I wish we could capture smell with a photograph.  Wafting smells of baked confections combined with salty seawater and rows of flowers–downtown Seattle is a cacophony of wonderment.


Piroshky Piroshky at Pike Place Market- definitely not gluten free but worth the long wait in line for a bite


Our favorite thing of all in Seattle was the Chihuly Gardens–this glassblower artist produced some of the most amazing sculptures we’ve ever seen!  If you get your arm stamped, head back at night to see the glass lit up.  Breathtakingly beautiful!



20150712_204845Unfortunately the night we decided to head up the Space Needle with our 6 pm reservation, two of the three elevators were out of order.  Rather than working to accommodate the hundreds of people with just space needle reservations, the staff at the Space Needle decided those with dinner reservations took preference.  We waited over 2 1/2 hours to get to the the top.  The view was pretty spectacular at the top but we felt rather let down after such a long and belabored wait!

20150714_151337The city has its own kind of beauty and color.  While I realized after two days of walking the streets of Seattle that I am most definitely a country girl, I find the sites of the city fascinating.  I did not find the blatant begging of people at every corner as fascinating.  Seattle has a HUGE homeless issue and I was stunned at how open people are to stand there and ask you for money.  It was on almost every corner, all day, all night.


I am a Duck Boat Tour fan.  In my opinion, it’s one of the best ways to hear the history of the city and you always get to be on the water.  Seattle’s Duck tour was no exception.  We even saw the famous gray house from “When Harry Met Sally.”


The restaurants in Seattle were simply divine.  Gluten Free, vegan, fresh, farm to table produce.  I loved them!  This little place, The London Plane, was no exception.  While sitting is this perfect cafe environment, I enjoyed my cold pressed coffee with a trio of vegetable hummus.  Yum!20150713_112749One final highlight was the EMP museum. While I’m not a football fan in any life, I did enjoy the Seahawk exhibit. The quote below stood out to me…perhaps it will be my mantra this next school year!

20150712_122216I have to give a shout out to my friend, Kathie Delph. She sent me two amazing lists–things to do and places to eat.  Those guides were my lifeline to seeing this city as a local does.  Amazing recommendations. If you travel to Seattle, shoot me a message and I’ll get those lists to you!





seattle.wa.hiking days

20150710_125215Matt and I were able to get away for a vacation/work combo trip this past weekend.  My only other experience with this city was a turn and burn trip to Tacoma years ago.

20150710_162229Everyone was raving about the sun here–truly an unexpected event.  We brought all the rain Colorado had stolen from Seattle back with us.  Alas, it’s been raining since we’ve arrived.

20150710_185928This city is a perfect blend of so many of our favorite things–amazing organic local food, trails filled with hills and waterfalls, good will foundations and museums, and farmer’s markets.


20150711_092342Pike Place Market was a hands down favorite of mine.  I found the best little gluten free bakery, Cinnamon Spot, that delivered these monstrous pumpkin cookies. The smells of bakeries combined with fish and seawater made for a  bouquet of the market.  This was one time I didn’t mind the throngs of people shuffling at snail pace.




And the coffee…this place has it all.  We hit the newest Starbucks creation–the Reserve. Think a wine tasting for coffee beans. Those salespeople took their job VERY seriously!


These signs were my favorite.  I’ve never seen one in any city I’ve traveled. BUT they absolutely nailed the critical need of a bathroom for ALL. 20150710_195446We walked this city from one end to the other–logging close to 12-14 miles/day.  Playing tourist is hard work!




I’m headed back home this fourth.

20150704_113600Home from a fast trip to Ohio to be with my family.

About a week ago this trip wasn’t even a thought.  Grandpa was headed to surgery and we hoped for the best.

20150704_124444Medical diagnosis can be scary, very scary.  Any time you hear the word “terminal” in a sentence from a doctor, you know the diagnosis is not good.

Terminal means final, done, complete.

So I got on a plane to spend time with my beloved grandfather.  Time to talk and share love and hugs.  Time to speak words and history.

Our family gathered around him, sharing memories and words of advice.

It was a short time but one filled with great memories.

While terminal is still lingering throughout the unspoken words, I am thankful I believe that terminal doesn’t mean good bye for good.  It means, “see you later.”



A snapshot in time – CKE Photography

familly_CKEA few months ago I realized that we hadn’t taken any family photos for a few years.  It actually dawned on me one day when I was talking to Caroline eye to eye.  The days of getting on my knee to see her sweet little face have zipped by in warp speed.

We’ve never done a true “Colorado” photo either.  We’re on year 15 living in Colorado and not one professional photo with my beloved mountains in the background.

Monberg-010+-+CopyI’m a staunch YMCA member. I love our YMCA, mostly for the people who I see there.  I’d met Courtney a few years ago when our boys were in 2nd grade together.  She is amazing at body combat.   I found out later that she was a photographer during a group fitness class at the Y.

On a whim in May, I asked Courtney of CKE Photography if she had any openings for summer photo sessions.  Yep, she did.   So I signed us up.

Monberg-006+-+CopyWe had to reschedule at the last minute due to soccer.  Courtney was totally fine with that.  Then the rain kept coming.  The day we were to take the pictures, we changed the location and the time at the last minute.

We all had such a great time with Courtney.  Desta tends to have that awkward fake smile…Courtney got the real deal!

As I look through these photos, I’ve realized that life is hurrying along at a rapid pace.  For me, these pictures show me a snapshot of this time of our lives.

One of my favorites is below.  As I’ve mentioned here before, parenting Desta has been challenging for me lately. I often forget she’s just 6.  When Caroline was 6, she had a 3 year old brother who forced me to keep things on a younger level.

Monberg-Extra-008The age gap of our kids seems so pronounced lately.  I find myself getting frustrated with Desta, forgetting she’s just 6.  As I look at this picture, I see a little girl exploring life; seeing it through those beautiful brown eyes of hers for the first time!

I like pictures for this very reason.  A snapshot captures a moment that can often be forgotten or not ever seen.  I want to keep seeing my kids.

Thanks Courtney!  We are so grateful for these snapshots of time!


Being the Memory Keeper

monberg-2009-2298I remember moving to the US for college and was struck by a few things.

Why do people drive into their garages and never say hi to their neighbors?  Why were the streets so quiet? Where were the people?  Everything was immaculate–yards groomed, flower beds perfect, no a hit of garbage on the streets.

It seemed strange to me, having come from a land filled with people, conversation, movement and cars, that people would live so alone.

Unfortunately, for most of us, that is what our life looks like.  I’ve grown accustomed to moving in and out of my neighborhood with nary a comment to anyone for days at a time.

Yesterday Desta and I trekked up the street to a new friend’s home.  Well, a new friend to us.  While Desta enjoyed the company of 2 little 6 year old towheads, I sat and talked with their mom.  It was so refreshing.

The conversation took many weaves and turns and at one point, we ended up talking about Kara Tippets; author of Mundane Faithfulness.  Turns out, our neighbor’s husband is the creator of Kara’s blog.

I was struck with something this new friend told me.  She said Kara had the privilege of saying good bye for a long time.  One of the things she did was create memory boxes for each of her children.  She put notes with each item–she was the memory keeper for these things and knowing her good bye was coming, she wanted to make sure the stories continued.

My first thought was this, “I need to do that.”  I need to go through the things that have lived in boxes, some for 13 years now, and make decisions.  Ask myself, “What is the story for this?  Is it worth keeping and telling? If so, I need to write it down and make sure it’s told.”

Today I started.  Pulled down a big box from Desta’s closet and took out the blanket she was wrapped in when I held her for the first time.  I took out the beautifully embroidered Ethiopian cloth I carried her around Addis in those first days.  Then I found the picture frame.  The second photo we ever saw of our girl.

And I lost it ya’ll.  I cried because this exercise is hard!  Being the memory keeper means dredging up the good and the hard. It means letting the emotions of today stir the emotions of yesterday. To be honest and frank, the emotions of today are really challenging to admit.

Being Desta’s mom lately has been really hard.  It has been filled with a lot of discouragement, guilt, anger.  My role has seemed displaced and not important to our daughter.  I’m created daily with a barrage of complaints, anger and strong dislike.  We end the day, most of the time, with similar emotions.

As I looked at that picture, held those blankets and rocked in the chair I prayed in for 2 years, I am sad and so thankful that that neighbor down the street invited us over for a play date and shared her heart with me.  I am so thankful that in the midst of this society where it is easy to be alone, to just do life solitary, that I made a choice yesterday to step outside my introverted zone and meet someone new.

I have hope that God will answer the prayers I had so many years ago for our sweet daughter. I have hope that one day Desta will realize how treasured and loved she is.  Until then, I press on, leaning in and focusing on living one moment at a time.