BIG NEWS!

I have some news….. part of me is super nervous to announce it because I’m afraid it’s all just a dream that will disappear once I bring it to light…

BUT, GUYS! I was offered and have accepted THE DREAM JOB! This “dream” entailed being a part of a special new grad nurse program. You know… the one I talked about here, and here, and here.

THE JOB!

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But there is something so cool that I have to share surrounding this process. I don’t mean to get preachy, but I just can’t contain myself.

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Lemme back track a bit. Our church started the New Year off with a series on prayer. This TRANSFORMED the way I pray and the way I think about prayer. It is such a powerful tool we have been given, a direct line to the Creator of the Universe. I think growing up in the church I sometimes take for granted the beauty and immense power of it. And prayer isn’t just about asking for something, solely. No, it’s beauty is in the relational element of it. It’s crazy how God will change your perspective, bring you peace, bring you solutions when you just ask! Matthew 21:22 says, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith”. Now, I’m not saying that Corvette you prayed for last Tuesday will show up on your doorstep (But who knows, maybe!). The thing is, when you are in this relationship with Christ and go to Him, your Father, in prayer, He will transform your heart, your thinking, and your life to be more aligned with His. Your capacity to forgive will be expanded. Your love for this hurting world will be deepened. Your ability to see a situation with wisdom will be sharpened. The desires of your heart and what you ask for will be more aligned with His will, and He wants to give the best to His children. Yes, I realize this life brings so.much.pain. How does that align with this same God? That’s another topic completely, but presently I just want to emphasize His love is incomprehensible and all He wants is to be in relationship with us. He became man and died so that we could have eternal life. He cares that much about us, so why do we think He doesn’t care about the small stuff sometimes? He cares about every detail. He wants to be involved in every detail of our lives. We just have to let Him in, we have to talk to Him, we have to confide in Him.

Anyways, I’m trying to keep this short. So let me just turn this back to the interview right quick!

When anyone asks, “What field of medicine are you interested in?” My answer is always the same: Oncology or neurology. I aspire to be a nurse practitioner one day in one of those fields. Why? These are fields that heavily rely on loving and encouraging patients-hard prognoses are not strangers to these areas. All areas require compassion, all areas are incredibly noble,  but I particularly gravitated toward these areas personally. I have a long way to go on my technical skills, but I can give love. I’d also love to do research one day in these fields to help contribute to the solutions for some of these incurable diseases. I have a heart for both dearly, but I only have clinical experience in oncology. However, if someone were to give me the choice between the two, I probably would choose neurology- I find it incredibly fascinating, and it also has personal ties close to my heart.  But I’ve never expressed how much I wanted to work in neurology to anyone, not even DJ. The choice just didn’t seem to exist for new nurses. When a chance to interview for oncology opened up, I jumped on it, because, like I said- I have experience there, and it is a field I truly have passion for and would be honored to work in. Neurology just wasn’t an option.

The morning of the interview my phone lit up with texts from so many friends and family filled with prayers. I wrote 1 Philippians 4:6-7 on my bathroom mirror and repeated it over and over to myself on the drive to the interview. Understanding the power of prayer, I felt peace. I shouldn’t have felt peace going into a panel interview for crying-out-loud with three other candidates (yes, all candidates are interviewed in the same room at the same time). Our answers were timed and we had five people in front of us to answer. I shouldn’t have felt peace considering I was competing against girls with far more clinical experience, ivy league educational backgrounds, and personal connections to the hospital. But He was with me, He helped me think clearly and articulate out of compassion. I shouldn’t have felt peace based on the situation, but I just felt the Lord’s spirit with me, and He is the Prince of Peace. I couldn’t have done that on my own, but I did it on His strength.

When I received the phone call the day after my interview, the HR director said, “I have an offer for you.”

My heart leaped with joy!

“But…” she said, “It’s not in oncology.”

I grew confused. But that’s what I interviewed for? 

“It’s on a neurosurgical unit”.

Wait… hold the phone. Neurology?! NEUROLOGY? I didn’t even interview for a neurological position, I didn’t even tell a soul that this was truly my heart’s foremost desire, but God knew. Why do I ever put Him in a box? Thinking He operates within the rules we place on Him? Our God is so big, He loves us more than we can imagine. He will give us our hearts desires if we just ask, “give me YOUR desires, Lord, let YOUR will be done.” He will align our hearts desires with His plans for us.

And in case it’s not clear- our God is a God of the impossible.

I also want to say a massive thank you to all of you for your prayers, encouragement, and love throughout this long process.

I have no words to express how excited I am to care for my future patients, love  others in Jesus’ name, and be part of the extended hand of healing.

xo <3

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The Daniel Fast: A Quick lil’ Guide

Hey guys! Considering it’s the twelfth of January, it’s probably time for a recap. Honestly, not too much has been going on. Just settling in after the holidays, a lot of applying for jobs and hiring events (for DJ and I), cleaning out house, and cooking.

Our church is participating in the Twenty-One Day Daniel Fast, and I was all unsure about if I should even mention that here because, you know,…. (Matthew 6:16-18), but since we are doing this as a church I think a lot of these food ideas can help someone looking for ways to recreate meals using DF ingredients. We also have created new meals that are actually pretty doggone delicious, so I wanted to record them for future reference! Fasting is a very personal conviction, so the purpose of this post is not to make any kind of statement about fasting, but simply to share some ideas with those who may be doing the fast (or just others who want to consider some new healthy ideas!!!) Everyone does the fast differently too, so some of these items may need to be tweaked based on what parameters you have established for yourself! Did I make enough disclaimers and use the word “fast” enough in one paragraph?! 😉

On the first day of the fast we had zero food in the fridge and everything in the pantry was not “fast approved” so this required a fun little trip to Whole Foods!

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The Daniel Fast Approved List

from TheUltimateDanielFast

    • All fruit – fresh, frozen, dried, juiced, or canned.
    • All vegetables – fresh, frozen, dried, juiced, or canned.
    • All whole grains – amaranth, barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa, millet, and whole wheat.
    • All nuts & seeds – almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds; unsweetened almond milk. Nut butters are also included.
    • All legumes – canned or dried; black beans, black eyed peas, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), great northern beans, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, and split peas.
    • All quality oils – avocado, coconut, grapeseed, olive, peanut, sesame, and walnut.
    • Beverages– distilled water, filtered water, and spring water.
    • Other – unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, or soy milk; herbs, spices, salt, pepper, unsweetened coconut flakes, seasonings, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, soy products, and tofu.

    Foods to Avoid on the Daniel Fast

    • All meat & animal products – bacon, beef, buffalo, eggs, fish, lamb, poultry, and pork.
    • All dairy products – butter, cheese, cream, milk, and yogurt.
    • All sweeteners – agave nectar, artificial sweeteners, brown rice syrup, cane juice, honey, molasses, raw sugar, syrups, stevia, and sugar.
    • All leavened bread & yeast – baked goods and Ezekiel bread (if it contains yeast and honey).
    • All refined & processed food products – artificial flavorings, chemicals, food additives, preservatives, white flour, and white rice.
    • All deep-fried foods – corn chips, French fries, and potato chips.
    • All solid fats – lard, margarine, and shortening.
    • Beverages – alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, energy drinks, herbal tea, and regular tea

Personal Recommendations/Tips:

  • Hummus (look at long label ingredients to make sure there are no additives) is a MUST or make it from scratch!
  • PEANUT BUTTER- find an organic, unsweetened peanut butter like MaraNatha
  • Evoke Athlete Fuel Organic Muesli
  • 90 Second Brown Rice packs from 365- make sure there are no additives
  • Try a variety of potatoes! Small, sweet, regular, purple!
  • Get a combination of frozen fruit and fresh fruit. Frozen fruit is great to make mixes for “sorbet” and as a sweet treat for dessert.
  • Stock up on a variety of nuts & organic raisins or unsweetened dried cranberries to make your own trail-mix- we love pumpkin seeds, cashews, peanuts, pepitas, slivered almonds, and raisins for ours!
  • Whole grains: Quinoa, Farro, and Rice will add bulk to any meal! Get a variety and make it in bulk to eat for a couple of days.
  • Lemon juice makes a wonderful “dressing” for a salad when mixed with olive oil.
  • Bragg’s liquid aminos might sound scary… but it is a GREAT substitute for soy sauce and it’s great to cook tofu in.
  • When picking out tofu- go for the extra firm. (Firm is okay for tofu scrambles though). Before using it, wrap it in a towel, put it on a plate and put a heavy object on top (I actually use a giant nursing textbook!) and let it sit in the fridge for an hour. This helps get rid of the moisture and create a super dense, meat-like consistency.
  • Let me introduce you to Bob Mill. He is your best friend. Stock up on corn grits as substitutes to bake and “bread” food with.
  • Salsa!!! Make sure it doesn’t have vinegar added, or make your own!
  • Have a date with lotsa dates- they can add sweetness and texture to anything!!!
  • Most importantly- Don’t lose sight of what you are doing the fast for- don’t get caught up in the “dos” and “don’t”s of the fast
  • Watch God do some amazing things!

Breakfast

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Tofu scramble in olive oil with cayenne/garlic powder/paprika/turmeric/sea salt & avocado & hummus

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Coconut flour& oats & banana pancakes topped with a blueberry compote- 2 large bananas//1/2 cups of oats//splash of vanilla//splash of almond milk in a food processor to get a fluffy batter, cooked like a regular pancakes, some light syrup or blueberry compote on top, and you are golden as a goose. If you are feeding more people, just double the recipe! I also like to add a bit of plain Chobani or Fage on the side to add some protein. I tell ya what, I think I could live on this stuff.

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Oatmeal: This is SO versatile. There are endless combinations of oatmeal. Add some berries to your oats before heating them up and the fruit will turn into a nice compote. Top with cold, fresh berries on top to add a nice balance of temperature and texture.

Other oat add-ins: Unsweetened Coconut flakes, Unsweetened chopped date pieces, organic peanut butter, EVOLVE Athlete Fuel (store bought trail mix that is DF approved), nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc.), uncooked oats (add texture), unsweetened almond milk

Lunch & Dinner

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Packed lunches: Fruit of any kind (bananas, grapes, clementines), hummus and carrots, Mary’s Gone Crackers (Classic Flavor), and homemade trail-mix

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Tofu “Chicken Nuggets” crusted and baked with corn flour, salsa, carrots, & hummus.

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“Everything but the kitchen sink” vegetable salad topped with broccoli sprouts, hummus, and topped with lemon juice!

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Tempeh cooked in liquid aminos over a bed of farro, hummus, and tomatoes.

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Quinoa and mango salsa topped with avocado slices

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Purple sweet potato stuffed with pinto and kidney beans, broccoli sprouts, brown rice, and tofu sautéed in salt & pepper & liquid aminos.

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Purple sweet potato (or any potato)  stuffed with guacamole and SO delicious dairy free unsweetened yogurt.

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Peanut crusted tofu over mashed kidney/pinto beans with broccoli. I just put the raw peanuts in the food processor and crusted the tofu in them!

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Leftover tofu (that was sautéed in olive oil) and cooled in the fridge over a bed of mixed greens. Tofu is soo good the next day!

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This was one of our favorites! Zucchini “lasagna”. The tofu crumbles act like ricotta cheese and the ground corn flour acted like breadcrumbs- we were honestly surprised at how well you can trick your mind!

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Hempseed burger from Good Seed Burger over a bed of brown rice and steamed edamame with sea salt

Dessert 

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Fruit sorbet with 1 ripe banana, frozen strawberries, frozen peaches, & a dash of unsweetened almond milk.

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Cocoa Nibs with 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut, 6 medjool dates (de-pitted), & 2 TBSP cocoa (cocoa is slightly controversial- you may leave out!). Put in the food processor and then ball them up! Place in the fridge for a couple hours and then you won’t be able to resist 😉

Other ideas not pictured:

  • Sweet potato fries (or regular baked fries)
  • Roasted veggies: asparagus, brussels sprouts, root veggies, etc.(usually you can toss in olive oil/grapeseed oil and roast at 350 for about 35-55 minutes)
  • Mashed potatoes made with unsweetened almond milk and olive oil

I’ll continue adding ideas and recipes as we make them!!

Hopefully this helped someone trying to figure out how to navigate the fast, OR just sparked some healthy eats ideas for someone else! 🙂

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Happy Fasting!

xo <3

Mack

A Prison, a Criminal, and a Lawyer

Friday, Friday, Friday! Woohoo! Well this past week just flew, didn’t it?! I have some interesting anecdotes to share from this past week, for sure! Also-sorry for the massive overload of recipes posted. I have had them sitting in drafts for a while and figured I should probably just post them already!

Real quick, last Thursday night I whipped up Blue Apron’s Curried Cod with coconut rice. You need this in your life. I promise. I talk about how Blue Apron works here, if you are curious 🙂

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Last Friday we went to the Orioles vs. Giants game with our family. Ya’ll know how we love our Orioles. However, I still jump during the National Anthem when everyone screams, “O’s”. Even after four games this summer I somehow forget that’s the thing to do! It always makes me leap like five inches off the ground. Anyone who has been to an Orioles game knows what I’m talking about. We went to AT&T park with our family, and this baseball park is easily one of the best in the country. I still prefer Camden Yards for it’s retro, 100% your at a cracker-jack-and-peanuts baseball game feel, but this is a close second! It overlooks the bay and you can actually watch boats come in and out of the pier.

 

Our dad (DJs side ) got us all baseball caps for the game (Not sure why I’m not wearing it in the picture above?!). But I LOVE baseball caps, and now have a new favorite! I think I have more “bad hair days” than the average person, so a new baseball cap is  a big deal. Plus it represents our team! The Orioles won, just so everyone is clear. Also, walking around San Francisco at night is quite beautiful. The place is always poppin’ and the Bay Bridge was absolutely gorgeous.

DJ and I shared a wonderful breakfast at the hotel before heading out for the day. I have seen smoked salmon and a bagel on many breakfast menus, but usually salmon for first thing in the morning sounds off. That day I was feeling up for trying it, and it was monumentally delicious. The concept is pretty simple too, and I might need to get some ingredients to have this at home sometime. It is paired with dill cream cheese, red onion, fennel greens, and capers. I think DJ probably got annoyed by me saying with every mouth-full, *muffled* “Oh muh gushhhhhhh, its suh guuuuuuuuud”.

IMG_8423We then headed out to *dun dun dun*- Alcatraz!!! I have been so excited for weeks since we planned this trip to go here and it surpassed my expectations! If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, this is worth your time. We took a ferry over, and the views and weather were perfection. We could not have asked for a better day, especially because the temperature tends to drop drastically when you are right on the water. A light jacket did the trick!

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We opted to do the audio tour, which is the best way to explore Alcatraz. It takes you on a journey using some of the real voices of previous inmates, guards, and workers. I don’t want to give much away because you have to go for yourself.

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** Side note: DJ always makes fun of my hands in pictures because he says it looks like I have a claw or some alien signal, lol.

Before we left for the day we did one of those bicycle carts. It was exhilarating whipping through the city on those!!!!!! Nothing beats a weekend with family. Those two days packed in memories I will always treasure <3!

Saturday night consisted of unpacking, cleaning the house up a bit, and DJ studying away. It is so strange having completely reversed roles. Last year I was studying non.stop. every single day, and DJ was in more of a “transition” year. Now he is the one studying his tush off. However, as soon as I get that approval to test for my nursing boards I am going to crack down! Then we can just be a couple of study bugs together.

IMG_7931Sunday morning we went to Church and it was awesome, cause really, would it be anything else?! I wear workout clothes to run errands and do everything around the house about 95% of the time, so before I changed into said comfy garb, I had DJ snap a shot to prove that I do wear normal people’s clothes for about two hours each Sunday!IMG_8473

For dinner, we had some leftover coconut rice and so I grilled up a whole bunch of shrimp in BBQ seasoning and some pineapple to throw on top!IMG_8474

Monday- Oh, Monday. This day was eventful! It was DJ’s first official day of law school, and I had a hair appointment. The contrast is striking.

I have been trying to get my color back to a more natural state and believe me, up close it was evident I needed to get something done. The roots were pretty bad! We were in one of those salons where each room is separate and owned by one or two hair stylists, but it all makes up one giant salon. Typically on Mondays salons are closed. The hairdresser took me because she was going away for the weekend and wanted to get another customer in. The salon was very quiet. However, as we were letting the color dry, a hairstylist came running from the other side of the salon screaming bloody murder. It was absolute pandemonium. She was running all over the place screaming, “He took it, he took everything!” through hysterical tears. Well apparently, she had just went to the bank, went to her salon, placed her purse on a chair, and used the restroom. When she came out it was gone. She remembered a man following her in, but assumed it was a maintenance worker since they do maintenance on Mondays when the salon is closed. The poor thing, I felt awful. We couldn’t locate him or the purse anywhere around the salon. My heart was definitely pounding. We called the police and they came along with her sons to help console her. Anyways, the hair turned out good (That sounds so absurd to mention on the heels of this horrible situation!). I am also 22 and still have no grip on curling my hair, so I was pumped that I got to rock it curled for the rest of the day.

For dinner, I made our last Blue Apron meal of the package. This one was summer vegetable and quinoa bowls. The flavor was just bursting. I learned so many different ingredients to cook with through Blue Apron, and I definitely would love to try it again at some point in the future!

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The next day for lunch I put some leftover on a salad.

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On Tuesday, I had one of those “I need extra coffee” mornings.

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I worked on several projects, and then made a meal I have had posted on the fridge since we came here. For a wedding gift, we received a subscription to Fine Cooking Magazine. This is a fantastic and unique idea for anyone who needs a gift for a couple that likes to cook! I try to clip recipes from there and put them on the fridge to try one when we are planning our meals for the week. It has been so much fun.

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This recipe was a sweet and spicy shrimp stir fry with a raisin glaze. It was like nothing I have ever made and it was INSANELY GOOD. However, I may have made it a tad too spicy. That’s saying a lot because usually the spicier the better for us. I will be making it again, but with fewer jalapeños. IMG_8621IMG_8618

Anyone else get annoyed when there are always those one or two last bananas that go bad? Well I hate waste; you would think our mom raised us during the depression. I decided to make three ingredients banana oatmeal raisin cookies. I can post a recipe for them soon! They aren’t the greatest cookies of your life, but they are a great snack with all natural sugars and just enough sweetness to help with a sweet tooth. And they are only 46 calories each, which is pretty good for anything with the name “cookie”. A few are great in the morning with coffee too!

On Wednesday I prayed that it would be better than the one before. AND IT WAS! Guess who conquered the book shelf?! This girl! Uh-huh, that’s right!!!

For dinner, I jumped right on that Zoodle train. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to make these because they are incredibly easy and tasty!!! I wanted to make an alfredo sauce from scratch and also a vegetarian version, but was running late,  like really late, so I threw in a can of Progresso Alfredo Chicken! I added some shredded chicken, garlic, daiya mozzarella, and a bit of tapioca starch and BAM- zucchini alfredo. DJ loved it. He couldn’t believe that it was actually healthy. I scrounged up some quick leftovers for myself since I was running so behind.

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What was I late for? Wednesday night is when our community group meets in Santa Clara. DJ, unfortunately, had to stay home. Law school is no joke, folks. He was feeling pretty overwhelmed at the beginning of the week, but I think is feeling better now. Figuring out exactly what to do, how to study, and what the professor wants is half the battle. He has the second half down (dedication and will), and I have no doubts that he will succeed!!

Here are a couple of projects that I finished up this week!

A. Guest Bedroom!

B. Our balcony!

Most everything is from Homegoods or Overstock.com.Woohoo! Start booking your tickets to come stay with us! **The balcony is attached to the guest room 😉
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On Thursday, DJ has his long day at school. I have my hiking group, and have to leave close to, or before, he comes home. I did make sure that there was some dinner for him in the fridge. I made salmon from Monterey Bay with a Hawaiian protein rice blend,and steamed broccoli. I love seasoning the skin on salmon so it crisps up when you bake it.

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The views on this hike were absolutely incredible. I love the bonds I am forming with these friends. They are amazing people. We also had a little (meaning a large and furry) friend join us! I have never seen a spider that massive in the states before. Hello, California!

After the hike my friend and I stopped in to a nitrogen ice cream place in Cupertino. They actually make ice cream out of nitrogen gas. Watching the process is quite entertaining. My phone was about to die so I couldn’t grab many pictures- guess I’ll have to go back 😉 The ice cream was sooo scrumptious! We split the Matcha and Salted Caramel. The flavor was vibrant, and yet the texture was incredibly light. It just melted right in your mouth, but was still creamy. We called it confusing, but confusingly delicious!

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One last thing I want to share is our new method for prayer. Our dresser was brought in on this giant wooden plank. It sent my creative alarms off, and I didn’t want to get rid of it. I told DJ I would figure out something to do with it and he kinda smirked like, “Oh no, what now?!”. DJ is a trooper to always roll with my makeshift ideas. For example, I made a jewelry holder four years ago out of a cooking pan, and refuse to use anything else. With this plank of wood, I have decided to create a prayer board. With white marker I write a prayer request, and then when it is answered, white it out. Our goal is to have the whole board changed to white to show how awesome God is in answering our prayers. I don’t expect this to be a quick thing, it could take years and years, and honestly it may never be completely white. God doesn’t always answer prayers in our time, but I have no doubt that He is faithful and we should pray expectantly. If you have a request, let me know, I can put it on for you!

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This morning I found out one of my my best friends, Rachel, passed her Child Life specialty exam. GO RACH!!!!!! So proud of you!

Tonight DJ and I are finally going to have a relaxing evening together, it’s his deemed “night off” of studying. We are going to try a new restaurant, but not quite sure where yet! Tomorrow I head to SanFran again to visit a friend from high school. (I don’t think I told you that, Mom- But Annie lives here!).

Wishing you an answer to prayer this week,

xo <3

Mack