valentine’s day ’18

one day, maybe a month or so before valentine’s day, olive asked me if we could have a valentine’s day party. well, ok! i thought it was so cute that she asked! i then inquired who she would like to come to this party, and she, without hesitation, said, “reagan, bennett, and terry!”. alrighty then. i thought it was hilarious! so i text my sisters and let them know what olive had asked and who she wanted to come to the party. my sister kim said, “well, i didn’t want to come anyways!” hahaha!

so, we had our family over for a fun little party! of course we kept it simple. wink. wink. in all seriousness, it really was a simple and easy party to get ready for! olive and i did some food prep before everyone came over. we cut up some ingredients for the apps and olive helped me cut out heart shaped pepperoni for the heart shaped pizzas hc was going to make!

i decorated the kitchen area and we waited for hc to come home from work. he started pizzas while i started apps. we had mozzarella sticks, jalapeños filled with cream cheese, and guac dip. the heart shaped pizzas turned out so cute and delicious and after dinner, we served a yummy cake!

after dessert, we gave the kids their valentine’s day gifts and the kids played and had a ton of fun. olive is always excited to hang with her cousins! our evening was short for it was a school night. so after a couple hours of visiting, we wrapped up our evening and said our farewells.

the party turned out so cute {if i do say so myself} and a good time was had by all! it was definitely a day of love indeed!

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[kid’s table]

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[she’s such a ham!]

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[heart pepperoni]

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[hc and terry]

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[my girls]

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[cousins]

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[hc and kim twinning]

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[look at that pout face]

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[present time!]

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xoxo

snow day

i am not one to watch the weather reports. i typically glance at the daily temperature so i have guidance on how to dress the girls. so, it was totally by word of mouth when i heard that we were getting a huge snowstorm! whaaaaaa?!

the days leading up to the actual event, i felt like i heard so many tall tales! such things as, we were going to get 6-12″, we were going to get 15″+, it was going to be crazy, things were going to shut down, water bottles were selling out, there was a mad dash to the grocery stores, the snowfall prediction grew by inches as the days rolled towards the actual day of the storm.

my attitude was: humph…it’s chicago. we’ve had worse. and so it began. the snow started to fall, and fall, and fall, and fall. i absolutely love fresh snow! it’s so clean, calm, and beautiful. it kept falling and falling, on and off for almost three days. we ended up with 15″+ and it was a total winter wonderland!

hc wanted to take miss olive out in the snow. one – to put on the gear he had bought for her and two – how could you not?? there was sooooo much snow, you had to have some fun it!

olive was apprehensive at first. she was uncertain about the mounds of powdery white snow. slowly but surely, though, she started to become keen about it. and soon enough, she was giggling and wanted to play in it!

well, we survived the massive snowstorm of 2018! the roads were cleared over night {after the heaviest snowfall} and all was well. it was back to business the next day, although it continued to snow but like i said – it’s chicago. it’s not our first rodeo! yahooooo!

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[ready for the snow]

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[she’s not quite sure what to do]

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[holy snow!]

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[she was not happy]

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[oh her sweet unhappy face]

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[throwing snow at dada!]

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[hc jumping in the snow, entertaining olive]

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[she thinks dada is soooooo silly]

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[she’s so sweet!]

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xoxo

hb ma soeur thuy!

happy birthday to my lovely sister, thuy!

on saturday, we treated thuy to a spa morning and then, at night, we had a wonderful birthday dinner for her. it was quite the lovely day!

our day started out with pedicures and relaxation. we chilled, got pampered, and then went out to lunch. funny story…so kim and i brought our own flip flops to the spa and thuy did not. hmmmmm. it’s winter here, it’s cold, and sock and boots don’t mix well with freshly painted toes. so, yes, we wear our flip flops out. i told thuy to not put her boots on because she was going to ruin her painted nails. well, she decided to wear the paper thin, cheap flip flops they give you, out and about the mall. a quarter of the way to our destination, the flip flops b r e a k!! ugh! she was limping around, holding the flip flop in place between her toes!!!

after we ate, she decided to not wear the flip flops anymore and just put on her socks to walk around the mall!!!! whaaaaa? ohmergawd. kim and i were like, nooooooo! kim wanted to run to a store and buy her a pair of flip flops….but thuy insisted that we don’t spend the money on shoes. we were like, helloooooo! we don’t want to walk around with you wearing a canada goose jacket and no shoes?!!!!

so, it had been long enough, where her nails should have been somewhat dry and kim remembered that she had her shoes in her purse. thank goodness! thuy put them on and we walked on our merry way in peace and non embarrassment. hahaha!

later that evening, we all met at neat kitchen in westmont. it was local, good, and they could seat a party of 16 people with no problem. kim, terry, hc, and i met earlier to ‘pre-game’, as the boys called it. around 7, we were shown our table and slowly, everyone trickled in to celebrate thuy!

we ordered apps, libations flowed, great energy, conversations, and laughter filled the air. the night flew by! we were having so much fun! it’s always a great time when you are celebrating an occasion and the company is so good! the food was {as usual} delicious and copious. before we knew it, the hours flew by! the server brought out a decadent dessert to thuy in honor of her birthday and we all broke out in song.

the night ended on a high note and we all walked away feeling the love that we had for thuy. happy birthday my sweet sister! cheers to many more wonderful birthdays together!

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[sisters are the best]

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[pete and lan]

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[dan and agata]

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[sheryl, thuy, and lan]

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[kisses for you!]

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[these two…bromance]

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[happy birthday!]

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[a few of the girls]

xoxo

auld lang syne

happy new year!

we hosted a small get together for our friends and family on new year’s eve!

our family debated on whether or not we wanted to go out to dinner {something we’ve done many, many times on new year’s], so we decided to have a party at our place instead! just the sisters and the bro and a few friends. people who we typically celebrate with every year.

we were in debate on what we were going to cook {not me! ha!], we just had beef tenderloin for christmas eve, we had a spiral ham and prime rib for christmas, so we went with a pork tenderloin for new year’s eve! every one pitched in with the menu and when that happens, it makes the night so much more fun and easy!

i ran around decorating like a crazy person. rummaging through my decor box and creating something fun for new year’s! i had no clue what i wanted to do for the tables, the photo booth, the dessert table…but thank goodness everything turned out sparkly and festive!

we ate, and cooked, and ate, and cooked, and ate some more and then ate more food. then ate dessert and then ate more leftover food. bahahahaha! we were s t u f f e d. the food was all sooooo delicious and perfectly made.

once dinner was over {we ate late on purpose}, we cleaned up a bit, and chilled; waiting for the new york countdown, since we have kids and we are ‘old’ and we didn’t want to be up all night…ohmergawd. we’re duds. haaaaaaahaha!

anyhoo, once we counted down, everyone pretty much ran out to go home! no problem…we were tired! i really think it’s because it’s the last of the holidaze and by then, we are just spent!

overall it was a wonderful, relaxing evening! i hope this year brings everyone love, joy, health, prosperity, and many great adventures!

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[nye photo booth]

école valentines jour artisanat

[she wouldn’t put on a more festive outfit, insisted on wearing this crown, and lately, this has been her cheese face…]

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[the boys]

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[she looooooved sitting on the chair!]

école valentines jour artisanat

[i was stumped…i wasn’t sure what i wanted to do for the centerpieces!]

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[me and hc]

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[chalkboard calligraphy]

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[kids table]

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[party favors]

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[cheese plate]

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[everything is good with macarons]

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[kim and terry]

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[sip sip hooray!]

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[party cake]

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[the girls]

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[party table]

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[i love our fireplace…so cozy!]

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[dance party!]

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[rich and agata]

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[pete and dan]

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[triplets]

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[interpretive dance]

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[plaid in the usa]

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[hey olive, smile! hahaha]

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[lan, avery, and pete]

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[agata, olive, and dan]

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[isn’t she so sweet??]

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[oh these kids…it’s so hard to wrangle them in for a good pic!]

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[ready to ring in the new york new year!]

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[counting down!]

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xoxo

noel ’17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[cookies and milk for santa]

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

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[excited over santa gifts!]

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[no pj olive]

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

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

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[snow globe]

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[christmas day mimosa]

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[cinnamon rolls]

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[santa’s gift]

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[sweet babes]

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[sweet exchange]

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[christmas dinner tablescape]

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[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

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

unicorn birthday

one day, a few months ago, i asked olive what kind of birthday party did she want. without hesitation, she said, “a unicorn party!”. ok. i really did think i would get away with not having a unicorn party. why? well, unicorns are the rage right now. the rage! everyone was having a unicorn party! or more so, who didn’t have one for their little?! like for reals! i thought i could get away with not having one. hahaha! not that i am against unicorns. no, i love them! i just don’t like doing something everyone else is doing. that’s all.

anyhoo, my wheels started turning and i wanted to start planning her party. every year, i always say…oh i am not going to do anything big {except their one year birthday’s…that is big, to me!}. i always say, ‘just balloons and cake’. that’s all you need. get a cake, some balloons, and call it a birthday party. yeahhhhhhhh. every year, that doesn’t happen no matter how much i try to talk myself into a simple party.

so the crafting and planning ensued and voila! i was ready to get this party started! let me tell you! going from halloween, to my brother’s wedding, to hosting thanksgiving, and then hosting a birthday party 3 days later left me like whoaaaaaaaaa! but nevertheless, we pulled it off and olive’s party was a success and so darn cuuuuuute!

olive was soooo looking forward to this big day! she was so darn cute about it! we celebrated her birthday the tuesday before, at school, and from there on, she couldn’t stop talking about her party and could not wait for the day to arrive!

at school, i let her wear the cutest party hat in celebration of her big day and she wouldn’t take it off for two days! it was so adorable, the day after we celebrated her day in class, olive awoke and sat up in bed. i saw her struggle to put her party hat on {that she left next to her on the bedside table}, slide off the bed, and walk out into the living room. about a minute later, she came back to bed to tell me that no one was here for her party. my heart pretty much melted! i told her that her party wasn’t for another few days! oh these sweet children of mine! i could eat them up, i love them so!

well her day finally arrived and her wonderful family came over to celebrate her. hc cooked an amazing portillo’s like meal {so delicious}, our family mingled, olive had a blast with her friends and cousins, and overall, it was a total success. the decor was too cute {if i do say so myself} and i love that olive had such a great time! this was the first birthday where she totally enjoyed everyone singing happy birthday to her! all the years prior, she used to freak out, become extremely shy, or get upset! my baby girl, you’re growing up!

well, i hope you enjoy the pics! i always have such a great time documenting everything. i hope, one day, olive and ellie will look back at this thread and know how much they are loved by their family.

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[olive’s birthday invite & flowers by my talented sister, kim]

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[clouds and paper tassels]

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[how cute is this doll?!]

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[my diy unicorn balloon…they filled it up with so much helium, it became oblong instead of round!]

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[i love this gorgeous doll by monami designs]

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[what party is complete without a unicorn balloon?!]

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[unicorn photo booth]

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[flower crowns for the photo booth]

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[favor bags]

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[dessert backdrop]

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[we loooooove this book!]

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[my sweet, sweet girl…she’s so precious]

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[macarons and unicorn cookies! yasssssss]

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[i can’t get over this amazing cake!]

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[flowers by my sister kim]

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[ellie, kim, and lan]

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[aunt wendy and terry]

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[grace and missy]

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[jane and missy]

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[having fun with agata]

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[i loooooove her so much!]

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[gosh, she looks just like hc!]

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[agata, dan, and olive]

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[i can’t tell you how much i love this capture!!!! olive was being a bit moody/difficult/shy and i was like, whaaaaaaa? i felt like this was a total mom moment where i was like, c’mon girl. get a grip! hahaha!]

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[hair we goooooo!]

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[make a wish!!]

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[she’s so excited to open up her presents!]

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[lan, thuy, and kim]

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[lan and avery]

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[my tribe]

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[pin the horn on the unicorn]

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[get it bennett!]

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[reagan being silly]

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[the kids trying to help reagan]

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[avery pinning the horn on the unicorn]

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[happy girl]

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[i can’t! i just can’t!]

happy birthday my sweet, loving girl. this day was so wonderful and we love you so much!

xoxo

thanksgiving ’17

i love thanksgiving for so many reasons.

the message is clear…give thanks, share, be grateful, gather, love, and this day pretty much kicks off the holiday season! yay! i’m not one to christmas decorate before thanksgiving. don’t get me wrong. i loooooove christmas. it goes by too fast and i love savoring every day leading up to this wonderful holiday but i like to enjoy thanksgiving.

unfortunately, while we were in LA, my parent’s finished basement flooded and that literally put a damper on our thanksgiving plans there. they had to tear up the carpet, move all the furniture, and hire people to fix a myriad of things gone wrong. we have never not had a thanksgiving at my parent’s house, so we were in a pickle. last minute, we decided to host it at our house.

the good news was, my sister kim was doing the cooking! yasssss, that made all the difference! we didn’t mind having everyone over but it definitely made it so much easier on us that we didn’t have to prepare the meal! besides, my sister kim makes a killer thanksgiving feast!

we started our day {as usual} with going to hc’s aunt’s house. she hosts thanksgiving every year and it’s great because his side of the family eats sooo early. the meal is ready by 1pm but it works out so perfect for us because my family eats later {usually around 6 or 7 pm}, so we are able to spend thanksgiving with both our families!

after a few hours there, we parted ways and headed home to host my side of the family. we had such a great time! everything went so smoothly, the food prep was so easy and quick, and we ate at the earliest time we have ever eaten!

i had so much fun, last minute, decorating our place for our ‘first’ turkey day at our house! i made place cards, decorated the tables with the pumpkins we had from halloween, and spruced up some areas of the house with a few festive pieces.

after the delicious dinner, hc had baked sugar cookies for the kiddos to decorate. we pretty much do this every year! it’s so fun for them to decorate and eat the treats! i usually use my holiday cookie cutters but they were too small for the recipe we used {it called for 4″cookie slices and i didn’t want to bake batch upon batch of cookies}, so instead i gave hc my valentine cookie cutters because they were big enough! hahaha!

so the kids had a rainbow table cloth, valentine shaped cookies, and christmas frosting and sprinkles. what a combo! well, no matter…the cookies looked festive and tasted delicious!

well, i have to say that this was a very successful thanksgiving! it was fantastic to have our family over for our first thanksgiving at our house!

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[silly girl]

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[aunt wendy and hc]

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[morgan and moi]

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[hc and lori]

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*****

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[calligraphy place card]

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[playing match!]

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[mom, thuy, and dan]

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[sweet girl]

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[rad in plaid]

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[ellie eyeing the beer]

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[decorating ‘christmas’ cookies]

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xoxo

sunday after brunch

weddings are so much fun and what typically comes before and after, makes the weekend that much more special!

my family was excited to host an after wedding brunch at the langham hotel for the newlyweds and our immediate families. it was an early start but so worth it! the hotel staff set up a long table for all of us to sit at. it was perfect. we almost felt like we had our own room {there weren’t many tables next to us, being a large crowd} and our table was right next to the buffet! score!

we reveled in last night’s festivities, we shared stories, and we were all pretty much on high with how fun the wedding was!

i was delighted with the hotel’s brunch set up. everything looked delicious and the service was fantastic. i thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the langham. the staff was so polite, kind, thoughtful, and considerate. they were on top of clearing our plates at brunch, offering us endless amounts of libations {keep the mimosas flowing!}, and so accommodating.

olive was having a blast with the boys and ellie was being doted on by agata and my aunt vuong. win win for this mama! i ran around making sure the girls were good to go with food, drinks, and company and then i finally sat down and enjoyed a scrumptious plate of goodies. i downed the americanos and then sipped on my mimosa…it was all so yummy! of course the kiddos hit up the dessert table! so many sweet treats to choose from!

after a couple hours, we all parted ways to do our own thing {pool time and then we hit up the grove – which was a disaster} and then met back up in the evening for dinner at some crab shack!

that pretty much wrapped up our weekend in LA. it was such an amazing time celebrating huy + tashina. every event we attended was filled with love, happiness, and good cheer!

may your marriage be filled with love, laughter, and full bellies. much love and many blessings to my brother and beautiful sister in law!

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[the amazing dessert bar!!! i had to post this first…it was the first thing we saw when we walked in]

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[dad and mom]

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[best omelet station ever]

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[her superhero cape – a present from uncle khai]

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[good times, good food]

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[a very delicious americano and sugar stick]

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*****

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[this sweet girl looking at herself in dan’s phone]

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[hitting up the grove for the tree lighting ceremony was a huge mistake! it was SOOOOO crowded and they shut down all the stores! whaaaaaaa?! we were there for the shopping!]

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[derek hough]

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[yummy ice cream macaron]

xoxo