat test."  This test is considered the gold standard for the life-threatening disease; based on the results, we'd know exactly what we would be dealing with.  To do the test, they hooked several electrodes up to Akinya's arm to produce sweat; once the are started to produce sweat, they attached a round patch to her arm for the next 25 minutes.  Once enough sweat was collected, they took the vial to the lab and we headed upstairs to meet with their Pediatrician.

About an hour later, the test results were ready and the pediatrician came into the exam room.  Fortunately, our prayers were answered and the sweat test came back negative--Akinya does not have active Cystic Fibrosis.  But rather, she's just a carrier of the disease.  Long story short, the mutated gene she has is carried by people of European ancestry--meaning, I'm a carrier and passed the gene on to her.  Justin doesn't carry any mutation, which is typical of the Black population.  As I like to joke, good thing I didn't marry a white dude!  But anyhow, because she only has one mutated gene, she'll have to make sure that whoever she has children with (and that better not be for like, 50 years!) is not a carrier of the disease--otherwise, they run the risk of having children who end up with full-blown Cystic Fibrosis.

Looking back, it was very random that we even ended up in this situation.  In Kansas, IRT levels above 60 are sent on for DNA testing; in other states, they use a level of 190 as children with active Cystic Fibrosis usually have levels in the 200-300 range.  Kansas decided to be very aggressive in setting their standards so that treatment could be started as early as possible for sick kiddos.  Considering IRT levels can be elevated by a traumatic birth, jaundice and an epidural (which, we had all 3 of) and Akinya's number came in at 62, we now know that our family carries the mutated gene...but now we're also going to have a very expensive medical bill to pay!  I'm tempted to send our bill to KDHE so they can pay it, but Justin said not to ;-)  In all reality, though, we would pay any amount of money so that Akinya can have this knowledge when it comes to having children of her own some day.  Which, to be honest, it was VERY weird to sit there in the doctor's office and think about your 3-week old daughter eventually procreating!

With that, we had a VERY thankful Thanksgiving!  We celebrated the holiday at my parents, filled the family in on what had been going on and spent time catching up with the siblings, in-laws and my niece.
Celebrating with Grandma & Grandpa T
Speaking of my niece, Miss Marcella's temperament toward Akinya is still a bit hot-and-cold.  At first, she's never just sure what to think of the baby (especially, when Marcella's mom wants to hold the baby!)...

But with enough time, Marcella warms right up!  The week before, at Miss Marcella's birthday party (she turned two years old--eeeek!), we ended the evening with Marcella stroking Akinya.  Something tells me that in just a few years, the two girls will forget about these awkward moments and they'll be the best of buds!

The Thanksgiving weekend also marked Akinya's 1-month "birthday."  We got her up for the day, slapped the 1-month sticker on her onesie and took out the camera.  And then, all hell broke loose.  Mitzi wanted to be in the picture, but Akinya didn't know what to think of having the dog next to, Akinya started freaking out and Mitzi refused to move.  After some funny noises and gestures made by Justin, we managed to snap a picture of Akinya looking at one of us.  It wasn't the "one of us" with the camera, but whatever, you take what you can get!  And then you just crop the stressed dog out of the picture ;-)
Moody models!

It's crazy to think our little Akinya Kate is already 1-month old.  I'm not sure where the time has gone, but it's certainly a reminder to make every day count.  Her well-baby visit was earlier this week and since coming home from the hospital, she's packed on 2 pounds and grown 1 inch...and I'm convinced her hair's grown an entire inch, too.  No joke!  It's crazy how much she changes with each passing day, but we're just thankful for the blessing she's been and the great health that we were able to celebrate!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Maternity Session

Here we are, three weeks into parenthood and we finally got around to ordering pictures from our maternity session.  Something told us that if we didn't do it now, it would never get done!  It's absolutely amazing how your day disappears when all you're doing is diapering, feeding, burping and repeating the process.  With being home, I have lost all sense of time (the other night I woke up in a panic because I had absolutely NO clue what day it was) so once we finally realized we never dealt with our maternity proofs, we decided to get on it!
One of our friends and Justin's clients is a local photographer.  In fact, he did our engagement pictures...
And then our wedding pictures...
So, when Rod found out we were pregnant, he offered to do a maternity session for us!  We happily accepted his offer--not only does he do great work, but it was neat that he, of all people, would be documenting the addition to our family.
Fortunately, Rod is a man of patience!  At 8 months, Rod stopped by and confirmed that yes, my belly still looked like a beer belly and would NOT be cute to photograph!  With that, we decided to wait several more weeks.  Occasionally, Rod would stop by our house, take a peak at my belly and each time, we decided we would just continue the wait.  Then, when the doctor predicted at our 37-week appointment that the baby would be here in just a few days, we called Rod and said, "it's now or never!"  Fortunately, Rod had just retired from his full-time job as a photographer for The Mercury, so he was able to drop everything and get his equipment ready!
That weekend, we met up at the historic Union Pacific Depot for our maternity session.  Not only have I always loved the building, it's also where we had our wedding reception.  I'm telling ya--Rod had it figured out when it came to sentimental value!
But in all honestly, Rod opted for the facility as he was hoping it would have some great natural light--and that it did!  For the session, the interior lighting was off and we worked with the sun beaming in through the windows.  My belly still wasn't ginormously cute (in fact, as you will see, it still looked like quite the beer gut when I would sit down) but we managed to take quite a few pictures in just an hour's time, and here are some of my favorites!

Pretty sure this is my favorite one!  Would it be weird to add it to our wall of family photos?!

I had to add this picture because it cracks me up!  Justin's bubble butt it rounder than my belly!  Lord only knows that when Akinya grows up, her little booty will be all or nothing!

Once we get through the holidays, we're meeting up with Rod for our first official "family" picture.  And yes, we ARE waiting until after the holidays!  Reason being--Akinya definitely needs to have a diaper on for pictures!  Last weekend, another friend and client of mine had offered to take newborn pictures.  Sarah is extremely talented, so I couldn't turn down her offer!  Well, Akinya managed to share her bodily fluids with us, projectile-style, several times during the photo shoot with Sarah...once we were done, Justin decided we were DONE.  We were scheduled to have Akinya's shoot with Rod the following afternoon, and yeah we get that babies have no bladder control, but we just weren't in the mood to volunteer ourselves for another round of messes!  At least we had a great maternity session, a great newborn session and we'll have the opportunity to document the baby's growth and changes in just a few months.  And as pictures become available, trust that I'll be posting them on here!!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bringing Home Baby

Our baby is home!

Just last week, I was starting my week 40 post.  Baby still wasn't here and the doctor was setting an induction date for either today, or yesterday.  It seemed this little girl was not going to come on her own terms!  In fact, when I woke up the morning of my due date, there still was no baby.  My phone was buzzing as friends checked in to see if anything had happened and all I could say was, "think we're getting induced!"

I had been working all week and when I woke up that Halloween morning, my pajamas felt sooooooooo good.  And on a lame note, it felt kinda nice to have a "slow" morning in bed with the dog.  I decided to work from home that day and boy, am I glad I did!

Just before noon, I decided to heat up some lunch.  When I opened our fridge, I realized how badly it needed cleaned out.  We had so many leftovers that had been in there way too long, so I decided I'd spend my lunch hour emptying out the Pyrex dishes.  I started pulling all the bowls, containers, etc and sorting them on the counter when all of a sudden, it hit me.

My lower back instantly started hurting.  And hurting like a son of a gun.  My pelvic area started cramping like nobody's business and I had sharp, shooting pains running through my hips and down my thighs.  Something was up.  This was NOT a normal physical response to cleaning out the fridge!

I called Justin to see where he was working and fortunately, they were working on our side of town.  I told him I wasn't sure what was going on, but I was experiencing pain like never before and I was thinking I may be in labor.  Because we were totally expecting to be induced, his response was, "Are you serious?!"  Again, not knowing if I was in labor or not, I told him just to stay near his phone and if I needed him, I'd call back.

I spent the next hour trying to putter around the house.  The pain was very consistent, but about every 5 minutes or so, it would flare up.  Within about 50 minutes, the pain and pressure was so bad that I couldn't stand up.  I still wasn't sure what was going on, so I called Justin and told him to come home.

By 1:35, we were at the hospital and the nurses were checking me.  Sure enough, there had been a change in dilation (from where I'd been at my last doctor appointment) so they decided to keep me for another check in an hour's time.  2:45pm rolled around, nurses came back in and sure enough, I was in labor!  Our "Halloween" baby was on her way!

Long story short, things didn't go quickly enough to have a Halloween baby--instead, we had an All Saint's Day baby!  After 14 hours of labor, trying every single possible option and eventually having to do a C-section, our baby girl was here!!!  And she was healthy!!!

At 2:41am on November 1st, we welcomed Miss Akinya Kate!  She weighed 8lb 3oz (more than we expected!) and measured 20" long...and she had a full head of hair!  And it was long--a good inch to inch and a half!

Her first name is pronounced uh-Kenya and yes, we kinda made it up!  We were going through a list one night and saw the name Kenya--the name Kenya in itself didn't do anything for me, but when Justin suggested adding "uh" to it, I loved it!  And after a little research, we discovered there's a Nigerian village named Akinya...kinda neat considering it takes a village to raise a child!  The middle name, Kate, is a family name for both of us.  Well, on my side of the family, it's Catherine but we decided that since we'll most likely end up shortening it to Kate, we'd just go ahead and do it now.  And with that, we FINALLY had a name!

The past couple of days have been a whirlwind!  We've had a nice, steady pace of visitors coming to meet baby Akinya and drop off meals...we've been trying to catch some sleep between feedings and I've been trying to spend some time up on my feet, without being too active.  That in itself is a HARD balance for me!  Justin took this week off from work and it's been great having the three of us home together to bond.  This little girl is pretty precious and has definitely stolen our hearts!
1 day old! 
Leaving the hospital--the nurses made she sure went home in a VERY appropriately adorned cap! 
And we're HOME!!!
Daddy and his little girl!  Didn't take long to wrap him around her little finger!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Bathroom "Reveal"

Finally, finally our bathroom is done!  Well, it's been done for some time now, but sharing the "after pictures" hasn't been top of mind lately!

When we bought our house, the previous owner had done some updating to the bathroom--new vanity, medicine cabinet and bathtub...What he left behind, though, was a hideous Mallard Duck border, outdated flooring and awful Hollywood lighting above the vanity.  We knew we could live with the bathroom the way it was for a while, but at some point, we'd change a few things.

One thing that DID change right away was the wallpaper border.  I found a shower curtain that didn't make the flooring look AS BAD, so I then found a border to match the shower curtain.  It would have to work for the time being!

And it stayed that way for about 2.5 years.  The hideous flooring continued to hold up and we just couldn't justify tearing it out and replacing it...

But then, one day, Justin melted the floor :-)  He turned the steam mop on, forgot about it and came back later to discover it had melted the vinyl tile...Fortunately, the spot was SMACK DAB in the middle of the bathroom floor!  He was worried I was going to freak out when I realized what he did but why would I be upset???  I finally had an excuse to replace the flooring!

With that, I bought a new shower curtain, stripped down the border and repainted the walls.  And then started the search for new tile.  Who knew I could be SO picky?!  I wanted something affordable that future buyers would appreciate--but that we would also enjoy for the time being.

While the hunt for new flooring continued, our bathroom looked like this.  Pretty. Darn. Bare. And Blah.  Complete with the melted tile. It was this way from September of 2012 until late August of 2013...nearly a whole year!

I eventually found the tile I had been looking for--the coloring was perfect, the shape was what I wanted and the price was exactly what we were willing to pay.  It was time to call my contractor buddy in and have him get to work!

With a baby on the way, we knew our budget would only allow us to "freshen" the space.  I wanted to swap the vanity for a pedestal sink and replace the medicine cabinet with a nice, pretty framed mirror...but both of those cost money!  And as Justin pointed out, we'd lose a LOT of storage doing that.  True to the small bungalows of the 1920's, our house only has one bathroom--and one thing that made us get over that hesitation when we were house hunting was the amount of storage the bathroom offered.  Knowing this won't be our forever home, we had to think like potential buyers and I decided it was best to keep all the storage we could!

With that, the vanity and medicine cabinet stayed...we decided to replace just the flooring, throw some beadboard on the walls and get rid of the gawd-awful Hollywood strip lighting above the medicine cabinet.  No home improvement project is ever "cheap," but at least these few modifications would keep us on budget while updating the space!

Like I said, we called our contractor friend and put ourselves on his schedule.  And of course, once you start any project, things go from ugly, to worse, before they look better!

Our dining room became the "storage room" for everything that came out of the bathroom!
The bathroom had always had an awkward but smooth piece of paneling on the walls--thus, the reason for the border.  And this is what it looked like when the paneling was removed!
Nice, bright techno-colors!  lol
When the medicine cabinet came down, the Mallard ducks reappeared!  There is NO getting away from them!

End of Day 1--the major stuff was done.  Next up was grouting the tile and doing all the trim work.
Close-up of the tile, prior to grouting...not the hexagon tile I had always dreamed of, but at least it's something that will wear well and future buyers should appreciate! 
Day 2--the work is DONE!  And Justin still can't stand straight up to look in the mirror!  Ha!  Someday, we'll build a house just his size!
I eventually bought a few knick-knacks for the bathroom and it's feeling more cozy than it ever did!  The new clock actually works and keeps me on schedule in the morning...and we hung a curtain in place of the wood blinds.  Who knew that dust, wood blinds and hairspray do NOT go together?!  lol...The curtain is fairly long, but we found that even though we kept with the obscure glass in the bottom sash of the new window, our neighbors could TOTALLY see our top-halves...good bye valances, hello nice long curtain!

But my favorite part???  Kissing the Hollywood strip lighting good-bye!  I no longer feel like I need my big blush brush, can-can outfit and feathers!  But I do appreciate having a nice, brighter space that we were able to update on a baby-friendly budget!