papa’s birthday ’19

we traveled up north to meet rich’s dad and famille to celebrate his birthday!

he picked a place called beelow’s. this would be the second time i’ve eaten there and the second year in a row we’ve gone there to celebrate dick’s birthday there. i, unfortunately, have had two subpar experiences with their food! now, everyone else loves this restaurant and has had a great experience with their food! the service is typically fantastic, which makes all the difference but i think i’m cursed to have not so great encounters with my main dishes!

when we went last year, i ordered the scallops. i looooooove scallops! when my entree arrived, it tasted like it was doused in salt! oh it was tooo salty! i ate one scallop and didn’t finish the rest. i could not eat it or the greens it was sitting on. my whole entree was lost. i was so disappointed! then this year, i decided against sea food and went for a tasty burger. i ordered the fried onion and blue cheese burger with truffle fries! i was excited to eat! i dug into my burger and it was very good! i loved the fries as well. as i was eating my burger, i noticed a piece of black hair on it. i was like, what? how did my hair get in there?? i was wearing a ponytail and i thought it was odd, since my hair really doesn’t fall out in that style. i went to grab the hair off my burger and it was ENTWINED in the meat. ohmergawd. barf. i just about died.

i immediately stopped eating my food. i couldn’t believe it!!!!! i was disappointed and i was once again, hungry! hc looooved his meal, which was great ’cause he didn’t have the best experience last year either. so, at least this time around, one of us had a good meal!

our evening was super chill and as usual, always wonderful when you get to spend it with family! despite my meal{s], it was so good to hang out with the fam. the girls always love seeing their sister, grace, and they absolutely love seeing their papa and gramma! auntie missy is always killing it with the selfie game…she’s queen of selfies and olive and ellie love taking them with her!

it doesn’t matter where or what we do to celebrate papa’s birthday, we just love being with him and gramma! happy birthday sweet papa!

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[isn’t she so sweet?]

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[she’s so silly and sassy]

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[selfie! no filter, no editing, sometimes i look young and other pics i look old AF]

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[the birthday papa and his granddaughter]

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[rich and jane]

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[missy, brian, rich, and jane]

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[daniel, grace, and aunt wendy]

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[gramma and olive]

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xoxo

birthday snowstorm

hbd to my sister thuy!

my sister kim planned a birthday dinner for thuy but an incoming snowstorm {an expected 8 inches of snow in some areas} derailed our plans for the city and we also ended up switching days too. the snowstorm was suppose to start on friday evening and go super strong throughout the night and into saturday morning, so we changed our dinner plans to friday evening instead. we diverted our eatery of choice to a local restaurant called cadence.

our reservations were later that evening but the snow didn’t start until 10-11pm; the weather folks predicted the snow to start around 3pm, then 6pm, then 9pm…hahaha! so, we were in a good place from a driving perspective.

i’ve never been to this restaurant and the decor was pretty cool – a modern woodsy feel and the our server was super friendly and prompt. we ordered drinks right away and perused the menu on suggestions to help guide us on what we were going to order. we got a bunch of yummy shared appetizers and i ordered the salmon which was soooooo good! i throughly enjoyed everything we ate!

what was so fun too, was that throughout our dinner, random employees at the restaurant would come up to thuy and wish her a happy birthday! that was so cute and nice! what a great way to make someone who’s celebrating an occasion feel special! they even brought out a polaroid camera and snapped a group picture of us and printed a few copies for the gals! i loved that!

i had brought a cake with a topper and sparkler candles to surprise thuy! i told our waitress that if she couldn’t light the sparklers, i brought regular candles instead. after our entrees, she brought out the cake with the sparkler candles lit!! it was so fun to see and experience!

the snow started to come down furiously and the ground and cars were becoming blanketed in white. we wrapped up our delicious dinner and headed on our merry way in the beautiful snowstorm.

it was a fun, warm, wonderful evening celebrating thuy! cheers to many more wonderful birthday celebrations sis!

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[a fun night for me and hc]

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[this was really, really good]

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[birthday shots courtesy of the restaurant]

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[birthday girl]

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[happy 21st birthday!]

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[a signed card from the staff and polaroid pic!]

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xoxo

olive’s birthday

olive’s birthday fell on tuesday of this year.

we started the morning with a happy birthday song with a big gold 5 balloon in her room. she woke up smiling – goal! hc made her a birthday breakfast and afterwards, she chose her outfit of the day. a gold sequined dress {courtesy of miss tashina}, lavender tights, gold converse, and a gold flecked caplet. the most perfect outfit ever for a birthday.

i took her to school and excitedly dropped her off for the day. there, she was star of the day, natch. she led the class. she got to wear a birthday crown and mama made stupid treats for the class. as in, i brushed lettered her name onto the brown paper bags, put stickers on them, olive filled each bag with coloring books, activity book, chocolates, candy canes, and more stickers! i really hoped the kids enjoyed them!

hc chose to stay home for her big 5 birthday! we were excited to have him home. about 20 minutes before her class ended, hc, ellie, and i hopped into the car to go pick olive up and take her out to brunch! to my dismay…in which i understand, hc wanted to go pick her up. i know i am always picking her up but this was her birthday! so, i reluctantly let hc do the honors and be the person she saw when she got out of class. we then drove to a local brunch restaurant and enjoyed our time together, celebrating miss olive!

later that day, we just snuggled, relaxed, and then later on, after dinner, we sang happy birthday to miss olive with a vanilla bean cake!

happy birthday beautiful girl. we wish you all the love, happiness, and fortune in life!

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[she chose this fancy little outfit for her birthday at school and yeah, that pose? trouble]

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[dada took the day off to celebrate olive’s birthday]

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[my budding artist]

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[she’s oh so sweet and sassy!]

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[olive was upset we made her wear her caplet outside because it was cold. look at the pouty face. [mama: *eyeroll] ellie is happy though!]

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[she loves to color and draw every day]

xoxo

happy 5th birthday my dear olive!

wow…i can’t believe it’s been five years since this beautiful girl has joined us. it’s surreal. my life changed when she was born. of course it did. but what i mean is…life had meaning. life had purpose. life was fulfilling with her in my world.

in your younger years, you wander. you wonder. you live life self centered. as a mother…you realize that this {having children} is what life is about. my heart is so full and the love that i experience every day is like no other. i feel so incredibly blessed to have her as my child and so fortunate to be able to do this. to raise kind humans and do my damndest to raise someone who can make a difference in this sometimes dark world.

sooooooo, olive’s birthday party turned into a surprise party because i went off of something she said a few months ago. she had watched something on her iPad and said to me, “i want a surprise party!”. i said, “how am i suppose to throw you a surprise party while you’re in the house?” she says, “i’ll just go in my room and when i come out, everyone can say ‘surprise!'” bahahahahahaha! ohmergawd…i LOVE her!!!

so, last minute, i told her guests that it was going to be a surprise party! it worked out perfectly! hc dropped the girls off at my sister, thuy’s place, in the morning. hc and i hustled and decorated the house for the party, readied the apps, and the guests started to flow in. about 15 minutes after the party started, my sister shows up with olive and ellie.

i was so excited. i couldn’t wait to see her reaction! i heard her say to thuy why were there all these cars at our house. ha! she walked in and everyone yelled ‘surprise!’. her facial expression was priceless! i was in heaven seeing her so elated! afterwards, she greeted all her guests and made her way around.

olive chose her brown horse theme. she talked about it for months. months!!! it was the first time she chose her theme, so i was in a bit of a pickle because i have always been the one concocting her themes. now that she is independent and opinionated, she expressed exactly what she wanted for her 5th birthday party and i had to go with it. i was a bit stumped but in the end, i figured it out and we had the most wonderful horse themed party!

side note: i went to party city to get some horse themed balloons. uhhhhhh, i didn’t know they carried NOTHING horse related. whaaaaaaaa?! so, as the young male teenager was ringing me up, i asked him if that was a poop emoji balloon on the wall. he said yes. so i said to him, “i will get that balloon. i can’t believe you guys don’t have anything horse themed for my daughter’s birthday party. i’ll get the poop emoji balloon because i think it’s horse’s shit that you don’t have anything else i can get.” yup. i said that to him. he found it funny too.

well, i hope you enjoy the pics! we had such wonderful time celebrating our baby girl turning 5! happy birthday olive. we are so utterly blessed to have you in our lives. thank you for being you. we love you to infinity and beyond!

via tandeminlove.com[mini horses with mini crowns]

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[the balloon that stood out. she loves hello kitty!]

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[my story about the poop emoji balloon above. tassels by glamfete]

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[flowers by my sister kim]

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[daniel and auntie missy]

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[stop horsing around!]

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[terry, dan, and agata]

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[calligraphy place cards]

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[bandana’s for our guests]

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[banded flatware inclusive of the party theme]

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[easy cups for kids or adults!]

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[horse favor bags]

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[a party staple]

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[i love our fireplace]

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[i heard her asking about all the cars in the driveway…]

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[i love her facial expression when she saw everyone and mine!]

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[i love this]

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[she’s oh so sweet]

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[y’all…i love her so much!]

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[greeting her guests]

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[she’s so sweet]

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[cousins]

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[with ba]

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[grace, annabelle, and edwin]

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[gramma and olive]

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[backdrop by glamfete. she’s such a princess!]

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[oh how i love her so]

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[i can’t post enough pics of her]

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[this is sooooooo ellie and olive]

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[olive showing off her beautiful unicorn painting]

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[here comes the cake]

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[happy birthday day to you!]

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[make a wish!]

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[she’s so silly! her cousin bennett gathered all the horses around olive]

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xoxo

kim’s 29th birthday!

we celebrated kim’s birthday this past weekend at pacific standard time, a restaurant of her choice.

so, funny story…i had text hc about our reservation time and confusion ensued. here’s our conversation {modified for your enjoyment}.

me: dinner is at 5 at pacific standard time

hc: 5? downtown? well, if you really think about it, 5pm is really 7pm cst but it’s still cutting it close to get to the restaurant.

me: hun, pacific standard time is the name of the restaurant. thuy wasn’t confused when she said the dinner reservations were at 5 at pacific standard time.

bahahahahahaha!

we all, almost, arrived on time {thuy was a bit behind}. our time was well spent drinking tasty libations and lively conversations between us before we placed our order. our server was detailed and encouraging during our time there. i loved how passionate she was about the menu, the food, and her astounding memory! she absorbed our appetizer {and we ordered a lot} and entree order with no glitches. everything came as specified and i was impressed!

we ohhh’d and ahhhh’d over our meals, we shared plates, and became giddy as our tastebuds were delighted! everyone throughly enjoyed kim’s cod…yes, that was written out comically, but we really loved her fish! it was my, and most, favorite dish!

the food kept on coming and we merrily passed along each plate to consume everything in sight. as our belly’s filled up, our evening out together dwindled. our server then brought out a surprise dessert for kim’s birthday – we awkwardly sang happy birthday and kim angrily blew out her candle {you would have to have seen my instagram story to understand}, and we cheered!

after dinner, we took a few pics outside and enjoyed the gorgeous warm temps. warm summer nights are an absolute favorite of mine! it was a wonderful time out celebrating my sister kim! happy birthday kimberdo!

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[pacific standard time]

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[ma seours]

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[lan. agata, and dan]

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[kim’s amazing cod, like, seriously…it was sooooooo good]

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[the half eaten delicious pappardelle]

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[this dessert was decadent and delicious]

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[happy birthday kim!]

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xoxo

happy second birthday my ellie belle!

we just celebrated ellie’s second birthday with a fun party!!

ok, ok…i say it e v e r y time. i’m only going to get balloons and a cake. eep!!!! what starts out small and innocent blows way out of control. first, it starts with…’oh, i’ll do a sprinkle theme’, then i think – this idea is fun. this idea is cute. oh, i can make this. wouldn’t this kind of cake be perfect? oh, sprinkle balloons would be a nice touch. what about sprinkle favors as name cards? and on, and on, and on my brain goes into overdrive and my crafting hands get to work and can’t stop. that pretty much sums it up and then boom! a simple party is born. hahahahaha!

hc and i had a very, very, very busy week. we had birthday parties to attend to, traveling to do, laundry to fold, friends to visit, grocery stores to go to, activities for the girls, cleaning to do, baking treats, crafting to finish, a brunch date, errands to run, keeping little humans alive, ya know…typical, every day parent shit.

then saturday came at us and we were ready. we had the food catered, the decor was ready to go, i did some easy baking, dressed the girls, and we were ready for our guests! there was a lot of prep work done the weeks prior, so the day of the party was easy. although through all my hustling that day, i literally ran out of time to dress myself. i said screw it. i’m wearing what i am wearing, everything and everybody else can look nice!

it was another hot day outside, so most of our guests stayed inside. we served apps {vege tray and a cheese plate!], plenty of drinks {alcoholic and non…}, mingled with family and friends {plus i ran around like freakin’ paparazzi!}.

right when the party started was ellie’s nap time. so i put her down 20 min. before the party began. she only slept an hour or so {there was so much commotion going on in the house!} but to my surprise, agata had retrieved her from her crib!!!! whaaaaaa? i was shocked ellie didn’t cry and let agata pick her up!? she allowed others to be in her personal space until she saw me, of course. but overall, she was so calm and well behaved for waking up to a full house of people!

after dinner, we served desserts but not without singing happy birthday to my beautiful girl! she was a bit upset i put her down in the chair but i quickly lit the candles and picked up her cake to bring to her. her face was like, ‘what’s going on here??’ we started to sing happy birthday and she was making the funniest faces!!! she was quite amused {watch the video below to see it in action!} but the best part was when we laughed at her cuteness and she busted out laughing herself; she was not sure on why people were laughing but joined in just because!

her birthday celebration was a total success! i had so much fun putting it together and i think all our guests, especially our guest of honor, had a great time!

happy birthday my beautiful ellie. you are spunky, sweet, silly, tenacious, so loving, thoughtful, amusing, and full of life. we are beyond thankful you have graced us with your presence. always remember how beautiful, strong, and intelligent you are! we love you so much baby girl!!!

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[pout pout]

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[flowers by my sister kim]

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[sprinkle wafers]

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[sisters]

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[chocolate dipped goodies covered with sprinkles]

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[thanks for the picture reagan!]

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[hc made the donut board and i glazed and sprinkled the doughnuts!]

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[not impressed by my decor]

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[two sweet]

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[family]

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[sprinkle cake]

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[dessert bar]

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[sprinkle cups and calligraphy names so people won’t lose their cups!]

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[these babes with ba…oh my heart]

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[i filled each balloon. oy]

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[barbara and lynne]

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[emoji favor bags]

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[thuy and lan]

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[she’s a doll]

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[sprinkle vases]

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[ready for her cake!]

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[singing happy birthday to ellie]

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[we all started laughing at her funny faces, so she laughed along with us!]

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[trying to get her to blow out her candles!]

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[she’s soooooo sweet! i could eat her up!]

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[my girls]

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[that face!!!!]

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[present time!]

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[i wear my sunglasses at night]

xoxo

hb mason!

i can’t believe little mason is one!

my girlfriend, kim, celebrated her third baby’s first birthday party this past week. i can’t believe it’s been a year since mason was born. that totally flew by!

hc and us gals had a relaxing morning. the party wasn’t until 3, so we chilled and did random stuff until it was time to leave for the fête. i told kim i would arrive a bit early to help her with some of the decorations.

once there, i scurried around, finishing up some last minute decor touches, snapped some pics, and then sat back with a beer. well, kind of. ellie was in rare form that day {and honestly, of late…she’s become soooooo attached!}. she clung, CLUNG to me or hc. she didn’t want to venture off on her own, she didn’t want to play with the other kids. she didn’t want to play with her sister. she didn’t want to be left alone by either one of us {especially me!}! plus, she didn’t get the nap that she needed.

so, there we were, trying to pass her back and forth, socialize with others, and drink and eat – one handed, or no handed. hahaha! overall, it was great to catch up with kim, her friends, and family! the party decor that kim dreamt up looked fabulous and i was so happy to have helped!

olive and brady had a blast playing together as usual! the food was delicious and the company even better!

happy birthday sweet mason!

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[father daughter]

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[brady and olive…so sweet!]

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[isn’t she darling?]

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[oh, these kids]

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[the one second we didn’t have ellie in our arms. what you don’t see is her tugging at our legs, crying]

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[oh sweet girl]

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[i created a chalkboard sign for kim!]

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[me and the party planner]

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[the FIVE minutes she actually sat by herself and not in our arms]

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[donut grow up theme]

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[she’s clingy but oh so sweet]

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[kim, amy, and phil]

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[sweetest pasta sauce smile]

xoxo

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