Weekend Links

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WEEKEND!! Thank goodness. We still don’t have a full weekend at home and Paul works nights all weekend so it’ll be busy, but good. On Saturday, we’re heading to a fishing tournament to benefit a scholarship fund set up in memory of my former fiance who passed away 6 years ago (that’s another post for another day : )). My brother is fishing and Paul, Finn, and I should be there in time for the weigh in. What are your weekend plans?

Blue Apron has wine pairing now! I’ve tried Blue Apron before and while its not something I would do every week, it is nice when things get busy. And with wine?! Sign me up.

-The remains of the woman who went missing on the Camino were recently found. Its good to finally get some answers.

-I’m all about jumpsuits right now and this one is great.

Keeping you relationship strong after the honeymoon period ends.

-“The phone cruelly reduces even the worthiest of escapes to one more bit of busywork.” A powerful essay on mothering in the age of iPhones and some issues I hadn’t thought of.

-I need to get sewing again, and when I do, I love this swing dress. Its labeled maternity but I think swing dresses can be maternity or non very easily.

Family Photos

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When we were in Indiana a couple of weeks ago, my lovely sister-in-law offered to take some family photos for us. She’s a wonderful photographer so I jumped at the offer. I thought I’d share a few with you!

Paul and I never took engagement photos so its extra nice to have a shot of us
Paul and I never took engagement photos so its extra nice to have a shot of us

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Isn’t my sister-in-law the best?! I feel like I’m so rarely in a photo with Finn that I cherish these more than I ever expected to cherish a photograph.

Camino de Santiago – Day 7

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

Los Arcos to Logroño was going to be a LONG day. We were determined to get an early start. Our hostel had breakfast (and a tub to bathe Finn…lap of luxury, people) so we left clean and fed.

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Spanish breakfasts are pretty small for pilgrims who spend the day walking. Mostly it consisted of a couple of pieces of toast, coffee, and maybe some fruit. Not very satisfying, but we were grateful to have it. A kind pilgrim also ran up to her room just to get Finn a banana to eat while we walked. #spoiled.

Everything started out smoothly. The landscape was beginning to flatten out more and more and we got to walk through farm land and vineyards. There was one climb in the day that was difficult, but we were struggling with the climbs less. The hardest part of the day was the sheer distance. It was almost 30km. We decided the best approach was to take a smaller stop in morning and then a nice long stop and the last town before Logroño.

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Finn did great in the morning and we got our walking legs under us. I visited with a fellow pilgrim from Washington whom we had gotten to know a little the evening before. At some point while we visited, however, Finn had a meltdown. There wasn’t a good place to stop and he really needed a nap so we had to get through it. We sang songs and did all we could for some time. Our friend, Jasmine, sang to him as well and made up songs to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” but with the words of “The ____ on the Camino.” So sweet! Finn cheered up to that for awhile. At some point, he wasn’t having any more though. It was time for his nap and he was just refusing. Paul let Jasmine and I visit for awhile and he tolerated Finn being upset…loudly…in his ear. Finn wasn’t having water, milk, snacks, cookies, songs, games, or his pacifier and was certainly not napping even though its clearly what he needed, so there wasn’t much else we could do besides the usual bounce and rock until he got to sleep. We did stop to check his temperature and dose him with some tylenol in case his teeth were bothering him (classic mom problem-solving: Must be the teeth!). And he went to sleep not long after. WHEW! Thank goodness.

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A little later, we reached Viana, where we intended to take our long stop, and it was perfect. There was a nice square where we found a shaded bench and ate an inordinate amount of bread and trick fake nutella (the label just had almonds…not info about chocolate, then when we opened it, it was definitely almond nutella. Hence: fake nutella). The local school kids came out to the square and ran straight to the fountain to play. Finn was thrilled to see more kids and just stared at them until they ran off. And then he wanted in the fountain. So we let him stand on the grate and he played and splashed. I thought he may never leave.

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When we finally got Finn away from the water, we sat down for some sangria, which was a huge mistake. Its soooo hard to get going again after sharing a mini-pitcher of sangria!! But, we had reserved a room ahead in Logroño and there was no choice. Onward we had to go.

We had 10km from Viana to Logroño which seemed reasonable when we left. But then….it just kept going. We walked for seemingly forever, and we felt like every time we saw a sign, we just hadn’t covered that much ground. Finn slept most of the way which was great. We met up with some ladies from the United States and talked awhile. We walked on and AGAIN thought we were making progress, but, apparently not like we thought.

Eventually I started to have some real sciatic nerve pain and was just limping along. Paul thought my gait was kind of hysterical. Thanks for taking pleasure in my pain there! We met up with a young guy, Jack, from Ireland and got to visit. That did take my mind off of my pain a little….a very little for a very little while. At some point we noted a 4km to Logroño sign and got excited that we were close. But then, a little while later, we saw another 4km sign. And then, you guessed it, another one just a little while later. We should have covered a couple of kilometers since we saw the first 4km sign! What.the.heck?!?

At that point, it was in pain, hot, and beginning to get a little angry. I mean, where the heck was this town?!!? ugh.

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We kept on keeping on and FINALLY got into Logroño. We decided we wanted to get straight to our pension, which was about 1km past the main square. We passed fellow pilgrims in the main square having beer and relaxing, which was SO SO tempting, but then again, so was a shower. After some moaning and groaning (mostly from me), we made it to our pension and did our usual rest, shower, laundry, snack before going back to the square for dinner.

We walked the 1km back to the square to find drinks and dinner. I had broken out in some weird, awful rash on my leg so we stopped at a pharmacy for medicine and to look for diapers. The stash we brought was running low and it was time to stock up. Unfortunately, there was no one-stop shopping because the pharmacy didn’t have diapers. We’d just have to look later.

Drinks were easy to find, but dinner, like diapers, was a problem. For one, Logroño was just a bigger city. The smaller towns catered to pilgrims, but bigger cities weren’t dependent on pilgrims to keep going. So the restaurants were more on Spanish time rather than pilgrim time. There were no pilgrim menus and almost no kitchens open. By the time we found an open restaurant, it was getting a little late. We’d have to eat in about 30 minutes to make mass and that just never happens in Spain. Quick dinners are unheard of. So we sat down with a young couple from D.C., another pilgrim from Colorado, another from Brazil, and a seminarian from the U.S. (but I can’t remember where). It was a lovely dinner. The food was great and the conversation was better. Finn ran around the whole time (outdoor dinners for the win) and got pretty worn out.

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Fan club
Fan club

After saying our goodbyes, we walked around a little, but knew we didn’t have long since we needed to find diapers. We’d been keeping an eye out for a store while we looked for a dinner spot and a Spanish pilgrim friend had asked around for us, but she didn’t have luck either. Dinner had lasted a couple of hours (probably still short for a Spanish dinner) and we really needed to figure out where to get diapers before the stores closed.

We finally found a Spanish family with a small child and decided they’d be the ones to ask. Paul couldn’t remember the word for diaper, but with a little awkward sign language, they figured it out, took pity on us, gave us a couple of diapers and pointed us in the right direction. We walked to the supermarket a few blocks away, stocked up on snacks and diapers, and then headed back to our pension. We were sooooo tired on the way back, and still in a little pain, that we just did NOT want to walk any further. We were only a few blocks away when we called it. We saw a taxi and hopped in, laughing at ourselves, and with the cab driver laughing at us, but also feeling totally relieved that the other had agreed to the ridiculousness of taking a cab a few blocks! Not our finest moment, but worth it.

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All in all, Logrño went down as one of our least favorite days on the Camino. The difficult walk, the inability to find food, the diaper search, the fit, they lying kilometer markers. All of it was just exhausting. And to top it all off, we just weren’t liking the city of Logroño. That’s ok, we weren’t required to have all good days and some bad days gave us some things to offer up and work through.

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Picking Basil on the farm
Picking Basil on the farm

Finn – 1.75 years – Finn has never been a t.v watcher, often to my chagrin. It would be nice if I can get him to sit still for just a little bit so that I can get something done. BUT, for some reason, I put Artistocats on a couple of weeks ago and now he asks for it constantly. Climbs up on the couch in the morning and says “meow meow!” He’s picking up new words constantly and after the D.J. at my brother-in-law’s wedding last week let him play with a microphone, he loves to put his hand up to his mouth like its a microphone and sing into it. Looks like I’ll have lots of entertainment to watch!

Exploring – We honestly haven’t been anywhere new in a while. Work and life obligations have taken over. But we got away to a friend’s ranch last weekend and it was awesome. The ranch includes an old town of which nothing remains but the hotel and a couple of houses. The hotel is an awesome old hotel with a great fireplace and porches and old bar. We had an awesome time.

CookingBBQ Chicken Flatbreads by How Sweet Eats. Paul loved them, Finn loved them. How could anyone not love them? Its a good go-to recipe.

Drinking – Rosemary Bourbon Maple Sours from the Shake cocktail book. I can’t get enough of these. They were the signature cocktails at my brother-in-law’s wedding and so freakin’ good. Its probably a good thing they weren’t pouring those all night!

Watching – FALL TV IS BACK! Ever since Hulu, I never watch at night while the shows are on, but because I can watching them all online, my watch list is growing. Scream Queens looks silly and fun. I can’t give up on Grey’s Anatomy because I’m way too far in for that. How to Get Away With Murder is nothing like law school, but I can’t stop watching anyway. Paul and I watch Last Man on Earth and The Mindy Project together (you can still watch on Hulu!). What’s your new favorite fall show?

Reading – Still keepin’ on reading Lord of the Rings, but my mom got Finn “What Was I Scared Of?” by Dr. Suess for the Halloween season so we’ve been reading that at night. And Paul has been introducing Finn to some of his favorite childhood books like “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.” Y’all….its so weird. But kind of cute. Basically, Sylvester finds a magic pebble and then sees a lion. He’s so flustered that rather than wishing the lion turn into a butterfly or something, he wishes he was a rock so the lion wouldn’t be interested. Then he has to figure out to be a donkey again. Like I said, kind of weird. Very Paul : )

Camino de Santiago – Day 6

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

Estella to Los Arcos would be a 21.4 km day with no major climbs so we were hoping for a relatively uneventful walk. BUT BUT BUT….there was a wine fountain on the way!!!

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We slept in just a little because we wanted to make sure Finn was well rested after having been sick and because he didn’t sleep so well the night before. We performed our morning routine of packing and loading up and then stopped for coffee before we left Estella. True to Estella form, Finn was given a sucker and milk from the kind staff of the coffee shop and Paul and I were even more convinced it was time to go before Finn got too spoiled.

Finn woke up without a fever and feeling pretty chipper so we figured the best thing we could do was just to get walking. There was no sense in waiting around all day just in case Finn’s teeth started to bother him and there were plenty of places to stop along the way if they did (or Finn and I could catch a cab to the next town ; )).

We met up with some pilgrim friends from Italy and Australia as we left town and made it to the Irache wine fountain by about 8:30 a.m. But, hey, its 5:00 somewhere and I am certainly not one to pass up free wine. FREE WINE! It was actually a little early for a stop, but our legs had just warmed up so it wasn’t too difficult to get going again. I debated staying all day, but I decided against being a lush : ) Traditionally, pilgrims would fill their conch shells with water so we opted to share in the tradition with our wine. Everyone had a few sips, took lots and lots of photos, and headed out together.

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Friends from Italy
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Sweet Australian friend

The rest of the day was really pretty uneventful. Uneventful in a good way. Finn wasn’t sick, no on was throwing up, and we got to walk and take it all in. Finn was tired so he slept plenty while Paul and I got to know fellow pilgrims a little better and had plenty of quiet time to pray alone. Part of the routine we’d settled into really involved some quiet time while Finn slept. After hours of talking to him or talking to other people or talking to each other, it was nice to spread out a little and think on our own. It was a beautiful walk and we often turned to look back at the wind turbines near the Hill of Forgiveness to mark the distance we had walked. We passed lovely countryside and ancient castles. But, to tell you the truth, I have very few photos of this day because I was just busy walking, talking, and taking it all in. And sometimes, that’s exactly how it should be.

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It was actually pretty early when we made it into Los Arcos. Paul and I looked at the guidebook and decided it would be nice to make the next town. Some of our friends were doing the same and it looked to be only a little over 3km away. The next day was scheduled to be over 29km so shaving a little off of that seemed like a great idea. But, about 1km out of town, we found a sign saying the next town was over 6km away and we weren’t about to tackle another 6km that day without a longer rest break. So we walked back to Los Arcos to debate staying over a beer. Well, as you can imagine, some sitting and beer drinking left us a bit tired so we scratched the plan to walk on and started looking for a room. Oops…?

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It took Paul a little while to find a place and he began getting more and more frustrated. He was tired and walking around the city while I sat in the square with friends and Finn was not exactly his favorite thing to do. When he finally found us a place, he promptly let me know that we would be reserving rooms ahead from now on. Fine by me!

We spent most of the evening in the small town square. The church was beautiful, but beyond that, there wasn’t much to see. Finn loved watching the big church bells ring and chasing birds around. We visited and ate dinner and while we ate, the waitress scooped up Finn and carried him around the square and the restaurant and even back in the kitchen to say hello : ) Seriously, the Spanish people love babies. She sent us home with 2 suckers for him and he got more from the store. Apparently, it wasn’t just Estella that was going to spoil Finn.

Adoring fans from France
Adoring fans from France

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We called it a night early and got ready for a really big walk the next day!

Camino de Santiago – Day 5

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

Leaving Puente
Leaving Puente

After breakfast in Puente, we headed out with a group of pilgrims toward Estella. After the long day before with a big climb, 21.9km seemed very reasonable. We’d begun to sort of figure out Finn’s disposition and when to stop to help him get through the days. The past couple of days had been immensely easier than the days before as far as Finn’s attitude. We felt like we were learning so much about the little man’s personality. He’d hit a stage where he like to be talked through things. Telling him that I was going to change his diaper and asking him not to scream about it, usually resulted in much less resistance. Why a child ever throws a fit about someone trying to help them out of their own filth will always be beyond me. : )

We also figured out that our previous “if Finn is happy, we’re walking” attitude wasn’t working. Since we’d been finishing our days with many of the other pilgrims and hitting our daily distance goals, we could afford to stop a little more often. So we’d begun stopping when Finn was happy and ready to play. He got some energy out and would happily get back in the backpack. Sometimes it took just a little coaxing and we’d play games like counting “1-2-3-WHEE!” when we swung the backpack up on Paul’s back. It became a huge production, but Finn loved it so we obliged.

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The Spanish were also incredibly kind and giving. We stopped buying cartons of milk because we’d never use them all and every coffee shop refilled his milk for free. We’d attempted to buy small milk cartons so the milk wouldn’t go bad, and Spanish milk is shelf-stable, so we didn’t need to keep it cold until it was opened. BUT, it was nice to just not have to worry about that. Every time we stopped, Finn was given a sucker or a banana or some other snack. It became a running joke that we’d need to get off the Camino before he got too spoiled!

Leaving Puente, it became really clear that we were in wine country: La Rioja. There were beautiful vineyards all along the walk and the terrain began to flatten out. As we approached Cirauqui, however, we realized that the medieval need to build a city on a hill was a bit of a nuisance and a cruel trick on tired pilgrim. Every time we thought we’d have a flat walk, we realized it would be a steep climb through the next town! Despite the climb, Cirauqui was a great ancient Spanish town. The Camino went right through the middle of it and through an old courtyard where we stamped our credencials.

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We went on to Lorca where we stopped for lunch with other pilgrims. Finn had a blast here. He had a couple of sweet German fans who entertained him for a while and then he went about high-fiving pilgrims. He practiced walking with his walking stick and tried to take off without us! Fortunately, he’s pretty slow.

We crossed into the Navarre region before entering Estella, where we would stop for the night. We asked around in the albergues and were directed to a pension. The lady running it was so sweet and put us in the “honeymoon suite” because we were traveling with Finn. Basically, that just meant we would have a full-sized bed, a luxury on the Camino since Finn and I had been sharing one twin bed while Paul got the other twin on most nights. Our room had a balcony overlooking the square where we snacked and rested while Finn took a nap. We heard some women speaking english in the room next to us and then out of the balcony. I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but we found out they were a mother daughter combo from Texas! The daughter was actually in college at my alma mater. Whoop!

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We showered and cleaned up and I started to notice Finn was pretty lethargic and slightly feverish. There is nothing worse than a sick kid while you’re in a foreign country!! He’d had a little cough for awhile so I thought his symptoms may be related to that, but when I peeked in his mouth, there were a couple of molars beginning to cut through. We went to a pharmacy and asked the pharmacist if we could just take his temperature. She was so kind and happily obliged. Unfortunately, I was in super-worried-mom mode and when she told me the temperature in celsius, I looked at Paul like “OMGSH! HOW BAD IS THAT?!?! WHAT DOES IT MEAN!?!” hahaha. She suggested we go to the hospital, which didn’t help calm me down. Paul did some quick math and assured me it wasn’t that bad, but he’d like to give him some tylenol. We gave Finn some medicine and he began acting better pretty quickly. So, we went to walk around the town a bit. We stopped in a second square and got him some ice cream since he hadn’t eaten much (pretty typical when he’s cutting a tooth). He happily high-fived some of our Camino friends and seemed a quite a bit better so we walked on.

There was lots to see in Estella because the Kings of Navarre had lived there. We stopped at the coolest pottery/wood-working shop where I *almost* bought some beautiful holy water founts before Paul convinced me that they were not the most practical thing to add to our backpacks and we’d probably see more in Santiago. We didn’t. : ( I’m still trying to find a way to get my hands on one of those holy water founts! The shopkeeper was the sweetest old man and he just loved Finn. He told us that he didn’t have toys, but he did have a hand carved wooden spoon that he gave to Finn. Its my very favorite keepsake for from the Camino. We saw the man on the street later and he stopped to tell his wife about Finn as well : ) All the more reason I want to by the holy water fount from him! (Can you tell I’m still not over this?!)

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We got dinner at a pizza restaurant across the street where everything was fine and dandy. Until….we were happily chatting when Finn, out of nowhere, threw up all over himself and in Paul’s hands. Oops. Maybe ice cream wasn’t the best idea. Parenting lesson #74623895.

However, after cleaning up, Finn pretty much face planted into some pizza. Sooo….he was ok? Kids are so confusing. He ran around the restaurant and visited some fellow pilgrims and was highly entertained by the pizza making.

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Killer picture there, Kels.
Killer picture there, Kels.

Since he was acting so much better, we decided to make mass. The church was up a huge flight of stairs (or alternatively an elevator). It was beautiful and Finn did great at mass. The Spanish people, especially in Estella, LOVED Finn. He had a little fan club after mass. We walked around the cloisters before heading back to our room and got Finn to bed.

We hadn’t had internet in a few days, but our pension had wifi in the main lobby so I went down to use it. When I signed on, I had about 50 text messages from people asking if our house was flooded. WHAT?!!?!? Why would our house be FLOODED!?!?!

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Feeling better and being goofy with dad
Feeling better and being goofy with dad

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Turns out, there was a huge storm in Houston and flooding all around the city, but especially in our neighborhood. I rushed upstairs to wake up Paul and we took turns getting on the internet to find someone to PLEASE go check on our house! Gosh…talk about a heart attack. A friend of mine’s husband finally got online to check flooding maps and assured us that our house was probably fine and a few neighbors said the same. So we finally calmed down enough to try to get some sleep and prepare for the next day.

And somehow, despite all the drama of flooding and sick kids, Estella was on of my favorite stops.

Camino de Santiago – Day 4

Day 4 was slated to be a big one. It was our longest distance so far (over 24km) and there was a big climb up the Hill of Forgiveness.

We got up and packed while Finn slept in a little and then had complimentary breakfast and plenty of coffee at our albergue. We said our goodbyes and headed out the door just in time to walk with a wave of pilgrims.

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We were waking up a bit tight and sore from the day before, so it took a few kms for our muscles to work themselves out. Once we hit our stride, we kicked it in gear. Finn was a happy camper and it felt like we made it to the Hill of Forgiveness pretty quickly to begin our climb. The legend is that if a pilgrim died while climbing, they were forgiven for their sins. Hence: Hill of Forgiveness. It wasn’t an easy climb at all and we got progressively colder as we went up. It was SUPER windy so that wasn’t helping. We bundled up Finn and put our coats on. The rain cover over the backpack helped block some wind on Finn, but he HATED it, so we kind of took it on and off to keep him warm/happy.

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He started to get a bit fussier as we went up, so superhero Paul ran a little and bounced Finn around. I was in the back huffing and puffing and just generally being a wuss. Some things never change.

We made it to the top and the view was incredible. We took some pictures and briefly talked about joining in on a mass that our friend Father Smith was celebrating, but decided that it was far too cold and windy to stay up top for long. The descent was a little steep and rocky, but altogether not too tough. Once we got a good ways down, we ate lunch as we walked (Finn was asleep…No stopping!!).

The rest of the day was just loooonnnggggg. We began really doubting the km markers along the way. Like, you’d see a marker that says the next town will be in 4km and it felt like we’d walk 2 hours before we got there….and there is no way we were going THAT slow. Towards the end of the day, we ran into our friend Father Mark and we took turns encouraging each other to finish. At some point, we saw the sweetest looking old man standing outside an albergue and we were SO relieved thinking we had made it. Unfortunately, as we talked to him, we found out we were still a few km from Puenta la Reina. UGHHHH. So onward we walked.

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We finally made it to town and got to work finding a place to stay. There were no private rooms at the albergue, but the hosts directed us to a hotel rural in town. I stayed on the street/sidewalk (they’re all the same there) with Finn where he again, posed for pictures, high-fived pilgrims, and showed tourists how not to use a walking stick before I took the stick away.

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Entertaining tourists
Entertaining tourists

Our room was a little pricey, but included breakfast and dinner so it ended up being, on average, one of the most affordable places we stayed. Paul went out for his post walk treat of beer, gassy water, and jamon. Unfortunately, we kept ending our days right at the beginning of pesky siesta so he had to walk a bit farther than normal to find a store that was open. The pilgrim schedule is a bit different from the typical Spanish schedule.

Hotel room views
Hotel room views
A fussy Finn with Father Smith
A fussy Finn with Father Smith

After showering, resting, snacking, and doing laundry in the sink, we went downstairs where we found some other pilgrims having a drink so we relaxed with them…as much as one can relax when the street and the sidewalk are the same things and you’re sitting in it, so, therefore, your kid is basically playing in traffic. Yikes.

Ok, it wasn’t that bad, because there weren’t that many cars and they drove about .5 miles an hour so there was plenty of time to scoop up Finn. And, before you think I’m a completely derelict parent, its what the locals were doing with their kids so its all good.

After we regained some energy, we walked around town slowlyyyyy because we refused to put Finn back in a backpack. We found a grocery store and stocked up on some more baby food for Finn and snack for us before doing some more touring. There were two old beautiful churches in Puente and we missed the memo on which one mass would be in. So, we went to the wrong one, missed mass and called it a day. Sometimes we lose.

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But dinner at our hotel was great. We ate with and got to know Father Smith while a sweet lady from Ireland who was walking with her college-aged son and husband took Finn to look at some pictures of horses in the windows outside. Which was AWESOME! Bless her heart, she started to worry that I would worry (not on the Camino…he was already spending most meals wandering around to all the pilgrims tables) so she kept him for a blessed 5 minutes.  He also started to uncontrollably freak out when he saw a picture of a horse because he was still scared to death of horses. But, really, its such a weird “camino” thing to just tell someone who you just fine that it is totally fine to wander around a foreign city with your kid. Oh well!

In the end, Puente was one of our very favorite stops. We felt like we’d begun to hit our stride on the Camino. We were settling into a little routine that we loved in its simplicity. Wake up and walk and sleep and do it again.

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