blank'/> A LITTLE BIT OF LACQUER: November 2014

November 25, 2014

Over-the-Knee

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!


November 19, 2014

Sling Diaries: On Travel

And just like that, we've arrived at my last entry in the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries. Just one more reminder of how quickly time passes, as if we needed another. These last six months have been a whirlwind of returning to clinical life, wedding planning, getting married, residency applications, first birthdays, and beginning the residency interview process. It's quite fitting, actually, that this month's entry is on the topic of travel. Read my previous entries here!


Dearest Liv,

I write this letter to you from the comfort of our cozy little one-bedroom apartment in Boston. The little apartment I moved into when I first started this journey of medical school, my first place all to myself, the mark of the start of my "big-girl" life. Now this apartment has become a home, thanks to you and your father, full of laughter and dirty laundry the way real homes are.

As I write this, daddy is in New York City, one of his seemingly endless trips around the country as he interviews for residency. Soon enough I'll be starting the same interview process. Our situation is a little unique for couples - where others can couples match to guarantee they end up together, we can't. But oh, my darling, we will end up together. Don't you worry, we will.

This traveling has been stressful, mostly because I've never traveled with the intent of finding a home. I've had my share of travels, and boy do I love it. Your Abuela and Papa John won't hesitate to tell you stories of the time I told them I was leaving to Europe for over a month, by myself. I was just a kid then, fresh out of college, but I yearned to see the world more than anything. Growing up the real world was limited to our little city of Springfield - we didn't have the money to travel far, no one in our family even had passports! But I knew the world was much much bigger than that, and I wanted to see it all. For some people the idea that the world is a big place is a scary thing; for your mama it was an amazing thing. Something that promised unseen beauty and lessons I wouldn't find anywhere else.

And that's just what travel gives you - beauty that you won't find anywhere else and lessons from the world. Once you travel, you realize that the world isn't that big of a place, that we all have similarities and things that unite us as people. It's beautiful, really, comforting to say the least. Wherever you go, you will find a mother and child. Wherever you go, you will find a little boy and his puppy. Wherever you go, you will find doctors and patients, police and firefighters. And although the languages may all be different, I hope I can teach you that kindness truly is a universal language, spoken and understood by those who see good and beauty in the world. And there are so many of those folks out there, baby girl, I hope you will be one of them.

As I've morphed from a young woman traveling to see the world, to a young mother traveling to find a home, a truth has become increasingly clear. Wherever we go, wherever we end up, home is wherever you and your father are. Whether it be across the country or across the street, my home is with you. And that my beautiful girl, is a wonderful, powerful, fear-conquering feeling. Cheers sweet pea, to many more travels and making our new home, wherever it may be.

Love always,
Mommy


I'm wearing Liv in in my Sakura Bloom pure linen sling in Maple, cozy long sleeved tee shirt (here), live in leggings (here), and Gap slippers (here). Liv is wearing a Lucky Palm Tree headband and Carter's top and leggings. 
Our duvet cover is from Ikea (here). 

Read more about all things travel here, and stay tuned Friday for a post with tips on traveling with a baby or toddler! 

November 18, 2014

Holiday Decorating Ideas

I'm usually a strict "no Christmas until after Thanksgiving" kind of girl, but this year, either because of the extreme cold, or all of the traveling, I'm getting into the Christmas spirit much earlier than usual! I've even caught myself listening to Christmas music and already watching Christmas movies! 

Here are some DIY home decorations and gift-wrapping ideas that have me really excited for the most wonderful time of year! 


I love all of these because we can go on a family walk together in our park and pick up most of the supplies (pine cones and pine leaves) - the only thing you'd have to actually buy is maybe some twine and paper (although I usually use paper bags from grocery trips when I forget my own reusable bags)! Talk about super low-budget, eco-friendly, and beautiful holiday decorating! 

All images {via}

November 17, 2014

California!

Happy Monday!!

I hope you all had wonderful weekends and productive weeks (last week). As you know from last week's post, we were busy in California for some of N's residency interviews! Here are a few photos from our trip - stay tuned this week for a post about traveling with a baby/toddler (now that we've traveled with Liv at 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, and 14 months)! 


Santa Monica was absolutely gorgeous! Liv was a bit worried about the sand at first (this wasn't her first time at a beach, but it was her first time at a beach now that she could walk). N got her comfortable and in no time we couldn't pull her away from the sand! It was funny to see so many people in full coats with fur trim - it was 65 degrees! It's all relative of course :)


We spent some time checking out Westwood and Hollywood - I even got to spend time with my friend I traveled through Europe with (it had been 4 years since we last saw each other)! Funny to think this was our first time hanging out on U.S. soil haha! Liv couldn't get enough of the view and breeze from the Griffith Observatory!


To save money we booked all of our stays through Airbnb and could not have been happier with our places! They were both absolutely beautiful and cheaper than even the cheapest motels in the area. 


Our last stop was the Palo Alto area and an evening trip to San Francisco. It was all so beautiful! Thanks for a great week, California! 

Here are some of the pieces from our trip! As always our Ergobaby was a lifesaver (but more on that and other travel necessities later this week)!



November 10, 2014

5 Common Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Happy Monday! I hope everyone is ready and excited for a new week! This week promises to be a busy one for us - N is interviewing in California for a couple of programs and Liv and I are coming along for the trip! This will be my only chance to see some of the west coast before N has to submit his rank list (his list is due before my interviews happen), so I've got lots to see (thanks to many of your recommendations)! 

My earliest residency interviews are scheduled in December, but I'm already feeling a little nervous about them! As many times as I've gone to interviews they are always still a little nerve-wracking! And I know I'm not alone. Although I've done posts about medical school interviews and interview travel tips, you guys still have lots of questions about interviews! 

So today I thought I'd do a post addressing some of the most common mistakes people make for medical school interviews (that likely are the same for any interview really). As some of you know I've helped out with HMS interviews for entering classes and for outreach programs in the past, so most of these tips will come from that experience. I hope you find it helpful, and as always, leave questions or feedback in the comments section!



So let's get to it! On to the mistakes and how to avoid them!

  1. Being too laid-back. Interviews are a stressful time for applicants. But for the most part, once you've been invited to an interview, the school believes you can handle the work; at the interview they want to get down to who you are as a person, what your motivations are, and if you'd be a good fit in their program. So the general advice would be to relax and be yourself. Some people take this a little too far though, and immediately act a little too at ease - either by using vulgar language, making inappropriate jokes, or having a general IDGAF attitude. All not cool. Yes, be yourself, but be yourself on your best-behavior - it is what we as your interviewers are expecting. 
  2. Not taking student interviewers seriously. Many medical schools have interviews where you are scheduled to interview with a faculty member or two as well as a current medical student. Although we all feel a little more comfortable with student interviews, this isn't an excuse to fall into the first mistake of being too laid-back. Treat this interview just as you would any of your other interviews - maintain your professionalism. Again, professional does not mean stiff or cold, trust me you can be professional and pleasant! Student interviews are a great chance to ask what current students like most about the program or why they ended up choosing that program (you should of course wait until your interviewer asks if you have any questions). 
  3. Using a strength as one of your weaknesses. A very common interview question we throw to applicants is "what is your greatest weakness" in some form or another (what challenges you the most, what do you need to work on, etc.). Your interviewers are all real people, and as real people, we ALL know every.single.person has many weaknesses. This question is not a weed-out to find the applicants without weaknesses. So when an applicant says "my biggest weakness is that I care too much" or "I try too hard," I (and many others) do an immediate internal eye-roll. What we want to hear is you being genuine and sharing something that you truly do struggle with, and (most importantly) what you are actively doing to address it. For some people it's that they really do have a difficult time memorizing details, for others its family commitments that cut into your study time, etc. If you're not doing anything about the "weakness," don't share it (and you should probably consider doing something about it just for yourself lol). We want to know that applicants can recognize their shortcomings and do something about them, plain and simple. 
  4. Not having questions. Now, we've all been there, at the end of the interview the interviewer asks "do you have any questions?" And honestly, sometimes you just don't. Especially at the end of a long interview day (or days), we just can't really come up with something to ask. But while this to you may not mean you're not interested in the program, to your interviewer, it can come off as just that.  As much as you may just want to end up at a medical school, or in a given residency, programs want to know that you want to be there. We understand that you're applying to multiple places, but when you ask a good question like "what are common extracurriculars that your students participate in" or, "what have you most enjoyed about teaching here/being a student here," or "are there any planned changes to the current curriculum," and the like, you show that you are interested in learning more about the program, and hopefully the answers can help you a little in getting a better picture of the program. Asking something particular to the program is always a plus - although again, please be genuine. Ask things for which you truly care about the answer - it's hard to do on the spot, but come prepared!
  5. Being negative. Maybe it's just me, but I think it's others too, keep anything negative out of your mouth! Do not bad mouth any person, school, program, specialty, geographic area, anything! You do not know your interviewers or where they are from, what would offend them, etc. and talking negative always brings into question your judgement and attitude. You may have tougher interviewers who almost sound like they want to hear something negative ("what did you like least about xyz"...) but don't give into the negative trap! I stick to my guns. You can answer questions (being evasive is not a good thing either), but try to focus on the positive - whether it's an improvement made, a lesson you learned, or something that you hope to change in the future. I'm all about the positive, and many of your interviewers are, too.
Again - hope this post can help some of you! Keep up the hard work!! 

November 7, 2014

Life Lately and a Giveaway!

Hi all! I've been a little m.i.a. this week, but I've been busy with preparing for interviews and playing solo mama for a bit since N has already started his interviews and has been traveling! It's a crazy but really really exciting time for our family. As stressful as some of it is we feel incredibly blessed that this is the current situation we're facing. 


And on that note, it's been a while since I've hosted a giveaway, but let's just say I've got some good ones planned in the next couple of months, so keep the page bookmarked! You ladies know I like to look put together, but rarely do I have time to look put together. Easy wardrobe staples like this shirt dress are key to looking good without much thought and getting on to the more important parts of life - whether it's school, work, children, or all three! I'm partnering with the ladies at Brass Clothing to give away a dress of your choice from their amazing collection of simple, beautiful, high quality dresses, valued from $75-$120 (and really way more than that, I've never owned a dress of this quality before)! I'm hosting the giveaway on Instagram so hop on over to my feed there to enter!! A random winner will be announced on Instagram on Saturday, November 15th.

Aaaand for any of you in love already and just wanting a dress of your own, use promo code LAURA10 for $10 off your order! This Brass coupon code will be good until Sunday the 16th!

Happy weekend!
xoxo

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