Snow Storm Recap

We survived Snowmaggedon 2019! February was the third coldest February on record in Seattle and all that cold weather meant that our normally wet weather ended up being snow. The snow kept coming and coming over many days and schools were closed for the majority of two straight weeks. The official total ended up being around 20″ which puts it just behind the 2008 storm and almost double the 2012 storm.

Thankfully it didn’t have a huge effect on us other than some canceled school days. We had plenty of food in the house and we were able to restock easily by walking down to Safeway. I kept waiting for the power to go out towards the end of the storm cycle when we had a really heavy snow, but it never went out for more than a few seconds. I guess I’ll have to keep waiting to use my fancy transfer switch that lets me plug the generator right into the electrical panel.

Elijah LOVED all the snow. He spent a ton of time outside with Tyla sledding down the street, building forts in the snow piles and playing with all the neighbor kids. A huge thanks goes out to Tyla for all the time she spent playing with him!

Big Decisions

There are points in my life where I’m faced with big decisions even though I feel largely unqualified to make the right choice. Two of those came up recently.

The first was “Where should we send Elijah to school?” Proximity to school through grade 8 was a big reason why we bought this house. It would be so nice to just walk out the door and be at school instead of dealing with traffic and commute time. But on the flip side, we’ve really been enjoying our experience at our church preschool and kindergarten. Tyla and I both attended WELS grade schools and we have reaped the benefits both spiritually and intellectually. There are some great WELS schools in the area but they are too far away to make them work.

At the marriage retreat last fall, we talked to a Pastor from our area who mentioned Zion Lutheran School up in Lake Stevens. It’s an LCMS school and after visiting it, we felt like God was nudging us in that direction. It will mean a ~30 minute commute one way to school, but it’s doable and we’re going to give it a shot. We don’t love it as much as we’ve loved the WELS schools and we’ll need to pay closer attention to the doctrine he’s taught, but we’re going to give it a go.

The second big issue arose after I popped my head up into the attic for my annual (well… less than that because I’m lazy) check of the crawl space and attic. I discovered obvious mold. I stared at it for quite a while before acknowledging that there was no way to ignore this and hope it went away. Thankfully, we found a contractor who has been great to work with and the remediation plan is well underway. We caught it plenty early so that no structural damage was done and there were no health concerns. Once we finish the remediation plan, there will be a lifetime warranty that gets transferred to future owners so I feel pretty good about the situation.

During the decision making processes, there was no avoiding the fact that both choices could have dramatic and long-reaching effects on our future. The school one was obviously more important, but making the wrong choice with the house could easily cost us tens of thousands of dollars in the short term or when we sell the house. Through it all, my prayer was always “Lord, you know the path I should take. I feel like you’re leading me to this choice. Please make it obvious if I’m supposed to choose something different.” God has it all planned out for us and it can feel like a shock when he reveals some of the bumps to us, but there’s comfort in knowing that he’s going to make it all work out for the best. (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11)

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


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.