Cathy and I inherited a share of a timeshare network where get away regularly, esp. to to their resort at Big Cedar just south of Branson, Missouri on Table Rock Lake. At times, we have extra points that allows us to sell vacations to help us pay our annual dues.
Below is what we currently have for sale as of 2/7/2020, all at Big Cedar (click on the date for details). As we are late in marketing these, we are lowering the price.
New Grandsons! Our big news from 2015 is we have two new grandsons, bringing us to three grandsons, each with their own unique temperament. It is a thrill to have them all live in the area. Ain is a very busy boy, now approaching 2 ½ years, constantly commenting on life, asking questions, and exploring. Ebron Asher Pool was born in March and is now 9 months old, a charming boy who is very relational. Wyatt Aubra Hash, born in June, is now 6 months old, both enjoying life and also evidencing a serious and determined side as he seeks to get around their home.
All of our girls and their husbands are doing well. Matt finally found his forte in IT support and is loving it. Betsy is home with the boys, but also finds time to blog regularly, is training to be a doula, and is very involved in our church. Josh continues to grow as a personal trainer at Genesis Health Clubs, which is starting to build a much larger facility. Amy’s piano business is keeping her busy, along with other odd jobs. Brandon finds delight in making his son light up and continues to work hard to provide for his family. Megan is adjusting to her life as a new mom and is working part-time.
Extended family – It was a delight to have a very full house at Thanksgiving, with almost all of Cathy’s side of the family. There were 10 of us staying at our house plus up to 9 of our girls, spouses and children that joined at times. We drank lots of coffee, ate lots of food and enjoyed catching up with one another. Five of us ran in Lawrence’s Thanksgiving run.
David’s celebrated his 60th birthday in June with an open house.
David’s annual meeting of the Association of Western State Engineers took us to Arizona. Our stay included time in Flagstaff where we explored some of Cathy’s roots that were early settlers of the city. We were able to find the beautiful original homestead well off the path north of town. We also visited Lowell Observatory.
David’s job as chief engineer of Kansas’ Division of Water Resources continues to involve a 90-minute commute to Manhattan (Kansas) most days. The year saw significant progress in settling interstate water disputes with neighboring states, implementing legislation from a busy legislative session on water issues, and a major “impairment” report related to a national wildlife refuge in Kansas.
Cathy continues to teach science classes to Lawrence homeschoolers as well as nearby Gardner.
Our Church– Our church has been in transition the last couple of years, becoming a network of smaller churches meeting in principally in homes. This year, we sold our building and changed our name to City Church Lawrence. We seek to focus on the emphasis of the Scriptures related to how we should conduct our life including doing good works in the community.
This and that – We hired a yard service to take out 50 red cedars and David re-planted a large section of the back yard that was basically bare soil. Late in the year David hit a deer totaling his car without harm to himself. Not much progress on our health web site (maybe next year).
Book (and Audible) recommendations
David – The Martian (good movie; a bit of language); The Emperor of All Maladies; The Sheep-Pig
Cathy – Boys in the Boat; Ender’s Shadow; Far From the Madding Crowd;
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.
My wife and I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Below and attached is this year’s Christmas letter to family and friends. Click this link to see a pdf: Christmas letter 2014. The first page is a set of images shown below; page two is text highlighting the year’s news: two more grandchildren coming in 2015, our work lives, our books recommendations and more. Enjoy.
The year’s big news: two more grandchildren coming in 2015! Our first grandchild, Ain, is approaching 18 months, a busy boy. Lord willing and the ultrasound is right this time, he will have a little brother in March. Recently we learned that Megan and Brandon are expecting their first child in June.
Our work lives
David’s job – David’s challenging work as chief engineer of Kansas’ Division of Water Resources continued to be intense but rewarding. The office made the transition to Manhattan this summer. So David is making the 90 minute commute about 3x/week (he telecommutes day a week or so). David has found he can be fairly productive on the van the agency is providing. So far the Division has retained key experienced staff and been able to recruit some good, young staff as well.
The interstate battles continue. David was able to attend oral arguments before the US Supreme Court this fall in Kansas case against Nebraska. With the conclusion of the last of 5 arbitration trials, Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado have finally started working on negotiating some disputed issues, developing three agreements for 2014-2015 as they work toward longer term solutions.
Cathy continues to teach science classes to Lawrence homeschoolers as well nearby Gardner. The three classes she is teaching keeps her busy. After developing PowerPoints for her Advanced Biology and Biology over the last 2 years, this year she is doing physical science (with Amy’s help).
Our daughters and their husbands – Everyone is well. Betsy is gradually cutting back on her work outside the home with her growing family. Amy’s piano business is becoming well established and she is doing some part-time work as a “virtual assistant”, and she has a growing number of people following her blog. Megan works part time for a local radio station, KOFO Country, writing and reading the news.
Vacations – We got away quite a few times this year, mostly to our timeshare in the Branson area including a time in June with the girls and their spouses. We also enjoyed our annual 4th of July trip to Gene and Sara’s cabin on Long Lake in Wisconsin. Finally, we also did a Texas trip with David’s work that included San Antonio and Houston/Galveston.
We continue to make health a priority by regular exercise and eating well. David’s morning exercise routine has had to change due to his commuting. Fortunately, the office in Manhattan has a shower and he has been running more regularly and was able to take a minute off of his best 5k of last year. We have started a web site on how we stay healthy (org) with favorite recipes, exercise suggestions, and more.
Book (listening) recommendations:
David – The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (D. Brown); Tale of Two Cities (Dickens); Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and …the Space Age (M Brzezinski).
Cathy – Elephant Whisper (L. Anthony); I am Malala (Yousafzai); and Invention of Wings (S. Kidd).
A sonogram at 18 weeks said that our first grandchild was supposed to be a girl. But the first words from our daughter Betsy was, “It’s a boy.” We thought she was kidding but Matt immediately said, “No, it’s a boy alright.” See Now the grand-parenting fun, spoken of by many of my friends, is here.
As part of the on-going series on health habits, here are two more we have adopted.
Health Habit 3 –Eat more slowly, increasing enjoyment and eating less
From Eating Well magazine “When eating, it takes 20 minutes for your body to register fullness. And according to a University of Rhode Island study, you can save 70 calories by eating slowly over about half an hour versus eating in under 10 minutes. If you ate slower at every meal, that would translate into losing about two pounds a month. An easy way to slow down your eating is to put your fork down between bites—or consider using chopsticks.”
This one has helped me reduce my previous habit of taking a reasonable portion and then going back for seconds before my digestive system realizes the first portion is on its way. When I slowed down, I found resisting the seconds to be much easier. Now, I take a reasonable portion, and slowly enjoy its flavor, and stop.
Health Habit 4 – Use smaller plates (to help control portions sizes)
From Eating Well magazine “As serving sizes have increased, so have plate sizes—and seeing appropriately sized portions swimming on a giant plate can make you feel like you’re not getting much food. Put your main meal on a 7-inch plate, which is about the size of a salad plate or child-size plate. Choose a 1-cup dessert or cereal bowl instead of a soup bowl, a 6-ounce wineglass rather than a goblet. When you’re eating out, ask for an extra salad plate and transfer the proper-size portions of your food onto it when you’re served your entree. Then ask the waiter to take away and wrap up the rest.”
Again, this one work for me as well. I love ice cream and used to have it regularly in the evening in a bowl. After hearing about the concept, I switched to a small bowl. I eat about half the ice cream but seem to get the same satisfaction. Try it and is if it work for you.
Two years ago, I decided it was time to get off the roller coaster of weight loss and gain and join my wife in making some permanent changes toward improved health. I wrote quite a bit about it in half a year. Despite continuing in that journey, I have written little since.
Recently, my oldest daughter Betsy asked me to contribute to a series she is starting on her blog called “50 habits of skinny people.” So I am using this as a motivation to write more regularly on habits we have adopted toward good health. Here goes.
Health Habit 1- Decide to adopt health habits
The first “habit” I would like to focus on is the fact that healthy people eat and live differently “habitually” then those who do not. If you are reading this as a person who wants to be healthier and esp. thinner, the answer is not so much in making temporary changes in what you eat (dieting), but to adopt new and long-term ways of eating and living that are more healthful.
It is no secret that Americans “diet” like no other culture and yet, as a people we continue to gain weight. Why? Because we change for a while and then return to our old ways, leading us back to the condition in which we started.
My wife and I have both been on the weight roller coaster before. Eight years ago, my wife lost 35 pounds and she has kept it off. Two years ago, I took off 20 pounds and have kept it off. The difference this time was adopting lasting changes to our diet and finding ways to add activity to our lifestyles.
So as you read about habits we have adopted to improve our health, I encourage you to give them serious consideration as potential ways to improve yours. Adopt those habits you can “live” with. Small changes that are applied consistently over years can make a big difference (as long as you don’t use them as an excuse for more excess elsewhere).
Don’t believe those that say you cannot lose weight and keep it off. It is not true; you can, but only by making changes in the way you think and what you do. Keep reading.
The goal is improved health. Improved health has meant more energy, improved sleep, a better outlook on life, more physical capability, freedom from medications, less illness, and the promise of not only a longer life but a better quality one as well.
Don’t let anyone tell you there is no sacrifice, it is. But it is worth it. Read on.
Health Habit 2 – Walk more
There are two principle ingredients to improved health: eating better and being more active.
There are many ways to be more active. I will discuss the benefits of a regular exercise program in future habits but let’s start with just walking more. Over the last two years I have returned to jogging, but I started with walking.
I walk every day, twice a day, with our two dogs: Bingley and Bear. We walk no matter what the weather (ok, if the wind chills is -30, we shorten it a bit but we still go). We walk a mile in the morning and another mile about supper time. It does them good and it does me good. Another way I walk regularly is by parking about 7 minutes from my office (where parking on the street is available) rather than in the parking garage across the street. It saves me the $60/month for parking and gives me a bit more walking time.
In addition to improving health, walking gives me time to pray, unwind from a busy day, or give consideration to some matter that needs some time away from other distractions. My wife just got me an iPod for Christmas. So now the menu of options while walking includes listening to books on tape.
Surprisingly my last post on “my progress toward health” was last June. It was titled: “Initial goals accomplished, heading to second base.” Baseball is not likely the best illustration for a journey to health as health is not something accomplished in 4 steps but as something gained ever a lifetime of good habits.
From June though Betsy’s wedding in October and beyond, I continued to make good progress. But as life sometimes does, November and December brought some regression and struggles. It started with significant time on the road and lots of holiday eating (too much chocolate around; a real problem to me). Then I got the shingles; and as I recovered from that, I got a flu. Through all of this, my exercise routine become very hit or miss (mostly miss). So over the weeks I gained about 7 or 8 pounds and dropped some toning.
But since the first of the year, my health and habits have been renewed, as I re-started regular exercise and better eating, I have dropped much of the weight gained and the tone is returning.
Running again (for now at least). Last spring I started running again (I did some running in my early 30’s but quit after an injury). When I finally got to my initial goal of 3 miles (5 kilometer), I started experiencing some pain in my knee again. Rather then give up as I did 20+ years ago, I decided to have it examined by a specialist. The doctor did a series of x-rays but did not see anything wrong. He gave me some strengthening exercises to do, which I did over late summer and early fall; only to have the knee pain return when I got up to 3 miles again. I was convinced it was bad running form or perhaps a weakness in a set of muscles around the knee. In a final attempt to make running work, I called the doctor’s office to see if I could see a physical therapist who could work with me. I have been doing that. He found my leg a bit longer than the other and has given me a small pad to put in one shoe. And he found that my hamstrings are very tight and has given me some specific stretches and strengthening exercises to do. We will see. I am re-building my mileage now. It seems I have trouble when I get to 3 miles.
It is good to be on the road to health. It is well worth the effort. I see so many of my peers on another road.
Over the coming few months, I plan to read three specific books on investing. Below is why, what I hope to accomplish, and an invitation to join me.
Over the last 3-4 years I have been tracking the performance of two retirement accounts Cathy and I inherited as part of her father’s estate. These investments are professionally “managed”. However, as I have tracked them, I have noted that the investments regularly under-perform vs. the DOW (and SP500), which are “unmanaged.” This has always puzzled me as it seems managed investments should do better than unmanaged ones.
Recently, I have started reading on investing and read that the DOW/SP500 beats over 85% of professionally managed funds over the long term. While it may be normal, it does not seem to be in line with good stewardship. So, I would like to do something different.
I am starting to read from a variety of authors to determine my strategy moving forward. I would like to invite others interested to read and discuss these books. I do not see the book “club” as a detailed study but more of an overview. I will assign a book to read, give people a month to read it, and then meet a time or two to discuss each book. We would then go on to the next book the same way. I would like to get through a few of the books before summer.
Here is my list of books I plan to read:
The Random Walk Guide To Investing by Burton G Malkiel. The book is a good overview of investing. In the end,he argues for the “wisdom of the market” and recommends getting into a fund that reflects the market as a whole and sticking with it to reduce transaction costs that occurs with managed fund’s regular adjusting of the portfolio seeking higher returns.
Investing in One Lesson by Mark Skousen.
Again, he has some good general information on investing. In the end, he argues for specific classes of investments, esp. well-valued stocks that pay regular dividends, which he says do very well over the long haul.
Last night, Cathy and I watched a movie called Temple Grandin. A delightful and very well done movie about an autistic girl and her mom and their work to help her find a meaningful place in society, which she does. It is a story of a gifted mind that is over stimulated by her sense of the world and that does not know how to act in society resulting in ridicule and struggle. In a day when autism was little understood, they overcome with help of others along the way. It brings encouragement and challenge into our “normal” worlds as well. There is also insight into the animal world as well.
A movie I recommend and I will buy so I can watch it again from time to time.
Editorial Reviews – Amazon.com – It doesn’t take long to see that Temple Grandin, the main character in this eponymous HBO movie, is, well, different–she (in the person of Claire Danes, who plays her) tells us before the credits start that she’s “not like other people.” But “different” is not “less.” Indeed, Grandin, who is now in her 60s, has accomplished a good deal more than a great many “normal” folks, let alone others afflicted with the autism that Grandin overcame on her way to earning a doctorate and becoming a bestselling author and a pioneer in the humane treatment of livestock. It wasn’t easy. The doctor who diagnosed her at age 4 said she’d never talk and would have to be institutionalized. Only through the dogged efforts of her mother (Julia Ormond), who was told that “lack of bonding” Continue reading Movie Recommendation: Temple Grandin→
This posting will take a brief break from “my journey to improved health” series, which will re-start very soon, for an important announcement (which may help explain why I have not written for 5 weeks or so):
Over the last three month, all three of our daughters have become engaged to marry.
Weddings are coming on July 2 and October 10 of this year and June 18 of next year.
See more details and pictures on Cathy and my blog at: