The story behind our Christmas Card – 2016

Merry Christmas!

As the Christmas season approached, I was scrambling to find a picture to use.    We didn’t do family pictures this year. So that left me searching iphoto.  Thankfully, I came across one from my cousin’s wedding this summer that I thought would do just fine. Not my favorite picture, but good enough.

I found a card company I’d never used before. And I found a design that worked with our picture.   Wanting to get our Christmas cards ordered and done early, I placed the order.

When the package arrived in the mail, I was so excited…until I opened it up.


 I wasn’t happy with the print quality. And I wasn’t happy with the quality of the image {It was too dark.}  So I emailed them, requesting a full refund.  Much to my surprise, they quickly responded. They apologized. And they refunded me in full.  I sent the package back in the mail {but I did keep one for myself – pictured above!}.

So that put me back at square one. No picture. No Christmas cards.

The day after Thanksgiving, we went to get our Christmas tree.  I packed the tripod to go with us, in hopes that we could snap a good picture.

Thanks to a cold snap that we were experiencing here in the northwest, there was tons of frost that morning.  When we pulled into the Christmas tree farm, we found a spot that hadn’t yet seen the sun.


I bribed the kids with the promise of a can of pop and treats in the car after our cold photo shoot. And for the most part, they cooperated.  Even despite frozen toes.

Dan has an app that allows his iphone to be used as a remote to the camera.  And while I would occasionally run back to the camera to readjust the settings, the pictures could be taken with the phone/remote behind our backs.


So while Dan fiddled with the camera, the kids and I could look at pictures on the phone!

Thankfully, we got some great pictures!

I had a few people ask me if the frost was photoshopped into the picture. Or if it was real.  But as you can see, it’s indeed real!  {Though I do wish I knew how to create frost with photoshop!} While we were darn cold, the frosty morning provided us with some festive pictures though.



We took a few variations of pictures to give us flexibility with designs.

 I found this one on and it worked perfectly with our picture!

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Hard to believe Christmas is just a few days away.  I think this holiday season has flown by faster than any other.  I’m hoping we can sit back and soak up these last few days a bit.

Wishing you a very joyful Christmas!


The Boston Marathon

Today we have a guest!!  Let me introduce you to Dan, my husband! I know you’ve seen pictures of him before, but I believe this is the first time he’s ever written on my blog!


This April, Dan will be running 26.2 miles. In Boston!  He got this hair brained idea last April and has been training ever since.

But before he gets there, he has to raise $5000 for a great cause….childhood obesity. And we need your help! If you’d like to donate, please click here.  And if you’re curious, read his story below (in Dan’s own words)…

 Last April I went to Boston to support my friend, Chris, who was running the Boston Marathon for the first time.  After watching him finish and experiencing the amazing atmosphere, I immediately called my wife, Jen, and said:  “I want to do this next year!”

What’s funny about that is I have never been a runner.  Ever!  I tried running track in middle school.  My personal best was coming in NEXT to LAST on the 800 meter sprint.  Yeah!  Yes, I’ve done sports that involved running… but when it came to just going out and running for the sake of the run….well, the couch seemed just comfortable enough!

In fact, the couch has always been a very comfortable place to be.  While I was active in high school and college, my life became more sedentary the older I became.  This isn’t surprising.  Most of us experience this… life and responsibility get in the way of being active, right?  Besides… who wants to get up and go get sweaty and stinky and have burning, achy muscles when we don’t have too? Sounds reasonable.

But with that decision comes the baggage.  And by baggage I mean the pounds.  Probably 30 of them and their closest friends.  They liked to hang out around my waist line and upper thighs.  Lovely!  Of course it didn’t help that in medical school all you feel like you can do is sit around and study.  Then comes residency where you are provided all the doughnuts and soda pop you can enjoy while working 6 days of the week.   Needless to say, I didn’t emerge from this experience looking my best!  My rock bottom was looking at my new driver’s license after moving back to Washington state and seeing double chins and jowls.  Jowls!  Like a hound dog!

So, several years ago my wife and I started working out again.  We started with joining a gym and then an outdoor “boot camp” group.  We added weight lifting and focusing on nutrition (goodbye doughnuts and soda… I loved you so much).  What was even better was watching our kids get into it.  They wanted to “work out” with us and even try to eat healthily.  It’s great to think that we have hopefully instilled a lifestyle in them and tools that they can use throughout their lives. (They still give in to McDonald’s, but only once in a blue moon.)

Now it’s April 2014, and I’m on the phone with Jen saying I want to run in the world’s most prestigious marathon.  She’s actually laughing on the other end!  Remember… I’m not a runner.  I don’t think I would time qualify for the Boston Marathon if I could DRIVE it!  But I remain undaunted.

We start looking  into ways that I could pursue this dream.  A friend of ours suggests looking into the American Medical Athletic Association (AMAA).  (Thanks Tammy!)  This is a charity that focuses on childhood obesity and changing how our youth exercise and eat… and this strikes a chord.  This was a charity I could get behind and really support!   It resonated with my own personal struggles, as well as what I want to impart to my own children.  And let’s face it, as an ER physician, if we could eliminate obesity… well, my work life gets a whole lot easier!

So here I am today.  I’ve been running 4 or 5 days a week for the past 8 months.  I’ve done two half marathons.  Guess what… I actually enjoyed them!  But now it’s time to tackle the big one… and I would love your help and partnership.


leavenworth half marathon

If anything I have shared resonates with you and any struggle you, a family member, friend or co-worker has experienced, then I encourage you to help kick obesity in its fat ass!  With your help we can continue to ensure that our next generation can be healthier and fitter than every before.   Please take to the opportunity to donate on this website.

To donate, please click HERE.


Merry Christmas 2014!

m e r r y    c h r i s t m a s !



I’ll be signing off for the remainder of 2014. But I’ll be back in the new year with more interior design posts!


Waterton and Glacier National Parks

Thursday is a big day around here…..Dan turns 40!  He didn’t want a big party, so we decided to take a fun family vacation…


We took a ton of pictures and video. So sit back and enjoy a few fun pics! And at the end of the post, you can view the latest and greatest family video!

Our first stop was Waterton Park, Canada, which is the Canadian part of Glacier.



It was so beautiful. And we saw our first bear there too!  Thankfully, we were in our car and not hiking on a trail at the time.


After a few days in Waterton Park, we ventured down into Montana to Glacier National Park.

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Both Dan and I loved the one on one time with the kids….



The weather wasn’t ideal. In fact, it was downright cold on a lot of days.  We just learned to accept the rain and make the most of it!


Though, occasionally we’d get lucky and see a little sun!


We tried to find a healthy balance between hiking and stopping and playing as well.  The kids were troopers!


Most of the time, that is.  There was one day where we may have gotten a touch lost in Glacier in the pouring rain.  And there may have been two scared kids and some tears.


Finding the trail that led us back to our car was a happy moment.

We saw a moose up close….


Even on a cloudy day, Glacier was beautiful.


For some reason, I was focussed on crossing the continental divide….

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Dan was kind enough to pull over for a picture.

If you’re still with me after all of those pictures, here is the video that Dan made! Click HERE to view {or click the picture below}.

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The trip was a great way to celebrate Dan.  And to enjoy some quality family time together.

Happy 40th birthday, Dan!

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Hiking and Snow Shoeing at Mt. Rainier

I like my routine. And I like my own bed at night.  But I also suffer from major FOMO {Fear Of Missing Out}.  So when I was invited by a friend to join a group of mama’s from my area to do some snow shoeing and hiking, I had to say yes.  While I knew I’d enjoy the conversation and social time, I wasn’t so sure about the adventure itself.  But I said yes anyway.

 The hike was through the Mount Tahoma Trails Association {MTTA} at the base of Mt. Rainier.   And this past Friday, 10 of us drove up to start our overnight adventure.

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 We strapped on our 20 pound backpacks and off into the snow we went.

This is how we all dressed at the start of the hike…

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 It seemed logical…..when hiking in the snow, of course you’d dress for snowy weather!  Well, the hike was mostly uphill.  So I believe by mile 1, we had all shed our hats and coats.   We were warm! Clearly we overdressed.

We had a ‘no complaining’ rule.  And everyone surprisingly obeyed! {Even though I may have complained a little in my head….}

The scenery was incredible….

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And conversation was never lacking.

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Check out the size of my pack compared to everyone else in the pic below!  I brought my favorite feather pillow {even though Dan tried to convince me otherwise}.  And apparently it was a space hog in my pack!  Because I really didn’t overpack {for once in my life!}

copper creek hut MTTA Mt Raininer

It took us about 2 1/2 hours to complete the 4.2 mile hike.

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That gray cloud in the above picture did disappear and left us with an incredible sunset.  I took a ridiculous amount of pictures because every time I looked out the window, the sky was a different shade of yellow and orange.

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Later that evening, the last two ladies hiked in and we enjoyed a fun dinner and even more conversation.

copper creek hut mt raininer MTTA

We all slept in the loft upstairs on mats and sleeping bags.  It might not have been the best sleep ever, but that was a small price to pay to be part of this fun experience.

Then the next morning, we strapped our snow shoes on and hiked back down…

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I was so proud of everyone.   It’s not every day that we go on an adventure like this. And everyone did it with such grace!

If you’re reluctant to step outside of your comfort zone, just do it! You might just surprise yourself.


Merry Christmas 2013

Back in October, we had family pictures taken up at my dads house.  It was such a fun place for pictures because of all the greenery, open space and fun barns!   We were just hoping for ONE good picture to use on our Christmas card.  Thankfully, we had several to choose from!

Here is a quick look at some of my favorites.

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Dan suggested we all put hay in our mouths for the next picture. Apparently I missed the memo that we were supposed to actually SMILE with it, because I look like I’m smoking my hay!

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Next is the runner-up for our Christmas card….

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And finally, the card itself….

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Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.


Christmas Tree 2013

We tend to get our Christmas tree the weekend of Thanksgiving.   And today was the lucky day!

But unfortunately, it was raining.

The morning was fairly dry, while we were at church.  Then when we got in the car….rain!

But we made the most of it and had fun!


Thanks to rain coats and an umbrella, we {kind of} stayed dry.

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Ok, who am I kidding.  We were soaked.

But thankfully everyone’s mood stayed light and we got the job done.

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The tree is in the house. But remains undecorated. That’s a project for another day.


Maui Vacation

Almost two years ago, Dan and I went to Hawaii for a little vacation.  And last week, we were fortunate enough to go back with some friends.

We spent a very quick six days in Maui.  And it was a perfect mix of relaxation and activity.

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We upgraded to a room with a view. And it did not disappoint.

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Mid week, Dan got a wild hair to go parasailing.  After he went once by himself,  we all decided we needed to be in on the adventure.

Heidi and Marty went first.  Then Dan and I got strapped in. You can see that I was a bit unsure as we took off….

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But seconds later, I warmed up a bit to the fun….

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We also went on a catamaran/snorkeling day trip to the island of Lanai.

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We sailed, snorkeled, swam and played on a nearly secluded beach. Talk about relaxing!

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Staying in a hotel meant NO COOKING! So every night we got dressed up and ate out.  Such a treat.

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I’ve heard so many people say “eat at Mama’s Fish House!” {If you haven’t heard of Mama’s, it’s expensive, and it’s about an hour from Ka’anapali, where we stayed.}  But let me say, it IS worth it. The food was delicious and the ambiance was priceless.  So if you are going to Maui anytime soon, make the trip. You won’t regret it.

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Traveling with good friends, and without kids, made for the perfect week!

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Happy Halloween!

Wishing you a very safe and happy Halloween!

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Fairhaven District in Bellingham

Every year for Christmas, my dad and step mom give Dan and me a night away.  They watch the kids and pay for a hotel for us to have a 24 hour getaway.  Of course it’s been 9 months since Christmas, but this weekend, we redeemed our gift.

On Friday, we dropped the kids off at the grandparents.  And Dan and I headed to Bellingham!  We stayed at the Chrysalis Inn, which is in the Fairhaven district in Bellingham.

The hotel was lovely.

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While I was busy taking pictures of our room, Dan had fun with the sliding doors between the bathroom and bedroom.

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{Isn’t he cute in his hat!?}

And the view from our room…..incredible.

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It was just a quick walk to the main strip of stores from the hotel.

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Everything was so quaint!  I couldn’t resist taking pictures!

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We walked by this restaurant….

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….which holds a special place in my heart.  Exactly two years ago, we sat on their outdoor patio and Dan challenged me to finally start writing this blog!!

We enjoyed walking around town, treated ourselves to some coffee, took pictures  and walked back to the hotel when we were done.  And if you were in the greater Seattle area this weekend, you’ll be amazed to know we did all that with no rain!

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Thank you to my dad and step mom for a fun 24 hours away!

If you ever get the chance, take a stroll through Bellingham. You won’t be disappointed!


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