christmas ’20

christmas was in question, just like every holiday this year. for thanksgiving, we all spent it with our nuclear family but for christmas…we thought, let’s do this.

it went back and forth, whether or not we were going to have it at our house or my parent’s house. we weren’t sure if we wanted to have all that commotion over at my parent’s since they were recovering from covid and my dad was still very weak and exhausted. my mom insisted that it would be best to have it there because it would allow my dad to rest in the comfort of his own home versus our house. so, we settled on my parent’s house!

we did our usual. my sister kim cooked most of the meal and we brought ancillary items. LOL i brought desserts and thuy brought…oh my gosh. i don’t remember what she brought…a salad? she was going to make an apple cobbler but there were a lot of desserts, she last minute nixed it.

i chuckle at the fact that we were determined to start early and end early. bahhhahahaha. nope. we all said we would meet at my parent’s around 2pm. that turned into 3pm. then 4pm. we were going to eat around 5 or 6pm and that turned into our usual 8pm. doh! plus, dan and agata typically celebrate with her family first and they don’t usually get over to mom and dad’s until 7pm…so in the end. it was allllll the same. LOL

we nibbled on a charcuterie board, drank wine, the kids played, assembled gingerbread houses and trees, and when we sat down for dinner, my dad said a prayer. like every year, we cleaned up, readied desserts and opened gifts upstairs! the kids were so excited! this was the first year ellie was so into it. last year she just wandered around but this year she was like, where are my gifts. LOL she kept saying, ‘i don’t see my name!’ as she would look for presents addressed to her.

and of course, we took our annual pj photos with everyone! tashina and huy couldn’t be with us {so sad!} but we were able to FaceTime them and include them in the picture like always! so perfect!

more on christmas morning, my parent’s 50th anniversary and christmas day down below!

C H R I S T M A S E V E

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christmas balloons and my parent’s 50th anniversary balloon
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sweet girl watching some a christmas movie
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decorating a gingerbread tree
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pandemic tree 2020
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hc brought his own bar to my parent’s house
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they are so cute!
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surveying the scene
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the cutest cousins
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the best crew
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excitedly opening gifts
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bennett showing off his gift
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i love the way she’s looking at him
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just physically missing huy and tashina!

while celebrating christmas eve, we incorporated my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary! isn’t that amazing?! we got them a cake and balloons to celebrate the special occasion!

5 0 T H A N N I V E R S A R Y

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we were so tired christmas eve, i forgot to get the girls to put out cookies and carrots for santa and his reindeers! i did it myself but bummed they didn’t experience it with me! then we put them to bed and i forgot to remind olive to wake me up before she goes downstairs. another fail!

so – early christmas morning, i wake up to olive not in bed! ugh!! darn it! i missed her surprised face when she saw santa’s gifts!!!! i had to drag ellie out of bed, what a sleepy head, and go find olive. she was so excited over what santa had brought!

they went through their stockings and we opened up all the gifts from us. olive was besides herself at the huge LOL house santa dropped off. once all the presents were opened and cleaned up, we jumped on breakfast. hearty for us and cinnamon rolls and sprinkles for the girls!

it was a special morning. it was slow, calm, heartwarming and sweet. oh how i enjoy these moments with my babes. their sweetness, innocence, appreciation, and love for everything makes my heart melt.

C H R I S T M A S M O R N I N G

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santa came! he ate his cookies and the reindeer ate their carrots
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checking out their stockings
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the sweetest smile
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going through her goodies
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later that day, we usually host christmas day for hc’s side of the family but obviously with covid, that was not happening. instead, we had his sister and mom over. hc cooked ham and bunch of other delicious sides. he always does such a great job creating the menu and working hard to make it wonderful.

we hung out, chillaxed, drank, ate, conversed and reveled in the evening’s calm and brightness of christmas. after dinner, i served desserts {cookies, peppermint bark, cake} and we opened presents.

what i have loved about being in this season of covid is the intimacy, quietness, and slowness of everything. it’s nice to not be rushed and overwhelmed with all the craziness that life was. it’s sweet, calm, and full of depth. a year that no one wanted but we all figured it out.

C H R I S T M A S D A Y

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christmas cookies from toni’s patisserie

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bûche de noël
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last minute dinner tablscape
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christmas shenanigans

christmastime is always full of fun.

we end up doing all sorts of fun activities and it just adds so much joy to the season!

some people might feel overwhelmed at the prospect of keeping up with all the joy, sparkle, and fun of the season but i find that being busy and on the go such a part of the season. don’t get me wrong…i love having slow days and catch up days and days where you don’t have a million places to be but i also try to be smart, efficient, and effective with my time and learn to say no when it’s too much.

with that said, here are a few snippets of some of the fun we had this past december!

G I N G E R B R E A D H O U S E

every year we create a gingerbread house. olive loves to decorate it and ellie likes to eat all the candies. LOL next year, i am going to try to create my own from scratch. well not from scratch scratch but i saw, this past season, a house made from graham crackers and all the fun trimmings and i think i might try that next year! i’ve gotten the same house for olive a couple years in a row and i am hoping to find a different one for her to make next year!

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gingerbread trimmings
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this pretty much sums up all our projects. olive working hard and ellie watching and eating candy. LOL
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olive very cautiously putting on the candies
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my sweeties
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S A N T A

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in awe over mr. and mrs. claus
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I always say 4 is the magic number when it comes to santa!
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the sweetest letter that olive wrote to santa. i asked her what she wanted from santa and she said this. be still my heart.

D R I V E I N T H E A T R E

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Z O O L I G H T S

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a fun rainbow globe of lights
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having fun in the rainbow globe of lights
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having a blast with val
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C O O K I E D E C O R A T I N G

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excited to decorate!
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R A N D O M S H E N A N I G A N S

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painting animlas
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she cracks me up. showing off to me how focused she is.
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ellie working hard on her gorilla
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home baked cookies for the neighbors
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home from school, ugly sweater day, and ready for winter break!
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xoxo

decorating the tree

once thanksgiving is over, we go all out for christmas! i know this year has been hard for a lot of people and many people decorated earlier than usual but hc and i still chose to wait until after thanksgiving. that poor holiday…no one really gives it a chance!

we always kick off our decorating weekend by pulling everything out and getting the tree done! the girls get so excited over it! they love going through all the ornaments. we blast holiday music, grab some drinks and get as much as we can done! sometimes we overwhelm ourselves. we have concluded that we have accumulate a lot more decor over the years, we can’t just nail it in one day {years prior…we used to get it done in one day}. we literally have to decorate over the weekend. oh em gee. so much work! but honestly, it’s worth it…it turns out so pretty!

with it now taking so much longer to decorate, i might change my tune and start decorating before thanksgiving! LOL it’s too stressful to do it all of black friday weekend! there’s just too much going then. oh, we shall see.

it just gets more magical as the girls get a little bit older. they are just more aware and more in awe and so so excited over christmas. ohhhhhh, i don’t know how i will handle it when they lose their innocence and it’s not as fun and exciting as it is now! i hope not…i hope they never lose their sense of wonder! i know it’ll be a slow progression but my heart aches at that thought right now.

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decorating the tree
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they were so excited for the ornaments!
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such a doll. she was excited to find this ornament
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trimming the tree
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attempting to put the star on the tree
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she found the santa hat and loved it!
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advent calendar
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i can’t with their sweet faces
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eating her delicious chocolate from the advent calendar
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xoxo

AG zoom birthday party

ohhhhhh olive’s birthday.

first off…it’s always around thanksgiving and that makes it difficult to plan anything as it’s a major holiday and many people travel. so, i always try to plan a party for her a weekend ahead of her birthday.

well then there’s covid. ohhhhhhh the rona. always getting in people’s way. it first started with a great idea. olive recently became interested in american girl dolls {hello…her friends influenced her LOL} and i thought…’oh! let’s host an american girl doll party at the american girl place in chicago!’. totally a great idea! i told hc that it’d be ideal to host a party there because it would be cheaper than what it would cost for me to host one. LOL #truth i buy that much decor for every party and it’s so much!

we thought, let’s invite a small group of girls, rent a limo, and go to the city to have lunch, explore, and then come home. a quick 2 ish hour party and it would be so much fun!

i have always committed to throwing parties for the girls at home, with only family, up until the age of 5. after that…i’m like…nope. that’s where friends become involved and i’d rather rent a space to host than to hold that in my own home. i don’t want to clean, worry about the food, create all the decor, and honestly…fret over the mess.

so with that in mind, i called american girl place to secure a reservation. first problem…with the pandemic, they didn’t take any reservations more than 30 days out. okuuuurrrr, if anyone knows me, they know i plan parties 4 month in advance. LOL having to deal with 30 days out was annoying but not so bad as i didn’t have to take care of much since i wasn’t hosting it at our house. so, with that…i have to wait a couple months until i could actually make a reservation!

it was finally near the end of october and i could, at last, secure a date and time with AGP. yahoo! i then sped through the motions and ordered invites, bought favors, and ordered all the extra jazz that i possibly could! i didn’t want to do any of that until i could confirm with AGP!

well, the bad news started rolling in. the week i made the reservations, our county and surrounding counties shut down indoor dining. not chicago yet but i was like ohhhhhh noooooooo! i only hoped chicago would stay open. as the weeks rolled by…it was looking dismal. covid infection rates were not looking good everywhere and i was stuck. what do i do??!!

i decided to just throw the party at our house. at that point, chicago had shut down and i didn’t know when it’d open up again. what i didn’t want to do but c’est la vie, non? so last minute, i started organizing and planning for a fete at our place. i ordered a cake, ordered games, ordered decorations, and so on. i was ready! a quick party turnaround and we were set to go!

then the covid struck again. the damn virus entered our household. ughhhhhhhhh. just days before the party. oh my goodness. i was at a loss. what to do?!! what to do?!!! oh olive! i wanted to celebrate her and make it special! so once again, i recalculated.

i decided to throw a zoom party. i put together party bags for all the girls. i brush lettered each of their names onto white bags. i put favor bags {full of AG themed goodies and treats!}, i put games that we were going to play, a craft project, and AG themed plates, cups, and napkins so they all could have lunch together. last but not least, i tied balloons to each bag to create the party ambience!

i porch dropped off all the bags the day of the party and we were ready to go! i picked up olive’s cake on the way back, got her ready in her sparkly AG dress, made her star filled lunch and logged in.

first on the agenda was all the girls having lunch together with their AG dolls and on their AG themed plates and cups. once they all ate, i started the games. we did a ‘do you know the birthday girl?’. all the girls had to answer questions pertaining to olive and at the end, olive said all the answers and whoever got the most right won! second, we played bingo. that was a lot of fun. the girls wanted to play several games and each time we had a different winner. we then did a scavenger hunt. the girls got to run around their house to find all the objects listed on the sheet. it was so fun! after that, the girls grabbed the craft project i placed in the bag and created the cutest paper butterflies.

the party lasted a little over an hour. exactly how long i wanted it to go for. it was soo much fun! what i loved most was that olive had so much fun and she had fun with her friends, zoom and all

her birthday celebration plans were all over the place but in the end, it turned out perfect. she was able to celebrate it with her friends, i was super happy to see her happy, and it felt like a somewhat normal birthday!

happy birthday my dear olive. you mean the world to us. we love you so much. you’re growing into the most beautiful girl and your soul is beyond kind. we are so proud of who you already are and can’t wait to see what you will become. thank you for being you. sweet, kind, loving, thoughtful, sensitive, practical, inquisitive, hard working, and responsible. we love you to the infinity and beyond.

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my sweet girl celebrating her 7th covid style
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poms for the win!
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they’re so sweet!
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american girl doll cookie favors
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american girl doll favors: chalk, cookies, antibac handitizer, lip balm, pink mask with mask holder, crowns for girl and doll, and bracelets for girl and doll!
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gorgeous flowers by my sister kim
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american girl doll place settings
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what a poser. she’s so cute!
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american girl doll cake by strictly sugar
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delicious cookies
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i forgot to take a picture of the bags i dropped off! thanks to kiersten, she documented it for me! each bag contained a favor box, games, crafts, a american girl place setting for lunch, and of course, balloons to create the party vibe!
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ready for her zoom party!
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having lunch with her friends and their american girl dolls
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party set that i dropped off at each house!
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ellie partaking in the scavenger hunt
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me leading craft time
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madison and taylor having fun crafting
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opening presents
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reveling in the aftermath
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such a sweetie!
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make a wish!
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xoxo

halloween ’20

last year it snowed. this year it was near 70 degrees!!!! it was gorgeous out and the kids were so excited to not wear coats!

there are a few parts to this post.

pumpkin carving night. party decor. trick or treating.

we switch pumpkin carving between my parent’s house and our house. depending on the mood. this year, we decided to do it at my parent’s house. one…because of covid, we haven’t been over there a lot and two, it just felt right.

while the big kids carved, the little kids painted. the girls got dressed up because why not? it’s halloween season and they never get many chances to wear their costumes.

*****

PUMPKIN CARVING

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[painting pumpkins]

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[family time]

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[silly sister, silly auntie]

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[ellie’s pumpkin]

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*****

i decided to decorate our place for a halloween party for no reason at all. i had a collaboration with a balloon shop for the big garland that you see and i thought, why not decorate? it’ll be fun – three hours later. LOL

i did have fun creating this festive space! the girls went nuts over the floating witch’s hats! that was a big pain in the butt as i had some trial and errors on figuring out how to keep them afloat without them falling down but i succeeded!

HALLOWEEN

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[i decorated just for the hell of it]

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[creepy cake]

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[pretty blooms]

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[cauldron of candy]

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*****

halloween arrived and olive WAS SO EXCITED!!!!! she could not wait to go trick or treating! the best part about this day was the WEATHER. it was near 70 degrees and amazing!! it made for the best kind of trick or treating. when you are in the midwest, the weather on halloween is most likely cold, snowy, raining, or something not pleasant or conducive to being outside and asking for candy.

add in covid…everything was up in the air. no one was quite sure if trick or treating was allowed leading up to halloween but the most amazing part was how everyone came together and made it happen. so many houses made it so fun and special for the kids!

the creativeness behind candy chutes, tables, packaging, and community was off the charts. it seriously was the best halloween ever. people were awesome, welcoming, and festive. it added to our experience and the girls were having so much fun running from house to house. what was also great was the fact that you could identify which house was participating and which house wasn’t and that created the most efficient trick or treating time ever!

it’s obvious the girls are getting bigger as their stint of trick or treating lasted the longest it’s ever lasted. they literally succeeded in making it around the entire long circle block in my parent’s neighborhood. by the time we reached the house before my parent’s house, olive was done. just in time to head back home. their bags were filled to the brim with candy and they were super happy!

it was seriously the best halloween to date…thanks covid for inspiring the creativity in everyone and neighbors banning together to make it special for the kids!

TRICK OR TREAT

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[such a gorgeous day for trick or treating!]

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[super auntie thuy started them out on their route]

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[back at home with her loot]

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[eating her loot]

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[watching room on the broom]

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xoxo

american girl doll

olive never really had any interest in AGD until her friends had interests. and so it begins!

the first part of our day started out with the girls picking out their doll. it was eerily quiet in the huge store, usually bustling with lots of people. we walked in and started perusing the cases of dolls and olive knew immediately which one she wanted.

ellie, on the other hand, had some difficulty finding one. obviously they are sisters and look alike but we didn’t want to get the same doll. a very sweet salesperson helped us out and we found one for ellie that was similar but not the same doll as olive!

of course we bought accessories and spent a billion dollars on their dolls and stuff. ahhhhh! now for the really big moment down below!

*****

PICKING OUT THEIR DOLLS

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[ready to shop]

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[the choices]

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[decisions, decisions, decisions]

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[we got one]

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[they actually have different dolls, believe it or not]

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[talking to dada]

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[she’s so excited for her doll]

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[showing off their goodies]

*****

so this was the day. the BIG day olive wanted to get her ears pierced! she hemmed and hawed for months and every time she said she was ready, she backed out. this time she was serious and told me over and over that she was ready to get her ears pierced. of course she was solid ready when we were sheltering in place during a pandemic and all nonessential businesses were closed. doh!

when everything opened back up, i was ready to make the appointment and make a big deal for her! as i always do! i planned for us to go downtown, hit up AGP, get her ears pierced, and have lunch! we did just that!

once we were in the room where she gets her ear pierced, she started to get nervous. i did my best to calm her and ensure her that she was going to be so brave and that it, seriously, is just a quick pinch! she wanted to believe me but become super somber as the lady cleaned and marked her ear. i gave her a tissue and she covered her face as the lady pierced her first ear. she still wasn’t convinced and started to wince once the lady went in for the other ear. but once it was done. once it was over. once her two ears were pierced, she was allllllll smiles!!

i was so proud! she was super happy and olive had her ears pierced! wahoooooo! she also got her doll’s ears pierced as well! they both had blue matching earrings. so cute!

GETTING HER EARS PIERCED

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[excited to get her ears pierced]

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[measuring]

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[wincing for the actual pinch!]

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[very somber feeling to get the other ear pierced]

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[second ear!]

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[super relieved and excited to have her ears pierced]

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[all smiles]

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[matching earrings]

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*****

after she got her ears pierced, we celebrated by having lunch at their restaurant. what a fun experience! they have chairs for you and your doll and your doll gets a bag of goodies! we ordered our food and reveled in the experience. we loved seeing all the other parents and girls with their dolls, most were celebrating their birthdays!

once we finished our lunch and dessert was served, we headed back to the car on this beautiful day to head home. overall, it was quite the day…we had the best time, things were accomplished, and so much fun was had!

LUNCH AT THE AG RESTAURANT

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[waiting patiently]

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[isn’t she sweet]

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[menu]

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[she makes the cutest faces]

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xoxo

playroom

our house. it’s been a long story. we’ve been wanting to finish our house since we moved in years ago. LOL much like anyone else who buys an older house not suited to their style.

anyhoo, if you know us…it’s been a long process because my hubby, who’s talented, loves to do it himself {not even his day job…just a side job} and it’s taken foreverrrrrrrr to finish. well that day had come. over the summer, the downstairs basement was finally finished. hallelujah! total game changer friends. game changer. we now have so much more usable space and we love it!

i’ve been dying for the girls to have their own play area. a place where we can house most of their toys. a place where they can freely play without interfering with anything or anyone. i envisioned them having the cutest play area!

once the dry wall was finished, rich and i couldn’t wait to put it all together. we are currently still putting together the finishing touches to the other areas of the basement but the playroom needed to be done asap! i knew i wanted a rainbow painted in there. i knew i wanted a wardrobe space, a table, chalkboard, etc. i shopped feverishly to find the right items and quickly, it all came together!

voila! the cutest play space for my girls! i love it down there just as much as they do! every corner is too cute and feels so fresh!

thanks to my hubby and my mother in law for their help in getting this space done and ready for the girls! we all love it so much!

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[we love the rainbow wall!]

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[a remodel of the playroom and a remodel of this play kitchen]

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[let’s play dress up]

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[cute little rolling tray that i decorated with brush lettering]

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xoxo

first tooth

olive’s friends have lost so many teeth. she wasn’t pushing it but recently noted that her friends were losing their teeth and she couldn’t wait! well her wait was over. it finally happened. a couple months ago, she mentioned to us that her tooth felt loose and sure enough, it was! weeks went by and it became looser and looser.

hc’s cousin ryan was coming into town for his birthday and his wife invited a bunch of people to a house they were renting in michigan. we were game to see ryan and celebrate his birthday. we drove up there to stay the night and leave the next day. the party was in full swing when we got there and we just shimmied our way into the festivities.

it was definitely a fun and crazy night. i felt like i was at a frat party with kids. now everyone there had kids but not with them like us. LOL the girls were super good and gramma and auntie missy were there for the early part of the evening and spent it with the girls. they left early and i then put them to bed. they brushed their teeth, put on their jammies and really wanted to watch t.v. for a bit and of course i let them. they definitely went to bed way too late! but hey, it was a party!

the next morning, while i am getting ready, hc comes downstairs with olive, ready and excited to show me something. oh my goodness!!!! baby girl lost her first tooth!!!! hc literally yanked it out of her mouth and olive didn’t flinch. i was so excited for her. she was soooooo excited herself! she couldn’t wait to show the entire world that she lost her first tooth! oh to be a sweet little kid!

she couldn’t wait to go back to school and show her friends that she lost a tooth! i also forewarned her that since most of her friends have already lost a lot of teeth, it might not be that exciting to them. ha! also, that she had to wear a mask all day at school and it might be difficult for her to actually show her friends her mouth. LOL

well, that didn’t matter…she was excited to show anyone who she saw and let them know she lost her first tooth. i love her for that! that night, we put her tooth in the tooth fairy pillow that she’s had and the tooth fairy brought her big bucks for her first lost tooth. way to score some dough olive!

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[the day she lost her first tooth!]

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[showing off her tooth]

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[she’s excited for the tooth fairy to come!]

xoxo

school pictures ’20

oh sweet girls. we love school picture day!

i was on a hunt for cute outfits, like any mom out there knowing that picture day for the kids was coming up!

one of my favorite places to shop for the girls is zara. now mind you, i don’t shop there for myself, i cannot stand their lack of customer service, unfortunately not many people are friendly who work there, and their return policy is obnoxious, but yes…i like their kids clothes. LOL

i ran over there to check out what they had and found the cutest outfit for Ellie. i struggled to find something for olive. they had darling items for her but not quite what i wanted for school pictures.

so ellie was set. bow. check. socks. check. shoes. check. now i needed something cute for olive! a day later or so…i thought i’d check out h&m because they also have cute items for the girls! plus, they are so inexpensive. yassssss. and there it was…what to my wondering eyes should appear, a mustard colored romper and a matching cute shirt! voila! olive had her school picture outfit and it happen to match ellie’s!

obviously i did not plan that but it happened to work out perfectly! they both looked so darling for their pics! something else that i love is that ellie’s broken arm is documented in this school picture as well! her big ol’ cast and sling front and center. hahaha!

we actually did family pics the night before in a field and allllllll the mosquitos attacked us! of course ellie got bit right on her forehead. if you look closely, you’ll see a big pink spot on the right side of her forehead!

they’re so cute! i can’t believe they are in preschool 4 and first grade! they are growing up so fast. these pictures just prove it…i’ll be sad when ellie loses those baby cheeks. welp!

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[oh ellie belle…the faces you make]

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xoxo

soccer

we signed both the girls up for soccer this fall and they loved it! ok, olive loved it more than ellie. LOL she was more like, wtf are you making me do?

their other classmates have participated in soccer the years prior and were seasoned so this was all so new for all of us!

this year like everything, was very different. they started the season late due to covid restrictions and then the park district decided that teams would not compete and only scrimmage within their own roster. which was fine, cause they were able to play in some form!

it was so cute to see them practice and play. especially the 3/4 year olds. they kind of listen and kind of don’t listen and run all over the place. hahaha! ellie didn’t give two craps about chasing the ball. she constantly complained she was tired. oh girl! the good news is by the third game…she was finally getting the hang of it and scored TWO goals!! i got one goal on vid! i was super proud!

in ellie’s group, there was a girl who was so skilled! she basically scored almost every goal and had the ball at every single game! she had to be told by her parents to pass the ball and yet it was still difficult for her because she would pass the ball to another player and that girl wouldn’t know what to do with it or would kick the ball alllll the way off the field, or score into the wrong goal, etc. it was fun to watch because they were so cute and innocent!

rich and i were obviously new to the routine as well and we definitely showed up as newbies! for their first practice, we dressed both girls up in their game day uniform and forgot their practice balls. LOL hello. we stood out like sore thumbs! then came their first game day. we nailed it and dressed the girls up in the uniform, brought their balls {which they didn’t need. ugh} and didn’t bring any chairs to sit down in while we watched the game. doh!

overall, the soccer season was awesome! it’s always great to be able to have the girls with their friends and mom and dad can hang out with their cool parents too! olive’s soccer season was so fun. we loved every practice and every game we attended. the weather was super amazing and we had the warmest sunniest days and nights to hang out in. now ellie’s season was cut short – she only made it to game three…more on that in the next post! stay tuned!

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[olive after her first soccer game]

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[that’s olive to the far right!]

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[there she is in the white jersey furthest back!]

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[my sweet ellie at practice…little did we know to not put her in her game outfit. LOL…newbies!]

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[pretty much ellie watching as girls played]

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[number 67]

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[ellie with her school buddies!]

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[in between ellie’s game and olive’s game, we would head out to breakfast!]

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[my sweetie pie at egg harbor]

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[fresh veggies at the farmer’s market right by the restaurant]

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xoxo