Babies Babies Babies!!!!!

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Our littlest one is getting bigger (over 11 pounds now!!!) and more beautiful with each passing day! ¬†Oh the joy of getting to cuddle her, hear her coo as she looks up at me, and watch the boys with her… just fills my heart with so much love.

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I could seriously have 100 babies with my husband and still want more with him.

It’s ridiculous ūüėÄ

I don’t know what it is, but having his children makes me love him even more deeply and fiercely.

When I was still in the hospital after the birth, one of our friends who came to visit us joked that if we had met in high school, we would have had 10 kids by now. ¬†ūüėõ

My husband’s comrades got together and gave us the sweetest, most thoughtful gift for our new baby. ¬†Their card, all signed with their different hilarious messages like, “Congrats on your 12th kid!” and “Get some cable!” among some really sweet messages ‚̧ will forever be in my heart.

In spite of their funny card, they picked out the most elegant baby gift I could imagine: a Vera Wang silver baby cup with our daughter’s name engraved on it on the front. ¬†Just so special and beautiful.

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Here’s to baby cuddles and chubby giggles!

‚̧

Stephanie

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Our Newborn Baby Girl!

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Still in the hospital at 1 day old

Our newborn, heavenly, baby girl has arrived!!!!!!  She is 1 week old today and we are over the moon with how perfect and beautiful she is!  Having babies and growing a family with my husband is just beyond describable how wonderful it is.

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This past week has been hilariously hard though, she breastfeeds every hour during the evening and all through the night Рliterally!  And our other two have decided we should now have a 3 ring circus of screams and running through the house and general excitement over her arrival.

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So this post will be short and sweet ūüėÄ otherwise it’d probably be unreadable due to typos!

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I did want to say though, since I wrote about it before how we were worried how my uterus was handling pregnancy and if we’d be able to have more children after this baby. ¬†The Dr. said it was still strong – no windows or tearing – praise God!!!! ¬†We were leaving it in God’s hands and preparing to accept (really grieve) that maybe it was His decision to “close the womb,” but we were so happy when the doctor told us this in the operating room!

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My amazing husband giving me “that look” LOL ‚̧¬†

And of course… I cried tears of joy when seeing her – I always seem to cry with my husband (he’s the one holding her since it’s a c-section) right when one of babies come out. ¬†It’s just such a miracle!

She came just before Father’s Day, too, which I thought was so sweet and perfect. ‚̧

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All throughout the surgery, too, I kept remembering the verses,

“You will keep in perfect peace the mind that is dependent on You, for it is trusting in You.” ¬†Isaiah 26:3

and

“Will I bring a baby to the point of birth and not deliver it?” says the LORD;

“or will I who deliver, close the womb?” says your God.” ¬†Isaiah 66:9

 

And again, just like with our last baby, growing our family just creates so much more love in our marriage, which didn’t seem possible – but I love my husband even more! ¬†Even through the fog of exhaustion and sleeplessness, the love and affection is so strong and increasing.

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And just a random video on my husband’s last days of work before the baby came – him singing to our son before he left. ¬†He is such an exceptional father…

Our Winter Wonderland Experience!

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Taking a break from writing the Proverbs 31 series, I wanted to take some time to finally upload our pics from our mini “Winter Vacation” a couple of weeks ago. ¬†San Antonio never gets real snow. ¬†Well, one time back in 1985, but even that was called a “100-year snow,” for us. ¬†Soooooo ¬†we decided that since we missed going to the beach/island this Summer due to so many car issues, that we’d instead drive up to the mountains in New Mexico for a little less than a week to see if we could catch some snow for the boys to see!

It was the best decision ever to do this – our oldest had so much fun! ¬†I’ve never even seen snow like we saw on the last 2 days there (we planned it somehow just right)! ¬†It was so exciting (and FREEZING COLD)! ¬†It made me SO GRATEFUL that we live in South Texas. ¬†I love the heat… yes, even the really extreme heat we get in the Summer. ¬†We live very close to a great waterpark and have access to swimming all day if we want. ¬†It’s bliss ‚̧ ¬†ūüôā

But as for New Mexico’s mountain chill – wow! ¬†We had all the correct clothing and even snow boots for everyone, but mentally, I was so not prepared for that level of cold!

We stayed a little cozy cabin in the area of a ski resort (that wasn’t open for a few more days – we got the best price because of this, and yet we still got to see their ski slopes with “created” snow).

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This day wasn’t actually that cold, hence the hoodies (they had layers of clothes underneath though!). ¬†These were some photos of the bottom of the slopes at the ski resort. ¬†We weren’t sure we’d be able to play around there so I didn’t wear my snow boots, the boys did though.

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New Mexico with it’s deserts and mesas and mountains was incredibly beautiful! ¬†I’m not posting a lot of our pics of exploring the town and the mountains because I tend to take too many anyway, but I wanted to show the most exciting parts for us: the snow!

I loved seeing all the thousands of fir trees, and we were lucky to get to see it before and then after the first snowfall of the season. ¬†I thought it’s scenery was equally as beautiful – it was that stunning.

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Our big window in the cabin the morning after the big snowfall.

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Our patio showing just about how many inches we got overnight in the mountains!  Wow!!!

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Our adorable little cabin! ¬†It was a great stay and experience we’ll never forget.

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So. Beautiful.

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Thanks for reading ūüėČ

Why Is Shaming Men OK, but Shaming Women isn’t?

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I’m not sure when men decided that 30 was the new 15. When men thought it was better to remain independent than making a commitment to another. When men we’re courageous in business and battle but afraid to be fathers. I’m not sure when video games and “guy night” became more important than tee-ball and date night. When 4 year relationships weren’t long enough for a proposal. When staying out became cooler than showing up. I’m not sure when men became boys.

Our culture has a boy problem. In Italy, they call it Peter Pan Syndrome. I call it immaturity and selfishness. Men so focused on their dreams, their visions, and their desires they find themselves wealthy, known, and alone.

The adult world doesn’t need more boys. We need men who will grow up, know up, and show up. Who will fight for romance and commit quickly and stay indefinitely. To turn their hearts toward children and work to raise them well. To be friends who grow friends. Not just by compliments, but accountability and conviction. We need more men.

We need more men of integrity and character. Those who will hold a moral code and not compromise it. Those who love women, treat them as they would their own daughters and lead them when everything doesn’t make sense… They would lead. We need more men.

Today, I turn 31. I’m a man. And I’m proud of that. Please share as a birthday gift smile emoticon#EveryPostALesson #DaleyWisdom

So I saw this on my facebook a day or two ago, and saw some female friends reposting in agreement. ¬†There’s nothing wrong with wanting marriage and family, most women want this (including myself, obviously), but it’s interesting that we don’t see how ugly this is in light of the legal ramifications for men who do actually want marriage.

It also is ugly in the way this man is writing it to other men attempting to shame them. ¬†He is “the only man in the room.” ¬†He feels like he’s better than these other “boys” because he’s taken the risk of marriage. ¬†It’s just kind of ugly, honestly, and I doubt it’s well-received by most men in the generation Y age-range he’s trying to shame.

 

So… I took the liberty of rewriting it and posting it on my facebook to try to show how it looks when it’s written with the same tone and same self-righteous, but towards women. ¬†It looks pretty bad. ¬†It’s ugly.

So if it’s ugly and yucky for women to read… what makes us think that it’s ok and that we should praise this guy for doing the same thing to men?

Rewritten for women:

“I’m not sure when women decided that 30 was the new 15. When women thought it was better to remain independent and strong than making a commitment to another. When women we’re courageous in business and battle but afraid or ashamed to be mothers (and aborting their unwanted children).

I’m not sure when shopping and “girls night out” for moms became more important than getting married and raising healthy families. When putting off stable relationships till they were done with the bad boys and wanted to get married at 29 became acceptable. When staying out and getting drunk and sleeping with random men all throughout their college “careers” became cooler than raising a family. I’m not sure when women became irresponsible girls.

Our culture has a selfish girl problem. In history, they called it a recipe for society disaster. I call it immaturity and selfishness. Women so focused on their dreams, their visions, and their desires that they are starting to find themselves wealthy, known, and alone.

The adult world doesn’t need more irresponsible and selfish girls. We need women who will grow up, know up, and show up and support a functioning society with morals and values. Who will fight for romance and commit quickly and stay indefinitely. To turn their hearts toward children and work to raise them well (seriously). To be friends who grow friends. Not just by compliments, but accountability and conviction. We need more women.

We need more women of integrity and character. Those who will hold a moral code and not compromise it. Those who love their husbands, treat them as they would their own sons and follow them when everything doesn’t make sense… They would follow. We need more real women.”

Rodeo Fun & Life Updates

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I can’t believe how fast this year is already flying by, it’s already mid-March, and Spring Break is next week, and so much that still was waiting to get done (projects around the yard and house) are still ongoing!

Right after I got our garden 1/4 of the way established again, our dalmatian, Super, who had been leaving everything alone for a week, decided to taste all the vegetables. ¬†The only problem was that his “taste” and my “taste” aren’t the same definition… to put it bluntly, he ate our garden!

He must not like Spinach and Chard, though. ¬†ūüėČ

My husband had warned me that I should wait until he put a nice fence up with a gate. ¬†But I guess like Sarah with Abraham, my impatience got the best of me, and when we were out just “looking” at the plants at a nursery, he gave me the ok to go ahead and get some, we were hopeful LOL ¬† And thankfully it was only 1/4 of the garden, and not a whole, well-established garden that was demolished!

Watching him build a fence has been awesome, our older son is “helping” and loving every minute of it ūüėÄ ¬† Watching my man work on it so effortlessly makes me so proud and happy. ¬†Hopefully by next week, it will all be done and my older son and I can take advantage of the Spring Break free-time to really get it totally established again.

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The rodeo was it’s usual wonderful experience. ¬†Back when I was in high school, and part of a dance group for our city, we would perform here every year. ¬†Our son is interested in the sheep riding – which if you’ve never seen it, is so cute to watch!

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M y boots, watching the steers being shown.

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Kids showing their animals.

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any pictures in the petting zoo part, but our oldest is SO SWEET with animals. ¬†In the petting zoo, he zeroed in on twin baby goats that were being protected by their mama goat, and she allowed him to cuddle them and play with them. ¬†Seeing his natural tenderness with animals is just wonderful as his mom – he’s going to be a great Dad someday, and no wonder, he has the perfect role model in my husband.

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Looking at different kinds of knives and weapons. ¬†Not like we need anymore, though!!! ūüėČ

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All three of the guys had their black cowboy hats, even the baby!  My husband will only do black.  I obviously, love it.

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There were so many other things I didn’t get on camera because we were having so much fun, they went fishing in a little pool and our oldest caught a fish!!!

We saw cute shows and pet ponies, saw lots and lots animals and their families camping out. ¬†Lots of country teens making the most of the annual meetup and flirting with each other – which is just adorable to watch ‚̧

They had a Lego exhibit, a huge tent for kids and grownups to create whatever they wanted to play with or have on display.  My husband helped our son build race cars.

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At the end of the night, at the last show that we saw, while eating a delicious funnel cake with it’s powderey sugared piece of fried-Heaven, our son actually won a Unicorn Shoe – a horse shoe that a Blacksmith made for only 4 people in the audience who would win them at the end of the show. ¬†He was elated!! ¬†And it was still warm when he got it!

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Protect Your Rest – Protect Your Family

Last week, one of the leaders in our Bible study sat at my table, she listened as we went over our homework and talked about the ideas or thoughts we had regarding it.  When it came time for her to speak at our table, she let us in on something she thought we should really know:

She said she wished she had spent more time playing on the floor with her kids, had had dinner more often at the table, rather than spend so much time driving around town getting to their activities. ¬†She said she was always in the car, the kids ate their fast food dinners in it as they drove to the next big thing. ¬†And now, as she’s looking back and her kids are much older, she wishes she had lived this part of her life differently.

She wishes she had spent more time actually present with her children, rather than merely with them.

Regret.

I had this sense of despair listening to her story… none of us want to have regret like that, especially in how we raised our children! ¬†But how can we keep from having the busyness of life suck out our time together as a family, appreciating each other?

Rest.

Rest is the antithesis of Busyness. ¬†We need to protect our rest. ¬†We need to have boundaries against how much we are pulled away from our family. ¬†We need to guard our serenity inside our homes. ¬†We need to stop getting our kids so insanely involved in every activity under the sun so that they’re exhausted – just exhausted – both physically as well as mentally drained.

We need to let go of any guilt we feel about our kids not being involved in everything, and embrace just one or two activities that won’t take over and steal the joy we have when we are able to rest with our children.

Peace is the opposite of Anxiety.

How many moms and dads need some more peace? ¬†If you’re buying into this lie that we need to be as busy as possible, eat dinner in our cars most nights, spend every waking hour chasing something that we’re not even seeing an end to, then let’s come together and think seriously if this is what we want to be doing with our time. ¬†We only have our kids for a certain amount of time, and from what everyone tells me, it goes by way too fast!

Living our lives running everywhere, never stopping for a break, never really getting to ENJOY our kids or life together, feels like living the life of a slave.  A slave to a life we think we need to have or achieve.

But God came so that we could have life, and live it abundantly! ¬†Living abundantly doesn’t mean fast food dinners and regretting that we didn’t see our kids more – really SEE them.

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. ¬†We are not slaves of this world, or at least, we don’t have to live as though we are. ¬†We have freedom in Christ.

There’s freedom when you protect your rest – freedom to breathe, freedom to sit down as a family around your dinner table and enjoy for food for once!

Before we had kids, in fact, when we were pregnant with our first, my husband and I promised to each other that we would not over-involve our kids, and that we would always try to have dinner around the table with them.

Even with my son going to his sport’s practice 3 nights a week (excessive for us), we still have 3 hours together to play, relax, do homework, relax some more, and then eat dinner at the table before heading out to practice. ¬†In that order. ¬†Protecting your family’s rest will look different for each family, though. ¬†A major factor of why we aren’t stressed even though we’re going out 3 nights a week to a field to practice, is because I’m able to be a SAHM and our children don’t have to wait for me to get off work. We can make sure our family has enough rest by altering our life or the activities we let them be involved in to ensure it.

You can’t give something you don’t have. ¬†If you aren’t guarding your own peace and rest, how will you teach your children to?

I have those 3 extra hours that allows for my son to play, relax, do his homework in an unrushed manner, relax some more on the couch, then eat his dinner.  A working mother does not have that luxury, so a program that involves 3 nights of practice a week might not be what her family needs.  Protecting your rest will look different depending on how over-extended or busy you may already be.

But let’s not live our life with regret. ¬†Our leader was a working mom, and she still admitted that there were times when she should have played more with her kids on the floor, or eaten with them at the table – so don’t use your career as an excuse for not spending enough time being really present with them.

Let’s show our kids how much we value them, and guard our family’s peace, protect our family’s rest.

The Best Thing

We were out running errands this last Thursday, when my husband decided to stop by an RV dealership just to look and see what they had since we saw we were ahead of schedule. ¬†He’s had this hint of a dream of owning an RV for a few years now, it started with the desire to be able to travel in retirement, and then grew to the dream of using it for vacations with our children camping around the country. ¬†It is cute, and even though I really disliked the thought of RVs in general, I adore how he is so drawn to them.

We were met by a salesman who wanted to know how to help us, and were up front in saying that we weren’t ready to buy anytime soon, but just wanted to look at the prices and see what they had to get some research on what it’d be like to own an RV. ¬†The salesman didn’t mind taking us around and even offered us the entire property to explore on our own. ¬†As the time went on, him showing us RVs and asking us questions about our life, he started talking about his own family and offering some great advice.

He had married young, and was still a very handsome man, he had 6 children with one wife, and was honest with us in saying that he loved seeing how we acted with each other, and hearing what we were doing and planning to do with our “beautiful” family. ¬†It was such a sweet encouragement. ¬†He talked with me about the importance of staying home with my children while they are so young, how 4 out of his 6 children had that privilege with his wife and as a result, excelled in school and even in college – finishing in just 3 years with their degrees. ¬†His last two children didn’t have that opportunity, as his wife had already started her career, and as a result, were in daycare from a young age and struggled the entire time with their schooling, including college. ¬†All of kids though, were now adults and doing excellent in their own paths in life. ¬†He showed us a picture of his family – it was so sweet, and his wife looked so impossibly beautiful that I actually thought she was his daughter! ¬†Meeting him, hearing him talk about his family, feeling the reassurance of our own paths in life, was a blessing to me personally.

One thing that stuck with me when talking to him while¬†expressing how much I loved being able to be home with my babies, was¬†him agreeing and saying that having a family, enjoying your family and actually getting to be with your kids, was just “the best thing in life.”

The Best Thing.

And it really is. ¬†There are so many times when I can’t believe how blessed we are to have each other, to have our boys, and the excitement I feel for the future paired with the pleasure I feel in just enjoying the mundane moments together. ¬†He encouraged me about feeling so behind on my career, how it was on the back burner. ¬†I was not a woman who didn’t know what to do with my life. ¬†I had a profession in mind when I was only 9 years old, I loved school and especially college. ¬†I was ambitious… I had motivation… I knew what I wanted and was going after it at lightning speed! ¬†ūüėÄ

I¬†received my Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, and graduated with honors mostly because genuinely enjoyed the difficult classes. ¬†I devoured my education, and loved every last bit of it. ¬†I had the taste of utilizing my degree by working in research and still miss it, miss learning new things everyday, and miss the excitement of scientific discovery. ¬†The salesman reminded me that I was still so young, and that his own wife had waited until mid to late-30’s to even start her career in nursing, and still climbed her track steadily until she became a very prestigious nurse. ¬†It was so interesting to hear him talk about how her particular type of nursing was her vocation, her calling (and very necessary one, giving chemotherapy to child cancer patients). ¬†But he also insisted that raising their children, creating a beautiful family, was also an incredible part of her success.

It was The Best Thing. ¬†Not her amazing job, not how she’s using her talents now, not how she’s able to help children who are dying… but how she raised her children.

Her family, her ensuring that her children grew up to become good, healthy, well-adjusted people, kids who excelled in school, who knew what they wanted in life, was “the best thing.”

Him having a family, enjoying his family while they were growing up in his household, seeing them turn into adults, was the best thing.

*

I know with our toxic environment that is aggressively hostile to the family, especially the traditional, Christian family, it’s hard to feel any encouragement that what we are doing is making any difference.

But if you are out there, trying to do the right thing for your family, if you’re a wife who is working because the income is needed right now, or a stay-at-home-mom who is lovingly teaching her children and faithfully home-schooling them so sacrificially, I just want to encourage you. ¬†I’m thinking of you tonight.

If you’re a husband who’s keeping it together, making the best of your life, and honoring your commitment to your children, I want to encourage you.

It really is the best thing.

Praying Over Our Children

With the school year about to start, and so many little ones (and big ones) returning to school for another year, I found a list our church gave us for praying over our children when we dedicate them – our baby’s dedication was about a month ago.

Our oldest is going to school for the first time, and with all the evil in the world, with all the strange things he may encounter, I feel like its our responsibility to pray over our children.

I’m praying specifically for my sons’:

Salvation –

Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.  Isaiah 45:8; 2 Timothy 2:10

Growth in Grace –

I pray that my children may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 3:18

Love –

Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in them.  Galations 5:25; Ephesians 5:2

Honesty & Integrity –

May integrity and honest be my children’s virtue and their protection. ¬†Psalm 25:21

Self-Control –

Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be alert and self-controlled in all they do.  Psalm 19:10

Justice –

God, help my children to love justice as You do and act justly in all they do.  Psalm 11:7; Micah 6:8

Mercy –

May my children always be merciful, just as their Father is merciful.  Luke 6:36

Respect –

Father, grant that my children may show proper respect for their selves, others, and for authority figures, as Your Word commands.  1 Peter 2:17

Biblical Self Esteem –

Help my children to develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus. ¬†Ephesians 2:10

Faithfulness –

Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these two virtues around their necks like necklaces and write them on the tablet of their hearts.  Proverbs 3:3

Courage –

May my children always be strong and courageous in their character and in their actions at school.  Deut. 31:6

Purity –

Create in my children a pure heart, O God, and let that purity of heart be shown through their actions.  Psalm 51:10

Kindness –

Lord, may my children always try to be kind to each other and to other children at school, as well as show kindness to their teachers.  1 Thessalonians 5:15

Generosity –

Grant that my children may be generous and willing to share, and so lay-up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.  1 Timothy 6:18-19

Peace-loving

Father, let my children make every effort to do what leads to peace, and to live a life of peace with others, as much as it depends on them.  Romans 14:19

Joy –

May my children be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit, may their joyfulness be catching, and may I as their mother create a home where joy abounds.  1 Thessalonians 1:6

Perseverance –

Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to run with perseverance the race You have marked out for them, without giving up, and with confidence that they can do all things through Your strength.  Hebrews 12:1; Philippians 4:13

Humility –

God, please cultivate in my children the ability to show true humility toward all by displaying a gentle, peace-loving attitude.  Titus 3:2

Compassion –

Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion.  Colossians 3:12

Responsibility –

Grant that my children may learn responsibility, for each one should carry his own load.  Help them to become mature adults.  Galatians 6:5

Contentment –

Father, teach my children the secret of being content in any and every situation, through You who gives them strength.  Philippians 4:12-13

Faith

I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them. Luke 17:5-6; Hebrews 11:1-40

A Servant’s Heart –

God, please help my children develop servant’s hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as if they were serving the Lord, not men. ¬†Ephesians 6:7

Hope –

May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Willingness & Ability to Work –

Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work at it with all their heart, as they are working for You and not just for men or their teacher.  Colossians 3:23

Passion for God

Lord, please instill in my children a soul that “followeth hard after thee,” one that clings passionately to You. ¬†Psalm 63:8

Self-Discipline –

Father, I pray that my children may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right, just, and fair.  Proverbs 1:3

Prayerfulness –

Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness that they may learn to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers. ¬†1 Thessalonians 5:17

Gratitude –

Help my children to live lives that are always overflowing with thankfulness and always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 2:7

A Heart for Reaching Out to Others –

Lord, please help my children to develop a desire to see Your glory declared among the nations, Your marvelous deeds among the peoples.  Psalm 96:3

Not Ready Yet

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More beautiful vacation….

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So. Damn. Sexy.

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I can’t get over this pic.

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Beautiful sunflowers everywhere in the sand….

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I’m still in denial… still not ready to be back! ūüôā