#80: Lord of the Rings Marathon

We’re huge fans of the Bagginses. We have really nice leather-bound copies of all the books on our bookshelf, and we’re planning on reading them to the kids when they’re old enough.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Both of us super loved the Lord of the Rings movies when they came out, and watched the extended editions as soon as they were released on DVD. But it’s been quite a while for both of us, and it was time to get our fix.

So we picked a Saturday, lined up all three movies, and started to watch around 9am. We had both forgotten how good these films are – from the script to the props to the photography to how perfectly it was cast, this is a triumph of filmmaking, and a great homage to an amazingly popular book. Becky cried at least 5 times – sometimes because of the emotions, and sometimes because the lighting was just so beautiful.

There’s about 12 hours of screen time from start to finish, and we took a few breaks, so we ended up finishing around 11:30pm. Here’s what our viewing area looked like, with Becky’s sewing project to one side, and the pups right on top of us.

What’s also nice is that Fellowship of the Ring is #50 on the AFI Top 100 list, so this also counts towards our AFI challenge!

This was great, but it was a lot of sitting. Don’t expect us to do this every year. But maybe every 10 might be doable.

#82: Big File

2016 was a hard year for us, and by the time we discovered we had a huge backlog in the “to file” box, it seemed unsurmountable, and we tried really hard to ignore it. Until now.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list.

It’s kind of fitting that our first Thing in 2017 is to make a clean start. Normally we try to avoid “new-year’s resolutions” or “clean slate” type of thinking, but in this case it felt really good to dig out from under this mountain of paper. (Mug for scale.)

We actually have a system for these things, which was fully capable of handling all this paper. Files at hand, long-term files in boxes, memory crates for each person (with folders by year). We just hadn’t been using it.

So we broke out the label maker, made some new folders for 2017, and spent most of a day figuring out where everything needed to go, and then putting it there. Super satisfying. We’re going to try and avoid getting into this situation again, so we’ve set up an automated reminder to do the filing every week. Cross your fingers!

100 Things in 2017

This is our fourth time doing this! (Here are 20142015, and 2016) Some of the items are repeats, some are brand new; some are individual, others are for the whole family. We’ve tried to balance achievability, ambition, and interestingness.

This year, in addition to here and on Facebook, we’re also posting our progress on Instagram and Twitter. We’re @benstraub (Twitter / IG) and @beckyjenson (Twitter / IG), and we’ll be using the #hundredthings hashtag (Twitter / IG) if you want to follow along.

The rules

  1. Every Thing must be completed by 11:59 pm on December 31, 2017.
  2. They are not required to be completed in any particular order.
  3. Unless otherwise noted, each Thing requires that both Becky and I be present. Some are for just one of us, some also have the kids involved.
  4. More than one Thing may be completed in a single day, if circumstances permit.
  5. We are allowed to modify the list to adjust for life changes during the year, as long as the goal of doing 100 great things is still met.

Current Progress: 2/100

  1. Jenson Family Reunion
  2. Dine at Portland Restaurant of the Year
  3. Road Trip without a Destination
  4. Road Trip with a Destination
  5. Write Anniversary Letters
  6. Explore a New Beach Town
  7. Go on a Surprise Date planned by Ben
  8. Visit an Amusement Park
  9. Read a Parenting Book
  10. Visit a New Country
  11. Get New Sunglasses
  12. Go on a Long Bike Ride
  13. Stay at a Weird Airbnb
  14. Spend 4 Days in Pajamas
  15. Karaoke as a Family
  16. Explore a New City
  17. Watch 12 Films from the AFI Top 100 List
  18. Establish a Weekly Game Night
  19. Cover our Windows
  20. Hike Dog Mountain
  21. Attend a Mystery Adventure Event
  22. Make 4 Fancy Cocktails
  23. Ride on Horseback
  24. Ferment or Preserve Something
  25. Tour Fort Vancouver
  26. Visit the Oregon Pacific Railroad Museum
  27. Set Up the Deck
  28. Build a Family Portrait Wall
  29. Set Up the Workshop
  30. Leash Train Hank
  31. Build a Bonfire on the Beach
  32. Make a “100 Things 2016” Book
  33. Grow a Deck Garden
  34. Cook a Meal from “Try the World”
  35. Organize the Costumes and Games
  36. Update our Kitchen
  37. Subscribe to (and Read) the New Yorker
  38. Watch 24 Documentaries
  39. Install Spice Racks
  40. Ride a Willamette Jet Boat
  41. Go Ziplining
  42. Purchase Mattresses for the Kids
  43. Train the Dogs to do 3 Tricks
  44. Read Through A Syllabus For White People
  45. Achieve 20% Fluency in Duolingo Spanish
  46. Complete the All Trails Challenge for Forest Park
  47. See a Show at a Children’s Theatre
  48. See a Stage Musical
  49. Attend a Live Dance Performance
  50. See a Play
  51. Attend Community Theatre
  52. See a Comedian
  53. Watch an Improv Show
  54. Take a Cooking Class
  55. Install New Floors
  56. Buy a Master Bedroom Set
  57. Organize the Cave
  58. Take a Class at REI
  59. Visit the Art Museum
  60. View a Photography Exhibit
  61. Cook Through Paleo by Season
  62. Update our Passports
  63. Create an Office Space for Ben
  64. Establish a Sewing Area
  65. Add a Food and Water Supply to our Emergency Kit
  66. Go Roller Skating
  67. Build a Dollhouse
  68. Complete Several “Walking Albuquerque” Tours
  69. Memorialize Ashes
  70. Render Lard
  71. Put Pins in a World Map
  72. Visit a Dog Park
  73. Organize the Laundry Room
  74. Attend Russian High Tea at The Heathman
  75. Thrift/Rent Holiday Decor
  76. Complete a Whole 30
  77. Reorganize our Camping/Outdoor Equipment
  78. Set up a Reading Tracker for Lucy
  79. See Holiday Lights
  80. Binge-Watch the “Lord of the Ring” Films
  81. Re-Home Art from the Beach House
  82. File our Stack of Paper
  83. Escape to a Winter Cabin
  84. Complete More Oregon Coast Quests
  85. Ben: Set Up the Theater Room
  86. Ben: Go on a Snow Retreat with Lucy
  87. Ben: Work Through SICP
  88. Ben: Speak at a Conference
  89. Ben: Teach a Class
  90. Ben: Smoke Some Food
  91. Ben: Take a Blacksmithing Class
  92. Becky: Make Pillow Case Dresses for Africa
  93. Becky: Keep a “Better than Before” Journal
  94. Becky: Read Through my “Read Later” Shelf
  95. Becky: Engage the Services of a Personal Trainer
  96. Becky: Learn Something
  97. Becky: Complete More of the Oregon Coast Trail
  98. Becky: Make a Hand-Stitched Christmas Stocking
  99. Becky: Refashion Some Things
  100. Post the “100 Things in 2018” list

#100: Post the 100 Things in 2017 List

Well, we did it again. 100 whole Things. They’re not the Things we started with, though, and we almost didn’t make it.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

This year was hard for us. Becky and I both lost a parent. Halfway through the year we made a drastic and difficult change with Will. We moved. Lucy changed schools. Becky’s hip injury and chronic stress led to a near-complete stress/fatigue/anxiety breakdown. I changed jobs. Notice how many of these things are on the list of the most stressful things that can happen to a person.

Honestly, we talked about giving up several times. We were way behind, and had to replace some of our most interesting Things with far easier items. Every time we did this, we asked ourselves “is this really 100 Things anymore?”

But every time we asked that, we went back to first principles. 100 Things isn’t about achievement, and it’s not about follow-through. It’s about keeping our lives interesting, and keeping our personal momentum going. As long as we’re the ones in charge of the list, it’s still authentically us, and it’s still worth it.

In the end, we’re glad we stuck with it. We feel really good about doing this, and things are looking up. Becky’s starting to recover from her injury and getting her emotional stamina back. Will is in the right place, getting all the things he needs. My new job is great, and they seem as happy with me as I am with them. Lucy is absolutely thriving at her new school. Our house is feeling like a home.

So we’re not quitting. In fact, we have a fresh batch of 100 Things for 2017. Just don’t expect the list we start with to be the one we finish with.

#36: Make a Photo-Every-Day Book

We make a concerted effort to treasure the memories we’re collecting. Adventures are only worthwhile if you remember them!

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

This year we tried something different. We collected one photo for every day of the year, and we’re using Chatbooks to make a book out of them. We’ll report back once the book arrives. Here’s a sampling of our planning process:



Most years we make a “100 Things” book from this blog, and a photo book for each of the kids. This method offers a different slice of the year than those do, and we look forward to all the memories we’ll have when we get it.

#16: Explore a New Part of the USA – New Mexico

We like to get to know places, and with Will at the Sandhill Center, we’ve had quite a bit of time to get to know Albuquerque.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Albuquerque is older than you think it is. Records show its founding in 1706, long before the United States of America was even an idea. It isn’t an especially big or picturesque town, but there’s a lot here to like. The weather is honestly very pleasant most of the time. Sure, the temperature gets up over 100° in the summer, but it’s a dry heat, so it’s bearable. Becky and I did a hike in 95° weather at one point, and didn’t even die!

There’s a college, and all the eclectic art and coffeeshops that come with that. There’s an old town area, and a more modern downtown. And there’s a Rita’s, which has become a tradition ever since we discovered its existence. New Mexican food is a category all its own, and we’ve found a couple of spots that we can tell you about if you’re ever in this part of the world.


#5: Straubsmas in Albuquerque

Will’s been at Sandhill for six months now, and we’ve reached the point in his stay where we can add Lucy to a visit every now and again. This trip happened just after Christmas, so we adjusted our family traditions to fit the time and space available.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

We’ve never been able to show photos of the house where Will lives, because there are 12 boys living there, and it was hard to get photos without faces in them. This time there was only one other boy there, so we were able to get some photos while Will gave Lucy the grand tour. He showed her the horses, the cats, the squeeze machine, all the living spaces, the exercise room, and the chair hammock.

We celebrated Christmas at our Airbnb. We didn’t have 12 days to spread gifts over, so we adjusted our pattern: “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. And an adventure. (And a couple of something-elses.)”

We brought our little tiny tree for the kids to decorate together, and Will had made some origami animal ornaments. Among other things, they each opened a new set of PJs (of course) and some new clothes, Will got a weighted blanket, and Lucy got contributions towards a giant dollhouse.

The “something to read” was a trip to a local bookstore! They each picked out two books from Downtown Books (a fascinating warren of twisty little passages) and three more from the thrift store!

We also mixed in a walk in Tiguex (“teeg-way”) Park, worked our way through the outdoor exercise machines, and the kids scrambled all over the playground for a while.

This visit was really good, it was nice to be all back together again. Lucy and Will had really missed each other, and they had a great time playing together in person. Happy holidays, everyone!

#31: Sandia Peak Tramway

Even after visiting Albuquerque 6 times, we’re still finding fun and interesting things to do. This one was the “Adventure” gift for Straubsmas 2016!

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

The Sandia Peak Tramway is a gondola-car ride that takes you from the outskirts of Albuquerque up to the top of Sandia Peak, a 4,000-foot climb in 15 minutes. It’s pretty spectacular.

When you get to the top, you step out and it’s 20-30° colder, and there’s snow on the ground. You can gaze over the entirety of Albuquerque in one direction, and there’s a little ski area on the east side! We looked around for a bit, then headed back down to Earth.

Super great thing to do, it’s one of our favorite memories from this trip.

#96: Becky – Read 100 Books

This is my second year setting my sights on reading 100 books, and I’ve discovered that it’s too many.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Given the unforeseen circumstances this year has provided, it was extremely difficult to finish this challenge. In addition to being really ambitious, it turns out that reading this many books means I don’t consume stories in other ways – I don’t read magazines or blogs or listen to podcasts as much as I’d like, because I have to be reading books. Don’t expect this to show up on the 2017 list.


But I did finish! In case you’re curious, here are the books I listened to or read this year (some of them are audio books):

  1. The 5th Wave, Rick Yancy
  2. Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food & Longing, Anya von Bremzen
  3. The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs
  4. The Good Mother Myth, Avital Norman Nathman
  5. Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl: A Memoir, Susan McCorkindale
  6. My Life on the Road, Gloria Steinem
  7. Troubled Waters, Sharon Shinn
  8. Garlic & Sapphires, Ruth Reichl
  9. A Spool of Blue Thread, Anne Tyler
  10. Royal Airs, Sharon Shinn
  11. Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers, Nick Offerman
  12. Understood Betsy, Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  13. The Guinea Pig Diaries, A.J. Jacobs
  14. Such a Pretty Fat, Jen Lancaster
  15. Here is New York, E.B. White
  16. Wildflower, Drew Barrymore
  17. Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse, Alida Nugent
  18. Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family, Patricia Volk
  19. Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, Shel Silverstein
  20. The Housemaid’s Daughter, Barbara Mutch
  21. The Martian, Andy Weir
  22. Yes Please, Amy Poehler
  23. Because I Said So!, Ken Jennings
  24. Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China, Jen Lin-Liu
  25. Things I Want to Punch in the Face, Jennifer Worick
  26. Revenge of the Lawn, Richard Brautigan
  27. Drop Dead Healthy, A.J. Jacobs
  28. Happily Ali After, Ali Wentworth
  29. Homer Price, Robert McCloskey
  30. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, Carrie Brownstein
  31. A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
  32. Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff
  33. Hector and the Search for Happiness, Francois Lelord
  34. Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days!, Stephen Manes
  35. The Year of Miss Agnes, Kirkpatrick Hill
  36. Wingman, Daniel Pinkwater
  37. Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Leanne Shapton
  38. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, Neil Patrick Harris
  39. Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  40. The Bedwetter, Sarah Silverman
  41. Kindred Souls, Patricia MacLachlan
  42. Navel Gazing, Michael Ian Black
  43. Miss Fortune, Lauren Weedman
  44. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
  45. Bright Lights, Big Ass, Jen Lancaster
  46. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast
  47. You’re Not Doing it Right, Michael Ian Black
  48. Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, Debra Ollivier
  49. Good In Bed, Jennifer Weiner
  50. Stolen Innocence, Elissa Wall
  51. Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue, Kathryn R. Simpson
  52. The Opposite of Spoiled, Ron Lieber
  53. Escape, Carolyn Jessup
  54. The V-Word, Amber J. Keyser
  55. The Witness Wore Red, Rebecca Musser
  56. The Dirty Life, Kristin Kimball
  57. Locally Laid, Lucie B. Amundsen
  58. Triumph, Carolyn Jessup
  59. The Year of Reading Dangerously, Andy Miller
  60. Medium Raw, Anthony Bourdain
  61. Troublemaker, Leah Remini
  62. Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes
  63. Instant Mom, Nia Vardalos
  64. Beyond Belief, Jenna Miscavige Hill
  65. Dear Girls Above Me, Charlie McDowell
  66. Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It, Various
  67. The Star of Kazan, Eva Ibbotson
  68. The Hundred Dresses, Eleanor Estes
  69. Rabid, Bill Wasik
  70. Moranthology, Caitlin Moran
  71. My Mad Fat Diary, Rae Earl
  72. Eating on the Wild Side, Jo Robinson
  73. The City of Mirrors, Justin Cronin
  74. The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder
  75. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer
  76. Judy’s Journey, Lois Lenski
  77. Owls in the Family, Farley Mowat
  78. My Antonia, Willa Cather
  79. Well Fed Weeknights, Melissa Jouwlan
  80. Paleo Soups and Stews, Simone Miller
  81. World War Z, Max Brooks
  82. American Savage, Dan Savage
  83. Stories I Only Tell My Friends, Rob Lowe
  84. D.V., Diana Vreeland
  85. Good Clean Fun, Nick Offerman
  86. Against All Grain Celebrations, Danielle Walker
  87. Peppermints in the Parlor, Barbara Brooks Wallace
  88. Dirty Daddy, Bob Sagat
  89. Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick
  90. Paleo By Season, Peter Servold
  91. The Language of Food, Dan Jurafsky
  92. Devil in the Details, Jennifer Traig
  93. Talking With My Mouth Full, Gail Simmons
  94. Where am I Now?, Mara Wilson
  95. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, & So-Called Hospitality, by Jacob Tomsky
  96. The Care & Keeping of You 1, Valorie Schaefer
  97. Wisconsin Death Trip, Michael Lesy
  98. The Geography of Bliss, Eric Weiner
  99. Food Freedom Forever, Melissa Hartwig
  100. The Paleo Cure, Chris Kresser