The Leon's 2019 Photo Album

Updated: 2020.01.22 - finally done!


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December

Celebrating Christmas with friends and family

It was great having Mom and Dad fly out from Michigan for the week of Christmas! It might be the last time we get to celebrate Christmas with Dave and Jill for a while, as they are moving next year. Also, we got to have Sam visit for a couple days.

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Christmas Eve dinner (sorry for the bad lighting!)

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Nate dragged everybody to the living room for better lighting

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And of course, while we are there, one with the tree

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We typically do at least one puzzle over Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.

We got to have Sam for Christmas Day this year.

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Diane prepared an awesome feast as usual!

Dave and Jill came over to make the celebration complete.

At the range. thumbnail

The guys got away to punch some holes in the paper. Granted, it was 3 against 1, but I would say the paper definitely lost this round.

Touring the Tesla factory. thumbnail

Dad had worked in this factory back when it was NUMMI, so it was fun to tour it now that it is owned by Tesla. It is a very impressive tour if you ever get the chance to take it.

Fun Fact: After GM walked away from it, Toyota had it on the books valued at $1.3B, but Tesla bought it for $42M, about 3 cents on the dollar - such a deal!

Cisco's 35th birthday. thumbnail

To celebrate Cisco's 35th birthday, OneRepublic played at our company meeting. I was lucky to be able to attend in person. I wasn't very familiar with their music, but quite enjoyed it.


November

asdf

Diane's birthday. thumbnail

Jessica had the idea to join a paint-night for the special occasion. We had a great time, although none of us plans to quit our day jobs! Of course, we also enjoyed a nice dinner afterwards.


October

Spotted a young deer during an afternoon walk. thumbnail

We live at the base of undeveloped hills, so it is not unusual to see wildlife nearby. We occasionally hear the coyotes calling at night, and have seen various critters in our backyard including a fox and bobcat!


September

Monterey

Celebrating our 31st anniversary - Part II
Our anniversary is actually in July, but Nate was in Zimbabwe at the time, so we celebrated over Labor Day Weekend in Monterey.

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Upon arriving to our hotel, there was a wedding in progress. Appropriate for an anniversary get-away!

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A great view from our little balcony.

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We enjoyed great dinners, 3 in a row on Wave St. This was in The Conservatory at The Sardine Factory, one of our favorite places. We also ate at The Whaling Station, which was amazing, and Bistro Moulin, which was a quaint French restaurant, set in an old house. Make reservations for all 3 of these places!

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We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon at McAbee Beach

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We got a 2-day pass for the Aquarium for the same price as 1 day from our hotel.

Our first stop - the Sea Otter feeding.

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We always love the jellyfish exhibit.

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They are beautiful,

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with so many amazing details.

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So many of them,

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and so many different types,

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and mesmerizing to watch!

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Of course, every aquarium now must have the "Finding Nemo" exhibit! Always popular with the kids, small and big.

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Walk under the waterfall for the Tide pool

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Our hotel, The Clement, right on Cannery Row, and very near the Aquarium.

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Cannery Row, at night

Turkey spotting. thumbnail

Last month, a Turkey Hen had several Poults (yeah, I had to look that up!)

Now they are wandering the neighborhood looking for food.

Speaking of which, Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

Me and Bastion. thumbnail

Our church held a STEM fair for the community, and one person brought lots of critters including this beauty.

I was in the quad-copter booth - you can see one of the hoops if you look just behind Bastion.



August - Zimbabwe


14 people from Valley Church, Cupertino went to Harare, Zimbabwe to volunteer at Habitation Of Hope

(a summer camp for orphans run by Hands Of Hope) for almost three weeks.

This year, Diane wasn't able to make it, so Nate went solo.

Travel / Dubai

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The team picture; apologies for the awkward post - I was not sure I was going to be in the picture, so I was stretching!

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Who knew Dubai was so hot in the middle of the summer?!

Oh yeah, everybody.

Oh well, I still zipped across town to make sure the Burj Khalifa is still there.

(apologies for the cell-phone-at-night quality picture)

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Made it to the camp, and settled in. The next morning, I walked around to see what was new.

This landscape is not everywhere, but not uncommon either. Notice some of the boulders are bigger than the house.

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You see quite a bit of "McGyver" attitude there.

You use whatever you have in whatever way you can in order to get the job done.

Week 1 - Chegutu

During my first week, I joined up with a team from Westgate Church (Saratoga)

and we had kids from the Donhodzo Bridging School in Chegutu.

This is an HoH project which strives to get kids caught up to their grade level.

It is pretty common that kids will miss several years of school, and then are not able to jump back into the public school system.

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Here we have Leslie leading the Blue Team in getting to know each other better.

See that pond behind her? Nope, it is missing, due to the severe drought there. It is normally flowing over that rock wall.

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Thomas leading the team-building games. Here the kids have to work together to navigate the blind-folded player through the maze.

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Remember the Towers of Hanoi game? This is the "Tires of Hanoi" where you have to re-arrange the tires to a specific order, but only moving one at a time.

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As always, the kids are going from sunrise to sunset, literally.

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Rutendo is a master with the corn rows!

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Mark from Westgate led the Blue Team along with James and Tania.

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Leslie led the Red Team, along with Rutendo and I.

The Valley Church Team

The rest of the Valley Church team arrived on Fri evening, and we spent Sat getting settled in and preparing for camp.

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Glen gave us a tour of the grounds on Saturday.

This wall typically has water flowing over it, and is tricky to cross, but not this year.

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The tour continued with the Fish Farm. It has not yet taken off after several attempts, but we have not given up on it yet.

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The staff working the farm are building a petting zoo, so groups of kids can come visit the animals.

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The team takes a well-deserved break after decorating our meeting hall on Sat afternoon.

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Here the team scopes out a venue down the road, since the last week of our camp was over-booked.

Mr. Senior was trying to sell this land as a farm, but ended up buying it, and starting an animal park.

Here he is showing us a pool that he built on top of a large pile of boulders.

We ended up just keeping our camp at Habitation, with about 200 kids at the facility - kudos to the hard-working HoH staff!

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At least once during the week, we have to enjoy the sunset after hiking up to the top of some large boulders.

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On Sunday morning, we were waiting to go to church, and a mini dance party with Seth broke out. He is the two year old son of Lucy, one of the staff members at Habitation.

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After church at Green Valley (just a few miles from camp), playing games with some of the local kids.

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Andres and Robert giving some of the kids a workout.

That shelter to the right is the building where the church meets.

And these are fairly typical houses for the area.

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Everybody could use a little help now and then!

Week 2 - Alaska Mines / Chinhoyi

One of our younger team members worked up the courage to ask why we had kids coming all the way from Alaska. But no, not *that* Alaska!

This is a former mining town, about 100K North of Harare. It is more rural, so the kids do not have as much education, including English skills.

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Seems like there is always something new happening at Habitation. This year, it was the new playing fields: basketball, volleyball, and football (aka soccer)

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Taking a short break from playing ball to grab a quick photo with Auntie Faith.

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One of the team-building games, where they have to pass each camper through, without touching any of the ropes.

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Tinaye, the amazing camp director, with Adina, his lovely wife. This photo was taken on July 30, and she gave birth to Shamiso ("wonderful" or "miracle") on Aug 2.

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Hubert and I with the red team.

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Always popular craft where the kids decorate a picture frame.

Many of the kids have never had a picture of themselves before.

Sean (middle) has been here before, as his Mom (below) is one of the chaperones from this area.

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Another new thing this year, a campfire on the last night, complete with singing and smores!

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All of the Red Team on the last night together.

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You know it has been a long day (week) when the young and strong ones are falling asleep after dinner!

Seriously, they played hard with the kids all week long.

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This is Cathy, Pastor Maxwell's wife, and very active with the kids from the Chinhoyi area.

I had met her before, so was happy to see her again.

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The Red Team

Typically on the last morning before we part ways, the kids will wear the T-Shirts they made during the week during craft time.

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The entire group of campers and leaders from the week.

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Tania had to get back to work (on the Carnival Cruise line!), and thus, was not able to stay for the next week.

We all gathered to say good-bye to her.

Weekend Safari

Before the last week of camp, we got to enjoy some wildlife at Bally Vaughn Game Park, about 25-30 miles NE of Harare

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Checking out an ostrich next to Mwanga Lodge. It escaped the next day, and our young crew chased it back into the pen!

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An eland and some zebras grazing out in front of the lodge.

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What do you get when you cross a Zebra with a Donkey? Yup, a Zonkey.

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Cape Buffalo, aka "Black Death". This was too close for comfort, even though we were in the Safari truck.

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Again, getting too close to a Cape Buffalo.

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Thank goodness for that fence! Our guide, Clement, took us to see a few Impala, Zebra, Eland, Cape Buffalo, and a few other animals.

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Nice hike up a hill - the photo doesn't do it justice.

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We all noticed a tree that looks like a a mother holding her baby.

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After a long day enjoying the animals, Gordon told us some jaw-dropping (literally) tales.

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Everybody wanted a turn holding Sampson, a baby lion that had just been born on July 1, so just over one month old.

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Yup, some of us even got a few turns holding him.

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Abby and Eden are twins, and grew up here. They are now attending college in the US, but we were lucky enough to see them again during their summer break.

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Why yes, I do have a monkey on my back. More specifically, a Marmoset. There is one on Starla's head in the background!

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They were quite cute, and would jump around between the branches and your shoulders.

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If you are ever being attacked by a Hyena, remember, they like to be scratched under their chin.

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We made it out of the wild and back to camp to enjoy another delicious meal. Here is a one of my favorite group shots of our entire gang, including a few extra folks from another team running a camp with a different group of kids. Also new this year: all of the dining room furniture, from a local furniture maker.

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Another nice group shot - we are all ready on Sunday morning to join the church at Highfield, along with Virginia (Gari's wife) and their two boys Masimba and Mufudzu.

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I let the young and strong team members do the puppet show this time, so I was able to take a few photos.

Even the adults look engrossed.

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Mingling with some of the local kids afterwards.

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We went out to lunch after church, which was tricky, as the US dollar had just been banned.

After that, we visited the Runyararo ("peace") House.

Pastor Peter (on the right) has been taking care of orphans since he was still in school.

Week 3 - Chitungwiza

This town is just SouthWest of Harare, and the kids have better English skills.

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Team-building games

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I was so glad these didn't fall on somebody's head!

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We always have a water day, which quickly spirals into people getting doused with buckets of water.

Here we see two leaders running for safety!

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Kim C and Kim M from our mighty Red Team!

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Hanging out with more of my peeps.

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Very cool team building game where they have to move the bucket of water out of the circle with just the ropes,

and they cannot speak to each other!

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The final evening after the talent show with Robert, Georgia, Connie, Rutendo, and the whole Red Team.

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Tawanda was on my team in 2018, and we became friends.

He was on a different team this year, so I didn't get to see him too much.

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Monia was such a sweetheart.

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I think this might be the first time I got a photo with just Gari and me.

He is the Project Manager for HoH in Zimbabwe, and he keeps everything running.

He is truly amazing, I don't know how he gets it all done.

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Kim M again, and I don't remember the boy's name.

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Most of our young leaders from US and Zim - and Gari ;-)

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This area is famous for the piles of balancing boulders.

This picture was snapped out the window of a moving combi (van) on a bumpy dirt road, so doesn't do it justice.

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Loading up for the airport - this was about half of the luggage for all 14 of us.

Travel home through Dubai

We typically travel in April so Dubai is not unbearable, but in early August, yup, unbearable at about 109 F. Who knew? OK, yeah, everybody. So I headed straight for the Dubai Mall, and spent the entire day exploring there.

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What, your mall doesn't have an actual dinosaur skeleton?

This one was discovered in 2008 in Wyoming, but now it is in Dubai, 'cuz you know, Dubai.

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We have admired the huge aquarium from the outside several times. But since I had plenty of time, I paid the entrance fee.

It starts by going down this long underwater tunnel, which was very cool.

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Various reef sharks and other critters to enjoy.

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Then you go up a level, and start to realize this aquarium (*inside* the mall) is enormous!

After that tour, you proceed to the bird and reptile exhibit, which is another very large 2-story space.

Finally, I grabbed a Chicken Shawarma with Falafel at one of the many food courts, enjoyed the fountain show a few times, and grabbed a taxi back to the hotel.

After a good night's sleep in a comfy bed, it was just a quick 15-hour flight to get back home!



July


Family dinner. thumbnail

John and Mina came for a vist, and we enjoyed dinner together at Holder's Country Inn.

Escape Room. thumbnail

We celebrated Zachary's birthday by locking our family together in a room!

We made it out alive, but let's just say we didn't set any speed records that day.


June

Dad's day. thumbnail

Dave and Jill had us to their house to celebrate Father's Day this year.


May

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Celebrating Mom's Day

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Jessica had a good idea to visit the Municipal Rose Garden after lunch.

Graduation

Zachary graduated from SDSU which was a high-light of the year for us.

Grandma and Grandpa Leon flew out from Michigan for the occasion,

and we made a long-weekend stay-cation out of the big event.

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We visited Seaport Village while we were in the area.

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It has lots of fun shops

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and we always like to visit the hammock store while we are there!

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with a nice view of the Coronado Bridge

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We didn't get any really good shots during the graduation, so here is the family pic afterwards.

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And one with Grandma and Grandpa

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And the whole gang

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And some of his friends from Intervarsity that came out to support him. We all went to dinner afterwards at an amazingly creative and tasty place.

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One morning, we had breakfast at The Cottage in La Jolla nearby. (one of our favorite places that Jessica found) Then we enjoyed some ocean views after breakfast.

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Zachary took us on a tour of SDSU one afternoon.

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Always fun to explore the campus.

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Celebrating new found freedom at Mission Beach.

Big Sur

Jessica, Sam, Scott, and Katie represented us at the annual Memorial Day camping trip to Big Sur.

Thus, I don't have any pictures.


April

31st anniversary

Our anniversary is actually in July, but we got away early to celebrate in Aptos, just South of Santa Cruz.

We stayed at the Seascape Beach Resort which was really nice.

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We had Room 201, a 1 bedroom suite with a beautiful ocean view.

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They even have Golf cart service down to the expansive beach which was a great perk.

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Looks like a great location for a wedding venue!

German rendez vous. (well, it was close to France!) thumbnail

Jessica was in Germany to meet with a supplier for her company, and her cousin Micah was

just a few hours away in training, so they met up for dinner and a little sight-seeing.

They remembered at the last minute to snap a picture for us - small world indeed!

Jessica's birthday! thumbnail

Celebrating our beautiful young woman - we are so proud of her!


March

Nothing to see here, folks, move it along.


February

Sunrise thumbnail

Visiting Diane's Dad and Alice (and Peaches!) at their Sunrise home.


January

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