So. Much. Love.

So… our schedule has become topsy-turvy the last 2-3 weeks or so.  I just wrote not that long ago, about our Fall routine simplicity and how beautiful it was to serve my husband and son so early in the morning, even sacrificing sleep with an infant, and the reward of getting to know (and sometimes hear even though I try really hard not to listen lol) that they’re talking about things my husband thinks are important for our son.  It’s the only time of day (when he’s not off for the whole day that is) when our son gets to see his dad.  So their time is critically important and so beautiful to orchestrate and watch from a distance.

Go figure that once we’re nicely settled into a good routine, flowing beautifully, a yucky wrench gets thrown in that makes life a lot more difficult.  It’s starting to be funny to me how life is just like that; at least unforeseen things keep us on our toes and understand our place as mere humans ❤

So I’m sitting here in the morning, and in such awe of how much love I have when hearing them talk – hearing my husband gently but authoritatively guide our son in direction, answer his questions, listen to his problems or stories.  This time together is so precious!  I’m so grateful that even though our schedule (my husband’s schedule) has changed again, it still allows for this to happen every morning.

It’s just So. Much. Love.

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Our 3-month Beauty

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So September is my birthday month, and I feel like I’ve been given the best birthday present in the world!!!  ❤

After having (and loving) boy stuff for 7 years, it still feels surreal to my husband and I that we have pink stuff around the house and especially all the itsy-bitsy girly clothes in the laundry.

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I think I’m enjoying this a little too much 😉

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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 ❤  🙂

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 😉

Feed The Birds – Kid Friendly Bird Feeders

This past week has been very interesting, with literally one strange catastrophe after another for our family.  But we’ve made it through (!!!!)… and have persevered to Easter weekend (somewhat) unscathed.  I’m so glad we’ll be able to celebrate Purim tonight and Easter.  I love Purim… and how wonderful is it that Queen Esther’s faithfulness in spite of her fear and intimidation will be celebrated the same weekend as the Hope of Easter!

Holy Holidays are so special to our family.  I wish you the best this weekend as well, whether you celebrate them or not.

 

If you’re looking for a fun and sweet project to do with your kids to celebrate Spring, making bird feeders is a fun option – and there are a variety of ways depending on what you have around your house to use or what you save.

We listened to this Mary Poppins song, and sang along with it, replayed it.  Corny, yes, but really touching at the same time.  Apparently this song was Walt Disney’s favorite song, he’d have the man who composed it, play it for him on Friday evenings when no one was there in the office.  The man kept playing it even after Disney passed away.

My older son LOVED it, and the baby liked it too 😉

 

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The were easy to place over thin branches or on the fence posts with a simple rubber band.  In hindsight, pinecones would have been perfect for this because you can easily tie a string around their stem or even the end part of their body, and hang them so that they dangle down!

But these worked just as well, and the birds were happy, so all was well!

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One of our beautiful resident doves.  My grandfather loves hearing doves whenever I go to see him and we take him outside.  His health and alzheimer’s is continuing to decline, but even on his “bad” days, taking him outside and letting him feel the warm from the sun and hear the birds cooing, changes his entire mood.

Birds and nature are just beautiful.

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So it took a day or so for our birds to find the feeders, but eventually, even our resident red bird couple found it together.  They are so sweet to watch, always with each other, wherever he is, she is not too far.  And the male sings so beautifully, you can actually sing back to them, and they just might answer you back!

We were ELATED to see them eating off of the feeders…

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Where she feeds him some of the birdseed.  Seriously… they are so romantic!

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And these pictures below were taken probably around 20-25 years ago, by my father… who also was a bird lover, and an amateur photographer 😉

I miss him taking pictures.  He was so good.

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The Unexpected Halloween Kitten

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Well, leave it to our strange luck to find yet another kitten to take in to foster.  He’s attacking my fingers as I type with his furry, cuddly cuteness!

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We love fostering baby animals… this little one will be easy to find a home for – he’s got perfect black and white markings, his feet look like he’s wearing boots!

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Just the sweetest, cutest, craziest little bugger.  ❤

And more fun this October… lots of football, games every weekend, Halloween parties already…

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Our Ninja Turtles

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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.

Perspective – Reaping & Sowing

I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective … in general, having the right attitude toward life and people, a sense of the long-term as well as being present in the now.  Perspective that births forth the much needed character development and perseverance able to get us through various life seasons.  I’m talking about seasons of all kinds, seasons of growth, seasons of waiting, pain, blessings, loss, and renewal.

Things like infertility, miscarriage, job loss, mental illness, your kids having a hard time in school or enduring sickness, relocations, new jobs, new churches – anything that we may all face in one way or another, or help friends who are in that season.  Do we keep a godly perspective on these things?  Are we prepared to face them when life throws them our way?

Its been on my mind lately, how important it is that we are sowing in the different seasons of our lives, and not sitting stagnantly by in times of hardship, or when our cup is overflowing.  Even in the most difficult times, we need to be actively sowing into our families things that we will eagerly await to reap when the time comes.  It matters so much, what we choose to sow.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD.

For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream,

And will not fear when the heat comes;

But its leaves will be green,

And it will not be anxious in a year of drought

Nor cease to yield fruit.

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What do you want to sow?

In our family, I want to actively sow goodness, faithfulness, hard work, optimism, perseverance, joy, patience, kindness, peace, teamwork, and affectionate love.  I’m always being watched by my children, in a very real way, this knowledge that I’m being watched and looked up to by them in order for them to learn these valuable life lessons through example (my example), keeps me accountable.  I’d better do right by them, they deserve no less!

Its a constant feeling of excitement that God is growing me, maturing me, into someone better than before – better than last year, better than the year before that.  Constantly evolving, having a clear picture of the kind of woman I want to be.  Its not an anxious pressure that I feel breathing down my neck or anything, but more of an appreciative anticipation towards maturity.

You reap what you sow.

“Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies Because you have trusted in your way, in your numerous warriors, “

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I love the analogy of reaping and sowing, of planting seeds in soil, even the soil itself matters.  Is it fertile soil?  Is it receptive, rocky, or too acidic?  The soil represents our hearts, and what we sow matters just as much as the purity that is already present in our hearts in order to receive it.  Sowing, in a broader sense, is more than merely planting seeds, its taking the time to tend and nurture those seeds and seedlings.  Its taking care to nourish the soil, making sure it has the right nutrients that it needs in order to be receptive, as well as the seedlings under our care.

Its important as Christians that we are sowing responsibly – spending our time, money, and resources on what is benefiting our personal (spiritual) growth.  Are we going where we’re supposed to go?  Are we engaging in activities that are helping us to become better women of God (or men of God)?  Or are we doing things that are counter to what we desire to be sown?  Are we falling by the wayside and letting our life just pass us by?  What am I personally sowing into my life, and as a result, the life of my children?

There are different seasons of time when you can focusing more on sowing, or reaping … or both….  we’ve entered into a very busy life season, with my son going to an exciting but difficult school, being involved in a sports team way more intense than your average YMCA, raising a new baby, managing home and social life, doing something (hello, anything) with my shop, and planning on getting pregnant again next year.

The school and sports are what are really life changing… this school is difficult, and will take a lot of time, but hopefully will be worth it for him if he enjoys it.  The sports team is also a big change, as they’re going to have practices 3 nights a week.  These people are hardcore and intense, the Y just wasn’t cutting it for him anymore because it was too easy, created a non-competitive environment where even the worst kids got trophies, or only provided unknowledgeable coaching.  We’re waiting to see if the busy schedule will work out well, trying to keep a balance and peace sown into our life is a high priority.

Lots of changes… a very busy life season!  Yet even with all the new change, or the constant spending of our time and energy into these activities, I still need to be aware of what I’m sowing into our life, no matter the season.

As far as school, my son loving it, and having a blast just being there… I told him that i missed him that first day (and again after the first week) and he just said, “Well, Mom, I haven’t thought of you at all!”

YES!!!!!  GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!!!!

I would so much rather he be so involved, so focused and happy there that he forget me and not worry about him missing me.  Even days later though, I still miss him.  I miss his loudness… his happiness… his crazy energy.  Our classroom/game room just is not the same without our oldest in it.  And I really really miss him.

But I am so elated that he doesn’t miss me… not even a little bit!  😀

I’ve spent these past two years pouring time and effort into teaching him in the mornings just to prepare him for going to “big school.”  I’m so proud of him, but I’m proud at what he’s accomplished in the past two years as well.  I’ve spent two years sowing discipline, love of learning, practice of writing, math, reading, a little science and geography/culture, and music, and now he’s more than ready to take on Kinder.  And he’s taking it on with a happy attitude!

He had his first homework yesterday, and he finished his daily homework for Monday within about 1 minute.  I was shocked, but I shouldn’t have been really – it was very easy compared to the level he’s attained with me at home.  He was already doing first grade activities when he was 4 years old.  He was elated that it was so easy, so he went on to complete his packet for the rest of the week’s homework in one sitting!  I’ve created a scholastic monster!

His heart has been prepared, I tried very hard to make sure I made learning pleasant and fun, setting him up for success back then – the small successes – and in hindsight, it was really setting himself up for future success by learning to love school and become a high-achiever.  He enjoys doing homework (hopefully that can last through his teens lol 😛 ).  He seems to be reaping what we’ve been sowing in his heart and mind, and it touches my heart, making me want to double down my efforts and apply this lesson in other ares of our lives.

I want to sow kindness, so that he will learn to be kind.

I want to sow discipline, so that he can learn the immeasurable importance of having discipline in his life.

I want to sow joy in his heart, so that he can carry it into his future and weather the storms that will come.

And so much more.

The Summer Party

I love throwing parties.  I get so much joy from planning them, making the party food, decorating cakes, having friends packed into our house and backyard, talking, our kids running back and forth screaming excitedly, playing all kinds of games and getting into mischief.  We had a Summer BBQ & birthday party last night that left us all breathless and filled with the deep satisfaction that comes from being around friends you love.

We had armored duels in the hallway… my son’s friends dressed up in his knight costumes battling away….

Boys and girls splashing in the kiddie pool, or jumping and screaming on the trampoline.

One of the older daughters of our friend’s was playing her latest piece she learned on the piano in the sun room… the melody drifted along with all the squeals and screams of delight, shouting orders and instructions of kids playing together as if it was supposed to there, a kind of background music.  It was so loud inside that when I escaped to feed the baby in silence in our bedroom, I could still hear the muffled joyful noise.

Yes, it was such a joyful noise!

There is nothing that I love more than to have our house filled with people we love, kids we love, and see everyone having so much fun together.  It’s the greatest high there is… to be surrounded by friends that are like family.

There was some excitement of course, one of my vases decided to fall and crash randomly onto the floor (from the top of the bookcase no less), but one of my friends & role models took care of it spectacularly!  She competently knew exactly what needed to be done and delegated out tasks to get all the shattered glass up.  She and a man worked together to get the whole crime scene cleared – it was adorable.

BBQ, birthdays, kids, music, friends, and love and family.

If you haven’t thrown a good party yet this Summer, it’s time.

Meet the Newest Little Member of Our Family

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Yesterday we embarked on a 19 hour journey to pick up this adorable, energetic ball of JOY puppy!  Our newest member of the family, “Super Dog!”

We all woke up around 3:30AM, had everything already packed and ready to go, jumped in the car and head off at 4AM to beat the traffic in our surrounding cities.

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We made a stop in Round Rock to eat some awesome breakfast tacos.  If you’ve never had a Texas breakfast taco, you are missing out on something amazing!

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It was one of my husband’s favorite restaurants that he went to growing up.

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The baby had his own toy dalmatian to play with…  happy baby!

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Donut stop!

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Everything really IS bigger in Texas….  The famous Round Rock donuts (Texas-sized) are great to share with friends.

Do Not Eat Alone.

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We passed miles and miles of country farms and fields… Texas country is so beautiful.  We were supposed to sleep during the drive, and the baby actually did – for almost the entire trip that baby slept beautifully!  But my son and I were too excited to get any real sleep –  everything was just gorgeous!

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There is nothing quite like small town living.  If you’ve never grown up in a small town, you might not understand what I mean, but having a community of people who know you – when you know you can’t go anywhere without running into someone that you know, its just a sweet existence that city living cannot replace.  Growing up, I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone we knew, friends, family, parents of friends, teachers from school (lol try to explaining why you aren’t studying for a Chemistry test to your Chem teacher who sees you out at a fair with friends!).  You’d see coaches while you were trying to eat pizza and drink sodas… church folk, and even your pastor!

Talk about accountability.

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We finally got there!  The puppy was so sweet and took to our son immediately.

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The drive back took almost 10 hours because of stops and visiting with some family (Great Grandparents) along the way.  I had no idea traveling with kids would have so many potty breaks – it was hilarious!

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The puppy was so cuddly I couldn’t believe it – so different from a cat!  It slept most of the way, when he wasn’t cuddling with us… only threw up once in the car (at the beginning of the trip back), and didn’t have ANY accidents!  He knew to wait until a rest stop to go in the grass smart pup!

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And the baby still had his own puppy to hold….

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The sunset on the way back was so peaceful and a perfect ending to a long long long trip in the car with 3 littles.

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When we finally got home around 10:30PM, this is what the puppy ended up looking like – asleep on the floor board and hard to wake up (traveling is hard you know?).  LOL  So cute.

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And now… we’re officially a DOG family!  ❤

Adventure Inside a Cave

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Today was the perfect day to venture inside a cave… it was raining cats and dogs, gloomy, a little cool, and perfect for our family field trip

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It was raining constantly, but the baby stayed dry under a blanket, and tucked into my Bjorn (like a Snugglie) carrier… venturing down into a cave wearing a baby was a little difficult at times (extra weight on a decline then incline anyone?), but it added a whole new element of excitement to our family adventure.  I loved holding him close and at the same time getting to hike inside a cave!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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We headed down into the cave with a tour guide and our group, the total descent was about 18 stories down.  Water was rushing down the walkway into the cave… and we imagined what it’d be like to get flooded in!  We’ve clearly watched too many Magic School Bus episodes, but I thought it’d be great to spend the night in a cave!

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It was dark and majestic inside… our oldest had never been inside a cave before, so learning it through real life experience awed him.

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This was the view directly above us (photo below)

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The discovery crawlway, found in 1960, was just so awesome… everywhere we turned, every new room we entered was just breathtakingly majestic.

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There was a beautiful pool of green-blue water, so ethereal….

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We were already incredibly deep, but you can see the crevices where the cave just keeps going and going, further and further into darkness.

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And then we started the long ascent…

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And finally, made it to the surface, with it’s oval shaped ceiling at the very top

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We spent about 3 hours there, their ropes course and zip-lining were closed because of the rain, but their maze was open.  My husband and our oldest did the maze – and it was my husband’s favorite part because of how much fun it was with our son.  Next time we’ll have to do the ropes course together for a date!

The beautiful rain and hill country

The beautiful rain and hill country

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