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.

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

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She got promoted to BIG SISTER

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

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

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With our little, handsome newborn

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

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

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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.

~Rhea

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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.

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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).

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

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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

Bump Style: 23 Weeks

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(HAT: gray, Forever 21/ DRESS: black maternity tunic, Old Navy/ VEST: white knitted sweater; H&M/ BOOTS: gray over the knee; Qupid/ PURSE: purple distressed clutch/ Miley Cyrus)

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~Rhea

Bump Style: 22 Weeks

I’ve finally accepted that I’ll never be one of those “skinny pregnant” ladies, you know those women who look like they just swallowed a watermelon whole but the rest of their body parts remain the same. With me, it’s always the arms and the legs that go first, and then my face gets chubbier and then my bump automatically looks like I’m carrying twins, I guess that’s just how it is for me every time I’m pregnant.

For this ensemble, I’m lucky enough to be wearing my regular clothes all in size Small, except for the leggings. There’s no way I’d fit into my old bottoms with that bump on the loose and I’m a bit hesitant to buy more maternity clothes but then again we are planning to have more than 2 kids so maybe it would be a good investment to purchase a few more especially jeans. But to those who think that’s an unnecessary expense then by all means the first step is to go through your closet and see what you already have. For fall, oversized sweaters, cardigans and maxi dresses can easily transition to your go-to maternity uniform, it’s comfortable and its something you already have.

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(SUNGLASSES: EARRINGS: black tassels, Amazon/ DRESS: Mustard swing dress; Forever 21/ VEST: Gray Oversized Vest; Forever 21/ JEGGINGS: black; Uniqlo/ SHOES: Gray Pointed Flats; Christiam Siriano for Payless/ PURSE: black; Kate Spade)

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~Rhea

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.

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View from the outside.

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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.

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

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

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

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Making friends with hags and witches alike. 😀

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

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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

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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

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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.

~Rhea