Category Archives: My life

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 Is.land 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?

 

 

home office

I finally have my IT set up to my satisfaction – laptop plus two 27″ high res screens.  I never bothered doing much with my home office in 2019 since (a) I as mostly doing management and didn’t really need large screens and (b) I was pregnant and felt like crap and “worked” lying in bed with my laptop half the time anyway.

Now all I have to do is do some work!  It amuses me that you can see evidence of my hobbies in the background – English paper piecing, cycling, and skiing.

where we are

Once again I’m pondering the eternal question: where do I send my kids to school?

How did I find myself here?  Well, I blame Blue.  My previous employer is located in a dismal school district surrounded by other dismal school districts.  I have an aversion to commuting, and we bought our current house two weeks before B was born as a compromise.  Living here gave us access to all the amenities of Belle.vue, including preschools and extracurriculars, except the schools.  To gain access to the schools, we would have had to pay a lot more for less and live farther from work.  There are some excellent school districts in the area that are much cheaper than Belle.vue, but they were too far of a drive from my previous employer.  So we promised each other we’d move before L started school . . . and didn’t, and instead have been shelling out close to 20K per kid for private school.

Here are three facts:

  1. We love where we live and we don’t want to move.
  2. We are in a mediocre school district.
  3. Private school gets VERY expensive in middle school.

Your typical private school of moderate quality or better costs 35 to 40K starting in grade 6.  I can maybe imagine spending 40K a year to send L to one of the best private schools in the area.  Not only would it help her get into a great college, but they have wonderful programs for the kids, and I think she would thrive.  However, I’m not at all confident that she can get into any of the top 5 schools within reasonable driving distance of where we live.  Here’s an example. Furthermore, that decision would commit me to working full-time for at least the next decade, which I do not want to do.   Also, what I cannot stomach is the idea of paying 35K to send her to a not-great school.

Next fall, we could apply to two or three of the top schools near our house.  Please note that the application process is a PITA.  It’s like applying to college.  I’m not sure if I’d want her to get in or not, given how expensive it is.  If she does get in, then we have to agonize over whether it’s worth it.  If she doesn’t, then we are back at square one.

There are lots of lovely places to live in the area.  It’s just that we like where we live right now.  We like our house.  We love our yard.  We love our neighbors.  We’ve built connections to extracurriculars and activities, both for kids and adults, that are near where we live.  Honestly, leaving our neighbors might be the hardest part.  Having had absolutely awful, ghastly, no good very bad neighbors at my old house, I know how important having awesome neighbors is.

Still, I don’t want to shell out 40K per kid for 7 years.  That’s 40*3*7 = 840K on top of the tuition we’ve already paid for elementary school.  (If we were to send S to the same school, which I’m not wild about doing given the crazy Covid measures, we will end up paying around 350K in total for the three kids.)  So, our current house is not really meeting our needs.  We could also use a little more space.  We will do just fine if we stay with 2600 sq ft and four bedrooms, but with both J and I working from home, we could use another room.  J does hardware work so he needs quite a bit more space than I do for his lab space and “bulk storage.”  (I accuse him of being a hoarder which he vehemently denies.  I’m not sure who’s right.)

That means looking at houses.  But have you looked at housing prices lately?  They are seriously insane.  To make things worse, there is a 500K exemption from capital gains taxes, which we would blow through by a huge margin if we sold our current house and then used the proceeds to buy another house of identical cost.  Our current house has appreciated about 1.1M.  There’s no way we could find something cheaper in a good school district.   So we’d be looking at paying around $100,000 in capital gains taxes.  Gone.  Vamoose.  Lost forever just because we decided to move from Point A to Point B in the same city.  We’d have to make up that money to buy a new house of identical value.

So yeah.  Not sure what to do other than send the kids to the mediocre public schools in the district we happen to live in.

cycle update

I tried writing about the massacre in Texas, but there’s really nothing I can say that’s worth saying.  The pictures of the kids in the NYT are absolute heartbreaking.  I cannot even look at them.  I think the only thing you can do is donate to anti-gun organizations.   So rather than talk, that’s what I did.  But it does not feel like enough.  The faces of those kids!  It’s killing me.

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I’ve now got Zwift set up in my house, and I’ve been mostly enjoying getting some home cycling in.   I got a direct drive trainer on clearance from Zwift (now sold out) – the Wahoo Kickr Core.  The way it works is that Zwift talks to the trainer via Bluetooth and the trainer adjust the resistance based on the virtual world slope, up or down.  It works pretty well.  It definitely feels way harder to go up hills than down, though I think the effect isn’t quite as pronounced as the real world.

I feel like I don’t have the bike set up perfectly on the trainer.  The gears are not silent, which implies to me that it’s not properly adjust like it is when attached to my back wheel.  This is my only real complaint.  The setup is acceptable, but not awesome.

The virtual worlds in Zwift are quite beautiful.  I have so far only cycled in Watopia, and I’m sure it’ll get old once I’ve seen it all, but for now, it’s novel and fun.  Not as fun as cycling outside, but the absence of traffic and route-finding is a huge win.  For weekday mornings, it’s definitely a better option.

I get really hot cycling indoors and sweat more than I would have thought possible.  Running and cycling outdoors in Seattle’s mostly cool weather, I barely sweat.  This indoor cycling is a different ballgame.  I think I’m going to have to add a fan to my setup ASAP.

I also went for a 25 mile / 1200 ft bike ride over the weekend around the area where I live.  I’m hoping to do a longer ride this weekend.

Cycling fitness, here I come!

I have, however, dropped my evening weight and stretching workouts so I could continue making progress on cross stitch.  There simply isn’t enough time for everything, and something had to go.

depressed

So, I really feel that living through one major pandemic in my lifetime should be enough.  For both me and my kids.  Monkeypox is in Seattle.  (Of course it’s in Seattle.)  Of course, no doubt the monkeypox carrier had to test for Covid before he flew in!  What a relief that he did that!

Everyone is saying, “Don’t worry.”  As in, that’s what the experts are saying.  At this point, I trust “experts” about as far as I can throw them.  Constant disease used to be a thing.  Newton, for example, derived his major laws during a 2-year break from college due to a plague outbreak.  Is that the new normal?  Nasty diseases emerging in Africa and China and spreading around the world lickety-split followed by useless life-disrupting countermeasures that don’t actually stop the disease in question?

work and play

I haven’t exercised in something like six days.  Saturday, Sunday and Monday I was legitimately sick and exercise wasn’t really possible.  Tuesday I was still not feeling awesome, so it was very reasonable to skip that day.  Wednesday I definitely could have worked out, and I’m basically back to 100%, or at least 95%, today.  But I didn’t do anything.  To put this in perspective, I often work out twice a day – a run in the morning and then lifting or stretching in the evening.  (I’m not sure if stretching counts as “working out” but since it’s a valuable contributor to my health and fitness, I count it.  Especially since I despise stretching.)

It is amazing how much extra time I have on my hands when I don’t, say, go for a 12 mile run in the morning, as I often did when I was marathon training.  These days, I don’t go that far, but it hasn’t been unusual for me to run 9 miles or so.  Not only does running 9 miles take 90 minutes+, it is also exhausting.  After running nine miles, I need more sleep at night, and if I’m sitting on the couch, I don’t feel like doing much other than resting.  I have felt filled with boundless energy the last few days.  And I have so much time!  I’ve been cross stitching and watching TV, two things I normally don’t do much of.

I haven’t done much crafting in ages.  Really, as an adult, there just isn’t time to have more than one serious hobby.  I think this is true whether you’re working or a SAHM.  Either way, you can probably pick one thing to invest in other than work / childcare and family . . . and that’s it.  Maybe that equation changes when kids are older.  I imagine it does . . . if you resist the urge to use the extra time to work more, which I fully intend.  Anyway, it’s been really nice cross stitching.  Through the years, I generally have some kind of artistic hobby going, if you count music, and I really enjoy it all.  Knitting, quilting, hand sewing, cross stitching, origami, playing the piano.  I’ve missed all that.  The fact is, though, I can’t really do those things and run 40 miles a week.  I have neither the time nor the energy.  I planned to cut back on running this summer anyway, but I planned to bike more, and maybe do some swimming and do a second sprint triathlon.  That will take up any time I save by running less.

I keep telling myself I can sew and knit and quilt when I’m old, whereas I may not be able to run.  This is all true to some degree.  But age brings arthritis and bad vision, both of which are a big problem for fine work.  Furthermore, exercise will continue to be important to my physical and mental health.  The solution, clearly, is to retire and give up on this annoying work nonsense.  Once S goes to school, I’d have tons of time if I wasn’t working!  Kidding.  Kind of.