Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My aching back, the remix (in a better way)

Holy crap, after yesterday's workout my upper back (trapezius)was sore. It wasn't like I had thrown my back out, it was like I had kicked it's but.

We do a ton of back exercises: upright rows, standing bent rows, TRX Rows, shoulder shrugs, lat raises, etc. Yesterday we did some Jumping Jills. You might be saying to yourself, Jumping Jills, surely he has lost his mind. He means Jumping Jacks, but you'd be wrong. A Jumping Jill is similar, but instead of raising your hands above your head, you move them forward like you're clapping, then open them straight back. We perform these with resistance bands attached to the wall. As I did them, my back started to cramp.

Then I got on the train, and it kept getting worse. I got to work, and still worse. All day at work I sat in weird contortions trying to stretch it out, those muscles are difficult to stretch, at least for me.

When I got home, I convinced my sweet wife to rub my back. I tend to get some big knots right around my shoulder blades, and they were there with a vengeance. This time they went all the way across my back. My wife rubbed my back for at least 30 minutes, and still couldn't remove all the knots. Her hands were hurting, and she had to use her elbows. Her conclusion is that we will have to try again tomorrow.

So I go to the gym this morning, and of course there are more back exercises. Rope climbing, upright rows to name a few. I look at the trainer and tell him about it. His response? "I love it! Ha Ha Ha."

Thanks Jason.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Is this weird?

I just realized that I can actually stick my chin in the collar of my buttoned up dress shirts. That seems weird to me. I think this means it is officially time to buy some smaller dress shirts.

Day two, week two

Okay, so it is now day two of week two of my flush. So far I have encountered some problems, mainly holiday foods at the office! We have a special committee, I believe their official title is the "Some Sort of Committee", because no one really knows their focus. They have arranged a Festivus for the office. This will last all week, and is centered around Seinfeld themes. Mainly it involves eating. Today's theme is the Muffin Top. This morning I came in to find, muffins, cinnamon rolls, blueberry bread, and doughnut holes all laid out for everyone to sample. Being human I did take a small amount, but have adjusted other carbs out of my meals for today.

Yesterday, someone gave me a chocolate-bacon cupcake. I only ate a portion, but curiosity was killing me. It was reasonably good. (It was really good, it just felt odd to taste bacon in a cupcake.)

I was pretty convinced that the weight-loss would slow down this week, but in two days I'm down another pound. That means over the last eight and a half days I've lost six pounds total. This is ahead of where the flush says I should be, but I also have more to loose than many people.

This second week I have cut down on many of the carbs I eat, but don't have to do the extra cardio work everyday. (It's okay, I do some extra cardio in the form of restraining our dog as we 'proceed' around the block a couple of times. I usually get a two mile walk/jog in every night.)

I'll keep you posted on how it continues to go, but so far, so good!

Friday, December 9, 2011


I just wanted to drop a note, which means have a big, long write up, about the new cleanse, or flush, I'm doing.

Over the past few months, I've become a little more lax on my eating habits. I've kept my caloric intake fairly low, but I haven't kept my meals balanced, and have gone back to carb-heavy eating. This has resulted in my weight loss plateauing (by the way, I spelled plateauing correctly on my first attempt, and kind of surprised myself.) I've still been working out very hard, and can feel a difference in how much muscle mass I have, I'm just not loosing the fat.

This month my trainer, Jason at Firehouse Fitness, has released a new 28 day weight loss plan. He uses some tips and tricks he learned while getting ready for body building shows. He has also warned us that once we are done, if we don't return to good eating habits, the body will pack the pounds back on. I plan on returning to my early workout eating habits after the next three weeks. This really isn't hard, it was just making sure I had a good protein/carb balance, and not pigging out on anything.

His plan, which he is selling so I won't give away much, is broken down over four weeks. During this four weeks, you need to be performing a resistance exercise routine three to five days each week. He also lays out a diet that consists of a good balance of protein and carbs, and involves eating five meals a day*.

During week one and three, you have a diet with more carbs and add in some cardio workouts on top of the resistance training. His plan lays out when to eat and exercise to optimize weight loss. If you are interested in purchasing his plan email him at, please mention my name.

Week two and four remove the additional cardio exercise, and cut the carbs in your diet. He still tells you when and what to eat, you just don't have to worry about the extra cardio.

So far, I've been doing it for five days, and have lost 4.5 pounds during that time. I can say that I've felt hungry at times, which is weird. I've eaten more for breakfast and lunch than I normally would. The extra cardio has made me tired, but I overall feel great. (The big problem with the extra cardio is that I'm going out jogging/walking and it has been extremely cold this week.) The jogging is making my leg muscles more tired than usual, but that's all good. Nothing like muscle soreness, eh?

As I go into week two, I'll keep you updated on the progress.

December First

Seeing as it is right before the holidays, things have been busy. Not only that, I've been tired, thus the lack of posts.

The last two weeks have been pretty good, with the exception of the wrath of God, I mean windstorm we went through. Last Thursday morning, and I mean 12:01 a.m., we had a child who would not sleep. Our youngest has autism, and one of the interesting things about autistic children is they tend to have sleep problems. He sleeps really well, once we get him to sleep. We have to give him medicine to get there, usually.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011, we gave him his usual medication. We waited about three hours, and when he still wasn't asleep gave him some melatonin, an over the counter supplement. Melatonin is a chemical your brain produces when you should be going to sleep. So when the sun goes down, and you feel sleepy, that is partially from an increase of melatonin in your brain, or the long day you just went through. This still didn't produce any results except for happy screaming child jumping on our bed.

I had to work, so I was banished to sleep on the couch. My lovely wife sacrificed herself for my sake. (I read a study awhile ago that indicated that women who don't get enough sleep report it causing major strains in their relationships, where as men who didn't get enough sleep reported no change. Weird.) I woke up a little after 4:00 a.m. to hear major winds. This was to be expected as the weather man had indicated we would receive winds up to 70 mph. I went and traded places with my wife to let her get a few hours of shut-eye. I usually go to the gym, and thought I might have a chance if the youngest went to sleep. I laid down with him, and turned off all stimulus I could find. I finally got him to sleep about 6 a.m., when I was supposed to be at the gym. This is the same time that our power went out.

Now we have been lucky over the years, and have only lost power on 2-3 occasions. We live in an overlap area on the power grid. If the homes East of us lose power, we get it from the West side, and vice-a-versa. We went completely down. I woke my wife up to deal with the older children, and drove up to the gym. While trying to pull the van out of the driveway, it felt like the parking brake was on, but it was just the wind. I saw trees blown over, fences felled, and even street signs on the road. Also, no one had any power, not even the gym. I turned around and went home to get ready for work in the dark.

I usually take the train to work, and this was no exception. I live exactly .5 miles from the train station, so decided to walk, like usual. (I mainly did this because my wife had only been asleep for about one hour and forty-five minutes.) I will say that walking in 70+ mile an hour winds is an adventure. I was so cold. I was even whipped in the eye by a tree branch blown from across the street. I felt pretty lucky seeing the carnage a block North of our house. We are pretty sheltered and only lost a few shingles. There were houses that weren't even 10 years old that had lost the roofing on one side of their house. The really sad thing was the trees that were lost. Just East of the city cemetery there are 80 foot spruce trees. Now there are far fewer. The damage was even worse a little further North. I saw some pictures of stores that looked like a bomb had gone off in them.


Well, that's all the time I have right now. I'm going to try and get a post in later on my new "flush" I'm doing. Happy Friday

Monday, November 28, 2011


People occasionally place things on the counter at work to give them away. This was there today. Seems really random.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday traditions have officially started

Yesterday we started two of our holiday traditions. We actually completed one.

The first tradition that we started was making Jello for Thanksgiving. Now you might think I'm jumping the gun a little bit, but it is complicated Jello. First off, my family loves Jello. That is really an understatement. If any of you read any Terry Pratchett novels he often talks about how Dwarfs love gold, and finally one dwarf says, "No, we just say that to get it into bed." I kind of think my family has the same approach to Jello. If you go to my folks house on a Sunday night, and you just happen to be the first person there, you can eat the leftover Jello. If you aren't first, then you can complain that someone else ate it all. Especially if there is fruit in it, and by fruit I mean raspberries.

Holiday Jello is different. Some years ago, my mother came across an idea that involved multiple layers of Jello-y goodness. You mix half a pack, and pour it in a 9 x 13 baking dish. You let it set up. You then mix the other half, but instead of cold water, you add some evaporated milk. This makes it a nice opaque color. You then add this layer, and let it set up in the fridge. You repeat this process until the dish is full. This is typically one of the first dishes to disappear on Thanksgiving. It is my turn to make the Jello, so I'll post some picks after it is completed.

Last night we did our second Holiday tradition, letters to Santa. We've been doing this for a long time. Every year, we use the family home evening before Thanksgiving to write our letters to Santa. Everyone takes a turn reading theirs aloud, allowing Mom and Dad to take some notes, and then we "send" them to Santa. The traditional way to send them to Santa mimics the movie Marry Poppins. They are delivered up the chimney via fire. You see, Santa has a kind of symbiotic relationship with fireplaces. This is the quickest and most sure fire way to get your holiday list to the big man up North. There is a lovely picture of us posting our letters below.

Well, as we start more traditions, I'll let you know. Have a great Thanksgiving week!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Uneventful Thursday

Thursday started out strong, with me waking up, looking at the clock, and then turning off the alarm and going back to sleep for another hour.

Following that I had to try and get the newest edition of our community newspaper, the Davis County Clipper, because my work's technical writer had an article being published. I zipped around to three stores, and no one had a copy. I finally ran over to their headquarters and put 50 cents into the machine. I then pulled out last weeks edition!

Well crap, there was no way that I could get one before work, so I headed over to the train station and caught a late train.

I got into work, and had a couple of meetings, and a webinar. Nothing too exciting. One of the meetings was a training on avoiding holiday related stress. This was put on by someone from Weber State University. The only problem I could see was that she started the holiday stress by giving us a test.

The important lesson I learned about holiday stress? If you don't want to do it, don't do it. That simple. If someone invites you out and you don't want to go, just tell them you're busy. They don't need to know that you are busy painting your toenails. That was the gist of the 45 minute meeting.

When I got home, my wife wanted to go to the gym. Since I had avoided it that morning, I opted in. The workout wasn't really that hard, when looked at as individual pieces. It was very tiring.

Firehouse Fitness has a main board where they post the exercises. This is broken down in five rotations to allow people to use the equipment more efficiently. Being a geek, I think of it like programming. We have a function, we'll call it the gym, that has a loop inside of it. We loop through the exercises on the board for as long as time allows. Definitely a Do While loop. You know, Do exercise While there is time left.

Thursday, we added some nested loops. For each rotation on the board, we did each set of exercises four times. This isn't that unusual, but usually we stick with doing all of the sets of one exercise, then move onto the next and complete all of the sets for that exercise, etc. Not Thursday, we did the exercises in a super-set. This means we did one set of the first exercise, then one set of the next exercise, then one set of the third exercise, then back to the beginning. I kind of think of this as a For loop. In this example it would be For(x<=1, x++, exercise).

The first rotation had you do 50 mountain climbers at one end of the gym. You then switched to frog jumps down to the other end of the gym. There you did 50 high-knees. You then frog jumped back to the mountain climbers. Do this times four. The frog jumps where the hardest part for me.

The next rotation was 50 jump ropes, followed by 20 round-house kicks with each leg, followed by 40 punches using the heavy bags. Repeat four times.

After that we moved to Five Hop-Touch-Reach, followed by ten burpees, followed by ten power-wheel extensions. Repeat four times.

Then onto 25 TRX jumping squats, moving your feet in and out. Then ten TRX Rip squat, and lat pull. Followed by climbing the ropes on the wall four times. Repeat four times.

The last rotation was ten weighted touch and reach, ten exercise band touch and reach, and 25 weighted punches. Repeat four times.

I made it through six rotation on the board. I haven't sweat that much in quite some time.

After that I was able to get my local newspaper, but I had to drive back to their headquarters to get them.

When we got home, the kids were all whining that they were hungry. Luckily I had planned ahead and had the rice cooker delayed timer on, so the rice was cooking. We were having tacos, rice, and beans, which usually doesn't take long. I felt especially proud that we finished at the gym at 7:00 p.m. I had found my newspapers, and was able to have dinner on the table by 7:18 p.m.

After that I did some dishes, and got the garbage out. We read scriptures, and sent the kids to bed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sexual Harassment and Wrestling Practice

How's that for a headline? By the way, they aren't related events.

Yesterday our youngest was sick, he still is. He is kind of croupy, and didn't sleep well. This means that when I finally got out of bed I was tired, I hadn't gone to the gym in an attempt to get more sleep, and I had a slight headache.

As the day progressed, I had to go to our bi-yearly sexual harassment training. We have the head of the U of U's Office of Equal Opportunity come in, and she's an ex-detective. She is fairly entertaining, but not nearly as entertaining as sitting by my colleagues from UHEAA. Now the entire training goes over more than just sexual harassment, we also discuss the American with Disabilities Act. At one point the presenter mentioned that there is some Supreme Court case law that would suggest that erectile dysfunction could be considered a disability. At which point someone piped up with, "What kind of job does he do for the University?" That got a good laugh. Needless to say, the rest of the day was spent thinking about ways that we could be better at sexually harassing people.

I got a new computer at work, which is great. I got a computer with an Intel i7 3.4 GHz processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a graphics card with 512 MB of DDR3 dedicated RAM. This replaces my old Pentium 4 processor that sounded like a prop plane taking off every time I did anything. Sometimes just navigating to a new webpage would put such a strain on the system it would shut down. I was also updated to Windows 7 64 bit Enterprise edition. I like Windows 7.

By the time I got home, I had a headache. My wife commented to me that our mood-swings are offset. When she's in a good mood, I feel down. When I'm happy, she isn't. This proved prophetic. I took some medicine and helped make dinner (I put rice in the rice cooker.) I started to feel better, then my wife was made aware that one of our children had forgotten her homework at school, and another had left somewhere without telling anyone. She got upset. Weird.

I had to take the oldest to wrestling practice. It sounds weird, but there really isn't anything more manly than wrestling practice. On one hand, you have a bunch of guys basically hugging, and getting all sweaty. Doesn't sound to manly. On the other hand, these guys are trying to rip each other's heads off, and laughing about it. Very manly.

When we show up, the younger kids (K-4) are still practicing. I think there are roughly 8,000 of them in the Bountiful High Wrestling Room. At least that is how it sounds. I think that nuclear physicists should come study young child wrestling practice to get some ideas on how nuclear fission might work.

After the younger kids left, we started the boys running around the room to warm up. They did their stretching. Then we started on double-leg takedowns. This is a pretty easy technique, but one of the best. Basically you pull against your opponent, whether their arms, or shoulders, and when they try to back away you drop to your knees, drive your head to the side of your opponents side, and wrap your arms around both of their legs. Then you just drive with your legs, and take them to the ground. It is very much like a football tackle. We practiced singles and doubles for a while. When the coach tried to get the kids to gather up, my oldest and his training partner where in the middle of double-leg takedowns, and finished before running back in. Because they took so long, the kids had to do push-ups. My oldest looks horrible doing push-ups. His hands are way above his head, and it makes it too hard to do it from his feat, so he ends up on his knees with his but way up in the air.

Now we moved on to a request from one of the wrestlers, the Fireman's Throw. This is fun, because you shoot the leg, kind of like a single-leg takedown, but keep holding on to one of your opponent's arms. You then hook your other arm through their legs, sit on your feet, and throw your opponent to the side. Watch the video above, it's short, and a good throw. This one kind of confused many of the team.

It's fun to walk around and put different moves on the kids to show them how they work. My oldest was having a hard time throwing his training partner, who outweighs him by about 10 pounds, and is very good at defensive moves. So he adapted, and rolled him off of his head to get on top of him. The coach later showed them this as an alternative.

After this, we moved on to the Cross Face Cradle. This is pretty simple, but some of the boys had some problems. You lay your opponent out, and straighten their arm out. You then take your opposite hand, and put it across your opponents face and grab the arm you straightened out. You then basically pick their head up with the arm under their face (this doesn't feel great.) You bend them backwards until you can hook your other arm under their knee, and then grab the wrist that is under their face. Basically their head is touching their knee. This makes it easy to roll them onto their back for a pin.

We then practiced some counters to the Cross Face Cradle. One of which was when they had you on your back. Basically you would work your elbow free, and push against your opponents face with your elbow. You then put both of your hands on the knee in the cradle, and push to break their grip. Then you can escape. My oldest would get pushed in the cradle, and could just stretch his body out without having to use the technique. I had to explain that at sometime he would wrestle against someone who was stronger than himself, or had better technique, so he needed to learn it. His opponent on the other hand, usually couldn't get his elbow free because my son's grip was too tight. I think he has a natural talent for this.

We then had some actual wrestling. We did a minute of upright, then a minute with one kid starting on the bottom, a minute with the other kid starting on the bottom, then one more minute of upright. My oldest handled himself pretty well. He actually used a Fireman's Throw, and a Cross Face Cradle. By the last minute the other kid was wiped out, and just tried to run away from my son. This gave him an ideal time to use his Double-Leg takedown. It was cool to see him use the things he had just learned, and use them effectively.

We finished with a game of Sharks and Minnows, this is actual video from the game. For my family, this game will be familiar from the pool. The coach had everyone line up against the wall. He had them hold their hand above their heads, and hold up any number of fingers, as long as it was between 1 and 4. (Editorial comment: I'm not sure why I said the last sentence that way, but it seemed funny. Upon reflection it just seems kind of weird, but I still grin when I read it, so I'm leaving it.) He choose one group of kids, and they came out with him. They were the sharks. Everyone has to stay on their knees, and the goal for the minnows is to get by the sharks without them rolling them onto their backs. (When you play in the pool, the sharks have to touch the minnows when part of their body is above water.) This is pretty fun to watch, and is chaos.

My boy had a good time, even though he did complain about maybe bruising a rib or two, and having sore arms. His first statement was, "I'm going to go home, take an ibuprofen, take a shower, and go to bed." He then added, "Maybe I'll take my ibuprofen with the Dr. Pepper I bought earlier, then go to bed." I had to explain why drinking caffeine right before bed, especially for someone who rarely has it, was not a good idea. He then wanted to drink it for breakfast.

Oh to be young and dumb again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back to the gym

So my son was sick yesterday, he actually had a fever, so we didn't go to wrestling. My wife had dinner ready when I got home, so we ate a little early, then she went to the gym. She had the excitement of hitting the 3,000 workout, and did more reps than I did.

When she came home she told me that Jason, our trainer, really needed my help, and I needed to hurry up and go back to the gym. I knew he was having some of the flooring redone, and figured he just needed help moving some Sports Court flooring. It turns out he was moving all of the flooring, both the sports court and rubber matting.

The flooring is pretty cool. It is individual 12 inch square tiles. They have two sides with loops, and two sides that click in. We were creative, and made some of the gym's logos in the flooring.

I'm glad I went, Jason seemed a little out of it. The biggest problem was that classes were still going on. I kept having to kick people out of my way. I ended up helping for a little over three hours. The floors look great. We didn't get the rubber flooring down, but that can wait until the weekend.

I did spend the three hours I was there bent over. So this morning when I woke up to go the gym, my lower back muscles where very tights, and they still are. So are my hamstrings. I think I'll try to hit the gym tonight, if I loosen up at all.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I thought about making the title of this post something witty about Sparta and the 300, but I'm too tired. (By the way if you are not familiar with that story, go and get "Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae" by Steven Pressfield instead of watching the Movie 300. Excellent book.)

Today was 3,000 repetition day at good old Firehouse Fitness. I walked in, and there were only five exercises on the board. 1,000 Mountain Climbers. 500 Touch and Reach. 500 Push-ups. 1,000 Crunches and/or 1,000 Jump Ropes.

Have I ever mentioned how early 6:00 a.m. feels when you go to the gym? If not, it feels very early indeed.

We had more freedom to complete our exercises today. In fact, we do many variations of these exercises, and Jason let us choose our method and where we started in the rotation. Since they all looked unpleasant, I started at the beginning.

1,000 mountain climbers takes a little while to do. I did mine with my hands on a medicine ball, I like being up off the ground a little. I did them in batches of 100.

When that was over, I moved onto the Touch and Reach. This is a simple exercise that involves squatting down, and touching the floor between your legs. You then stand up, and extend your hands above your head. Think burpee without the push-up or jump. I've done many forms of this exercise, but kept it simple. I used a medicine ball in my hands. Some people got on the bosu, and used weights in their hands (for about 10 repetitions.) I saw some walk toward the exercise bands, but no one used them. No one used the small tires either.

At this time, it was getting toward the end of class. I usually have to leave 10-15 minutes early so that I can catch my train to work. I got down and did 50 push-ups, followed by 100 crunches. I kept this rotation up until I had to leave.

All-in-all, I did 1,900 repetitions this morning, and now want to sleep.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Everybody's working for the weekend.

So, I'm back at work, and thinking fondly of the weekend.

This weekend involved a Scout camp for my oldest, snow, and cold.

The oldest went camping on Friday. He didn't want to take a coat, he didn't think he needed too much winter gear, and he fought his mother every step of the way. When I got home, I didn't give him options, although while he was looking for his boots, he sat his backpack down, and we had to run out to catch them as they left. This would have deprived him of his change of clothing, and most of his supplies.

While he was out having fun, my wife decided we needed to go out to dinner. We don't do this often, so we packed the remaining children into the van and went out. It was a fairly mellow meal, with nothing too exciting to post about.

Saturday morning I got up to get a head start on the laundry. I also cleaned the laundry room. By the time I was done with that, we'll say about 8:30 a.m., I walked upstairs and saw the scouts out in front of our neighbors house.

From my experience, they usually are not home this early. I also knew that they planned to go shooting to finalize their rifle merit badge. When I asked the Scout Master what was up, he looked at me and said, "We had over a foot of snow, and your son collapsed the scouts' tent on their heads." It turns out that at about 6:30 in the morning, they woke up, and were concerned about the amount of snow on the top of the tent. Someone told my son to knock some of it off, and he hit the side of the tent. By doing this, he snapped one of the tent poles, and the part of the tent at the peak ripped, resulting in the tent collapsing on half the scouts. My son, and his buddy were on the side that didn't go down, so they enjoyed every second. After they got this sorted out, they decided they were wet and cold enough not to hang around, so they went and cooked breakfast at the Scout Masters house.

On Saturday we received an invitation for my youngest daughter to test for the "Spectrum" program with the school district. This is the advanced classes. I'm not sure what we'll do about that. When our oldest received the invitation we told him about it. When he heard he would have to change schools, he didn't want anything to do with it. He wanted to stay with his friends.

Saturday we just did our chores and shopping. My wife is going to make the youngest son a "sensory blanket" for church. Basically it is just a weighted blanket that they can lay over his lap when he feels anxious. We went and go the supplies, and I got some fabric to attempt to make some new work pants. It cost me all of $12. We'll see how they turn out.

Church was uneventful. We then went and had dinner with my in-laws. Enjoyable conversation and "Grandpa's stew". It did get chaotic, but one of my brother-in-laws started playing a patty cake like game with my youngest. To get any kind of focus out of him is great, so everyone had a good time watching them give each other high fives and yelling.

Eventually we found our way up to my parents' place. My oldest always feels ill right before going back to school for the week, or going to church. He started playing this game, and I know it's horrible, but I just don't believe he is ill anymore unless there is puke involved. And only if I witness it. He ended up falling asleep on my folks' couch (it was an hour later than usual thanks to changing the clocks.) I ended up taking over the patty cake game, and added in an additional overhead flip of my son. I would lay on my back, with him standing above my head. I would pick him up, flip him down onto my bent, raised legs, and he would role off onto his feet. He loved it. Shortly after that we headed home with the weekend over.

Now I'm back at work, just working for the weekend.

Friday, November 4, 2011

November 3rd

Not too much went on yesterday. Work, then home to cook dinner*, then a visit from the Primary presidency.

Work is going well, I cranked out most of the website changes that I need for next year. I'm still waiting on some information that I probably wont have until December, but it's nice to have a jump on it.

Came home, and my wife had baked some chicken and was going to make enchiladas. Since she still had some work to do, I volunteered to make the enchiladas. I used a trick that I learned about on Pinterest, which is a really random site where people can post things they find. Anyway, back to the trick. To get really well shredded chicken, you usually have to boil it. Baked chicken isn't the easiest thing to shred. The trick involves cooking your chicken like you normally would, then putting it into your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. You turn that on for a minute, and you have perfect "restaurant" shredded chicken. I made the enchiladas like I normally do, but my wife was so complimentary it was funny. Even when I was putting the leftovers away she wanted to have another bite.

The kids helped straighten our living room in anticipation of the Primary presidency's visit. They showed up, and I was sitting on a couch in the living room, trying to get our dog to come up to me so she wouldn't freak out our visitors. Instead she ran over to investigate, and (here is my sexist remark of the day) women being women, they stood in the open door exchanging pleasantries and let the dog out. So while they visited about how best to help our youngest child, I walked around in the cold and dark murmuring against them. (Not so much against them, more at them.) Our dog loves to explore once she gets out, so I walked after her towards her favorite places. She ducked into a friend's backyard that was pitch black. I followed her in, and she outmaneuvered me and ran off. At this point I had no idea where she was, so walked to some of her other haunts, all the while murmuring away. I finally found her when she scared a neighbor girl. She was just running away from me when the girl was getting out of her car. My dog didn't approach her or anything, just ran by. But a 60 pound animal running at you in the dark can be frightening. At this point I was really angry, walked out into the street light, called her name and told her to sit. This brought her up short, she trotted back to me, and sat down! I was so shocked that I was brought out of my anger, well mostly. Since I was half way around the block, I put her leash on her, and finished the walk, figuring that would help to calm her down.

When I got back, the Primary presidency was still there, and very apologetic. They had really finished their conversation, but replayed the highlights for me.

No exciting wrestling moves to talk about today, sorry. I will say I'm happy it's Friday.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wrestling Night Two

We had wrestling practice night two. It was a good time. We started with a game of knee tag, you just have to touch your partner's knee, then they're it. The kid my son had practiced with wasn't there yet, he has football before wrestling, so my son got with another kid his size. It turns out the new training partner has been wrestling for 10 years. I could tell that my son was a bit nervous when they started playing knee tag, this kid was good.

We started the actual practice with a review of the things we had learned the night before. My son did okay, but it was great because this new partner took the time to explain everything to him, and exactly why the little things were important. The picture above is my son practicing his sprawl. The kid must of thought that my son was okay, he would let him try the moves a couple of times with no pressure, then started actually wrestling him.

We finally started some new moves. First we started with talking about the referee positions. This took all of two minutes. Basically the lower position is kneeling on top of your feet, with both hands on the ground. It is a very solid position to be in. To get in the upper position, you walk up behind your opponent, and place one foot perpendicular to his feet (one of the coaches said you could actually stand on their feet.) You kneel with your other leg to the side of your opponents body, and on that side you hold his elbow with your hand. The other hand is wrapped around, and placed on your opponents waist. You then lay your head down on his back.

We then moved onto our first escape from the lower referee position, the sit out. This looks complicated, but it's not to bad. First you kick your feet out from under you. At the same time, you bend your elbow that is being held, and grab the had around your waist with your other hand. Now the trickery. You throw your knee across your body as far as you can, toward the elbow that is being held. You roll on your shoulder and knee, then to your other knee and throw your trailing hand between you and your opponent to make sure they don't follow you. You'll have to watch the video if you haven't wrestled.

My son's new partner patiently walked him through it, although it only took a few times. By this time, his former partner has showed up, and doesn't have anybody to work with, so my son and his training partner started taking turns. This kid was great, very patient and smart. After a little while, one of the high school wrestlers showed up, and helped with the other kid. My son was very proud that the experienced kid let him do it a few times, then focused on the other kid as he was having trouble picturing it.

I went and helped a few other kids, one who had played on our soccer team for a few years. I would listen to my son's training partner for the little tips, and pass them on. It was fun, because I had to actually show the kids how to do the move, then let them try it on me. Then they would try it on each other.

Next we moved to a simple move to hold your opponent down if you are in the upper position. I don't know the name of it, but you switch the hand on the elbow onto your opponents waist. The hand already on the waist grabs your opponents ankle, and pulls. You lean into your opponent, and drive with your feet until he is flat on his stomach.

This led to the first pin technique, the arm bar. Although the way we learned it was slightly different. Once you get on your opponents back, you thread an arm over the top of your opponents arm, then drag it back and put your hand on his back. It looks like your opponent has a chicken wing. On the other side, you slide your hand under their arm, and grab their wrist. You then swing your hips over to the side, and walk towards your opponents head. This twists them around, and flips them. In the video above the coach lets go of the under hook, but we were taught to hold on, and sit by there head. This results in them being halfway through a somersault. Their shoulders are pinned. Again, my son ran through it a couple of times, then they focused on his partner. When the coaches asked if someone would demonstrate what they had learned, the experienced guy told my son to volunteer. He did a great job.

This practice went so fast, it was great. As I was getting my shoes back on, my son's original training partner was close to me getting his stuff. His dad walked in, and asked him which coach had been helping him the night before, and he pointed to me. His dad introduced himself to me, and told me how much his son had enjoyed working with me, because he had been a bit nervous about starting out. I felt pretty good about that.

My son seems to really be enjoying this, and I think he'll do well.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


So the oldest started wrestling last night. He has not wrestled in the past, so this is a first. I'm pretty sure that his desire to wrestle goes back to his karate days. When he was in karate, we would watch some UFC together. I mentioned that the heavy-weight champion got his start by being a wrestler in college. He asked if it would make him a better martial artist, and I told him yes.

We showed up, and it's not the school season yet just a camp. His coaches had asked some of the parents to help, so I'm there even though I have virtually no experience.

The oldest looked pretty lonely for a few minutes, but during the warm-up run he saw one of the kids from our neighborhood who is a little younger than he is. We started off just practicing their stance. He has never been really good at being in a "ready" stance from soccer, and his wrestling stance is still too upright, but he is getting the idea.

They then moved on to the single-leg shot/take down. Basically you try to grab one of your opponents legs, then lift it up and trip them. We worked on this in two sections, the setup, and then the take down. The two kids I was helping, my oldest and another seventh grader, both latched onto the wrong part of the setup. Our coach likes to put his hand behind his opponents neck, and use that to pull him off balance to help get the leg. My two boys thought that was the most important, and spent five minutes trying to grab each others head. Once they did, they just danced around in a circle. I actually had to ask them if we were dancing or wrestling, mainly because that sounds like something a coach would say. I had to explain that this part didn't matter, and you needed to stay down. The key was to get the leg.

We then moved onto the important defensive move, the sprawl. Basically, when someone is trying to get your leg, you jump backwards with your feet, and put all of your weight on their back/head. Watch the video above for a good example of this. I picked up a few more kids at this time, and most of them got it. My oldest and his partner both wanted to wait until their opponent had their leg before they sprawled, I'm still working on getting them to do it early. After practicing each move, the coach would ask for volunteers to demonstrate what they had learned. My oldest volunteered, even though his partner didn't want to. My son shot the leg, and got it. His partner tried to sprawl, and kick his leg free. My son wouldn't let go, and ended up rolling the kid over onto his back. The coach laughed and told him that he had a super strong grip, which made him proud.

We then moved onto the finishing move for the sprawl. This is the famous half nelson. When you sprawl, you put a move called the whizzer on your opponent. This basically means that you put your arm over your opponent's shoulder, then move it under their armpit, then put your hand on the back of their head. Sounds complicated but it really isn't. You put your other hand on the back of their head, then grab that wrist with the arm that is in the whizzer. You then move your body away from their extended arm, and it rolls your opponent over onto their back for a point. I let the boys do this on me for practice, and my oldest could actually roll me. I was impressed.

The coach had everyone line up by height, and separate into groups of three. They then wrestled until someone had a take down. At that point, the winner would start wrestling the other person. Winner stands. My two boys where up against a ninth grader who has been wrestling. They got worked. My oldest held his own, he was stronger than the ninth grader, but that kid was fast and experienced. Finally he got my son's arm, and my son panicked. He stood straight up, and pulled to free his hand. When he let off pressure, the ninth grader threw him to the ground onto his shoulder, and it hurt. My son teared up, but recovered. After this game was over, they moved onto a game of knee tag. There was only two grouped together, and they just had to shoot the leg, and touch the knee, then the other person was it. This is meant to help them learn to sprawl and shoot a leg. This progressed to ankle tag, same game, you just had to touch the ankle.

We finished off with some ladder runs. As we went to the car, my son kept telling me his shoulders hurt, and he was exhausted. He actually said, "That was harder than I thought it'd be." I think he enjoyed it, and I think he'll be good at it. We'll see how tonight's practice goes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New calling

So the wife and I just received new callings at church. She is in charge of singing for the senior primary kids, and I'm teaching the 12 year-old kids in primary.

My oldest son is in my class, and we are finishing a year long study of the New Testament. We had the class read from the book of Acts, chapter 10. One of the boys in the class read verse 36, which states:

"The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)"

My oldest immediately followed the reading with, "Smiley face!"

Oh, what has texting done to our children?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My youngest daughter's Halloween costume

So my youngest daughter had told me that she needed a Halloween costume this week. I'm sure I only half listened, but it turns out she needs it today. Of course, she chose to remind me of this last night at about 9:00 p.m.. So I put the kids in bed, and dashed off to the Walmart to see what I could find.

The caveat was that she really wanted to be a Ghostbuster.

I walked around for about 45 minutes trying to find matching clothes that could be turned into a Ghostbuster jumpsuit, but couldn't find anything. I called the wife and told her I wasn't having any luck, and she told to check in the misses exercise area for an extra small. I couldn't find that, but I did find a small green long-sleeve shirt and a matching pair of sweat pants. They were to become my canvas.

I took them home, and had to hand-draw the logo and name tag onto them, and thought I did okay. The left hand of the ghost is in the wrong position, but again, this is my first time drawing this, and I thought it was okay.

I realized that this was a very poor costume, although I thought my youngest daughter might think it was nice. I decided I had to do something else. So it was out to the garage. I found a 2'x2' sheet of 1/4" plywood. I also had some PVC fittings, so now it was time to make Ray's ecto-goggles. I didn't have some of the tools that I needed, but was able to use my tablesaw, bandsaw, and pin nailer to come up with this.

I got out the black spray paint and some elastic to complete them.

This morning when my youngest got up, she freaked out and loved it. I still think it isn't the greatest costume ever, but she is happy and that's what matters. Over the next week we'll work on the backpack. Here is the final photo.

Happy Halloween, two weeks early.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fitness levels

So today at the gym we did a "fitness level test.". We do these every six weeks. Our trainer has six levels of fitness. As long as you go you can typically meet the levels. The higher you get, the more difficult they become. The good news is that there are set exercises, but Jason customizes the times to the individual. I tested for the fourth level today. My only concern was reaching my individual goal of weight loss.

I was dreading it all week, because I was sitting about two pounds over my goal two days ago. I showed up early to take my measurements. When I stepped on the scale, I was a full pound below my goal weight. I'm now officially 53 pounds lighter than I was in January. I kept my goal at six pounds over the next six weeks. I'm going to try for ten. 63 pounds sounds much better than 53.

The test days are fun because of the comroderie. Everyone is pushing each other on and having a good time. Jason has some other trainers on staff (none of them run classes yet, he makes them come for six months to fully understand their expectations.) they do help on test days, so I got to see a few of them than I usually do.

I'm stoked that I passed, I completed my mile and a half run in my best time since high school. I have to run more, I still can't keep it up as long as I'd like, running that is.

Last night at soccer practice the three coaches who where there took on the six players we had show up. I have to say we won, but I let them take back a goal I scored from 25 yards out. The coaches might have played a bit dirty, or as I like to say using our experience. In all fairness, I only had to pick three players up off the ground. It was fun, and thanks to my weight loss I was able to play the entire time!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Jr. High 5K

So my oldest son needed some extra credit. The only offered way to get it was to run a 5K. So Saturday morning, I found myself and my son at his Jr. High ready to run.

Now by saying I was ready to run, I meant I was up and dressed. I've been working out a lot, but I have not been doing much running. Occasionally we'll do a 3/4 mile run as part of a cardio day, but nothing more than that.

This was the Jr. High's first 5K, and they had about 50 people there, so not too shabby. We started at 7:30, and since it is now officially fall, the weather was perfect for a run.

We started the run, and I kept us at a moderate pace, not that I can get that speedy. My son wanted to run faster, and I told him he could, but he hung back with me. We ran about the first mile, then had to slow down and walk for a block. We then ran about another half mile, then began alternating running a block, walking a block. It was about this time that my son looked at me and said, "I'm glad we've kept this pace, I'm tired!"

For the most part, I let him dictate when we ran and when we walked. We hit a running block on one of the only uphill parts of the run, and he quickly decided that we would run to a fence a few houses up, then walk for a ways.

We finished in 38 minutes, which isn't great I know, but since we hadn't trained I felt pretty good about.

When I first started going to my gym, our trainer had us walk/run three miles on our own time, and record the time. That was back in March or April of this year. All I remember is that my wife kicked my but on that workout, and that my shins and lower back hurt so bad that I literally limped over the finish line. I also know that the track we walked wasn't exactly a quarter mile, so we didn't get in a full three miles. It took me one hour and five minutes to finish the three miles five months ago. So I'm looking at it like I improved 27 minutes on my time, with even a longer distance, without actually training. I'm happy.

Our gym was having a special train in the part on Saturday as well. I knew there would be some vendors there, and was interested in what was going on. We finished our race just in time to get to the workout, so I dragged my son along with me. I made him do half the workout, and then we got a recovery drink from Max Muscle. As we were driving home my son told me that he might like to go to the gym on Saturdays with us, because it was fun.

My son also had to a soccer game that afternoon. I believe that this is the most active he has ever been. It was great for him. On Sunday morning he crawled up the stairs, he really did. My oldest daughter was trying to help him stand up, but he insisted on crawling. He crawled in our room and told me his legs were too soar for him to go to church. That was when I got to have one of those moments with my child. It might be considered the male version of the, "Mom, I have an unclean feeling." Obviously the male versions are much less embarrassing, and only involve Icy Hot. I lathered his legs up, and he was surprised how quickly he could get up and walk around.

Anyway, no it's Monday morning, and I have moderately sore legs. I wonder if that is an omen for the rest of today? Hope not.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Super Ab H@$#!!!!

Oh my, that is all I can say. I got up for a nice workout, and received Ab punishment instead!

I walked into the gym and started stretching, but didn't really pay attention to the board. We were all talking, meaning everyone was complaining about how tired they were. Then Jason stepped aside and giggled. It's never a good sign when your trainer giggles.

Here was the workout:
TRX Three Ab Combo—30-30-30 (reps)
Power Wheel Three Ab Combo—30-30-30
Three Ab Combo—50-50-20
Swiss Ball Combo—20-20-20
Swiss Ball Passovers—20
Bosu 4 Point—30
One Leg Plan—45 Seconds Per Side
Bicycle Crunches—100
Exercise Band Jackknifes—30
Heavy Bag 4 Point—40
Medicine Ball Jackknifes—30
Band Side Lunge—20 Each Side
Dumbbell Side Plank—30 Each Side
Tire Sit & Slam—40

As of right now, my abs don't hurt. I can tell they will hurt, but I have officially reached the "numb" stage. Tomorrow I do not think I will be able to straighten my spine.

I've documented most of these exercises before, but there are a couple new ones, so here we go.

The Swiss Ball Combo (by the way, a Swiss Ball is just a big exercise ball that you can sit on) involves holding the exercise ball between your ankles and doing leg lifts. After that, you sit on the exercise ball, roll down onto your back, and then roll as far back as you can (basically you want the ball as close to your behind as possible while you can still support yourself.) You then do crunches. After completing those, you put your feet on the ball, with your hands in push-up position and do pikes. By the time I got to these, my pikes weren't stellar.

The Swiss Ball Passover involves the Swiss Ball (surprise!) You lay on your back, with your arms extended over your head, holding the Swiss Ball. You then jackknife your body upward, and pass the ball to your feet. You then return to laying down. Each time you pass the ball counts as one. The key to this exercise is to not bring your legs to far up, they should be just short of vertical. If you go too far, you pin your crunch down, so you don't get enough of a crunch.

I've discussed Bosu Four Points before, but I'll quickly revisit them. You place the platform on the ground, so the exercise ball portion is facing up. You position your lower back on the top of the Bosu. You then spread your arms and legs, and then crunch up. This is an amazing ab exercise. Love it!

Exercise Bank Jackknifes are pretty good, but I can't get the timing right yet. You lay down, and place a light weight exercise band under your feet. You then cross the bands, so the handles are on the opposite side of your body. You then bring do a jackknife, and bring your chest and legs up, while pulling the exercise band handles straight out to the side. I end up doing a situp, or leg lift, instead of a jackknife. The key to this exercise is similar to the Swiss Ball Passover, don't bring your legs up to high, or you can pin your crunch to the ground.

Heavy Bag Four Points are just like the Bosu, except laying on a heavy bag.

Medicine Ball Jackknifes are a newer exercise for us. Similar to other exercises, you lay on your back with your arms extended above your head. You hold a medicine ball in your hands, then bring your legs and chest up and touch the ball to your legs.

Band side lunges are like starting a lawnmower or snowmobile. You hook a heavy exercise band around a punching bag. You hold both of the handles together in both hands (grab them both in your right hand, then grab your right hand with your left hand.) You step straight to the side and twist your body while holding your arms straight out. It's almost like a row, but your focusing on the twist.

Dumbbell side planks involve getting in a side plank position up on your hand. You then take a light dumbbell (like a 15 pounder) and put it in front of you. You use your top hand, hold the dumbbell and extend your hand straight up. You have to focus on twisting your core as you go.

The tire sit & slam was pretty cool. We have a bunch of regular size tires at the gym. You put one against the wall, preferably a brick wall. You put your feet inside the tire against the wall. You lay outside the tire and hold a medicine ball. You then do a situp and throw the medicine ball against the wall and catch it at the top of the situp. It's a very "Rocky" kind of exercise, but it was good.

Well, as I rely on my chair back to support myself, I will think fondly of not doing this exercise routine again today. I wont say I will never do it again, or Jason will bring it back on Monday. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wednesday morning

So I've been feeling I'll an haven't hit the gym much in the past week. I started feeling better on Tuesday, and went to the gym in the morning. Then because my brain wasn't working, I went again in the evening with my wife. It was a pretty good workout, and now I'm pretty sore. Some of the highlights from yesterday were inclined dumbbell press, preacher curls, and triceps skull crushers.

Last night, I was laying in bed, getting my youngest to sleep, when my youngest daughter walked into my room. She had been asleep for awhile, and I asked her what was up. She just looked up at me, and started pulling her pants down. I said, "Whoa! This is my bedroom, not the bathroom! Get in there." So she just walked toward my bed and started pulling her pants down. I had to jump up, and walk her into the bathroom.

Then during the night, my youngest woke up. He's been sick, and his asthma has been acting up. When he woke up, he got the iPad, and then proceeded to watch children's shows. Since he is autistic, he just likes to watch the title sequence and the closing credits. Let me tell you, PeeWee's Playhouse and Looney Tunes are not your friends at 4:30 a.m.

Since I was up, I decided to go to the gym. (I would have got up and gone anyway, but I was sore from hitting the gym twice yesterday.)

We've been doing some new exercises this week. This is cool, because it shakes it up a little bit. Today was no different.

We started off by doing 40 "Rope Butt Touch Squats". This sounds pretty funny. We have four ropes hanging from the walls. You grab on, scoot backwards, and squat until your rear-end touches the ground. You then do your squats with a small jump at the top.

We then did a "dumbbell crawl" for two lengths of our floor. We took a 15 pound weight in each hand. Then got down in a plank position. You then do a bear crawl, almost like a moving mountain climber. The hard part is the floor is Sports Court indoor flooring, that means it is slick. We couldn't slide the dumbbells. This was pretty hard, and draining.

The third exercise was 20 "Push-up side steps". This involves doing a push-up, and when you are at the top you move your right hand over to your left hand, then move your left hand apart. While doing so, you move your feet behind your body. Then do a push-up, then move back to the right. This helps with your chest strength, but adding the movement on the back helps to work the back and shoulder muscles.

We then did 30 dumbbell walking lunges. Pretty standard.

Then my favorite, said in a sarcastic voice, 20 Burpee Bag Jumps. This involves doing a burpee (push-up, jump into a squat, then jump upwards.) Instead of jumping strait up, you jump over a heavy bag to the side of you. Then just repeat. This drains your energy.

We then did 40 "Bosu 4 Points". This involves laying the Bosu down on it's platform. You position your back on the ball portion where your body balances. You then extend your arms and legs, and bring them together in a crunch. This is a great ab exercise. The first time my father-in-law did these, he complained about his stomach for days.

Then we did something I haven't done since high school, "Fly's". In fact we did three sets of ten of "Swiss ball dumbbell fly's". Jason told us that after the dumbbells are above your shoulder, continuing the fly inward doesn't work anything. His solution is to have you rotate your hands, so your pinky's are together, and squeeze inward like you are trying to touch your elbows together. I could feel the extra work from the squeeze.

We then utilized the one machine we have in the gym, something which I have not used in the eight months I've been going there. We have a leg extension machine. Jason is worried that some of the muscles in your quadriceps do not get as much work from the strait squats and things we do. He wanted to make sure that all of the quads developed. The weight was "trainer's choice". When I asked how much he wanted me to do, his answer was, "The amount that lets you do 10-15 reps at one time." I ended up using 70 pounds, which I could get 15 reps at a time from. When I stood up from this, my legs kind of buckled!

We then did 100 mountain climbers with our feet in the TRX straps. I could only get 60 at a time.

We then did a new type of row, 40 reps of "band side lunge and rows". We hooked a heavy band around a punching bag. You stand with both of the handles together. You lunge to the side, and while in the lunge do a row. It kind of looks like starting a snowmobile. You alternate sides.

We then did 30 reps of dead lifts. We have these beams we use that are around 80 pounds. As an interesting aside, the last time we did this one of the ladies in the 6 a.m. class cried.

Now for the new, funky exercise. We did a one-minute "Medicine Ball Balance". This involved having two medicine balls. You put your hands on one, and your feet on the other and do a plank. I was actually able to do this, and so were a couple of the other guys. Most people found this pretty difficult because of the balance aspect. It's hard to balance on two balls like that. We had two minutes to try this, and if we couldn't complete it at that time, we moved on.

Now we moved on to kill our shoulders. We did 30-30-30 dumbbell circles. This involved just using five pound dumbbells. You stand in a T shape, and with your palms facing down, and your arms tight, move your hands in forward circles from the shoulders. We then turned our hands so the thumb were facing up and did 30 more circles, this time backwards. We then bent at the waist and turned our pinky's up, and did 30 more forward circles. It was tough, especially the last set.

Then to finish the core, we did 20 Power Wheel extensions. Grab the handles of the Power Wheel, get on your knees, and push forward from the hips. Once you have extended as far forward as you can, you pull back using your abs. And finally we did 35 leg lifts. If your legs go past vertical you start exercising your hips. So we get our legs vertical, and then give a little hop/crunch. This gives you a great ab workout.

Needless to say, I am tired. I think I'll spend the rest of the day being sore in my cubicle.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New project

My wife came home the other day and told me that I was going to help build a table. Now I really like carpentry, but this took me by surprise.

It turns out that her mother wants a table for the kids to sit at when we have a meal at their house. She now has 14 grandchildren, and she wanted to be able to seat them all. She envisioned it being for her birthday, but wanted to get started on it. She had a picture of a table that she liked. It was an older shaker/farm table.

First step, I took some measurements and drew up some plans. I knew she wanted to be "cost effective", so I thought we could make it out of Douglas Fir. I priced this table out right around $100. The table is big at eight feet long, and just under four feet wide. To put this into perspective, many tables you see in stores are around four to five feet long, and 30 inches wide.

The mother-in-law liked it, but I think the father-in-law was more concerned with how he could store this massive table when it was not in use. He liked the idea of built-in seating, so I drew up a new plan that would be the same size, but a trestle table. The trestle table has legs in the middle, instead of at the edges. Since we are building in bench seating, the legs will be able to slide under the bench, and we can tuck the table into the corner. This table should be a little cheaper to build, but I like it as it has an Arts & Crafts feel to it, not that I don't like Shaker. I don't have the final drawing of this, but here is an early version. The final version has a split upright leg. The legs are very "chunky" at three inches square. This is going to be a heavy table.

Monday, my father-in-law wanted to do something fun, so we started working on the table. He kept asking me what he should be doing as I worked on the table. I would do the layout, and he would make the cuts for me. That's nice, not to mention the amount of sawdust I made, and it wasn't in my shop!

This photo is the accumulated sawdust from thickness planing the top. We took it down about a quarter inch. We started with 6/4 stock, and now have a 5/4 top. With the beefy legs, the thick top should look good. Plus, since this is a table for kids, they probably wont be able to move it too much.

My wife took some photos, I'll get them and upload them later. My father-in-law was surprised that I was using Mortise and Tenon joinery as he had never made this joint before. I figured if you are going for an Arts & Crafts look you should use the right joints. I am going to take some short cuts and use my pocket hole jig for the top glue up.

We got quite a bit done on Monday. We put the two leg assemblies together. I still have to cut four more mortises for the cross member on the bottom. Then I have to make the matching tenons on the cross brace. The good news is that I thickness planed the cross brace to the size of the mortises, so I just have to use a jig-saw to complete the tenon. These are through tenons, so you will be able to see the end-grain of the cross brace. I'm still debating if I will put a "knock-down" peg through the end, but as I like the look it will probably happen.

After that it is just gluing up the top, and attaching the two. I see a lot of sanding in my future, and they still haven't decided how they want the finish to look.

After seeing this table, my wife has told me I will be building another one in the near future.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Seen on the train

So the camera on my phone is not the greatest, but pictured above is a student on their way to the U. He has a razor scooter and an Ewok in the side of his backpack. I'm going to guess computer science, engineering, or theatre major.

I was also privy to seeing three men on the train platform wearing guns, badges on their belts, and black t-shirts with "TSA Inspector" on the back. They were standing in a circle talking, not much inspecting going on. I wonder if they were there for Amtrack.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


So my oldest has started Jr. High. He is liking it for the most part, except the 1 mile run they do every week in gym, which he needs to do more of so he can keep running in soccer. So I was asking him about it last night, and told me that they had to do pull-ups in PE. I remember vainly trying pull-ups, and failing.

Me: "How'd you do?"

Oldest Child: "I could do 5."

Me: "......WOW!"

I'm impressed.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"I'd tell you my opinion of football, but then I'd have to repent!"

I heard that from another soccer coach last night. I'll get to that in a second.

Last night we had soccer practice, and a back to school night. We used the old divide and conquer technique. As a coach, I attended soccer, and the wife went to talk to teachers at the elementary.

The reports from the elementary are positive, with the exception of the amount of talking my younger daughter does. On the first day of school she told us that the teacher yelled at her. When I asked if she was talking, or not paying attention she said, "I was paying attention." You'll notice she didn't answer the other part of the question. The older daughter's teacher is great, and is working on helping the kids learn good habits and self esteem, and I don't mean the I'm just great no matter what I do, but she focuses on the positive. I think this will be great for my older daughter.

On to soccer practice. We have practiced for the last three years at the same location, and the same time. This year, it has become infested with football practices. I don't mind this, as our kids can see the calisthenics, yelling, and dull drills they do, and compare it to the games we play. All-in-all I think it helps them appreciate our practices.

Last night we showed up, and set up on the West end of the soccer field. We rarely use more than half. One coach was setting up cones, and getting the players warmed up while I put the net up. All of the sudden a team of 9-10 year old football players comes running through our field to do their lap to start practice. I asked them to get off of our field and got the following two responses. "Soccer sucks", and "You get off our field." Whatever, they are 9 year old punks (and not the good kind of punks like I used to be, the snot nosed kids type that you tell to get off your lawn [I know you usually don't see nested comments like this, but I felt like I should say that I have been asked to get off of people's lawns, so maybe all punks fall under the second type.]) Our players were very annoyed and started yelling back at the kids, until we told them to stop. We're trying to instill that soccer is a "gentleman's" sport.

It turns out that this football team was having a scrimmage against one of the other teams that practice at the park we are at. Like I mentioned we went from having one older team practice on the other field to having 5-6 teams there on Thursday nights. Since we were on the field first, they couldn't make us leave, and quite honestly they didn't even ask. They also had enough of the field that they could run their scrimmage North-South and have as long of a field as they would have running their game East-West with the full soccer field. They didn't do this. Instead, they ran it East-West, and had all of their coaches, and a few parents who were taking pictures stand in our field of play and yell at the kids. Then if a soccer ball came anywhere near them they would turn around and glare at us. The best part is that two of their coaches are friends of two of our coaches. This is about time that Coach Chuck told me the line above. Even better is the fact that all of his boys have played football at some point.

We finally started our scrimmage to end practice, and ran it North-South to be courteous. At this time, three of the dads from the football practices spread out on three sides of our field, and started playing catch over the tops of our heads. I was waiting for a player to get hit with the football, because they were obviously not quarterback material.

I would like my son to play football at some time. I think it helps teach teamwork and hard work. After the way they acted last night I might change my mind. Unfortunately, it also reinforced every stereotype of the stupid jock in my team's minds.

Now it wouldn't be a post if I didn't mention the gym. I didn't reach my weight loss goal the past six weeks, which included a family vacation and lots of family visiting. I did take my measurements though, and I've lost 3/4 of an inch in my waist, a full inch around my hips and chest. I'm pretty happy with that progress. Since January I've gone from a 54 inch chest to a 47 inch chest.

I was talking with my Father-in-law (FIL) about the workouts this week. When I could tell him what we did everyday he was confused for a minute, then the FIL asked, "You mean you're going every day?" I think that freaked him out.

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oh my aching quads?

Okay, I haven't posted for awhile. So here is whats been going on lately.

Yesterday was back to school, and my oldest started Jr. High. He seems pretty happy, and was excited that his locker is close to a girl he has a crush on. We had to go and get all those little back to school things, 3 ring binder, pad-lock for orchestra locker, 3x5 cards, etc.

The middle two (my daughters) are both loving their teachers. I think it will be a good school year.

We played a soccer game with the Priesthood from our Ward last Saturday. This was a good time. We had 15 people show up, including 3 Deacons. My team was slaughtered, but I did score a goal from midfield. The guy playing keeper for their team had never been a soccer player and was way out of position. I kept telling the young soccer players to take a shot, and no one would, so I did.

You may have noticed the post title, and thought, "That's not like Brett. He only ever complains about his back." I've decided I need to branch out, and now I'm going to complain about my legs.

For the past week the front of my quadriceps have been hurting. I've been working out, but they just don't seem to recover very quickly. The weird thing is where it hurts. Usually the outside, and down by my knee gets sore, but this was firmly in the upper-middle quad. Now I didn't loose any sleep thinking about this, but wondered why the change in the muscle pain. Then I went to the gym yesterday.

Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are more "strength" days. That's not to say that all the other days aren't also, but we slow down a bit, and focus on good technique. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays we focus on getting an elevated heart rate, and getting a good whole body workout.

We walked into the gym on Monday, and my wife looked at me and said, "Let's go home!" This is because the first three exercises contained the term, "mountain climber". Now a mountain climber is where you get in a push-up position, and then alter bringing your knees up to your chest like you're running. We usually do them with our hands on something to give a bit of elevation. This allows us to place our front foot down, which works your legs along with your abs. We had 100 Bosu mountain climbers (where you put the palms of your hands flat on the platform of the Bosu to add instability), 100 beam push-ups (our trainer, Jason Muir, has had some handles attached to six inch square metal tubing. We use this for push-ups, standing rows, and now mountain climbers.), and 100 medicine ball mountain climbers. As soon as I started on the workout, I realized that the mountain climbers were the cause of my sore quads. This was nice to know, but not really nice when you realize you have another 200 to do.

We then moved on to our "Hop-Touch-Reach" exercise. This is similar to a burpee, but without the push-up. We also usually throw in either a weight, or source of instability for the muscles in the arms and chest to get a better workout. Monday we did all of the above. We started with 40 hop-touch-reach with a six foot section of ABS drain line (similar to PVC pipe). This pipe is two inch diameter, and filled with sand. It is awkward to grab, and adds some instability up top. The real trick was putting it on the ground when you jumped backwards, then picking it back up for the hop on the end. We repeated this with medicine balls, and dumbbells.

We then moved into the core session. We started with a TRX 3 ab combo (I discussed most of these in a lovely post title, "Ab H#$@!"), followed by a Power Wheel 3 ab combo, and a Swiss ball 3 ab combo (this is the only set of exercises mentioned in my earlier post.) For the Swiss ball ab workout we first sat on the exercise ball, and rolled our rears forward until our back was touching the ball. You then roll backwards as far as you can and do crunches. The key is keeping the exercise ball still. By being back that far your abs have to be tense the entire time and they get a great workout. You then move to pikes with your arms in push-up position, and your knees on top of the ball. Then end with leg lifts with the ball between your feet.

The next set of exercises didn't really have a theme, besides elevating your heart rate. We started with a half-mile run, then flipped heavy punching bags four lengths of the gym, and jumped up on tractor tires 30 times. Then a new exercise was tried, the double-roundhouse belly. You get in front of a punching bag, and through a roundhouse kick with your left leg, then your right leg, and then do a push-up (making sure to touch your stomach to the ground.) I did have a slight advantage as I didn't have to go as far down as some people! This was followed by 40 band touch-reach (where you stand in the middle of an exercise band, with the handles in your hand, then you squat down and touch the ground, then reach up above your head as high as you can.) We then ran another half-mile.

To cap off the workout, we did a two and a half minute static squat. It was a good workout, and no wonder my legs hurt!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's all about the arms

Today we did something different for Firehouse Fitness, we focused on one muscle group to exhaustion. The idea behind the workout was not to burn a ton of calories, but to let your body burn extra calories over the next three days as it repairs your muscle tissue. We really focused on our arms, and through in some core exercises to burn a few more calories.

We started out with 5 sets of exercise band "3 arm combo". Each set involved standing on an exercise band and performing 20 bicep curls, 20 upright rows, and 20 triceps extensions. This makes your arms very tired.

We then did 100 crunches.

The next exercise was 4 sets of TRX band "3 arm combo". Each set involved doing 20 body bicep curls, 20 shoulder extensions (in this exercise you keep your arms strait in front of you, with the elbows locked and pull them strait out to the side. You end up standing in a "T" shape), and 20 triceps extensions. For those of you who don't know what the TRX system is, it looks like trucker tie-downs, but suspended from the wall. It utilizes your body weight to determine the difficulty of the workout. If you stand up strait it is very light weight, however, if you stand with your feet close to the wall the TRX is attached to it can be quite a heavy workout.

We then did 45 "Swiss ball pass overs". This involves laying on your back with your arms extended over your head. You place an exercise ball between your feet, and then do a jack knife and trade the ball from your feet to your hands. You then reverse it, and take the ball back to your feet.

We then did 3 sets of a dumbbell "3 arm combo". Each set was 15 "hammer fist" bicep curls (the palm of your hands face in instead of up), 20 shoulder presses, and then 15 overhead triceps extensions.

This was followed by 2 sets of a Power Wheel "3 ab combo". Each set involves 20 pikes (you have the wheel strapped to your feet, and get in push up position. You then do a jack knife movement, and bring your feet towards your head), 20 hamstring curls, and 20 leg lifts.

That is as far as I made it. There were two more circuits, but we ran out of time. I don't think anyone made it past this stage.

Great workout, but sore arms!

Monday, August 15, 2011

15 Years and Still Going Strong

15 years ago (since yesterday, my wife monopolized the computer) I married the love of my life.

I remember the day, I had to be up early to finish setting up for the reception. Moving tables, taking care of problems with my tuxedo, even moving some railroad ties. Then we headed to the Temple, and waited in the Celestial room. The man who was performing the ceremony had switched our wedding and his haircut in his day planner. We sat in comfort while our families sat in a room designed for about 15 less people than were actually in there.

The day went great, and I've never regretted my decision to ask you to marry me.

I love you Melanie!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Shoes from the train

Not sure where you pick these up, but everyone needs some Porky Pig high tops. The back even says, "That's all folks."

Friday, June 10, 2011

"New" Dutch Door

Well I didn't get to the gym last night, but I had a lot to do. First, we had to pick up a new bed for our youngest. He slept on it about half the night, then came and jumped in bed with us. But half a night is better than the whole thing.

I also took his door off, and chopped it in half.

Now it might seem weird to cut a door in half, but I have transformed it into a dutch door, one that you can open the top or bottom independently (I always think of the library door at your local LDS meetinghouse.)

This way we can put him in his room if he is throwing a fit, and we can still keep an eye on him. The occupational therapist (OT) thinks this is a good idea. I'll post a completed picture later tonight. I still have to paint it.

Basically, I took his door, and cut it with my circular saw. Then I ripped a 2x4 down to create new blocking for the inside of the door, since it is a hollow core. I glued the new blocking inside the door. I then took a 2x6, and make a little shelf for the top of the lower half. Add a slide locking mechanism so the door will still move as one unit, and viola, a dutch door.

I also made a soccer ball rebounder (I know that's not a real word) for my oldest. He's been excited for soccer, and this will help him a lot. Basically it is four pieces of 2x10 that are made into a slab with some stretchers across the back. You then add two hinged legs, with a brace between them, on the back. You can adjust how the ball rebounds to you by varying the angle the wall sits at. If you lean it back, it pops the ball up into the air. If you have it sit perpendicular to the ground, it gives you a nice low pass. We'll see how that works.

That's enough for today. Tomorrow we are having a special class at the gym on toning your arms, followed by free "Green Smoothies". Love them. Come check it out, Saturdays are always free at Firehouse Fitness. 1410 South 600 West, Woods Cross, UT.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Long time no post

Sorry it's been so long. I've been very busy, and very tired, so I've neglected the blog.

We had soccer tryouts a few weeks back. The team is looking really good. We have lost a couple of quality players, but we've also picked a few up. We'll also have the assistance of Coach Chuck, one of the kids dads. He played a lot, and the kids love him. I'm excited for the extra help.

Still going to the gym, and the weight-loss continues. This morning I decided to wear my suit pants, which I only normally wear to church. I haven't worn my suit for a little while, it's been hot, so only the shirt sleeves. As I walked to the train, I noticed that my pants would not stay up. This is very annoying at 7:10 in the morning when I'm still waking up. I got to work, and had to add an additional hole in my belt (as seen below.) Luckily I had my pocket knife to make said hole.

I was going to take a picture of my belt attached around my waist, but I didn't want to look like Anthony Wiener.

Now my pants are staying up, but I have a weird looking, out of place pleat on the front of my pants where I had to fold my pants so the front didn't stick straight out.

Yesterday, the wife did some weeding in the front planter boxes, and got some new flowers in. I'll post some pics later. Tonight we'll get the garden in.

Monday, May 23, 2011


So here is my latest comparison picture. The left side was taken in November of 2009 in Nashville. It was a very small photo in which I'm scowling because of the Elvis glasses. The right side pic was taken in my cubicle at work today. Quite a difference.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Down 40 Pounds

Today I officially hit an undisclosed weight that is 40 pounds lighter than I was in January. I'm very happy about this, and I feel good (I'm sure I'll feel that much better after I loose another 40.)

Every six weeks our gym tests our fitness level. The trainer wants to make sure that we are progressing enough. The tests have never been really hard, so no big deal. The only thing I know about this next test is that I'll have to run 1.5 miles. I can do that, I couldn't have 2 months ago.

As part of the wife's new diet, she is drinking the concoction in the picture below:

I'm also drinking it now, because it is surprisingly good. I had someone in my office tell me about green smoothies before. He said that he and his wife are basically vegetarians during the week, and eat meat on the weekends. They do this for a couple of reasons, but when I asked about his protein to carb intake he shrugged and said you have to have the green smoothie.

Now the green smoothie is lots of things. In fact, years ago I worked with an older lady from Germany. She would always bring in her "green drink". I finally asked her what was in it, and she said, "whatever I have in my refrigerator." I thought this sounded disgusting, and quietly mocked her about it. Now I am turning into the guy that brings the weird green drink to work.

Here is the recipe for the above smoothie:

  • 2 Cups of fresh spinach

  • 1/4 - 1/2 Cup Milk (I used 1%, but the recipe actually called for rice milk.)

  • 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter (I kind of guessed on the amount because I didn't want to wash a measuring spoon.)

  • 1 Whole Banana

  • 2 Scoops of Protein Powder (I used chocolate, but vanilla would taste equally good.)

  • Ice

You just put it all in a blender, and puree. It tastes very good, mainly like banana and peanut butter (Elvis would have liked it.) This makes enough for two people if you use really big glasses. I would say that I had about 16 ounces for mine. I used an online recipe nutrition calculator, and came up with the following numbers. About 240 calories, 23 grams of carbs, 33 grams of protein. Pretty good for one meal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Apology for not posting, and the wife's new diet

Sorry I haven't posted much this week. It's not that there is nothing to write about, it's that there is so much going on, especially with a new puppy in the house.

Until yesterday, our dog only had eyes for me. I didn't think anything of this, as I would be the "alpha male" in our household. (Note I said alpha male, and not head of household, or anything else. I know my place.) I have also had many dogs, and for some reason small animals and small children seem to like me.

The big problem with this is that she has separation anxiety, and I was the only one who could calm her down. Even when everyone else was home, she would watch out the window for me, and when I came in would bound up to me, and freak out until I sat down and properly greeted her (read freaked out about her.) Turns out this is exactly the opposite of what I should have done. So now I ignore the extreme behavior and calmly greet her. She has also started to relax around the other family members, especially my wife and oldest daughter.

We have a cage/kennel for the dog, but she hasn't used it since we have had her. I'm going to be working on this with her to see if her own private space helps her out.

Now on to the new diet. As part of our gym membership, I'm helping with the website and social media. This, in turn, results in not paying so much for the gym. I think it's a win-win. This month our trainer came out with a new diet. This is kind of an add-on to the boot camp training we go through, so I wont tell you everything, in fact I'm going to oversimplify it here. Basically it is a raw carbohydrate diet. You need to eat a protein and carbohydrate at each meal, but the carbs should come from an uncooked vegetable or fruit. He also has some other things thrown in like a green smoothie that is really good. My wife started this diet this week (I've been doing something very similar for about a month and a half, but will be moving to this new diet soon.) The wife's biggest problem with this? No caffeinated drinks. Now as we are LDS she only had caffeinated soda. This brings up the old joke:

Q: How do you tell the LDS members from non-members in Utah?

A: The temperature of their caffeine.

My wife has been getting serious headaches because of the lack of caffeine in her diet. The trainer has given her special permission, on one day a week, to have up to 32 ounces of a diet drink, as long as she has drank 60 ounces of water by noon. Drinking water is a big test for my wife. Ever since she was pregnant with our second child (I think it was #2 honey, so don't be angry if I got that wrong) she has had a hard time drinking water. This is due to the fact that when she started getting morning sickness, she would wake up, drink a glass of water, then be sick. That association has not left her mind. She is doing well, and has accelerated her weight-loss with the new diet. I'm proud of you honey!

A Tale of Two Games

It was the best of games, it was the worst of games, it was the game of hustle, it was the game of slothfulness, it was the game of hope, it was the game of despair.

Please allow me a little poetic license as I paraphrase Dickens, but we had two soccer games this past weekend, and they could not have been more different.

Friday night we played the best team in the league. Our team was ready. We went out and won every loose ball, played the long ball up to space (not just booming it over the top, but where our strikers could reach it), and dominated. We scored the first couple of goals. It was fabulous and a joy to watch. We ended up loosing, but it was close, and this was the best game we had ever played.

Saturday we played one of the worst teams in the league. We went out and didn't show a lot of hustle. We didn't win any loose balls, in fact we pulled up on our 50/50 challenges and just let them take the ball. They were big kids, and I think that psyched our team out. We lost this game, and it wasn't even fun to watch.

Well, there was one point where one of our teams players was in line to see that off sides wasn't called. The person who was the center referee was supposed to be an assistant, but the center referee didn't show up on time. This parent, who is way more knowledgeable about soccer than any of our coaching staff, yelled out to ask why it wasn't off side. The ref, who was a teenage girl wearing "John Stockton" style shorts, just turned and started screaming at the top of her lungs that the linesman should call off sides. He replied that he was inline, and that the assistant was out of position and didn't make the call. Then the ref screamed, "SHUT UP!!!!! LET ME REFEREE!!!!!" That was kind of funny.

All in all, the kids are doing much better. We have one final regular season game, and then a tournament in a week. We'll see how they go.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Our new family member

So this is Cocoa, the newest addition to our family. Cocoa is a lab mix, and not very big (around 30 pounds right now.) She is 6 months old, and loves to snuggle. She come house and crate trained (a huge bonus.)

We got Cocoa from my wife's high school friend. We got her for a few reasons. One is that our daughters have been begging for a dog, the other was to see if an animal companion would help our autistic son.

Our kids didn't know we were getting a dog, in fact my wife had the older kids baby sit while she came to pick me up from the train station. While she was out, we went and got the dog. Upon arriving home, we found our youngest crying, and the girls playing in the yard. The girls got excited and ran to see the dog, while the youngest just kept crying. The dog was interested in the youngest, which seems typical, and gave him one lick, then walked off. This helped calm our son down, and was the best thing the dog could have done. If she had acted all hyper and jumped around, he never would have paid attention to her again. The oldest had a friend over, and I think all he said was, "cool". This was mainly to stress how cool and collected he was. He wouldn't get over excited over anything with a friend around.

After we got everyone inside, the dog started exploring. Now the youngest is slow coming up the stairs, mainly because he likes to play on them (that should really say try to stand on his head on them, but that sounds dangerous so we'll leave it at play.) The dog walked down the stairs towards the youngest, and again just gave him one lick. The youngest just looked at her for a second, then put his hand on her head and walked up. This is a huge success, as he has really only ever interacted with bigger dogs, and Cocoa is much smaller than I expected.

The youngest went into his room, and the dog continued to explore. Eventually she found the youngest's room, and he was laying on the floor. The dog just went in and watched him, while he watched her. Again, looking at animals is not something the youngest always does, so this is good.

We took the dog out to visit, as our way of announcing that we have a new pooch. We saw my folks, and my wife's folks, then came home. We got everyone inside, and when the dog and the youngest reached the top of the stairs, the youngest just grabbed the dog's tail and followed her around. Major triumph. Cocoa handled it great, she just looked at him for a second and then went about her business.

The oldest finally showed some enthusiasm after his friend went home. The girls had been fighting over who got to walk the dog. He finally asked if he could have a turn as we were going into our house the last time at night.

I woke up this morning, and got out of bed. The dog jumped up and greeted me with a big tail wag. You gotta love the unbridled joy a dog can communicate with it's rear end. The dog then dashed out of the room, and jumped on my youngest daughter's bed. He gave her a big lick, and she thought this was the greatest way to wake up ever.

The girls even fought over who got to take the dog out to go potty this morning. We'll see if that keeps up.

This means a few more weekend projects, like dog proofing the backyard again, but I love it.