Last year was spent focusing on things that mattered not only to myself but my family too. I felt overall it was a very successful endeavor that allowed me to improve my health, mental state, as well as family time.

Early on in the year we definitely decided to make Family a priority and carve out some time throughout the year. One of the first things that kind of popped up unexpectedly was that each kid got a mini vacation with a parent. My wife took our oldest and youngest to Arizona at different times as they coincided with other family events. Then I took our middle child on a daddy-daughter trip to Duluth where we spent time wandering around and exploring via kayak sea caves. Since I wasn’t at either of the Arizona trips, I can speak more to our trip to Duluth, MN and it was really fun. It was great to just connect one on one with our children since most of the time we have multiple around us.

*April and Gretchen in Arizona on a Mountain in Phoenix (April 2018)* *Brecken and April in Arizona at Bearizona (June 2018)* *Madiana and I in Wisconsin Kayaking in the Sea Caves (August 2018)*

Another trip that sparked after some of the initial kid/parent trips earlier in the year was with a weeks notice we decided to take a family road trip to Colorado. This was a big highlight for all as it was really last minute and we were able to visit a number of things along the way. As much as I know traveling by plane is much quicker, sometimes just jumping in the car and driving to destinations is well worth it. The journey is part of the overall experience and the kids still do remember it.

*The whole family in Rocky Mountain National Park 12,000 ft above sea level (July 2018)*

Another first this past year was camping and spending a lot of time at the Iowa State Fair. I can admit it publicly that it was actually a lot more fun than I would have expected but then again it has not been a dream of mine to do like wifes’. After experiencing it last year and seeing the pure joy on my kids faces every day even though most days we did the exact same things brought me joy as well. Not to mention days, weeks, and months after the Iowa State Fair, our kids keep talking about it and we also find them pretending they are at the Iowa State Fair when playing downstairs.

*Whole Family with Papa Gott at the Iowa State Fair (August 2018)*

Focusing on my health and mental state kind of went hand in hand but didn’t really take shape till late this past year. What I found was running was not only good for my mental state but I know there are health benefits there too. In the fall, I really started to up my running from what was 2-3 times per week to every single day. It still kind of amazes me that I started it but more amazed that I have been keeping up with it for the past 6 months. My excuse has always been that I never had the time to run longer or more days in a week. It was really tough at first but then I got creative and also started to understand where I failed in the past and planned ahead in order to be successful.

Finally, besides everyone being healthy we welcomed a new member of our family this year after the passing of our pets the prior two years. So meet Lainey Lou the Miniature Petite Golden Doodle.

*Lainey at 8 months old (March 2019)* *Lainey at 2 months old (September 2018)*

As you can see she is not as petite as she was when we first got her :) .

Everyone in the family loves her to death even though we miss our old pets. This has oddly enough been a little bit of an adjustment as we really did take advantage of a pet free lifestyle over the summer. Now that everything has changed, it is a good change but we are back to moring upfront planning to make sure Lainey can either come with us or has another place to stay.

As I continue into this next year, a new word that keeps popping up in my head is Embrace. It builds upon last year as I want to embrace those things that my family and I enjoy and continue to cut out other areas that do not bring us joy. This not only goes for personal things but work related stuff as well, I know there is time to focus at work but also I want to start embracing the opportunities that are placed before me instead of always trying to run to or think about the next shiny object.

If I am true to myself in this upcoming year I know this will be a challenge to keep but I am really up for it as it has been on my mind for a while.

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