city bike

When we lived in Canada I started playing waterpolo. It was fun. It was good exercise twice a week. I felt like waterpolo was a really good sport for me- it was "my sport." When we moved to Denmark, I could not find a waterpolo team to play with. There just are not enough people here- not every sport has a group of people who want to play it. And they already have handball, which is like waterpolo without the water. Danes love their handball. So I decided last year, around this time, that I needed another sport to call "my sport." I thought that doing triathlons might be it. So I started swimming, running and riding my bike every week. After the new year, I signed up to do a team triathlon with some friends. I would be the swimmer. I thought it would be a good way to get a read on the triathlon culture in Denmark. My training was going well, so, kind of on a whim, I decided to sign up for the mini triathlon that the running club in my town was holding a few weeks before the team triathlon.

My "thing" about triathlons is that it is an expensive sport to get started in because you need a lot of equipment, the most expensive being a racing bike. I was not sure I wanted to do triathlons regularly, so I was not about to go out and buy a bike just for racing. We don't have the disposable income to even entertain the idea. I had read many times about how important having a racing bike to do any triathlon was- even your first one. But no one really explained WHY and I just assumed it was because most people don't actually own a bike that they ride regularly. Most people have cars. We don't have a car, so this advice about getting a racing bike did not apply to me. I had a bike. I bought a racing seat for my bike (because it happened to need a new seat) and figured I would be fine for this mini triathlon.

So I show up for the race. There was some coordination with the kids because Marc had to go into work for a bit beforehand. I set all my stuff up in the transition area. Marc helped me understand the race instructions because they were given in Danish and two sets of non-fluent ears are better than one. And then I got myself ready and started the race. The swim went well. I was faster than most of the women. Then came the cycling. As I think back, I was unprepared in so many ways for the cycling part. I had no map, physically or mentally. I had no spare tire anything (though I do have this stuff in my tubes to self-seal punctures). And, I was on a three gear bike called a city-bike, because it is made for casually transporting oneself around town... like in the city. But everyone else was on road-racing bikes. And the advice to be in a triathlon riding a race bike made so much sense as I was passed by everyone. Because I could see that for every push of a pedal, a racing bike travels farther and faster than a city bike. So the other riders had to put in a significantly less amount of energy to complete the cycling portion of the race than I did. I was wasted before I even started running just because of the bike I chose to ride. My endurance and physicality did not really matter because my equipment made the cycle section of the triathlon so much harder for me. I was so tired, I had to do the run slowly. So the few people who had not passed me in the cycling portion, were able to do so in the running portion.
I finished last, obviously. I was happy I finished at all.

Our life in Denmark is surrounded by people who have a lot more access to family and to money than we have. That is just the facts of our life right now, facts that have come out of choices but also out of uncontrolled circumstances. I do not resent these people for the lives they have made, just like I didn't resent the other triathlon participants for the bikes they were riding. But I can see that for the same amount of energy expended, they are able to do a lot more than we are. And the result, especially since adding a second child, is that we really can not keep up. We have to live our life differently and we are the only people that have to do that. So we end up struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness. We started this year just weighed down by these feelings. We entered the spring with the realization that life is not sustainable this way. But we weren't exactly sure what, if anything, could change. The only thing that we felt that we could do was pray about it. And those prayers led us to another family. A family who is riding on the same type of bike as we are. And we have decided to ride together... maybe eventually we will link our bikes to each other. It just feels like, if we are riding together, life won't feel so much like a race where we are being left behind anymore.


weaning a 4 year old

So E has weaned?
I think.
Time has yet to tell, but as of this morning he acknowledged that he was done nursing.

We have been talking about it for awhile with him, almost daily since before his fourth birthday. I am about to start taking medicine for my narcolepsy again, so my milk is going to become not-drinkable. My husband has been vocal about E weaning for probably a half a year. I would cringe when he would flat out say to E that he didn't need to nurse and he should just stop already. But E could always turn around and nurse, so I think it was just something he heard and rejected. It was not his reality.

It was a surprise that E has nursed so long. We wanted him to make the choice to stop for a lot of reasons. Our expectations for how long it would last were mainly based on my husband's childhood. The story we have heard from Marc's mother was that when Marc was 3.5 years old, he and his mom had a rational and logic filled discussion about how he did not need to nurse anymore. And at 3.5 years he agreed to stop. My husband is the only person I know that has a story like that. So we thought we could remake history. We thought that E loved to nurse so much that he should be allowed the opportunity to follow in his dad's footsteps.

But at 3.5 years E was not ready to wean. He understood what it meant and wanted nothing to do with it. We did the don't offer, don't refuse thing since before he turned 2. We did a don't offer, feel free to refuse thing since I was pregnant with L.

And then this morning, like many mornings, E wanted to nurse and I wanted to sleep. And I told him he had to wait. Sometimes he waits, sometimes he leaves to eat breakfast. This morning he waited and asked again. And I said the same thing I have been saying lately:
"What will you do when you can't nurse anymore? because soon you won't be able to drink my milk."
And as usual he said nothing except that he wanted to nurse. So, I said:
"What if this is the last time you ever nurse?"
And he said OK. So I repeated mt statement, but saying it more explicitly because I was surprised by his response. And he agreed again.
So I let him nurse. And while he nursed I made up a song about how he was having his last nurse because he was "fear oars" (that is how he says "four years"-his age... because he says it the danish way with the english s). And he is big and strong (adjectives he uses to describe himself regularly) and ready to become a cuddler instead of a nurser...
And when I stopped singing, E asked me to sing it again. Which I, of course, did. And during the second rendition he broke his latch and said he was done. And we left the bed together and went down to L and Marc and I made a big deal about how E was done nursing. And E also said he was done.

So time will tell. But now that I have confirmation from E that he has had his last nurse AND a song to sing as a reminder if he asks to nurse again. I think I am now going to not offer and refuse (nicely).

L has to be weaned too, but he should be a lot easier. Mostly because he is much less interested in nursing and also because he is not old enough to flat out refuse to be weaned.


old lady

It has been an eventful summer. And summer is over in Denmark. It ended either the day before E's fourth birthday or the day after. We had a birthday party that needed a true summer day, but we did not get one- we made it work anyway. That is just how it happens here. The weather can't get in your way because you get nothing done if you wait for the sun. You can be waiting weeks sometimes.

I feel old in not good ways lately. Part of it is having my MIL here. It is easier for her to challenge me about the parts of our life she doesn't understand or agree with. She doesn't challenge her son about them. So I have spent weeks explaining and defending our life. And, through it, I really can see how counter-cultural our life is. We have made decisions that are not typical for people our age. I don't regret them.  I don't want to regret them. But I do have maybe more information now. It is hard to look back and remember what you didn't actually know until after the decision was made. That is why I feel old. I keep having to relive the whys and hows of where we are today. And I can't regret the choices that brought me to where I am. I love my life. I do not, however, love having to defend our life.

With my MIL, it hasn't just been asking questions or wondering about ways things could improve. It has been defending choices I couldn't take back even if I wanted to. I can't change when I had my babies or why I had them. I can't change that we decided to move to Denmark for the job Marc has. And I definitely can't change how up and down Marc feels in his day to day life. But these things are not that bad. I could look at them and point out all the ways they have limited me, but I really don't see those things. We maybe I see the limitations that Marc's mood can have on me. But my MIL does see everything as limiting. It's exhausting to me because it stresses me out.

I have a renewed drive for finding work because of all of this reflecting. I guess that is a good thing. I don't know if I am ready to work, but I know that just going through the process of applying helps me get ready. It is so easy to get wrapped up in my head about how my having a job would look in our life. The fact is, I don't know how it would work and I have to give it up to God. He knows how my life needs to be for me to be the best version of myself. I just wish my extended family had as much faith as I do. In Marc and I, and in God.

this is the part when I break free, because I can't resist it no more


value using money

Progress means that I shouldn't have to get a job just because I need to buy stuff.

Stuff is not needs. Needs are food, clean water, sleep, permanent shelter, protections from the elements, transportation, internet access, relationships.

These needs should allow me to be the best woman, the best mother, the best wife, the best friend, the best member of society that I can physically and emotionally be. Spiritual health is some sort of result of emotional and physical health depending on who you are; depending on how God made you.
I like to imagine it like a chemical equation because it only works one way. Adding two things to create a third, but if you take that third thing it won't necessarily break down into the original two parts.

In any case, for me, the world is broken because needs are not seen separately from stuff. Or stuff is assumed to be necessary. Needs are assumed to not be necessary. For me, needs should be handled differently from stuff. The acquisition of stuff shouldn't be more important than needs... or be required to meet needs.

I love to go out to my garden and pick the foods that eventually end up on my plate for dinner. Going to a store is not as fulfilling. But, in the society I live in, I can't live off of my own land. Even though technologically I could probably grow enough food to feed my family. I could find a compromise between the diet we have based mostly on supermarket shopping and the diet we could have based on eating only what we could grow. I imagine a supermarket could be just a place where the community barters with one another. Trading needs for needs. That's the world I want to live in.

That world only exists on the fringes and in pieces right now. And I know there are so many people that think it would be crazy because they define progress so much differently from me. But I say to people who put value to things that are not about needs: get over yourself. The choices we make every day effect other people. The choice to live in a developed country inherently means exploiting something somewhere in a developing country. Just because we don't want it to be that way, or choose to ignore facts. Just because we find it easier the way we do it, or maybe it's impossible to change the way, it doesn't make the effects any less. Facts are facts.

It is clear for anyone who wants to see it. Anyone who chooses to let go of the things that makes them unhealthy mentally any physically... even only for a moment... It is clear that capitalism is flawed. Emphasizing value using money does not allow all needs to be met without barriers.

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