Category Archives: Briony


Bri is playing soccer again this fall.  She is doing great as far as I’m concerned.  It’s interesting because if your kid is a late walker, many people will say “she’ll catch up” or “they all end up in the same place in the end” or something like that.  That really hasn’t been the case with Bri, and I doubt it’s typically the case.  We have to work much harder on gross motor skills.  She is a great swimmer and learned to ride her bike at the normal time, and a slightly below average soccer player (for her age) but we worked very hard with her to achieve all of these things.

She had a wonderful coach last season, but I haven’t been loving her coach this season.  First of all, though, I really do appreciate that the woman stepped up.  The team had no coach, and she volunteered.  The issue, however, is that it’s clear she didn’t really have time to do it, and her heart isn’t fully in it.  There is also an assistant coach who, as far as I can tell, watches practice and the games and nothing more.  When the main coach can’t make it to games, which is about 50% of the time, a random parent, who I really dislike, takes over.  Last game, he played Bri less than half the games while other kids played almost the entire game, obviously a reflection of his view of her skill level.  Come on – the kids are 7 years old!

(I would love to coach, actually.  Maybe next year when it wouldn’t be such a burden to leave S with H.)

But this is not the point of this blog entry.  The season has about six games and six practices.  Mostly, they make teams from elementary schools.  Since Bri attends private school, she was put on the team from West Bellevue.  West Bellevue is where Bezos and Gates live.  Obviously, there are some more modest homes there, too, but it is a VERY affluent area.  It has been interesting driving up there to practice.  She practices at the local middle school, which has facilities that my high school, which itself was the most affluent high school in Roa.noke, could only have dreamed of.  Multiple soccer fields, some natural, some astroturf.  An 8-lane polyurethane track.  Even the ELEMENTARY school that we had one practice at has facilities nicer than most high schools.  It is interesting to see.  We have wanted to move to Bellevue for schools, which is a stretch, but this particular micro-area has never been in the cards, but honestly, I’m not sure I’d want to live there.  The snobbery is real.

My kids obviously go to a private school, and there is plenty of wealth there.  But a huge percent of the kids’ educations are either being subsidized by the French government or fully funded by the companies that sent them overseas from France.  This applies to Isla’s best friend for example.  One of the reasons we like the school is that the tuition is roughly half the tuition at the more expensive schools in our area.

Anyway, they are doing gifts for the soccer coaches and the team mom asked for a contribution of $50 per player.  This kind of blew my mind, given the limited number of times we’ve even seen the coach.

Bri’s seventh birthday party

We had a birthday party for B over the weekend.  She is turning 7 shortly, and we had a party a little early due to our planned trip.  Pre-Covid, I would have felt compelled (and partially enjoyed) to invite all the girls in her class.  She had a class of all girls this year, so that would have been about 14 kids.  As it was, we invited five, and she had a great time.  We decided to do a pool party this year, which seemed appropriate since we practically lived at the pool this summer.  Honestly, it was perfect.  Normally with parties I feel worried about entertaining the kids, but kids plus pool is built in entertainment.  One of the nice things about the club we belong to is that it has a good size hot tub that they allow kids 6 and up to use.  The kids absolutely love it.  The girls made cupcakes, and we brought some snacks and that was that.

Bri is just the sweetest child these days.  She has always been sweet, maybe the sweetest of my three girls.  She insists on a kiss and hug from me every night and won’t go to sleep until she gets it, no matter how late.  (I say goodnight to them, but she insists on Round #2.)  She is still young enough to do all kinds of silly things you might think a nearly 7-year-old would have grown out of.  Sometimes it’s hard to know who’s creating trouble – Bri or S.

Bri can and will talk a blue streak.  If she’s with other people be they family or kids or coaches, she’s talking a blue streak.  (It’s a wonder she manages to stay quiet at school.)  When she meets someone new, she’ll always be chatting away to them before you know it.

She still worries about things, though.  For example, she used to get very nervous before her swim meets.  I would tell her that as long as she didn’t actually drown, that I considered that a fantastic success, but she felt pressure from somewhere to do well.  She was just adorable in her swim team bathing suit, cap and goggles.

Bri still looks up to her big sister and just wants to be included in L’s games and activities.  She feels bad if she’s left out of a playdate her big sister participates in, and she loves L’s friends almost as much as her own.  She also loves being a big sister to S and is always trying to mother her.  Sometimes they are the best of friends.  Otherwise it’s honestly hazardous to S’s health.

In some ways, Bri is a chip off the old block.  There is nothing she likes better than reading.  If there are no playdates or outings to be had, you’ll find Bri reading somewhere, guaranteed.  Her latest thing is reading various comics, like Garfield.  If she’s not reading, her favorite thing to do is listen to an audiobook.  (She particularly loves Hello, Universe, which I recommend.)

I let her use my phone to listen to audiobooks, and I was pretty amused to find this picture uploaded to my Google photos.  I have my phone set up to take a photo if you say “smile” and have the photo app open, which apparently took B by surprise.  So cute.


swim team

First of all, we got the girls’ swim pictures back.   I love the picture the photographer took of the pair of them together.

I think that one is going up on our wall somewhere.

I am also very humored by the team picture.

Notice any one swimmer looking different from the rest?

Why Bri is raising her hand is anyone’s guess!  But I think it’s pretty funny.

Swim season is over, and we haven’t gotten the results of the last meet, but I’m so proud of both girls.  Bri could swim a length of the pool at the beginning of the year and not much more.  By the end of the season she had managed to compete breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly without being disqualified.  Swimming a 25 butter is no joke!  Her fastest time was 32 seconds for the 25 free, which is not bad at all.

Isla drastically improved her swim times.  In freestyle, she came with a 27 s PR for the 25 free, and finished with a 19 s PR for the 25 and 46 s PR for the 50.  She improved her backstroke PR from 34 s for the 25 to 52 s for the 50.  She improved her breaststroke PR from 34 s for the 25 to 1:01 for the 50.  She went from being DQ’d in the butterfly to swimming 23 seconds for a 25 butter.  And she swam 1:45 for the 100 free and 1:54 for the IM.  She learned how to do a freestyle flip turn and did it in most of her meets.

Both girls had a blast and loved their wonderful coaches.  Swim team is intense in the summer, but it’s one of the most fun things we do.  For about eight weeks, it seems like we’re constantly at the pool, but the girls (mostly) love it, and I really enjoy watching as well.


“Shark showdown” time trial

The girls had their first “swim meet” yesterday.  It was really a time trial, but they typically run a pre-season time trial like a real meet to let the organizers practice everything.  They actually let parents enter briefly while their kids swam, which sounds like it would be a disaster, but worked fine.  Masks all, despite being outdoors and fully vaxxed, but I will not complain further.  Having just had gum surgery the day before, I missed most of it, but Jonathan took some videos.

Below, you can watch Isla win her heat in to the 50 yard backstroke in 52 seconds.  (She finished midpack overall.)  I love watching her swim!  I always sort of flailed around in the water (still do, really).  She is just so elegant.

Bri is in the far lane and was the slowest of the 8 and under swimmers, but I’m still so proud of her.  What a great 25 back for her!

The girls did all four strokes in their meet, as is customary out here.  Bri’s butterfly frankly was not even distantly recognizable as butterfly, but other than that, it went great.  (I told Bri my only goal for her in butterfly was that she not drown.  Mission accomplished!)

little kid activities

A little piano duet with the Bri-ster.  Gotta love her facial expressions!  We are working on the “B” book from Alfred, and it’s going well, though lessons can be challenging at times to say the least.  My kids’ teachers tell us they are little angels, but that is certainly not what we see at home.

Swim team has started, and both girls are swimming this year.  Initially, I didn’t think Bri was ready.  I watched the last swim lesson before swim team started, and she just didn’t seem like she was swimming well enough to me.  However, we had fantastic weather that weekend, so we decided to go to the pool (which is heated).  I swam with Bri, and she was actually considerably better at swimming that I’d thought, so I e-mailed the coach and asked what level of skill he was looking for.  Answer: 25 yd of free and back, and minimal ability at breast and butter.  Bri would drown quickly if she had to use butterfly to stay afloat, but otherwise I thought she met the criteria.  The coach said she could show up and see how things go, so I sent her on Monday.  Unfortunately, it was in the 50s and drizzly.  I watched her a little bit, and she seemed slower than the other kids and also younger than most of them.  What made me decide to skip it, though, was that she was crying at the end of practice because was cold.  I e-mailed the coach and told him we’d decided not to do it, and he e-mailed me back and said she’d done great and should come back and it was likely the cold weather that made it hard.  I ended up sending her back on Wednesday (with her full buy-in) with her sister’s deck coat and a spring suit.  She did great!  Since then, I’ve been sending her to most of the practices (which are every day) and just skipping if it’s unusually cold, and she’s been having a great time.  Deck coats are the best thing ever, by the way, at least if you live in the chilly Pacific NW.  Their first “meet” (which is only a quasi meet due to ongoing ridiculous Covid restrictions) is June 12th.  I’m excited for her!

piano lesson update

Bri finished the final song of Book A of Alfred’s Prep Course, which is targeted at the “youngest” learners.  I’m proud of her!  I’ve spared her the metronome thus far, but I think she does a pretty good job keeping in time.

Alfred has about a million books at each level.  For B, I’m planning to buy the lesson book, the theory book, and the solo book.  For A, we did the lesson book and the Christmas book.  I think it’s helpful to have an additional book beyond the lesson book, just to slow the rate of new material and increase in difficulty a bit.  Since it’s not Christmas time, we’ll do the solo book this time.  I skipped the theory book for level A, in part because Bri couldn’t read when we started, but I think it’ll be helpful as we move on to level B.  We do have a few more Christmas songs to learn before we start the new book, though.

L has been continuing to play on her own, but I’m continuing to hold off on lessons for now, since swimming and school are taking up so much time.  I’m planning to restart lessons this summer, and hopefully we’ll make some good progress.


I took the kids to the eye doctor for the first time in two years recently.  Recommendations are to take a child every two years if they have no vision correction, and I’m here to say that I should have taken my kids sooner.  L’s eyes have actually gotten quite bad, to the point that it was obvious to H and I even without the eye doctor to tell us.  We had delayed due to Covid and due to a change in insurance which meant we had to pay out of pocket at the optometrist we’ve been seeing for years.  (VERY expensive.)  I managed to find a new optometrist that will take our insurance, and we finally got out there last week.  L couldn’t even read the top line of the eye chart.  I was also dismayed to find out that B has slight astigmatism in one eye, and her eyes are 20/25, 20/20.  The eye doctor has recommended glasses for her as well.  We went ahead and ordered glasses for L, but I’ve been hesitating for B.  Glasses are just such a hassle, and I’d like to spare her one more year of having them.  On the flip side, though, the optometrist warned her worse eye could become lazy and deteriorate, so I guess we should probably get them.

Then last night, I caught B reading her book under the covers in the dark.  Much like I used to do at that age.  Arghh!  My poor kids and their bad vision genes and excessive reading habits.

Do your kids have glasses?  Do you see an optometrist every year?