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]

via tandeminlove.com[olive is so gangsta]

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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

christmas popcorn

ever since we’ve moved into our neighborhood, i’ve made christmas popcorn for our surrounding friends every christmas!

it’s the easiest thing to make and oh so yummy! this year is the first year olive has really helped me with it and this year is the first year she is dressed so crazy! baby girl picked her outfit out or should i say lack thereof an oufit?! we’re going on week two or three of no clothes at home and she absolutely loves it! well, it definitely makes laundry a little lighter! haha!

i prepped our ingredients {popped the corn, opened the toppings, and readied the tools!} and boom! we were ready to go! i dumped a small bit of popcorn, at a time, into a bowl so we don’t have huge batches to cover. it’s best to do a small amount each time because you really want to coat the popcorn with the chocolate! olive sprinkled on the pretzels, m&ms, and we dusted each batch with perils!

olive so patiently helped me with each round and at the very end of it, i let her eat a piece and she was smitten! she loved it and gave me a thumbs up! i filled a santa cup up for her and she was a happy camper!

i then divvied up the popcorn into each jar and voila! they were ready to go out to each of our neighbor friends!

we had just enough left over for us and guess who ate it all? yup…miss olive!

get it girl!

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[prepping the jars]

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[yeahhhhhh, her baking outfit. she’s a nut! i love it! she only wears her undies and the most random stuff. it cracks me up!]

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[if you don’t know by  now, i liiiiiive in pj’s!]

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[i love this girl! her outfit choices crack me up!]

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[we’re ready to pour on the chocolate!]

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[yummmmm!]

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[i get a thumbs up!]

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xoxo

my ballet birthday

holy birthday weekend!

in previous years, we’ve gone out for my birthday. we’ve done something fun, with just us {me and hc}. every year we have been together, hc has made it a point to make my birthday special. my birthday is eight days before christmas and it’s so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

this time around, olive’s first ballet recital fell on my birthday! i was so excited. all season long, she practiced very hard in class and at home and i couldn’t wait to see her performance.

hc and i talked over our plan for that day, to make sure we got olive to the show on time and get everyone else there early enough to nab a front row seat. score! we did both! i drove separately so i could get olive to the dance group before the show and hc drove his mom, dad, and ellie to the school to get in line for a seat. we nabbed a front row section and the location we scored was absolutely perfect!

olive entered the room on our side, so we were able to say hello to her as she waited to get up on stage and the teacher was on our side during the dance, so olive faced us the entire performance! woooo hoooo!

i was a bit nervous for her…only because during her holiday program {from several days ago}, she seemed a bit overwhelmed by the large audience. i couldn’t tell if the runny nose  she had really bothered her or if the dozens of people scared her. anyhoo, she froze a bit with her performance, so i was worried that she would freeze up during her ballet show!

well i was sooooo wrong. she nailed it! she did soooo well! i was so proud of her! she was the cutest ballet dancer i ever did see! i couldn’t wait to hug her, congratulate her, and give her a big kiss for doing so well!

after each segment, the kiddos waited in a room across the way. once the entire show was over…one parent was able to retrieve your kiddo and i ran over to get her. i couldn’t wait to bring her back to the family so they could tell her how well she did! everyone congratulated her and gave her flowers! how fun and sweet! seeing her perform was the best birthday present ever!

after the recital, hc’s parents came over to our house to hang out and we had cake to celebrate my birthday. after hc’s parents left, we then headed on over to my parent’s house to have dinner. it was the best birthday yet! hc did such a great job making it wonderful and olive’s ballet recital was the cherry on top of a perfect sundae! no pun intended! haha!

best birthday ever!

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[how sweet is she??]

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[she spots us!]

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[hands on hip and smile!]

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[dada giving her flowers for her performance]

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[how terrible is this…while i was pulling olive through the crowd, someone knocked her in her head so hard with either a corner of a purse or elbow. poor, poor girl! i didn’t even notice it until a minute later! i felt terrible…just terrible that she was trying to tell me her head hurt but i couldn’t hear her over the noise and i was so excited to get her to our family that it totally flew over my head that she was in pain. i really felt like a bad mom and a bit angry at myself that she was hurt and i didn’t realize it in the moment to comfort her. total mom guilt moment that still really bothers me!!! do you see the shiner on her forehead?! oh, i get so upset looking at it!!!]

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[my sweet ballet girl]

*****

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[celebrating with my sweet girl]

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xoxo

o + e santa visit

every year, since olive had been born, she has despised her visits with santa claus. one picture after another, year after year…she is absolutely frightened and as a parent, i find it disgustingly hilarious!!!!

well this year was absolutely no different. a couple weeks before our visit to the big man, i asked olive is she wanted to visit santa and ask him for presents. she said no. i said, “don’t you want to ask him for gifts?!” and she said, “i don’t want to sit in his lap.” and i said, “you have to if you want to ask him for presents this year” {honestly…doesn’t anyone else find it so odd that you make your kids sit on a strange old man’s lap and ask for gifts?? hahaha!}. she then says to me, “reagan and bennett don’t sit on his lap!” oh yeahhhhh? i grabbed my phone and showed her a picture of her cousins sitting on santa’s lap from the other week. her jaw practically dropped. she stared in silence and disbelief at the picture for a good solid 30 seconds. then says to me, “i don’t want to sit on santa’s lap” and that was it.

so came the night we were going to visit santa. hc came home from work and asked if i told olive what we were doing tonight. i said no. he said, “aren’t you going to tell her?!”, so reluctantly i did. i called her over and said, “olive, we are going to see santa tonight and ask for christmas presents” and surprisingly she said, “ok” and walked to her room to change her clothes. whaaaa? i was dying. she is so funny and cute!

we arrived and olive was soooo somber. she whimpered a bit and mumbled something about not wanting to see santa but i could tell that she knew she was going to see santa whether she liked it or not. especially with her steadfast, crazy mama standing in front of her {obviously this whole thing is more for me than her! eep!}. olive knew there was no saying no.

first, the kids sit down and take pics of just them in front of a sleigh. olive spied santa around the corner and she couldn’t stop staring at him!!! i am so amused that the photographer caught her nervous glance on camera! olive and ellie did so well with their sit down pictures together in front of the sleigh. then came the santa pics…olive nervously sat on the edge of the chair. santa was super sweet with her…he asked her what she wanted and they exchanged words back and forth about dolls, fairies, unicorns, horses, teddy bears, etc. i was soooo proud of her! she actually did a great job talking to santa. she was very quiet and reserved but totally didn’t have a meltdown!

then came the moment we were going to place ellie in his arms. watch out!! hc placed her down in his arms and she flipped out. FLIPPED out! her boots flung off her feet faster than a tesla roadster. ohmergawd. it was hilarious. olive actually smiled but she was totally fake smiling and her hands were clasped so tight out of nervousness! oh my poor girls!!! they were so scared!!! but gosh…it makes for the funniest pics!! so sadistic of me, non??

anyhoo, and that was that. i must say it was a pretty successful visit! the pics turned out great, i absolutely love the one of just olive and ellie in front of the sleigh…my favorite! well, ’tis the season to make your kids do crazy things! ha! happy holidays y’all!

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[very unsure of what is about to happen…]

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[so is hc…haha!]

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[could this be any more perfect? olive spied santa from a distance and was soooooo nervous!]

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[she’s like ‘ohmergawd…santa!’]

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[check out that fake smile olive has and ellie…well that speaks for itself!]

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[her shoes flung off so fast!]

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xoxo

holiday program

olive’s pre-k holiday program was this past week! the last day of school before winter break. i was looking forward to this for weeks. olive practiced her songs with us, at home, several times. although, at first we didn’t realize all the songs she sang were part of her holiday concert! we just thought she was learning fun songs at school.

well the day had come and i dressed olive up in the cutest, most festive holiday outfit i could rummage out of her closet. she looked so darling in her tutu playsuit and reindeer antlers.

 we scurried to her school as early as we could because we wanted to nab a seat as close to the stage as possible. we were close…we scored second row! the kiddos paraded in and olive looked so confused and nervous. the teachers sat the kids down and after an announcement, the concert began.

olive had stage fright! to make matters worse, her nose was runny {we’ve been dealing with a little cold} and she was very bothered that she couldn’t wipe her runny nose and it tooooootally bothered me that i couldn’t get up there to wipe it for her!!! poor olive just stared blankly out at the crowd when they started singing their first song. she stared and stared throughout the first few songs and then finally started to warm up and sing along.

the concert was a success! olive was too cute and subdued during the whole concert but sang along for a majority of the songs. it was so fun to watch all the kiddos. of course there was a run away boy who circled the stage and the girl sitting next to olive was so excited and animated! it was hilarious to see how reserved olive was and how boisterous her classmate was! total opposites!

once the concert was over, we were able to take photos of our babe and then she was able to join us and we were able to leave for the day. although olive was really bummed there was no school after the concert! she wanted to stay for school and was a bit upset…awwww, that was too cute.

i was so happy to see her first holiday school program. it completely warmed my heart to see my baby girl perform! it was a great moment that filled my soul with joy.

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[i forgot that i had left her with her bunny!]

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[she was nervous!]

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[she’s not quite sure what to do yet]

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[finally warming up and joining in!]

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[they’re all done! hurray! it was an awesome holiday concert!]

xoxo

deck the halls!

every year, we get into comfy pj’s, turn on the christmas music, hc pours me a glass of wine, we break out the christmas decorations, and get wild! oh, my favorite time of the year! i love lighting up the house and getting in the mood with all the festive decor.

i must admit…it’s quite the chore. hc and i aren’t the type of people who can decorate over a few days or weeks. we prefer to get it done, like within a few hours. once the boxes come up from the basement, they go down empty. we can’t help it. he’s type A and i am type A+. it’s a harmonious partnership {most of the time…hahaha!}.

olive was sooooo into it this year. she loved everything! she was so amazed by all the ornaments and every little thing that we pulled out. it was so sweet to hear her excited voice and elated expressions. she loved helping us with everything! ellie on the other hand, was like, ‘i don’t give a sh*t’ and ran around trying to break stuff and throw it in random places. haAAAaaa!

maybe one day, we will get a real tree {i looooove the smell of pine!!}  but for now, we have our fake one. although it’s about to go kaput on us. we bought this tree our first year of marriage and it’s going on it’s seventh season and the lights are like, byeeeee, see ya later!

one thing we added this year was extra pine garland. lots of it! i love the look and smell of fresh pine! we always hang it on our door way and our railing outside but this year, we added it to our entryways, our kitchen, and hung it up in olive’s room to add a bit of extra festiveness!

i’m loving the decor and only wish it was more than a month of christmas season! it definitely flies by too quickly! well, here’s to soaking in every moment this christmas season! cheers!

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[could she be any sweeter?]

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[her most favorite ornament]

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[she was our anti-decorating grinch]

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[comfy pj’s and stringing tinsel]

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[daddy helping olive with the star topper]

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[muslin bag advent calendar]

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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

star of the day

at olive’s preschool, for her birthday week, she was star of the day!

when class started, she was able to sit in the chair next to the teacher, lead the count with the star wand, and set up the day/weather board!

i was invited to join in on their fun and spend the first part of the class with them and participate in on story time! i was sooooo excited! i made little birthday treats for her classmates {funfetti bags filled with stickers and candy!} and brought in the book uni the unicorn {in celebration of her unicorn party we were having}!

i think i was more excited about this than olive was! it was so fun to watch her be so involved but, yet, she was being a bit shy. when the teacher asked her who her special guests were, she barely whispered, “kiki”. i had to explain to the teacher that she calls me kiki…not mom, mommy, ma, or anything close to that. haha!

once they went through their morning activities, i was able to sit down next to olive and read the class the book we picked out! it was so darn cute! the girls were so into the book but the boys looked lost or just not into it but overall, everyone seemed to really enjoy the book! it was not too long, not too short, a cute little story, and the illustrations were so colorful and pretty!

once i was done with reading the book, olive walked me out. i was sooooo happy and i hoped olive had a great time with me being there for her! i love moments like this and totally cherish the sweet milestones that we go through!

it was definitely a special day for olive, celebrating her birthday and making it for a fun school day!

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[she wore this party hat to school and continued to wear it for days…so darn cute!]

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[the teacher telling the class who is star of the day!]

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[is it cold or is it hot?]

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[reading uni the unicorn to the class]

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[she was not happy with the hat…hahaha!]

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[she asked me to take off the hat when she walked me out…it was so big and she was bugging about it]

xoxo

huy + tashina get hitched

the day had arrived!

huy and tashina were getting married! we started the day with breakfast downstairs in the hotel’s restaurant, the terrace. afterwards, we took a little walk to tashina and huy’s suite, to check it out and it was huge! tashina was getting her hair and make up done while huy was getting ready in another room. we hung out for a bit and then let them be because we needed to get back to our room and get the girls to nap.

well nap time was absolutely unsuccessful. nooooooo one napped except for hc. we all got ready and headed downstairs to the car. i was frantically scurrying around trying to tie up loose ends and i was running very behind but when i got downstairs, my parents and their friends weren’t down in the lobby yet! we finally rallied everyone together and headed on over to the venue.

we walked inside the forge and it looked so amazing!! it was such a cute little space. a garage type space with the coolest interior. the reception tables were set up along the alley way and the photo booth huy and tashina created was over by the ‘bar’. the florals and decor were freakin’ stunning! it was all so eclectic, beautiful, bright, and colorful! everything turned out so wonderful!

we took family pics first and then tashina and huy took some on their own. the air was electric! the love, the energy, and excitement was palpable. i was so excited for them and so excited that the venue transformed into the wedding of their dreams! i was giddy with butterflies and could hardly wait for the ceremony to begin!

guests started coming in and the excitement continued to brew. soon, it was almost show time. the family members all filed in back to get ready for their walk down the aisle. set by set, we all strolled our way down the aisle, to our pew seats. then came the bride, looking stunning in her custom gorgeous gown.

the ceremony was fun, sweet, loving, and joyous! their friend, taylor, did an amazing job marrying them! he was thoughtful, sincere, and really connected them together as a couple. i also loved how he drew the guests into their ceremony and got us all involved in their nuptials! that always makes it more intimate and fun for everyone there to see them profess their love for one another and how friends and family support each one of them!

they exchanged their sweet vows {tears were shed by both parties}, the rings were exchanged {thanks to my cool nephews for giving them each their rings!}, and then they were declared husband and wife!!! yay!! off went the confetti poppers in celebration!

dinner, cake, dancing, socializing, and fun ensued! i had such a wonderful, wonderful time! i was so happy for the beautiful couple. the wedding was amazing, beautiful, and pretty freakin’ awesome!

i can’t find the words to properly describe how i felt, what a great experience it was, what a great feeling it is to see your family together, and seeing your brother so happy! well, i took a gazillion pics, so i hope you can transfer it all through that!

congrats huy and tashina! your wedding ROCKED!

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[she’s so darn sweet and so darn feisty!]

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[she’s so serious about her coloring]

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[walking our way to tashina and huy’s room]

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[cronut? yes please]

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*****

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[o vuong, huy, and tashina]

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[chu thong & chi thu]

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[their beautiful ceremony site]

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[dad, mom, nanae, and kip]

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[tablescape]

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[dad and mom]

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[pretty baby’s breath adorning each pew]

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[dan, agata, and o voung]

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[queen and kings]

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[mes seours]

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[thuy’s chic outfit]

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[the happy bride]

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[olive in tashina’s creation]

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[twirl girl]

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[so handsome and chic]

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[look at her thigh rolls]

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[grandma]

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[toast of the town!]

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[lexi’s toast]

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[first dance]

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[and that’s a wrap!]

*****

jennemerlingweddings.com

[first look]

[photo by jennemerlingweddings.com]

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[photo by jennemerlingweddings.com]

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[the gorgeous bride designed and sewed her own gown]

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[ma famille]

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[how cute is nutmeg?!]

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[how adorable was this? taylor asked questions and the guests threw ribbon streamers at the couple if the answer was yes!]

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[you may kiss the bride!]

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[they are now husband and wife!]

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[photo by jennemerlingweddings.com]

xoxo