ravenswood brunch

it had been awhile since i had seen andrea and her family! we finally made concrete plans on the calendar and stuck to it! the fam and i drove to ravenswood to meet up with them for brunch at local irish pub near their abode.

we arrived early {yay! it’s always a win when we do cause usually we are late. #familylife} and waited in a quiet corner of the restaurant while the girls colored away with the paper and crayons that were given to them. jamie and andrea arrived a bit later with their two nuggets in tow.

it’s always so good to see them! i was delighted when they arrived. i’m sure a lot of you understand that energy and vibe you get seeing good friends after a long gap. andrea and i have been friends for quite awhile but we don’t get together very often now that i don’t live close by. add in kids, work, life, etc…it’s too far too much time in-between visits but it always feels just as good and routine when we do meet up.

the girls played together – annabelle brought her entourage of MLP and both my girls were excited to play with them too! ellie, per usual, was attached to me and insisted on sitting on my lap almost the entire time. i can only get her to bug her dada if i trick her into it but it’s usually rare that she chooses to be in his arms over mine! hahaha!

we ate, we drank mimosas and bloody mary’s {i have no idea what beverages the men consumed but i’m sure they were tasty!}, and chatted away about life. after an hour or so, andrea and jamie needed to head out – annabelle had a birthday party to attend. we said our goodbyes and gave our warm hugs before heading out in the major snow!! oh, it was so pretty when we walked outside! the fluffy snow was falling all around and covered the ground!

i must be the only person living in chicago that absolutely loves the snow. it’s been hitting us hard core this winter and i don’t mind one bit. it’s such a joy, so pretty, and i don’t mind driving in it. i prefer to not drive in it but i don’t mind.

well, i hope it’s not too long in-between our next visit with this wonderful family! it was so good seeing you, andrea, and your beautiful family!

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[mean mugging before heading into the restaurant]

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[she’s so wild and fun]

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[working diligently on her artwork]

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[selfie]

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[andrea and sebastian]

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[sweet annabelle and olive]

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[chunker]

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xoxo

valentine’s day ’19

i was quite excited for valentine’s day! we had a fun filled day planned out and although it was the only day that was warm that week {50 degrees amongst the 20 degree other days}, we were pretty much spending the day indoors. our morning started with olive’s parent teacher conference {the teacher had such great things to say about olive!} and we cruised back home to cook a late breakfast and surprise the gals with valentine’s day gifts!

after a delicious heart shaped pancake, bacon, and hash brown meal, we just went about our day finishing up cleaning, the girls played with their new trinkets, and getting random errands done.

as the day wore on, thuy stopped by to spend the afternoon and evening with us, i started to set up the girl’s dessert table for some festive treats. we then decided it was time to start dinner, so while hc prepped the pizza dough, sauce, and cheese, olive cut out the heart shaped pepperonis! she also helped place all the pieces onto the pie before it went into the oven.

dinner was savory {the pizza was sooooooo good hc and olive!] and desserts were even sweeter! soon our day was coming to an end. it started out so great with wonderful feedback for olive at school, hc whipped up a decadent heart themed breakfast, we had fun shooting cute pics for the kiddie dessert table for two, and creating heart shaped pizzas for dinner! it was such a relaxing, slow, peaceful all day celebration. i couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend valentine’s day! it was perfection!

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[i gave these pink pails filled with goodies to the girls for valentine’s day]

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[they were loving their surprises]

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[she’s so sweet]

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[she loved her gift!]

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[she loved the magic marker]

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[yummy heart pancakes, and bacon and hash browns, for breakfast]

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[i had so much fun setting this up for the kids!]

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[sweet vanilla cupcakes for the girls]

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[my favorite]

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[pink milk]

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[that face of should i touch the frosting or not?!]

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[mmmm, got it!]

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[delicious raspberry bars…my favorite!]

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[she was throughly enjoying the frosting]

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* *** *** *** *

H E A R T  S H A P E D  P I Z Z A

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[olive cutting heart shaped pepperoni’s]

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[she’s like POW, heart shaped pepperoni…booyahhh! hahaha!]

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[now for the toppings! we made cheese, pepperoni, bacon, and mushrooms]

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[hc hard at work! always the consummate cook]

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[it’s done!]

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[ellie checking out my sister’s phone. you’ll love the next pic!]

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[a picture with the pizza and ellie showing us a picture of the pizza! LOL]

xoxo

pink heart milkshake

in celebration of valentine’s day, i decided to make olive a fun festive milkshake!

i’ve seen on instagram, the web, etc. these really cool looking crazy extra adorned milkshakes and i wanted to attempt one myself. i was inspired by a few pictures, focused around love day. so, off to the store i went to gather all the goodies!

i bought vanilla ice cream {you can buy strawberry flavored ice cream to get the pink look – i used two drops of food coloring to achieve the desired color}, spray can whipped cream, sprinkled soft cookies, heart marshmallows, festive sugar cake decoration candies {we bought x’s and o’s}, conversation hearts, doughnuts, and heart sprinkles {or valentine’s day themed sprinkles}. oh, don’t forget a festive pink, red, or heart straw! aaaaand some powered sugar and a lollipop stick for the doughnuts…more on that in a bit.

i poured 2-3 cups of milk into a blender, added a few scoops of ice cream {it really depends on how many people you are feeding and the consistency/thickness you want your shake to be!}, two drops of red food coloring, and blended it smooth.

for the doughnuts, i make an icing out of powered sugar and water. i used several tablespoons of the sugar and a teaspoon of water. mix and add until it’s thick and paste like. i dipped the doughnut {this was olive’s favorite part} in the icing and olive sprinkled each one with the hearts!

i did prep my garnishes before i made the shake but {tip} you can also store the blender container in the freezer until you are ready to pour! i used a hobnob glass {i love the vintage look of it} and once the shake was poured, i sprayed A LOT of whipped cream {you need a lot ’cause one – it settles quickly and two – you need it to hold your flair!

once the whipped cream was sprayed, i added the cookie, threw on a couple marshmallows, strategically added in the x and o’s, conversation hearts, and placed the stick with the doughnuts into the milkshake. i stuck in the straw and voila!!! a super extra cute festive milkshake!

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[she was soooo excited!]

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[she’s too cute]

xoxo

classmate cards

i recycled the idea we had last year, for olive’s valentine’s day cards again for this year. i absolutely loved making her cards last year {she loved it too!} but i am fond of the idea of capturing her personality and growth each year with the same type of card. i think it’d be fun to make one each year until she outgrows it!

i gathered all the components that we wanted to assemble the valentine’s bags for her classmates. a maze sheet, slime, valentine’s day card, holiday stickers, festive bandages, and ring pops; we purchased it all at target {our favorite place!}. olive placed all the goodies inside each bag, sealed it with a sticker and adorned it with a crafty heart.

she specifically wanted to cover the clear heart on the bag with the paper heart so her classmates didn’t peek into the bag of goodies and spoil the surprise! i love her thinking! she graciously made 18 bags so patiently and loved it to the very end. although, near the end, we tag teamed the sealing of the bags to be faster!

this whole over the top valentine’s day gifting is sooooo me. i am super happy olive enjoys it too but i loved this kind of stuff as a child and didn’t have the means to really create such things and i love that i can do it now. i am hoping olive grows up to love it too! maybe she will, maybe she won’t but i know that she definitely doesn’t have to do it because i am crazy about it!

happy valentine’s day week!

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[treat bags]

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[she’s such a sweetheart]

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[all the goodies]

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[assembling her bags for her friends]

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[band aids…cause every kid loves bandages!]

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[olive loves puzzles and mazes]

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[creating her valentine’s day card]

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[yummy earth pops and olive]

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[she cracks me up!]

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[olive’s hard work looks so good!]

xoxo

dg brunch

we’re big fans {or at least i am} of having brunch in the city. the ‘burbs just don’t do much for me. there are several places out here in la grange, hinsdale, etc. that are aestetically pleasing and offer great entrées but the overall vibe leaves much to be desired. or is it all in my head?! haha!

most of my friends pretty much all live in the city. yes, my immediate family is in the ‘burbs and i have a few friends out here as well {in different towns} but the friends i hang out on a regular basis status live in good old chi-town.

so, we usually take turns and rotate our meeting destination. whether they come to our house or we go to their area, we usually end up going to the city because we prefer it. i feel pretty fortunate that my friends do offer the rotation split…it’s always thoughtful!

well this time around, we were going to host our friends olivia and aaron at our house. when it came down to it, hc didn’t feel like cooking because he was preparing something for the Super Bowl that evening and he didn’t want to be cooking all day. so, we decided to meet our friends in our local downtown area.

we really enjoy this place, called pierce tavern. it’s ‘new’, it opened late last year and we love the vibe, cocktails, and food! we decided it was our place to meet and overall, had a great time hanging out with these two beautiful people. the girls were so well behaved and we were all able to catch up with very little chaos that usually surrounds young children. LOL.

cheers to good local places to hang and to even better friends to hang out with!

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[me and olivia]

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[the best things for little kids – crayons and paper]

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[i’ll miss those chubby cheeks when they’re gone]

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[ellie’s incredible 2 moves on dada]

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[my go to drink on sunday’s]

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[my loves]

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[apparently aaron is the star focus of this pic. hahaha!]

xoxo

valentine’s day cards ’19

olive and i made her annual friends and family valentine’s day cards the other week!

we started this when she was three? gosh, i can’t remember {i guess i should reference my blog to find out…hahaha!}. prior years, olive used to paint paper hearts and adorn them with stickers but this year, i decided to buy pre-made cards and have olive decorate them and sign her name {which she loves to do!}.

ellie joined in on the fun by coloring on her own as olive went to work fancying up her valentine’s day cards. olive is such a trooper. seriously. i am amazed by her discipline and tenacious ways. she listens, she works hard at her projects, and doesn’t complain. we had 18 cards to complete and she did each one with joy and ease. only near the end did she says, “kiki, my body is getting tired!” oh, she’s too cute! i told her she only had three more cards and she was done! she happily finished them and was so proud of her results! i love that she’s so honest, real, and dedicated to what she is doing. whether she does it for herself or for me, i am amazed that she does it with selflessness and love.

we wrapped up our project and the girls happily ran off to play. we added an extra valentine’s day sticker card inside {attached with festive washi tape of course!} and i finished her crafty cards with a bit of calligraphy, a pretty stamp, and more envelope flair.

we sent them out through snail mail and can’t wait for our friends and family to receive a little bit of extra love in their day!

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[she’s oh so sweet]

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[the supplies]

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[she’s so creative! i love the way she signs her name]

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[creating together]

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[i mean, seriously, how cute is this?!]

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[my doll baby]

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[hard at work]

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[decorating]

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[sister love]

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[peek a booooo!]

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[she always poses like this and it melts my heart]

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[oh kiki, i’m so bored. hahahaha!]

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[really olive?]

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[the final product!]

xoxo

first birthday party

so it begins.

olive was invited to a classmate’s birthday party. her very first birthday party ever! i was so excited over this and so was olive! it’s funny how special it is for me in a mommy sort of way and fun for her because she’ll be with her friends from school!

it was a very cold afternoon and the party was being held at olive’s gymnastics building, how easy and convenient! i had NO idea they hosted parties there! once inside, i signed a waiver and we ran downstairs to be greeted by gwen and george, sam’s parents. all the kids were already on one side of the building, playing with the parachute! i walked olive in, sam saw her and called her over to her. olive happily ran over to sam and joined in on the festivities.

hosting a party there is great! the instructors take care of everything. they are like the pied pipers. they lead the kids all around the gym, engaging them in fun activities, they serve the food, they divvy up the treats, direct the kids, and complete the clean up! how sweet is that? you bring the food, decor, and whatever else and they lead the event for you!

olive had such a great time! she loves playing with her friend sam…she told me that she is the one she plays with most at school. how sweet!

i didn’t take a bunch of pics as the kids were constantly in a different room from the parents plus, i always veer away from that when it involves other people’s kids.

olive’s first friend birthday party was a success! she loved all the activities, the food {she tried carrots for the ‘first’ time and like it!}, she loved the pink frosted cupcake treat, and was so excited over the purple {her favorite color} treat bag she received!

happy birthday sam and cheers to many more birthday parties to come!

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[olive eating carrots for the ‘first’ time and she didn’t choke! she actually liked it. duh!]

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[the cute favor bags her friend, sam, decorated]

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[the kids gathered around the instructor for favors and it’s so funny how close they got to her!]

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[with her good friend and birthday girl, sam. it was too cute, sam ran over to olive and gave her a big hug goodbye!]

xoxo

birthday snowstorm

hbd to my sister thuy!

my sister kim planned a birthday dinner for thuy but an incoming snowstorm {an expected 8 inches of snow in some areas} derailed our plans for the city and we also ended up switching days too. the snowstorm was suppose to start on friday evening and go super strong throughout the night and into saturday morning, so we changed our dinner plans to friday evening instead. we diverted our eatery of choice to a local restaurant called cadence.

our reservations were later that evening but the snow didn’t start until 10-11pm; the weather folks predicted the snow to start around 3pm, then 6pm, then 9pm…hahaha! so, we were in a good place from a driving perspective.

i’ve never been to this restaurant and the decor was pretty cool – a modern woodsy feel and the our server was super friendly and prompt. we ordered drinks right away and perused the menu on suggestions to help guide us on what we were going to order. we got a bunch of yummy shared appetizers and i ordered the salmon which was soooooo good! i throughly enjoyed everything we ate!

what was so fun too, was that throughout our dinner, random employees at the restaurant would come up to thuy and wish her a happy birthday! that was so cute and nice! what a great way to make someone who’s celebrating an occasion feel special! they even brought out a polaroid camera and snapped a group picture of us and printed a few copies for the gals! i loved that!

i had brought a cake with a topper and sparkler candles to surprise thuy! i told our waitress that if she couldn’t light the sparklers, i brought regular candles instead. after our entrees, she brought out the cake with the sparkler candles lit!! it was so fun to see and experience!

the snow started to come down furiously and the ground and cars were becoming blanketed in white. we wrapped up our delicious dinner and headed on our merry way in the beautiful snowstorm.

it was a fun, warm, wonderful evening celebrating thuy! cheers to many more wonderful birthday celebrations sis!

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[a fun night for me and hc]

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[this was really, really good]

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[birthday shots courtesy of the restaurant]

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[birthday girl]

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[happy 21st birthday!]

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[a signed card from the staff and polaroid pic!]

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xoxo

valentine’s day books

a few of you asked about our collection of valentine’s day books, so here they are! everything is linked and easy to shop for!

reading is an essential part of our day. i’ll read to olive randomly during the day but we are consistent every night. olive always picks out a book for me to read before bedtime. we first practice letters, words, spelling and such on the cover before i open up the book to read the story.

i believe in teaching and olive learning all day, everyday. i think reinforcing any type of teaching and learning is critical for any parent to do with their kids. it helps them become better at processing problems and propels them to be a bit ahead of the game!

i love decorating for each holiday and creating memories and excitement with my girls. olive becomes so joyful when she sees all the decor and lights up in our house! i think it makes their childhood a little bit extra special, well, at least i hope so!

so here are all the books we currently have. to shop, just click on the book title and it will take you directly to the site to buy! i am addicted to always adding to our slew of literature. books are pretty. books are fun. books are for everyone! {uhhhh i just make that cheesy rhyme up…my apologies!} aaaaaaaand if you have and love a book that we don’t have, i would love for you to leave a comment on what it is! i love adding to our stack!

happy shopping my friends!

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[plant a kiss]

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[olivia and the perfect valentine]

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[love is a tutu]

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[words and your heart]

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[when an elephant falls in love]

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[love]

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[love is]

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[love is a truck]

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[olive my love]

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[pink umbrella]

xoxo

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