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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Week in the Life: Day 2

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
-Maya Angelou

Here is the story of Tuesday:

The clocks in our house are all set at different times, depending on whether Rob or I set them. His alarm clock is 10 minutes fast, while mine is right on; the microwave is just slightly fast, while my watch for some reason is two minutes slow. I have to constantly calculate throughout the morning to make sure that I'm not running behind. It's like living in a math word problem... "if the clock upstairs reads 7:15 but is seven minutes fast, what does the downstairs clock which is three minutes slow read?"

A few years ago I decided to challenge myself to make the bed every morning for 30 days. The habit stuck, and these days it's rare that I leave the house to an unmade bed. If I hit that last bit of my morning routine before 7:15, I know I'm on time. However, this morning I was already pushing 7:20. Knowing that I still needed to pack my snacks, put dinner in the crockpot, and take my daily WITL selfie before heading out the door, I decided there wasn't time to fold a load of clothes, too. That will just have to wait until the evening.

For dinner tonight I've planned pork chops in the slow cooker. I love the ease of the slow cooker, but using it means I've got to get my butt in gear to prepare it before I leave for work. I'm using a new recipe today, and as I gathered the ingredients, I realized I didn't have any brown sugar. Luckily a quick Google search told me I can substitute real sugar, or Splenda in this case. I set the timer for 6 hours, hoping the meat doesn't get too dry throughout the day. I always feel a little apprehensive leaving a hot electrical appliance on while I'm at work, so I said a little prayer that it neither burns the food nor burns the house down.


I always look forward to my drive to work... I relax in the routine. I try to wave to the crossing guard at the elementary school around the corner. I apply my lipstick and take one last look at myself in the mirror to make sure I'm put together. This morning I finished listening to Elise Cripe's latest podcast episode that I started last night while tidying up. I also listened to a song from Elise Barrett's new cd... I'm trying to learn the lyrics by playing the songs over and over again.

Tuesday afternoons are usually devoted to an OMM lab for the first year students. I spent some time this morning preparing for the lab, printing copies of the lab presentation for each faculty member. The closest printer to my office doesn't have a staple feature, so I have to manually collate and staple each packet. I also printed check-off worksheets for each student and then cut the full page sheets in half. Then I assigned doctors to proctor each room and went upstairs to tape the sign-in sheets on the door. I turned on the audiovisual system to make sure there weren't any issues to troubleshoot.

Mid-morning, Callie messaged me through Google Chat. I love that technology allows us to bridge the distance from Spartanburg to Shreveport. We can chat throughout the day and keep up with each other through the monumental and the mundane, through the silly and the serious. Today's conversation started when inspired by a Bible study she's working through, Callie asked me to give my "knee-jerk reaction" to the question, "Does God cause us to be in pain?" Coincidentally we are both reading books by Adam Hamilton and therefore bounced quotes and ideas off of each other before moving on to more lighthearted subjects.

On the days when labs are scheduled, lunch is provided. Today was chicken and wings from Fatz Cafe. The doctors are in the conference room as they reviewed the upcoming lab, but I took my plate back to my office to soak in a last few minutes of quiet before lab began at 1pm. 

A few minutes before lab I headed upstairs to meet the students and download the updated presentation. Today's lab was an introduction to osteopathic treatments of the cervical spine, one of the introductory concepts for the first year students. It seems like after sitting through these labs I should be able to do it myself, but that is far from reality. I'm doing good to recognize some of the terms.
Throughout both sessions of the lab (half the class at a time), I sat at the front of the main lab room to control the camera views as the presentation is simulcast to all of the other lab rooms. I tried to guess what to focus on and which views communicate better, but Dr. Williams was always quick to direct me to zoom in or show a different angle. I also recorded each clip, so the students can watch the videos as they study. While the students practiced the techniques, I was able to relax for a second... during these breaks today, I typed up the WITL stories on my phone.

I find it intriguing to consider the phases we seem to go through with our dinner choices. I'd be the first to admit that my picky palate is (and always will be) the limiting factor when it comes to our culinary adventures. However, I'm proud that I have expanded my tastes in the last few years. Tilapia (see yesterday), sweet potatoes, and roasted broccoli are now regulars in our meal rotation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week in the Life 2014: Day 1

"Those who tell the stories rule the world."
-Hopi American Indian proverb

Here is the story of Monday:

We returned home late last night from our annual Beach Ride weekend in Charleston. We dropped our luggage and headed straight to bed, knowing Monday morning would come soon. In addition to sandy, dirty laundry, and wonderful memories, both Rob and I brought back wickedly sunburned feet.

We're unpacking the suitcases as we go this morning. In the craziness of packing for our trip, we left the house in a whirlwind. There's a lot of tidying up that needs to be done in the upcoming days to make it livable again.

One of my most critical tasks at work is to keep the faculty in the loop about their responsibilities. In my first weeks on the job, I implemented a weekly email laying out the schedule and expectations for the week. It's usually one of my first to-do items on Monday morning, and if the faculty hasn't received by mid-day, they start emailing asking for it. This week the schedule is pretty straightforward: only labs on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, but they have no excuse to not to show up when and where they're needed.

Since my work is not as consistent or as time-consuming as it once was, I often use my downtime to work on other projects, including my freelance communications work for the church. Today my main freelance task was creating a new Google calendar for the church, linking it to the website and finishing the November newsletter.

Although I'm not strictly following the Brewer Pregnancy Diet, I try to keep the main guidelines in mind as I plan my meals for the day. Limiting my sugar intake, upping my proteins, and trying to squeeze in as many baked potatoes and eggs as possible. Packing my lunch and planning my daily snacks take the most effort, but make the biggest impact. If it's packed and ready to go, I'm much less likely to grab something unhealthy. What an aha moment it was a few weeks ago to realize that I could bake a potato in the microwave while at work! Today I've got gluten-free chicken fingers and a potato in my lunch bag, along with a single serving of my favorite Pirouline wafer cookies and a bag of mixed nuts for snacks.

I also went up to the church this afternoon to meet a new client, who has asked me if I could help him update the website for the lobbying association that he heads up. Usually I turn down projects like this, but something about this one had me intrigued. Mr. Hughes is an older gentleman with lots of personality... I hope that the project is as straightforward as it seems because I really enjoyed meeting him.

Grocery shopping is so much more effective and efficient if I go with a shopping list and meal plan in hand. I try to map out the meals for the week using Google calendar. I can see what I've made recently, easily store links to recipes, and can pull it up both on my phone or the laptop. I usually pull up a Google Calendar tab every Monday morning but often get distracted throughout the day and find myself scurrying around at 4:45 to organize a plan before I head to Ingle's.

Rob texted me in the middle of the day, asking if we could just chill tonight. Thinking of all the things on my to-do list, I replied, "yeah, that and grocery shop and laundry and..." Lucky for me (not so lucky for him), Rob didn't get home until 7:00. This have me a chance to start the laundry, put away the suitcase, and create/send an invoice before cooking dinner and settling on the couch for a movie. Sure, there are still dishes in the sink and mile-high piles on the breakfast table, but these moments together are the ones to cherish.

Week in the Life 2014

"Our days are built with stories."
-Ali Edwards

I knew Ali Edwards' annual Week in the Life project was quickly approaching, but I hadn't decided whether I would participate this year. As usual, I was on the fence about committing to yet another project in the midst of the many that I'm already juggling.

However, after her inspiring post last week, "Our Days are Built With Stories," I knew I was all in. I'm sure I will be referring back to this post for inspiration for other projects, but I couldn't miss the opportunity this week to record my stories.

This will be my third time to tackle the Week in the Life challenge [also in 2010 and 2012]. Since I seem to be working in a two-year cycle, documenting life in 2014 seems to make sense. It's amazing to look back to consider what has remained constant and what has changed even in this short four-year time frame. For example, my job situation is completely different in each of these years, but I'm guessing that my breakfast choices this year will be identical to previous years.

With the arrival of Baby B on the horizon, this will be one of the last opportunities I have to tell the stories of my life, pre-kids. I am eager to capture the rhythm and routine of my days right now.

In 2010 I focused on the photos; in 2012 I focused on the timeline. And, like Ali, this year I'm focused on the stories. The hows and the whys as much as the whats and the whens. I don't know yet what that means for the final album... what medium or what layout will be the best way to make the stories sing. But, I'll cross that road when I get to it... this week, I'm carrying my dSLR, reaching for my iPhone camera, jotting down notes on scraps of paper, and fleshing out stories in an Evernote document.

Can't wait to see what the week holds!

If you are looking for inspiration on how to capture your own Week in the Life, check out these awesome posts:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Nursery paint colors

"I love you beyond paint, beyond melodies, beyond words. And I hope you will always feel that, even when I'm not around to tell you so.”
-Kiera Cass

Most of the rooms in our house are still painted the oh-so-love shade of "builder khaki"... including the nursery. But as we fix up Baby B's room, a fresh coat of paint is top of the to-do list.

I'm leaning towards a gray, hoping that the teal, coral and citron will really pop! I mocked up a few of my favorite colors... to see how dark we can go!

What do you think?
Wall color is Olympic Secret Passage
Wall color is Valspar Gray Plank
Wall color is Valspar Pewter

Knowing that Rob is training for his annual bicycle ride to the beach (this Friday!!), I didn't expect that we would start any of this big project until after that. However, he got a wild hair this weekend. We were able to clear out the room and put some sample paint up on the walls to consider.

Now we just have to decide...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Nursery progress... part 1

"Every baby needs a lap."
-Henry Robin

When we left off in the nursery, I was debating what fabric choices and color scheme to move forward with. Would it be the modern woodland theme or the graphic feather theme?

After exploring and brainstorming about each option, I just went with my gut and the choice that seemed to best match the decorating style that I had in mind. A quick look at my pins on Pinterest, and I knew that bold and graphic was the way to go.

So... feathers it is!!

Click here to see fabric sources
Ever since we moved into this house, we knew that the small bedroom in the corner of the second floor would be the nursery, if and when we needed it. In fact, while babies were still far on the horizon, Rob and I compromised on calling this room, "The B.R." ... which stood for both "bonus room" and "baby room."

I've also joked that this is the room where furniture goes to die. As we phased out furniture from our college and apartment days, we moved it in here, hoping we would find someone who could revive it. Futons, chairs, entertainment centers, side tables, rugs... it was all stacked up in here. We knew we had a bit of decluttering to do before we could fit a baby in here as well.

When Mama came to visit at Labor Day, I knew this would might be only chance to have her sewing expertise on location before Baby B was born. We made the most of our four days together, making multiple trips to multiple fabric stores, squeezing in a dash around IKEA, and sewing up a storm. She also posted about our adventures over at Mommy's Treasures.

During our time together, we were able to make amazing progress on the window-side of the nursery (the other half is still piled high with furniture!) Here's what we accomplished:
  • Sewed and hung a window valance
  • Assembled three Kallax cube shelves
  • Rearranged furniture and moved my grandmother's rocking chair from the guest room
  • Upcycled a cushion that we had made a couple of years ago into a window seat cushion
  • Made throw pillows galore
  • Sewed several fitted crib sheets in coordinating fabrics
  • Planned to make fitted covers for the changing table pad (once I can measure it)
  • Failed at making a Boppy pillow cover... decided it's worth it just to buy that!
  • Made and stuffed (with a lot of effort) an ottoman

I'm so excited by the progress we made! This is now my favorite room in the house! Now if I can just motivate Rob to help me clean up the rest of the room, order a crib, and paint the walls, then we'll be in business. I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

September Project #3: Awake album

"So walk with me, my friend, awhile."
-Elise Erikson Barrett

The end of September seemed like crazy time for me... the deadlines of five different projects were scheduled within a week of each other. Projects that I have put my heart and soul into for months... Projects that I am extremely proud of... Projects that I was eager to see completed and well-received...

I just want to share a few snapshots of several of these projects over the next few posts...

Project #3: Awake album
A few months ago I posted about my friend Elise's Kickstarter campaign to fund her first album. [Of course the project was not without a little bit of "excitement" as the day after the project launched, her husband (and my pastor) was hospitalized with another health scare; after stumping the doctors for a while, they seem to have finally figured it out, and he is doing much better.]

Elise's project was fully funded in half the expected time, and it went on to raise 160% of the initial goal. The extra cash allowed Elise to bring on some more musicians and to take advantage of an opportunity to travel to San Francisco to record at the well-known Fantasy Studios.

And, what does all of this have to do with me and my projects?? Well, Elise asked me to design the album branding, packaging, and all of the Kickstarter swag/merchandise!
At first the project seemed a bit out of my comfort zone... I mean I haven't designed an album since a class assignment for one of my first graphic design classes in college. But, I was all in...

Once I received the photos that my other friend, Jane, had taken of Elise, I really found my groove... and, luckily Elise also loved the concepts I came up with. Over the course of the project, I designed a logo and brand identity, decal stickers, t-shirts, posters, the case insert, and the cd itself.

And, talk about exciting when I saw this:
Yes... that's my artwork on iTunes... not to mention Elise's music available on iTunes today!!!!! #awakeishappening

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