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

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

hb ma soeur thuy!

happy birthday to my lovely sister, thuy!

on saturday, we treated thuy to a spa morning and then, at night, we had a wonderful birthday dinner for her. it was quite the lovely day!

our day started out with pedicures and relaxation. we chilled, got pampered, and then went out to lunch. funny story…so kim and i brought our own flip flops to the spa and thuy did not. hmmmmm. it’s winter here, it’s cold, and sock and boots don’t mix well with freshly painted toes. so, yes, we wear our flip flops out. i told thuy to not put her boots on because she was going to ruin her painted nails. well, she decided to wear the paper thin, cheap flip flops they give you, out and about the mall. a quarter of the way to our destination, the flip flops b r e a k!! ugh! she was limping around, holding the flip flop in place between her toes!!!

after we ate, she decided to not wear the flip flops anymore and just put on her socks to walk around the mall!!!! whaaaaa? ohmergawd. kim and i were like, nooooooo! kim wanted to run to a store and buy her a pair of flip flops….but thuy insisted that we don’t spend the money on shoes. we were like, helloooooo! we don’t want to walk around with you wearing a canada goose jacket and no shoes?!!!!

so, it had been long enough, where her nails should have been somewhat dry and kim remembered that she had her shoes in her purse. thank goodness! thuy put them on and we walked on our merry way in peace and non embarrassment. hahaha!

later that evening, we all met at neat kitchen in westmont. it was local, good, and they could seat a party of 16 people with no problem. kim, terry, hc, and i met earlier to ‘pre-game’, as the boys called it. around 7, we were shown our table and slowly, everyone trickled in to celebrate thuy!

we ordered apps, libations flowed, great energy, conversations, and laughter filled the air. the night flew by! we were having so much fun! it’s always a great time when you are celebrating an occasion and the company is so good! the food was {as usual} delicious and copious. before we knew it, the hours flew by! the server brought out a decadent dessert to thuy in honor of her birthday and we all broke out in song.

the night ended on a high note and we all walked away feeling the love that we had for thuy. happy birthday my sweet sister! cheers to many more wonderful birthdays together!

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[sisters are the best]

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[pete and lan]

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[dan and agata]

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[sheryl, thuy, and lan]

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[kisses for you!]

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[these two…bromance]

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[happy birthday!]

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[a few of the girls]

xoxo

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

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