Curious Shraddha

Change is Constant

We live quite a structured life up until in our 20s when you think about it. 8 years of elementary school, 4 years of high school, 3-4 years of college/university… basically as soon as you get comfortable in your setting, it is time for CHANGE. Depending on each person’s experiences, they either welcome this change or they dread it. Regardless of our feelings, however, we are all learn from a young age that nothing dulls our potential as much as an uncritical sense of satisfaction.

As is always the case when moving somewhere new, I was definitely unsure of myself when I first came to Dar es Salaam. But upon pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I was so very fortunate to meet the people I did because thanks to them, I got to experience this city for everything it has to offer and form some amazing memories. Professionally, I could not have asked for a better work environment! I got to work with an inspiring team on a truly innovative project that assesses the complexity and potential behind financially including the poor/ unbanked groups. As far as friendships go, I got to meet some real beauties whom I will miss oh so much!


-Obviously- my friends!

-How amazingly delicious the fruits and veggies are here! I’ve had so much fun cooking here! Especially because of my friends, who had no choice but to be my guinea pigs when I’d try out different recipes on them under the guise of “dinner parties”.

-How you can get food from basically any region of the world! So many good restaurants, such little time!!!

-Not having to put on layers of warm clothes before stepping outside my home. Seriously am going to miss this as I get to London, ON  with its 5ft. of snow, jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez!

-Friendliness! There is no way you walk down a street without someone acknowledging you with “Habari” or “Jambo”. And 99.5% of the time, they have no ulterior motive for greeting you! They just have a hospitable culture here!

-Swahili!! Granted, I don’t speak the best Swahili, but I genuinely enjoy interacting with people in Swahili. Especially when they ask “Freshi?” to see if you are doing well, haha. Gonna miss the slang from here. Watch me come back 10 years down the road and drop super outdated lingo references haha.

-Having access to places like Zanzibar, Serengeti, Ngorogoro, Kilimanjaro…! People from all over the world come to visit these places, but I got to LIVE in this country and experience everything in all of its glory!


Its hard to describe just how much my heart is breaking to tear myself away this place….(despite its recent SCORCHING temperatures!). Luckily, everything is coming to a full circle for me as I’m in northern Tanzania ONE LAST TIME (*saaad*) for work. Who wouldn’t want to work next to this view:

So… after having adjusted to new “norms” and getting into the groove of things, I am now leaving to apply all my learnings to new opportunities. Because as much as I would love for this experience to continue, I’ve learnt that the only thing to be expected in life is in fact, the importance of continuing to explore the unexpected! After all, therein lies true growth.

(At least that’s what I keep reminding myself as I realize my days in Tanzania are morosely numbered).

Having said all that, I certainly am looking forward to seeing all my favourite people back in Canada!

Until next time, take care and (try to) keep smiling!

Until next time, take care and (try to?) keep smiling!

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Diwali in Dar

Diwali is a wonderful, magical, and a veryyyyyyy photogenic time of the year- as you will know from talking to almost any person from India. It is after all, the festival of lights! The mark of a new year that will be filled with more potential than the last.

*Admittedly, many of these images are from this awesome Buzzfeed that outlines 30 Wonderful Things That Happen at Diwali.!!

For those of you who don’ know- more than just marking the start of a new year, Diwali is time spent with your loved ones! There is LOTS of good food (which obviously consists of copious amounts of sugar and butter..obviously!), there is laughter, light, and fireworks! You can’t help but be happy!



As for me, this year I was sadly away from my family and thus also the aforementioned homemade good food. BUT I had a lovely Diwali nonetheless! Anyone who knows me will know that no matter what part of the world I go to, my family always finds some distant relative or family friend in that city for me to get in touch with; and as pointless as I originally think this is, I have always appreciated that effort later on. So it should be no surprise when I tell you that I indeed do have extended family in Dar, and they have honestly been so instrumental in my transition here.

So, on the day of Diwali and the New Year, I was at the Temple with them for all the prayers and ceremonies involved in celebrating this time of the year. It was such a beautiful night on both those occasions! I even invited some of my non-Indian friends to come and admire the decorations and traditions. I think they most enjoyed the Annakut (offerings to God) which consisted of a whopping 511 items that night!

Check out some of the gorgeous decorations from the night. And just to give you an idea of what the night was like, multiply the beauty of this temple by maybe 20 and you can imagine how lit up the entire “Indian” area of Dar was!

ALSOOOOOOOOO! Few days ago, there was a private party at this gorgeous oceanside property organized by a few people that I went to. It was so good listening to proper Bollywood music all night, enjoying amazing food, and some great company!

All in all, it was definitely a memorable one- I will always remember this Diwali I spent in Dar! 😀

Until the next post, stay positive and keep smiling!


I Went to a Fashion Show in Dar!

Count on me to end up at a fashion event even if I’m in Tanzania. You know, when I first arrived here, I fell in love with the bold prints of the traditional outfits and wondered of ways to incorporate those patterns in my everyday style. The collection presented at the Kali Elegance fashion show further inspired me to do just that! Love love loved the mix of loud colours, leather, silk, and waterproof materials with the traditional East African fabrics! Take a look  yourself 🙂

And after the show, there were a few live bands performing outside! Here are some pics from some post-fashion show fun ! All in all, it was a fantastic night with some fantastic people!

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Halfway Point in Tanzania

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Safari Weekend

Some of you may be wondering why there was a sudden blogging hiatus on my part. Especially my family members, who have not stopped asking me about it. Well, sorry everyone! I was away working and traveling in North Tanzania where blogging was unfortunately not a priority.

After much anticipation, my work trip to Mwanga was finally organized! As I mentioned in my previous post about my work, I am tasked with doing a business analysis on VSLAs being mobilized to formal financial institutions. So, on top of all the work I was doing in the office, I made sure to sit in on a VSLA meeting so that I would get a chance to chat with one of our most important beneficiaries!

My one week in Mwanga was truly a great experience. I have lived in rural settings before, but this was the first time where I was not only away from the comforts of city life but also in a place where I did not speak the local language very well… (its usually been one or the other for me in the past). I would even go as far to say that I did not experience the “culture shock” everyone expects when traveling until I left Dar and came to Mwanga. I got past the language barrier, I managed just fine with power and water supply shortages, I even grew to love the curiousity with which schoolchildren would point and call me muzungu (foreigner) as they ran past me excitedly! But, I must admit, the food situation was less than ideal for me given that I am a vegetarian. I mean, though I don’t enjoy it, I usually will adapt and eat seafood and/or chicken when in a bind, but the dishes served here just did not seem appealing to me at all! So my theory is that I maybeee experienced more discomforts simply because I was not well fed (hungry Shraddha = unhappy Shraddha, as my closed ones know, haha). However, the fruits in Mwanga (and all of N.Tanzania for that matter) are soooooo flavourful! So, I ate lots and lots of avocados, mangoes, and bananas…and put veggie salad in slices of bread for lunches and dinners haha. From time to time, if I needed extra starch to fill me up, I’d order rice & beans or pilau, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat that for every meal because it was extremely oily and salty! If only they were as effective in making food less salty/greasy as they were in assuring me that it will be good. Haha.

But all  in all, living in Mwanga was fantastic! It is such a tranquil little place, tucked away in the Pare Mountains of Tanzania. Take a look!

After working in Mwanga, I extended my stay in North Tanzania and went up to Moshi, from where I started my SAFARI WEEKEND! First stop was Ngorogoro Crater!

After spending a whole day doing a game drive in there, we camped at the edge of the crater. And I must say, this was no dinky camping experience! We had a cook make us the most deliciousssssssssss meals, the campsite was equipped with hot showers, and a cooking/dining area, and tons of spots to charge our equipments! By the next morning, I was refreshed and ready for Serengeti! Here are a few clicks from that safari. Highlight of Serengeti was definitely seeing a cheetah hunt an imapala!!! Usually you never see these big cats hunt, so this was definitely exciting to witness! The whole thing lasted 5 seconds max, so I have no pictures of it sadly. But trust me, IT WAS UNREAL!

Honestly, I cannot believe how amazing my time in Tanzania has been so far! My entire bus ride from Arusha/Moshi to Dar es Salaam (10 hours, ouch!), I was just thinking about how lucky I am; partly because of Mwanga/Ngorogoro/Serengeti experiences, and partly because of the conversations I had with this one lady on the bus!

My plan was to sleep during that bus ride, but an Indian lady befriended me and chatted the whole time about everything from food, to her marriage, to her extended family. For anyone who is Indian, you know this is just bound to happen when you are the only ones in a bus/train/room. While I was really wishing she would leave me to rest in the beginning, I quickly became interested when she started giving me all these “cheat” recipes to make fancy Indian dishes, haha. Great learning experience! Now I just have to try them!

There were many things she said, however, which reminded me of the traditional, narrow-minded, fear-instilling, and restrictive upbringing I know many Indian girls experience. However, I did not know just how sheltered her life had been until she shyly asked me to share a taxi once we were in Dar es Salaam.  I asked her what area she lived in, and turned out it was kind of out of the way from my way home…but before I could say no, she quickly explained that her brother was supposed to come pick her up but there was a family emergency, and she really needed me to be with her because she didn’t feel comfortable taking a taxi alone with a “local” (insert equivalent Gujrati word- for all my Indian readers). I was shocked! Here was a 40-something person, born and raised in Tanzania, who did not trust a fellow Tanzanian because she had genuinely never interacted with them. Anyway, the relations between (sometimes even 3rd and 4th generation!) Indians and locals in East Africa is a whole other can of worms that I don’t want to open right now. But just was an interesting end to my 10 day adventure.

On top of everything else I was thankful for, in that moment I was also grateful for my awesome parents who have always instilled in me the positive aspects of Indian culture and protected me from such growth-stunting measures many others take in the name of “culture preservation”.

On  that note, I will end this post. Until next time, take care and keep smiling!! 😀


Investour & Trivia & Dinner Parties

While a lot has been happening since my Canada Day celebrations here, the internet has not been cooperative at all. So bear with me here as I recount the most memorable incidents in the past 2 weeks. (Hint- may or may not have something to do with the things mentioned in that insanely original title of mine).

#1- Investour 

The other Canadian interns and I often use our break times (and the exponentially fast wifi) at work to research things we can do in/ nearby Dar es Salaam. While doing so, we came across this neat initiative called Investour where, as the name suggests, the money you pay for the tour gets invested in the small businesses you get to interact with all day. Being the business/microfinance girl of the group, I was keen on participating in this tour! Thankfully, Annie and Heidi (two Canadians I met at the Canada Day party) were also into the idea; they even brought along a friend whom I had not met yet. Obviously, within 10mins of  being introduced to their friend, Aneesha, we discover that was at Western the same years I was and we had a ton of mutual friends. I tell you, it amazes me every time I see the unlikely ways in which people’s paths cross!

So! That Saturday morning, we all got picked up by our Investour guide, Aziza who took us to the main office to give us a deeper understanding of Investour’s background and its purpose. One main thing she pointed out was that, in interacting with the entrepreneurs who we were scheduled to meet (wood carvers, small restaurant owner, vegetable seller, and charcoal seller), we were seeing the heart of Dar es Salaam and of Tanzania. Like other metrocities, Dar is vastly comprised of people from rural Tanzania who are here to ‘make it’ before retiring back in their home towns. According to World Bank stats, close to 80% of Tanzania is relatively poor, and approximately 35% lives under the poverty line. These citizens are not educated enough to compete in the formal job market so they run businesses on small profit margins, and since they have no real collateral, they cannot easily access the microcredit they need to get through the tough times. Thus, their lives are significantly impacted in a positive manner from the microloan they receive from Investour.

“This [tour] is different than interacting with your safari tour guide to understand what Tanzania is about,” Aziza said, “this is you taking the time to learn of Tanzania beyond what conventional tourism provides.”

Rules were simple; per group, the tour fee is $200, 100% of which goes to an entrepreneur in need as an interest-free microloan, and tourists get to meet 3-4 entrepreneurs who have applied for that microloan. The entrepreneurs were required to repay the loan within 3 months time, at which point Investour keeps 70% of the funds for operating costs, and the remaining 30% is split between the two community banks that Investours works with for their operating cost.  Aziz informed us that they had a 95%+ repayment rate within the hundreds of entrepreneurs that have worked with in the past 5 years. Also, that no woman entrepreneur has ever defaulted on her loan. Ha! Subtext received, Aziza, subtext received indeed 😛

In all seriousness, these entrepreneurs were amazing to meet with! They all were incredibly hard-working and resourceful. They also had a good sense of humour!

After a long day of walking and talking in the sun, we finally sat down for some traditional Swahili lunch. We had various vegetable and rice dishes, so delicious and soooooo filling! (And Heidi had ugali; which is this bland thing made from corn flour enjoyed by none of us except Heidi haha).

Aziza, being the amazing woman she is, sat with us during lunch even though she was fasting for Ramadan. She was completely  indifferent by the aromas and the appreciation surrounding all the food, just focused on having a conversation with us about Tanzania! Gotta admire that self-control. All in all, it was an unforgettable tour which I recommend everyone to do!

#2- Trivia Night @Triniti 

Every other Wednesday, Triniti Bar & Lounge here holds a trivia night with a theme. The winners get awesome prizes, whereas the non-winners get to soak in some new knowledge! Guaranteed fun for everyone! The night we went was a Simpsons themed trivia night!! Obviously I was stokedddd because I thought I had dedicated enough hours of my life to that show. Every team was asked to name itself something that had to do with Simpsons and with Tanzania. My team came up with some pretty solid names like, Bart es Salaam, but in the end we went with Team ZanziBART! 

Turns out I didn’t pay close enough attention to The Simpsons because there were all these characters whose faces I knew but whose names escaped me! These characters were later revealed to be Mrs. Robbins, Lunch Lady Doris, and Rod(?) and Todd Flanders! Ah! I’d also be omitting the truth if I didn’t include that there were a lot of World War related questions which my team just did not know. In the end, we did not win the trivia game BUT  we did win the most creative name prize! Mmmm Ferrero Rochers!

#3- Dinner Parties 

Obviously,  I hadn’t had enough of Heidi and Annie because last night the two of them came over for dinner! Annie had asked me to teach her a few Indian dishes, and I told her to come watch me cook as its always the best way to learn! We were all too busy preparing and later devouring the massive Indian spread we had cooked up, so unfortunately I have no pictures to share. But lets just say my momma would have been proud!

That’s all for now, everyone! Until next time, take care and keep smiling 🙂

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Canada Day- July 6th, 2013.

Before my fellow Canadians and other worldly friends attack me, let me just start off by saying that I know July 1st is Canada Day! But here in Dar es Salaam, the Obamas were visiting that week which meant that many roads were blocked off for Mr. President’s vehicle fleet and the city was packed with traffic!

So the Canadian Embassy rescheduled Canada Day celebrations to assure that no one misses out on it because they were stuck in traffic or anything. Seriously, are we the most considerate and polite bunch, or what?

Before sharing with you updates from my Tanzanian Canada Day, here’s a few clicks of Dar looking all prepared for the visit:

Welcome to Tanzania!

Welcome to Tanzania, Obama!

Obama in the news

Few side notes with regards to this visit, which I found hilarious:
1) The city was re-paving its main roads in preparation for the American government visiting… its barely been a week since they all left, and the roads are already back to having potholes and bumps! Nothing like a quick temporary touch-up, right?
2) The city renamed one of the main roads to Obama Avenue! Haha. The confusion this will ensue in the future for anyone directing taxi and rickshaw drivers to this road by its ‘new’ name is bound to be both entertaining and frustrating.

Anyway, so that Saturday on July 6th, we went to the residence of High Commissioner of Canada for a good ol’ Canada Day barbeque. The place was decked out in red and white, it was fantastic! And it was great to be with a group of people who found it hilarious how balloons made for Canadian summers were bursting left, right, and centre in the African heat… HA! HAAAAA! ha? (no? okay..moving on from that awkward silence)… Here are a few pics! Enjoy:

Welcome to Canada in Dar!

Welcome to Canada in Dar!

Sweeeet pad right by the beach.

Sweeeet pad right by the beach.

High Commissioner Alexandre Leveque.

High Commissioner Alexandre Leveque.

How unbelievably adorable are those kids??

How unbelievably adorable are those kids?? And the cake is pretty solid too,  isn’t it?

New friend! She is from London, ON and did CGS program Huron UC!! Small world eh!?

New friend! She is from London, ON and did CGS program @Huron UC!! Small world eh!?

Chatting with Deputy Director/ COO of CIDA- Tanzania.

Chatting with Deputy Director/ COO of CIDA- Tanzania.

Fellow Canadian interns aka new friends in Dar es Salaam!

Fellow Canadian interns aka new friends in Dar es Salaam!

All in all, it was a great day spent with some spectacular folks. I am glad I had the opportunity to meet so many people from various interesting backgrounds. (Also was a perfect way to pick up people to join me for safaris and traveling adventures, lol). Aright folks, that’s what I got for now. Until the next post, take care and keep smiling 🙂


My wisdom in all things Tanzania (ha ha!)

Sorry for the delay, once agaaaain! (You guessed it, I had a bad internet connection). Anyway friends, here is my first reflection piece of my time here so far. Enjoy 🙂


Fun in the Sun

By some miracle, my internet is working really well right now! So here is a quick post about this past weekend!

Last Thursday, out of the blue, I decided I should make a one-day trip to Zanzibar (which is only a short ferry ride away from Dar es Salaam). I messaged Vera, a Canadian whom I had met through that private facebook group I talked about before, and asked her if she would be interested in joining me for a short adventure. Turns out there was a “full moon party” that Saturday at this hotel in Zanzibar, and she was planning on going with another girl (Farah) from her university! Soon enough, plans were put into motion and I had unexpectedly stumbled into a long weekend in Z with two other Canadians!

Friday evening, we arrived in Zanzibar downtown (called Stonetown). First things first, we decided to go get some fooood!! Luckily, the ferry terminal is within walking distance of Forodhani Gardens – an outdoors spot right by the beach where you can get delicious street food. As we were walking, I saw the cutest little kitten running around and I swear it took everything in me to not go pet it. But as my travel clinic doctor said, “do not touch anything that is not human because we don’t know what it has.” Yikers, right? So I kept walking, and there was ANOTHER kitten! I’m now thinking this some sort of a test, so  I just try and stay focused and head on over to where the crowd seemed to be.

There were allllll sorts of yummy smelling items available, with every vendor giving the visitors a big smile + “KARIBU!” (welcome)! It was the stall that made Zanzibar Pizza that caught my eye:

I will figure out the recipe of this thing, I'm determined!

I will figure out the recipe of this thing, I’m determined!

Most of the other items in that place were all non-vegetarian, so I just bought me the veggie Zanzibar pizza and a big glass of fresh sugarcane juice, and sat myself on the ledge over the water like everyone else. As I’m about to eat, I notice a kitten come up to me. I’m thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me!!”  How was I supposed to resist the cuteness if its coming right at me?!

But then, one more kitten started to make its way towards me. And soon enough, this happened:

Now it was just gettin' a litttle creepy!

Only 6 of the bajillion stray cats. Who did not know boundaries. Now it was gettin’ a litttle creepy!

I then learnt that these were ‘Zanzibari’ cats, who are naturally small in size; so the kitten who I felt sorry for having a tumour in its tummy was actually a full grown preggo cat! I could not eat peacefully with their hungry eyes following my every movement and approaching closer and closer to me slowly, so I stuffed my face with yummy deliciousness that the veggie pizza was and ran away from there!

Anyway, that night we arrived at our hotel which was like, a 1.5 hours ride away from Stonetown! Boy, were we tired after that! Once wew arrive there, it was evident that this ‘full moon party’ was sort of a big deal, because this place was packedddd with young people. It was like spring break but with people from all over Europe and Australia (and Dar). We knew we had a long weekend ahead of us, so we went to bed pretty early that night.

I was woken up the next morning by the sound of a torrential DOWNPOUR! But by the time I woke up and went to our veranda, there was a gorgeous rainbow shining over the clear blue waters and white sands right outside our hotel! How cool!


Soon enough, we were up and ready for our weekend of adventures! First up was the Spice Tour! Zanzibar is known for its spices, so to get a tour of how they are grown (followed by a homemade meal made from those very ingredients) was a treat!

Spice Tour


After having the BIGGEST meal of our lives, Farah and I ventured off to see the rare Red Colobus monkeys, rescued sea turtles in a local conservatory, and some mangroves! Honestly, it was unforgettable.

Even though we were SO tired by the end of our jam packed day, we were equally excited for the full moon party! Let’s just say the party was  above and beyond my expectations! There were acrobats performing, there was traditional fight dancing, breakdancing, Michael Jackson dancing! You name it, they did it! This crew of dancers did not leave one stone unturned, they were SO talented!
(I couldn’t even get a proper photo because they were ALWAYS moving so fast).

Though we were up quite late that night, Farah and I had made plans to go snorkeling the next morning while Vera wanted chillout on the white, sandy beaches by our hotel. So, we all woke up bright and early. Farah and I managed to get an awesome deal and were able to go snorkeling in BLUEST, BRIGHTEST, CLEAREST waters for only $30! It was both of our first times snorkeling, so we were pretty stoked to see all the little fishies so up close!

I swear the zebra fishes had a thing for me because they would not quit giving me kisses! I saw Nemo and Doris and these massive royal blue and golden fish…also got stung by a jellyfish, but nothing a quick splash of vinegar couldn’t fix…so moving on, I saw starfish, and bright coloured algae, oh and yeah, TONS OF DOLPHINS! 

The rest of the evening, we just relaxed and tanned in the African sun. I don’t care what anyone says, traveling can get pretty tiring!

Next morning, we were on Mission Impossible trying to do everything we wanted before catching the 3:00pm ferry back to Dar! But before anything else, as you know by now, I had to take care of the food business.

Spicy avocado spread with roasted tomatoes. YUM!

Spicy avocado spread with roasted tomatoes for breakfast. YUM!

That morning, we went to Prison Island…which was originally built to hold prisoners, but with increased trade activity and with people coming there from all over the world, was instead used as a quarantine. Today, if you visit this island you get to see MASSIVE tortoises which are literally over a 100 years old!

We thankfully still had enough time to get some shopping done before catching the ferry. Spoiler Alert for the Coady YIPer who has me for Secret Santa, you’ve got something heartwarming coming your way all the way from Zanzibar! All in all, it was an insane weekend, jam packed with fun acitivities! Perfect dose of adventure, exploration, relaxation, socializing, making new friends, and adding one more place to my wish list of having a permanent home in.

Until the next post- take care and keep smiling, people!! xoxo


LIVING in Dar (2.0)

Last time I talked about my living situation, I mentioned that I moved from a hotel to a hostel in my first week (and not sure if I shared, but I then moved out of the hostel and did house sitting for this family my boss is friends with). During that whole first week, I was on a hunt to find a decent apartment for an affordable price I could stay in for the remainder of my placement. The thing with Dar es Salaam is that, like any other major city, traffic is unbearable as you approach the core of commercial activities and NGO & diplomat communities. Thus, I had to find something very close to the CARE International office, because the time and money spent in transportation would quickly become a major expense if I did not.

So- from one of my previous posts, you might remember me talking about a Danish friend I met at my hostel, who spoke Swahili and showed me around different parts of the city. Well, being an all around angel that he is, he also parted knowledge about this facebook group where locals share tips, questions, etc. He invited me to this group, suggested I post there where I need an apartment, and go from there.

It was not long before I got 3 solid replies- anyway, without going into boring details of what each one looked like and why I liked/disliked some of them, in the end I made my choice. I found this beaaaaaaaaaaaaaautiful apartment right in the area I wanted and surprisingly within my budget! It had 3 people already living there (who all work for World Bank and the UN- so don’t worry parents, youth coordinators, & such, I am not in a party frathouse or anything haha), it has an ocean view, coconut and almond trees right outside the balcony (anyone who knows me knows how awesome that is to me), has a pool, a gym, and is just MASSIVE overall.

I mean... can you believe this my living room!?!?

I mean… can you believe this my living room!?!?

For some of my fellow Coady interns who may want a quick/easy dish, and whoever else may be interested, here is the first vegetarian recipe I cooked in my awesome new apartment with its awesome kitchen :] Enjoy!

Okay kids, thats all for now. My internet has been a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE pain lately, so hopefully that works out soon. That way I can share pics with you from my unbelievably fun/ heavenly/ perfect/ relaxing/ busy/ best weekend ever which I am still trying to grasp my mind around. Is this real life? Until then, know that I love you all! xoxo