#17: Surprise Date – Planned by Ben

At least once a year, we like to turn our tables. Ordinarily Becky is the planner, and I’m the maker-happener, but for one date every year I perform both roles, and Becky gets to be surprised.

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

This year we went to a tiny comedy show in Southeast Portland. We enjoyed drinks and tiny foods at Angel Face (where every cocktail is made on the spot just for you), sat and enjoyed the “Sincerity is Gross” comedy hour at the Slide Inn, and finished the evening off with some bowls of tasty ice cream at Fifty Licks.

I know, I know, nothing too spectacular. But there’s something to be said for some great drinks, quality time, and laughs, and I think Becky would say the same.

#4: Adult Open Choice

Among the treasures we bought at the Gardner Auction were two passes to an evening Gardner likes to call “Adult Open Choice” – essentially a choose-your-own-grownup-adventure with the kids’ teachers.

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

Becky took part in the “Succulents and Sours” activity, while I enjoyed the “Mystery Codes and Moscow Mules.” Since everyone loves a good puzzle, the party eventually filtered into my room, but not before everyone had their own kind of fun.

We had a great time, even though I forgot to take any photos whatsoever. Becky’s activity also provided our home with a nice little centerpiece, while mine only served to prove that none of us parents should be working for the NSA.

#87: Ben – Blacksmith Class

I sometimes get jealous of the awesome things our kids get to do through Trackers. Fortunately, I’m a grownup, and I can sign myself up for classes, too!

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

This adventure is in blacksmithing, taken through Trackers PDX. I packed a lunch and a couple liters of water and trucked down to southeast Portland for a day at the forge. This was my first time, so we started with the projects everyone does: hooks, barbecue skewers, a steak flipper, and a bottle opener. No swords (this time).


I really enjoyed spending a day learning a new craft. I’m not sure that I can make this part of my life, but that bottle opener is going to get plenty of use around here.


#46: Cafe Castagna Burger Before They Close

Becky has long said that the best burger she’s ever eaten came from Cafe Castagna. It was a revelation, she said, a moment that divided her life into the before and the after. And then Cafe Castagna announced that they were closing after 17 years, and she wasted no time in making a reservation.

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

Then life happened, and it turned out that Becky couldn’t make it for the reservation. So I picked Lucy up from her day at Trackers archery, and headed over just in time for opening. We ordered the burger, of course, as well as some bread and sumptuous butter, a generous and well-curated cheese plate, and a dessert of berry sorbet and ginger snap.

It was all delicious, of course. And Becky was right – this was a truly great burger. So we ordered one to go, and brought it home to a grateful Becky.

So long, Cafe Castagna. We hardly knew you, but we loved you all the same.

#47: Get a New Dog


Pugs are a very social breed of dog, so when we lost Scout earlier this year, it was no surprise that Hank started acting kind of depressed and lonely. We knew we needed to be a two-dog family again.

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

So Becky went on a dog search. She looked high and low for pug puppies that were old enough (but not too old) and within a two-day drive of us, and came up nearly empty. She did, however, find a French bulldog that was 8 months old (from a pug breeder), house trained, and up for adoption nearby.

This is Parker, our little cartoon drawing of a dog. When Becky brought her home, it was as though Parker said “this is where I live? AWESOME. Oh, that’s where the dog door is, cool, and the bathroom is just outside, right? Oh, this this my NEW BEST FRIEND? Wait, do I get BELLY SCRATCHES TOO?!?! BEST. DAY. EVER.” And then she ran around like crazy with Hank. And then she fell asleep.

(There’s a side story about how we almost ended up with a little black pug, but it’s too long to tell here. This is Parker’s post.)

We love her dearly, and she loves us. Hank loves playing with her, but it doesn’t quite seem natural to him to snuggle with her yet. He’ll get there, we’re sure. In the meantime, she will happily initiate snuggles with him.