February 1, 2019

20 Children's Books for Black History Month!

Happy Black History Month!! If any of you have followed my blog or insta for some time now, you know I believe in celebrating our blackness every day, and making sure the girls get plenty of positive reinforcement and normalization of their skin color, their curls, and those that differ from them. While it's true that no child is born thinking differently about another race, they are inundated with messages from society and the media daily - so parents, try to be active as possible in highlighting our differences and the beauty in those differences! As I like to say, raise them to be colorkind, not colorblind. And for some of my followers who still have trouble accepting all of this black pride, or feel like it's not fair - I've had comments on "wouldn't it be racist if I said white pride" - please understand, those of us who identify as Black in America are from a lineage of ancestors who were stolen from their countries and forced into slavery. The idea of race and black vs white is A social construct, created to instill a social ranking order, where whites were superior. So I absolutely think it's ok (and wonderful actually) to have English pride, or Irish pride, or Italian pride, or Polish pride, etc.,  please realize that blacks in this country don't know what country we even came from (we can make guesses of course), but we don't have that history or that culture. All we have is our blackness, something that for much of our history was something that was seen as inferior, so instead we celebrate it. For anyone who wants to read more, I highly recommend Princeton professor Nell Irvin Painter's The History of White People, and Ibram Kendi's national book award winning Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.

Alright, with all of that said, let's jump right into some of my favorite children's books celebrating black history, black culture, black hair, and inclusivity! I really hope you'll enjoy them as much as we do, and feel comfortable inserting these positive messages regularly into your homes and schools!

  1. A Child's Introduction to African American History: The Experiences, People, and Events That Shaped Our Country (A Child's Introduction Series), Jabari Asim
  2. Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
  3. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, Derrick Barnes
  4. Dad, Who Will I Be? G.Todd Taylor
  5. Dancing in the Wings,  Debbie Allen
  6. Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library, Julie Gassman
  7. Emi's Curly Coily, Cotton Candy Hair, Tina Olajide 
  8. Hair Like Mine, LaTashia M. Perry
  9. Have You Thanked an Inventor Today? Patrice McLaurin
  10. Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, Ellen Levine
  11. I Am Enough,  Grace Byers
  12. I Have a Dream (Book & CD), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 
  13. I Love My Hair! Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
  14. Jabari Jumps, Gaia Cornwall
  15. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, Vashti Harrison
  16. Look What Brown Can Do! T. Marie Harris
  17. Mae Among the Stars, Roda Ahmed
  18. The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath, Julia Finley Mosca
  19. The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist, Cynthia Levinson
  20. Yesterday I Had the Blues, Jeron Ashford Frame

All of the books listed above are arranged alphabetically and linked up, just click any one! Please feel free to pin this post or share to anyone who may find it useful! 

January 28, 2019

Our Stay at Four Seasons Orlando

As I relish in a week of a much needed vacation (currently sitting in a coffee shop down the street from my house) I've been thinking about (very) last minute getaways, and of course at the top of my list was a quick trip to Walt Disney World (WDW). Still haven't booked anything yet and I don't know if I will (the feeling of sitting here getting things done feels really good), but it DID get me thinking about where I would stay if I planned a little bit farther in advance. And hands down it'd be the Four Seasons Orlando.

And then I realized I never actually posted about my FS Orlando trip, and you guys had SO many questions from what I posted on my Instagram feed and stories! So, today I'm finally getting around to sharing details from our stay at the Four Seasons Orlando! And reliving it all (it was so incredible).

First, in total disclosure, FS Orlando treated us to this stay. But also in full disclosure, our first trip to WDW where we stayed at Disney's Boardwalk Inn was paid for by Disney (so I'm not loyal to any one hotel, just love Disney in general and whatever allows me to spend quality time with my family there)! And we've also stayed at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (that we paid for ourselves). It's so funny to think that 2018 was our first trip to Disney and we've since been 3 times. And I *think* this year I'll be biting the bullet and buying Florida resident annual passes. We love it. Ok with all of that said, this post will be a summary of our stay at FS Orlando and will 1000% be my own opinion!

I almost canceled our trip, as literally the morning of our stay I got the call I had been dreading for weeks - my aunt, my dad's only sister, and the woman who helped raise me and continued on as one of my greatest cheerleaders, had died. After an unexpected colon cancer diagnosis last summer and a courageous battle, she left us that morning. And I didn't think I had it in me to travel and visit the "happiest place on earth." But I cried at the thought of telling the girls we wouldn't be going (well, I had been doing a lot of crying that morning), and I knew we just had to go. And this trip really did help so much.

So - on to the happy stuff!! If I had a choice (and a bigger bank account) I'd stay at the Four Seasons Orlando every single trip to Disney. I'd say truly the only "con" is the price tag - but hey, you get what you pay for.

To make the most of a very regular 2-day weekend trip from Miami to Orlando, we drove in Friday night after we both got out of work (which was late)! We got into the hotel around midnight, and were welcomed to an incredible room set up for bed, and the sweetest kids robes, a few sweets, and dress-up props for the girls! Also included was a great crib with nice linens and even some baby goodies (leave it to the FS to have a luxurious line of baby products)!

Our suite also had an incredible bathroom that had a touchscreen mirror (whoah now, was suprised to see "Good evening, Dr. Scott" on the screen when I walked in!) and a deep tub - a luxury we don't have at home! I definitely made it a point to soak in the tub, even if the kids still couldn't be bothered by the idea of mommy time lol! The balcony was another huge highlight - it overlooked the Magic Kingdom nightly fireworks! It was so sweet watching them from the comfort of our room one night! I'll share more on the great location of the resort later! 

The rest of the property was just beautiful - from the fireworks chandeliers in the lobby to the magical gift shop, the open terraces, and all of the restaurants!

Speaking of restaurants, one of the most fun experiences at the hotel was the Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and his pals (his pals being a very famous mouse couple and a duck couple, I'm sure for some weird licensing thing they can't list them, but the whole gang is there)! Let me tell you - for those spending longer in Disney, this character breakfast gives just enough of Disney characters to feel super magical, but offers a chance to get a break from travel and going to the parks! This was my first character breakfast so I can't compare it to any in the parks or the other resorts, but per a few of the mamas I met while waiting for the bus, this was the best character breakfast in Walt Disney World! Per them, more time with the characters spent, tons of photo ops, and most importantly delicious breakfast. As I said, I can't compare, but the breakfast was delicious and the girls were beyond star struck every time one of the characters came by! We loved it!

From the breakfast we headed out to Epcot (one of my favorites in WDW, especially during Food & Wine Festival!). This was another huge bonus of the FS (especially after having stayed at other WDW resorts) - it's smack in the middle of Magic Kingdom and the rest of the parks, so the bus rides to any of the parks really don't feel long at all! And yes,  the Four Seasons is located inside the WDW area (a question I got a lot) and the buses work just like the other resort busses! Except for a few MAJOR upgrades - first and most importantly - the bus doesn't require that you fold up your stroller to bring it on - in fact, the driver will just place your open stroller in the bottom luggage compartment. For anyone who has used the buses to get around WDW, you know this is one of the hardest things (especially if you have multiples) - having to take your kid(s) out of the stroller, empty stuff out, and then fold it in record time! Such a hassle and I was so thankful to not have to do this each time we got on! As a bonus, the seats are fabric and cushioned and there are TVs inside playing Disney movies (think Greyhound bus vs public bus).

We spent all day at Epcot and made it home in time for baths, nighttime chocolate cookies, and the Magic Kingdom fireworks from our balcony. This reminds me - at Four Seasons you can still enjoy WDW Resort perks like extra magic hours (when the park either opens an hour early or stays open later only for select guests - definitely a nice way to experience the parks)! On top of it you can book package deals with WDW and basically just get all of the same perks as staying at any of the WDW resorts!

The next day was already our check out day (like I said, we tried making the most of a very normal 2-day weekend), but we woke up early and made our way to the pool! Seriously jaw-dropping. I loved the kids pool and its fountains (did I mention there's also an adults-only pool?? The only one in WDW and much needed if you're spending more time there - it looked heavenly)! Floating down the lazy river with my clan was definitely a highlight of the trip! We worked up quite an appetite and enjoyed a delicious meal poolside (the PB&J and pizza were huge hits with the kids and I devoured my fish tacos)!!!

All in all the trip was incredible, and I loved chatting with the other parents who really felt this was the best resort in all of WDW. I definitely have to agree with them, and can't wait for our next trip!!

PS - for more of my Disney park tips, check out this article I wrote for Disney Family!

December 31, 2018

NYE plans!

Happy New Year's Eve! I worked in clinic this morning, and wrapped up with patients by 1pm! Tonight we are laying low - my plan is to continue with the cleaning we've been doing at home (we've already donated like 3 bags of clothes and there's so much more!), decorate sugar cookies with the girls (I think fireworks would be super fun!), and enjoy some adorable cranberry cocktails (love the idea of prosecco with cranberry juice and fresh cranberries and rosemary for decoration)! I picked up raspberry gingerale and the girls can have their own fun little mocktail!

I giggled looking back at outfit posts from previous NYEs, but tonight I'll be in a super cozy sweater and the softest sweats and I couldn't love it more. Linking up all my outfit info below (plus some of the home items in the background I always get asked about! Happy New Year everyone, and see you back in 2019!

Grey sweater  (this one is another favorite grey sweater of mine, it's more crewneck than boatneck, but SO soft and currently on crazy sale so had to share!) //  Green joggers  //  Necklace  //  Glasses  //  Dining table  //  Dining bench  //  Dining chairs  //  Bookshelves

December 30, 2018

2018 Reflections

How crazy is it that we have only 2 days left of 2018! I feel like I say this every year, but this year really has flown by. Of course while in the thick of it, each day feels long and the load too heavy, but the fruits of our labor are sweet and the memories sweeter. In retrospect it all goes by too fast. As the saying goes, the days are long but the years are short.

I love looking back on the year and reflecting on the challenges, lessons, and achievements. In my mind it helps solidify and reinforce what we've built this year, allowing us to continue building more for the year to come.

This year was the year of defining our family of 5 and exploring together. It started with small confidence building trips - taking all 3 kids out to a restaurant and then to the movies (Black Panther was our favorite), and then to bigger trips - our first family RV trip and camping, our first trip to Disney (and then we went back 2 more times we loved it so much), and finally our biggest trip - our Thanksgiving trip to New Orleans. These trips seeing the world together really planted the seed for more travel in our family and confidence to do so (and so many of you messaged me feeling empowered as well - it's silly to wait until the kids are older to do things, or to use the excuse that they won't remember any of it - we travel and do things together for our own memories too)!

I was also able to coordinate a few really meaningful surprises for the rest of my family - in March I surprised my dad (and mom) with a private yacht rental for his birthday - he did not expect it all and we all enjoyed it so much! And earlier this month our holiday visit home caught everyone by surprise! So worth it.

Also I have to randomly include that damn In My Feelings Challenge we did on the spot one evening walk home.

This year I was spoiled with chances to reunite with my best friends despite living hundreds of miles away and having hard schedules to coordinate! In January we celebrated Janice's baby shower in Boston, and in June we celebrated my 30th birthday in Boston (complete with my first helicopter ride) and reuniting with many Boston friends! In October we reunited again for what's becoming our annual Fall New England trip (always complete with pumpkin patches, apple picking, and a slumber party), and earlier this month we celebrated Kellie's baby shower in Connecticut!!! Love the girl gang we've nurtured and the baby girls we're now raising (Janice had a girl and Kellie is due with a girl in February)! Continuing to find ways to reunite is so important for all of us and I can't wait for more reasons to celebrate with my best friends in 2019.

This year started off with one of our most fun dermatology meetings - AAD San Diego! In March I attended the Skin of Color Symposium, one of my absolute favorite meetings that always leaves me feeling inspired! July marked the start of my final year of training! It's been full of lots of responsibility, but also lots of elective time to work with dermatologists outside of my program and explore potential jobs. A highlight was being invited to give the keynote lecture at the DERM conference in Connecticut. I've honed my clinical knowledge, surgical and cosmetic techniques, and patient interactions, and in 2019 I'll be accepting a position (or positions) somewhere here in Miami and start seeing patients on my own! Of course there's also the small detail of studying and passing boards - this will be a challenge in 2019 but I'm ready to take it on!

And I can't forget celebrating Nathan's big achievement this year (and why I'm looking for jobs in Miami) - hubby matched his top retina fellowship and was named chief resident for the upcoming year!

My side hustle of "social media influencer" or whatever you want to call it has also had some fun successes this year - I think the highlight for me was definitely our Parents Magazine cover (and the cover of Parents Latina)! We've landed some incredible partnerships (another highlight was filming a commercial with Disney and our Toy Story Land article) and I look forward to more fun projects to come in 2019. Any brands you want to see me work with?

This year was a year of analyzing our finances and spending habits. We finally got a financial advisor and have been taking steps to hitting the ground running come residency graduation in a few months. I've been pretty transparent that we've got hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical school loans to pay back, and paying for 3 kids in private school/daycare is no small bill!

First person. 
This is almost always where I fall short, but something I still think deserves important reflection. Taking care of me. I'm an introvert and thrive when I have dedicated time to myself each day, and that has just not been something that happened often in 2018. From getting the girls off to school each morning, then rushing to work and taking care of patients all day (and lectures at noon, so no true "lunch break" where I can unplug) and straight from clinic to rushing to pick up the girls from school and handling duties at home. Much of what I accomplish in a day is only day at the expense of sleep or other self-care. For me the trade-off usually seems worth it, since the other things I do feel like the feed my soul just as much as "me-time." But I am realizing I truly do need to prioritize that at least for a designated time each week; this is a definite goal of mine in 2019 (and should hopefully be more realistic with residency over - our rotating schedule in residency makes it really hard to set up any real routine)!

I hope you enjoyed this 2018 reflection. I'm really excited for what the future holds and finally deciding what my "big girl job" and day in the life will look like post-residency. It's been a long time coming! What were your highlights this year? What are goals you have for next year? 

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