blank'/> A LITTLE BIT OF LACQUER: December 2015

December 31, 2015

New Year, New You

Happy New Years Eve everyone!! It's hard to believe that 2015 is already coming to a close, it's been an amazing year - from moving, to finally graduating medical school and starting life as real doctor, and to welcoming Ms. Elli to the family! Next year brings even more excitement with our big move to Miami and starting the rest of our residency training there, and who else knows what to expect! Although I'm not a huge fan of resolutions, I do love the idea that the new year is a clean slate, or at least the chance to start a new good habit or two. Today I'm sharing tips for five different facets of life (and some of the most common areas where we make our resolutions for the New Year). The (not-so) cleverly crafted 5 facets (I spent a lot of time coming up with words that start with F lol!) are family, field, finance, fitness, and fashion. As with most of what I share on the blog, what I share is by no means an expert opinion, just my opinion and what I've done. Alright, with all that said, let's jump in! And we'll start with the most important.

Family to me means your unit - so don't think I'm just talking about those with kids here - if you're in a committed relationship your partner is family.

One of the best things I ever did for my relationship with N was to stop holding grudges, and more importantly to stop keeping a tally. In other relationships that you don't want to last, it might be ok to hold grudges and to keep score of when they've messed up, or when you did something nice and they didn't reciprocate, or really anything. But if you do want your relationship to last, you will grow up and get rid of your scoresheet. Of course it's important to know if you want your relationship to last or not - if you're with a jerk then leave (trust me I know it's easier said than done, but leave as soon as you know it's not right). But in a committed relationship, toss the scoresheet and become a giver. Your relationship will be so much better for it, and you will be happier letting go.

Another good place to make some change? Making time for each other and making the time count. If you have a crazy schedule, write in time for your kids' events (or make a conscious effort to leave work at a decent time to spend time with them) and for date nights. And appreciate those little times together that frequently get overlooked. Just home together? Awesome, put down your phone and talk to each other! Time spent doesn't have to mean time actually out or doing something - it's being together that counts! Maybe this year you could make a new "no phones in bed" rule, or at dinner, or whatever it is where you realize your spending empty time together.

Along with family I'm bundling in friendship, and just wanted to say a tiny bit about it. To me friends were always about quality, not quantity. I keep a small circle, but this a circle I would do anything for, and I know they would do the same for me. As we grow up and get busier in our careers and family life, it might feel like it's harder to nurture those relationships, but it really just comes down to making an effort. One of my best friends sent me this article that I absolutely love and I think sums up a lot of what I would say if you want to read it. It's calling "Showing Up" and I'll just share one of my favorite parts. "The key to long-lasting friendships, particularly for the introverts who guard their personal time like it's the last Twinkie on Earth - is to say no to enough things that don't matter so that you have the energy and time to say yes to the stuff that does matter. Quality is better than quantity."

I think it's awesome practice to set a new goal every year (or every month, or whatever chunk of time you want to set for yourself), to ensure that you're always moving forward and growing. I wrote this post about achieving goals at the start of the year and still believe in every piece - write your goals down, surround yourself with likeminded people, breaking it up into smaller pieces and setting mini deadlines, and most importantly being kind to yourself and being ok with change.

One great thing to do is to set the goal to find another mentor. You all know I'm a firm believer in the power of mentorship. Find a new mentor in your field, whether by asking around, or even doing a google search, and reach out to them. Pick their brain and learn from their experiences - mentors are great for helping you figure out what will matter and what won't in the grand scheme of things.

Another great goal? Become more efficient. This is a huge goal, and can (and should) be broken up into smaller mini goals to actually help you become more efficient, but working on your efficiency is key to getting more done and still having time to enjoy your life. Remember that there is a difference between being busy and being productive, let's stop glorifying busy and learn how to be more productive! One of the best books I read this year (actually who am I kidding, it's one of the only books I read this year), was this one, it really changed the game.

If you're interested in medicine make sure to read the medicine section of the blog, or just the section on general success!

This is probably the biggest facet that we're working on this year. Now that we've graduated med school and actually have an income, we're also paying back loans, saving for a house and college for the girls, and just overall trying to be financially responsible.

Having more money comes down to two obvious (but still worth stating) concepts: making more money, and spending less money. Right now it's a little hard to make more money, so we've been really working on the spending less side of things. For starters, keeping track of your earning and spending is critical to see how much money you really have (and need), and how much you could be saving. There are great apps and websites for this; some people prefer spreadsheets for tracking. Honestly it's still all a little overwhelming for me (although using this is one of my goals this year), so far I've gotten a lot farther just writing things down by hand in my notebook and figuring things out that way. Whatever helps you just see how much money you really have and are spending. Once you know this, you can search for places to cut spending.

For me this year that meant figuring out all of my credit card debt (remember that trip to Europe I took after college, yeah I put it all on cards, and no lie am still paying for it now). I have a great credit score so I always thought I was doing the right thing just paying my bill every month, but I was seriously just wasting money and not really making a big dent. I decided to consolidate my loans into one bill using this site, making it easier to pay and having a much lower interest rate, and thankfully will have my credit card debt gone in no time! So far I've dealt with them online and over the phone and have had a great experience thus far, definitely recommend if any of you need to consolidate!

When you have everything in front of you and are aware of what you do throughout the day, you can also figure out what's waste. For us it was cable. Although we like having cable and all the 5 million channels, we weren't actually using most of it that often. I was still hesitant to get rid of it though, because Liv is home a lot of the day, and although I don't want her in front of the TV for all of it she definitely has her favorite shows! Then I realized that with our Amazon Prime membership (every mama and student needs this if you don't have it already) we actually get Amazon Prime Video, and they actually have an awesome selection! They have seasons of Dora the Explorer (a must for Liv haha) and pretty much anything you could want - over our maternity/paternity leave we watched all of Hand of God in like 2 days - such a good show! Anyway, all this to say we realized we didn't need the cable and are saving a lot of money (I'm embarrassed to say how much I was paying for it)!

Search for other places where you could save money - maybe it's eating out when you could spend a bit more time planning and packing meals (or just buying in bulk at Amazon or Costco), maybe it's your horrible shoe-buying habit (I was definitely guilty of this), make a rule that you can't buy a new pair until you sell an old pair, or buy used. Get creative and save money. Now where to put that saved money is another huge topic that I really have no business talking about because we're still trying to figure that out too - for now the money we "save" is going towards paying loans off faster, but maybe there's something better we could be doing with it (to any financial aficionados reading the blog would love to hear any thoughts you might have haha)!

I'm just getting back into the fitness side of things post-baby, and I'm by no means a big fitness buff, so this section will be short! But even while I was pregnant I followed the same basic rules for staying fit - trying to stay as active as possible throughout the day (having a "no elevator" rule in the hospital, going on walks with Liv) and eating small snacks throughout the day instead of a couple of heavy meals. This also helped me keep my energy levels up throughout the day as well. I'll be doing a postpartum fitness post very soon, but for now I think one of the best things you could do diet wise is to plan/pack your food for the day. Not only does this save money, but it also keeps you from having to buy anything you shouldn't be eating. When I'm at the hospital I like to pack my breakfast (usually two packets of instant oatmeal and coffee), midmorning snack (banana and peanut butter is one of my favorites), afternoon snack, and sometimes dinner if I'm there late. Lunch is usually free and provided at our noon lectures, and usually has pretty healthy options.

As far as the gym, it's obviously easiest to just have a set time to go to the gym, and I can echo what (most) every other advice piece will say and tell you to go to the gym first thing in the morning before starting your day. I really do think this is great advice (and it's what my crazy husband does - he wakes up at 4:30am to jog to the gym near his hospital, works out, showers there, and then goes to work), but not all of us can be that dedicated, and one way we set ourselves back is giving up on our fitness goals when we can't keep up with a schedule like that. So one thing I do is keep a gym outfit in my car at all times. The hardest thing about going to the gym (at least for me) is actually getting to the gym. I find that when I'm already out doing something else it's much easier to convince myself to go the gym, and I have no excuse when the clothes is already in the car!

I usually don't really like the word fashion, I'm more a fan of style, but I needed an F word for the post! When it comes to style, (for me) it's all about choosing timeless pieces and building a small wardrobe of interchangeable pieces.

You can start with cleaning out your closet. First decide what you're going to do with the stuff you don't want anymore - for me I'm either selling it or donating it (or trashing it). I've recently started using this site to sell quality bags, shoes, and accessories that I don't really use anymore (accessories always have a better resale value) and am looking forward to using it more. It's a personal preference of mine, but I really prefer donating clothes that I no longer use versus selling it (but you can also sell clothes on the site). For the most part I find that used clothes has less resale value, and really makes a bigger difference to someone who can't buy it otherwise - so donating it to a church or your local woman's shelter really goes a long way (if you're in the Boston area, Rosie's Place on Harrison Ave accepts clothes donations, and around this time coats and warm clothing are in need! I'm sure there are many more places that accept donations as well)!

Once you know where it's going you can get to cleaning out the closet. Really analyze everything in your closet and think about whether or not you use it regularly (or at least for the same thing every year, like a favorite Christmas sweater) - if you don't get rid of it. Even if it's something beautiful, or it was on sale at an amazing price, or whatever excuse you're using to keep it in your closet, if you're not wearing it, you don't like it that much. And take a good look at what you do wear -do you gravitate towards a certain color palette, or a certain shape of pants or dress? Nothing wrong with that, that's your style, and it's ok to stick with it. I did a post at the start of 2015 with my wardrobe staples and will be doing another one soon (hint - it still looks pretty much the same as last year)! As you buy clothes throughout the year make sure to ask yourself if you really need it and if it works with what you already have. Many people like setting monthly clothing budgets and this is definitely a great idea if you're someone who does a lot of clothes shopping! My girl Fran (another fabulous blogging lady in medicine) just did a great post on setting a clothing budget if you want to read more!

And that's just about it for now! I hope some of you could find this post helpful as you start the new year! Wishing you a wonderful one!

December 26, 2015

Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale!

Hi all! Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday with your loved ones and had a beautiful Christmas for those of you who celebrate it! I just wanted to pop in quickly this morning and share some amazing sale finds from the Nordstrom Half Yearly sale that just started today! Hurry up because some of my favorite deals (like $90 Hunter boots) have already sold out in many sizes and colors! They won't last long! Happy shopping!

Shop the post by clicking any of the links below!!

December 21, 2015

Beauty Gifts and Stocking Stuffers

Hopefully by now most of us have gotten all of our holiday shopping out of the way, but if you're like me you still have a few small things to pick up! Today I'm sharing some of my favorite picks for beauty gifts that also make perfect stocking stuffers! I find that beauty gifts are almost always appreciated, everybody loves a little pampering!

I wouldn't recommend buying a brush gift set for a friend that would never wear makeup, but she may love a new perfume or a pretty moisturizing bar soap! A body brush is another great addition that helps with exfoliating and circulation, giving glowing skin (and some people even believe helping with cellulite, although I'm not quite sold on those claims). A sleep mask like this one would also be a fun stocking stuffer (and great for the friend that travels frequently or works third shift and has to sleep during the day)!

For the minimalist beauty lover (ie, they prefer good skincare and natural-looking makeup), this cheek stain gives a gorgeous glow, and although I was initially hesitant to use it on my lips thinking it might be drying, it's gorgeous (and not drying at all) on the lips as well! A great multi-tasker (and so pretty too)! These undereye gels are a fabulous treat that depuff like magic! This cleansing sponge is a great gentle exfoliator for the face, and even comes in a charcoal option for acne-prone skin. Speaking of acne-prone skin, this spot treatment has the blemish fighters (including salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and witch hazel). For legs and body that could use a little glow (so pretty much all of us in December!) this shimmer oil gives a beautiful sheen to legs! I love that it even blurs away some of the annoying tiny spider veins I started getting with this most recent pregnancy (it's totally just an optical illusion, but I'll take what I can get)! See some more ideas below!

Happy (and beautiful) gifting everyone!! Thanks to ShopStyle Collective and Anthropologie for sponsoring this post!

December 14, 2015

Gift Guide: Fitness Gifts

Here's to hoping N is going to see this post and get me these sneakers!! Lol! In all seriousness, though, loving all of these gift ideas for the person trying to stay active in your life - I think the watch may be the coolest! In my opinion so much nicer than the other fitness watches but still tracks so much in its accompanying app! It's priced pretty competitively as well! Any of you hoping for (or shopping for) fitness gifts this year? Would love to hear!

Or shop the post below! Happy gifting!

December 9, 2015

Macy's Friends and Family Sale!

Just checking in quickly to share some of my favorite picks (and biggest deals) from Macy's Friends and Family Sale! The sale ends soon, but almost everything is discounted right now, and on top of that everything on line is an extra 25% off with code FRIEND! Shop my picks below and save now - the sale ends Thursday!

Shop my picks by clicking any of the images below! 

December 7, 2015

Mild December Days

Just sharing some photos from a gorgeous 55 degree day (almost impossible to believe for a Massachusetts December)! I took the girls out in our double stroller and went to the water - I made sure to put Liv in her Hunters so she could run around the shore. It was fantastic!

Shop our looks below! Most everything is still on sale for the holiday season (especially Liv's stuff from Old Navy! Still 40% with code GIVING! My sneakers are $20 off with code IP265WTX, and my leggings are 25% off with code FRIEND!)

December 5, 2015

Elli's Birth Story

Happy weekend y'all! Today marks a week since we welcomed little Elli into our family! So crazy that we already don't know what we did without her! Her delivery was so much different than Liv's, and I can't believe how quickly my body has snapped back this time. Today I'm sharing her birth story! 

This whole pregnancy I've been saying that I was going to have a Thanksgiving baby (as opposed to the original due date of Dec. 10th). On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving I went to sleep with pretty annoying contractions, but nothing major, but by 2am I woke up and couldn't fall back to sleep thanks to the contractions getting stronger and closer together; N woke up and we both hung out waiting for them to get even closer/stronger before heading into the hospital. Thankfully by 5am they let up, instead of progressing, so I went to clinic as scheduled and saw patients for the morning! And then I rushed home after and took all of the pictures I wanted to before baby arrived and finished packing my hospital bag thinking we were getting really close to her actually getting here!

Thanksgiving came and went with no events, I hosted it at my house since my family didn't want me traveling home (and the last thing I wanted was to be stuck in Thanksgiving traffic when I went into labor)! On Black Friday I had my 38 week OB appointment, Liv and I spent the afternoon playing at the park and then went in for my appointment - and to my surprise when the OB checked me I was already 3cm dilated. I knew this didn't mean much - I could have sat at 3cm dilated for another week and a half, but it did mean those contractions were doing something. That week I had been drinking this delicious third trimester tea that was supposed to get your uterus ready for delivery - who knows if it was a placebo effect or not, but I really do think it did something! The days I drank two cups (or steeped two bags at a time) I felt more contractions. At the very least in my mind it tasted delicious and was really calming to drink.

By Friday night I was a little more uncomfortable; N was working late at the hospital and his mom (who lives with us and is a huge help with Liv) was out of town at her other son's house for the Thanksgiving week. I pretty much threw on Christmas movies with Liv and camped out on the couch unable to do much more. I put her down by 9pm and tried laying down myself, but couldn't fall asleep because my uncomfortableness soon pronounced itself as straight up contractions. When N got home around 11 or 12 the contractions were already stronger and coming about every 15 minutes. By 1 they were coming every 7 minutes, and I decided this was probably gonna go down tonight. Then it hit me that although I had my hospital bag packed, I had nothing packed for Liv - bringing her when I went into labor was not part of the plan, but N's mom was out of town! So I waddled around the house frantically, pausing to bend over on hands and knees with each contraction, packing things up for Liv!

We drove to the hospital, I think we got there around 2am, and went straight upstairs - by the time I got there I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes and they were becoming pretty unbearable. They checked me and I was 6 cm dilated and very obviously in labor - they got a room ready for me immediately but could not get IV access - I had two blown IVs before they got a crappy 20 or 22 in me (a tiny needle that isn't ideal), and finally I could head to my labor room. By that point I was yelling with every contraction - as much as I wanted N to be there for me, I didn't want Liv there, so I had them stay out in the waiting room. When I got to my labor room the OB checked me again and I was already 9cm dilated. I never wanted to be that mean lady in labor, but I was pretty pissed that anesthesia wasn't there to give me my epidural yet; I yelled at them (more out of pain, not to try to be mean to them lol) to page anesthesia stat. I was not trying to miss my epidural window! They came not too long after and thankfully placed it without much difficulty, although the contractions were now one on top of the other and trying to sit hunched over without moving was so hard!

It took a while for the epidural to kick in, but eventually it did start to help, and I finally felt comfortable having Liv and N come into the room. I think that was more my fear - I think I could have delivered without an epidural, but it certainly would not have been quiet, and I would not have wanted Liv there (which means N couldn't be there either) - and that I wasn't ok with. So getting the epidural was more of a necessity so that I didn't have to deliver all alone. By now I was fully dilated and my water had already broken on its own not too long after I had gotten the epidural, but the baby was still a bit high up. I think I labored for about another half hour or so, and then when they checked me it was time I could start pushing! One of the downsides of the epidural is that if you have too much anesthesia you can't feel the contractions or focus the efforts of your pushing in the right spot - I made sure that the anesthesia was titrated down to the lowest setting so that I could still feel, but not be screaming in pain. So with every contraction I pushed, and thankfully Liv (who was wide awake that whole time) finally passed out on the couch in our room. After about a half hour of pushing, my nurse (who was absolutely amazing) had me put my hand down, and the baby's head was right there!

They had the OB come in to deliver the baby, and she came in with another OB as back up because of my history of shoulder distocia. The OBs gowned up, I pushed one more time and out came the head! But the baby did have the cord around her neck, and they couldn't decide if I should push again or if they should try loosening it before, I'm honestly not sure what they did but I soon pushed again and delivered the rest of the baby in one push! They put the baby right on my chest and N whispered that it was a girl and I pretty much bawled my eyes out. It was the most amazing feeling ever, I'm so happy we kept it a surprise!! They cleaned her up quickly and immediately gave her back to me and I just held her - no whipping her away to the NICU like they had to do for Liv. So much of this labor was so different from Liv's. I didn't even tear, which I was terrified of happening - last time the episiotomy really made the healing process so much longer, and the 24 hour labor and hours of pushing led to postpartum urinary retention and chorioamnitis and just a really tough time after having Liv. This time was just so different. We got to the hospital a little after 2am, and Elli was born at 5:30am.

The best part was Liv waking up when we moved to our postpartum room and us introducing her to her baby sister - she was half asleep and the most adorable kind of excited! And even better (and in stark contrast to Liv's delivery), N was able to stay with me the whole time (last time he still had to go to class while I was in the hospital). My mom came into town to watch Liv while we stayed at the hospital over the weekend, and we spent the time cuddling up in the bed with our brand new babe and ordering Indian and Italian takeout and watching movies on his laptop, and trying to come up with a name! And even more shocking to me, that same morning I was walking myself and using the bathroom myself and that night I took a shower - basically I felt like a human within the first day of delivering, something that took days and days the first time. I left the hospital walking (and carrying our bags lol, N carried the baby in her carseat and the rest of our bags) instead of in a wheelchair. And now one week after I feel pretty much back to completely normal, which is just so hard to believe! And I have two girls and an amazing husband (who also gets paternity leave - another fantastic thing) and I'm just soaking up this time with them; I couldn't be more thankful.

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