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Happy Five!

Five!

Dear Jack,
You are FIVE years old! And, life with you is such a treasure and full of so much fun! You love Legos and currently have converted your train table to a Lego building table. Every day, there is at least one Lego creation being built. I try my best to keep them organized and color sorted, but they inevitably end up in a rainbow heap by the end of the week. We are now reading chapter books at bedtime; currently, we are reading the first Harry Potter book and you love to listen and ask a lot of questions- I think the question asking is what you use to stay awake. Usually, you fall asleep after five (or fewer) pages and it is so sweet to watch you sleep…when you are still, I’m reminded of how little you still are.
You continue to be quite opinionated, creative, and very good at telling stories. Your name always attracts a lot of attention. People love to call you by your full name- Jack Lamar- and often say you are going to be famous one day, maybe the President or an actor. I think movie Director is more your style and I think that would be something you would love doing as you do it so well now with our stories and our play.
You are also still very sweet and cuddly and give the best kind of kisses and hugs. You are a great friend and are well loved at school by peers your own age and those who are much younger. You love to be a big helper, you get shy in busy situations with a lot of stimulation but are quick to warm up, and you still want Mama and Dada to go everywhere with you which makes us proud and so happy.

Family Birthday Picture

I’m continuing our birthday tradition by asking you this same set of questions each year at this time…it is fun to see the changes and the similarities in the answers from year to year!

1. What is your favorite color? Red and Black
2. What is your favorite toy? Big Batman
3. What is your favorite fruit? Mango
4. What is your favorite thing to watch on TV? Halloween Curious George
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Peanut butter and jelly
6. What is your favorite thing to wear? My new ‘5’ birthday shirt
7. What is your favorite game? PAC Man
8. What is your favorite snack? Ice cream
9. What is your favorite animal? Hawk
10. What is your favorite song? Darth Vader theme song
11. What is your favorite book? Star Wars Lego book
12. Who is your best friend? Hanna
13. What is your favorite cereal? Lucky Charms
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play on the playground
15. What is your favorite drink? Lemonade
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Teddy (Emory bear) and Timothy
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Pancakes
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Mac and cheese
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Batman!

I love you, Bug, to the moon and back a million times over, or as you like to tell me, “I love you even more than the moon!”
xxo,
Mama

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Cheers to a fun and picture-worthy 2013! May 2014 be filled with people you love and unimaginable adventures!

Happy New Year! xxo!

PS I posted a similar (shorter) video on Instagram a few days ago…maybe you saw it there; if not, follow me over there!: stephaniebrowngoat.

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We have had so much fun celebrating you as you turned FOUR!

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Not surprisingly, you awoke early with anticipation and excitement on your birthday morning and were surprised to see a pile of presents awaiting you on the table! Just as a sign of you getting bigger, we have you your first snowboard for your birthday! I’m so excited to watch you snowboard this winter with Dada! After opening the gifts, we celebrated with sprinkle pancakes and blew out your first birthday candle.

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I was lucky enough to have the day of your birthday off of work, so I had a special lunch with you at school and then we shared your birth story and pictures of your life with your friends at circle. You got to walk around the circle with a globe while friends said “The earth moves around the sun…12 months…52 weeks…365 days. That makes one whole year.” It was quite wonderful to see how much enthusiasm your friends had in celebrating you! On your birthday night, we went to one of your favorite restaurants for dinner, Phinney Market, and you chose creme brûlée for our special dessert.

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Then, we had a birthday party! You invited 9 friends to our house to watch Monsters Inc. and to eat pizza and cups of dirt. It made my heart happy watching you have such a fun time!

Oh, little man…where to begin? You are FOUR! Such a big boy now. Yet, in so many ways, your personality has stayed true to its younger self. You are quite opinionated and extremely passionate about your wants and needs. You never have trouble telling us when you don’t agree with what’s happening by saying (emphatically), “that’s NOT a good idea!” And, sometimes, during these emphatically passionate moments, you hurt my feelings and I have to take a million deep breaths and remember that in a few minutes you will be giving me your sweet kisses and rubbing my face in that way that only you do.

You love watching movies and looking at pictures of movie characters on our iPads. Our new bedtime routine involves watching two short movie clips or looking at pictures and then snuggling you and rubbing your back. You like to say, “come cuddle me,” which melts my heart.

You continue to love stories and I think you might be just as good as mama and daddy at telling them. You pace (or run) back and forth across the floor talking just as fast as your mouth will allow you to, letting your imagination run wild.

Some of the great things you say:
Do you want to see how high I can jump?

Did I like to do that when I was a little baby?

Just one more. No, mama, just one. Please, just one. You’re not listening to me!

For real life.

Hunting is bad, right? They kill animals, so hunters are bad guys.

What the heck?

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Poppins Mary (for Mary Poppins)

Can we go look for some jewels?

I wish I could go in the sewer.

Oh, lord Jesus, there’s a fiare. (fire)

When we have a baby, I will give her a bath and feed her in the middle of the night. And, when she grows up to be a big girl, I’ll help coach her baseball team with you and Daddy.

Mama, I have to tell you something. (Then a shared whisper)

Regaly (regularly)

Chempicals (chemicals)

Let’s hide from Dada.

I’m continuing the tradition I started last year by asking you this set of questions on your birthday…it was surprising to see the similarities in some of the answers one year later!

1. What is your favorite color? Green
2. What is your favorite toy? Sully and Mike from Monsters Inc.
3. What is your favorite fruit? Apples
4. What is your favorite thing to watch on TV? Beauty and the Beast and Monsters Inc.
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Salami
6. What is your favorite thing to wear? Mike (Monsters Inc) clothes (He has this on his wish list for Christmas)
7. What is your favorite game? Puzzles
8. What is your favorite snack? Cherries
9. What is your favorite animal? Giraffes
10. What is your favorite song? Beauty and the Beast soundtrack
11. What is your favorite book? Lorax
12. Who is your best friend? Preston and Hanna
13. What is your favorite cereal? Gorilla Munch
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play on the playground
15. What is your favorite drink? Apple cider
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Dinosaurs
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Pancakes
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Oranges
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Superman!

Past year’s birthday posts…look at how Jack has changed!
one!
two! and more two!
three! more three!

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A very happy birthday to my sister (whom I get to see and hug in just THREE days)!
Thank you for “being my person”…we all love you beyond belief!

PS I bought her this cool poster for her birthday! I hope it looks perfect in her Gator-themed TV room!

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We had so much fun this weekend celebrating my birthday! It really makes a difference when your birthday falls on a weekend day and when you have such wonderful boys, like I do, to spoil you rotten…I feel so lucky!

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I came home from work on Friday to find our family birthday banner displayed on our living room wall. It set such a festive mood! We kicked off the weekend with burgers, fries- both regular and garlic fries which have tons of freshly minced garlic and spices mixed throughout-, and eggnog milkshakes from Kidd Valley. Kidd Valley is the Northwest equivalent of Whataburger and I have a soft spot for Whataburger. I love the addition of the fresh, spicy jalapeños I can add to my cheeseburger and the milkshakes are sooooo yummy, especially the eggnog one! We watched Home Alone while we ate dinner and Jack loved it…he was laughing with his mouth wide open and his head thrown back at all the tricks Kevin played on the “bad guys”.

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Saturday (my actual birthday) was a perfect day. We took a long, very cold, drizzly winter walk to get coffee and doughnuts from Top Pot Doughnuts. I got an apple fritter (my favorite) which is always perfectly glazed and deliciously crunchy on the outside and gooey with apples and cinnamon swirls inside…mmmmm! The rest of the day was filled with presents (including the very cool red squirrel nutcracker from David’s parents that is equally loved by Jack!), a Greek lunch at Vios, a long nap! (mmhmmm…a deliciously restful 2 hour nap!!! It was awesome!), family, friends, cocktails (a perfectly made French 75) and sushi from Liberty, and a late night!

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We spent Sunday at the circus, eating a delicious lunch at Skillet Counter at the Armory in Seattle Center, seeing the model trains and the winter village that Jack wanted to buy and take home (note the village scene was as large as one floor of our home!), and going to the Children’s Museum.

It was a super fun weekend. A perfect birthday…one of my best ones ever.
I hope all of you were having fun too!

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I got a phone call last Friday…a week ago today. It was a call that I had been expecting, but not one that I wanted to answer. My sister was on the other end telling me that we had just lost our Papaw…

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As I tried to choke back my tears, sweet Jack asked, “Mama, what’s sad on the phone? Who’s hurt?” How do you talk to a toddler about death??? I did the best that I knew how to do… we spent a lot of the morning looking through Jack’s photo books at pictures of Papaw. The photos reminded me how lucky Jack was to have 5 of his great grandparents at his 1st birthday party! How lucky he was to have known Papaw…I just wish it could have been for a little longer. I wish he could have known the Papaw that I knew…the one who would spend hours in his garden, the one who would hold my hand as we walked together to gather pecans from his yard, the one who took Jessica and I out for Pizza Hut lunches, the one who always seemed so happy to talk to me on the phone.

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Last Friday was hard. I felt sad and lonely and was reminded of just how far away we live from our families. We love it out here on the West Coast, but life events such as these sure darken the joy we feel. I’m so thankful that Jack and I got to see Papaw and Mamaw in April…that we got to share those last memories when they were both well and healthy.

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Last Friday, the kitchen brought me comfort, as it tends to do. My Papaw was an excellent cake baker. His pound cakes were amazingly delicious and for years we celebrated holidays and birthdays with one flavor or another. My favorite was his chocolate pound cake with chocolate frosting. He even made it for the desert table at our wedding!

So, last week, I felt close to Papaw as I baked a Southern Caramel Cake for my boys’ birthday party. I’m pretty certain that he passed down his love of sweets and baking to me. Although, he was way more modest with his desserts that I am with my cooking…he would always preface the first bite with all the things that could have gone wrong and why it may not taste right…and he would never have found his recipes blog worthy, although I know for certain that they were!

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Southern Caramel Cake
a cake to celebrate a birthday and Papaw

Ingredients:
For the cake-
1/2 cup buttermilk , room temperature
4 large eggs , room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened

For the frosting-
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

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Directions:
For the cake-

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt cake pan. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla in large measuring cup. With electric mixer on low speed, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. Beat in butter, 1 piece at a time, until only pea-sized pieces remain. Pour in half of buttermilk mixture and beat over medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Slowly add remaining buttermilk mixture to bowl and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

2. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack. Cool completely, at least 1 hour.

For the frosting-

1. Heat 8 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, and salt in large saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around perimeter of pan, about 8 minutes. Whisk in cream and cook until ring of bubbles reappears, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, then whisk in vanilla.

2. Transfer hot frosting mixture to bowl and, with electric mixer on low speed, gradually mix in confectioners’ sugar until incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat until frosting is pale brown and just warm, about 5 minutes. Add remaining butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Spread frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Will last on the countertop for several days.

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Happy birthday, Sweets! Wishing you the most wonderful of days on your birthday! I’ll be spending it thinking about how lucky Jack and I are to be your family. And then, looking forward to celebrating it with you tonight as we go trick-or-treating and eat pizza pies and sweet pies! Happy, happy!

And, to all of you…wishing you a fun and Happy Halloween! We are excited to take our little Spider Man out for some Halloween fun, especially since we all have cool Spider Man masks to wear thanks to Aunt Laura!!!

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