By Amy George
If you look up on a clear night in the September sky, chances are good that you’ll get a pretty decent view of Jupiter and Saturn. As autumn rolls around, constellations like Aquarius and Pisces come into sight. Early October is your next best chance to see the brilliant show provided by a meteor shower. Ask any member of the Kim family for advice on the best spots for stargazing in and around Somerset. Peering into their telescope is something that dad Richard enjoyed from childhood and now shares with wife Sue and children Ashley, Lawrence and Charlotte. When not in their backyard, you might find them at nearby Lewis Creek Park.
Richard Kim and Sue Choi both grew up loving the outdoors. Their mutual affection was one of the driving factors behind their relocation to the Pacific Northwest more than ten years ago. After initially settling in downtown Seattle, they moved to Somerset once they had kids. They love the great schools, the abundance of young families, all the hidden little parks, and the free parking!
Richard grew up in Orange County in southern California. After earning his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, he attended medical school at the University of California, San Francisco. That’s where he and Sue met through friends. Both were finishing up their respective degrees – Richard was earning a medical degree and Sue a dental degree.
Sue grew up in Korea and attended high school also in southern California (Los Angeles) before heading north to Berkeley for her undergraduate degree. After she and Richard finished their studies at UCSF, Sue moved to Portland for her residency at Oregon Health Science University. Richard went a bit further north to do his residency at the University of Washington. After dating long distance, Sue joined Richard in Seattle, and the couple is celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary this year.
Daughter Ashley joined the family in 2011. She’s a third-grader at Jing Mei Elementary this year and loves to read. She finished the Chronicles of Narnia series this summer and is a fan of anything Pokémon. She also plays piano and violin and recently spent a week at a Suzuki music camp at Seattle Pacific University. Ashley also swims at nearby Somerset Recreation Club.
Little brother Lawrence is six and is also at Jing Mei as a first grader. Like his sister he swims and enjoys card games, though he’s more into games like Go Fish and Sushi Go. He is fascinated by geography and languages. He also plays the piano and loves doing origami. His summer included learning tennis at Edgebrook and golf camp at First Tee.
Baby Charlotte is two, and, according to Ashley, “loves everything that starts with the letter B.” Her current favorites are balls, blankets, and bunnies. Charlotte – along with the rest of the family – is often at the Coal Creek YMCA.
Together, the family enjoys outdoor adventures both at home and away. When they’re not out stargazing, you might find them harvesting plums from the trees in their backyard. The best advice for picking the best fruit? Wait until they’re ripe and pick by hand. If not at home, you might find them out and about in one of the neighborhood parks – the Forest Hill Neighborhood Park is a favorite.
They also try to go camping as much as possible. In August, they returned to one of their favorite places: Fort Flagler Historical State Park on the tip of Marrowstone Island, across the water from Port Townsend. They caught dozens of little hermit crabs along the shore and spent evenings making s’mores and stargazing.
When not spending time outdoors, you’ll find Richard at Valley Medical Center in Renton where he works as a Pulmonary and Critical Care physician. He still plays the violin and has been part of the Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra since 2007. “It’s truly a community orchestra,” and he and Sue have met many friends there.
Sue is very busy these days at her practice in Factoria – Newport Pediatric Dentistry. She’d been associating at other practices when she realized she wanted something closer to home. Factoria was an obvious choice of location because she loves the community and liked the idea of taking care of the people in it.
Pediatric dentistry was a natural fit for Dr. Sue (as she’s known to patients). She always liked working with kids and was planning to become a kindergarten teacher. Fate intervened in the form of a wonderful mentor when she took a college job as a dental assistant. Sue’s also a great artist; she paints both watercolor and oil. Her passion for art is another reason why dentistry turned out to be such a great fit. Dentistry also requires thoughtful attention to detail and superb fine motor skills.
Dr. Sue does practice in her own house what she advises her patients: candy is tightly regulated at home. The kids have candy for Halloween and at birthday parties. However, she joked, “it’s a constant topic that is often renegotiated” as the kids get older. Halloween must be difficult; as the kids surely get lots of candy for their amazing costumes. Each year, the kids pick a theme, and Sue makes their costumes. Last year, the three siblings went as Beanie Boos and this year, it’s looking like it’ll be Pokémon characters.
The next time we have a beautiful starry night, be sure to take a look. Chances are, you’ll be in good company with your neighbors, thanks to the Kim family who remind us that even the skies above Somerset offer a wonderful reason to live here.
Originally published in Somerset Neighbors (September 2019 edition)
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