Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather
There was an error in this gadget

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

On Armpit Hair

We've returned from Austria and Germany. And it was wonderful.

It was nice to come back to weather that is above freezing. Man, I don't miss the Midwest one bit at this time of year.

I felt compelled to share my thoughts on armpit hair since I recently had that little survey on the subject in the right-hand column. I was not surprised that the majority of my readers find armpit hair "disgusting." I used to feel the same way. Why? Well, it just seemed gross.

When I was 19 and living in France, I saw a picture of a model in a magazine with armpit hair. I thought it looked so beautiful compared to those hair nubbins in the underarm one can never completely shave away anyway. So I stopped shaving. When I returned to the US, I got some strange looks in lockerooms. So I started shaving again.

But I never felt comfortable with it. Here's why:

1. There is a lot of chaffing in the pits while running if you don't have a completely smooth shave every day.
2. Armpit hair just looks better than poorly shaven pits.
3. It takes time to shave pits.
4. I have a pigmented papilloma in the middle of my left armpit that I was sick of nicking.

The only drawback is that people stare.

Happily, when I started dating SR, he said he liked unshaven pits. Perhaps we're a perfect storm, or perhaps we'll help turn the tide.

Why, I ask you, should women shave their pits? What is disgusting about not shaving?

We could discuss shaving in other places, of course, but this is of particular importance to me because of the chaffing while running. I'd love to hear other opinions.

Happy new year!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Jul

Tomorrow we are leaving for a Christmas trip to Austria with SR's family. I can't believe we are leaving with so much to organize in our lives. Our apartment is just starting to feel like a home and now we are leaving for 9 days. Seven in Kappl, Austria and then two visiting a friend of mine in Cologne, Germany.

Of course it will be great fun, but I feel like a nomad and I'm getting sick of it.

The Lorax has just gotten used to daycare. He goes to a "dagpleje" every weekday. A dagpleje is a woman who watches after up to six children between the ages of 10 months and 3 years. She watches them in her home. Ours is so nice. She makes all of the food herself and it's all "ecological", she has the kids play outside as much as possible, and today she sent The Lorax home with Christmas presents. His handprint in plaster for SR and his footprint in plaster for me. We were so touched. I should mention that this care is payed for by the Danish government. People wonder why this is the happiest place to live; well, that's one reason to add to the list.

Today I had my first meeting with my caseworker here who helps me with integration. He told me that the government has already agreed to pay for my entire language course for foreign doctors. That course will last for two months and then I'll (hopefully) enter the workforce. He then gave me a big boost of confidence when he said I had the best Danish of anyone he'd ever helped to integrate. I feel so stupid most of the time not being fluent yet, so that comment came at just the right time.

The first week we were here, SR was so down about leaving the kids that I thought our lives would just unravel, but things have gotten better. We're starting to feel settled and happy. We talk with the kids often and are looking forward to their visit and our trips home and then step-daughter moving here in July.

And SR's hematology fellowship sounds great. Just 37 hours a week and much higher pay than fellowships in the US. Not bad.

Also, we have found a use for the bidet.




Since I won't get the chance to write before then, Glædelig Jul!

Friday, 12 December 2008

New Apartment

We were able to find just two apartments for rent in Næstved (where we're going to live for the next 7 months). They were both nice, but SR liked one and I liked the other. After an exhausting battle, we went with my favorite because it was cheaper. Drumroll...

Hallway.



Picture from dining room into living room and extra living room.



The kitchen.



We didn't get a picture of the bathroom. It is enormous, but there are no lights, no shelves, and nothing to hold up a toilet paper roll. There is a bidet, however.

One of the two bedrooms.



We rented a Mercedes Sprinter to move many furniture items loaned to us by SR's parents. Moving was a bit rushed as there were no lights in the apartment. Luckily we did bring a couple of lamps along. We are soon going to get a lesson in the wiring of ceiling lights.

Here's the view. This was the first sunny day since our arrival over two weeks ago.



Chocolate celebration back at Farmor and Farfar's.



As you can see, The Bois has learned to take his own picture.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

First race in Denmark

One nice thing about Denmark is that races start at reasonable times. Today's race began at 10:00 am. I've never understood why Americans need to get up so early on the weekend to race. Anyway.

We woke up after a delightful sleep and had a little breakfast. I ate oatmeal. We ran about 3 miles to the race start. The race was next to Bagsværd Sø (sø means lake). There is a beautiful hilly forest with trails all around the lake.

Danes all wear expensive running gear. If you show up in cotton, you're sure to get strange looks. They also all wear spandex-type pants. I felt out of place in my six year old baggy black pants from The Express and my big turquoise mittens. There were, needless to say, quite a few women with serious running gear on.

I thought to mysef Jeg er helt vildt nervøs (I'm completely crazy-nervous). I figured I'd be third woman. This was a small race with about 70 people.

We looked at the confusing route on a map and then warmed up on it a bit. SR stopped in front of a mud wall and then began to fumble up it. "This is the last hill." I laughed and then realized he wasn't joking. I started up it and slipped all over the place in my racing flats. Why didn't I wear my trail shoes? Well, I accidentally packed them in the container that's coming in a couple of weeks.

This was an 8.2 km race. At the start line they said that there would be prizes for the first three men and the first woman. I never thought of Denmark as a chauvanist country. Quite the contrary. I should say there were more men than women at the race.

I started out in the middle of the pack and became that annoying person who passes lots of people right at the start. One woman gave me a surprised look when I passed her so quickly. As it turns out, that woman always wins the races around here.

So the race was up and down muddy, wet trails in the woods. And we ran around 4 circles, each about 1k longer than the one before. It was a great set-up. I was surprised to be able to see SR for the first two laps. And I was leading the women by at least a minute at the half-way point. I didn't keep track of time. I don't know my km splits. I just ran as fast as I could with a pretty good sense of how much race was ahead of me.

I stayed with the same men the whole race. I enjoyed listening to "Journey of the Featherless" by Cloud Cult over and over. In short races, I've made a habit of only listening to one song. SR and I were the only ones with MP3's/ipods.

It was a beautiful dark, cloudy, wet morning. And it felt so good to run fast.



With less than 1km left, before the final mud wall/hill, I saw SR win. I figured if I could avoid falling while scaling the wet mud, I'd be the first woman. Breathless, I survived the wall and ran downhill to the finish-line. My time was just over 34 minutes. So that's about 6:40 min miles and 4:10 min kms.

We both won 100 Kroner to Føtex (That's about $20 to a Wal-Mart type store). Cool!



I talked with the second place woman afterwards, who came in at 36 minutes. She was really nice and lives in the area. She made fun of me for not knowing my exact time. Part of me felt bad about coming in and crashing the party and winning. But then again, as SR said later, I didn't feel that bad. It was a lot of fun, after all, for us both to win.



I loved meeting people afterwards and trying to speak Danish with them. It turned out the race director has a sister who lives in the very same town we just moved from in the Midwest. It was an extreme small-world moment when he said where his sister lived. We hadn't met her though.

I'm so excited about races in Denmark now. Our next one will be a marathon in January. I'm guessing that it'll be a bit tougher for us both to win that one. But I love the challenge.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Denmark/Danmark

Well, we made it. And thank goodness they let me take this as a carry-on...



Although I felt badly that we put him through such a long journey. We didn't reserve a seat for him, but ended up with an open one next to us on all three flights. He didn't cry at all and slept on every flight. He played and smiled with everyone who paid attention to him. But he did end up with terrible jet lag and spiking fevers the first two days we were here.



There was also a rather embarrassing moment on the flight. You see, I'm used to breastfeeding and sleeping at the same time when we're in bed. This scenario happened on the plane (without my full consciousness) and I didn't realize I had a completely exposed boob until I looked over at the young German guy next to me who was staring at my chest with eyes the size of teacups. (no, I don't have a photo of that)


We've been here a week now, living out of SR's parents' basement. Without them, it is frightening to think of how much Danish kroner we would have spent.

Yesterday we found our apartment in Næstved. It's a 3 bedroom with wood floors, high ceilings and big windows in the center of the historic downtown. It was a really lucky find (and quite cheap). We looked everywhere and apartments were only available to buy. But then we ran across a bank that rented out apartments.

Otherwise, we're still running, just not as much as usual. My legs were incredibly tired with the jet lag. And even now our long runs are shorter because we're just tired from restless sleep, three family Christmas gatherings and more walking around. We're running a race on Saturday (a 5 miler). I'm scared of how poorly I will fare. How out of shape can one possibly become in 1 week?

Also, the weather here is, well, wet. I was used to the upper midwest USA's cold. But though it's not even below freezing here, the air is so dense with moisture that the cold seeps right through your skin. Nearly every day my feet go numb.

But it's beautiful running. We've run in various ancient forests filled with trails and even had a run by the ocean. The paths are often lined with a plant called snebær. On the rare occasions that the sun is shining, the flowers look like enormous dew drops.



Running song of the day: I've got your number by Passion Pit (great, great, great, great song)

Friday, 21 November 2008

Suitcase Life

Today our belongings are being packed into an ocean-going container. 315 cubic feet of memories and practical items. We'll see those items in 4-5 weeks. In the meantime, we'll live out of our two suitcases.

This is the last day in our apartment, too. We'll stay the next two nights with my parents in Stone Bank, WI. The step-kids are coming, too. We're going to celebrate an early Thanksgiving.

Then we'll stay in a hotel for two nights before we finally embark on a flight to what SR calls, "the old country."

SR is having quite a bit of trouble with the thought of saying good-bye to the step-kids. This goes without saying, I guess. We're hoping my parents will bring step-daughter to visit in February. In the meantime, we've got the phone and perhaps ex-wife will install a web-cam. This is the only downside we see to the move and it's a big one.

But there's no denying we're excited about a new life. And The Bois provides continuous entertainment and joy. He finally is really crawling (all over the place) and the same day he started to go across the entire apartment he actually stood himself up. So it seems that now that he's overcome his fear of being on the floor, things are going to move really quickly.



I hope to write once more before we leave.

As a side note, my running has been pathetic lately. I have no goal except the Copenhagen Marathon in May. It seems like any time I try to do any sort of speed work in the winter, I get injured. So I'll basically relax on my runs (unless a woman passes me). Then again, it won't be as cold in "the old country." And I'm sure we'll find another target race in the meantime.

Running Song of the Day: Pony by Erin McCarley

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Lesbian Wedding Report

Now I can mark this off my list of extremely unusual things to do before I die: attended husband's ex-wife's lesbian wedding.

I was, I guess, surprised when ex-wife asked me to come. Especially because SR couldn't attend. She mentioned that I'd probably like to see the step-kids all dressed up. And I certainly did. Then somehow we arrived at the decision that I'd be the photographer for the wedding. I didn't realize at the time what an integral part of the wedding this would make me.

I should say that they didn't call it a wedding. It was a "blessing ceremony." That title gave the ceremony a nice feeling. Why not celebrate and bless the love between a couple? It's a great idea.




The white dress and tux, worn by ex-wife and her partner respectively, did give one the feeling of being at a wedding, though. As did the ceremony in a church, the reception with dinner and a dj.

I just hope they had the celebration they wanted. But even if everything went as planned (which it seemed like it did), things didn't exactly flow like a normal wedding. Despite the guests' best efforts to seem comfortable with the whole thing, there was some awkwardness. We do live in small town midwest, after all. The speeches were few, short and a little forced. And there were some family members who didn't attend. They had booked a beautiful banquet hall with so much good food, but that made the unexpected small number of attendees even more obvious.

When I think of the discrimination against gay marriage, initially I get angry. Then I just get sad.

All that being said, I had a really good time. I got to meet some of SR's old friends. I had heard him talk about them, so it was so fun to hear their impressions of him. I was not surprised by how sad they were that he wasn't there.

Plus I got to listen to a long conversation between ex-wife's mom and my mom. Suffice it to say it was entertaining.

Overall it was a fun day and it was a treat to play with step-son and step-daughter in all their fanciness. I'm almost cried though when I said goodnight to them. We've only got one more week where we're all together.



Friday, 14 November 2008

Opholdstilladelse

I finally received my Danish "green card." It's printed in my passport.


I have, until now, had trouble believing that this move would actually happen. And then when I learned my passport was lost last week, I thought my suspicions had been confirmed. But now that I have my opholdstilladelse, it's starting to seem real. That and the fact that our apartment is basically empty (or in boxes ready to be loaded onto a large ocean-going container).

I'm not nervous. I'm not sad. I feel like I did before The Bois was born. Like I can hardly wait for a wonderful new phase of life to begin.

Running Song of The Day: Now by Mates of State

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Undeserved Credibility at Disney World


Disney World is a happy place. We returned from there nearly 5 days ago and I'm still in a good mood.

I got a lot closer to the step kids and clearly they had the time of their lives. It got to the point where I felt guilty for getting to take these wonderful children to Disney World. As we ate at The Liberty Tree Tavern, I thought "why do I get to be the 'mom' who takes them here?"

Step son is apparently afraid his dad will start eating his food if he leaves is plate.



Yes, The Bois joined us. He was equally amused by the knives on the table as by the characters. And he screamed through the 3-D movies after he was squirted with water. But overall, he was so well behaved.


And I became a mother of three for five days. This gained me a lot of undeserved credibility. I received a lot of smiling "from one mother to another" comments, etc.

We did our best to prevent stress each morning by holding a meditation session on the bus on the way to that day's theme park. "Imagine you are a fish swimming through the warm sea water... "


SR said everyone on the bus was watching us, which I thought was pretty cool. Maybe they got something out of it, too.

And another stress reducer was running with The Bois in the jogging stroller every morning back and forth on a 2 mile stretch of sidewalk outside our All Star Music Resort. At that time, SR took the kids to breakfast and went swimming at the hotel.

One morning SR was telling the kids how much he would miss them after we move to Denmark (as you may remember, step-daughter won't be living with us until this August) and he started to cry. Step-son asked "Why are you crying Papa?" And SR said "I'm not crying Big Guy" and step-son replied in his monotone German-type accent, "Then why is your face red and why do you have water coming out of your eyes?"

Running Song of the Day: Dayan Yalnizligim by Emre Aydin

Monday, 3 November 2008

WDW

We're going to be in Walt Disney World until Friday night. My favorites as a kid were The Carousel of Progress (Magic Kingdom) and the China exhibit (Epcot Center). I'm excited to see what the step-kids will like. I'm also interested to see where my early morning run with baby jogger will take me...

You can expect a full report upon our return. In the meantime, go vote!

Running Song of The Day: Dui Bu Qi Xie Xie by Eason Chan

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Trapped in the USA?

My life has been completely consumed with Leaving The Country activities.

I rented a container to ship our not-very-expensive-but-sentimental belongings overseas. The company we went with might be run by a bunch of scam artists, but they gave us the lowest price. So we may or may not see our belongings again.

We're also frantically trying to purchase things that will be much more expensive in Denmark. I bought an enormous collection of clothing for The Bois on Ebay for $40. He already has his favorites:





And I've been having ceremonial good-byes to my favorite running routes. There's something a bit weird about having a harder time saying good by to dirt trails than to friends and co-workers.

But there are also really hard good-byes that you just want to pretend aren't happening:

Here is my dad with his only grandchild, perhaps forgetting for a moment that this little guy is being moved across the world in less than a month.



But SR and I are really looking forward to the move. We're excited about our jobs, the town we'll live in, the races we've found to run (topic for another post!), the free daycare and education, the best bike lanes in the world, the ocean, etc., etc. etc.

So the stress of moving is nothing compared to the stress of me (still!) not having my passport back from the Danish Government with my green card stamp in it. It's pretty hard to move overseas without a passport!

After we deposited around $10,000 in a bank account in Denmark (my security deposit), we were told I'd receive the passport. But it's now been a month and still no passport. And the guy who is in charge of my case hasn't been reachable by phone or email for two weeks. Suffice it to say we're getting nervous.

Running Song of The Day: Allein Allein by Polarkreis 18 (Nephew Remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OCdp3cItQI

Monday, 27 October 2008

The Bonus Jonas and How The Bois Became Le Brisbois

Last week was spent with SR's parents (Farmor and Farfar). They come to the US twice a year from Denmark to visit their grandchildren and son. I guess this might be their last visit in a while.

The week was unreal. I expected a little more stress and a lot less fun. After all, entertaining two guests and taking care of three kids is not something I fancy myself good at. Oh, and I'm definitely not, but we had so much stuff planned that perhaps it wasn't obvious.

What really made the week so great was the amazing amount of energy Farmor and Farfar put into loving their grandkids. If they got tired of sleeping in bunkbeds with them for two nights or of playing with them endlessly, they didn't let on. Something tells me that not all Danes are like this. But if they are, no wonder it's the happiest country.

And with all of this going on, step-daughter and I got very close. I learned all about The Jonas Brothers and how there is a brother that is 7 who's too young to be in the band ("The Bonus Jonas"). I know all of the good songs from High School Musical 3. And now we've got matching Adidas backpacks. I made step-daughter two cd's with all of her favorite songs. After that little project, we went out to dinner and Farfar kept saying "I think Sealegsgirl is #1 in your universe." Perhaps it's not true, but for that moment it felt like it.

Another highlight was going to Wyalusing State Park. We all hiked for hours in the cold, dark windy woods, somehow keeping our spirits up. By the end, our dogs were barking.

There was lots of eating as well. Step daughter outgrew some jeans and The Bois and SR gained 2 kgs each. A couple of new fat globules formed in the pulp of The Bois' left lower central incisor and he thus got his first tooth! And earned the name "Le Brisbois" ("the beaver" in French... okay so maybe it just means "break wood").

I'm sure SR will hate me for posting this picture, but I love it.



Song of The Week: Burnin' Up by The Jonas Brothers

Monday, 20 October 2008

10k race

On Friday night, we met SR's parents at La Quinta in Madison, WI. They drove from Chicago after flying in from Denmark. We had such a fun night and, of course, went to bed late and I hadn't slept well in nights for various reasons. So when we woke up for the run Saturday morning, my body just wasn't in to it.

We somehow convinced SR's dad to run the 10k with us (and actually he seemed pretty excited about it). The step-kids were signed up for a 1 mile kid race. Step-daughter was probably the most nervous of all of us. I remember well being in grade school and being forced to run a mile. That was some sort of cruel torture in my mind. I would lie awake nights beforehand and dread running that mile. So, overall, I was impressed with their good attitudes.

The 10k race was a winding course through a neighborhood and a park. SR and I warmed up a bit. When we warm up, SR insists on running just a little ahead of me. Just close enough so people know I'm there with him, but far enough away so I don't break into his pre-race zone (he's never said this out loud, of course).

We didn't have too much time for a warm-up. We lined up with the 5k and 10k runners. There were all of these super-fast looking women. You know the type. The right clothes, the right pony tail, the right giggle, etc. They all lined up on the 5k side. I breathed a sigh of relief. I needed to win the one to impress SR's parents. The time didn't matter. I just needed to win (that was a big enough task since I've only won one race before).

So we started off and it was very cold and surprisingly hard to breathe. Then almost immediately there was a big hill. There were no females around me that I could see, though. But then, someone with long hair showed up in the corner of my eye. Ah, it was all over. But then, no, either this was the most androgynous and muscular female I'd ever seen or it was just another guy. A guy it was. Another sigh.

I listened to the same song over and over as we wound through and up and down in this neighborhood. That was "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga. An annoying song that makes me feel like running quickly. There was just no passing by me or other guys around me.

I looked at my watch at the mile markers and each one was about 6:45. I wasn't overly happy with that, but I wanted to keep another gear ready in case a feminine creature crept up behind me.

I passed one guy I had run with the entire time. Then there was a really big hill. I got embarrassingly winded.

With one mile left, there were still no females behind me (how could this be with nearly 100 10k runners?). Oh well, I turned it up a small notch and saw SR, his mom, the kids and The Lorax before I crossed the finish line. First female, time of 42:02. Not too bad, but not my best effort either.

SR also came in first with a time of just under 35 minutes. Wow! With all the hills and everything. SR later told me that after we had both come in, his mom started crying. I guess she's happy that two crazy people like us have found each other. You must understand that I don't really know SR's parents that well, so nothing was more important to me that day.

We watched SR's dad come in, winning the 60+ category. And, as he crossed the finish line, we accidentally missed the start of the kids 1 mile race. So we raced up to the start with the kids. Step-daughter and I ran together. She kept a really even pace, passing one kid after another. She only briefly stopped twice. SR later commented that she had seen us run so many races and heard us talk strategy so she knew what to do by osmosis. Step son on the other hand alternated between sprinting and stopping for various distractions and walking off the course. Oh, well. They were both so proud at the finish.

So we all got our award plaques and the announcer called it a family "clean sweep." What a fun morning.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Is He Behind?

And by "He" I mean He Pingping. That's our new nickname for The Bois. For those of you who don't know He Pingping,
He's the shortest man in the world. SR and I are fascinated with his life, and we're in no way implying that He's like a baby. In fact, we admire He. And it's just a really cute name.

So anyway, our He Pingping is now 8 months old and has no teeth. A little while ago I saw an acquaintance at the library and she was asking if He had teeth yet. I said no and she replied "It's okay when kids are behind." She then glanced at her obviously very advanced children and smiled.

How could she imply that just because He didn't have teeth that He was behind? I challenged her to a fencing duel. She'll think twice before she calls another one of my children "behind." I handed her an extra set of equipment: jacket, plastron, breeches, glove, mask and foil that I happened to have in the baby jogger. We dressed and drew our weapons. We were in the library, so of course this was all virtually silent. She had strength and tenacity, I'll say that. But, in the end, I chased her down with my speed. Final touch and I whispered "It's okay to be behind."
"Touche!"

He Pingping, of course, also wanted to defend himself.



So after the fencing duel, I've been wondering whether or not getting teeth late is associated with slow development in general. I haven't found anything to indicate that. But now, He still doesn't crawl and He gets too caught up in laughing to imitate (though He does imitate drum beats we make consistently). And then, I realized I wasn't feeding him nearly enough. I fed him breast milk and one bottle of baby food or some applesauce with rice cereal a day. The guide to your child's first year I'm reading suggests a much more varied and high calorie diet. I mentioned this to SR and he decided to make up for this all in one day...

He prepared himself and He Pingping a typical Danish meal of open-faced sandwiches on hard rye bread. He Pingping was thus fed braunschweiger, fish eggs and tuna fish on rye all in one sitting. I figured he must know what he was doing having had two kids already (though nervous nelly that I am, I was begging him to stop). Suffice it to say that 10 minutes after the feast, he threw up what SR called a long "arm" of vomit all over himself and the table. Of course there was no harm done. But He Ping Ping is not ready to be a gourmand yet, either.



Well, we're off on a 1 week vacation with the step-kids and SR's parents. I apologize in advance if I don't have time to write a post! I'll do my best, though.

I've actually been doing some speed work for the 10k we're running with SR's dad this weekend. I've never run a 10k before, so I'm pretty excited.

Running Song of The Day: This is The Life by Amy MacDonald

Monday, 13 October 2008

Lonely Conversation

I just returned from a run half an hour earlier than I had planned. Ostensibly this is not a big deal. But I can't remember the last time I ended a run early. I just didn't feel like running anymore.

Something weird has gotten into me.

Last night, it was getting dark early and I went with the Lorax (who I had, for some reason, dressed in his ugliest outfit) to pick up the step kids. I got to their mom's and it was obvious they didn't want to leave. And, what the heck, why was I taking them away? It was a weird moment. SR was going to be home in a few hours and it had been pre-arranged that I would pick them up. Step son got in the car and just cried silently. Step-daughter stood outside of the car and just stared at the sky. That lasted for about 10 minutes. I've never been one to force anyone to do anything. I finally yelled at her to get in the car. We drove off and I asked them a thousand questions. No answers, just silence. So then I started to pretend that they answered and I carried on a very animated conversation with myself. The Lorax also babbled loudly.

I drove them to a video store so they could pick out a movie. That hit their reset button and they were happy again.

Later that night, I watched The Lorax sitting with them. He smiled knowing he could lean back and his head would touch step-daughter's skirt. He loves being around them.

This post has no point in particular.

Running Songs of The Day: 1. Feeeling Yourself Disintegrate by The Flaming Lips
2. Mr. Rock & Roll by Amy MacDonald

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Baby Jogger Incident

SR and I were on a run with the The Bois in the baby jogger. We were in a good mood and having one of our usual heated discussions. We had no inkling of what was going to happen.

We approached the exit of the hospital parking lot and there was a woman in a minivan with a kid in the front seat taking a right turn. She acknowledged us and stopped the car, but then as we began to cross, she starting turning again! I was so angry that I banged on the side of the car. SR moved the baby jogger to the side and also banged on the car. The back wheel of the car ran over the front of the baby jogger. And in one of those surreal, slow-motion moments I saw the baby jogger tip over. For that moment, it was just me and The Bois on earth and I heard him cry. I saw him safely strapped in the tipped baby jogger and I took him out in his flurry of tears.

SR began running after the driver who was driving away. His speed came in handy at this point. He got next to the minivan and the driver looked at him. Scared, she just drove off. SR got the license plate number.

He returned and I told him The Bois was okay, but the front wheel of the baby jogger had broken off.

A bunch of people driving by stopped and said they couldn't believe what had happened. Neither could we! All I could think of was how lucky we were.

We walked back, SR pushing the broken jogger and me with The Bois in my embrace. We called the police and reported it.

This is not a reason to not use baby joggers. This is a plea that none of you out there ever act like that driver. She is currently being charged with hit and run.

Monday, 6 October 2008

What's the point of marriage?

Multiple choice question:

You may circle one, more than one or none of the answers below.

What is the point of marriage?
A. Dowry
B. To adjoin the land of our noble families
C. I'd rather be a nun/priest, but I cannot control my lust, so I will get married
D. Have someone to propagate my race with so we are less likely to lose a war to invaders
E. I'm excited about the planet my husband will inherit
F. Jathakam match

So I've been thinking a lot about what marriage is. We went out to dinner on Friday night with two friends whose parents arranged their marriage. They met twice before their wedding. They seem happy now and have a beautiful baby girl. It must be nice to know that their marriage is appropriate in the eyes of their parents and their culture.

When one of my high school teachers heard about me divorcing my ex and getting married to SR, he said "Why didn't she just have a dirty little affair?"

So is love an unimportant part of marriage? (Certainly in Europe in the 14th to 16th centuries (or thereabout), love was reserved for extramarital affairs)

When SR asked me to marry him, it was the biggest no-brainer of my life. But does our marriage need to have some meaning beyond the fact that we love each other?

It was so clear this past weekend that our marriage does, of course, have a meaning beyond us. Because we love each other and care about each other so much, we have created a nucleus of happiness around which the step-kids and our little son can be happy and safe and learn to love.

This past weekend, we went on a bike expedition out of town. The step-kids are just learning to bike and SR thought up a six mile course. SR started running along side of them and I went to the end of the trail in a car with The Lorax and came back to meet them. I ran a few miles and then heard them coming. I left the baby jogger (with The Lorax inside) on the trail and I hid in a bush.

Ha. They were so scared to see the abandoned Lorax.

When I finally came out, step son yelled "Sealegs Girl was peeing!" I guess normally that would have been true.

They did a great job on their bikes, but got tired. I ended up riding step-daughter's bike the last two miles.

Then we went out to dinner. I've never seen all three kids so happy and excited about life. I was sitting there drinking Spotted Cow and feeding The Lorax guacamole when I realized I too was happy and excited about life.

We went to our cabin and goofed around and read books. The kids fell asleep and SR and I talked for hours.

I love sharing these days with SR. We have the privilege of defining our marriage and I'm grateful for that.

Running Song of The Day: Head Rolls Off by Frightened Rabbit. I love how he just keeps repeating this line: "While I'm alive, I make tiny changes to Earth."

Friday, 3 October 2008

Back to the Good Life

I had the most wonderful run yesterday in the flickering golden light of the cool woods. Maybe 16 miles.

The step-daughter situation isn't bothering me anymore. I was thinking about all of your comments and was really comforted. Wow... and all the things I said to my mom back in the day that I would take back now!

Anyway, how could I not be happy? I was paid nearly $400 last night for four hours of sitting and studying Danish and watching the VP debate (slow night in the Urgent Care). Plus, I'm in love with this guy who I still can't believe is my husband.

And then there's The Lorax.





Running Songs of The Day: 1. Journey of the Featherless by Cloud Cult (Thanks, SteveQ) 2. Whenever You Need Me by Infernal

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Stepmom is an ugly word

Please excuse the diary-type entry.

I hadn't seen the step-kids in over a week. With SR working all of these 80 hour shifts and me working week nights, I rarely get to see them for more than a few minutes at a time. I had really been looking forward to seeing them. Despite limited time together, we've been getting along better than ever last few months.

I had half an hour before I had to leave for work when they walked in. Step-daughter says with her sneaky smile "Are you going to work tonight?"

"Yes" I replied.

"Good, because I don't want you here."

Well, isn't that nice. I joked around with her for a while, told her she couldn't get her favorite gum if she didn't have me as a gum dealer. Things normalized and we were laughing again.

When I got back from work she was having trouble sleeping. She came down to talk to us. We talked about moving to Denmark. She said when she has trouble sleeping she imagines being in Denmark on the beach alone with her dad.

I honestly don't know where all of this is coming from. The usual readers of this blog know how crazy I am about the step-kids. I have loved them ever since I met them. They are charming and wonderful and I try to treat them as if they were my own children. But, of course, they're not. Well, sort of. Well, I guess I just don't know.

SR was later asking me about working yet another long ER weekend on our last free weekend before we move. Tears just started rolling down my face.

Well, we stayed up until 2am talking about all that has happened in our lives in just the last year and a half. And all the changes that are coming with our move. Even SR was moved to tears when talking about his son suddenly loving to run. There is a lot going on right now. With all that out, one thing led to another and, ah yes, young love ...

I woke up at 7:30 to do step-daughter's hair for her school pictures. She wanted braids, but her hair was too short. She said her mom would put braids in her hair. I offered pig tails. She accepted. But half way through she said I wasn't doing it right. I handed her the brush and pony tail holders and told her to do it herself. Not yelling. I just couldn't take it. SR took them to school.

I walked back into the bedroom and somehow fell right asleep despite the babbling Lorax and my guilty conscience.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Little Updates

It feels nice to just write about little things sometimes.

I have had a really nice recovery from the 50 miler. I have been out running every day beginning Tuesday. Just slow jogs. I am amazed how much faster my recovery from a 50 miler on trails has been than my road 26.2 miler 4 years ago. If only we lived in a country where all running were on trails... oh, wait, I guess we will in two months.

Speaking of that, we had to find a way to deposit $10,000 in a Danish bank account as "security" for my residency permit. We'll get it back in 7 years assuming I find employment and don't end up in jail.

The Lorax jumped vigorously in the jumperoo yesterday for almost 20 minutes. He was smiling and laughing the whole time. Could he be addicted to endorphins after all of the running I did while pregnant?

He also is surprisingly enthusiastic about joining us on our bike rides.


Running Song of The Day: Keep Yourself Warm by Frightened Rabbit

Monday, 22 September 2008

50 Mile Race Report

Saturday SR and I ran our first 50 mile race. It was near Manistee, MI, in the Manistee National Forest. Driving through the beautiful, heavily wooded area of northern Michigan, we knew we were in for a treat.

We had taken the Milwaukee, WI to Muskeegon, MI ferry with my parents and The Bois. It was a couple hours from the ferry to our little cabin at Pine Creek Lodge, just four miles from the race start. It seemed like the closest lodging to the race.

We eventually found a bar for dinner, called Jackie's in Irons, MI, where pickup trucks lined the parking lot. And almost all the patrons donned cowboy hats.
There was plenty of dancing and karaoke. The Bois was as mesmerized as we were. The food was really good, but I for one was really nervous about the race. I started to feel nauseated.

Back at the cabin we tried to get to bed quickly. And we actually did. But it was so warm and the little Lorax was kicking and moving right next to me in our little bed. I kept thinking about how I just wanted to start the race. I was so antsy to run. I finally fell asleep around 2 am. Normally I would be bothered by this, but I rarely get much sleep before races and it actually doesn't seem to affect how I feel the next day.

We woke up at 6:15 to a beautiful, cool morning. I kept imaging the dark woods and winding trails. I drank lots of coffee and think I managed to eat about 1000 calories worth of chocolate chip coconut brownie bars before the start.





I wore a water belt around my waist with water in it. And I had my ipod. I regret immensely that I didn't bring my camera. I made two trips to the outhouse and, happily, I managed to avoid bowel problems the rest of the day.

This race has a marathon and a 50 miler. Both start at once. There is one loop for the half marathon and the 50 milers do that loop twice. There were about 300 participants there.

It had been a week since my last good run. My entire body was aching to start. I was walking back from saying good luck to SR when the gun went off. For the first mile or so, I went way too fast, just until I could let all of the people at the front pass me. One man was kind enough to tell me that if I was running the 50 miler, I was going too fast :). Strangely, I was a bit hurt by that, but I, of course, slowed down.

At around mile 5, I heard a pack coming up behind me. They were shouting out their pace and seemed to know what they were doing. I latched on to them. Initially, everyone made fun of my accent, which according to my parents has become the same strange mix of a Upper Midwestern-Danish accent that SR has. I was surprised it stood out so much among Michiganites.

I would stay with two of those girls from the pack for the next 3/4 of the race. Their names were Mandy and Rachel. Both from around Ann Arbor, they knew each other from a running club and a running store that Rachel ran. Mandy had a garmin-type device and we were aiming for around a 9 minute pace when we weren't walking hills or stopping at aid stations. Our stops at aid stations were brief. And they convinced me to replace my water with Gatorade to get more calories, which I did.

It sounded like both Rachel and Mandy had had experience winning 50k races in the area (I began thinking I'd do anything just to hang on to them). This was Mandy's first 50 miler and Rachel's second. They did a great job keeping an even pace. After a while we switched off taking the lead. We had such a wonderful time talking about famous ultra runners, enjoying the scenery and sharing bits and pieces about our lives. I would love to run with them more often.

I ate 1 or 2 peanut butter sandwich squares at each aid station and had a cup or two of water or Gatorade.

The second half of the first loop (starting around mile 12) was quite hilly. We walked all of the hills. By the end of the first half, I felt great. I wasn't sore anywhere. This was despite having already taken two tumbles. We did the first 25 miles in 4:15 and found out we were in 3rd, 4th and 5th for the women.

At this point, my parents told me SR was in fifth for the men. The Lorax was looking at his toy fish and wouldn't give me the time of day.

After a brief refueling, the three girls were off again. It was staring to get a bit warmer, but luckily 95% of the course is in the shade of the enormous and amazingly varied trees of the forest. At the start of the first loop, we walked a very gradual incline and I considered pulling ahead. But I knew I had 25 miles to go, so I held back. Then we picked up Jeff (also from Michigan). I knew he would be a lot of fun when he said half of the people he knows call him Tim because of a misunderstanding he never bothered to correct.

At mile 30, Rachel began to feel ill and dropped back. Mandy, Jeff and I made it to the 50k mark at just over 5 hours. I couldn't believe I was ahead of my 50k PR time. I entertained the idea of trying a gu at the aid station, but Mandy warned me not to try anything new on race day.

At around mile 37, I got a big second wind. I took off ahead of Mandy and Jeff. I even thought I might catch SR if I went fast enough. I saw my dad at the next aid station and he said that SR was 1 hour and 20 minutes ahead of me. Wow. I was so proud of him.

I reached a sign that said 3.9 miles to go. I couldn't believe how quickly time had gone! Wow. I put on my music for the first time and mustered up a sprint, knowing I had just over a 5k left. I then reached another aid station at the point I thought would be the finish and they said there were 5 miles to go. There's no crying in baseball, though. (The last sign must have said 3.9 miles to the next aid station)

I told myself over and over "It's just a fun run in the woods." I tried to convince myself I hadn't run at all yet. I listened to music and kept my spirits up. Over and over I heard the crowd at the finish line, but when I took off my headphones, I would realize it was my ears playing tricks. I passed one guy, who served as reassurance that I hadn't gotten off path. He asked me when I dropped the girls. Apparently he was one of the 19 members of their Ann Arbor running club there that day.

The trails were soft dirt winding through one mini ecosystem after another. All of the hills I walked the first time around I ran. I didn't walk at all the last 9 miles, with the exception of one very steep hill. I was a bit sore from my accidental 5k sprint, but not too bad. I finally saw the sign saying there were 0.9 miles left. This last stretch was eternal.

As I saw the finish line, I turned around to see a woman in a white T-shirt and black spandex pants right behind me. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest. I turned back again and she had disappeared. Wow. A real hallucination. As I crossed the finish line, the announcer said "Here's Sealegsgirl... the mom of that cute baby!"



And I was done. It took 8 hours and 49 minutes. I hugged SR. He had finished 3rd for the men and I had finished 3rd for the women. Spectators commented on the dirt covering every inch of my body. It was from the 5 tumbles, most of which were cushioned by my lactating boobs.

Then my parents came up to us with The Lorax. He was smiling and yelling and holding out his arms to me when he saw me. It was a moment I may remember for the rest of my life.

One of the race directors came up to me to congratulate me and handed me a $50 check! And I received a sweatshirt for first in my age group. On top of that, every finisher receives a really nice mug.

I was so happy. It was a wonderfully organized event on a gorgeous course. And I made some friends. I wanted to stick around to see them finish, but after trying to stomach some food, I became quite ill and we all retreated to the Pine Creek Lodge.

What did I learn? Running 4 miles a day for the 6 days before the race is enough tapering. Drinking Gatorade during the race is a great way to get calories. You don't need gu to do well. Walking the hills during the first 30 miles is probably essential to prevent getting sore. Running with a group is great incentive to keep going at a good, even pace.

Thanks Rachel, Mandy and Jeff if you guys are reading this! A huge thanks to my parents for watching The Lorax. And, of course, I couldn't have done this without SR, my running partner and the love of my life.

We would do this race again in a heartbeat and would recommend it to anyone looking for a 50 mile run.




Running song of the day (and my comic relief at mile 47): "Ladies of the World" by Flight of the Conchords

Thursday, 18 September 2008

2 days until the 50 mile run

Tomorrow we leave for Manistee, MI for our first 50 miler. Perhaps it is best not to think about how long that really is. Perhaps it is best not to read training plans for a 50 miler two days before the race and realize you haven't done enough really long runs.

But, of course, it will be fun. Is there a better way to see Manistee National Forest? Probably not for two crazy runners like us.

Sealegs Mom and Sealegs Dad will be joining us. We'll be staying in a cabin near the forest. I'm so happy to spend time with them, all the while knowing we're leaving for Denmark in just two months.

And The Lorax gets to see us race again, though I'm sure his mind will be elsewhere.


I downloaded 14 songs today for the race, so I'm sure I'll have a good running song recommendation for you when we return.





Sunday, 14 September 2008

24 Hours by Lake Calhoun

The weekend got off to a good start when I learned that my research is going to be published! It's a great journal, so I'm elated. I should be working on the revisions right now, but I've got all night for that...

Friday night, we took off for Minneapolis. Just me and the little lifted Lorax (SR was away at his 80 hour ER shift).

It was hard to tear the little guy away from his newspaper...


Note three generations of one running shoe (SR's) in the above photo.

We arrived at my sister's around 7:30 pm. She and her boyfriend, The Artist, just moved to an apartment 2 blocks from Lake Calhoun. The most exciting thing about Lake Calhoun (in my mind) is the 3.5 mile running trail around it. Back to that later.

That night, we went out to a "raw" vegan restaurant called Ecopolitan. I loved it. For someone who doesn't eat meat, hates high fructose corn syrup and can't stomach dairy, it is a rare treat to be able to order anything on the menu. I'm sure you're all familiar with what raw food is. But what fascinates me the most about it is how the philosophy of what food should be has changed in the United States in since the 1970's when Earl Butz was Secretary of Agriculture under Nixon and head of the USDA. He believed food should be cheap and mass produced so every American could afford it and spend their money on other things. A noble goal, but he is largely responsible for the rise of high fructose corn syrup and unhealthy corn-fed animals. Anyway, with raw food, the pendulum has swung as far as it can in the other direction. According to raw food lovers food should be healthy, make you feel good (hence the no cooking) and no animals should be involved (money and time are no object). It should probably be added to the list of things white people like (along with cloth diapers :)).

The Artist ordered Spicy Thai Noodles. The "noodles" are uncooked zucchini. Sorry about the small picture.

The Lorax had blended banana. Then he added "Kuh" to his armamentarium of words (comprised currently of "dadada" "mamama" and "yiyiyiyi"), thus contributing to the erudite conversation.

There is only one bed in my sister's apartment, so The Lorax and I went to a nearby hotel. To fight a small diaper rash, I let The Lorax just be The Lorax. In other words, he slept naked from the waist down. His little hiny got so cold that we didn't get a great night's sleep. We also both woke up pretty wet. Needless to say, the sheets were wet, too. But they hopefully change those after every guest, right?

The next day, Sealegs Sister (SLS) made mini crepes and tofu scrambler. Then she enjoyed being Auntie SLS.
I sat and watched The Artist (or the self-proclaimed "world's 22nd best 1/2 Filipino") make still frames for a Canadian hockey commercial. He is no doubt a talented guy and is starting to get lots of recognition for his work.

Then The Lorax and I went on our epic run: 4 loops around Lake Calhoun. It was intermittently raining, so he got quite wet. For some reason, it didn't seem to bother him. He is a little bothered by the pneumonia he has now, though (just kidding).


When I returned, I learned that The Artist had proposed to Sealegs Sister! I am so happy for them. I could not imagine my sister finding a better match in life.



Song of The Day: Melt Your Heart by Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins