Archive for March, 2010

Three times THIS week I have been told I’m an inspiration (re: working out), by three different people.

And although it is flattering to hear such words it also leaves me kind of scratching my head in wonder. How could I possibly inspire someone else to workout & push themselves harder when I feel like such a slacker who is often merely going through the motions.

It would be fabulous if I felt similarly inspired by my own actions!

Grumpy Bear says it’s not surprising. He says that it is something that I keep working towards my goals even though the progress is soooo slow.

So there you go, I am inspirational!


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On Thursday at my training session I finally got to meet the Prowler.  It’s amazing how the simplest things can sometimes be the best training tools. We joined the boot camp for this part of our training session & set up in the parking lot behind the hotel with half of us at either end & then ran it like a relay race. The freezing cold wind helped to take my breath away & I think I got a good taste of the Prowler for my first go.

Note to self: remember to bring a sweatshirt for future sessions, it’s not that warm yet!

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I’m still struggling with the gym thing. I’ll have a couple great weeks where my workouts feel fabulous & I arrive & leave feeling optimistic & energized. And then I’ll have a couple weeks where it’s all I can do to slog through the workouts without bursting into tears.

I can’t quite figure out what the difference is – if you look at the actual workouts they are no harder on the bad weeks than on the good weeks. It’s definitely something less tangible than that.

Then my workout partner got injured & the time slot available for me to join another semi-private is just not working. Once again I seem to be struggling to make my schedule work (or more precisely someone else’s schedule to work to watch Diaperbutt for me). And, although I would love to say I have the dedication (& it is dedication not motivation that is key) to go on my own – I’m just not there right now.

But last night my trainer, Marc, called with me a simple question “What can I do to get you back into the gym regularly?”. It changed my day. It upped my dedication & motivation. It made me feel like I was worth the effort.

It’s not often you see that level of customer service, well, anywhere.

But no worries, this is a temporary lull in my forward momentum. I may be moving slowly towards my goals but it’s still movement.

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Some nights after a good workout I seize up some in the middle of the night making that 1:00am bathroom run painful & slow. On one such night a few weeks ago I placed my hand on the toilet tank to give myself a little extra support as I coaxed my hamstrings to allow me to sit.

The extra weight on the tank was the last straw for the bolts holding the tank to the bowl & the tank tipped right over – I caught it just in time.

So first thing in the morning I called Mom to ask her if she could bring me to the hardware store to get a toilet (no way a whole toilet is going to fit nicely in my little car). She instead stopped at the hardware store & picked up all the things we needed to refurbish the old one. She walked me through it & I did all the work while Diaperbutt “helped”.

The offending bolt that 'caused all the problems. You can see that the head had rusted completely off so that when I leaned on the tank it simply popped right through the hole. The matching bolt on the other side was almost at the same point of disintegration.

The first step was to shut off the water & empty the remaining water from the toilet.By turning off the water supply & then flushing the toilet you are left with just a small amount of water in the bowl which we simply scooped out with a cup.

The inside of the tank is stained thanks to the rusty bolts - somehow the water flowing into the bowl never looked discoloured.

Then I removed the tank from the bowl (simply done as the bolts were already gone) & placed it out of the way.

Next was the hardest part of the job, but doesn’t necessarily need to be. I had to unbolt the bowl from the floor but the bolts were hopelessly seized & had to be cut off. Not an easy task with the tight space of our bathroom & the angles. In fact we needed to make a hardware store run to get a better little saw for the job.

To cut the bolt I had to hang over the toilet seat holding the bolt with pliers in one hand (to keep it from wobbling) & saw with the other. The rusty bolt was surprisingly resistant to my efforts.

Once the bowl was unbolted from the floor the bowl should have simply lifted up but someone along the line had caulked all around the bowl (something you really shouldn’t do) & so I first had to remove the caulking.

The toilet finally removed!!! (No worries - the ick on the bottom of the toilet is a combination of rust & the old wax seal)

What the floor looked like after I removed the bowl. You can see where the bolt that failed had been dripping rust onto the floor behind the toilet. It's a little hard to tell in this picture but the old wax seal was actually sliding into the flange - not where it should be - usually the seal will come up with the toilet, not be left on the floor. This was a job that needed to be done. I do wonder why they don't make the wax seal bright purple or blue - it really would make the job less icky (& more reassuring) if it was not poopy looking.

The next part of the job was to clean everything up. With the toilet completely apart it is really easy to get it really nice & clean. I also had to remove all the remaining bits of caulking around the bottom of the toilet & on the floor & scrape away all the old wax from the floor. I used a baking soda & borax mixture to give the floor tiles a really good scrub while I was at it & am really happy with how clean they came up.

All clean & ready for the reinstall. The yellow in the flange is a rag - you need to do this while you are working 'cause the gases from the pipes can be dangerous (& stinky!).

Before the toilet could be reinstalled I needed to prepare the wax seal.

Place in the seal onto the bottom of the toilet. See what I mean about the colour? Wouldn't purple be better?!

To make sure the seal stays where it's supposed to be I had to mush the seal down onto the porcelain all the way around. The wax is super sticky so it is best to use a glove or a little piece of spare plastic to do this so it's not permanently stuck under your fingernails.

With the seal in place it was time to  put the toilet back in place which should have been a pretty straight forward process but those darn bolts gave me issues again. The way they fit into the flange is to slide in from the side & then you give them a halfway turn to “lock” them in place. But they kept unlocking as I was tightening them down & sliding out of place. To make matters worse after we got it all bolted down we realized I had forgotten to remove the yellow rag & had to remove the toilet again & start over. It took several tries before I got it properly tighten down (ok – I should say we here ’cause my Mom & Grumpy Bear both had a go at it as well).

The bowl finally tightened down. The toilet does settle after a couple days & will need to be tightened a little more at that time. It is SUPER IMPORTANT not to overtighten as it is very easy to crack the porcelain - I learned that the hard way a few years ago.

Next I prepared the tank to be reinstalled by replacing all the innards.

Out with the old parts.

And in with the new. We replaced the old ball float with this newer design. The black end goes through the hole at the bottom of the tank & then the white ring is twisted onto the black end to hold it all together. The instructions are on the package.

Diaperbutt checks my work.You can see where the innards are attached to the bottom of the tank.

We also replaced the gasket that goes on the bottom of the tank.

Once the tank was all prepped I lifted it into place & reattached it to the bowl. It took a little bit of coordination to get the bolts lined up but not too much as I managed to do it all alone!

Lining up the tank with the bowl. You can see the shiny news bolts & new gasket & their corresponding holes on the bowl.

Once the tank was on I simply needed to hook up the water & let the toilet refill.

To make sure we didn't have any leaks we layed some papertowel around the toilet, flushed a couple times & let it sit for a little while. We had no problems though & after 4.5 hours we were all relieved the toilet was back up & running!

It cost us less than $30 in parts to refurbish the toilet & it really is as good as new. I did have to go back in & replace the flapper valve (blue/green in the 2nd picture) a couple weeks later as it was leaking some (again the instructions are on the packaging – very simple). I had already replaced the seat when we moved back in last summer.

I must admit that this project has had me thinking a lot more about our disposable culture. How many things have we thrown out in the past that we could have very easily & cheaply refurbished & had working great? I think there may be a few more of these projects in my future…

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Spring Is Coming

Every year at this time of year when the forced bulbs (tulips, hyacinths, paper whites, etc.) are out in the stores I promise myself I will set some up myself – next year. Yet again I failed to do it this year so I spent the money & got a hyacinth for our bathroom – the whole upstairs was scented by it & it was such a nice reminder that spring is coming.

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Diaperbutt Has My Back

This evening Grumpy Bear & I were goofing off in the kitchen & started play wrestling. Diaperbutt came running into the kitchen to find out what all the noise was, took one look at the two of us, shrieked & started crying hysterically.

Lesson learned: you don’t mess with Diaperbutt’s mommy! What a good boy!

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Before we moved back into this house last spring I painted most of the house with the help of some friends & family. But we ran out of time & steam when we reached the upstairs hallway trim.

I had painted up there 2.5 years ago before we left (one of the few areas that I had painted) so it wasn’t so obvious that we hadn’t made it up there last spring. But after 4 moves (us out, renters in, renters out, us in) the trim was looking pretty banged up.

But on Saturday Diaperbutt took an unexpected early & very long nap. When he fell asleep in the morning I thought I might get the trim around his bedroom window done. When I finished that & he was still asleep I move on & on & on until before I knew it all the trim was painted. After each doorway I became more & more incredulous that he was still asleep.

The dogs also enjoyed the sunny day. As a special bonus Sadie kept her "helping" to a minimum & I only had to repaint one little spot where she jumped up on the freshly painted window sill.

It sure was nice to get a quiet, sunny couple of hours of productive time. And now our upstairs looks permanently brighter!

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