Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31st, 2017

"I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22..." 😉🎉🎊

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Yes, today marks twenty-two years I have been on this Earth. Wow, how times flies. ;)
Since most of the celebrating was done this weekend, today was much more laidback. I definitely enjoyed sleeping in. When I finally got my lazy butt out of bed I saw a beautiful rose sitting on my bedside table, along with a birthday card! It was from my darling Michael, but of course. :) Downstairs I was delighted to see that Mike had decorated the kitchen for me! It was all Moana-themed...though I'm sure that wasn't hard to guess at this point, lol.

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While everyone else was at school and work, mom and I headed to X-Quiste Nails. She treated me to a deluxe pedicure (which was heaven) and a no-chip manicure. I always love any quality time spent with my mom, so it really was a lovely time. We chatted away as we were pampered! My mom picked a pretty purple (her favorite color) while I picked a vibrant red - in honor of my upcoming Disney trip! The lady decorated one of my nails with white polka dots, so it gave it more of a Minnie Mouse look. :)

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Shortly after everyone got home, we gathered around for cake. Mike made me another beautiful cake this year. It had the swirly symbol from Moana! Looked just like the one in the movie. :) Everyone sang to me and then I got to eat some of the very delicious vanilla cake!

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After cake came presents. My family gave me the most benevolent present I could've ever asked for. Buying silverware and pots and such has been on my to-do list all month. However, they completely took care of everything for me. 😱 A 16-piece drinkware set, two 4-piece place setting sets, a 42-piece silverware set, a 15-piece pots & pans dishware set, a 30-piece knife block set, and 3 serving spoons. I am so absolutely thankful and tremendously humbled by their generosity. My family (especially my parents) has always been so supportive - their selflessness and abundance of love is what I myself strive to display. Thank you all so much for such a wonderful birthday gift! I cannot wait to set the table, cook up some food in my new pots and pans, and have you all over for dinner. 😊

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Mike gave me his other present as well, which was a beautiful Tangled wall drapery. He said we will have to find the perfect wall in our apartment to display it. :)

After that, we spent the evening relaxing and watching movies. Overall, it was a very lovely day. I couldn't ask for more kind, generous people to celebrate with. ❤

Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30th, 2017

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My family took me out to dinner tonight in celebration of my birthday! We went to my favorite Chinese restaurant: Gong Ho. No one had ever been there besides me, so I was a little nervous that everyone might not like the place too much. But I was so wrong! Everyone found something they liked and the food was absolutely phenomenal! My dad adored the place and said he wanted to come back again. Even Michael, who typically hates Chinese food, loved it! I was really happy and definitely enjoyed my meal. :)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 29th, 2017

More birthday festivities continued today because my amazing boyfriend just loves to spoil me! :) We started the day off heading to the iPic Theatre in Bolingbrook to see A Dog's Purpose. The iPic is awesome, in case you didn't know. The standard seats are basically comfy armchairs. Super spacious and cozy! Michael got us the luxury seats, but of course. These seats are in sets of two. They are literally recliners. They give you both a pillow and a blanket, as well as complimentary popcorn. It was so comfortable! He definitely spoils me. :)

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The movie was completely and utterly fantastic. I cried easily like six times. But that's okay because everything about the film was just so beautiful. I loved everything about it and wouldn't change a single thing. The casting was perfect (Josh Gad as the dog, Bailey, was honestly the best decision that director could've made). The dogs were adorable. The story was precious. So moving. Honestly, I want to watch it again and again and again even if it makes me cry repeatedly. Seriously, this movie was amazing. I cannot stress this enough.

After the movie, we headed home to relax for a little bit before we left for our next adventure: an escape room! I've been wanting to try an escape room for, well, what feels like forever. Last fall Mike and I bought an escape room game for at home and the family had a blast playing it. But I've been dying to go to a real escape room. The place we went to was this teenie little hole-in-the-wall in Wheaton. I was skeptical if such a tiny place could pull off a good escape room. But I was so wrong! Their escape room was absolutely fantastic. It was interesting. It was fun. it was challenging (but not impossible). The theme of the place was medieval, and the scenario we were playing involved the knights of the round table. There literally was a round table right when we walked in with a sword trapped in a stone that we had to get out. As someone who loves all things medieval, this was definitely awesome in my eyes. :)

Our group consisted of: me & Mike, a group of four woman all in their 40's, and another couple who was probably in their late 20's/early 30's. Despite that, we all actually worked really well together. Our team name was the Valiant 8, to go along with the whole medieval thing. Our group finished with literally one second to spare. Our time was 59:59. But we did it! :D I was so glad we did - it would've been such a bummer to never had escaped!

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After we made our thrilling escape, we grabbed some dinner. We ate at Cracker Barrel, which is one of my favorite spots. The food was delicious, as usual. We sat around talking for a long while, as we usually do whenever we eat there. I think that's another reason I love that place so much! No other restaurant has that cozy, homey feeling over us that has us sitting around relaxing and chatting long after our food disappears. We headed home with happy smiles and full bellies. :)

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Honestly I couldn't have asked for a more perfect weekend. My amazing man spoiled me to pieces, as per the usual. I love his generous, thoughtful, loving soul so much! He truly is a blessing. I love you so much Michael Richard!!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

January 28th, 2017

For about two weeks now Michael has told me that "today was a surprise". This morning I finally learned what it was! We met up with two of my favorite people this afternoon: Charlotte and Jacob! The two of them had so sweetly gotten me several gifts, all Moana-themed! I was so very grateful. :) Oh! Speaking of! Mike gave ma a gift this morning as well. It was the pendant Moana wears in the movie! It looked just like hers! I love it so much!!

After presents, we headed to Plainfield Lanes for some bowling. Surprisingly, I won the first game! Jacob came out on top in the second. It was a very fun time had by all, as usual.

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After bowling came the big surprise: we all had tickets to see Disney On Ice: Follow Your Heart! Last year Mike, Char, and I dressed up to go see 100 Years Of Magic and we had such a blast. This year we didn't dress up obviously, since I found out the day of lol. But it was still such an amazing time!

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The best skater out on the ice was definitely the guy who played Hans from Frozen. He was so gracefully and executed all his moves (like a triple axel!) with such ease and perfection! The second best skater was again from Frozen: the girl who played Frozen. She had a big solo performance for Let It Go and she absolutely nailed it! But, of course, the real stars of the show were Rapunzel and Flynn! They literally twirled up into the air with these nylon bands! It completely blew me away! So amazing!!

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I was so thankful for this goofball and all the time and preparation he put into planning tonight. I had no idea any of this was happening and it was such a wonderful night!

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After the show, we headed back to the Donelson's to hang out for a bit. We ended up chatting away late into the night! I got in a lot of lovely conversation with Char. I absolutely love any time I get to spend with that little lady. We can talk about anything! Whether it's something as simple and silly as overrated shoe brands, to move serious topics like life choices and what direction to take. We have a lot in common and I'm glad we can be so open with one another. She truly is the little sister I never had, as well as a very near and dear best friend. I love her to bits. :)

Overall, what an amazing night. I am so thankful for those three and all they did for me today! They spoil me. What a wonderful pre-birthday celebration it was!       

Friday, January 27, 2017

January 27th, 2017

Since my mom's birthday was on a Thursday, we went out for her actual birthday dinner tonight. We all enjoyed a lovely meal at Chili's together before heading over to the Brunswick Zone for some bowling. My dad dominated us all, as usual. Probably helps that he played for a few years in high school. Meanwhile, I bowled one of my worst games. So that stunk. But! We all still had lots of fun together! So that's all that really matters. :)

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Ps, yeah...my family is terrible at taking nice photos together.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January 26th, 2017

Happy Birthday to my wonderful, beautiful, amazing mother! I would not be the person I am today without you. You have always been supportive - always. And it means more to be than you ever will know. Thank you for always encouraging me to follow my heart, chase my dreams, and continue to shoot for the stars. I love our long talks, whether they be good or bad. You never fail to listen fully and offer up any comfort or advice afterwards. There's no one else who could listen to all my ranting better than you can. :) Thank you for being both a mom and a friend. You've helped me in more situations than you probably realize. I will honestly never be able to repay the large debt I most certainly owe you...but that will never stop me from trying. I love you so much, Mom!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24th, 2017

As I mentioned the other day, Michael and I are pretty much set on all things furniture for our new apartment. The only things we're missing is a couch and a table set. Our main focus has been on the whole couch part, seeing as they can be pretty expensive (even a "cheap" couch can still cost around $500). When we looked at IKEA last Sunday, we weren't very happy with what we saw. The ones in our price range were tiny, uncomfortable, and just overall ugly. And the ones we liked were ridiculously overpriced. We left feeling a little deflated. We realized we'd either have to hand out a fat stack of cash or simply settle for less.

Today, my wonderful mother solved our problem. In my parents' house there's the living room (which has three couches and a rocking chair) and a second sitting room (which has two older couches and a large L-couch). The three of us were sitting around talking about furniture and kind of making like a mental list of what we had versus what we needed. When we got to the whole couch situation, we discussed with her what we looked at while we were at IKEA. Out of the blue, my mom offered up the L-couch from the sitting room. I kind of looked at her in disbelief. Though we've had that couch for at least four years or so, it's virtually untouched. It had belonged to my grandma and we had taken it after she'd passed away. It was only about a year old when we first got it and honestly I don't think my grandma ever used it. We hardly use our sitting room anymore, so the couch literally looks like it could be brand new.

I told her we couldn't take such a lovely couch from them, but she insisted! She said if they gave it to us we'd actually make use of it. Plus it would clear up some clutter in the sitting room, which she had been trying to do for awhile. After double and triple checking if she was sure, we agreed to take the couch.

I am feeling so very thankful. For my family's complete support and endless offers to help. For the blessings that seem to be falling into our laps. For the good fortunate and wonderful timing. Everything is just falling into place. No matter what obstacle comes our way, we continuously prove that we can handle anything. We have received so much help and support from all our loved ones and it honestly just means so much to us.

Thank you all for making everything about this moving process so much easier and stress-free. ❤

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Monday, January 23, 2017

January 23rd, 2017

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Newest. Favorite. Game. Think realistic Minecraft...with dinosaurs. Me and Mike have been obsessively playing it lately. It's actually a pretty difficult game! But so cool and dynamic. If you're looking for something new to play I definitely recommend you try this one (Ark: Survival). 😊👍🏼

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 22nd, 2017

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So I never really made a post to announce it (both because we were waiting to tell our families first and also because we've just been so busy lately), but in case you didn't already know...

We got the apartment!!!

Let's start with some details, shall we? ;)

Our apartment is located in Woodridge at the Windsor Lakes apartment complex. Our move-in date is February 5th. There are eighteen different buildings, only about 10-15 people per complex (if all the rooms are filled), so that is definitely nice. Three floors per building. Our particular building is one of the newest ones and was recently refurbished. Meaning, there have been very few tenants before us and it'll be very up-to-date! So that's exciting. The clubhouse is one building away and comes with a ton of perks. As mentioned, we'll have access to a beautiful pool all summer long as well as a hot tub! They have a workout facility that the two of us will definitely be taking advantage of, as well as some office spaces that I could come use to do homework if I wanted a nicer, more professional space to work. They have an indoor half-court for basketball and a billiards room to shoot pool. Our building is right next to the cute little park! We also have tennis courts on the property that we can go use whenever we please. Just a short walk away, two buildings down, is that breathtaking lake and gazebo I mentioned. Michael and I will certainly be spending a lot of time in the summer sitting by the lake and taking walks together. And in the winter, we have the perfect pond to skate on together! 😊 They will be giving us six parking passes, which is perfect since we have both of our cars plus Mike's work van. We'll have three left over for any guests! 

As far as our actual apartment goes, we got a fantastic deal on the price. They were running a special so our monthly rate was reduced (and we get that reduced price monthly for our entire lease!). Because we are moving in before February 6th we also get March's rent completely free! 😁 Our apartment is a one bedroom and is super roomy. Seriously, we were really surprised at how roomy it was. And best of all: we are allowed to paint! There are large, beautiful windows in the living room to let in a bunch of sunshine. And our bedroom has a humongous closet! Everything about our place is just wonderful. And what makes it even better is that now it's ours. We are so excited to start making that space into our space. Decorating and personalizing is going to be so fun! We already have lots of ideas and I cannot wait to execute them together.

This weekend we've been brainstorming color ideas for the walls. Today we actually went out and picked the exact colors for each room! I won't be showing you any exact colors until it's actually all painted, but I'm too excited not to at least give you an idea as to what it'll look like. ;) Our living room is going to be a gorgeous earthy green color. The back wall and kitchen is a homey tan color, to match the earthy tones of the living room. The bathroom is a pretty salmon-like color (Mike is going to kill me for calling it "salmon" 😂). And our bedroom is a brilliant deep, blue-gray color. It's going to be so warm and welcoming with those lovely earthy tones. I am super happy with our choices and cannot wait to see the place when it's finished! One perk of Michael's job in construction is that he has a painting team his company works with. And they are more than willing to come paint for us! (It probably also helps that Mike is a super likable person. 😘)

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Since we leave for Disney on the 7th, and since the painters will be coming in to paint while we're away, we aren't going to move any of our furniture in until we get back. We get back on the 17th (Friday night) and we both have the weekend off, so we'll be doing all of our actual moving then. Another perk of Mike's job? He pretty much drives a moving van. ;) 

Picking paint colors together was a lot of fun. Although we have different tastes, we are a great team and we found a combination that we both love. We discussed all the options together civilly and respectfully- the guy at Sherman Williams said he was super surprised with how well we worked together. He said that most couples usually get into big arguments and end up storming out the door without deciding. But I wasn't surprised. One of the things that makes our relationship so strong is our teamwork and openness. No arguing over paint swatches for us two! We both left happy. :) 

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After we had finalized our color choices, we headed to Ikea to check out some furniture. Though we already have almost everything we'd need, there are a few things we do still have to pick up. Namely, a couch and a table for the kitchen (with chairs). We didn't buy anything today, but we got a good idea on which sets we'll probably end up getting. Again, it was so much fun walking around together and getting to pick out furniture. I guess what made it so special was that we were picking out paint colors and furniture for our home. 💕

Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 21st, 2017

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City of stars
Are you shining just for me?

City of stars
You never shined so brightly

Friday, January 20, 2017

January 20th, 2017

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After a long day of work, nothing beats coming home and relaxing with this goofball. 😊 Whether we're starting a new TV series (even though we're already in the middle of five others), competivetly playing videos together, or simply just chatting late into the night...you couldn't get me to trade these "simple" moments with him for all the money in the world. 💗

Thursday, January 19, 2017

January 19th, 2017

For awhile now I've had some questions emerging about my schooling. Nothing serious, just things concerning my credits and requirements and the like. Today I made an appointment with my advisor and headed in to her office to get everything squared away.

My advisor is this insanely sweet lady named Erin Mallory. She's always been super helpful whenever it comes to figuring out what classes to take or with giving recommendations and such. When I got there, we sat down in front of a computer in one of the labs and started looking over my classes.

During my two years at College of DuPage, I finished all of my GE's (General Education courses). Or, as Columbia calls them, my LAS cores (Liberal Arts & Science courses). All but one: the Writing Intensive Req. (This one is required to be taken at Columbia). I also took several graphic design courses alongside my GE's while I was at CoD, so when I transferred I also already had some classes towards my Graphic Design BA (GD BA) completed.

When I met with Erin, I was curious as to how many more GD BA classes I needed to take in addition to what was on the requirements list. Erin once again was just great, because she asked the GD's head teacher to meet with us to help decide what my best course of action should be.

Jeff, who is a huge CoD supporter, thought that I was more than qualified with my design skills to be taking some of the classes on my requirements list. He ended up waiving me out of about five classes! After cancelling out the GD classes I'd already taken at CoD, I was left with only about six GD classes left on my BA's requirements list. In addition to those, he informed me that I needed to take a handful of other GD electives to contribute to my GD BA classes. He gave me some recommendations of which ones would best suit me, but ultimately he obviously left the choice up to me.

After Jeff left, I was surprised and proud of how far along I was towards getting my degree. Erin told me that after I finished with those classes, all that was left was to take more college-wide electives to get me to the magic number: 120 credit hours.

I thanked Erin for everything and left the school feeling absolutely elated. I knew that I was on the right path for my schooling, but after help from Jeff and Erin I was so pleasantly surprised to see how much closer to graduating I was! I'm sure many of you can agree when I say that school can be very overwhelming and stressful. So it felt so very wonderful to have things made clear. To have the end in sight. I am so excited to finish my college journey. It has been a long and sometimes hard road, but I am so proud of how far I've come and where I'm headed! :)

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January 18th, 2017

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I woke up real nauseous and queasy today...and after breakfast came back up I was forced to call in sick to work. :/ I spent most of the day sleeping and trying to keep my stomach flu at bay. In the evening my darling Michael came home from work with a warm, welcoming smile and some of my favorite soup. It was just the sweetest thing ever. He always makes sure I'm all taken care of and I love him endlessly for it. After I got some food in my stomach we decided to start yet another new show on Netflix. This time we picked Glee, which is another show I started and stopped about halfway through. After watching a few episodes I was really glad we had decided to start it back up- I had forgotten how much I loved the show! By the end of the night I was feeling so much better. I am so thankful for this wonderfully generous man and all the caring things he does for me. 💕

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January 17th, 2017

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It's been all things Disney with us lately. Watching shows about the parks, Disney movies, Disney t-shirts, Disney pajama pants... I think it's safe to say we're pretty excited about our trip!! ;)

Only 21 more days!!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 15th, 2017

After a lovely meal at Uncle Julio's with the whole family (I stupidly forgot to take a group photo), Michael and I came home and started looking for something to watch. We ended up deciding on Twilight, of all things. Mike wanted to see what all the fuss was about and I was in the mood for a lighter, romantic-ish film. One of the things I really love about the two of us is our passion for movies. We go to the movies a few times a month and we watch even more movies at home. I love that we can watch films of all genres too! We saw so many good ones last year; I really hope 2017 doesn't disappoint!

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

January 14th, 2017

Fun night bowling with Michael, Jax, Mitch, Tommy, Mikey, and Dominic! 😊🎳 I beat everyone and got two strikes in a row on the last frame! :D

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Friday, January 13, 2017

January 13th, 2017

The birthday festivities continued for Mike today! We went to the Donelson residence for a lovely dinner of cornbeef and cabbage. The first (and only) time I had ever had cornbeef was last year on St. Patrick's Day with Mike's family. Not being a slight bit Irish, I suppose that doesn't come as much of a surprise lol. Once again, it was delicious. Laura is such a great cook - I hope I can be as good as she is some day! I wanted to chip in, so I made a shrimp & pasta dish to bring over as well. I was doubtful, but everyone assured me it was delicious. I had made extra for Dad and he also agreed that it was very good. So, I was happy to hear that. :)

After dinner Rach and Char ran to the store to pick up some ice cream to have alongside the cake. Meanwhile, I got to enjoy some one-on-one time with my favorite little two-year-old. :) Peter and I played animals for a long while together. He enjoyed showing me all the different animals from his box, telling me what they were, and even demonstrating the noises said animals made. He seemed to enjoy purposely showing me all the sharks in the box (that he knew I didn't like) even more-so than everything else. ;) I also spent a little while teaching Peter the "simple" names of all the dinosaurs in his collection (long neck, three horn, T-Rex, spike tail, etc). Those were the first names I learned as a kid (seeing as it is pretty hard to pronounce all the full names), and it was so fun teaching them to him. By the end of our little session he could remember at least two of the names, so needless to say I was pretty proud.

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Laura made a beautiful cake for Mike, which tasted just as yummy. After dessert Char, Mike, and I had a jam session with instruments from their "music closet". It wasn't exactly "beautiful" tunes...but it certainly was a good time had by the three of us. :) Peter enjoyed putting on my and Mike's bracelets and watches, then taking them off, then putting back on, then taking them off...over and over and over again. It was super cute.

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We ended the lovely evening watching Angry Birds. We made it about halfway through before most of us started to doze off, so we called it a night and decided to finish the movie another time. And so concluded another great night of celebrating with some of my favorite people. :)

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

January 12th, 2017

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On Black Friday, Mike & I went to Kohl's to buy a PS4 bundle for my best friend Angie's 22nd Birthday & Christmas present. Since I work at Kohl's, I obviously get a better discount than most customers. ;) Today it finally arrived! (No thanks to me procrastinating mailing it until like 3 days ago...) She was so happy! She thanked the two of us at least a thousand times, lol. Love you Angie! Happy belated Birthday and a belated Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January 11th, 2017

Happy 22nd Birthday Michael Richard!! 🎉🎂🎁🎈🎊 I love you more than I'll ever be able to express. I hope you have the most wonderful day ever! You surely deserve it. ❤❤❤

Today, unfortunately, Michael started his day heading in to work rather early. :( Although I was disappointed he had to work, it did leave me with plenty of time to prepare everything for when he got home! I started my day off going out to pick up some last minute things I needed for baking. Once I was home, I got right into things. Weeks ago I had gone to the store to get party supplies for today and had decided on a Disney theme. I figured it was quite fitting since we're going to Disney World in 27 days and Mike has been pretty excited about it. So, that being said, I wanted the desserts I made to fit the theme!

I made Mike a white, vanilla cake that I tried to dye red, though it ended up looking more pinkish. I covered it in red fondant and added a yellow stripe at the bottom (Mickey's colors). On the top I cut out a large Mickey head. I also added Michael's name. :)

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In addition to the cake, I made cupcakes. I was super excited because I had found this awesome recipe for "hidden Mickey" cupcakes! It wasn't nearly as hard as I expected, but I was definitely anxious when I pulled the cupcakes out of the oven. I of course had to wait until later when Mike came home to see the finished results, so I was pretty worried as to whether they turned out or not.

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Once I had finished baking, I started decorating the house. In the front of the house by the stairs, right where he'd walk in, I put the huge Mickey balloon and the "22" balloons. I put balloons on the banister to the stairs and also hung up a large Mickey-themed "Happy Birthday" banner. In the kitchen I hung these dangling streamer-like decorations all over the ceiling. More balloons were put up too. The table I covered in a red tablecloth and I set the table with yellow silverware and plates. I had found an adorable Mickey and friends centerpiece, which I built and placed in the middle. Mickey-themed confetti was also scattered atop the table. :)

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I finished literally in the nick of time, because Mike came home just minutes after I finished decorating. He walked in after a long day at work and smiled all huge when he saw all the decorations. He was totally surprised and said he hadn't expected to see so many fantastic decorations! Mike showered and changed before the family headed out to BD's Mongolian Grill for dinner. Dad was away in Springfield for work and Zack was away at school, so it was just me, Mike, Jax, Mitch, and mom. Dinner, as usual, was delicious. Mitch had never been to Mongolian before and was super impressed with how tasty his dish was. The waitress gave Mike the traditional tinfoil birthday hat, which the boys thought was hilarious. And of course he got a birthday sundae.

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After dinner we headed home briefly to "change" as I told Mike. But actually, we were picking up our friends Kevin and Tommy, whom Mike had no idea were coming. Mike was real happy to see the two of them, so it was definitely a great surprise. We all loaded back up (minus mom) and then headed out to Laser Quest in Downers Grove. We played a round of laser tag and it was so much fun! Laser Quest's arena has two floors, which makes things even more fun. Kevin placed best out of us all, ranking 7th out of 25 overall. Mike was next, at 10th. :)

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After laser tag, we headed back home for cake and presents. We sang our traditional three-part birthday song (the traditional, the catholic, and the Polish), which Mike now knows and loves (he even makes me sing the Polish version at other people's houses, lol). The cake was delicious, which I was super happy about. Mike loved it so much he had seconds. :) And my cupcakes? They turned out PERFECT! I was so ecstatic. Everyone was super impressed and wanted to know exactly how I had made them. I was pretty proud of myself, to say the least. ;) 

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After cake we did presents. My gift to Mike was tickets to a Green Day concert in March. Green Day is one of Mike's absolute favorites. Needless to say, he was overly thrilled and excited. He thanked me again and again for everything. The day went so smoothly and flawlessly. Everyone had such a great time together! Plus Mike said it was another perfect birthday, which is all I cared about. ❤

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