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

dad’s 80th surprise photo session

my sisters and i decided to surprise my dad {parents} with a photo shoot for my dad’s 80th birthday {and my mom’s, since their birthdays are so close together!}!

we booked a local photographer and kept it a secret until the day before! everyone drove to a nearby park and the craziness ensued. it had rained the days leading up to this and the ground was sooooo wet! it was squishy and muddy but we made it through without it being too much of a disaster.

as usual, olive was fuuuuuuussy. she was uncooperative and it was too close to ellie’s nap time, so she was a bit crabby. from the outside, you freak out that there isn’t a good pic but you always know that your photographer can work some magic. that’s why they’re the professionals!

of course, since my gals were the ones being difficult, there i was  jumping and screaming and making funny noises just to get their attention and stop them from either crying or not listening. oy. what a show! we did some group pics, grandkids with the grandparent pics, just kid pics, and pretty much all sorts of mixed pics.

i couldn’t wait to see them! my sisters and i decided to create a book for my parents and then print out pics and frame them for their house. we surprised them with the book first and still have yet to give them the framed pictures. they were so excited and pleased with the book and all the pictures. my parents loved all the pictures taken!

so, yay! the thought {thanks to my sister kim} and results turned out perfect! our photographer did such a great job and we all love the pictures. great memories captured and beautiful pictures to cherish forever.

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[our hearts]

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[my beautiful, tenacious girl]

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[grandma and ba with their grandgirls]

via tandeminlove.com[the cutest nephews everrrrrr]

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[kisses]

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[precious…so precious. this picture just melts my heart]

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[the sweetest boys]

xoxo

thuy’s fabulous birthday

we went to dawson for thuy’s birthday celebration. it was an unseasonably warmer night and we all packed into our car for a quick ride to the restaurant. we valet’d and mosey’d on in. the restaurant was dark, warm, and old world, i liked the decor and ambience of the place.

our wait for our table was short and when we all gathered around to sit, it was like freakin’ musical chairs. no joke. i think everyone but one person got up from where they were sitting to get the feng shui right. we moved ourselves around until we felt the right flow and vibe. man, it was quite the sight.

well, once we settled in, we ordered libations, small bites, and had a great time. i really enjoyed the drinks and food…it was all so delicious but i mostly enjoyed the company. we had such a fun time celebrating thuy! we knocked down apps, entrees, and decadent desserts throughout our evening.

terry, my brother in law, know the two owners of this place and they happened to be there that night. he conversed with them for a bit and they kept insisting on buying us drinks, natch. one, this group of ours is not the biggest of drinkers, and two, we were dunzo but we graciously accepted their offer. they sent over shots of something and all i can tell you was that it was not for the fainthearted! geeeezzzzzzz, it was so strong you could probably light a match five feet away and it would have caught on fire! hahaha! we could hardly even smell it, it burnt off our nose hairs! bahahahaha!

anyways, after we hung out for a bit longer we said our goodbyes and headed back home to the babes. it was a wonderful, lovely, cheerful evening in lieu of thuy’s birthday. we love celebrating her! cheers sweet sister, i wish you nothing but the best – may you have happiness, love, and luck always by your side! we love you!

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[grace, thuy, and lan]

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[terry and kim]

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[nice dan]

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[happy birthday thuy!]

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[the man in the back is the co-owner of the restaurant]

xoxo

happy birthday andrea

andrea’s birthday was actually in the beginning of the month but in typical fashion, i am late.

i was excited that we were able to get together and celebrate her! we were all meeting at bottlefork on clark street. i had a really tough day…dealing with a viral infection, coughing until i puked, going to urgent care, and just feeling off kilter…but ya know me, nothing really stops me from going out {except pregnancy…the only time(s) that exhaustion stopped me in my tracks}.

i headed down there in no time {a wee bit of traffic} but it was the ‘i will try to find parking’ attitude that dug a hug hole for me! i drove around and around determined to find parking and i was absolutely unsuccessful. then gps took me on a route to turn me around and that damn machine took me on to wacker and spit me out onto the ike! are you freakin’ kidding me?!! i had to drive onto the highway, back onto the kennedy, and get off the ramp, back to my destination. holy cow. i was sooooooo late and i was suppose to be on time.

i then thought, eff it…i am going to valet. what i should have done in the first place!! i probably spent enough gas money driving around for what it would have cost me to pay a valet to park my car.

i was finally there. i made it! so darn late…i know everyone else was late but i can’t believe i was driving around for as long as i was! anyhoo, i sat down, relaxed, and really enjoyed my time out. we ordered bites and libations all around and became very engrossed in our conversations. i don’t get to see andrea very often and it was fantastic to have a chance to catch up with her! what stymies our girl time of late is, one, she’s always traveling somewhere, and two, we both have kids and that doesn’t always create the freedom to meet up sporadically and conveniently as we did before.

the food was yummy, the atmosphere was fun, and it was a great time seeing all the girls! since i had such a rough day and was sick, the rest of the group decided to grab more drinks at rpm and i chose to go home. it’s no secret i always miss my babies but i was tired and ready to retire to a horizontal state on the couch.

it was a fabulous time out! i cherish my friendship with this lovely lady…she’s sweet, stylish, considerate, smart, and loyal. happy birthday to a dear friend of mine! cheers to many more wonderful years together!

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[bottlefork chicago]

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[i know i shouldn’t say this…but i look so old! whaaaaaa!]

chicago

[ginger and beth]

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[make a wish]

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[i could of eaten this cup o ice cream all by myself. hahaha!]

xoxo

my big birthday weekend

i was so excited for my birthday weekend!

hc had planned a fun agenda and i couldn’t wait to relax and celebrate. i still can’t believe i have hit the big 4-0. whaaaaaaaa? seriously, wtf? what happened? i still feel eternally 28 but those wrinkles and gray hairs are finally catching up with me. eek!!!!!

i really can’t tell you what i imagined what it would be like turning 40. i never really fretted about it or thought i would have a big hurrah for it. one, we ended up having a baby and two, i am one of those ‘moms’ that really loves to spend time with her family. don’t get me wrong…i love having date nights with hc and spending quality time with him but i have become a moooooooooommy. it doesn’t feel right when the kids are away, especially if we are out locally. i miss them dearly. now, give me a warm, tropical get away with hc…i can be convinced to leave the kids behind. hahaha!

anyhoo, we started out our morning quite chill – coffee, chaos, and cuddling. we packed everything but the kitchen sink to take downtown with us. oh my goodness. we seriously pack everything when we head out the door with the kids. first on our agenda was to meet the fam at macy’s on state for a fun holiday outing! we love looking at all the decor, hearing the christmas music, listening to the jingle of all the bells around us, and just enjoying the crazy chaos of the store. we met up on the 7th floor for lunch, bought toys, headed down to the walnut room to view the tree, and then we were off to the ornament area to pick out our ornaments of the season!

after spending a few hours at macy’s, we headed on over to block 37 to do some more shopping. after eating, shopping, a trip to starbucks, more eating and shopping, we finally retired to our hotel room. hc had booked a lovely room at the james hotel. it was so cute and cool! i loved the decor inside! our room was super cozy and i really enjoyed the warmth and friendliness of the staff.

as soon as we were inside, olive was out. she passed out in the car and actually stayed sleeping while i carried her into the hotel and up the elevator and into the room! olive slept, ellie laid around, and hc and i got ready for dinner! olive woke up a bit later and relaxed in front of the t.v. with ellie. it was too adorable to see them chillin’ together!

we got all jazzed up and went to david burke’s restaurant for dinner. it was sooooo awesome. we loved our server, we loved the food, and we loved how kind everyone was! everything was delicious and we had such a great time with my brother dan, who joined us for dinner. what made the night even prettier was that it had started snowing and it looked so serene and lovely.

after dinner, we retired to our hotel room. olive and ellie got cozy on the bed again and hc had ordered dessert and wine to be sent up for this birthday mama! it was a perfect end to a perfect day! i had such a wonderful time!

 the next morning, we headed to southport grocery for brunch! while we waited, we picked out gift baskets for our neighbors {something we do every year}. i love shopping there and gathering fun goodies for the christmas baskets. they have the most yummy, delectable treats to make any recipient happy! we enjoyed a fabulous brunch and spent the next hour shopping along the street. oh how i love chicago during the holidays.

it was a fabulous birthday weekend and i have to thank hc for conjuring up a fun filled agenda! i wouldn’t have celebrated it any other way. i was sooooooo happy to have my hubby and children by my side to bring in the big 4-0! as olive would say, “this is sooo ahhhhhmazing!”. i couldn’t agree more baby girl! cheers to a new decade!

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[crazy cousins]

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[loving her necklace]

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[macy’s on state]

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[chestnut room tree]

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[we put her down on the couch and her hair became electric!]

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[poor thing…i made her stand in front of every christmas tree. hahaha!]

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[i love christmastime]

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[she was like NO MORE PICTURES! eep]

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[so festive and fun]

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[so gangsta]

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[hotel living]

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[chillin’ and relaxin’ in our hotel room]

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[fancy kids meal]

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[back to the hotel room and ready for bed!]

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[dessert and wine delivered to the hotel room]

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[she was being so silly…she wanted me to take a picture of her with every.single.one. of her figurines]

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xoxo

my birthday surprise!

oh my goodness. hc really outdid himself.

a few days before my birthday, we went to go see santa {more on that later!}. after our excursion, we decided to do some shopping…we needed little things like gloves for olive, a stocking for ellie, and we just wandered a bit because we could and wanted to. christmas music was playing and the center was filled with beautiful holiday decorations, so it made for a pretty night out with the family. after we hit a few stores, we decided to head to dinner.

as we were walking towards the restaurant, hc said, “let’s go this way.”, i argued with him saying that direction was a longer way and that we were going the shorter route. he kept pushing it and saying, “let’s go this way…just bear with me”. i was so confused but went with it. we stopped in front of the louis vuitton store and they were closed for a private party. i was still confused as the hostess waived us inside. as we were walking inside, hc turned to me and said, “surprise! this is your birthday present!!” whhaaaaaaaaaaa?! oh myyyyyyyy goodness! he told me i could pick out a purse!!! i was sooooooo shocked and excited! i couldn’t believe it!

they were serving champagne and hor d’oeuvres…yum, don’t mind if i do! olive saw that we were having drinks and wanted to have a drink too, so we broke out a juice box and cheer’d to a pretty awesome, sweet moment! we sat down and received the best one on one service and ordered a custom made purse! olive was such a pro! she was so sweet, helpful, and gave me the thumbs up on the colors i chose! it was a little too scary how comfortable she was sitting in their leather chair, at louis vuitton, sipping juice, and helping mom pick out a purse. hmmmmmm, like mother like daughter?

after we picked out my birthday present, we participated in their photo booth! that was so much fun!! oh, i was on cloud nine with this amazing birthday surprise! we said our goodbyes to all the sweet people in the store and headed on our way to dinner!

what an amazing night and surprise! i was so touched and feeling lucky that my hubby is such a sweet, thoughtful, loving guy. he always does so much for our family and always goes above and beyond to make me happy. thank you so much my love for being so awesome! i love you to infinity and beyond!

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[cheers! champagne and juice!]

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[sweet ellie was so darn patient]

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xoxo

swantastic

happy birthday olive! 11.27.13

my baby girl turned T H R E E!!!!!!! oh my goodness. she’s graced this earth for three years and life has never been better. i can’t explain in words what it’s like being her mama but i will try. she brings me sooooo much joy, love, life, and happiness. the moment she entered into this world, she has challenged me mentally, physically, and emotionally…ALL for the better. my life made complete sense once i had her. don’t get me wrong, my hubby charming is THE best guy out there. he completes me. i LOVE him and can’t imagine life without him…like seriously, he can never leave my side but olive elevated everything. she took my life to a next level i never knew existed. it blows my mind i gave birth to a part of me…an extension of me that is so much better! {because she’s a mix of me and the hubby, so what could be better than that?!}. ok, ok…enough. i feel like i can drone on and on so i won’t and will stop. but man, being a mama is pretty damn awesome.

anyhoo, her birthday party planning started out as a simple thought. i really did have the intent to buy a birthday cake and some balloons. then i thought, why not make it a swan party? oh yeahhhhhhhhh. then it snowballed out of control. because it’s me. and i tend to go overboard, get all type a, and then my creative mind gets.out.of.control. the ideas don’t stop. i think of one thing, to the next, then the next idea, and the ideas don’t stop rolling in! {for example: our wedding was a diy monsoon ideas}

well, as you will see in the pictures – my simple cake idea and balloons festered into a pretty darn cute swan party!

i crafted a lot of what you see and shopped big and small for the rest of the details. two hours before the party, i was literally icing sugar cookies for the party {something i usually would never do. i, typically, am too stressed to do such a thing, because i am always running around tying all the details together}, so scroll down to the pic and read my story behind why i was doing such a thing before the guests arrived!

the party time rolled around and the guests started to roll in. of course, in doan fashion, my family was late and hc’s family was early or on time. soon everyone trickled in and the fun started to happen! we had music blasting and libations flowing. olive immediately warmed up to everyone {she was excited it was her birthday!} and had a lot fun playing with her friends and cousins.

we served food an hour into the party and dessert shortly thereafter, although there was no rush and everything was timed just right. we socialized, mingled, drank, and celebrated miss olive. it’s always so joyous to have friends and family over, under one roof, honoring a festive occasion.

the party lasted all afternoon and early evening. we enjoyed every second of it. olive did so well…no nap and no meltdown but it’s her party and she can cry if she wants to, cry if she wants to…haha!

oh, we had such a great time and i know olive did too. she loved all the presents and cake and balloons and pretty much everything! all in all, it was a total success, if i do say so myself. everything turned out great! so, maybe next year i will stick to my thought of keeping it simple, just getting a cake and balloons for her fourth birthday…or maybe not. eep!

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[dyyyyyyying over her outfit]

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[trying to check out her shoes]

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[she’s the sweetest!]

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[my birthday girl]

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[pretty gold glitter dipped feather garland]

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[mini party hats]

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[enjoying her place setting decor]

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[the biggest balloon everrrrrrrrr]

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[diy swan straws]

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[handmade swan from turkey]

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[chair wing decor]

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[laser cut swan place cards, tucked with a feather, and topped with a handmade spray painted gold glitter crown]

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[long story: i had ordered swan cookies through a shop and she cancelled last minute, well she didn’t even contact me! i contacted her and was told that due to an emergency, my order was cancelled…i found out the day before her party! i was so bummed but i really didn’t have time to make cookies myself. well, i am super crazy and decided to do it anyways {two hours before the party!}! i bought ready made dough and shaped it out, baked them, and frosted them holding a crying baby. yes…i frosted these with one shaky arm and a baby in the other arm. ellie didn’t want to be lying down…what a time for her to be fussy! so, tada! my impromptu swan sugar cookies!]

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[just another view of the decor]

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[the swan dessert table]

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[family…lan, my sister thuy, kim, and our mom]

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[simple cake…my kind of style]

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[cake topper by hooray everyday]

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[a little overexposed but i still will take it! mom and my brother dan]

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[i used white ceramic swans and filled them with succulents]

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[i had a lot of fun making this balloon garland!]

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[papa the king]

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[me and my mama]

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[swan table centerpieces]

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[having a blast with her cousins and friends]

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[the best and the coolest nephews!]

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[as smiley as she gets…hahaha!]

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[eyeing her cake]

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[questioning everything]

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[always sooooooooo shy]

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[we got a tiny smile out of her!]

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[my heart melted into a puddle]

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[uncle dan, olive, ellie, and cousin reagan]

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[yummy dessert is served!]

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[this babe slept for most of the party!]

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[i looooooooooooove her]

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[auntie missy and ellie]

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[me and my babe]

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[i love these kiddos]

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[so typical olive]

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xoxo

hb fiona!

we were so excited to attend fiona’s birthday party at olivia’s parent’s house.

her sister, claire, flew into town to host the party but she’s currently living in san diego. so, it was definitely a special occasion with them coming into town to celebrate! olivia’s parents live about an hour and 15 minutes away from us, so it was quite a trip to head up north for the party. my kids are pretty fortunate to not travel so much or so long in the car but they both did well. olive stayed awake the whole time and ellie took a little nap.

we were so late. like an hour late but when we arrived, there were only a few cars by the house and it looked like they were the homeowner’s cars. i said to hc…i don’t think anyone is here! hahaha! and we were right! olivia came out to greet us and told us that only one person was here and it was aaron’s mom! oh my goodness!

well, i didn’t feel so bad being so darn late! we walked inside and we were greeted by olivia’s parents, pam and jim, her sister claire, aaron, her brother henry, and aaron’s mom. soon more people came, friends, cousins, etc. and we slowly caught up with everyone throughout the party.

olivia’s dad jim made a killer chili and there were a lot of appetizers and snacks to munch on. it was very relaxed and low key. fiona was napping and when she woke, it took her a bit to ‘wake’ up. trust me…olive is the same way, so i totally understand how grumpy threenagers can be! once she adjusted, we introduced olive and fiona and they instantly became besties!!! it was the cutes thing to watch! fiona led the way and olive followed. it was soooooo fun to see them interact with one another. fiona’s imagination is wild! she created so many stories, she was so animated, and olive loved every second of it. they walked all around the yard, hid behind bushes and played, sat underneath trees and whispered stories to one another. it was so sweet to watch!

after a few hours of hanging out, we decided to head out. we really had a great time. i love hanging out with olivia and her family! they are such sweet, eclectic people and they are so easy and fun to talk to!

we said our goodbyes…i was a bit sad to leave because i really enjoyed everyone’s company but i mostly enjoyed watching olive and fiona play together! it was a happy day indeed!

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[love these babes]

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[grandma and ben]

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[rich, ellie, and arron]

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[these two got along so well! it was sooooo stinkin’ cute!]

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[the cuuuuuuuutest girls[

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[they were both into the horse]

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[toddler besties]

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[family]

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[they loved hiding behind the trees and bushes]

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[she loved fiona’s horse]

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[olivia and aaron]

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[their secret hiding spot]

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xoxo

happy birthday R!

it was reagan’s ninth birthday…ninth?! whaaaaaaa?! like seriously, where has the time gone? i can’t believe he is nine. i remember him coming home from the hospital and he was so darn cute and small. now he is nine and so grown up. wahhhhhhh!

well, we decided to all gather around my parent’s house to celebrate this special day. we ate pizza, hung out, watched the cubs vs. the giants game, and had delicious cake. thuy brought home balloons, i brought over a present, and it was very low key and fun. olive always has a great time with her cousins, she ate all her pizza, and acted super silly {and emotional} as usual.

ellie was passed around and being so cute. i love her! she is so calm and cool. she only cried when she became tired. poor thing has been fighting naps lately. she is still wondrous at night sleeping like a champ but it’s hard to get her to nap and then she is cranky in the evening.

the boys had to get home because they had school in the morning and we left shortly thereafter. olive really wanted to go home when she saw r + b head out the door but when she realized we weren’t all leaving, hello meltdown! i know she understands but her emotions get the best of her! she just cried and cried even though i told her we were leaving soon! oy vey!

we gathered our belongings and headed on the long journey home {just keeding…ya know it’s only a minute and half drive from my parent’s! ha}. anyhoo, we got home, got situated, and finished watching the rest of the cubs game…in which they WON!!!!! woo hooooooooo! oh they so needed to WIN!

so all in all, it was a fantastic evening with family, celebrating r’s birthday, and it was topped off with a cubbie win! what a perfect night!

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[cousins]

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[super auntie thuy, reagan, and olive screaming, “cheeeeeeese!”]

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[seriously cutting this cake]

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[sorry for the fuzzy iPhone pic but it’ll definitely do]

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[birthday presents]

xoxo

brooklyn’s 1st birthday mermaid party

i can’t believe little brooklyn just turned one!

we had a blast celebrating her first birthday! we did our best heading over to kim and mikey’s house early, i wanted to help kim out in any way with the party set up but she had everything down pat. it looked fantastic!

i loved all the details kim did with the mermaid theme. her invite was color coordinated and it had the cutest gold mermaid stamped on the outside. she had the same colors running throughout the decor, from the paper tassels, balloons, and the mermaid sangria bar. everything was way too cute! you know me…i am a girl about the details and it was adorable!

we just hung out and visited with everyone. slowly everyone trickled in and we said our hello’s. it was so great to see everyone, from her mom and dad, sister and brother in law, friends, and of course mikey, kim, brady, and brooklyn! i had a great time seeing a lot of people i hadn’t seen in a long time, so it was fantastic to catch up.

we, unfortunately, could not stay for the entire party because {our basement had flooded from the heavy rains the night before} we had to get back home to clean up downstairs. i was super bummed i was going to miss brooklyn’s smash cake! that is always the highlight of any kid’s first birthday! nevertheless, i was so happy to have made it with miss ellie {with her being only two weeks young!} and we were able to partake in some of the celebration.

happy birthday miss brooklyn! your party was beautiful and put together with much love from your mom! we wish you many years of happiness, laughter, and love!

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[how adorable is her outfit? little ladies boutique romper and fancy free finery flower crown]

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[fancy free finery balloon string…how adorable!]

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[balloon and paper tassels? yes, please]

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[fun party decor]

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[sangria bar]

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[kim’s niece, emma]

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[my mermaid gift to brooklyn]

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[mermaid decor]

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[kim and her sister sarah]

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[olive was a happy camper playing by herself]

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[daddy engrossed with the cubs game]

xoxo