Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Daily 2014

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!"
-Buddy the Elf, in the movie Elf

I've always been inspired by Ali Edwards' December Daily project, but for the last couple of years I just couldn't imagine taking on another "project" during the month of December. This year, however, motivated by a 6"x6" pad of Christmas paper that I picked up at the dollar store, I was determined to record the memories of this December.

The Reason Why
Advent and the month of December are times for waiting and expecting... usually counting down until Christmas celebrations. However, this year Rob and I are also eagerly anticipating a baby of our own in early 2015. So, in addition to the dreams of red and green, we're also knee deep in the world of birth classes, car seats, diapers, and onesies. Which means the holidays will probably look a bit different this year. While we have never been ones to go overboard for Christmas, we're hoping to streamline our decorations, commitments, and to-do lists. Hopefully while still keeping the magic and spirit of Christmas alive.

I embraced a simple layout with one 4"x4" photo per page with a sentence or two of journaling and an added embellishment just for fun. If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen some of these pictures, but here they are all together telling the story of our December.

Thanks, Ali, once again for your inspiration. I am sure that once our family grows, future Decembers will have a much different rhythm. How special this album will be to remember the quieter December days!


Supplies used:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas... from us to you!

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."
-Charles Dickens

Even scaling back on our Christmas demands this year couldn't keep me from sending Christmas cards. Any excuse to design something fun to send out!!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Week in the Life: Day 7

“If you’re going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all.”
-Joseph Campbell

This is the story of Sunday:

With the end of daylight saving time, it was nice to have an extra hour to sleep in. It made getting up for the early service at church a breeze. I even made it there with time to look over and adjust the formatting of the worship graphics one last time. After the praise band warmed up, Elise came over to chat for a few minutes. I always look forward to this little ritual because even in these few short moments, we seem to share really authentic and raw thoughts with each other. This morning our conversation was cut short with the start of the service, but I treasured it nevertheless.

Today was All Saints Day, a day to remember the faithful who have gone before us. Hearing the reading of names and the tolling bell reminded me of my very vivid memories of the All Saints Day service 15 years ago when my dad's name was read.

After the service, I snacked on a bit of the yummy white chocolate cereal bark that was served at the Koinonia gathering before heading to Sunday School. Elise led the class in the third session about Why, a book by Adam Hamilton. It led to a really interesting theological discussion about God's perspective of time. And, I saw more signs pointing to the word "present"... the frontrunner in my quest for a 2015 One Little Word.

The Sunday afternoon routine around here involves washing laundry for the week. It's gotten to the point in my pregnancy where I can't lift the laundry hamper any more, but luckily Rob moved it from the closet to the hallway for me last night. I divided the clothes into stacks by color, and luckily because we did after-vacation laundry earlier this week, there are only three loads to wash and dry today.

One of the things that I am really proud of about our lives right now is that we're much more likely to turn on music than the television when we need some background noise. (In fact, we rarely turn the TV on at all, unless it is to watch a movie.) We have an iTouch set up on a docking station in the kitchen and regularly blast tunes through the house. The soundtrack of our lives right now includes our favorite Pandora stations: Meghan Trainor, Mumford and Sons, Anna Kendrick, CCR, and 90's Radio.

Rob had another day of weekend duty, so I was on my own for lunch. Again, trying to loosely follow the Brewer Pregnancy Diet, I wanted to try to make something with an egg. I opted for fried rice, although as I was making it I realized I was out of soy sauce and white onions. I substituted teriyaki sauce and red onions, and the result was delicious, if a bit unconventional.

I set a few housecleaning goals for myself today, so that I wouldn't end up sitting on the couch all day. However, I intentionally took my time and took breaks in between chores, so that I wouldn't exhaust myself. I was able to get the floors swept, the dishes washed, and the other two toilets cleaned, in addition to the laundry.

During my breaks from chores, I posted my Saturday WITL post to the blog and edited baby bump photos from the last couple of weeks. My mother-in-law demanded more photos earlier in the week, and although the tone of her text didn't inspire me to jump right on that task, I still wanted to get caught up. I have set up a shared stream through iPhoto on my phone which has been a great way to keep my family in the baby loop.

When Rob got home from work, he took the bike outside for a spin, saying he wanted to take advantage of the nice weather. However, he was an ice cube when he arrived back at the house... turns out it wasn't as warm as it looked. Rob parks his bike in the foyer, which although not necessarily my first-choice location, seems to work... that is, until it gets completely junky and overflows onto the floor, like it is now. I'm hoping that he'll notice the mess soon, so I won't have to nag at him to get it cleaned up.

While Rob showered, I went upstairs to finish folding the clean laundry. I strategically fold the clothes on our bed, so that I have to put them away before the night is over. Only occasionally are we so tired that we just move the piles to the floor. Tonight I had plenty of energy and time to put everything away. It's just so nice to start the week with a clean bedroom and a full closet.

Rob asked for cereal for dinner, which left me to fend for myself again. I wasn't super hungry, so I made a bag of kettle corn and snacked on some raw sugar snap peas while we wound down the weekend (and thus Week in the Life 2014) with a movie streamed from Netflix.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Week in the Life: Day 6

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
-Joan Didion

This is the story of Saturday:

When I woke up around 7:30, Rob was long gone to work for his weekend duty shift (usually every eight weeks). Saturday mornings are my favorite because I can leisurely lay in bed until I'm fully awake and then browse my phone until I'm ready to get out of bed. This morning I scrolled through all of the Halloween photos on Facebook and Instagram and saw reports that it snowed this morning. Rob even texted to confirm that there was accumulation in Greenville, but he made it to work safely. In my opinion, it's much too early in the year for snow!

Knowing that it was cold made it even more difficult to get myself out of the warm sheets. But eventually I threw on my robe and wool socks, and went downstairs to make a mug of hot cocoa and toast a couple waffles... more favorite Saturday traditions.

It ended up being a really lazy Saturday morning. I stayed in my pajamas and robe, and I'm not sure exactly where the hours went. I posted yesterday's photos to the blog, cleaned only one toilet, threw the bed linens in the wash, and other than that, I don't really know...

A little before noon I decided to hop in the shower, get dressed, and officially start the day. I thought I'd put the clean sheets on the bed before I went to grab some lunch, but I kept getting distracted, and by the time I finished it was already 2:00.

I knew I needed a little bit of protein for lunch, so I opted for a plain burger and small fries from Sonic. I just went through the drive-through and brought it home to eat. But even in that quick trip, it was so cold and windy, I wish I had worn my jacket. I got a kick out of watching the birds trying to fly into the wind. They were resilient little guys, but eventually flew down to a roof to take a break.

I spent the afternoon Christmas shopping on and updating my Christmas List app, trying to prepare my shopping cart for our big order. I have decided to give as many couple/family gifts as possible, but I still want to have something little for each of the kids. Given that I hope to spend the month of December in the throes of nesting and preparing for Baby B, I'm trying to get as much done ahead of time as possible. My goal is to have all of the Jamar/Perkins clan's gifts ready to hand off when I see my mom and sister at Thanksgiving in a few weeks.

Rob arrived home around 3:00, after a relatively uneventful day of weekend duty... the most exciting thing was walking the waterline to check for any sign of damage due to a reported earthquake 100 miles away in Augusta. He suited up for a quick spin on the bike trainer, and I finished up my "shopping" and brainstorming before our date night commenced.

We considered finding a corn maze or apple orchard for an adventurous date night, but due to the brisk weather, we decided a movie theater would be a better destination. We headed to Chipotle for our almost weekly burrito/taco dinner, and then made it to the theater with thirty minutes to spare. We love going to the dollar theater; they show movies on the big screen just before they come out on dvd... and you can't beat $2.50 per ticket! We saw 22 Jump Street, the equally entertaining sequel to 21 Jump Street. I'm sure we'll be quoting the one-liners for a while.

It was already 9:30 by the time we arrived home, so we headed upstairs for bed. We remembered to set our clocks back for the end of daylight saving time and relished in the fact that we would get an extra hour of sleep.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Week in the Life: Day 5

“It has been said that next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling.” 
-Khalil Gibran

This is the story of Friday... Halloween:

I was really running behind this morning... I tried to fit too many things in. In addition to my regular morning routine, I prepped our Halloween-themed pizzas for dinner tonight, ran around trying to find the picnic blanket (only to text Rob and find out it's still in his car), and then set up the self-timer on both the camera and my phone to get a good photo of my Halloween shirt.

Baby B is 27 weeks' gestation today... that means we've reached the 3rd trimester!! And, oh my goodness, but only about 13 weeks left to go. The pregnancy apps on my iPhone say Baby B is the size of a cauliflower and weighs about 2 pounds. Keep growing big and strong, Baby B!

There is a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop just around the corner from work, and I had my fingers crossed that there might be doughnuts around the office this morning. And, sure enough, Dr. Paulman sent an email around mid-morning with a witty Halloween poem... "All the candy they take / Leaving us only to scheme / To keep our… / Krispy Kreme!!" There was nobody around when I went downstairs, so I treated myself to two... ssssshhhh... don't tell... it's for the baby!

After my Facetime chat with Mama was cut short yesterday (last night she, Callie, and their husbands were at the Municipal Auditorium to hear President Carter speak for the 20th anniversary of Community Renewal International), I was glad to get a moment to chat with her on GoogleChat this morning. Fridays are usually really slow at work because none of the doctors are on campus, so after posting the videos from yesterday's lab, I worked on posting yesterday's photos to the blog.

For the last three years, Lesa and I have been wanting to do a Halloween picnic in the cemetery right next to campus. This year we were determined to make it happen. Surprisingly the other people we asked looked at us like were were crazy... some even turned us down. Luckily Gail was a good sport and agreed to join us. We ordered a pizza and cheese bread from Mellow Mushroom, and I ran to pick it up just before noon.

We spread out sheets and blankets on the grounds of Magnolia Cemetery to enjoy our picnic. We shared tales of spooky encounters and Halloweens past, and I showed them pictures of my niece's and nephews' Halloween costumes that my talented mama crafted. [See here and here.]

Gail was still a little nervous about walking around the cemetery, but we set out to find the oldest tombstone and to get some inspiration for baby names (Gail is pregnant, too!). Many of the stones had been worn down due to nature or broken due to vandalism, but we took turns reading the inscriptions that were still legible. Most of the graves date back to the mid- and late-1800s. Apparently there are many local politicians, educators, and civic leaders buried here, but I didn't recognize any names. It makes me want to brush up on the history of Spartanburg.

After working on the St. James website most of the afternoon, Dr. Williams asked me just before 5:00 to go upstairs to the lab to take some photos for his lecture next week. Once I was sure that he wouldn't need anything else from me, I headed out, stopping by the church on the way home to prep the graphics for Sunday's early service. I had the slides ready, but I needed to match them with the songs and scriptures in the EasyWorship software.

The Fellowship Hall has this great stained glass window on the stage that gets the best light in the late afternoon. I like to take a few moments each week to bask in the stillness and the quiet and to fully appreciate the light streaming through.

Traffic was terrible on the way home... the lights on Reidville Road don't seem to be timed right. Knowing I had the pizzas prepped and ready to go at home, I texted Rob to ask him to preheat the oven. When I arrived home, I saw that the oven was on, but I couldn't find Rob... turns out he was curled up on the sofa with a blanket over his head taking a quick nap. I threw the pizzas in the oven and whipped up the guacamole for a festive Halloween dinner.

After the neighborhood kids damaged Rob's car a few months ago (we think a kid wrecked his bike into the passenger side, but no one ever came forward), he has been a grouchy neighbor and said he wasn't in the mood to hand out Halloween candy this year. So instead, we turned out the lights and curled up in the living room for the first session of our online Birth Boot Camp class. Rob was able to figure out how to stream the videos from the XBOX, so along with the instructors' laid-back conversation, it really felt like we were sitting in a live class. But with the added advantage that we could make sarcastic remarks to each other, check our phones, and Rob could hide his head under the blanket through the birth videos at the end... he's still a little squeamish. Hence why we're taking the class!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Week in the Life: Day 4

“The shortest distance between a human being and the truth is a story.”
-Anthony de Mello

This is the story of Thursday:

Due to ever-increasing exhaustion, I'm trying to take a step back on some of the household chores, in order to let Rob step in. For example, washing dishes is my least favorite chore anyway, and it's one that Rob doesn't seem to mind. Although he has his own method and works on a completely different timeline than I do. Which I guess explains why the dirty dishes have sat in the sink for over a week and after he washed them last night, he just left most of them on the counter.

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I come down the stairs every weekday morning salivating and craving the quick and easy meal that I've perfected over the years. This morning (and every morning) I prepared a pack of instant oatmeal with water from the tap, three strips of microwavable bacon, and a cup of orange juice. I've tweaked this recipe recently to give it as much of a healthy punch as possible: I'm down to one packet of low sugar oatmeal, I use turkey bacon instead of the real stuff, and I dilute the orange juice a little bit to lessen the caloric impact as well as to tame the taste. If for some reason I am diagnosed with gestational diabetes at my doctors appointment next week, this meal combination will be what I miss the most!

At 4'10" tall, I have always cursed the tall shelves in our kitchen cabinets. However, with a growing belly, I find my reach even more limited than usual. I spend a lot of time on my tiptoes as I work around the kitchen.... in a few weeks as I expand even more, I'm going to wish I had a step stool to carry around with me.

I spent much of the morning prepping for this afternoon's lab. The first time around the printer refused to print all of Dr. Williams' epic presentation for the faculty. On the second try... I could hear the printer from my office, obnoxiously beeping to announce that it was out of paper; I ran around the corner to reload the paper tray, so that it wouldn't bother my colleagues, only to find out I had just two more pages to print. As usual, Dr. Williams kept asking to add more handouts throughout the day, which means even more printing and counting.

In my professional opinion, pregnancy brain is very real. In the last few months I have found myself forgetting simple tasks... this isn't a problem that I'm used to dealing with. To compensate I have to-do lists written in my planner and alarms set on my phone. If a task crosses my mind, whether it is due in a hour or three weeks from now, I immediately jot it down.

As I focus on documenting my week, I'm reminded how much of my day takes place on a screen. Right now one of the big projects I'm working on is an overhaul of the church website. When I started as the church communications coordinator a few weeks ago, the website was a mess... pages were blank, links were broken, and information wasn't placed in intuitive places. In my downtime at work, I've been slowly making progress.

Today I worked on the Outreach pages, setting the stage to tell the story of the many ways that our church serves the community. I can totally get in the zone as I'm working on this project... the minutes and hours fly by, and I find myself hoping that I don't get interrupted by my real work. Friends at church are starting to notice and appreciate the improvements, which is a great motivating factor.

Today's lab was about Dr. Williams' favorite topic and one of the students' most challenging: sacrum and pelvis. He has been very concerned all week about how much he could (and should) cover during this review session. Unfortunately I pulled up the wrong presentation to begin with, but luckily it didn't throw him too much for a loop. The students seemed to remember more about the topic than they thought they would, which made it feel more productive than usual. However, during the second session, the minutes seemed to drag on forever.

As I try to follow along with the lab, sometimes I can recognize terms, but most of the times it feels like a foreign language. I have chalked it up to the fact that I haven't actually taken time to study and apply these concepts. However today I thought about how it compared it to a "language" that I'm more familiar with (even if I'm still learning)... most of these doctors and students would be completely lost looking at a page of html source code. Especially since Dr. Williams comes to my office almost every day to ask me to show him how to place a basic shape on his PowerPoint presentation.

I've had an idea for my Halloween costume for a few months, but wanted to wait until the last minute to make sure that it would actually fit my belly. Using the felt that I bought on Wednesday and an orange shirt that I picked up at Old Navy last week, I free-handed shapes and stuck them down with sticky back Velcro (I'm hoping that I can remove them and recycle the shirt for the Clemson game in November). Can you guess what I'm going to be by looking at the scraps?

By the end of the day I'm exhausted and too tired to document much of the evening. Tonight Rob texted me to let me know that he was going to hit a bike ride and be home around 8:00. Taking advantage of a few hours alone, I stopped off at Publix hoping to find some festive cookies for tomorrow... they didn't have any super cute ones, but I settled for ones with lots of sprinkles.

At home I pulled out the makings for dinner and prepared the chicken, potatoes, and squash... ready to throw them in the oven just before 8:00. In the meantime I sat down to design quick social media banners for the church. When Rob walked in the door 15 minutes earlier than I expected, I scrambled to get dinner cooking. After dinner we sat across the table from each other with our laptops, Rob working on his work presentation for next week, and me editing our Amazon shopping cart for our first big round of Christmas purchases.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Week in the Life: Day 3

“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.” 
-Madeleine L’Engle

The story of Wednesday:

The alarm went off this morning (and every morning) at 6:00 am. Rob was long gone to work, so I took advantage of the quiet, dark house and hit the snooze button for another 9 minutes of respite. Although my goal was to actually snooze, I found myself awake with three minutes to spare. I rolled over and grabbed my phone from the nightstand. I did a quick check on my inbox, just reading the subject lines and not actually opening the emails and then scrolled through my Facebook and Instagram feeds, browsing what had been posted since the night before. Today the feeds seemed endless, and by the time I got to the "end," I was running a few minutes behind schedule. So I popped out of bed and headed for the shower, wondering what awaited me today.

While putting on my make-up, I was able to finish my assigned reading for Sunday School (chapters 2 and 3 of Why by Adam Hamilton), so I browsed Pinterest on the Nook while I blew my hair dry. I found myself just scrolling through the pins, nothing actually caught my interest enough to repin this morning.

Sometimes I feel like a "bag lady" as I head out for the day. Today I definitely had my hands and shoulders full! In my purse, I carried my wallet, phone, lipstick pouch, and keys, as well as my Nikon sDLR camera. I also had my exercise bag slung over my shoulder, holding a change of clothes and shoes, as well my laptop and power cord. In my hands I held my lunch bag packed with a frozen meal for lunch and snacks for the afternoon, as well as my Tervis Tumbler filled with ice water. I can't imagine adding a diaper bag to this pile in a few months!

I caught the most beautiful sunrise on the way to the mailbox this morning. Two different flocks of geese flew over my head as I trekked down the driveway. I had two Netflix dvd envelopes to send out. However, our mailman seems to be getting pretty lax; when I got home from work, I realized that he delivered the mail, but didn't actually take the mail that was left for pick up.

I've been driving my 2014 Mazda CX-5 for just over a year now. One of the things that I love about it is that it gets great gas mileage for a small SUV... usually 28 or 29 mpg. However, after our trip this past weekend, the tank was drained; when I got in this morning, the dashboard showed 12 miles until an empty tank. On the way to work, I took a detour to run by the Shell gas station. [Years ago Rob asked my grandfather, a petroleum geologist, which brand of gas was best, and ever since then we've been dedicated to the Shell brand.] I filled up 12.371 gallons for $33.88, and of course, I recorded this data in my AutoCare iPhone app, so that I can track my car maintenance... that is, if I actually cared enough to crunch the numbers later.

Only in the last few days have I really noticed the leaves changing color here in South Carolina. Fall has arrived. While we had a few chilly days last week, this week has been relatively mild... mostly in the 70's, no jacket needed. Although I heard rumors that the temperature was supposed to drop again this weekend.

Too many tabs open this morning... both on my computer and in my mind.
  • Posting videos from yesterday's lab
  • Troubleshooting why the videos won't play (realized that you can't use an ampersand in the file name)
  • Looking for inspiration for Christmas Eve service postcard invitations
  • Reading blogs
  • Making a list of additional stories to capture this week
  • Checking in on both work and personal email
  • Trying to record the week's stories in Evernote before they're forgotten

I try to make a point to get out of the office during the lunch hour a couple of times during the week. It helps break up the monotony of the day. While sometimes I just go out just to browse, today I had a goal in mind. I headed to Jo-Ann's fabric store to get the supplies to finish my Halloween costume and to experiment with a triangle garland for the nursery. And, of course, while I was out, I ran through the drive-through at Burger King for a medium Coke Icee... one of the only things that I've "craved" while pregnant.

Before I got pregnant, I had established a really great exercise schedule, running regularly and attending boot camp classes several days a week. Unfortunately though, I've really had to scale back over the last couple of months because I was afraid I would push myself too hard. As an alternative, I returned to Zumba classes (which was the gateway drug to my previous fitness routine). Every Wednesday night I would head to Excel Fitness for a $5 Zumba class with Cassie. As my belly has grown, I have noticed that my flexibility and stamina has decreased... while everybody else is doing jumping jacks, I'm just tapping my toes out to either side. So a few weeks ago, I set the goal to finish out my second trimester, which made tonight's class my last class until after Baby B is born.

When I arrived at the gym, I learned that the class schedule is changing next week, and it was Cassie's last Zumba class to teach as well. Some of her original "Fitness Divas" (girls that attended class back when I started in 2011) showed up to wish her well. It was so much fun to have a full class with so much personality pulsing through the room. She pulled out all of the favorite songs and routines, and as is tradition, we finished the night with a group picture.

Earlier in the week, Rob offered to take me out for dinner to celebrate my last fitness class for a while. Unfortunately there are not many restaurant options on our side of town. Because it was already dark (and therefore late, in my opinion) and we were both still in sweaty workout clothes, we decided that a run to Taco Bell would do the trick. It wasn't the quickest fast food drive-through I've ever been to, but my three beef fresco tacos sure did hit the spot.

At one of my first OB appointments, the doctor suggested that I take three Tums a day to counterbalance the fact that I rarely, if ever drink milk. And, with the amount of heartburn I've had the last few weeks, I'm more than willing to pop these like candy before bed.

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