Category Archives: Isla

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.




report cards

The kids got their report cards today.  Now, when I got a report card back in the dark ages, starting in second grade, we got four report cards a year.  The report card was short and sweet – grades A, B, C, D or F in six or so subjects: English, Spelling, Social Studies, Science, Math and maybe one or two more.  There was a honor roll for people who got all As and Bs or all As, and awards were given out, so you knew where you stood.

The kids’ school is totally different.  I don’t know if this is modernity, Seattle liberalism (and avoidance of honest assessment) or a French thing.  But the older the kids get, the more it annoys me.  First of all, they give marks in a crazy number of areas.  I just don’t believe the teachers honestly can take the time to do a proper assessment on dozens of different items.  Second, they give 1, 2, or 3.  Is that the same as A, B, or C?  Or what?  Last, short of asking friends’ moms what their kids grades are, which seems a little rude, I have no idea how my kids stand in comparison to everyone else.

I am showing the first couple pages – but this is less than half the report card!


Obviously, the fact that she got 3s is encouraging, but an actual grade in each subject would be a heck of a lot more meaningful – to me at least.  Can you imagine being a teacher and having to fill all this stuff out for 20 kids multiple times a year?

So, another survey: what is done at your kids’ school?  Grades in each subject?  Something like the above?  Or something else?

Isla is extremely self-motivated to do well in school.  But she also has a lot going on with activities outside of class.  It’s hard to assess if she’s working hard enough, and what level of natural ability she has.

school topics

Isla is in fourth grade and currently reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in school.  In third grade, she read Charlotte’s Web.  In second grade, one of the Magic Treehouse books.  What are your 2nd through 5th grades reading in school?  Or do you remember, if they’re already older?  These books seem extremely easy to me for the grade level.  There are a number of non-native English speakers in the class, so they do have to balance things.  Still, I wonder about the level of academic rigor.

In math, they are learning fractions, which seems about right.  Bri, in second grade, is learning her times tables which also seems about right.

In general, L finds her English classes very easy, as does B, but they are challenged in their French classes.  L has in fact read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in French, though not for school, and it is a good, challenging book for her in that language.  Her hardest topic is French verb conjugations.  Needless to say, I’m not much help.

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!)