I met this family before they were a family over ten years ago. Mark, Karen and I met while serving in the Peace Corps in Madagascar. I will save the crazy Peace Corps stories for another post, but I let me tell you a little about Mark and Karen.

They are two of the most easygoing, giving, fun and inspiring people I know. They took me under their wings when I first arrived at my Peace Corps post. They showed me the way and supported me through the ups and the downs. Under their guidance we lead an overnight camping trip with local kids, backpacked through some off the beaten path terrain, hosted a weekly radio show, and taught in the local schools. These are just a few of the things that filled our days.

Mark and Karen were a couple when I met them and I always knew they were going to be together forever. I thought if they could have a healthy relationship while serving in the Peace Corps, they definitely could survive marriage.

When I applied for Peace Corps, the slogan was, “ Peace Corps: The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love.” Now that Mark and Karen are parents, they have a different take on that slogan. They tell me parenthood is, “The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love.”

After spending the afternoon with them and their children Aster and Bodhi, I must say they make parenthood look just as easy as they made Peace Corps look. At ages three and one their children are lucky to have two amazing parents who are already introducing them to travel, adventure and living life to the fullest.

Thanks for inviting me to spend the afternoon with your family, I had a blast.

family of four walking towards the camera with three year old holding her hands in the air in black and white

three year old girl shot from below against a blue sky with her hands on her head

Aster: three years old and packed with personality.

12 month old at the park playing with sunglasses sitting in the grass

Bodhi: 12 months, learning to walk, talk and figuring out the world.

mom, 12 month old and dad laying on their stomachs, 12 month old leaning his head on dad's shoulder

mom swining three year old around from her arms with her legs on the ground at the park and back lit


12 month old looking at the camera with a pacifire and bib on pulling on his ear

Bodhi in serious thought, figuring things out.

three year old hanging from a pull up bar

family on a blanket, three year old sharing a pine cone with her 12 month old brother

Siblings who know how to share.

three year old laughing as mom watches

close up of a 12 month old and the edge of his mom's face in black and white

couple looking into each other's eyes in black and white

couple sitting on a bench with a dog standing on a knoll behind them, about to lick the woman on the cheek

Meet the other member of the family, Jake. He is sneaking in to lay a big one on mom!