Father’s Day 2017

Father’s Day is becoming quite the event as our girls grow. Homemade presents are in abundance (thanks to School and Daycare), and the girls seem to be at that perfect age and have a wonderful time spoiling their Dad on his special day.

After a relaxing morning filled with presents and cuddles, our annual Father’s Day tradition continued with a family lunch. And, as is the case each year, we selected an international theme for the meal.

This year – it was all things Greek! Starring freshly picked lemons and rosemary from our garden to give the table a Mediterranean feel.

We actually opted for a late lunch (linner), as it works well with the girls’ nap times and means that they can join us for the meal. Although as is the case each year, linner soon turns into dinner, as we chat and eat our way through the afternoon and into the evening.

On the menu this year?

Spinach and feta pinwheels to start – that I made the day before and reheated just before serving. Washed down with a pre-lunch cocktail – of course – a Santorini Sunrise.

Made with vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine.

For the main course – we served chicken souvlaki skewers, keftedes, roasted lemon potatoes, a burghul salad and a green salad. With homemade tzatziki and a fig and olive relish on the side, along with some flatbread.

And for dessert? This rather impressive-looking baklava cheesecake (recipe here).

A lovely baked vanilla cheesecake, with a honey / nut crumble and enclosed in filo pastry. Served with a honey cinnamon syrup. YUM!

And so another Father’s Day celebration came to an end, with full bellies and lots of laughs.

Adding another country to our list of Father’s Day lunch destinations too!

2013 – China

2014 – Turkey

2015 – Mexico

2016 – Italy

 

Third Pregnancy: Third Trimester Reflections

In some ways I feel like this pregnancy has been a long one. The relentless nausea and fatigue of the first trimester probably has a lot to do with it.

But in other ways, I am a little surprised that we just hit the 38 + week mark. Yes, I’ve officially made it to full term and, once again, I am pretty damn amazed at the wonder that is the human body.  Sure, I may not *fall* pregnant easily, but this ol’ body of mine has now grown and carried three beautiful babies to full term, all within the space of 5 years, which feels rather wonderful in itself.

So how has the third trimester treated me this third time around?

(25 weeks, 30 weeks, 36 weeks)

I’m feeling large, despite most people saying that I look ‘small’ , and I’m pretty sure I’m in the waddle-phase. But I am grateful that I have been able to keep up with my daily walks, something I wasn’t all that consistent with in my previous pregnancies,  and I am hopeful that the regular exercise will assist with the recovery phase.

I’m not sure whether it is due to the regular walking, or perhaps the baby is just sitting differently, but I am pleased to report that I have suffered none of the pelvic pain (SPD) that plagued me throughout my pregnancy with Little J. Over the last few weeks I’ve had some pretty intense shooting pains down the back of my upper leg / hip / area, but I think that might have something to do with the baby pressing on a particular nerve? Sure, they are painful and will stop me in my tracks for a moment (and elicit a curse word or two), but they are nowhere near as frustrating as the daily SPD pain.

(36 weeks – round 1, 2, and 3. Not much difference really – except for the bags under my eyes!!)

Perhaps the biggest shock of the third trimester was being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes – something I never considered would be an issue.  I’ve eaten healthier this pregnancy than in my others, and managed to walk around 5km each day, even with the nausea of the first trimester.  But, despite this,  it seems my body likes to dump a little glucose into my system overnight while I am sleeping, so I continue to have high fasting levels when I wake up – and no amount of diet watching or exercise was working to correct it. As a result? I’ve now been introduced to the world of endocrinology, the national diabetes scheme and blood-glucose monitors. I’m having insulin before bed at night, which is not too bad, and my doctors tell me everything should correct itself once the baby is born. Fingers crossed!

Symptoms aside, I am most definitely at the stage where I just want our newest family member to be here. I finished up at work a week or so ago, which has been nice. I was tempted to stay a little longer, but my family encouraged me to finish up and have a couple weeks “off” before the baby arrives. And I am pretty grateful for that encouragement (if not for the fact I no longer have to try and squeeze into the last few corporate work dresses that fit…)

I’m not all that great at sitting still, though, so being at home has meant that the nesting urge has been in full swing. I finally pulled all our baby things out of storage, washed a bunch of clothes, reorganised my linen cupboard and pantry, tackled the office filing pile, and can’t help but find more things to add to my ‘to do’ list.

The freezer is also stocked with lots of ready-made meals that I have been preparing over the last few weeks or so. Casseroles, stews, pulled pork, lasagne, pasta sauce – you name it, its probably in there. I figure these will come in handy while I am in hospital, and also for the first week or so when  I get home. So much for cleaning out the freezer recently.

Although there is, if I’m honest, no great rush to get everything done for unlike after my other pregnancies, I’ve decided to take a little extra time off work this time around. I’ll still be helping with bookkeeping for my husband’s business, but I’m not due back into the office until the New Year. My longest time off work since I was 17!

Another big focus recently has been spending as much time with the girls before their little sister arrives (not only because we are acutely aware that getting out and about with 3 kids of varying ages will take some getting used to!).  We’ve taken lots of walks, headed up to Corin Forest for some snow play, and generally just been making the most of these last few weeks as a family of 4.

It’s been lovely to have some one-on-one time with each of the girls too. Little J and I had a great morning at the playground while her big sister was at school, then it was off to the toy shop – stopping for milk and cookies along the way. I’m not 100% convinced that she really understands what is going on – although her daycare teachers mentioned she told them that the baby is coming soon – so maybe she understands more than I give her credit for…

Miss C and I also took advantage of the school holidays and had a girl’s day out at the movies, followed by lunch. She seems to be very aware that home life is about to change, but as long as the baby doesn’t play with her ‘beanie-boos’ I’m pretty sure she will cope just fine. In fact, I have no doubt she will be a huge help in the coming weeks.

Overall, this third pregnancy has been…well…different. Not only because of all the physical reasons I’ve already spoken about, but also because of the  emotional ones too. Life with active  5 and 2 year olds meant that I had very little time to really think about being pregnant at all. There were still the hours to be billed at work, books to be audited,  the never-ending loads of washing to be done and meals to be prepared… yes pre-pregnancy life went on as usual – just with the addition of a basketball belly to contend with when packing up the kids toys at the end of the day! Don’t get me wrong, I am so very grateful to have carried three beautiful babies to full term , I just don’t feel that I have had any pregnancy ‘glow’ this third time round.

And at 38+ weeks, I can safely say that we are more than ready to meet our newest little one!! Now if we could only decide on a name….

Nursery Number 3

Having 3 girls within 5 years means, inevitably, that our littlest one is likely to get a lot of hand-me-downs from her older sisters. And while the frugal part of me loves that I can re-use so many baby items and clothes, I’m determined to give our littlest one her “own” things too.

Like a newly decorated nursery.

Yes it would have been easy to have kept the room as is (particularly as Little J is still sleeping in there for the moment), but I really wanted to give it a bit of a makeover. Nothing too dramatic – we still have the same key furniture items – just some changes in colours, curtains and cushions to give it a fresh feel.

The result being, that the room now feels like a completely new space!

I didn’t have a specific theme, as such. I just wanted something that was fairly colour neutral, and ever so slightly whimsical.

I started by replacing the blue curtains with a simple grey sheen. Ordered from Ebay for about $20.

I picked up a new mobile from Kmart – to add a little colour to the room.

As for the prints (above and below), I purchased these cute baby animal pictures from Etsy, had them printed, then placed them in the existing photo frames. I’ve actually had the same frames for each nursery, just changed the pictures inside!

Same nursing chair too. Just freshened up with some new cushions – a fluffy pink and simple grey.

And the dresser also got a little spruce up – with the help of some shelves,  a couple plants and other decorative items. The lamp is the same one from J’s nursery.

Speaking of the soon to be middle child, well she didn’t leave my side as I was taking these pictures (so much so that many had the top of a little blond head in them). It seems someone approves of the new-look room!

And now, just for comparison’s sake….

No. 1 – C’s nursery…

No 2. – J’s nursery…

And finally No. 3’s nursery…

Same room – but 3 different looks for what I imagine will be 3 very different girls!

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!!!

 

 

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….

Australia Day 2017

You might recall that last year we indulged in a full tasting menu for Australia Day. Yes, 8 courses that took us on a culinary tour around the Country – celebrating fresh, local and seasonal produce.

And while this year was much more ‘low key’, we still filled the day with family and food, and a favourite pastime – a morning hike!

Needless to say after the morning’s outdoor adventures, we were quite hungry when the afternoon rolled around. Our family joined us for an early dinner – and with the temperature exceeding 30 degrees outside, a BBQ seemed to be the most logical, if not sanest, choice.

On the menu?

Some homemade sausages by our local butcher. Served with a few “Aussie-themed” sides.

Starting with a mango macadamia salad – comprising of salad leaves, fresh mango, avocado and macadamias. Dressed simply with a mixture of lime juice, seeded mustard, oil and sliced red chilli.

I also turned on the oven for 20 minutes or so, in order to make another iconic Australian side…damper! Flavoured with camembert and cracked pepper (and these turned out very moreish indeed).

For dessert we kept things pretty simple. Instead of a large pavlova, I went with mini versions instead. Topped with cream, lemon curd and a fresh raspberry.


And to keep us hydrated, we served a fresh fruit cocktail.

Akin to a punch – I guess you’d say – made with vodka, coconut rum, cooled tea, pineapple juice and ginger ale – finished with some frozen honeydew balls, mint and raspberry.

And so another Australia Day came to pass  – and we retired to bed with full bellies and fond memories of the day.

What about you? What did you get up to this Australia Day?

My words for 2017

I’m not one for resolutions, but I do appreciate the freshness of a new year. The chance to sit back and reflect on the year that was – what worked and what didn’t – and make some goals for the year to come.

We’ve worked hard over the last few years to get more balance back in our family life. And while it still remains a work in progress, it’s something that we think about, and talk about, often. Time always seems in short supply, and with two littlies in the house I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But making the most of the time we do have, filling it with fun and adventures, well that seems like a pretty good goal to me.

This year I sense that we are again going to be busy. Our calendar is already filling up – and the first half of the year is on its way to being pretty full. Miss C starts big school shortly, and Little J moves into an extra day at daycare, and I’m a bit unsure as to how we are going to fit in all the drop offs and pick ups, the other activities, fitness, family…..

And while I don’t have any resolutions for the year, per se, and I’m reluctant to commit to any firm “plan” (at least until I work out what the new normal is going to be) I do have a few words that I am going to give a little more attention to this year…

  • Create – I’ve missed writing, and creating in the kitchen, and its about time I got back into it. Starting with a more regular blogging schedule and perhaps a few other creative outlets. More recipe experiments, and expanding my knowledge of international cuisine too.
  • Capture –  I love photography, and want to make the conscious effort to grab my ‘good’ camera more. For the memories captured are always so special to me.
  • Focus – On the present, and the small. More moments spent cherishing the little things. Reading more books and writing more letters.
  • Adventure –  Continuing to embrace my love for the outdoors, and sharing this with our girls.

So, just a few words to get me started -on what I am sure is going to be a magical year!

What about you? What are your ‘words’ for 2017?

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….)