Saturday, July 30, 2016

Odds and Ends

Here are a collection of moments highlighting family, food, and fun that captured a place on my camera over the past three months.  

Family dinner night was a combined effort that yielded delicious results.  I opted for the "make something out of nothing" strategy and prepared a potato and asparagus Caesar salad.

Gathering a few other ingredients from the refrigerator, this honey ginger sesame roasted carrots and brussels sprouts came to fruition.

Lastly, the main feature was a beautiful presentation of grilled whole red fish stuffed with herbs and roasted on a cedar plank that was provided by Mom and Dad.  The entire meal left our stomachs very happy.

Time flies when you are watching a baby grow up!  In a blink of an eye Eli was a month old, discovered his hands, spent more time awake and alert, and started smiling at 6 weeks.  He's so much fun to watch.

Between Eli's birth, a week of vacation, Grandpa's passing, and Mother's Day weekend, I spent most weekends in Atlanta in late April and May.  Mother's Day weekend I hosted a brunch to celebrate Grandma, Mom, and Erin (her 1st Mother's day!).  4 generations and nearly 8 decades are captured in this picture.

Our Mother's Day brunch included strawberry whole wheat scones, salmon-avocado-sprout roll-ups, and a goat cheese-asparagus-dill crustless quiche.

Mom spent most of the afternoon with Eli in her lap and a big smile on her face, evidence that she is loving her new role as "Grandma".  Royce and I are so lucky to have her as our Mom!

While Dad and Mom took an extended vacation in Italy, Bailey came to Charlotte for a couple weeks of summer camp.  Her weekends were filled with trips to the farmers market, long walks and runs through Myers Park and the greenway, and soaking up the sun on the deck.

She did her best to ensure that my attempts at productivity were short-lived.  The dog has absolutely no understanding of the importance of studying for my orthopaedic board exam or preparing for surgical cases.

I spent a few days in Atlanta en route to Denver for a board review course.  Bailey was returned to her rightful owners and Eli and I spent some quality nephew-aunt time together.

Flash-forward a few weeks and I made the move to Atlanta.  My townhouse is in an ideal location that is just a few miles to work, close to running trails, and just down the road from a farmer's market.  I hosted Erin, Royce, Mom, Dad, and Eli for a housewarming dinner one evening.  It's so wonderful to be living back in Atlanta and in such close proximity to family.

Our meal included quinoa fritters with a dill creme, roasted honey mustard potato salad, and a corn-tomato-avocado-bell pepper vegetable salad.  Summer on a plate!

Our Perkins Family 4th of July tradition is the running Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race, and 2016 was no exception.  Very warm temperatures, high humidity, and blue skies greater us at the start of the 6.2 mile street parade.

It was the warmest temperatures we had seen in several years, making for tough conditions for all of us.  We were spread out in different starting corrals, ranging from A to S, but managed to find each other amongst 55,000 of our closest friends at the finish line.  

One of these years I'm going to conquer the Atlanta heat, hills, and humidity and have a strong enough race to finish in the top 1000.  

On July 7th, I took part one of the orthopaedic board exam.  This was the capstone on five years of residency, annual in-training exams, and weeks of intensive studying.  Passing the eight-hour multiple choice test is required for board certification, so needless to say, I'm anxiously awaiting the release of results in September.

To celebrate, Dad and Mom made the short drive into town to join me for wine and appetizers at home, followed by an excellent dinner at Rumi's Kitchen.  Rumi's comes highly recommended for their authentic Persian cuisine.  We were first brought complimentary pita with a plate of feta cheese, herbs, olives, and radishes.  Next we selected a duo of spreads (butternut squash tahini and beet hummus) and a spinach and date salad.

Our entrees selections were Persian vegetable stew, lamb kabob with lentil and raisin basmati rice, and roasted salmon with dill and fava bean rice.  The lamb and salmon were both perfectly cooked, and the rices were unique and flavorful.  The portions of meat and rice were huge and we could have seriously shared just one entree between the three of us.  We all left with boxes of food that provided multiple meals.

With boards behind me, I enjoyed a few weeks of rest, relaxation, and fun with family and friends.  I've been telling Eli all about swimming, biking, and running, so he was very excited to join me for his first run.  Now that he's a little older we were able to strap him in to the Bob sans car seat and he and I enjoyed a short run through the neighborhood.

One morning I met Erin, Eli, and Mom for a girls' (+ baby) day out.  Lattes at Mugs on Milton provided the energy for our shopping excursion at Avalon.  Eli had little interest in shopping, but us girls had no trouble being drawn to all of the adorable baby boy outfits and hats.

Eli is more impressed with his race car than he was any of the hats and onesies we picked out for him.

Chattahoochee Coffee Company is a hidden gem inside the perimeter that I can't believe I had never visited.  Located in the back of a gated apartment complex, this coffee shop sits along the banks of the Chattahoochee River and has the best views.  Lattes are made with Counter Culture espresso, local organic mils, and house lavender syrup.  And in case you need a bite to eat, their lemon blueberry scones are perfection.

In the course of a week, I made two separate visits and have spent ours sipping coffee, working on a research project, and admiring the river.  I foresee many more trips to the river's edge to sip lattes in my future.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Residency Graduation

Three months have passed since there's been any activity here, but that certainly isn't an indication of a lack of life happenings.  June marked the completion of five years of orthopaedic residency - a huge milestone and certainly the most challenging five years of my education and training.  

Graduation festivities were spread across two weeks, immediately following my return from a board review course in Denver.  The first week included a chief weekend (whitewater rafting, ropes courses, a Charlotte Knights baseball game, and dinner), a chief dinner at 5Church with our visiting professor, resident research day where I presented my research on femur fractures in patients with spinal cord injury, our orthopaedic department graduation gathering at Belle Acres, and the chief roast.

The chief roast is my favorite event of the year!  Following a casual afternoon and evening poolside and an Italian dinner, all of the residents and many faculty gathered for the roast.  The juniors presented their video first - utilizing a presidential election theme to poke fun at the four chiefs.  Next, the chiefs presented our video roasting the 20 more junior residents.  It's an hour of impressive cinematography that has us all rolling laughing.

These three guys have been classmates, training partners, but most importantly great friends over the past 5 years.  It's so hard to believe that it was our turn for a graduation portrait.

In five years, I developed a wonderful circle of friends.  We come from a variety of backgrounds, but our common bond is swimming, biking, and running.  We've bonded over weekly 4+ hour bike rides, an annual Christmas run and cookie exchange, early morning long runs, and shared tears at the finish lines of Ironman Chattanooga and Louisville.  For one final celebration, we traded in spandex for nicer clothes and a "going away" dinner at Nan and Byron's.  I'll miss them all so much!

Dad and Mom arrived in Charlotte the following weekend for a few final days in the Queen City.  In between packing, we celebrated my graduation at Kindred - a long awaited dinner in Davidson.  The summer evening was surprisingly cool and we dined al fresco, starting our meal with their famous milk bread with housemade butter (fabulous!) and appetizers of fried oysters and pickles.

The next plates from the tapas-style menu were a baby vegetable salad (delicate, unique, and flavorful) and squid lettuce wraps.

The final courses were a butternut squash soup and spring pea pasta tossed with sweet corn (my favorite dish of the night!).

Last, but certainly not least, was dessert.  I've heard nothing but rave reviews of Kindred's "birthday cake and ice cream" and had long ago set my sights on this sweet treat.  It was everything I had hoped for and more!

There's nothing easy about the career path I chose in life, and I couldn't have done it without all of the  support, encouragement, and love from my parents.  There's nothing fun about moving homes/cities, and these two are smiling despite helping me with summertime move number six since I left for college thirteen years ago.

Other highlights from my final weekend in Charlotte (also Father's Day) included a bike ride with Dad along the Booty Loop, breakfast at Luna's Living Kitchen, wandering through Atherton Market, caramel lattes at Not Just Coffee, a walk through Dilworth, and lunch from Pure Pizza.

In between the delicious eats, there was a ton of manual labor, packing dozens of boxes, endless trips up and down two flights of stairs with heavy loads, and a disaster of a moving experience complete with pathetic movers showing up hours late in Charlotte and no-show movers in Atlanta.

My final night in Charlotte was spent celebrating one last time with this crew.  We met for drinks at Bentley's before walking down the road to the Westin for the hospital graduation dinner and ceremony.  Five years, endless learning, good days, really tough days, exhaustion, accomplishment, excitement, and finally, one last walk across the stage to mark the end of residency and life in Charlotte.

Now I'm Atlanta bound for fellowship!

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Nephew is Born

On Saturday, April 22, at 12:46am, Eli Michael Perkins made his entrance into the world.  By doing so he made my brother and sister-in-law parents, my parents grandparents, and myself an aunt.  

This handsome guy weighed 8 pounds 7 ounces and measured 21.5 inches in length.  He has 10 fingers, 10 toes, a full head of hair, and is absolutely perfect!

The second I heard that Erin was in labor (the beginning of more than 26 hours!), I made the drive from Charlotte to Atlanta and joined the whole family at the hospital.  With Royce by her side, Erin remained strong, patient, and calm, delivering her first baby like a champ.

After a few hours of sleep, we were all back at the hospital to treasure time with Eli and his proud parents.  Eli seems to be the perfect baby, crying only when he wants to eat and is otherwise very content.

Eli, we passed you from person to person, taking turns staring into your eyes and being memorized by how incredibly in love we were with you in just a short few hours.

Watching my brother become a Dad has been nothing short of incredible.  A week ago, Royce was notorious for telling everyone things like "it's just a baby", "lots of people have babies", "it's not a big deal."  Immediately after delivery it was apparent that Eli has his Dad wrapped tightly around his finger.

Three generations of Perkins boys - Dad, Son, and Grandpa.  I have huge expectations for lots of adventures and memories between these three guys!

Watching your face provides entertainment for hours at a time.  In your sleep you sound like a little bird, squeaking and chirping and making hundreds of different faces.  While your first social smile won't occur for a few more weeks, you have us convinced you're a very happy baby with expressions like the one below.

Hey Royce, I thought you said you weren't going to ever change any diapers?  In this picture he was telling us he was an expert diaper changer.

Day one of life wore this little one out!

When Royce and Erin came home from the hospital, I was fortunate to spend some quality time with Eli.  While his Daddy worked and Mommy recovered, I spent hours rocking, staring into his face, and simply living in the moment.  Even Kahlua snuck into the nursery for a chance to meet her brother.

Day three of life brought another morning of cuddles and rocking, lots of diaper changes, playing dress up with one of so many adorable onesies, reading Dr. Seuss books, and a visit to the pediatrician.  They confirmed that you're absolutely perfect.

Mommy and Daddy gave you a warm bath after you managed to pee all over yourself.  There's nothing cuter than a newborn, fresh and clean from their bath, with a spiked up hair style.

You and your Daddy look nearly identical when we compare your baby pictures.

Daddy says you look like you're ready for an E*Trade commercial in these pictures.

This Skratch Labs onesie was one of my first purchases when I learned that you were growing inside your Mommy's belly.  Fortunately, you're feeding like a champ be sure to let Mom know when you're ready to eat.

On day six, you took your first big trip out of the house and over to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  Bailey was very curious about you, most especially all of the noises you make.  You were perfectly behaved and slept while we all ate dinner.

We ate, watched basketball, snuggled with you, and then packed you up nice and warm in your blanket for the short drive back home.  Hopefully soon you'll figure out the difference between night and day so that Mommy and Daddy can get some sleep at night.

You spend much of the day sleeping, but Mommy captured this fantastic picture of you one morning when you really opened those blue eyes widely.  How is it possible that you're one week old already?

After a week of being home, I sadly had to say good-bye and make the trip back to Charlotte, but made sure to spend a couple hours with you first.  Your first mohawk was courtesy of Kona, who gave you a big slobbery kiss across the head.

Since your Aunt is going to be a pediatric orthopedist, I had to give you a good orthopaedic exam.  You humored me and didn't seem to mind a bit.  Your little arms, legs, hips, and spine look perfect!

I can't even begin to put into words how amazing you are, Eli.  Your Mommy and Daddy are fabulous parents and I can't wait to see what a wonderful boy they raise.  Grandpa and Grandma have fallen head over heels in love with you and will certainly spoil their first grandchild.  You are an incredible gift and treasure and I love you more than you'll ever know. This week I've spent more time than ever before sitting still, ignoring everything else in the world, and just simply enjoying the moment.  Being an Aunt is better than I ever imagined!  

You're an incredible boy, Eli Michael, and I'm so proud to call you my nephew.
In the words of Dr. Seuss:
"Wherever you fly you'll be the best.  Wherever you go you will top all the rest."