Halston’s Graduation!

I am so excited to share this post!! A couple weekends ago, my baby sister, Halston, graduated from University of Cincinnati & I was so thankful I was able to watch her walk across the stage!!

Starting from the beginning…

On May 2nd, I ran six-ish miles before heading to the airport at 10 am to fly into OH for her graduation and also her bridal shower. DJ had to work all weekend, unfortunately, so couldn’t come along. He was missed somethin’ fierce <3 Anyway- I packed all my food for the travel day so I wouldn’t have to pay the exorbitant prices at the terminal. Since realizing you can take real food through security, it has been such a game changer! I just use my insulated lunch box and load it up with all the noms. Occasionally I do get stopped through security with it, but they always give the green light once they know what it is.

My go-to for the travels is a sweet potato, black bean burger, hummus, Fage, and whatever veggies might go bad that I can roast up and then throw in.


They also had a See’s Candy kiosk that you know I could not resist. I also didn’t know what flavor I’d be in the mood later, so I just decided to get one of each (totally justified buying these since I packed the rest of my food). 😉


On the plane itself I got hungry again so ate a Fage yogurt with PB2 (my neighbors were so confused what powdery substance I was pouring in there, haha). It is super high in protein so helps keep me full for a couple hours. I also nibbled on some popcorn and protein bars as well as raw veggies I had packed later on in the trip.


I had a layover in Chicago (got delayed by about an hour as we always do there), and then finally arrived in Cincy around 9:30 pm. My mom picked up me and Pete- who arrived exact same time I did since he was delayed too- (love when that works out) & we headed to the cutest little Airbnb. Even after the long day of travel, I felt so wired. No matter what, I can never sleep the first night I change time zones. I read my book most of the night while occasionally thinking just mayyyybe I could fall asleep, but then 20 mins later of trying to snooze I’d just started reading again. I think I finally fell asleep around 6:30 am and maybe got an hour or hour and half of sleep total. Hello, insomnia. When I was in India I don’t think I slept for three days straight- time change and jet lag just really messes me the heck up.

On the morning of May 3rd, my mom so kindly went out and got us all coffee (BLESS HER). And y’allll this joe from Deeper Roots Coffee (a non for profit coffee company), was one of the best cafe au laits I’ve ever had. You know that super smooth first sip that just hits your soul? Every sip of this was just like that 😍 After chugging that down I felt like I was ready to face the day!


Here is me, the beautiful smarty pants, and my momma! We got a picture before the humidity attacked. (And man did it attack! Lol).


Aaaand guess where we were able to go to breakfast before graduation?! First Watch!!! This was my favorite breakfast spot before moving to CA, and I stinkin’ miss it! I was stoked when Hal suggested we go. Also, we saw this sign driving in– best billboard ever!


We deemed it our Mother’s Day brunch since we wouldn’t be able to celebrate on the day of. We have grown so flexible with holidays over the years and it’s become fun to celebrate on our own watch! When you don’t have expectations, you can’t become frustrated- so we never set expectations and learn to “be like Gumby” as my mom has always reminded us growing up. The idea is to go with the flow when you can’t control things or make them fit into a certain peg & you’ll avoid a lot of frustration. The best of memories sometimes come in spontaneity and the originality of an experience (such as celebrating holidays on “non” holiday days 😉 ).


Coming out of my contemplative dialogue- I see First Watch has added dairy free creamer! That’s fun!


The boys split a platter of their million dollar bacon. I couldn’t help but capture the beautifully plated strips.


Although the menu has an abundance of new items I would like to try, my stomach was off from the lack of sleep and travel, so I stuck to my tri-ed and true Tri-athlete–It hit the spot! Next time I’m orderin’ their salmon tzatziki toast and lemon blueberry quinoa pancakes. For now, I’ll continue to live through Kori’s awesome pics of her visits. Although, they do have them in Austin which makes me oh so happy!


The graduation was held at Fifth Third Arena. I have never been to a graduation this massive before! Ha, I say that like going to graduations is like going to the movies. I’ve only been to maybe three other graduations in my life.


We had a hard time finding a place, but Kevin, her fiancé, scoped out the room and found us the best seats in the house.

There were soo many graduates! There is truly something about the energy at a graduation that is thick with emotion, pride and hope. It’s like an inspiring, nostalgic, and bittersweet electric current is rippling through the entire room.


Ahhh here she comes!!! You can easily spot her with her colorful sash for Latinos en acción.


Cue the tears- no seriously, I’m tearing up again writing this, hah.. I’m soooooo stinking proud of her.


She elegantly walked across the stage and didn’t fall! Woohoo! Go Sis!


After we walked around the campus for pics. I love her cap- it totally embodies what she is all about. Oh, and for those wondering she graduated with two majors (NBD!)- International Business and Finance-and a minor in Spanish. She also got a full ride for law school and aspires become an immigration lawyer. Yes, she is a bossss lady, and I am ecstatic to see the way she continues to change lives in the best way.


^^ The gorgeous couple! Gosh, I love um’!


^The fam bam.

After we went to celebrate at Halston’s Favorite restaurant- The Cheesecake Factory! Ya can never have a bad meal here. The rest of Kevin’s family joined us too!


My mom and I split their beet and avocado salad with glazed beets, avocado, fresh orange, arugula, and honey yogurt sauce and their salmon. Both were so scrumptious- the beet & avocado in particular was just such a lovely conglomeration of flavors. I wanna try to make this at home sometime!


They even brought Hal her cheesecake with a “Congrats” on it. So sweet! We all enjoyed bites of various cheesecakes before heading out.


On our way out we spotted this Cincinnati Bearcat and of course had to get a pic with Hal next to it!


The whole familyyy! (Minus Deej). My hair was flat-out done by this point- flat being the operative word, haha.


We all went back to the AirBnb and sat around the fire while listening to fascinating stories from Kevin’s parents from living in Peru, discussed the upcoming wedding,  laughed a lot, and even learned Bachata (a type of dance) from Kevin’s mom. I gotta practice a bit more before the wedding !


That evening I slept so much better than the one before. I fell asleep listening to the audiobook of Where The Crawdads Sing. I love it so far!

In the morning of May 4th I went for a nice run around the area of Hyde Park. It was one of those runs that I think will stay with me. So much joy and excitement surrounded this weekend, and that run cemented those adrenaline filled emotions into my memory. The area was captivating and picturesque too. I especially adored the way the morning dew drops clung to these purple blooms.


I had to stop several times to take in the seemingly illustrious home fronts and historic schools.


Once we all returned and got ready for the day we were ready for some coffee & breakfast. We walked across the street to The BonBonerie Cafe- the cutest little french cafe I ever did see! They have a garden entrance for their main cafe and also an adjacent bakery. We had to stop in both, naturally.


There is a special little area for tea time too. I saw moms coming in with their daughters all dressed up. It was adorable.


Of course I got a cafe au lait. It was perfect. The two cafe au laits I had that weekend were two of the most memorably delicious– Cincy knows how to do their coffee!


Next stop: Bridal shower!

The Bridal Shower took place in Strongsville, OH (close to Cleveland), so we drove that afternoon from Cincy to CLE (about three and a half hours).

Question for you:

  • Favorite Cheesecake Factory cheesecake flavor? Mine is probably their Oreo Dream X’treme. I love their tiramisu & vanilla bean too (I am usually anti-vanilla anything, but their vanilla is so creamy and delicious!).

xo <3

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59 thoughts on “Halston’s Graduation!

    1. Hi Chelsea!!! It is definitely unique! My parents just heard of it & liked it ! Ive always been kinda jealous cause I thought she got the cooler name 😆

    1. Hahah not this time! 😆

      I love strongsville too- such a great place to raise a family!! Who knows, maybe we’ll end up there someday. Do you have family there too or what takes you to strongsville ? Thanks for stopping in, Diane 🙂 have a great weekend!

    1. Aw thanks for stopping in, Mia! I will pass on the Congrats 🙂 Even though she’s my younger sister I look up to her so much.

  1. Congratulations to your bright & beautiful sister!! What a wonderful accomplishment. She will definitely do great things for others in her life!

    I understand the feeling wired after traveling. Your nerves are sort of heightened & on edge, so it’s hard to turn them off.

    Thank you for the sweet shoutout! Matt & I are going to First Watch tomorrow believe it or not. 😂 You meal looks delicious!

    I know what you mean about that soul-satisfying, smooth, ohmygosh heavenly first sip! K brew’s drinks maintain the velvety texture throughout the drink too. Mmm mmm

    Yay for going with the flow! I’ve learned this is so important & am thankful I can be far more open to spontaneity now.

    What a wonderful post & visit!

    1. Thank you so much, Kori- I will pass the congrats on to her!!

      Exactlyyyy I could not describe it better!!! Even being so exhausted my body is on hyper alert for sure when I cross those time zones.

      Ahhh can’t wait to hear all about your First Watch stop 🙂

      Yass- you speak my language. I have got to try K Brew one day. It always looks so dreamy when you post about it!

      Yesss, Amen, Sista!

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. I haven’t been to the cheesecake factory in so long, I can’t remember my favorite! I must remedy this tragic fact asap!

    1. Definitely need to remedy that soon!!! When you do, you’ll have to let me know what you choose 🙂

  3. Dang Halston is one smart woman! Amazing she got a full ride to law school! I didn’t realize that was even a thing to be honest so it’s incredible.

    Seeing your faux Mother’s Day brunch is getting me excited for my girls day with my Mom and sister on Friday. I have no idea what we’re doing yet but it’s always a good time.

    1. Hehe- she really is!! She might be younger, but she inspires me!

      Awww I hope you all had so much fun!!! Can’t wait to hear what ya all ended up doing 🙂

  4. I always enjoy reading your posts especially when they are about your family. I can feel the deep love you have for them. I totally agree with “be like Gumby”. If we don’t have expectations then we can’t be disappointed when things turn out to be less than expected and we can be filled with joy over the little things in life.
    Congratulations to Halston and God bless her future endeavors.

    1. Aw thank you so much, Ruth!!! I’m really glad you enjoy them! And yesss that is so perfectly said- it’s something I’ve had to learn and relearn over and over- but it’s a really valuable ability and perspective to take through life. I will pass on the sweet congrats. Hope you are having a nice week!

  5. Congratulations to your sister!! She sounds like an incredible human!
    Also, favorite cheesecake has to be the Oreo for me as well! It’s chocolatey but not too chocolatey and I love the creamy and little bits of soft crunch 😋

    1. Thanks so much, Jess!!! She really is 🙂 I admire her tons. And yessss it’s sooo good- has all the good yums in it. Thanks for stopping in!

  6. That is awesome the bridal shower and graduation were happening alongside each other!! I am sure Halston was so happy to have you there to see her walk the stage. I didn’t know you could bring food with you now to the airport, thanks for the information Mackenzie! Why don’t they put the candy stores down some dark corridor that is hard to find!? That was nice you and Pete arrived at the same time . Bless your Mom , she knew you needed some fuel for the day ahead , it is nice to support non profits, glad you liked the cafe au lait! I have seen Halston in photos before , but she is just as gorgeous as her Mom and older sister!! I love her dress. That is a funny billboard! You do have to celebrate holidays when you can not on the given day! I know that well. I see that fifth third is a basketball arena, don’t ask me the name of the Cincinnati team! It is always good when you stay on your feet on stage! Such a cute couple pose and someone got flowers ! I like Cheesecake factory a lot!! Beautiful pic of your family and Kevin’s . Her future Mother-in-law is so cute along with her husband . I see Kevin’s brother is going to be a heartbreaker for a lot of Girls! That will be fun to learn a new dance! That purple bloom is so pretty. Bon bonerie is my kind of place to relax . Next (first!) time I am in Cincy I will check it out . Banana split is my favorite from Cheesecake factory, so good!! Thanks for sharing Cincinnati Mackenzie, Terri xo.

    1. Yes! It worked out sooo nicely so we could make both 🙂 And right in between semesters- even better!!

      Tehe- right? Our plane was boarding and I still had to make sure I stocked up on my lollipops.

      Ahh that latte is still something I dream about! It just hit the spot! And yes my sister is so beautiful inside & out- truly a role model of mine even though she’s younger <3 Thank you for your kind words!

      I always say Kevin & Hal are going to have the prettiest babies because of how gorgeous the two of them are!! And you would love Bon Bonerie! Wish we could meet up for a cup of coffee there! Ohhhhh I haven't tried the banana split, but will have to soon! Thanks for the suggestion & stopping in! <3

  7. I think I must have just missed this post – I’m sorry that happened. As I scrolled to get here to post a comment, I saw Ruth and Diane (they are fellow bloggers for me as well). Well it was a memorable day for Halston and her family. I like that name. I had Googled what the sash were for and then you explained it and I love how she wrote on the top of her mortarboard. Three more years to get her J.D. – then an immigration attorney. I am not an American citizen, but Canadian; I’ve been here since 1966 and off and on think about getting dual citizenship, but it has not happened yet. I have had a big hassle the last few times I’ve renewed my green card – especially the last time, I have no fingerprints – years of typing, school, then college, legal secretary for decades and now blogging … the fingerprints have worn off. So I had to go back twice and to the police station back in 2015 to prove I’m not a criminal. What a memorable year for your sister … she’ll not top this year, though passing with that J.D. will be a big deal as well. So you two will both have your degrees in 2022. I liked that expression “bend like Gumby” … I will have to remember that. It is good to be flexible about things … I need to bend like Gumby more.

    1. No worries! For some reason this post didn’t show up on the Reader initially, so I think it was missed by many. I appreciate you even circling back!

      I knew you lived in Canada, but I didn’t think I realized you were actually a Canadian citizen! I’m so sorry it’s been such a pain renewing your green card. I even had issues with my fingerprints not being accepted when I was applying for my nursing license. All such a pain. I hope next time is easier for you. My friend (more like a sister) Annie who lived with us in High School had to go back to South Korea for a couple years because her green card wasn’t renewed– I was devastated. But she is coming back to the states later this year!

      Yes she is a true inspiration- I am just soo proud of her, it’s hard to put into words.

      And Absolutely 🙂 I have to remind myself to be like Gumby alll the time, because control and regimen is what I like to learn more towards. Thank you for reading, Linda! Hope the sun was shining for you this weekend.

      1. I’ve lived here since 1966 and thought of changing my citizenship or having dual citizenship but never did it. It was not always a problem, just filling out a postcard – now very extensive and expensive as well. And the hassle due to the fingerprints made it even more burdensome.

        Will Annie stay in the U.S. for good once she gets back here?

        That will be a good career move for Halston and there will always be a need for immigration attorneys. My boss is a management labor attorney and though you would think there is always a need for them, we are finding more and more of our larger clients, especially after Obamacare went into effect, they will hire a “Human Resources Generalist” and they have the skillset to take care of things like negotiations, grievance hearings – things that my boss did all the time.

        I need to be more flexible, I really do. We will have a nice day tomorrow til day’s end. I got in a walk today, but it rained most of the day afterward.

      2. Oh that makes sense.

        She is going to try to for sure!

        Oh that’s so interesting- i will have to share this with my sister too because she’ll be fascinated by it too.

        It’s something I need to work on everyday too! Definitely doesn’t come natural. So glad you got your walk in before the rain! 🙂

      3. I have to renew it by 2025 and someone suggested I at least get a passport so I show that I “belong” to a country and perhaps it will make the green card renewal easier. I recently went to our post office to get a form but they are not a passport station (nothing is easy anymore). 🙂

      4. Ohh that’s a good idea! But such a bummer they didn’t have them – hopefully you can find somewhere else nearby!

  8. Hahaha I LOVE that dad jokes billboard– it is 100% accurate!! 😂 Congratulations to your beautiful sister. She’s going to do such amazing things!

    The bacon strips plate is making my mouth water! & how sweet that The Cheesecake Factory wrote out “congrats” for your sis, I love that. ♡

    I’ve heard some good reviews on Where The Crawdads Sing. Have you finished it yet? I’m curious how you ended up liking it!

    1. Haha isn’t it great? I got wayyy too excited when I saw it!

      Aw thanks, Hunida! I will pass this on to her <3

      It was so thoughtful of them to do that- it's always nice when even big busy establishments are conscientious about the little touches.

      I haven't finished it yet- but I'm hoping to do some walking and listening to it later today.. So far I'm really enjoying it! I have a harder time with audio books than regular ones though- I tend to get distracted! Thanks for reading, beautiful!!

      1. Lol that billboard really is great. Perfect for our sense of humor! 😂 That truly was thoughtful of The Cheesecake Factory. I’ve only ever seen “Happy Birthday” on desserts! & I agree about audio books! I’ve never been able to listen to one all the way through before!

      2. 😆

        Our similarities never cease to amaze me! I am gonna try really hard to make it through this one because it’s really incredible so far! I just have to try to stay focused.. it’s good for when I’m out on walks!

  9. Congratulations to your sister for graduating from university! That’s amazing she got a full ride for law school!
    That’s good you bring your own food to the airport. I never do that & I always regret it b/c the prices are so expensive.
    The breakfast from First Watch looks delicious!
    I miss the Cheesecake Factory, but my favorite cheesecake has to be the Reese’s one.

    1. Thanks, girl! 🙂 I will pass on the sweet congrats!!

      Yesss- exactly- I spent too many times paying an arm and a leg for a measly snack, so now all I have to do is get water and fluids & the actual food I can just bring along to save some money! Hope it works for ya next time you travel 🙂

      Oohhh yes, Reese’s is phenomenal! I think that’s my other sister’s favorite too!

      1. It will be a while before I can fly since I can’t go through customs or my pending residence permit will be annulled & I won’t be allowed back into Denmark…but I’ll try to remember for the next time!
        Yes! Reeses are the best!

      2. Ahh I see, all that red tape can be such a pain!

        Agreeed! Hope you are having a nice start to the week, Karalee 🙂

  10. I love the message on the cap 🙂 Oh I love See’s Chocolate, I get a box every year for my birthday and keep it in the fridge for a pick me up.

    1. Aw I’ll let her know- she’ll appreciate that!! It was so thoughtfully made and representative of who she is!

      And See’s is the BEST!!! I see why you’d save it for your birthday- it is some phenomenal chocolate 😋

  11. I honestly didn’t know you could* take real food on the plane. I always thought it had to be stuff you bought once you passed through security or that it has to be packaged lol.
    And wait, you’ve been to India before? I want to make sure I read that correctly lol.
    Awh your sister looks (looked?) Incredibly gorgeous!! And love how ambitious she is career wise, I think its wonderful she wants to be an immigration lawyer. I assume her fiance is latino as well. Ah yes, you confirmed it I just had to keep reading lmao. That’s awesome that you guys got together with his family too to celebrate together and that they shared some stories about living in Peru. Ah man, latino culture is so deep lol. Love that they taught you a bit of bachata, I kind of forgot about that haha. Ok, I just HAVE to ask…what kind of wedding will they have? Traditional American? Peruvian? Mix of both cultures? I’m honestly so super curious!!
    Also also also, I wonder…if i may ask, how much do you miss Ohio? Lol.
    And whoa I cant believe you guys made the drive three hours out for the bridal shower! Lol.

    1. Yeah haha isn’t it such a game changer?!

      And yes! Southern India- Chennai and Madurai- for a medical trip with my school. I absolutely loved it ❤️

      Aww I will pass on the sweet words, she’ll so appreciate that! 💕 The Latino culture is so beautiful- I’m fascinated by it and could have listened to those stories all night!

      So it’s pretty much a traditional American wedding – but they are getting married on a boat in Miami and I’m sure it’ll be a lot of Latin inspired dancing! My sister is obsessed .

      Awww we miss it! Not ready to go back yet, but definitely are considering it for when it comes time for kids !

      Hope you are having a good start to the weekend, Rossy!! 🤗

      1. Thanks for informing us. I’ll be sure to pack some snacks for ciel and I when we go to Utah next May. My sis is graduating from high school so I plan to make a trip over there lol
        Ooohh that’s so wonderful Mackenzie! How long were you there for? My cousin is also a nurse and she got to go to south Africa for a few months.
        Oooooh that sounds like loads of fun! No wonder you’re excited!!
        You are so adorable! Flying back to the coop when you’re ready for kiddies! I think that’s fantastic! 💜 cant wait for that! Lol.

      2. Of course!

        Aw how fun with your sis graduating too!

        We were there for about 2.5 weeks, so not super long but we did go to two different cities- Madurai and Chennai!

        Ohhh I have always wanted to go to Africa!! There was another group that went to Zambia and the stories were pretty incredible from those trips.

        Awww us too 🙂 I’m so ready for babies, but have to wait a few years still- UGH. I spent the morning of mother’s day crying because my baby fever is sooo bad. hahah. One day .. one day..

      3. Ah that’s still pretty awesome though! Besides Mexico, I haven’t been to any other country. I so badly want to though! I don’t count Mexico because it wasn’t up to me to move there when I was little, more like our parents dragged us along XD
        Do you get to make trips like that anymore? Or was that like a one time thing? Or is it what you’re studying towards that allows you to travel more or not? Or is that a personal preference? Something you apply for? Idk.. Sorry for all the questions lol.
        You’re time will come! 🙂 Don’t worry! You’re still pretty young (emphasis on pretty) so you got some time 🙂 What does DJ think about that baby fever though? LOL 😉 Is he as ready as you are?

      4. Oh I see, I see! How long did you live there for?

        Haha- I love the questions! I haven’t been on a trip like that in a long time- I went to Dominican Republic through middle and high school for mission trips then India…so I definitely plan on it again. Just going to be the right timing- I am hoping to maybe implement my doctorate project in another country with our global department in my nursing program- we’ll see!!

        Awww thank youuu! <3 He isn't quite as ready as I am... meaning he's good for a few years haha. But he's really sweet about it when I get all emotional about it all!

      5. I think I lived in Mexico for about 5 or 6 years. We moved from LA when I was about 2 or 3, came back around 9. I don’t really know the exact timeline when we moved but yeah.
        Ah that makes sense, I forget that some churches have mission trips and that’s one way to travel lol.
        That’s okay! I always think that you’re never truly READY to become a parent, all I am going to say though is, your time will come when you guys are meant to become parents. 🙂 it will be an exciting time for you both I’m sure and whenever that time comes, I just HAVE to come meet the little one even if it’s many YEARS from now lol

      6. Ohhhh I see! So I’m sure you do have some memories then?!

        Thanks girl ❤️

        And yes yes that will be a must :)! The thought even makes my heart melt!

      7. Yes very few. That part of my life is kind of a blur. One of my longer lasting memories from that time is the dog lol. He was a stray and the (extended) family didn’t want to keep him but my brother refused to let him go, so with lots of love, he lived to be very old. He lived with my aunt. I’m very sad that we left him behind when we ended up moving up here. Where we lived in Mexico, the towns are pretty small, everyone knows one another, literally no crime at all, etc. Well the doggo would walk us to school and would even pick us up at our house to walk with us to my auntie’s house every morning for breakfast and to get ready for school. Super adorable. He would pick us up from school too! (T_T) I miss him dearly! </3 I just remember seeing him waiting for us across the street, tail wagging. We loved that dog and he loved us. He was my favorite, no one will ever replace him.

      8. Oh my goodness that’s the sweetest story ever <3 My heart is melting!! I bet you do miss him tons- also makes sense why you'd want a new pup all the more too!

      9. It doesnt even sound real huh? sounds like a movie lol but yeah that was our lil’ stray pup. I think hes the reason I love dogs so much. He was the best. His love for us so unconditional, it really makes you think how animals are so loving.

      10. Exactly – it really does sound like a sweet movie ! The bond with an animal really is so special ❤️ it’ll be cool to see 5 or so years from now what new pups we both have as part of our families!

      11. I am DEFINITELY getting another dog in the next 5 years. By then CL will be close to 10 and there won’t be an excuse to NOT get a dog. Can’t wait, In the meantime, I will be patient. The perfect pup will come along.

      12. Oh yes! That sounds like great timing!!! I will try to be patient with ya 🙏🏻 I want one so badly haha

  12. Awww!! Congratulations to your sister!! What a huge accomplishment! I love the verse she chose for her mortarboard! I don’t think I realized you could take real food through security either. Good to know. I like a classic cheescake, usually plain, but occassionally with a raspberry or strawberry sauce. I have had a good key lime cheesecake, but that was in Charleston, not the Cheesecake Factory.

    1. Thanks Amy! I will pass that on 🙂 and yess I know what you mean- I am usually the type that if you can get something flavored up it’s a must, but with cheesecake it’s hard to top classic! That key lime does some phenomenal- especially if it’s from Charleston ! 😋

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