June Makes Three

Monday, May 29, 2006

One More Week

As boot camp draws to a close, little coincidences have been popping up. I try not to analyze these things too much (well, OK I do) - but it seems almost like the signs are telling me that boot camp has been the dawn of a new era. The first interesting bit is that Mike recently signed up for a 5K. A couple days later, Dr. Drill told us that our graduation will BE the same 5K. So Mike and I get to run together. (Truth be told, he'll be sprinting ahead while I am verrrrry sloooowly jogging way behind.) Then he can watch me get my certificate or whatever it is we're getting once I, the caboose, finish up the race.

Maybe that's not a big coincidence, but tell me this one isn't: Dr. Drill is moving into the condo behind ours. We'll be sharing the same courtyard! Pretty scary, huh? If he wanted to root through our trash to see if we're ordering takeout, he could.

Anyway I think it's pretty cool that the guy who's been a positive influence, not just on me but on Mike as well, will be our neighbor. Mike came to Take a Buddy to Boot Camp Day on Friday, and decided to sign up for the next session. We're going to take turns, and keep going for as long as we can. It is hard to believe that boot camp previously never existed, and funny how I came upon it completely by accident. Because it's really opened some doors. The adoption is taking an excruciating amount of time (most recent rumors: 18 months more to wait) and I feel like I am supposed to be using this time to get my act together, health wise. I want to be a healthy mom, as healthy as I can be. Already I feel tons better than I did at the start. I think maybe I'm even starting to look a little better, too, but unlike in the past, I'm trying to focus on the internal, adaptive changes rather than be obsessed so much on dress sizes and my dysfunctional relationship with the scale. It certainly never worked for me in the past!

I think we'll be outdoors for this final week, so I'll snap some pictures.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Getting Down and Dirty

Somehow, I knew, just knew, that Dr. Drill would be taking us outdoors today. Sure enough, after we stood at attention and my neighbor completed 25 pushups for not standing at complete attention, he sent us downstairs and into the cool morning. We formed three ranks and marched out to a field, sounding off cadences the whole time. (Have to admit, love the cadences. Must be the college music major in me)

Once at our destination, we engaged in all sorts of craziness. We lined up picnic tables and used the seating as steps. Up and down and up and down we stepped onto the benches. At 5'1, I enviously eyed the 6'3-ish guy across from me hopping up and down like he was on springs. Then, on the field, we had to do wind sprints (which I fondly call "winded sprints"), followed up with leap frogs, bear crawls, jumping, plyometric skipping (code for skipping as high and as far as you can) and eventually, walking. I aced the walking.

Soon afterwards, we found ourselves in a sandpit, where we did the familiar planks, crunches, pushups and leg lifts. At the end of the hour, most of us were filthy from grass, sand, dirt and effort. Back we marched to the gym. It was a tough workout, but good fun. Every morning around 4AM when I wake up and realize that the alarm clock is going off soon, I feel a sense of dread and wonder why someone in less-than-ideal condition is trying to do this. But it never fails: by the time we're halfway through the workout, I've got an adrenaline rush going and am really, really happy I haven't given up. I might be one of the slowest in the class, but I'm not ashamed. We're all there to get a good workout no matter who is the tortoise or the hare.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cora & Marian Keyes = BFF

Today I took a brief diversion from all things adoption, market research and boot camp (although I did have BC this morning). With Mike in tow, I headed to Bryant Park in NYC to see the brilliant Marian Keyes at a book signing. I have loved this Irish author since I discovered her first novel, Watermelon, several years ago. Slowly but surely I've devoured each of her hilarious, poignant and painfully candid chick-lit books and pretty much loved them all. I hate to even use the word "chick-lit" because the label conjures up all sorts of oversimplified post-feminist hoopla. Her characters are always so well-crafted, so complicated and their problems so real, it's hard not to relate. I just love her. (Can you tell?) And when I found out there was a chance to actually meet her I was almost as joyful as Taylor will be when he wins American Idol next week.

Anyway, so she read a bit from her latest novel and then proceeded with the book signing. I nearly jumped in her lap when it was my turn, shamelessly gushing about how I came up from Philly and how I love every syllable she's ever written. She was kind enough to indulge in the love-fest, hugging me and saying how much she appreciated my taking the trip and that when she is having a bad day she'll remember me. If it's the same line she gives to all her devotees, she didn't act like it (and I would have eaten it all up anyway).

If you're a chick, and you enjoy a good, post-Bridget Jones tour of the adventures, joys and calamaties of being a woman, get thyself to the nearest Barnes & Noble and start with Watermelon. My personal faves: Last Chance Saloon and Rachel's Holiday. I'm telling you, she's brilliant.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Over the Hump

Something great happened yesterday.

I woke up yesterday and was no longer in agony. I drove to work, and got out of the car without having to contemplate it beforehand. My fledgling muscles screamed no more! Truly it was a turning point in my fitness quest. Because night before last, I was really discouraged (despite the adoption excitement). I fantasized briefly about going AWOL but knew Dr. Drill would be calling and emailing, and I knew I’d come too far to quit anyway. So I just went to bed early and miraculously, I awakened with renewed energy and enthusiasm. I’m back baby!! And today I was very glad I hadn’t given up: we had a few absentees, and the poor souls who were friends with one of them had to do pushups, planks and preloads (lay on back, feet six inches off the ground) while the rest of us got to stretch. Harsh? I guess so. But we had plenty of warning that sympathy would be scarce and we’d have to pay for the sins of others. I wonder what’s in store for the absentees on Monday…

And now, the second week is already finished. Still loving it. Who knew these 34-yr-old knees could still jog? And considering that I’m not in great shape, I’m thrilled that I can do most of the exercises in class (mountain climbers and regular pushups aside). And the best part is that for once I can actually see myself doing the exercises that seem impossible now. It might not happen by the end of boot camp, but I’m signing on with a trainer afterwards to keep going. My loosening jeans and desire to get fit for the long haul are helping me to make more commitments. I’ve already met her and she’s ready for me once Dr. Drill turns us loose.

Here are some pictures, for anyone who thinks I'm making this whole thing up. In the one with the body bars, I'm the one all the way to the left, completely out of sync with the class. Not my fault though! I'd just joined in after doing a solo exercise.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Break out the champagne... We're DTC!!!

We got the official letter from the agency today. Our dossier was mailed to China today! Finally!!!

The letter says it’ll take another month to be logged in. But I’ve been hearing they are logging them in pretty quickly the last month or so. Keeping our fingers crossed.

Was just about to log on and complain about how sore I am from boot camp (because then pain never ends, it just drifts from one body part to the next) – but the news of finally being DTC is an analgesic (and endorphin). We are one big step closer to our June so there's nothing to whine about in life.

Off to toast our happy news!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Labor Pains

What a week. It appears we all survived our first three sessions of Dr. Evil Dr. Drill, and I don’t think many people, if any, dropped out. It is really tough, but seriously, he’s a pretty inspiring guy. You can really tell he’s doing this because he wants us to push ourselves outside our comfort zone and be truly fit and healthy. And he’s sincerely nice. Just no-nonsense and no-excuses.

Still, though. There were a couple moments when I did ask myself if I was nuts. Like the class on Wednesday when the front row had to lay on their backs and hold their feet six inches off the ground, while the back two rows had to do planks. Forever. One at a time, he went around to each person on their backs and dropped a ten pound medicine ball. Each person caught it and threw it back up at him. He worked his way around the room, row by row, as we all took turns between the medicine ball and the planks, and I had to dig down deep not to collapse and then be forced to do pushups.

Speaking of pushups, they were doled out frequently. Latecomers, knockers-over of canteens, and someone who snickered at a command in the back row. Today I was singled out to carry two heavy ammo cans around the track three times, then do shoulder shrugs with them, but I can’t tell if it was a punishment for looking the wrong way, or if I was just one of the lucky ones.

A highpoint: during an isometric exercise I got my first atta-girl: “excellent job Cora!" (I would have flushed with pride were I not already flushed with exhaustion.) No time to rest on my laurels though: later I was scolded for not picking my knees up high enough when jogging.

Anyway, I love it. I’ve never pushed myself this hard before. I’ve never hurt this bad before. In fact I couldn’t sleep the other night, every muscle ached so much I couldn’t get comfortable. But there’s some pride to be had in crawling out of bed at 4:45 and working up a sweat before the sun is up! And I admit I get a kick out of telling people what I’m doing and watching them cringe.

One week down, four to go!

P.S. We should have our dossier mailed to China next week. I don’t know which will be more likely to flow: tears of relief or swigs of champagne?

Monday, May 01, 2006


In previous musings about my future as a member of First Platoon Lansdale, I toyed with the notion that I might win some kind of award at the end of boot camp. With an hour’s worth of experience behind me, I can now safely say I’ll be lucky to make it out alive.

It was really freaking hard. I am really freaking out of shape. I’ve spent the last month “pushing” myself on the elliptical machine and thought I was doing well if I got myself sweated up within the first seven minutes of my workout. When we did our first set of pushups, I broke a sweat in seven seconds. By the time we finished the evil EVIL squats, I was almost calling out for mommy.

A quick run-down of yesterday's events:

We stood attention while Dr. Drill made inspections of our ammo cans, which had to be cleaned, rust-free and decorated with something personal. (I chose an “ultrasound” of China – fitting, no?) A few recruits were chastised for not cleaning theirs enough, and made to do 20 pushups each. I made the mistake of gawking at this and then had to do 20 pushups myself. The shame!

We divided into groups and did various fitness assessments, i.e. as many push-ups as possible in 2 minutes, running laps for 5 minutes, and then we had to hold a squat for an unholy amount of time till everyone got it right. Next time I suspect we’ll be holding something heavy when we do that.

After the assessments, we did loads of jumping jacks followed by running as a group in tight formation around the track. You’ve seen military groups running together as one? That wasn’t us. I’ve seen ants in better formation. Some ran ahead too quickly, others tried to close the gap, and I came dangerously close to tripping over the girl in front of me. And all the while, Dr. Drill sounded off cadences and we had to respond:

I used to drive a Chevrolet!
I used to drive a Chevrolet!

Now I’m running every day!
Now I’m running every day!

It was hard to understand him sometimes, and I could tell I wasn’t the only one, because he’d yell something out and we’d respond along the lines of “Bah bah mrah na ba da ba!”

We have a lot of work ahead of us.

As we wrapped up the session in a circle on the floor for our lecture on discipline, he said this was basically just a taste of what’s ahead. I don’t doubt it. Later, in the locker room, a girl who’s experienced his classes first-hand confirmed this by saying “that guy is just crazy”.