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

a lazy day…we can never have enough

maybe it’s because it was the holidaze but life has been cray cray and hectic around here lately {what seemed like months}. it seems like i never have enough time for anything or we are always doing something. we never really get a day where we just sit around, let time slide by, and be lazy. i am sooooooo excited for january. i am looking forward to slower days, days where there isn’t much to do, no parties and events but just time to relaxxxxxxx!

we had a day planned where we it would be just us and we were going to have fun and have a relaxing agenda. our morning started off very late. the girls slept in but we quickly got ready and headed to bucktown for some grub and shopping. i wanted to try my favorite spot, the bongo room but the wait was ridiculous. we couldn’t wait more than an hour for brunch with two little kids, so we decided to walk and find another place. we rounded the corner and decided to hit up feast. the wait was only 15 minutes and we were ready to eat.

after brunch, we hit up the shops along the street. we just wandered and went into any shops that appealed to us. it was a brisk day but not freezing cold. we were comfortable walking along the neighborhood and had great time perusing shops and finding unique places. grace was hoping to record shop {our true purpose of hitting this area} and our last stop happen to be reckless records – a gold mine of old finds. we spent a good amount of time inside the store and grace found quite a few gems.

we truly had a wonderful, relaxing day together. we did what we wanted and had a great time doing so. boy, do i miss our old ‘hood. it was great to visit the area and hit up some old favorites. i am hoping we have another relaxing, lazy, fun day like this again soon!

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[this girl]

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[brunch cocktails]

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[prosciutto breakfast croissant]

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[taking pics in shinola]

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[poor babe dealt with an ear and eye infection]

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[loving this window display at mojo spa]

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[olive staring out the window at US #1 vintage shop…you can’t see jane the sweet dog, behind her]

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[strolling our old ‘hood]

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[hanging out at reckless records]

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[look kiki, the train!]

xoxo

nye

nye 2016

oh what a night!

it was a fun, fabulous, over indulgent evening indeed! we got all jazzed up and went out for the evening. we were excited for our reservations at maple and ash. kim and terry have eaten there before but we have not but heard such excellent reviews on this restaurant. we arrived there in no time. we valet’d the car and walked inside, it was so pretty! i loved the decor and the ambience of the restaurant already. we walked our way in, coat checked, and took the elevator up. once the doors opened, we were greeted with sooooo many balloons! how fun and festive! i loved the vibe it gave the space…it screamed new year’s eve!

we were seated and immediately, small bites and drinks arrived at our table before we could even pick our seats! that was amaze. mini martini’s and appetizers were already flowing. we mingled and connected with a few people who worked at the restaurant. kim and terry were already bff’s with with the maitre d’, mason. the sommelier, frankie, and the wine director, belinda.

the atmosphere was lively, the decor was fun, and the mood was just right. we were having a blast taking pics, being silly, and enjoying our night out. we had to get serious and order our food but we really couldn’t decide. after perusing the menu for a few minutes and everyone discussing what they wanted or might order, we all agreed that we were going in for the ‘i don’t give a f*ck’ on the menu. yup. we just didn’t care to choose what we wanted to eat, so we just let the chef do his thing and boy, it was AWEsome. the food didn’t stop coming to the table. there.was.so.much.food. it was ahhhhhhmazing. we ate and we ate and we ate. i couldn’t stop eating…it was all soooooo good.

one entree after another was being put on the table and it was all so very delicious. i had to try a bit of food off of every plate, everything was so savory and tasty i couldn’t resist! i was besides myself – my slim pants were slim no more with my bourgeoning waistline. then the dessert came…holy cow! a sundae bar! yum, yum, yum. are you freakin’ kidding me right now? it was sooooo fun to create your own sundae with all the fun accruements they offered. that was it. i was dunzo. roll me outta of the restaurant please.

the service was superb, the food was beyond decadent, and the atmosphere was killer. it was an awesome place to be for new year’s eve! we had such a fabulous time!

but wait! that’s not all! scroll down for more entertainment…

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[delicious apps at maple and ash]

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[sisters forever]

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[the doan family]

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[sorry pete, i didn’t realize your eyes were half closed until i posted this. you still look handsome!]

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[french 75]

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[so chic]

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[sea food platter]

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[delicious wedge salad]

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[sisters]

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[soooooooo much food]

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[cheers!]

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[sundae bar]

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[sundae toppings]

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[the crew]

our second part/y of the night was back at our place. we gathered together to ring in the new year with the kids but things went awry. my parents were spent from watching the kids and decided to go home, my sister kim didn’t feel so well and only stay for a bit before heading out with terry, reagan, and bennett. my dear, old friend bex, her husband james, and their two sweet girl ruby and wren stayed along with thuy and we all rang in the new year together!

it ended being an awesome night albeit the deficit of family. the sweetest part of the evening? watching the girls play together. they were sooooooo sweet and so darn cute!!! they made the night magical. they actually stayed up until midnight and we rang in the new year in style…pj’s, noise makers, and streamer poppers!

it was an amazing new year’s eve. i am so thankful for what 2016 gave us – ellie. it was an amazing year full of fabulous memories, olive gaining a sister, sweet moments with friends and family, life was super good. we are blessed.

i hope, want, wish for this year to be full of health, prosperity, and lots of kindness. i pray for my parent’s health, our family’s health, and my siblings health. i am curious on what wonderful moments await us and hope darkness passes us by. the new year is always exciting, refreshing, and exhilarating; and i hope that everyone has a happy, wonderful, captivating new year!!!

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[ready to ring in the sweet new year]

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[kid goodie bag]

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[b visiting from seattle]

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[new year’s eve trinkets]

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[cousins]

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[i loooooove the swan wrapping paper]

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[oh these sweet babes]

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[cheers!]

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[ringing in the new year!]

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[i will have my cake and eat it too]

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

merry christmas!

merry christmas to you and your family! may your day be filled with joy, laughter, love, yummy food, great spirits, and sweet hugs!

today we celebrate the birth of jesus christ and the love of God! we are so blessed to know how good and great God can be & we are very thankful to be touched by His grace.

glory to God in the highest! peace on earth and goodwill to men!

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xoxo