Straight to True North

Looking Back at 2018

Christmas always ends up hectic and busy. Between buying meaningful presents, coordinating family gatherings, and marching toward a major project deadline at work, I’m usually too tired to reflect on how much God has blessed us until all the festivities are over. 2018 was an amazing year as I compiled a list of highlights.

Started Vlogging

In January, I started my experiment with vlogging (video journaling) after being inspired by Peter McKinnon and Casey Neistat on YouTube. I had been following them for over a year before trying it out myself. Over the course of the year, I published 26 videos about photography, life adventures, and our home life.

I quickly discovered that I don’t think well on-the-fly and tend to freeze in front of the camera. I’m much more familiar with photography where I capture the moments then reflect on them. However, video provided a deeper and more immersive experience with my memories.

It was difficult to balance both photography and videography. Often, I’m keeping an eye on my kids, taking a photo, and also recording video—sometimes all at the same time. I found that I took less photos because recording video required much more preparation and mental energy.

As I progressed through the year, I began wondering what my purpose was for vlogging. I didn’t want to become a famous YouTuber. I’m not an influencer by nature. I enjoyed the process of cinematic videography and choreographing to music, but I have had much easier time delivering story through blogging.


Violet Got Braces

By recommendation from our dentist, Violet got braces to help redirect her adult teeth. She has been a trooper and enjoyed the additional visits to the dentist. Her smile looks much more natural already.

First School Dance

The kids’ elementary school hosted their first dance and our kids got a chance to boogie down with their classmates. Kadie and Vi have some inclination to learn swing while Bruce is happily dancing his own moves.


13th Anniversary

For our 13th anniversary, we had a stay-cation while our friend Tracy lived in our house for a few weeks. We got a hotel room in Tigard and visited Uptown Ballroom to dance in the evening while getting acquainted with Portland during the day.

We explored Forest Park, Pittock Mansion, and downtown Portland. We’re thankful that our parents live nearby so that we could have weekend getaways just to ourselves. Without a tight schedule, we took our time with our adventures and started a new tradition of visiting the Shane Company to get our rings cleaned.


On Pointe School of Ballet

Jenni joined the kids in ballet this year in her own adult classes. The three of them performed Coppelia in May and loved being on stage. Not to be left out, Kadie joined ballet this summer and the gang will be part of the production of Beauty and the Beast next June.

Ballet has been a great motivator for Jenni to stretch more and get exercise. Her legs are getting stronger and she enjoys deepening her knowledge of ballet by practicing with classes showcased on YouTube.

011 Avengers Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War

A culmination of ten years of Marvel movies, Avengers: Infinity War wasn’t a victory lap people were expecting. It was amazing to see all our heroes in one movie, but they were defeated at the movie’s end by the main antagonist. We’re excited to see the finale this spring in Avengers: Endgame.

I was so inspired by the movie that I ended up collecting all of the LEGO sets required to complete my own infinity gauntlet. The kids and I had a blast building all the sets and playing with the minifigures.

128 Cathy Dark's Retirement Party

Cool Shoes Retirement Party

I was part of a ballroom dance performance team during my last year in college and the group’s director retired this year. She hosted a retirement party and invited all the members from over 29 years to come. I enjoyed being reunited with old friends that I hadn’t seen in 15 years. I was inspired to see how the Cool Shoes director’s legacy has touched so many people.

011 Baby Hill

Baby Josiah

We have our first nephew! Jenni’s brother Travis and his wife Jenna gave birth to their son, Josiah Hill. We’re excited to spoil the little guy every chance we get in the years to come.

Overnight Church Camp

Jenni volunteered for overnight church camp for 3rd-5th graders. Originally, her desire was to help our girls with their special diet, but it was a rewarding experience for them all.

Crater Lake 034

Odell and Crater Lake at the Brandis Cabin

Our friend Leah invited us to her husband’s parent’s cabin by Odell Lake. The cabin had a lot of character and rustic comforts. We took a day trip out to Crater Lake and hiked Wizard Island. The view was gorgeous until the forest fire smoke clogged up the view.

Portland Bridge Stride

Some of Portland’s bridges are inaccessible by pedestrians except for special events during the year. I had always wanted to see what the Fremont bridge was like on foot, so I participated in the Portland Bridge Stride this year to cross that one off the list. Jenni and I have a goal to walk across the bridges of Portland, so I happily pioneered the Fremont bridge. I’m hoping to ride a bike across all the bridges in the Portland Bridge Pedal this coming year.

Biking and Running from Portland to Beaverton

Jack is training for a full marathon and his longest run (at the time) was from his church building in Portland to my house in Beaverton. I followed him on a bike as he ran the full fourteen miles. It was great to share an important milestone in his journey.

Harry Potter

The little wizard series casted a spell over our kids as they got introduced to J.K. Rowling’s world. Kadie split her birthday party with friends into three parts: one for each of the first three movies. It has been difficult for them to stop at the first three movies, but we hope to have them grow up with the characters by waiting.

021 Costco Leaves

Playing in the Costco Leaves

Going on eight years, we exploded out of leaf piles at our local Costco. We’ve loved sharing the tradition with the Ence family and take our annual portraits there.


China Trip

Our big endeavor was our trip to China. With over a year of planning and preparation, our family traveled with my parents to four cities: Hong Kong, Meizhou, Guangzhou, and Beijing.

Each city, we had reunions with relatives for almost every meal. Between the meals, we traveled to sites and historical locations, such as the Great Wall of China, Chimelong Safari, Ocean Park, and more.

We were so richly blessed by our extended family’s generosity and hospitality. My parents and relatives hosted us like royalty.

Thanksgiving at Jack and Rachel’s Church

Jack and Rachel bought a church building this year as they expand Rachel’s dance studio. The church building included a kitchen with twelve stove tops, two ovens, two refrigerators, and three sinks—well-equipped to serve Thanksgiving to 20+ people.

Back to Marketing

After transferring to IT a year and a half ago, I returned to marketing to help them through their digital transition. I was welcomed back warmly and I look forward to the new processes, initiatives, and challenges to push Vernier further into the forefront of science education.


Christmas in Longview

We spent Christmas with Jenni’s 93 year old grandmother. She took a fall shortly before the holidays, but was able to spend a day in her home for Christmas. She was teary-eyed as she was surrounded by family playing games, opening gifts, and sharing meals.