Life. Lately.

My oh my. Where do I begin?

I feel as if we hit the ground running in 2017 and haven’t really stopped since. We knew it was always going to be a busy start to the year, but I probably underestimated just how busy. Work is hectic. Home life is busy. Our social calendar is quite full. And then there is the whole ‘growing a baby’ thing…

I’ve just come off the back of a couple particularly full-on weeks, with a few more ahead of me. I’m certainly juggling the work / life balance, and probably dropping a few, no a lot of, balls along the way. Life is feeling full, and too often – frantic, but I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been lots of fun times too. For in amongst the chaos we wedged in a family holiday and have even booked in a few more short  family trips away for next month too!

So while I’ve found myself with a spare 20 minutes until my flight boards, let’s focus on some recent happenings that have made us smile…

The girls and I headed down the Hume just before Easter to spend the week in Melbourne. After a big school term for Miss C (and a term of daycare for Little J), it was truly rewarding to spend some one-on-one time with both the girls outside of their normal daily routine, and for them to also spend some time together.  Sure, there were moments of bickering (sisters..), but for the most part they seemed to really enjoy each other’s company, while collectively, and collaboratively,  keeping me on my toes!

Ps. Number of games of Uno played? Approximately 1000…

The car trip itself went pretty smoothly – although having done it quite a few times now with the girls they are becoming quite the seasoned car travellers. A bucketload of snacks helped, as did having the Moana soundtrack on repeat (both girls are obsessed!!)

But the main reason for our trip? Celebrating my little brother getting married!!!! Both girls were flowergirls and Charlotte, in particular, took her role very seriously. Josie on the other hand….yeah not so much (aka we had to wrestle her into her dress lol). They both barely left the dancefloor once the reception started though – so needless to say a lot of fun was had by all!

Yes. Shoes were optional by this time….

(You might notice that I don’t have a lot of photos from the day. I was also honoured to be a bridesmaid and my camera was, as expected, swapped for a bouquet!)

The next big excitement on the agenda? Easter! Which after an Easter-Thursday wedding snuck up on us in no time. It was wonderful to spend the morning with my family (before hitting the road for home), and watching the kiddies run around collecting eggs and generally getting up to mischief.

And in no way related to chocolate consumption (I swear!), we celebrated another milestone with Miss C losing her first tooth while we were away. It was wobbly for about a week (so so gross), and finally fell out the day before the wedding.  A visit from the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny was, as you would imagine, pretty exciting for a certain 5 year old!

But it wasn’t all about the kids, for us ‘oldies’ got to have a bit of fun too. Namely ticking an item off our bucket list and watching our beloved Brumbies play in Melbourne. Starting with sunset nibbles on the Yarra, it was a fun night for sure – we just won’t mention the result…

Overall, this little break was just what I needed. Time with our girls and with my family, and trying to switch off from work before the next two crazy weeks begin.

Until next time!!!

 

 

An “Under the Sea” 5th Birthday Party

This year it was Miss C’s turn to have a “big” birthday party, and she’s been planning it for months. Many months.  First it was going to be a Pirate Party, then a PJ Masks Party, but a little while ago she settled on an “Under the Sea” theme – and we ran with that.

Actually, it ended up being a lot of fun to put together. But then again, kids parties normally are!

Since Christmas we’ve been collecting lots of blue and ocean-themed decorations, mainly from the cheap party shops and e-bay. And with the help of Pinterest, a sea-filled party table came together in no time at all!

The food

The table was laden will lots of sea-themed party food – which despite appearances – were quite easy to throw together.

We had starfish sandwiches (some filled with jam, some with nutella and some with sprinkles) and mermaid munch (honey joys).  There were also blue jelly cups (jazzed up with mandarin boats and umbrellas), clam cookies (chocolate chip cookies filled with buttercream) and seaweed sticks (grapes threaded onto skewers). Most of these I made on the morning of the party so that they would be nice and fresh. I also made a big batch of sausage rolls in advance, which I was able to freeze then reheat during the party.

Oh and my favourite party treat? These adorable ‘crab-wiches’ – mini croissants filled with ham and cheese – made into ‘crabs’ with the help of googly eyes glued to toothpicks.

The Cake

I found inspiration on Pinterest for this grand blue cake, and was a tad nervous about trying the ‘petal’ icing for the first time. I loved how vibrant the buttercream turned out, and though the weather was warm, I managed to pipe something akin to what I had in mind without the buttercream getting too soft.

I “cheated” and bought Dory and Nemo toys as toppers, and then finished the cake with some starfish I made using candy melts and star moulds.

A little rustic, but I think it tied in with the overall theme.

Party Favours

I found some cheap buckets on e-bay and they turned out to be the perfect party favours.

Filled with lollies and some other little treats, and I’m hoping our guests can put the buckets to good use next time they are at the beach!

Entertainment

When I realised that we would have 25+ kids attending, I knew I would need some help in keeping them all entertained. I planned a big pass-the-parcel game, but also hired a party host (a Pirate!) to help with the other entertainment. There were games, a magic show, balloon making and even some face painting – certainly much more than I would have been capable of. And all the kids seemed engaged – so I’m calling it a win!

And so another year, and another big birthday celebration,  came to pass. And, as always, along with the sugar high, I’m left wondering just where the last few years have gone???

Happy 5th Birthday to our beautiful Miss C!  Always full of imagination, a lover of adventures and quite the sensitive soul.

Third Pregnancy – Reflections at the halfway mark

Our THIRD pregnancy.

It still feels rather surreal to be saying it, and boy do we feel blessed.

If you follow me on Instagram – you would have seen our big announcement recently. For our little family of four is set to become a family of five in July this year. And while I was super organised in keeping a diary during my first pregnancy, and somewhat organised throughout my second, well let’s just say I’ve been less than organised this time around.

My previous diary entries have been so wonderful to look back on, so now seems like the perfect time to take a step back and reflect on this pregnancy too.  There’s always a fine-line between share and overshare, but I always appreciate having a little record to look back on in years to come. So here goes.

I’m currently 22 weeks pregnant, and we have known since I was 4 weeks. The downside of IVF being that you find out early, really early.

Yes, like J, this little bean is also an IVF gift.

We had always seen 3 children in our future, but weren’t too sure how realistic our dream was. We went through a failed IVF attempt early last year, which only made the reality of the situation all too clear. Maternal age was weighing heavily on my mind (I’m a dinosaur, I know…) and I always had a set “end-point” to when we would say goodbye to the prospect of adding a new member to our family. But with the help of our amazing doctor, some crazy growth-hormone drugs and other concoctions to dent our bank account, in September last year we received the amazing news.

We were pregnant.

Weeks 4 to 13

I’d like to say that the first trimester flew, but honestly, it dragged.

(4 weeks: We were just about to go into the circus when we got the ‘good news’ phonecall)

Finding out so early is always a curse, particularly when you can’t really share your news, and you have to act ‘normal’. And then the dreaded morning sickness hit. Or in my case, and as was the case with my pregnancy with J, my “morning” sickness hit around lunchtime and continued until bed time.

(6 weeks pregnant: At a friend’s wedding. The nausea had just started, but it was all smiles for the camera!)

The nausea generally peaked right on school pick up time, and left me feeling drained, nauseous and generally unwell.  Salads made me gag, cheese sandwiches were my staple, and the nausea was only manageable if I was consuming carbs.

(10 weeks: I took the girls down to Melbourne for my nephew’s 1st birthday. And while the drive and evenings were a struggle, it was wonderful to share our news with my family  in person).

A saving grace was the distraction of Christmas. Although there were none of the usual celebratory champagne or cocktails for me, it was great to have some time off work and take little adventures with our family (not to mention, naps).

(Smiling for the camera to get our Christmas picture, and if my memory serves me correct, eating a bag of chips and going to bed as soon as we got home). 

Thankfully my mornings were relatively symptom free, however, and I was still able to fit in my daily walk. And I coped with work and household chores by trying to fit in as much as I could  before the nausea came on around lunch (after which I was pretty much useless). And while the symptoms were not wanted, they were reassuring, and we got beautiful results at our growth scans and other tests.

On that note, we were surprised to learn that since my last pregnancies, they have introduced a new genetic test – the side benefit being that you can find out gender really early. Like 10 weeks early. And right on the 10-week mark, we found out we were welcoming another little girl into our family. Miss C was less than impressed at first (she really wanted a brother) but has now warmed to the idea and can’t wait to meet her newest little sister!

I think J is still a little too young to really understand what is going on, although if I ask her where the baby is, she points to my tummy which is pretty adorable.

Weeks 14 to 20

Somehow I managed to bumble through the first 8 weeks then as quickly as the nausea arrived, it subsided. One day it was there, the next it was gone. And I must say I was pretty pleased about that. My usual salads regained their appeal, and I could actually do things during the afternoon without feeling like death warmed up.

Physically, I felt great during this period.  None of the headaches or pelvic pain that I had experienced with J, and I loved being able to keep active with my morning walks.

(16 weeks: Celebrating Australia Day with a hike up to Booroomba Rocks)

I was, and still am, battling with bone-tiring fatigue. I’m heading to bed quite early (although, let’s be honest , I generally do), although there are some days where I can barely keep my eyes open!  I put it down to being a few years older, working and having two other little ones to run around after all day. So yeah – I’ve pretty much accepted that it is the new normal – albeit begrudgingly.

As for the belly – well – it grows (as does everything else!). Faster with each pregnancy it seems, and if I’m honest – I’m not really loving it. I know its all part of the process, but experiencing growth and slimdown with 3 pregnancies in 5 years – and a bulging wardrobe to cater for multiple sizes – well its not as exciting as the first time around that’s for sure!

(9 weeks, 14 weeks, 19 weeks)

So there you have it – a little snippet into the last 20 weeks! Here’s hoping the next half flies, as we are all looking forward to meeting our newest family member and beginning our life as a family of five.

Now if we could only decide on a name….

A Very Peppa 2nd Birthday Party

And just like that our snuggly little Jo-Jo went from this…

Then to this…

And now to this!

Yes Little J turned TWO on the weekend and we are left wondering just where the time went (a sentiment that we find ourselves repeating over and over again these days…)

While last year we had a big backyard party to celebrate J’s first birthday, this year was, intentionally, a lot more low key. We are going to alternate ‘big’ parties each year for the girls, and this year it was J’s turn to have a modest party with family only.

But that didn’t mean we couldn’t make it a special day. No sir. It was still filled with pressies, balloons, family, food and all things Peppa Pig.  Not to mention morning games, a scooter race and, of course, lots of birthday cuddles!

And come dinner time, there was no shortage of food. We laid out lots of party favourites – including homemade sausage rolls, homemade chicken nuggets and mini pizzas – plus a spinach & ricotta fritatta and grilled eggplant salad for the grown-ups.

As for the birthday cake – well that was an easy decision. For my Peppa-pig-obsessed girl would want nothing else.

(Vanilla cake, decorated with chocolate biscuits and green icing piped to look like grass. Not forgetting the chocolate ganache ‘muddy puddle’ and a few figurines and flowers to top it all off!!)

The party girl seemed to be a big fan – even if she wasn’t quite sure how to blow out her candles. She did, however, love being sung to – and has requested we sing “Happy Birthday” to her on a daily basis since!

“Two” really has proven, again, to be such a fun age.  Little J is full of personality, and more words are coming every day. She is beyond independent, which both endears me and drives me wild (usually depending on how much of a rush we are in). And even when her tantrums are loud and insistent, it is generally not too long  before she breaks out in a big dimply smile that is simply contagious.

Current loves: yoghurt, milk, her evening routine, Peppa Pig, dogs, gymnastics, bananas and her big sister (and / or anything her big sister is doing, eating, playing with…)

Current dislikes: being told no, veggies as a general rule (!!!), not being able to do things herself.

A very happy birthday to our beautiful, bright, bubbly Little J indeed.

2016 – A Year in Review

I’ve heard a lot of people lamenting 2016 – and bidding it a quick and eager farewell. For us, though, 2016 was a good year. Sure, there were some less than stellar moments dotted throughout (but that’s generally the case isn’t it?) but for the most part, we finally managed to strike an ok work / life balance. We also made it through the year with good health and in good spirits, such that we enter 2017 with a sense of anticipation for what the new year might bring.

But before I turn to our hopes and aims for the year to come, it seems only fair to recap the year that was. 

January 

Summer holidays continued in full swing. We celebrated a late Christmas linner, devoured a 8-course Australia Day ‘tasting menu‘, and spent time playing tourist in our home town.

February

Josie turned ONE(!), Charlotte started Pre-School(!) and we took a week-long cruise around New Caledonia (see here, here, here and here).

March

Charlotte turned FOUR, we celebrated Easter and took lots of family hikes.

April

We took more family hikes, cheered on the Brumbies, went camping and got all dressed up for a costume party!

May

We celebrated Mother’s Day, took more hikes,  and had lots of little adventures – both indoors and out.

June

With the Canberra Winter having arrived, we had lots of fun indoors. We also took a girl’s road trip down to Melbourne to catch up with family and visit the zoo!

July

We had dance classes, visitors in town and lots of good food.

August

We celebrated Book Week, took a quick trip to Melbourne and then a family holiday to Fiji!

September

We celebrated Father’s Day – Italian Style, painted, created a fairy garden and flew a kite.

October

We took another trip to Melbourne, the girls dressed up for Halloween and the husband and I went on a “Bloody Long Walk” for charity.

November

We baked, we went to the Circus, we visited the Show and we celebrated our dear friends’ wedding in Thredbo (where we played in snow!).  

December

We ate, we drank, we partied.  We took a quick trip to Melbourne to celebrate my nephew’s 1st birthday. Then we had lots of family arrive into town, and celebrated Christmas accordingly.

And so our 2016 came to a close. Filled to the brim with new memories, time spent with family and a seemingly better balance between work and play (well better than in previous years, that’s for sure!!).

Here’s to an even bigger and better 2017!

Christmas 2016

I’ve always loved Christmas, but it feels even more special now that we have children in the house. For they bring a whole new level of excitement to the season – from school concerts and daycare parties, to tree redecorating and endless requests for carols when we are in the car.

While this year was to be a “Canberra” Christmas with my in-laws,  it ended up being a combined Christmas when my (Melbourne) family made the trip up the Hume to celebrate with us also.  This meant we had 5 extra people under our roof, including my gorgeous 1 year old nephew who the girls just adore, and needless to say a lot of fun was had by all!

Christmas Eve

Blessed with warm weather and sunny skies, Christmas Eve ‘day’ was all about fun. We put the finishing touches on the tree, decorated biscuits, played in the paddle pool and visited the local playground.

Our evening was spent watching the carols, feasting on homemade nibbles (think cheeses, antipasto, homemade sausage rolls, wonton cups…) and sipping on baileys eggnog made by our resident bartender for the evening – my little brother!  Oh and the kids made sure to leave out some treats for Santa and his Reindeers too – before finally falling into bed for the evening.

Christmas Day 

As is usually the case with young children, the whole house was up bright and early on Christmas morning. The girls were delighted to find their requested presents under the tree – namely a bike for C and a scooter for J. So much so that they wasted no time in racing to find their shoes and head outside for a spin.

With the kids well and truly occupied with their Santa presents, we got to work on brunch.  Croissants, french toast casserole,  eggs benedict, ham and a fruit platter – washed down with peach sangria. Perfect fuel for the upcoming adventures of the day (or perhaps it was more of a ‘head start’ as much of the day’s adventures involved more eating!!).

That’s right, after the littlest members of the family had taken their lunchtime naps, we put on our party dresses and headed over to my sister in-law’s house for part 2 of the day – namely a late lunch (or perhaps better described as an ‘early dinner’) – which included all the Christmas trimmings. Prawns, turkey, pork, ham, vegetables, salads….yes my plate (and belly) was full to the brim. Although I did find some space for dessert – particularly when not one, but four were on offer. My favourite being the locally made plum pudding!

And just like that, the sun began to set and another Christmas Day came to pass. I returned home with my belt buckle loosened, and feeling very grateful for the day’s wonderful food, great company and lots of laughs (not to mention being able to spend the day with all of my nearest and dearest!).

And I can only imagine how much mischief the little cousins are going to get up to together in the years to come….

Random Ramblings

I had all good intentions of posting a ‘5 things Friday’ – but here we are on Saturday and no such post was written. But there have been a lot of little happenings of late, and I just returned from a lovely facial + massage combination (cashing in a Christmas gift certificate, thanks Amanda!), and am feeling particularly relaxed. So a sneaky little blog post it is…

Adventuring? We had a great time at the Circus last weekend. Little J was enamoured with the lights, sound and action from the very first minute (and we discovered that she is a huge fan of popcorn too!)

img_1076Oh and the clowns were a big hit also – so much so that we are now the proud owners of a slinky and a cheap necklace…

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Creating? We finally finished our family photo wall! It has been on the to-do list for years now, and I am so chuffed to see it come to life. The idea being that we add a new family portrait to the line up each year.
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Feeling? Very much like this year is slipping by all too fast. We had an activity evening at C’s pre-school last night, and little J wasted no time in joining in the fun. It seems like only yesterday that I was wheeling her to the preschool in the pram, and now she is out running around with all the big kids.

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Smiling? At Miss C’s ever-developing art and writing skills. Not a day goes by where she doesn’t pull out the textas and create us a masterpiece. On this occasion it was a ‘get well soon’ drawing for her Nanna, complete with self-portrait, her grandparents, two horses, a pig, a bull and a lion!
img_1128 Baking? Two big batches of rocky road with my little ‘helpers’. Although I think they did more bowl licking than anything else….
img_1064Missing? My sunglasses. If you know me, you know that I am never without them.  I remember taking them off as I walked into work on Friday, and putting them in my bag, but they are now nowhere to be found. And I’m well and truly feeling as though I am going (sun-squinty) crazy!

Indulging? In addition to the facial + massage I got this morning, I also got my nails painted. I saved the beautician from the horror that is my runner / walker’s feet – and opted to have my fingernails painted instead. Something I almost never do – but I must say I’m quite loving the look.

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Although I suspect kids + chores = they will be chipped in 6 hours!

But now, time to enjoy the rest of the weekend (and keep looking for my sunnies….)

5 things Friday

Oh Friday, how happy I am to see you! Time for a ‘5 things Friday’ I think!

  1. This weekend we have a lot of fun things planned. A trip to the Circus and the school Fete being two. Although I suspect the weekend will involve a lot less walking than last weekend, when Mr BBB and I tackled the “Bloody Long Walk”. A 35km charity walk that took us just over 6 hours to complete (and I think my legs are still feeling it…)

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2. Another reason I am feeling tired at the moment? One word….

Josie.

Yes we have well and truly hit the tantrum phase, coupled with the independent phase. Getting dressed, meals and generally trying to get out of the house has been routinely frustrated by our spirited 21-month old.

This photo is a good example. For not even two minutes after it was taken, she was horrified, HORRIFIED, when I stopped her from throwing paint on the ground and deteriorated into an all-consuming tantrum that lasted a good 25 minutes!

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3. Her big sister, on the other hand, is in a wonderful stage. Filled with lots of role-play and arts. We bought this costume for her daycare Halloween party, and she’s pretty much been living in it ever since.

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4. Tantrums aside, there is another thing I know for sure about J and that is her absolute adoration for her big sister. Wherever C is, J won’t be too far behind. And whatever C is doing, well J will give it a go too. Sure, they have their moments, but for the most part they are great buddies.

img_0596 5. Another recent favourite moment? Having “Jonpa” in town on a particular splendid Canberra weekend – which turned out to be perfect kite flying weather too. Needless to say a lot of fun was had at the Arboretum!
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What about you? What are you up to this weekend?

Reminiscing…

School holidays have arrived, as have a couple long weekends, so a trip to see my family in Melbourne was a must! The girls and I headed down the Hume, and I’m pleased to report that both have been amazing despite living out of a suitcase and bed-hopping between motels, and various family members’ houses.

It’s always fantastic to head to the town I grew up in, and show the girls my old  “haunts”. But a recent find while clearing out our garage – brought back lots of memories for me too. A box filled to the brim with old photographs and holiday memorabilia, that I had no idea I’d kept.

What a find indeed!

Cue: Hours of reminiscing as I scanned the best photos into my computer (while thinking that I will have to put together a photo album sometime soon).

But in the meantime? Here are some pictures that brought back particularly fond memories…

img_0010-4Dad and I, circa 1983 (?) at the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. This photo makes me laugh as it was obviously taken before my irrational fear of birds kicked in. I can almost 100% guarantee that you would never see me standing this close to a bunch of birds these days.

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Yarrawonga circa 1982. I’ve always been a horse lover – and it seems our girls are too!

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I can’t remember where this was taken, but I loved all the little adventures our family used to take.

img_0021Twinning at Kindergarten. I definitely remember this jumper – and am left wondering why legwarmers are no longer in fashion.

img_0023-3I see so much of Charlotte in this picture, that I think was taken at my 6th birthday party(?). I’m also loving the fancy wine glasses (that were probably filled with Sunkist), and the awesome 70s curtains in the background.

img_0003-2I have no idea who my bike buddy is, but we are definitely looking like kids of the 80s! Girly-mullet for me and all…img_0004Our Bear. The stinkiest Rottweiler x Alsatian rescue dog that you ever did meet. But with a heart of pure gold.

img_0048-2This would have to be one of my all-time favourite photos of my little brother. Though I suspect it was taken not too long before he attempted a BMX jump and knocked out his two front teeth !?

img_0126Mixed doubles tennis champions! Tennis was my sport of choice throughout high school and taking home the “flag” one year was definitely a highlight. As were the colourful parachute tracksuits that my Mum used to buy me…

img_0005And finally, Miss Tess. Proving that she is, and has always been, one weird cat!

Father’s Day 2016

As has become tradition, we celebrated Father’s Day this year with an internationally themed lunch with Mr BBB’s family. You might recall that we’ve previously done Turkish, Mexican and Chinese themes, but this year it was all about…

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Italy!

A great excuse to fill the table with copious amounts of food. Not that I generally need an excuse though….

Again, like other years, it was more of a late lunch (or linner?), which soon turned into dinner as we ate, drank and chatted our way into the evening.

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The Food
IMG_9625 We started with a big antipasto platter, with lots of favourite items picked up from the markets. Truffle salami, goats cheese, prosciutto, artichokes and chilli olives, just to name a few.

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For main – we also had quite a few dishes on offer.  Veal involtini and baked gnocchi with pancetta and sage were the main stars, with a leafy salad, eggplant caponata, caprese salad and a garlic sourdough served alongside.

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All together now!

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And for dessert – well I couldn’t pick just one. So a selection of Italian desserts it was!

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Cranberry and pistachio nougat, almond biscotti, cannoli (I bought the shells but made two fillings – a vanilla ricotta and a lemon ricotta).

IMG_9661And finally – mini tiramisu cups – for what Italian-themed meal would  be complete without the iconic tiramisu!

To drink

We started with an Italian-inspired cocktail, made with Campari, Cointreau, orange juice and lemonade. Slightly bitter, but very refreshing. IMG_9695

While during the meal, we had Italian beer and this lovely Chianti on offer.
IMG_9637 Before too long, the sun started to set, and it was time to bid farewell to the family.  I don’t know about them, but I’m pretty sure I had to let out my belt buckle a notch or two, which is always a sign of a good family gathering right? Not to mention the smiles all round from these two cheeky monkeys (or is that four!?)
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A very Happy Father’s Day indeed!