Aug 26, 2014

Introducing "Maven Ryan"

Well, we finally got Ryan's very special first birthday gift in the mail a couple of weeks ago.  It came all the way from Australia and even though it was a bit past her first birthday, I think it was so worth the wait.

I can't remember if I first came across Maven Dolls on Instagram or Pinterest, or maybe somewhere else entirely, but I do remember that the minute I saw these French-inspired rag dolls, I knew that Ryan had to have one.   Every single one of the Lee's handmade dolls are beautiful, but the fact that she also offers the Bespoke Beauty Service where you can have a custom made doll specifically for your child based on your likes is just amazing.  So I quickly placed my order for "Maven Ryan."

Maven Ryan, simply put, is stunning.  She is everything I wanted her to be and yet couldn't have dreamt up myself.  Lee took my thoughts and perfectly and exquisitely turned them into a doll that I hope will be an heirloom piece for Ryan to cherish and keep and maybe one day pass down to her own daughter.

 She now adorns one of the walls in Ryan's nursery and I think she is the perfect piece of "art" for her room especially until she is old enough to know not to destroy her.  If you are looking for a special gift for your girl, or if you are like me and just want to live vicariously through your child, check out Maven Dolls!

Aug 22, 2014

Lake Quinsigamond

Earlier this week, a bunch of my Mommy friends lugged all of our Littles out to Lake Quinsigamond for an afternoon full of fun in the sun.  The lake is probably less than 2 miles from our apartment and I'm kind of mad at myself for having only gone once this summer.  Hopefully, I can make up for lost time and get a few more lake trips in before the cooler weather starts to creep in.

We were quite the scene with all of our umbrellas, babies, beach bags, and strollers caravanning our way on to the beach and then staking out a spot the size of the lake itself near the teenage lifeguards.  I'm quite certain that we were the definition of "birth control" for those young kids.  All you need to do to keep 18 year olds from having kids is have them watch a bunch of hot sweaty Moms run around attempting to put sunscreen on our kids, keep them from having mouthfuls of sand for lunch,  chase down the tent that almost blew away with a child in it, deal with one meltdown after another, all while trying to make sure our kids don't end up face first in the lake.  I'm certain those lifeguards will now run for the hills at the possibility of getting pregnant.   Just helping to spread the idea of abstinence one lake trip at a time!

I'm not joking, all those things did happen.  But we had a really good time!

Remember the meltdowns I mentioned?

On another note, Ryan has a serious issue with organizing.  Like it's bordering on Obsessive Compulsive!  She loves to line up things and organize and I'm wondering if I should be concerned that my kid is OCD.

Hopefully we can bring Dad back before the summer's up. I know we'd all have so much fun. :)

Aug 13, 2014

Things you should never say to a Stay-At-Home Mom

Look, I'm not trying to start a Stay-at-Home Mom (SAHM) vs. Working Mom war.  Some Moms work when they'd rather be at home, some Moms are at home and wish they could be working.  Some do a mixture of the two.  There are positives and negatives to both, of that I am certain. But since I am and have been for the last 13+ months a SAHM with Ryan, albeit by choice (both mine and Josh's), I feel like I am allowed to vent about some of the ridiculous comments people occasionally make.

There are unwritten rules in regards to pregnancy (though apparently some people have never heard of them or choose to disregard them altogether).  You know, things like, don't ask a women if she's pregnant. Ever. No matter how pregnant she may look.
Don't say things like "Wow, you look ready to POP! You should have delivered like yesterday." Because that pregnant Mama may be months away from delivery and now you've made her feel huge.

Don't ask the parents if it was planned.

Don't give your unsolicited opinions on child birth or parenting styles.

Do I plan to breastfeed?  Honestly, it's none of your business!

Most of us know these rules.

But I think the same kind of rules should apply to those of us Moms who stay at home.  ESPECIALLY if you 1. Don't have any children.  2.  Are a mother and have never stayed at home with your child for an extended period of time (come on Moms we gotta stick together here)  3. Are a Dad that works and think us wives of yours have it so easy.

Here are some of my biggest pet peeves in regards to being a SAHM and yes, people have said these things to me or friends of mine who also stay home with their kids.

  • So what exactly do you do all day?  Um, where do I even start?   I made my child breakfast, which she proceeded to mash in her hair, her clothes and smear on the wall.  Oh and don't forget throw on the floor.  Don't worry it was oatmeal and raspberries, not messy at all.   So meal time was then followed by cleanup, the walls, the floor, the chair, and her.  And there's 3+ meals a day.  I cleaned my bedroom and while I was doing that my child unrolled the entire roll of toilet paper in the bathroom and tore it into 1047893784 tiny shreds.  I pick up an ungodly amount of toys per day.  Deal with temper tantrums because I won't let her walk all the way to the car by herself because we are running late to an appointment.  Take five minute showers in which she screams the whole time because she suddenly has separation anxiety even though she can see me through the shower curtain. I change diapers, bathe her, do laundry (and attempt to get those raspberry stains out), pay bills, grocery shop, cook dinner, clean the house, and keep a 13 month old alive every day.  Can I ask,  what is it that YOU do all day?
  • It must be nice to sit around and watch movies every day.  See above response.  And follow that up with, sure if you like watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Frozen on repeat and the only conversation you have all day is with your one year old who's only word is "bye."
  • Don't you feel guilty for not helping to contribute to your family finances?  Well, first of all I do attempt to contribute by running an Etsy business.  It doesn't bring in much money but it does bring in a little extra, which helps.  And while I don't really contribute to this family financially,  I'm pretty sure my job of raising our daughter is a fairly large contribution.  Does it put a financial strain on our family to have me not working?  Of course, but it was a decision that Josh and I made together and believe it to be the best choice for us.
  • But you hang out with other Mom friends a lot?  So you get to have a social hour daily.  Ok, yes, I see my other Mom friends with their babies every couple days.  And during that time, I kid you not, I am trying to have a conversation about my daughter's weird poop from this morning and why she is suddenly waking up every 2 hours at night all while trying to keep her from sitting on so and so's 3 month old, playing with electrical sockets, and falling down stairs.  It's SUPER relaxing.  Oh and it only lasts about a maximum of 2-3 hours because then we are pushing nap time and God knows I need that thirty minute break.  So of the 14 or so hours of Ryan being awake, I have contact with other adults maybe 2 hours every other day. :)
Look, I don't want you to think that my life is horrible. I love it.  Some days are harder than others  but I wouldn't want to have it any other way and I am so thankful that financially we can swing it so that I can be at home with her all day every day.  Life may not always allow that for us.  But I do think it's important for people to know that being a SAHM is not just movie watching and eating bon bon's.   It's more like watching Doc McStuffin's and cleaning up Puffs from my carpet. 

And on that note, I'll sign off to go put my child down for a nap and get some laundry folded and maybe the dishwasher unloaded before my 30 minutes of freedom are up!

Aug 9, 2014

Got Rocks?

Ryan has this super cute, kind of strange obsession with rocks.  Seriously, why do I buy toys when I could just go outside and bring in some rocks and she'd be perfectly content?

There is this large rock pile in front of our apartment and Ryan and I regularly take walks outside after getting the mail in the early evening and we never fail to make a pit stop by the rock pile.  Yesterday, she was cracking me up trying to carry three rocks in her little pudgy hands and having the most difficult time holding on to them all.

Once she was finally satisfied with the amount of rocks in her hands, she was quite proud of herself.

She is seriously such a riot these days.  I am constantly laughing at all the hilarious things she does.  I'm so thankful to have my iPhone too, so that I can catch many of her funny moments on camera!

Aug 6, 2014

Gallery Wall: DIY

I have always been intrigued with the idea of doing a Gallery Wall in my house.  You know, the grouping and hanging of somewhat random (or perhaps not so random) things on a wall in your home.  I was for whatever reason, a little intimidated by the idea.  I hang tons of stuff on my walls, but the idea of finding a bunch of things that would look good together seemed challenging.  Plus, when I looked at Pinterest for inspiration, I always felt like I could never do something as pretty or as professional looking as what I see on there.

But, I have this very large wall in my bedroom and it's been blank for over 2 months now.  And I REALLY don't like blank walls.  It's like the walls are calling to me saying "put something on me," "cover me up," "don't leave me bare."  And, since I can't afford a really large, nice, piece of art, I decided to go for it and put up a gallery wall in my bedroom.  Surprise! As it turns out, I can do it.  And, I'm pretty happy with it.  So I thought it would be good to tell you my tips for doing your own gallery wall because it's really not as challenging as it seems!
First things first, gather some materials.  I would recommend finding 15-20 different "things" that you  think you could hang on your walls.  Try to find different shapes and sizes.  Picture frames are great, but I also think it's fun to add a couple of pieces that aren't necessarily photos.  Don't be afraid to not have everything match, but try to have a certain color scheme or vibe that you are going for.  Our bedroom has predominately dark wood furniture as well as vintage white pieces and light blue/green bedding, so I gathered my items based on that.
About half of the items I used on this wall, I already had.  I just went rummaging around my apartment looking for things that I wasn't using that would work on this wall.  The other half, I found at stores like Home Goods, Pier 1, Target, and Anthropologie.  But, I didn't get them all in one day.  I find it's best to find things over time and that way you don't feel like you are breaking the bank either.  If you know you eventually want to put up a gallery wall in your home, start browsing the hanging home decor sections at some of these stores and pick up a piece here or there.  Eventually, you will have enough to put together a wall.  Also, if you are using photos, find some that also work with your color scheme which helps to bring it all together.
Once you have enough items, I suggest finding a spot you can lay out all your pieces in order to find the best arrangement.  I used our bed, mostly because if I tried to use the floor Ryan would have been ALL up in that.  I tried LOTS of different arrangements.  I probably spent at least an hour or more arranging and rearranging these items.  I took pictures of the designs I liked best so that I could go back to them for reference.  I had about 20 different items and I only used 17 on my wall, so I kept switching out different things for others.
Once you are happy with the layout (on the ground), first make sure you have a picture of it before you start hanging!  Then, I have seen a couple ways of hanging.  Some people suggest tracing paper the size of each piece and then taping that to your wall so you know where you are hanging things.  I'm sure that works great.  But honestly, ain't nobody got time for that!  Okay, maybe some people do, but I don't.  Or I don't have the patience to do that.  Either way, I'm more a just take a hammer and go with it girl.  My large canvas print was my focal point, (almost) centered piece, so I started with that and worked my way out referencing the photo I had taken of the arrangement the whole way.
I may or may not have ended up with a couple of extra nail holes in my wall by doing it this way, but you can't see them and I feel like 2 extra nail holes can be considered nothing short of success.  At least in my book!
I'm pretty thrilled with the outcome and it almost makes me wish that I had another large blank wall in my apartment so I could do another one!

Aug 3, 2014

Medical School: A Four Year Journey Come Full Circle

August 3, 2010:  Josh and I landed in Newcastle, England. 

It's been 4 years to the day since the journey through medical school really began.  We were brand new newlyweds, only married for a month.  We boarded that plane in Los Angeles with 7 bags, no place to live in the UK, and NO IDEA what the next four years were going to look like.  We were excited.  We were nervous.  We were kids starting the adventure of a lifetime.
Leaving for England
We didn't know the kind of stress that four years of school would bring, the kind of hardships we would face.  Thank God, because we probably would have run for the hills if we had known.  But we also didn't know the kind of friendships we'd make, the life lessons we'd learn, and the amazing adventures we would have.  We found a place to live the next day, in Jesmond.  Our first "home" together on Grosvenor Road.
Our Flat on Grosvenor Road
And Josh received his white coat not too long after.  A day that marked his entrance into the medical field.  I felt the weight of what we were starting that day. I remember it vividly.  Sitting in that elegant room with all the brand new first year students.  The excitement was palpable but I felt a sense of heaviness too, this day was marking a day where life would change dramatically.  I didn't know what was coming, but I knew it was big.
White Coat Ceremony August 2010
Josh fought his way through Term 1.  He pushed and Term 1 pulled.  He had to learn to effectively study and I had to learn how to be an independent yet supportive wife.  It was a struggle but once we had made it through, I felt confident we could do this medical school thing.
Thanksgiving in Newcastle
Tyne River, Newcastle
Jesmond Dene
First Snow
Term 2, though challenging, was a breeze compared to Term 1.  Josh had the study thing down, I had friends.  We had some time to travel and enjoy Europe.  England felt like a real home.  Life was good.
Sightseeing in Dublin, Ireland

Best Friends

Year 2 took us to the island of Grenada.  A place that will forever hold a special spot in my heart. Terms 3, 4, and 5 were challenging.  But Josh was diligent.  He studied and studied and studied and the term of absent husband took on a new form.  But, he did amazing and I thrived in Grenada.  We thrived in Grenada.  I loved island life.  I loved the people. I loved the Limes kids that I worked with.  I knew that when we left, I would leave with an emptiness, a void that would be difficult to fill.
Going to Grenada Party

Magazine Beach
Sunset at Grand Anse Beach
Dancing at Prickly Bay
Off to Fish Friday
Mount Carmel Falls
Easter with the Limes Kids
Flag Football Champs
Summer 2012 was dedicated to studying for the USMLE Step 1 and waiting for a clinical placement from SGU.  It was agonizing, all of it.  But those 2 months eventually passed.  The Step 1 was conquered and we got our first choice of clinical spots in California.  But year 3 of school brought new challenges, ones that we weren't necessarily prepared for.  Clinical life was difficult on our marriage. Long hours spent in the hospital, the stress of performing well, and grieving the loss of our island life all helped to make the reality of life back in California a nightmare.
First Day of Third Year

And then we found out we were expecting.  And while that news of course brought with it joy, it also created fear and anxiety and brought our marriage to a tipping point.

Josh and I struggled through my pregnancy and the remainder of year 3 of school.  But Ryan Cathleen made her appearance at the tail end of 3rd year and she helped to fill the void in my heart that had been missing since leaving Grenada.

Fourth year began in August 2013 and residency applications were due in September.   Things were pretty much a whirl wind at this point. Life with looming residency apps due, a newborn, a struggling marriage, and 4th year rotations was almost too much to handle.  But by the grace of God, we somehow survived.  And by Christmas time, we were starting to feel some relief in stress and a change for the better in our relationship.  Just in time for our next big life hurdle.
Christmas Morning

March 2014 brought the end of 4th year electives and Match Day.  The Lord knew that Josh and I would need to be a united front to conquer that difficult time. Amazingly, we lived to talk about that terrible week.  The relief that followed after Match week is a feeling unlike any other.  Sometimes I still can't believe where we are when I consider how awful that week was.
The day Josh got his residency at UMass
In April, Josh received his diploma and in May we made the big move to Massachusetts for Josh's General Surgery residency at the University of Massachusetts.  We were nervous, but also excited for a fresh start in a new place.
Leaving on the 3,000+ mile trip to MA
Ryan's first flight to MA
UMass Campus

In June 2014, Josh walked across the stage in New York City and officially became an MD.  We celebrated his hard work and success over the course of his 4 years in school with his family.  And he and I celebrated our four year anniversary and four years of commitment and support for each other through the schooling process.  My thoughts on graduation can be read HERE.
Graduation Day

In July, Ryan turned one and Josh started his residency.

August 3, 2014: Josh is now a month into residency.  

Life sure looks a whole lot different than it did 4 years ago on August 3, 2010.  These past four years were nothing like I ever expected and yet everything I had ever dreamed they would be.  Life is just funny like that. I wonder where we will be in another four years?  And four more after that?  This life of ours is an adventure to say the least but it sure is amazing to take the time to look back and celebrate the successes, mourn the losses, learn from the mistakes, and ultimately, give all the glory to God for this amazing adventure of life that He has given us.