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]

via tandeminlove.com[the cutest nephews everrrrrr]

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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

happy birthday R!

it was reagan’s ninth birthday…ninth?! whaaaaaaa?! like seriously, where has the time gone? i can’t believe he is nine. i remember him coming home from the hospital and he was so darn cute and small. now he is nine and so grown up. wahhhhhhh!

well, we decided to all gather around my parent’s house to celebrate this special day. we ate pizza, hung out, watched the cubs vs. the giants game, and had delicious cake. thuy brought home balloons, i brought over a present, and it was very low key and fun. olive always has a great time with her cousins, she ate all her pizza, and acted super silly {and emotional} as usual.

ellie was passed around and being so cute. i love her! she is so calm and cool. she only cried when she became tired. poor thing has been fighting naps lately. she is still wondrous at night sleeping like a champ but it’s hard to get her to nap and then she is cranky in the evening.

the boys had to get home because they had school in the morning and we left shortly thereafter. olive really wanted to go home when she saw r + b head out the door but when she realized we weren’t all leaving, hello meltdown! i know she understands but her emotions get the best of her! she just cried and cried even though i told her we were leaving soon! oy vey!

we gathered our belongings and headed on the long journey home {just keeding…ya know it’s only a minute and half drive from my parent’s! ha}. anyhoo, we got home, got situated, and finished watching the rest of the cubs game…in which they WON!!!!! woo hooooooooo! oh they so needed to WIN!

so all in all, it was a fantastic evening with family, celebrating r’s birthday, and it was topped off with a cubbie win! what a perfect night!

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[cousins]

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[super auntie thuy, reagan, and olive screaming, “cheeeeeeese!”]

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[seriously cutting this cake]

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[sorry for the fuzzy iPhone pic but it’ll definitely do]

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[birthday presents]

xoxo

r’s first communion

so proud and excited for my little nephew to receive his first communion!

our plan was to get to the church early and we actually succeeded! i am amazed that we did! the parking lot was already packed but we found parking just fine. we headed inside and we immediately ran into terry. he directed us where to go and we found kim, reagan, and bennett sitting in a pew.

we waited around for everyone else to show and for the mass to begin. the ceremony was a lot quicker than i thought with sixty kids being welcomed! olive was being super cute in her daddy’s arms. she was being so sweet, so calm, and so good.

it was then time for reagan to receive his first communion. i was so excited and proud! i couldn’t wait! our entire pew walked up and i was definitely the crazy aunt with the camera, snapping pics non-stop! i did get a few good ones…although i should have played around with my setting because all the pics were sooooo red/orange in color – so annoying!

after church, we all hung out for a bit but i couldn’t hang for long…i was way too hungry and tired! i felt bad i didn’t stick around for more pics but when i don’t eat…i get exhausted and sick! so, we swung by starbucks to grab drinks and snacks before we hit the restaurant.

loved the place my sister and brother chose for the lunch. it’s a place called neat kitchen and it was super cute and they had super yummy eats! we had our own private room and it was great to let the kids run around and we just relaxed in a comfortable environment. we enjoyed tasty libations and mingled with all the other guests. olive was having a  blast with her cousins and avery. when this babe feels comfortable, she is just a gem.

the food was finally served and it was soooo good! we had a great time trying all the dishes and all the flavors that was presented before us. olive ate like a champ! it goes to show how delicious it was when this babe eats and eats and eats! woo hoo!

it was time for dessert and the pretty cake was adorned with my handmade cake topper for reagan! i must admit, i loved how it turned out! i was at the craft store with miss olive, with no plans and little ideas in mind as i pursued the aisles of trinkets. i looked at different cake topper ideas on the internet and i just wasn’t sure what i wanted to do! plus, try having a toddler with ya when you are trying to figure it out! every two seconds, “what’s this? what’s this? what’s this?” hahaha! oh my! i finally grabbed the supplies i needed in hopes that this cake topper would miraculously look fabulous and that i had grabbed all the materials i would need! well, it turned out perfect for my perfect little nephew!

after cake was served, we hung out just for a bit more and then said our goodbyes. it was a really awesome morning and afternoon with friends and family. i enjoyed my time at church, at the restaurant, and most of all…celebrating my nephews journey to christ’s table. it was a great day indeed!

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[playing peek a boo with her sunnies]

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[awww, uncle dan and b]

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[olive saw reagan and wanted to go sit in his arms…melting]

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[receiving his first communion]

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[seriously, b is always making a funny face]

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[such a sweet pic of olive and o vuong]

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[the pretty flower centerpieces kim made]

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[reagan is always soooooo sweet to her]

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[love these three…soon to be four!]

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[neat kitchen was super yummy!]

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[hostess with the mostess!]

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[sisters]

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[best guy ever]

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[dapper dudes…so cute!]

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[she loooooves to play with balloons]

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[mom and o vuong]

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[dan and thuy]

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[kim and lan]

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[my love…she’s the cutest]

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[isn’t he so handsome?! he’s so proud too! i love it!]

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[my diy cake topper for r’s cake]

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[aren’t they so cute together?!]

xoxo

huy + tashina

so yay for my brother huy and his fiancé tashina visiting us here in the chi. they had come into town {from l.a.} the days prior and attended a friend’s wedding, so this night, we had them over for dinner and fun!

please don’t mind the kitchen under construction. that’s a whole ‘nother chapter. anyhoo, everyone came over and we hemmed and hawed over what food to order. in the mean time, i had my two little nephews running around, my brothers, tashina, and my mother in law hanging out in the kitchen, deciding on food, and then olive just waking up {crying} in her crib. all of a sudden i was in the middle of trying to place an order for food, consoling miss olive, and appeasing everyone else. it started to get a wee bit crazy for me! olive was grumpy but everyone wanted her attention {huy wanted to play, reagan wanted to play} and this only caused her to cry even more! i couldn’t place the food order because i was trying to console olive, then hc calls me on the phone trying to talk to me, and the boys kept asking me if they could eat ramen noodles with sriracha because they didn’t want to eat chinese food! hahahah!

ohmygawd. it was only until after the food arrived did the craziness seem to settle down! the boys didn’t mind eating hot dogs and chips {my speciality}, so it saved me from making an easy meal to making an easier meal! woo! we all actually sat down to eat, relax, and converse. it was great. we had such a wonderful time talking, eating, and enjoying each other’s company. it was so nice. in-between us ordering food and eating, tashina helped us out by sewing olive’s halloween costume. i was so ready to do it myself but with her coming into town, i thought, why not ask? she made olive’s baptism gown, so why not another white gown for miss olive?! yay!

family sew night

[setting up the sewing machine]

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[watching the action going down]

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[being curious]

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[bestie cousins eating together]

family night

[chillin’ and having a really good time]

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[someone is wiped out and someone isn’t. haha]

we had a wonderful time together as a family. slowly, everyone trickled out. dan left, jane went to bed, and then huy and tashina said their good nights. i had the boys until my sister came home from her event that evening. it was too cute. R + B fell asleep while olive stayed w i d e awake! she is such a nigh owl!

it was a great evening with family, those are always the best moments in life.

xoxo

b’s birthday

the morning we came home from vegas, we went right into hosting a birthday party for my nephew bennett! yes, it was a very last minute decision…my sister wasn’t expecting to throw a party for him {we usually just gather together for a dinner out} but b asked and he received.

i needed to grab a few things for b’s party, so i headed out with olive while hc mowed the lawn. as soon as i arrived home, peeps were already over setting up the place for the party. we started prepping and decorating…it was so impromptu, so there wasn’t a ton to do…easy peasy!

i was dreading putting olive down because her cousins were already over and she always wants to play and not miss out on anything. it was very comical the way miss olive reacted when i told her it was nap time. she first stared me down. she literally paused what she was doing and did the stare down. then she slammed her fist onto the table and said no. then she put her head down onto her arm, onto the table and wept. “wah wah wah, hmph, nooooooooo” is what she kept saying. then, i picked her up to change her diaper and i kept saying bedtime, and she responded with an insistent, “i don’t want toooooo, i don’t want tooooooo”. oh, it was hilarious. i put her into her crib, she turned to her side and fell asleep. what an actress!!!!!

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[b wanted a chicago cubs themed birthday party]

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[thuy’s hand painted tank! how cool is this?!}

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[gathering gifts for the birthday boy]

slowly all the guests trickled in. it was a very small, intimate party. just family. we all hung out, snacked on some goodies, chit chatted, and enjoyed each other’s company.

we grilled, we set up the ‘buffet’, ate a delicious meal inside {it was way hot and so much cooler in the house, so we set up a long table to dine on}, and we slowly trickled back out so the kids could play. we pulled out the little kiddie pool that jane had bought for olive and the kids went crazy over it. it’s always fun to play with water, non?!

of course, what is a party without a piñata?! and let me tell you about this piñata…it was a tough little sucker. the kids {without a blindfold} beat it and beat it and beat it and it would not break! it started to fall apart but it would not split in half or break open completely. we finally had to call it quits and the kids dove in for the candy. it was like the bionic piñata!

after the piñata, we sang happy birthday to b and served the yummy cake. i love cake. i love cake with whipped cream frosting. that is my favorite. buttercream is another. i love it to be sweet, light, and airy. i must say, cakes at mariano’s market are deeeeeeelish.

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[our first guests: pete and lan]

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[avery and kim, serving delicious apps]

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[ready for the piñata]

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[swing batter batter batter swing!]

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[go reagan!]

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[make a wish!]

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[represen’ing! go cubs!]

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[ready to open presents]

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[sponge bob madness!]

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at the very end of the day and waaaayyyy after the party ‘ended’. b opened up his gifts and was a super happy camper! he loved his presents and we loved seeing his happy face. it was a fantastic day. although hc and i were spent from our overnight travel, nothing feels better than having your family over and seeing your little nephew happy to have celebrated his birthday. it was a good one b! happy day to you, always.

xoxo

flashback friday

today takes us back to 2009.

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look at sweet baby bennett. how adorable is he?! he’s giving me the side eye and a smirk. toooo stinkin’ cute!

i can’t believe how big he is now and so sweet. he’s such a funny guy. when olive was born, he wasn’t too keen on her. he just wasn’t interested. a baby? it did nothing for him but now…miss olive can play and have fun, so they are good together. it was quite adorbs to see their journey together and how bennett has grown to love his little cousin. vice versa.

bennett is goofy, sweet, and clumsy. from the moment he was mobile, there was always something in his way. ya know that kid that always runs into something? the kid that always trips over something? the kid that always bangs his head on something? yuuuup, that is our darling little b. it’s so endearing and comical at the same time when i see him do something clumsy. i’m totally filled with love and laughter when he runs into something…is that weird?? whatevs, weird but true.

it’s been wonderful to see him grow and become such a good little boy. i am most excited at the fact that olive has the best cousins ever and that they will grow up together and hopefully be best buds. i always wonder what bennett will be like when he grows up but i am fiercely wishing that he won’t cause i love them cute, small, and innocent. i really do wish they would stay small and sweet.

 it’s amazing how babies can evoke such happiness in us all. the purity of a child is truly a blessing from God! well, my lovies. i hope you think back to a time when your little one or niece/nephew was this tiny and precious and it puts a smile on your face. happy friday y’all!

xoxo

curious cupcake

the other night, my famille was over just to hang out. it was a true lazy day for all of us. we ate lunch, chilled, and the kids played together {like little crazy rug rats}. a few hours after lunch, little b wanted cake. chocolate cake to be exact but i didn’t have any to offer. so i decided i would make cupcakes for everyone {little b was just fine with it being vanilla}.

b was so excited. he really wanted to help. he was in the kitchen with me pretty much the whole time. asking me questions about everything! he was most curious on how long everything took. how much longer until the batter is done? how much longer for them to bake? how many more minutes unit they’re done? how many more minutes until they’re done? how many minutes until they are cool? are they still cooling? are they done now? can we frost them now? what about now? hehehehe. too cute…such a kid thing, no?

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[helping me line the cupcake tins]

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[filling the liners with batter]

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[frosting manic!]

so, the cupcakes were finally cool and b frosted them with me! we had a great time frosting and sprinkling each one. i gave him a little spatula knife and he dug his little hand and little knife into the frosting and slowly swirled on bits of frosting onto each cupcake. he did well! he, at first, had a hard time swiveling his wrist back and forth so he could spread the frosting around but with a few tries, he finally got it.

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[a little sprinkle never hurts]

we got all the cupcakes covered and sprinkled half of them to dress some of them up. thennnn, it was time to gobble them up! r, b, me, and thuy each had ourselves a sweet treat. it was great to have made cupcakes with my darling little nephew b. he was the best sous chef evah!

xoxo

flashback friday {happy halloween!}

happy halloween lovies!

today takes us back to 2012. the family took a trip to bengston farm in homer glen {where?!}. it was a fun, fall event. there were plenty of pumpkins, rides, and greasy food to nosh on. we had a swell time exploring the place, there were plenty of fun activities for the kids like train rides, carousels, petting zoo, and haunted houses.

we played around and had a great time with the family. there were so many people there! it was a beautiful sunny day and it was perfect weather for us to hang out outside. i really do love going to a pumpkin farm, apple farm, any type of farm in october. it’s a tradition, it’s a must. it adds to the festive mood of the season. it totally gets me happy.

here, reagan and i snuggled onto the big wheel bench. look how small he was. so adorbs and cute. i love this pic because it’s sunny, cute, and sweet. i love this little guy and he is so wonderful to olive, such a caring cousin he is! what a cutie patutie.

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i hope you have some fun, exciting plans for this halloween night! we sure do. we can’t wait to experience olive’s first halloween. we are ready! what is she going to be?? shhhhh, it’ll be a cute surprise {something fluffy, furry, and adorbs…of course}!

happy, spooky halloween y’all!

xoxo

cupcake creations

one lovely evening, olive and i went over to my parent’s house to help my sister kim bake cupcakes for reagan’s soccer team. the occasion? his birthday!

we headed over and got crackin’ on eating dinner. hello. first things first! hc placed an order for pizza…enough pizza for a small village. after noshing, kim was so excited to give olive her gift. awwww, such a thoughtful auntie and godmother! she gave olive a hello kitty rattle plush toy {olive loves it!}, the kitty cat is usually olive’s buddy during car rides! she also gave little o an adorable pumpkin coat! so fun! of course, we dressed olive in the garb and she was like, ‘stop playing dress up with me…i’m busy playing’.

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[hello kitty rattle plush toy // gifts from auntie kim]

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[pumpkin coat…hmmm, not impressed]

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[there she goes!]

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[pizza night]

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[holy pizza]

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[same noses]

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[stuffed mushrooms]

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[being super silly with her cousins]

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after the shenanigans, we got serious with our cupcake making. thuy started the cupcakes, i decorated them, and kim finished out the packaging. total sister work! they turned out super cute. it was, obviously, a soccer theme. kim had gotten the polka dot cupcake liners, soccer toppers, and cups. i added in the cellophane bags, sprinkles, black ribbon, and frosting. ta da! soccer themed birthday cupcakes for reagan’s team!

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[getting ready to pipe some icing]

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[whose pout is bigger?]

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[goofing around]

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after we assembled all the cupcakes, the kids were stoked to eat them! well, the kids and hc. olive wanted to partake in all the yumminess as well…she only got a taste. we gotta hold off on the sweets until her numero uno birthday! don’t want to spoil her tastebuds too much right now.

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[cupcake time!]

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[belly baring, frosted covered nose girl]

it was a fun evening. the kids always have so much fun together. hc took olive home early to bathe her and grace stayed behind to play a little longer with the boys. after a bit, we finally headed home {ya know, that long drive from my parent’s house 😉 ]. all in all, it was a sweet, perfect evening.

xoxo

simple night

we had a low key, simple night out with the fam. i love moments like these. we can get together, have dinner, hang out, and shop! us gals can really shop. i don’t know how and why. it cannot be explained. were we born with the shopping gene?? yup, i think we were. there is such a thing as a shopping gene, right? some people are born with it and others are not. when you have the shopping gene, you can shop for hours on end. you are able to go to one store, to the next, to the next, and the next without getting bored or exhausted. yes, that is what me and my sister’s have. the unique shopping gene. 😉

well. we started out the evening with a tasty dinner at cpk. we had our usual server, our usual order, and the usual routine. the boys colored and i fed olive her dinner. hc ordered a pizza and i wasn’t super hungry {what?!}, so i ordered a bowl of soup. split pea soup…delicious, add a dash of ground pepper and it totes is a meal!

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[selfie and cpk]

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[chunker cheeks]

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[coloring]

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[my love]

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[these two being silly!]

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[pizza! pizza!]

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we actually went shopping before dinner {because there was a wait} and before dinner ended, i ran out to pick up a few things for miss olive at babygap {a fav store of mine for the little missy}. the fam finished up at the restaurant and hc came over to tell me they were headed over to nordstrom. i made my purchases at babygap and we walked our merry way over to nordstrom kid’s shoe department. i could spot them from across the store…all three cuties had their balloon in hand!

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olive was having a great time playing peek a boo with her balloon and reagan. oh, reagan. he is the sweetest with her…always doting on her and being such a great, big cousin to little olive. it is so sweet to watch. as you can see, she was all smiles!

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[peek a boo]

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[weeeeee! weeeeee!]

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after much strolling, shopping, and a whole lotta fun, it was time to go. the usual…get miss olive home and start her nightly routine for bedtime!

having family close is the best thing. easy dinner. easy company. easy shopping partners. God bless my family and yours!

xoxo