The Thing with Xavi

From his gender, to me not getting an epidural while giving birth, to having a newborn photoshoot done, to loud whiny cries—everything has been unexpected with this little guy.

We weren’t going to do a newborn photoshoot for Xavi, a lot has been going on and I didn’t even bother doing my research for local photographers just because our schedule (or Marco’s, rather) hasn’t been that flexible and that would definitely be an additional expense so I didn’t dwell on it.

In an unexpected turn of events, we ended up doing one for him and we were blessed enough to work with a very nice local photographer. Amanda Hakes of Betty and Bobby Photography was very professional and she handled Xavi wonderfully, she was very pleasant to work with and was very patient with him. When he wouldn’t cooperate anymore, she waited while I fed him until he was satisfied and there was no pressure in my part at all. Here are some photos of her beautiful work.





 This boy looks like an angel when he’s asleep but he can cry LOUDLY when he’s hungry


She got promoted to BIG SISTER


I already know he’s going to be a Mama’s boy


Of course daddy is the happiest, he has another player on his team


With our little, handsome newborn


I know you’re an Ate now but you will always be mommy’s baby


Our latest family photo— Daddy Marco, Mommy Rhea, Ate/ Manang Cassie and Xavi.


I decided to share these photos today as Xavi turns three weeks. He had his 2-week appointment a few days ago and we were a bit worried that he wouldn’t gain his birth weight back because we had that problem with Cassie. From 7 lbs. and 13 oz Xavi’s weight went down to 6 lbs and 11 oz on his first doctor’s visit and we’re happy to say that he gained his birth weight back and more, he’s currently 8 lbs and 11 oz. My little man feeds a lot, I don’t remember breast feeding Cassie this much but when he asks, mommy gives and believe me he asks a LOT.

Post partum recovery for me is a lot better this time around in both emotional and physical aspect. I’m more mobile and at three weeks I’m doing chores like I didn’t even give birth and I find that pretty amazing considering that I didn’t have an epidural during labor. I’ve lost 20 lbs. since giving birth and I need to lose 15-20 lbs more, so far so good. Cassie has adjusted pretty well with the presence of her little brother, of course she acted up the first few days when we brought him home but recently she’s asked to take part in taking care of him, throwing his dirty diapers and putting lotion on him. Hopefully in the next few weeks, we can fully adjust with the new baby in the house and establish a new norm for our growing family.



Hospital Bag Checklist: Mommy Edition

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#1. Classic Black Vera Bradley Microfiber Diaper Bag

In this aspect, I’ve learned through other mothers that the choice of what kind of hospital bag is really a matter of preference. I know of some moms who have brought hand carry luggage spinners, others use travel totes or oversized duffels while some moms-to-be use their baby’s diaper bags. It really depends what you decide to bring to the hospital.

In my case, I’m using the Classic Black Vera Bradley Microfiber Diaper Bag that I’ve converted into my maternity tote since we were also gifted with another diaper bag for the baby. I attended a church baby-items-exchange event where you bring your used baby items that you don’t want or need anymore and if you see something you like from the items the other mothers brought, you can go ahead and grab it; the rest are donated to a charity picked by the church. Although they’ve discontinued this particular style, the newer Vera Bradley diaper totes retail for $178 and I’m just pleased that I got mine for free.

#2. Secret Treasures Women’s Super Minky Plush Sleep Robe

During my first pregnancy in Texas, I opted to bring a thin light silk robe for the hospital but here in Indiana, I felt the need to get myself a thick plush robe for the winter and I was lucky enough to find a very comfortable one at our local Walmart on clearance for $15. They actually had a bunch of other designs that I wanted but I picked the plain white one to give me that warm comfy “hotel-feel”, you’d be surprised how a little bit of imagination can go a long way especially when you find yourself bound to a hospital bed.

#3. Ralph Lauren Button Down Pajamas


I actually got both of these pajama pairs at Goodwill (of course I washed them and soaked them in warm water for a long time), each pair were priced at $3.99 instead of the usual $30 and up that it retails for and it even came out cheaper than the button down pajamas at Walmart that they were selling at $10/ pair, which wasn’t so bad either.

I usually go for a nightgown instead of pajamas but again its still winter in this side of town so I needed that extra warmth for my legs. The “button down” part is non-negotiable for me since I intend on breast feeding my baby as soon as he comes out, believe me any outfit with buttons and zippers in front tend to be a fashion staple for nursing moms. As for the color red, I think I unconsciously picked red pajamas because of the post-partum bleeding and the possibility of leaking, at least if I do stain my pajamas its not completely out there for everyone to see.

#4. Going Home Outfit

Some women, after giving birth, like to look cute and pretty and made up especially when they take their new bundle of joy home so they prepare a cute outfit, maybe a dress. Ideally, that would be nice but with my last pregnancy, I realized that I didn’t even care how I looked that time, I just wanted to be comfortable and I wanted to take my baby home.

I suggest going for comfort over aesthetics— yoga pants, loose tops, buttoned tops, nursing tanks, oversized sweaters, maybe even your plush robe, it’s totally up to you but hey, if you can look cute while being comfortable then why not. For shoes, I suggest nothing closed and tight since some women might still have swelling on their feet, closed shoes might just give you discomfort.


#5. Bright Personalized Toiletry Bag


The reason why I emphasized “bright” and “personalized” on the toiletry bag is just so it could easily be found in an oversized hospital bag not only by you but also by anyone assisting you at the hospital during labor, may it be your husband, your sibling, your parent, your friend or even the nurse.

I actually got this 3-pc set (missing one in the photo) from my MIL and I love how it’s bright, personalized and transparent in the middle when you unbutton it. Sometimes we forget where we pack things especially with these “pregnancy brains” of ours and its nice to see whats inside our toiletry bags without the hassle of having to open it. I think these were made in the Philippines and I haven’t found anything online close to these particular ones but if I do, I’ll go ahead and update the blog with a link to that.

I am not going to discuss the type of toiletries you want to bring because we all differ in that aspect, other ladies use conditioners, others don’t, others prefer dry shampoo over the regular ones, others prefer body wash over soap, others wear makeup, others don’t but I think it’s definitely important to bring your deodorant, tooth brush and tooth paste…..or maybe not, haha, it’s all up to you.

#6. Generic Furry Babba Soft Furry Critter Slipper/ Flipflops


I got these slippers for my last pregnancy from Walmart for less than $10, I checked online recently and they no longer have this pair in stock but a lot of stores are selling  something similar. I love these bedroom slippers just coz they’re not bulky and they’re very easy to pack. They’re kinda like socks, they’re soft, they cover my entire feet, they’re cozy and they keep my feet warm but they have the bedroom slippers’ non-skid soles which makes it okay to use in the bathroom.

#7. Maternity Non-Skid Socks

If your pair of bedroom slippers isn’t enough to keep your feet warm, you can throw on a cute pair of maternity socks with “pun-ny” labor-related quotes made with that non-skid material that you can get from Amazon for cheap or order personalized ones from Etsy.

#8. Loose Comfortable Underwear a.k.a Granny Panties

You just gave birth and as much as you’d want to get back to your nice cute undies you might want to wait awhile for the sake of comfort. Give your ‘down there’ some time to relax and breathe and give it time to heal, besides I don’t think you’d want to ruin your nice underwear by getting some blood stains on it.

#9. Loving Moments by Leading Lady Maternity Wirefree Softcup Nursing Bra with Full Sling, 2-Pack


For the first few weeks, your breasts are going to be sensitive and tender especially while waiting for the milk to come in, I personally opted for wire free bras just so I don’t feel too constricted in that area and the lace detail, I think, is just a cute bonus.

#10. Important Cards

Nowadays pre-registration is something that’s processed a few days or maybe weeks before the expected date of delivery so you don’t have to worry about anything other than the process of labor . I’m pretty sure most of us at 30+weeks have picked a hospital or even toured it but pregnancies being unpredictable can have you giving birth at an any place at an unexpected time. It’s always best to have your Driver’s License and Insurance card ready at all times. To those who have birth plans, make sure to keep a copy in your maternity bag.

#11. Comfort Snacks

Adding the word “comfort” to snacks is such a crucial thing because after going through the process of giving birth, the word “comfort” is all that matters. Other moms-to-be advice to bring “healthy” snacks but seriously if you aren’t a health nut to begin with, eating those snacks after labor will probably just make you feel worse so go for those feel-good foods but don’t pig out, just snack in moderation.

P.S: I also suggest bringing CASH or LOOSE CHANGE just in case you want to grab something from the vendo machine.

#12. Post Natal Care Items


Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter – my  cousin referred this little baby during my last pregnancy and it was literally my best friend. It took care of any dryness, pain and cracking by keeping the nipple area moisturized. Its also baby friendly, you can apply it anytime even before feeding. The only thing you might have to watch out for is the smell, its a bit funky and not everyone finds it pleasant although personally it didn’t bother me.

Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray- although I haven’t used this yet, I’ve heard good reviews about this product and would trust it because of its the same brand as my trusted nipple cream. During my last pregnancy, I got two bottles of sprays that helped me numb ‘my down there’ from the hospital and it did wonders relieving me of my perineal pain.

Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads- very convenient to have, they have two adhesives in the back so you could attach it directly to your shirt but advisably on your bra. Its comfortable to wear and prevents any leaking accidents; yay to NO MILK STAINS.

Always Discreet Incontinence Underwear- one of the best things on this list, EVER. I don’t know how I missed this during my first pregnancy but after I ran out of those gigantic pads that the hospital made me use for my postpartum bleeding, I started using these and they literally are like underwear and pads combined, its very convenient, can be easily disposed and the best part is you don’t have to be washing any blood stained underwear.

#13. Electronics

Phones-the most basic thing to have for whatever reason—to communicate with family members and friends, for documentation, taking videos and photos, baby announcement, etc.

Phone Charger– make sure to bring those 6ft long ones, you don’t know how far the sockets are from your bed

Cameras (Canon, Nikon, GoPro, Instax, etc.) – to document your baby’s first moments


To all expectant moms out there, I hope this list somewhat helps you decide what to pack in you maternity bag and if you feel like I missed out on some “must-haves” , please let me know so I can update this list for (future) baby #3.

Hope y’all have a safe and uneventful pregnancy, Happy Pushing!


DIY Winter Maternity Shoot: 37 Weeks

Being pregnant can toy with your emotions and affect your self confidence especially when you’re used to being small most of your life. It’s like one day you wake up and look at the mirror and there it is…that big bump and that large behind. Based on my first pregnancy I already knew that I wasn’t one of those women who carry their babies small, it’s always my behind and my belly that go first; the arms, the face and the rest of me follow.

At 37 weeks I knew I didn’t want my pictures taken because I was scared to see a planet in the photos plus its been snowing here in Indiana and all I wanted to do was stay warm indoors but my sister Pauline convinced me to do them, nothing fancy just some DIY project that we both could work on. And it just so happened that it was her birthday that day and she suggested that we could do my pregnancy photos, how could you say “No” to the birthday girl, right? So I took out my brand new portable makeup train case with the light-up mirror that Marco gave me for Christmas and had Pauline do my makeup.

I didn’t have anything to wear since this was an impromptu thing but having a theater background assured me that I could scrounge up some things I could use for the photos. I’d have to admit it’s not the best but I think it’s pretty okay considering that I didn’t have a lot of winter-apt stuff, I barely could fit any of my old clothes and we were chasing good lighting a.k.a Mr. Sun.


So here’s what I came up with: my DIY Flower crown from years ago, Tassel earrings on sale at Walmart for $2, my thrifted fur find from a garage sale in 2007, a plain white tank top that barely fits me, a knitted sweater I thrifted from Goodwill, a tulle maxi skirt from the Philippines that doesn’t fit me at all. (unzipped skirt clearly not in photos,haha) and Zara nude flats that I risked in the snow (btw, they survived).





…And we were lucky enough to have light snowfall while we were taking pictures.


I’m sharing some of my raw and unedited photos just to continuously remind myself how beautiful and wonderful pregnancy is no matter how ugly I feel inside and out and after I give birth I’m going to make sure that I wear my ‘battle scars’ (aka stretch marks) with pride.

They say the biggest blessings come in small packages, I guess this little one is an exception because this tummy of mine ain’t nothing like a small package. Haha. I can’t wait to meet you my little Xavi.

~Mommy Rhea

Cassie Turns Two: Taco TWOsday

I can’t believe our little baby turned two already. Before Marco and I started planning her birthday celebration, I already knew I wanted to make her a mini dessert table even if we weren’t throwing her a birthday party just to make her feel special. Its only been 4 months since we moved here in Muncie and I haven’t been exactly little Miss Congeniality so we didn’t really have any close friends to invite and I wasn’t too comfortable inviting the neighbors kids since we barely knew them and they were mostly older than Cassie.

At the end of the discussion we both decided that we’d still go to Great Wolf Lodge for Cassie’s birthday trip but we’d still throw a party, sorta like our late house warming/ mini birthday party for her and invite family and Marco’s co-residents (a plus if they had kids, haha). I figured that since we were doing a party anyway might as well come up with a theme and I instantly fell in love with the idea of a fiesta—its fun, its colorful and Mexican food is good and so convenient (or so I thought). Here I was planning a dessert table, I had no idea my husband was planning to cook the entire menu so this party ended up being a LOT of work. We did another Marco-Rhea teamwork and pulled it off.

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I know it isn’t so clear in the photo but the “CASSIE” sign was a last minute DIY project I did a few hours before the party. I covered it with green cut out crepe paper and added some pink mini flowers so they could like like mini cacti.

It was also my first time DIY-ing giant paper flowers and I even used construction paper because I was on a budget but I’m glad they turned out pretty okay. I just made them in different colors so they could go with fiesta theme.

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The fiesta inspired table cover I purchased from Amazon, and I’ve attached the link if anyone is interested. Just a heads up, this isn’t made with fabric but with plastic instead.

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We weren’t really sure if any kids were going to show up but I prepared a few goodie bags anyway. I bought those small bags from the dollar store, filled it up with some candies and small maracas, wrapped it in colorful wrapping paper and cut out some “thank you tacos” I printed out.

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I didn’t know where to get my cake, cupcakes and sugar cookies so I asked mamas in our local mom group and I’m so glad they pointed me out to Simply Patisserie. Chef Maggie made an awesome job making Cassie’s taco cake, flower and cactus cupcakes and taco, cactus and sombrero sugar cookies. You should them see for yourself.

Anyone here in local Muncie looking for a place to get their cakes and pastries I personally recommend Chef Maggie of Simply Patisserie and her rates are pretty reasonable. Just click the link above.

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Most of the stuff on the dessert table were from Dollar Tree— the colorful plastic bowls, the purple vases and the bright colored faux flowers. Also on the table you can spot my DIY Taco Piñata, I figured since I made one for her first birthday might as well make her one this year and just make it into a birthday tradition.

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DIY Taco Pinata Details up close

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to make her do a smash cake so I decorated her high chair just in case. I kept it simple by cutting various sizes of different colored crepe paper and I hung it around her tray. I also purchased a giant cactus ballon from Amazon…I mean why not?

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We ended up not doing a smash cake, she decided to pick a cupcake and eat it on her fiesta decorated high chair. Fair enough.

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Of course I had to somewhat decorate the dining area, I figured since Marco wanted to go all out on food, I could do a little bit more on the decorations. Haha.

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Literally everything you see on this table Marco cooked/baked/prepared, I just assisted him (a little bit).

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Here’s Cassie blowing her candles.

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Yay, we actually had a bunch of kids come to her party. She had fun playing with them even if most of them were boys. 😀

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For someone who hasn’t made a lot of friends yet here in Muncie, she still ended up getting a bunch of presents. Thanks to all our family and friends local and overseas for spoiling our little girl on her birthday and making her feel special.

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Last but not the least, here’s a selfie from me and the birthday girl just coz we were twinning. Hope y’all had a wonderful time going through the details of Cassie’s fiesta themed party, thanks for allowing me to share this with you. If anyone of you is throwing a fiesta themed party and is needing some help with DIYs or decorating or maybe you just have a few questions for me, just comment or shoot me an email I’d gladly help in anyway I can.



Destination: Sandusky, Ohio

For October, Marco ended up having a more flexible schedule due to this month’s rotation which we found perfect since it’s Cassie’s birth month and we’re also celebrating our 4th civil wedding anniversary so it was the most perfect time to schedule a mini-vacation. They had a bunch of deals for Great Wold Lodge all over the US and it just so happened that one of the cheapest ones they had was in Sandusky, Ohio which was a 3.5-hour drive. They actually had a closer one in Mason, Ohio which was just a 2.5 hour drive from Muncie but they were a bit more expensive so we went with the cheaper one, plus we didn’t really mind the hour difference so off to Sandusky we went.

Day 1

Address to Google: Great Wolf Lodge- Sandusky; 4600 Milan Rd, Sandusky, OH 44870

Marco decided to drive and we didn’t even have to make any pit stops, we didn’t need gas, we had food in the car and no one had to pee so we made it in good time. Check-in time is usually at 4pm but if you do check-in earlier and there are rooms available they just give it to you on the spot and if not you can still enjoy the amenities (water park, restaurants, etc.) while waiting to avail of your room. In our case there were rooms available so we were already checked in at 12:30 noon time.



View from the outside.


Check in counter at the Great Wolf Lodge-Sandusky.

This had to be one of the easiest check-ins I’ve ever done in my entire life. They asked for my driver’s license, the credit card that I used to make the reservations and they asked me if I had any room preference. They also briefly explained the halloween activities they had for the entire October and handed me keys to my room and they also handed Cassie complementary fox ears for the halloween festivities and that was it. Easy peasy.


I think a photo of this bear chair was a must. haha.


The grand fireplace all set up for Howl-o-ween.


…And the infamous giant spider balloon was a sight to behold, especially for Cassie.


Making friends with hags and witches alike. 😀


Admiring the jack-o-lanterns, this is where they hold the storybook time every night.






The room was a decent size considering what we paid for, I really think that was a steal. They had 2 queen sized beds, a living room area, a breakfast nook and complementary bottles of water, toiletries (the standard) and chocolates (I’m guessing due to the halloween event)






Cassie saw the waterpark from the lobby window and “demanded” that we swim right away. We swam the entire afternoon until it was Trick or Treat time. And since I’m pregnant and can hardly move my daughter automatically clung to dear daddy and wouldn’t let go of him. She wouldn’t even hold my hand, she just wanted her daddy. Haha. After 2-3 hours of swimming we headed back to the room to freshen up and change into our costumes.


We try to make trick or treating a family affair and I’m just one of those wives blessed with a husband who’s down for anything. Just taking the time to appreciate Marco, not every daddy would dress up for the little ones but this one did and he didn’t complain either. I think we did fine considering our costumes were last minute.

Yo-ho-ho a pirates life for us.






The staff at Great Wolf Lodge handed out their own Howl-o-ween plastic bags for trick or treating so you don’t have to bring your own basket. I’d advise for you to bring costumes for the little ones although its not mandatory, I just think it makes the whole experience more fun. They do this every night so If you’re one of those moms who have fun dressing up your kids (like I do) you can even bring one costume per night.

They had mini stations or a trail that you follow for your treats and if you happen to get lost, the staff can easily direct you to the next station. You can also have fun in the mini photo booth they set up before or after you trick or treat.




Cassie was completely out after that so we skipped out on story book time and enjoyed a peaceful dinner at Berardi’s Family Kitchen, a Sandusky local restaurant. You cannot miss this place when you are in town and their Spinach Artichoke Dip is to die-for, probably one of the best I’ve ever had.

Address to Google: Berardi’s Family Kitchen; 1019 W Perkins Ave, Sandusky, OH 44870

Day 2

A long day, that was what it felt like yesterday! I think the drive, the swimming and the howl-o-ween activities cleaned us out so we decided to sleep in. Had breakfast care of last night’s left overs and some sausages for Cassie, we brought from home.

Oh yeah, for families on a budget and aren’t willing to spend so much on food, bringing microwaveables and your own drinks would be a good idea since they have their own microwave and refrigerator in the rooms.


Since we don’t have Chipotle in Muncie and Marco knew that I was craving for it, he suggested to have lunch there. It was only a 5 minute drive from Great Wolf Lodge. Happy Tummies.








We took Cassie to the arcade after lunch but it wasn’t very toddler-friendly, I mean sure she enjoyed the lights and the sounds but there literally was just one ride in that place and it was that bus so she just kept going back on it.

Since we spent $10 on the card, Marco decided to play the bowling game, the Iceball FX and topped the score 3x. Apparently when you do that, you end up getting 250 tickets so he got that times three. I don’t think he’s won that much so we were all pretty excited and Cassie was more than happy to pick a prize from the prize section. She ended up getting a Marshall plush from Paw Patrol, once again daddy was her hero.

After the arcade, Marco and Cassie went swimming and I had to run to the post office to run errands. I swam with them as soon as I got back and just like yesterday Cassie was soooo exhausted that she missed out on her trick or treat. We had early dinner and Marco scouted the place for another tummy adventure.





Marco has been wanting to try this Vietnamese restaurant down the road but I wasn’t feeling it yesterday. Today I gave in to his request and I’m so glad I did.

We had really good spring rolls for appetizer and I would’ve eaten more if I didn’t have a main course to go. He got to order his Pho and I got to order the Banh Mi that I haven’t had in a long time and Cassie had her fries and nuggets that we got from a McDonald’s drive thru, everyone was happy. Hahaha.

Address to Google: Mekong; 4318 Milan Rd, Sandusky, OH 44870


We didn’t make it to story book time but we still got to change Cassie in her Pjs to take a picture with Oliver the raccoon. They usually have the characters of Great Wolf Lodge come out after the story for a photo op. We were actually last in line.

Day 3

Today’s agenda was to check out early and head to the Merry-Go-Round Museum, spend a few hours there and have lunch somewhere before driving home. I’ve been dying to check this museum out just because I fancy old school carousels and want to learn more about the history, they also had good ratings.


Address to Google: Merry-go-round Museum; 301 Jackson St, Sandusky, OH 44870

…And of all the days we decided to come, they were closed for renovation. They’ve actually been closed for improvements with their displays but I checked their website and it said that they were done with it. I’m guessing they extended because they were going to open 2 days from now. I was really upset but I guess its another reason to come and visit Sandusky again.



After taking photos across the museum (just because they had a flower garden and a fountain that Cassie would have enjoyed if it weren’t raining like crazy), Marco and I decided to just go visit the Marblehead Lighthouse 30 minutes away to make up for this trip disappointment.







On the way there we spotted Toft Dairy Ice Cream Parlor and I remember reading that it was Ohio’s Oldest Dairy and a must-visit when you’re in town, as soon as we walked in they did have that sign. And the ratings were right, they’re truly a must-visit and you can’t not have their Butter Pecan ice cream.

By the way, they do have big servings and its even bigger in a cup than on a cone. (this coming from my husband who can eat a lot of ice cream, haha)






I cant believe Cassie fell asleep again, she always does when its sight-seeing. I’m pretty sure she would have wanted to explore the place like she usually does but hey, at least Marco and I got to enjoy the view peacefully with no crazy running toddler. Haha. The museum and the light house was closed but at least the scenery was so worth it, besides I don’t think I’ capable of going up those 70+ lighthouse steps being pregnant and all.

Address to Google: Marblehead Light; 10 Lighthouse Dr, Marblehead, OH 43440



For lunch we came across this place called Netty’s Famous Chili Dogs and Marco just knew that he wanted to eat there so after checking out Marblehead light, we came back only to find out they only accepted cash and we had none. Of course we went to the nearest ATM to withdraw so we could still have those chili dogs. They were cheap and they were good and they lasted us our entire drive back home.

And you know what, they were a few days away from closing for the season coz apparently this business is only open from March to October. We were lucky enough to make it and we wouldn’t have if the Merry-go-round Museum was open so I guess everything really DOES happen for a reason. Toft’s the Lighthouse and the chili dogs was a more than enough consolation.

Address to Google: 9410 E Harbor Rd, Lakeside Marblehead, OH 43440



To wrap up our trip, Marco allowed me to stop by the Bergman Orchards to pick up pumpkins for our front porch. They were reasonably priced and of course cheaper than the supermarket pumpkins. I wanted to go crazy over those white and pastel colored ones but opted to get the smaller ones instead. We just moved into our house and I promised him I wouldn’t go crazy spending on home decorations all at once so I compromised by just getting a few. I can go all out next year, hopefully.

And that sums up our trip to Sandusky, Ohio. I hope y’all have a grand time when you go visit coz we sure had a blast during this road trip.