January Misc Round Up

Lucy has been very busy. She graduated two levels in swimming (and is now in the highest level this facility offers!), she helps cook and make coffee, loves to sew and make banana sharks, and we all finally met Sam & Grace’s newest baby, Addie!

She also earned her yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do! It was fun watching her perform during the test.

Becky retreated to the beach with friends for a few days. One morning they woke up to snow, which is nigh unheard-of in Newport. She’s allergic to cats, but made a friend anyways. She even Facetimed in to help Lucy choose outfits for the week. Unfortunately she arrived home sick, so got to hang out in bed for a few days.

My dad Roger passed away in December, and I flew to Denver for his memorial, and to spend some long-overdue time with family. While I was there, my mom gave me the box of papers and artifacts she’d been saving since my childhood, and there were some real treasures.

Will’s therapist Martha surprised us with some photos she had taken. The first few are from Lucy’s first visit to Sandhill, when we met all the horses and cats. The last three are from shortly after we headed home, when Will was having some animal therapy, which is one of his favorite things about Sandhill.


#47: Children’s Theater

We really enjoy the theater. It’s one of our favorite things, and we’ve successfully passed that appreciation on to our children, whom we take with us whenever we can. So when we won two free tickets in a drawing at Lucy’s school’s harvest festival, we knew who to take.

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

We attended a performance of The Tail of Sleeping Beauty (with puppets), and it was marvelous. The set design, the puppets, the show-within-a-show trope were all well played, and we had a great time.

This is seriously one of the best places to take kids in Portland. They put on kid-friendly shows all the time (we also saw The Wizard of Oz), tickets aren’t terribly expensive (the best seats are $25), and they really do a great job.

#14: Volunteer – Blessing Bags

In addition to contributing to several charities and causes we believe in, we also wanted to do something a bit more tangible to help other people. When Lucy’s school announced they’d be doing blessing bags, we signed right up.

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

The idea of a blessing bag is simple: put some things that are useful and not necessarily easy to come by into a bag, and give it to someone in need. The organizer of this event had gathered things like band-aids, socks, lip balm, and toothbrushes for our bags.

We set up an assembly line where someone could grab a bag, walk around to all the tables (stuffing one thing from each table into their bag), drop off their stuffed bag, and walk 10 feet to grab another empty bag. Every kid from 1st grade on up ran the circuit.

With almost the entire student body running the circuit, we put together about 500 bags in just under 40 minutes. We helped a bunch of people, and it was fun.

January Snowmageddon 2017

It began to snow on Wednesday, January 11, and it didn’t stop for two days. By the time it did, we had about 11 inches sticking to the ground, which puts this storm up there with the 2008 and 1950 storms.

Everything shut down – this area isn’t really equipped for snow at all, really, and the number of plows isn’t nearly enough to keep the main streets open. Lucy’s school and extracurriculars were canceled for a whole week, and everybody’s appointments were postponed.

It was beautiful when it stopped. We put on our tallest boots and warmest coats, and went looking for trees to shake. Lucy built a snow fort, and went for a walk on our front-yard waterfall pond.

One of our neighbors inexplicably owns a snowblower, and we were able to borrow it long enough to clear out most of our driveway before the other neighbors found out and wanted a turn.

Since Becky and I work from home, we didn’t lose much time. Our internet and power never went out, and we had just finished a big Costco trip and cookup, so we didn’t have to leave for anything.

By the time it was over, we were ready for the snow and slush to be gone, but for a couple of days, it was pure magic.

December Misc Round up

Lucy’s class put on a play they wrote and directed themselves! It was a reenactment of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and they did a fantastic job.

We had a snow day or two, and managed to survive despite not really being prepared at all.

Becky went to a festive baby shower party and ended up with a fantastic new holiday sweater; Lucy and I hit Mod Pizza for dinner, and our new flooring started to be installed.

Cute Puppy Time

This first snap is Hank and his best friend Max at the dog sitters’ house. Play hard, sleep hard.

#76: Complete a Whole 30

We’ve been keeping to a modified version of the paleo diet since 2011. It’s been working really well for us, and since we’re not too dogmatic about it (we make exceptions for special occasions or regional specialties), we mostly succeed in sticking to the plan.

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

But 2016 was a real challenge. The whole year was filled with stress, so we found ourselves grabbing take-out more often, and comfort snacking. We got out of the habit of choosing to stay paleo, and by the end of the year we pretty much weren’t anymore.

One thing that usually helps us to get back on track is to do a Whole 30. By going super strict with eating rules, we get to reset our expectations and gut biomes to the place where we’re the happiest and most effective. We do one of these every year or so; usually not a full 30 days, but as much as we can fit in between commitments that make it really hard to stick with it, always at least 10 days.


This year we did it for 12.We made sure to not frame it as a failure if we didn’t make it to day 30, and the great thing about that is if we feel like we need another reset we can just do another one. It feels like we’re something resembling paleo again, and we’ll be back to our old selves soon. We also took into account our personality types, and wrote down some food rules that we can stick to, so we don’t fall back into our 2016 patterns again.

P.S. — The thing we miss the most on a Whole 30? Cream in our coffee. Mmmmm.

#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: 5/100

  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. Volunteer
  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