Ben and I were asked recently about whether we had “overcome something hard in the past”. Nothing immediately came to mind, and for that I am thankful. We have never been laid off or had a catastrophic financial issue. We’ve always been methodical in our decision-making and plans. Like most of us, though, we’ve also had a bit of good luck.  When reflecting on some “difficult times”, however, a few things came to mind:


The year we married (…although that was not “difficult”!) – We worked retail jobs and really, really wanted to get out of retail schedule/lifestyle. So we spent six months paying off debt and then took non-retail jobs for a net loss of $30k per year. (Yes, leaving retail for other industries was actually a pay cut for us – Ben left a pharmacy technician job to become a lab grunt, and I left a training/management career in cosmetics to work as an entry-level customer service rep.).  What we lost in income we gained in freedom and control over our lives.

Lesson learned:

If we are willing to sacrifice, and maybe take a different path, we can create the lifestyle we want.  The stakes are higher now with kids, but we’re also wiser.  We’ve done it before, and we hope to do it again.



When Ben was “learning” his way through law school, he did not get a summer internship we were really counting on.  We were pregnant with our first child and, since Ben unexpectedly had the summer off, I requested a leave from my job and we traveled the USA for five weeks.  It was a great way to spend our last BC days (“Before Children”) and the source of many stories we now share with our kids.

Lesson learned:

Instead of dwell on a “loss”, make the best of it…and take advantage of the chance to do something awesome!


We almost lost our youngest son to a random autoimmune issue. At 13 months old he was in PICU for almost a month after emergency brain surgery. Too long of a story for here; suffice it to say he is still missing part of his cerebellum – but has more than enough spirit to make up for it!

Lesson learned:

If you let it, day-to-day life can be full of frustrations, boredom and envy.  Don’t lose sight of what is really important and when you are reminded – don’t forget.  Perspective is a gift – when it’s given, accept it with gratitude.


Upon moving to Washington from California, Ben took care of the kids while studying for the bar exam. We spent a lot of time together as a family.  After passing the bar, he started working in a law firm in downtown Seattle.  Gone early, home late – goodbye family time!  Meanwhile, back in California, my dad got Lymphoma and was very sick (unfortunately, he passed away in November 2007).  What’s the old saying?  No one on their death-bed ever says, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”  We assessed what we really wanted for our family and Ben quit the new (lucrative) lawyer job. We truly believe Ben keeping that miserable job would have wrecked our family, or at least damaged it quite a bit.

Lesson learned:

Life is short – almost always shorter than you expect. Make the choices that are best for the family and, importantly, live within our means so that we have the flexibility to make changes when needed. Happiness is not found in materialism or social status. Again, perspective is a beautiful thing.



These are just a few things that have brought us to where we are today – trying to build a lifestyle that’s more life, and less style.  We’ve minimized, sold our home, and will start homeschooling soon.  We are maximizing our freedom to explore the world with our kids. We can’t wait to see what else is out there – that’s where the best lessons are…


  1. Amazing perspective, I love your blog. I wish we could make some changes like that. I am lucky to be home full time, schooling my kids too.

    • Thanks Ciana! I’m glad you stopped by and like the site. Your kids are receiving the best gift from you – lucky, lucky kids!

  2. Lynda Czaplinski

    Beautifully expressed, inspirational…..sincere…amazing insight. I feel blessed to know you!

  3. Didn’t know everything here that you have been through. I have always loved your willingness to follow your heart(s). You’re an inspiration.

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