happy brunch

gosh. life. i think we…ok, i think i seriously have fomo. or fonde {fear of not doing enough} or fonda {fear of not doing anything} or for {fear of relaxing}. whatever it is…i cram wayyyyyyy too much into my calendar and i’m alllllllllllways busy. don’t get me wrong. i looooooooove to do nothing at times. it is so needed. i love to sit on the couch and not have to clean. do laundry. get something for the girls. make food. take a shower {where are my moms who understand me?!}. yes. there are moments where i just like to sit and do nothing but that is very rare.

but i always have something going on.

let me clarify something else. i might complain a bit that i am so busy but i love it more. i love being with my family. i love being with my friends. i love just being me. and part of that is to be social.

so a brunch date was in order with our friends dana and scott. it had been months since we have seen them. i’ve seen dana but we haven’t been able to get all of us together but today was the day!

we settled on a date. we lassoed everyone in and voila! we had everyone going to brunch! we met at the rookery and it was an awkward beginning. the server seemed disappointed there weren’t 7 adults but 4 adults and three kids. she wasn’t friendly at first and seemed rather annoyed with us and our kids {we made a reservation, in which we were asked several times by a few employees if we did. yesssss, we did! and besides that…the restaurant was empty}.

as time went by, she started to warm up to us but we honestly didn’t care or more so notice. we were thoroughly enjoying our time together with our friends. abe was soooooo darn cute, chunky, and so freakin’ laid back. oh, he was so squishy and adorable.

we caught up with each other, consumed delicious libations, adored each other’s kids, and ate yummy food. we just chilled. the restaurant wasn’t busy or packed and it was the perfect environment for us to just relax. the kids were in good spirits and the drinks were in full supply – encouraging us to stay and chat. we were there for a solid two hours before dana and scott had to run out. if dana didn’t have to get on a call, we probably would have sat there for, at least, another half hour!

it was so good to see them! goodness i love them! they are such a good couple and such a beautiful family! cheers to fabulous friends in your life!

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[is he not just the cuuuuuuuutest?!!! he’s such a sweet babe!]

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[he’s so sweet]

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[i completely didn’t take a pic of olive. at all. wahhhhh]

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[holding tight to baby jack jack]

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[kicking it]

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[the boys]

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xoxo

nye ’18

hello 2019!

hc was at work and i was at home with the kiddos. i had done a lot of my prep work the days prior – grabbing drinks, food, accessories, ordering balloons, buying decor, etc. i knew i had to get it done before monday because i knew monday was going to be jam packed full of nothing! haha!

our day started out slow. we woke up late and hit up the grocery store for some last minute items. the girls were too adorable shopping with me. ellie insisted on sitting in the cart and olive wanted to grab the mini red shopping cart and help me shop! it then ended up with ellie wanting down and helping olive push the cart around the store and filling it with goodies! it was sooooooo cute!

once we got home…it was already early afternoon! i started prepping some things but before i knew it, it was ellie’s nap time. i put the, getting sick, little babe down, right then thuy was knocking on the door. she wanted to come over early and bake cupcakes at the house for the kids. olive was quite excited to help thuy bake! she loves to help in the kitchen. she helped mix and decorate them and she definitely had a fun time!

hc came home early and was surprised i hadn’t finished decorating! ha! like i said, it was a slow morning and afternoon. i started my hustle and got everything dunzo by 5pm, got myself ready, and continued to do the final touches in the house – lighting candles, turning on mood lighting, hc started a fire, and then i started to put together my cheese plate.

i also created a champagne bar! i collected veuve cliquot, moët et chandon, la marca prosecco to make fun cocktails! i had raspberry sorbet, sugar cubes, mint, limes, lemons, berries, bitters, and rock candy sticks for an endless combo of tasty beverages!

everyone slowly trickled in around 6/7pm and kim started cooking her dinner for the night. she decided to make a shrimp diavolo, arugula salad, and pull apart garlic bread. yuuuuummmmmmm. dinner was ready by 8:30pm, which was perfect for new year’s eve! eating late, serving dessert late, and then counting down the new york’s new year is how we roll!

this year was just family and it was perfect! although we were missing our usual suspects – you know who you are! our evening consisted of eating well, drinking delicious libations, and cheered to the new year together!

2019 – don’t disappoint us, you’ve got some heavy competition!

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[olive helping thuy make cupcakes for dessert]

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[thuy’s diy cupcake toppers]

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[so proud of her work!]

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[kids table]

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[boxes of goodies – hats, poppers, candies, glow sticks, and noise makers]

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[our go to app when hosting]

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[oh, my poor ellie was sick]

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[adult table]

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[kim and terry]

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[champagne bar – create your own cocktail]

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[my poor under the weather ellie]

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[the goodies]

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[the cutie pies]

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[terry, bennett, reagan, and kim]

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[desserts!]

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[super aunty thuy with her kids and pouty olive]

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[happy new year!]

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[diiiiiiiiiiva]

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xoxo

friends

my girlfriend from seattle came into town for the holidays with her family. we don’t get to see them often since they moved away, so it’s a wonderful event when they come here and we get to visit with them! we hosted them and two other close friends at our abode.

the evening was casual…it was the day before new year’s eve {we were hosting a party for our friends and family the next night}, so we wanted to keep it simple and fun. costco catered and we relaxed…ha!

everyone trickled in around 4pm and all we did was talk and the kids had fun. although, jaime’s babe, liam, was odd man out, being {almost} the only boy there!!! pam didn’t bring her two boys and travis is much older, so poor liam was on his own! plus, with us having two girls…we only had ‘girly’ toys and he was not interested!

ted and rich continued their bromance while us gals caught up on life. we served apps and threw dinner in the oven. hc was the responsible one for picking up the entrees at costco and we ended up having pasta, pasta, and more pasta!!! hahaha! no matter…they were all delicious choices and i am always game for some major carbs!

slowly throughout the evening, the ladies trickled out and carol and ted stuck around. before we knew it…i think it was almost 11pm!!!!!! oh, the past two weeks have been such laaaaaate nights for the girls. they have been going to bed sooooo late!

it’s always so good to see them, everyone! carol and i have been friends for 34 years!!!! cray, non?! this holiday season has been so special and moments like this make is just a little bit more extra.

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[pam, carol, and leighton]

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[pampers, carol, me, jaime, and leighton]

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[ohmergawd…i’m dyyyying. this is so cute!]

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[the peeps]

xoxo

christmas day

i was looking forward to christmas morning. this year, olive was fully engaged in it. 1-3 years of age, she didn’t care. 4 she sparked interest and age 5, she was full blown into it! she’s been so thoughtful, opinionated, detailed, and just so funny with her ideas, comments, and conversations. i’m sooooo loving this age!

we don’t wrap santa gifts {hello, it’s so much easier and they know those are his gifts versus ours that are wrapped} and olive walked out from her room with the most sheepish, excited look on her face! she was gleeful to see that she received all the gifts she asked santa for!

we waited for ellie to awake before we opened up the gifts from us. we wanted to do that with ellie but having such a late night on christmas eve, ellie was wiped out and slept in late. so, we cooked breakfast and hung out until we heard her stir. we all then went back to the tree and the girls opened up the gifts from us to them! ellie’s most favorite toy was the cash register from santa!!!! she looooved it and still does!

hc and i then got crackin’ on our preparations for christmas dinner. we had his side of the family coming over at 3pm and we needed to decorate and start the food. the good news was, everyone was bringing something. whether it was apps or side dishes, it was fantastic to have bits and pieces of the meal being brought over by someone else, so the burden wasn’t completely on us!

this is our second year hosting christmas. it was passed on to us after the aunts and uncles discussed how they were getting old and tired and needed the kids to carry on the tradition. this year, we had 27 or so people at our house. holy cow! {i hardly took any pics!} let me tell you…our entertaining space is quite small, so that’s a lot of people crammed together.

nonetheless, it was wonderful, merry, and full of love – everyone made do and i think we fret over our small space more than anyone else. our evening was filled with great conversations, joy, and merriment – exactly how christmas should be spent with family!

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[my sweet girl]

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[she looooooves bath bombs!]

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[so in love]

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[rudolph the red nosed reindeer]

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[surprising, ellie was not into presents this year, although it may seem like she was through these pics]

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[her most favorite toy from santa – a cash register]

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[ellie, it’s a scanner…not a phone. hahaha!]

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[my sweet girl]

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[rich’s side of family]

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[christmas dinner tablescape]

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[jane and aunt vicki]

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xoxo

christmas eve ’18

christmas eve. it’s such a special evening. i get so excited leading up to this day. the magic, the love, the merriment. there is something so wonderful about spending this evening together as a family. maybe it’s the hustle and bustle that envelopes you. maybe it’s because everyone is in a good mood. maybe it’s the sound of christmas music and strangers saying merry christmas to you. maybe it’s the joy and smiles that exude from your children filled with anticipation of candy, toys, and a visit from santa. maybe it’s the smell of a delicious dinner waiting to be served. maybe it’s the wine kicking in. hahaha!

whatever it is, it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year. we spend christmas eve at my parent’s house annually and i love the coziness of it all. the kids have fun darting all around and playing. our family members ebb and flow to different parts of the house to socialize and immerse themselves in random conversations and activities.

once dinner is ready, we all take our seats and my dad says grace. this year, we had mom’s crab soup, tenderloin, sautéed mushrooms, corn, mashed potatoes, {i’m sure i am forgetting something} and agata brought her homemade cabbage pirogies sprinkled with chopped bacon!!! her dish was the highlight and hit of the night! it was sooooooo flippin’ good!

after dinner and clean up, we served desserts and then we all changed into our christmas pj’s and posed for our family photo. a tradition running, maybe, ten years strong…or close to that! once that was done, the kids became super excited because we started our gift exchange. it’s soooo delightful to watch their excitement and joy!

oh gosh, the girls are so fortunate to get so much!!!! the gifts kept rolling in for the kids. ellie was a bit fussy and was not into opening gifts but olive on the other hand – she was a pro! oh my, it was such a long and lovely night. after each gift was opened and desserts were consumed, we had to get home. it was almost midnight!!! so late for the little buggers. plus, santa was coming soon!

what a perfect and wonderful christmas eve. we are feeling so grateful for everything – life, love, health, family, and friends.

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[bûche de nöel]

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[tashina and huy]

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[olive is sooooooo extraaaaaaa. aren’t they the cutest cousins?!]

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[she’s so sassy, sweet, and thugalicious]

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[ellie loves dogs]

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[how sweet is nutmeg and ellie?]

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[our sweet family]

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[christmas is for chillin’ with the fam]

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[kim’s table centerpiece]

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[kids table]

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[plaid anyone?]

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[hamming it up]

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[ellieeeeee, she was hugging reagan so tight and making the funniest faces!]

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[thuy and mom]

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[how sweet is this?!]

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[y’all. i can’t even with olive’s faces. hahhaa!]

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[i had to post them all because she’s so cute!]

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[christmas pj’s]

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[the doan zone]

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[there goes olive again with the cute expressions]

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xoxo

nutcracker

last year, i really wanted to take olive to the nutcracker. tickets, or at least the tickets i wanted to buy, were quite expensive and after i discussed it with hc, we decided that olive being another year older was the best time to take her.

well, this was the year and i reconnected with hc about it and he gave us the green light. i researched tickets and read reviews that balcony front center were the best seats. so, i purchased front row and i was so excited to surprise olive!

i told her we were going to the ballet but i don’t think she fully understood what i meant. on the way to chicago, i played the story of the nutcracker on the radio for her to hear the storyline and have an idea what it was about, on our way there. we were in heavy traffic and olive fell asleep after listening to the story a few times. i parked and rustled her up…she woke up so sweetly.

i wanted to take her out to dinner {i really wanted to take her to the gage, but we were running out of time}, so we ate at corner bakery instead. one, olive wanted to walk and she was walking so cute and slow. two…the gage was another 1.5 blocks away and that was valuable time and since we were short on time, i decided to eat at the latter.

she was soooooo excited over her outfit. it was too adorable to watch her so delighted with it. when we arrived at the theatre, everyone – everyone ohhhhh’d and ahhhhh’d over her ensemble! i asked her to pose in front of the poster easel and without batting an eyelash, she walked up to the sign and struck a pose! she literally stopped traffic! she was too cute, there were times when people told her that she was so cute, she would curtsy or pose and say thank you! hahaha! what a ham!

olive was so mesmerized with the dancing. her favorite dancers were the sugar plum fairies. during the performance, she got up from her seat and did her best to emulate the dancers. it was soooooooo heart melting to see her so enthralled with the beauty of it. i let her dance around a bit but ended up pulling her back to her seat in fear that she’d fall over the edge!

speaking of that, since we were front row center balcony, we were literally on the edge. the only thing that separated us to the floor below was a wall that was barely knee high. that FREAKED me out. i am so afraid of heights and i was having a hard time with it…hiding my fear as much as i could from olive. she found it funny but i was so nervous!!! so with her dancing so close the edge, i could only bear a few minutes of it without pulling her back!

during intermission, i took olive to the washroom and a women inside asked if olive was a part of the show {the women was dead serious}!!! haha! no but that was so cute. i got olive a pop and myself a prosecco and we moseyed back to our seats and finished out the show.

it was such a magical, amazing time. i had the best time taking olive to the nutcracker and i knows she had a memorable time! i must admit…i did cry a few times because it was so emotional for me. cheers to wonderful memories together!

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[i hastily got ready…i wished i wore something different but i was running out of time. despite the facial expression…she was really excited!]

[i hastily got ready...i wished i wore something different but i was running out of time]

[such a ham!]

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[this. she is soooooo sweet. just waiting patiently for her food and looking at the christmas decor]

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[i love her sooooooo much it hurts]

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[i was so happy her costume from last year still fit!]

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[she absolutely loved her outfit that night]

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[i was dyyyyyyying. i asked her if she could pose in front of this sign…without blinking, she walked right up and posed. i loooooooooooove her!! she literally stopped traffic!]

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[selfies!]

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xoxo

splash magazine party

one of my ‘gram friends, jen, invited me to a magazine party in honor of her being on the cover with two other cool ladies from chicago. i was game but hc was not but my go to party friend, olivia was in and i was set! i debated on going, initially, because it was a night my girls had gymnastics {i love taking them}, it was a tuesday night, and it was so close to christmas and my to do list always feels like a mile long BUT i thought, damn it thu…just do it. freakin’ nike ad but yes, it’s my motto. it’s the only way i get shit done around here…hahaha!

i got ready {it felt like it took me forever to gather all my things!} and headed out the door into some heavy traffic. olivia and i decided to meet there and go in together. i picked her up at a café nearby and we found a sweet parking spot! we arrived at our destination and the party was in full swing. jen greeted us and olivia and i nabbed two glasses of rosé right away and in usual fashion, gabbed with each other non-stop. i love her! i love that my closest friends and i can talk endlessly, now that is true friendship!

well, we mingled a bit with my other ‘gram friends, ate apps, and eventually the dance floor got wild! we had so much fun! i loved connecting with and meeting new peeps doing the same thing! olivia and i were tearing up the dance floor with the other babes and we stayed so much longer than anticipated!

overall, it was a night out that was so needed! i had such a great time with olivia and all the other ladies! cheers to all the ladies who blog and, typically, not taken seriously but we definitely know how to party! haha!

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[i love snapchat and olivia]

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[oh you know, just chillin’ on the couch and throwing my new gucci bag on the floor…don’t look at this hc!]

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[the guest of honor, jen!]

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[‘gram friends kristen and carla]

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[‘gram friend amanda]

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[rosé all day]

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xoxo

winter ballet recital ’18

even though this is her third recital {second winter one}, i still get so excited, although less nervous. the anticipation of seeing her perform gets me all giddy, happy, and feeling so proud of her!

we typically split the driving duties…i take olive early to drop her off before the show and hc will take ellie and make it in time for the performance. this time around, thuy, dad, jane, dick, grace, dan, agata, hc and ellie were in attendance to watch olive perform to ‘santa claus is coming to town’.

she did such a great job! she had high jumps and perfect poise. oh, it’s so cute to watch her dance! it makes my heart melt seeing her confident and growing in her execution. don’t get me wrong…these girls were so goofy, all over the place with their moves, and so fun to watch! that’s the best part! seeing each kid do their own thing and not really following a routine is always so funny and endearing.

anyhoo, after the recital ended, i grabbed olive from the pick up room and brought her back to her fan base. everyone then showered her with kisses, hugs, and flowers. after quite a few pictures, we all headed to a restaurant down the street called pierce tavern, a new joint in the downtown area.

it was a bit of a wait, so we walked across the street to the toy shop and the kids had fun while we waited for our table to be ready. a perfect shop to go to when the wait is long and you have kids! our experience at the restaurant was great! hc and i really loved the food, ambiance, and decor. it’s a cool cozy place with a diverse menu. i really think we found our go to place and that’s saying a lot because we don’t have one after all these years out here!!

moving from chicago to the ‘burbs leave little to be desired in the restaurant department. that’s the one thing we truly miss about not living in chicago anymore. we had easy, quick access to so many wonderful restaurants and bars and being out here – well, we haven’t found a place close to home that we love and we’re hoping that this is it!

it turned out to be such a lovely, loving afternoon. we all had a great time watching olive perform and our lunch together, afterwards, was just perfect. excellent job on your ballet recital miss olive. we are so proud of you and love that you love what you are doing.

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[she’s so sweet]

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[walking into the waiting room…excited to see all the other ballerinas!]

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[the girl with a million silly faces]

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[getting on stage]

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[they started off sleeping and waking up like little blooming flowers]

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[‘sleepy heads’ getting up to stretch]

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[plié]

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[done! walking off the stage]

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[this…oh my heart. it’s melting into a puddle]

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[she was like, ‘kiki…i can’t hold all these flowers!’ haha!]

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[double whammy…papa deux bisou]

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[oh, proud mama here!]

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[olive and her super aunty]

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[dan and agata]

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[a yummy bloody mary – extra spicy please]

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[silly cats]

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[a perfect sign for hc]

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[celebrating my birthday, at home, too!]

xoxo

holiday downtown

we did our annual holiday trip to macy’s on state this past weekend! we did our usual routine of eating up on the 7th floor, shopping for ornaments, and just shopping around the store.

we love to buy ornaments from here every year, grab a little candy from the shop downstairs, and just take in the hustle and bustle of the season. dan, agata, kim, terry, the boys, thuy, mom and dad came out this year. we stayed at the department store for several hours and then headed home to our house to decorate gingerbread houses! before we left, we were able to admire one of their animated windows at macy’s. olive was so enamored with all the trumpets and christmas lights and wonderment all around her! her and ellie were so amazed as we walked the streets!

once home, we tidied up a bit and then kim and fam and agata and dan came over. kim brought over wine, cheese, and paté to nibble on. the boys brought food over to the house and the kids ate dinner. we had ordered pizza for everyone else and once all the consuming of food was done, we set up the gingerbread houses for the kiddos!

the kids had a blast! olive looooooved decorating her house. she was so excited and looking forward to it for days! olive did such a great job decorating her house – she didn’t even get frosting on her fingers! a big thank you to dan for being her structural engineer and making sure her roof didn’t fall down. thanks for holding the house together while olive decorated around you!

overall it was a great, fun festive day with the family! i love being able to spend the time with them during the busiest season of the year. that is what matters most during this crazy month! we soaked in the holiday mood and created some good memories together.

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[she’s so funny]

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[hey grace! i’m only going to take a pic of you while you’re eating. oops]

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[olive is so silly!]

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[she loooooooved riding the escalators!]

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[picking out candy]

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[olive’s stash]

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[my sweet girls]

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[ready to assemble her house!]

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[all the goodies to decorate with]

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[the cutest cousins]

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[olive’s house]

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[reagan’s house]

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[putting on her adornments]

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[reagan’s house looking good!]

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[olive was sooooo dang careful with her decor and she didn’t even get frosting on her fingers!]

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[reagan and his masterpiece]

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[she did such a great job!!]

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xoxo

hello santa!

our annual visit with the big guy in red happened the other day! i didn’t tell the girls until we were about a minute away. olive got sheepish and ellie just didn’t care. i usually make reservations every year but this time around, i was like – let’s just wing it. i usually find that they are pretty good at getting non reserved families in and i was right!

we walked in, signed up and we were the second family to see santa! they snapped a family pic first and then the kiddos. it was cute! i wasn’t expecting to be in any pics but it was super nice to have one together {since we can be so bad at taking a family photo together}. the girl’s picture turned out so sweet too!

after those photos, we waited in line to walk into santa’s airstream trailer. when it was our turn, olive excitedly walked towards it. we walked inside and there was santa! olive was so anxious, excited, and nervous. ellie was like – nope. ‘who’s this big guy in red?! make sure i stay far away from him!’ hahaha!

olive gingerly walked towards him and sat next to him while hc held onto ellie. i encouraged olive to tell santa what she wanted for christmas. she had her hands slightly clasped and she looked right at him. as she started to speak, her voice was not quivering but her hands were slightly trembling, she told him she wanted a mermaid barbie, lol dolls, a cinderella doll, and a blue car with a big engine. it was soooo flipping adorable to see. she really wanted to tell santa what she wanted and practiced it with me before she went in. she did so well! i was so proud of her!

then hc set ellie down for a picture and it all went downhill for her! eep! well, as you can see in the pictures below…it was a very successful visit! after that, we walked away feeling so good {ok, minus ellie} and headed to dinner. after eating, we shopped around a bit in the mall and then headed home.

BUT not without losing bunny. that is a loooooong story. we thought we were donzo. that bunny was gone. we called all the places we were at and no one had bunny. we went home without him and we were devastated. especially olive. hc went back the next day to backtrack everywhere we went. he went back into stores and had no luck. then a christmas miracle happened. he searched the grounds and right in front of eddie bauer, there was bunny!!!! someone had found him and placed him up on the store front’s windowsill. bless their hearts for doing that! hc saved the day!

we had such a great evening! it really was! we had so much fun {minus the missing bunny}. santa’s visit was a success, dinner was so fun and yummy {the girls were sooooo stinking cute and well behaved}, and we had a good time shopping the mall and picking up some extra goodies!

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[our family photo! i loved that they did that for us]

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[they’re so sweet]

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[ellie and olive’s looks! priceless!]

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[olive is so mesmerized by him! ellie, not so much]

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[she was sooooo excited to sit in his lap! what a difference from last year and the years prior!]

xoxo