2.27.2014

help wanted: Match Day/Graduation Gifts?

My husband's rank list is officially certified and submitted...no turning back now!  We made two major changes the last week, so we are happy to not be able to make any other adjustments...or at least I am!  In alphabetical order, the states of his top five choices are:  Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee.  So.  We'll see.  In 23 days. 

We got the information about how Match Day will happen...we'll all convene at a nice local Italian restaurant, have lunch and open envelopes at noon - I try very hard not to let my heart pound thinking about that.  It should work out with Liam's nap schedule to come with us and not be too cranky during the event.  Hopefully.

Okay.  Enough Match Day/heart palpitation inspiring talk.  I need some help!  For those of you that have gone before and made it through the events of the next few months, I need to know if you have any awesome gift ideas for the soon-to-be doctor.  I mean, I have one: 

via Cafe Press

But I mean, really?  Four years of hard work and dedication and all I can come up with is a coffee mug?  I'll take any ideas you have...cutesy, useful for what's ahead, thoughtful, homemade...whatever you've got!  

Thanks in advance ;) 

Update: I'm going to link this post to Medical Mondays!  Would love to hear YOUR ideas!

2.19.2014

Liam Gabriel | 8 months


Growth & Looks
Liam is a solid little man.  I'll be washing the 12 month sleepers tomorrow...my goodness.  No doctor's appointment until 9 months, so I can't give an accurate update on his stats, but standing on the scale with him gives an approximate weight of 19.8 pounds!

We're still rocking the Conan/Macklemore light brown hair.  Appropriate to go with his blue eyes. Grins are still toothless.


Sleeping
There have been nights where he hasn't eaten!  There have been days with two 90-minute-long naps!  There have also been nights this week where he was awake for no discernible reason for two hours in the middle of the night.  Extra awesome when his dad has to be at the hospital at 5am.  Not cool, kiddo, not cool.  

Had another cold this month...a good excuse for cuddles, Winnie the Pooh and Mike the Monkey

Eating
Still not the biggest fan of what we call people food.  Child loves his milk.  I think he just fills up so much on milk that he's not hungry whenever we try solids (which is three times a day - his dislike is not for lack of trying!).  He'll literally clamp his mouth shut and shake his head no to dodge the spoon.  It'd be funny if it wasn't every time we tried to feed him, save for his precious bedtime oatmeal.  I just made up some red lentils to try mixing with veggies, and he did enjoy some lentils and carrots this afternoon, so that is encouraging.  Other new foods that he doesn't like include mango, green beans, peas and pineapple.  


  Firsts
  • First time rolling from back to belly (I know, super late).  He's never been a fan of tummy time so why would he roll onto his belly? 
  • This has been the month of true belly laughs.  We'd heard a few in prior months, but now we can get them without much effort.  It's so cute it hurts.  The video below was just before bath time.

  • First "crafternoon" with his mom.  Painting on babies feet should be attempted at your own risk!
  • Valentine's Day!  Our eligible bachelor swooned all of the ladies (not really.  Though he was making eyes at another little girl while we were out to dinner - BOGO for a kiss at Qdoba, anybody?)
Taking selfies with mom obviously does not make the "favorites" list, though pulling her hair would.

Hobbies, talents & likes  
  • Since discovering that he can roll, Liam has been rolling across the room.  Mind you, it still happens pretty slowly, but it does indeed happen.  
  • With the aforementioned belly laughs, Liam can now tell when we are being silly (or trying to be silly).
  • He's always loved standing, but now he can do it with just a little bit of balancing assistance.  No real strides towards crawling yet.

  • Giving kisses/eating his mom's face is a daily activity.  He tries to give them to his dad sometimes, but has discovered he's not a fan of beards in his mouth! 
  • This normally jabbering (lots of dadas, no mamas!) noisy boy becomes a little quiet when there are other people around.  He'll still give out smiles like nobody's buisness, but it takes him a while to warm up and start being vocal.  He loves to people watch though.  
  • Liam loves his dad's yawns.  They are always loud (sometimes a bit extra loud when he has a certain audience), and Liam thinks they are hilarious.  


We are just loving watching Liam grow, change and become his own little person.  Every month when I take his monthly picture, I think, "Surely this is as cute as he could possibly get!"  He's proven me wrong every month.  Such a fun and handsome little nugget we have!

2.15.2014

Infant in Arms | Tips for flying with a baby

Liam has now officially been on six plane rides.  Two of these six were just him and me flying together, while my husband interviewed in other places.  Our Colorado trip has already been mentioned (one solo flight) and then we flew to Florida together to visit a set of grandparents.  We had delays, de-icing, de-boardings...the whole mess of it.  Just Liam and I, while my husband met us in Florida after another one of his interviews.  While I would not recommend hanging out in an airport for 6 hours of delays with a baby, I do have some recommendations for flying with an infant in arms.   I actually have a LOT of tips, but I will spare you from the mundane.  If you're reading this, I assume that you have already armed yourself with a jumbo pack of hand wipes to clean surfaces and know to bring a few toys on board with you.   

(Our airport recently got Southwest airlines, and this was our airline for all of our flights.  If you have Southwest, I recommend it.  I'm not getting paid for that.  They are just really laid back, helpful and accommodating, and their open seating for boarding (along with two free checked bags!) is excellent for families).   


Booking/Checking In
  • After booking your ticket, call the airline to tell them you’ll be flying with an infant in arms.
  • When you check in at the airport, make sure that they print a boarding pass for the baby and that yours indicates that you are flying with infant in arms.
  • Have copy of birth certificate for age verification, even if your baby is obviously still fresh and under the age of two.  
  • When you are checking in, ask if there are seats open on the plane. If there are, you should be able to bring your car seat with you on board the plane, despite not paying for a seat.  It's safer for the baby to be in their car seat should, heaven forbid, anything go wrong.  Again, this is my Southwest experience, but I assume other airlines would follow suit, though I'm not sure how it would work with assigned seating. 
 Security
  • First, put your baby in your carrier before you get to security.  Liam prefers to face out, and since he'll smile at a wall if he thought it looked funny, he always wins over the TSA workers.  You can't not smile at a smiling baby.  It's a fact.  Plus if you put a bib on your baby that says something like "Captain Adorable," you're golden. 
  • Time to scan your million belongings.  First, I trust you aren't silly enough to wear a belt or any jewelry or have anything in your pockets.  Send your shoes through the machine first so you can put them back on while they are scanning everything else.
  • Remove your car seat from your stroller and send it upside down through x-ray machine.
  • Collapse stroller to go through x-ray machine.
  • Put any milk in its own baggie to be scanned separately.  Ice is fine too.  They’ll take it/you aside and either just put it in a little box that has lasers or they may open the bottle, hold a swab above it and then test the swab.  If you can nurse in public, by all means, do this, so that you don't have to deal with warming bottles, etc. 
  • After you get all of your junk gear onto the belt, you’ll go through standard metal detector.  After you walk through, hold your hands out so they can swab them to make sure you didn't, you know, make any bombs that day.  
  • Wear extra deodorant because you will be sweating by the time you do all of this lifting and hoisting while wearing an extra 15-20 pounds strapped to your body.
At the gate & boarding
  • For the love of pete, bring your own car seat and stroller.  I know you can rent them, but seriously, just bring yours.  They make bags you can put them in (we have one, but when traveling solo, I didn't bag it.  And it was fine.  I knew I was going to be moving slowly enough already, the last thing that I needed was to be trying to unzip a huge bag and fold it back up to store it) so they don't get dirty if you're checking it.  You also don’t need to take your base-learn how to install it in the car without it.  Yes, it takes 10 extra seconds. 
  • While waiting to board, get your gate-check tags from the gate agent for car seat and stroller.  They have to put the tag on themselves.  When you board, collapse your stroller and leave it and your car seat (detached from the stroller - obviously, if your stroller is collapsed) at the bottom of the jet way. It'll be waiting for you when you land.  In fact, on every flight, it was waiting open and ready to go for us, which was kind of huge.   
  • Most airlines will let families board before the masses do. 
  • Seats towards the rear of the plane will have more white noise, if your baby digs that when sleeping (which hopefully they do the whollllle flight!).  With Southwest's open seating, I literally beelined for the last row in the plane.  I figure that's half as many people to annoy if the baby does in fact scream the entire trip.  
  • Get into your seat and wipe down every surface you can with antibacterial wipes.  Liam's favorite toy on the airplane was the armrest.  He loved it.  You should have seen his face when he realized there were TWO.  

 In flight
  • I made the above ear plugs to hand out to our neighbors if things got loud.  We never had to hand out a single pair on any of our flights.  Thankfully Liam didn't have any problems with his ears. 
  • My mom-in-law got us this crazy contraption called the Flyebaby.  We did use it on a flight, and it actually rocked...see picture below.  Liam gets antsy sitting in my arms for too long, so this was a good change of scenery, and limited the amount of things he could touch. It also doubles as a high chair, which is handy if you'll be eating at someone's house or want to feed your baby in a hotel room.  [I can't remember why Liam wasn't wearing pants in the picture below, other than he prefers to be as naked as possible.  There were no diaper emergencies!]
  • There wasn’t a changing table in the bathroom on one of our flights so try to change baby's diaper right before you board!  Also, as appalled with myself as I was, I had to be that mom who changed her baby on her lap on the plane.  Thank sweet Jesus we had a whole row to ourselves and it wasn't a rank dirty diaper, but he needed to be changed before he fell asleep for the night and we had crazy turbulence.  I asked the flight attendant if I could use the bathroom to change him, and they said to stay seated because of the fasten seat belt sign.  Ack.  
  • This is a little mundane, but I definitely recommend putting little ones in footed pants (or a sleeper).  The last thing you want to be doing is tracking down socks that have been kicked off of little feet.
Those were the most important things for us...did I miss anything?

2.03.2014

The Cost of Interviewing for Residency

Super excited to be co-hosting Medical Mondays this month - see the details and link up at the bottom of this post!  Quick catch up for those of you new around these parts: my husband is a 4th year medical student, a mere 45 days away from Match Day.  We're in the process of creating our rank list and coming to terms with the fact that we'll be leaving the city that we've called home for the last nine years.  Read about our residency journey thus far.



Nothing about medical school is inexpensive.  Interviewing for residency is no exception.  We'd been told to expect to spend anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 on interviews (oh to have a travel budget of that amount normally!).  Obviously, there are two large underlying factors in how much students spend on interviews.  The first is the type of program in which one is interviewing.  A less competitive program, say family medicine, means you can travel to fewer interviews.  A more competitive program, such as ortho, requires more interviews.  Or more praying.  Or both.  The second factor is how far from home one plans on interviewing, or in another word: plane tickets.  If many far away interviews are scheduled, you can expect to be towards the higher end of that estimate.

As soon as we started planning my husband's residency interview process, I decided it would be neat disturbing informative to keep track of exactly how much we would be spending on the interview trail.  Happy to aid in my little quest, my husband diligently kept his receipts for EVERYthing: gas, tolls, hotels, coffee, meals, plane tickets, rental cars...the whole lot of it.  He'd leave for interviews, come back with an envelope stuffed with receipts, and I'd add them to our spreadsheet.

We tried our hardest to keep costs down.  To the best of our ability, we laid out interviews in a logical order, grouping places together geographically if at all possible (so that my husband wasn't driving through Wisconsin to get to Minnesota, then coming back to Wisconsin the next week).  However, it's not like you can just call up these programs and tell them when you are available to interview.  Students receive an email saying (more or less), "Hello!  We like your board scores and you don't sound like a dunce in your personal statement.  Come see us on one of these five days to see if you like us too." And then you accept one of those dates, and hope that when the neighboring program offers you interview dates, they line up with the ones you've already scheduled.  

My husband is going into internal medicine, which isn't a super competitive field.  However, he hopes to do a fellowship, so he applied to and interviewed at some pretty competitive programs.  We took about half of the interviews granted, and it was more than we should have.  He was d.o.n.e. with interviews by the time the last few rolled around.  So he did a total of 16 interviews, and I accompanied him on three of them (two extra plane tickets).  

To keep costs down, we primarily did three things.  First, my husband drove to 13 out of 16 interviews.  Only spending gas money instead of the plane ticket/rental car combo saved us gobs (no, we didn't factor in depreciation on our vehicle.  We assume once your car is over a dozen years old, it really doesn't matter).  Second, we used and abused one of my good friend's hotel discount codes (shout out to my girl Perri - thank you for managing to stay in hospitality long enough for us to get through interviews!).  Third, Southwest Airlines.  Oh my lanta.  As interviews were rolling in, we scheduled, rescheduled and shuffled interview dates, and we were so grateful for Southwest's no change fee policy.  My husband literally changed plane ticket dates and destinations probably half a dozen times.  Had he booked on any other airline, there would have been hundreds of dollars in change fees.  

So are you ready for it?  The ugly honest number of how much we spent on residency interviews?

$4,422.37 

Rawr.  Here's the breakdown:   
Transportation (gas, tolls, rental cars, plane tickets): $2,366.91  [54%]
Food: $262.18  [6%]
Lodging: $1,305.28  [30%]
Application fees: $488  [11%]

Average cost per interview: $276.40

I feel like the average cost per interview is decent, considering the hotel alone was normally in the $75-$100 range.  Had Liam and I not accompanied him on the interviews that we did, the total would have been a couple of hundred dollars less due to the cost of my airline tickets, and two extra nights in Denver.  Aside from that, and maybe a couple of meals, there was no added cost to us going.  There was no way I was passing up trips to Colorado and North Carolina ;) 

Have any of you kept track of residency interview costs? If so, do you want to share your ugly number?  Knowing that we were recording every dime probably helped us to curtail costs, but ignorance might have been bliss.  

Without further ado...

Medical Monday Link-Up and BlogHop



Are you confused if you qualify for the party?

If you have a pager interrupting your life... you DEFINITELY qualify!
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Intern? Resident? Fellow?



You get the picture, right? Come on, now... don't be shy! Let's keep growing and meeting new bloggers, so we can build a community of support and friendship, learn from one another, and share our stories.

LINK UP YOUR POST!

Here are the rules:
  1. Follow your co-hosts via Bloglovin, GFC (if you are Blogger), FB, email or Twitter.
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