blank'/> A LITTLE BIT OF LACQUER: December 2018

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.




Family.
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.

Friendship.
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.

Field.
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?

Finances.
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? 


December 22, 2018

Deep conditioning for 3 different hair types!

Not going to lie - was so excited when Pantene reached out to me to work together - I've always loved Pantene, and it's one of those brands that makes so many products that fit so many demographics, and is a classic in any household (it's exciting to be able to talk to my grandma about partnerships and her wow at the Pantene name)! And I truly love their products - whether I'm trying to maximize my curls, curls or protect my heat-styled hair (my hair is naturally curly, so when you see it straight or wavy, it's been heat-ironed that way), I've always found a product that works.


Lately we've really been loving their new Pantene Pro-V Intense Rescue Shots as an incredible deep-conditioning treatment. These individual treatment tubes (they come in a pack of 3) are used weekly in place of your normal conditioner - which is perfect since curly-haired girls like myself and Liv only wash our hair once a week anyway - so it's nice to really get the most out of our weekly shampoo and conditioning. Liv's hair soaks this stuff up and once I rinse it out it's incredible how soft and bouncy her curls are - and after using in my hair, it's noticeably softer and shinier, and when brushing afterwards, I've noticed much less breakage in the sink. What impresses me most is that it somehow is deep enough conditioning for Liv's tight and thick curls, but for my fine hair, it doesn't weigh it down in the least (which is a huge selling point for me - we live in a house with 4 ladies, all with different curl/wave patterns, so to find a product that works for us all is big)! I also love that it doesn't feel like it leaves a residue - it's like your hair directly takes in all the goodness (the Pantene Pro-V Intense Rescue Shots are chock full of strengthening lipids, pro-vitamin B5, and natural glycerin). Love!



Now for a few tips for managing thicker curls in a toddler (get asked this all the time):
- Thick curls really only need to be washed weekly, sometimes we even spread it to once every 2 weeks; the rest of the days I usually have it in a protective style or if wearing it out, I spray her hair to re-wet and add a leave-in conditioning product
- Make it a time they look forward to - I found that untangling her hair in the bath or shower just became stressful for everyone, so I almost always wash her hair in the sink now - and she gets a lollipop to sit through it all - we're typically playing music in the house so we sing our favorite tunes and take care of her hair.
- Only shampoo the scalp (and use a moisturizing shampoo like the Pantene Daily Moisture Renewal Shampoo); when you rinse it out, the shampoo will run through the ends; you don't want to overstrip their ends!
- Conditioner is king. Pick the right one and most of your work is done. I only untangle her hair with my fingers, so a conditioner with good slip is key (and these Intense Rescue Shots deliver that). I work the product through for 30 seconds + gently finger comb, then rinse for 30 seconds.
- Protective styles help big time, but careful for tight hairstyles! I'm a big fan of buns and braids, but we also wear it out quite a bit!

The Pantene Pro-V Intense Rescue Shots hit shelves in January, but you can purchase now at CVS.com!


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pantene. The opinions and text are all mine.

December 14, 2018

Holiday Style with Gymboree!

There is absolutely nothing like the holidays with kids. It's seriously my favorite time of year, and just feels more magical through their eyes! It's also a fun time to dress up for holiday shows and family get togethers, and I always get asked where we find the girls' cute clothes from!


Our holiday gear is from Gymboree - they have the cutest holiday line (not gonna lie, I was this close away from purchasing a few things for myself... I can still fit a girls size 14 on a good day haha)! Love their soft textures, whimsical graphics, and metallics (so perfect for the holidays). They never disappoint! We had fun getting dressed up for their school holiday photos (and decorating their tree before we left)!



And especially love that this holiday season Gymboree is supporting Baby2Baby - one of my favorite non-profits that makes sure low-income babies get diapers, clothing, and some of the basic necessities that every child deserves. I'm acutely aware of it in the clinic where I work, but did you know that 1 in 3 families in this country struggles to provide diapers for their children! I see it all the time when babies make it to our clinic with diaper rash and more. You can donate are your local Gymboree in-store or online and #GiveHappyGymboree.

December 11, 2018

Winter Greys

Wanted to share a cozy look that I rarely get to wear here in Miami, but temperatures got down into the 50s today and I had a meeting (so my usual scrubs and pullover look, also shown in the bottom, was a no-go). I literally had this Mark&Graham throw on my bed and decided it would make for a comfy oversized scarf/shawl and I'm so glad I did! I got it in my Fab Fit Fun box, unfortunately it's sold out now, but love all of their other throws (and personalized gifts in general, great Christmas gift ideas on their site)! My boots I just bought this weekend on crazy sale, down from $120 (which is honestly still a steal) to $60! Some colors are even cheaper! They run true to size. My top is really versatile and comfy (and comes in so many colors), and these pants are some of my favorite mid-high waisted jeans that don't really look like jeans and fit incredibly (and under $40)! My initials necklace is one of my most cherished pieces and can be found here.

Other things in the above pic I usually get asked about: dining table and dining bench (crazy deals for such high quality - both currently on sale with free 2 day shipping), dining chairs, couch, bookshelves ❤️

How I usually look on consult days lol. Obsessed with this new Figs color (cement) I'm wearing the Catarina One Pocket Scrub Top and the Livingston Basic Scrub Pants
I also love this pullover for days it's chillier - super soft, falls nicely, and has thumbholes (always a plus for me)! I own this top in a couple of colors - I went 2 sizes up actually to get an oversized fit (otherwise it's supposed to be a fitted style). Currently 40% off with code WINTERFUN.
My sneakers are another consult favorite (ie perfect for lots of walking). 
I did a full review of my consult bag here and after a month on consults wouldn't change anything. Still the best consult bag! 

Introducing fun into the middle of the week!

Hi all! Today I wanted to share the best Wednesday night we've had in a long time - it's always fun to do something out of your normal routine (particularly mid-week, when sometimes it feels like you can't do anything "fun" until the weekend)! But here's to celebrating hump-day!


We went to Chuck E. Cheese! When we got there, we ordered a large pizza to our table (my husband is obsessed with their pizza, and I must admit it was so good, dinner - check)! I put our stuff at a table and Nathan got All You Can Play passes - such a great idea! Instead of buying a certain amount of coins, you purchase a certain amount of time and can play as many games you want in that time! With older kids it would be so much fun to challenge everyone and see who can win the most tickets in a certain amount of time (we saw the adorable video of Ryan and his family doing the AYCP challenge, so fun)! With our kids they could care less about the tickets lol, it was more of a "how many times can you ride the giraffe" haha, but I LOVED it! My favorite "game" was the photobooth - so much fun taking limitless family pics haha! It felt great to not have to worry about how many times we had used our card (love that it's all on a simple tap card now, no need to worry about coins and littles inhaling them - yes I'm a doctor mom haha)!


Speaking of safety, I loved that all the kids that come in with an adult get a matching UV stamp that gets checked before leaving - an awesome safety measure that ensures your kids can't leave without the adult they came with! A few more awesome things I learned about after our visit that may help you if you decide to have a fun family trip - you can actually pause the your All You Can Play time at a kiosk (say you're going to finally eat that pizza but don't want to lose out on your game time). Also, Chuck E. Cheese is one of the few places you can also grab a beer or wine with that pizza. Just sayin.


We all had such a fun time and I'm so glad we were able to toss a little fun into our week - can't wait to go again!


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chuck E. Cheese's. The opinions and text are all mine.

December 8, 2018

Family Trip with Toddlers to New Orleans

Happy weekend y’all! Today I’m sharing a highly requested post via Instagram after I shared so much of our family trip to New Orleans over the Thanksgiving holiday!

This year we weren’t able to make the trip all the way back home to Massachusetts for the holiday, and my parents who usually visit weren’t able to come down either - needless to say I was really down (it’s been a hard year in my family with multiple deaths and illness). So when the idea of traveling to New Orleans for the holidays was brought up, I thought about it long and hard. Nathan and I have been to New Orleans once before (just last year actually) and I loved it - the streets in the French Quarter were alive with so many weddings and second lines that we celebrated to, adorable shops and delicious restaurants, and at night the streets became even more festive! I loved dancing down the street with a drink in one hand and Nathan’s hand in the other. I don’t think anyone would even attempt to question whether or not New Orleans is a great place to visit for adults.

But what about kids? I honestly wasn’t so sure, but after getting some information from New Orleans Tourism, we decided we’d go for it and make the best of it! And let me tell you I’m so glad we took that chance - it was incredible and the girls have continued talking about the trip and asking when we’ll go back. So if you’ve ever thought about traveling to New Orleans with family (and especially during the holidays), I’m sharing some of our highlights and tips below!



Our Stay:
We stayed at the Windsor Court Hotel, and it was perfectly situated at the Central Business District and only a few minutes walk to the French Quarter - and it was such a gorgeous oasis! Their lobby was a true winter wonderland with the most beautiful tree and lights, and they even had little teddy bears for the girls upon our arrival! We didn't book a rental car, we knew we'd be staying central to tons, so we used Uber or Lyft to get around if need be, but otherwise walked around town in our stroller wagon (you can check out my full review here).

First things first:
We had to go explore the French Quarter! We walked from our hotel and took in the incredible (and romantic, historic, just drool-worthy) architecture, the horse-drawn carriages, and shops. The girls were obsessed with all of the masks at each store we went by and it was so much fun trying them on! I especially loved watching their little bodies move to the beat of all of the live music in the streets in our wagon - the streets really do feel alive! Of course a trip to the French Quarter isn’t complete without a stop at Cafe Du Monde - their beignets are really out of this world! As a tip - this place is cash only (and crazy cheap) so make sure to bring some cash for a few rounds of beignets and cafe au lait! Also - baby wipes make for quick cleanup of all the powdered sugar ;)



Since we arrived on Thanksgiving Day we reserved dinner at Commander’s Palace, and this place did not disappoint! Our meal was delicious, and I loved that they even had a Thanksgiving meal especially for the kids on the menu (even an option for a little mocktail for them that came complete with a rubber ducky on top - adorable)!

Black Friday Brunch
We took the morning to relax (and Nathan went on his long run all the way down to Audubon Park - a gorgeous run he said) and then had brunch at The Ruby Slipper (right around the corner from our hotel)! This place has a long wait for a reason, but here’s a tip - add your spot to the waitlist on Yelp to see your place in line while you stroll around, then you can arrive when your table is almost ready! Their food was SO good - highly recommend the catfish and grits and the blueberry cheesecake stuffed french toast! Other Nola favorite brunch: Elizabeth’s Restaurant



We had plans to walk to the Audubon Aquarium from brunch, but on the way walked by the Audubon Insectarium - how cool! The girls were intrigued by the butterfly garden windows, and so we decided to pay a visit!

Audubon Insectarium!
This place was amazing! So much fun for everyone with all types of cool bugs and exhibits, including the crowd favorite, the butterfly garden. It’s been over a week and Liv is still asking when we’re going back to the butterfly garden. I love that it’s a small place so doesn’t feel overwhelming, but still has a lot to do! If you plan on visiting more than one of the Audubon Nature Institutions (they’ve also got the zoo and the aquarium, both are must-see) I definitely recommend buying the Audubon Experience tickets that get you discounted entrance to all 3!



Zoo Lights at the Audubon Zoo!
I think this was hands-down my favorite experience of the trip. There’s already something special about being in a park “after-hours” but add in spectacular holiday lights, Christmas music, charming hot cocoa stands, the Santa Claus himself, and big open spaces for the kids to play (including a snowflake light dance floor, arts + crafts stop, and a playground), and you’ve got one incredible night. Seriously. I found myself just smiling so hard this entire night. If you’re in New Orleans for the holidays with kids, go. Even without kids, go. I’ll remember it forever.



Audubon Aquarium
The next day we took it slow in the morning and ordered a delicious room service breakfast, then headed out to the aquarium! It’s right on the river, and the little walkway outside is beautiful! The aquarium starts with a jaw-dropping underwater walk-through tunnel with all of the sting rays - talk about making a good first impression! It’s complete with tons of fish, sharks, sting rays (and an area where you can touch them, the girls were in love), and so much more! Plus they’ve got a Haagen Dazs and Papa John’s on-site!



Garden District, Magazine Street
From the aquarium we took an uber down to Magazine Street - this street has miles of adorable small shops and restaurants, and was the perfect place for lunch and afternoon exploring (especially since it was small business Saturday)! A few notable places to eat on this street include District Donuts and Dat Dog! We walked around exploring for hours, had lunch at The Vintage and sat people watching, and made our way all the way down to Pinkberry where Santa was making a special stop!



Carousel Gardens Amusement Park and Celebration in the Oaks in City Park
Once it got dark we headed over to City Park where there was so much to do! First we fueled up at Morning Call inside the park (another spot with beignets and tons of yummy drinks). then started at Storyland, an adorable fairy tale-themed playground that the girls loved (only open until 6 so stop there first)! Then we headed into Carousel Gardens (open at night only during Celebration in the Oaks) and enjoyed some of the rides - the carousel was my favorite - then made our way to the Celebration in the Oaks - another incredible light display. This would be a perfect date night spot - it was so romantic - but also makes for a great family night as well!



We squeezed in a ton during our short 3 day trip and there was still more we could have done with the girls (including the Louisiana Children’s Museum, Audubon Park, and more)! The city definitely won me over and totally showed me that it is an amazing place to visit for the whole family! PS - I’ve made my Instagram stories a highlight on my page since many of you requested that, so go check it out to see video of our time in Nola!

This amazing trip was possible in partnership with the New Orleans Tourism Board!

Keenz Stroller Wagon Review

Hi all! I got lots of questions about our Keenz Stroller wagon. I bought it for our New Orleans trip (full itinerary on that coming really soon) - I knew that our usual umbrella stroller just wouldn't cut it on the streets of the French Quarter, and also know that our bigger double just isn't the easiest to travel with (as much as I love it - it's been so good to us for half a decade now - folding it with the extra seat on is a pain in the butt). So I bit the bullet and bought this Keenz Stroller wagon, loved the reviews and the idea of having all 3 in there together (even in our double someone has to end up walking)!


So today I wanted to do a little review and our honest thoughts (this stroller wasn't sent to me for review, I purchased on my own, but opinions are always my own. I never collaborate with companies that limit what I can say). For starters, you can buy this wagon a few places - Amazon, Target, and directly from the Keenz website. Because I needed mine asap I purchased online at Target and picked it up in my Target store that same afternoon - talk about immediate satisfaction! Target is also offering free 2-day shipping currently! As far as price, it's $389.99, which is certainly far from cheap, but it's cheaper than the double stroller I have (and many in that market) and provides SO much more.  

So for our first review (and if you're someone who likes to get to the point) - Nathan just said last weekend, "this is the best investment we ever made. Can't believe we didn't have it sooner." That may be the only review you need. Nathan is not a fan of any of our baby/kid gear, so to have him so vocally announce his endorsement of something says so much. Like I said, we bought it for our Nola trip but have now used it for all of our local strolls and shopping trips. 


I love this thing. It fits all 3 girls comfortably, is a breeze to push around, and has so much storage space! One side has an organizer with a large velcro pocket, smaller zipper pocket (fits a full pack of wipes for reference), and a bottle holder pocket. The other side has a large (and collapsible) storage bin that fits a ton! Each side has child buckles just like in a stroller (full 5 point safety harnesses) - honestly we didn't use them, but nice to have especially if you're towing around smaller babies or really need them to stay put! The handles are adjustable, it's got a simple foot break, and even comes with a large canopy, cooler bag (that fits in the storage basket), and cupholder (we didn't bring along for this trip but all included). And the real cherry on top for me was how easy it is to fold. It literally folds like a pack and play - there's a strap in the middle that you just pull up and the whole thing folds together, then there's a buckle that locks everything together. It stands on its own perfectly when folded and is actually smaller than my other double when folded. All of the materials are very durable, too. We checked the wagon at the airport and I was really worried the beautiful handles would get scratched up, but it survived two trips completely unscathed! Which takes us to one of the main cons, though. Even though this stroller wagon is an officially certified stroller, it still looks like a wagon, and there are plenty of people who don't care and will treat you like it's a wagon. We were given a hard time through airport security (even though officially this should be allowed through), they made us check it before getting through security. I've heard similar things at Disney where wagons aren't allowed, but I believe if you show that it's certified they do let it through. That was literally the only negative thing about this. Otherwise it's been a lifesaver and I only wish we had one for all of our family excursions sooner! We'll see how it stands the test of time, but one month in I can't picture not having it. 
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