September 15, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday, Baby Girl

At 3:24a.m. one year ago, at the final push before being whisked off to an emergency C-section, Olivia finally decided to join us (read my full birth story here). At 3:24 this morning, she woke up and just wanted to chat in bed. I listened to her quiet whispers, half-asleep, thinking it must almost be time to wake up. Finally I looked at my clock and it was 3:26. And it had been exactly a year. One year of existence for this whispering little being nuzzled up against my neck. 

In the grand scheme of things one year doesn't sound like very long, and it's not. But as a new parent, one year, man, that's something. So many changes, as cliche as it sounds the only thing that's guaranteed, is more change. So many stages - last night we watched videos of her in the hospital when she was first born - how could that little wrinkly and uncoordinated little thing be the toddler we already have now? The little girl who fearlessly rushes up the stairs, mustering up all her strength to pull up each step. The little girl who gives the best hugs, somehow learning to pat the back of whoever is lucky enough to be on the receiving end of one of those gifts. The little girl who is already talking and shaking her head and pointing and, just, growing! To say I'm at a loss for words (or at least words that make sense of it all) would be an understatement.

Just as fast as she is changing, so is what's going on around her, and she has handled it with as much grace as a baby can have. From me constantly studying for Step 2 the same month she was born (see here), to having me around constantly while on maternity leave, to heading back to work, to starting with a nanny, and then with another nanny, and now to daycare, the girl has rolled with it all. She's got a lot of team in her, that's for sure. 

I get so many questions from you all, about motherhood and medicine, and being a working mom. I haven't decided when or how to address it, but I'll just say a few words about it here, since I'm already rambling. Motherhood is hard. Working is hard. Medical school is hard. If you're one of those people who likes to focus on that stuff, sure, it's all hard. But I was always taught that the things in life worth having don't come easily, and I've been blessed with the craziness to want it all and the drive to work for it. I absolutely love being a mother, and I absolutely love being an almost-doctor, and despite getting home exhausted some days and having to keep going, I couldn't be more grateful that I get to serve as a role model for Liv, and in some ways for many of you too. This year has taught me an enormous amount about sacrifice, patience, powerlessness, and most of all love. I feel like the grinch who's heart grew three sizes that day - except I started off as a person much nicer than the grinch and I've had 364 more days of heart growing than him - so much love for my daughter, my husband, my career, my support (friends and family), and you all! Enough rambling for today ;)

Thank you all for following this journey and for wishing my sweet Liv a happy FIRST birthday!

September 11, 2014

Simple Bedroom Inspiration

I've been doing a lot of simplifying lately, from cleaning out the dark and cluttered cabinets Liv so eagerly wants to play in, to cleaning up the blog design! Next on my list if I ever get the time - the bedroom! I like the minimalist style, but when you have 3 people living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment, minimalism just isn't realistic. We have stuff and it has to go somewhere!! Simple is the more appropriate term I think. Here are a few spaces that are inspiring me now. 

Images via

September 8, 2014

Starting classes off right

image via

I always loved starting new classes, I saw each new beginning as a chance to better than before, a nice fresh start! For some of you you're starting college classes, others may just be heading into a new set of courses, and still others are starting medical school or grad school! Go you!! 

Today I'm sharing a few tips on how to establish (or re-invent) good class and study habits. 

1) know the expectations - hopefully your professors provide syllabi for their courses, and if they do, really give it a good read. Make use of upperclassmen who have taken the courses before you - they are an invaluable resource for the "unwritten" expectations of the professor and can also share things they wish they did or knew when the course first began.

2) know the people - depending on your school it may not be possible to ever be "buddy buddy" with your professors, but the least you can do is attend office hours at least once. Most professors love what they do and are eager to teach students - they are most eager to teach students who really want to learn. If there are TAs or tutors for the course get to know them too; make use of anyone who can help you learn the material. Get to know a couple of your classmates as well - you can be support for each other but also make study groups if that works for you.

3) know the grading - now let me make a quick point before I jump into this one - there is a difference between you learning something and you getting a good grade in the class. I hope your goal is to truly learn something (many things!) in whatever class you're in. But we all know grades matter, so figure out how you will be graded and plan the semester accordingly. Does most of the grade come from two big tests, one large project, a final paper, or overall class participation? It's almost always a mix, but learn what it will be for each class especially if it's skewed towards one thing. The earlier you prepare for whatever it is the better! You could kill yourself all semester completing every single assignment and then bomb the final because you didn't spend enough time studying - if assignments were worth 70% of your grade you should be ok, but if the exam was 70%, you're out of luck. So figure out what's going to matter!

4) make a schedule - gather all of your syllabi and your academic planner and fill it in with assignment due dates and exam dates, etc. These hard dates can be penned into the month pages of your calendar; pencil in shorter goals for yourself for the weekly calendar so nothing sneaks up on you! For example - if you have an exam on say, 12 chapters, break it up and pencil in deadlines for mastering three chapters at a time, and then pencil in a review session before the exam! For a final paper, pencil in deadlines for finding sources, taking notes, and writing a draft or two before the paper's final due date. Chopping up assignments like this into smaller pieces makes it much easier to stay on top of classwork and applies for studying too! Set goals for when you're actually "studying." See my post on study tips for more specific tips about the actual studying! A good goal for staying on top of studying is to come to class having done the relevant readings already - this ensures that you can actually soak up what's going on during lecture instead of trying to figure out what's going on or blindly taking notes! Some say in the evening you can review, but the evening should be more for preparing for the next day's classes - the class itself can serve as the review! At the end of each week review and memorize things that have to be learned!

I love scheduling my actual day into hours with my to-do list in site so I can squeeze in everything that needs to be done (including relaxing)! I'm a little obsessed with the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley - here is a free daily print out that you could use for yourself and see if this type of scheduling works for you too!

I hope some of these tips can help you all who have just started a new school year! Make sure to leave feedback or post ideas in the comments section below! 

September 6, 2014

Hello September

Hello all and happy September! Hope you're all having wonderful weekends. Just wanted to share a few pictures from the last week - it's been a busy one! Liv started daycare (a big change for us that will definitely take some getting used to), N started classes for his public policy degree, and I'm back in lab for the month. We've been making the most of our evenings and weekends together for sure!

Many of you wanted to know where I got my anatomical heart t-shirt from - it's by Anatomist Apparel - find their store here! Proceeds from each piece of clothing go to different charities - 25% of proceeds from this shirt go to the American Heart Association!

Stay tuned Monday for a post on establishing good study habits for the start of the new school year!
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