Monthly Archives: February 2015

preschool #4

We went to see preschool #4 today.  It’s based on a farm adjacent to a park in Belle.vue, about fifteen minutes from home.  The setting is actually quite spectacular.  However, the preschool itself was underwhelming.  They actually only spend 45 minutes out-of-doors in their amazing location.  On that day, they were having some kind of Valentine’s celebration and weren’t going out at all.  The tour guide (a teacher at the school) would not let me observe the kids for any length of time and was clearly uncomfortable with me watching very discretely for even a few minutes.  The school had a student teacher ratio of 10 or better, but from what I observed, one teacher was busy doing this or that while the other managed the class, meaning an effective ratio of nearly 20 to 1.  Despite this, the scene was actually considerably less chaotic than what I witnessed at our last preschool visit.  This inclines me towards the place we visited today more than anything else, but it’s hard to draw conclusions from a few minutes observation.  The teachers were not the young, enthusiastic types I witnessed in the first two places we visited, but they seemed nice enough and reasonably competent.  The school runs three times a week for four hours.  All in all, I’d probably send L to Preschool #3 over this one.  Preschool #3 is a bit closer to where we live.  They spend more time outdoors in that preschool, and finally, it is two days a week.  I’d like to get L involved with other activities – maybe Suzuki music for example – so a two day a week program appeals to me.

(For review, we have applied to Preschool #1 but are awaiting the results of a lottery.  We decided Preschool #2 was too expensive for 3 years old.  I did not love Preschool #3.)

Tomorrow, I will be visiting Preschool #5.  I also have a dentist appointment.  My long-time hygienist has left the practice for unknown reasons, and I’m very nervous about the appointment as a result.  My teeth are sensitive to air and water, and I can’t breathe much through my nose (deviated septum), so the dentist has never been a blast for me.

grammy dresses

Am I the only one that likes ogling celebrities dressed to the nines?

I just do not find Beyonce as attractive as everyone else seems to.  This outfit is not figure flattering.  It reminds me of something someone might wear in mourning.

I kind of love this, though:

Taylor Swift looks kind of awesome as usual:

Sparkly black is just not doing it for me here either:

Why is Kim Kardashian wearing a bathrobe?

Is she dressed as a dominatrix or what?

I like the purple hair:

So restrained for Gaga.  So boring.

I wouldn’t (couldn’t, more accurately) wear it, but it’s Miley at least looks kind of interesting:

She is beautiful:

Wow, seriously ug!

Points for originality:

Love:

Worst outfit of the night?

Maybe a bit underdressed, but Jennifer Hudson does look very elegant:

Interesting, maybe in a good way:

No, THIS is the worst outfit of the night:

birthday preparations

L’s cold miraculously passed quickly, and none of the rest of us got sick.  How did that happen?  Can OCD hand-washing really work?  It doesn’t seem possible, but here we are.

I didn’t really feel like I had much time to do anything DIY, but I did cook.  The cupcakes are homemade using this recipe.  They are good but nothing to write home about, but them I’m not really a huge fan of chocolate cake or cupcakes.  L requested chocolate cake with blue icing.  We compromised on cupcakes, which I felt was a little easier.

I bought a banner off Amazon for over the window.  It turned out to be quite fiddly to put together, but I’m pleased with the final product.

Finally, we put decals on the windows.  (They are removable.)  A few had to be trimmed.  You can see that trimming a sticky sticker is not trivial.

Meanwhile, my next quilt is underway.  I decided to go with the all-green flower option.  I might go back and make the other one as well, depending on how much work it all turns out to be.

 

middle class

There has been a lot of discussion in the US lately about the middle class and who is part of it.  A lot of people seem to be confused about constitutes the middle class and think it is actually the people in the middle financially – perhaps the 25th to the 75th percentile, or the 10th to the 90th percentile.  This may not be completely ridiculous in the US, but it doesn’t make any sense in general.  Some countries have no middle class with the majority of their citizens living in poverty.  Other countries have a small, relatively new but growing middle class, like India.  Other countries have a large middle class.  In fact, I would argue that the size of the middle class is an excellent indicator of how well off a country is.

Here’s what wikipedia has to say about it:

The modern usage of the term “middle class”, however, dates to the 1913 UK Registrar-General’s report, in which the statistician T.H.C. Stevenson identified the middle class as that falling between the upper class and the working class.  Included as belonging to the middle class are professionals, managers, and senior civil servants. The chief defining characteristic of membership in the middle class is possession of significant human capital.

The following factors are often ascribed in modern usage to a “middle class”:

  • Achievement of tertiary education.
  • Holding professional qualifications, including academics, lawyers, chartered engineers, politicians, and doctors, regardless of leisure or wealth.
  • Belief in bourgeois values, such as high rates of house ownership and jobs which are perceived to be secure.
  • Lifestyle. In the United Kingdom, social status has historically been linked less directly to wealth than in the United States,[4] and has also been judged by signifiers such as accent, manners, place of education, occupation, and the class of a person’s family, circle of friends and acquaintances.[5][6]
  • Cultural identification. Often in the United States, the middle class are the most eager participants in pop culture whereas the reverse is true in Britain.[7] The second generation of new immigrants will often enthusiastically forsake their traditional folk culture as a sign of having arrived in the middle class.

From the article specifically discussing American middle classes:

Later sociologists such asDennis Gilbert of Hamilton College commonly divide the middle class into two sub-groups. Constituting roughly 15% to 20% of households is the upper or professional middle class consisting of highly educated, salaried professionals and managers. Constituting roughly one third of households is the lower middle class consisting mostly of semi-professionals, skilled craftsmen and lower-level management.[2][4] Middle-class persons commonly have a comfortable standard of living, significant economic security, considerable work autonomy and rely on their expertise to sustain themselves.[5]

Members of the middle class belong to diverse groups which overlap with each other. Overall, middle-class persons, especially upper-middle-class individuals, are characterized by conceptualizing, creating and consulting. Thus, college education is one of the main indicators of middle-class status.

Anyway, I just think it’s interesting to ponder these points.  Talking heads are always referring to working class voters and how they don’t like to vote for Obama.  Obama himself will never refer to working class voters.  He is instead always reaching out to the “middle class” by which I think he actually means the working class – the people who apparently don’t vote for him.  The people meant to pay for his various plans are the “rich” or the “super rich” – apparently people who own 529s, for example.  Somehow the rich always seem to be, for example, people who earn about what two engineers working full time would earn.  Meanwhile, the truly super-rich – my boss for example – rarely seem to be affected.  The reason for this, I suppose is obvious.  There aren’t very many truly super-rich, and unless you tax their assets (as opposed to income) you actually can’t make that much money off them.  You have to tax the middle class.  But this is politically unpalatable, so you relabel the middle class “affluent” or “very affluent” or “the most affluent.”

I grew up in a household that was unambiguously middle class.  Interestingly, when I stay home with the kids, our current household is also probably not too controversially middle class.  When, however, I go to work full-time, Obama might call us rich.  I find this a little ironic, because after taxes and child care, I earn about the same as our nanny.  However, because our pre-tax, pre-childcare income becomes much higher, we cross his threshold.  (Admittedly, we could have found cheaper childcare for L, but now that we have two, there is no such thing as cheap childcare until L goes to school.)

For what it’s worth, I think you are rich if, among other things:

  • You have a vacation house or a country house
  • You can afford to pay for private college out of your salary, as opposed to saving for it for one or two decades
  • You can afford to fly first class (getting bump for being a frequent flyer obviously doesn’t count)
  • You have a full-time servant or house manager or assistant

this and that

That NBC guy who lied should lose his job.

There has been a minor fuss because a “plus-size” woman was featured in Sports Illustrated.  First, I am mildly annoyed with myself for even bringing attention to SI and their pornographic swimsuits.  But seriously, how is this woman in any way plus-sized?  Her bones are sticking out.  I guess she is “big-boned.”

Robin Lawley Sports illustrated plus size model

I really, really wish my preschooler would sleep through the night.  Barring that, I wish she would limit her middle-of-the-night wake-ups to one.

It is pouring buckets here right now which I regard as an excellent excuse not to run.

And a gratuitous baby picture:

 

green quilt options

I’m working on a quilt featuring green solid patchwork squares.  I’m thinking of either something like this – mixed greens with occasional flowers mixed in (and I’d probably exclude the browner and bluer greens):

Or a checkerboard with the greens intermixed with letter fabric:

The quilt is intended to be a baby quilt.  I kind of like them both, honestly, but it’s really hard to tell what it would look like on a larger scale.

run run run

Last week I ran my first 5K since 2/16/2013.  On that day, I ran a 5K in 23:49, or 7:40 pace.  Fast-forward two years, and I was back on the starting line.  There’s pretty much no lower stress race situation than your first race after pregnancy.  There are no expectations, it’s a short race, and all you really have to do is finish.  My primary goal was to run the race without walking, but I knew I would be a bit disappointed if I ran over 30 minutes.  I figured I could probably run under 29 with sub-28 as a stretch goal.

My dear husband was kind of enough to accompany me with the kids in tow.  They were both up the night before, and that morning, I thought about bailing.  However, I knew that getting to the starting line is half the battle, and I decided I would run by hook or by crook.  The race location is about half an hour from our house.  B has been very cranky in the car lately, but thankfully we were able to get there without any major crying.

It was an unbelievably beautiful morning.  The sun was shining out over a very misty Lake Washington.  The contrast between the sun and the mist was truly stunning.  It temporarily made me forget my grumpiness about running a race.  I went to check in and was surprised to find myself in front of another O’Mea.ra, the first I can recall meeting since moving to Sea.ttle.  Cool!  I would pass him later about midway through the race.

I went searching for a bathroom.  The nearest one I could find was half a mile away, so I ended up doing a mile long warm-up jog there and back.  The 10K started, and ten minutes later, the 5K started.  I was so pleased that they started on time.  I recall one race I ran years back that started two hours late.  I spent the two hours shivering on the street waiting for the gun.  It was unbelievable!  Anyway, off we went.  I had decided to jog the first mile, pick up the pace a little in the second mile, and then go as fast as I could for the final mile.  The first mile was quite pleasant.   The course was along the lake and almost completely flat.  The race was very small, and there was no major crowding.   Adrenaline carried me along completely effortlessly.

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Once I hit the mile marker, I started going a bit faster.  I didn’t wear a watch, so I have no idea what my split was.  At this point, I began passing people steadily.  This always gives me a mental boost.  The opposite situation, which I have also been in plenty of times, can be very demoralizing.  Anyway, the second mile had some mild inclines but was still quite flat.  The course was out and back, so once we turned around, I knew exactly what I’d be facing on the way back.  I continued to feel great throughout the second mile.

Once I hit the two mile marker, I was excited to be nearly done.  I started picking up the pace more and more.  I’d say I was going 8 minute pace or faster for the last half mile at least.  I didn’t really sprint it in, but I kept up a steady pace and was significantly tired at that point.  I never felt that “going to die” feeling which I usually feel in races.  There is a lot to be said for negative splits!  I was a little emotional in the final mile thinking about how tough it was being so physically limited during pregnancy and how good it feels to be able to get out and do things like run a 5K again.

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My time was 27:39, which I was quite happy with.  That is 8:55 pace.

Pretty much everything about the race was awesome.  Flat course, great weather, good time, nearby playground that L loved, not many people, free pictures, food and drink at the end, and not too expensive (though no shirt).  What more could one want?  This was the first in a three-race series, so I’ll be back to do it again in a few weeks.  Hopefully it won’t be pouring rain!