Monday, August 31, 2015

#MedSchoolMonday | How to Stay Close to your Med Student Spouse

Welcome back to Med School Monday! 

Last week I posted an interview with my husband about the second week of medical school. Feel free to go read it. Jeff's so cute and humble about his hard work. This week I wanted to share some tips for how to stay close to your medical student spouse.

When I think back to summer 2014 a few anxieties spring to mind. I was so worried. I listened to doctor-wife veterans about the doomed fate of my marriage; how I would never see my husband; how he would never have time for his family. I was terrified.

Jeff heard at one point that becoming a doctor; I.e., going through med school, residency, fellowship, etc. can make or break a relationship. We resolved to let becoming a doctor make our relationship. While that goal was established before he even took the MCAT, we are closer now than ever. We truly are! Because of this, I want to share four fundamentals that are helping this couple out, but first a gentle disclaimer:

This post is not to discount legitimate and sad testimonials. I am a part of a few doctor's wife groups and I see some pretty discouraging posts every day. I believe that we will have many hard years ahead and the struggles may continue even once Jeff is a doctor. Additionally, my husband and I are equally engaged in giving our marriage everything we've got. My husband is amazing and that makes all the difference.

1. M A K E  Y O U R  S P O U S E ' S  N E E D S  A  P R I O R I T Y

I love talking. I could talk all day. I especially love talking to Jeff. He is the Calvin Coolidge type and I speak enough for three of us. This is something worth sacrificing, and believe you me when I say that's a struggle.

I know that my husband needs undistracted study time every day (probably why he spends so much time on campus). I make this a priority. I do my best to distract myself so I don't lay on our bed and tell him everything going on in my head.

My husband also appreciates an early bedtime. I don't. I like staying up. Nevertheless, I try to make sure he at least goes to bed by 10:30 instead of talking and keeping him up.

Sometimes Jeff has an upcoming test and this means we need to forgo something I want to do. That is okay. These are all okay! It's like I'm investing in our relationship by showing that I see and respect my husband's needs.

2.  L E A R N  Y O U R  S P O U S E ' S  L O V E  L A N G U A G E S

Have you read Gary Chapman's the Five Love Languages? Okay, that is your first place to start, my friend. When I was in my Family Studies classes at BYU we talked about the five love languages at least once in all the core classes. This is my starting point for improving all my relationships, but especially in our marriage.

Let me lay out our experience with this book:

Jeff ranks Acts of Service towards the top of his love languages. Words of Affirmation is further down his list. This is inverted for me. I love receiving genuine sentiments of appreciation and affection. Jeff loves when I do the dishes for him. Conversely, when I compliment Jeff he feels like I am buttering him up and when Jeff serves me I feel like he's picking up slack. We both feel uncomfortable in those situations, even though we are both treating each other the way we most want to be treated.

Knowing this about each other helps us streamline our relationship. I can show him exactly how I feel by cooking dinner, cleaning the house, and doing the laundry. That's just my husband though. What is your spouse's love language? Share them in the comments!

PS - You can take the love language test free here.

3.  G I V E  1 0 0  P E R C E N T

I read in a doctor wife forum the other day that 50-50 is what you give in a divorce and 100 percent is what you have to give in a medical school marriage.

Everyone's 100 percent varies in appearance. The key is to give your marriage everything you've got. If that means working, great. I have a degree that yield entry-level jobs a plenty, so my 100 percent takes place at home. I make sure Jeff's needs are met and exceeded where possible. I am not perfect, but I do give my best every day.

Jeff gives 100 percent, too; he does everything he can now so he can have a family-friendly lifestyle later. In addition to his scholastic efforts (he was first in his class last year), he makes time for our family, takes me on dates, and makes sure I feel appreciated.

I don't expect reciprocation. My husband does reciprocate, but I try not to expect anything. That is service. I take responsibility for my own happiness and meet my own needs so I don't expect my husband to. I posted about that a little while back, if you want to read about that. This leads to my final principle:

4.  B E  G R A T E F U L  +  S E T  L O W  E X P E C T A T I O N S

Gratitude and low expectations are key to a happy marriage. Simply don't expect anything. Low expectations often means exceeded expectations. This can sometimes be a bit of a mind game; yes, you can feel entitled to some elements in a marriage, but pretend like you aren't entitled to anything.

When I do this, I find myself thinking, "Wow! He didn't have to do that." It makes me feel grateful for what I have instead of mourning what I don't have.

Here's an anecdote: I love to dance. Jeff doesn't. I use to coerce him into taking me to dances and such. Recently we were talking about this and our conversation went like this:

Me: I always felt a little empty once I would get you to dance with me because I knew you hated it.
Jeff:  (Jokingly) Yeah, that's because it was unrighteous dominion.

Once I lowered my expectations I became much more aware of the sweet things Jeff was already doing for me.

I N  S U M

Maintaining a happy relationship takes some intention. Through making your spouse's needs a priority, applying the five love languages, giving 100 percent, and being grateful/setting low expectations, your spouse will sense your care and appreciation for him/her.

In our case, our marriage has grown stronger in medical school than at any other time (in four years) by applying these guidelines. I love my husband, but more importantly he knows that I love him. Because we serve each other we look forward to being around each other.

PS - If you missed last week's posts, go check them out! I shared an interview with my husband, some family updates and a printable, and a wearable blanket for baby tutorial!

Have a great week.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

#Satur-DIY | Sew Your own Sleep Sack!


I am very excited about this the very first #Satur-DIY! Today I am sharing a tutorial on how to make your own baby sleep sack, or wearable blanket.

Riley can now roll over so I can't swaddle her anymore. I knew it was time to find a swaddle alternative for naps and bedtime. Enter the sleep sack. It fits the bill perfectly. Safe and warm. Here's how I made mine.

S T E P  O N E :  C R E A T E   T H E   P A T T E R N 

To draft your pattern grab three pieces of paper. On the first piece, trace the armholes and bodice of a loose-fitting onesie. On the second piece continue tracing where your first line ended and grade at an angle (see image below). For the third paper, decide how long you want the sack to be and trace to that point, rounding the corner. Mine is about 25 inches long and my baby is about 24 inches long. 

Tape your three papers together top to bottom and cut along your traced edge. The straight side of your paper (the left side in the image below) is where you will cut on the fold of the fabric.

Sorry I didn't take better pictures to explain this part, but you can get the gist I think. Let me know if you have questions, of course.

S T E P  T W O :  C U T  T H E  F A B R I C 
Fold your fabric once under your pattern, pin, and cut. I recommend using a rotary cutter and self-healing mat if those are available for use. 

Cut, cut, cut. 
Set this piece aside. This is the back of the sleep sack.

Before cutting the front piece, fold your fabric over once again and this time align the fold-edge side of your pattern a little bit (I did one inch, but recommend less than that) away from the fold of the fabric, as shown below (or less than an inch as long as it is very even and you remember the distance from the pattern). 

Pin and cut out the front piece.

Your two cut pieces should look like so:

S T E P  T H R E E :  I N S E R T  T H E  Z I P P E R

Fold the front piece in half right sides together and sew a straight line from top to bottom. Use whatever seam allowance corresponds with the distance you chose earlier (One inch in my case).

When opened up and right side facing out, your front piece should look like this:

Flip the front piece over and cut your fabric in half. Optional: you can cut your front piece in half, finish the inside edges, and then sew right sides together along the straight edge. 

Once cut, press this seam open. Lay your front piece out right side down and lay your zipper face down on the seam. Match up the zipper teeth and center of the seam as perfectly as you can. This is the key to a properly aligned zipper.

Baste the zipper in place. 

You are ready to sew the zipper. Pull out your zipper foot. 

Sew the zipper in place working down one side, pivoting and sewing across the bottom, and sewing up the other side. Still haven't figured out the best way to do this. Let me know if you have any tips!

Pull out your basting stitches.

Flip the front piece over and open up your first seam with a seam ripper. There is your perfect, little zipper!

S T E P  F O U R :  S E W  S H O U L D E R S  +  S I D E S   

Put your front and back pieces right sides together and pin in place.

Sew the shoulders and around the sides leaving the neck and armholes open.

S T E P  F I V E :  B I N D  A R M H O L E S  +  N E C K L I N E

I kind of just got on a roll while watching a couple episodes of New Girl at this point and took zero pictures of the process. My apologies. :) So here are a few links for binding armholes and necklines.



Tada! You are {this close} to finishing!

Your sleep sack still needs a tab (and a snap, which will not appear in this tutorial, because I forgot to buy one).

S T E P  S I X :  M A K E  A  T A B  

For the final step, sew two piece of fabric right sides together and sew a little curve.

So cute. It looks like a ghost. I took about three minutes to wear it on my finger.
Flip the tab inside out and attach it about where the zipper starts (and in my case, where you want to hide some sloppy technique). 

Flip your tab to the opposite side and top-stitch.

Add a snap and you are done!

Here is the finished product and a baby model to boot!

Any questions? Holla at me if you try this out or if you have any suggestions for future posts! What did you do to celebrate Satur-DIY?


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#WifeyWednesday | A Printable + Some Great Reads

First of all, I made something and I just want to share it. I am challenging myself to read the Book of Mormon by January 1, 2016 (I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. Feel free to learn more here. If you want a free copy of the Book of Mormon, you can get one here!) I decided I need some extra umph in my life and this is how I am going to get it.

Let me know if you care to join me. I would love some camaraderie. You could even finish by Christmas!

Download my Book of Mormon Reading Chart here
If that is too Claire for you, I made an alternative:

Download this Book of Mormon reading chart here.
If that's too color printer for you, use this:

Download this Book of Mormon reading chart here.
Obviously I have a lot of time on my hands...


Monday I announced my new posting schedule. I will have three regular features:

Med School Monday: I will exclusively talk about all things school related

Wifey Wednesday: I will give family updates and talk about marriage here and there

Satur-DIY: I will post a new craft and/or tutorial every week

Keep coming back to hold me accountable. :)

 If you missed this week's Med School Monday post, go check it out; I caught up with my husband about how M2 (second year of school) is treating him.

Here is a brief family update and some thoughts:

We had an interesting week, for sure. Overall it was good. Jeff had an exam (and punched it right in the face). Riley rolled from back to front three times! We went to the pool, the library, JoAnn Fabric, church, and Target. We spent time with friends and we got ourselves some new neighbors.

Also, when we went to the library I found so many good baby books! Side note: the local library lets you check out 100 books at a time! That blows my mind. I only got six. :)

I cannot wait to dive in. Let me know what you think of all of these. See any favorites? Any other suggestions? See any selections that stir a fiery rage in your soul (because I know that happens sometimes)?

I also just finished Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber. We tried the Ferber method for oh, less than 24 hours, but we just couldn't do it. It was too stressful. So yeah, still sleep deprived.

I also made something really cool, but I am keeping it under wraps <-- unintentional hint-- because I am sharing it on the very first Satur-DIY. Let's just say Riley can roll both ways so I needed something other than a swaddle... Come back to see it on Saturday. I am a little bit proud of myself. :)

Okay, you guys are ah-mazing!

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, August 24, 2015

#MedSchoolMonday | M2 So Far So Good

Here is a quick update on this semester so far. I realize I under-post about medical school considering the title of this here blog. For that reason I have decided to create a stricter blogging schedule.

Welcome to the very first #MedSchoolMonday! I am a little embarrassed about this, but hey, haha.

For this post I will interview my husband who is hanging out with me.

Q: Hi, Jeff. How are ya?
A: Good.

Q: How is medical school treating you?
A: It's treating me well. Not as well as you're treating me though.

Q: How about Step 1 preparation?
A: Good. I think I've got a system figured out. It's top secret... I use Firecracker then I'll hit things a little harder after this next block with more Firecracker, Pathoma, and First Aid.

Q: You have an exam today. How many flashcards did you create in preparation? How many hours do you think you studied actively and passively.
A: Mmm, 280-ish (Totaling about 7500 flashcards so far). 250 hours actively and I never study passively (haha, okay then).

Q: How would you describe the M2 experience thus far?
A: Um, overall it's been pretty good. It's nice to learn things that are perhaps more clinically relevant. Because of that my time is being put to more affective use. 

Q: Anything you would like to say?
A: Stay classy. Keep on keeping on.

Isn't he great? You keep on keeping on, Jeff Falco. :)

As for the new posting schedule, in addition to #MedSchoolMonday, I have also committed myself to #WifeyWednesday (yep, went there) to keep up on our normal lives and #Satur-DIY where I will post my latest projects and tutorials. So definitely check back soon!


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Looking Back: Two Little Lines

I just realized it has been a year and two days since I found out I was pregnant with Riley. :)

That just makes me happy.

In honor of this realization I will share a story and a throwback video I made!

I knew that God wanted me to have a baby when I did. In fact the story of how I found out I was pregnant leaves me with no doubt.

One August evening my friend sent me a text message which essentially said, "I don't want to overstep my bounds, but I felt really strongly that I need to share this church talk with you..." We had talked recently about how I felt apprehensive about starting a family because we are poor and Jeff is in school and blah, blah, blah.

I read the talk. It is called "Children." Here, you can read it, too! It shared an anecdote about a husband and wife in my same situation; he was in medical school and they wanted to wait to have children until they were more financially independent.

--I have to make a quick disclaimer here. The decision about when to have children is between a husband and wife and the Lord. You do you. Okay, moving right along.--

They ended up getting some advice that the Lord commanded Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the Garden of Eden and why would the Lord want the aforementioned couple to put off His first and most important commandment in the name of becoming a doctor?

This talk went on to say that there is no "right time" to have children; it will always be inconvenient timing. Further, for generations people and prophets have borne children in times of tribulation. It will all work out.

Well, after reading this I knew that the Lord didn't want us to put off having kids. I said a prayer that evening and I got a little bold; I prayed that we would be pregnant right then. I said amen and got a prompting to go take a test. I knew it was unlikely that I would get positive results because of the timing.

I decided I would take a test anyway. I covered it up and waited three minutes.

And it. was. positive.

I felt so exhilarated and grateful. I couldn't believe that the night I aligned my will with Heavenly Father's I found out I was already pregnant.

I believe in Heavenly Father's timing. In my case, I believe He was waiting for me to have a little more faith.

I am so grateful to be a mom.

Friday, August 21, 2015

How I Take Care of Myself as a Medical Student's Wifey

Last night in the soft glow of Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope, Jeff was studying and I was working on my blog (too typical). About an hour passed without a word until I realized and said, "Wow. It would really stink if I didn't know how to entertain myself right now." Jeff agreed, put my head on his shoulder (maybe that's fictional), and we went back to our projects.

Being married to a medical student, so far, is not half bad. I have said this before and many of my cohorts agree. However, some times are super busy (read: have potential to be super lonely and boring) and it's critical that I meet my own needs. Here are my three best tips for taking of yourself while your partner is stressed out of his or her eyeballs.

1. S T A Y  B U S Y

This was all too easy when I was working full-time. It is still pretty easy with a four-month-old, although it would be easy to slip into a pattern of being bored at home doing nothing (with a four-month-old).

Here's what I do now. I work my hardest to accomplish everything that Jeff would do during his study breaks. I cook, I clean, I maintain our cars, I grocery shop, I pick up dry cleaning (that happened, like, once), and so on.

This sounds subservient, but it's in my best interest, too; I know that if I do the laundry, make dinner, check the mail, straighten the house, and all of that the reward will be twofold: 1. Jeff will feel relaxed and 2. He'll have extra time to spend with Riley and me. It works and I stay so occupied I hardly notice our time apart.

This also bolsters my self-esteem because I am productive for the better part of every day (except Sundays when I take a three-hour nap. Ahhh).

2. K E E P  S E P A R A T E  I N T E R E S T S

One blessing of my marriage is how many separate interests Jeff and I have. We are so different. I say it's a blessing because it fosters my own independence (which is key in a good relationship).

I love doing Zumba, blogging, window shopping, crafting, watching So You Think You Can Dance, etc. Those are all things that make me feel human. I don't feel bad doing these things without Jeff (watching Parenthood, Parks and Rec, eating out, and reading Harry Potter, on the other hand, are "our" things we mostly only do together.)

3. M A I N T A I N  R E L A T I O N S H I P S

There are other people in the world that love you!!!

When my husband is away at school or otherwise unavailable I like to call people and/or make plans with friends. I am lucky to have many friends who have med-student spouses. We have girls' nights, go to each others' pools, craft together, and organize activities.

This is a game changer for me. I love having friends that relate. I know this will just become more important as Jeff gets into residency, fellowship, and what have you.

This is also a good time for me to touch base with faraway friends and family.

I learned early in my marriage to have more than just your husband to meet your needs. It is asking a lot for my husband to be my cheerleader, exercise buddy, and life coach in addition to being a (great) spouse and co-parent. Especially because sometimes I just want to be heard. Girlfriends and grandmas are good for that.

T H E  T A K E A W A Y

All this is to say BE INDEPENDENT. Look at what needs to be done, what you love to do, and who else you have in your life.

Take your happiness into your own hands. You probably know what to do.

How do you keep yourself entertained? Holla at me and have a great day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Riley is Four Months!

Four months is fun, but doesn't offer us as much in the sleep department, except for this one time Riley fell asleep just in time for a photo shoot. Cute baby. :)

Family, Friends, and a Trip to the Pool

Alright folks,

You have seen me through my summer-in-Utah updates and here is the last one (Yay! You did it!). This is that promised miscellaneous post (maybe I should not have promised a miscellaneous post, but what's done is done).

I am basically combing though my picture files for any uncovered summer events. Let's get them on the internet, shall we?

Kneaders with my family:

Trio Cafe with Jeff's Family

And a rainbow.

A Kaysville Reunion

Riley's first dip in the pool, about which she was mostly indifferent:

 I'll tell you what. Those restaurants are good. And not in our vicinity. We are excited to make another pilgrimage to the promised land.

Okie dokie. Have a great day and come back later when I give Riley's four-month update (It's mostly just a photoshoot--like everyday of her life).