Destination: Detroit, Michigan

May 14 – 15, 2018

Marco scheduled a vacation for this time of the year, we planned to do at least one international trip every year but since we’ll be spending a lot for interstate flights to visit family at the end of this year, we opted to just drive to Michigan then cross over to Canada to see the Niagara Falls which technically is still an international destination, right? Well, that was the original plan, an opportunity came up for me and we had to work with both so we decided to still push through with Michigan.

Living in the midwest has made it easier for us to drive from state to state and it was a bit of a surprise to find out that Detroit was only going to be a 4-hour drive for us (minus the stops). The place we’re staying in is a Bed and Breakfast but we were running a bit late and arrived 30 minutes after our self-proclaimed check-in time so the owner was out running errands. We decided to have late lunch instead and explore downtown Detroit.

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But first, Marco and I had to figure out what we were craving for and we both agreed that Shawarma was at the top of out list so we found Tuhama’s sandwiches, in Dearborn, Michigan apparently home to the largest Muslim population in the US.

Tuhama’s Sandwhiches

Address: 10613 Warren Ave, Dearborn, MI 48126

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They’re known for their cheap prices and big legit shawarmas. I guess you can say it’s a semi hole in the wall, decent but not big enough to accommodate kids; no booster seats, no high chairs but if you want real Middle Eastern sandwiches then this was the real deal.

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Here’s what their menu looks like.

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After late lunch we just randomly searched for parking somewhere downtown and explored the area starting with Comerica Park.

Comerica Park

Address: 2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

Comerica Park is the home to the Detroit Tigers, yes that’s major league baseball for you. The place wasn’t exactly open to the public at that particular time just coz they were preparing for an event or probably even a game but I didn’t really mind coz the entrance to the ballpark was more than enough for awesome photos. Besides, we had 2 kids with us and I don’t think my husband is the biggest baseball fan so posing outside with the gigantic tiger was more than enough for us.

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The Belt

Address: Between Broadway and Library Street, Detroit, MI 48226

I’d have to say this strip of purely murals and artwork has to be my most favorite part of the trip just coz we stumbled upon it by accident. We were walking down the street and the entrance of The Belt caught my eye, I insisted to check it out and it was soooo worth it! Anyone who needs an awesome IG post, this is the place to be, it’s really interesting coz it’s in an alleyway and it is instagrammable. haha. But seriously, it felt like it was a free outdoor gallery for me. Here are some of my favorite shots from that strip.

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After exploring Downtown, we finally checked in at our Bed and Breakfast.

Honest John’s

Address: 488 Selden St, Detroit, MI 48201

Headed out to a local place that we Yelped for wings and beer and we went coz there they had good ratings averaging 4.3 stars out of 5. Make sure to ask them what local beer they would recommend.

I know its not the most kid-appropriae place for dinner since the ambiance is a bit dark and does look like a pub with its bar, beer and pool table, they even have a classic jukebox but we went there pretty early when it wasn’t crowded yet, they were very accommodating and they had kid-friendly meals.

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Hans Gehrke House

Address: 211 Arden Park Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48202

If you’ve been following me on here for a while, you probably know I have a thing for historical sites, ancient buildings and old houses so when we booked this place I was silently jumping for joy. Marco was impressed that I booked the place for cheap but he knew I was after the ambiance more than anything. Haha.

I wish I could say we were able to tour the house but we didn’t although our room did not disappoint. For an old German house it is well kept, the boards are a bit creaky (no surprise to that) and if you let your imagination run wild you can make it into a haunted house. Haha, okay okay, I’m exaggerating, I love the house, the host gives you your personal key upon check in so you can have access in and out of the house. It’s not necessarily handicap friendly but the host is very accommodating and will make sure you are comfortable.

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Loved how she set up our breakfast. We woke up late and our host had our food ready outside the door, talk about breakfast in bed. Thanks Tate for going all out!

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If you’re into historical homes like me then I would recommend this place. Its the best value for the location and the house is clean. Tate was nice enough to give Cassie a doll and was very accommodating when we had to go back to look for Marco’s wallet, which we found by the way.

The Henry Ford Museum

Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124

This was our last stop before heading home and they have different packages that you can avail of which allows you access to different areas of the museum. The place is HUGE and if you really want to explore the whole area then you’re going to need more than a day. Marco and I just availed of the main museum and the Village package which was more than enough our feet could handle. I suggest visiting their website (click on the link) before heading there to help you decide which tickets to purchase.

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The Henry Ford museum was quite overwhelming but the following displays were my personal favorites for varied reasons:

Rosa Park bus

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Vintage McDonalds sign

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Cars through the years

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The Greenfield Village

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You get a chance to ride old school jalopies

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Vintage carousels are my thing

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Their ice cream is delicious and did I mention large

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Cassie loved their industrial themed playground

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Plus their farm had a ton of animals— horses, goats, lambs, chickens, turkeys…

The village was a whole different experience, if we had the time I would’ve wanted to spend an entire day there. Plus, if the kids were a bit older I’m pretty sure they would’ve appreciated it more. Marco and I were talking as we were strolling around and I was telling him this would be a good place if/when a Zombie apocalypse happens coz it literally is a community in itself. Hahaha, I know too much of Walking Dead but seriously, this place is a must visit.

More photos in my personal FB page but going around Detroit with small kids and still having fun is definitely possible.

~Rhea

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Destination: Harlingen, Texas

Marco was scheduled for another interview here in Texas but this time it was in Harlingen so we took a road trip close to the border of Mexico more for business than pleasure. It’ s days like these when I get to take advantage of the perks working PRN (as needed) at the hospital. I love how I can just pick my schedule and take off from work without any hassles or complications when need be. It took us roughly 4 hours and 30 minutes to get there and the first thing we did was google a good place to eat. We ended up having lunch at Brass Wheel Restaurant.

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Marine Memorial

Visited this mini museum mainly for the Iwo Jima Memorial statue. The wind was acting up so we didn’t even stay long and I didn’t even bother visiting the gift shop like I normally would.

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Iwo Jima Memorial up closeimg_9599_zpsimpsxovc

Because he feels the need to do the “Lion King” pose at every historical landmark we go to.img_9611_zpslbwedbei

 Checked in at Courtyard by Marriott

It had a modern minimalistic feel to it.

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The hotel’s poolside was pretty decent and since we had nothing else better to do, we decided to take Cassie for a swim.

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She acts like she runs the place, waiting for daddy to get ready.

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So apparently people who viewed my snaps thought we were crazy for swimming that day since it was rather breezy, the water was warm and we didn’t really stay long so I promise you Cassie was fine.

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Famished after her swim so she grabbed her snack, sat on the sofa and started munching on her puffs like a boss

That night Cassie and I stayed in and ate left overs while Marco had an informal dinner with the rest of the interviewees for the residency program.

The next day, Marco rode a shuttle and left early for the hospital, Cassie and I packed our stuff, loaded up and went window shopping after we had that cockroach incident. I am not even going to expound on what happened since I am positive that it wasn’t even the hotel’s fault but lets just say I had to get over my fear of roaches so I could kill one. I felt like if I didn’t, it would have called the rest of its friends and Cassie and I would have a cockroach frenzy.

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Just roamed around town while Marco was doing his interview, its a good thing I found the mall right when he finished. He gave me a call just when I walked in a Forever 21 and it looked like 6x this photo. It felt like a Forever 21 warehouse and I was just glad he called before I could do any credit card damage that  I would regret in the future. Everything was on sale!!!!

Met up with one of Marco’s friends from med school that was currently doing residency over there, they had a quick catch up before we drove back to Houston. On our way home we got stopped at an immigration checkpoint. Because the city was located in the border  line of Mexico, immigration was taking precautionary measures that Marco was unaware of and I totally forgot about. He forgot to bring his green card and it took them a while to verify his identity with his drivers license. I’m just glad nothing crazy resulted from our inefficiencies. We got home safe, extremely exhausted but safe.

~Rhea

A Milk and Cookies Baby Shower

I’ve always been fascinated with “Milk and Cookies” for a party theme, I mean who gets milk and cookies at a party unless its a pajama party, right? Now this theme is truly and wholly dedicated to that, its easy to execute and what’s not to love—-c’mon it’s milk and cookies we’re talking about.

The fascination became stronger when I came across this 6-pack set of milk bottles from 5 below, they were selling it for just $5. Hmmm..not bad at all.

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A week after seeing those bottles at 5 below, I happened to be at a Target store and I always visit their dollar section at the entrance. They had a bunch of good finds especially for fall—burlap runners, burlap strings, halloween decorations, the usual socks, dollar treats and they had decorative steel buckets and steel milk canisters as well.

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The milk canisters are similar to this photo and they were sold for only $3/each, at that time I knew I just had to get at least 2 of these canisters and I had to go back for those milk bottles at 5 below to keep for a future “Milk and Cookies” party I’d be throwing for Cassie if not for a baby shower with my friends. Marco and I finally had the time to pass by 5 below again I went in and was relieved to see a few more boxes of those milk bottles, I quickly grabbed 3, paid for it and was surprised when the cashier told me that I only had to pay close to $8 for all 3 boxes. Noticeably with a puzzled look on my face, he was nice enough to inform me that the milk bottles were actually on sale and were half off, he even grabbed 4 boxes for himself just the other day. I quickly thanked him and slowly walked towards the parking lot where Marco was waiting for me. I told him him about the sale and asked him if I should get more, he agreed and so I did. Another 6-pack of milk bottles for $2.50, not bad…not bad at all. Looks like we’re really pushing through with that baby shower.

And since we received a $20 gift card for TJ Maxx, we found a cute winter onesie set for Cassie that was on sale and we ended up using the rest to buy 2 big vintage glass milk bottles for $3.99/each (as seen below) and a vintage glass cookie jar for the party.

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Our last purchase for the dessert table was the most expensive one at $12, it was an oval galvanized vintage bucket for drinks we found at Hobby Lobby and we wouldn’t have even purchased it if it weren’t for the 40% coupon that I had so we ended up getting it for around $7

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Thanks to the gift card Marco and I only ended up spending around $23 for the 4 boxes of milk bottles, 2 galvanized milk canisters and the vintage bucket.

PRINTABLES:

Now I tend to go overboard with the printables, I like to see the variety of free printables the online world or “Google” has to offer. And if I see that they’re not up to par with what I’m looking for then I just make my own.

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For the invitation I couldn’t find anything that was just simply black, white and red. Other than “milk and cookies” I wanted everything to be in those three colors; it’s plain, basic and simple. So I turned to ever reliable Microsoft Word (I’m pretty sure there’s an easier program out there and a better one at making simple invitations but MS Word works for me), googled “cow borders” and this one came up, I got it from Cliparthut.com . It had a watermark in the middle and soI worked around it by putting a big thick black border in the middle,I could’ve edited it out but it worked anyway. Next I googled “milk and cookies” illustration and found this one, credits go to Jomar Aplaon who made the illustration and who happens to be from the Philippines too. Then I pretty much just filled up the entire thing with the details of the party.

And since we decided on Tuesday to push through with this thing even if I’ve been feeling extra and heavy and sluggish the past few days, we sent the invitation through text, Viber and Facebook of course.

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I also ended up making a cover photo for the event on Facebook. I just googled “Got Milk Logo” and pretty much added the “…and cookies?” part.

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The template for the game word scramble I recycled from the baby shower in the Philippines. I just changed the color of the border line from pink to red and changed the actual borders from chevron to cow spots.

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I made “Onesie Wishes” for the tea party baby shower in Manila and decided that this time it would be ice to have the titas and titos write wishes for Cassie on milk canister cut-outs.

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Thanks to Simplybovine.com for this free cow spots banner printable. I actually found it a few minutes before the start of the party when I realized that the other table looked bare. There was no time to put these cut-outs on a string so I taped them directly to the white disposable table cover.

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And since the prizes that were wrapped in clear plastic bags, tied around with white curling ribbons looked bare as well, I looked for printables that I could attach to it just to give it more character and found these cute chocolate chip cookies  by Glitterlambs.com .

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The “thank you” tags were made with MS Word as well. I looked for blank tag outlines and pretty much embedded the Milk and Cookies illustration right in the middle and placed the following text as seen.

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DIY-ing

THE PARTY:

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Pre-party set up.

Note how the cake isn’t on the dessert table and the 2 vintage milk bottles are missing as well. Marco and I waited for the guests to come before putting those out.

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The plastic jars were recycled, they were actually containers of the lychee coco jelly we get from the Asian store. I like how their covers are red but they were too big for us to fill-up so I ended up combing two kinds of cookies in one big jar. The other clear plastic containers were recycled from other parties, you can just get them from Dollar Tree or any dollar store and it’s intentionally plastic so when someone accidentally knocks it over, we won’t have to deal with any shattered glass problems. To provide levels on the dessert table, I wrapped old shoe boxes and made sure they were sturdy enough to hold whatever is on top of it.

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Cocktail Punch—mixed fruit punch, orange juice, ginger ale and a few slices of lemon. Voila!

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Didn’t get to take photos of the food but we had Cocktail Meatball in cranberry and barbecue sauce, Cocktail Smokies in grape jelly and barbecue sauce, Potato Salad, Domino’s Pizza and Marco’s family dip and chips for merienda. 

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You did it sweetie, the dip was a hit.

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The Dessert Table

This whole thing was literally a Marco and Rhea production, I love you Marc.

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Not bad for a Target Cake. I’m actually impressed.

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Cake slicing with this dork of mine.

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Cassie will have a handful to read when she’s all grown up but she will feel loved.

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Dirty Diaper Game—alright girls, keep sniffing

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Tito Marco and Riley

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The prizes—Krispy Kreme scented candles and Udderly Smooth Hand lotion.

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Yes, the prizes were in theme

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Riley’s matching mommy Jo now.

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Ninong Paulo and Leia

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Eat anything but Cassie sweetie..Haha

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You’ll have crazy fun with Tita Roxi, Cassie…that’s for sure. Haha

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Cassie’s Titas and Titos

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Thanks Tita Jasna for this cute Diaper Cake! We love owls- Cassie

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Okay we’ll admit it, we’ve never been so happy to see this much diapers and baby wipes.

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Mason jars from Walmart filled with different flavors of cookie bites— Chips Ahoy, Oreo, Nutter Butter and Ritz Bits Cheese (technically biscuits but whatever). Take one for the road, hope you enjoyed guys and thanks for coming!

~Rhea and Marco

It’s Good to be Back, Houston

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(CARDIGAN: black /TOP: Merona/ SHORTS: Liz Lange Maternity/ SANDALS: Qupid / NECKLACE: Fossil / SUNGLASSES: Aviators; Kenneth Cole)

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I actually got this outfit as a “Welcome Home” present from the family

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I know, I know my baby bump is big.

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The last few weeks of July and the first few weeks of August were quite chaotic, we literally had a million and one things to worry about. Marco was scheduled to take his Step 1 USMLE around that time and for days I had a very anxious husband. The delay of his US spousal visa didn’t help the situation either, it added to his anxiety and it added to mine. I on the other hand had to finalize my thesis drafts before leaving and I had to communicate with my adviser through email due to my current state. Its never fun for a pregnant woman to be stuck in the middle of Manila traffic, the drive from Alabang to UP Diliman now that school has started is no fun at all.

Being the big worry wart that I am, I still kept telling myself to trust in the Lord because he’s never let me down…EVER, but I’d be lying to myself If I didn’t say that I was starting to get impatient (boy, if you could only hear my dialogues with the Lord). I worried about a lot of things, I worried that Marco’s visa might take longer, I worried about not finishing my thesis (again), I worried about the tickets being so expensive by the time we get his visa, I worried about not being able to fly because I was a little bit over 7 months already, I worried about not being able to handle the long flight, I worried about the results of Marco’s exam… I was just WORRYING big time and so I finally gave it up and I offered it up to him, I mean there’s nothing else that I could do anyway and as soon as I did that things started turning out for the best.

On what we didn’t think was our last week in the Philippines, we got to visit family in Bacolod to celebrate Marco’s niece’s 1st birthday, they also threw me a baby shower and a despedida for me and Marco. We got a text from the embassy saying that his visa was going to be delivered in Manila (its a good thing we had Dolly Ann in Manila to accept it in behalf of Marco), the next day we purchased our tickets to LA so we could see Papi and Javi first before flying to Houston. We got to do a 4D ultrasound and we saw our little one for the first time and we got to visit the dentist. We then flew to Cebu to say goodbye to our grandparents in both sides and got to meet up with some close family and friends and then we flew back to Manila.

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Here’s the 4D of our little angel.

Manila was more hectic than ever, in less than a week we had to visit Marco’s eye doctor to make sure everything’s okay since his corneal transplant, I had to visit Tita Py, my OB-GYN for my final check up and also so she could clear me for the long flight to the US, I had to meet up with my thesis adviser so he could approve my final drafts before binding 3 copies of my thesis, we met up with our families for farewell dinners and we had to PACK (some wedding gifts from last year, all the baby shower gifts and tugons). We ended up with 4 Balikbayan boxes, 1 check-in maleta and 2 carry-on maletas. I’ll probably write about our travel experience in a separate entry and as I sit here in Houston recalling everything we had to go through I still can’t help but be amazed how all of those things happened in a span of 2 weeks (or less), “When it RAINS it does POUR” and once again HE came through for us. We are very grateful and are truly blessed, it’s good to be home Houston.

~Rhea

A Baby Viking Shower

Surprise Dada!

I’m so glad we made it to Bacolod just in time for the surprise baby shower for this fellow soon-to-be-mom—see the baby viking details below. (they’re so cute!)

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Can’t wait to meet your little bundle of joy, Hans and Dada.

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The baby viking cake. Awwww..

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Adorable mini cupcakes

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Pastel colored viking cookies

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Cupcakes and Chocolate covered marshmallows inspired by How To Train Your Dragon

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How cute are these baby viking and baby dragon cake pops

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Pia’s cake was lemon goodness!

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Last Minute DIY Baby Wishes

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Thumu-THOR…haha

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Opening of gifts

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Everyone at the baby shower. 🙂

~Rhea