Category Archives: Isla

Tracfone and phones for kids

I think Tracfone has a reputation of being an inferior phone service, but I believe this is quite wrong.  In fact, I’ll call it an official Great Thing.  In general, Tracfone offers all the things that the major carriers do, but for less money.

What I use:

  • $200 annually, $223 including tax – works out to $18.40 / month
    • Unlimited talk and text
    • 24 GB of data total
    • Once data runs out, it must be purchased at $10 / GB.  I typically use less than 2 GB per month, so this works for me. (Note that the phone will simply stop providing data; there is no auto-purchase option.)
    • No hot spot capability – never needed or wanted this

What J is going to switch to:

  • $35 / month, $40 / month including tax
    • Unlimited talk and text
    • 8 GB of data total
    • Once data runs out, it must be purchased at $10 / GB.  (Note that the phone will simply stop providing data; there is no auto-purchase option.)
    • Hot spot capability included – important to J

The only major drawback I’ve noticed with Tracfone is that international calling is a plan.  While on Har.bour Island in the Baha.mas, I was unable to get international calling working on my Tracfone.  I do think it might be easier for other countries, but proceed with caution if you need to make international calls regularly.

Has anyone else bought a phone for their kids?  We bought a flip-phone for L.  I’ve posted on here about communications difficulties with her gymnastics coaches, and I basically was very concerned we’d leave her at practice and she’d get left on her own at some point.  The building where the gym is (a Salv.ation Army) also serves as a soup kitchen for the local homeless population, and I just felt it would be safest if she had a phone.  She is on a Tracfone plan as well.  For $100, we got a year’s worth of service plus 400 “minutes” which can be used for talk, text or web, which is Trafone’s cheapest option.

triing and swimming

For a running race, I consider temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees ideal.  45 to 50 is nice because you can dress in shorts and short sleeves; for an easy run I’ll wear long sleeves or capris tights until it’s 50 or close to it, but for races that drops to 45 or so.   But for a triathlon, I prefer it to be warmer for obvious reasons.  For cycling, I’d say 65 to 70 and overcast is perfect, and for swimming, the hotter the better.

On a side note, we had a birthday party for B over the weekend at the pool, on 7/16, and it was mid 60s and overcast with a few rain drops here and there.  I had to laugh.  Where is global warming when you need it?  Fortunately, the kids had a great time, and we all enjoyed huddling in the hot tub.

My triathlon is Sunday, and I have a start time of around 8 am.  I estimate it’ll take me less than 2 hours to complete the race – a 400 m swim, 15 mile bike, and 3 mile run.  At 8 am, it’s supposed to be mostly sunny and 63 degrees.  At 10 am, it’s supposed to be 68 and sunny.  While 68 is definitely warmer than I’d prefer for a running race, overall I definitely can’t complain.  The water temperature at the lake is 72 to 74.  That’s warm enough that I could skip a wetsuit, especially given how short the swim is, but I’m planning to wear one at this point.  It’ll probably cost me a few minutes trying to get it off, but oh well.

Normally for biking hard in the mid 60s, I wouldn’t want or need any extra layers beyond a short sleeve jersey, but given that I’ll be wet from the swim, I’m not sure if it’s makes sense to add a layer.  Thinking about all this makes me nervous – triathlons are no joke.  So much more hassle and logistical challenge than just running a race!

The girls finished up their swim season last weekend.  L dropped her 50 free PR from 46 s to 41 s I think mostly by getting her flip turns.  She also improved her 50 back by 4s and 50 breast by 8 seconds.   She didn’t have much improvement on 25 butterfly, but she did very well in that last year.  Her best event was probably the 100 IM which she swam in 1:41 in her last meet.  L swims in the “B” division; there are two divisions, A and B.  To swim A you must achieve a time qualifier, and L is about 2 s off in 100 IM and 4 or more seconds off in everything else, which is quite a bit.  It’s interesting.  I think she’s quite fast, but obviously there are an awful lot of kids who are quite a bit faster, even in the casual, fun summer swim session.  L is eager to qualify for A, but I think it’ll be an uphill battle for her.  Already, she is way faster than I was at her age.

Briony improved most of her times by several seconds.  Her biggest improvement was in the 25 butterfly, which she improved from 54 seconds to 34 seconds.  She also no longer looks in danger of imminently drowning when she swims butterfly, which is always a plus.  More importantly, she got a lot of joy out of swimming this year.  She enjoyed swim last year, but she loved it this year.  She adores her coaches, and I adore them too for being so great with the kids.  I find it interesting how great teenage boys and young men can be with little girls.  I feel like there’s a stereotype that women and girls are better caregivers, but her coaches certainly are a great counterexample.

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?



room shift

We promised L her own room on her tenth birthday.  We converted our guestroom to her bedroom, with the agreement that she’ll evacuate if we actually have guests.  With Covid and my parents’ and in-laws’ health issues, we sadly haven’t been having many guests lately.  (Feel free to come and visit any time, friends.)  We’d been dragging our feet a bit because of not wanting to disrupt S’s sleep; she’ll be moving in with B, but for now, she’s co-sleeping with Jonathan and I.  When she was fussy, which isn’t terribly unusual, J would seek refuge in the spare bedroom, and that won’t be possible any more.  In any case, we finally pulled the trigger and L is delighted to have her own room.  When I was her age, I wanted my own room so much but there wasn’t enough space in my parents’ house.  It’s nice to give L her own space as she approaches puberty and just grows up.

Making the move involved all kinds of furniture moving – hauling the desk upstairs, moving nightstands up and down stairs, etc.  And since Jonathan’s back has been bothering me, it was a good workout for me, in lieu of running today’s pouring rain.  Now all the extra clutter is all over the place.

And yes, L does have a thing for stuffed animals, especially for the white tiger variety.

Ski days

I took L skiing on Tuesday up at Summit at Snoqualmie.  Schools are all out this week in the Seattle area.  As a result, it was mobbed with kids who were mostly beginning skiers.

The resort had ONE green run open, and that one green run was a very short run.  (The place has something like eight green runs in total.)  The lift line was extremely long and chaotic, since it spilled outside the railings organizing it.  In addition, since this was the easiest run, the lift was constantly stopping as kids fell getting on or off.  They had no liftie helping get people on or off – they were all huddled in their little buildings.

It was 15 degrees.  Two runs in, I was frozen and asked L how many runs she wanted to do.  She said three more, and I thought privately we could maybe manage a couple more, but after the three runs (five in total), we were so frozen we could barely make it back to the car.  It was BRUTAL and just not all that much fun.

(With that said, L did a great job skiing the green run.  She is definitely capable of skiing easy greens at this point.  I know some kids get there in a day, but we move a little slower in our family.  I’m proud of her progress.)

Today, L was at a sleepover, so I took B down to Crystal.  Crystal is 90 minutes away compared to Summit’s 45 minutes.  It’s also more expensive and just generally more everything.  But it’s just so much better.  It had three lifts open supporting green runs, but the lifts were high speed lifts, and the runs were more like 900 ft instead of 250 ft, so you spent way more time skiing.  And despite lots of people and kids skiing – minimal lines.  It was just night and day.  We had a great time.  B mostly skied the bunny hill, but did have one successful run down the mountain on a green run.  The greens are much tougher at Crystal than Summit, so I do think she’s making progress.  And, most importantly, she had a great time.

I also had a great time.  Crystal has the hardest green run I’ve ever skied – Queen’s Run.  On my last trip, I mainly skied the easier runs and tried Queen’s once, and it was a bit hairy.  Today I skied it several times and felt quite confident by the end.  I think with one more full day I might be able to try the easy blues at Crystal.  When I last skied, before L was born, I was able to ski the easy blues at Crystal, so I feel like I’m getting closer to where I used to be.  I’m definitely not there yet, but I’m getting there.

But mostly, it was just so fun going down the mountain in the sun and fresh snow and just enjoying the spectacular scenery.  It’s a good distraction from the various other things stressing me out in my life.