Somebody that I used to know...

A little video love for your Sunday evening.  

If you're on Facebook, you might have seen this cover of "Somebody That I Used to Know" performed by Walk off the Earth (aka "Five People, One Guitar").  It's been all over the internet the past couple of weeks - as evidenced by the 62 million views this video has!  If you haven't seen it, take a look:

The song is catchy, is it not?  

I was excited to hear that none other than Pentatonix did a cover as well.  We'll call this one "Five Voices, One Song." ;)  Enjoy!

Hope you all have a great start to your week.  


Lent Musings

(Every good religious musing should begin with a confession, right??)

Confession: I have never "given up" anything for Lent.  

The church in which I grew up was not heavily liturgical, resulting in Lent not having a huge role in my life.  Aside from the occasional Ash Wednesday or Maundy Thursday service, Lent never really affected me personally.  In fact, the entire idea of sacrificing something during Lent was foreign to me until I noticed one of my dear friends not eating her customary bag of Skittles at lunch one day. 

As I have grown (dare I say) more mature, the notion of observing Lent has begun to appeal to me.  While I wish I could say that I reflect constantly on the sacrifice of Jesus, that is not the case.  Thus, this year, I wanted to use Lent as a time to actively increase my spiritual awareness.  

Whatever I decided to do, I wanted to do it for the right reasons.  It is so simple for the discipline of sacrifice to lose its perspective.  We can easily forget why we are implementing a new discipline, and it becomes a rule - something we have to do.  We crush the spirit of sacrifice when it becomes a legalistic ritual.  I don't want to spend the next 40+ days resenting God because I can't do something.  Additionally, it can be easy to use a Lenten sacrifice with ulterior motives (giving up unhealthy foods to lose weight, etc).  Regardless of what I ended up doing, I wanted it to be ultimately for the glory of God, not for any selfish reasons. 

So I started brainstorming.  How can I celebrate Lent?  Well, the typical things that people decide to sacrifice normally have to do with consumption of foods: candy, soft drinks, alcohol, junk food or fast food.  However, we eat clean food for the most part, and abstaining from consuming something that I have maybe once or twice a month at most could hardly be considered a sacrifice.  Someday (despite already practically following it save for meat, honey, yeast and coffee), I would love to do the Daniel Fast but my doctor would probably flip if I told him I wasn't eating meat, so that is out.   

Another increasingly popular Lenten sacrifice is something to do with consumption of media.  We rarely watch television, so giving up our once-a-week White Collar or NCIS wouldn't really suffice.   A viable option would be to give up this blog for Lent.  While I know that I could do that, the blog world is such a form of encouragement to me, and gives me a sense of fellowship with other medical wives (however many states apart we live).  This blog is also such a great way to stay connected with friends and family whom I rarely see.  It is hard to find positivity in sacrificing blogging.  Yes, I suppose that I could free up an hour or two each week, but the joy I receive from coming here is so good for my outlook.  

Choosing something to sacrifice turned out to be much more difficult than I imagined, primarily because there is nothing BIG enough that I can sacrifice.  Anything that I choose will absolutely pale in comparison to what He gave.  As a dear friend put it - how can my giving up coffee possibly be compared to the sacrifice of Jesus?  

Obviously, whatever I sacrifice needs to bear good fruit, not foster resentment.  I also don't want the focus to become solely on my discipline; the discipline is supposed to be a way to move me spiritually closer to God.  That's why I have decided to sacrifice part of each day of Lent to specifically and pointedly pray for different people.  The majority of these people will be those I pray for on a regular basis already, but it is my goal to lift them up in prayer with a specific focus on them individually throughout the day, not just jumbled in with all of the other prayers.  I've got my list in Excel (alphabetically, of course - AJC & family, you're up first!) - it was shockingly easy to come up with 46 individuals, couples and families.  So to my friends, family, fellow medical wives, and even a few people with whom I no longer have contact - I'll be praying specifically for you and your life during this season of Lent. 

As a side - I am also considering doing some sort of a Lent reading plan - does anyone have one they would recommend?  Something perhaps a little lighter, as the Hubby and I currently have a pretty strenuous daily reading plan (It's supposed to last a full year, but at the pace we're going, we could be done by the end of October...but let's be realistic - once the Hubby starts doing clinicals, and my work schedule goes absolutely crazy in a few months, we'll be lucky to finish by the end of the year).  I'm open to your suggestions!  

Do you observe Lent?   If so, how do you celebrate?  


Swag Bucks Birthday $1000 Giveaway & Registration Code

(If you've been around this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I have a deep love for Swag Bucks.  If you've never heard of Swag Bucks, click through to see the details about Swag Bucks and how the Hubby and I have earned over $100 in Amazon gift cards from it!). 

This month marks Swag Bucks Fourth Birthday!  As part of their birthday extravaganza, they are offering a great bonus registration code to new members.  From now until the 27th of February, if you sign up for Swag Bucks through this link and enter the code: BIRTHDAYBASH12 when prompted, you will earn an additional 110 Swag Bucks.  That means that new users (like you!) start with 140 Swag Bucks instead of the customary 30.  That's nearly a third of the way to your first $5 Amazon gift card!

After you've signed up for Swag Bucks, you can take a couple of quick steps to be entered for a chance to win one of FOUR $1000 prizes that Swag Bucks will be giving away as part of their celebration. 

Here's how you enter for a chance to win $1000:

1. Go to this page and RSVP for the Swagbucks Birthday Bash.

2. Pick one of the two parties and "RSVP" for it - if you don't have a preference, click "Surprise Me" (it really doesn't matter which one you pick).

3. That's it - do that and you're entered to win!  They're revealing the four winners on February 27th, and until then you can invite others to join you at the party you're attending by sharing on Facebook and Twitter.

I realize that the chances of winning one of the $1000 prizes is slim, considering the number of people that use Swag Bucks....but someone's got to win them - why not one of us!  ;)  

Any questions about Swag Bucks, feel free to ask away! 

All opinions stated here are my own.  While I do blog for Swag Bucks occasionally, Swag Bucks did not provide compensation to me for writing this post.  Links in this post are referral links; thank you for using them! 


Valentine's Day + Decor

Truth be told, I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day.  I believe that it's an awfully commercialized way to get people to spend an average of $126 on overpriced flowers, chocolates, gifts and dinners in packed restaurants.  The Hubby and I don't need to spend $252 merely to reiterate what we already know to be true.  (Seriously, who spends that much??).

Regarding flowers: If I'm receiving flowers, I would much prefer to get four bouquets throughout the year for the same price as one on February 14.

Regarding chocolates: I can't eat most of those fancy-shmancy creamy chocolates.  Give me a bag of Dove dark chocolates with almonds, and it will last me a month.  

Regarding gifts: n/a.  Well, I did get a new pair of running tights last week, and the Hubby ordered some new dress shirts and ties from Kohls last weekend (we're talking dirt cheap:  slim-fit dress shirts for $7.68 and ties for $6.14 after some discount magic).  There is a rumor that I might be getting an electric blanket soon, which sounds superb to me!

Regarding dinner:  Well, we went gourmet this evening and had Qdoba for dinner.  Why?  Because a) we adore Qdoba and b) did you hear about their buy one, get one free promotion?  


You can bet we were there...I will use any excuse to eat their gumbo!

Finally, despite not loving Valentine's Day, I did cave and put up some lovey-dovey decor (which is rather similar to our lovey-dovey decor from last year...), because everything seems so bland once we take down our Christmas decorations.


And of course, my favorite heart wreath is still hanging where it has been for the last year... (click through to the heart-shaped felt wreath tutorial).

I stand by my claim that LOVE is totally appropriate year-round!

Whether you adore Valentine's Day or loathe even hearing the word, I hope you had a lovely day today!


"Eye Love You" Eye Chart, round two!

Last spring, I created and shared an "Eye Love You" Eye Chart printable with you.  It came in five colors: orange, green, purple, pink and teal, which are all available to download on the previous post.

A few days ago, reader Lindsey emailed asking if I could modify an eye chart using mustard yellow and charcoal grey...I love the color combination, so here it is to share with you!

Download this mustard yellow Eye Chart print free of charge!  (Clicking the link will take you to my Box site to download). 

Another reader, Chelsea, had asked if I could create one using light grey and teal:

Download this light grey and teal Eye Chart print.

There they are, just in time for Valentine's Day!  They're perfect printed and framed (sized to an 8x10" frame), used as the front of a Valentine's Day card, or however you creative people end up using it!

I'll be joining these link up parties this week.
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It's baaaaaaaaaack...

The snow, that is.  Was it only one week ago that we seriously considered riding the motorcycle to church?  That we were able to go for a run outside, not bundled to the max?  That we sat out on our balcony in the sunshine, reading?  This has been literally the mildest winter I can ever remember.  There has been more grass than snow.  Birds have been chirping.  The sun has been shining.

You were quite the tease, nice weather.  I don't mind being some 20+ inches under average for snowfall, but I have a bad feeling that Old Man Winter will be making it up to us come March and April.  Until then, a girl can hope, right??


Oil Cleansing Method

Okay friends - who among you has heard of the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) for washing your face?  I keep hearing about it in random places all over blog-land, and while I am intrigued by it, I'm also mildly terrified of it.  (If you want the full synoposis of what it is, check out this post by Crunchy Betty).  Basically, it entails using a combination of oils to wash your face.  We're talking oil like natural and organic olive, grapeseed, jojoba or castor oil here, folks, not some synthetic oil created in some lab somewhere.  

I've struggled with dry skin before, and I thought that I'd found the solution - using the same face cream that my grandmother used to use!  But this winter, it hasn't been doing the trick as well as I'd like.  Buying expensive beauty products is not in our budget, and I rather like the idea of using a natural cleanser which moisturizes your skin at the same time.  

So my plea: does anyone use the OCM, or do you know of anyone that has?  If so, did they have any terrible response to using oil on their face?   I just don't want to try this and have my skin react poorly...I know I could read through hundreds of comments on the dozens of blogs that have mentioned the OCM, but if someone I know (or "know") has tried OCM, I'll feel a lot more comfortable trying it!

Thanks, you lovely people!


What school?

What is this blog's primary theme again?  

Oh, RIGHT!  Medical school.  

I've been slacking on reporting about this minor part of our lives.  Second year is so different than MS1, but honestly, there's not all that much to say about school these days - we are fully in the med school groove.  This year seems way more laid back to me.  Perhaps the Hubby is simply less stressed about his classes, resulting in me being less stressed?? There are several main differences that I think have allowed for our more mellow attitude this year (not that we were ever terribly high-strung to begin!).

The first main difference is the number of exams: first year was packed full of exams (53 in total), while second year has WAY fewer (only 15).   While each test obviously carries much more weight, that frantic scrambling feeling to absorb as much information as quickly as possible has given way to the Hubby being able to study at a smoother, more constant pace.  Going from two or three tests in a week to one test every two or three weeks has been quite nice, in my opinion.

The next difference is the new format.  First year was all lecture/lab based learning, while this year is the PBL format.  Despite the fact that the Hubby doesn't love PBL, he sure learns well in it.  

Finally, how I help the Hubby is different than it was in MS1.  Last year contained way more flashcards, quizzing, pretending to be patients and being blinded by that darn ophthalmoscope three nights a week.  This year, while there is still some quizzing to be done, I do more proofreading of his weekly essays for his Ethics/Health Policy/Integrative/Humanities classes (not to brag about his genius, but he has gotten 100% on all of them!  He's great at content, while I help with flow and our little friend grammar...though I'm sure some of my posts may have you questioning this claim), and not complaining while listening to Goljan on long car rides. 

So for us, MS2 fall and spring semesters each have five domains (plus clinical skills, which adds two exams each semester).  Last semester's domains were Neurology, Infectious Disease/Immunology,  Musculoskeletal, Hematology/Neoplasia (Oncology) and Disorders of Thought/Emotion/ Behavior (Psychology).  Some Biostats and Epidemiology were thrown in, as well as his Ethics essay-writing class.  This semester holds Urinary Tract/Renal, Pulmonary, Cardiology, Metabolic/Endocrine/Reproductive and Digestive, with Health Policy, Integrative and Humanities essay classes.  We've come to the conclusion that the more difficult a domain is (or is rumored to be), the better the Hubby does in it.  He can really buckle down and LEARN this stuff inside and out...and enjoy doing it! 

Renal domain was just completed, with his exam being last Monday, and now we're onto Pulmonary.  Maybe the Hubby will be able to fully diagnose my exercise-induced asthma by the time this domain is over!  ;)

And because I rarely do a post without a picture, a little view of how the Hubby's desk looked the other day as I tried to clean around it:

Tools for success!!
Is that enough books for you??


Meal Planning

I've had quite a few (fine, like three) people ask me about meal planning recently.  I love to cook, so each week I plan out six or seven dinners (depending on what leaves leftovers) before I get groceries for the week.  I meal plan for three main reasons:

1. Avoiding the "what's-for-dinner" question.  I hate that question.  Seriously, it drives me bonkers.  I like to know what I'm cooking or eating without any question or scrounging.
2. Knowing what to buy at the store.  If I don't know what I'm cooking, how can I shop? 
3. Reducing the number of trips to the store.  Very rarely do I need to run to the store extra times during the week because I don't have the necessary ingredients to make a meal.  If you grocery shop where I grocery shop, you would understand that it is a ZOO, and entering there as seldom as possible is preferred. 

So...here is this week's menu.  It's a little different than normal, because the Hubby's parents will be in town from Florida, and it is our niece's birthday, so we will have a couple of dinners away from home.  But nevertheless:
  • Monday (I make dinner for the Hubby's med school Bible study this night, so it's always a ridiculous quantity of food for 12-18 people): Beef enchiladas, bean and cheese enchiladas, crockpot Spanish rice, chips and salsa and salad with a creamy Mexican dressing.  
  • Tuesday: A spin-off of this Italian Sausage and Orzo Skillet, using chicken sausage, different veggies and some other modifications, with asparagus.
  • Wednesday: Skillet roasted chicken with new potatoes, broccoli and salad
  • Thursday: Mushu pork with mixed veggies, broccoli slaw and rice noodles
  • Friday: Out to dinner with the Hubby's parents.  Most likely to the local Lebanese place ;)
  • Saturday (we've been going to church on Saturday evenings, which means we leave home at 5pm and get home at 7.30pm - the joys of living 30 minutes from our church! - so I normally do a crockpot dinner so that it's ready to eat by the time we get home): Crockpot pineapple chicken curry, with (either) lentils or rice and broccoli.
  • Sunday:  Our niece's birthday party!
As for breakfast?  We are pretty boring: oatmeal with cinnamon and maple syrup and a banana, or a grapefruit and granola...nothing too fancy.  Except for the weekends, when the Hubby tends to break out the omelet pan or waffle iron.  Lunches are whatever can be easily packed and grabbed on our way out the door - leftovers, salads, chicken wraps, falafel ;)

So that's about it!  I rarely cook anything extravagant, though I do still try to make something new and different at least one night a week (though this week there are three new options: Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday!).  Also I've gotten out of the habit of baking my own bread, which I should really start doing again.   

Mmmm....bread.  What were we talking about again???