dad’s 80th surprise photo session

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[our hearts]

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[my beautiful, tenacious girl]

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[grandma and ba with their grandgirls]

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[kisses]

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

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[the sweetest boys]

xoxo

the hottest alfresco lunch everrrrrrr

one sunday morning, we decided to head out for a late lunch. ellie’s morning nap was running into the early afternoon and we thought that it would be a great idea to get out of the house on this hot, hot day but not do anything too strenuous because it was so darn warm outside.

we headed into downtown dg for a lunch alfresco. it was ellie’s first jeep ride and olive’s second time but the first time she really understood what she was doing! she looooooooves riding in the jeep! oh, she kept screaming and giggling and waving her arms. it was the cutest thing to watch! it’s so joyous to watch your kids be happy!

well, it was sooooooo hot outside that even under a shady umbrella, we pretty much melted. omg it was so hot! near the end of our meal, ellie was getting a bit fussy, so i decided to walk her around the restaurant to cool off and calm her down. the first time we walked up to the window where hc was sitting outside, she said, “dada. dada.” and she looked out the window at hc. i was like, ‘hmmmmm. does she really know it’s hc?’. well, i decided to walk around the restaurant again and see if she would say it again. yup. she did. we walked back up to the window and she said, “dada. dada.” as she looked right at hc. i did it a third time!!! i finally caved in and admitted that was her first word. i wouldn’t have agreed if she really didn’t know what it meant but i have to say, she did and does. wahhhhhhhhhh.

after lunch, we decided to walk around town. gah! what a failure. it was sooooo hot. so hot. we only did one short lap and called it quits. i couldn’t wait to get back into the jeep to have the wind blowing through my hair. all in all, it was still a great afternoon. i am so glad we got outside even tho it was like an inferno. hahaha!

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[ellie’s first jeep ride!]

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[coolest girl in the world]

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[before i melt]

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[some drink i don’t remember what it’s called but it was delicious]

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[this precious face]

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[melting from the heat]

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xoxo

a simple outing

we had a quick, casual outing on a beautiful sunny day that turned out to be freezing cold and soooo windy in the early afternoon and then a warm day late afternoon! my, what a difference a few hours can make!

i met my dad and sister, thuy, for lunch out at the mall. we ate at a yummy restaurant and then decided to get donuts and coffee after our main meal. my dad could live off of doughnuts and coffee. ha! we were in a new part of the mall that is now a bunch of restaurants and it was pretty quiet and serene. we did a mini photo shoot with olive {natch}, ate doughnuts, sipped coffee, and enjoyed our peaceful moments together.

since my dad’s leg{s} have been bothering him, we decided to not venture out too far. thuy and i wanted to hit up anthropologie but it was too far for my dad to walk so we decided to call it quits. besides, they had more errands to run and i didn’t mind heading home with the kiddos. it was nice just to get out for a bit but honestly, with two kiddos and one being so young, you’re bound to time frames! well, i choose to be committed because i prefer for my kids to have a routine.

i love that ellie can nap at 10am and 2-3pm and olive will occassionly nap in the afternoon {depending on her wake up time & morning activities}. it limits our outings at times but hey…they are only this little for so long!

anyhoo, it was a great blip in our day. we loved seeing my dad and my sister for a bit and enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air!

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[my sweet  babe]

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[ellie enjoying being flipped around by auntie thuy]

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[thuy thought it was a good idea for ellie to try her glasses, ellie – not so much. hahaha!]

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[she loved her glasses so much!]

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[stan’s donuts]

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xoxo

mom’s day

what a beautiful day.

the weather was just perfect! the sun was shining and it wasn’t too warm. i was super excited to host mother’s day brunch at our house. it was a last minute affair! my family wasn’t sure what we were doing for mother’s day. we usually head to the city and have brunch somewhere downtown but this year, we let our planning slip by and before we knew it, mother’s day was upon us and we had no plans! so, i suggested to have it at our house! we love hosting others at our home!

well, that gave us barely a week to plan a menu, conjure up decor ideas, and then actually going out to get all the food and supplies! oy! life has already been so busy and lately, i totally feel like i am strapped for time but we did it!

hc cooked up a storm! i chose the menu items and he brought it all to life! he’s so darn good and sweet! he insisted on cooking {i always opt for catering} and really pulled through with the delicious food. hc made 4 different kinds of quiches – red pepper, mushroom, bacon, and onion quiches. they were all so darn delectable! he made savory, seasoned breakfast potatoes, crispy thick cut bacon, and yummy buttermilk waffles served with sweet butter and maple syrup! wow! we were all so impressed.

we set up tables outside. how could you not?! the weather was simply amazing!

i had a calligrapher draw up menus, place cards, and station notes for our party! i love little details like that, it always adds a lovely touch to any party. i decorated our tree {aka the photo booth}, put flowers everywhere {thanks to kim!}, and created a dessert and mimosa table. i also bought little potted flowers for all the moms to take home! everything was so last minute but it all turned out so darn pretty {if i do say so myself!}.

everyone trickled in around noon and soon the party was in full swing. we all enjoyed hc’s divine brunch buffet, created our own mimosas, and soaked in the warm sun outside. after brunch, we all just relaxed here and there. i think that was the best part of the party, we all just chilled and enjoyed each other’s company. the kids played in the yard, hc took, almost, everyone for a ride in his newly assemble jeep, and we celebrated all the moms.

being a mom is the best gift, best journey, and best thing that has ever happened to me. i am thankful and so blessed to have my two little girls in my life. nothing prepared me for this miraculous role called motherhood and i can’t thank God enough for this amazing privilege to be their mom. cheers to all the mothers out there who love, give, and sacrifice so much for their kids.

hooray for moms!

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[celebrate mom]

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[table spread]

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[a pretty pot of flowers for our lovely mom’s to take home]

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[mimosa bar]

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[make your own mimosa!]

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[family]

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[the sweetest nephews]

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[sweetest souls]

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[we sure do love our moms]

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[dessert table]

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[the colors are like a unicorn cake!]

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[i love a pretty dessert table]

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[siblings]

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[with ba]

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[after a few hours, i finally poured myself a mimosa…soooooooo yummy!!!]

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[with our wonderful mom]

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[i kept saying, “olive, get in the picture…olive get in the picture!” and this is what i got. bahahahaha!]

xoxo

easter sunday

ohmergoodness. i am finally posting about easter. it’s been a whirlwind in life of late. i don’t know why it’s been so busy and hectic for me. i feel like life hasn’t changed much but yet, i am constantly chasing time!? smh.

anyhoo, my sister kim had planned an easter brunch at maple and ash…a yummy little restaurant in chicago. i was excited to go because we had celebrated new years there and it was epic. so, of course, i was stoked to eat brunch there!

we arrived pretty early, well early for us, and casually walked in & got seated right away. my family wasn’t far behind us. once everyone arrived, we ordered beverages and waited for our server to explain any necessary information guiding us in our soon to be brunch consumption.

we then took off and starting gathering copious amounts of savory sorts onto our plates. it was yummy! i loaded my plate full of bacon, fruit, sausage, and pancakes and i am sure i am forgetting what else. ok, ok, i put a lot of food on my plate because i was going to feed olive! hahaha but i did eat most of it, darn that breastfeeding! i am always hangry!

i love maple and ash. it’s so pretty, fun, and always a great time. we love the service and food there and we always have fun interacting with the staff and exploring new palates.

it was a great time out with the family and it was an absolutely gorgeous day out! what a fabulous easter it was. ellie’s first easter was awesome and olive’s 4th was just as amazing. i love celebrating holidays with the family and it brings me such joy to see my girls enjoy it too!

xoxo

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[brunch menu at maple and ash]

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[she’s so sweet & highly emotional]

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[sisters]

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[bromance]

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[the seafood starter was amazing]

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[aren’t they sooooooo cute?!]

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[i captured the sweetest moments between these two loves of mine]

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[my love]

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[the delicious bunny cookie]

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[uncle dan and reagan]

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[cheeky little monkey]

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[happy easter!]

xoxo

easter pre-game

we had quite the eventful day before easter!

one, it was hc’s birthday and two, it’s easter! we love to do fun things like decorate easter eggs and participate in fabulous easter egg hunts!

it was all very last minute because olive had been sick for a few days prior to this and we could not get out of the house with her. poor thing was glued to the toilet, so no easter egg hunt outings or anything of that sort due to her not feeling well.

i scrambled to put together something…we didn’t have any food to host with, nor did i even decorate! ha! i thought i was going to get away with not decorating for easter but then we, last minute, decided to have our family over and how could i not decorate to create a little bit of a festive environment?! sphhh, hello…it’s me. so there i was in the morning, hanging banners, pulling out fun decor, and filling easter eggs. {let alone, i had to make a quick or tried to make a quick trip to the grocery store too!}

my family came over and we sipped lemonade, ate a simple lunch, and hunted for & decorated easter eggs! the weather was a m a z i n g!!! seriously, it was so beautiful out! the kids had a blast searching for the eggs and opening up their goodies to find toys, candies, and money inside!

after all that, we then opened up easter gifts! {of course we saved olive’s basket for the morning because the easter bunny needed to drop that one off} the kids were so excited and spoiled rotten. gosh, we tend to do that with every special occasion. when you have that many family members…it can get cray with the gifts!

overall, it was truly a wonderful day! we celebrated hc, we celebrated easter, and we were all able to spend some great family time together! until next year my bunnies!

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[easter prep]

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[my new favorite glasses]

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[we wished hc a happy birthday!]

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[super aunty thuy created the prettiest french braid for miss o]

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[always the yummiest]

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[hc’s easter birthday cake]

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[tulips are so pretty]

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[easter egg hunt!]

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[the contestants]

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[olive finding the eggs!]

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[this way!]

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[run!]

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[dada helping olive out]

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[ellie famous face with aunty kim]

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[levitating eggs]

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[checking out her goodies]

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[happy birthday hc!]

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[raspberry lemonade refresher]

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[bunnies]

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[ready to dye easter eggs]

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[i love how excited olive is!]

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[she did so well!]

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[she loved her pink decorated egg!]

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[eggcited for easter gifts!]

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[baby ellie opening her gifts from aunty thuy]

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xoxo

train station lunch

it was a lazy sunday morning and we wanted to do something fun with olive {and ellie of course, but ellie is just a baaaaaby!}.

we decided to hit downtown glen ellyn and go to the train restaurant. we scored a parking spot right next to the restaurant and there was a tiny bit of a wait but no worries, olive spotted the mechanical horse and became fixated! she was so excited to get on the horse and i was so excited to see her do so! i love it when i see the joy exude from her face. i took so many pics because it made my heart full to see her many expressions, showing the different emotions she was feeling. i chose these two pics that best showcase her joy!

she also loved putting a quarter in the ‘gum’ball machine to receive a toy! i loved all this newness that she was experiencing, it was melting my heart!

we were finally seated and she was loving the train! she was so good, she was sitting right next to the tracks but she never once tried to touch the train or did she ever get in the way of the train when it rolled by. she barely sat down and was so mesmerized by all the quirkiness the restaurant had to give.

after we devoured our mediocre lunch, i ordered ice cream for olive. now, she’s not really into ice cream…yes, i knoooooow! how could that be?! but yes, she doesn’t care for it too much but i couldn’t pass up vanilla ice cream with sprinkles on top! besides that, it also came with a pink train!!! now that was something olive loved! as soon as the ice cream cup was served, her hand snatched up the pink train immediately!

shortly after, we left the restaurant to walk around the downtown area. the downside? pretty much all the shops were closed on sundays…what a bummer! so, we decided to walk around the neighborhood and just enjoy the great weather.

it was a perfect afternoon and we had such a great time hanging out together and exploring the quaint little area. i know olive had a great time at the restaurant and i can’t wait to take her back to enjoy it again!

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[first thing we see…the mechanical horse! olive had to ride it!]

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[she was sooooooo excited!]

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[me and my babe]

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[she’s always so happy!]

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[first time getting something out a ‘gum’ball machine]

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[excited for her surprise]

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[she got a mini dinosaur! she loved it!]

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[here comes the train serving the food!]

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literally loving the bells and whistle]

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[there goes the train!]

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[mmmm, pink lemonade]

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[my precious babe]

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[olive couldn’t wait to pluck off her pink train!]

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[she tried to scoop the ice cream but it was a little bit hard]

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[so dada helped out!]

xoxo

children’s museum

a sunday crept up on us and can you believe that we didn’t have anything really planned?! it was a sunny, nice day out and we definitely wanted to get out and do something fun! our initial plan was to go to the zoo but it was just a little bit too chilly to stand outside for hours so we found a local children’s museum.

it was close by and we have never visited it before! we did our usual morning routine – wake, nurse, feed olive, coffee, chill, and repeat. we squeezed in a nap for ellie…well, we tried. she was a bit fussy and didn’t get a good shut eye in, so we decided to leave for the museum.

we arrived in no time and it wasn’t that crowded. we started to explore and honestly, it was a very odd feeling being there. let me explain…i just felt that parents weren’t friendly. i immediately felt a strange vibe from everyone. i would make eye contact and smile and other moms would not smile and look away. hmmmmm. unfriendly!

another annoying factor were the parents that didn’t watch their kids or care that they acted inappropriately…such as not wait their turn, not share, hog an activity, or the one that irks me the most – big kids who overtake the little ones. that gets under my skin. i become super irritated! also, the whole area was sooooo dirty. as expected but i could feel the germs and viruses bouncing off my skin. blech!

i must say, hc and i didn’t have the best experience there. of course olive loved it but we were so turned off. we were blown away at how rude some of the older kids were with the little kiddos around, how removed the parents were. don’t get me wrong, olive did her best to fend for herself and i believe to let her do her own thing and not be a helicopter mom but the big kids were bugging me although not as much as their unaware parents!

ok…venting done. we did stay for a few hours and then called it quits. olive had a ton of fun and really enjoyed herself, honestly – that is all that matters. we were happy we took her there but i don’t know if we will go there any time soon again! eep!

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[checking out the fishes]

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[having fun with light and colors]

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[daddy helping her hour]

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[if there’s a hole, she’ll crawl through it]

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[she was having a blast with bar and mirror]

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[the wind machine]

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[stuffing the wind machine with kerchiefs]

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[watching the scarves fly into the air]

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xoxo

i looooooove sunday brunch

i don’t know what it is about sunday brunch that i love so much. sundays have always been a day of relaxing, a day of ease, a day to do much of nothing. or if it is something you do…it involves food. brunch or slow cooking is usually where it’s at and we gather. we gather with friends. we gather with family. no pressure, just a go with the flow attitude. it’s almost like a mental preparation for the upcoming week.

we were looking forward to hanging out with these two fabulous guys. it’s so great to have friends like matt and johann. they are kind, smart, supportive, and so much fun to be around!

we met up with them right outside their place. the weather was amaaaaazing. sunny, warm, and perfect. we walked over to a brunch spot matt recommended but for some strange reason, they were closed?! it even said ‘brunch on sundays’ boldly across their windows…hahaha! really? ya fooled me!

well, that pushed us to go to o’donovan’s down the street and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. they have a large outdoor space and the weather was fantastic…it was meant to be! the best part? there was noooooo wait. whaaaaaa?! on a day like today ~ sunday and it’s brunch time and there’s no wait? sweet.

we got cozy in a perfect little spot and ordered drinks ~ extra spicy bloody mary please! the restaurant had a breakfast buffet and we were set. drinks were flowing and copious amounts of food were on our plates, we were having a great time, just how sunday brunch should be!

then a man came by our table, a magician! we said no to tricks but yes to balloon animals! the gentleman made a mouse for ellie and a butterfly for olive. the balloon animals were a hit! olive was soooooo happy! she is such a good girl to begin with and she will always sit around and chill with us without causing any trouble but the balloon animals entertained her the entire time! score!

after brunch, we headed back to matt and johann’s place. on our walk back, we bought some girl scout cookies {yum!} from a couple of girls and sponsors selling them on a street corner. i mean, c’mon…who would ever pass up girl scout cookies?! once we were back at their place, we enjoyed nespresso and cookies while olive pranced around entertaining herself.

after an hour or so, we gathered our belongings to head home. it was time for both girls to nap and a car ride would be the lullaby that they needed. we said our goodbyes and headed home. we had such a great morning and afternoon with our two dear friends. brunch time with buddies is the best. i love sundays like this, i crave sundays like this, and i am such a happy camper when we can pull in beautiful days like this.

cheers to sunday brunch! clink! clink!

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[o’donovan’s chicago]

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[waiting 5 seconds for a table…there really was no wait on this gorgeous day!]

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[it was so beautiful out and we had a fabulous time sitting alfresco]

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[bloody mary extra spicy please!]

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[best thing ever at the restaurant…a magician who makes balloon animals!!! win win!]

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[guncle matt with ellie]

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[guncle johann with ellie]

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[precious babe with her daddy]

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[inside matt and johann’s lovely place]

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[ellie matching the decor]

xoxo

thuy’s fabulous birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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[grace, thuy, and lan]

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[terry and kim]

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[nice dan]

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[happy birthday thuy!]

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

xoxo