Baby-Led Weaning! The Messy, Fun and Realness of It

Alright guys, Fitz is officially 6 months old…and we are going to give feeding a try!
I’m not sure why, but the whole “feeding my baby” is so intimidating to me…the idea of her choking, introducing the wrong foods, or even having an allergic reaction to something is so unsettling to me.
However, all that aside, Fitz and I are going to give the concept of ‘Baby Led Weaning’ a try!

What exactly is Baby-Led Weaning (BLW?)
BLW is a method of adding foods to a baby’s already existing diet of breast milk or formula. An important moto to keep in mind is the key saying … Any food before ONE, is just for FUN! Baby-Led weaning encourages the development of age appropriate oral-motor skills, along with creating a positive and interactive experience regarding meal time. Typically parents start once their baby reaches the age of 6-months old (or older- all is baby dependent.) This type of feeding introduces finger foods FIRST and bypasses what was historically started first: purees and mashed-up foods.
It’s called baby-led because the main concept is — letting your little one feed themself the foods that they want to eat right from the beginning

When I first told me mom that I was going to be trialing BLW with Fitz, she thought I was a little crazy. Probably because when she was going through the first stages of food with myself and my brothers, they highly encouraged starting with purees! Her biggest concern was “You know that’s going to be really messy!” And while that is very true, there are so many benefits to this type of feeding that I couldn’t resist giving it a try!

  • Babies who are fed using the BLW method are more familiar with different textures&flavors, compared to babies who are fed purees. This may make them more likely to develop more varied and healthy food preferences in the long run.
  • Research has shown that babies who eat a variety of foods (including peanut products, eggs and fish) may actually be less likely to have food allergies later in life.
  • Studies show that babies are less likely to become overweight compared to children who are spoon-fed. With spoon-feeding, the parent is in control (which may make babies eat faster and more than they really need, potentially leading to a habit of ignoring feelings of fullness.)
  • BLE leads to the development of hand dexterity and hand-eye coordination skills.
  • Learning how to chew, which aids in digestion.
  • Learning how to respond to their own gag-reflex…which is REALLY strong in babies! For those who don’t know…babies gag-reflex is located in the front 1/3 of their mouth (which can be scary at first because the baby seems to gag at everything and so easily!)

Items/Tools that I purchased

  1. Bib/Smock– Like I mentioned above…this type of feeding can get pretty messy! The long-sleeve bib style has definitely helped with maintaining some cleanliness.
  2. Food Crinkle Cutter– A lot of people mentioned that cutting the foods using this crinkle cutter makes it easier for baby to grasp on to foods (especially if they are slippery!)
  3. Mat for under highchair– Again, not 100% necessary, but highly recommend to help keep things clean!
  4. Plate/mat that sticks to table- I’ve read conflicting views on whether or not the plate should have dividers to “separate foods,” so I’ll leave that up to your preference! Personally I plan to use both styles.
  5. Soft-Tip Training Spoon– This obviously goes against the idea of “finger foods;” But I used this spoon since Fitz was about 4 months old as a “practice” tool for her hand-eye coordination& hand dexterity development.

I’m going to provide some helpful resources that I’ve been using to help educate myself on this style of feeding!

  1. The Hapa Family
  2. Nekole (Kids OT Help)
  3. Feeding Littles
  4. Baby-Led Weaning Book
  5. Rachael Tucker (babyledweaningideas)

Because we are just starting… I don’t have too much to report! But I will keep you all updated on any successes/failures that Fitz and I experience while trying this new adventure(:

Here We Go! 2021 Intentions

2020 was a year of inner growth, mental strengthening and finding the silver linings.
It was a chaotic year in so many ways, and also a year full of grounding experiences.
To be honest, it was one of the most wonderful years of my life. I know that I might get a lot of controversial comments with saying that...Buuuut after sitting back and truly evaluating everything, it’s the honest conclusion that I’ve come to.

  • I got to spend so much quality time with Kwin, and it strengthened our relationship with one another.
  • We were able to accomplish so many chores at home that have been building up over the years.
  • We spent so much time outside, adventuring new and old things!
  • We were blessed with the greatest blessing we could have ever asked for: Fitz Annmarie Morris

Going into 2020 I didn’t know what to expect, and I definitely didn’t expect a freaken pandemic!
I, like many, had so many goals to achieve and had such high expectations of what pregnancy would look like: all of my family&friends going through it with me, having a fun baby shower, the family walking into the hospital room once Fitz was born…NOPE! But I’m not here to dwell on the past. Like I said earlier, I’ve found the silver linings in all that was thrown at us last year and going to put all the negativity in the past!

You never know what life is going to throw at you, which is why I’m going to be setting ‘Intentions’ this year and every month setting smaller goals to achieve. I like the idea of both Macro and Micro achievements, and this is a good way to do it!
So here is to 2021!

Intentions for 2021

  1. Journaling– I want to get better at journaling everyday. Whether it be what I’m grateful for, what I’m happy or sad about, something funny that Fitz did, or just a little vent session. I find so much joy in writing and getting what’s on my mind out! I have an app on my phone that I’ve been using the past couple months (Morning!) and I really like it; But want to transition to a more permanent style by using a spiral bound notebook.
  2. Drinking more Water– Something that I think everyone can work on! It’s so easy to forget to drink…which isn’t good! 98% of the human body is water. I’ve got a 40oz Hydro Flask and plan to make sure that it’s accessible and filled up at all times.
  3. Work on my own confidence level– This is something I’ve struggled with almost all my life. It’s easy to hide…and at times really gets to me mentally! So how exactly do I plan to do this?
    – By getting out of my comfort zone and reaching out to friends to do things
    – Not worrying about what other people will think of me/something I do, and just DO IT
    – If something is bothering me, confront it.
  4. Being more aware of what I consume on social media– It’s easy to get caught in up the unrealistic reality that can be portrayed on social media. I want to make sure that what I’m consuming is beneficial for me mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
  5. Spend more time outside doing active activities– I know it may seem like Kwin and I are outside ALL the time, but to be honest, since having a baby it’s been easy to sit inside all day and not getting any fresh air! Being outside is so good for ones’ mental health, and I hope that by making an effort to be outside at least once a day, that Fitz will pick up on this habit too and love it!
  6. Grow my blogging platform– I love writing! Gosh darn-it, I’ve said this for literally the past 4 years since creating my blog. But what happens is I get in my own head and think “Megan, nobody cares or even reads the blogs..so don’t waste your time.” And well, maybe it’s true..but maybe it’s NOT! So I’m gonna give this intention another try and just write away!

Thanks for reading everyone, and I hope that you all have found peace with whatever happened in 2020 and are ready for a fresh start this year! Here is to 2021 being a year of positivity, hope and new beginnings!

Fall Favorites!

For those of you who don’t know me…FALL IS MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR! Like if fall could be 9 months out of the year (with summer being the other 3 obviously,) I think I would be the happiest girl in the world!

I’m not sure I can chose my favorite thing about it: the cool temperatures (hello jeans+sweatshirts,) the beautiful colors of the leaves, football games, outdoor activities or pumpkin spice lattes. Either way, the vibes of Fall are just something I look forward to all year long.

This year was especially fun and special; being that it’s Fitz’s first Fall experience! Does anyone else feel like Northern Michigan really lucked out this year with some warm, sunny and colorful days! Kwin and I definitely took advantage of this with lots of hiking, biking and “fall-ish” activities. Let me know if you enjoyed any of these too; or if we need try some new things next year!

Hiking and Biking

  • Vasa Single Track– HIGHLY recommend going here for an epic bike during the fall! NMMBA has done an awesome job recently of creating more trails for you to explore all over the state land in Williamsburg, MI. You can also hike or RZR on designated trails.
  • Electric Bikes on the backroads– We invested in some Electric bikes a couple years ago, specifically for bike rides like these! We are able to cover so much ground, and still enjoy the ride. Plus adventuring on back dirt roads is always so much fun with Kwin. Shoutout to Oma Jo for hanging out with Fitz so we could have a little day date!
  • Home Sweet Home– We’ve spent so much time over the past five years working on trails around our property. I’m not lying when I say they are my favorite trails to hike! The dogs can be off leash, so many different trails to choose from, and the beauty of the landscape makes it great too!
  • Mt. Holiday– A local favorite for skiing in the Traverse City area is also a favorite for hiking year round! Climbing to the top of the main ski hill really gives you an epic view of both East and West Grand Traverse Bay!
  • Marquette Trip– Our annual UP fall trip took place in Marquette this year. It was a beautiful and sunny weekend; filled with lots of hiking! Some of our favorites are Hogsback, Sugarloaf, Deadriver Falls and catching sunrise on Lake Superior. Fun fact… FOUR years ago Kwin and I got engaged on top of Hogsback Mountain; and look at us now with our beautiful baby girl in the same spot! This hike will always have so much special meaning to me.

Fall Treats

  • Pumpkin Spice Lattes– I’m usually not for frilly drinks, I’m pretty lame and just prefer a good black coffee. BUT this time of year calls for all the frilly pumpkin drinks I can get my hands on. If you’re in the Traverse City area…. go to Espresso Bay and get their pumpkin spice latte (it’s made with REAL pumpkin, no fake sugary syrups) YOU WONT REGRET IT.
  • Third Coast Bakery– Donuts aren’t really my jam, and I usually only have one pumpkin donut a year. However, after trying one of there HIGHLY RECOMMENDED GF donuts… I was converted to a donut person. Lets just say we made it a Sunday tradition to get a few of these bad boys! If you’re in the Traverse City area and looking for a bakery that is Gluten Free and very allergen friendly (soy, dairy and some items even egg free) give this place a try! I haven’t had a bad bakery item yet!
  • Pumpkin Patch– Is it really fall if you don’t go to a pumpkin patch? Unfortunately with COVID, this wasn’t the “usual” pumpkin patch experience…but we still made the best of it!

Sports

  • Lions Games– Even though the lions let us down 75% of the time, we still spend our Sundays cheering them on!
  • Elk Rapids Sporting Events– I love fall because of all the sports! And with Kwin taking a break from coaching this year, we had more time to go support the other teams; like football, soccer and volleyball! Fitz is enjoying going to all these games too. I’ve got a feeling she’s going to be a little sports star!

Family Fun

  • Sauna Season – I missed out on sauna season last year, due to being pregnant. But let me tell ya, I’m so excited the weather is cooling off and the sauna is being lit again!
  • Hot Tubs– Kwin and Fitz have some fun bonding time in the hot tub before “tubby time” almost daily! My heart melts watching her splashing around in there and interacting with daddy. She really is a water lover already.
  • HalloweenEEEEKKK, I was looking forward to Halloween so much! In fact, Fitz rocked three outfits and looked absolutely adorable in all of them. Dottie from a ‘League Of Their Own,’ A Polar Bear, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!

Writing this on our first wintery day -hello white stuff&40mph winds– and getting a little sad that fall has come to an end. We are lucky in Michigan to experience all four seasons, as it really makes you appreciate whatever season you are currently in.
So I’ll sign off hear and say: Until next year Fall!

Baby Must Have’s

It must just be the “season of life” that I’m currently in, but holy cow, so many of my friends are either: expecting, trying to conceive or currently have a baby in their life!

As a new mama, I was very overwhelmed by all of the products and options available! It’s crazy the amount of “things” that you will need when your little bundle of joy enters the world. Recently, I have had multiple friends reach out to me regarding products I liked and disliked, so i figured why not create a little blog for you all! So here ya go!
-The first thing I did when building my baby registry (I built mine on Babylist!) was go to family and friends and get lists of MUST HAVE and NOT NECESSARY items.
-Second I did research for specific items that met criteria and all the”safety guidelines” important to me: Green Guard Certified and ECO-Friendly. Oh i was also trying to be a ‘minimalist!’

Daily Necessities

  • Babybjorn Bouncer-Fitz LOVES this thing! Whether I’m trying to take a quick shower (just put her in it outside the shower stall,) fold laundry, or cook dinner, this is such a great thing to have around! Of note, it doesn’t bounce on it’s own!
  • 4 Moms MamaRoo Swing– Fitz likes this (for short periods of time) and I’ll usually put her in it if she is sleeping, or almost asleep and I need both hands free! Our original one broke almost immediately (not sure why…) but the company has great customer service and sent us a new one right away!
  • Boppy– The greatest nursing invention ever! I use it everyday and can’t imagine nursing without it. We also use this pillow to sit Fitz up in and sometimes to lean on during tummy time!
  • Diaper Bag– Love the amount of storage this bag has, and its very simple looking too!
  • UppaBaby Messa Carseat– Both Kwin and I love this carseat because it’s super light, easy to instal in the car, and has the Green Guard Certification I was looking for!
  • UppaBaby Vista Stroller– UppaBaby has multiple different stroller types and we went with the Vista style because of the ability to add more seats to it! We are hoping to have our kids close in age and being able to add seats to our stroller would be great…instead of having multiple strollers!
  • Boba Wrap– LITERALLY A LIFESAVER, especially when Fitz doesn’t want to nap unless she is being held! I love this wrap, probably the most of our wraps we own because it just seems the most stable when I’m holding her.
  • Ergobaby Aura Wrap– I love this wrap too. It has a little bit thinner material and folds up into a small carrier bag. I keep this one in my diaper bag, that way I have some type of wrap with me at all times.
  • Ergobaby Omni 360 Carrier– You’ve probably seen a bunch of pictures and video’s of Kwin and I hiking with Fitz, and this carrier has made it all possible. I HIGHLY recommend getting this if you plan to be out and about with baby! Oh and make sure that you also get the ‘Infant Insert.’ It allows smaller babies to enjoy the carrier (for 8-12lbs.)
  • Halo Sleepsack Swaddle– I didn’t think I would like this, just another “thing” to have…but let me tell ya, I love it! It’s so easy to wrap her up while she is sleeping or if we’re trying to get her to sleep. Babies loved being swaddled and it is definitely easier than trying to swaddle a blanket.
  • Haakaa Manual Breast Pump– Ever heard the expression “Don’t cry over spilt milk,” well when you are a breastfeeding mama, this is so incredibly true! The haakaa is attached to your non-breastfeeding boob and collects your letdown! You’d be surprised how much milk you leak. I’ve only used my breast pump twice since giving birth, but already have a bunch of milk stocked up in our freezer, just from catching my let down!
  • Blooming Bath– This simple thing makes bath time so much easier! Especially with Fitz being so small still, we are able to bathe her in the sink and not have to worry about her flopping around or getting hurt in the slippery sink.
  • Baby Bum Bath Essentials– A lot of baby shampoo’s and lotions are filled with chemicals that I wouldn’t want to put on my own body, let alone my daughters. This brand however, has great ratings by the EWG; PLUS it smells really good too!
  • Earth Mama Diaper Balm– It’s inevitably, baby’s get red butts occasionally. I really like this balm though because of the clean ingredients and the eucalyptus smell!
  • Peanut Diaper Changing Pad– This simple changing pad is the bomb. What I like most about it is the fact that it’s rubber and doesn’t have a pad cover on it (you can buy one if you want.) In my opinion just having it the rubber material makes it so much easier to keep clean and 1 less thing to have to wash!
  • Guava Family Bassinet– This was a minimalist purchase for me! It’s a 2-in-1 Bassinet and Pack-N-Play all in one. Just make sure to get the Bassinet conversion kit when you purchase it. I love this because it’s very easy to travel with (fold down into a backpack) which allows Fitz to sleep in her bassinet whether we’re at home or on the road.
  • Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Camera– After much research, I felt that having a ‘non wi-fi’ based monitor was the best idea. So far we really like this one; You can move the lense with the monitor, can hear clearly and has a good picture too.
  • Hatch Rest Baby Sound Machine– There is so much research that babies sleep better with white noise going on. And this sound machine is perfect! It not only acts as a sound machine, but also a nightlight too! There are so many sound to chose from and it’s all controlled by your phone app.
  • FridaBaby NoseFrida– This little gadget makes keeping the babies nose clear of boogers so easy! It looks intimidating at first, the idea that you’re “sucking the boogers out” but honestly it’s so nice and easy! Fitz doesn’t budge at all when we’re doing it.
  • SnuggleMe Organic Pillow– Fitz also loved being in this pillow for the longest time! It’s nice because it helps to make the baby feel nice and wrapped up, while also being supportive and not able to move around too much. The only downfall to this pillow is that she has almost outgrown the length of it…so if you have a tall baby you might be more interested in the Dock-A-Tot Pillow!
  • Milk Snob– This works as a car seat cover and cover for me while breastfeeding out in public! I would definitely recommend getting a couple of these.

Clothing

  • Zutano Fleece Booties– Living in Michigan, we can have some pretty chilly weather. These booties are fricken amazing and so cute too! I wish they had these in adult sizes.
  • Cotton Sleeping Gowns– LOVE LOVE LOVE these! It makes for midnight diaper changes to be so easy.
  • Magnetic Onesies– Wow, I was gifted these by a friend and they are pretty awesome! No more messing with buttons or zippers.
  • Two-Way Zipper Onesies– These are super nice too! Instead of unzipping the clothes all the way from their head and making them super chilled, just unzip from the foot up.
  • Full Throttle Infant Life Jacket– If you are planning to take your baby on a boat this is a must have! Fitz doesn’t seem to be bothered by it at all, plus it’s pretty cute too. It’s good for up to 30lbs.

Feeding

  • Medela Pump– Insurance covered my breast pump and this is what I got. I’m happy with it so far (only use it twice) but gets the job done.
  • Elvie Pump– I personally don’t have these, but wish I would have gotten them! They’re cordless, so you don’t have to be tied down to a wall when you are pumping.
  • Medela Storage Pump Bags– Easy to store your milk in to freeze for future use.
  • Philips Advent Glass Bottles– Fitz isn’t too fond of taking a bottle yet (we’re working on it!) But I prefer glass over plastic for health reasons. These bottles aren’t heavy or too bulky. Something to keep in mind new mama’s is that there are different nipple “Flow-Rates.” Make sure to look this up!
  • Breast Pump Bag Backpack– This is going to be super useful for when I’m back at work or traveling and need to bring my pump. It’s got a couple pockets for holding all the gear and an insulated bottom part to make sure the pumped milk is kept nice and cold.
  • Boon Lawn Countertop Dryer– Love this for making sure the bottles and pumping pieces are clean&dry and kept away from Kwin and I’d stuff.
  • Bottle Cleaning Brush– Always gotta have one of these on hand!

Mama Goodies

  • Hands Free Pumping Bra– The first time I pumped I didn’t wear this, and it was so frustrating! Having to hold the bottles while pumpkins really tied me down. This bra holds the bottles in place, making it so your hands are at least free.
  • Earth Mama Nipple Butter– Oh man those first couple weeks were pretty rough for my nipples. Not use to something sucking on them 24/7 made them quite sore. That has sense resolved, but I still apply the nipple butter to keep them from drying out and cracking!
  • Nursing Bra– A staple in my wardrobe. I honestly don’t wear any other bras….so convenient and easy to feed with these on.
  • Nursing Tank Top– I love these as much as the bra. Personally I sleep in them most nights, and also will wear them under things!
  • Disposable Nursing Pads– originally I thought I was going to go the ECO-friendly route and get the reusable pads, but friends…that’s just another thing to have to launder. And let me tell ya, Ain’t Nobody Got Time for more laundry🤷🏽‍♀️.

Toys or Play Things

So Fitz hasn’t quite gotten to playing with things much… but these items are pretty popular to have and I can’t wait until she starts enjoying them!

  • Jolly Jumper– I can already tell that she is going to spend a lot of time using this! She loves to be standing (held up obviously) and moving around….we may be in trouble!
  • Joovy Walker– One thing I liked about this vs. other walkers was that it doesn’t have over toys/distractions on it. This allows her to pick what she wants to play with and get creative.
  • Wooden Play Gym– She has just recently started showing interest in this toy and loves it already! I love that it’s small&compact (taking up little space) and isn’t made from a bunch of plastic!

Here is the direct link to my Babylist registry! I didn’t mention everything in this blog because either I haven’t used it yet personally (so don’t feel confident speaking on it,) or just forgot to mention it!
Mamahood is the absolute best, so feel free to reach out to me with any questions(:

Adventures With Our One Month Old!

It is no surprise that Kwin and I have welcomed our beautiful baby girl into the world a month ago…man how time is already flying by! Miss Fitz has been a perfect addition to our family, and has already proven to be an amazing travel partner too! Here is a little look into the adventures we’ve been on as a family of three!

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

At just a whopping WEEK OLD, we threw Fitz into our Ergo baby carrier and made our way to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and Glen Arbor, MI. Thanks to our friends J and Lauren for letting us set up camp in their yard at their cabins (have to be COVID cautious!) Since I was still in “recovery mode” we played more of the tourist role; doing short and simple hikes…but still having great views!

Marquette

Every August Kwin and I spend a week traveling around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan(the bugs are usually less crazy then…not this year though!) Our first destination on this road trip was Marquette, MI. A favorite of ours! Marquette has awesome hikes for both sunrise and sunset, great food and overall is just a fun place to be!
Hiking- Sugarloaf Mountain and Presque Isle Park
Camping- Tourist Park
Food- Sol Azteca for dinner, Java Bay for breakfast and Contrast Coffee!

Porcupine Mountains

A definite MUST when going to the upper peninsula! We had two friends join us for this portion of the trip: Corey and Stephanie Adkins! It was so fun showing them, along with Fitz, the beauty of the Porkies!

Copper Harbor

Another favorite of Kwin and I’s. We love the primitive nature of this town…no cell phone service and full of so much Michigan history! We’ve never camped in Copper Harbor, but decided this time to stay the night at a cute campground just at the base of some awesome biking trails (so jealous that I wasn’t able to bike with Kwin!)
Hiking- Brockway Mountain and Estivant Pines
Camping- Lake Fanny Hooe Campground
Food- a local food truck and Jamsens for breakfast.

Boat Days

What a spoiled girl, spending so much time on the lakes!
This little girl has been in Elk Lake, Torch Lake and had her toes dipped into both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior!

Fun fact!
While hiking with our friends-Corey and Stephanie- Corey made a joke that I’ve breastfed Fitz is some crazy spots! So I thought it would be fun to list them out here!
-Pierce Stocking Overlook
-Lake Of The Clouds
-Miners Trail (Porcupine Mountains)
-Cascade Falls
-Lake Superior Shoreline
-Face In The Rock
-Elk Lake and Torch Lake

People call us crazy taking a newborn to all the places we have.
We call it living life to the fullest(:

Our Next Adventure, 1st Trimester

Man, I’ve been waiting since I was a little girl to write this!

KWIN AND I ARE GOING TO BE PARENTS!

Woah, did I really just write that?! That was actually a little intimidating…but at the same time gave me butterflies from the excitement(: Anyway, lets get into the dirt of how the first trimester of pregnancy went for me.

I’ll be honest, getting pregnant was NOT EASY for Kwin and I. In fact, it took a lot longer than we anticipated (I fully intend on writing a blog on the whole process)…but everything happens for a reason and now our little Miracle baby is finally on her way.

I get asked this questions basically in every conversation I have nowadays “How are you feeling” or “How horrible was your first trimester?” Well, I’m happy to report, but my first trimester of pregnancy was actually great! I had no morning sickness, no nausea, and no major food eversions. I’d definitely say that I was a lucky one!

My symptoms

  • Extreme Fatigue! Once 2pm hit I was ready to be in bed and could probably have slept until the next morning.
  • Getting winded doing the simplest activities. Now I know I’m an active person, so maybe someone who doesn’t do all the activities that Kwin and I do on a normal basis would have said no change…but when we were hiking on some of our trips, or even just up our driveway, I would be really riding the struggle bus.
  • Not an extreme food eversion, but vegetables did not appeal to me like they usually do.
  • Sore and tender breasts! Phew, not only were my boobs tender but they also grew at least one cup size (Kwin’s favorite thing yet.)

My Favorites

  • My Favorite foods were: Avocado toast for breakfast. ALL THE CITRUS FRUIT- especially clementines, pineapple, mango and raspberries. CARBS…pasta, wraps, etc.
  • Sleeping…yes I would go to sleep at 6:45pm almost every night.
  • LuLu Lemon Align leggings, they have no compression effect on the bloated and now growing stomach!
  • Lemon water. For some reason tap water would make me nauseous sometimes, so I found that freezing lemons and putting them in my water would help prevent that.
  • My home doppler ultrasound that I purchased on Ebay. This might easily be the best purchase EVER! At around 11 weeks you can start to pick up the baby’s heartbeat, and being able to listen to her whenever I wanted was such a sense of relief. It’s almost torture sometimes waiting between your appointments, especially when you’re early on and can’t feel any movement/don’t feel pregnant sometimes. (Side note, I am a Nurse and do have some education regarding human anatomy and knew what I was looking for.)

Adventures We Did During First Trimester

  • Fall UP Cabin Trip. This trip was technically during the “two week wait,” however, I had this strong feeling that I was pregnant the whole time!
  • Detroit for Thanksgiving. This was a pretty fun trip for us. It’s when we told my whole family (McCormack side) and some of my closest friends back at home. We also did our annual 5K run on thanksgiving morning, which yes was a little bit more difficult this time.
  • Sedona Arizona. Man, what a trip this was! We were planning to make our “Facebook” announcement while on this trip as I had finally made it to the 12 week mark! We also found out that we were having a beautiful baby girl while hiking! It was such a fun and memorable trip for us(:

Training and Other Activities

I’ve been very fortunate to feel good during my first trimester and still able to do most of my normal activities. My mindset has been- If I feel good, then just keep going. But if something feels off at all, then just stop. Pretty simple.

  • Detroit Turkey Trot 5K and Farmland 5K
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Weight Training
  • Barre classes
  • Hiking

Pregnancy has been such a fun and fulfilling journey so far! I know I’m lucky to have felt as good as I have…but I really feel that taking care of myself before pregnancy and being in such good health really helped! I hope you all enjoyed getting a little glimpse of this journey so far for me and I can’t wait to share how this journey continues to go for us!

Final Stretch- Bozeman, Glacier National Park, Roosevelt National Park!

Life is meant for spectacular adventures. Let your feet wander, your eyes marvel, and your soul ignite. 

Two weeks down, and one week to go before heading back home! We’ve already seen some pretty amazing things while in Jackson Hole, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone; but knew we still had some great things to look forward too! 

Here is the final week of adventures!

Bozeman, MT 

On our way from Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park we decided to stop in Bozeman, MT for a couple days. National Parks are great, but one downfall is that our dogs [aka our children] aren’t allowed to hike with us.  We had also heard so many great things from friends that grew up in the Bozeman area, so we figured that we definitely needed to check it out.

Camping- We stayed at the Langohr Campground, a quaint campground located about 10 minutes south of downtown Bozeman. The location of this campground was PERFECT! 

No phone service + Creekside + Located right near a bunch of biking trails. 

Hiking- Bozeman is located amongst the mountains, so one would only guess that the hiking is unbelievable.

  • The ‘M’ Trail: A 1.2 mile trail, that has two routes (hard or easy route) ending at the famous ‘M,’ which I believe represent Montana State University. We obviously took the hard route [when hiking with Kwin, it’s pretty expected] and let me tell ya, the views are spectacular! 
  • Baldy Peak Summit: A 9.6 mile trail, rated at hard. We did about half of this tail, due to time constraints, but it was awesome! We saw so many active people [mostly locals] and had the best views of Bozeman! Mountain living is crazy … while hiking two storms split us, allowing us to watch as the storms, on-top of a mountain, as they passed through.

Biking- From our camping spot we were able to jump on some of the mountain biking trails, and like the hiking, the trails were pretty awesome! This was the true definition of Mountain Biking! We pretty much started from the bottom of a canyon, and biked about 2500 feet UP HILL before being able to descent again! It was exhausting to say the least.

Dining- When we are traveling and camping mosts of our meals are eaten and cooked at our campsite. Seriously, who doesn’t like cooking over the campfire? But after two weeks of doing this, we were pretty ready for a little “treat.” Bozeman reminds me of Traverse City, Michigan in so many ways [obviously minus the Great Lakes, and add Mountains.] There were a ton of great coffee shops and dinner places too! 

  • Mackenzie River Pizza: Now, I’m not usually a person who would order pizza, but I’d like to report that the pizza here was AMAZING! Plus the atmosphere was really inviting. If it were up to Kwin, we would have eaten here for every meal. 
  • Plonk: A recommendation from James, Kwin’s high school friend who currently lives out in Bozeman! The drinks were phenomenal, the food was phenomenal [and vegan friendly,] and the atmosphere was so fun! 
  • Bozeman Community Co-Op: I LOVE going to Co-Op’s! This place had a wonderful salad bar, as well as hot food bar.
  • Wild Joe’s Coffee: One of the best Matcha Latte’s I had the entire trip! 
  • The Daily Coffee & Eatery- Northside: Quick coffee, with great breakfast food selections [gluten free and vegan options available!] We hit this place bright and early before hitting the road to Glacier National Park. 

Glacier National Park 

Going into our trip, this was one spot I was most excited for! It’s not everyday that you get to see and hike to glaciers. Plus, if you didn’t know, the glaciers found in Glacier National Park are the only ones left in the United States AND they are receding fast! Infact, researchers are estimating that they may be completely melted within the next 50 years! 

So our original plan for this National Park was to go to the western most part of the National Park, drive the famous “Road To The Sun” through the park and then end up in Waterton National Park (the Canadian side) for a couple days. However, plans don’t always go as planned. When we arrived to West Glacier, we found out that YOU CANNOT DRIVE VEHICLES LARGER THAN 21 FEET ON THE ROAD TO THE SUN! Yup that meant we couldn’t drive through the park while pulling our camper [18foot camper + our truck is bigger than 21 feet.] So we decided to forgo Waterton, and instead to two days on the west side of the park, then drive around to the east side and spend a couple days. We were still able to drive part of “The Road To The Sun,” which was crazy beautiful!

Camping- We decided to stay two nights on the west side of the park, then two nights on the east side of the park, that way we could experience a little bit of everything! 

  • Apgar Campground:  Located right at the entrance of “The Road To The Sun” on the west side of the park. Apgar has a campground and a little village too! Not only is it at the entrance of the famous road, it’s also right on Lake MacDonald- a BEAUTIFUL glacier lake! It was our favorite campground of the two we stayed at.
  • Many Glacier Campground: Located on the eastern side of the park. This area was definitely more primitive than the western side. A tip for anyone planning to camp out here is to ALWAYS check how the wildlife is. This campground had a lot of bear activity, so they did not allow soft top campers or tent camping while we were there. 

Hiking- While in Glacier we obviously wanted to hike a glacier, but that wasn’t the only awesome thing we got to see! 

  • Apgar Lookout Trail: a 7mile, rated difficult hike. This was a great hike to warm the legs back up from a day of driving. It was beautiful, however the summit was starting to get a little overgrown by trees and other vegetation; affecting the view of Lake MacDonald at the top.  
  • Highline Trail: a 14.7 mile [one way] trail, rated as moderate. This was probably one of my favorite hikes! Despite it being long, the views were freaking amazing! When reading all the reviews on ‘All Trails’ they recommended that we park at the bottom of the hike, take a shuttle to the top, and then hike down. That’s exactly what we did! Hiking alongside the mountains gave spectacular views, plus there was so much wildlife along the trail too! 
  • Iceberg Lake Trail: a 9.3 mile [out and back] trail, rated as moderate. This one was my favorite hikes on the Eastern side of the park! A family friend of ours recommended that we do this trail, and I’m so glad we did! PS: If you stay in Many Glacier campground, you can start most of the trails right from campsite. It was pretty windy that day, so unfortunately all the icebergs had been pushed to the far side of the lake, but the crystal blue water was still breathtaking. We also saw two bears while hiking! 
  • Grinnell Glacier: A 9.5 mile hike, rated as moderate. Given it was mid July when we were there, most of the snow on the trail was melted. However, there were signs all over the trail advising people to “proceed with caution” because of the ice and snow that commonly covers it! Fun Fact: the trail actually ends at two different glaciers- Grinnell Glacier and Salamander Glacier. 

Paddle Boarding- Have you ever paddled a glacier lake at sunset? Yup, neither had we… Until Lake MacDonald! You guys, this paddle was so spur of the moment, and it was absolutely amazing! Shout out to Tahoe SUP for the amazing inflatable paddle boards that we take EVERYWHERE with us!

The mountains in the background + crystal clear and glassy water + perfect sunset!

Horseback Riding Megan [my sister-in-law] really wanted to do some horseback riding while at Glacier, so we did! This was only my second time horseback riding, and it was a lot of fun. We rode around Lake Josephine, another glacier lake located in Many Glacier. The two leaders were super knowledgeable, funny and made the trip very enjoyable.

Roosevelt National Park 

After parting ways from Megan and Tommy, we started our journey home. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do a ton of hiking while here, but we did bike around the cute town of Medora and watched the sunset at an overlook in the park! Roosevelt is sometimes known as the “Northern Badlands,” which I can totally see why! It had a lot of the same rock formations as the Badlands in South Dakota, but this definitely had more greenery. 

Another really cool thing about this National Park, was the abundance of wildlife. I’m talking wild horses running around so majestically, buffalo herds of 100+ and prairie dogs popping out of the ground everywhere you look. 

Ballard Lake, Wisconsin 

Our final stop of the trip! Thanks to our good friends, Mark and Janna Goethel, for inviting us to their family cabin! We had so much fun with the whole Tucker family boating, hiking, swimming, paddling, and lots of drinking. Neither Kwin or I had ever been to this part of Wisconsin, but it was so beautiful! It reminded me of Northern Michigan is so many ways. Wanna know something crazy? The cabin is only 1 hour south of our cabin! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along on Kwin and I’s road trip! If you haven’t already, check out Kwin’s video he made of the trip HERE. Also make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the blog series for our road trip! 

We sure do love traveling, but there is nothing like being home.

The Great American Road Trip, Part 1. Michigan’s UP to Jackson Hole, WY And All The Stops In-Between.

“The Mountains Are Calling”

A quote I’m sure most people have heard of or seen while scrolling through Pinterest. I love this quote, like a lot, and have ever sense visiting the mountains for the first time five years ago. It was a spontaneous trip out to Colorado and The Rocky Mountain National Park with Kwin and my cousin Jenna. I remember falling in love with the mountains; the views, the wildlife, and the sense of freedom that radiates out there.

Kwin and I drive through the mountains almost every year on our trips out to Moab, Utah. We make comments about how cool it would be to explore this land a little more, and experience what the mountain life would be like. That’s when the idea arose… we could totally do it, a month long road trip!

Three years, yes three years of planning. We knew that we wanted to be in the mountains and see the Western United States; Like Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Oregon. We also really want to explore Western Canada, like British Columbia, Jasper, Banff and Waterton. So much to see, yet so little time!

After lots of research and talking to many different people [and maybe stalking strangers instagram accounts] we finally decided that hitting it all in one 4-week long trip probably wasn’t going to work. However, dividing it up into two summer trips would be the best idea [oh yeah we’re already planning next summers trip!]

The Great American road trip.

So what exactly was our route going to be?

Kwin and I decided to stay in the United States this summer and hit up

  1. The Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

  2. The Black Hills (South Dakota)

  3. Jackson, Wyoming

  4. The Grand Tetons National Park (Wyoming)

  5. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

  6. Bozeman, Montana

  7. Glacier National Park (Montana)

  8. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

When planning our trips we like to create a “back bone” of places we want to go and things we want to see. This allows us extra freedom to add or subtract points of interest. Some people might think we’re crazy and get anxiety from not having every second of our trip planned, but we love the “going with the flow mentality.” Going about our trips this way forces us to talk to other travelers and hear about their experiences, as well as diverge into the local communities [because let’s be honest, the locals always know the best trails to hit up, especially if you’re trying to avoid the big crowds.]

Life is crazy, and there always seemed be something holding us back [hence why its taken us three years to plan our trip.] I’ve learned first hand this past year that life is precious and can be taken from you in a second. Neither Kwin nor I wanted to waste anymore time and regret NOT doing the trip we’ve both always wanted to do. Well I’d like to report that the trip was amazing, and I’m so glad that we finally just did it!

I’m going to break up our trip into a couple of blog posts, just because I don’t feel like one blog would do any justice. We had some many great memories that we’ll both forever look back on.

 

June 25,2019

Start: Home Sweet Home

Destination: Porcupine Mountains-Our Cabin

We hit the road, finally! Pulling our A-Liner camper and a truck filled with all the camping goodies. Our first destination was going to be Michigan’s UP! We absolutely love Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and thought what better way to start our trip than with a couple days there.

Marquette

  • We stopped in Marquette, MI and did some great mountain biking at the South Naquemanon Biking trails. If you’ve never been to them I would highly recommend going! I would consider myself an intermediate rider, and I love these trails! We did one of our favorite trails ‘Gorge-Ous’ which rides downhill and along the Carp River, ending right on the Lake Superior shoreline. In true Megan fashion, I started off the trip with a couple cuts and bruises thanks to flipping my bike….in my defense, there is just so much beautiful scenery to look at that I may have gotten side tracked a little bit(:

  • From there we got a delicious dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Iron Bay. Not only do they have great tasting food, but the environment is awesome too! Tables made with parts of the Mackinaw Bridge, menus on old Marquette newspapers, and pictures that tell the history of the town. Such a cool place to eat that’s right across from the Ore Dock on Lake Superior!

Canyon Falls

  • A hidden gem about an hour west of Marquette. We like to stop here anytime we’re heading to the cabin to give the dogs a nice hike PLUS there is a waterfall that kwin enjoys jumping into.

  • The mosquitos were pretty bad, and it stared pouring rain on us…but neither of those stopped us! It was raining so hard that by the time we got back to the car you wouldn’t have been able to tell who jumped into the waterfall and who didn’t.

June 26,2019

Start: Porcupine Mountains-Our Cabin

Destination: Porcupine Mountains-Our Canin

Have you ever been to a place where you wake up and hear nothing but the sound of birds chirping and a creek running by? Well that’s exactly what we get at our favorite little escape, the cabin! We decided that it would be fun to stay here for a day and really be present in what we were about to embark on. Our goals were to do some hiking (getting our legs ready for all the hiking we would be doing) as well as help Kwins’ dad with some chores that needed to be done. I love the cabin, however, I greatly dislike going during late June and July! The bugs are HORRIBLE. Imagine millions of mosquitos plus deer flies constantly buzzing around you; and no matter how much bug spray you apply they still keep coming. Needless to say, a bug suite is 100% necessary. I tell myself every year that I’m not going back up there when the bugs are nasty…and well…kwin always seems to sweet talk me into it. Okay, no more negativity. Despite the bugs, we still had a great time that day. Hiking, swimming in waterfalls, doing chores, and just getting ready for our big adventure!

June 27,2019

Start: Porcupine Mountains-Our Cabin

Destination: Sioux, South Dakota-Big Sioux State Recreation Area

Our FIRST day of new territory! We woke up early and hit the road. Now because our road trip was planned to last 3.5 weeks we didn’t feel rushed about having to be anywhere at any certain time. Man, it felt so good to have a trip like that finally! We didn’t have any set in stone plans, instead we planned to just go with the flow of things. We took the northern route for our trip, because we figured that staying north would be much faster, more scenic, and less traffic!

Superior, Wisconsin

We stopped at a cute coffee shop, The Sandbar, AND a perfect place to paddle. The water was glassy, so why not!

Duluth, Minnesota

Next we both were interested in stopping in Duluth because we’d heard great things about that town. It’s settled in along the western Lake Superior shoreline, and man were we both surprised and how cute this town was!

  • We got breakfast at ‘At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe’ and it was so delicious! Something I try to do when looking for a place to eat is: make sure it’s NOT A CHAIN RESTAURANT, if it’s organic and locally based ingredients that’s a HUGE win, and it’s got to be somewhat healthy.

  • Duluth has this nice paved trail that goes for miles along the Lake Superior shoreline, and we decided to do some roller blading. It was a great way to get some movement in for not only us, but the dogs too. We made it back to the car with seconds to spare before a crazy storm hit!

Sioux, South Dakota

The rest of the day we spent in the car determined to make it to South Dakota…and we did! We set up camp in ‘Big Sioux State Recreation Area,’ and lucky us it had a ton of paved trails for us to bike and roller blade with the dogs again. It was a beautiful place that Kwin and I would love to return to someday.

 

June 28,2019

Start: Sioux, South Dakota- Big Sioux State Recreation Area

Destination: Badlands National Park-KOA

Like most mornings on our trip we got up bright and early and hit the road, because as the saying goes “The early bird gets the worm.”

Badlands National Park

Our first National Park of the trip! Kwin had been through this area before, but it was a first for me. It was breathtaking and like nothing I’d ever seen before. The sandy colored mountains with intense formations all over the place. Honestly, it was completely different than I thought it was going to be (but I really didn’t do too much research on it to begin with either.)

  • We hiked the Castle Trail, Notch Trail and Door trail. Shout out to AllTrails for helping us throughout out our entire trip! I’ve got the app downloaded to my phone, so I can easily find hikes around us at anytime. All of the trailheads are pretty close together because believe it or not, the Badlands is not as big as most other national parks I’ve been to. Besides the handful of backcountry hiking trails, there was only 4-5 shorter hikes in the Park.

  • We did catch an amazing sunset on one of the peaks though! The sunset on the mountains created such a picturesque moment, painting the sky in pink, orange and yellow hues.

While watching the sunset we ran into a really nice family from Indiana and started sharing our plans. They encouraged us to stop at ‘Custer State Park’ on our way through the Badlands because it had some Great Lakes we could paddle in. Given we had already hiked most of the trails in the park we decided to head out a day earlier than originally planned and instead do a whole day in Custer/The Black Hills.

 

June 29,2019

Start: Badlands National Park-KOA

Destination: Casper, Wyoming-KOA

Our morning started off at ‘Dunn Brothers Coffee’ in Rapid City, South Dakota. This town, was alive! Lots of active people all over the place; There was a 5K race going on, lots of people out biking, and it just felt like a fun place to be. We didn’t get to spend much time here besides getting our coffee, but we would love to go back here in the future!

Mount Rushmore

Again, a place that’s Kwin’s been to before, but not me. I’ll be honest here, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away when I saw the carvings in the rocks…but it was so cool! I mean just the history behind this sculpting, and the fact that people were able to chisel such a beautiful and articulate sculpture out of the side of a mountain is pretty unbelievable.

Custer State Park and the Black Hills

We saw our first buffalo! Pretty much right when we got into the park, we saw the monster of an animal just lingering around in its habitat. It’s crazy that he didn’t seemed phased at all that there were multiple cars pulled over taking pictures of him. The winding roads lined by tall pine trees (giving it the black appearance in the distance, hence why the settlers called them the black hills) was such a beautiful ride!

  • Legion Lake and Stockade Lake- Custer State Park is filled with not only rolling hills, mountains, pines and animals…but also a ton of lakes! Honestly, after three days in a row with 90+ degree weather and NO WATER TO JUMP IN (we’re lake people and really need water) swimming and paddling was all we wanted to do.

June 30, 2019 and July 1, 2019

Start: Casper, Wyoming-KOA

Destination: Jackson, Wyoming-Gros Ventre Campground

If you can’t tell by now, Kwin and I have really enjoyed waking up early and starting our day off at a coffee shop then hitting the road to make up some miles. While in Casper we stopped at ‘Java Jitters’ where the barista was super nice and gave us some great tips about Jackson Hole…our next stop! The drive from Casper to Jackson was really pretty in its own way. Most of Wyoming is grass and prairie land, which was not anything like I expected. However the closer you go to the Grand Tetons and Jackson, the more mountainous it got. In fact, just before we got into the National Park we saw our first grizzly bear! Like the buffalo, it was just strutting through the mountains and grasslands, not phased by the cars and numerous people taking pictures of it.

Jackson Hole

I was super excited about this town from the moment we pulled into it! A cute small mountain town with a river flowing through it, plus tons of active people all over the place! To say kwin and I were in heaven is an understatement.

  • We hiked ‘Josie’s Ridge Trail’ which was about 4-miles and a pretty steep incline. After sitting in the car as much as we had, it was tough…but so worth it for the views at the top! Since this trail is in downtown Jackson, it’s dog friendly…huge win in our books.

  • After the hike we decided to mountain bike in the same general area, because there was a nice spider web of trails right in the center of town. Like the hike it was tough! When we were finishing we actually noticed a lot of people taking the ski chair lift to the top and riding down….we tried to ride them from the bottom up, so that tells ya how hard it was! We biked around town a little bit before heading back to camp and fell in love with the town even more.

  • Our second day in Jackson didn’t start out as planned. After getting coffee at ‘Cowboy Coffee‘ we had to take Kanyon to the vet [Thank you to everyone at VCA Spring Creek Animal Hospital!] Unfortunately she got Giardia while in the UP and had been up all night with diarrhea the past couple days. Once everything was all cleared up, we hiked ‘Ski Lake Trail,’ which again was dog friendly and about 4 miles in length. Definitely not as strenuous as our previous hike, but so beautiful!

  • Jackson, like most of the towns we visited outwest, had a great paved trail mostly used for running, biking or roller blading. We definitely did some miles on that!

  • Our last hike in the Jackson, Wyoming area was ‘Blacktail Butte Trail.’ It was a strenuous 7-mile hike, but beautiful at that!

Man, if you think the trip sounds amazing so far..just wait for the rest of the blogs! Grand Tetons and Yellowstone will be up next, followed by Bozeman, Glacier and the pit-stops on the way home! Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

FAMILY VACATION 2018!

For the first time in about 10 year, my family FINALLY did a family vacation! Earlier this year, my mom and I were throwing out ideas about where we could go. The key determinants were: inexpensive, warm, and had a lot of activities we could do. Hawaii? Nope too expensive. Florida? Nope, been there too many times. MexicoOK! Without any argument, we decided to take them to the wonderful Puerto Aventuras, Mexico!
Puerto Aventuras: a small, quaint, gated community located about 50 minutes south east of Cancun (between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum.) Kwin and I have vacationed here two years ago- where it was my first time to Mexico, and Kwin’s…well he’s been here a lot!
We left on Christmas Eve- leaving the snow covered, and bone chilling Michigan- and headed for the sun. Travel tip… Christmas Eve/ New Years Eve typically have the cheapest plane tickets! Customs was a breeze. We then caught a shuttle to pick up our rental car. We ALWAYS rent a car when traveling, even in Mexico, because it allows us more freedom. We don’t have to depend on a bus, other people, time constraints, and predetermined schedules.With the van all packed up we made a quick stop at SAM’s club to load up on some snacks/groceries and then made our way to our final destination! Last time Kwin and I stayed in the Omni Hotel, located right in the downtown area, and this time we stayed in a nice VRBO condo.

So, what is a vacation with Kwin and Megan like? Well, just because we are on “vacation,” doesn’t mean that we are going to be sitting and doing nothing all day. I love relaxing occasionally, reading a good book and getting some good R&R…but when we travel we feel like we should be adventuring new terrain, and diverging into the culture!
Coba
Our first excursion was the Mayan Ruin- Coba. This Mayan community was first settled between 50 BC and 100 AD in the Yucatan Peninsula. However, when the spaniards discovered this land, they brought over deadly diseases, which nearly wiped out the entire population! When Coba you will see the main/ largest pyramid (Ixmoja), spiritual temples, two ball courts, and other Mayan ruins.
Upon arriving you can choose to have a tour guide, which is nice because they are very knowledgable about the ruins, or walking the through by yourself. You can also rent bikes or take a “trolly.”
Ixmoja is one of the ONLY Mayan ruins that you can still climb! It’s a steep 120 stair climb to the top. Most of us were able to make it to the top, and the view once up there is spectacular. Overlooking the vast green jungle, two lakes (Lake Coba and Lake Macanxoc) and seeing evidence of other uncovered Mayan structures.
Given that Coba is a good distance from the Ocean, and in the middle of the jungle, it can get pretty toasty out there! But no need to worry, there are three fun cenotes to jump in just a short 5 minute drive away- Cenotes Tamcach-Ha, Choo-Ha and Multum-Ha. Keep reading to learn a little more about these!

Tulum
Otherwise known as Zama, meaning City of Dawn, because it faces the sunrise. Tulum resides on a bluff facing east toward the Caribbean Sea. Tulum had access to both land and sea trade routes, making it an important trade hub.
All of the Mayan communities were connected to one another by way of path. This is said to have extended for miles connecting Coba, Tulum and Chichén Itzá.
This is probably my favorite Mayan ruin. The ocean views, ability to swim whenever you want, PLUS sunrises and sunsets! Unlike Coba, most of the Tulum ruins have been preserved. This allows you to feel like you are actually walking around the same community that they once did.
FYI: This is a VERY popular tourist attraction, so if you’re not there early in the morning it can get very crowded.

Cozumel
We always make a day trip over to the island of Cozumel, taking a ferry from Playa Del Carmen (which is about a 45 minute ride.)
Downtown Cozumel is similar to any port city- full of people, restaurants, shops, etc. Given it’s a popular location to do a day trip, and where cruise ships port, we like to get away from town ASAP!
Just like last time, we rented mopeds, and cruised around the whole island! Stopping along the way to do some snorkeling, body surfing, or getting some refreshments.

Cenotes
What exactly are these things? They’re natural caves that are filled with fresh water (That’s right, FRESH WATER,) in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. These underwater sinkholes were formed millions of years ago when limestone caves collapse, revealing underground pools.
When driving down the highway you will see signs for cenotes EVERYWHERE! Let me tell you, it’s so refreshing to jump into fresh water pools after doing some hiking all morning.
Most of these cenotes are well managed and cost only a couple pesos. Some of our favorites are: the ones I listed above at Coba- Cenotes Tamcach-Ha, Choo-Ha and Multum-Ha- and Cenote Cristalino (Which is right near where we stayed in Puerto Aventuras.)
Each Cenote is unique….

  • Cenote Choo-Ha has platforms that you can jump off into the water! A 50ft and 20ft jump…believe it or not, I actually did the 50ft jump this time!
  • Multum-Ha supposedly has a legend that a man fell into the hole and his skeletal remains are still at the bottom.
  • Cenote Cristalino is an above ground cenote which has a rock wall to jump off of, and fish that suck on your feet and give you a nice pedicure (if you sit still enough.) You pay big money for that in the states!

FOOD!
Well, how can one go to Mexico and NOT like the food? I think it’s impossible! Fresh guacamole made right there on the spot, fresh pico-de gallo served as we sat down at the table. Fresh seafood. Man, I don’t think we had a bad meal. Plus the food is SO CHEAP here!
Puerto Aventuras main downtown is a popular tourist spot called “Dolphin Discovery.” Surrounding the area with dolphins, sea lions and manatees, is a boardwalk and 10+ local, family owned restaurants.
Each night we tried a different restaurant! We obviously all had favorites, but in my opinion they were all great.
Good food, good drinks, good company!

I’m so glad that we were able to take a fun family vacation with my parents and two younger brothers!
A trip to the sunny, and warm Mexican weather is always so rejuvenating for the soul. Especially living in grey, cloudy and cold Michigan.

Check out Kwin’s Video he made of our trip HERE!

I hope you all enjoyed reading this and are having a great start to the new year!

East Coast Travels!

This years spring break (Yes, we still get to go on spring break as adults…PERKS of marrying a teacher!) Kwin wanted to show me some new territory, so we took a road trip down the East Side of the country!

Smokey Mountains 

We Started our journey in the Great Smokey Mountains! Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are the two towns located just outside the park where most of the tourists stay. Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of either of these towns; mostly because I am not huge into “touristy” things, but GOTTA EXPERIENCE EVERYTHING ONCE. After we got away from all the people and into the Smokey Mountain National Park I loved it!

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the greatest while we were there…but it didn’t stop us! We hiked the Chimney Tops hike along with the Grotto Falls hike. For those who do not know, the last 0.25miles of the Chimney Tops hike is now closed due to the forest fire in 2016. Apparently the trail experienced some erosion and damage from the fire-I’m a little bummed because Kwin said that was the best part of the trail!

kwin waterfall

me waterfall

Asheville 

We have heard that Asheville has some pretty great Mountain Biking, so going there was a must! We stopped for breakfast at City Bakery and it was phenomenal-local and organic whole foods! From there we made our way to DuPont State Park where we did some hiking, mountain biking and found more waterfalls!

meg&ding

rock carin

fire
Finally no rain, so we could have a campfire!

Lake James State Park 

FINALLY WE GOT SUNSHINE! After three days of rain and clouds we were very excited to finally see the sun come out. We had full intentions on paddle boarding while here…but the wind was a bit too strong!

 Sunshine+awesome mountain biking trails+beautiful hiking=one of our favorite days. 

she jumped

kanyon window

DSC00072

Visiting Family! 

One of the main reasons we went on this trip (bedsides seeing new territory) was to meet up with Kwin’s sister (Megan) and brother-in-law (Tommy). They just moved into their new house-which is beautiful, congrats guys! While there we went to Hanging Rock State Park.
on rocks

the hike K&M

hanging rock

kwin&meg

Washington DC

Our last stop on the trip was a day trip to the Nations Capital. At the age of 24, I cannot believe I have NEVER been here before! Along with the day at Lake James, this was another favorite of mine! Kwin and I are both kinda nerdy…but we love learning, especially about history.

Things I loved about Washington DC

  • Dog Friendly-except you couldn’t take your furry friends into the actual memorials
  • Such an active town-there were people walking, running, riding bikes, playing soccer, playing ultimate frisbee…you name it and it was going on!
  • Bike trail from Washington DC to Mt.Vernon
  • SOOO MUCH HISTORY

kwin&dogs at memorial

memorial

Traveling is something that Kwin and I have a huge passion for! We love exploring new things as a family (yes that includes taking our dogs everywhere we can!) and being off the grid as much as we can!

We also have a NO CHAIN RESTAURANTS rule (we cook mostly in our camper, but sometimes it’s nice to go out.) Here are some cafes we went to- City Bakery (Asheville), Grind Cafe (Morganton)

I hope you all enjoyed! For any questions regarding trails or another travel questions feel free to ask!

Also, SHOUTOUT to my amazing husband for getting me the best birthday present I could have asked for! I love my new Sony A6300 Camera, it sure took some amazing pictures this trip!