We decided it would be prudent to go apple picking on a weekday this year. So we skipped part of the morning's school and headed off to Mountain Orchard at the beginning of our first asynchronous period.
Amelia did her rendezvous early so she didn't miss much.
Elizabeth and Matthew finished their asynchronous work in the car. We'd intended to be back before classes started at 1pm, but didn't quite manage so Elizabeth and Matthew logged in and started their classes in the car on the way home.
The orchard only runs wagon rides during the week, but we thought there were too many people waiting for a ride out when we arrived and when we left so we walked instead. Might have been able to have a ride if we'd timed our departure earlier but it was good exercise!
We picked Cortland apples - billed as a good, sweet eating apple that doesn't get brown when cut and excellent for baking. I don't think we've picked Cortland before but everyone had fun filling our bag to the brim. Michael and Amelia at first were rather inclined to yank the apples with such vim they flew onto the ground (thud!) then fired them into the bag (splat!). Poor, poor apples. After we were done, Brendan and I lugged our very heavy bag around the forest walk (the kids insisted).
We had thought about the playground and corn walk (no maze this year due to covid restrictions) but it was already noon so it was time to go home.
But not without some donuts and apple cider...
Xander is NINE! Karen dropped off some chocolate confetti (Xander's cake request) and we celebrated over zoom.
Amazon managed to deliver on the right day (yay!)
The kids made some cards. Michael filled the page with scribbles, Amelia's featured a unicorn, Matthew insisted on using the computer to make some kind of special world (maybe a minecraft theme?). Elizabeth's is probably the most obvious :)
We had a dinner party! Our one guest was Lorianne, who is back from the wilds of Winnepeg for a few months.
We learned some things from our dinner with Creighton and Rachel - this time our table was by the door so we didn't have to keep passing our guests in order to bring food in and out.
It was super nice to chat and catch up (and get rid of some surplus rhubarb), even if the weather wasn't super cooperative. By the time dinner was over it was down to 6C or something (!)
The kids apparently had planned a dance/tea party with stuffies after church. We were shooed upstairs and they made little sandwiches (cucumber and cream cheese and cheese) and tea. Amelia wanted fancy water so they hacked a hunk of cucumber into a glass. Then they did each other's hair and had "appropriate" tea party music that they found on the internet.
I mentioned that we decided that Matthew needed a faster computer, so over the weekend Brendan put one together from spare parts. The kids were very interested and Elizabeth couldn't understand why he needed "three computers". I think they might actually understand the difference between a computer and a monitor finally now. Matthew is very fond of "his" computer, and is especially happy about being able to print things all by himself. We might need to invest in a toner company.
We have a new desk setup as well. The continuous surface works much better. He stores all his materials in the chest of drawers. We've experimented with sitting on a yoga ball to see if it helps with the wiggles. This was a failure as an actual seat as it increases rather than decreases wiggling, but he does like to roll about on the ball during breaks and that might be helpful.
We've continued to "go to school" every morning. Elizabeth goes earlier by herself because she has a standing date with Erika at 8:15am. The rest of us are not organized (or fast enough) to get out of the house and back by then. It's about as much as we can do to be back in time for the beginning of class! There's a construction site on our route which some kids find very interesting (Matthew, Amelia) and others too scary to use our own feet to pass (Michael).
We did violin in person again this week. We tried to connect to classes on the way out so as to miss less but the connection to the meets wasn't working for some reason. Matthew worked on some assignments during Elizabeth's lesson so kept up to date. I did manage to connect Elizabeth on the way back, so she got caught up some in the car, though she flatly refused to turn on her camera or microphone in the car and used text only. Turns out she missed English class only, so no great loss. We're not sure they even noticed Matthew left.
Amelia's teachers introduced music to their routine including a tambourine. Turns out this sounds exactly like static and it's impossible to concentrate on anything while she's doing this. Between the music and Michael becoming increasingly disruptive during "rendezvous" time the decision was made mid-week to move Amelia to the basement and to try setting up more formal kindergarten stations. This has worked better for work and it's more interesting for the younger two. I experimented with different stations every day aside from a reading corner but next week I'll probably keep the same stations all week. We've done a sensory bucket with water beads, blocks, puzzles, cars. Day one I made an obstacle course with ball pit and tunnels for gross motor. On Friday I set up the popup tent with stuffies and sleeping bags to play camping. Elizabeth isn't a huge fan of the stations because sometimes they haven't been cleaned up before she wants to do her extracurriculars downstairs, but she did help me stage the playmobile sets. Amelia also has her little desk with colouring things, scissors and glue.
I've carried on with pre-making lunches, but we're pretty lax about "coming home" - often the kids are busy doing other things and with the rise of covid in Ottawa we've started reducing our park time. Michael has insisted on coming in the "school door" more often than not, but we're discouraging this because we won't want to use the side door during the winter.
Other new things this week: Amelia's teachers started playing O Canada as part of their morning routine. There's also a third teacher. The second teacher has been designed official attendance taker and is therefore seen a little more often than the first week but still mostly doesn't seem to do anything visible to us and I've never seen the third teacher do anything at all. It's a bit weird.
Mathew's teacher did just dance for phys ed. Elizabeth was jealous. We haven't noticed Amelia's teachers trying to teach phys ed unless you count them trying to get the kids to dance (Spoiler: most of them don't).
Matthew's class continues to be too easy, and he continues to need the most help. He does seem to need less than last week, but I can't quite decide if the level of help he needs is normal or if he could use more reading support. There's been very little emphasis on practicing reading so far. Both Matthew and Elizabeth are showing noticeable improvement in their computer skills, and neither have any homework after school ends. Elizabeth is consistently done between 2 and 2:30. Matthew's teacher always teaches right until the official end time at 3pm, but it's mostly just going over the math assignment so I'm contemplating letting him skip it and do other things.
One interesting development - apparently one of his classmates is physically in Africa somewhere 6 hours ahead.
Karate has been doing this thing where they give timbits to all the kids who are physically there while Matthew and the other virtual kids get to watch.
Matthew wondered if perhaps we could make our own timbits at home, and I not only agreed that we could but that he and I could make them together - without any other sibling assistance.
The girls were off with Daddy to locate larger ski boots, so he figured it would be a pretty good time. Michael seemed amenable to mostly amusing himself so we declared it a timbit day. We'd mixed together most of the ingredients the night before and very shortly we were frying small batches of chocolate and vanilla gluten free donut holes. Matthew wanted more chocolate than vanilla, so we made a half recipe of the vanilla.
The vanilla ones got covered in cinnamon sugar, while some of the chocolate ones were dipped in chocolate, dipped in chocolate and covered in sprinkles, or covered in icing sugar. I emailed Erika to ask whether she and Maria might be interested in sampling these delicacies from "MatTims Restaurant" (as Elizabeth immediately dubbed it) and the girls showed up twenty minutes later to help us try them out.
Matthew is already thinking he'd like to try making jelly donuts next time.
Now that we no longer have the biggest tree on the block the wildlife found in our backyard has shifted mostly to birds, though we still have a healthy squirrel, bunny and chipmunk population. There is also a skunk in the neighbourhood and undoubtedly many raccoons. Alas the wandering cats do not seem to have discouraged the increasing numbers of rats which live in our front garden despite several attempts to move them along.
We do have quite a few different kinds of birds though, and Daddy has had great fun trying to get a photograph of them all.