Happy New Year!

Everyone says that the last two years have been dumpster fires, with everything being cancelled / changed from COVID, but I think last year was a pretty great year.

Here are just a few of the good things that happened to me and my family in 2021:

  • I took a 40+ hour online JavaScript boot camp and with the knowledge was able to apply and get a developer position at Automattic.
  • I took our basement from being just studs to fully finishing it (well, there are a couple things left to do 😊). I did all the electrical, insulation, plumbing (with the help of my dad), installed cabinets and flooring. I probably put in 200+ hours from May thru October.
  • I started working with a nutrition coach that helped me to understand what macros my body needs each day and hit those daily targets. Macros are proteins, carbs, and fats. For years, I’ve haven’t been eating enough protein and have been able to focus on getting enough each day. Since May, I’ve been able to lose nearly 25lbs and 17in around by chest, waist, and hips. I’ll be continuing this journey in 2022.
  • I set a reading challenge of reading 50 books this year and I reached this goal as well. There were a lot of fiction books and my plan is to split my 52 books this year goal more evenly between fiction and nonfiction.
  • Melody and I were able to take a short trip to Hilton Head in late August. This was the first time I had been away from the kids overnight since late 2019.
  • We also made two trips to Cancun with the kids. We went in May and in October. Both trips were to the all inclusive Planet Hollywood resort. The kids had a blast (and honestly, I did too 😊).
  • And I helped a ton with Melody’s two online ventures. The latest thing is that we launched the Table Talk podcast where she sits down at the virtual table to talk thru different functional medicine topics.

2022 is shaping up to be a pretty good year too. Here are a few things I plan on focusing on:

  • Creating more content. This includes blogging here,podcasting, and YouTubing for YourWebsiteEngineer.com
  • Learning React. This is a JavaScript language used in WordPress that I have little experience. A group of from work are going through a boot camp class together.
  • Reading 52 books this year.
  • Leaning out and strengthening up. I want to continue to focus on my nutrition and be diligent in the gym. Along with the daily workouts, I’ll be adding strength and endurance conditioning.
  • Help Melody level up her businesses and generate more revenue.
  • Take a 15-year anniversary trip somewhere. Right now, we are thinking Greece. Any other suggestions?
  • Finally finish the basement and move my office downstairs. I’ve been working out of our guest room since we moved in and we are renting our basement space to future neighbors, so once their house is finished, I’ll be able to finish the trim work and make the area our own.

Whew sounds like another busy year! What do you have planned for 2022?

Moving to a WordPress VIP Developer Role

As of today, July 19th 2021, goal has finally come true, I’m switching roles at Automattic.

This year was finally the year when I made time for myself and spent hundreds of hours over nights and weekends learning JavaScript.

Today, I start as a Developer Apprentice in the VIP division. I’m no longer in support and will have plenty of mentors to help me learn and grow as a programmer. If things go well, at the end of the year apprenticeship, I’ll be a senior engineer 🙂

I’m excited for all the learning and growth (and hair pulling out) that will will happen in the next 365 days.

I share more details about the process in episode 507 of Your Website Engineer podcast.

Bought it again

With interest rates being so low, we refinanced again (we’ve only lived here 18 months).

We used Ally Bank to refinance and was able to lock in an interest rate of 2.375% for a 15 year!

The savings from the previous 15 year loan at 3.5% will be more than $35,000.

Mountain of paperwork saying we agree to pay what we owe.

The annoying click

A few weeks ago, a friend used our car to drive the kids home and they suggested they wanted to watch a movie (which we never use, since ugh DVDs are awful).

The disc was loaded incorrectly into the CD drive and it wasn’t in the tray right. It’s a six disc changer and if it’s not in there right, then every time you open the door (even with the key off), the CD player tries to get the disk ready to play with 15 seconds of clicking.

It’s extremely annoying and I couldn’t handle it anymore.

I decided to take the thing apart and rip the disk out if I had to.

Getting the radio unit wasn’t hard. Two pieces of trim needed popped off, then four bolts removed and a bunch of wires were unplugged.

Twenty eight screws later, I finally had the disk out. Problem solved!

Surprise Guest Today

One of my good college friends flew down from the Indian Lake area (about 75 minutes away) to deliver a jacket he posted on Facebook.

He’s a pilot for American Airlines and has been flying on the weekends to get more hours so he can move up to bigger planes (and higher salaries).

The kids got to sit in his plane as well as the replica plane in the Wright Brothers museum. Though I think they liked sitting in the Model T better, ha!

House Update – November 2018

We started the month off anticipating that we would be moved in by month’s end, but due to a few delays, everything wasn’t finished up.

One of the big delays was about the driveway. The engineers had spec’d the driveway to be a width of ten feet wide, but the HOA covenants states that all driveways must be 16 feet.

This all took an extra two weeks to figure out and ultimately we got the wider driveway. It will be nice when our kiddos are driving to have the extra space.

Other than the driveway, here’s what happened during the month:

  • Drywall was completed
  • Tin roof above porch was added. This makes everything completely waterproofed
  • Furnace was turned on and house began to warm up. Great for letting the drywall mud and paint dry
  • Paint! The ceilings and walls got their first and second coats of paint
  • The brick crew came back and finished up their work outside and we are pleased with the results
  • Our trim carpenters have been their twice getting all the cabinets set and hung, all the baseboard trim and all the doors hung
  • We got most of the stone around the living room fireplace
  • More than a ton of granite was delivered and installed. The one piece island is awesome and it weighs 1200 pounds
  • The flooring is in. Hardwood and vinyl planks went in around the middle of the month and carpet was installed at the end. This really makes it feel like home.
  • The rod iron handrails are installed and make the house safe for little man. He can no longer try to jump off the openings around the stairs.
  • The first pass at electric was completed. Outlets, switches and lights were installed. Side note, there are a ton of recessed lights.

We finally have a close date of December 13th. This will give us two days for moving / unpacking before we head out on a trip with Melody’s family.

I write this on the plane as we are heading to the annual mid-year pharmacy conference. Melody is giving a talk and the rest of us are tagging along so we can go to Disneyland for a couple of days.

The house will be all done when we get home. I said it was going to be like the big reveal on an HGTV show. The only way to keep me away for the final touches is for me to be on a trip 😀

First CrossFit Competition 

Today I participated in our gyms annual CrossFit competition. 

It was really hard. Yeah, really hard. But it was fun too. 

We were on teams of four, two guys and two girls. And I agreed to be on a RX team, which is basically signing up for pain 😜

Here were the four events. 

Event 1 – B17: Flying Fortress

This is a Bombers CrossFit special. I’ve done the workout twice in a scaled fashion, never the RX. 

The workout was five rounds of 17 back squats at 135 lbs and a 400 meter run. 

The tricky part was that we had to all squat in formation at the same time.  The first few rows were okay, but rounds 3, 4, and 5 destroyed my legs. 

Event 2 – Skills Competition

In this round there were four max effort events that each team mate had to do one of the following moves:

  • Max rep muscle ups
  • Max deadlift
  • Max standing high jump
  • Max L Sit hold

I was drafted to do the standing high jump. And even though it was 30+ minutes after the first event, my legs hadn’t recovered. 

I ended up getting 21 inches which was just short of 10 feet in the air. If I could have a step to approach, I’m sure I could have gotten 25+ inches. 

Event 3 – Three Legged Race

This was a partner workout of back-to-back-to-back girl workouts: 

  • Karen (150 wall balls)
  • Annie (50-40-30-20-10 double unders and sit ups)
  • Fran (21-15-9 thrusters and pull ups)

We had a pretty good strategy and I had a super human partner. 

I did 30 wall balls, then Travis did 90, then I finished it off with 30 more and Karen was finished. 

I moved straight to Annie and did 50 double unders and 50 sit ups. Travis did the next two rounds of 40 and 30 and I completed the last rounds of 20 and 10. 

Finally Travis did the hard pars of Fran, 21 thrusters, 21 pull ups and 15 thrusters. Then I did the rest of 15 pull ups and 9 thrusters and 9 pull ups. 

We got second in this workout and we were all exhausted by the end of it. 

Event 4 – The Obstacle Course

This was a goofy short event where we had to pull a sled with 180 lbs on it and maneuver around obstacles and twice pick the sled up and carry it over an obstacle.

The twist on this one was we had to all for be touching the whole time. 

Since we had super strong Travis, he picked the sled up himself and we got first on this one. 

Overall it was a fun, yet exhausting day. I am not looking forward to seeing how my legs feel the next few days!

So You Want to be a Happiness Engineer, Huh?

Great thoughts on what skills and abilities are needed as a Happiness Engineer by one of my colleagues.

Sandy McFadden

Since joining Automattic (and to the annoyance of some people, I’m sure) I tend to go on about how much I enjoy my job and the company itself. I’ve often been asked what it takes and what you need to know to get the job. Especially since I called people to join me in my last post, I thought I would put together my thoughts and some resources which I can point people to or they can hopefully find through searching online as well.

I’m going to go a bit further and not only talk about what you need to do to get the job, but what I think you need to be successful in the Happiness Engineer role at Automattic. Please note that there are a lot of points here and you don’t have to be an expert in all of them to apply, but having a good understanding…

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Learning to do a proper handstand.

I need to get back to my handstand work. I was doing well until our baby disrupted our schedule.

Be the best version of you

Many of you probably had the chance to read my post on “handstands” and how they have advantages and their benefits. I told you in that same post I would write another post in the later weeks discussing how to train for a proper handstand – and although there is a million different ways to do so and everyone has their own technique, I believe the best way is to practice and build up to it, like any other movement. Handstands are more advanced movements, they aren ‘t considered easy and even though they may be easier for some, they can be quite more difficult for others like myself. 


When beginning training for a handstand, it is best do them on a flat surface and preferably one that won’t cause you much harm if you should fall or occasionally hurt yourself trying – I don’t want anyone to end…

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Princess K’s Birthday Photos


Our photographer also did some photos of Kenley for her 3rd birthday! She is a ham right now! Always pretending.. even when Dustin was driving her to school the other day they had to pretend to play hide and seek in the car! She is a great “pretend” mommy.  When I ask her to do a task that is too difficult, she says “but I’m not a real mommy!” So thankful to be her real mommy!

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I Know You’re Mad at United but… (Thoughts from a Pilot Wife About Flight 3411)

I don’t follow the news much (or ever!), but I did hear about the United story. Very informative article by a pilot’s wife.

The Pilot Wife Life

If there’s one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that there are always two sides to every story.

On April 9th, a very unfortunate incident played out on United Flight 3411, the video of which has since gone viral causing a mass social media uprising with an ‘off-with-their-heads’ mentality. I mean, across the board. Fire ’em all and let the gods sort it out later.

Look, I get it. When I first saw the video I was appalled too. To say that it was inflammatory would be putting it mildly. But it was also a situation that was escalated far beyond the boundaries of necessity.

If a federal law enforcement officer asks me to exit a plane, no matter how royally pissed off I am, I’m going to do it and then seek other means of legal reimbursement. True story.

Knowing what I know about airport security, I’m

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Brand Camp University, WordPress and TechTown Detroit partner to bring 100 Detroit businesses online

Fun event that I participated in a few weeks ago in Detroit.

Hajj Flemings - I am Design

Hack Detroit Day 2 Tours-9343-01

The first nine businesses in the 100 Project to launch new websites went live today, March 9, 2017.

Nine Detroit small businesses have new websites created pro bono by developers from San Francisco-based Automattic (the for profit arm of WordPress), part of a citywide initiative to get 100 businesses online by 2nd quarter of this year. The new websites were created during a 48-hour Super Bowl Weekend blitz as part of the 100 Project, program of Detroit-based Brand Camp University in partnership with WordPress and TechTown Detroit.

Brand Camp University’s mission is to help businesses tell their story via brand strategy, workshops and mentoring. Brand Camp’s 100 Project seeks to eliminate the digital gap that exists in so many communities that the Super Bowl weekend pilot project aimed to establish a digital presence for neighborhood businesses increasing their accessibility and their bottom line. The genesis of this project was…

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Home Screen Feb 2017

I like to keep my iPhone apps to a minimum so the apps that I use daily, get real estate on the home page. 

Everything else is in a folder on the second page and if I need one of those apps, I pull down from the top and search. 

Notice the phone app isn’t anywhere on the home page, because, well, I never make phone calls. I have one hour of talk time on the phone since November when I got this new phone. 

Best Nine

These images don’t convey all the awesomeness of 2016, but it does a good job hightlighting the past 365 days.


Summary of the pictures left to right, top to bottom

1 – Our little girl announcing that she will be a big sister next year

2 – Normally bedtime is a struggle at Team Hartzler Headquarters, but she is so precious when she is actually sleeping

3 – Traveling from Ohio to Spain is exhausting for a two year old

4 – Beautiful sunset this spring at our house

5 – Annual apple picking and applesauce making this fall

6 – Our princess got a new bed this week; she’s no longer a baby

7 – WordCamp Europe in Austria this summer

8 – A dirt path in Austin Texas, that I turned into an impromtu CrossFit workout space for a team meetup back in April

9 – Annual BBQ Fest in my home town (Orrville Ohio) in August

Field Notes: Podcast Movement 2016

WordPress.com News

Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do in the community. This week, we share our experience at the Podcast Movement 2016 conference.

People use WordPress.com to share many types of stories, from written essays and photo galleries to podcasts. Podcast Movement has quickly become the conference to attend for audio storytellers, so we were excited to be there to support the podcasting community and spread the word about podcasting tools on WordPress.com.

Live from the WordPress.com booth

Cesar Abeid, Trevor Montgomery, and Dustin Hartzler, Happiness Engineers at Automattic, attended the latest installment of this exciting event earlier this month in Chicago, Illinois. The conference, now in its third year, drew over 1,500 attendees. WordPress.com was a sponsor, so we had a great opportunity to engage with the community from…

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Coming Soon: New .Blog Domains for Websites

Finally the secret is out, we will be registering .blog addresses soon.

WordPress.com News

For more than a decade, the word “blog” has been synonymous with “your home on the web.” And since 2005, WordPress.com has been proud to help you create a unique space that is all yours.

Now we’re excited to announce a brand new way to create a unique identity for your website: .blog, a top-level domain extension that will let you create a customized name and web address for your site.

A name that’s all yours

Just like .com before it, .blog is clear and accessible, and it creates millions of fresh, new options for naming your blog. It’s the perfect place to build your home on the web.

The .blog domains are coming this year — sign up here to get notified when they become available. We’ll be offering them to all websites — you won’t need to have a WordPress or WordPress.com site to purchase one.

Why .blog?

For years, .com was the…

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2015 Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas from the Hartzler’s


We can’t believe it’s December already, it seems like just yesterday we were planning a 1 year old birthday bash! 2015 has been a challenging year but full of so many blessings as well.

I have been navigating some health issues since late January, but recently feeling better and pray that journey will soon just be a piece of my story. It is amazing to see how God has used what I’ve learned along the way to help others friends, co-workers, and my patients. We are always thankful for the journey.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I…

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Anniversaries This Week

Over the last two days I’ve celebrated two anniversaries when it comes to WordPress.

Yesterday, December 2nd, was my second anniversary at Automattic. It seems like a few short weeks ago that I was just starting and learning the ropes on how to be a Happiness Engineer providing support for WordPress.com. Now I’m knee deep learning about WooCommerce and all of its extensions.

Today, is the five year anniversary of Your Website Engineer podcast. I started this weekly podcast to find business for my company, Hartzler Digital Media. After a few weeks I got hooked and I’ve released a new episode for 261 weeks in a row!

Here’s to many more anniversaries of each!

PS – We are hiring 🙂

November 2015: Monthly Review

I’m going to start publishing a monthly recap at the end of each month detailing my habits, projects, and tinkerings. Inspired by my coworker Jeremey (I’m mimicking his format).

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted last, I guess I got a bit lazy after my consecutive streak ended. It’s time to start the streak again.

November was the first month since March that I didn’t travel at all during the month. Most of those months were short trips, but I’ve still traveled a fair bit in 2015.

Monthly Goals

  • Learn to type Dvorak. Partial win. What’s Dvorak, you ask? It’s an alternative keyboard layout where the keys are more ergonomically placed. I started the month typing at speeds of almost 30 WPM. Today, I’m averaging more than 45 WPM.
  • Continue to become stronger / build endurance. Win. I’ve been going to CrossFit every week day and I’m slowly mastering all of the moves and adding more weight to the bar.
  • Read three books. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal of reading 12 non-fiction books and I’ve gotten a bit behind. It’s still possible to hit the goal by reading about a book a week in December.

What habits did I focus on?

  • Learning Dvorak. I’ve spent more than 10 hours working on drills to make me a faster typer. I’ll see the benefits of being able to type at more than 80 WPM soon 🙂

What did I publish?

Books I Read:

Looking forward to November

Goals I want to complete:

  • Take an online course to master GitHub. I want to learn how to properly make a pull request and fix broken code or add enhancements.
  • Outline the content for Your Website Engineer. The hardest part about producing a weekly show is coming up with the ideas. I want to map out next year so I can be ready to create podcasts and videos for my audience.
  • Type at 70+ WPM by the end of the month. It’s frustrating to type so slow.
  • Daily Blogging. I want to post something here every day.

Habit I want to focus on:

Inbox Zero. I maintained inbox zero daily for the first few months of 2015, but let this habit slip as well. My goal is to completely empty my inbox at least Monday-Friday (goal of 20 times in the month).

Bike riding with a toddler

We have a pull behind carrier for my bike so we can go on a bike ride as a family.

Last year, we could only go on short rides as Kenley wasn’t too big of a fan of staying strapped in.

Now that she is bigger, she plays with toys while we rides and looks for puppies.

We’ve got some really nice trails near our house and today we did a 10+ mile ride.  It was a bit windy, so it felt like I had a 30lb weight and a parachute behind my bike. Definitely worth it to be outside on this beautiful day.

Here’s a picture of Kenley last year and this year:

Hands on with the iPhone 6s

I’m a big fan of Apple gadgets, especially new iPhones.

Last Friday, I got the new iPhone 6s 64GB in Silver. My last phone was the 5s and I see some major improvements with this new version.

  • TouchID is fast. Like wicked fast. I cannot use my thumb to press the home button otherwise I won’t see my missed notifications that I might have missed. This is also great for locking my phone down with a long secure password.
  • The size is great. It was a hard decision to choose between the regular or the plus version of the phone. I went with the smaller one as it’s a step up from the 5s, but I’d love to try the plus out and ditch my iPad and only have one device. Luckily, I’m contract free, so when I have an extra $1000 laying around, I might pick up the bigger phone. This one feels perfect in my hand and after a few days I can’t believe I used the tiny 5s for so long.
  • Restoring from iTunes is superior. When I’ve gotten new phones in the past, I’ve always backed up to iCloud then restored from iCloud. This is a pain because all your apps have to be downloaded again. If you do an encrypted backup from iTunes (with a password), your entire phone is cloned. I was up and running with my new device in less than thirty minutes.
  • Extra row of apps. I try to use as few of app screens as possible on my phone and put all the apps that I occasionally use in folders and just search for the app when I need them. It was hard to decide with four additional apps to add to the home screen. I finally opted for ESPN, Calendar, Elevate and the YouVersion Bible App.

Apples Galore!

Yesterday we picked 60 pounds of apples. Today we turned the apples into applesauce and apple butter.

We started at 12pm and finished at 9pm and made:

  • 11 quarts of applesauce
  • 10 pints of applesauce
  • 17 cup size jars of apple butter (8oz)
  • 24 jelly containers of apple butter for favors as a baby shower (4oz)

Convenience of DVR

We had a busy day today: riding bikes, picking apples (pictures to come tomorrow) and hanging out with friend from college.

I’ve been trying really hard to ‘cut the cord’ and give up cable, but there’s two reasons I haven’t as of yet:

  1. DVR
  2. Sports

Since we were busy today, I wasn’t home to watch my favorite sports team, Ohio State, play at 3:30pm.

I recorded the game and watched it on my time, when we got home at 8:30pm. A game that started five hours early, I watched the entire thing in a little over an hour.

I’m pretty sure it’s worth $50 per month to watch my sports, when I want, without commercials or halftimes 🙂

Our Current Savings Goal

Last week, I was at the Financial Blogger’s Conference.

The event had a huge expo hall with lots of innovative banking/investing companies.

One booth I stopped at was one for Simple Bank. They are doing some really cool things, including not allowing you to write a paper check from your account.

They also featured an artist who was drawing out your savings goal. It was pretty neat to sit and watch him sketch out the item in Photoshop.

Here’s what we are saving for: