valentine’s day class cards ’21

every year, i always have the girls create valentine’s day cards for their class. typically i will take a photograph and do something creatively but this year i was like…nope. let’s just put together some bags and call it a day. LOL mama ain’t got time for that shiznit.

i gathered all the supplies and the girls assembled their bags with determination and delight! i’m a do it super early kind of gal, like check check check it off the list and never look back! so we made these in early january. yup, you read that right. i mean, target already had everything on the shelves, so why not? the early bird gets the worm…although that’s a bad analogy cause i love sleeping in and miss the morning life cause i’d rather sleep. but you get me right?! hahaha!

so here we are, making valentine’s day cards in january cause honestly…this holiday creeps up on you much faster than you realize and you have to save any spare time for creative treats, food, and crafts!

each bag contained a valentine’s day card, eraser, bubbles, stickers, tattoo, and candy! so extra but if you know me…it comes with the territory! the girls didn’t do mailboxes this year…boo! that’s a whole other project – which olive is all about, so i was a bit sad we didn’t get to create one! ellie is only in preschool this year, so with school opening up next year, both girls will get to make vday mailboxes and that will be so much fun!

side note: i know this post is so flippin’ delayed! i couldn’t explain to you why i stopped posting regularly but here’s to hoping that slump has gone away and i get back to my regularly scheduled program!

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ready to make some cards for their friends!
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goodies for the treat bags
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how adorable is this?
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working hard on her valentine’s
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she did a great job!
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jojo’s shake bar

we heard so much about jojo’s shake bar, we had to give it a try!

it was a few days after new year’s and we decided to head to the city for some fun! olive received some gifts that wasn’t just right for her american girl doll and we headed downtown to exchange a few pieces and just. get. out.

obviously, thanksgiving and christmas has been really low key and we hadn’t seen much of anyone and just wanted to go somewhere and walk around and act like socializing human beings. LOL

we first hit up american girl place and olive looked around and around and around at allllllll the things and could not make a decision on what she wanted to exchange her gifts for. after perusing the shelves and aisles for a bit, she finally settled on a few things for her doll and we were on our merry way to grab some shakes from jojo’s!

this was a last minute excursion as we did not plan to hit up this place for lunch or anything of that sort…just grabbing their yummy shakes. although, i do want to eventually make reservations to eat there and just experience the madness it has to offer.

we lucked out! when we walked up to the restaurant, there were only three people waiting in line! yes! as we waited to go inside and order…the line grew tremendously long and ij was super happy we walked up when we did. it wasn’t freezing out but not warm and when you have two little kids, you need time on your side! LOL

we ordered, we conquered and we ate! it was so good! i truly enjoyed the shakes! the girls were amazed and so excited to have the most sugariffic shakes in their lives! i highly recommend jojo’s. it was so good and definitely a fun experience for the kiddos!

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ready to try an amazing shake!
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we ventured to the american girl doll place to trade in a few christmas items before our jojo’s excursion
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the menu
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our shakes being delivered!
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nye ’20

covid. covid. covid.

everything revolved around how to celebrate with covid literally in the air. LOL

we decided to keep our guests to the people we hung out with at christmas – family. unfortunately my parents didn’t come over because it was too cold and too much for them but that’s ok!

for new year’s we like to make heavy apps and have yummy drinks! i created a photo booth, like i do every year and try to make it festive inside. i also love making little favor boxes for the kids! i usually fill them with candy, chocolates, glow sticks, poppers, noise makers, and hats. sometimes they get crackers too!

my sister kim made a delicious shrimp and dip and chicken buffalo dip. thuy made two yummy quiches. i made brie and cranberry tarts, a charcuterie board, and jalapeño poppers. i didn’t think we would have enough food and we had more than enough! we were stuffed and it was alllllll soooooo delicious!

we usually have everyone over late, since ringing in the new year feels like an eternity away and we try not to fall asleep by midnight! LOL the strange part about this year was how we made it to midnight. every year, we can barely make it to new york’s ball drop. it’s hard. but this year, we were more energized than usual and the kids stayed up wayyyyy past midnight. we all rang in the real {time} new year’s together and that was awesome!

there were less people this year and it was very relaxing…plus after the year we had…we were so ready to say hello to 2021!

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new year’s eve cocktails
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i wrote recipes for drinks on our bar paper
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new year’s eve bar
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table centerpiece
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new year’s eve bar
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cake by strictly sugar
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thuy and reagan
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brie and cranberry tarts
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thuy and kim
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my quick charcuterie board
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photo booth spot
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playing downstairs in the playroom
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he’s so sweet to her!
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our best family photo!
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ma seours
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opening their favor boxes
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new year’s eve crackers
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wearing the crown from her cracker
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happy new year! they made it to midnight!
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new year’s day!
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christmas ’20

christmas was in question, just like every holiday this year. for thanksgiving, we all spent it with our nuclear family but for christmas…we thought, let’s do this.

it went back and forth, whether or not we were going to have it at our house or my parent’s house. we weren’t sure if we wanted to have all that commotion over at my parent’s since they were recovering from covid and my dad was still very weak and exhausted. my mom insisted that it would be best to have it there because it would allow my dad to rest in the comfort of his own home versus our house. so, we settled on my parent’s house!

we did our usual. my sister kim cooked most of the meal and we brought ancillary items. LOL i brought desserts and thuy brought…oh my gosh. i don’t remember what she brought…a salad? she was going to make an apple cobbler but there were a lot of desserts, she last minute nixed it.

i chuckle at the fact that we were determined to start early and end early. bahhhahahaha. nope. we all said we would meet at my parent’s around 2pm. that turned into 3pm. then 4pm. we were going to eat around 5 or 6pm and that turned into our usual 8pm. doh! plus, dan and agata typically celebrate with her family first and they don’t usually get over to mom and dad’s until 7pm…so in the end. it was allllll the same. LOL

we nibbled on a charcuterie board, drank wine, the kids played, assembled gingerbread houses and trees, and when we sat down for dinner, my dad said a prayer. like every year, we cleaned up, readied desserts and opened gifts upstairs! the kids were so excited! this was the first year ellie was so into it. last year she just wandered around but this year she was like, where are my gifts. LOL she kept saying, ‘i don’t see my name!’ as she would look for presents addressed to her.

and of course, we took our annual pj photos with everyone! tashina and huy couldn’t be with us {so sad!} but we were able to FaceTime them and include them in the picture like always! so perfect!

more on christmas morning, my parent’s 50th anniversary and christmas day down below!

C H R I S T M A S E V E

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christmas balloons and my parent’s 50th anniversary balloon
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sweet girl watching some a christmas movie
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decorating a gingerbread tree
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pandemic tree 2020
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hc brought his own bar to my parent’s house
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they are so cute!
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surveying the scene
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the cutest cousins
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the best crew
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excitedly opening gifts
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bennett showing off his gift
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i love the way she’s looking at him
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just physically missing huy and tashina!

while celebrating christmas eve, we incorporated my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary! isn’t that amazing?! we got them a cake and balloons to celebrate the special occasion!

5 0 T H A N N I V E R S A R Y

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we were so tired christmas eve, i forgot to get the girls to put out cookies and carrots for santa and his reindeers! i did it myself but bummed they didn’t experience it with me! then we put them to bed and i forgot to remind olive to wake me up before she goes downstairs. another fail!

so – early christmas morning, i wake up to olive not in bed! ugh!! darn it! i missed her surprised face when she saw santa’s gifts!!!! i had to drag ellie out of bed, what a sleepy head, and go find olive. she was so excited over what santa had brought!

they went through their stockings and we opened up all the gifts from us. olive was besides herself at the huge LOL house santa dropped off. once all the presents were opened and cleaned up, we jumped on breakfast. hearty for us and cinnamon rolls and sprinkles for the girls!

it was a special morning. it was slow, calm, heartwarming and sweet. oh how i enjoy these moments with my babes. their sweetness, innocence, appreciation, and love for everything makes my heart melt.

C H R I S T M A S M O R N I N G

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santa came! he ate his cookies and the reindeer ate their carrots
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checking out their stockings
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the sweetest smile
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going through her goodies
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later that day, we usually host christmas day for hc’s side of the family but obviously with covid, that was not happening. instead, we had his sister and mom over. hc cooked ham and bunch of other delicious sides. he always does such a great job creating the menu and working hard to make it wonderful.

we hung out, chillaxed, drank, ate, conversed and reveled in the evening’s calm and brightness of christmas. after dinner, i served desserts {cookies, peppermint bark, cake} and we opened presents.

what i have loved about being in this season of covid is the intimacy, quietness, and slowness of everything. it’s nice to not be rushed and overwhelmed with all the craziness that life was. it’s sweet, calm, and full of depth. a year that no one wanted but we all figured it out.

C H R I S T M A S D A Y

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christmas cookies from toni’s patisserie

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bûche de noël
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last minute dinner tablscape
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christmas shenanigans

christmastime is always full of fun.

we end up doing all sorts of fun activities and it just adds so much joy to the season!

some people might feel overwhelmed at the prospect of keeping up with all the joy, sparkle, and fun of the season but i find that being busy and on the go such a part of the season. don’t get me wrong…i love having slow days and catch up days and days where you don’t have a million places to be but i also try to be smart, efficient, and effective with my time and learn to say no when it’s too much.

with that said, here are a few snippets of some of the fun we had this past december!

G I N G E R B R E A D H O U S E

every year we create a gingerbread house. olive loves to decorate it and ellie likes to eat all the candies. LOL next year, i am going to try to create my own from scratch. well not from scratch scratch but i saw, this past season, a house made from graham crackers and all the fun trimmings and i think i might try that next year! i’ve gotten the same house for olive a couple years in a row and i am hoping to find a different one for her to make next year!

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gingerbread trimmings
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this pretty much sums up all our projects. olive working hard and ellie watching and eating candy. LOL
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olive very cautiously putting on the candies
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my sweeties
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S A N T A

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in awe over mr. and mrs. claus
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I always say 4 is the magic number when it comes to santa!
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the sweetest letter that olive wrote to santa. i asked her what she wanted from santa and she said this. be still my heart.

D R I V E I N T H E A T R E

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Z O O L I G H T S

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a fun rainbow globe of lights
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having fun in the rainbow globe of lights
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having a blast with val
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C O O K I E D E C O R A T I N G

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excited to decorate!
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R A N D O M S H E N A N I G A N S

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painting animlas
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she cracks me up. showing off to me how focused she is.
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ellie working hard on her gorilla
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home baked cookies for the neighbors
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home from school, ugly sweater day, and ready for winter break!
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xoxo

decorating the tree

once thanksgiving is over, we go all out for christmas! i know this year has been hard for a lot of people and many people decorated earlier than usual but hc and i still chose to wait until after thanksgiving. that poor holiday…no one really gives it a chance!

we always kick off our decorating weekend by pulling everything out and getting the tree done! the girls get so excited over it! they love going through all the ornaments. we blast holiday music, grab some drinks and get as much as we can done! sometimes we overwhelm ourselves. we have concluded that we have accumulate a lot more decor over the years, we can’t just nail it in one day {years prior…we used to get it done in one day}. we literally have to decorate over the weekend. oh em gee. so much work! but honestly, it’s worth it…it turns out so pretty!

with it now taking so much longer to decorate, i might change my tune and start decorating before thanksgiving! LOL it’s too stressful to do it all of black friday weekend! there’s just too much going then. oh, we shall see.

it just gets more magical as the girls get a little bit older. they are just more aware and more in awe and so so excited over christmas. ohhhhhh, i don’t know how i will handle it when they lose their innocence and it’s not as fun and exciting as it is now! i hope not…i hope they never lose their sense of wonder! i know it’ll be a slow progression but my heart aches at that thought right now.

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decorating the tree
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they were so excited for the ornaments!
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such a doll. she was excited to find this ornament
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trimming the tree
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attempting to put the star on the tree
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she found the santa hat and loved it!
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advent calendar
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i can’t with their sweet faces
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eating her delicious chocolate from the advent calendar
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xoxo

AG zoom birthday party

ohhhhhh olive’s birthday.

first off…it’s always around thanksgiving and that makes it difficult to plan anything as it’s a major holiday and many people travel. so, i always try to plan a party for her a weekend ahead of her birthday.

well then there’s covid. ohhhhhhh the rona. always getting in people’s way. it first started with a great idea. olive recently became interested in american girl dolls {hello…her friends influenced her LOL} and i thought…’oh! let’s host an american girl doll party at the american girl place in chicago!’. totally a great idea! i told hc that it’d be ideal to host a party there because it would be cheaper than what it would cost for me to host one. LOL #truth i buy that much decor for every party and it’s so much!

we thought, let’s invite a small group of girls, rent a limo, and go to the city to have lunch, explore, and then come home. a quick 2 ish hour party and it would be so much fun!

i have always committed to throwing parties for the girls at home, with only family, up until the age of 5. after that…i’m like…nope. that’s where friends become involved and i’d rather rent a space to host than to hold that in my own home. i don’t want to clean, worry about the food, create all the decor, and honestly…fret over the mess.

so with that in mind, i called american girl place to secure a reservation. first problem…with the pandemic, they didn’t take any reservations more than 30 days out. okuuuurrrr, if anyone knows me, they know i plan parties 4 month in advance. LOL having to deal with 30 days out was annoying but not so bad as i didn’t have to take care of much since i wasn’t hosting it at our house. so, with that…i have to wait a couple months until i could actually make a reservation!

it was finally near the end of october and i could, at last, secure a date and time with AGP. yahoo! i then sped through the motions and ordered invites, bought favors, and ordered all the extra jazz that i possibly could! i didn’t want to do any of that until i could confirm with AGP!

well, the bad news started rolling in. the week i made the reservations, our county and surrounding counties shut down indoor dining. not chicago yet but i was like ohhhhhh noooooooo! i only hoped chicago would stay open. as the weeks rolled by…it was looking dismal. covid infection rates were not looking good everywhere and i was stuck. what do i do??!!

i decided to just throw the party at our house. at that point, chicago had shut down and i didn’t know when it’d open up again. what i didn’t want to do but c’est la vie, non? so last minute, i started organizing and planning for a fete at our place. i ordered a cake, ordered games, ordered decorations, and so on. i was ready! a quick party turnaround and we were set to go!

then the covid struck again. the damn virus entered our household. ughhhhhhhhh. just days before the party. oh my goodness. i was at a loss. what to do?!! what to do?!!! oh olive! i wanted to celebrate her and make it special! so once again, i recalculated.

i decided to throw a zoom party. i put together party bags for all the girls. i brush lettered each of their names onto white bags. i put favor bags {full of AG themed goodies and treats!}, i put games that we were going to play, a craft project, and AG themed plates, cups, and napkins so they all could have lunch together. last but not least, i tied balloons to each bag to create the party ambience!

i porch dropped off all the bags the day of the party and we were ready to go! i picked up olive’s cake on the way back, got her ready in her sparkly AG dress, made her star filled lunch and logged in.

first on the agenda was all the girls having lunch together with their AG dolls and on their AG themed plates and cups. once they all ate, i started the games. we did a ‘do you know the birthday girl?’. all the girls had to answer questions pertaining to olive and at the end, olive said all the answers and whoever got the most right won! second, we played bingo. that was a lot of fun. the girls wanted to play several games and each time we had a different winner. we then did a scavenger hunt. the girls got to run around their house to find all the objects listed on the sheet. it was so fun! after that, the girls grabbed the craft project i placed in the bag and created the cutest paper butterflies.

the party lasted a little over an hour. exactly how long i wanted it to go for. it was soo much fun! what i loved most was that olive had so much fun and she had fun with her friends, zoom and all

her birthday celebration plans were all over the place but in the end, it turned out perfect. she was able to celebrate it with her friends, i was super happy to see her happy, and it felt like a somewhat normal birthday!

happy birthday my dear olive. you mean the world to us. we love you so much. you’re growing into the most beautiful girl and your soul is beyond kind. we are so proud of who you already are and can’t wait to see what you will become. thank you for being you. sweet, kind, loving, thoughtful, sensitive, practical, inquisitive, hard working, and responsible. we love you to the infinity and beyond.

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my sweet girl celebrating her 7th covid style
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poms for the win!
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they’re so sweet!
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american girl doll cookie favors
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american girl doll favors: chalk, cookies, antibac handitizer, lip balm, pink mask with mask holder, crowns for girl and doll, and bracelets for girl and doll!
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gorgeous flowers by my sister kim
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american girl doll place settings
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what a poser. she’s so cute!
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american girl doll cake by strictly sugar
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delicious cookies
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i forgot to take a picture of the bags i dropped off! thanks to kiersten, she documented it for me! each bag contained a favor box, games, crafts, a american girl place setting for lunch, and of course, balloons to create the party vibe!
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ready for her zoom party!
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having lunch with her friends and their american girl dolls
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party set that i dropped off at each house!
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ellie partaking in the scavenger hunt
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me leading craft time
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madison and taylor having fun crafting
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opening presents
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reveling in the aftermath
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such a sweetie!
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make a wish!
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xoxo

halloween ’20

last year it snowed. this year it was near 70 degrees!!!! it was gorgeous out and the kids were so excited to not wear coats!

there are a few parts to this post.

pumpkin carving night. party decor. trick or treating.

we switch pumpkin carving between my parent’s house and our house. depending on the mood. this year, we decided to do it at my parent’s house. one…because of covid, we haven’t been over there a lot and two, it just felt right.

while the big kids carved, the little kids painted. the girls got dressed up because why not? it’s halloween season and they never get many chances to wear their costumes.

*****

PUMPKIN CARVING

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[painting pumpkins]

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[family time]

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[silly sister, silly auntie]

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[ellie’s pumpkin]

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*****

i decided to decorate our place for a halloween party for no reason at all. i had a collaboration with a balloon shop for the big garland that you see and i thought, why not decorate? it’ll be fun – three hours later. LOL

i did have fun creating this festive space! the girls went nuts over the floating witch’s hats! that was a big pain in the butt as i had some trial and errors on figuring out how to keep them afloat without them falling down but i succeeded!

HALLOWEEN

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[i decorated just for the hell of it]

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[creepy cake]

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[pretty blooms]

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[cauldron of candy]

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*****

halloween arrived and olive WAS SO EXCITED!!!!! she could not wait to go trick or treating! the best part about this day was the WEATHER. it was near 70 degrees and amazing!! it made for the best kind of trick or treating. when you are in the midwest, the weather on halloween is most likely cold, snowy, raining, or something not pleasant or conducive to being outside and asking for candy.

add in covid…everything was up in the air. no one was quite sure if trick or treating was allowed leading up to halloween but the most amazing part was how everyone came together and made it happen. so many houses made it so fun and special for the kids!

the creativeness behind candy chutes, tables, packaging, and community was off the charts. it seriously was the best halloween ever. people were awesome, welcoming, and festive. it added to our experience and the girls were having so much fun running from house to house. what was also great was the fact that you could identify which house was participating and which house wasn’t and that created the most efficient trick or treating time ever!

it’s obvious the girls are getting bigger as their stint of trick or treating lasted the longest it’s ever lasted. they literally succeeded in making it around the entire long circle block in my parent’s neighborhood. by the time we reached the house before my parent’s house, olive was done. just in time to head back home. their bags were filled to the brim with candy and they were super happy!

it was seriously the best halloween to date…thanks covid for inspiring the creativity in everyone and neighbors banning together to make it special for the kids!

TRICK OR TREAT

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[such a gorgeous day for trick or treating!]

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[super auntie thuy started them out on their route]

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[back at home with her loot]

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[eating her loot]

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[watching room on the broom]

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xoxo

kids halloween party

it was so sweet of our friend elisa to throw the cutest halloween party for our girls!

elisa and i are cut from the same cloth…as in we love to craft, be super extra, and throw parties! haha! yes, our minds never stop creating and before we know it, our simple party blows up to a crazy craft storm where too much is never enough. LOL

well, elisa’s party for the girls did not disappoint! we arrived late because the girls had swim lessons and we walked into a frenzy of crafting craziness. the girls who were already there were making halloween inspired wands, masks, and other fun things.

olive and ellie jumped right in and were instantly having fun with the other girls. all the moms were congregating around the drinks and food and that’s exactly where i ended up! my love language, food and drinks! and you can’t beat the great conversations we engaged in…these mamas are the best and are so fun!

there was so much cuteness involved. elisa not only had the girls crafting for hours, she had a pin the tail on something game, a candy bar where the girls could choose different types of goodies to put in their cauldrons, a photo booth, and the most festive favors to take home! it was absolutely adorable!

these are the moments i live for. i love socializing and i love that my girls have so much fun with their kiddos. it’s the best combo in life! hanging out with mamas who get you and kids who are besties cannot be beat.

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[excited over their handmade wands]

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[the cutest cupcakes]

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[sweetest luisa]

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[surveying the scene]

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[the cutest charcuterie board]

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[we have a queen barb and a mermaid]

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[spider cake]

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[handmade masks]

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[she’s so sweet!]

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[candy bar]

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[they’re the cutest]

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xoxo

first tooth

olive’s friends have lost so many teeth. she wasn’t pushing it but recently noted that her friends were losing their teeth and she couldn’t wait! well her wait was over. it finally happened. a couple months ago, she mentioned to us that her tooth felt loose and sure enough, it was! weeks went by and it became looser and looser.

hc’s cousin ryan was coming into town for his birthday and his wife invited a bunch of people to a house they were renting in michigan. we were game to see ryan and celebrate his birthday. we drove up there to stay the night and leave the next day. the party was in full swing when we got there and we just shimmied our way into the festivities.

it was definitely a fun and crazy night. i felt like i was at a frat party with kids. now everyone there had kids but not with them like us. LOL the girls were super good and gramma and auntie missy were there for the early part of the evening and spent it with the girls. they left early and i then put them to bed. they brushed their teeth, put on their jammies and really wanted to watch t.v. for a bit and of course i let them. they definitely went to bed way too late! but hey, it was a party!

the next morning, while i am getting ready, hc comes downstairs with olive, ready and excited to show me something. oh my goodness!!!! baby girl lost her first tooth!!!! hc literally yanked it out of her mouth and olive didn’t flinch. i was so excited for her. she was soooooo excited herself! she couldn’t wait to show the entire world that she lost her first tooth! oh to be a sweet little kid!

she couldn’t wait to go back to school and show her friends that she lost a tooth! i also forewarned her that since most of her friends have already lost a lot of teeth, it might not be that exciting to them. ha! also, that she had to wear a mask all day at school and it might be difficult for her to actually show her friends her mouth. LOL

well, that didn’t matter…she was excited to show anyone who she saw and let them know she lost her first tooth. i love her for that! that night, we put her tooth in the tooth fairy pillow that she’s had and the tooth fairy brought her big bucks for her first lost tooth. way to score some dough olive!

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[the day she lost her first tooth!]

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[showing off her tooth]

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[she’s excited for the tooth fairy to come!]

xoxo