my ballet birthday

holy birthday weekend!

in previous years, we’ve gone out for my birthday. we’ve done something fun, with just us {me and hc}. every year we have been together, hc has made it a point to make my birthday special. my birthday is eight days before christmas and it’s so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

this time around, olive’s first ballet recital fell on my birthday! i was so excited. all season long, she practiced very hard in class and at home and i couldn’t wait to see her performance.

hc and i talked over our plan for that day, to make sure we got olive to the show on time and get everyone else there early enough to nab a front row seat. score! we did both! i drove separately so i could get olive to the dance group before the show and hc drove his mom, dad, and ellie to the school to get in line for a seat. we nabbed a front row section and the location we scored was absolutely perfect!

olive entered the room on our side, so we were able to say hello to her as she waited to get up on stage and the teacher was on our side during the dance, so olive faced us the entire performance! woooo hoooo!

i was a bit nervous for her…only because during her holiday program {from several days ago}, she seemed a bit overwhelmed by the large audience. i couldn’t tell if the runny nose  she had really bothered her or if the dozens of people scared her. anyhoo, she froze a bit with her performance, so i was worried that she would freeze up during her ballet show!

well i was sooooo wrong. she nailed it! she did soooo well! i was so proud of her! she was the cutest ballet dancer i ever did see! i couldn’t wait to hug her, congratulate her, and give her a big kiss for doing so well!

after each segment, the kiddos waited in a room across the way. once the entire show was over…one parent was able to retrieve your kiddo and i ran over to get her. i couldn’t wait to bring her back to the family so they could tell her how well she did! everyone congratulated her and gave her flowers! how fun and sweet! seeing her perform was the best birthday present ever!

after the recital, hc’s parents came over to our house to hang out and we had cake to celebrate my birthday. after hc’s parents left, we then headed on over to my parent’s house to have dinner. it was the best birthday yet! hc did such a great job making it wonderful and olive’s ballet recital was the cherry on top of a perfect sundae! no pun intended! haha!

best birthday ever!

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[how sweet is she??]

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[she spots us!]

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[hands on hip and smile!]

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[dada giving her flowers for her performance]

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[how terrible is this…while i was pulling olive through the crowd, someone knocked her in her head so hard with either a corner of a purse or elbow. poor, poor girl! i didn’t even notice it until a minute later! i felt terrible…just terrible that she was trying to tell me her head hurt but i couldn’t hear her over the noise and i was so excited to get her to our family that it totally flew over my head that she was in pain. i really felt like a bad mom and a bit angry at myself that she was hurt and i didn’t realize it in the moment to comfort her. total mom guilt moment that still really bothers me!!! do you see the shiner on her forehead?! oh, i get so upset looking at it!!!]

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[my sweet ballet girl]

*****

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[celebrating with my sweet girl]

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xoxo

ugly sweater christmas party

so, quite surprisingly, i have never been to an ugly sweater christmas party! yes…it’s been around for awhile but none of my friends nor did i ever host one.

my friend irina invited us over to her place for a party and i needed to grab a sweater for the occasion! i picked out some candy cane striped leggings, added a lot of bows to the ‘do, and voila! my ugly christmas sweater outfit!

we walked into their place to a beautifully lit christmas tree, a delicious looking table spread, and yummy appetizers all around! i was hungry and excited to eat! patrick offered us tasty libations [rose please!] and we nibbled non stop on the delicious bites.

we had a great time chatting with all her friends. it was relaxing, easy going, and fun! then an old friend walked in, theresa! i was so happy to see her! it was great catching up on life and sharing notes.

irina and i met through work a long time ago. i’m so lucky to still be in touch with this lovely lady and her sweet husband. we’ve supported each other throughout the years and i love that we are able to get out {by ourselves or as couples} and hang every few months! whether it’s a birthday party, a baby shower, a wedding, a house warming party, a holiday party, or just because, we try our best to make those dates happen!

after a few hours of hanging out, we had to jet. ya know…we have kids! ha! it’s different if someone was watching the girls at our house. that makes it easy for us to come home later because they will be put to bed with no worries. when my parents watch them at their house, that means we have to pick them up at a decent hour to get them home and ready for bed! well, it was the latter situation that night, so hc and i left the party much earlier than what we wanted to. c’est la vie, non?

anyhoo, it was a fabulous, fun party! i loved my first ugly sweater christmas party! thank you irina and patrick for being such gracious hosts! we love you both!

happy holidays!

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[me and irina]

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[the yummy buffet table]

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[sweet emma eating her pizzaaaaa]

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[but seriously…so ugly. i think we won the ugliest sweaters at the party]

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[the sweet couple]

xoxo

o + e santa visit

every year, since olive had been born, she has despised her visits with santa claus. one picture after another, year after year…she is absolutely frightened and as a parent, i find it disgustingly hilarious!!!!

well this year was absolutely no different. a couple weeks before our visit to the big man, i asked olive is she wanted to visit santa and ask him for presents. she said no. i said, “don’t you want to ask him for gifts?!” and she said, “i don’t want to sit in his lap.” and i said, “you have to if you want to ask him for presents this year” {honestly…doesn’t anyone else find it so odd that you make your kids sit on a strange old man’s lap and ask for gifts?? hahaha!}. she then says to me, “reagan and bennett don’t sit on his lap!” oh yeahhhhh? i grabbed my phone and showed her a picture of her cousins sitting on santa’s lap from the other week. her jaw practically dropped. she stared in silence and disbelief at the picture for a good solid 30 seconds. then says to me, “i don’t want to sit on santa’s lap” and that was it.

so came the night we were going to visit santa. hc came home from work and asked if i told olive what we were doing tonight. i said no. he said, “aren’t you going to tell her?!”, so reluctantly i did. i called her over and said, “olive, we are going to see santa tonight and ask for christmas presents” and surprisingly she said, “ok” and walked to her room to change her clothes. whaaaa? i was dying. she is so funny and cute!

we arrived and olive was soooo somber. she whimpered a bit and mumbled something about not wanting to see santa but i could tell that she knew she was going to see santa whether she liked it or not. especially with her steadfast, crazy mama standing in front of her {obviously this whole thing is more for me than her! eep!}. olive knew there was no saying no.

first, the kids sit down and take pics of just them in front of a sleigh. olive spied santa around the corner and she couldn’t stop staring at him!!! i am so amused that the photographer caught her nervous glance on camera! olive and ellie did so well with their sit down pictures together in front of the sleigh. then came the santa pics…olive nervously sat on the edge of the chair. santa was super sweet with her…he asked her what she wanted and they exchanged words back and forth about dolls, fairies, unicorns, horses, teddy bears, etc. i was soooo proud of her! she actually did a great job talking to santa. she was very quiet and reserved but totally didn’t have a meltdown!

then came the moment we were going to place ellie in his arms. watch out!! hc placed her down in his arms and she flipped out. FLIPPED out! her boots flung off her feet faster than a tesla roadster. ohmergawd. it was hilarious. olive actually smiled but she was totally fake smiling and her hands were clasped so tight out of nervousness! oh my poor girls!!! they were so scared!!! but gosh…it makes for the funniest pics!! so sadistic of me, non??

anyhoo, and that was that. i must say it was a pretty successful visit! the pics turned out great, i absolutely love the one of just olive and ellie in front of the sleigh…my favorite! well, ’tis the season to make your kids do crazy things! ha! happy holidays y’all!

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[very unsure of what is about to happen…]

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[so is hc…haha!]

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[could this be any more perfect? olive spied santa from a distance and was soooooo nervous!]

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[she’s like ‘ohmergawd…santa!’]

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[check out that fake smile olive has and ellie…well that speaks for itself!]

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[her shoes flung off so fast!]

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xoxo

holiday program

olive’s pre-k holiday program was this past week! the last day of school before winter break. i was looking forward to this for weeks. olive practiced her songs with us, at home, several times. although, at first we didn’t realize all the songs she sang were part of her holiday concert! we just thought she was learning fun songs at school.

well the day had come and i dressed olive up in the cutest, most festive holiday outfit i could rummage out of her closet. she looked so darling in her tutu playsuit and reindeer antlers.

 we scurried to her school as early as we could because we wanted to nab a seat as close to the stage as possible. we were close…we scored second row! the kiddos paraded in and olive looked so confused and nervous. the teachers sat the kids down and after an announcement, the concert began.

olive had stage fright! to make matters worse, her nose was runny {we’ve been dealing with a little cold} and she was very bothered that she couldn’t wipe her runny nose and it tooooootally bothered me that i couldn’t get up there to wipe it for her!!! poor olive just stared blankly out at the crowd when they started singing their first song. she stared and stared throughout the first few songs and then finally started to warm up and sing along.

the concert was a success! olive was too cute and subdued during the whole concert but sang along for a majority of the songs. it was so fun to watch all the kiddos. of course there was a run away boy who circled the stage and the girl sitting next to olive was so excited and animated! it was hilarious to see how reserved olive was and how boisterous her classmate was! total opposites!

once the concert was over, we were able to take photos of our babe and then she was able to join us and we were able to leave for the day. although olive was really bummed there was no school after the concert! she wanted to stay for school and was a bit upset…awwww, that was too cute.

i was so happy to see her first holiday school program. it completely warmed my heart to see my baby girl perform! it was a great moment that filled my soul with joy.

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[i forgot that i had left her with her bunny!]

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[she was nervous!]

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[she’s not quite sure what to do yet]

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[finally warming up and joining in!]

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[they’re all done! hurray! it was an awesome holiday concert!]

xoxo

State Street

for the past many, many years…we have traveled downtown to field’s on state street, now macy’s. it was always such an event to see their window displays. they would always have a theme, like the nutcracker, and the set up within each window would be so well crafted, gorgeous, and magical. unfortunately, since macy has bought out field’s…the windows aren’t that magical anymore. nevertheless, we love going there to experience the craziness, go to their holiday lane, see the walnut room tree, and get coffee and candy on the lower level and shop!

i love the bustling crowds {yes, i am the minority….maybe that is why i love the city so much! large crowds and loud noises! ha!}, the holiday music in the background, the decorations, and the over the top retail displays!

we were running so behind because we had to make a pit stop at one of our favorite places in wrigleyville, southport grocery, to pick up gift baskets we had pre-ordered. traveling through the inner city can be taxing! the traffic is insane! it’s not about getting to the city, it’s the traffic inside the city! anyhoo, we finally made it to block 37, where we usually park and the garage was closed due to capacity! whaaaa? our whole plane was to not wear coats because we could walk through tunnels to get to macy’s but that was scratched! we parked in the theatre lot instead and walked a couple blocks, carrying our babes because we decided to not bring the stroller {again, because we were going to park in block 37…hahaha! our plans were ruined!}.

once we met up with everyone, we went to holiday lane {floor 7} and picked out ornaments, as we do every year, to add to the tree. after perusing the all the christmas goodies, we headed on up to see the walnut room tree in their furniture section {floor 8}. as usual, we love taking too many serious and goofy pictures in front of the tree. after the visiting the tree, we headed all the way down to pick out candies, shop their foodie section, and most of the time we grab something from starbucks!

this time around, instead of eating lunch at seven on state, we decided to have dinner at gt fish and oyster. stellar idea from my sister kim! it was a perfect nightcap. delicious food, tasty beverages, and a comfortable chic ambience for us and the kiddos!

we wrapped up our evening with full bellies, good spirits, and a fun filled holiday afternoon to continue the joy of the season! happy christmas everyone!

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[checking out the nutcrackers]

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[trying to take a picture of these two babes]

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[sweet baby ellie]

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[brought this little baby home]

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[grace, hc, and ellie]

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[these girls…ellie always runs away and has become so attached to the paci]

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[i tried getting a pic of the whole horse, but it was so hard to do so! they need to put this clydesdale horse in a corner! people were constantly walking by!]

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[owning the runway]

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[olive posing with a toe point leg pop and ellie gnawing on her paci]

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[reagan riding the unicorn and olive laughing!]

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[bennett loves his teddy bears]

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[sending her wish list!]

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[when posing by yourself…you’re just awkward. hahaha!]

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[selecting her candies]

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[oh dem cheeks]

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[rad in plaid]

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xoxo

deck the halls!

every year, we get into comfy pj’s, turn on the christmas music, hc pours me a glass of wine, we break out the christmas decorations, and get wild! oh, my favorite time of the year! i love lighting up the house and getting in the mood with all the festive decor.

i must admit…it’s quite the chore. hc and i aren’t the type of people who can decorate over a few days or weeks. we prefer to get it done, like within a few hours. once the boxes come up from the basement, they go down empty. we can’t help it. he’s type A and i am type A+. it’s a harmonious partnership {most of the time…hahaha!}.

olive was sooooo into it this year. she loved everything! she was so amazed by all the ornaments and every little thing that we pulled out. it was so sweet to hear her excited voice and elated expressions. she loved helping us with everything! ellie on the other hand, was like, ‘i don’t give a sh*t’ and ran around trying to break stuff and throw it in random places. haAAAaaa!

maybe one day, we will get a real tree {i looooove the smell of pine!!}  but for now, we have our fake one. although it’s about to go kaput on us. we bought this tree our first year of marriage and it’s going on it’s seventh season and the lights are like, byeeeee, see ya later!

one thing we added this year was extra pine garland. lots of it! i love the look and smell of fresh pine! we always hang it on our door way and our railing outside but this year, we added it to our entryways, our kitchen, and hung it up in olive’s room to add a bit of extra festiveness!

i’m loving the decor and only wish it was more than a month of christmas season! it definitely flies by too quickly! well, here’s to soaking in every moment this christmas season! cheers!

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[could she be any sweeter?]

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[her most favorite ornament]

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[she was our anti-decorating grinch]

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[comfy pj’s and stringing tinsel]

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[daddy helping olive with the star topper]

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[muslin bag advent calendar]

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xoxo

unicorn birthday

one day, a few months ago, i asked olive what kind of birthday party did she want. without hesitation, she said, “a unicorn party!”. ok. i really did think i would get away with not having a unicorn party. why? well, unicorns are the rage right now. the rage! everyone was having a unicorn party! or more so, who didn’t have one for their little?! like for reals! i thought i could get away with not having one. hahaha! not that i am against unicorns. no, i love them! i just don’t like doing something everyone else is doing. that’s all.

anyhoo, my wheels started turning and i wanted to start planning her party. every year, i always say…oh i am not going to do anything big {except their one year birthday’s…that is big, to me!}. i always say, ‘just balloons and cake’. that’s all you need. get a cake, some balloons, and call it a birthday party. yeahhhhhhhh. every year, that doesn’t happen no matter how much i try to talk myself into a simple party.

so the crafting and planning ensued and voila! i was ready to get this party started! let me tell you! going from halloween, to my brother’s wedding, to hosting thanksgiving, and then hosting a birthday party 3 days later left me like whoaaaaaaaaa! but nevertheless, we pulled it off and olive’s party was a success and so darn cuuuuuute!

olive was soooo looking forward to this big day! she was so darn cute about it! we celebrated her birthday the tuesday before, at school, and from there on, she couldn’t stop talking about her party and could not wait for the day to arrive!

at school, i let her wear the cutest party hat in celebration of her big day and she wouldn’t take it off for two days! it was so adorable, the day after we celebrated her day in class, olive awoke and sat up in bed. i saw her struggle to put her party hat on {that she left next to her on the bedside table}, slide off the bed, and walk out into the living room. about a minute later, she came back to bed to tell me that no one was here for her party. my heart pretty much melted! i told her that her party wasn’t for another few days! oh these sweet children of mine! i could eat them up, i love them so!

well her day finally arrived and her wonderful family came over to celebrate her. hc cooked an amazing portillo’s like meal {so delicious}, our family mingled, olive had a blast with her friends and cousins, and overall, it was a total success. the decor was too cute {if i do say so myself} and i love that olive had such a great time! this was the first birthday where she totally enjoyed everyone singing happy birthday to her! all the years prior, she used to freak out, become extremely shy, or get upset! my baby girl, you’re growing up!

well, i hope you enjoy the pics! i always have such a great time documenting everything. i hope, one day, olive and ellie will look back at this thread and know how much they are loved by their family.

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[olive’s birthday invite & flowers by my talented sister, kim]

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[clouds and paper tassels]

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[how cute is this doll?!]

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[my diy unicorn balloon…they filled it up with so much helium, it became oblong instead of round!]

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[i love this gorgeous doll by monami designs]

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[what party is complete without a unicorn balloon?!]

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[unicorn photo booth]

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[flower crowns for the photo booth]

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[favor bags]

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[dessert backdrop]

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[we loooooove this book!]

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[my sweet, sweet girl…she’s so precious]

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[macarons and unicorn cookies! yasssssss]

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[i can’t get over this amazing cake!]

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[flowers by my sister kim]

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[ellie, kim, and lan]

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[aunt wendy and terry]

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[grace and missy]

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[jane and missy]

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[having fun with agata]

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[i loooooove her so much!]

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[gosh, she looks just like hc!]

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[agata, dan, and olive]

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[i can’t tell you how much i love this capture!!!! olive was being a bit moody/difficult/shy and i was like, whaaaaaaa? i felt like this was a total mom moment where i was like, c’mon girl. get a grip! hahaha!]

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[hair we goooooo!]

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[make a wish!!]

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[she’s so excited to open up her presents!]

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[lan, thuy, and kim]

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[lan and avery]

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[my tribe]

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[pin the horn on the unicorn]

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[get it bennett!]

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[reagan being silly]

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[the kids trying to help reagan]

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[avery pinning the horn on the unicorn]

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[happy girl]

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[i can’t! i just can’t!]

happy birthday my sweet, loving girl. this day was so wonderful and we love you so much!

xoxo

thanksgiving ’17

i love thanksgiving for so many reasons.

the message is clear…give thanks, share, be grateful, gather, love, and this day pretty much kicks off the holiday season! yay! i’m not one to christmas decorate before thanksgiving. don’t get me wrong. i loooooove christmas. it goes by too fast and i love savoring every day leading up to this wonderful holiday but i like to enjoy thanksgiving.

unfortunately, while we were in LA, my parent’s finished basement flooded and that literally put a damper on our thanksgiving plans there. they had to tear up the carpet, move all the furniture, and hire people to fix a myriad of things gone wrong. we have never not had a thanksgiving at my parent’s house, so we were in a pickle. last minute, we decided to host it at our house.

the good news was, my sister kim was doing the cooking! yasssss, that made all the difference! we didn’t mind having everyone over but it definitely made it so much easier on us that we didn’t have to prepare the meal! besides, my sister kim makes a killer thanksgiving feast!

we started our day {as usual} with going to hc’s aunt’s house. she hosts thanksgiving every year and it’s great because his side of the family eats sooo early. the meal is ready by 1pm but it works out so perfect for us because my family eats later {usually around 6 or 7 pm}, so we are able to spend thanksgiving with both our families!

after a few hours there, we parted ways and headed home to host my side of the family. we had such a great time! everything went so smoothly, the food prep was so easy and quick, and we ate at the earliest time we have ever eaten!

i had so much fun, last minute, decorating our place for our ‘first’ turkey day at our house! i made place cards, decorated the tables with the pumpkins we had from halloween, and spruced up some areas of the house with a few festive pieces.

after the delicious dinner, hc had baked sugar cookies for the kiddos to decorate. we pretty much do this every year! it’s so fun for them to decorate and eat the treats! i usually use my holiday cookie cutters but they were too small for the recipe we used {it called for 4″cookie slices and i didn’t want to bake batch upon batch of cookies}, so instead i gave hc my valentine cookie cutters because they were big enough! hahaha!

so the kids had a rainbow table cloth, valentine shaped cookies, and christmas frosting and sprinkles. what a combo! well, no matter…the cookies looked festive and tasted delicious!

well, i have to say that this was a very successful thanksgiving! it was fantastic to have our family over for our first thanksgiving at our house!

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[silly girl]

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[aunt wendy and hc]

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[morgan and moi]

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[hc and lori]

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*****

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[calligraphy place card]

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[playing match!]

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[mom, thuy, and dan]

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[sweet girl]

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[rad in plaid]

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[ellie eyeing the beer]

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[decorating ‘christmas’ cookies]

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xoxo

star of the day

at olive’s preschool, for her birthday week, she was star of the day!

when class started, she was able to sit in the chair next to the teacher, lead the count with the star wand, and set up the day/weather board!

i was invited to join in on their fun and spend the first part of the class with them and participate in on story time! i was sooooo excited! i made little birthday treats for her classmates {funfetti bags filled with stickers and candy!} and brought in the book uni the unicorn {in celebration of her unicorn party we were having}!

i think i was more excited about this than olive was! it was so fun to watch her be so involved but, yet, she was being a bit shy. when the teacher asked her who her special guests were, she barely whispered, “kiki”. i had to explain to the teacher that she calls me kiki…not mom, mommy, ma, or anything close to that. haha!

once they went through their morning activities, i was able to sit down next to olive and read the class the book we picked out! it was so darn cute! the girls were so into the book but the boys looked lost or just not into it but overall, everyone seemed to really enjoy the book! it was not too long, not too short, a cute little story, and the illustrations were so colorful and pretty!

once i was done with reading the book, olive walked me out. i was sooooo happy and i hoped olive had a great time with me being there for her! i love moments like this and totally cherish the sweet milestones that we go through!

it was definitely a special day for olive, celebrating her birthday and making it for a fun school day!

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[she wore this party hat to school and continued to wear it for days…so darn cute!]

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[the teacher telling the class who is star of the day!]

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[is it cold or is it hot?]

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[reading uni the unicorn to the class]

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[she was not happy with the hat…hahaha!]

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[she asked me to take off the hat when she walked me out…it was so big and she was bugging about it]

xoxo

sunday after brunch

weddings are so much fun and what typically comes before and after, makes the weekend that much more special!

my family was excited to host an after wedding brunch at the langham hotel for the newlyweds and our immediate families. it was an early start but so worth it! the hotel staff set up a long table for all of us to sit at. it was perfect. we almost felt like we had our own room {there weren’t many tables next to us, being a large crowd} and our table was right next to the buffet! score!

we reveled in last night’s festivities, we shared stories, and we were all pretty much on high with how fun the wedding was!

i was delighted with the hotel’s brunch set up. everything looked delicious and the service was fantastic. i thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the langham. the staff was so polite, kind, thoughtful, and considerate. they were on top of clearing our plates at brunch, offering us endless amounts of libations {keep the mimosas flowing!}, and so accommodating.

olive was having a blast with the boys and ellie was being doted on by agata and my aunt vuong. win win for this mama! i ran around making sure the girls were good to go with food, drinks, and company and then i finally sat down and enjoyed a scrumptious plate of goodies. i downed the americanos and then sipped on my mimosa…it was all so yummy! of course the kiddos hit up the dessert table! so many sweet treats to choose from!

after a couple hours, we all parted ways to do our own thing {pool time and then we hit up the grove – which was a disaster} and then met back up in the evening for dinner at some crab shack!

that pretty much wrapped up our weekend in LA. it was such an amazing time celebrating huy + tashina. every event we attended was filled with love, happiness, and good cheer!

may your marriage be filled with love, laughter, and full bellies. much love and many blessings to my brother and beautiful sister in law!

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[the amazing dessert bar!!! i had to post this first…it was the first thing we saw when we walked in]

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[dad and mom]

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[best omelet station ever]

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[her superhero cape – a present from uncle khai]

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[good times, good food]

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[a very delicious americano and sugar stick]

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*****

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[this sweet girl looking at herself in dan’s phone]

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[hitting up the grove for the tree lighting ceremony was a huge mistake! it was SOOOOO crowded and they shut down all the stores! whaaaaaaa?! we were there for the shopping!]

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[derek hough]

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[yummy ice cream macaron]

xoxo