April 15, 2020
Social Distancing: Day 31

We were almost out of milk so we decided it was time to go shopping again. This time I wore a mask that Margaret made me. The only person I saw during my outing without a mask was one of the grocery store employees. Most of the employees had painter canister masks etc. There was significant variation; clearly not being provided by the store.


Recent virus news seems pretty positive, with new cases seeming to flatten and ICU admissions decreased. Some of the graphs are showing that we are already past the peak of infections here in Canada and the overall deaths in Canada are showing a definite flattening trend. See RheumInfo's Covid-19 update for Apr 13th, for example. Lots of talk these days about whether we could see society reopening "soon" and what form reopening might take, even as Canada day celebrations have been cancelled.


Unfortunately, the number of tests that are pending is climbing in Ontario again so there's a question about whether the statistics actually mean anything at all. More disturbingly, the number of deaths in Ontario is still climbing. This, coupled with the certainty that there is quite a lot of asymptomatic transmission, suggests restrictions will be in our future for some time to come.


I went to Isabella, which is a fairly small Loblaws close to us. I left the house shortly after 9am. There was a staff member at the door controlling access and sanitizing carts, but the sanitizing job of the carts seemed pretty perfunctory (the Metro I went to two weeks ago was much more thorough). There was not much of a line so I only needed to wait a couple of minutes. Outside there was tape on the pavement to give people a visual for how far apart to stand. Signs outside reminded shoppers that they needed to stay 2 metres apart and asked shoppers to go away if they had any symptoms, but unlike Metro the staff member didn't mention this on the way in. Another sign stated that reusable bags were not welcome.


Inside the store there were one way arrows to direct traffic and stickers on the floor to show where to stand at the cash. Most people were completely ignoring the one way arrows, in part because if you didn't you would end up traveling about twice the distance around the store if you forgot anything and in part because the store employees were blocking various aisles while restocking which made it impossible to comply. Mind you, there are one way traffic arrows in the parking lot too that ALSO are routinely ignored.


I also noticed that about half the people in the store appeared to be professional shoppers (with tags stating as such). They were all consulting lists and filling their carts full of much food. They tended to be a bit focussed on their task at hand and I had to tell one guy who kept getting closer than I was comfortable with to back off but to his credit he not only backed off but made sure he stayed well away for the rest of the time we were in the store together. I did not see anyone shopping in groups this time out, although Brendan says that Loblaws isn't allowing multiple people to shop anymore.


All of the cash registers have plexiglass to protect the cashiers - rumours are this will be mandated across Ontario. I didn't see whether this was elevated like at the Metro; I started waiting for a register and moved to the next dot once the person in front of me moved to the end to start loading her groceries only to be told off for not waiting long enough (I had been trying to avoid being told off for not stepping forward soon enough like at the last store. Sigh). It was super unclear where to go and when. I decided that if my 5 loaves of bread were over the limit I'd have a better chance of getting them without having to leave the store and lining up again if I did the self checkout. Since I was shopping for multiple households, I did multiple receipts and stacked my scanned food neatly on the floor. Turns out they've turned off the annoying weight scanner for the self checkout so at least there was no need to try and balance everything on the scanner until you had finished scanning everything.


There were also a few limitations on products (notably bread and eggs). Since I was getting items for four different households this was irritating and stressful. Our regular 18 pack of eggs was sold out, but I did wonder whether the limit of two applied to the 18 pack since this is clearly a way around the limit of 2 dozen. Or maybe that's why it was sold out! The bread was an issue as well. I wanted gluten free bread and special Janice bread and regular bread and raisin bread. Did the limit apply to all bread cumulatively? Or two of each kind of bread? It was very unclear. In any case there did not seem to be any kind of shortage. There have been rumours of meat shortages and rumblings of strain on the food chain for meat in addition to many other items but the shelves were pretty well stocked with the exception of flour and yeast which were completely empty. The toilet paper supply appeared to be fine.


I found the whole experience quite stressful and it took me WAY longer than I anticipated. Overall the amount of food I got wasn't particularly more than a regular shopping trip, but it took twice as long. We're hoping that with some planning and a Costco run by our amazing neighbours we won't have to go again until May.

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April 14, 2020
Egg Hunt

We usually do our annual Easter egg hunt with neighbours, family and friends on Easter Monday in the woods.


This was clearly not happening, which was sad since I had already purchased much of the chocolate. The kids thought we should keep it but Amelia is on a low sugar diet and neither Matthew nor I have much self-control when it comes to chocolate so we ended up making 100 generously filled eggs and giving out 60 of them. Even though we didn't get to do the egg hunt together, it was kind of nice that we got to do it "together" with a few people anyway. 


Monday's forecast was rain, rain and more rain, with a potential "bomb cyclone" on the side. In ordinary times we probably would have moved it to Easter Sunday, or maybe even the Saturday before Easter (although that's definitely a last resort since we don't like anticipating seasons if we can help it). We considered moving it early but since we are all home anyway and there's no one else's schedule to consider we decided to do it today.


I took the kids for the traditional "hike", except that instead of the woods we navigated the urban jungle. It was the first time we've left our block since March 26(!) aside from when I went shopping March 30th. Michael obediently turned around when he got to the fire hydrant we've been using as the outer limits of where we are allowing kids to go and was quite confused when I told him he got to go further! I took them up to Lyon, to Glebe and then back down Percy to Clemow while Daddy hid the eggs. Elizabeth opted to talk to her friend instead but we're going to go for a run later just the two of us. I was pleased to discover that the streets were pretty quiet and we had no trouble at all with physical distancing this time.


When we got back the eggs were scattered all over the yard. It was not exactly the magical eggs in the woods, but it was the best we could do under the circumstances and the kids enjoyed themselves greatly. It seems silly, but our inability to do this particular tradition "properly" is probably the covid-19 related thing I'm most sad about so far.

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April 12, 2020
Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday was remarkably normal for us this year, if a bit more relaxed. Okay, so we didn't physically have family over but we did most of the same things and ate the same food and had the same conversations (over zoom).


We dressed up for Easter and had an indoor Easter egg hunt. Michael and Elizabeth both brought their bunnies for the hunt. Breakfast was chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.


After breakfast, the kids played outside until time for church. Church is still a bit choppy which is annoying when it happens in the middle of a song, but gave us an opportunity to note that the kids WERE actually paying attention despite all appearances to the contrary. Michael in particular would turn around at every interruption and go "HEY". It was adorable. After church the kids had junior church. We're using zoom for this, splitting into three breakout rooms instead of going into separate physical rooms. I think it works pretty well, except that THIS week Michael turned off my sound and apparently I read most of the story to our group on mute. Sigh. The kids were remarkably engaged given that they couldn't hear me! Elizabeth says the best part of virtual junior church is that they get to watch videos now sometimes.


After church we had cookies followed by family photo time followed by more cookies (the promised bribe for good behaviour). Then we had brunch! The middle kids played with lego. Elizabeth and Michael played outside. We had show and tell zoom with family.


Then it was time to cook Easter dinner! I was a bit late on my timing for Easter dinner but we had salad with our zoom for supper while waiting for the rest of it to be ready. Supper was lamb with gravy (or sheepling as Elizabeth refers to it), a parsnip/carrot/squash/sweet potato roasted vegetable medley, green beans oriental, steamed brussels sprouts, caesar salad, a butter lamb, crown of thorns bread (made without eggs or milk because we don't want to shop until mid next week, and crispy french fries instead of pretzels because I accidentally forgot I was saving the pretzels and let Matthew eat them) and trifle. Some of us ate our hard boiled egg, some of us ate most of it and painted the rest on their chair and surrounding floor, and some of us saved it for another day.


Then Daddy put Michael to bed and the rest of us did an out of season tenebrae service because we enjoyed it so much the day before. Most of the kids were in bed and the kitchen was clean(ish) in good time. So Brendan, Elizabeth and I finished up our day with the next installment of Star Trek TNG! It's very amusing watching her reaction to these. "Another UGLY alien?! Why are all the aliens UGLY??" or "I wouldn't go down there if I were you. Can't you hear that (ominous) music?"

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April 11, 2020

We're not Catholic, but Kendra from Catholic All Year is definitely of my tribe so I like to read her blog about living liturgically in the home. Anyway, she posted a thing about a family friendly Tenebrae service which I'd never heard of before but immediately decided we wanted to try.


Our candles weren't as fancy and we didn't exactly do it at quite the right time, but the kids liked the service so much that we did it twice and they are already looking forward to next year.

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Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is always a kind of in between day for us. A sort of pausing from the solemnity of Good Friday while we wait for Easter (chocolate).


Saturday is chore day here so we spent a good chunk of the morning cleaning up and I was able to talk the kids into sorting their Lego into colour coded buckets instead of scattered randomly all over the shelving. Now they have a better chance of finding stuff! I haven't dared estimate how much we have now, but quite a lot more has arrived since I last calculated that we had about 80L in the house. I'm told there still isn't too much. To be fair they do play with it frequently, especially these days.


After lunch Amelia woke Michael up from his nap prematurely so she got to have a nap. Apparently she was tired as she actually slept for a few hours. I had planned to do a Holy day craft in the afternoon but the younger two kids just weren't feeling it. Matthew and Elizabeth had a zoom karate class in the morning and Elizabeth had a piano lesson in the afternoon so I decided to put it off to a later point during the Easter season and not worry about it.


Instead, the kids all spent hours playing outside and Brendan tidied up in the garage. The kids believe we have nests in our hedge so they had fun putting up bird feeders outside. They've also got some kind of secret fort under our deck - the playhouse and storage shed have probably had more use in the last two weeks than they have had in two years.



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April 10, 2020
Good Friday

Our Good Friday traditions include church, making eggs and resurrection rolls and generally trying to have a contemplative day as far as feasible with kids.


This year was a little different in that church was online and we didn't have the entire family over to help make eggs and eat said resurrection rolls. Other than that it was a pretty regular day.


We decided to try church in the basement. It was not a huge success. Matthew spent most of his time slithering off and under the couch. Amelia also seemed to have a case of the figets and Michael had to be carted off mid-service screaming to have a nap. At least we were at home and he could be carted off easily for said nap. On the plus side, I caught the kids reciting the trisagion later in the day so apparently they were paying some attention.


After church Elizabeth helped me make rolls from scratch because I'd forgotten to get the refrigerated crescent roll tubes when I went to the store and we weren't about to go back. The recipe we tried suggested we could roll it out on silicone but that was a total fail. The buns did turn out edible. I also forgot to buy cabbage for my blue egg dye, so there was some improving required. We used onion skins for red, blueberry for blue and turmeric for yellow and I'm happy to report that the blueberry blue worked quite well! Elizabeth suggested we could use food colouring instead so clearly she hasn't been properly indoctrinated on the benefits of natural dyes yet. Apparently dressing up to guard the oven is now a required tradition.


Elizabeth also helped me make soup for lunch, which we ate with our resurrection rolls and goldfish to remind us that we are to be "fishers of men".


After lunch we took some pictures as per tradition - if we're going to get extra spiffy we might as well record this event for posterity. Also we did some Holy week activities sent by my mom, but I'll write more about that in a separate post.


The kids watched the Easter story keepers in the afternoon. Michael randomly flung himself off the couch onto his head (no damage, except possibly to my psyche). Matthew and Elizabeth watched two more episodes after the Easter movie but Amelia decided that Story Keepers was too scary and came to chat with Grandma and Grandpa H instead while I made green beans and trifle and hot cross buns.


We had fish and hot cross buns for supper, then the three older kids decorated their eggs before we all fell into bed very very late.

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