Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sunday Entertainment

So, you have to be a parent to appreciate the video below. You also have to love your kids to appreciate the video below.

The last few months with the girls have been awesome. Maya has grown and matured enough to actually 'play' and interact with Penelope. Penelope has grown and matured to play with Maya as opposed to trying to outright bend Maya to her will. They have become the best of friends (but as you'll see a couple minutes in they are definitely sisters, hehe). About 3:30 it switches to what activity number two of the night was.


Sunday, October 03, 2010

We Bought a House, Yay!

We offered back at the beginning of August, it was accepted, then it took forever, but we finally moved in! We moved in this past Thursday and have been getting settled. Pictures, details, and other things will be posted at another time. But we got a house, yay!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Penelope's First Climb

Today we took Penelope rock climbing for her first time! We have 'bouldered' with her a little. At a park here in Redmond they have boulders with holds on them. She likes to climb those but today was her first time with the real thing.

Yesterday I picked up a kid sized harness from work. She's been asking to go climbing for a long time (months and months she's been asking). Today we decided to do it. We drove to Smith Rock State Park, only about 20 minutes away, picked up the guide book and a year pass to Oregon State Parks and away we went.

Penelope was very excited and had to carry her harness herself. It took us a little bit of scouting around to find the area. Then we had to wind our away around and climb over boulders to finally make it.

I set up a top rope on what I think was a 5.4, harnessed her in, gave her a talk about safety, how to climb, and sent her on her way. She's a natural. She jumped right onto the rock and started climbing. When she'd hit difficult spots she feel around and try things out. The highest she ever got was maybe 15 feet off the ground but she was stoked!

Fortunately she weighed enough and there wasn't too much friction in the system that when we lowered her she actually came down (we've actually seen little kids that literally won't come down because they don't weigh enough and someone has to climb up and pull on them to get them down).

Jessi got to climb as well. She was also stoked because it's been forever since she was able to climb.

It was an awesome evening, we got to go out as a family and do the stuff we love, the surroundings couldn't be beat (watch the video below to see), we climbed, we hiked, we had fun, and we had huckleberry ice cream on the way home. Man it felt good to get out and climb, even though it was easy, and do it with my family. Climbing is one of Jessi and I's favorite past times together.


Last Saturday, August 14, I ran my first triathlon ever. I did it on a whim. Four weeks before I learned of the spring tri that the city of Redmond puts on (this was the second year) and I thought to myself "what the heck. I can swim, I bike, and I run, I might as well." Jessi has been telling me for years that I should run tris but I just never did. I have thought about it in the past but never had the motivation. With this sprint tri the distance was 500m swim, 12 mile bike ride, 5k run. I figured I could come off the couch and race that.

My training consisted of:

  • Three days in the pool (workouts were about 2000-2400 yards)

  • One long road ride, two long MTB rides, and daily bike commutes

  • Three 30 minute runs

That's it. I had no real goals other than push myself and see how fast I could do it. I didn't really do any advanced prep. I read a little bit on how to do transitions and how to set them up, but that was it. Since the swim was in a pool there was staggered start times based on your time to swim 500m. I said my time would be 9:30 or maybe it was 9:45, which ended up putting me in the third to last wave to start. I got there at 6:30 am to set up my transitions and had to wait until 9:45 to actually race.

When the swim started I started out strong, focused on swimming long, and kept a pace that I thought I could keep the whole time. As it turns out I swam the leg a lot faster than I thought. I pulled out of the water and crossed into the transition area at 7 minutes 56 seconds (I was surprised). As it turns out I had the second fastest swim time in the tri and the third fastest including the teams. No idea how that happened.

My transitions were slow. My first transition too me 1:58 or so which is fine. Very slowed compared to the people who were in and out in 30 seconds. My bike was pretty good. I'm not the strongest road rider, I don't really ride road. I passed one guy and was passed by four others. I think I kept a good past and almost chased down the last guy who passed me. I finished the bike in 34:32. The bike was only a little painful. I wanted to keep a strong pace but then trying to chase that last guy done worked me pretty good. My second transition was also okay. This time it was only 1:15, still slow but oh well.

Then onto the run and the pain. By this time I am tired. It's getting hot and I don't like running on paved surfaces. I'm a snob and I only like trails. Oh well, what do you do? I had high aspirations for the run which I quickly learned weren't going to happen. I reminded myself that my overall goal was to push myself and see how I did. I jammed a gel right at the beginning of the run and a bunch of water and in the first two minutes I wanted to heave. Of course I didn't but I wanted to.

My pace was okay. My legs felt very stiff and I didn't feel like I was flowing. The halfway point perked me up a little and I picked up the pace. By the end I felt a little less stiff and felt like the run flowed but it still wasn't that great. I finished in 25:09 which isn't that great for me. I was hoping to keep it closer to 22 but what do you do?

Overall I finished the entire tri in 1:10:52. Not too bad I thought. I gave it my all and I felt good about it. As it turns out I finished 2nd in my age group, 12th overall, and was only about 8 minutes out of first place. Completely surprising.

Overall it was a pretty good time, I liked it a fair amount, and would consider doing another tri, but only if it was swimming in a lake, mountain biking, and trail running. Not sure I want to commit to a tri training schedule though. Good times.

Jessi was very supportive and encouraging (thanks honey!) and she brought the girls to cheer me on at the transitions and at the end. That's my favorite part, seeing my girls at the end.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Camping at the Metolius River

We finally went camping! This is the first time in about a year. That was one of the things that made it great. The other thing that made it great? We finally bought a big tent. No more cramming all of us in the small 3 person Coleman that Jessi brought with her when we got married (nothing against that tent, it has served us many good nights). We sprung for the The North Face Mountain Manor 6. I know what I've said about TNF in the past and I still stand by that. But, through work I got a great deal and there weren't many other 6 person tents to choose from.

We went to the Metolius River Recreation area just outside of the town Sisters. We camped up near the headwaters. It was a small 'walk-in' campsite. It was actually nice, we had to walk maybe 400 feet from the car to the campsite. The one huge benefit? No trailers or generators nearby! It was fun. The girls helped us set up camp. They loved playing in the tent. The tent has 3 'rooms'. The 'main' room is separated by smaller 'rooms' off to each side that by curtains. The sides were big enough to fit the pack 'n play on one side and tons of room for Penelope on the other. The girls liked having their own 'rooms'. Jessi and I slept in the 'living room' as Penelope liked to call it.

We had fire, cooked some smores, went for a walk to the river, and put the girls to bed. After that Jessi and I played cards and sat by the fire. In the morning we had eggs and pancakes in the dutch oven over the fire. There was more playing until lunchtime and then we had beef stew with herb dumplings in the dutch oven. It was delicious!

After lunch we broke down camp and went home. I can't say how nice it is to have mountains close, pine forests close, camping close, and did I mention mountains? Yup, we definitely are not regretting leaving Cincinnati (sorry Cincinnati-ites).

Here's some more pictures to check it out:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Special Time

Every night after we put Maya down for the night we have 'special time' with Penelope. This is time where she gets to spend with just one of us or both of us. Tonight's conversation went like this:

Me: Penelope, what do you want to do for your special time tonight?
Penelope: Unpack boxes.
Me: You want to unpack boxes?
Penelope: Yeah

She's just like her mom. I could see Jessi saying the same thing after the girls go to bed.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Today was graduation day. I graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Master's of Science in Marketing. Hoo-haw!

It's a good day! We went to Pleasant Ridge Chili for lunch. In about 30 minutes we'll be heading out to a park to grill some steaks, eat some killer salad, and hang out! My mom and her husband Dan came out for graduation.

Good celebrations thanks to my amazing wife Jess! Thanks Jess!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


So I am somewhat officially a blogger of sorts. I signed on with as an editor. I get to write reviews on the gear that I use for bike commuting, trail running, mountain biking, camping, etc. It's perfect! I get paid to write about the stuff that I love! Check out my first post on the Deuter Rack Pack Bike Bags.

Jessi is my official photographer. She's so kind to take pictures for me. She got some good shots (at least in my opinion). She likes it and has fun so I'm glad I get to help her use her new camera setup.

I'm stoked to be writing for gear. It's going to be a good way to help build the 'slush' fund! I'll probably keep posting about my reviews here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I had the opportunity to go to Europe for the first time on an international business study abroad as part of my master's program. It was amazing! The program was scheduled to spend time in Linz, Austria and Prague, Czech Republic.

A few of us from the program traveled there and home together. We flew into Munich, took a train into town and spent about four hours checking out the Marienplatz area. Big thanks to Ryan for tips on where to go in Munich. We wandered around and ended up at Hofbrauhaus for some nice weisswurst, orangeade, and potato salad. From there we caught a train to Linz. We spent most of our time in Linz. We had classroom sessions, company visits to Team 7 Furniture, Fischer Skis, Rosenbauer a high-end fire truck manufacturer, and Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten the leading newspaper in Upper Austria. I ate a lot of good food, fantastic desserts and pastries, and took a good walking tour of old Linz.

We did have one free day where a group of us took off to see Vienna for the day. We spent most of our time near St. Stephans Cathedral/National Library/Spanish Riding School/Parliament area. Ate more good pastries, at more good food, saw some good statues, art, buildings, etc.

We only spent about two and a half days in Prague. Prague was awesome. We had an amazing dinner at a place that overlooks Prague Castle, a group of us then walked back to the hotel and saw many of sites at night. In Prague we took tours of Ruckl, a crystal manufacturer and a division of Parker-Hannifin that made o-rings and various seals. Czech food was delicious and I was utterly amazed at the amount of history that is there.

Yes that is an extremely short description of the trip, if you want more details just ask. Check out the pictures. Unfortunately Picasa sucks and only lets you upload five photos at a time (there are about 200 that I'd want to upload. I have an album uploaded at Snapfish but it won't me slideshow here so to see all the pictures you have to go here.

If you want to know what a specific place is or what certain was just let me know and I'll tell you. For now I am tired and this is where it'll end.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Update Soon

So I suck at blogging lately. Last quarter ended up crazy so I didn't have a lot of time. However, I am currently sitting in a hotel in Prague. As such I will have a nice post of my Europe trip complete with photos, perhaps a story about statues, and a list and photos of everything I ate. It's exciting I know.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Little People in Penelope's Tummy

Penelope has had a little story she talks about when she eats lately. Each time it gets longer and more detailed. The latest iteration is:

P: "Daddy, I have little people in my tummy who turn the switch"

D: "What switch?"

P: "The switch that the opens the door"

D: "What the door?"

P: "The door that lets the food go to it's home"

D: "Your tummy is the food's home?"

P: "Yeah...but it has to go down the stairs first"

I love it. She also talks about "the stripes" that fill up and are her gauge for when she's full. "I have four stripes left until I'm full".

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jessica's New Bike

We finally bought Jessica a bike! It took forever, but it is perfect. Here's the story:

On the night of the first Saturday this month we were driving around and decided to go the thrift store to check some things out. We walked in and almost immediately off in the corner I saw a glint of blue from a bike. Of course I'm naturally drawn over to it. As I'm walking over I'm sizing it up and see that it would be about the right size for Jessica. As I got closer it suddenly hits me! It was the female version of the Free Spirit Britney!!! Now that might not seem significant, however, my first commuting bike (look familiar?) was a...**drum roll** Free Spirit Britney!!! I couldn't believe it! I jumped right on and started riding toward Jessica and the girls giddy with excitement saying "Jess, Jess, check it out!". She got on the bike and it fit. The best part? It was only $19.99 (not quite as good as the free frame that Matt Young dug out of a dumpster for but I'm not complaining, it was still an awesome deal).

I didn't get off the bike in the store. For one, I was excited about it and for two I didn't want someone else to get it. It's in super good condition, I believe all original parts. I just had to inflate the tires a little, adjust the seat, and do a little derailleur adjusting and it is good to go. The only thing is I need to replace the cable and housing for the rear brake.

Here's a cellphone shot of Jessica riding in the parking lot that night:

Today was the first day that Jessica really got to ride it. She loved it. Of course by the time we got outside and the girls situated in the stroller I realized I left the camera inside. So of her first ride I have one cellphone pic:

What are the chances of finding that same bike, female version, in primo condition, and it's the perfect size? Too bad my Britney was too small and I had to sell it. Tomorrow I'll dig the bike trailer out of our storage and we go for our first family bike ride! Woooooo!

Friday, January 22, 2010


I made a killer dinner a couple weeks ago and I was going to post it but forgot. So let's had been awhile since we had made any kind of Chinese food so one night I sort of went nuts.

We had ham fried rice, an Asian cole slaw, sausage egg rolls, and a sweet and sour sauce. Everything was homemade and dinner was good. I really liked everything (well I knew I liked the fried rice and cole slaw because we've made them before) except for the sweet and sour sauce. It was sweet, it was sour, but it just wasn't quite right.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I've never been very big on 'journaling' in the traditional sense. I don't have a leather bound, a hardback, or any other form of journal that I update on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Growing up I always heard about the importance of journaling for posterity. Write your feelings, your thoughts, what's going on in life. Writing takes too long. This blog, of course, is a form of journal for me, but still not in the traditional sense. But at least it's something.

Over time I've warmed to the idea of keeping track of things but still can't behind writing. I still haven't found the motivation to write down the traditional type topics. What has happened is an odd collection of journals. It all began last year when I decided I wanted to keep track of my bike commuting miles. I created an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of various things. Then it progressed to a list of all the books I had read for the year (the rule being that the book is counted in the month it is finished). And it culminated with a 'body' journal. This one is my favorite. The idea came entirely from my friend Craig. The premise is that anytime you do something to your body that causes pain and discomfort for more than a couple days, it get's put in the journal. It's fantastic because I'll never be able to remember this stuff, but when I read about it again it brings back fond memories. Of course many of the entries could be embarrassing.

So without further adieu here's a recap of 2009:

Bike Commuting Highlights

  • Logged 206 days in the saddle

  • Covered 1,799 miles

  • Burned approximately 63,210 calories commuting

  • Drove the car 3 days

  • Rode the bus 7 days

  • Put in 20 days riding recreationally (mostly mountain biking)

  • Logged 128 miles (thank you short Glenwild loops at lunch

  • Burned 4,480 calories

  • In total has 226 riding days, 1,927 miles, and 67,690 calories burned

Here's the list of books I read in 2009, by month:

  • A Rumor of War

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid

  • Urban Homestead

  • Glorious Cause

  • Rise to Rebellion

  • Grace

  • Fablehaven

  • Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage for Fruits and Vegetables

  • The Art & Science of Dumpster Diving

  • The Last Lecture

  • Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star

  • Complete Guide to Container Gardening

  • Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague

  • The Collectors

  • Trial by Fury

  • Hot Money

  • The Urban Homestead

  • Stone Cold

  • The Backyard Homestead

  • Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

  • Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop

  • Taking the Fifth

  • Free-Range Kids: Giving our children the freedome we had without going nuts with worry

  • Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex

  • Fablehaven 4: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

  • The Backyard Homestead

  • Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

  • Jesus the Christ

  • Divine Justice

  • Born to Run

  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Aron Ralston

  • Influence: Science and Practice (5th Edition)

  • Believing Christ

  • Into the Wild

  • Deal Breaker

  • Enchantment

  • Monkey Wrench Gang

The Body Journal

This I didn't start until partway through the summer. My self-injury rate dropped dramatically once I started school because I don't have time to do anything else.

Click to see a larger image:

I'll keep these going during 2010 and will possibly add some others.

How about you? You keep any nontraditional journals?

Monday, January 11, 2010


I decided to try and make soap. It's been something I've thought about doing for a few years but for whatever reason over the holiday break I got motivated. I found a book at the library, read it in about a day, bought the ingredients, and gave it a whirl.

Things started out well. The lye and water were mixing well, the oils were combining well, and I started mixing the lye/water with the oils to begin the saponification process. The book recommended using a stick blender to mix the soap but it said you could do it by hand. I tried by hand but it didn't work out. It never fully fixed. I poured it into a mold anyway to see what happened.

I was super bummed about it not mixing was talking to Jessi about it, so she did a little searching and found that you can't really mix soap by'd take something like three days. So she went and picked up an inexpensive stick blender.

I made another batch of soap and it's true, you really need to have a stick blender. This second batch mixed correctly and poured nicely. The next day batch one had a nice thick layer of oil on top. Batch two was just as it should be. It looked and smelled like soap. I remixed batch one and set it aside to see if it would cure but it didn't. It's just like the regular soap but creamy like lotion.

The strangest part that I didn't know is that the bars of soap need to cure for one month to fully harden. We've tested the creamy soap and the shavings and bits from the other soap and so far so good. We just have to wait it out.

Next up comes fragrance oils and exfoliators. The bars are super rough looking. I didn't try to clean them up at all.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Jessica the Baker

So after a ridiculously long blog hiatus (I swear I've blogged since November 7th) I am back.

Tonight I have been removed from all cookie baking in the Miller household. Jessica made us some snickerdoodles and when she pulled the first batch out the oven she said "you have officially been removed as the cookie baker". She is correct. Man they were good cookies. Check them out:

My snickerdoodles never quite turned out like that. They always ended up super crunchy. Hers are still soft, chewy, and delicious. She can definitely take over the cookie baking, I won't mind at all!