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San Juan Island July 4th camping weekend: this is the trip when these two really bonded.

Heart swell…

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Still catching up on our weekly photo series…
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Four weeks ago, we were at Green Lake with some of our best friends, The Gallardos, who were visiting from Florida. The kids were stopping to explore as we walked around the lake and this particular moment of exploration, that we happened to even catch on camera, turned from fun to terrifying really quickly when Jack fell off of the dock edge into the water. (See him in the above photo starting to lose his balance?)
It all happened so quickly, thank goodness, but it was still horrifying thinking about all of the “what ifs…”. Jack was brave, but it also hit him like a wave as his shock wore off and he processed his own fear.
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A few hours after the incident when we were alone, he said to me, “Mama, do you know what I was thinking about when I was in the water? I was thinking I might not ever see my house again…”. Oh, you can believe that I had trouble choking down my emotions with that comment.

This little boy…I love him more than all else. And, sometimes it feels like I can’t possibly keep him close enough.

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Jack played t-ball for the first time last month. In fact, it was his first team sports experience outside of school. I won’t say it was all fun and games…there was one night where we both left crying after a long and completely frustrating protest of t-ball playing. It was one of those moments that leaves you, as a parent, wondering why you are even doing said activity in the first place. It drove me to read parenting articles and blogs, which led me to a clearer perspective of my goals and a plan to use in navigating this obstacle moving forward.

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And, I’m relieved to say that, aside from that one night, we all 3 had a blast meeting new friends and Jack loved being part of a team and learning something new. He was quite serious about it at times- check out that look of pure determination when he’s running the bases with his tongue sticking out, just as his Auntie used to do- and there were moments where he was completely the opposite of serious- when he twirled around in the field with his glove atop his head or when he sat on the base cones and pretended they were horses. In other words, he acted just a t-ball player should.
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This week Jack starts a new t-ball league, with actual games, that lasts through August. We are looking forward to more fun, more new friends, and more mastery of skills. And, of course, the most exciting things- trophies and end of the season parties (with baseball cupcakes)!

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It’s hard to believe that Jack and I have been home from our Pensacola trip for nearly three weeks now! My, oh, my, really where does the time go?! I just finished uploading and editing the photos from our two week vacation and, to no one’s surprise, there are quite a few pictures despite my best attempt at choosing only the best to include. There are also moments missing from these photos that I wish I had captured (like more with my parents, David’s parents, Mimi, and Martha…)- I guess we will have to make another trip there again soon!
Anyway, here are some of the highlights:

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We spent the first part of the trip at my parent’s house playing outside, going to the Naval Aviation Mueseum, discovering all of the fun, new food trucks and restaurants Pensacola now boasts, and pretending to swim in the pool (it was still quite chilly in the water).

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Easter was celebrated with a very early visit from the Easter Bunny, sunrise service, a large family lunch, and an egg hunt, before we headed out to the beach condo for our second week there.

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At the beach, we played in the sand, collected shells, found hermit crabs, swam in the Gulf water (!!!), took beach walks, flew the dragon kite, woke up doing barefoot beach runs with Jessica that included quite a few stops for shell hunting, and ended our day with the gorgeous sunset. We also shared plenty of laughs, like good families do. The story of Martha, Jessica, and my parents adventure at Red Bones in TN was hilarious! And, sorry for the inside joke, but Dad, so happy you got to have your bread pudding!

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One day, a great friend took us on a boat tour of the area. This was one of my favorite parts of the vacation. There is something so magical about viewing the land you know from the water. And, to be boat riding while holding Jack’s hand, well, that’s even better!

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Another highlight of our trip was Jacquelyn and Landon’s wedding! It was so gorgeous in the backyard bayou home of my aunt and uncle and, it’s always a great time having the whole family together to celebrate! Jack, per typical wedding behavior, danced his little booty off, even stealing a dance with the bride. After dancing for about four hours non-stop and telling us from the dance floor that when we get back to the condo, we are going to have another dance party (!), he passed out in my sister’s arms on the dock! Reminded me of a drunk and fun loving adult trapped in a four year old body! When we got home, Dad made us all (aside from sleeping Jack) a midnight breakfast of sausage and egg biscuits! The best!

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It was hard to leave such a comfortable place and loving family, but good to get back to David! Pensacola, you are in my blood and bones, we will be back soon! xxo

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We had quite a fun holiday season despite the distance between ourselves and most of our family. It’s difficult to keep up with picture posting when you are in the thick of the season, so I just recently went back through our photos to pick out the highlights to share with you.

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We spent Thanksgiving Day in Tacoma with our dear close family, Laura (David’s sister) and Gray. The day was cold, but gorgeous, and we even spent a little time along the Ruskin Way waterfront playing and enjoying the sunset before our delicious dinner meal.

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Laura took this photo of the 3 of us and we ended up choosing it for our Christmas card this year. Loved the color and the slight spotting of Mt. Rainier in the background.

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We have been to the same tree lot each year since moving here to pick out our tree. I keep thinking we would have fun going to an actual tree farm to cut it down, but this year with the shortened time between Thanksgiving and Christmas we didn’t have any time to fit in that type of outing. We still had fun and our tree was a perfect fit for our ornaments.

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Jack and I also had a lot of eating, I mean building, fun with his first gingerbread house. We also made Christmas cookies and ate our fair share of other holiday treats!

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We had fun with our Christmas pups- our own whom we torture every year with the silly antlers- and Laura and Gray’s new puppy, Whidbey, who shared our holiday.

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Christmas Day was a blast with Jack’s infectious joy and wonderment! We snuck in a quick photo in the early morning hours before we descended our stairs to see if a special one paid a visit! Jack loved all of his new toys (He was very much into figurines for pretend play this year and I think he collected about 45 new ones on Christmas morning!); he was entertained and fully involved in his imagination all day long- he didn’t even change out of his new Christmas pjs!

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Finally, we rang in the New Year (East Coast time- one of the many benefits of living on the West Coast, especially when you have young children, is that things happen earlier on the other coast so we can just jump right in with the celebrating!) with this fun group of radiology co-residents and their families.

Beginning on New Year’s Day, I made a commitment to myself to live more in the moment, to stop worrying about future days that may seem bleak or difficult, and to just enjoy the here and now or to focus on getting through the difficult issue when it’s actually happening. I know this is terribly cliche, but I have to tell you, it’s really working! And, it’s completely life changing! I just hope I can keep up with this type of focus and presence as the year unfolds.

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So, I will leave you with this last photo taken on New Year’s Day at a rad little spot we found in Queen Anne – Citizen Coffee. It nicely captures the description of my new attitude- just close your eyes when you need to shut out the bad stuff (like having to wait for your crepe lunch) and the next moment will likely be a better one (like when your apple and pear crepe is delivered and drenched with caramel sauce and whip cream)!

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David’s cousin Molly posted a sweet photo of David at about age 4 with his brother and two cousins on Facebook this week. Here is Jack holding the photo on my iPad showing off how much of a look alike he is! It’s pretty stunning really. And, I kind of thought he looked like me…maybe not.

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Goodbye, PawPaw

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We will surely miss you and that infectious smile of yours that made your eyes twinkle and your whole face glow with warmth and cheer. I feel so lucky that our little Jack had the privilege of knowing you- many memories from his early years that you are part of like holidays spent in Pensacola, his first birthday party, his first trip to Auburn to celebrate the 2011 National Championship team, and your 90th birthday party.

I hope you are somewhere enjoying your birthday cake and good food while catching up with all of the family and friends you’ve had to say goodbye to.

Your spirit will always be part of our family. We love you, PawPaw!

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I do love a fresh new start. It’s the closest thing we have to a blank slate. Because, really, there’s no way to erase everything…to completely begin anew. And, despite the things that have happened to us or around us, the things that we do wish we could take back or make disappear, all of those things make up the intricate and complicated landscape of who we are. So, if we were actually able to take the bad away, we would run the risk of taking away the good too. We wouldn’t want that, right?

Fresh starts provide me with a little respite from the motion of my life so that I can step back and refocus…refocus on living better, healthier, cleaner, and with more grace. To find some greater clarity to create more of those good, memorable moments.

I’m not sure what this says about me, but when I started talking to David about my resolutions and goals for 2014, they were nearly identical to the goals I set for myself last year!

Here is a brief list of what I hope 2014 brings to my life:

Near daily family walks

A monthly Farmers Market Visit

A monthly date night- we already have some good ones planned(!!!) and I’m excited and committed to indulge in the best dates of our life this year!

A memory jar to collect random thoughts throughout the year to read out loud to each other on New Year’s Eve (completely failed at this one last year!)

More playtime

A family exercise morning each weekend

More hikes

More patience, understanding, and flexibility

Greater joy in each of the small wonderful things

And, of course, more moments on this blog. I’m recommitting to a weekly photo of Jack this year and adding a monthly family photo (January’s is already done! Yay!).

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I hope for a wonderful 2014 for us all! It’s going to be a good year, maybe the best, I can feel it! xxo

PS These photos were taken at Kerry Park in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle on New Year’s morning. We have gone to this overlook park each New Year’s Day for the past three years- it’s our little tradition. Our 2012 photos are here; look how small Jack was!

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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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Jack is pretty excited about all things Christmas related. He’s taken a particular liking to the dark side of holiday stories- Jacob Marley in Mickey’s Christmas Carol and the Grinch, for instance.

In this video, he created a “All the Whos down in Who-ville” scene with his figurines all gathered around the Christmas tree singing. He told me this was pre-Chrsitmas Eve night and, thus, pre-Grinch.

So, here’s a little bit of how we are celebrating…Happy Christmas!

Jack Plays The Grinch

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