Family Trip to NC & Graduation!

Hello all!! I hope you are having a lovely week so far. I survived my last and probably my favorite intensive yet (content-wise). I learned so much. My head is spinning though- I think I need to go back and rewatch all the lectures because it was a ton of information. We also had to wait until today to find out if we passed our check-offs, and I did- *phew*- huge sigh of relief! More on all that later! For now, I want to jump right into our past April and May.

April was my study month. Okay, yes, every month has been a study month for the last few years- but this was the study month. As soon as I finished up clinicals, I was entirely focused on studying for boards (and I had started my endocrinology specialty, so I had some assignments for that). For those nurses studying for FNP boards out there- I did the Leik book & App- very helpful, the Sarah Michelle review which was my favorite, and the APEA review with Hollier-maybe less helpful for boards, but valuable for practice and review in general. I think I would have done Fitzgerald if I had to do it over because I heard great things about that one. I did not find the Exam Edge questions relevant or helpful at all. I did like Board Vitals though! My main unsolicited advice- do as many questions with rationales as possible!

Anyway- back to things outside of studying!.. April 5th I went to the Magnolia Silos with my mom. You can read about that trip here if you would like.

On April 11th, I drove to Keller when my sister was there visiting my mom and Pete. The first stop was F n G for dinner (one of my fav spots in town).

Our go-to item is off-menu- they have few vegetarian offerings, so if you ask for a vegetarian dish, they have something called Matchstick veggies- always so good. I have started using broccoli slaw in my every day meals because of this dish! It’s really delicious sautéed up with lots of veggies & a bit of olive oil.

And special shoutout to their peach cobbler which is pretty unreal.

April 12th my sister, Halston, had a simulated virtual trial for law school. Lucky for us, family and friends were allowed to watch! My mom and I sat out on the patio while she did her trial inside the house. It was SO cool to see her do her thing & she absolutely killed it! We were insanely impressed.

Sadly, my sister had to leave that evening to go back to Philly, but it was nice to briefly see her!

April 13th, I worked on homework all day, then my mom and I drove to the entirely vegan-comfort food spot, Spiral Diner in Fort Worth, for an early dinner. It was on the way home for me too, so this worked perfectly.

Love the retro vibes here!

We were blown away by how good the food was. We tried the Fajita Quesadilla and the Chef salad. There was a not a single bite leftover.


Then we walked around the cute area near the diner before I headed out to return to Austin.

Throughout the month, I took breaks studying with lots of walks along Lady Bird lake. I do not know what I would have done the last couple years without this trail!!

April 25th DJ and I woke up extra early and went to get some Summer Moon. I think this was the day the Austin Marathon was going on, so we had a hard time getting around town. We weren’t able to go to our usual Summer Moon, but we discovered one not too far away. And it was so nice inside! I love those chandeliers.

We then went for a walk around a park near us enjoying the beautiful morning.

We even climbed to the top of the Doug Sahm hill to get glorious views of the city. It was impossible to not make a few “What in the Sahm Hill jokes” standing up there 😝


Then moving into May! May 7th we arrived in North Carolina for my graduation on site, DJ’s graduation (MBA), Kevin’s graduation (DMD), Halston’s bday and Mother’s day! Lots to celebrate. We were greeted by this rainbow when driving from the airport to the hotel.

For dinner that evening, we went to Firebirds Grill which we all loved. I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are ever in the area! This was deemed Halston’s bday dinner 🎂 🎉

That evening we had a surprise for Halston! My mom brought one of her favorite cake flavors- Italian cream- chilled through security, on a plane and safely to NC.

Happy birthday seeeester! Hal opened her bday cards, and we all enjoyed some of that cake (suhh guuhd) before turning in for the evening.

May 8th was graduation day! I woke up early to get a quick run on the treadmill while watching Cruel Summer (this reminds me I’m very much behind on that show)…. anyway, the morning was going smoothly until I had to deal with the dang graduation hood. I could not figure it out! My group chat from school was buzzing with other people trying to figure it out too. I couldn’t help but laugh, here we are graduating with master’s degrees, but can’t figure out how to do the graduation hood properly, lol. Someone from the group shared a Youtube video and luckily my mom was down the hall and able to help me out with it. This was one of those unexpected special moments- I had flashback to her helping me zip up my dress for the wedding  <3 She’s always got my back both figuratively and literally!

We still weren’t 100% sure it was right, but it didn’t matter after all – and I noticed when I arrived everyone clearly had their own interpretation of how to wear the hood, hah.

We almost didn’t have a graduation, but about a month before they decided to allow us to attend in person. Very thankful it worked out!

Even though family and friends couldn’t attend in person, my family watched back in the hotel on a TV ❤️

After graduation, I caught up with friends for a bit then met up with my fam to walk around campus and take some pics. 

We were famished after all the festivities were over, so we were on the hunt for anywhere to eat. I remembered Bull City Burger and Brewery  being really good from my first intensive, so we headed there. It was just as good this time around! I am obsessed with their sweet potato fries.

That afternoon I took a siesta – I did not sleep a wink the night before since I had consumed wayyy too much caffeine during our travel day and had a lot of excitement over graduation. The nap was perfect, and I woke up refreshed and ready to go for the evening!

We headed to downtown Raleigh for dinner at Oak Steakhouse. Prior to dinner, we stopped in a nearby market to grab some coffee while waiting for our reservation.

The dinner was spectacular! I do have to quickly highlight their Caesar salad. I think it was the best I’ve ever had.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and opened the sweetest graduation cards <3 Then Kevin, Halston, DJ and I went into downtown Raleigh to go out on the town. We found a cozy little patio to sit outside and played multiple different games like Heads Up, Trivia, etc.

The next day, May 9th and Mother’s Day, we had an awesome jam-packed day planned before we all headed our separate ways that evening.

First, we put our names in at Flying Biscuit – one of the most popular breakfast places around. I think we had around a 2 hr. wait, which we were prepared for. While waiting, we grabbed coffee at Cafe Carolina in the same shopping strip, sat out on their patio, and my mom opened her Mother’s Day cards and gifts. You all already know she is one of the best <3 She is easy to celebrate on Mother’s day- grateful for her beyond words.

We then walked around and stopped into a few of the shops.
And not long after that our name was called!

This is one of the BEST and most memorable brunches and was worth every second of the wait.

We started with perhaps the most unforgettable part of the meal- their biscuits!! Oh. my. goooodnessss. Easily the best biscuits I’ve ever had- and that apple butter with them was wonderful. 

We appreciated how they had vegan options on their menu. My mom and I split a couple dishes- their hollywood omelette with egg whites, spinach, mushrooms, and vegan mozz along with their avo toast. Both tasty as alllll get out.


We also tried their chocolate chip pancakes- YUM.

The guys each ordered the dirty bird bowl with two split biscuits, oven-fried chicken, queso and chicken sausage gravy- they absolutely raved about this dish.

Next up we went on a hike nearby. It was such a wonderful hike and a gorgeous day!

We found a great lake to walk around and at some point all tried our hand at skipping stones. I discovered that is not a talent of mine!

When we said our goodbyes at the airport, I remember being soo sad this highly anticipated weekend was over. It was one for the books, per usual! When don’t we have the best time together?!

If you’d like to explore my previous on campus experiences more I’ll link them here 🙂

On campus #1

On campus #2

On campus #3 

We were supposed to have more intensives in person, but we had to go virtual due to the pandemic.

I’d love to know:

  • Do you have any family trips planned this year?

22 thoughts on “Family Trip to NC & Graduation!

  1. Congratulations again on an amazing journey! Thank goodness for the love of your beautiful family and loving husband! Congratulations to him as well. You both MADE IT!

    Now how in the world did your Mom get that cake all the way there?? Wow! lol!

    1. Thank you so much, Nancy!! 😄 they are the best, I don’t know what I’d do without them!!

      hahah right?! I think she some how brought it in a cooler or something- I didn’t even realize that was possible !

  2. The Spiral Diner food pics have me drooling over here, even though I just finished breakfast. Ha, ha! The Fajita Quesadilla looks unreal!!! I actually have Fajitas on the menu for this week and now I want to attempt to turn them into quesadilla’s. That just sounds so delicious!
    How exciting that you were able to celebrate your graduation with family, even if they weren’t in the actual room at that moment. I know you could feel their love in that moment anyway. And I love that you all spent all the other time celebrating together. That sentiment about your mom zipping up your wedding dress and then helping you with your robe was just so beautiful!
    My family just got back from our vacation, and it was fantastic! We went to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and spent some time at a kid-themed amusement park. It was SO much fun and really the best time. It was just Nate,the kids, and I though. In a few weeks, we go up to the mountains and spend time with my parents for a couple of nights; and I’m soooooo excited for that.
    I think that being stuck home so much due to COVID really taught me to appreciate travel and time with family even more than I had before!

    1. Hi, friend!! Just thought of Spiral Diner makes me drool too, lol. I told my mom it’s probably a good thing it’s not actually near us in Austin because I would have a hard time not ordering from it every day. I’m sure your fajita quesadillas will be awesome!! Why not combine two amazing dishes, right?! Oh gosh, here I am at 830 am craving a quesadilla too now, hah!

      You are so right- I definitely felt their love in that moment! It was fun knowing they were right down the road too.

      Oh my gosh yay!!! I can’t wait to read about it!!! The White Mountains sound like pure magic. You create the BEST of memories for your family always- this trip sounds just as unforgettable for them!! I know what you mean about COVID making us appreciate everything more- sooo true. Have a safe and wonderful trip in a few weeks- really happy to hear all is going well with you all!! <3

  3. Ohmygosh congratulations!!!!!! I’m so very proud of you, as I know your precious family must be.

    Your mom is the best mom, carefully maneuvering that cake through airports and planes!

    I don’t need any other food in life besides that dirty bird bowl!!!!! Yum!

    So now that you’ve graduated, what are the next steps in your career before you finally strap on your stethoscope and start treating patients?

    1. Thank you soo much, Jinjer!! That means tons ☺️ She really is the best- I don’t know how she pulled that one off, but now I guess we know it’s possible if you ever want to fly a cake across the country 😄 okay great question!!! It’s all a little confusing- so I graduated and passed my boards to be a family nurse practitioner, so I technically could start treating patients as soon as my state credentialing is finished (basically just paperwork); that is in the works now. I also added on an endocrine specialty that is “extra” to hopefully work in an endocrinology setting. I graduate from the specialty in August and started it in January. So my goal is to hopefully have a job as an FNP and be working this fall !

      1. Thanks for explaining all that! So then let’s say you’re ready to work this fall, how do you…find a job…or get placed…or whatever it is you do? You don’t have to look through the want ads and go on interviews or anything I don’t imagine. Does the nursing school or whoever took care of the training also find you the hospital or doctor’s office and just send you over there? I’m thinking about some of the medical TV shows I’ve watched.

        I know they have “teaching hospitals” where doctors get funneled through and then out into the world. I guess it’s the same for nurses?

        Well, however it works I know it will be very exciting for you and all your patients will love you.

      2. Aww thank you so much 🙂 That means a lot you think so, Jinjer!!

        You are absolutely right about teaching hospitals- I did work at one as a nurse, and it was an amazing place to learn! In my new role, I will be working in an outpatient setting (more like a traditional doctor’s office rather than a hospital). For the job hunt, I am going to be doing a mix of reaching out to endocrine clinics directly, viewing job openings on places like Indeed and attending any job fairs I see! If it ends up being difficult to land a job initially, I might work as a nurse in the hospital for a little bit in a contract position or something like that until something lands! Hope this all makes sense! Thanks for asking and the kind words!! What are your favorite medical TV shows? I was obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy for the longest time but haven’t caught up on the last few seasons.

      3. Yes it all makes sense! Thanks again for taking the time to explain. The only medical show I watch with intent and interest is The Good Doctor. I have seen random episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and other shows that I don’t even know the name of. I turn the TV on for my 94-yo Mom every evening at 5:30pm to watch the news and then we just leave it on ABC. However, if there’s absolutely nothing on ABC I switch to another channel and the other channels almost always have either a medical show or a law show. That’s how we see random episodes of stuff. lol

      4. No problem 🙂 ! Okay that is too funny you mention the Good Doctor, I was just telling my mom and sister about how a surgeon from the school I’m attending is helping write the script for one of their episodes! I am not sure which one, but I’d love to watch it- I have heard great things about that show!

        ABC is one of my choices for evening TV too-cannot go wrong with that 🙂

  4. Oh my goodness, huge congrats lovely lady this is amazing news and I’m so pleased you were able to celebrate your graduation. That cake looks so yummy, your mum did good keeping that in tact! Xxx

  5. A round of congrats are in order for everyone … you and DJ finishing school the same time is so exciting. Wow, the rewards are sweet for working so hard Mackenzie!

      1. Thanks Mackenzie – please do that. I’m mortified as I know I had a few comments from you to respond to and WordPress evidently only saves comments for two days’ time. I will search them out … I’m behind in Reader and here … again. 🙂

      2. Aw no worries at ALL! You know I know what that’s like to get behind!! just the name of the game in the blogging world sometimes 🙃

      3. I seem to be perpetually behind these days, even only one long post a week and a Wordless Wednesday. Like you said, you do what you can.

      4. Definitely! I’ve learned blogging ebbs and flows very similarly to life that way!

      5. This is true – I feel pretty good for catching up five days’ worth of posts in Reader, then everyone must have had a rainy day like we had because almost everyone posted today. 🙂

Let's chat!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.