December 10, 2014

Winter Skin Care Tips

It's that time of year again - temperatures are dropping, snow is falling, kids are eagerly awaiting school cancellations, and the annoying dry patch over my left eye has returned. Welcome back, winter. For those of you who live in areas where you get winter, you are familiar with all of this, including the skin problems that pop up! Most often it's dry skin on various points in the dry skin spectrum - from annoying patches here and there to horribly controlled eczema that can even require hospitalization (on my pediatric dermatology rotation I took care of a baby who's eczema was so bad last winter that he was hospitalized)! 

Here are a few of my favorite products and how to use them for combatting the problems that come with winter skin. 

1. Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash - This unscented body wash (and the Target brand, both of which I've used) are perfect for sensitive skin or skin that tends to get dried out. It doesn't leave your skin feeling stripped of moisture, in fact I usually feel more moisturized after using it! It also still lathers nicely. Make sure to keep your showers short and keep the water mild and not too hot to avoid drying out your skin. This tip is always hard for me to follow because I find hot showers incredibly therapeutic, but to cut down on time spent in the hot water what I do instead is start the shower really hot to get that first "ahhh" effect for a few seconds, then turn the temperature down and wash up!

2. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser - Ask almost any dermatologist what face wash they recommend and they will give you this one. Even for my acne-prone skin, I still get drier in the winter, and this is my holy grail face wash. Non-stripping, but effectively removes makeup and dirt, and feels wonderful. I used to use it with my Clarisonic brush, but as my time for the AM/PM routine has gotten shorter, I've stopped using the brush altogether (as much as I loved it) and still think the wash is amazing on its own. Use a gentle wash like this one in the morning and evening with lukewarm water.

3. Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream - Another classic, this non-pore-clogging cream can be used literally anywhere on the body and not cause irritation or breakouts. After showering, I pat dry and immediately apply this to my body. I rarely use it on my face because I don't need that much moisture there, but many people do and swear by it. For those that need more intense moisture, Vanicream is another great option.

4. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream - Our hands usually get it the worst in winter - and especially those of us washing our hands all the time like doctors, nurses, and teachers - our hands are usually screaming for help! I love this hand cream - it's super concentrated, so a little goes a long way, but as rich as it is, it absorbs quickly and doesn't leave a greasy residue (so I can write without my pen slipping not long after putting it on)! Try to reapply right after washing hands and patting dry. This can also be used anywhere, but I love carrying the little tube around with me for use throughout the day.

5. Humidifier - I'm not sure why I took so long to get a humidifier. But I did (N did actually), and have never looked back. Ours actually just broke, and I am realizing now what a huge difference it made! We turn ours up to medium or high during the night and will turn it down to low during the day, essentially running it constantly. All of our nasal congestion (especially Liv's, which is why we initially bought it) and dry/sore throats decreased dramatically (again, something I'm much more aware of now that it's broken)! My contact lenses were more comfortable, and my skin was much less dry. I find myself needing to reapply my moisturizers more often without it! I would seriously consider investing in one, your skin, sinuses, throat, and more will thank you!

6. Cerave Moisturizing Lotion, SPF 30 - This is my daily AM lotion for my face and I love it. It does its' job without breaking me out and almost makes me feel like I'm glowing! Although the sun doesn't feel as warm in the winter months, the UV rays are definitely still damaging, so it's important to continue using a daily moisturizer with sun protection. With the current products I'm using for my face (all listed here in this post) I actually find that the only makeup I use is under eye concealer (all the lotion and humidifiers in the world still can't make up for sleep)! You'll find the less makeup you use the happier your skin will be in general, so finding a regimen that allows you to use less is definitely worth it! I will add that I was briefly using a low-dose oral antibiotic for my acne (during the late summer when the stress of wedding planning while on clinical rotations and taking care of Liv became quite apparent in my horrible acne flare)! I have since been off for a couple of months and have not had any flares on this routine! Especially for those of us with dark marks leftover from previous acne, it's even more important to use a daily lotion with SPF, as any bit of sun can make those spots darker and take longer to fade!

7. Aquaphor - No winter skin products list would be complete without Aquaphor. I literally have a little tube of Aquaphor in every bag I own, and in each white coat pocket (maybe a little overkill?). I use this for everything -it's the best moisturizer for your lips - but also for Liv's diaper area (we have a huge tub at her changing table), any dry areas, and even small scrapes or irritated areas that need a little protection!

That's it! The products that help get me through the winter with happy and healthy skin! Hope this could be helpful for some of you! And of course, although a lot of these recommendations come from my experience working in dermatology clinic, none of this takes the place of real medical advice - so make sure to make an appointment with your own dermatologist if you're having issues with winter skin! 

December 4, 2014

My Favorite Planners

As we get ready to head into a new year, one of the questions I'm starting to get more often is how to be more organized, and specifically, which planners I recommend! I've spoken a bit about organization and time management here, but today I wanted to share some planners for the new year! So let's jump into my top three favorite planners - and how I currently use my absolute favorite! All three planners I mention here are beautiful, hardcover, and open to lay completely flat (three features that are important for me in a planner)!

 1. The Day Designer - I owned the larger/original version of the Day Designer and loved it, but for me, it was simply much too large to carry around with me daily! In comes the Day Designer mini, and I think it's perfect. Although you fill in the dates and there aren't the "planning" worksheets that the original has, for me (and most of you) the mini has all of the essentials and most importantly can be thrown in your daily bag!

2. The Simplified Planner - Another larger planner, this is a beauty in its simple layout and sections for each day. I love this planner and if I wasn't in a nice groove with my current planner, this one would definitely be the one I would buy! You can try it out by downloading her free pages and see if you like the format! 

3. Russell + Hazel Mini SmartDate System - This is my current planner and has been for the last year or two, and I absolutely love it. Why? Mostly because as a beautifully designed binder system, every component is interchangeable, and I can update my planner as my planning needs change - when I have rotations at the hospital or clinic, I usually use the weekly planning pages; if I have more control of my schedule and therefore want to plan my days a little more, I throw in some daily planning pages and use those. The size of the binder (which comes in beautiful colors) is perfect for carrying with me on a daily basis - and there are endless pages you can include in your binder to customize a planner perfect for you. In mine I have the monthly pages, weekly pages (I own the daily pages too but haven't used them in a while so keep them in a desk drawer), graph pages for notes, colored dividing tabs, and clear sheet protectors for extra storage (receipts, notes from work, anything)! I seriously cannot say enough good things about the planner system!

Would love to hear what you use to stay organized! The planner in me is always trying to improve!

Links to all items mentioned are in the text, or you shop using the images below as well!

November 25, 2014


It's been a while since I did an outfit post! I've loved that the blog has morphed into more of a helpful and inspiring space for those of you pursuing your dreams - whether it be medical school or motherhood! But every now and then you guys still ask for a good-old outfit post, so that's what I'm doing today!

This is a look I wore for one of my best friend's birthday dinner! I love these over-the-knee boots because they can instantly make any simple outfit look a little more chic! And they keep me warm! The olive color is also perfect - not as serious as black but still dark enough and neutral enough to go with pretty much anything!

Top (here), Cardigan (here), Leggings (here), Boots (here), Bag (here)

Shop the look by the text links above or right here:

November 21, 2014

Traveling with a Baby or Toddler

We’ve all been there - stuck in a small cockpit with a stranger nearly laying in your lap because they wanted to recline - and the cherry on top? The baby behind you that hasn’t stopped crying since takeoff. If you take a moment to put things in perspective, these are good problems to have - you have the priviledge to travel and are merely dealing with some of the nuances that come with said travel. But while you’re in that seat, it sucks. Now that I’m a mom, though, what sucks even more is to be the mother (or father, or caretaker) of that crying baby in the seat behind you. If you think traveling is tough, think about traveling with a baby! This post is not meant to scare you off, though, just want to set the stage to say I UNDERSTAND, but mamas, we can do something about it, and hopefully this post will show you how. 

I’ve now traveled by plane with Liv at 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, and 14 months, from flights as short as an hour to our most recent six and a half hour flight to California. Even with planning and doing everything “right,” it’s still stressful, but as we walk off the plane I always get comments from those seated around me “wow, I didn’t even know there was a baby!” I’m sure I’ll jinx all of that now for our next flight since it was likely just luck, but I like to think it’s a little bit of preparation too! So here’s how you can get prepared. 

Planning the flights.

When possible, I like to make sure that flights will coincide with as much of my daughter’s sleeping time as possible. If they are sleeping most of the flight, you are winning. For shorter flights this would simply mean you fly during what would be their naptime, for longer flights you might consider a red-eye. 

Some people like buying seats with extra room, or even an extra seat for the baby and bringing the car seat. I’ve never done any of these. Instead I travel with Liv as a lap infant. More on this in a bit. 

Packing the bags.

I like to travel light, especially since I’m not a fan of checking luggage. For our recent trip, I did bring a carseat and stroller because we would be renting a car, but I checked these and do not bother with them in the airport. My favorite travel stroller is my First Years Jet stroller - it’s a lightweight umbrella stroller that still has some nice features including the option to recline, an underseat storage bin, an organizational unit at the handles for my phone, keys, drink, etc., and a super smooth ride on smooth or rough terrains. 

I like to pack one large carry-on with all of our clothes for the trip and extra diapers. Our diaper bag is our real carry-on that holds everything we need during the flight and in the middle of travel. Here are a few key things we throw in the diaper bag:
  • 2-3 diapers and wipes
  • one change of clothes for accidents
  • waterproof bib
  • boogie wipes
  • one-two new small toys
  • sippy cup
  • ipad mini (with pre-downloaded apps and videos) and headphones

(one,  two,  three,  four,  five,  six,  seven,  nine,  ten)

Prior to boarding.

For travel, I always wear Liv in a baby carrier. When she was smaller I loved using our Sakura Bloom sling. Now that she’s much heavier I’ve found my Ergobaby to be irreplaceable. It really allows me to walk around with her all day if need be. The easy-access pockets in the front are perfect to throw my I.D. and boarding passes in so that I’m not constantly searching through bags or misplacing them. The hood is also perfect for nursing or getting her too sleep when there’s too much going on around her. 

If we’re flying very early in the morning (ie, Liv is still asleep before we leave), I usually try keeping her asleep prior to boarding and during take off. 

If Liv is awake when we get to the airport, I try my best to let her expend some energy before we board! Many airports have kid areas or baby gyms where kids can do just that - find one and take them there before the flight! Many airports don’t though, and in these cases I just let Liv explore around in a safe area near a gate without a flight assigned yet (ie, where no people are sitting around)!

You can also ask at the gate for a seat with extra leg room (or the bassinet if it's a larger plane/longer flight) if there are some still available. Most folks have to pay extra for these if you do it in advance, but most people at the desk will do it for no charge if they still have some available at the time. 

On the plane. 

Most airlines allow those traveling with small children to board first. I like this option because you can get situated before everyone is bumping elbows on the plane, get to for sure use the overhead bins for storage, and can get your seat and child prepared before takeoff. 

I store my larger carry-on in the overhead bin and the diaper bag under the seat in front of us. I make sure to place things I will use frequently in easy reach - a pack of boogie wipes, Liv’s sippy cup, and my cell phone get placed in the seat pockets in front of me. If we’ve got extra room I’ll also store some snacks and the iPad. I also like to use the “sick bag” provided as a trash bag.

If Liv is sleepy, I’ll keep her in the Ergobaby and nurse her at takeoff; she will fall asleep soon after. If she’s wide awake, I take her out of the carrier and allow her to sit on my lap or dance around in place, but still make sure to nurse her on takeoff! Having them nursing (or bottle-feeding) on takeoff keeps their ears from popping, so make sure to do this during takeoff! If your little one is past that stage, having them snacking or chewing on something during takeoff is also helpful for keeping those little ears from popping. 

For many flights, the sound of the airplane itself and the nursing on takeoff lends itself to a nap. If the baby sleeps (and if you are also tired), now is the time to try and nap yourself! I never buy magazines or anything to “keep me busy” during flights - it will mostly just lead to disappointment when you weren’t able to get to it; instead I try to nap when she does. 

For our most recent trip to California, Liv slept the first hour of the flight, but then was wide awake and ready to play for the remaining five and a half hours of the flight! So what to do then? Here are a few things to keep them busy:

small new toys - I like to pack one or two small new toys for flights - they keep Liv more engaged because they’re novel. I like to pick things that have multiple ways to play with them too. Liv loves these flashcards and can play with them for quite some time. Wooden toys like these stacking cars are also great - they can roll them around like cars, play with the wheels, stack them, or just chew on them! 

anything (safe) can be a new toy - for most babies, planes are completely new environments! Use that to your advantage. Plastic drinking cups can be your best friend. Liv was fascinated with them - she would sort her snacks into the cups, stack the cups, or try nesting them inside each other. She seriously played with these for a good half hour. Get creative with what can be a toy! She also loved the remote control on the seat, and had tons of fun pressing all the buttons. 

iPad mini - I know the use of iPads in babies and toddlers is debated. But not for me. Liv will run and play outside over the ipad any day, and we will continue to keep her preferences this way as she gets older. But when babies have to sit still for hours at a time, there’s nothing wrong with the ipad. The people who say babies weren’t meant to watch videos should also remember that babies probably weren’t meant to sit still for 6 hour flights either. Modern-day problems call for modern-day solutions. Ok, enough of my rant! 

Before out trip I make sure to download a couple of episodes of Liv’s favorite show (Dora the Explorer) and have that ready to go for times she is really restless. I also have some fun apps downloaded on the iPad as well - some of our favorites are listed below:

Our iPad mini is protected with this case and these screen protectors - Liv has dropped it/chewed on it/spit up on it and our iPad is still in pristine condition. It’s also very easy for me to remove when I want to use it, but not so much so that Liv can ever get it off. We also use over-ear headphones so those seated next to us don’t have to put up with Dora or animal sounds! 

And a key principle for traveling? If they’re happy, leave them! Do not try to change activities just because you think they’ve had “enough” of it. They’ll let you know when they’ve had enough, so until then, leave them! And breathe. Traveling with children can be stressful, but if you sort of accept this and prepare in advance, you can have a successful trip! Remember that the most important thing is everyone arrive safely. Happy travels!

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