Karen Herbst and John Arndt wanted to raise their daughter Sarah rather than putting her into daycare at the age of five months.  Then, in the aftermath of 9/11 when John’s employer faltered, their decision for him to become a stay-at-home father was made.

That move in September 2002 allowed Karen – an Associate Clinical Professor and research physician at the University of California, San Diego – to meet the heavy demands of her position, and provide the Rancho Penasquitos family (since 2005) the opportunity to pursue the lifestyle they hoped.

“We searched for a home in this area because it was a close enough commute to La Jolla for Karen to go to work, while still allowing us to live within the Poway school system,” said John, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of New Orleans.

Sarah, now 7, is a 3rd grader at Sundance Elementary School.

Karen, who has a bachelor’s degree and a PhD in cell physiology and a medical degree from Rush University in Chicago, also directs the weight control clinic at the VA San Diego Healthcare System and is one of the only physicians in the U.S. researching rare adipose (fat) disorders (RADs).
The couple met under unusual circumstances, when Karen was living in Seattle and lost a roommate.  “She advertised for another roommate – and after many very odd applicants, I showed up with a picture from my time spent in 1998 in Alaska aas a fisheries observer in the Bering Sea for the U.S. Government,” said John, who like Karen is an Illinois native.  “Karen knew she would never date a guy like me, and I thought she was a little goofy, so we became roommates.  Later, we formed a much stronger bond.”

That bond has created an active, unique lifestyle for the family.  They enjoy hiking, photography, watching movies, horseback riding (thanks to the generosity of a neighbor), and vegetarian cooking.  John bikes several times a week, serves as Karen’s personal assistant when needed for her research projects, volunteers at Sundance school, does handyman jobs for friends and neighbors, and plays the piano, guitar and harmonica.  And Karen has appeared on an episode of the television show “The Doctors” and other programs.

Of course, it’s time together as a family that counts the most.  “So we can spend more time together, Sarah and I will drive Karen to work – taking the long way so we can drive by the ocean,” John said.  “In other words, we do family by car because of Karen’s workload.  One time when we drove by the ocean, we saw dolphins feeding and a small whale popped its head up with the same school of fish about 50 feet off the beach, and then a seal popped its head up right after.”

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