The renovation of my body continues too.

Over the last month, I have managed to do at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three times per week.  Sometimes I ever do more!  That is precisely 12 more times than I have been to the gym or exercised with any regularity in my life.  Ever.

Now you’d think that would mean that I’d have lost a little weight.

Sadly no.

But, I have found a silver lining.

My resting heart rate is lower.

What is a healthy resting heart rate?

According to the Mayo Clinic, healthy resting heart rate (RHR) is between 60 to 100 beats per minute.  The better shape you’re in, the slower your heart rate will be when you’re not moving around.

I have been wearing my trusty Fit Bit Blaze consistently for 12 months now.  In the past, my RHR has averaged 70, plus or minus one.  But, in the last few weeks, I have watched it drop little by little.

Today, it averaged 59.  Pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

Now, if I could just get my damn weight to drop as well, that’d be swell.

 

 

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Going vintage or a brand-spankin-new home?

neworold

Since getting married, Josh and I have owned two houses.

The first was an adorable bungalow built in 1948.

Our first house, August, 2003.

The second was a suburban traditional built in 1976.

Our second house on the day we moved in, April 2007.

We did significant renovations on each, adding a half bath and extra bedroom to the first house and completely overhauling the second one.

As we mentioned earlier, we have decided to focus our home search in the Springfield area where there is a really broad selection of housing inventory. Choices range from existing homes which are brand new (but have never been lived in) to 100+ year old historic ones (bungalows, traditionals, duplexes and mansions), to vacant lots where you can still build a new home, so long as the finished product looks historically similar to the other homes in the area.

We looked at all of the options in Springfield.   New, old, already renovated, currently in shambles, and so on.  If you are trying to figure out the pros and cons of new versus existing like we are, here are some things to consider.

Benefits of an existing home

  • Existing homes are ready when you are.  There is no need to worry about finding a builder, getting permits, or worrying about how the weather might delay your building process.  You find a house, make an offer, agree on a price, close and move.
  • You know what you are getting with an existing home, so long as you do your homework.  You’ll want to do an inspection of the home before you close on the sale, so you can avoid any unforeseen problems.
  • You benefit from someone already buying all of the little things that are needed when you move into a new house.  If it has already been lived in, it is likely that someone already installed blinds, bought a garden hose for the yard, installed niceties like dimmer switches and shelving systems in the closets.
  • The house has a story.  You might have beautifully preserved architectural details, learn about interesting past owners or events, or uncover treasure. And you’ll be adding your chapter to a really neat story.
  • Trees.  You get trees. And plants.  Regardless of whether the house is one year old or 100 years old, the landscaping is already in place.  Even if you have to redo smaller garden beds to your liking, you benefit from greenery that is already thriving in place, and provides shade and character to your street and yard.

But…

  • You have to live with other people’s decisions.  From shoddy DIY home repair to interesting décor choices, older homes can come with baggage.  Even if those items are easy to change, there will be an investment of time and money to make the house your own.  And there is always a risk that something large and expensive will be uncovered after you move in that was either unknown to the seller, or even covered up over the years.

Benefits of new construction

  • With a new house, you’ll get exactly what you want.  New construction means you don’t have to invest in changing anything from previous owners. You pick your layout, your design, your finishes – it is a true reflection of you.
  • Newer homes can be built with energy efficiency in mind.  Solar power, tankless water heaters, and environmentally friendly paints, flooring and building materials mean you can not only save money on the cost of living, but feel good about the reduced impact your home has on our planet.

But…

  • You have to have lots of time and flexibility.  It takes time to find a design, a builder, get all of your financing worked out, get permits, and build a house.  Even the best experiences will have delays and changes.
  • You better be good a making decisions because there will be TONS of them.  Even after you get all of the big ones out-of-the-way, you’ll have dozens, maybe hundreds of little ones.  Something as simple as what kind of door knobs you want can require several decisions: do you want round, egg-shaped or lever, chrome, brass, or bronze finish, key-locking or push-button privacy settings, and so on.

As for us, after we finished our last house, I was not keen on the idea of doing a home remodel again.  The dust, the chaos, the money, the choices… It was all too much to live through.

We thought wanted new.

But as life would have it, the Universe had something else in mind.

At the end of March, we toured a house that took us completely by surprise. And if you had not figured it out by now, we are embarking on a major renovation of a really old house.

This one makes the other renovations we did on our first two houses look almost silly by comparison.

And I cannot wait!

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

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Houston, we have a neighborhood.

The search for our next home continues!

In the last few months, we have considered housing options near downtown Jacksonville including San Marco, Brooklyn, Riverside/Avondale, and St. Nicholas, but one neighborhood has kept us coming back again and again, even after touring houses that were not a fit for our needs.

Image result for map of neighborhoods jacksonville

Springfield.

Springfield is nearly 150 years old.  The area exploded after the Great Fire of 1901, when many of Jacksonville’s affluent families built new Victorian and Craftsman style homes there.

Springfield is a historic neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida, United States, located to the north of downtown.  The Springfield Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and contains some of the city’s best examples of 19th and early 20th century architecture.

The January 2010 issue of Southern Living magazine spotlights Springfield as the #1 “comeback” neighborhood in the South, noting significant improvement over the past decade.[4] The December 2010 issue of Florida Trend Magazine also featured the Springfield Historic District in an article titled “A Life of Its Own”. The piece detailed how, despite the down housing market, the neighborhood has continued to thrive.

Springfield is pretty easy to get around.  The numbered streets run east/west and go from 1st to 12th. The named streets run north/south and start at Boulevard to the west and end at Ionia to the east.  There is a set of railroad tracks that form a sort of north and east border.  In addition, there are a series of parks that cut across the southwest corner, complete with Hogan’s Creek that eventually meets up with the St. Johns River.

The area is definitely in transition.  In the 20 or so times we have been there since our search started, we have found it both incredibly charming and occasionally unnerving.  If you are looking for cookie-cutter suburbia, Springfield is not it.  There are still a fair number of single family houses and multi-family residences that are in rough shape and some of the homes have been converted into half-way houses, which might make some people nervous. However, many more homes are in the process of being refurbished or have already been restored, and there are dozens of newer homes that have been built in the last 10 years.  Combine all that with another dozen new houses that are under contract to come out of the ground this summer, and you have a mini real estate boom.

We love that there is a strong neighborhood vibe here led by SPAR, the Springfield Preservation and Revitalization Council.  In addition, there is a mommies group, SAMBA, a business merchant association and even a sustainability group, all of which are very active.

The neighborhood recently got a nod from the Jacksonville Business Journal to boot.

Retail finally appears to be following the recently renovated residential rooftops in historic Springfield as Main Street is in the midst of a commercial boom.

Several craft breweries and restaurants are taking a  leap to be a part of the area.  In future posts, I hope to share firsthand info about all of them as we try them out.

While this is all good news, it doesn’t stop me from worrying a little bit about how we’ll adjust, moving from an upscale apartment community to a grittier part of town.  I am excited about making new friends and being part of this vibrant and dynamic neighborhood, but I know that there are going to be times where I’ll be out of comfort zone.  Transients, homeless and folks living with mental illness and addiction are part of Springfield, as much as middle class families like ours.  From what we have garnered from friends, everyone co-exits quite well, but it will be different for sure.

And different is what we want.  Springfield is where we are going to find our next home.

Want to check it out for yourself?

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Get your tickets for the SPAR Historic Springfield 39th Annual Tour of Homes held on May 20th and 21st.  For $15, you’ll be able to tour seven homes – and kids 12 and under are free!

We’ll be there and hope to see you there too.

Jennifer

 

Posted in Dream house, House Project, moving, My life, Springfield | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Shopping for a new house.

Now that we have narrowed the geographic search for our next home, we have turned our attention to the house itself.  Like most shoppers, we have the typical set of criteria.

  • Number of bedrooms – 4 bedrooms – one for each of the boys and a master bedroom
  • Number of bathrooms – at least 2, but we’d prefer an additional half bath or 3rd bath if possible
  • Square footage: between 1,800 and 2,300 SF.  We want a house that is large enough to have friends and family over in comfort, but not so large it would take a full day to clean it every weekend
  • The price: Our budget is actually smaller than we spent on our last house, even if you take into account the market correction.  Our goal was to have a mortgage, including any homeowner’s association fees, taxes and insurance, that we could realistically pay off in 15 years or less, so that we could have it off our plate well before retirement age.

But that’s just the beginning.

With our last home, we made decisions based on resale value. While some of our choices were personal, the vast majority were “safe.”   By contrast, this next house will be a personal reflection of us.  We are looking for a house that will create the backdrop for the next stage in our lives.   It would be more than a place to call home at the end of the day.  It had to be a place we can really LIVE.

1.) The location of the master bedroom:  For the last 10 years, our master bedroom has been 10 feet from the nearest kid’s bedroom.  That was…ahem….too close.  We want our next home to have a first floor master or a split floor plan so that we have some privacy. Also, we intend to keep this house for a LONG time.  We want to be able to stay here into our old age, which means having a single story house, or at the very least, a first floor master suite.

2.)  A bathtub the master bath: During our #yearofresortliving in the apartment, I have indulged in baths on a regular basis.  They are a highlight in my day and I am bent on finding a home with a tub in the master.  It doesn’t have to be jet-powered or even that large, but it has to be mine, free of kids’ toys or left-over kid sand or soccer-funk.

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3.) A garage:  Josh’s business has been in high gear in the last year and the number of tools we now own is considerable.  While we don’t feel the need to pull a car into a garage nightly, we do need a place for him to work.   Plus, our boys’ toys have shifted from big wheels to scooters and will soon be followed by mopeds and mountain bikes.  We need a place to park all of it.

4.) High ceilings and lots of light in the common areas:  I don’t mind old houses, but I don’t want to ever have low ceilings again.  The kitchen in our last house had 7’6″ ceilings before our renovation and it felt like we were cooking in a cellar.  I want windows and French doors and rooms that, even if they are not huge, have vertical heft.  I want to want to cook and be with people, and having an open inviting space is key to that.

Surprisingly, here are things we either didn’t consider or would simply be a nice to have, but are not deal-breakers.

An office or 5th bedroom: As Leslie commented in my last post, our kids will be gone in less than a decade.  While I would love to have a dedicated office, it is not a deal-breaker.  We can always convert one of their bedrooms to an office after they leave.  In the meantime, it would also be another space to furnish…and clean.  If needed, I can work at the kitchen table, and we can sort out what to do with the rare overnight guest when they are here.

Lots of closet space: Don’t get me wrong….we still have too much stuff.  But the lessons of the last year, where we voluntarily shrunk our living space by nearly half, are clear.  Less is more and we need to keep our things in check. That starts with not packing super deep closets with boxes and bags of stuff we never use.

A community pool: We LOVE having access to a neighborhood pool, but as families go, the Chapmans are a bit crazy.  I have stopped trying to deny it, or even explain it.  The boys run, wrestle and cannon-ball ALL. DAY. LONG. We know that we can be annoying to others who are there.   In our next home, we’d like to have a pool in the backyard so that we can let the boys be.    If the pool is not already in the backyard, we’d like the room to install one ourselves.  A community pool is a bonus.

A formal living or dining room: We try to eat dinner as a family most week nights, but we are not formal people. While a large-enough dining space is important, we don’t need two areas for dining, one for formal meals and a second for casual.   Similarly, I don’t own any furniture that would even belong in a formal living room.

With this list in mind, we have been scouring Zillow and Redfin, and touring homes, hoping to find the one for us.   The search has lead us to an expected find and I cannot wait to tell you more about it.

What are your must haves for your next home?

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

 

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Four questions to ask yourself before your next move.

4thingsmovepinterst

I have had a lot of time to think about things these last few months.  With no yard work or home improvement projects, no staging the house or cleaning up for showings, my calendar has opened up considerably.  Combine that with the fact that the boys can play  with any of the 2 dozen kids that live in the complex, and I’ve had plenty of time for day-dreaming.

While my thoughts have ranged from “maybe I should try surfing” to “I wonder if we could run away in an RV next year”, I kept coming back to the thought that the decision we make about how and where to live next will create the backdrop for some of the most vivid memories in our boys’ lives.  The next 5 to 10 years are the ones where they’ll be learning how to be members of society, and determining what kind of person they want to become. I find myself using this “backdrop” image as the starting point for where we go in the next stage of our lives and I have come up with a list of questions that helped me figure it all out.

1.) What do you want to be close to?

If you are considering a new location in the same metro area, this might be easier, but it applies to any move.  Do you want to be close to the beach or the mountains?  To be close to family or close to your dream job?  How far you are willing to commute to work?  Make a list of what is important first.  Re-order it second.

For us, family and commute times topped the list.

Family: My sisters and mother live in the next county over and I wanted to be able to visit with them without too far of a drive.  We were shooting no more than for 45 minutes by car to my mom’s place so that we have lots of opportunities for the boys to hang out with her, my sisters and all of the cousins.

Commute time: We considered how far we wanted to be to our jobs, the boys’ schools and big-city amenities and venues.  Our upper limit for any of these was 30 minutes by car, shorter if possible. We wanted more time to do things, less time getting to the things we wanted to do.

Items that made the list, but were less important were closeness to the airport, closeness to the boys’ soccer fields, or to major shopping outlets.  Also, we did not have to consider zoning for schools since the boys currently attend a magnet program, but we did noodle the proximity to their future schooling needs.

2.) What do you want to be walking-distance or biking-distance to?

This is different than the above because you can be 10 minutes from the beach by car, but the terrain might prevent you from biking there.   You need to consider what things need to be the MOST convenient.

Are you picturing walking your dog to get your morning coffee at Starbucks?  Do you want to be able to get gas or buy a gallon of milk without a long drive?  How about your favorite restaurants?  Is there a way to live close to one that you frequent?

If you are looking at neighborhoods with amenities, do you want to be really close to the community center or pool…or really NOT close.  (Maybe you don’t want people walking by your home all of the time on their way to go swimming.)

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Photo by Patrick Tomasso

 

For us, we wanted to be able to walk with the boys to get dinner at one or two neat places, or to be able to ride our bikes to the river or to a park.

3.) What kind of weekends do you want to have?

After we moved out of our last house, we said we never again wanted to have a yard that owned us.  Our weekends were spent mowing, edging and blowing, mulching bagging and weeding.  And when we finally caved and hired someone, we had to add in the extra funds into our monthly budget to cover the service.

Untamed rural and urban homes often have little upkeep, while suburban homes have more work required and might even fine owners whose yards are not kept in good shape.  Condos and townhomes might have no upkeep required for individual owners, but you may be assessed for the costs to have a professional crew do the maintenance for common areas.

We decided our next house would have a smaller, more manageable yard; it would be big enough to kick a soccer ball around or let the dog out for exercise, but not so big we had to work on it all the time.  We ruled out suburban neighbors with big lots, as well as condos or townhomes.

4.) How close do you want to be to your neighbors, literally and figuratively?

The obvious answers to this question address proximity to the next house or unit.  Do you want to share a wall or share a fence?  Do you want to run into people as you pull into the garage, or wave by them as you drive out of the neighborhood?

It is also about lifestyle.  There are plenty of condo-dwellers who live on opposite sides of a wall who never speak to each other.  Similarly, there are many suburban, planned or rural communities that have neighborhood events where people make a point to get to know each other.

We have missed out on making friends in a neighborhood for a decade.  I envy those families who have neighbors who socialize in the street, whose kids play together, roaming in packs on bikes and passing effortlessly between houses, and who look out for each other.  We were looking for a place with a robust, intentional community-feel.

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Photo by Blake Wheeler

 

Before we got clear on what we wanted, we were literally all over the map.  This exercise helped us come to the conclusion that we need to limit our search to the neighborhoods in and around the city center.   It has made taking the next steps in our search so much easier.

Considering moving?  Let me know if you have other variables you considered or if these helped you with narrowing your search.

Jennifer

Posted in Dream house, Kids, moving, My life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Change is comin’

I have an ear worm in my brain.  I keep hearing the John Cougar song “Jack and Diane”, and not the whole thing…just the bridge in the middle.  You know that line, “Holdin’ on to 16 as long as you can, change is comin’ ’round real soon, make us women and men.” Over and over again, all day long.

As a kid, I had it on a single LP and I played it on repeat in my room day after day.  And partly, because of that song, I used to dread getting older.  Nothing could be worse, I thought, than being a woman.  All that work.  All that responsibility.  All that change.

Who would want that?

Years later, I remember the hearing it play on the radio and thinking that life was over because I was on the other side of the lyric.   I was now 18 or 19…

I had to grow up.

Damn.

If I try to draw any parallels to “change” coming in 2017, they fail.  I mean, really.  We had plenty of change in 2016.  And in 2015.  And plenty more even before that.  Every year of my “adult” life has been laughably riddled with change – my kids get older, cooler, crazier.  My marriage morphs into something new, with memories in the rear view that are (mostly) good.  And don’t even get me started on my body.

I know that the year ahead will bring even more change. We are going to have to decide where to live after our year of resort living ends.  We want to travel and expose our kids to new places, new people, new cultures and new food.   My Meetjax project will change into something new. We want to get a handle on our finances.  We want to grow our Rodan + Fields business.  I’d really like to get my body back.

Heck, even this new year’s eve is going to be a big change for me and my tribe.  (For the first time since I have been married, I will be spending new years at home with HH, instead of spending it with him at a concert, or alone with the kiddos because I gave him a nudge and a ticket to go on without me.)

It all feels very grown up.

And that is good.

For me, the year ahead is filled with wide open possibility. I know that when it is behind me, things will look very differently than they do now.

Change is coming.

I am holdin’ on, but not to the past.

I am holdin’ on, ready for another year, ready to embrace the change.

Bring on 2017!

Wishing you a very safe and joyous new year’s eve celebration and all the best for your best year yet.

Thanks for reading,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

 

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Deja vu

Guess who gained 5 lbs. back over the last 2 weeks?!?

this-girl

I guess that 2017 is going to be my year.

Jennifer

 

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Moving in the right direction

Guess who finally lost 5 lbs!?!

this-girl

Yes, it turns out that one week of near militant control over my eating has resulted in a little dip in my weight.  Better yet, I was able to enjoy 3 glasses of wine over the course of the week, so I do not feel like I was left on the sidelines of several holiday parties.

I am now on week two of my shakes with Juice Plus and meals with Kathy’s Table.  Having go-to options has been a BIG help.

I know that it will take as long to lose as it took to gain (if I am doing it right), so I am not looking for another stellar week this upcoming week, but at least SOMETHING is happening.

Thanks for reading.

~Jennifer

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Changed/unchanged

I think the harder I try, the worse off I am.  I have been taking on this effort literally minute by minute, making choices to eat, or not eat, one item at a time.  And when I look at the items I have avoided, I am pretty proud of myself. I skipped the mediocre buffet lunch.  I did not have the cookie.  I am drinking the shakes instead of a meal.  I am taking my vitamins.  I am walking.  This is great!  Something should be happening!?!

The scale has not moved.  Not one ounce.  Not even a fraction of an ounce.

So then I start thinking about the things I did eat.  The glass of wine I had at the party. The dessert I had as a reward for not eating the bread or potatoes.  And even though I made better choices, they are not enough.

I am going to have to make the best choice, every time.

I will say it again.

Ug.

 

~Jennifer

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Day 9 is fine.

I am not sure if I am technically losing weight, but my clothes do not feel any looser.  In fact, I feel bigger than I did a week ago. But, there are victories in making better choices even if it doesn’t feel better.  My heart is happier.  My liver is happier. Eventually, my waistline will catch up.  I could proudly report that I:

  • Got grilled chicken instead of fried chicken to top my salad at lunch.
  • Skipped the croutons and the creamy dressing all together.
  • Did not have the last Krispy Kreme doughnut which sat outside my office door…all…day…long.  (This was HARD.)

I also had my first Juice plus shakes over the last two days.  I used our trusty Ninja (which by the way is totally worth the hype) to blend yesterday’s vanilla powder with skim milk and ice.  It tasted like cake batter and not in a good way. It was not what I wanted for breakfast when I am used to scrambled eggs and bacon.

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And then I had an epiphany.  My eating falls apart most days after 4 pm.  I am HANGRY, tired and want all of the (junk food) things.  So, instead of making the shake my choice at breakfast, why not try a shake for dinner instead?

Today, I went back to real food for breakfast.  I had a salad for lunch and a couple of fruit leathers for a snack.  (I get these at Publix in the Greenwise section, but Amazon sells them too and they are cheaper in bulk.)  Then for dinner, while I was cooking up cheeseburgers and tater tots for the boys (they also get veggies and fruit), I went with the shake instead.  This seems so obvious now!  I was able to avoid arguement with myself about whether I have a burger too, and do I have it with a bun, or cheese or catsup…  This was SO much easier.

As for the taste, I doctored it up with a frozen banana and used water instead of milk and it tasted way better.  And now, at 6:30 pm, I am full and able to safely avoid having to make any choices for the rest of the night.

This could work.

I will weigh in again tomorrow.  Maybe I will be surprised, but even if the number is the same, at least I now feel like I have a game plan.

Onward to the closet!

Thanks for reading.

~Jennifer

 

Posted in Fitness, Food, My life, Weight Loss | Tagged , | 3 Comments