Moving Day

I’m typing this piece from a large, empty house in Boulder. Downstairs a couple of guys are repainting the interior and we should go live on the MLS in a little over two weeks. From concept-to-reality, it took me eight months to arrive at this position. I’m on track for changing my life situation.

Despite living in nine countries, this is the first move where I’ve been an active participant. Typically, I use money and other people’s time to insulate myself from the move.

Given that I was the only person that wanted to move in the first place, I figured that I would step up. Besides, the first quote from the moving company gave me a meaningful financial incentive to get organized.

Three tips to save you money:

  • get all your packing supplies from U-Haul and sort all the prep yourself – that saved us $1500
  • label all box destinations with black marker and use wide masking tape to mark up your furniture delivery locations – that saved $250
  • take everything apart in advance – I had a couple items that I could have broken down further and that cost me a couple hundred in time costs. Taking apart a commercial-grade treadmill was an exercise!

Despite my efforts at downsizing we have the equivalent of two 40-foot containers worth of stuff spread between two properties.


During the move, I came across the photo above. It’s a picture taken at the Award’s Dinner at Ironman New Zealand many years ago. I might be the only guy without an Ironman victory in the shot. It was a strong field that year!

In the picture, you can see Steve Larsen. Steve’s not with us anymore and he’s survived by five kids. When I came across the photo, I thought of Steve’s kids and wondered if he would have lived differently knowing that he would die young. The answer to that question isn’t important but it drew my mind to my own childhood.

Growing up, one of the houses I live in was an honest-to-God mansion. The house was purchased in an estate sale and my parents didn’t have enough furniture to fill it so part of it was closed off and only used for parties or fashion shoots. From the top of the mansion (it had three floors) you could look north and see snow on the local mountains.

I thought about all the different places that I’d lived as a kid and whether one was “better” than another. Considering each place, what stands out was the mood of the family, rather than the splendor of the property. In fact, some of the happiest times of my life have been spent living in tents, cabins and the spare bedrooms of friends. 

Thinking deeply, convenience trumps capital value and what I remember is the mood of the people around me.

If we get an acceptable offer and sell, then it will be interesting to watch how I spend my time. I’m chipping away at removing all my excuses for the duration of my kids’ pre-school years!

At any age, the death of a parent is a traumatic event. Reflecting on my own mortality helps me appreciate each day.

Choose wisely.


Moms and Dads

I thought I finish this series on parenthood with observations on the differences between the approach moms and dads have to their kids. As parents, Monica and I benefit from accepting, and respecting, the approach of the other parent.

Daddy Day Care – below is a flowchart for how I manage the kids.


As you can imagine, a trip to the bike park with Daddy involves a lot more action than swimming with Mom. I’ve managed to train Lex to laugh at the majority of her crashes.

Behavioral Modification – not sure if you read the NYT article on the French-style of parenting. I did and it made perfect sense to me. I don’t nag, I don’t raise my voice and I don’t worry about being popular. Here’s what I do…


Lex can never call my bluff because I’m never bluffing. As a result, there’s a lot of stuff that I let slide and, frankly, I’m glad that Monica has her approach. We’re a good team.

Quality Time – One of the things that I didn’t understand for my first few years as “dad” was why my wife gets so happy about the time that I spend with the kids. Given my flow chart, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that my main concern when I’m not with my kids is that they are safe. A mother has an entire range of considerations that she’s making all-the-time about the kids. While I think there’s value in being able to switch off – Monica’s not wired that way.

I’ve come to accept that one of the best things I can do for my marriage is spend time with our kids. Great news that Lex likes to ride!

Related to my point above, I’ve noticed that the only time that Monica doesn’t feel slightly guilty about the amount of time that she spends with the kids is when she’s exhausted from spending time with the kids… 

As a father, I see it as imperative that I keep myself in reserve in case a situation becomes serious and I need to step-up (see flowchart #1). While I don’t experience time-guilt emotions, I’m sensitive to the fact that they are very real for Monica. Recently, I’ve been stepping up with our daughter to get a double-whammy of quality time with her, while Monica spends time with our son.

Be aware, however, that Daddy-Time is a distant second for many kids. I’m only effective with our daughter when her Mommy-Time needs are met and she knows that she’ll get a mommy-top-up later. I’m second in the hierarchy but that’s OK as I don’t need to be #1.

Releasing myself from my need to “be right” has reduced my desire to change my wife and enabled us to find a parenting approach that works for both of us.

I’m pacing myself for the long haul.

The Athletic Parent

In his first book Lance makes the observation that, in some ways, training to win the Tour de France is easier than being a parent. I’m sure many athletic parents can relate to the honesty of his statement.

Only a few can make a career out of sport but many parents use their careers (or sport) as a haven from the seemingly relentless demands of parenting. With two young children in my house, I have tremendous empathy for people that create an outlet for themselves. 

The lack of sufficient self-expression can lead to mental health complications. I’ve seen angry Dads and depressed Moms, suffering from losing touch with what brings joy to their lives.

In October 2010, I touched on understanding what brings joy to our lives. Today, I’m going to share two techniques that have been helpful with living alongside a demanding, and strong-willed, little girl. At her most challenging, she reminds me exactly of myself!

Regular Breaks – If I spend too much time with my kids then I’m exhausted and appear miserable. I write “appear miserable” because I don’t remember being miserable, or feel particularly unhappy. However, Monica says I look absolutely miserable and it isn’t fun to live with a spouse that appears sad.

I’ve come to realize that misery is removed by regular breaks and ensuring that I’m not exhausted. Limiting exhaustion is challenging (see last week) but simple. Sleep enough and don’t wreck myself.

Between work and personal travel I’m away a week a month. If I go more than a month without some form of exercise-related trip then I feel my mood deteriorate. This realization has led me to race far less often so I can do more of what makes me happy (training trips).

Previously, I had jobs that required a lot of work-related travel. As much as possible, I would underschedule my trips. My travel time (on planes) was left open so I could relax. Getting to a position where you control your own schedule is highly desirable for mental health and high performance.

My wife has told me that she’d rather I stay away for an extra day than come home exhausted. While it’s tempting to extend my trips – learning to moderate my output for a couple days at the end of a trip is more mature, and valuable.

Seize Common Ground – I have a fear that my kids will become skiers and bankrupt the family. The reality is, not surprisingly, they gravitate towards what they see us doing. Our daughter loves to swim with mom and ride her bike with Dad. She also enjoys touring in the bike trailer and I discovered that dragging 60 pounds behind my mountain bike is an outstanding workout!

Do you understand your personal happiness psychology? My psychology is geared towards future pay offs – preparing for a race, working on a consulting project, creating a business, investing and building personal fitness. 

Creating a plan to help my daughter become a proficient cyclist fits my life psychology perfectly! When I am chasing her around the bike park, I feel that every minute invested will yield a future return (and that makes me happy).

What I recommend is to share what brings you joy. Keep in mind that having your personal pit crew may not be your family’s idea of fun! Odd are, if you prefer to be an active participant than your kids will share that trait.

The alternative from building your family into your life, is living with an increasing longing to leave your life. Being surrounded by people with unmet emotional needs creates a cycle of increasing demands, conflict and disharmony.

Avoidance and divorce can be structured in socially acceptable ways – I have been careful to make sure that life is never my “fault”. However, my issues just followed me around.

Summing up

  • Daily, weekly, monthly create space for yourself. I’ve created a life with a minimum of an hour per day, a day per week and a week per month.
  • When your family gives you an opportunity to share your passion – take it.

So much easier than trying to win races – I wish I figured it out years ago!