christmas day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[my sweet girl]

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[she looooooves bath bombs!]

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[so in love]

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[rudolph the red nosed reindeer]

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

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

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

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[my sweet girl]

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[rich’s side of family]

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[christmas dinner tablescape]

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[jane and aunt vicki]

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xoxo

christmas eve ’18

christmas eve. it’s such a special evening. i get so excited leading up to this day. the magic, the love, the merriment. there is something so wonderful about spending this evening together as a family. maybe it’s the hustle and bustle that envelopes you. maybe it’s because everyone is in a good mood. maybe it’s the sound of christmas music and strangers saying merry christmas to you. maybe it’s the joy and smiles that exude from your children filled with anticipation of candy, toys, and a visit from santa. maybe it’s the smell of a delicious dinner waiting to be served. maybe it’s the wine kicking in. hahaha!

whatever it is, it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year. we spend christmas eve at my parent’s house annually and i love the coziness of it all. the kids have fun darting all around and playing. our family members ebb and flow to different parts of the house to socialize and immerse themselves in random conversations and activities.

once dinner is ready, we all take our seats and my dad says grace. this year, we had mom’s crab soup, tenderloin, sautéed mushrooms, corn, mashed potatoes, {i’m sure i am forgetting something} and agata brought her homemade cabbage pirogies sprinkled with chopped bacon!!! her dish was the highlight and hit of the night! it was sooooooo flippin’ good!

after dinner and clean up, we served desserts and then we all changed into our christmas pj’s and posed for our family photo. a tradition running, maybe, ten years strong…or close to that! once that was done, the kids became super excited because we started our gift exchange. it’s soooo delightful to watch their excitement and joy!

oh gosh, the girls are so fortunate to get so much!!!! the gifts kept rolling in for the kids. ellie was a bit fussy and was not into opening gifts but olive on the other hand – she was a pro! oh my, it was such a long and lovely night. after each gift was opened and desserts were consumed, we had to get home. it was almost midnight!!! so late for the little buggers. plus, santa was coming soon!

what a perfect and wonderful christmas eve. we are feeling so grateful for everything – life, love, health, family, and friends.

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[bûche de nöel]

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[tashina and huy]

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[olive is sooooooo extraaaaaaa. aren’t they the cutest cousins?!]

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[she’s so sassy, sweet, and thugalicious]

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[ellie loves dogs]

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[how sweet is nutmeg and ellie?]

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[our sweet family]

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[christmas is for chillin’ with the fam]

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[kim’s table centerpiece]

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[kids table]

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[plaid anyone?]

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[hamming it up]

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[ellieeeeee, she was hugging reagan so tight and making the funniest faces!]

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[thuy and mom]

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[how sweet is this?!]

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[y’all. i can’t even with olive’s faces. hahhaa!]

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[i had to post them all because she’s so cute!]

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[christmas pj’s]

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[the doan zone]

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[there goes olive again with the cute expressions]

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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

christmas popcorn

every year, i kind of do the same thing. maybe one day i will switch it up and make something different but as of now, making christmas popcorn for the neighbors is so fun and easy!!! i stress easy because this mama doesn’t have much time anymore, especially during the holidays!

this treat requires very simple ingredients: 2 microwavable popcorn packs, 2 bags of white chocolate, pretzels, m&m’s, and christmas sprinkles. i popped the popcorn and then melted the chocolate. my favorite way to melt chocolate morsels is to boil two inches of water in a pot, put a broiler on top and then another small pot in it to melt the chocolate. i melt small batches of chocolate to ensure it doesn’t coagulate or seize, plus i prefer to make small amounts of christmas popcorn to ensure each nook and cranny gets coated with yummy goodness!

i put out a large sheet of wax paper and spread the popcorn out, poured copious amounts of m&m’s, dumped a handful of the broken pretzels, and then drizzled the chocolate in a zig zag pattern across the mixture. after the chocolate, i then dumped a generous heaping of sprinkles all over the popcorn. it transforms into a yummy, sweet, decadent treat for the holidays! mmmmmmm

after the chocolate dries, i then packaged it into mason jars…wide mouth mason jars are best but i only had regular mouth jars on hand. i had pre-dressed them up in festive paper, ribbon, and string.

ta da! yummy, easy gifts for your awesome neighbors! {we are so lucky to be surrounded by awesome neighbors!} i love the holidays – ’tis the season of giving out sweet treats and fun gifts!

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[dressing up the jars]

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[the simple easy, unhealthy ingredients]

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[melting chocolate]

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[i would turn around and this candy thief would sneak m&m’s off the counter! i had a picture of her totally laughing, sneaking the candy but it was so blurry…wahhhhh]

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[before mixing]

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xoxo

olive & santa claus

we were so excited to have scheduled a visit with santa claus! so, dream works has created and built ten {i think it’s ten, or is it seven? anyhoo} led lighted santa clause houses throughout the u.s. and oakbrook center has one! it’s a good thing we made our appointment early because it is now booked throughout the season! we were so excited to have experienced this journey to see santa claus, what a unique idea it is!

we packed ourselves up and headed out to oakbrook. we were running a bit behind but that was no matter because, unfortunately, santa was also running sooo behind! we waited in line for quite some time {that sucked…especially since we made an appointment!} and it was so cold out…boo! the guest service folks were kind enough to let us step away and warm up inside a store and not lose our spot in line. we needed to because it was way too cold outside for miss olive! after a very, very long wait, we were finally up next! woo hoo!

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[pretty cool, huh? the images actually change]

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[waiting out in the cold for santa // coat by zara]

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[red nosed reindeer]

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[auntie kim making a pit stop by]

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[fiona, donkey, and shrek]

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[my little baby warming up]

they gathered us inside the ‘foyer’ of the house and we were welcomed in by a few elves. we waited there, another ten minutes or so, before we were finally greeted by another elf! she brought us into another room and talked about how we were going to meet santa! buttttt, santa had snuck away! shrek and donkey appeared and said we needed to go to the north pole to see santa, he had gone back and we needed to find a way to meet up with him!

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[we are finally inside! waiting to see if santa is behind the curtain]

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[nope, santa isn’t here!]

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[shrek and donkey telling us that we need to build a sleigh to get to the north pole!]

our little elf then led us into another room, a top secret room where we could build a sleigh ride to fly to the north pole. we spent some time in there building our cool sleigh! it was so interactive and fun!

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[building our sleigh on the computer!]

after we built our sleigh, we were then led into another room where our computerized sleigh came to life! we all jumped onto the sleigh and held on tight for our trip to the north pole. it was soooooo cool. we loved it! it was so realistic and fun. we flew through the sky with shrek, fiona, donkey, and other friends, they led us to the north pole.

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[we were flying to the north pole! it was so awesome!]

after our sleigh ride, we finally landed in the north pole! we were almost there, santa was within reach! we waited in another room and waited our turn to see him! as you can see…olive was loving it {not}! i knew she would completely freak out once i handed her over. oh em gee. i could not stop laughing. my poor baby girl was having a freak out. and that santa…he was so stinkin’ cool. he didn’t break a sweat and handled her like a pro! the pics down below are too presh.

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[this one is our favorite…ha!}

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yay! olive’s first visit with santa was a success{?}. well, it was for us, although i think olive might argue that. hehe.

happy holidays y’all!

xoxo