#82: Ben – Weightlifting App

Every once in a while, the skillset I’ve honed over 15 years in software development helps me out in my everyday life. If I were a carpenter or a plumber or a diesel mechanic, this would probably happen a lot more often, but given how weirdly divorced my profession is from the real world, I’m just glad it happens at all.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2018 challenge. Make sure to click on the photos!

I’ve been doing Crossfit for a while, and part of the program is weightlifting. When I first started, I had a paper notebook where I kept a log of what movement I was doing, how much weight, and how many reps. Then, the next time I did that movement, I’d have some idea of how much I could do. For example, if I deadlifted 185 lbs. in a set of 5 last week, I can probably do 195 in a set of 3 this week, and maybe more. This is much better than complete guesswork.

For a while I was going to a gym where this wasn’t so important; most of the movements were body weight, or light weight with lots of reps, and we’d do them maybe once a month, so writing them down seemed silly. But now I’m back at a Crossfit gym, and it has once again become useful to know how much I deadlifted last week.

Pen and paper would work, but it’s hard to search. So I wrote a simple web page where I can record my lifts, and look for them later.


You can use it too! Head over to weights.straub.cc, click Login, and provide a Google identity. If you’re nerdy like me, you can look at the source code, too.



December Misc Roundup

Lucy did a baking project with her friend Soha; she participated in the boys-in-pink day at school; and she and Will had fun tromping around the newly-frozen backyard.

I went to my last few workouts at the soon-to-be-closed Fit Ave, and I made a paleo gingerbread cake, and channeling the Great British Bake Off, topped it with fancy Italian meringue icing.

Becky and her sister helped sort through her dad’s medals and awards from TriMet, and some fun Polaroids from a holiday party she and Lucy attended.

The pups loved us; Hank is the neighborhood watch; and he made a friend at Camp Bradley.


#32: Replace all Four Toilets

Our new house has some mysteries to it. Why was it built with such inadequate drainage? What’s the deal with the really-cheap kitchen sink? And why, in a 10-year-old house, are there 20-year-old toilets?

This is part of our 100 Things in 2018 challenge. Make sure to click on the photos!

Now I’ve replaced toilets before, but usually it happens one at a time. This house has four bathrooms, all of which needed a new throne. Those old toilets had problems flushing, ran constantly, and they were loud, none of which we wanted to keep long-term.

So Lucy and I trucked to Costco, and bought all of the one-piece toilets they had in stock. Then I had to figure out how to tear out the old ones, and prepare the area for the new ones. This took a bit of time, and replacing the first toilet took the better part of a day.

It was somewhat smoother sailing after that. Having made all my mistakes on the first one, each of the others took about 1-2 hours each.

These new things are quiet, don’t run unless you just flushed them, use much less water, and are just generally more pleasant to be around. This isn’t one of our most impressive or adventurous list items this year, but it is one of the more satisfying.

Lucy’s December

Lucy is pretty busy in general, but December was an especially action-packed month. At school, she had her “culminating event,” which is when her class invites all the parents in to show them what they’ve been learning and working on for the last 10 weeks or so. Their theme this time was the solar system, and their projects included papier-mâché rockets and planets, and converting part of their classroom into a spaceship.

They even built a scale model of the entire solar system on the school grounds, and gave a guided tour! Lucy’s planet was Mars, and she and her partner Lennon wrote a little speech about it.

She also took her Taekwondo belt test and passed, earning her green-with-black-stripe belt!

We’re very proud of her. Lucy is a great kid.


#19: Live Music

In most years, doing this Thing means going to a concert. But when our friend invited us to the “best pizzeria in Ridgefield” to see her cousin play the accordion, we decided that actually fits the bill nicely.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2018 challenge. Make sure to click on the photos!


It’s amazing how much live accordion music adds to the casual-Italian-restaurant atmosphere. Good friends, good food, and good music make for a very enjoyable evening.

12 Days of Christmas 2017


One of our favorite Christmas traditions is the 12 Days. It’s been a couple of years since we did this — last year we had to compress down to just 4 for a variety of reasons — so everyone was happy to see its return.

A small sampling of the prizes this year:

  • 3-year Q-and-A journals and nice pens
  • Crafting projects
  • New PJs and clothes
  • Meaningful tree ornaments
  • Bowling
  • A bazillion bookmarks
  • Jólabókaflóðið
  • A bevy of board games
  • A basic sport-court setup
  • Items from the UNICEF Market
  • A sous vide

…and more. Becky put her organizational skills to the test with this – it took a couple of months of sustained tiny efforts, and she has a whole Trello board to keep it under control. The success of this tradition is entirely hers.

#100: Post the “100 Things in 2018” list

Whew, what a year! Doing the 100 Things has always been a challenge, but this year was particularly hard for us to get across the finish line. But we did it, and we weren’t writing blog posts up until 11:45pm on December 31!

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge.

100badge52.pngOne challenge we’ve had with the 2018 edition of the list is that it feels like the lists are, if not repeating, maybe rhyming. We’ve got a few items that repeat year after year, and although the details differ, the main theme is still the same, and we wonder if that’s a little less interesting than the alternative. We’re thinking about changing some of these up a bit. Stay tuned.

It’s been quite a journey, but we’re still glad that we do this. With this 2018 list, we’ve now posted five 100-things lists, and it’s hard to imagine our lives without it. It’s the central theme for our family life – if we ever have kids that are dragging their feet out the door, or wondering why we’re getting into the car for the fourth time that day, all we have to say is “this is for a Hundred Thing!” and they spring into action. So yeah, this is part of our family identity now, and it’s not going anywhere.

With that, here’s the official 2018 100 Things list. Please wish us luck, and be on the lookout for the announcement of our podcast (#50 on the list)!

100 Things in 2018

This is our fifth time doing this! (Here are 201420152016, and 2017) 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.

We always post on this blog (you can subscribe for email updates here), and usually on Twitter and Instagram with the #hundredthings hashtag.

The rules

  1. Every Thing must be completed by 11:59 pm on December 31, 2018.
  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: 0/100

  1. Redo the master closet
  2. Family Portrait Wall (for reals this time)
  3. Ben’s Christmas adventure (TBD)
  4. Emergency kit: water/food
  5. Firefly marathon
  6. Parent retreats (2 each)
  7. Family photo albums
  8. Reading day
  9. Legacy folders
  10. “Try the World” meals (3)
  11. Read a parenting book: Untangled
  12. AFI Top 100 Films #36-48
  13. “100 Things 2017” book
  14. Roadside America: 50 points of interest
  15. Oregon Coast Quests
  16. Surprise trip planned by Ben
  17. Surprise date planned by Ben
  18. Live dance performance
  19. Live music performance
  20. Stage play
  21. Photo exhibit
  22. Attend a Ridgefield First Saturday Event
  23. Attend a Sporting Event
  24. Eat at a Portland Monthly Restaurant of the Year
  25. Road trip with a destination (Coeur d’Alene, ID)
  26. Road trip with no destination
  27. Get to know a new beach town (Cannon Beach)
  28. Visit a new-to-us country
  29. Volunteer
  30. Leash training for Hank
  31. Visit a new-to-us US city
  32. Replace 4 toilets!
  33. Urban adventure quest (Vancouver)
  34. Children’s theatre show
  35. Organize the costumes and games
  36. Broadway Musical
  37. Hang art on the walls
  38. Watch 12 documentaries
  39. Patronize 3 new Vancouver eateries
  40. Take in a comedy show at the Kiggins
  41. See 4 independent films at Kiggins
  42. “Rent” thrifted holiday decor
  43. Start camping again
  44. Host a dinner party
  45. Set up an outdoor dining area
  46. Do 6 local hikes
  47. Visit the Oregon Pacific Railroad Museum & Ride
  48. Visit Fort Vancouver
  49. Make a bonfire on the beach
  50. Start a podcast
  51. Park both cars in garage as a rule
  52. Long distance hike
  53. Holiday charity gifts
  54. Add 2 more monthly charities
  55. Take a food class
  56. Unusual lodging
  57. Organize the garage/workshop
  58. Becky’s Christmas adventure (TBD)
  59. Remodel the kitchen
  60. Install new floors
  61. Gardner Gala costumes
  62. Go to Wings & Waves
  63. Set up the office
  64. Love Letters
  65. Back a Kickstarter or Indiegogo every month
  66. Go roller skating
  67. Finish the dollhouse
  68. Hold weekly family meetings
  69. Memorialize ashes
  70. Send holiday cards
  71. Sunday fun night
  72. Go to a dog park
  73. Paint the house (interior)
  74. Paint the house (exterior)
  75. Monthly purge
  76. Cirque du Soleil on ice
  77. Reorganize the camping equipment
  78. Go to Silverwood Theme Park
  79. Will: move home
  80. Will: start at a new school
  81. Lucy: start a crafting club
  82. Ben: write a weightlifting app
  83. Ben: Geek Dad activities (6)
  84. Ben: British baking (6)
  85. Ben: speak at a conference
  86. Ben: reserve a Tesla
  87. Ben: blacksmith class
  88. Ben: ship a side project
  89. Ben: cure some meat
  90. Ben: work through SICP
  91. Becky: finish the Christmas stockings
  92. Becky: breast reduction surgery
  93. Becky: hike to the summit of Mt St. Helens
  94. Becky: road trip with my dad
  95. Becky: start a cookbook club
  96. Becky: make a book wreath for the library
  97. Becky: go on a sisters’ retreat
  98. Becky: hike more of the OCT
  99. Becky: create art book for Dorothy’s Maple Dreams
  100. Post the 2019 list

#96: Becky – Mom’s Blog into Book

Between 2008 and 2015, my mom kept a personal blog. This was separate from her art blog, and it’s where she wrote daily musings about her sewing, gardening, and baking projects; her foray into veganism; her and my dad’s travels and home improvement. Oh, and there was a lot written about her grandkids.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Click on the photos for a closer look!

This is a really intimate glimpse into the mind of my mother, and now that she’s gone, it’s important to me to have a copy that I can pull down and flip through. So I did.

As it happens, we only barely rescued it; Google was about to delete it for inactivity when I started this project, and if I had waited even three more days to start, none of this would have been possible. The biggest struggle I faced with this project was finding a company to print the book. I ended up using Into Real Pages for this (back before their website broke), since they were the only service that could deliver such a large volume – breaking it into multiple books would have been too expensive, since I wanted to make 6 copies (one each for my dad and each of his children).

I spent a lot of time on this, tweaking layout and type and design to allow my mom’s voice and vision to live on. It was worth it. My dad bought all the books, and gave one to each of his children for Christmas, so now every household has this hefty chunk of Grandma Dorothy’s musings.

#78: Lucy – Reading Tracker & Book Challenge

When Lucy saw Becky setting reading goals in 2015 and 2016, she wanted to start one of her own. So this year we set her up with a GoodReads tracker and a 50-book challenge, which seemed ambitious, but doable. We completely underestimated her.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Click on the photos for a closer look!

As of today, Lucy’s Goodreads account shows 408 books read in total, with 124 of those in 2017 alone! Here are just some of the books she read this year:

We should note that use of the GoodReads service is intended for people over the age of 13, so we treat this as supervised access to an account that belongs to one of us, and she is only allowed to be “friends” with the two of us. For Lucy’s purposes, this works perfectly, since she can enter her ratings for books, and once she’s old enough to agree to the terms herself, she’ll have her entire history right there.

We looooove raising avid readers, so this has been really gratifying for us. Here’s to more challenges in the future!