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2018 Year In Review

It’s time to stop opening these annual posts by talking about how short the year was because I feel like I just wrote that a few days ago… see what I did there? Let’s dive right into some of the highlights:

Dad and Mom have been out here for a few Easters in a row and this last one was no exception. During their trip, we got to go sailing with Larry from our church. Tyla and I have been out with him once before but this was a first for Dad, Mom and Elijah. The weather was cool but much nicer than should be expected for early April.

Disneyland! (And here’ a link to our trip video.) Tyla and I have talked about this since before we were married and this finally felt like the right year to do it. Being a bit of a tightwad on this stuff, I spent a lot of time researching and in the end I felt like every minute of that time was worthwhile. We felt relaxed going through the parks but I feel like we got to do more during that time than most people and the one day break in the middle of the two park days was perfect. Elijah was amazing and hardly complained at all. We spent the entire day in the park on both of our park days. It exceeded my wildest dreams for how smoothly the trip could go!

In June we headed to the shore with Tyla’s family. Since we were in Washington, that still meant that we were wearing winter coats, but the sun was shining. When people talk about Washington they often comment on how few mosquitoes there are. On that trip, we learned that this isn’t quite true. Washington has as many mosquitoes as other states. The difference is that in Washington, all of the mosquitoes congregate on the hike that we took. I’ve never seen anything like it.

We were supposed to go camping with Tyla’s family this summer, but since Don ended up being out of town for much of the year, we canceled it and replaced it with a day trip to San Juan Island. That ferry ride is always gorgeous and it was fun to go on a couple very short hikes and have lunch at San Juan Island Brewery.

Aside from Disneyland, the biggest thing I’ll remember about 2018 was our massive home improvement project. We had the siding and windows completely replaced and obviously got a new coat of paint when it was done. We were happy with the quality and had a good relationship with the contractors, but man, it took a long time! The original estimate was that it would start the first week of April and be done by mid-May. Yada yada yada, it didn’t wrap up until August. That made a huge different in the shape of our summer, but thankfully, it’s over now. It feels good to have that huge expense behind us.

Elijah was too big for the hiking backpack so it was up to him to use his own two feet. I picked Twin Falls for his first hike and that was a big success. It was awesome to see the look of accomplishment on his face! I did one hike with Logan to beautiful Lake 22, a hike to Independence and Coal Lakes with Tyla, Elijah and Logan (that one had an awesome road to the trailhead), and then a hike around Crystal with Elijah and Tyla’s whole family. When Elijah was in the right mindset, he could do some impressive distances. I hope we can do a lot more next year! There are no shortages of amazing sights to see and I feel like part of my daddy duty is getting him off the concrete and carpet.

Speaking of Elijah, he had some big spills on his bike and scooter. The first was on his first attempt to ride down a hill at a skate park on his scooter. That one tore my heart because he was so excited to try and tried so hard to not cry in front of the big boys. The next accident was less than 48 hours before our trip to Disneyland. That thankfully didn’t require a doctor visit before the trip, but the second one was much more severe. He wiped out going around a slippery corner. He was riding behind me so I didn’t see it but I heard it and immediately knew it was bad. I got to him in a flash but his shirt was already covered in blood. Bad sign. To make a long story short, we ended up in the hospital to deal with a big split in his chin. They patched that up with fancy super glue and after about a week and a half he was back to normal (where “normal” now means “full face helmet”.)

Tyla and I had our first full weekend away from Elijah too. Mom stayed with Elijah at our house while Tyla and I headed to Hood River for a marriage retreat put on by our group of churches. What an awesome weekend! We missed Elijah but it was a great chance to strengthen our relationship and get a big block of time together. The retreat happens every two years and I think we’d book the next one now if we could.

Like the guy in Monty Python, my blog is saying, “But I’m not dead yet!” I have continued to sustain the trickle of posts every week. I’m happy I gave up on the “blog post every day” pace I was at before, but I do still feel like this is slipping away from me. Maybe it’s just a function of getting older, but when I have something to share, I find myself wanting to do an Instagram post instead of a blog post. Our family has a bunch of accounts that you can follow: benwmartens, tylammartens, elijahmartens, martenswoodshop, and elijahmakes. I have no plans to stop this site, but I can see the posts continuing to slow down. We’ll see how it goes.

For seven of the last eight years, I’ve been a trustee at church. (That basically means I’m a property manager.) This will be the last year for a while as next year I start a three year term as elder (someone who helps with church nurturing, growth and discipline). I expect it will take similar amounts of time but it will be a change of pace and maybe it will mean that I’ll trade extra trips to church for a little more time spent at home working on the computer and the phone.

I stopped all woodworking projects in early April in preparation for the siding project. The windows were getting stored in the garage so that meant a bunch of other stuff ended up in my shop area. As that dragged on longer than expected, I was happy to see the last window finally disappear from the garage in July and I jumped back on the woodworking train. So a quarter of my year was lost, but I still managed to make some fun projects: side tables for the theater room, a walnut box to hold a Retro Pie, robot art with Elijah, a curly maple box, a cross made out of a tree I cut down, a wooden pixel Mario, a name puzzle, a wooden skid steer toy, built-in cabinets for the shop, and a plaque for Don’s Navy clock. The big addition to the shop was a CNC machine. That was in brand new so stay tuned for some early thoughts coming soon.

Looking ahead to 2019, the biggest thing on my mind is Elijah going into first grade. He’s at our church preschool and kindergarten this year, but the school stops with kindergarten. So whether we choose the public school or a private school, it’s going to be a huge change for our family. It’s comforting to know that God already has it planned out so I just need to keep my ears open and make sure I follow down that path.

Previous Year In Review Posts: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Merry Christmas

LUKE 2
THE BIRTH OF JESUS

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Black Friday

I don’t go much for Black Friday sales, but there was a time that I tried to survive the mob and I realized that story hasn’t appeared on this site before…

I believe it was my junior year of college (Nov 2000) when I decided I wanted to buy a sound system, DVD player and TV for our dorm room. All of it was pretty entry level stuff but it was going to be a major upgrade! I went shopping at Best Buy and figured out what I wanted. The sales guy hinted that there were going to be some big sales on Black Friday so I decided I’d wait and save some money.

Dad kindly waited with me that morning. I don’t remember the specifics but I think we got there around 5am and it was below 20 degrees. We were about 10th or so in line and we waited for hours for the store to open. As the doors open, everyone mobbed the doors and pushed their way in so we probably weren’t the 10th people to get in. Dad and I had a plan so we went directly for the stuff we wanted, grabbed it and reconvened. That maybe took 60 seconds, but the store was already completely full. It took forever (half an hour?) to make it back to the cash registers.

As the cashier rang up my total, I happily said, “How much did I save?” … “Save? Nothing. None of this was on sale.”

Yep, we waited in the freezing cold for hours to save… nothing. The TV and DVD player are long gone, but that sound system has traveled all over the country with me and is currently in our theater room (complete with birdseed and a mouse carcass inside the subwoofer but that’s a story for another day.) I think about that Black Friday regularly when I flip on the sound system. Thank you, Dad, for suffering through that with me and not giving me grief.

255 Life

Aside from the campus bus service while I was at Purdue, I’ve never lived close to convenient public transport until I moved into our current house. All I have to do is walk up to the stop light and I can hop on the 255 bus that takes me all the way, non-stop, to downtown Seattle. It’s like the bus route was designed for us. It stops at the Kirkland waterfront and the Kirkland train store before making its way across I-90 to Pike Place Market and and Pioneer Square. We don’t use the bus a lot, but wow, that’s a pretty convenient one.

Unfortunately it sounds like that’s going to change when they redesign the bus routes. If you live on the east side, there’s a survey to fill out so you can share your thoughts on the changes.

Thankfully I already have a general ban on going into Seattle and this helps to enforce it.

Lego Old Fishing Store

My birthday was a couple weeks ago and I received a lot of nice gifts. Thank you! However, I had a little extra smile when I opened the joint gift from Tyla and Elijah because I couldn’t remember the last time that I received something that was nothing other than a toy. They got me the giant Old Fishing Store Lego set!

After putting together the Lego Diner earlier this summer, I put that fishing set on my wish list. These big sets are so much fun and it’s great to spend time with Elijah working on it. The fishing village came out a while back but it’s always stuck in my mind for the insane level of detail. After assembling it, I can say that it lived up to my expectations! And as with the diner set, I’m not going to post my own photos because plenty are available online. I also recommend that you watch the JANGBRiCKS video review.

It’s hard to say whether I like this set more or less than the diner. On the plus side, this has more detail crammed into a smaller space. On the downside, a bunch of that detail comes from specialized pieces. Both the diner and this fishing store have lots of studs-on-the-side construction to support siding on the walls but the fishing store has an interesting take on it. The whole structure is built to look old so some of the siding pieces are put on at an angle. It’s a neat effect.

When I built the diner I thought it would be a one-and-done thing. But now I have two. Hmm…