hb dad!

we celebrated my dad’s birthday by going to one of their favorite restaurants, minghin, in naperville. we all met up there early, in fear there would be a long wait but there wasn’t a wait at all! yay!

it was going to be a full house with everyone being able to make it to dinner. we ordered copious amounts of food, chatted our way through dinner, and enjoyed each other’s company. of course, ellie, being the smallest one there, entertained us relentlessly with her silly antics.

we laughed at the use of the lazy susan. every time i tried serving food, someone would simultaneously try to move the damn table, causing me to try to serve the food while keeping up with the spinning table top! hello?! it’s my turn to serve some food! then kim and i had a competition on who could keep our part of the table the cleanest {i swear we are not that messy of eaters!}. kim lost. hahahahahaha!

dan challenged bennett to eat vegetables and earn money, which he did and gained! the brothers continued with their bromance and rich and i shared a story of the hostess’ quirky, typical asian nature and behavior. a short story that would be long to type, so, i can tell anyone of y’all in person if you’d like. ha!

it was another beautiful evening out. the weather had finally, finally caught up and it truly felt like spring. april was the longest, coldest, snowiest month this year. once dinner was over, the crew and i jetted out so fast; we needed to get bennett’s communion cake at the store and i still had to make his cake topper!! yikes!

happy birthday to my dad. the most kind, gentle, loving human being i know. i love you so much, words can’t describe how much you mean to me. you have always been there for me, loved me no matter what trouble i caused, and supported our family through the worst and the best. thank you. you absolutely mean the world to me and i am so thankful to be your daughter.

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[happy birthday dad!]

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[sweet baby girl]

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[me and my thug]

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[ellie and super aunty thuy]

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[cheers to dad!]

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[sweet nephews]

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[he’s so sweet to the girls]

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[oh i love this face]

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[bennett earning some cash]

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xoxo

brunch with mutts

i met mutters or mutts {also known as danielle}, hmmmmm, maybe 8 or nine years ago??? it might be longer but i honestly can’t remember. she could clarify but that’s not the point. i have known her for quite some time and have seen her grow as person.

she was a single lady {all the single ladies!!}, dating a douche on and off and finally reconnected with an old flame that led into a serious relationship, then into an engagement, then into marriage, then into pregnancy. the circle of life, non? for some, not for all, but definitely a circle that goes round and round for most.

anyhoo, mutts and i were really close all the years we worked together and when i went my separate way, we stayed in touch. she’s a sweet, silly, and sassy lady who cracks me up. i love seeing her, hanging out with her, and now she’s expanding her family and it’s so awesome to see.

we met up for brunch the other week and holy cow! she’s was due in eight days! wowza. i was like, don’t have the baby while we’re eating. haha! just keeding. having a baby is nothing like what is depicted in the movies.

we had a great time. we talked about babies, birth, life, work, kids, and all sorts of stuff. my girls were being great and i was really surprised how calm ellie was being. sometimes, when i/we are at a restaurant for too long, she becomes restless but that day, she was happy as a clam sitting in a high chair.

maybe i was was talking too much but i felt that i barely ate my food! after a hour and a half, we decided to go. mutts was going to go get her nails done and us gals were going to go shopping.

it was a gorgeous day out and we were excited to get out there and shop for new shoes, dresses, and fun stuff…whatever we needed. we said our goodbyes to mutts and wished her luck on her upcoming labor!

well i am happy to say that she delivered her sweet baby girl, skylar, on may 12 at 4:05 am weighing in at 8lbs 4 oz. congrats anthony and mutts!!! we are over the moon at your sweet blessing!!!

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[ellie being entertained by paper]

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[mutts]

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[my sweet olive]

xoxo

a lovely day

it was a nice but cool day. the sun was shining, so it felt lovely but in the shade, it was a bit chilly. nonetheless, it was a wonderful day to explore the city.

we did our best to get up early to beat the brunch crowd. 11-11:30 am is prime brunch time, that is when the wait gets cray. it’s the perfect time because you don’t have to wake up early but it’s early enough to not be completely starving. soooo, we arrived at the bongo room at 10:25ish and we waited, maybe, 20 minutes for a table for 5? score!

of course, brunch at bongo is always delicious. i usually get their seasonal pancakes but i was totally feeling eggs and potatoes that day. yuuuummmmm. hc and i each got a drink {mimosa for moi and a frou frou drink for hc}, it’s five o’clock somewhere, isn’t it?!

after brunch, we decided to explore bucktown. we love shopping around the area. we love the eclectic vibe and exploring the fun shops. what i find so interesting is that grace pretty much likes the same stuff i like, to a degree. we have similar tastes in some fashion, make up, and accessories. what is very different is that she is wayyyyyy younger and we interpret our choice in fashion through our age appropriate styles. i really enjoyed exchanging our opinions around items we liked though, that was a lot of fun!

while we were eating, i had text olivia and dana to see what they were doing. dana was busy but olivia and aaron decided to meet up with us {they don’t live far from the area}! while grace, the girls, and i were shopping at benefit, olivia and aaron showed up! it was great seeing them, even if it was for 45 minutes! after buying a few things at benefit, we all walked to reckless records and shortly thereafter, we had to leave to take grace to her driver’s ed class.

it was a beautiful, lovely day. it really was. i thoroughly enjoyed our day at brunch, shopping, spending the day with my family, seeing olivia and aaron, and just being in chicago. i love my tribe and i love chicago.

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[my tribe]

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[my sweet girl]

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[she absolutely adores grace]

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[nice whipped cream]

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[pretty fruit plate]

xoxo

hc’s birthday weekend

it’s friday night and i just got paid…

on friday morning, the girls and i were running around everywhere to get stuff for hc’s birthday, get errands checked off, and having fun while we were doing it all!

i planned on decorating for hc’s birthday on saturday night. i thought it would be fun for him to wake up on his birthday and be surprised with all the decor but olive had other plans. she obviously knew we stopped by the party store to order balloons, so when we came home, she asked me when we were going to decorate for dada’s birthday. i said not until tomorrow night and boy, was she bummed.

she said,”but the balloons are in the car…you have to get the balloons and we have to decorate.” be still my heart. i told her the balloons were still at the store and she begged me to get them so we could decorate. oh, her sweet little face and voice melts me, so i had to fulfill my end of the bargain!

we decorated the house and waited for hc to come home. although olive ended up spoiling it! hc called us on his way home from work and olive blurts out, “dada, we got balloons for you!!!”. hahahaha! there goes our surprise!!!

it was a weekend long celebration of hc’s birthday! friday night was family sushi night! we relaxed, ate sushi, and just enjoyed our time together with just the girls. on saturday night, we celebrated hc’s birthday with his family. we went to maggiano’s and had a great time eating and drinking too much. the girls, of course, entertained everyone! ha!

on sunday, hc and i had a cubs game lined up but the weather was aaawwwwwwful. it was thirty something degrees and snooooowing. wahhhhhhh! we were going to go, regardless, and hang out at the ball park, the area, and the bars but they ended up cancelling the game. womp womp. i suggested for us to go to wrigleyville regardless but hc wasn’t feeling it because the weather was so bad, so he wanted to stay in. hey, it’s his birthday and he can do what he wants to, do what he wants to!

overall, it was a pretty good weekend. i am sure hc had a great time!!! i wish our sunday turned out differently but what we ended doing was absolutely perfect!!!

happy birthday my dear love. you are an amazing husband, partner, best friend, and father to our beloved girls. you are always thoughtful, kind, sweet, considerate, forgiving, and loving. thank you for being you. we are so blessed to have you.

DECOR

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[birthday chalkboard – olive chose a rainbow theme for her dad’s birthday!]

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[she’s so excited!]

*****

DINNER

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[kisses from papa]

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[hc and grace]

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[she’s so silly]

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[jane, missy, and hc]

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[sibling love or rivalry?]

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[a mug from the late aunt gloria]

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[polka dot twinning]

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[happy birthday hc!!]

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[hc’s birthday cake]

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[she loved the cake!]

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[we’re ready to sing happy birthday!]

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[stealing a look]

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[i love the way she’s looking at him]

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[follow ellie’s eyes]

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xoxo

michelin star brewery

we had previous plans with matt and johann a few months ago but unfortunately, that date fell through. sooooo, we made plans for another day and it was a beautiful {albeit chilly but sunny} morning to have brunch!!

they picked this restaurant, band of bohemia, and it was delicious! hc loved the cool decor and we loved the fact that it is the only brewery ever to be awarded a michelin star! does anyone else follow michelin star restaurants? also, has anyone ever seen the movie burnt? not the best movie ever made but i really enjoyed the idea behind michelin star driven chefs and the discipline {amongst other things} it takes to achieve the prestigious honor.

anyhoo, we arrived early and just soaked in the surroundings while we waited for matt and johann. once they arrived, the libations and tasty morsels flowed. it was a very adult menu although it was a very kid friendly place. don’t expect kids cups, drink options, or entrees that will be favored by the majority of most little one’s palette. olive isn’t as adventurous, although ellie is but the food sufficed in feeding the babes.

it’s funny to me how it can be potatoes but not potatoes in the typical format my girls are used to, so therefore, they reject it. i’m like, “seeeeerioulsy?! it’s just potatoes?!” and olive will says, “no it isn’t.” okuuuuuuurt.

the drinks were extra {as in extra fancy}. cheers to that! and cheers again as the boys continued to toast drink after drink! ya know that saying – ‘it’s 5 o’clock somewhere’! we were having a great time catching up with the boys, as it had been awhile since we have seen them!

ellie was in rare form…she was super fussy and antsy and olive was in love with their waiting room area. i was ok with olive playing over there by herself but i couldn’t leave ellie there with her…she’s too much of a trouble maker! regardless, ellie wasn’t happy anywhere at the moment. she wanted to be in my arms, she wanted to be in hc’s arm, she wanted to be by olive, she wanted to be on the ground exploring. we couldn’t keep up with her!

i must give the babes credit for, overall, being so well behaved because we were there for quite awhile. i think we were there for two or more hours! i think ellie was just bored, hence her short attention span for things. hahaha!

we knew our limits and didn’t want to push it any further with miss ellie, so we said our goodbyes. it was a fantastic morning with our fellow friends. you can’t beat good food, drinks, and amazing friends!

cheers to that!

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[band of bohemia]

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[sweet babe]

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[grace and rich]

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[she’s such a sensitive doll]

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[my girls]

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[giggles]

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[it’s 5 o’clock somewhere]

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xoxo

easter sunday

the easter bunny came!

i have hemmed and hawed over the idea of the easter bunny, tooth fairy, and santa. i wasn’t sure if i wanted to push a made up character to persuade olive to be a good kid. ’cause honestly, she’s a good kid without persuasion. there are some big debates between parents around this subject. these fictional figures have been molded and it’s american made, it’s financially driven, it’s lying, it’s bribing, and so forth.

easter and christmas are christian religious holidays celebrating jesus. i want olive to know and understand that those holidays are stemmed from the life of jesus. that is why we celebrate on those days.

i also loved the idea that these characters added to the magic of the season and are really fun to believe in. i did believe in them when i was a kid and it didn’t harm or taint me. my parents didn’t enforce the idea of santa, the easter bunny, or the tooth fairy on me, it was all about church, the bible, and our faith but i loved the magic behind it. i was never upset they weren’t real. honestly, i always knew they weren’t but loved believing in something magical. i definitely don’t look back on my childhood and think i was scarred or lied to. all i remember is magic, love, excitement, and damn good memories with my family and friends.

my heart is so full to see her so excited over things like the easter bunny. she loved her basket from the bunny, she loved finding the eggs the easter bunny left behind. she giggled with excitement at the idea of presents. i’m ok with that.

what i try to do every day is parent with love, respect, and discipline. do i fail, alllll the time but i try, try again. i want to raise my girls to become strong, smart, independent, kind, and to be filled with gratitude {to name a few attributes}…the list goes on and on.

so whether they believe in the easter bunny or not, or whether i push it on them or not. i think they will grow up just fine and hopefully pass the traditions and love to their children to create magical moments together too.

{we celebrated easter together in the morning and then met my family for brunch in chicago, at swift and sons, later in the day!}

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[ellie making her way to the easter baskets]

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[olive eyeing the baskets and excited!]

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[ohmergawd her hair!! talk about bedhead!!!]

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[digging through her goodies]

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[she sooooo wanted this bunny!]

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[she was so excited over everything!]

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[ohmergawd, this sweet babe]

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[look ma, an egg]

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[i’ll pretend to eat it]

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[hahaha! just kidding!]

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[i’m so funny, i crack myself up!]

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[easter egg hunt time!]

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[checking out her goodies]

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[so excited for her shopkin surprise!]

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[easter egg hunt aftermath]

*****

BRUNCH AT SWIFT AND SONS!

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[sweet cousins]

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[opening up her easter basket from r + b]

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[always doting on her]

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[thuy getting festive]

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[flummoxed]

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[my love]

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[i loooooooove bloody mary’s!]

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[cheers!]

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[dan and agata]

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[preptastic]

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[we fail ,every holiday, at taking a family picture together]

xoxo

easter bunny

my sister kim, last minute, asked us to come with her to go see the easter bunny at 900 n. olive paid a visit to the easter bunny once {at a local easter egg hunt}, when she was two years old but we didn’t see one last year. we hosted an egg hunt at our house versus going to one and seeing an easter bunny at a local mall or so.

the next morning, we did our usual routine and got ready to head out. i remembered back in the days, something like this stressed me out with two kids {hahaha…and yes, i only have two. not three. not four. referencing, it’s all relative, right?}. getting them ready & dressed, getting myself ready, getting them fed, packing up enough toys, diapers, snacks, etc., not forgetting anything for myself, getting them layered up for the cold weather, getting them strapped into the car seats {’cause, hell, that’s a process in itself!}, do i have the stroller? all sorts of things to remember and plus, i was always late. yes, it used to stress me out but now it’s like second nature.

we were ahead of schedule and hit the road to head to 900 n michigan ave. we parked, i fed ellie, i assembled the stroller, we rolled in, walked around, i had to go to the bathroom, we went to the wrong floor, and then we finally found the easter bunny area and signed up for a visit. it was an hour and forty five minute wait! oy! there were 40 families ahead of us!

everyone finally rolled in and we all gathered around the 6th floor {for coffee at oak tree}, to wait our turn for the easter bunny while the kids played in galt toys. olive obsessed over a unicorn bouncy. she was smitten. the entire time we were there, she bounced on it all around the store. she was sooooo happy! she showed it off to anyone who would listen. it was so cute. when we were leaving, she asked me if she could ‘borrow’ it. her word for, can we ‘buy’ it. i said, “maybe you can tell the easter bunny to bring it to you?”. her eyes totally lit up!

it was finally our turn to see the easter bunny! it went by much faster than estimated {one hour versus the hour forty five}, thank goodness! as expected, ellie was a hot mess when i left her with the easter bunny but overall we received pretty awesome pics!! olive was so good! i was so surprised and my heart was so full that she was excited to see him and not scared! the set up was so gorgeous! the balloon arch was beautiful and the flowers and lights were so springy and fun! i was so happy with the results!

after the easter bunny pics, we headed on over to the blue door kitchen and garden down on elm. it was so cute and cozy inside! the dinnerware was pretty, the libations were tasty, and the food was so delicious! i absolutely enjoyed our service; everyone was so attentive and polite! i definitely hope i can get back there with hc to eat again!

after our excursion at the restaurant, we shopped a little bit more and then headed on our way home. later that evening, the family came over to our house to eat dinner and dye eggs! our day was filled with so much fun!

it was such a lovely day. it really was. we had such a great time with everyone. seeing the easter bunny was so much fun, the restaurant was so good, and the company was even better. it was a really fun day with the family! time spent like that is priceless. oh, and the easter bunny did get olive her unicorn bouncy! yay!

happy easter lovelies!

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[i’m typically walton]

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[how gorgeous is this balloon display?]

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[i could stare at this all day…it’s so whimsical and pretty!]

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[i think i was more excited than olive when the easter bunny came out!]

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[she spotted the bouncy]

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[she’s going for it!]

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[no pictures of this next event but the poor babe fell on her face. eep!]

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[she faired better on this riding toy]

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[sweet babes running through the center]

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via tandeminlove.com[my sweet babe]

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[sweetest cousins]

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[cookie monster]

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[super auntie thuy and ellie]

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[what really happened…oh poor babe was so scared!]

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[blue door kitchen and garden]

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[terry and kim]

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[cutest kiddos]

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[the most delicious tea drink everrrrrr]

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[i love her so much]

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[yummy, yummy hummus]

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[my sweet olive]

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[this kale and brussel salad was ahhhhhhhmazing]

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[lan and avery]

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[these babes are too sweet]

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[i love her bob]

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[eating pizza before dyeing eggs]

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[reagan’s creative egg dyeing]

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[sweet babe ready for bed]

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[olive’s eggs]

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[pj time!]

xoxo

easter treats

i always love making fun, quick, super easy desserts. it’s great for olive to get involved and so easy for her to help – the most important part! but what i love most is that it’s e a s y. i can juggle this fun activity for olive and not have a huge mess to clean up or be too involved in the process to a point where it takes me away from ellie.

i did the prepping and dipping, olive did the sprinkling! i think she had the best job of the two of us.

this cookie dessert is so simple, it doesn’t need any instructions. all you need is one bag of white chocolate chips, a bag of oreos, and sprinkles. i always melt the chocolate in a pot separated from another pot of boiling water {a makeshift double boiler}. i half dipped each oreo and placed them on wax paper and olive sprinkled them all. that’s it! at first, she tried tipping the sprinkle jar onto the chocolate and that was a compete disaster! hahahaha! so, i poured the sprinkles into a bowl and it was much easier for her to control it and cover the cookies!

she did such a great job and we really had fun! gosh…with each passing year, this babe is such a joy! i love how helpful she is. i love how understanding she is. i love that she has an opinion {although there are plenty of times i wish the opposite! ha!}. i love that she can articulate her feelings to me. i love that she is so sweet. i love that she is a great big sister. i love that she loves me and always wants to be by my side {until she turns 14…wahhhhh}.  i love that she forgives me when i am letting her down. my heart is so full watching her grow.

well, these cookies did not stay in the house! we divvied them out to others to enjoy! it’s such a fun, springy treat to gift others…holidays and sweet morsels always go hand in hand!

happy easter lovelies!

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[getting ready to make chocolate dipped cookies!]

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[big mistake…i let her shake it out of the container and she pretty much dump the bottle on the cookie! ha!]

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[yuuuuuuummmmmm]

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[this babe chose her outfit…the dress, the bow, all her!]

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[i dipped the oreos and she covered each one with sprinkles]

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[i looooooove her!]

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[finishing touches]

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[so pretty!]

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[she was cracking me up biting into this cookie!]

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[ohmergawd…she was BOTHERED that the chocolate had dripped on her mouth and chin. i had to beg her to stay still for a photo but i am sooooo glad i got a pic because it makes me laugh so hard every time i look at it. mainly because i was there to witness it and that she was so upset and laughing at the same time!]

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[take two!]

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xoxo

brunch in the city

it’s been a while since i’ve blogged anything. a few things contributed to this…one, my computer went kaput on me {part my fault and more on that later}, it’s still kind of ‘broken’ but i’m just getting by. i really need to get it looked at but {cue the little violins} i feel like i don’t have enough time everrrrrrrr. the idea of dealing with apple help makes me want to crawl under a rock. two…i have been feeling uninspired and overwhelmed {was it the winter blues??}, maybe that was causing me to not want to crack open my computer and type.

the whole situation with my phone and computer crashing and all the time we spent trying to fix everything was exhausting. i just needed a break. plus, i took a break from going out! nothing new, since after valentine’s day…there isn’t much in-between and relaxing was in order!

we did head out the weekend prior with my girlfriend olivia and her guy aaron but i really wanted to just enjoy my time with them. i didn’t want to snap a million pics and plus, it was at night and i didn’t feel like being intrusive with a camera and a flash!

i’m so glad i did because it was wonderful to catch up with them and just relax, enjoy our time together, and soak in the city. we went to sushi in bucktown and then had a night cap at a new hotel lounge across the street and it was just perfect!

well, the following weekend, i had a date with my girlfriend dana. ohhhhhh, my darling dana. she is 6+ months pregnant and looking fabulous! the holidays and winter always puts a damper on catching up with my friends. it’s not always as easy, so this date was long overdue!

we met up at our stomping ground {southport grocery and cafe} and had the best time. i absolutely loved catching up with her. we talked babies, we talked about giving birth, we talked about nursing, life, friends, hubby’s, and everything else in-between. i really think the tables next to us were appalled or shocked at our topics of conversation. i exclaimed that i loved child birth. yes. it’s true. as painful and crazy as it was to deliver both my girls, it was the BEST moment in my life {besides getting married to the love of my life}.

words really can’t describe childbirth and the miracle that it is. i absolutely loved being pregnant and i absolutely loved giving birth to my two beautiful girls. i view it as the most powerful thing i have ever done in my life. i could do that over and over. no joke. so, that is why the tables next to us gave us the side eyes. hahahaha!

anyhoo, we shopped a bit afterwards and then called it quits. this soon to be mama needed her nap; and i am allllllll about that because there’s really no sleeping after the baby comes. hahaha!

ohhhhhh, i am glad to be writing again and i am so glad to be on the move with my sweet friends!

happy week lovelies!

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[the mama to be]

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[coffee and juice]

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[goofy smiling]

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[we always have our go to favorites]

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[i can never pass up an omelette, biscuits, jam, and potatoes]

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[i love the good stuff they sell]

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[i love their displays! they’re always so pretty]

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[iphone selfie…gosh, the the camera phone make us look so well rested!!! ha!]

xoxo

easter baskets

i try to be creatively proactive with the holidays because if i don’t make a conscious effort, it seriously slaps me in the face unexpectedly. hahaha! then, honestly, i get disappointed i didn’t fair better. innately, i have always loved holidays.

growing up catholic vietnamese, my parents were very religious. so, holidays were all about church, jesus, mary, and celebrating the life of. absolutely nothing wrong with that because i am all about being catholic, respecting my religion, my faith, and the idea of just doing/being a better person and preaching the word of the Lord. easter is all about jesus being resurrected and that is it in a nutshell.

buuuuuuuttttt, i have always looooooved the frilly aspect of it. the commercial, american way of celebrating religious holidays. i love it for the fun, whimsical notions. i like easter baskets, the easter bunny {i adored the easter bunny as a kid!}, and the cute, fun decorations that come with it!

so, with that being said…i had the best time creating easter baskets for the girls. it’s definitely hard to shop for them when they are with me! i had to hide stuff or tell them that they don’t get what they did see until easter. olive was like, “okaaayyyyy”. i am so blessed olive is so compliant and sooo freakin’ well behaved. she just plain listens to me!

i created their baskets the other day and was so pleased with how they turned out! i wanted to limit the candy {although they still get a few treats!}…because i tend to go overboard every year with that and focused more on fun things they would use or like.

voila! useful, fun, pretty, reusable easter baskets! i’m in love. i can’t wait to give these baskets to the girls!

happy creating my friends!

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counter clockwise: garland: hooray everyday // book: little owl’s colors // bunny: target // unicorn horn chalk {not online but in stores}: nordstroms // mini melissa’s unicorn shoes {they’re not available online but similar ones here}: nordstrom // macaron bath bombs: nordstrom

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https://www.target.com

xoxo