west lake market

i’ll try to make a long story short.

one day, while i was in the kids section at barnes and noble, i ran into a lady with her two boys. we started chatting and definitely clicked. we went on and on about random stuff, exchanged instagram handles {@tandeminlove}, and went on our merry way. we continued to connect on the ‘gram {@chicagomomgoesuburban} and we’ve been avid positive supporters of one another.

michelle is a writer for chicago parent magazine, a photographer, a blogger, and a mom to three boys! she’s multitalented, fun, and most importantly – super sweet. our paths were meant to cross! recently, she invited me to a fashion event at west lake market. it’s kick off was this past sunday. this event happens every second tuesday of the month for the summer and i was excited to go!

i invited olivia to join me; i can always use some girl time. she met me at my car {i scored a parking spot} and we walked in together. at first we had no idea where the entrance was but a kind gentleman showed us the way.

as we were walking inside, we ran right into michelle! i forgot how tiny she is! we chatted a bit and she showed us the way upstairs to the vip event that just ended {we needed to nab our goody bags and pour ourselves some champagne}. we explored the the area. it was so cool! a perfect place for a bridal shower, a baby shower, or any sort of event!

we headed back downstairs to the market and perused the shops. there were so many cute things! it was also kid friendly, they had face painting and mr. dave – a fun guitarist who sang kiddie songs! i was eyeing a resale shop full of chanels and louis, there was a fun handmade, local candle shop, beautiful ceramics, and clothing boutiques! i purchased the cutest romper {long story but i have to say – thanks michelle for forfeiting the piece} from a shop call sanem, and a candle. plus, our goody bag was full of {ahem} good stuff!

once we were done shopping, olivia and i contemplated a few restaurants for brunch but we decided to stay and eat at eden. michelle had let us know that she was going to eden for a small bite and coffee. once inside, we said hello to her again and we met her sister in law kristen!

we nabbed a table and enjoyed a delicious brunch and lots of coffee. it was a wonderful time with my girl olivia. i love our chats…the conversations and connection i have with her makes my heart full. i love my friends. there’s never any judgement, there isn’t a tally list of who does what. it’s about enriching our lives with each other when we can.

cheers to good friends.

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[me and olivia]

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[champagne and berries]

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[isn’t this a cool place?! it can be rented for special events!]

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[after the event, we had brunch at eden]

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[isn’t she beautiful?]

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[avocado eggs benedict and salmon]

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xoxo

a last minute soiree

hc, last minute, put together a petit party for his former colleagues.

he invited his friends jeri, max, and dave {and their spouses and kids} to our house for a saturday night dinner. i was throughly impressed by hc’s efforts. he killed it. he went grocery shopping, prepped all the food, set up extra tables, decorated the kitchen, got creative with the place settings, dressed olive, took care of the kids, and pretty much remembered all the details. very much like i would do! kudos hunny! that was pretty awesome!!!!

i came home and just made a guac dip. a very important job. hahaha!

jeri was first to arrive, then dave, then max {much later}. we served apps, drinks, and ran after our kids. oh, to be a parent. you can hardly finish your sentences or barely remember your train of thought. i was talking to jeri about how hard it is to balance it all. women are programmed different then men. we multitask the shiznit out of everything. we remember so much. we plan, we accomplish, we follow up, and we get it dooooooone {well, most women}. sometimes i’m exhausted by the thought of what i do check of my mental list!

what was so good was that most of the kids were older, so they played together. took care of themselves, and were independent. yes! ellie was still napping, so i had my hands free for a second and jeri had baby g, so it was a bit relaxed and less chaotic. jeri and i could visit with each other without too many distractions.

soon, hc fired up the grill and cooked up a storm. all of the food was delicious! burgers, brussels sprouts, tater tots, corn, and so much more. seriously, the hubs did such a good job hosting and coordinating this all!

the kids played, the adults hung out, and we called it an early evening because, yep…you guessed it, we all have kids and they need to go to bed! it was a great time, even though it was only several hours, it was good to catch up with everyone and share our stories. the kids were adorable and played so well together. thank you maggie for being such a good big ‘sis’! she was sooooo good with the girls and especially great with little miss ellie.

after dessert, everyone gathered up their belongings and went on their merry way. we were left with crumbs on the floor, toys everywhere, and great memories. it was so wonderful to have everyone over. we don’t get to do this very often with this group so it was very appreciated. plus, miss jeri and john are moving soon, so this was very needed!

thank you to hc for putting this together, instigated by jeri! it was a beautiful evening spent and hopefully, we can do this again soon.

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[dave, maggie, and dana]

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[hc set up a ‘bar’ area, or more like a glassware area for drinks]

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[john, jerry, and giuliana]

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via tandeminlove.com[ellie loves babies…although i feel like she’s still a baby! i can’t remember if guiliana is 9 or ten months old but ellie weighs one pound more than her!]

via tandeminlove.com[ellie kept putting her hand on her cheek]

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[he’s so sweet with his sister{s}]

via tandeminlove.com[i loooooove this sweet picture of them together]

via tandeminlove.com[gina, moi, and jeri]

via tandeminlove.com[the kiddos minus one sleeping and another refusing]

via tandeminlove.com[the gang]

xoxo

ballet recital

olive had a winter ballet recital that was very informal. her spring recital was much more formal. full costume, make up, and a full line up on stage!

i don’t know why i was filled with anxiety. call it the typical mama nature. i was nervous about olive’s will to perform {we practiced together but you know…she’s only four!}, i was nervous about getting there on time. i was nervous that i would forget something on her costume. i was nervous we wouldn’t get front row seats. i was anxious about having people over {which we do on the regular}. it was just one of those days. don’t you have those too? eveything i stated above, i always encounter or do all the time but that day, i was filled with tension.

well, i survived and got over it and everything went super, duper smooth! we got ready early, had enough time for pictures, arrived early enough to grab seats [although our invited guests arrived earlier than us!! yahoo! what a relief to not have to fight for seats and  nab front rows! we needed at least 18 seats for all our attendees.}, olive met and greeted with her guests, got checked in, her costume was in tack {i remembered her ballet shoes!}, and we were able to relax before the show began.

the lights went down and the first act performed. olive’s group was the second act and i was so excited! the curtains closed and a few minutes passed by. then the curtains swooshed open and the crowd gasped in awe {a lot of ohhh’s and awwww’s}, little ballerinas on stage looking so cute!

olive did so well! she was poised and did a great job executing her routine. i loved watching her and was so proud. everyone was giggling at how cute the little ballerinas were. at the end of their performance, when they all jumped forward into their final positions, was so stinkin’ cute! just watch it on the video…pardon the small screen capture. i was taking pictures and my sister recorded the performance.

after the recital {17 acts all together!!!}, i went to pick up olive to meet her guests. everyone showered her with flowers! it was too cute! we all headed back home to our house to welcome our guests for the after party. we had pre-ordered food {although we had a situation with picking it up} and set the house up {a little decor + dessert table} before we left to be ready when everyone arrived.

it was fun, relaxing, and perfect. everyone enjoyed their food, their drinks {ahem…missy and aunt wendy}, and the desserts {diy’d the cake!}. the weather was perfect for an evening outside. what a beautiful day! olive’s recital was awesome and our evening together as a family was even better.

great job on your ballet recital baby girl! you were absolutely fabulous!

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[my darling babe before her recital]

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[she’s so cute]

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[first act, imagine dance team, then olive’s group!]

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[ellie enthralled]

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[ready to begin!]

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[true colors pre-k jazz/hip hop]

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[how far i’ll go/ballet]

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[na na na pre-k ballet]

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[sing! tap]

www. tandeminlove.com[na na na pre-k ballet II]

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[the end]

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[olive and ba]

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[olive and super auntie thuy]

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[dan and agata]

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[barbara and lynne]

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[grandmas]

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[gifts from grandma barbara and aunt lynne]

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[she loves her whale unicorn from aunt lynne – narwhals]

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[she’s so sweet]

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[diy cake]

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[fresh peonies from our yard]

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[french macarons]

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[flowers from her recital and gifts]

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[dessert table]

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[flowers from reagan]

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[sweet girls – olive looks like my sister’s daughter]

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[grainy {my flash died} photo of ellie eating macaron]

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[hide and seek]

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xoxo

memorial weekend

it was a wonderful weekend. a really wonderful weekend.

thank you to the men and women who have given their lives so we could live freely. we are forever in debt and grateful for your sacrifices.

sunday was very impromptu and perfect. we decided, last minute to hit up the pool. fabulous idea! then we invited our family over, last minute, for a grilling evening adventure! oh, it was just what we needed!

pool time was fantastic! we packed up our things {well, hc did a majority of the packing! thanks hubs!} and jumped into the jeep and arrived at the pool club we just joined! we were so excited to check it out. we shopped a few places last year and this year, we decided to join a swim and racket club. we loved that it is private, well kept, and offered quite a few amenities. plus, it was time. it was the right time for the kiddos and we were ready to join a place!

olive was such a diva. she picked out her heart sunglasses, asked to wear her hat, and strutted around like a boss. haha! ellie loooooooooved the water. she’s a mermaid!! she was having so much fun! it was the cutest thing to see! olive is more reserved and was bothered if the water hit her face. oh olive! ellie didn’t care! she dipped her face in the water and ‘swam’ around like a pro.

we were having such a great time! we loved the pool – it was clean and well kept. the grounds looked very well manicured, the parking lot was freshly sealed and painted, and the tennis courts looked so nice! we’re so excited for summer!

after the pool, our family came over for a fun alfresco dinner. hc cooked up a storm, we made pink vodka lemonades, we ate outside {it had cooled down to a perfect evening temperature}, and the kids played. it was a lovely ending to a great day.

honestly, if every day could be this good, our life would be utopia.

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it was a wonderful weekend. a really wonderful weekend. thank you to the men and women who have given their lives so we could live freely. we are forever in debt and grateful for your sacrifices.

[we’re ready for the pool!!!]

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[i love them. so, so much!]

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[pool ready]

www. tandeminlove.com      [hiiiiiiiiii! we’re so excited to be at the pool on this hot day!]

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[my water baby!]

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[the sweetest profile]

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[she was too cute in the water]

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[olive lounging and drying off]

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******

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[pink vodka lemonade]

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[agata and ellie]

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[look at the plane]

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[i loved that my dad purposely kicked up his feet for the picture]

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[really dan?]

xoxo

play time

my friend, kim and i have been trying to plan a get together for months. literally months!!! our conflicting schedules, cancelled play dates, sick kiddos, and busy months have delayed a get together that has been long overdue!

fiiiiiiinally, we were able to settle on a date and we stuck to our guns. i headed out to kim and mikey’s abode in no time flat. they live far away but not too far away. it may take 50 minutes? sometimes faster, sometimes longer – it all and always depends on traffic and what time of day it is.

i love coming over to their place because it’s so much more kid friendly. mine and hc’s place is more like a museum {kind of…not really. ok, just a wee bit}…plus, once our basement is finished, it will be so much more fun and kid friendly when the playroom downstairs is set up!

anyhoo, olive was quite excited to see brady and play with the plethora of toys! when we arrived, of course ellie needed to be in my arms and get comfortable before she explored on her own {it only took about ten minutes}. i was so excited to see kim! immediately, we started gabbing and gabbing. when kim and i first met {oh…9 years ago??}, we couldn’t stop talking to one another. ha! we went on and on about everything you could imagine! we just instantly clicked. so, when we get together, time just flies by!

i brought over stan’s doughnuts and kim provided lunch! the kids started to warm up to one another and the rest of our time there was relaxing, fun, and filled with lots of cute moments.

we were there for several hours but honestly, i felt like i could have stayed all afternoon! the kids were being silly together and i was having a great time catching up with kim. her hubby, mikey ran out to grab the adults tacos and such, while kim prepared a quick meal for the kids.

after lunch, we yapped, hung out, i nursed ellie, the kids played some more, several diaper changes ensued, and then we ate doughnuts! much to my dismay, i needed to round the kids up to head home. olive didn’t want to go, i wanted to talk more, and ellie needed a nap!

we said our goodbyes and sadly went on our way home. oh, how i love hanging out with kim, see her growing crew, and i love that our kids get to play together! oh, and we got to hang with mikey too…we never get to see the busy guy!

thanks for having us over kim! we always have such a great time seeing everyone and hopefully it’s not months until we see each other again!!! i see pool and zoo dates in our future!

{p.s. picture overload…lots of multiples but i couldn’t narrow it down!}

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[sweet girls]

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[olive’s face cracks me up. it’s her awkward, not sure face. hahaha!]

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[sweet girl was obsessed with brooklyn’s toys!]

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[this babe is too much!]

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[the cutest kiddos around]

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[gnawing on an apple slice]

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[ellie eating her mac n cheese!]

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[i love her hair]

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[ellie baby]

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[oh how i love this pic of them!!!]

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[look at mason’t stare down!]

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xoxo

a good day

i was excited for some me time!

my girlfriend dana is pregnant and due at the end of june. i’m trying to squeeze in time with her before she has this bebe. so, when we do make plans {of late}, we typically make them exclusively between us. now, we love hanging all together with the hubs but lately, we or i need the girl time, only.

the two-three hours away is so refreshing for me! i love being able to go with the flow, relax, not have a kid interrupt our conversations every two minutes, actually finish a thought…and think. i love being fully present and engaged with that person in front of me. honestly, with my kiddos, it’s hard.

so, being able to get away for a few hours to resets my mind, my sanity, and reenergizes my soul. i’m so thankful that i am able to do that every so often!

dana and i decided to have brunch at mhenry’s. oh, how i love that place!!! i can’t tell you how many years i’ve dined there but i know it’s been a long time! the weather was so unbelievably crappy that day. it was coooold and rainy, like 40 something degrees cold, it felt like winter again. there were folks in puffer jackets and winter knit hats at the local nursery buying flowers to plant {where are you spring?}!!! hahaha!

the most amazing part of the morning? there was no wait for a party of two!!!!! what?! i guess not too many couples go out for brunch, just large groups. ha! it was soooo crowded in there but as soon as i walked in, they seated us!

lately, i’ve been on an egg and potato kick. i have always, always ordered the blueberry bliss cakes every time i have gone to mhenry’s but the last two times, i haven’t done so. times are changing!

dana and i chatted and left just in time to meet her parents back at her condo {her hubby scott was out golfing}. i told her that i wanted to say hi to her parents but needed to jet out afterwards to get home to the babes. i told the hubs that i would nurse ellie and put her down for her afternoon nap!

well, her parents arrived and scott came home not too long after them and of course i didn’t leave right away! how could i?! i love hanging out with these peeps, i had a hard time tearing myself away! fiiiiiinally i forced myself out the door. oh, i love her parents! her and scott, of course, but her parents are so much fun!

i finally hit the road for the long commute, happy and content on a beautiful day out with some good friends.

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[beautiful blooms]

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[sweet dana]

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[always a yummy menu]

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[fried egg sandwich]

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[pretty plants in dana and scott’s condo]

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[dana and scott]

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[can i just say that this pic is the first pic, in a loooooooooong time, where i feel like i don’t look like i look an old hag. for reals]

xoxo

olive’s last day of school!

ohhhhh it was olive’s last day of pre pre-school!

what. a. year.

i clearly remember her first day of school. she was nervous, i was anxious, and it was such a huge milestone for the both of us! fast forward to the last day of school and it was full of joy, laughter, and friendships.

olive had a wonderful time at school. her teacher, mrs. f, was so kind, sweet, caring, and loving. we couldn’t have asked for a better teacher to kick start olive’s education. she looked forward to every day of school. she loved mrs. f. she loved her my little pony toys that she played with every school day. she said lakshya and collette were her best friends. so many great memories created!

she learned how to put on her coat by herself, the days of the week, recognizing numbers and letters, the weather, colors, drawing, painting, cutting, shapes, the holidays, and so much more!

they hosted a costume parade for halloween {blogged}. they held a winter concert {blogged} and a mother’s day concert {blogged}. olive told me about thumbs up thursdays and special projects they worked on from day to day.

i always had a ritual. every day after school and before dinner. we would pull olive’s backpack out and we would look inside to see what she brought home and we would discuss her school day together. she would tell us about her friends. or what she learned. or whatever the focus was that day. it was my favorite part of our evening, listening to her talk about it.

i feel very fortunate to have been so involved with her teacher and all the fun activities they allowed us to be a part of. my most favorite volunteer event was when it was olive’s birthday and she was star of the day {blogged}! i was able to come in, observe their morning routine, watch olive lead the morning activities, and then i was able to read a story to the class! that was so much fun!! of course, we brought treats for all the kiddos to take home!

it seemed like the school year just flew by! before i knew it, her last day was upon us! i scrambled to put together a gift for her teachers and had to prepared my brain that this was her last day and i had volunteered to help out!

the kids got to take a field trip the ice cream shop – everyday’s a sundae! all the volunteer moms gathered outside the classroom and waited for the kids to come out. each mom was responsible for two kids each for our walk to the shop.

once we arrived at the ice cream shop, all the ice cream was pre-ordered and prepared! olive and her classmate kinley were the only two kids who ordered popsicles {their friend lakshya had pre-ordered ice cream but changed her mind last minute when she saw the other girls with popsicles!}!!! the rest of her classmates ordered ice cream! go girls! be YOUnique!

after the kids ate their ice cream, we all walked to the post office, where all the kids mailed letters to their parents. once we did that, we then all walked back to the school where we said our goodbyes and the kids continued on with their last day of school!

oh how bittersweet! it was such a wonderful school year and such a sweet ending for olive’s last day. thank you, thank you to all the teachers out there that do their best to further these kids minds and show them that you care!!! we appreciate you!

happy summer vacation!

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[waiting for her treat!]

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[she requested a popsicle]

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[oh my sweet girl!]

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[the last one to enjoy her treat]

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[spotted her paparazzi mama]

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[sending a letter to us…how sweet]

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[her new thing…biting the inside of her lip]

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[my diy teacher’s gift – MANI thanks for a great year!]

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xoxo

mother’s day at argyle

for mother’s day, we wanted to take my mom to an area that she loves going to – argyle!

we planned on going to a restaurant we have been to before, on mother’s day five years prior {that was when i announced i was pregnant with olive!!!! it was such a fun, amazing day to celebrate!}.

we made the trek to uptown…it’s such an obscure area to travel to. we circled around a bit to find parking, it was super crowded and busy. after a few rounds, we finally scored a spot off on sheridan road. we didn’t mind walking for it was such a nice day, a bit cold but nice and sunny out!

my bother, dan, and his girl agata were already there, always on time and always wondering where the rest of the clan else was. the usual. everyone was 5 to so many minutes late behind! ha!

my brother huy and his wife, tashina, were in town! they had a wedding to attend to and it was awesome it fell on mother’s day weekend, so my mom was able to spend the day with allllll her children!

we started to order food, of course, first with appetizers and then with entrees. after a tedious process of getting everyone’s orders and ordering random dishes for everyone to just share, the server comes back and tells us we cannot order anything stir fry. ummmmm, ‘scuse me??!! that eliminated almost half our entrees. oh, i was so irritated. he gave us an excuse that their stir fry cook called off and they couldn’t make any stir fry dishes. wtf. that made no sense. i am sure all the cooks there that day knew how to make most of the dishes!! c’mon…it’s a vietnamese restaurant with all tenured vietnamese workers and no one knows how to make fried rice??? i hardly cook, and damn…i bet i could have rolled up my sleeves in the kitchen to make that. or send my mom in, ’cause she’s a bad ass cook!

i, honestly, believe that most people order pho or other easy, pre made dishes on sunday and because our group was so darn large and there were so many orders, they gave us that excuse. maybe they were short a cook, fair enough, but don’t tell me no one knows how to stir fry anything in that kitchen right now!!!

we went back and forth with the server and spent some time looking over the menu again. everyone took some time to rethink their entrees when the server came back out and said, “ok, we can make the stir fry dishes but it will take a very long time.”. fine. i said go ahead. ohermgawd…it took forever. the ironic part was the dishes that were ready to serve, came out dead last. four people order the bun boa and it took forever for them to get their soups. whaaaaaaaa?

needless to say, it was terrible. absolutely terrible. we will never eat there again. everyone was so disappointed. the food wasn’t great, the portions were tiny and too much money. i won’t even put their name in this post because it was just disappointing.

after lunch, my mom shopped around a bit while us kids sat in the stinkiest coffee shop. yes, it smelled awful. so unpleasant but the kids were having fun playing with the board games they had on the side!

after a half hour or so, we all headed home to get ready to go back to my mom and dad’s house for food part 2. my mom had made pho, so we all gathered over there for sunday dinner and to hang out with huy and tashina, since they were leaving the next day.

despite the restaurant being subpar, we all had a wonderful mother’s day! praise to all the moms out there who work their butts off balancing a career, or the house, or both, the kids, the hubby, and everything else that goes on in-between. our role is complicated, messy, stressful, amazing, fulfilling, and so full of amazing love. thank you for all that you do to raise good humans!

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via tandeminlove.com [who’s in charge?]

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[isn’t she so sweet? but oh so naughty!]

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[looking at uncle huy, in fear]

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[she loves uncle huy and aunt tashina]

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[dan and agata]

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[the crew]

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[hot pot]

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[i love this sweet face]

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xoxo

pre mother’s day celebration

hc’s parents came over to our place, one day early, to celebrate mother’s day!

it was a lovely morning. hc took the kiddos, got them ready, and let me have time to myself for a couple hours in the morning! it was fantastic. i laid in bed for a bit, pouring over social media {ahhhhhhh, i miss those days of just lounging in bed, after slowly waking up!}, got ready, cleaned up the house {again}, and lounged for {literally} a second before everyone got home and hc’s parents came over.

gramma and papa brought over toys for the girls and hc came home with all sorts of surprises! hc knows the way to my heart, pretty flowers, great wine, and starbucks! it was so adorable; i saw them come home, so i swung the door open. olive came running up with flowers in her hand and ellie sloooooooowly wobbled to the door {like sooo dang slow, olive stood at the door beaming and waiting for ellie to coincide with the surprise} with the biggest balloon!!! it was three times the size of ellie! hahaha! it was so dang cute watching them run towards me with the biggest smiles on their faces!

once everyone was settled, hc starting prepping for lunch. we visited with each other and hc cooked up a storm. it was super yummy and it was a very relaxing afternoon spent together.

jane and i drank some bubbly while the girls played and hc cooked up a delicious lunch for everyone {roasted potatoes, vegetables, grilled chicken, sausage, and cole slaw}. after lunch, we relaxed on the couch, watched clips of olive’s mother’s day concert from school, and ate cake! yuuuuummmmmmm!

after several hours, dick and jane left {to get home to sadie, their dog}. it was a wonderful afternoon spent with hc’s parents. it’s always so fun when you get to spend time with family!

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[hc knows the way to my heart]

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[gorgeous tulips]

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[flowers for gramma from olive and ellie]

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[a bit of morning bubbly]

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[playing with papa]

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xoxo

mother’s day concert

olive’s school hosted the moms and their families to the mother’s day concert!

i was excited. i love being involved in anything school related. i love supporting olive in any school activities. i find these moments, these years too short. i try my best to be present. i try, i fail, and i succeed. i am not perfect.

olive has become more tenacious, more vocal, more opinionated, and together we have become more combative. she levels out my thinking and really makes me look into the mirror, which i am so grateful for. i realize how difficult i can be, how irrational and temperamental i am. i absolutely love her honesty towards me and it definitely puts me in my place.

being a mother is such a great gift. i feel so lucky to be on this journey. the lessons i’ve learned, the selflessness, and the reflection i must look at helps me become a better person. having children forces me to be a better human as i help them become better human beings. it’s my calling. it’s my purpose. it’s what i am meant to do. children are the greatest gift in this crazy, messed up world!

anyhoo, the concert was so stinkin’ cuuuuuute!!!!! so cute! they did such a great job singing all their songs and i was so proud of olive! she belted out some tunes! it was so cute to watch and hear her sing her songs.

after the concert, each student grabbed their gifts for their moms and walked down to us! it was so fun and sweet to see olive so excited to see us and give me her present! it was a book of handprints…from september to may, celebrating each holiday or milestone throughout the school year. i loved seeing her hand print grow with each month…oh my heart!

after the gifts, they had cookies and water for us to enjoy. it was so darling and fun! i attached a video of one of the songs they sang. you can hear olive so clearly in this one. my heart is so full!

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[getting ready to sing!]

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[waiting for the teachers to call her down to give her gift to me]

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[olive ready to give me a mother’s day present!]

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[my focus was sooooo off but i love her expression here, so i had to post it.

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[how cute is this??!]

[my focus was sooooo off but i love her expression here, so i had to post it.

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[she’s so damn sweet]

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xoxo