First Trimester Recap!

Where to even begin?! It is such a relief to finally just chit-chat about everything going on now! I am securely into the second trimester, in my 17th week, so I want to document all my thoughts from the first trimester before I forget them. I bought a pregnancy journal and figured I would let it guide some of this post mixed with just some random thoughts!

Overall thoughts on the first trimester: I had never been more elated, grateful and… sick for such a long time. It was rough! I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and would endure whatever it took for our baby- but even after doing an OB rotation, I did not appreciate just how much of a toll the first trimester can take. I also laugh at the idea of morning sickness. What a misnomer. Mornings were sometimes worse, and it was extremely hard to get going in the morning, but evenings could often be just as bad, if not worse. Beyond the nausea, the fatigue and lack of motivation was maybe my least favorite part. I felt like I was operating at 30% or less of my normal self, and since I couldn’t chug down my usual amount of coffee to compensate, you could find my on the couch most of the time. I actually found out I was pregnant a few days before we picked up Moose, and having him was such a good thing for me. Since it took so long for the job stuff to get rolling, having him gave me purpose, still forced me to get up early, take care of him and go on our daily walks. He also was the best cuddle bug when I really could not get off the couch.

I do feel much better now! I really started turning the corner around 14 weeks- nausea subsided greatly, I have more energy and much more motivation.

How I Told DJ: I surprised him with a cookie cake saying the news in icing, a card and the positive tests when he returned home from work! He was beyond thrilled. I know he’ll be the best dad ❤️ I’m so grateful I have him by my side every step.

Things I was nervous about: Everything. The first trimester was the greatest lesson in giving fears and worries to God daily. I was so afraid of eating something contaminated, exposing myself to chemicals unknowingly or doing anything that would harm the baby. It even felt like each day there was something new I’d learn (that I had not learned in school) to be anxious about. I realized at some point, I was doing my absolute best, and it was impossible to control everything. Now, I feel much better and less anxious, but it was pretty intense for a bit. I also would feel really anxious if I felt “normal” or better on certain days – it happened a few times, and I wished the nausea back to know everything was ok. Thankfully, everything was, and that was all just normal hormonal fluctuations (the nausea often came back with a vengeance!). With every ultrasound, every lab test that comes back without concern, and when I hear our little one’ s heartbeat, I feel that anxiety dissipate more and more!

Also, one of my best friends, Clair, was the first to know I was pregnant given I sent her my first pregnancy test for “line eyes”, even though I was a few days too early to technically take the test. When she said she saw a second line too, I took one of the early prediction tests, and it was clear as day positive. I was so grateful she knew because she was such a rock for me through the first trimester before we told everyone. I called her often, and she always calmed me down, as she’s been through this twice herself. I don’t know what I would have done/what I would do without her!!

Cravings: This is my favorite prompt. You will get a kick out of this. Apparently baby likes meat. I haven’t had meat in my diet probably since 2013, and all of a sudden I’m pregnant and, bam, I want a steak (I ordered it well-done, but still tasted amazing – I don’t even usually like steak). (My iron is all good too- I made sure about that). I also had a craving for biscuits and gravy, chicken sandwiches (hiiii Chick-fil-A) and Cane’s Chicken Fingers- can you have a craving for something you’ve never had? 😂 I’m listening to the meat cravings, especially because I gave up most of my protein sources from soy which was a big chunk of my diet pre-pregnancy.

Other cravings: COTTAGE CHEESE (Can’t get enough!), pizza (although I did have an aversion for a few weeks to it too), pumpkin pie, Cheesecake Factory brown bread, veggie delight subs from subway with provolone and avocado (I’ve had this more times than I can count, and it was the only way I could stomach veggies for a while), Thomas English Muffins, mini wheats, pistachio and banana oatmeal, pancakes, and Thai food (I have wanted all the spicy food, which is funny to me given how weak my stomach has been). Shout out, Papaya Salad Thai for satisfying those cravings every time!

Aversions: Chocolate and ice cream were my two strongest aversions. Along with hot coffee. It’s funny how three of my previously daily staples suddenly made me gag at the thought. Thankfully those aversions have mostly subsided (except the hot coffee). I also had daily/fluctuating aversions to random foods- some days it felt like nothing sounded good, and we’d Door Dash whatever I could stomach. Sometimes whatever sounded good one day may sound repulsive the next. We used enough Door Dash in 14 weeks to suffice for the rest of our lives, lol. I also stopped stocking the fridge with my usuals because I had no idea what I’d be able to actually eat the next day.

Caffeine?: This is definitely a topic I’ve felt anxious about. I had a strong aversion to hot coffee, actually I still do unless it’s in a cappuccino or something with a lot of milk. Anyway, while I know there is a caffeine limit that is considered safe, I had always thought I wouldn’t touch the stuff just to be extra safe when I was pregnant. And I did give it up cold turkey. Going from 3 to 4 cups a day to nothing. I actually didn’t have as severe a withdrawal as I had expected- no headache or anything. Very surprising. But I couldn’t function. I literally could not function. Finally, Clair suggested I just add a little bit back in and see how it goes. I reluctantly tried adding in about 3-4 oz. iced coffee, and it made all the difference. I was still way under the limit, but I felt much better. In the second trimester, I haven’t needed it as much as my energy returns, and usually I just stick to straight decaf if I have any at all. Oh, and I guess I get a little caffeine from chocolate now too 😋 We do have a place nearby, Nervous Dog, that makes the best decaf almond milk cappuccino, so sometimes after cold walks with Moose I’ll stop in there and get my cappuccino and him a pup cup.

How I’d describe my sleep: I had some insomnia the first few weeks from pure adrenaline I think, but I actually slept great most of the first trimester- I would just wake up with some nausea here and there, but was able to fall back asleep. DJ is a saint and took Moose out for all his nighttime potty breaks- I kept offering, but he insisted. Anyway, now, in the second trimester, I am having more of a challenging time sleeping. I am not as tired overall, and I think I just have a lot rolling around in my head right now starting a new job, holiday plans and thinking about planning for baby <3 All good things!

Expectations vs. Reality: I thought I would not touch anything unhealthy in pregnancy. Let’s all laugh together. Those pregnancy cravings are strong! And overall, I have eaten healthy as possible- but when the cravings call, I answer. I am getting cravings for nutritious foods back in the second trimester, but in the first they were pretty fast-food based!

Exercise routine: I tried to exercise about 3-4x/week if possible for 30 minutes along with doing an arm workout (with very light weights) and pregnancy-safe abs a couple times a week. I often would go into a workout feeling miserable but would feel better after. The only time of day I found I could actually fathom working out was in the late afternoons/early evenings. I also had my daily walks with Moose, which helped a lot with keeping me active. The fresh air and movement often seemed to help with my nausea/mood too.

Pregnancy Dreams: Nothing specific- although I did have a dream I was pregnant about a week before finding out I was! I also had dreams about the gender- one time baby was a girl and one time baby was a boy- so that was not very helpful, haha.

Physical Changes: Besides what has already been discussed- I’ve had some restless legs, a very mini bump probably only noticeable to me, and my appetite notably increased (although sometimes it would be hard to get full with the aversions). I also am experiencing some sciatica- stretching and avoiding sitting for long periods helps a ton. Oh, and acne- I feel like I’m back in middle school, lol. When does that glow start? I also cry easily and the mood swings are pretty rough- sorry, Deej 😬❤️ He’s the most gracious and supportive with everything!!

App I’m Using: What to Expect. I love the May 2022 Babies Community group in there! They have some helpful articles too.

How We Told People: We sent my mom and Pete a onesie in the mail and had them open it on Facetime. I told them Moose had a gift for them, and I wanted to see their reaction. When my mom opened it, she thought it was a onesie from Moose saying, “I can’t wait to meet you Grandma and Grandpa”. She goes,”It’s like the onesies people use to announce they are having a baby, how cute!”. Then it dawned on her when she saw the “See you in May!”. LOL. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her and Pete happier. For our local family, we had Moose walk out in a bandana at our get-togethers that said “soon to be big brother”. Very special moments <3

Pregnancy Brain Moments: I put a new tub of butter in the sink, I put several items in the freezer instead of the fridge. I misspell things that I know how to spell and have major moments of just blanking on things that I should not be blanking on! 😅

Interviewing While Pregnant: Overall, they went well. However, at one of my interviews, I was trying not to throw up seconds before they called me in (sorry if that’s TMI- I know no limits as a nurse). I didn’t eat enough before and had no snacks on me. Hunger is what always set my nausea off the most. The interview itself went well, thankfully the nausea stayed at bay during the actual interview, and then they invited me to shadow after. I hadn’t been planning on shadowing, and I was already starving. I agreed though- and it was a great experience… until I nearly passed out. I told one of the nurses I was shadowing I was about to pass out as I started losing my vision and breaking out into a profuse sweat. Thankfully, the nurse helped keep it discrete, grabbed me some orange juice, and I immediately felt better after chugging it down and sitting down. Thankfully this was at the very end of the shadowing experience, so I left shortly after. I called my Aunt on the way home, so I could have someone on the phone while I was driving to be safe. I felt fine, but I was super shaken up and embarrassed. A couple weeks later, I got this awesome gift package in the mail. It’s all the most amazing healthy snacks you can imagine. My Aunt wanted to be sure that I didn’t have any more episodes like that, and I can tell ya, I have not! It was so thoughtful, and this package has certainly come in handy! Seriously one of the best gifts if you know anyone who’s pregnant.

Well I think I have talked your ear off enough for a day. If you actually read this, thank you- I would never expect you to!

Question for you!

  • I’d love to hear about any of your first trimester experiences, cravings, etc.! I know they vary quite a bit.

❤️,

Mackenzie

So, We Have Some News! <3

This is, without a doubt, my favorite post I’ve written to date. I am so excited to share with you all that I and DJ have a baby due in May, and Moose is going to be a big brother.

I’m pregnant! God is so good, and His hand is really evident in the gift of our baby.

I also want to take a minute to say, if seeing pregnancy announcements causes a mix of emotions/is at all painful for you- my heart goes out to you. Gosh, I empathize, and I am praying you will be blessed with your little one in God’s perfect timing. I hope this announcement encourages you from someone who’s been there, even though I know all journeys and struggles look different ❤️.

So, what’s next? Soon, I plan on posting a first trimester recap and just reflecting on everything to this point so far. Also, I’ll be sharing the gender in the next couple posts- if you want, feel free to post your guess below 😊

We have never been more excited, and we love this baby so much already.

<3,

Mackenzie

November Recap!

I can’t believe it- with this post I am actually pretty much caught up to present day!

On November 4th, I woke up to this most tranquil view of frost beautifully covering the ground.

I can’t even make it a few sentences in without a pic of Moose. He really has taken over this blog, huh?

The little nugget sometimes stands by the fridge hoping we will open it to give him a piece of chicken. Lol. He’s obsessed with the stuff.

On November 5th,  I went to breakfast with my MIL and SIL at Valley Cafe. I had been here once when I lived here, but it had a total makeover on the inside and was unrecognizable.How stinking cute is this.

Some of the food has a cajun flair. It was a good breakfast-there are several menu items I want to try, so I can’t wait to go back!After breakfast, we walked around Home Goods. I haven’t been there in far too long! I love that place. It was productive too, I found a beautiful little marble cake stand for a great price & grabbed some dark chocolate covered almonds at the checkout.

That afternoon I took Moose on our standard walk. I love this little alley way that has tall ledges on one side and a hilly forest and ravine on the other.

November 6th was one of my favorite days in recent memory! We started by going out on a family walk, admired the holiday decor in nearby neighborhoods and then on our way home stopped by Grabham’s candies.

I’d passed this place so many times, I couldn’t wait to finally go in and check it out!

There were so many amazing options! We ordered a box full of various treats. It was all absolutely delicious, but by far, the salted caramels were the star of the show. Next time, I think I may just get a big box of those. They’re reasonably priced too.

In the afternoon, we went to Chick-fil-A, drove around the city and just enjoyed the beautiful day. In the evening I made a meal of creamed spinach, scallops, brown rice and rolls. It was a great day together. DJ’s job is pretty time-intensive right now, so I really treasure this time with him.

That weekend we also stopped into Jubilee Donuts. I was craving donuts somethin’ fierce! How cute is this fall theme. My favorite was the maple cream stick and Boston cream donut.

I dedicated the afternoon to Christmas shopping while snuggling with Moose and having The Great British Bake Off playing in the background. I really enjoy the hunt of shopping for gifts, and with the supply chain concerns I decided to get a jump start on it. It was a wonderfully cozy afternoon.

November 9th, I took Moose to a new trail further away, Lock 29. It was such a gorgeous day, and we both relished walking a new path. I was happy to see Christmas decorations were already going up in the little downtown Peninsula area!

November 10th, I woke up with some french toast with yogurt and berries on top. I may need to make this for lunch now.

That week was a big one of interviews for jobs.

November 11th, while walking our familiar route, I was amazed at how the leaves covered the path seemingly overnight. It transformed it into a lovely golden trail.

That day I was craving pizza. Jet’s Pizza is easily my favorite chain pizza, it reminds me quite a bit of Via 313!

I tried the veggie cauliflower crust and pineapple four corner. The cauliflower crust was good (for cauliflower crust), but next to the four corner crust, it could not hold a candle. I know pineapple pizza is a bit controversial, but it’s probably my favorite pizza.

The weekend of November 13th was the first snow of the year!

Moose loved it and wanted to frolic around in it!

Also, I just have to include these pictures of him and this empty yogurt container. We discovered he loves yogurt (his favorite only second to chicken), so we give him the containers when we pretty much empty them out. He walks around with a yogurt-covered nose after- it’s adorable!

This week I took Moose to Camp Bow Wow, a doggy daycare. He had an “interview” and everything- he did well & is allowed to attend there, lol. The idea of an “interview” for dogs cracks me up. We were proud of him for doing so well his first day. I only left him there a few hours to see how he’d do, and I didn’t want him to think we’d abandoned him. Since I’m starting a new job soon, this will be so perfect for him. He just met the age of being able to attend, so the timing worked out beautifully.

While Moose was at Camp Bow Wow, I went for a wonderful run outside. It was a beautiful day, 50-something in November!! I also got so much done around the house & it was weird not having to look over my shoulder every five seconds to make sure Moose wasn’t getting into something. It was an exciting taste of freedom, but I missed Moose horribly by the end of the three hours and couldn’t wait to pick him up.

On November 19th, I let Moose off the leash on the trail for the first time since there was no one around. He had an absolute blast playing fetch with a stick he found (or keep away, however you look at it!).

The evening of November 20th, we went to Leo’s Italian Social in downtown Cuyahoga Falls with my mom-in-law and Gordie. I think I have a new favorite restaurant in town!! The whole downtown Cuyahoga Falls area is really cute- we have a lot to explore there.

We tried their calamari and cauliflower for appetizers- both delish! For my main I had their zucchini shrimp pasta. There’s a lot on their menu I’d like to try, but it’s going to be tough for me to order anything other than this any time we go! If it couldn’t get any better, their tiramisu was some of the best I have ever tried. I’m going to crave that stuff!

On the morning of November 21st, I couldn’t get Blue Door Cafe off my mind. They had a super long wait since we tried to go right around the rush, but they had the option for takeout- fine by me! Their egg white omelette is one of my favorites- it is served over a perfected croissant with sundried tomatoes and avocado. YUM.

Later that afternoon I met with my friend Kylie for some coffee at my absolute favorite coffee shop around called Nervous Dog Coffee Bar. It was wonderful to catch up as always!

November 24th I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve seen here yet.

That whole day was a big cooking day for Thanksgiving. I LOVE my full days of cooking. This year, I made my cranberry pistachio quinoa stuffed acorn squash, vegan maple brussels sprouts and bacon maple brussels along with a homemade apple crumb. The apple pie was back-up Marie Callender’s in case the apple crumb didn’t turn out, but thankfully it was a hit! I have some apples left over and am genuinely considering making another this week- definitely give that recipe a go if you love apple crisp. Served with some ice cream and caramel sauce- yuuum!

For Thanksgiving day, we spent the whole day with family eating delicious food- does it really get better than that? Only thing that would have made it better is if my SIL, Amy, was in town- but she’ll be here for Christmas, and I cannot waitttt.

My sister-in-law, Renee, made these cookies below and we could not get over how professional they looked!! Also, they tasted as good as they looked- easily some of the best sugar cookies I’ve ever had.

Another star of the show every year is my mom-in-law’s pumpkin pie. This is one of my favorite desserts of all time, and I look forward to it every year! It was good as ever!

November 26th was my MIL’s bday, and I was extremely grateful we were finally around to celebrate in person!

More of our family drove in from Chicago and from around town. It was one of the best evenings- just all of us being together for the first time in years, meeting our niece, celebrating my mom-in-law while enjoying the best variety of pizzas from Tre Belle, birthday cake and a pumpkin bundt cake from Nothing Bunt Cakes (have y’all tried that place?!, so delicious!).

Featured in the picture below is the very delicious vegan pizza, but I also tried their asparagus pizza and the street corn pizza with truffle honey- I gotta say the street corn took the cake! Anything with truffle, amirite?!

Saturday November 27th we took Moose on a nice long walk in his cool new winter jacket. I thought he would fight us on wearing it, but he did well with it on!

After our walk, we zipped over to Nervous Dog for something to warm us up. Love that place.

That evening we went to my SIL’s basketball game. She and her team killed it!!

On November 28th, we started the day with some delicious protein pancakes. Side note- I know it would stress me out if I saw only that much syrup left for a whole stack of pancakes, but don’t worry, I had back up 😉

That day, the family surprised my dad-in-law for his birthday. We had tacos for lunch with fresh veggies, which really was a nice contrast to the Thanksgiving leftovers we’d been enjoying for a few days. It was a lovely afternoon. While we were away, we dropped Moose off at Camp Bow Wow. When we picked him up he was so tired that he fell asleep in my hand as we were driving home.

November 30th I was having a hankerin’ for a big salad with lots of veggies – best place to get said salad? CoreLife Eatery! I especially love they have falafel as an option to add-in.

And finally, we are in December! But also- how?! Where did this year go? Does anyone else feel like 2020 was the longest year ever, and then 2021 was a blink of an eye?

Anyway, December 1st, I was super in the mood to cook/bake something challenging. We have been on a real Great British Bake Off kick, I even got DJ hooked. He caught glimpses of a few episodes and before I knew it, I turned on an episode and he said, “I’ve actually already seen this one!”. LOL.

Back to the baking challenge. I looked at the ingredients we needed to use up in the fridge: sharp cheddar cheese (I accidentally ordered it in bulk), granny smith apples (I accidentally ordered two bags), and lots of butter (yeah, got too much of that too). I found this recipe that fit the ticket from Williams Sonoma: Savory Apple Tart with Cheddar, Onions and Thyme. Mine doesn’t look nearly as pretty as their picture, but it tasted great! I wasn’t sure what to expect with cheese and apples together, but it really somehow worked. I had DJ do a good Paul Hollywood tasting of it. He took a bite then gave me a handshake 😊. He’s kind because it definitely didn’t deserve a handshake off appearance alone- but we did enjoy it. This made me so excited to start the holiday baking!

And we are nearly caught up! I have a couple more things to share coming up – but I’ll just give that a post of its own.

Question for you! 

  • Pineapple on pizza: yay or nay?

<3,

Mackenzie

Date Night & Moose’s Graduation from Kindergarten!

Goood morning! I hope you all had the most wonderful Thanksgiving and weekend <3 Right now, it’s sprinkling snow outside, which I love to see! I don’t love driving in it, but I’m cozied inside and enjoying the sight of the gingerly falling flakes out the window.

On October 2nd, DJ and I had our first date night out since we moved back. We still never celebrated our anniversary since I was sick during our plans & DJ’s birthday was the next week- so we called this a two-in-one, or three-in-one, if you count just getting a date night in! Since it had been so long, we decided to go all out! We went to 1929 Grille at Firestone Country Club. The view out the window was so relaxing. As much as we love our Moose, it felt nice to have a little break for a quiet dinner out. At home while eating dinner, we have to watch him the whole time and are often up letting him outside throughout the meal.

We started out with a pretzel fondue that I will not soon forget! I crave this and would go back for this appetizer alone!

For DJ’s main dish, he tried their gnocchi- which was easily the best gnocchi I’ve ever tasted. I stole my fair share.

I was so hungry, so I ordered their vegetable & five grain salad (which I forgot to take a picture of because I was so eager to dig in) & the salmon. Both were absolutely fantastic. I actually loved the vegetable & five grain salad so much, I’d happily just have that alone as my meal (with the pretzel appetizer, of course).

For dessert, we could not resist trying two: The apple cobbler and their crunchy cream pie. Wow, I don’t even know which was my favorite. Their cream pie is “legendary” and for good reason, but that apple cobbler is also some of the best I’ve tried. Everything we ate that night was next level good. We went home after and gave Moose all the cuddles.

Saturday evenings have become our family movie night. We try to squeeze in a movie or an episode of a show (right now, it’s Succession).

On October 3rd, the Pet Supplies Plus in town (where Moose does his obedience school) had a “lock-in” for the pups. They shut down the store in the evening and let the dogs have free rein, running around and playing, for a couple hours.

Moose had a blast. Here is him with his best friend, Leo. Leo also comes to Wednesday puppy social hour, and when the two of them are together, they’re pretty inseparable.

Also! A little update on Moose and his walks. He despised going on walks for the first few weeks we had him. We were lucky to do a small walk down the road and back. Now, he loves them and gets so excited when I grab the leash. We’re still working on him not pulling the leash though- so if you have any tips for that, I’m all ears!

DJ’s bday was October 6th. Per his request, we ordered in Buffalo Wild Wings, and I made his favorite dessert, dirt pudding. We had plans to celebrate over the weekend more with family!

For dinner on October 7th, we ordered Piada Italian Street Food. DJ had the carbonara, and I had the power bowl. Not pictured, but a must try, is their parmesan piada stick, so so good.

Here’s a picture of a sleeping Moose, just because. I recognize I am probably being that person who talks far too often about their dog, but I really cannot help myself!

I took this picture below to document the first notes of fall. Autumn around here has a very distinct scent and feel about it, and I was thrilled when summer started transitioning into that. We were lucky to have such a long summer this year, especially as we personally ease back into the cold- but I was ecstatic when I felt fall in the air!

Over the weekend and that Monday, we celebrated DJ and his twin sister’s birthday along with his Grandma’s bday. It was so wonderful to see everyone!

October 16th, we had a nice lazy Saturday morning.

That evening we heard a knock on the door around dinner time. We had no idea who it could be. We opened the door and found this on our step!

My sister-in-law and her friends “boo’ed” us! Have you heard of this before? I hadn’t until I learned about it from them. Basically, you leave a Halloween gift at someone’s door anonymously. While most days getting “boo’ed” may not sound like a treat, this certainly was- they even included toys for Moose!

October 17th, I spotted this spectacular sunrise. I just love the different morning skies around here.

Later that day we went on a hike at Kendall Hills with Moose man.

Then it was back to applying for jobs on Monday. I’ll give an update on all that soon!

That week we took our usual walks. Moose wanted to show off the cool leaves he found on our walking path 🙂

And just some fall spam for ya!

I think Moose may be tired of photos, lol.

October 30th, Moose graduated from his first level of obedience school (I just call it kindergarten). He had to “test” out, and he did! We were so proud!!! <3 He starts first grade in a few weeks.

On Halloween, October 31st, we drove over to my in-law’s for dinner & to see our nephew take off for trick-or-treating. He was the cutest Jack-Jack from the Incredibles <3. Also, it’s the cutest thing when he says, “MOOOSE!”. Speaking of, Moose was a Lion for Halloween, you can catch pics of that here! 🙂

DJ took this picture as we were getting out of the car, and it cracks me up because Moose looks so annoyed. He’s like, “Dad, help, mom is smothering me again”.

And I’ll leave you with this picture from one of Moose’s Wednesday puppy social hours. 

Question for you: 

  • What’s your TV show lately?

<3,

Mackenzie

First Days with Moose, A Wild Birthday & Blue Door Cafe!

Hey hey! How are you doing today? It’s a super rainy day here, and Moose hates, and I mean hates, the rain. I had to chase him around for probably 10 minutes to get him to go outside to go to the bathroom- he was not having it!! I stood in the rain with him covering him with my robe so he’d go, lol. On the bright side- last week it snowed for the first time, and he loved it! Looks like we have a little snow dog on our hands 🙂

Jumping into September- September 5th we went to a new church and loved it. We could see it being our home church, but it is a little far away- that’s the only downside.

We also continued our hikes into early September.

On one of our hikes at Lock 28, we kept seeing these “Mystery” Placards with fun little facts.

This area is just full of history. These structures below are remnants from locks for boats along the Erie Canal back in the day. It’s actually huge in person- it’s pretty amazing to see! 
After our hikes/walks we often would get Core Life Eatery salads for dinner. The salads are always so refreshing. I think we may have to get it for dinner again tonight!

One evening, my mom-in-law and Gordie stopped by to drop off Patio Donuts. These are the best donuts on earth, I’m sure of it. They’re from a place called Lakeside located on Lake Erie. DJ grew up spending many summers there, and it’s a place we love to escape when we have the time. When they offered to bring some donuts back on Labor Day weekend, we were not about to turn them down!One of my favorite hikes (I actually used to do a lot when I lived here) is Virginia Kendall Hills. On September 6th we took a nice long hike there in the beautiful weather.

Had to share this interesting little cycloptic critter we spotted.

The evening of September 8th, we walked on a trail closer to home and witnessed a stunning sunset.

Then September 9th was our day to pick up Moose!!!

We drove to an area near Bear’s Mill, OH to pick him up. Isn’t this sign a hoot?

And off we go 🙂

The weeks to follow were filled with endless cuddles and love, playing, minimal sleep, Saturday puppy school, Wednesday puppy socialization hour (this kid has more of a social life than I do!), lots of accidents in the house, vet visits and all our attention on this little guy. People do talk about how difficult it can be to have a puppy- it is way harder than I anticipated, but so worth it! We’ve had him for two months now and are in a pretty good groove. We still have to keep an eye on him 24-7, but he’s such a good dog & is learning fast! You can read more about our Moose here if you would like 🙂

I can’t handle how cute he is getting up the stairs with his little hop!

And this is just one of my favorite pictures ever <3

On September 18th, we went to our nephews 1st birthday. I’m so stinking thankful we’re in town to attend these parties now!

On the way to the party, this license plate gave us a little laugh.

The birthday party was wilderness themed- how cute are these cakes?!

The birthday boy loved his cake, especially the icing! It was the most adorable thing watching him shovel in handful after handful with pure delight.

It was such a special time and memory <3 Halston and Kevin drove in from Philadelphia too, so it was really wonderful to have most of the family together.

The party was the first time we left Moose for a few hours. He was a happy camper once we got home.

This just melts my heart when I call his name and he runs at me full force.

I was frustrated nothing was really rolling on the job front, but at the same time, it was such a good thing that I could take care of the Moose man as he (and we!) adjusted to our new home <3

 

That month I also met up with my friend since middle school, Kylie, for breakfast at Blue Door Cafe. This place is pretty famous around here and always jam-packed. They have phenomenal food. Their english muffins and croissants are particularly to die for!

It was absolutely wonderful to catch up with Kylie. Usually we only see each other once a year during holidays, if that- so the fact we could just get together on a random weekend was just the best!

I couldn’t stay away from Blue Door for long, because on September 22nd, I met up with my mom-in-law there for brunch! I had to get a picture of her chicken and jalapeno waffles- how good do these look?

I had their yogurt parfait this time. It was good and what I was craving that morning, but nothing comes close to that egg white croissant dish I had the first time!

That brunch was much needed. I was feeling very discouraged around this time regarding job prospects, and my mom-in-law gave me some amazing encouragement and words of wisdom that brightened my day and perspective!

On September 23rd, DJ and I tried Burger Fi. They have a GREAT vegan burger and their french fries are so yummy too.

This feels like a good place to wrap up! Catch ya next time 🙂

<3,

Mackenzie

Hiking Through Ohio Cont. & Some Nomz!

Hey hey!!! I have a couple days coming up that I’ve dedicated to catching up on the blog once and for all! Moose is snuggled up with me again. He is very quickly becoming my blogging buddy. I’m really looking forward to just typing away and reflecting on the last few months over the next couple days 🙂

We continued our hikes and exploration of the Northeast Ohio area from late August into early September. In between hikes I applied for jobs and chipped away at getting our home together.

This overlook on this trail was pretty breathtaking in person, the photo cannot do any justice!

At the same trail, we saw this sweet little cardinal among other wildlife.
On August 28th, I went to my friend Clair’s house and saw her and her kids. Oh I have missed them! It’s so nice they are within driving distance now.

On September 1st, I met up with another friend, Rachel, at a wonderful riverfront restaurant in Kent, OH called River Merchant.

I enjoyed the most delicious prawn salad and a side of yummy sweet potato tots while we caught up and chatted away! I’ve missed her soo much too- I don’t think I’ll get over being in driving distance of some of my best friends any time soon.

Anyway, even though we sat inside, the room was wide open, and we had some beautiful views of the river area next to us.

After our lunch, we went on a hike at Towner’s Woods. 
It was a great hike, with lots of different views, unique trails and finds like this little Lincoln Log cabin come to life.

The evening of September 3rd, we went to a football game at the high school I went to, but more importantly, we went to see my sister-in-law on the cheer squad. She did awesome!

After, we went to dinner at Paninis with a lot of the family. It was so nice to be able to spontaneously just do something like that now that we live here!

And back to the hikes we go! Meadow Trail is probably my second favorite trail after Brandywine Gorge Trail in my last post. 

After our lovely Saturday morning hike, we went to NOMZ in Akron at Northside Marketplace. The marketplace has a row of shoppes and a place to eat that resembles a really nice food court. NOMZ has a plethora of delicious vegan and non-vegan options. I had this “chik’n” sandwich with facon (fake bacon). SO yummy!
I also couldn’t resist a side of their green salad with pistachios, mint, avocado and cucumber- a simple and delicious combo. DJ had one of their Turkey clubs with cranberry mostarda sauce (no idea what mostarda is (Mustard? Google, here I come!). Whatever it is, Deej raved about how good it was. We’ll have to go back soon.

After lunch, we walked around the shops for a little bit. Then we drove around the city, admiring the wall art and character of the buildings.

On the way home, we stopped at Pet Smart to get some toys and other essentials for Moose.

Looking at this picture, it’s kind of funny how many additional toys and “Moose things” our home has accumulated since. I didn’t realize how much trial and error is involved in owning a pup! We have tried items that work, others that don’t. Discovered the type of toys he likes, others he feels “meh” about. Realized food that settles well in his stomach and the food that doesn’t. We’ve gone through multiple collars and leashes, cleaning supplies and dog bags. We discovered quickly he doesn’t like a hanging tag, so we had to get one of those “silent” ones from Road ID. I could go on, but he’s worth it all. It blows my mind he wasn’t in our family just a few months ago. We love him so stinking much, as much of a handful he is! Ha! <3

Anyway, there was something so nice about the “hum drum” of this time of hikes, settling into our house and not having school assignments due!

Question for ya! 

  • What’s going on in your world?

<3,

Mackenzie

First Few Weeks Home <3

Hi, everyone!! I am so ready to start the Ohio recaps. We have LOVED being back. I thought I was going to have many more mixed emotions since I also loved Austin so much- but as soon as I was back it just felt right…As though an entirely new chapter had begun, which it had! Although.. I do miss those sunset runs and find myself day dreaming about them time to time 💭.

Anyway, I drove back from Nashville early August just in time for our anniversary. Unfortunately, I hit a ton of traffic, so I didn’t get back until late- but we had planned on formally celebrating our anniversary another weekend anyway. More than anything- I just couldn’t wait to see DJ. Those three months apart were not easy, and I hope to never have to do that again. I hadn’t seen our townhouse in person either, so I was excited about that too!

DJ gave me a tour, and I immediately noticed the gorgeous flowers he got me for our anniversary <3 Also, side note- you can see wrapping paper up on the windows. We used the wrapping paper as a place holder before we got blinds. I think DJ actually made it look quite nice, and it was a much cheaper alternative than getting those temporary blinds!

The next week was operation get-unpacked-and-organized! I also spent a few days submitting a poster presentation to a national nursing conference- I won’t hear until December if it was accepted though.

I also discovered my love for a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee with oat milk. Yes I know, very late to the game on that one!

We saw family throughout the week that I hadn’t seen since 2019 (!!!), and I got to meet two nephews, which was obviously a big highlight 😊 I also can’t even tell ya how nice it was to have my mom-in-law and Gordie’s cooking again. Gosh, it is SO nice they, and much of our family, are just 15 minutes down the road!

That weekend we ordered from my favorite restaurant in town- Aladdin’s! They have a falafel pizza that is *chefs kiss*. DJ also loves their lamb dish. And of course, we can’t get enough of their famous hot sauce. Well, it’s famous in my book 😉

Around then, I started feeling a little under the weather for about a week- I think my immune system was just shot from all the travel and stress of the summer. When I started feeling 100% again, I started applying for jobs like crazy, went to the BMV (about 4 different times 😭), finished up getting the essential furniture for our home, and we got back to trying some restaurants in town. We ordered breakfast takeout from a nearby restaurant- Garretts Mill Diner. This was an amazing breakfast & those pancakes are in a league of their own!

Also, we had a good laugh over this receipt (look under veggie omelette).

I didn’t make a big deal out of ordering egg whites or anything, so I’m guessing Brian made an order wrong earlier that day. Oh, Brian! It seemed like such a sweet staff when I went in to pick up the order, so I’m sure someone was just playfully ribbing him. Whenever an order anywhere is wrong for us now we jokingly go, “Come on, Brian!”. But in this case, lemme tell ya, Brian made a GREAT egg white omelette!!

The weather toward the end of summer and early fall was absolutely gorgeous. We took full advantage and tried to get in as many hikes as possible!

We downloaded the AllTrails app which we lovee & started out on our first hike: Deer Run Trail.

This hike was a bit buggy, but still enjoyable.

Next was Brandywine Falls, probably my favorite hike to date.

I was amazed by these beautiful waterfalls! It’s kinda crazy that we lived here for most of our lives and didn’t know about some of these trails- my mom said she did take us here once when we were younger, but I don’t have a recollection of it!

The trail transforms from a shaded and wooded area with ledges and falls to an open running trail with a couple quaint little farms lining the trail. If you look closely, you will see a little lamb peering through the doorway.

The trail eventually went back to a more traditional wooded trail with a stream never too far out of reach.

For dinner, we found a new favorite restaurant- CoreLife Eatery. It is kinda like a Sweet Green (Sweet Green still is better, but this gives us our delicious salad fix!).

Near the end of August, I was craving a run on one of my favorite running trails- Lock 29.

The trail is mostly paved and super easy running with gorgeous views and nature. It’s just so peaceful.

I actually had my senior photos done here. It’s kinda fun all the little memories we have sprinkled throughout here. I think I was a little worried it would feel like I was stepping back in time coming back to Ohio, in the sense that I worried I would feel like the growth I made in myself over the last nine years would be lost. I didn’t like myself when I left the Midwest, and I worried I’d have some type of identity crisis moving back. It hasn’t been like that though at all, it’s just an exciting new time in every way, and I tend to remember the good here more than the bad. We often smile and laugh about our memories here prior to moving away, and it’s so much fun to simultaneously make new ones in a place that is so special to us ❤️

I can’t wait to share much more!

Thanks for reading 🙂

<3 ,

Mackenzie

Oh Hi!

Hi, everyone! Things might look a bit different around here. I decided after five years, I was ready for a bit of a blog change. I have been thinking about changing the name of my blog for probably over a year now, and I finally landed on the name “Oh Hi!”. It’s a little play on “Ohio”, but I also hope it captures the welcoming nature of the blog. If you type in mackmarie.com, you should still find yourself here, but the alternative URL is ohhiblog.com. That’s really the only change- everything else will be the same! Just a whole lot more Ohio content 🙂

A Lion That’s a Dog Named Moose!

Hey hey! Our little man Moose was a Lion for Halloween this year… for a total of about two minutes. He was not having it at first, but when treats got involved, he agreed to sport his mane long enough for a few blurry pictures, lol.  Anything for a treat!


As soon as we were done getting these shots, this costume did not stand a chance!

Hope y’all had a great and safe Halloween!

<3,

Mackenzie

NASHVILLE PART THREE!

Hey hey! Welcome to Part Three of my first and favorite Nashville trip! You can find Part One here and Part Two here.

After our exquisito dinner, we set off to explore another neighborhood in downtown- The Gulch.

The Gulch has a casual vibe. We walked around and took note of all the adorable restaurants and bakeries we would like to eventually try. We then stopped into 404 Kitchen and chatted the night away!

The first floor of 404 Kitchen is a gorgeous bar area. I love the sliding ladder on the far wall.

Also, I was quite amused by this banana wallpaper, lol.

We decided to try to get some views of the city after, so we went to the top of a hotel Kels had previously been to. Unfortunately, the top view was blocked for a wedding party, but it was still a beautiful rooftop!

And for the last local spot on our agenda, we stopped into Santa’s Pub to watch Karaoke.

As we walked in, we were greeted by wall-to-wall Christmas decor/trinkets and nearly every person singing along to whatever music was playing. There was hardly a place to sit or stand, but we found a couple seats to slide in near the back.

The vibe of this place was the definition of cheerful. It was easily one of my favorite parts of the trip.

You could tell this was a local spot- it seemed everyone knew each other and was familiar with the different singers to take the mic. A roar of applause would erupt as the announcer called up certain people- and we knew we were in for a treat! Some of these singers were just phenomenal. That’s what you get in Nashville- even casual karaoke is packed with talent!

We even spotted Santa himself! A man with a long, white beard was casually chillin’ in the outdoor porch area. Turns out it was the owner of Santa’s Pub. A sweet note- He earned this nickname from his grandson about 18 years ago.

The next day in the morning we went to Crema Coffee Roasters to grab some fuel to start the day. It was great coffee!

Lastly, we wrapped up with our final meal in Nashville at Adele’s with a brunch buffet.

This brunch had everything you could imagine for brunch-great music, a smoked salmon bagel bar, eggs, yogurt, french toast, a variety of meats, tons of different salad/cold dishes and much more!

We made two trips to the buffet but still couldn’t turn down the  tempting desserts!

I tried the chocolate mousse and a pecan bar- both were the most delicious end to the meal- I can practically taste them!

We got one last picture together and then went our separate ways- Kels started the trek back to Illinois, while I set off toward Ohio. I miss her so much already! It was an unforgettable few days!

Thanks for reading 🙂

<3,

Mackenzie