Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

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.