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!