Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

P90X Statistics

Monday, June 6th, 2011

I finally got around to tabulating my p90x results. Here are some daily and periodic measurements represented graphically.

resting heart rate

body fat percent


core measurements

arm measurements

thigh measurements

The overall results:

MeasurementDay 0Day 91Change
Body Fat17.515.3-2.2
Chest3737 7/16+7/16
Waist3430 3/4-3 1/4
Hips34 1/431 7/8-2 3/8
Right Thigh2121 7/16+7/16
Left Thigh20 1/221 9/16+1 1/16
Right Arm13 3/413 3/40
Left Arm13 1/413 9/16+5/16

And here are the results of the fit test:

MeasurementDay 0Day 91Change
Resting Heart Rate7060-10
Pull Ups515+10
Vertical Leap1314.5+1.5
Toe Touch+2+5+3
Wall Squats2:494:02+1:13
Curls21 @ 19 lbs27 @ 20 lbs+8
In 'n' Outs2554+29
Max Heart Rate180160-20
1 min Heart Rate130112-18
2 min Heart Rate112100-12
3 min Heart Rate10094-6
4 min Heart Rate9690-6

So there you have it! Next up, photos…

P90X Phase 3

Friday, May 27th, 2011

I had never made a serious commitment to fitness before P90X although I generally felt “in shape.”  There was a time when I went to the gym a few times per week.  I ran in high school.  I hike, bike, and kayak.  The dog gets long walks daily.  But for the last 90 days, I basically made fitness my top priority.  It was the reason I rolled out of bed at 4:40 AM, stumbled downstairs to fill my water bottle, and headed into the office/workout room to wake up and Bring It.  I changed the way I ate and paid attention to portions.  I said no to all the sugary good things that would normally catch my attention.  I ignored all of the free food emails at work.  I even restrained myself at the monthly wine and cheese and occasional danish with the director meetings.  Sure, I slipped up here and there.  I went out to eat.  I was away.  Sometimes I was just really hungry (especially before I started adding carbs back in).  But I did my best.  I brought everything I had to almost all of my workouts.  I have been tired, sore, tired, and occasionally (or mostly) grouchy for three months.  I’ve had to give up some of the other things I enjoy doing in my spare time.  I haven’t done as much work on the house as I would have liked.  Sure, some nights I can’t stay up past 8.  But I made it 90 days and I’m better for having done it.  I’m in the best shape of my life.  I didn’t doubt P90X would work.  I saw Tina’s amazing results.  I just didn’t know how good I would feel at the end.  I’ll have another post with some hard numbers and maybe some photos soon.  But for now, here’s my notes on Phase 3 (which alternates workouts from Phase 1 and Phase 2 for 4 weeks then finishes with a recovery week):

Week Nine:

  • Phase 3 started rough.  If you recall from the end of Phase 2, I was rushing to finish up the prep. work for installing some tile in the house.  Phase 2 ended with a missed workout (made up the next day after 4 hours sleep).  On the first day, I borrowed my rest day from the end of the week because I was so tired from tiling that I couldn’t imagine working out.  Then, I spent nearly 12 more hours tiling!  My legs and back were so sore from squatting and bending all day that it took me half an hour to get out of bed on Monday morning for my workout.  Once I warmed up though, I was right back in the groove.  The workout felt fantastic.  The next day I brought my best for Plyometrics and did all of the double moves.  I had to fight a bit of a bad attitude midweek because I was still tired but I pushed through.  On Thursday, I did yoga in the morning and then decided to try to get back on track so I could have a rest at the end of the week by doing Legs and Back in the evening.  That left Kenpo X and Abripper X on Friday.  I did note that 3 leg-intense workouts in a 24 hour period caused considerable pain and also that I was still exhausted.  I gladly took my “rest” day on Saturday and used my energy for grouting the tile.

Week Ten:

  • This week started off really well.  I had a good night’s sleep and felt good after my workout.  This week I finally did a bunch of corn-cob pullups without leg assist.  I went big for pullups later in the week and raised my numbers significantly on all of them.  I did have to back down on some of the weighted leg moves in Legs and Back because my knees were really sore.  I did notice I was feeling a bit more tired toward the end of the week again.  Also, I switched from diet phase 2 to diet phase 3.  This was a drastic shift to 60% carbs!  I did notice that I had more energy during subsequent workouts.

Week Eleven:

  • I was super excited to be back to the phase one workouts again.  I think I like them slightly more than the phase two workouts.  I definitely had more energy overall and biked 3 times during this week.  I also had two good walks with the dog.  It had been a long time since I had been able to walk at a pace she found acceptable as I was usually too tired and just shuffled along.  I had some trouble with my left knee in yoga.  The first 45 minutes were pretty painful but I got through it.  I’m pretty sure this was when I started grumbling about how done I was with P90X.  I think I was just getting weary and my joints and connective tissues were in need of a break.

Week Twelve:

  • Week twelve started good but by yoga day, my knees were bothering me again and my hamstrings were very tight.  I was really getting sick of feeling so weary and worn out but I tried to push through.  My legs are very tired.  Still, I pushed hard on pullups during Legs and Back because it was the last time I ever have to do it!  Kenpo was tough because of the soreness/tightness in my legs.  I was sure happy to get this week over with!

Week Thirteen:

  • Week thirteen began with consecutive rest days and bad eating because we went away and got ENGAGED!  We walked many miles on Saturday.  That helped my hamstrings (after the 2 hour drive on Friday, I could barely walk!) and general leg soreness.  I think the extra day of rest really helped because the first round of yoga was one of the most enjoyable so far.  My knees didn’t complain one bit.  Once again, I doubled up to catch back up with the schedule.  I was so close to finishing in 90 days that I didn’t want to stretch it to 91 so I did Core Synergistics and X Stretch on the same day.  I didn’t notice any negative effects during the second workout.  I was feeling tired again and struggled to get up to do the last three workouts.  I’m mentally and physically exhausted from this, but I made it to the end and I AM DONE!

I’ll repeat the fit test tomorrow to see how things have changed over the last 90 days.  I’m sure that I’ll be happy with the results.  I’m not sure what comes after that.  I think I’m going to take a week off and think about it.  My body needs a break.  I know I can’t keep up with this extreme workout schedule indefinitely because I’m putting off other things I want to do.  I’m not sure that I need to either.  I’m happy with where I’m at.  Now it’s time to find the balance between maintaining my current level of fitness and getting back some time and energy.  I know I’ll be biking a lot this summer and I’m signed up for a 7 mile road race in August so I’ll be doing some training for that.  If I can squeeze in some resistance and core work in between, I think that will do.  Stay tuned for some stats coming soon…


P90X Phase 2

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

I can’t believe P90X Phase II has come to a close.  Looking back, it has flown by, although I didn’t necessarily feel that way at the time.  In Phase II, Chest and Back is replaced with Chest, Shoulders and Triceps and Shoulders and Arms is replaced with Back and Biceps.  Here’s how things went:

Week Five:

  • My notes for Chest, Shulders and Triceps indicate that I had muscle confusion and brain confusion.  Then I had ab pain!  I was a bit slow with the new routine.  I’m starting to experiment with doubles by rollerblading with the dog.  I did a 3 mile loop in the afternoon.
  • Plyometrics continues to be an awesome workout.
  • Back and Biceps made me realize I need to focus on form a bit.  Ab progress continues.
  • I waited to do yoga until after work and was noticeably more flexible than the last time I did it.  I’m not sure if I’m seeing drastic improvement or an influence of the time of day.
  • Legs and back continues to kill me, partly because I don’t really like the workout.  the 80-20 speed squats at the end leave me feeling dizzy every time.  This time I even took an extended break before continuing on to abs and didn’t feel like eating breakfast after.
  • Made some modifications in Kenpo because some of the back-kicks are bothering my left knee.  I just do extra side kicks or back-steps instead of kicks

Week Six:

  • Since we headed out of town for the weekend, I swapped my rest day for the start of the next week.  It worked out well, except  I woke up with a kink in my neck on Sunday and couldn’t turn my head.  By the afternoon, it had loosened up a bit and we went for a quick (easy) ride on the horses.  My back didn’t hurt as much as it usually does afterward so I think my core is getting stronger!  We got home late from NH and I found myself lacking energy for the next couple of workouts and I didn’t increase the weights like I had planned.  An extra-long night of sleep cured that though.  The rest of the workouts were successful and I saw some increases.  On Saturday, I felt I needed to loosen up so I started the day with X Stretch.  Then I moved a ton of dirt and spent the rest of the day raking the yard.

Week Seven:

  • This week started with a distinct lack of energy.  I’m guessing it is from all of the yard work that was done.  Again, I felt a tweak in my neck during pours and my neck was sore for the rest of the day.  I didn’t sleep well because of my neck and didn’t dare try Plyometrics in the condition I was in, so I waited until after work.  With my neck feeling a bit better, I had the best plyo workout yet!  Legs and Back killed me again and I was completely out of energy.  Thinking I hadn’t been eating enough, I had a second dinner with more protein and veggies.  The next day, my energy was back in a serious way.  Kenpo was great and I even biked home from work (the long way too).  I guess I need to pay a bit more attention to what I’m eating.

Week Eight:

  • I made it to another recovery week!  It was a recovery week in name only though because there was a lot of work done on the house.  Sunday started with bathroom demolition and continued through the week, ending with new underlayment and cement board being installed, then preparation for tiling with many late nights.  Needless to say, I was exhausted!  I even overslept on Friday and had to put yoga off until Saturday morning after only 4 hours of sleep!  Still, I made it through the week.

So that’s my experience with Phase 2 in a nutshell.  Looking back, I see that I’ve been seriously lacking energy.  I need to be a lot more careful that I’m eating enough.  I did notice that when I added some additional carb-based snacks, I lost a few pounds and had more energy.  Perhaps it is time for the next diet phase too.  Although on some individual days I have felt that I wasn’t performing my best, overall, I feel incredible.  I’ve definitely noticed changes in my fitness level and I’m seeing some serious results already.  On to Phase 3.  Bring it!

P90X Phase 1

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

After seeing Tina’s amazing results from her P90X voyage, I really felt like I should give it a try.  But it’s something you have to work up to.  And 90 days is a big commitment.  I started thinking about this last fall but decided to wait until after the holidays were over.  I couldn’t imagine being able to keep up with the schedule with all of the travel we had planned.  The new year rolled around and I didn’t yet understand how I could fit it in to my schedule.  But I wanted to get started, and soon because I didn’t want to cut in to biking season by too much.  I knew I was going to have to work out in the morning and Tina offered to take over dog-walking duty in the morning so I could use some of that time.  The workouts are an hour (2), and 1:15 (3), and 1:30 (1) so it is not an insignificant chunk of time.  I figured if I got up at 5 AM, that would give me enough time to work out, cool down, and eat a healthy breakfast and get to work at a reasonable time.  So I started getting used to getting up a bit earlier every day.  I also spent more time thinking about the diet plan and how I would have to change my eating habits to follow it.  I was also thinking about how I could save money while still following the diet, because it’s not a “diet” in the sense of the word that everyone hates.  The P90X diet plan is not only about eating the right foods, but eating a massive quantity to provide enough energy to get through the workouts.  When Tina was following the program, our grocery bills doubled.  I wanted to try to find ways to eat efficiently so we could avoid that again.  Once I felt that I was able to get up and be awake early enough to do a workout and when I had figured out how I would have to adjust to the diet plan, I was ready to begin.

P90X starts with a fitness test on Day 0 to make sure you can handle an advanced workout program.  I passed, but the test definitely illustrated some weaknesses (upper body and core strength, flexibility).  The next morning, February 27th, I recorded my starting measurements, took some “before” photos, and started my P90X journey.  My goal in doing P90X is to increase my overall level of fitness, strengthen my core, and tone my muscles.  I’m not really looking to build bulky muscles, as I think that would be counterproductive for the sports I tend to enjoy (biking, kayaking, etc.).  I’m hoping that I will see improvements in both of those sports when the weather warms and I get back outside.

I just finished Phase 1 on Saturday (Day 28).  When I started, I had hoped to write some notes daily and perhaps a weekly summary.  After the first couple of days taking dilligent notes, I trailed off.  I was always in a rush to get out the door after the workout and by the time I got home, I was too exhausted and had too many other things to do so I’ll have to rely more on memory.

I felt like I was playing catch-up during the first week because I didn’t know the moves and wasn’t sure how much weight I should be using for the resistance exercises.  Fortunately, I did take good notes during the workout on reps and weight, with indications of whether I should increase or decrease the next time.  I’ve also never really been a huge fan of workout videos or even classes.  I don’t like trying to follow people.  I feel like I’m perpetually behind and likely to fall over from confusion.  These (for the most part) aren’t bad.  I felt like I had enough time to complete each exercise (for the most part) and they were clearly explained, with helpful tips.

Week One:

  • Chest and back was decent.  I was a bit overzealous at the start and ran out of steam toward the end.  Then, Ab Ripper X killed me.  My core was definitely out of shape.  And then I spent the afternoon moving about 400 board-feet of pine from the driveway to the back yard.  I was exhausted!
  • Plyometrics was awesome!  I thought I would like this workout and I was right.  I was completely drained by the end but felt great!
  • On Day Three, I woke up with incredible pain in my right shoulder.  It was beyond soreness and I was stressed that I would have to stop already. Tina convinced me to try the workout (Shoulders and Arms!) and see how I felt. I could hardly bear any weight and couldn’t lift anything above my shoulder, but I managed to push through.  Ab Ripper X was still killer!
  • On Wednesday, yoga helped me stretch my shoulder and also really illustrated how inflexible I am!
  • My shoulder was still slightly sore for Legs and Back but I was able to get through it.  Abs continued to kill me.
  • Friday was my first round of Kenpo X.  I hated it.  This is one of those exercise videos that makes me feel like I’m out of sync and going to fall over.  While I definitely worked up a sweat, I didn’t feel like I got a great workout because of the confusion.  I thought that going for a run might be a better replacement.
  • I took Saturday as a rest day because I didn’t have time to work in X Stretch.  I survived the first week!

Week Two:

  • Week two was better than the first because I knew what I was doing.  I also experienced no shoulder pain.  I felt like the workouts were more effective.  Again, I particularly enjoyed Plyometrics.  I even liked Kenpo X this time around.  Ab Ripper X was still torture the three times I did it.  I did feel like I was running out of energy during some of the workouts, perhaps indicating that it was time to switch diet phases.

Week Three:

  • Week three was smooth sailing.  With the change in diet, I had noticeably more energy during the workouts.  I increased weights in the resistance workouts and pushed harder in cardio.  I found that I could stretch a bit more in Yoga.  Even Ab Ripper X was slightly less painful and I could nearly keep up with the pros!  I started to feel a bit more exhausted in the evenings, though some of that could be from getting up even earlier (4:40) so I could get to work on time.

Week Four:

  • Week four was recovery week.  For those unfamiliar with P90X, that does not mean “take it easy” at all.  Instead, you allow your muscles time to rest while you focus on stretching and cardio work.  This means a double dose of Yoga X, a round of Kenpo X, two rounds of Core Synergistics, and X Stretch.  Stretch is fantastic and I’m sad that I haven’t been doing it as an optional workout on my rest days.  I really felt good afterward but it’s hard to make the time for it when I’m playing catch up to do all the things I was too tired to do during the week.  Core Synergistics is a brutal workout.  I definitely felt it from my chest to my thighs.  All my notes say is superman-banana=ugh.  I was actually pretty worn out by the final yoga workout.

With that, I had finished Phase 1.  I’m pretty happy with how things have gone and the results so far.  I took measurements again and a set of photos.  At this point, I’ve lost about five pounds and a couple of inches on my waist.  I also see definite changes in muscle definition and tone.  Now on to Phase 2.  Bring it!

P90X – more details and pictures!

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Ok, I have come to grips with posting the pictures and detailed stats. I’m only putting links to the photos so that, if looking at weight loss photos is not your thing, you can opt out! Be kind, people. When I reach my next goal – in 2 more pounds, I’ll post updated pics!!! These were so 8 pounds ago 🙂

Detailed Breakdown of Progress:
P90X - Stats

Pictures show days 0, 30, 60, and 90:
front view photo

side view photo

back view photo – my favorite – new muscles, yay!

P90X Update – Finally!!!

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Ok, I expect to take some heat for waiting so long to post the results. I don’t really have an excuse. Anyway, I finished my first round of P90X on August 27 (in reality, it was P117X for me – had some injury time outs that were unrelated to the program). Remember way back in May when I started? I posted my day 0 stats HERE, and then left everyone hanging!

I cannot say enough good things about P90X. It’s no exaggeration to say that it has drastically changed my life. I feel so much better about myself. I’m healthy, I’m in shape, and I am eating clean! Fitness and good nutrition are now permanent parts of my life, but that wasn’t always so. Those of you who know me well, know that I have always enjoyed being active and athletic – playing soccer 4 seasons per year in high school, doing intramural sports in college and grad school, going to the gym (intermittently), taking fitness classes, never turning down a chance for a good competitive game (bring on the contact sports!!!). Somehow, though, I never had the body that I wanted. Even double sessions in high school didn’t completely do the trick! I just kind of gave up and assumed that “this is just how I’m made.”

I know many people, particularly women, struggle with weight-related self esteem and confidence issues; I have certainly suffered through many years of feeling bad about myself in all different types of situations, but all relating to how I perceived myself physically. If you’ve ever experienced this type of debilitating lack of confidence, you know that it can creep into so many parts of your life: social, personal relationships, even work, etc.

While this is extremely personal for me, I feel an obligation to talk openly about it, because, through P90X, I’ve taken huge strides toward resolving these feelings and becoming a physically and mentally healthier person. P90X has given me the opportunity for a total transformation! I always thought I was doing the right things to lose weight and get in shape. I thought my diet was decent and I exercised a lot. P90X taught me that, in my case, 75% of my problem was diet. I wasn’t necessarily eating bad food, just the wrong proportions – too many carbs and not enough protein. People OFTEN ask “do I really need to follow the nutrition plan for P90X?” The answer is YES, you do! I asked the same question – who feels like dieting anyway?? But, with some prodding from Jesse, I decided to really embrace the entire program, nutrition and all – it’s only 90 days, right? Between the intense (and very satisfying) workouts, and the change in diet, the pounds and inches were melting off. I was never hungry! In fact, I was eating much more than I ever had (very large grocery bills prove it).

I hit a bit of a plateau in phase II. I stayed on the fat shredder phase of the diet for 60 days, instead of only 30. It’s very flexible that way – you just need to listen to your body. I think I stayed on the fat shredder phase for a bit too long, which slowed my results a bit (see phase II results). In phase III of the workouts, however, I moved on to phase II of the nutrition plan. I never got to phase III of the diet (still, to this day). I’m still loosely following phase II. Anyhow, have a look at the results. I have a more detailed version of the results table that shows from where the inches were lost (e.g. waist, legs, etc.), but it’s kind of big, so I decided to go with a summary instead. If there are cries of outrage, I’ll see what I can do to post the deets.

Just as an update, I finished P90X on August 27. Since then, I’ve continued to exercise (4 or 5 times/week) and eat well and have lost about 9 more pounds (more on that in another post). Now I’m just kind of maintaining. I’d maybe like to lose 5 or 6 more pounds, but I’m not going to obsess over it. I am the thinnest I have EVER been. I went from a size 10/12 to a size 6. I wasn’t even a size 6 in high school!!! Thanks, Tony Horton, for showing me the way!!! If I can do it, anyone can do it. It just takes a commitment to eat well and press play every day – one day at a time.


P90X Fitness Test and Nutrition Plan Preparation

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Ok, fit test under my belt. For those not in “the know,” the P90X fitness test is a test to determine your level of physical fitness and to see if P90X is appropriate for you. The program requires some baseline level of fitness in order to maximize results. From what I’ve read, if you have more than 20 (give or take) pounds to lose, you may want to try a different weight loss program first, before taking on P90X.

I am right on the borderline as far as weight goes. I would love to lose 20 (hell, 30?) pounds, but I was determined to start P90X asap (barring the results of the fit test). The fit test is a series of exercises that tests your strength, stamina, and cardio and specifies minimum levels for P90X. Somehow, I passed with flying colors! Bring it on!! The test includes curls, squats, jumping jacks, pull ups (um, no thank you), flexibility test, standing jump test, stomach exercises, etc. Yeah, I broke a sweat, but I easily passed.

I also took my before pictures (will post later).

Also, we went grocery shopping to get all the healthy food I’m going to need for the nutrition plan (spent over $200…yipes!). A strange note – I bought like 2 dozen eggs – apparently this is a really protein-intense program! I really want to follow this to a tee. I have NEVER stuck with a diet before. I’ve always been athletic (high school/college althete), and have been active ever since. I’m not as active now as I’d like to be, but that’s about to change in a hurry. I will be so proud of myself if I can actually stick with this for the entire 90 days.

P90X Day 0 – Measurements and Fit Test Results

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Ok, here are my Day 0 measurements:

Weight: 151.2
Chest: 38″
Waist: 32.25″
Hips: 38.25″
Right Thigh: 22″
Left Thigh: 21″
Right Arm: 12.5″
Left Arm: 12.5″

Day 0 Fitness Test Results:
Resting Heart Rate: Ooops, didn’t take that 🙁
Pull-ups: 0 (didn’t have a pull-up bar, but pretty sure I couldn’t do any anyway); P90X min: 1
Vertical Leap: 7″; P90X min: 3″
Push-Ups: 12 regular + 15 on knees; P90X min: 3 regular or 15 from knees
Toe Touch: +3″ (3″ past my toes): P90X min: -6″ (6″ away from reaching your toes)
Wall Squat: 1min 56sec; P90X min: 1 minute
Bicep Curls: 21 w/ 10 lbs; P90X min: 10 w/ 8 lbs
In & Outs: 30; P90X min: 25
Heart Rate Maximizer: Immediately after: 150, 1 minute after: didn’t record (had distraction), 2 minutes after: 84, 3 minutes after: 82, 4 minutes after: 80; P90X min: Able to finish 2 minutes of jumping jacks (last 30 seconds as fast as you can).

I know this would all be easier to read if it were in a table, and I do plan to do that. When I do, I’ll replace this mess with the pretty table!! 🙂

P90X – The Start of a New Era

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

It’s been a while since I have posted anything (Jesse has been great at chronicling our house progress with amazing detail)! I’m inspired to write now, though! I am starting a new workout program called P90X (for Power 90 eXtreme), and thought I would share my experiences as I go along. I first learned about P90X a couple of years ago when my dad mentioned this informercial he had seen on TV for an INSANE workout, and he explained the concept of muscle confusion to me. It sounded really great, but I didn’t have confidence that I could actually do it. A couple of months ago, I saw the infomercial myself, and wow. Ridiculous. BUT, something struck a chord in me, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I started googling about it and asking people about it (read here: driving Jesse insane with my inability to make a decision). I saw all sorts of before and after pictures and videos, read blogs, learned about the nutrition plan, etc. After a month and half of going back and forth about it, I broke down and bought the DVDs, a chin-up bar, and some weights – HERE WE GO!!!

A lot of the blogs that I read were so helpful and inspirational, that I thought I would do my part and document my journey with the hopes of helping at least one other person have the confidence to do this workout!!

I will post my day 1 pictures (be nice people…this is hard to do), as well as 30, 60, and 90 day photos. I’ll also provide my measurements and weight (also very emotionally difficult to divulge).

If people are interested, I can post my meals also. I have found this very helpful when other people do it – gives me ideas!!

Most of all, I just want to chronicle my hardships and victories – this program is very difficult, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of doing a workout or into eating something you shouldn’t – I want to share all of these difficulties and prove that I can overcome them and so can you!

Keep checking back!

Now I Understand

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

So now I finally understand why Tina has seemed so stressed about getting the floor done and putting the kitchen back together. Last night, she threw me the best surprise birthday party ever! I knew that a couple of my friends were coming up from CT for dinner but I also knew that they wouldn’t care what state the house was in. Thankfully, we finished just in time and this was a non-issue.

Jay, Catie, and Steve arrived in the afternoon and Tina suggested that we go grab a beer before dinner. We headed to the Captain Kidd in Woods Hole and grabbed a table in the back room. After the first round of beer, Jay began complaining of a stomach ache and switched to water. Sometime during the second round, he disappeared to the men’s room. When he came back, he asked Tina if she could push dinner back an hour and run back to our house. Tina reluctantly agreed and placed a call to the restaurant. We raced back to the house. I rushed to the door to let Jay in and immediately noticed the odd glow coming from the dining room. The house had been decorated in a very festive, Mexican-themed way. I cautiously proceeded further into the house. As I rounded the corner into the livingroom, I was greeted by a 30-voice harmony shouting “SURPRISE!!!”

And surprised I was! The rest of the night was a fantastic blur that included, among other things:

*The first Chronic Cape Guac-off


*A never-ending supply of margaritas

*Piñata (it broke more easily with an aluminum bat that a whiffle ball bat).

*The best rendition of Happy Birthday I’ve ever heard, including four-part harmony


*Dancing with cats!

I think a good time was had by all. I certainly enjoyed it. Best surprise party ever!

Finishing the Floor – Day Three

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

The second coat of finish really evened out and started to build on the floor.  The original formula tung oil certainly had a glassy smooth finish to it:

We moved some of the appliances around and changed the supports of the remaining cabinet so we could get a coat of tung oil on the areas under the cabinet that hadn’t been coated yet.  Then we got started spreading the third coat of tung oil.  For the third and fourth coat, we are using a satin-finish tung oil to cut down on the sheen.

One thing we noticed when we got upstairs after finishing the third coat was that the flattening agent in the satin finish tung oil added more power to the smell of of the drying floor.  There was definitely more of the odor getting upstairs.  I added more plastic and tape to the areas that seemed to be leaking air from downstairs.  We cracked the windows in the bedroom and spent a couple of hours relaxing.

Since most of our friends and colleagues in the area were still traveling for the holidays, there were no big New Years Eve parties to go to and we certainly weren’t in a position to hold one.  We were also pretty exhausted from all of the work we’ve been doing so we decided that we would grab some take out and have a relaxing evening in the confines of the second floor.  Tina called our local Chinese take out restaurant and asked how much of a lead they needed to get an order ready.  The woman said 20 minutes would be sufficient.  Knowing that they would probably be busier than they let on, Tina called at 5:30 to place the order for pickup at 6:30.  When the time came, we headed out to make the pickup.  The parking lot was packed!  I let Tina out and waited for a spot to open up.  After about half an hour of waiting, a spot opened up.  I headed inside to check on Tina.

Inside, I was greeted by an angry, or at least disgruntled, mob.  There were at least 30 people crammed into the lobby and bar area waiting for their takeout.  People were comparing their order times and tracking who was coming and going.  We heard that there were people still waiting that had ordered an hour before us!!!  We sat down at a table near the bar and grumbled with the rest of them.  Occasionally, a staff member appeared from the kitchen holding a bag and a hush would fall over the restaurant.  A name was called, and some lucky person would cheer and step up to take their food.  At some point, the outflow of happy customers started to exceed the inflow of unsuspecting revelers.  Nearly two-and-a-half hours passed before our name was finally called!  We got home a little after nine, crossed the bridge, and enjoyed a lovely dinner in our makeshift kitchen.

After dinner was over, we headed back outside and around to the side door to make our way upstairs.  We brought some beverages up and settled in to watch the coverage of the festivities at Times Square.  We thought it would be fun to play cribbage while we were waiting for the ball to drop.  We made it about halfway through the first game before the cats became extremely interested in what we were doing.  Noche, uncharacteristically, was trying to play with the pegs.  Baboi also started pulling pegs out of the board.  When Noche managed to stealthily grab a peg and slink off the bed, we decided to give up on the game.  Just as we settled in to watch the countdown, Noche decided it was time to throw up all over the bathroom.  2009 was ending on an interesting note.



Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Well, I’m finally getting around to going through some of my pictures from Bolivia. There’s no better way to explain my experience than with photos! There are some on facebook:

I also posted some on my flickr page:

Here’s a preview:

Turns out you do NOT want to touch these trees!

One of our many guides for the day.

Storm rolling in.

We were literally covered with these little flies ALL day. DEET did not deter them :(

A woman dressed in traditional attire, waiting to perform.

Workshop participant.

Field transportation. This was one fun ride!!!

burning the forest to make room for crops.

Yup, that's a weed whacker.

More market. Those rugs and tarps are there to block the hot, afternoon sun.

Unpacking the Kitchen

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Yesterday, Tina left for Bolivia, leaving me with a week to get as much done as possible.  I started in the kitchen because I was super excited to be able to cook a good meal again.  I had a mountain of boxes to go through, but first, I had to clean the cabinets and put in some shelf paper:

Once I started going through the boxes, the dishwashing began.  Everything was coated with a thin layer of grime from being in storage all summer.  I put about 8 loads of dishes through the dishwasher and filled the dish drainer at least as many times with handwashed items:

I got through quite a few boxes and contributed to the growing mountain of cardboard in the basement.  To celebrate all of my success, I cooked a fantastic stir-fry for dinner.  It was nice to use a cutting board and proper tools.  I have a kitchen again!

Moving Day

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

We awoke with excitement today, for today was the day that we would get our stuff back.  We’ve literally been living out of a couple of bags of clothes and whatever other random things had made the journey across the country with us since we left Las Vegas in late May.  We were in no way prepared to go this long without access to our belongings.  The movers had packed things rather haphazardly into our storage unit and the largest furniture ended up in the front, so it was impossible to access our boxes without removing half of the contents of the unit.  I would say that we’ve been doing fine without most of our things so far, but now that the first hints of coolness can be felt in the air, we could really use something other than our summer clothes to wear.  Oh yeah, I could probably stand to stop wearing flip-flops everyday.

We had spent yesterday evening preparing for the big day (not that there’s much to do in an empty house) by tidying up and sorting out where we would be putting everything.  We also managed to get a coat of paint on the trim in the master bedroom.  That completed our work in there (for now) so it is ready to be lived in.  It was a triumphant moment when we sealed the can of semi-gloss white trim paint,  to know that we had one room done (for now).  But that was yesterday.  Today is moving day!

We headed out early to pick up our U-Haul truck in Hyannis and then made our way to the storage unit in Pocasset.  As I turned the 26′ truck onto 151 at the Mashpee rotary, I noticed dark clouds growing on the western horizon; a stark contrast to the rosy sunrise fading to morning sun in my side-view mirrors.  Showers had been forecast, and, though we were hoping to get lucky, it looked as if they were approaching.

We arrived at the storage unit and got the truck into position.  Two of our friends, Michael and Wayne, arrived to help us load up.  Despite a few sprinkles now and again, we stayed mostly dry and finished packing everything into the truck in a bit under two hours.

Back at the house, Michael, Tina, and I started unloading the truck.  Most of the boxes and furniture were headed to the basement since the majority of the house remains unfinished.  We moved more quickly than expected and had most of the truck unloaded by the time our fathers showed up to help.  No problem there because we had plenty of other projects in mind for them to help with.

The pile of boxes to be unpacked in the kitchen:

The mountain in the basement:

Baboi and Noche are very happy to have their stuff back:

Later that afternoon, Pops and I headed back to Hyannis to return the moving truck and to stop by Home Depot to pick up some necessary parts and pieces for our misc. projects that were were hoping to tackle for the weekend.  Tina and her father stayed back at the house to work on fixing all of the peeling paint from removing the painters tape.  We spent the evening watching hockey on our own TV, albeit still sitting in camp and beach chairs.  Then, with much joy, we headed upstairs to sleep in our REAL BED!  It was a great day!

Sigh. . .

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Background: we are house sitting for one of our colleagues this week – they have 2 dogs (only one of which is home right now), 2 cats (one indoor, one mostly outdoor), and a saltwater aquarium.

So there I was, soundly sleeping during the nice, cool, non-humid, 6:00am hour when I was suddenly awakened by a disgusting farting noise. I jumped out of bed, not really knowing what was going on, but figuring one of the animals was getting sick. To my dismay, Tonks (indoor girl kitty), was just finishing a nice poop on the hallway carpet, after which she jumped about 4 feet straight into the air and tore off down the stairs (for those of you who have cats, this requires no explanation – but some cats, after they finish “going,” will just take off on a romp through the house, clearly feeling lighter and faster).

Great start to the morning indeed. As my sleepy haze was clearing (much more quickly and rudely than I would have liked, I might add), it dawned on me that, for the past two days, the litterbox has been clean. Up until that moment, I didn’t see a problem – hooray for not scooping poop; however, now, as I’m groggily wiping poop off the carpet before the dog can eat it, I realize the empty box is definitely NOT a good thing. She must be going somewhere?!?! On a trek through the house I go, looking for the kitty toilet. Nope, not in the office, nowhere in the bedroom, living room looks clean. Hmm. Bathroom. Bingo. A pile of poop on one rug, and a bunch of little pee spots on the other (WHITE) rug. Awesome.