christmas ’19

we did our usual…christmas eve at my parent’s house with my side of the family and christmas day at our house with hc’s side of the family.

for christmas eve, my sister kim, usually plans the main entree and we bring additional dishes. we all partake in the food and decor. we have always had christmas eve at my parent’s house our whole lives, so although we all don’t live at home, it’s only natural for us to host it there every year!

this year started very late for us as mass at st. mary’s was pushed back another hour, causing us to be a bit behind. our day flew by as we were trying to prepare for christmas day, eve, get ourselves ready, do odds and ends around the house prepping for our guests for christmas day.

i was hoping we could prep the salad i wanted to bring over before we headed to mass but we completely ran out of time. we hustled our way to church, attended a very beautiful christmas eve mass and came home to to put together the not so quick salad. ughhhhhhhh. we finally arrived at my parent’s house after 7! i believe that is the latest we have ever come over on christmas eve!!!

reagardless, the holiday spirit was in full swing. the house smelled yummy, the candles were lit, christmas music was blasting, glasses of wine were plentiful as we laughed, talked, cooked, and the kids played.

everyone was joyous and the mood was bright. as we sat down for dinner, olive helped my dad say the dinner’s prayer, and we all then tried pulling our christmas cracker with our neighbor. the trick was to make a wish and the person holding the longest end, their wish would come true!!! we all held crackers with each other and pulled and pulled. we were laughing so hard as some of us could not get our cracker to pop! LOL we were practically crying and then some of us didn’t even get the long end of the stick and we couldn’t stop laughing!

dinner was delicious and the kids could not wait to open up their gifts! per usual, we cleaned up, set up desserts and the kids started to open up their gifts. one by one, group by group, we opened up all our gifts. it was getting so darn late and ellie was becoming deliriously tired. she was not in a bad mood, grouchy, or anything of that sort but she was out of it!

i held her in my arms, like she was a little baby, and literally rocked her to sleep. her eyes rolled back and forth and i swung her and within a few minutes she was o u t. oh she was so tired. it was so cute and darling that i rocked her to sleep…i don’t think i have done that since she was a newborn!

there were so many gifts and the girls had so much fun. christmas eve was definitely a wonderful, enchanted success!

*****

C H R I S T M A S  E V E

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*****

christmas day started out slow and, per usual, before i knew it…the deadline was approaching and i was not ready! i still needed to finish the table settings, i didn’t get everyone’s names out on place cards, i hadn’t set the flatware, i didn’t start the charcuterie board…shoot! shoot! shoot! i always wonder, where did the time go?!! LOL there was still soooooooo much to do!!!

but in the end..it all falls into place. the guests arrived early, per hc’ s whole side of the family and the festivities began with a bang. aunt wendy put together the drinks, his cousins and aunts brought sides and different entrees and hc was putting the finishing touches on the prime rib and ham.

everyone was in good spirits and the food prep was humming along perfectly. after an hour or so of warming everything up, it was time to eat. hc had everyone gathered around before food was served and proceeded to give a little speech. this was our first christmas without his dad and it was a tough one. hc tried to continue on with his speech but i picked up, in tears, thanking everyone for coming and that it was our first christmas without papa and we felt blessed that everyone was here to celebrate together.

that was pretty much all i could spit out. there were tears shed and lots of hugs given. what a heavy but heartfelt day. we miss him so, so much and it’s not the same at all. such a big void in the day that will never be the same but we continue to share all the wonderful memories of him and that warms our hearts and keeps us going.

overall, it was a very beautiful and wonderful christmas day with our family. the food was delicious, the decor was festive, and the energy was palpable.

we deeply miss you papa.

C H R I S T M A S  D A Y

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[sisters]

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[charcuterie]

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[danielle, daniel, and mark]

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[hc and jennifer]

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[with auntie missy]

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[me and hannah]

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[opening up presents from auntie missy]

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[family]

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[dinner by candlelight]

xoxo

gingerbread house ’19

typically the girls get to make gingerbread houses with their cousins but this year, my sister  kim suggested for us to participate in aster hall’s gingerbread house event but i couldn’t make it work so they went to that and i bought a house for the girls to decorate at home. was that a run on sentence?! LOL

i told olive that we were going to decorate a gingerbread house and the first thing she asked was if reagan and bennett were coming over to decorate. wah wah. i told her no and she was a wee bit disappointed.

nevertheless, olive was super excited and couldn’t wait to get started! i prepped all the details and did most of the frosting but she did the rest and she did a great job!! she was so detailed and particular with all the candy and patiently placed each one with deliberate intent.

ellie had absolutely zero interest. she played along the first few minutes and then she was like, buh bye. see ya suckers. LOL olive continued to work on the house until every last candy was used up. she must have been focused on that house for at least an hour. such determination! i continued to frost the house until even piece of candy was gone and olive was super satisfied with her work. once the house was complete, she worked on the gingerbread man and women, carefully frosting outfits on each cutout. she made sure to tell me that they couldn’t be naked. hahaha! ok baby girl…whatever you want for the gingerbread people.

once she completed them, i frosted their legs and attached them to the side of the house. well then. voila!!! her beautiful gingerbread house was finished and looking quite marvelous! well done miss olive…you are a true creative artist!

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[i can’t with these babes]

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[details]

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[they’re so silly]

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[she’s so diligent and precise]

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xoxo

a visit with santa

our seasonal visit with santa was a bit of an obstacle this year. every year, i will get an email stating when santa was coming to town and to make a reservation. every year, i do but not this year. i pushed it off and by the time i checked the site to make a reservation, the entire month was booked!!! whaaaaa?!

yes, and on the random days i checked in to see if they had any openings, they were booked. ughhhhhh. one day, we showed up, the girls all jazzed out for santa, and stopped by the place to see if there were any openings, nope. they were booked. extra yuck.

i was feeling defeated. i mean, there were plenty of options everywhere to visit with santa. it wasn’t like this was the only choice but i was a stickler for wanting to go there because it’s been the only place we’ve ever gone to for a visit with the guy in red.

sooooo, one day, i stopped by and they had open slots for visits {they apparently said the weekend before christmas would be open to walk in’s}, i put in our name and was super excited! olive had written a letter to santa weeks prior and it was urgent to get it in his hands!

the girls got dressed up and we had plans to hit up dinner at roka akor afterwards. we arrived at the santa station and it was a bit crowded. we checked in and there was a lot of commotion going on inside. people were irritated and annoyed with their wait times and reservations. right after i checked in, a girl came up to me and asked, “how did you make a reservation?”, i was like, uhhhhhh…i stopped in earlier in the day. there was a particular women there who was mouthy, rude, and obnoxious. she constantly got into the host’s face and had such attitude and was so angry at her because they had been waiting a bit to see santa. what a prime example of patience and kindness she was showing her kids! LOL there was such a negative vibe going on, it was almost unbearable!

i must admit, the wait time was way too long and i assume they overbooked people, causing all of us to wait longer than expected. our reservation was at 6 and we didn’t see santa until 50 minutes later!!!! there was no turning back…we needed to see the big guy but our restaurant reservations were at 6:45!

well, of course we didn’t rush our visit with santa. we walked inside the airstream and santa was just chilling. ellie freaked out and olive was so excited! immediately olive went over to sit with him. she spent a few minutes with him while ellie hid behind hc. when it was time for some pics, i literally had to peel ellie off of hc like she had the claws of life on him. it was funny. for us, apparently not for her. she resisted but i reassured her he was super nice. santa read to them and was super kind and patient. ellie was doing just fine, although still quite skeptical.

overall, i was so proud of both babes for being so good! i always say 3 is the magic number. olive was open but not keen on santa at that age and then the following year, she was a super fan! i am expecting the same with ellie…next year will be even better!

we literally ran to the restaurant after the santa visit! i had called to let them know we were going to be late and they were so gracious with letting us get there 25 minutes later than expected! the restaurant was so good and we had a wonderful experience.

our visit with santa ended being fantastic despite the horrible wait time and environment and our dinner as a family was just as fun and delicious! i would have to say it was a win win evening!

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[ellie not impressed but olive enjoying reading time with santa]

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[classic looks from my girls]

xoxo

christmas programs ’19

olive and ellie had their christmas programs right before christmas break!

ellie’s program was during her class time, in the morning. i am the only person who goes. i feel a little bit bad that it’s just me because most of the kid’s parents both attend along with both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, or anyone who will go. then there’s just me. ellie is the only child who only has one parent show up. well, hell, at least she has someone, right?!!

well, after her stage fright stint with her ballet recital, she kicked that into high gear for her christmas singalong. she froze up and sang not one song, not one word. nope. wasn’t doing it. she would not sing. i sat front row and encouraged her to sing and she angrily shook her head no at me the entire time. ugh.

girlfren was alllllll smiles before the program started then she shut down. oh well. at least she looked cute!!

E L L I E’ S  C H R I S T M A S  P R O G R A M

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[she looked super excited but the performance didn’t show it]

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[ellie’s skeptical face the whole program]

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****

O L I V E’ S  C H R I S T M A S  P R O G R A M

olive’s program was at night. it was the k-5 classes and they were set to perform first. i was so excited! i was also stoked that i was photographing the performance and as a yearbook photographer for the school, i was reserved front row seating! yahooooooo!

i dropped olive off at the main school and walked into the church and found my partners in crime on the yearbook staff. i finally met carolina {after many text messages exchanged} in person and then found morgan and gabbed with her on what our game plan was for the program.

the kindergarten class walked out and the show commenced! they all looked so cute and festive! they sang their songs and did such a great job! i was snapping pics and before i knew it, their performance was over! whaaaaaaa?! that flew by so fast! i hardly snapped enough pictures! then each class performed and they all did such a wonderful job!!! each class sang unique songs and each class did fun narrative choreograph to some songs. that always makes it even more fun when you see the kids get so into it!

the very last performance, all the grades came out and sang silent night together. the best part about that? the whole audience joined in and it was so darn moving. goosebumps. oh my…i love our school!!!

the whole program was so well done. the kids did such an amazing job and kudos to the music teacher, mr. barker, for working so hard with the kids and pulling off such a wonderful program! it was such a magical night.

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[she was sooooooo darn good throughout the whole program]

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[on their way to the church]

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[they did such a great job!]

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xoxo

rockin’ around the christmas tree

it’s that time of year when the world falls in love

every song you hear seems to say “merry christmas, may your new year dreams come true”!!!!!!

we are the decorate after thanksgiving kind of folks. always have been, most likely will always be. olive’s birthday is so close to thanksgiving and we love celebrating thanksgiving as well, it just makes sense to us to blow up the house in christmas decor come end of november.

we do our usual…break out the adult drinks, blast christmas music, and drag alllllll our boxes down to sort through. this year, i completely edited my stuff and realized that i have outgrown some decor and desired some new pieces.

i love clean, simple things. so naturally i try not to overkill decking the halls but i love to make an impact within each room. i always end up trying to add more but naturally subtract to streamline each area.

this year i am feeling quite content with our set up and of course, the girls loooooooove it. i love their sweet little voices when they sort through all the ornaments. i love their bright eyes when they see something they like or find fun. i love hearing their giggles when they experience joy in decorating.

there’s so much more i wasn’t able to capture but enjoy the pics! christmas is almost here and we couldn’t be more excited although, i only wish it could be hot cocoa, snow, fireplace, snuggling, twinkling lights, parties always…basically christmas season forever!

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[my sweet girl]

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[these two melt my heart]

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[christmas jammies]

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[ohhhhhh and ahhhhh’ing over the ornaments!]

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[hanging the ornaments]

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[this girl…i love her so much!]

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[every year, we take a photo like this…i’m not sure how much longer dada can lift her. LOL]

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[every year and it doesn’t get old]

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[who doesn’t love bottle brush trees?]

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[anthropologie and rifle paper co are my best friends]

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[our new shelves in the kitchen are getting their fair share of changes]

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[i bought these ceramic houses on super sale at target two years ago and i am finally breaking them out]

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[ellie’s room]

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[obsessed with rifle paper co and antro collaboration. i actually ended up moving this pillow to her arm chair in the room and kept what you see below, on her bed]

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[peppermint hot cocoa]

xoxo

christmas day

i was looking forward to christmas morning. this year, olive was fully engaged in it. 1-3 years of age, she didn’t care. 4 she sparked interest and age 5, she was full blown into it! she’s been so thoughtful, opinionated, detailed, and just so funny with her ideas, comments, and conversations. i’m sooooo loving this age!

we don’t wrap santa gifts {hello, it’s so much easier and they know those are his gifts versus ours that are wrapped} and olive walked out from her room with the most sheepish, excited look on her face! she was gleeful to see that she received all the gifts she asked santa for!

we waited for ellie to awake before we opened up the gifts from us. we wanted to do that with ellie but having such a late night on christmas eve, ellie was wiped out and slept in late. so, we cooked breakfast and hung out until we heard her stir. we all then went back to the tree and the girls opened up the gifts from us to them! ellie’s most favorite toy was the cash register from santa!!!! she looooved it and still does!

hc and i then got crackin’ on our preparations for christmas dinner. we had his side of the family coming over at 3pm and we needed to decorate and start the food. the good news was, everyone was bringing something. whether it was apps or side dishes, it was fantastic to have bits and pieces of the meal being brought over by someone else, so the burden wasn’t completely on us!

this is our second year hosting christmas. it was passed on to us after the aunts and uncles discussed how they were getting old and tired and needed the kids to carry on the tradition. this year, we had 27 or so people at our house. holy cow! {i hardly took any pics!} let me tell you…our entertaining space is quite small, so that’s a lot of people crammed together.

nonetheless, it was wonderful, merry, and full of love – everyone made do and i think we fret over our small space more than anyone else. our evening was filled with great conversations, joy, and merriment – exactly how christmas should be spent with family!

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[my sweet girl]

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[she looooooves bath bombs!]

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[so in love]

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[rudolph the red nosed reindeer]

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[surprising, ellie was not into presents this year, although it may seem like she was through these pics]

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[her most favorite toy from santa – a cash register]

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[ellie, it’s a scanner…not a phone. hahaha!]

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[my sweet girl]

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[rich’s side of family]

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[christmas dinner tablescape]

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[jane and aunt vicki]

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xoxo

holiday downtown

we did our annual holiday trip to macy’s on state this past weekend! we did our usual routine of eating up on the 7th floor, shopping for ornaments, and just shopping around the store.

we love to buy ornaments from here every year, grab a little candy from the shop downstairs, and just take in the hustle and bustle of the season. dan, agata, kim, terry, the boys, thuy, mom and dad came out this year. we stayed at the department store for several hours and then headed home to our house to decorate gingerbread houses! before we left, we were able to admire one of their animated windows at macy’s. olive was so enamored with all the trumpets and christmas lights and wonderment all around her! her and ellie were so amazed as we walked the streets!

once home, we tidied up a bit and then kim and fam and agata and dan came over. kim brought over wine, cheese, and paté to nibble on. the boys brought food over to the house and the kids ate dinner. we had ordered pizza for everyone else and once all the consuming of food was done, we set up the gingerbread houses for the kiddos!

the kids had a blast! olive looooooved decorating her house. she was so excited and looking forward to it for days! olive did such a great job decorating her house – she didn’t even get frosting on her fingers! a big thank you to dan for being her structural engineer and making sure her roof didn’t fall down. thanks for holding the house together while olive decorated around you!

overall it was a great, fun festive day with the family! i love being able to spend the time with them during the busiest season of the year. that is what matters most during this crazy month! we soaked in the holiday mood and created some good memories together.

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[she’s so funny]

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[hey grace! i’m only going to take a pic of you while you’re eating. oops]

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[olive is so silly!]

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[she loooooooved riding the escalators!]

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[picking out candy]

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[olive’s stash]

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[my sweet girls]

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[ready to assemble her house!]

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[all the goodies to decorate with]

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[the cutest cousins]

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[olive’s house]

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[reagan’s house]

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[putting on her adornments]

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[reagan’s house looking good!]

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[olive was sooooo dang careful with her decor and she didn’t even get frosting on her fingers!]

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[reagan and his masterpiece]

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[she did such a great job!!]

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xoxo

hello santa!

our annual visit with the big guy in red happened the other day! i didn’t tell the girls until we were about a minute away. olive got sheepish and ellie just didn’t care. i usually make reservations every year but this time around, i was like – let’s just wing it. i usually find that they are pretty good at getting non reserved families in and i was right!

we walked in, signed up and we were the second family to see santa! they snapped a family pic first and then the kiddos. it was cute! i wasn’t expecting to be in any pics but it was super nice to have one together {since we can be so bad at taking a family photo together}. the girl’s picture turned out so sweet too!

after those photos, we waited in line to walk into santa’s airstream trailer. when it was our turn, olive excitedly walked towards it. we walked inside and there was santa! olive was so anxious, excited, and nervous. ellie was like – nope. ‘who’s this big guy in red?! make sure i stay far away from him!’ hahaha!

olive gingerly walked towards him and sat next to him while hc held onto ellie. i encouraged olive to tell santa what she wanted for christmas. she had her hands slightly clasped and she looked right at him. as she started to speak, her voice was not quivering but her hands were slightly trembling, she told him she wanted a mermaid barbie, lol dolls, a cinderella doll, and a blue car with a big engine. it was soooo flipping adorable to see. she really wanted to tell santa what she wanted and practiced it with me before she went in. she did so well! i was so proud of her!

then hc set ellie down for a picture and it all went downhill for her! eep! well, as you can see in the pictures below…it was a very successful visit! after that, we walked away feeling so good {ok, minus ellie} and headed to dinner. after eating, we shopped around a bit in the mall and then headed home.

BUT not without losing bunny. that is a loooooong story. we thought we were donzo. that bunny was gone. we called all the places we were at and no one had bunny. we went home without him and we were devastated. especially olive. hc went back the next day to backtrack everywhere we went. he went back into stores and had no luck. then a christmas miracle happened. he searched the grounds and right in front of eddie bauer, there was bunny!!!! someone had found him and placed him up on the store front’s windowsill. bless their hearts for doing that! hc saved the day!

we had such a great evening! it really was! we had so much fun {minus the missing bunny}. santa’s visit was a success, dinner was so fun and yummy {the girls were sooooo stinking cute and well behaved}, and we had a good time shopping the mall and picking up some extra goodies!

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[our family photo! i loved that they did that for us]

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[they’re so sweet]

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[ellie and olive’s looks! priceless!]

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[olive is so mesmerized by him! ellie, not so much]

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[she was sooooo excited to sit in his lap! what a difference from last year and the years prior!]

xoxo

deck the halls ’18

we are fans of decorating for christmas after thanksgiving and we attempt to do it after we celebrate olive’s birthday.

olive cracks me up…she wanted to pick out an outfit to decorate in {while i am and all of us are in pj’s…ok, ellie wanted to wear a dress too}. she chose her springtime ballet recital outfit – so fancy!

hc lugged all the boxes of decorations up and put our tree together. we then we pulled out the ornament box and proceeded to decorate the tree. the girls ohhh’d and ahhh’d over all the ornaments. ellie proceeded to break two glass ornaments! not good. we were so worried that we might have left shards of glass behind!! the second ornament she broke right by her feet!!! good thing grace was fast acting – she snatched ellie off the floor in .5 seconds! thank you grace!!

after we decorated the tree…hc and olive attempted to put up the star but with us having a new big and tall tree this year…it was a bit difficult, but they tried!

once the tree was done, the girls took a break and hc and i continued to decorate the rest of the house. man, it’s exhausting to decorate! i don’t know if i will even attempt this when i get older…i will be too tired! haha!

well, after much time and trips to home depot for lots of fresh pine garland and nubs, we dressed our home in love and festiveness!

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[olive called my pajama’s bacon pj’s! hahaha!]

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[she loves the candy canes, gifts from matt’s mom]

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[her outfit of choice to wear while decorating the tree]

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[my little fire ball]

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[she broke this glass ornament and one other…oy, it was such a disaster! no one wants shards of glass on your floor!]

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[true disheveled pj time]

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[attempting a star topper but the tree was too tall!]

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xoxo

noel ’17

this was the first christmas day hc and i had hosted! as our aunts and uncles and parents get older, it was time to pass the torch to the next generation and continue the traditions! hc’s aunt vicki and uncle steve have hosted christmas day for a long time and it was time for us to take on that holiday and celebration!

we were excited to do so! hc told me last year that he would have the basement done by then and ta da! it wasn’t. wah wah. we wanted the extra space but c’est la vie. christmas day was just fine the way it was {space wise}.

christmas morning was exciting! olive couldn’t wait to see if santa ate his cookies and if rudolph nibbled on his carrot. the girls were excited to open up their gifts and of course, play all day long with their toys! we made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and drank mimosas….what a perfect christmas morning.

hc created a menu, based upon what everyone was going to bring, and we finalized all the pretty decor touches before everyone arrived! we were excited to do this! family is most important and we couldn’t wait to celebrate this day with hc’s side.

hc made a spiral ham, prime rib and green beans, while aunt vicki brought her infamous shells, aunt wendy provided the alcohol, jane brought mashed potatoes and apps, sister missy brought dessert, and cousin jennifer brought brussel sprouts. everyone participated and the spread was delicious and amazing!

it was a beautiful evening, being able to visit, relax, and just be with family. that is definitely what life is about!

we were so happy to have hosted our first christmas day and we were so excited that everyone had such a wonderful time! cheers to new traditions and to family!

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[cookies and milk for santa]

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[olive was so excited to see if santa and rudolph ate their snacks!]

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[excited over santa gifts!]

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[no pj olive]

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[she asked santa for a doll, fairy, horse, and unicorn]

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[she loves this little doll from mary, her sitter]

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[snow globe]

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[christmas day mimosa]

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[cinnamon rolls]

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[santa’s gift]

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[sweet babes]

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[sweet exchange]

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[christmas dinner tablescape]

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via tandeminlove.com

[aunt vicki, missy, aunt wendy, jane, and jennifer]

via tandeminlove.com

[uncle steve and jennifer]

via tandeminlove.com

via tandeminlove.com

via tandeminlove.comvia tandeminlove.com

via tandeminlove.com

xoxo