Renovation–Why Did We Wait?

 

Kitchen renovation

New & Improved

For over 10 years, my wife and I talked about installing hardwood floors to replace the original early ’90s carpets and kitchen vinyl, and about replacing the builder-grade cabinets that were literally crumbling near the floor.  Those talks always evolved into:  “Should we expand with an addition?”  “Do we really need a dining room?”  “Whoa–How much?!”  Agreeing on what it should all look like and deciding to commit the money were challenges that always stopped us in our tracks.

 

Until this year.  We finally settled upon a general plan and a far more general budget, set up a home equity loan, and invited contractors in for estimates.  With a contract signed and details sorted, in October a dumpster landed in the driveway and work was under way.

I’m not going to claim to be an expert on home remodeling, but there is one very important thing that I learned:  We shouldn’t have waited.

Driving to work one morning I realized how much brighter I was feeling with work on the house underway.  Wood, paint, a little (well, a lot) of expense–It all seems pretty straight-forward.  Now the house looks nicer, the kitchen is much more user-friendly…just what we were after.  But I have to admit that the benefits have been much more than what shows on the drawings and invoices.  We’re all actually happier in the space.  Not a “let’s show off what we’ve got” type of happy–more of a contentment.  In fact, except for the grandparents, we haven’t had anyone in since the work was done.  We’re just….happier.  More comfortable in a fresher house.

I just wish we had done this years ago.

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Filed under Finding Peace, House & Home, Living Well

Believing, Knowing, and Feeling

Like many parents, I’ve believed my daughter would be heading to college since before she was born.  She accepted an admissions offer months ago, so you could say that since then we’ve known not only THAT she would be going, but WHERE.  But it became real on a different level one night in August.watermarked-14494879_10210688146509269_3666155225609929744_n

We had just gotten back from vacation, and while we were away at the beach her year-round swim club had held the final practice of what had been her final season with the team.  I was having a routine evening when all of a sudden she volunteered:

“I texted Coach to ask if I could practice with the team when I’m home on breaks.  He said they would love to have me there.”

And that’s when I felt it.  A deep sense of quiet.

I’m happy for her and a little envious of the adventure she’s heading into.  I loved college, and I hope she does, too.  But that’s when it became real.

She’s only going one state north, maybe 2 hours or so away, and since she’ll be swimming for the school I’ll have easy excuses to drive up to visit once in a while.  So we’ll see her.  But…

In one of the books I used to read her when she was tiny–I can’t remember which one, but if it rings a bell, please help me out with a comment–one of the very young characters “got kind of quiet” for a few minutes when a situation became unexpectedly real.

I’m there.

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Filed under Activities & Sports, College, School, Transitions, Uncategorized

Sticking Around

Healthy Options

Healthy Options

Last August 19.  That’s when everything changed.

At the time, I was working out fairly regularly, but my routine was primarily moderate weight training (machines and dumbbells), with some floor exercises and a weekly volleyball league thrown in.  I was also eating pretty much anything and any amount I wanted.  I knew I had put on some pounds, but I would have said that overall I was in pretty good shape–maybe near the cut between the top and middle third of people my age.

Then my employer offered a discount on health insurance premiums to all staff who participated in a free health screening, with completely confidential results, and I signed up to save a few bucks.

For context, I should mention that on my way back to the office after my screening that afternoon I planned to stop for a particularly unhealthy but amazingly sybaritic fast food lunch that, even in my most self-indulgent days, I only allowed myself a few times a year.

I never had that meal.

As part of the screening, I was quizzed, weighed, measured, and finger-pricked.  And then I was counseled.  A representative of the health insurance company reviewed my results with me, and that conversation was a turning point.  My cholesterol number had come back higher than I expected.  Not head-straight-to-the-hospital high, but worry-about-family-history high?  Yup.

Cholesterol may have been the only word that would have gotten my attention so effectively.  Many of the people higher up in my family tree died younger than they should have, often from strokes.

I did a little research on lowering cholesterol, compared the information to what my counselor had offered, and downloaded a free app to help me manage my calories.  Fruit became a BIG part of my daily intake.  (I actually edited that last sentence:  I avoid the word diet, preferring the term lifestyle change.)  After talking to my family doctor, I added a little cardio to the gym routine.  Nothing all that impressive, but a little.  And 10 months and a reasonable amount of weight-loss later, I can honestly say I’m in the best shape of my adult life.  Room to keep going?  Sure.  But that total cholesterol number is now out of the “borderline” range.  (That having been said, my LDL/HDL balance needs work.  But at least now I’ve read enough to have a general idea what that means.)

Cardio

Cardio

I’m no expert on health, and I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have a strong, selfish drive to stay alive, but a piece of this extended commitment has been the idea that I owe it to my kids to do my best to still be around while they need me–and I’d like to spend time with my grandkids someday.

I try to avoid offering too much advice, but I would go so far as to suggest that if you have any questions about your cholesterol, get it checked.  And if you need to drop the cholesterol, consider full-time calorie counting on your phone to support slow but steady progress.

Be well.  Here’s to many more August 19ths.

 

Note:  DadKnowsBetter has not received any consideration whatsoever for saying so, but the app I have been using is My Fitness Pal, powered by Under Armour.  There may be other good options, but this one has been a helpful tool to me, so it seems right to say so.

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Filed under Activities & Sports, Health, Living Well, Uncategorized