Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Settling in La Crosse

Life is good here.

We sit in our breakfast nook and look out on the snowmen that I built with Christian this week. There are six of them, one for each member of the family. He was very particular with how tall he wanted each of them. I ended up shorter than the Snow Girl, but I have a bigger and rounder head. We put boobs on the Snow Girl, so people could tell who was who.

Little Snow Guapo is less than a foot tall and has tiny rocks for eyes. They fall out every time the sun shines. Sometimes Snow Guapo has to sit on the Girl's hip, because he is so small. Christian is overcome with jealousy when he sees Snow Guapo on the Snow Girl's hip. He won't run over to knock the little snowman down, because he likes the game too much, but he is very adament that Snow Guapo stands alone at night.

He goes to the Waldorf school in La Crosse. It's a lesson in not being quite cool enough for all of us. We have spent hours searching for SmartWool socks that fit a 3-year old and go up over his knees. He wears his Thomas the Train shirt at home, but any sign of pop culture is strictly banned at his school. The parents and teachers make we nervous when they approach me wearing homespun hemp. Then speak slowly and with righteous conviction. They never break eye contact; they drive Subarus or Volvos and are never in a hurry. They shop at the co-op and are probably 100% organic at home.

Yesterday, I got a few points for picking up Christian on my bike. I had temporarily forgotten just how unusual it is for someone to ride a bike in January in La Crosse. Drivers are so nice here that it feels like I slowed down hundreds of drivers. But the weather was nice and it was worth it to see the elites at the Waldorf stare jealously at my muddy pants. Yes, muddy pants trump "eat local" bumper stickers.

Christian and I like to run or bike to the La Crosse River. We throw ice and snow into the river, whether the river is ice or water. Ice floes break loose from upstream and yesterday a floe larger than a minivan sailed past us. We go skiing at Mount La Crosse; when I am more than an inch behind him, he screams "I fastern you, dad!". When I am more than an inch ahead of him, he screams "vent for me, far!". He rides over the jumps on the edge of the run, oblivious to the glares from teenagers he cuts off.

The Girl is in a crazy exercise phase. Like most of the people who read this, she is addicted to exercise. Suddenly she has time to exercise as much as she wants, for the first time since her intern year. She runs/bikes/swims/yogas/etc from 9 to 1 and then she is done for the day. It's a strange relief from the tears and frustrations of life in Denmark, where she was never able to exercise as much as she wanted. Here, She comes home tired from all her exercise, works for a few hours (10 hours a week, officially), and we have a normal afternoon/evening with the kids. Yesterday, the car broke down and we had to spend over an hour to get it jumped and then get it to the shop. It was almost fun. In Denmark, the Girl would have had a full-blown panic attack because her days were so insanely parcelled out that any interruption would topple the exercise apple cart. Last night, there were jokes and laughs.

And of course, she is in great shape. She is taking easy days every other day (ie. she only runs 10 miles and then cross trains for 3 hours). On hard days, she runs quality workouts. If I ran like her, I would be injured immediately. She runs over 100 miles a week. 100K for me is about as high as I can go, and even that is pushing it. She needs to run more intense stuff, which has always been her weakness, but even that is coming around. She is doing 1 mile intervals right now (I wasn't allowed to join her, unfortunately). We have a half marathon next weekend. Depending on how cold it is, I think she has a huge PR in her, maybe high 1:20s.

The chances of me getting "wifed" at Three Days of Syllamo are very, very real.

(An earlier version of this post had an exaggerated description of the Girl's eating habits and singlemindedness during a heavy training phase. I thought it was funny; the Girl less so).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


The weather in the Sierra Nevadas has been unusually warm and dry, so the Yosemite east entrance (going over Tioga Pass) was open. The highlight of the trip, at least runningwise, was running from Olmsted Point almost to the valley. All by ourselves. We didn't meet single person all day. There was only a tiny bit of snow. In January. When is that ever going to happen again?

Half Dome in the background.

Closer to half dome (switchbacking down to the valley)

Skiing-wise, the story of the week was this:
That's my brother-in-law. He was fine.

This is the whole gang on the life. They had made enough snow to make it a ski trip, but everything was green or brown outside the open runs.

Christian liked skiing. Perhaps that was the absolute high point.

Everyone on the back porch of the wonderful house we stayed in.