Quick Summary of How the Match Went!

For those of you who don’t know, I am now heading into the final week of this month long orientation to the Family Medicine Residency of …my top choice program! Fort Belvoir!  I was talking to a med student the other day (oh haha, I remember what it was like to be a med student…), just one year behind me in the process, and realized that I was already forgetting many of the interview trail details and tips I would have offered up just 6 months ago!

So before it’s all gone, here’s a “brief” synopsis…

RANK LIST: I wanted to be in Family Medicine, no 2nd choice specialties.  I wanted a military residency but also wanted to be in the D.C. area (as my hubby was there) so my rank list on the military application, which I had drafted up sometime in August, but was officially due by Oct 1st, looked like this…

#1. Fort Belvoir

#2. Civilian Deferred

#3-11? or so… Other military bases

My civilian/

SCHEDULING “auditions”/”Acting Internships”/”Sub-I’s”: I wanted to do my audition rotations as soon as I could, but also planned to do them after taking step 2 of the board exams, which I took end of May with just one week of scheduled exclusive study time, and I got a 608 (COMLEX, Level 2), think it went pretty well.  I chose to do them back-to-back so it would interfere with my school’s curriculum as little as possible and less flying around in theory AND some less jumping around for daycare for Andy.  I rotated at Eglin Air Force base in July and Fort Belvoir in August.  After scheduling these (which I did so in December the year prior), I also stuck an extremely stressful but extremely useful audition with the Georgetown Family Medicine Residency program in my schedule immediately before the one in Eglin – so I did that one in June.  I had to schedule that one through VSAS (visiting student application system) I believe.  If it wasn’t VSAS, then I must have done it by simply communicating with the Program Coordinator.  You can search for that information sometimes by just googling it, of course, but also on https://services.aamc.org/eras/erasstats/par/, ERAS (https://apps.aamc.org/myeras-web/#/landing … but your school must give you your application token to utilize this site), NMS (https://www.natmatch.com/aoairp/instdirp/aboutproglist.html) and http://opportunities.osteopathic.org/search/search.cfm.

CIVILIAN ONLINE APPLICATION: I applied to 34 allopathic residencies via ERAS, and eventually I also submitted an application for the osteopathic residencies via NMS, even though I applied for only 2 programs.  Applying to so many programs cost me a lot of money, probably about $500 total.  But I had no idea how many interviews I would get, and I wanted to have at least 10, with 3 of them being my top choice programs.  I started with fewer and gradually added some programs to my list as I did further research, and many of the programs in which I submitted very late applications, like all of the University of Pennsylvania ones that I randomly decided I wanted to apply to, never got interviews at, and they had like 3 different sites to which I applied.  I perhaps wouldn’t have applied for so many if I had done further research, and you can use sites like Doximity or the program’s website if often a good resource, but then again some programs have very limited info online, and sometimes you really have to go there and meet the people to understand what it’s like.  I submitted my finalized applications for both systems rather late – but I think did receive offers for a lot of interviews – 16 total, including all but 1 of my top tier programs!  So there is a tip for you – make sure you are aware of the soonest date you can submit your application so you can be first in line to get interview spots.  Although I will note that it kind of worked out for me, because by submitting my application later, I got the later interview spots which I was able to later cancel because after December 7th, I had my military match results, and knew I got Fort Belvoir.  Within about 2 weeks after submitting, I wrote emails to the programs that were among the top half in my list in which I didn’t get interviews, and this worked about 50%.  Just a note saying hey, I’m applying and really interested in your program, a couple tidbits about why that program specifically.  I know that one of the programs (University of Maryland) has a very allopathic-only type attitude, at least their faculty/residency selection would attest to this, also they don’t allow osteopathic students to audition, so this was a big clue to me to not bother applying, but I had to give it a try.

Some random tips –

  1. Always write your thank you notes! I also wrote some personalized follow up notes after the military match day, just saying that I’m so sorry to be withdrawing my ERAS application, and how much I enjoyed the program-just of course to my favorite programs/programs I really got close with like Georgetown and Grant Medical Center.
  2. Always go to the dinner/meal with the residents that are often included with the interview.  Unless you really cannot make it, in which case write them a nice email explaining why you are declining.
  3. Communicate with your school/home program because they may be assuming you’re planning to interview/apply there – I had an awkward encounter because I communicated in a rather delayed manor, but in my defense it wasn’t intentional and I was taking my time in getting my application/list of programs finalized… anyway it was frowned upon.

Some things I didn’t know until going into the interview season –

  1. You can’t rank a program that you didn’t interview with
  2. You can add programs to your ERAS application after you’ve submitted your first finalized version

So anyway, hopefully this helps a few medical students out there! Please post questions, I’d be glad to help you out!

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Before my Wright State interview at Good Samaritan Hospital

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My Life Is Baby Land

Today I fly out to D.C. to interview for the second time at a civilian family medicine residency program. It has been such a horribly long time since writing – I am utterly ashamed! However, I will attempt to fill you in…

So Andy, my darling, lovely son is now almost 1-year-old. He has grown and grown each day, despite my best efforts to freeze his cuteness in time. I keep telling him each day, “this quite possibly is your cutest day ever, it’s all down-hill from here!” but he just laughs and with a smirk turns back to his block-banging, kitchen-drawer-picking, glad-ware-tossing, outlet-searching activity.

The boy is now a clapping, blabbering, crawling-almost-walking 11-month and one week old, he’s been missing his Daddy now for about 3.5 months, as he was deployed to Qatar, a land so seemingly far away that I almost feel as though he’s in a different universe all together. He is to return in about 3 months from now, and I cannot wait for that moment! I just wish I could have a date so I could book a flight to meet him when he gets back to this continent!

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Andy watching Daddy’s bed-time story-telling, missing him, but still get to see him!

The talk of the day is the new president, but I of course wish to avoid all discussions on the matter as I am, like so many, utterly dismayed at the bloodbath that we have witnessed thus far on the subject or anything related. I did vote, via absentee ballot, which I do prefer, as I can avoid the lines and inconveniences of voting in person. I supposed I would like to say that we were little activists this year, about a month ago when my dad asked that my mom and myself support the Miami Valley Women’s Center in some pro-life work: we held up some signs and stood in silence and prayerfulness along County Line Road on a Sunday afternoon – it happened to be gorgeous outside, so that was a pleasant surprise-blessing; in addition, I bumped into a high school acquaintance while participating – the perks of being back in my hometown!

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My talk of the day is Family Medicine Residency application! I can’t get over the intricacies of the process! It brings me flash-backs of my medical school application days – different, however, in that I feel (somewhat) more assured in this process. I feel slightly more confident than I felt when in the medical school application days, as I have the military match options open to me in addition to the civilian options, and my board scores are slightly above average. All of this helps, however, I, of course, have found reason to fret despite this. Though it should be enough to get into any residency program, the fact is, that I very much hope I get my top choice, because it would be the best option for our family situation. Everyone in my family and friends circle have been every bit as supportive as a fourth-year medical student and new-mom could ever ask. I can’t give thanks enough! But anyone who wishes to cast a prayer towards the heavens on my behalf is more than welcome 😉

Applying to a military residency is a special beast one has to take on. The good news (for anyone hoping to do so) is that if you schedule your auditions. manage to get to them, and finally manage to do relatively well at them, you’ve already won half the battle! This is because the residency military programs all talk to each other, and your good efforts in one group of people will be talked over to the others. Next, if your application is somewhat competitive (board scores, medical school performance) you’ve won another third of the battle… However, the major downside, the is the mysterious other part of the battle, which you can’t possibly participate in because it’s out of your hands. In the military match, we are told there is a “points” system through which you are ranked and to which your preferences are assigned accordingly, and which is variable from year to year. It is said to take into account your school performance (Dean’s letter, Med School Transcripts, Letters of Recommendation, volunteer hours/leadership roles and other such activities completed during medical school), board scores, interview performance evaluations, any research work, and finally, your prior military service. But there may be other variables and unknown weight is assigned to each item. For most HPSP’ers (medical school scholars, or Health Professional Scholarship Program’ers), you will get no points in that last category, whereas other, more experienced military residency applicants may get a significant number of points, putting them miles ahead of you, meaning if that type of applicant wishes to have the same thing you want, you will not get it, unless of course there are enough spots for both of you to get it. Does that make sense?

Anyway, that’s the military match beast, to which I have applied months ago, and in regards to which I have done just about everything in my power to do. I now await the fruits of these efforts to come to fruition on December 7, a significant day indeed. This is the military match day, and on this day I will know if I have gotten my first choice military location or my second choice, which is the broad category of the civilian residency. I wait on baited breath, though I am attempting to take deep breaths. Pearl Harbor day. This is also the day after Andy’s 1st birthday. This is also a Wednesday…which is a less important fact to note. December 7th. Ugh.

In the mean time I am momm’ing, applying and interviewing for civilian residencies, and yes I’m still doing “school” – which currently involves doing my clerkships at various clinics and hospitals within the Dayton area. My most recent mom-event was yesterday, while taking Andy to daycare (which I usually don’t do, because my parents have so graciously taken that responsibility from me), I was loading him up into the car, had him clicked in, was just about to lock him up and proceed with entering the car myself, when I glanced at his cute little face and noticed the rather ominous symmetrical red rash encircling his mouth. It looked to be certainly allergenic – “oh my goodness,” I panicked, “what if he’s going into anaphylactic shock?” But here he was smiling up and down and giving me this look like “whyyyyyyy are you looking at me like that?” In my head I’m like… It’s nothing… it’s SOMETHING!… it’s nothing … IT’S SOMETHING! … I quickly consulted my mom who was also mid-her morning departure to work… and the panic escalated. After the two of us inspected him for a minute or two, the rash not changing and Andy’s bewilderment at our close study of his face increasing, we decided it was most likely going to be ok, and took him to daycare, explaining to his providers that I wanted to know right away if his condition worsened in the slightest, which it didn’t.

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red rash around mouth = panic… but everything turned out ok!

But oh that did give me a fright for a moment there. I did some show-and-tell with some people at the Dermatology clinic at which I was rotating when I arrived that morning; I waved around the photo and explained that the rash cropped up immediately after feeding him oats, with a little bit of pear sauce and a douse of cinnamon. That was when one of the medical assistants chimed in, “oh my daughter used to do the same thing whenever I gave her cinnamon.” Maybe it was that… I did accidentally pour more into his oats than I had intended and hadn’t mixed it in very well and it sat on his skin (as his food often does) during most of his breakfast time (about ten minutes I would guess). The dermatologist took a glance, “you can put a little hydrocortisone cream on that.” What I love about working in medicine!

The rash was completely gone when I went to pick him up.

I am currently working on weaning Andy – it has had its ups and downs so far, he still nurses at night and in the morning, occasionally if he wakes in the middle of the night he nurses for c a minute as well. And I’ve managed to go from pumping twice a day, about 4-6 ounces each time to once per day, about 3-4 ounces. So my body has done a good job adjusting. Now I have to adjust my appetite and self-control with foods! I am currently riding 1st class, thanks to my sweet generous hubby who so sneakily purchased these high-end seats for me when I requested him to reserve my flight for me! As such, the stewardess has just offered me a basket of sweets and of course I grabbed the first chocolate thing I saw – a cookie with chocolate and caramel layers inside – nom nom nom! … MUST RESIST EATING THE SECOND HALF!!!!!

Another change my post-partum physiology has brought about, oh so unfortunately, is migraine reinstatement. I was down to 1-2 mild migraines per month while I was pregnant and even for a few months after Andy was born. But in the last 4 months, my migraines have regained their previous status-quo and I am back up to 4-6 per month, with 1-2 of them being quite debilitating. With the weaning of Andy, I may start to consider prophylactic medications for these horrid things… I just hate the idea of being on a medication every day… and the side effects to most of the choices (tricyclic antidepressants, anti-seizure meds, Beta blockers, muscle relaxants) are not so great (constipation, fatigue, concentration issues… yeah not cool). Oh boy. Guess I just need to get pregnant again haha… ha ha… ha.

Not to lament excessively about life and it’s recent downs, I do know that I have lots to be thankful for and I consider my life and its activities of late to have been pretty adventurous and exciting! But let me describe to you both the good and the ugly. June and July were an incredibly stressful couple of months, whereupon I finished 3rd year clerkships going out with a bang on ObGyn, during which time, James left me as he “PCS’d” (changed work locations in the Air Force) to the D.C. area; in addition to the emotional toll of moving out of our quaint little home apartment and away from my hubby, during this ObGyn rotation, I had to work very long hours and felt extremely misplaced and uncomfortable for much of the time. Next, I joined my hubby in the DC area, to study for and complete my board examinations. After this, I elected to do an “AI” or “Acting Intern” rotation at Georgetown University/Providence Hospital, which was almost totally draining after various respiratory, stomach, and breast infections, long hours, and a crazy long daily commute in and out of D.C. traffic. To top it off, James was deployed to the lands far away during the second to last week of this already stressful rotation, having received a very last-minute notification. This caused not only emotional anxiety of his sudden departure, but also induced some crazy scrambling of phone calls and meetings to arrange rather desperately to revamp the child-care and travel plans for the ensuing months.

I recall the palpitations as I packed up my bags as I wrapped up this rotation, fretting there was something I’d forget. I was preparing for the next step in Andy and my journey: an audition rotation at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

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To the beautiful beaches of Florida! Getting there was fretful. I had a small break-down when I got to check-in and was told that I would have to check my stroller because it was 1.5 lb over the weight limit for carry-on, thus I would have to cart my 23lb baby throughout the airport, into and out of bathrooms, while also juggling my already bursting-full and heavy backpack and duffle bag. The world seemed so cruel at that moment! Things cleared up though, and setting him precariously down on the family-size bathroom floor (though he didn’t like it one bit) and hoisting him through the Starbucks line wasn’t so bad after all (I know, first world problems, right?). Also, my mom so astutely reminded me that I have access to the all wonderful USO, and I took advantage of this during my layover! A young girl in the marines sat with me there and told me about how she ended up with appendicitis during training and was out of commission for quite some time due to the complications following…crazy! Andy just concerned himself with the abundant toys during this time, and before we knew it, it was time to board our flight to Fort Walton Beach, FL!

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shopping at the USO

When we finally arrived, several more things when wrong before the end of the day; I about lost it when I was pulled over for going 15 over on the base, but then I was so very graciously forgiven, maybe it was because I eeked out that I was brand new to the base, but probably more likely it was because of the fact that I had a baby screaming bloody murder in the back. And again, I thought I was at the end of my rope when I got to my hotel at 8pm Florida-time/9pm Andy-time and there was no crib and no one to deliver one to the hotel from the office (a ten minute drive away). So then, I summoned help from a friend from Ohio University, who was also on the base since she too was doing an audition rotation, to ask her to pick up a crib from the office for me. She so kindly did so, only to find the crib was broken. So that night Andy slept on the floor and woke up over and over, once, only to be found screaming after having rolled himself under one of the living room chairs. Poor little guy.

However, the next day, after dropping him off with this amazingly nice provider, who also happened to be a wife of one of the Family Medicine Residents, I was greeted by these warm, friendly people; and within a day, I got an offer from one of the residents to come stay with them instead of at the hotel. I couldn’t believe my good fortune! So for the rest of my stay I was at this completely awesome apartment, with a breath-taking view of the gorgeous Choctawhatchee Bay,

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hosted by two of the third-year family medicine residents (married, and apparently 17 or so weeks pregnant at the time!) who happened to love to cook (yay!) and also happened to have two rooms complete with diaper genie (a disposal apparatus, if you haven’t heard of this, it will change your mommy life…) diaper-geniand a crib to spare; they also had an adorable son Wesley who was not yet 2 years old. Andy and myself (and my parents, while they came in town to help me watch Andy during the week in which I had to work on the in-patient service) were well cared for by these people, and had such great company!

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Family came to visit… and also help with baby-care!

And I got to stay the night with my best friend Sarah – twice! As she lives just over 2 hours away from the base!

The residents and faculty were so extremely kind and friendly, they functioned so well together, and they held beach volleyball gatherings and went to trivia weekly…it was a dream place to work, I wanted so badly to rank Eglin Air Force Base as my # 1 preferred program, but alas in the end, I concluded after much deliberation that the location was a poor family-life choice; it is not worth the risk of James being stuck in the DC area with Andy and me worlds away for a second year in a row. Oy the despair! But it was glorious while it lasted!

Next, we had some more plane-hopping to do… to get to my audition at Fort Belvoir, which is in the Alexandria/D.C. area. Beautiful campus. On this rotation, I found the residents to also be very warm and friendly. It is a tri-service (meaning navy-army-air force) residency, so it opened my eyes to some differences and interesting things about the other branches. I received many visitors while staying here as well, with many retreats back to the Maryland bungalow (James’ now vacant apartment, as he has left for deployment) on the weekends! It was nice to have the visitors once again, and felt warmly welcomed at this base as well, however, there was also an underlying note of extra stress, as I had to simultaneously attempt to work on my civilian residency application/personal statement/letters of recommendation.

For these reasons, I was exceedingly pleased to head home to Dayton at the end of this rotation, thus marking the end of audition-traveling as a single mom. So much can be said for those who manage to care for their children without the help of a spouse or other family. I don’t know if I couldn’t have retained my sanity without the help that I did get on the weekends and during my in-patent weeks during auditions. (THANKS MOM & DAD!!!)

I am also so very thankful to be done with boards, this too was a very stressful event, and I am so glad to have gotten through it. It is amazing how I always look ahead at these events and trials through a very skeptical lens, and yet, somehow, with so much help and support of course, I still manage to get through it all. As I remind myself so often – I know that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. I just need to be reminded of this over and over.

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And with that I will close this insanely long post even though I feel as though I have so much more to share! Best wishes to everyone in the coming Thanksgiving Holiday, my prayers are with you all!

Everything’s Just Dandy with our lil Andy!

Well, I just went running, and as I’ve shared before, running always inspires me! Course it’s only the rare occasion that that inspiration lasts long enough for me to unlace my jogging shoes and open up my computer to start typing a blog post, but this seems to be one such occasion! It was my first run since birthing my big ol’ almost 9 pound baby, and it was WONDERFUL! Sunny Sunday it seemed to be, one of those glorious sunny days of winter in which the wind chill was almost nothing and the temp is just cold enough to keep the pretty, still slightly white snow on the ground. I could easily endure a winter made of these days…

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So per usual, much has happened since my last post but this time is special because I HAD A BABY! It was the craziest most wonderful miracle of my life, and I’ve never been so happy as I was the moment the doc pulled Andy out and laid him in my arms with my hubby standing there at my side gleaming with pride. He was so perfect, that little cone headed angel… the joy was just indescribable, and we are so very blessed to have our healthy baby boy.

The labor started out on a Sunday morning, three days after my due date… I was suddenly wakened by that tell-tale sensation – like I had just wet my panties – because my water had broke! I waddled over to the toilet to confirm that indeed there was fluid gushing out of me – along with it a little pokey brown Andy hair! Of course I awoke James right away – he jumped up and started gathering things in an awful rush while I took my time, hopped in the shower, made sure I had a nice glass of chocolate milk and a piece of peanut butter-jelly-and cinnamon-toast in my stomach before leaving the comfort of our house and kitchen to be trapped in a hospital where they were sure to put me on that wretched clear liquid diet. We were so giddy with excitement as we cruised on over to the hospital that frosty December morning and as James ushered me down the hospital halls in the lovely wheel chair we had obtained from the ER.

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Fun wheeling down to labor and delivery!

As the ObGyn consulted us in the labor and delivery room with her clip board and long list of potential scenarios of things that could go wrong – fetal distress, forceps, suction, internal monitoring, C-SECTIONS! – that we had to sign off on, I felt such a surge of both terror and joy, this is really happening! This is really happening?? Wait, do I really have to deliver this baby? No going back now, he really has to come out and oh its such a small opening he has to fit through… Ahhhh I better not have to have a c-section, nooooo not a c-section! Oh what can go wrong, please nothing go wrong! Will I survive the pain? Can I really endure this? I had “grossly” ruptured membranes, as the OB put it (thank you), with only a centimeter dilation and feeling no contractions. “18 hours” she warned, “he’s really gotta be out by then.”

It wasn’t long before they started pumping me with pitocin, which I had really hoped to avoid, but like THAT was going to happen. I was hesitant – super gradual I told them – let’s just go up by increments of one. Well they started me on 2, I was feeling ok still, contractions were there, but I could talk through them without too much difficulty, and sure enough we started the climb by increments of 2, maybe 3, I don’t know, suddenly it hit me like a brick wall, the pain was utterly horrific, like nothing I’ve felt before, like cramps on your worst day of menstruation times a million-gazillion!

My wonderful husband, throughout this ordeal, had homework that was due that night. So while I was still in la-la land, waiting for real labor pain to start, he was off at the local Starbucks finishing an online quiz, then he came back to our hospital room, watched a couple football games (Brown’s vs Bengals + Seahawks vs Vikings, yes we had both on at once), and finally, around the time that the soccer championship game – Portland vs Columbus – kicked off (4pm), I started to feel it. As the pain overtook me, the nurse, my mother, and James accompanied me on the tortuous 7 hour journey. After every contraction, I kept thinking I was at the limit of my tolerance and would give in and order the epidural, but I didn’t. I made it to about 11pm that night, when the doctor finally told me I could start pushing, she coached me through it and James, Mom, and the nurse cheered me on.  I pushed my heart out and I almost burned out when suddenly the doctor shouted, “he’s almost out, you’re going to have to push him out or I’ll have to use forceps,” and that was when I gave it my very last ounce and our little Andy was born – 11:43pm.

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Our little miracle. So much joy!

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Since then our life changed tremendously. I haven’t gotten more than 4 hours of sleep at a time, so much diaper changing and my nipples hurt soooo bad! But one smile from him and it’s all worth it. Sometimes he cries with so much fervor, I think my heart is going to break, but it doesn’t last longer than a few minutes, and he’ll at least take it down to a manageable level. And sometimes I am so tired I can barely get myself out of the bed to change and feed him, but by the time I get him back to sleep in my arms I am cherishing every minute of my mid-night interruption. One of my favorite things is a lazy morning when I can lay Andy down between James and I after a good feeding and we can both just gaze into Andy’s eyes, hold his little hand or cup his little toes and fish for a twinkling Andy Smile or two – or twenty.

He hasn’t full out laughed from the belly up yet but sometimes he gives us a “huh” or “eh” and it almost sounds like a giggle, or he starts to breath in and out really fast with a wide open grin like he is just busting up! And oh I could just spend hours watching the many faces of Andy, I could publish a youtube channel!

Maternity leave was so grand – nearly every moment of every day, it was just me and Andy… and lots of family! James had a bit of time off with me, so I could share lots of happy moments, and also endure the exhausting ones. Christmas came and with it – James’ family from the West coast. Soon it was Andy’s baptism day… and soon it was time for holidays to end… I spent my last few days of maternity leave with Andy and Downton Abby – got slightly addicted… 3 seasons in one week! And finally, it was time for me to return to my clinical training at the hospital. I dreaded it so much I nearly didn’t make it in! It was to be a polar vortex the day that I started, how appropriate…

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But by the grace of God I made it and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had chalked it up to be, on the contrary, it was nice to see familiar faces and give them all the updates, show off some pictures and babble a little about my baby back at home. All were so sympathetic to my plight of having to return to work and ooed and awwed over my baby pics.  My preceptor was all too understanding of my having to take time to pump, and he readily let me off early to get home to baby Andy. I’ve been so spoiled! Still dreading my coming surgery rotation – not sure how I am going to endure 4 entire weeks of it, but how many times must I learn, I have no right to worry so much!

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So that is my update… life – it is crazy and beautiful, can’t wait to see what’s next!

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Been a While!

Well it’s been a terribly long long long time since my last post! Now that I’ve flown half way across the country to the wonderfully tropical land of Florida and it’s only about 2 a.m. according to my circadian clock (only 1 a.m. according to this Florida clock, here), I’ve finally decided to write! So very much has happened since my last post! First of all, I am here in the tropical land of Florida in celebration of my dear friend, Sarah and her wonderful Stephen’s wedding! It’s going to be a glorious gathering, tonight was the splendiferous night of the reuniting of the trio – Amanda, Sarah, and I, along with some other very dear friends, which has been long awaited, this time since last January.

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blurred pic of the reuniting last night at the air port (from left – Wendy, Amanda, me!)

The three of us have been the best of friends since high school, then went our separate ways when we had to graduate and go to college, but have always made it back together for reunions as often as possible, even when that means going to West Africa to see Amanda when it had been over a year of separation! Anyway, this was cause for much excitement and thus I am unable to sleep! Sarah and Amanda reunited a couple nights ago when Amanda arrived via car, and they are both pooped and feel compelled to rest it up for the night (ridiculous)… I guess we must be getting old!

from our visit to South Africa, our welcoming from the village

from our visit to South Africa, our welcoming from the village

The next thing that has happened is I finished second year (YAY!) of medical school and passed step 1 (USMLE) & level 1 (COMLEX) boards (YAYAYAY!!!) with semi-decent average & above average scores (respectively)! This was a HUGE relief to me this summer! Much stress had been built up over these exams and even more so over the process of non-stop studying for them over the course of 3 ½ weeks all by myself cooped up in my apartment, just wishing to escape with what little sanity I had left! I am so thankful to James, my rock who kept that little ray of optimism and calm-mindedness in my life, who knows what mess I’d be in if not for him!

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Soon following (just two nights after finishing my second and final exam for the year), a tiny little 6lb 13oz miracle came into my life – the cutest most happy and adorable little baby boy was born – my nephew, Daniel Jakob! I got to be there when he shot out into the world swift as a canon, and I was there when the docs plopped him up onto mamma’s chest and Joseph, the daddy, pronounce him to be in fact a boy (they had decided to wait to find out what they were having)!!! It was so precious and wonderful! It was my second time witnessing a baby’s birth and just like the first time, I couldn’t help the tears that welled up in my eyes and the ball that caught in my throat, it was just too awesome to even explain, watching this baby (my own sister’s baby!) enter the world for the very first time and breathe his very first breath of air! It was overwhelming and beautiful…

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Which brings me to my final new happening – James and I are having a baby! In just 6 weeks I am due to deliver! It’s going to be a boy too, and I just can’t wait!!!! We found out at some point near the end of March, and held in the secrete for as long as we could – I think it was about 7 weeks when we finally let it out to our parents. Mom and Dad had just gotten back from a grand European tour and we proposed a small sketti dinner in honor of their arrival. Of course, having just gotten back from Europe, Dad popped open a bottle of wine and poured glasses for everyone. We prayed over the meal and then we raised our glasses for a toast, after which I chimed, “So, I can’t drink any of this wine….” And the look on mom’s face was priceless! Her and dad jumped up and hugged us, informing us that we were crazy and that they were so happy! We had a similar reaction from Anne and Joseph, and we told James’ family, as well as Mary and John over facetime, they were all so happy for us! I had a long walk, talk, and snack date with Sarah when I revealed my news to her – she was in such shock, I thought she might need to sit down! We had been looking at bridesmaids dresses when I informed her that I was going to need a dress with lots of room and being the quick creative thinker she is, she remarked, “why, are you going to be pregnant?” to which I replied, “Yes, I’m going to be about 7 ½ months along.” I think it was a little bit of a reality check for her and I both – we are getting older and like many high school besties, have always hung on to the belief that we will never grow up. Though we are both 26 now (25 at that moment in time), and it’s true, the biological clock is part of wanting to have kids, my philosophy is that we are allowed to grow old, but never to grow up! Having a baby is yet another adventure and I welcome it with the full expectation that though it will bring more responsibility and work in my life, it will also, as all good adventures should, bring so much fun and joy! Even just being pregnant has been a wonderful adventure, the first trimester was a grievous trial, I admit to that: I was both trying to study for boards and survive the endless gut wrenching nausea… but so far second and third have been awesome – I get to feel baby moving all the time, and carry him with me everywhere I go, it’s been such a blessing, and the time has flown by so remarkably fast!

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Moving right along, life also brought to us another one of God’s great miracles – a wedding and a new niece! We traveled to Washington this summer to partake in the festivities of James’ baby sister, Michelle, and Jerry’s wedding, where we not only danced the night away but played the part of MC/DJ which I have to say we pulled off rather well!

the marvelous DJs!

the marvelous DJs!

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While in Washington we also met our new niece, Bridget, who was born just 2 ½ weeks after little Daniel, and is also a most adorable little darling, looks so much like her mom, Melissa!

My sister-in-law nieces!!!

My sister-in-law and nieces!!!

We had a wonderful vacation out West: got to explore wild Alaska for almost a week,

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Exit Glacier in Seward, AK

visit my middle school buddy (who is also prego, and just 2 ½ weeks ahead of me!),

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catch up with James’ family, celebrate with wedding (and manya birthday) festivities, and do some Northwest traveling with my parents and little sister who came up for a week, what a blessed time that was!

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Following the vacation, I began my third year of medical school! This is the year I spend doing clinical rotations at my core site (which is miraculously Dayton, so I can actually now live with my husband and in the same town as my parents/older sister!).

new apartment! (notice the stairs, my favorite feature!

new apartment! (notice the stairs, my favorite feature!)

During this year I must get all of my foundational rotations done (family med, internal med, psych, obgyn, surgery, pediatrics…) and at the end of this year (like the end of last year) I get to do another round of board exams (NOOOO!!!!). But step 2/level 2 I hear is a lot easier… here’s hoping! At the end of each rotation (which is 1-4 weeks long, usually 4 weeks long), I have an extensive 2-hour test. It’s been so crazy different, and what makes it especially unusual, but so far I’ve kinda liked, is how much my schedule can change from month to month. My first month was internal medicine, and my oh my the days were long, but not outrageous… usually 10 hour days, some less some more, a couple 12s… but wonderfully never beginning before 7am. Next was family medicine during which I had many days off (holidays or just due to lack of patients at the office), and the doctor’s policy was always for me to take a seat in his office (as opposed to standing for endless hours as we go from patient to patient – this saved my back immensely!). I got to see tons of children during this rotation, and had the sweetest preceptor, Dr. Swope (below).

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Next, I was on anesthesiology for 1 week, a super brief rotation with a ton of standing and some earlier mornings…it was here that I was able to first intubate living people, which was exciting for me, and I got a small taste of what surgery will be like. Finally, for the past 3 weeks, (up until today…) I have been on cardiology. Both anesthesiology and cardiology are elective rotations, thus I did not have any exams at the end of these specialties, which has been very nice. Next month, I am supposed to be at the VA for Psychiatrics … I am very curious to see how this one will go…

 

Well it is now 3 a.m. my time… which means it is definitely time for bed! I’m not the only one awake though baby is doing some kind of flutter-type karate kick inside of me! I call him my little ninja – must be a nocturnal little guy!

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Mayhaps the next time that I post, I shall have some more photos of our little baby –out and about in the world!

I Think I’m Coming Down with Something…

Lately I’ve had a very serious problem. Whenever I study a disease, I seem to have it. First it was diabetes because I felt like I had to pee every 30 minutes AND I swear I was having hypo/hyperglycemic episodes, next I had small intestine bacteria overgrowth because … well just trust me – I was definitely symptomatic! Next, I most definitely had and e. coli infection, the reason for which, I also wont go into, followed by iron-deficient anemia because I had extreme fatigue and wasn’t eating enough meat, and finally for a very short time I thought I might have mumps, because after hearing about the outbreak in Columbus (which I had just visited for the hubby b-day celebration!), I did my own research on the infectious disease, and guess what? My salivary glands started hurting (tell-tail sign for mumps!)!

Is there a diagnosis for one who over-diagnoses themself, I wonder?

School has been ok. I say ok and not great because last week was my full physical exam practical, from which I feel I am still recovering. A full physical means doing a complete physical examination on a standardized (paid, acting) patient (where you have to ask a million questions, test all the nerves, muscles, and you must do a pelvic/rectal exam – depending on the patient you get – its a surprise!). This should have been a simple enough task – we were given strait forward instructions and I practiced enough times to make it just about muscle memory but oh the anxiety was sky high! This is a very time-sensitive exam, and under the pressure to do everything from memory as well as in a short time span was largely contributing to that stress. I am so thankful right now that clinical skill exams are over with for some time now (hopefully that doesn’t mean forgetting everything I just crammed into my brain). The experience was very epinephrine and cortisol inducing!

I also have been struggling with migraines a lot this month. I had a really nasty one – exactly one week ago. It was full force and long lasting. I even took my max dosage of Relpax and it wouldn’t budge. After bearing through class, I went home, attempted a light cardio work out, took a hot shower, drank lots of water, and prayed!

Relpax x2 = maxed out!

Relpax x 2 = maxed out!

Thankfully, a couple hours after doing all that and after receiving lots of text/prayer support from James (beloved, far-away hubby) and my family, the migraine melted away – nausea and photophobia with it! Finally, I left my desk, where I had been sulking in my chair, cradling my head, moping to James on the phone, and from there I proceeded to go to the kitchen to put my new appetite to use… PRAISE the LORD!2014-04-15 18.20.12 2014-04-16 20.36.44

I made a decision recently to actually take part in a full time extracurricular activity here at my medical school. (BIG STEP FOR ME!).  Since starting medical school a couple things happened:

1. entered full-time (as in … about 85% of waking time) study mode

2. got married! X)

This changed quite a few things for me, especially because my darling husband resides (on at least 5 days/week) 2 hours away from me. Essentially I entered a commitment-o-phobic mode. I’ve since formed a habit of not attending club meetings and participation in volunteer activities has been very sparse compared to those of my undergraduate days. I have just been too busy! I hesitated to join this extracurricular because I relish my time! Its so valuable these days! I couldn’t help but feel like that much time (~4-5 hours/week) was too much to give up-especially knowing how much I like to take off to go to Dayton or just thinking about the added stresses I shall have next year with boards hanging over my head. But the extracurricular activity is an OMM (osteopathic manipulative medicine) honors elective. As a military student, I know I wont have the option to get extra practice in OMM through a fellowship, and I know I want to use this skill as a physician. The deadline passed for the application, and as soon as it did, I felt a sinking feeling of regret. I decided to sit down and email my mom a list of all the pros and cons of attempting to apply belatedly for the elective . After typing it all out, I was even more sure I wanted to do it deep down, but still needed that extra push – to which Mom gladly obliged – in her prompt email reply telling me go for it. I promptly wrote and email and personal statement to the professor and he has vocalized that I will be able to do it next year-yay!

On the way to Good Friday's service.

On the way to Good Friday’s service.

Everything is looking up: less than 6 weeks of school remain, and it’ll be summer before we know it! My toe is recovering nicely from my lil ingrown removal “surgery” (this is why you should never cut your toe nails on the sides at all!). Weather is sunny and warm!! Easter was wonderful – good times at the church, with the family, and some time for relaxing! I got my book and flashcard shopping for the summer all taken care of and have plans to take care of the military gear shopping in these next few weekends. Thanks for the comments, I miss everyone and wish for as many updates from y’all as possible!

It’s Finally Happening…

It’s one of those wake-up-at 5am-Mondays to get my hubby out the door, on the road, to get to work, and now I can’t go back to sleep days. PERFECT! I says to myself… I’ll blog! see this blog has been on my to-do list for a litttttle bit of a long while now…

So I get up, I’m starving (per usual) therefore make myself breakfast, crack open that bible to get myself one meager chapter further in my endlessly long journey towards reading the bible all the way through, get lost in one of those stories about some king of Israel who did terrible evil things in the eyes of the Lord, but still the Lord helped him and His people when he begged for it, then he went right back to doing evil… #thehumancondition. Next, I finish up my good-ol’ breakfast with Jesus time, sip on some coffee that I made much too weak (Sarah – I always think of you when I do this – you’re right – there is nothing you can do about crappy-weak coffee D:). I pop up the ol’ lappy toppy, get distracted on facebook with watching a freshly posted video of a girl I went to collage with, back in my BG days (totally awesome: she graduated, and is now a hula-hoopist in Hawaii! Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZCmw6aD4gs&list=UUQGVGq3Df7S5nGn-kyZiGGg). Next, I scroll down to a story about this homeless guy who was randomly extended an offer to receive code-writing lessons from young, ambitious, kind kid who wanted to see how this homeless man took on the challenge to learn this incredibly valuable skill (5 1/2 minute long clip, you gotta watch: http://www.upworthy.com/one-time-a-guy-gave-a-homeless-man-a-computer-and-the-recipient-did-exactly-what-the-giver-expected?g=3). I seriously like the homeless man’s answer to how he keeps up such a positive attitude: “Faith and prayer,” he answered without hesitation, “It works, try it!” The guy’s name is Leo Grand, and the kid who invested time and effort in teaching him is Patrick McConlogue. Such an inspirational story!!!

THEN, I finally open up my blog page and start typing… after almost two months of nothing… Yay!! It’s finally happening!!

Last weekend was hubby & lil sis birthday time! We threw a fun, day-long party at the rents house with lots of food and drinks, with some ice cream cake and chocolate (naturally). All my sibs were there: older sis, lil bro, and of course the birthday girl, along with the bro-in-law, rents, and my grandparents! James and I, after a lackadaisical,  PJ-full morning, had scrambled to get ourselves out the door and to the party, but we got there, almost on time!

For the main meal (lunch + dinner: l-inner), we had some juicy pork with delightful green beans and way-too-tasty roasted redskin potatoes (I was like I’m only going to have 3, mmmok 4, maybe 5… 6, What the heck! 7,8,9…). I sat down at the end of the table, next to Mammaw, where I found myself with one of those rare opportunities to speak with her for more than just, “How is school going?” small talk. It was nice 🙂 The convo started relatively slow; she asked me about classes and the newly married life. However when I asked about her an Pappaw’s health, I guess you could say the conversation took off. Next thing I knew, it was happening. My grandmother was asking me those questions all medical students start to get from family and friends right around now: those questions that we don’t really know the answer too, but we think we know the answer to, but should really get the answer from a real doctor… Over the past few weeks, I’d been encountering similar situations,…from my older sis… my mom… I couldn’t help but think to myself, “It’s happening…” just like they said it would, it’s finally happening. And it’s kind of exciting 🙂

After the meal that left us all half-comatose (oh the postprandial somnolence!). We did presents and games. The lil sis opened her array of random gifts:

  • Trader Joe’s wares from a shopping trip with the older sis (I especially liked the guilt-free popcorn!)
  • A new book to add to her library
  • Some other things I can’t remember because it ‘
    • a) wasn’t from me
    • b) wasn’t food
  • James and I got her a fun infinity scarf and the requested iphone-exercise-arm-holder-thing (technical term) – bright pink – ho-yah!

James opened his big present: a large grey plastic thingy. tee hee hee. I informed him that this was part 1, from which he had to guess part 2 (which was really huge and I kinda didn’t want to wrap). He was a little slow in interpreting, just couldn’t understand what this big plastic thing was. So we passed the clue over to Mammaw to see if she could help him out, and sure enough she dropped a huge hint, “Is it something for a bike?” Thus after lots of laughing and teasing, he finally got it: part 2 was the bike trainer he had requested. Now, I explained to everyone…after some teasing…that I may have tried to convince him he wasn’t getting the bike trainer for his birthday (what?! I HAD to – he randomly guessed it earlier that day). This may have had something to do with him not guessing the gift. Nonetheless, we gave him a hard time for it!

It was a fabulous evening! James and I decided to slip out the door for a slog (slow-jog) when everyone decided Sequence was too slow paced and the more thrilling game of Nertz was to be next. This was our out on getting sweat up. You see, my family has a special disposition towards competitiveness which especially pervades the realm of card-games.

This was their stance when we left for our run:

 

Playing Nertz: start of game (some, but not all, people are already on their feet)

Playing Nertz: start of game (some, but not all, people are already on their feet)

And after (notice the increase in number of “table hover-ers”)

Climatic end of Nertz (all, but one composed brother-in-law, on feet)

Climatic end of Nertz (all, but one composed brother-in-law, on feet)

Ahhh good times. The run was nice, but slightly chilly. That was a week ago. This past weekend, on the other hand, the chilliness had all but disappeared! After what seemed like an endlessly brutal winter – much more endless and brutal than usual, it was finally a gorgeous perfect spring weekend! The weather is changing – it’s finally happening!

Tons of other things are finally happening… not only does birthday weekend mean fun and good times, but it also signifies my baby sister growing up…!?! What?? My baby sister is a tall, beautiful, grown woman! She’s outta high school-out of the house (mostly)-she’s joining a sorority-she can drink in Canada-she’s going to college-has an awesome co-op job, a whole world of new friends… And that’s not even the half of it. I remember holding her in my arms, a teeny little babe – staring in awe at her teeny little fingers – each with their own mini fingernails – there’s no way I could have imagined all that has come to pass since then-and I still can’t believe it’s finally happening!

What else? Then there is my bro – that crazy son-of-a-gun finishes that last undergrad term of his with awesome grades, a certified, bonafide company of his own, and a ticket to fly standby to Berlin for a conference for invertor people (another technical term)/innovative technologies. Thus marks the end of a nearly 5 year endeavor – I know my mom can’t believe it’s finally happening. 😉

School is backing off. Anatomy and Histology, two giants of the medical school curriculum, have fallen off my plate. I have subsequently loaded my plate back up with: worry over board exams (which start a year from now), crazy, and, yes I know this sounds crazier, but I’ve started thinking about clinical rotations/residencies. 2nd years are all about to be taking their first boards, the 4th years are all about to be graduating/heading off to residency – so I just can’t help but reflect on those things a bit. Not only that, but the hubby may be re-stationed anytime between the end of my-2nd year sometime in 3rd year (but hopefully not till 4th!). I know its stupid to worry about the future, but there comes a point for every med student when they start to think about this stuff – and for me, it’s happening…ant this one might be a bit early.

But don’t let me fool you into thinking I am stressed right now… oh no, my class-load reduction has done wonders for me, as has the change in weather. I’ve taken several random mid-week trips to Dayton to see the hubby and last week we had a birthday-date-night at the wonderful old restaurant in German Village, southern Columbus. The weather is awesome, classes are much more manageable, and summer break is on its way! I feel like it’s finally happening – a brief break, a pause in the storm, and I’m loving it.

 

Roof-top studying in some sunshine!

Roof-top studying in some sunshine!

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Romantic B-day dinner at Schmidt’s!

Every Day is a Gift

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The beautiful Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Old San Juan

Just got back from my honeymoon about two weeks ago. It was a magical trip!!!!! Exotical adventures – tropical weathers – romantical moments – t’were each abounding and a-plenty on this trip!

I had been looking forward to the trip for a very long time-we tied the knot in the summer and waited what seemed like forever for our honeymoon to take place over Christmas break. Leading up, of course, to the break was a long string of final exams for our big first-semester-of-school wrap up.

I didn’t think I was going to make it to our honeymoon, I was so stressed! My TCM (Tissues, Cells, & Molecules, aka Histology with all kinds of associated pathologies) exam was sub par, and I knew it the from the moment I turned it in. So right from the start I felt my confidence cracking. But the next day we had the OMM (osteopathic manipulative medicine) exams (practical and written) and felt once again like I was a capable being. The next two finals – Case Discussion and Anatomy of the Pelvis, went about how I had hoped, and in the end, I looked back and felt very blessed to have done as well as I did in my first semester of medical school!

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Buckwheat blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes – the best! This plus daily exercise equals maybe getting through the anxiety of finals!

The honeymoon, as I eluded to previously was one of my favorite trips by far! We traveled all over and made many adventures and memories together. We hit up Rincon, an amazing surf spot on the west coast of the “Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.” Here, James and I had our very first-ever surfing adventures with the awesome instructors of Rincon Surf School (http://www.rinconsurfschool.com/). The weather was great-water warm-waves PERFECT! and we stood up!!! Both of us!!!!! first time ever!!!!!!!!! We are definitely going to do this surfing stuff again! We would have gone back for more if not for the fact that the 2 hours belly-boarding left my hips, ribs, and sternum bright read an bruised. It was so bad the next day, I couldn’t even lay down in bed on my stomach!

Besides this, the rest of our days were all planned out in detail by my most wonderful hubby, but alas they were many of them not to be, for I was struck with a vomit-inducing 2 day migraine. And by struck I mean totally out of commission: lights out, TV off, and a lot of sleeping. But it was our honeymoon and we made the best of it! Had lots of quality cuddle time, I did manage to watch 1 movie (almost 2!), and I was waited on hand and foot by my hero! While in bed, I watched as James spent his time calling for rental cars (which never came, apparently people rent cars in Puerto Rico and then just don’t return them over the Holidays and so the rental companies just run out even when you already had a reservation made???), making up ice bags for my head, and running around asking the el restaurante of our hotel holiday inn to make me up some toast. I was finally better when it was time to leave the west side of the island. Much revealed to finally be free from the binds of searing, unending pain, James and I jumped into the cool little swimming pool surrounded by the palm trees of our hotel, twice, before it was time to jump into the cab taking us to our next destination: San Juan!

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I’ve never seen a cock fight – but I almost saw one on our visit to the lovely Island of Culebra… Puerto Rico has its fair share of chickens, to say the least

In San Juan, many adventures were to be had! First,we tackled Old San Juan, a glorious place! Finally free to walk about and stretch our legs, we hiked all over the old town. Appetite back in full swing, we ate at some fun restaurants: Cafeteria Mallorca for breakfast and Barrachina (“Birthplace of the Original Piña Colada”) for lunch/dinner. We bought a Piragua – the hand-made snow cones sold at stands which are densely packed throughout the town – an utterly refreshing snack to swallow down mid-day, at temps at well over 90F in the hot Puerto Rican sun! We made our way through the two grandiose fortresses, each breathtakingly beautiful (one is pictured a-top this post), and hiked through the beautiful promenade, El Paseo de la Princesa and from the Cathedral to the Gate of San Juan, stopping to peak in at the Parque de las Palomas, which was, much to my surprise and slight embarrassment NOT a palm tree park (as one such non-Spanish-speaking person such as myself may think by the look of the word) but in fact a PIGEON park (ewww pooop)! We stopped in at some of the shops and I gazed at all the pretty things, James waiting patiently for me to examine every hat and bracelet, stopping to buy me a beautiful hand-carved pendent!!! 🙂 One shop we stopped at was called the Butterfly People, so exquisitely beautiful, the website pictures (http://www.butterflypeople.com/) do not do it justice. You are not allow to take photos in the shop, which makes sense because this entire room is basically a giant work of art! Intricately selected, arranged, and mounted butterflies are on display from wall-to-wall. This place is a family owned business, whom, as one of the owners was telling us, uses only humanely collected specimens, and their work is simply magnificent. The ethereal luminescence and the colors… I wanted to stand there and stare at the walls forever … AND the AC was amazing ha ha…

San Juan wall-art!

San Juan street-art!

That town was far too full of treasures to explore it in just one day! We also ran out of time to see the bioluminescent bays we had hoped to see, and therefore a return trip is most definitely in the making! But other adventures were to be had…

We had just 2 full days remaining, but in this time we managed several trips. First, we voyaged to (on the worlds most sea-sick-infiltrated cargo boat, I must note) the beautiful Flamenco Beach of Culebra Island! This was by far one of the clearest watered, softest-sanded beaches I have ever been to! The cargo-boat ride somewhat messed up my digestives for the day, but the trip was well worth it. After bathing in the sun and frolicking in the soft waves together, I scarfed down some good old rice and beans (mmm fiber!!) while James had a burrito and grabbed a frappe (which is Puerto Rican for fruit smoothie) to go as we ran to catch a last minute bus ride to our boat (which was a FAAARRR smoother journey!!!). Next was a trip to the worlds largest Radio Telescope followed by a hike through and to a waterfall in El Yunke Rain Forest!

Flamenco Beach, rather tortuous journey, but worthy destination!

Flamenco Beach, rather tortuous journey, but worthy destination!

The trip ended all too quickly… it was such a glorious two weeks – Christmas with the family followed immediately by honeymoon with the man of my dreams… When we arrived back in the states, the world was a frozen barbaric tundra, through which I had to depart to go to school one night earlier than intended due to the awfulness of the driving conditions. Living apart can be especially tough: here I was back to school after what had been the longest togetherness-time in which James and I have had as a married couple.

These past two weeks I had been buried in school work, right back, it seemed, to where I had left off. I filled my days with back to back hours of studies and my nights with crying to James about the burden of our distance and felt so cruelly alone in the world. Sleep wasn’t going so well either. But this past weekend started off with a little-talkin’-to with Josh, a good friend of mine that I will periodically carpool with to and from school. He listened to my summary of the past two weeks and simply said to me, “well you’ve got a pretty good life.”

This weekend I went on a little trip with James, saw friends and family, and somehow somewhat balanced that with my homework… and through it all I thought about what he said and how right he was. Now I’m not saying that the overly emotional nights are by any means over. But I pray that in my times of despair, and stress, crazy female hormones, insane medical school learning issues, and most of all, missing my other half, I will stop to give thanks to our creator for all that I am blessed with, because every day is a gift!

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