Our Christmas & New Year’s Eve 2021!

Hello hello!!! Phewww, anyone else exhausted? I don’t think I have quite the stamina I did pre-pregnancy, lol. I hope you all had the most wonderful time with loved ones over the holidays and are having a very Happy New Year!

This was a very special Christmas with us living in Ohio for the first time in a decade.

DJ got off work a little early on December 23rd, so we did a quick little date night out to Core Life Eatery. I was ravenous and added just about everything possible to my salad.

We had quite a bit to get done preparing for Christmas during the day on Christmas Eve, but we  snuck in a lovely family walk with Moose in the afternoon.

His recent thing on walks is he loves to run around and scale these boulders along the trail. It’s amazing how agile and graceful he has become seemingly overnight.  

That evening I felt like I sort of could see a bump through my clothes for the first time! I know it probably was a still questionable – “did she eats too many tacos tonight or is she pregnant?”, but I was still soaking it up!

We went to a lovely Christmas Eve service filled with worship and scripture reading. We did have to bow out a bit early because I got super nauseated out of nowhere. As soon as I got something in my stomach I felt much better. Usually how it goes.

That evening we had the most wonderful Christmas Eve meal at my mom-in-law and Gordie’s home. They even made the end portion of the prime rib well done for me so I could have a few pieces <3 Now, that’s love- intentionally overcooking that high quality of meat! And oh my, was it tasty. Yes, I’m still ALL about the meat!!

After seconds, and probably thirds, we sat around enjoying our desserts and chatting away! It was so nice.

On Christmas Day, I woke up a little early to get some walking in and then we gathered up our gifts, our Moose, and we hit the road!

First stop was my mom-in-law and Gordie’s for brunch. I was craving a quiche something fierce when I woke up (probably because she usually makes them on Christmas, and they are always delicious!). When I walked in and saw them on the counter, I was so happy I could cry. It sounds dramatic, but let me tell you- it is the truth. I had my fair share of those tasty quiches and some of the rest of the yummy spread.

After brunch, we opened up gifts with the fam (watching the kids open their gifts was so much fun! It’s exciting to think next year our girl will be joining in on the fun with her cousins <3).

Moose also had a ball tearing into all the wrapping paper.

He even got his own stocking this year! He is one spoiled pup by his grandparents.

LOL I love these bones. They also got him a Mr. Bill toy Moose is obsessed with. He carries it around the house with him, and we’ll hear a random, “Oh Nooooo!” from Mr. Bill every once in a while. 😂

And of course, we had to get a Christmas picture!

That evening we went to my Dad-in-law’s and had a yummy Christmas dinner, opened gifts (Yes, Moose too!), ate the most insanely good cake bites from Daisy Cakes for dessert and soaked up all the family time!

On Sunday, Halston and Kevin came over in the morning so we could prepare our side dishes for the family get together on my Dad’s side of the fam that afternoon. We made a corn elote, simple fajita veggies and a bean dip. We then dropped Moose off at Bow Wow and headed to my brother and sister-in-law’s for a Mexican fiesta!

When they suggested tacos as our meal, I was all about it. Tacos have been one of my main cravings in the second trimester. I had about three of what’s pictured below.

After our food settled, DJ and Kevin played various sports with Jack around the house while my sister and I read some books with Kate. Then we opened gifts with them and Will when he woke up from his nap. It brings me such joy to see how excited they get with every gift.

When we got home later that evening we opened some gifts with my mom and Pete over Facetime! Even Moose got a package of goodies and toys addressed to “Mr. Moose”, like I said- spoiled by all his grandparents! He’s been loving it all. Anyway, it was so good to “see” them, but I still missed them tons these holidays. They’ll be here in January though, so we’re counting down the days.

The whole weekend created some very treasured memories <3

Monday December 27th, Moose captured in this picture how we all felt. He also is a big fan of the pregnancy pillow.

December 29th I hit a wall. I stayed in bed from 1 pm to about 5 pm. I finally was able to get out of bed in time to get some dinner, but even after that I was ready to hit the hay again.

December 30th, DJ and I both took COVID tests given we both were just not feeling 100%, thankfully they were both negative. I think we were just a bit worn out! That day I did wake up feeling better after the prior day of rest.

I went to Nervous Dog cafe in the late morning and wrote our Christmas Thank-Yous while sipping on a decaf cafe au lait. It was so nice! In the afternoon, I took Moose for a walk and then tackled more on the ol’ to-do list in the afternoon.

December 31st, DJ and I set aside New Year’s Eve for a date night. We haven’t had a lot of time together lately, so this was much needed! We found a reservation availability at Rosewood Grill in Hudson, a restaurant we have never been to but looked amazing.

When we got out of the car, we walked up to this beautifully lit wonderland with a gorgeous firepit leading into the restaurant. Inside was spectacularly decorated for Christmas as well!

Our reservation was at 8:45 pm, so we were ravenous by the time we arrived! We started with the spinach dip appetizer. It was absolutely incredible spinach dip.

I also was craving some greens so I had their local greens salad, which was so refreshing and served with the most delicious honey dressing.

For our mains, I had the scallops and shrimp risotto, and DJ ordered a filet. Both were phenomenal.We tried a side of the lobster risotto- holy moly this was insanely good.

For dessert, DJ had their crème brûlée. I wish I was a crème brûlée fan, but I always like it better in theory than when I actually eat it. DJ loved it though!

I had their key lime cheesecake, which was truly some of the best cheesecake I’ve had in my life. 

We did not have a bad bite of food the whole time we were there, and we will definitely have to return for another special occasion! It was a winner.

We went home and watched about 20 minutes of Succession before falling asleep at 1030, we did not even sniff midnight 😂

I am feeling so overwhelmed with gratitude for these special memories 💕 I can’t wait for this year to come!

Questions for you: 

  • How were your holidays?
  • What are you looking forward to this year?

<3,

Mackenzie

In that Christmas Spirit & A Bumpdate <3

Good morning, friends! How are you doing? I am writing from a Nervous Dog in chilly Ohio- well, chilly at the moment. It’s supposed to get to 38 degrees F  later, and in my book that’s exciting because that’s still over 30 and feasible to take Moose for a walk!

Anyway, recapping some of our time in December. This has been one unforgettable month.

We have continued our walks with Moose where the weather allows. We have been very lucky as this has been most days! I have grown to actually love these cooler walks. There is something so calming about it. Maybe it’s a type of cryotherapy, hah. DJ said it’s the highlight of his week too when we go as a family on Saturdays and Sundays.

We have started letting him off leash as much as possible (when no one/no bikers are around). He does so well & it is the cutest thing seeing how excited he gets when that leash is off. He is his happiest running around and exploring.

There is one biker on the trail who passes us frequently, and a couple weeks ago he said “HI MOOOSE!” as he zipped passed. I must say “Stay Moose” enough as he passes that he learned Moose’s name haha. A couple days ago he stopped his bike and played with Moose for a little bit. It was adorable! Moose makes friends wherever he goes.

This vid also cracks me up. I was working on my laptop, and I looked over and he was chewing on my scarf. He looked so frantic & guilty when I caught him, lol. (We do let him have that old running shoe as a chew toy, we recently took the laces out though just to be safe).

On December 4th, I went to Rachel’s to see her new home and have a cookie baking night! I also got to meet her new pup, Trotter, who is the most adorable golden retriever. I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture- next time!! I know Trotter and Moose would be best of friends, I can’t wait for them to meet. She also made me the most refreshing and yummy lemon rosemary mocktail, and we sipped away while we chatted, ate some cheese and crackers and baked Christmas cookies!

We mayyy have burnt both batches on the bottom, but they actually still tasted pretty good (well the tops anyway, hah).

After making our cookies, we watched Love Hard. It was adorable and gave me my once a year Hallmark-type movie fix: cheesy, predictable and made me cry happy tears. The tears mayyy have been a bit amplified by the hormones. (Also I didn’t understand the title Love Hard– but someone said it is a combination of Love Actually and Die Hard and that makes a lot of sense!).

The whole night got me majorly in the Christmas spirit and it was SO GOOD to see Rach.

Feeling festive, I decided that weekend was the best time to get some decorations up. We didn’t get a tree this year with Moose being sure to destroy it, so on December 5th we put up our mini tree from last year and decorated our bamboo ladder with Christmas lights. It is the perfect amount of cozy needed this time of year! Next year, you best believe we are getting back on that real-tree routine, especially with baby here <3

For lunch almost every day for the last few weeks, I have some form of tacos. Ever since we had them at our family get together a few weeks ago, I cannot get enough. So far I have made chickpea tacos, veggie tacos, egg tacos (a lot of these), and my favorite so far were the bison tacos. I usually add a dash of various taco spices, whatever the main filling is mixed with steamed spinach, peppers/onions and then top with whole milk chobani yogurt, cheese, avocado and tabasco over a cassava tortilla or lettuce wraps. YUM. CANNOT get enough!

This was the week before I started my new job, and I wanted to take full advantage of getting ready for Christmas. I spent December 6th and 7th baking away. I made a list of what I wanted to make, ran to the store and then baked both days away while listening to Christmas music. It was magical!

Think Paul Hollywood would approve of that roll? Lol. When I cut it, I exclaimed excitedly to DJ “I see a swirl!!!”. I know it probably could be (a lot) neater, but it was my first time making a Swiss roll from scratch! It was so much fun and rewarding. Plus it tasted pretty good (the important part). I think I still prefer the Swiss rolls with some chocolate, but for raspberry lovers, this was pretty darn delish.

Here is the line up of all the rest of recipes I used, and my personal review of each:

Buckeyes: Very good! My mom-in-law said easily some of the best she’s had and they were DJ’s favorite too. I did omit the brown sugar in the recipe because I didn’t want them to be too gritty.

Gingerbread Cookies: I love gingerbread cookies, and I thought this recipe was really good. I don’t like them too crunchy, these were nice and soft.

Saltine Cracker Toffee: I added pistachios on top and truly had a hard time not eating half the batch. SO addictive. I did have to do this batch over though because my chocolate morsels didn’t melt on the first batch. I recommend using true melting chocolate, melting it a little beforehand and then spreading on the saltines.

Grinch Snowball Cookies: I don’t love snowballs, but if you do, you’ll probably like these. I mainly made them for a pop of color.

Lemon Butter Cookies: This was my personal favorite, and I think I’ll have to make them every year from now on. I added about double lemon zest that the recipe calls for, and I highly recommend doing that if you make this recipe. Never can have enough zest!

Coconut Macaroons: Super easy and tasty if you love coconut.

Peanut butter blossoms: Yummy, classic. I think I did under-bake them a little bit this time from leaving the fridge too long pre-rolled. I also prefer the Reese’s PB cups in the middle of the PB blossom rather than the Hersey’s Kiss, but that’s totally a personal preference!

One my baking days, I dropped off Moose at Camp Bow Wow. It’s good socialization for him, and it would have been tough to do all that baking with him around (especially because his new favorite thing is counter surfing, and so far all the tricks we’ve heard to get him to stop haven’t worked). Anyway, when I picked him up, he was pretty tired both days, and I was tired from baking, so we took a quick nap before I got to prepping for dinner.

On December 9th, I met with my mom-in-law, sister-in-law and nephew, Ender, at Michael’s AM.

I’ve craved this breakfast since we went here. I had a veggie omelette with a side of grits (I had to get them when I saw them on the menu!) and a side of rye toast. We also all tried one of their waffles which was maybe one of the best waffles I’ve had. I want to take DJ back to try it very soon to have this whole meal again round 2!

Even better than the food was the conversation- I feel like we could have chatted there all day!

On December 10th, Moose got in a nice long walk with lots of room to roam and we played catch with a stick until he got tired enough to lay down in the sun. He loves his sun bathing.

On December 11th, Moose started 1st Grade! After him doing so well on the first day, we went through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through and got him a pup cup while I got a decaf coffee with oat milk & DJ grabbed a breakfast sandwich.

That evening, we had DJ’s work Christmas party. It was so much fun & I adore his coworkers. He works with an awesome group of people. I’ve only met them a couple times, but I feel like they’re already friends. We did a white elephant exchange and actually really lucked out with getting a dog toy & treats. This Santa toy is easily Moose’s favorite at the moment!

December 12th, I met up with my brother, SIL, niece and nephews, my sister, Andi, and her mom who flew in from Colorado!

We went to a place that holds a lot of sentimental value for us all- Luna’s. My dad used to take us here often growing up and we all love their food. The minute I walked in, the scent of the diner brought back a rush of memories. This is the type of place that has regulars and the nicest staff.

The best part was being back there all together and sharing this special place with my niece and nephews <3

My brother put these sunglasses on Will- how stinking cute is he!!!

My niece, Kate, started another tradition we used to do – jelly stacking. Did anyone else do this at diners growing up? She did this so quickly – we were all very impressed with her skills!

Once you become a pro at the jelly stacking, the next level is stacking the creamers. I think our record was 11 creamers high or something, but I’m sure Kate will pass that up soon 🙂

For food, I had their skillet. Ohhh I love a skillet. All those hashbrowns, peppers, eggs, cheese- yumm. This was deeeelish.Family picture! Just missed Kevin & Halston <3 We will see them next week though 🙂

After breakfast, we headed to our cousins for the annual Peppernut cookie baking! This is a very special cookie in our family that we have made for generations. The original name for them are Pfeffernüsse, with German origins.

It was so much fun because my nephew, Jack, and niece, Kate, are now old enough to partake in the baking fun!

It was so so special showing them how to roll the dough and do the cut outs, and then my sister Andi did the decoration station with them. Very treasured memories <3

That afternoon, I was prepping for starting my job the next day and DJ was working away on his laptop too. DJ got up to go upstairs for something, and when I walked into the living room, Moose was investigating his laptop. I was cracking up joking he was trading company secrets.

Well, I shouldn’t have laughed too hard, because not long after he did the same thing to me! I am actually convinced he may have just been buying Christmas gifts for himself or my mom joked that maybe he was trying to order Uber Eats.

December 13th I started my new job! Let’s chat job stuff for a second. I had heard from friends how difficult it can be to secure a nurse practitioner job fresh out of school, and it has been. At a certain point I started doing some reflecting. I saw so many nursing roles open and far fewer NP. After a lot of thought, prayer and conversation- I decided to start applying for nursing jobs. I just got a job in the hospital in an area I can learn new skills and continue to grow as a nurse! I feel at peace and excited about it. I have loved the orientation so far and am grateful to work with/for such an incredible team and hospital. It’s not the path I had originally envisioned maybe a year ago, and it doesn’t mean I’ll never work as an NP, but I’m committed to this role and don’t have a timeline or anything set for myself at the moment. This role will be so perfect throughout pregnancy and after baby is born too- it’s very flexible and allows me to not take work home with me.  I’m just going to soak up this direction for all its worth, aim to be the best nurse I can be for my patients and trust God has a plan for this path and all future paths!

On December 16th, my pregnancy pillow came in! I AM OBSESSED. I tried another pillow that smelled a little like chemicals, so I tried to find one that was considered to be made with non-toxic materials. When I stumbled across this one, I had to try it out, especially because the reviews raved about it. This thing is so comfortable and is made with only clean fabrics. It’s a little pricier than what I would have preferred to spend, but it really is worth every single penny.

On December 22nd, I put the final touches on my gift wrapping! I love doing this every year. I usually will lock myself away in a room, put on a TV show and get to work! Something about gift wrapping is so therapeutic.

I also just had to share this- my neck was killin’ me in this moment, but Moose was so comfortable I didn’t want to make him move. He is the cuddliest dog I think I’ve ever known. I hope he is forever my 80-90 lb. lapdog. (That’s what is estimated he will be when he’s full grown).

Aaand finally!!! I have a bumpdate (a bump update)! I have hardly been showing at all, and finally at 19 weeks, I feel like I see a bump. My mom didn’t really show until 7 months, so I think I may be following in her genetic footsteps.

I did start to feel flutters around 18 weeks, I think I also have felt maybe one solid kick from baby girl 💕 It’s one of the most amazing and miraculous experiences.

I hope you have the most Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & a Happy New Year! Sending so much love to all of you as we move into 2022.

Questions for you: 

  • Do you have a special family Christmas cookie?
  • What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
  • How has your holiday season been so far?

<3,

Mackenzie