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

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[uncle steve and jennifer]

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xoxo

christmas eve ’17

christmas eve was teetering on the brink of us possibly hosting it or having it at my parent’s house {for the past several decades}…it depended upon whether or not my parent’s foundation crack was fixed and the carpet was installed.

hallelujah, everything fell into place and my parent’s house was back in order! it was going to feel like christmas eve!

well, i awoke to it snowing outside and became a little kid, squealing with excitement! i was soooooo stoked it was going to be a white christmas!! it had been so warm all season and the southern region of the states had gotten more snow than us! there’s something just so magical about snow on christmas!

we prepped all day to get ready for christmas day {we were hosting for the first time!}, ellie took a nap, we scrambled to get the girls bathed, and over to my parent’s house at a decent time but failed miserably! i wanted to get over to help my sister cook but we ended up not getting over there until 6!!!

all was good, we helped with dinner, we partook in joyous, silly things, and enjoyed each other’s company. christmas time is so darn special. i love the merriment, the compassion, and the warmth of home. there is nothing like spending time with family and loving one another.

we were so happy to have the newlyweds, huy + tashina, here for christmas {after joining them for their fabulous wedding}. they always add to the fun craziness of our family time!

life is good.

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[a white christmas]

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[twinning]

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[gorgeous centerpiece]

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[besties]

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[my sweet, sweet girls]

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[silly cousins]

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[olive and ba]

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[olive, huy, and tashina]

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[my tribe]

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[crazy cousins]

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[dan, olive, and agata]

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[kim and ellie]

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[bennett, kevin, and reagan]

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[oh ellie…reagan loves you!]

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[she’s like take the friggin’ picture already! hahaha]

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xoxo

christmas popcorn

ever since we’ve moved into our neighborhood, i’ve made christmas popcorn for our surrounding friends every christmas!

it’s the easiest thing to make and oh so yummy! this year is the first year olive has really helped me with it and this year is the first year she is dressed so crazy! baby girl picked her outfit out or should i say lack thereof an oufit?! we’re going on week two or three of no clothes at home and she absolutely loves it! well, it definitely makes laundry a little lighter! haha!

i prepped our ingredients {popped the corn, opened the toppings, and readied the tools!} and boom! we were ready to go! i dumped a small bit of popcorn, at a time, into a bowl so we don’t have huge batches to cover. it’s best to do a small amount each time because you really want to coat the popcorn with the chocolate! olive sprinkled on the pretzels, m&ms, and we dusted each batch with perils!

olive so patiently helped me with each round and at the very end of it, i let her eat a piece and she was smitten! she loved it and gave me a thumbs up! i filled a santa cup up for her and she was a happy camper!

i then divvied up the popcorn into each jar and voila! they were ready to go out to each of our neighbor friends!

we had just enough left over for us and guess who ate it all? yup…miss olive!

get it girl!

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[prepping the jars]

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[yeahhhhhh, her baking outfit. she’s a nut! i love it! she only wears her undies and the most random stuff. it cracks me up!]

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[if you don’t know by  now, i liiiiiive in pj’s!]

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[i love this girl! her outfit choices crack me up!]

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[we’re ready to pour on the chocolate!]

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[yummmmm!]

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[i get a thumbs up!]

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xoxo

ugly sweater christmas party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

happy holidays!

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[me and irina]

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[the yummy buffet table]

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[sweet emma eating her pizzaaaaa]

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

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[the sweet couple]

xoxo

o + e santa visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[very unsure of what is about to happen…]

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[so is hc…haha!]

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

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[she’s like ‘ohmergawd…santa!’]

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

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[her shoes flung off so fast!]

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xoxo

holiday program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[she was nervous!]

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[she’s not quite sure what to do yet]

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[finally warming up and joining in!]

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

xoxo

State Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[checking out the nutcrackers]

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[trying to take a picture of these two babes]

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[sweet baby ellie]

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[brought this little baby home]

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[grace, hc, and ellie]

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

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

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[owning the runway]

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

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[reagan riding the unicorn and olive laughing!]

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[bennett loves his teddy bears]

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[sending her wish list!]

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

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[selecting her candies]

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[oh dem cheeks]

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[rad in plaid]

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xoxo

deck the halls!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[could she be any sweeter?]

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[her most favorite ornament]

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[she was our anti-decorating grinch]

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[comfy pj’s and stringing tinsel]

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[daddy helping olive with the star topper]

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[muslin bag advent calendar]

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xoxo

christmas day ’16

every year, it always works out perfect where christmas eve is spent at my parent’s house and christmas day is spent with hc’s side of the family.

we first head to missy’s house {hc’s sister} to exchange gifts with hc’s family. after that, we then go to aunt vicki’s house for christmas dinner. over there is mostly jane’s side of the family and i always love seeing jay and lori and the boys…i am closet to hc’s cousin’s wife. but of course i love visiting with everyone! it’s always nice to catch up and hear what everyone is up to and how life is treating them.

it was so nice because everyone wanted to hold ellie and she loves to be held! she is such a good baby, always so calm and sweet. kait was a huge fan {always has been since olive}! she’s so sweeeeeeet with olive and ellie. she’s so nice, kind, attentive, and playful! olive loves to hang out with her! it melts my heart to see how good she is with them and how they reciprocate the love. as a mama, you absolutely love your kids but it is sooooo heartwarming to see someone else enjoy them almost as much!

food was ready not too long after we arrived and {per holiday demand} i ate wayyyyyyy too much. the food was definitely a heart attack on the plate and when it’s that bad, it’s so darn good and you go in for seconds. eep!

we then exchanged gifts with aj and jake. lori got the girls some awesome gifts…olive was so happy to get mlp and shopkins! score! i was soooo happy to see how excited aj was to receive his bulls jersey! he was beyond ecstatic! he told me how much he wanted that for christmas and was a bit bummed to not have gotten it christmas morning…oh that meant so much to me to hear him say that! so darn sweet! jake loved his gifts too! overall, it was a successful gift giving season!

hc and i really, really enjoyed ourselves this year. i am not sure what elevated the experience this time around but we had a great time hanging out with everyone and the time just flew by! before we knew it, it was getting late and we had to go. we said our goodbyes and headed on home. it was a fabulous two days of celebrating and we were feeling very grateful and full of love. oh how i enjoy the holidays!

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[aunt wendy and ellie]

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[sisters]

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[family]

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[kait and ellie]

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[jennifer and her beautiful daughters]

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[hubby charming]

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[morgan and darci]

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[morgan and ellie]

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[presents!]

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[yay! presents]

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[brother and sister]

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[reindeer ears from aunt gloria]

xoxo

christmas eve

2016

every year, christmas eve is spent at my mom and dad’s house.

my sister kim cooks dinner, while we help, and all is merry and bright! my dad blasts the christmas music, the wine is freely flowing, yummy aromas fill the house, and there is much excitement and anticipation amongst the kids.

as we walked into my parent’s house, i heard my brother huy’s voice. i thought, ‘oh, he’s on face time already!’. we had received bad news earlier on in the week that huy and tashina weren’t going to make it out here for christmas. we were so sad! well, as we were taking off our shoes, huy comes running up the stairs!!! wtf! we couldn’t believe it! i was soooo surprised and happy! he made it into town! yaaaayyyyyyyyy! he was only going to be in chicago for less than 24 hours but we didn’t care! it was a total christmas gift to have him spend it with us, albeit the short time frame.

olive was not afraid, this time around, of uncle huy! all the other times he’s visited she has been utterly scared of him. almost terrified! she was so receptive and actually gave him hugs, kisses, and wanted to be near him. a complete 180 to her behavior from a few months ago! i was loving it…it made me so happy to see her loving huy.

well, we fried the turkey, we made all the delicious food, and after hours of waiting, we finally sat down to eat! yum.yum.yum. my dad said a blessing and we all dug into the delicious meal! it was sooooo good as always. after dinner, we did the usual of cleaning up before we opened presents. the kids always wait soooooo patiently for that.

at last, it was time! but not without a hundred photos first! hahaha! this christmas is the first christmas where olive was fully aware of what was going on. she knew she had presents and it was the most darling thing to watch. she was so excited, grateful, thankful, and oh so darn cute opening up each one of her gifts. her excitement and joy filled my heart with love! it was awesome to watch her light up from all the excitement and gifts. we are so blessed and thankful for all that we’re given!

after the tornado whirlwind of tearing apart gifts, everyone settled in and enjoyed their presents. dessert was served and relaxation began. we were spent…so exhausted from being sick and tired from all the sleep we weren’t getting. an hour after the craziness, i was ready to go.

we packed up our zillion things, said our merry christmases and thank you’s and went on our merry way. it was a fabulous christmas eve, especially with huy surprising us! we enjoyed our family, the food, the libations, and the absolute joy these kiddos exude. life is good, christmas time is great, and family is the best. it was a merry christmas indeed.

God bless us all.

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[uncle dan with miss ellie]

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[crazy cousins]

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[festive, cutest table decor]

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[uncle huy with baby ellie]

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[family pic…minus ellie]

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[i love how happy my dad looks]

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[dem cheeks]

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[mama and her daughters]

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[cutest cousins]

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[so festive]

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[christmas table centerpiece]

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[photo by huy doan]

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[they make each other smile]

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[photo by huy doan]

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[photo by huy doan]

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[love these two!]

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[photo by huy doan]

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[ellie in her fur stole]

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[photo by huy doan]

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[a rare moment for ellie…usually that’s olive. hahaha!]

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[ready to open christmas presents!]

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[tearing into her presents]

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[pretty much what ellie did all night…lay around]

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[i think this might be my favorite pic]

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[super auntie thuy and olive]

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[she had a B L A S T opening up her gifts]

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[photo by huy doan]

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[sweet baby ellie]

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[olive’s stash]

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[facetime with tashina]

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[thuy’s secret santa gift…macarons]

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[mmmmm macarons]

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[b loving his gifts!]

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[a very sweet moment between uncle dan and olive playing together]

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[photo by huy doan]

xoxo