HAHAHA All my photos from today are of kids in front of screens.
One thing that is going reasonably well: keeping the house tidy. We told the kids that they have to tidy the basement and their rooms before free screen time in the evening. It's incentive to tidy as you go and it's probably fair to say that between this and daily "chore time" the house is actually in better shape than it's been in months. In fact we've had time to do a bit of spring cleaning (!)
I did add a couple of extra outdoor playtimes to our schedule today, but we didn't go for a walk because it was obvious that the kids weren't in the mood. Instead we let them pull the scooters out and go up and down the driveway (usually we don't allow kids to do such frivolities until the street sweeper has been by to remove the salt and grit leftover from winter).
During chore time we came across our winter and spring bucket lists. "We can't go to a museum now", Elizabeth sadly noted. Aha! said I. Let's try out some of these virtual tours I've been hearing so much about. So we saw butterflies and mummies and rocks and dinosaurs and skeletons (so many skeletons) at the Smithsonian. I am going to have OPINIONS about virtual tours by the end of this, I can tell that right now. There were fights over the keyboard and frustrations with the mouse. But we did actually learn some stuff, including that all of the kids are grossed out by ancient Egyptian burial customs.
After the museum we introduced them to Mythbusters, via the famous germ episode while I made supper (followed by Do Goldfish have 3 second memories?). They are all fans.
After supper Elizabeth tried out one of the karate video lessons posted recently. It's not the same but it is definitely better than nothing.
We're still working out exactly what our schedule will look like - we like structure but also variety.
Matthew complained today that he gets more outside time at "real school". That would be time where "[he] can play outside rather than dodge around other people" so I've promised to try and figure out some playtime slots. The kids normally like to go and chat with people, so we feel they need supervision if they are playing in the front yard. That makes scheduling tricky because I'm ALSO trying to find time to stay employed and get things done.
Wednesday mornings we usually have house group and this morning we had our first virtual house group which was super encouraging. The video conferencing thing is actually working pretty great, although we did have some technical glitches in the form of my battery dying on my phone while I was hosting and then I couldn't remember my zoom password. During house group Elizabeth ran another acro "class" for her siblings. Michael even participated for about an hour before he decided he was done and came to hang out with house group.
Amelia and I are getting into a bit of a groove - we're playing games with numbers where she gets a number and has to build it with the manipulatives or I build a number and give her some options and she has to figure out which is the right one. I plan to break out the board games at some point but am waiting until I get Matthew onto the next unit as I'm sure he'll want to join in. Last summer I found that Elizabeth felt Matthew's work was way too easy (UNFAIR) and Matthew thought he might like to help do Amelia's work. Strangely this is still true so lessons tend to run with kids in physically separate rooms so that they can concentrate on their own work.
Aside from science with glitter germs the big excitement today was going for a walk with Auntie Janice late afternoon "together but apart". It was also Brendan's first time out of the house in a couple of days and he concurred with my assessment that some people are taking the social isolation part of things much more seriously than others. This is quite annoying if you are trying to take a walk but stay 2m away from other people and the kids definitely don't enjoy having to zigzag all over the place. It was a pretty nice day and there were SO many people out on the recreational paths. Manageable for the moment, but when it gets really nice I think it will be too crowded to be considered responsible unless we pick a less popular time. Also Commissioner's park will become impassable by stroller for a few weeks shortly due to the melt I expect - I was wading in pretty deep water at one point.
State of emergency today in Ontario. All indoor recreation facilities, public libraries, private schools, licensed childcare facilities, bars and restaurants (takeout and delivery excluded), theaters and concert venues are required to close immediately.
We continued today with homeschooling activities. It was a less successful day from my point of view because Michael refused to nap. He's at a stage where he gets into moods where if he can see me ALL he wants to do is nurse, although sometimes he'll let me read him a story instead. He plays very happily if I'm not in his line of sight though. I'm thinking of cutting him off cold turkey.
Again we spent a good chunk of the day en français, but I had a harder time for whatever reason which meant that the kids followed my tendency to drop into English. Sigh. It was snowing hard in the morning so we took our walk in the afternoon. This time we went to the community center to spin pokestops. Amelia had a fit on the way out because I wouldn't let her touch the things she wanted to touch and she didn't want to hold my hand. Matthew had a fit because I insisted the kids walk at Michael's pace and Michael INSISTED on walking. This was fine while Michael walked in the direction we wanted to go (except from the point of view of children who wanted to walk FASTER), but once we got to the community center Michael did NOT want to walk home. Actually what he wanted to do was wade through the very deep puddles and touch all the things. So I bundled him into the stroller and he screamed all the way home. Not the most relaxing walk from my point of view but hey, we left the house!
In the morning the kids were very keen to do an acro class that Elizabeth had planned. They had a great time and Brendan and I had a good hour of uninterrupted time to work together which was very helpful.
Elizabeth has been working away at her worksheets from school and Matthew and Amelia (and Michael) did some math. We continued with Doodling with Mo but only Elizabeth did the whole thing this time as the others weren't in the mood to draw. Auntie Janice posted a couple of videos of her reading stories that we watched, and we read other stories too. I'm thinking maybe I should have gone to the library after all to get more books in French after the kids made me read all the Curious George's in French...
In the afternoon the kids played with puzzles and games for quiet time. Then they had a skype playdate with Bianca and Nico, who were taking St Patrick's day much more seriously (we were wearing green, but not head to toe!). I did make clovers out of kiwi for our breakfast, although I got confused about whether they should have four leaves or three.
I read about St Patrick's life to the kids and we talked about the trinity. But the most exciting part was we declared it a feast day for supper which meant we could have dessert. I made green peanut butter cookies, mostly because I've been craving do-si-dos since seeing a GF recipe online.
After supper Elizabeth did a karate class. She didn't want to do it by herself so somehow Brendan and I got talked into doing the stretching and warm-up part with her along with some videos posted by her dojo. It went like this: video sensei Nick: reach down and touch your toes. Brendan: I can't reach my toes. Mary: OwOwOwOw. Elizabeth: Is this supposed to be a stretch?
Elizabeth: What am I supposed to do? Brendan: Reach backwards. Mary: Oooh that burns. Elizabeth: Like this? (leans all the way to the floor backwards) Huh - that's pretty easy.
She taught us how to do proper jump squats and burpees, and laughed at us. We did 10. She did 25, and that included going and sitting down and relaxing on the couch in the middle until we told her she could jolly well see how many more she could do than us. There was much trash talking and it was all very amusing. Then she did kata while we admired from the couch.
Confirmed cases are up to 13. More stuff is closing down here, including karate. Ottawa has closed restaurants and bars aside from take out and delivery.
Today is what would be the official start of our March Break homeschooling, so we decided that's what we would do. We'll have to figure out as we go along what
The boys caught a centipede in the basement and Matthew wanted to keep it for a pet. (Un)Luckily the centipede died after only a few hours of observation. I don't think it died due to lack of oxygen, but the kids noticed that the jar didn't have airholes and I don't think it was intended to be for long-term use. Matthew lovingly put it outside, hoping it would revive in the freezing cold air.
We've decided to keep to a schedule - our experience homeschooling during the summer is that it's much easier for all involved if we have at least a loose idea of what we are doing when.
The schedule isn't entirely set in stone; we're going to need to shuffle some things around to accommodate weekly activities like house group, work meetings etc.
We're also still figuring out the main goals: going outside at least once a day, speaking french during the weekday, "chore time" after lunch, quiet time in physically separate spaces after chore time, and having the kids clean up the basement and their rooms before they go to bed.
We've moved breakfast time to 8 instead of 7:30am. We can sleep in! If the baby allows... We'll have to see what kind of expectations the schools have once March Break is technically over - we don't expect the kids are going back to school until September.
The ski hills and sugar bushes are still open but we decided too risky. We’d also decided to do church at home. Then the whole congregation went virtual which was great as we got to listen to the sermon as a family while the kids coloured. Then we used zoom to connect with other jr church families for our junior church story and small groups. It worked pretty well.
We figured that it would be safe enough to visit Grandma J before things get too crazy here and go for a swim in her pool. We thought too that going swimming would be a more normal March Break activity for the kids.
I was slightly surprised the pool hadn’t been closed to outside visitors, but I’m sure that will come.
The kids all enjoyed splashing around very much, and the cookies even more. Brendan took the opportunity to set Grandma up with video conferencing so we can have virtual play dates.