Category Archives: Motherhood

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.


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.