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Happy Valentine’s Day (and Friday!) to all of you! As soon as I saw this shirt and made the connection that Valentine’s Day was on a Friday this year, I knew I had to buy one for Jack! They are made by the wonderfully talented Mamacase and I love the way it looks and feels (so soft)! This is Jack’s second shirt by her and I love them so much, I’ve started buying them to give as gifts.

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I hope, like us, that you have a full weekend of love and fun planned—I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a long time (going to one of my favorite resorts in the Seattle area on Saturday and to see an acoustic show of one of my favorite bands-Band of Horses-on Sunday night- I may actually shed tears during the show over the beauty of this music…ahhhhh, so excited!). Oh, and, of course, we can’t stop singing Cure’s “Friday, I’m in Love” over here…from our home to yours sending you much love this holiday weekend! xxo!

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I will be the first to admit it, I love Valentine’s Day. I have such fond memories of this holiday from my childhood. My dad spoiled his three girls (my mom, sister, and myself) each year with such fun and thoughtful gifts—a new puppy(!), a box of sweet treats and a Bangles tape(!), and nice dinners of fondue and seafood in fancy restaurants.

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I love to celebrate holidays for Jack as my parents did for me. And, I’ve sort of adopted Valentine’s Day as my homemade holiday. You may remember the Super Hero Lollipops that I made for Jack’s school friends last year? This year, my main goal was to use red and white bakers twine (yes, I developed a little obsession with this!) and to make a non-candy treat for Jack to share at school. I thought of making heart-shaped, homemade chocolate chip cookies, but realized that making 6 dozen cookies smack in the middle of a work week was not a smart plan for my mental state. So, I went with option two- a sweet, salty snack that contained some of the traditional colors of Valentine’s.

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I wouldn’t call this treat healthy, but it’s not candy (No worries- we will eat plenty of that too- I love those heart shaped boxes of Valentine’s chocolates! And, we are likely to eat some of those homemade chocolate chip cookies I was referring to as well…). I mixed goldfish crackers, whole grain pretzel nuggets, freeze dried cranberries and raspberries, and yogurt covered raisins, put a 1/2 cup in each clear sack, and tied it shut with baker’s twine and a note reading, “xxo! Love (heart), Jack.”

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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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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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Even though its late, they are too good not to share- I got some great pictures of our little vampire, Jack-ula, from our Halloween fun trick-or-treating at West Seattle’s Harvest Festival on the Sunday prior and University Village on Halloween night.

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I hope you enjoyed a festive and fun Halloween week! I’ve decided that next year, I’m going to dress up too!

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