– Ben Martens


Legends Confidence App Review

I don’t know about other parents, but Tyla and I often chat about ways to help Elijah build confidence. That’s probably what made the “Legends” app catch my attention. It’s a paid app, but that link includes a referral code which currently gets you a free month and we started with a similar code.

The idea is that you sit down with your child (ages 7-11) for about 5-7 minutes every day and go through the next coaching session. The coach is funny and approachable and many of the sessions draw on lessons from celebrities. For example, it might be helpful to know that Kobe Bryant wasn’t always good at basketball, he just worked harder than everyone else. Or it might help to know that Billie Eilish has to deal with anxiety about performing on stage. There are usually quick activities with the lessons like coming up with things you can say to downplay negative self-talk or words you can use to build yourself up.

I don’t know if we’ll continue to subscribe to the service or for how long, but this first free month has been great. I wouldn’t say Elijah necessarily looks forward to it, but he has never once given me the eye roll when I suggest that we do our daily session. That’s saying a lot.

So yes, the app is wonderful and I recommend it, but as a Christian I found myself wishing that there was more to it. It’s the same feeling I get when I listen to any secular self-help/counseling type of content. Jesus is the ultimate source of comfort, confidence, and peace. Without him, you’re grasping at straws. The whole experience made me wish that I had the time and skillset to work with some people in our church body to create something in a similar space but combine it with the Bible.

Leaping Lamb Farm Stay Review

You may remember that back in 2022 we spent a few days at a farm in Oregon. Shortly after we left, we booked another trip and this time we intentionally booked it for spring in hopes of seeing baby sheep and goats. Spring of 2023 was booked out so we had to book a year and a half out. I thought the wait might be too much for Tyla, but she made it.

We spent four nights at their cottage and had a blast again! Denny and Kate were the farm managers while we were there last time and unfortunately, they had moved on, but we enjoyed meeting farm owner Scottie and new farm manager TK. The last time we magically had the farm to ourselves but this time the bigger farmhouse had about 10 guests in it, but the farm is plenty big for everyone to spread out.

The goats were all born by the time we got there, but some of them were still very young. They were easily the highlight of the trip. Tyla and Elijah spent hours holding the goats and playing with them. Elijah would even go over to the goat yard by himself sometimes because he couldn’t get enough.

There were a lot of baby lambs already but six more were born on our first night. They give birth on their own without human intervention so it was a bit of a surprise every morning to walk out and see if there were any new babies. We helped tag some of them and castrate one of the boys. There were a lot of good opportunities to talk biology with Elijah!

Going in the spring was quite different than the summer. We traded time in the creek and wandering the property for time with the baby animals. Both were great experiences and we’d be hard pressed to choose which was our favorite. We’ll have to figure it out though because I’m sure we’ll be going back at some point!

Some pictures are included below but you can see more on Instagram @benwmartens.

Martens Memorial Day 1995

Our final installation in the series of videos from our Memorial Day family gatherings is from 1995. It looks like this Uncle Dean and Aunt Sandy’s family couldn’t come and apparently we didn’t take out the camera much. Most of the tape was a science show that Ryan and I recorded. We had quite a few different experiments with explanations of the science behind each one. I have mercifully cut most of that out of this quick recap for you.

Here is a quick reference list for all the YouTube videos:
Memorial Day 1990
Memorial Day 1991
Memorial Day 1993
Memorial Day 1995

Martens Memorial Day 1991

Last week I posted about our family Memorial Day celebrations from 1990, and now I finished editing another one. There are four of these total so I’ll see if I can do one a week. This next one is from 1991 and it was a year when it was warm enough to go swimming. It probably wasn’t very warm, but it was enough for us to enjoy swimming with cousins.

Martens Memorial Day 1990

When I was growing up, Memorial Days were a ton of fun. Most of Dad’s side of the family would get together at our house (about 20 people.) Some years it was warm enough to swim while other years we’d have cold and rain, but we would always have fun. For a few of the years, we had a video camera. The footage is far from stellar, but I stumbled on a digitized copy recently and decided to edit it down. Don’t expect a masterpiece, but it brings back fun memories for me as I watch it. There are some more that I’ll get around to editing and posting down the road.

2023 Year In Review

Didn’t I just write one of these? Do I really have a years worth of events to summarize? Let’s see what that looks like…

I felt like I had a lot fewer blog posts this year , and while it was down about 20% from the previous years, it wasn’t that far off the numbers I’ve done since coming off my “post every week day” routine. I think the difference I’m feeling is that a lot of my posts this year were on a single topic (Tesla.) I have no plans to change anything about my posting schedule here. I’ll continue to post when I have something that I think is worth sharing/documenting and I’m not going to worry much about gaps between posts.

The first thing that comes to mind for 2023 is all the driving we did. Our big family vacation was a ~2000 miles road trip to and from Moab. That trip exceeded my expectations. The scenery felt like the complete opposite of what we get around here, the weather was great, the hike planning worked out perfectly, and the excursions were a blast. So many things could have gone wrong and changed our plans but the whole trip “just worked.” I came back itching to get on the road and do something like that again… which was good because we got the chance again quickly when Tyla’s grandma passed away. We made another ~2000 mile round trip drive to Glasgow, MT. God kept us safe again over all those remote roads and we enjoyed our quick weekend with Tyla’s extended family.

Those two big trips weren’t the extent of our travel though. We also spent a week visiting my family in Indiana, drove to Canada, and went to an airshow at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. We had two camping trips, Lincoln Rock and Grayland Beach, but neither one of them involved our tent. We stayed in a cabin and a yurt which were both an enjoyable way to camp. Next year we’ll be getting the tent out again though. We also did a couple family hikes to Cedar Butte and Sheep Lake.

Usually all of our vacations are taken as a family, but this year I took one by myself to attend the PacNW Christian Men’s Retreat across the sound at Fort Flagler State Park. Men from all our affiliated church’s in the area get together to study, socialize, and relax. The speaker this year was Professor/Doctor/Pastor Mark Paustian and he was a joy to learn from. The whole experience was so good that I’m already signed up for next year’s event.

My list of projects is quite a bit shorter this year, but some of that is because I worked on some bigger/longer projects. There was the custom LED panel, the completion of an 18-month aerial timelapse, a segmented cherry bowl made on the CNC, a walnut wall clock, Halloween boxes, bandsaw deer, and a family sign.

Other than woodworking, my hobby time was mostly consumed with more disc golf, a surprising amount of 3d printing, and a LOT of piano playing. I have been playing more often for church services, and it takes me a long time to practice. I do feel like playing for services has gotten easier as I’ve gotten back into the groove of doing it regularly.

Church was very busy this year too. We now have a fully documented mission statement along with core priorities and goals. It has been great to see people rallying around our defined strategy and contributing to our shared efforts of spreading the good news of Jesus to our community. God has blessed us with a huge number of visitors walking through the door. I’m excited for even more improvements in the coming year as we work on a new constituion and new bylaws. Those new documents will streamline our organizational structure and help get even more people involved.

So that wraps up the “clip show” of my year. I’m very thankful for all the blessings we’ve been given and the relative easiness of this past year. Let’s see what 2024 will bring!

Previous Year In Review Posts: 20032004200520062007200820092010201120122013, 20142015201620172018201920202021, 2022

Hiking to Sheep Lake

Other than the hiking we did in Moab, we’ve only done one hike this year! Last weekend we got up early and headed for the hike to Sheep Lake.

It’s about a two hour drive so we left the house at 6:30am. The drive in was beautiful with great views of Rainier on a very clear day. When we rolled into the trailhead, we got one of the last marked spots. It’s a popular trailhead for overnight trips so even though it was full, we had the trail mostly to ourselves. The hike parallels the highway for a bit and then heads north back into the mountains to the lake. The hike is pretty simple and we made it there in less than an hour. There was only one other group there when we arrived so we had plenty of space to ourselves and we spent about a half hour there. I had packed the drone but decided not to fly it because I didn’t want to annoy other people with the noise. As we hiked back down, we there were a lot more people coming up, and when we got in sight of the trailhead, I was shocked at how many cars were there. Granted, some of them were for the nearby Naches Peak hike, but it was still a ton of people. It made the early morning departure well worth it!

I wouldn’t put this in my list of top hikes, but it’s a good payoff for not a lot of effort. We had wonderful weather and clear skies which was a nice bonus.