Monthly Archives: June 2022

this and that #47

L has been having a small influx of Ukrainians to her gymnastics team – a new girl her own age, and a new coach.  I can’t help but wonder what path they took here.  At least there is a small community they can be part of here.  When we joined gymnastics, the coach said L should come two or three times a week for a couple hours.  Great!  Well, recently she sent a text suggesting 16 hours a week.  I honestly can only laugh.  Needless to say, summer or not, L is not attending that frequently, but she is there a lot.  However, we will be gone for all of August.  The summer has been crazy busy so far, compressing everything into 1.5 months instead of 2.5, and also trying to facilitate as much time for L with her best friend as possible (since she is leaving for France shortly.)  In Virginia, however, we have nothing planned except to sit around in our rental and try not to get too hot.  Well, we did buy a 3 person inflatable kayak.  I have this dream / vision of H and I kayaking together every evening, leaving the kids with the grandparents.

We have been looking at houses in earnest.  We will not buy now, not for several months, no matter what we see.  But we are trying to figure out what we want and where.  It’s such a huge decision, deciding where to live.  (And yes, leaving WA entirely is still on the table, but that’s another can of worms.)  I feel good having made the decision to move.  It’s been a long time thinking about private school versus public and the not-great schools where we currently are, and I love the idea of just living in a place with good schools and letting the kids go to the local school and having neighbors at the same school.  I had a great experience in public school, and I hope for the same for my kids.  With that being said, we have three very different kids, and it wouldn’t shock me if one of them has trouble at a given school.

We’ve been looking at places with larger lots.  I love the idea of a larger lot, but obviously, if you want a large lot, you end up farther out.   And when I calculate the distance from these houses to the places we go now – swimming and gymnastics – it’s a long drive.  It is wonderful not having to commute, and I’ve more or less decided I will never commute again if I can help it.  But driving L to and from gymnastics every day is like a commute.  And we love our swim club.   Obviously, we could switch, but when you get into the sticks, there aren’t that many options for kids’ activities, and preschool for S.  We’d probably end up driving 20+ minutes to every activity.  With three kids, that adds up.  Having a nanny helps, but we can’t afford to continue this indefinitely.  (We’re thinking another year.)  So will we be happier in a beautiful house on a giant lot or in a smaller house on a small lot (same price) nearer to everything?  Honestly, I think the latter.  However, I love our house so much, it’s hard for me to accept leaving it for a house I don’t like as much.  The problem is that our house’s value is depressed due to the fact that the schools aren’t so great.  To get the same house in a better school district is going to cost us.  It’s been 8 years since we bought this house, so we can afford more now than we could then.  But H is 47, so we won’t consider a mortgage longer than 15 years.


The other problem is that I’ve realized we want a lot of space.  H and I *could* share an office, but we are spoiled but not having to do so.  He spends a LOT of time talking, talking, talking all day long in various meetings.  I have far fewer meetings but still probably two hours a day on average.  I need very little space, but having a door that closes is very helpful with three kids banging around the house.  Of course, S is getting older and probably quieter, so in some ways, it’s really a short-term problem until she’s in school.  In three years, I could use the dining room or something with a lot less bother.  B and S share a room, and I think it’s good for them to share a room, but I also want B to have her own room by the time she’s 13 or so – but L won’t move out until B is turning 16.  Ideally, therefore, we’d like a place with 6 rooms.  Lots of giant houses don’t actually have 6 rooms with doors, even if they have tons of space.  We will “make do” with five, but a lot of houses don’t even have five rooms with doors.  Yes, first world problems.

In case you want to browse some of what I’m looking at . . . Many of these are obviously out of our price range, but everybody likes to browse, right?.  Our budget will hopefully be a house that costs 2 million today but loses value.


Tour d’Eastside

Another weekend, another bike ride.  This weekend, I finished my longest ride ever (by about a mile) – 44.5 miles with 2220 feet of elevation gain.  It was a great ride!  It makes so much difference when the weather is decent.  I had loaded up all this cold weather gear on a bag on my bike, and I didn’t need any of it.  I even took off the tights I’d put on over my shorts, and just had a woolen long sleeve jersey and shorts for most of the ride.  To start, temps were in the low to mid 50s and overcast, but I think it must have been at least 60 by the time I finished, with sunshine peaking through here and there.

I love that I’m getting to the point that I can cover a significant distance on my bike.  It’s a way to explore this place that I live that is different than being in the car.  Unlike running, I can cover a lot of ground, but unlike driving, I’m going slow enough to appreciate it.

Speaking of going slow, I just never seem to get any faster.  I averaged 11.5 mph.  That pace felt comfortable.  The hills were tiring, the downhills were lovely, and the flat felt like my easy running pace – comfortable.  I do feel like I could probably go faster but traffic and route-finding really slow me down, as well as worries that I’ll get so tired I won’t be able to finish.  The main issue with being slow is just that it takes so long, and I just don’t have that much free time.  Every hour I’m away, H is at home with the kids.  He’s awesome to let me ride, but I usually spend half my rides feeling super guilty.

I have time for two, maybe three (if I hire our nanny for an extra day), more rides this summer.  It’s been a brutal spring weather-wise, just ridiculously cold and rainy, but I think the worst is over.  However, we’ll be in Virginia for August, and we have some other weekend commitments, so I’m nearly out of time for the year.  I’m planning a 50 mi ride next weekend, and then hoping to do a 60 and then 70 mile ride.  We’ll see.  I’ve only been able to get about 50% of my planned rides off due to weather and other commitments.

In a surprise to no one, rain is in the forecast

We are in the thick of swim season here.  One of the things about swim is that you are required to “volunteer” 8 points per family, where each point is a little over an hour of volunteer time.  Alternatively, you can pay out the points for around $300.  Last year, we paid out most of it because with Saoirse still 1, we needed the time more than the money and since meets were “virtual” (gag) they didn’t really need as many volunteers anyway.  However, in addition to the cost, I definitely felt guilty about not pitching in and helping things run.  Without volunteers, there would be no swim season.  This year, we hope to get all our points.

My first volunteer session was Tuesday, and wow, it was a doozie.  This was the first swim meet our club had held since 2019, so it had been a while.  I volunteered as a stager.  That is, along with one other woman, it was my job to get the kids lined up for their races.  I did this for 2, maybe 2.5 hours.  It was truly unbelievable.  For the entirety of the two hours, I was yelling (to be heard) at kids, trying to get their names, figure out where they should go, ordering teens and tiny tots around, frantically trying to remember which kids I had lined up for which event where, trying to get socializing hangers-on to get lost.  It. Was. Crazy.  Needless to say, the system could use some work, but I had the second half of the meet, and there wasn’t time to even think about a new system.  (I sent the coaches a list of suggestions afterwards – no response.)  The woman I worked with had a heart rate alarm on her watch that went off if her heart rate got too high, intended for exercise, and it kept going off because the experience was so intense.

I’ll be volunteering as a timer next time.

Before my volunteer shift started, I was actually getting a little teary seeing my kids finally get to have a swim meet after a two year Covid hiatus.  It makes me so angry when I think how much they lost for basically no reason.  There’s nothing different about last summer versus this summer in terms of Covid risk.  If anything, last summer was actually much better (since swim season is May through mid July – it was over before Delta really hit and adults were freshly vaccinated).  I was also just really happy to see the kids having fun – participating in races, screaming for their friends, hanging out and socializing on the bleachers, etc.   But once the “staging” started there was no more time for dreamy emotion – just adrenaline.

Some sun would have been nice:

Both girls are doing great this year.  I was super proud of Bri for managing to finish a 25 yard butterfly without looking like she was going to drown.  She didn’t look like Michael Phelps, or even L either, but no DQ.  Her breaststroke is getting better, too; about halfway through, she remembered to glide:

Isla’s favorite strokes are butterfly and breaststroke.  Here, they only have the 9-10 year olds swim a 25 butterfly.

Every week they have an A and a B meet.  Slower swimmers go to the B meet.  Normally, we choose the B meet, but L had a conflict this week, so B went to the B meet and L to the A meet.  Yes, two swim meets in one week.  Frankly, I am exhausted because of this.  However, the B meet did give me a chance to visit Mercer Beach Club, which I’d never seen before.  Basically it’s “where the other half swim.”  Nice spot!

I’d really like to cycle or swim today (Friday) and this weekend, but here’s our weather forecast:

Why?  Just why?



a wet rainy cycle

Two weeks ago, I went for a 37 mile ride with 1700 ft of elevation gain.  It was very pleasant and went well.  Yes, I was very tired, but nothing crazy.

I should note that other than the morning I went for my cycle, it rained for most of that weekend.

The following weekend, I hoped to go for another 40 mile cycle, but it was supposed to rain the whole time, so I went for a shorter 25 mile cycle during the best weather-predicted time.  I managed to get through it without getting rained on.  I canceled on a friend of mine I’d been supposed to cycle with.

Then, this weekend, my friend and I made plans again, for Sunday.  The weather forecast was about a 15% chance of rain throughout.  It was supposed to be overcast but dry.  However, as I drove down to the trailhead, it started to rain lightly – not a good sign.  I got down to our meeting spot.  My friend had cycled 15 miles to meet me, so I wasn’t going to bail on him.  So, we headed out into the rain.

Now cycling versus running in the rain is a totally different ball game.  Typically, I run at about 6 mph – 10 minutes a mile.  On flats, I cycle at around 15 mph.  On downhills, I easily hit 25 mph.  On yesterday’s ride, for example, my max speed was 32 mph, even though I tried to keep my speed down due to concerns about my brakes not working well in the rain, and visibility being poor.  Even at 15 mph, you’re getting A LOT wetter than at 6 mph, and when you build up speed to 20 or 25 mph or so on the downhills, you just get so wet from light rain that wouldn’t be a huge problem at slower speeds.

15% chance of rain.  But it just kept raining and raining and raining.  And I kept getting wetter and wetter and colder and colder.  The temperatures were in the low 50s, but again, when you’re hitting 15 to 20 mph half the time, the wind makes it feel much colder.  Furthermore, because I got even colder whenever we stopped, I really wasn’t taking in enough calories.  One thing I’ve learned in the last few years about endurance sports is the value of taking in calories during longer exercise, especially anything longer than 2 hours.  Even between 60 and 120 minutes, there’s a lot of value in taking in calories, but you’re not going to crash without it; your performance will probably be reduced.  But beyond 2 hours, you can really get hit by exhaustion if you’re not taking in enough calories.  I usually drink gatorade or Nuun (the type with calories, not just electrolytes) and eat Kind bars during my cycles.  I drink as I cycle, and I’ll drink a lot and have some bites to eat every time I stop at an intersection or for a photo or whatever.  But we just weren’t stopping, mostly due to my preference.

My friend wasn’t having nearly as many problems as me.  He cycles in the rain regularly and I guess he’s got his attire dialed in.  He actually cycled 70 miles in total.  I think that would have put me in the hospital with hypothermia.  He probably has 30 pounds on me, maybe 40 – so that helps. But part of it is just the way I am made.  I have trouble retaining heat in general.  And wearing the right clothes would help.

In any case, we did finish the ride.

Afterwards, I got back in my car fairly quickly, and cranked the heat to the maximum for the entire drive home.  I was still freezing after the 25 minute drive.  I went straight upstairs and started a hot shower and still just couldn’t warm up, even standing in the hot shower.  So I filled a bath with hot water, and after sitting in the bath for some time, I was finally able to stop shivering.  A cup of hot tea left me feeling fairly normal temperature-wise. I reflected on the fact that it must have been awful trying to warm up in the old days when you didn’t have hot water on tap.  I think heating yourself from the inside out – like with tea – is probably the way to go.  I should have started with a hot drink.

After all that, I still felt exhausted and depleted.  I think that my body probably expended a lot of energy not only on the 40 mile cycle, but trying to keep me warm.  Plus the whole not enough calories thing I think didn’t help.  I was pretty much ravenous for the rest of the day.  Also, I had been planning to take B to a playdate that afternoon, and H had to do it, which wasn’t ideal given that he’d already watched the kids all morning while I cycled.

In summary, I really wish it would warm up and stop raining out here.

a pox on both your houses

This is kind of hilarious and kind of not.  I noticed last week, per the NY Times, that the CDC had introduced a recommendation that everyone, including in the US, wear masks during travel to avoid monkeypox.  I was surprised at the lack of coverage of this recommendation.  Given that monkeypox, like Covid, is not going away, this was another clear indication of preference of our health overlords for permanent masking.  I guess some Democrats must have felt it might hurt their re-election prospects, because the recommendation was withdrawn the next day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance last week for travelers wishing to protect themselves against monkeypox. This was one of its recommendations: “Wear a mask. Wearing a mask can help protect you from many diseases, including monkeypox.”

Late Monday night, that recommendation was deleted.

“C.D.C. removed the mask recommendation from the monkeypox travel health notice because it caused confusion,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

(My read of the original story was that the recommendation was that EVERYONE should wear masks, not just those who wanted to protect themselves.  But I only read the NYTimes story, not the CDC guidance.)

But in briefings with the press and with the general public, health officials have not explicitly addressed the possibility of airborne transmission or the use of masks for protection.

And in interviews, they emphasized the role of large respiratory droplets that are expelled from infected patients and drift onto objects or people.

I kind of feel like Covid showed that the difference between “droplets” and airborne is academic.  Airborne is airborne.  I guess the NY Times picked up on that not-so-subtle point also:

The C.D.C.’s swift about-face on masks for travelers concerned about monkeypox was reminiscent of its early denials that the coronavirus was airborne. In September 2020, the agency published guidance on airborne transmission of the virus and then abruptly withdrew it just days later.

It was not until May 2021 that the agency acknowledged that the coronavirus could “remain suspended in the air for minutes to hours.”

And then there’s this:

“Most people think that smallpox usually is transmitted by large droplets, but it can, for whatever reason, occasionally be transmitted by small-particle aerosols,” said Mark Challberg, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

I’d say we can trust the CDC about as far as we can throw them on monkeypox, much like on Covid in the early days months years.