I recently joined our local buy nothing group and have been having great fun looking at the various things my neighbours give away. I appreciate the sense of community the group fosters, even while I occasionally shake my head when someone gives away something like opened contact lens solution and SOMEONE ELSE WANTS IT (ewww).
Anyway, the kids have found it amusing as well as we occasionally get to go on "treasure hunts" to find some of the free things people are giving away.
Recently someone posted a plea looking for a froggy with wings - their child's beloved stuffy had gone missing. I happened to have a duplicate AND it was even in our giveaway pile. The kids agreed that the toddler in question should have our froggy to cuddle, but we had to take a photo first.
We were talking about how we might not be able to go to a restaurant to celebrate Amelia's birthday (as per tradition) and Amelia was sad. Amelia's birthday isn't until June, but it spawned an idea.
Elizabeth had the idea that we could "go to a restaurant" at home. She picked a day (using the meal plan she had already made for the month as a starting point) began working on a menu and came up with a name. She was going to be the waitress. Matthew was going to be the chef. Mommy and Daddy and Amelia and Michael were going to actually go to the restaurant.
It sounded like fun so we went with it. Unfortunately, we were missing a few key things for her menu ideas - like marshmallows. Luckily, I had the ingredients to make some. They were surprisingly fun and easy to make.
Originally Elizabeth had wanted to do the restaurant on Friday evening but I talked her into doing it on Saturday instead because Friday evenings are full of karate and I couldn't see how they could possibly prepare. We did prepare some things in advance but if I had to do it over (and it sounds like we will) the kids will have to work quite a lot harder on the getting things ready in advance. As it was I ended up as an informal third employee in this restaurant. I managed my dual roles as instructed by "going to the bathroom" then dashing into the kitchen through the other door and helping the kids quick grate cheese for the pizza etc. Actually I had to "go to the bathroom" so often and for so long that Brendan and Amelia started making fun of me. "Mom!" said Elizabeth, "next time I need you don't say you have to go to the bathroom. Say that you forgot to wash your hands. Otherwise they are going to think you are sick!" I don't regret getting roped into being staff though; Saturday was a glorious day and it would have been sad to have spent the whole day inside preparing.
Matthew grievously injured his elbow immediately before the restaurant and only managed to get himself together right before our guests arrived ten minutes before their reservation time. Thus he was not able to help setup as envisioned. Elizabeth decided he could be a waiter and gave him lines to say. It was adorable. He didn't have to write down or remember any of the orders because she was eavesdropping in the kitchen and writing them down. The kids ate in the kitchen. At first it was rather frantic and they were perturbed to see so many egg boats being consumed by their siblings "I haven't had time to eat even one yet!" but as they got into the swing of things they managed to eat.
The restaurant did have some health violations. We ran out of counter space, so started plating on the floor. I did explain that the health inspector would shut that down. "Don't let him see!" was the proposed solution. So maybe don't hire them out just yet, though they were able to articulate several reasons why this might not be ideal. At one point Elizabeth brought out a new plate for Michael. Then she picked up his food in her grubby paw and dumped it onto his old plate.
The restaurant got talked up big time before it happened and they wanted Amelia to believe it was real. She was very concerned about this idea. "How do they know the restaurant people don't have coronavirus?" she wondered. I assured her this was okay but was a little surprised by the questions she asked to verify that the staff and restaurant were really going to be acceptable. I'm guessing that the kids are going to find resuming activities somewhat stressful.
Brendan took her and Michael on a drive to pick up a clothing order - Michael's been clamouring to get in the car and we figured that would help make it more real. Also we needed to run the car engine to keep it in good operating order. When they got home, Michael had just nodded off - they got out just in time. Amelia at first refused to get out of the car, but we showed her the Crazy Pickles sign and I told her it was a magic door. She was rather incredulous that we were going into our own house but we think also relieved. I told her "it's too bad Elizabeth and Matthew can't come. I wonder where they went?!" She decided to go with it, although at first she was inclined to be all "Elizabeth PROMISED IT WOULD BE FANCY". By the time the wait staff lit the candle and brought out the drinks she decided it was fancy after all.
-Elizabeth, in the kitchen, working on getting pickle plates together looks at me and says: "in a real restaurant, do they train you first?"
-The waitstaff getting snippy with their customers that refused to eat all their pickles.
-How solemn the staff were.
-Ten minutes into the restaurant experience we suddenly heard the bells outside and I remembered WHY we had picked the reservation time to be 5:30pm. The kids charged out, rang the bells for about 30 seconds and charged back in like nothing had happened. Then Elizabeth told Brendan she hoped he enjoyed "dinner music".
-Elizabeth wondering how the pricing compared to a normal restaurant. She charged $50/adult, $30 for Michael and $40 for Amelia. She'd seeded my wallet with the right amount of monopoly money for me, Michael and Brendan. Amelia got her own purse with her money.
-Michael wanting to press the buttons on the cash register and Elizabeth telling him he couldn't because "then it will be more expensive".
-Making Amelia put her shoes back on to leave the restaurant. "Why? We're home."
-Elizabeth not wanting to let the kids in the front door to go to bed because she hadn't cleaned up all of the evidence of the restaurant. There was a colossal mess - no way we could wait!
-Amelia excitedly telling her siblings all about Crazy Pickles afterwards and telling them she wants to go there for her birthday. Elizabeth says: "Maybe you could go to Tasty Tacos or Terrible Tomatoes instead? I bet there are a lot of new restaurants we will be able to try..."
It was a beautiful day; we spent the afternoon outside taking advantage. The kids were excited to have removed the covering from the igloo. Seems people have stopped touching the play structure so for the moment we will leave it out front and hope for the best.
Elizabeth was doing her piano lesson and Matthew was supposed to be bringing in the various detritus the kids had left out front when Matthew apparently tripped and grievously wounded himself. At first I was inclined to be "it's a scrape, kid - no need to caterwaul like that" but he screamed for more than half an hour to the point where I wondered whether he'd broken something. Eventually Pat Patrouille was deemed a suitable distraction and he managed to pull himself together enough to proceed with the planned entertainment for the evening.
I felt like this week went better, aside from zoom connections with other kids.
Matthew's classmates have mostly given up altogether (apparently many kids are sleeping in past 9am). I started contacting the few parents I know individually and setting up specific times for them to connect with Matthew so he did have some french speaking time outside the family. One day no one showed up for Elizabeth either so they decided to talk to each other! However, inside the family we managed to speak quite a bit more french this week. Aside from Prodigy, all of Matthew and Amelia's screen time was in french and I've decided that watching french cartoons can count as school. They are very fond of the téléquébec app as it has games and cartoons in french and Mommy almost never says no when they ask about it.
This week Michael's french playgroup has moved online and Mme Cherisée is doing the circle times we've been assigned to aimed at the 0-6 set. She's excellent and not only kept Michael and Amelia engaged with stories and songs but also incorporated some show and tell to get the kids talking. We also participated in the library's french circle time and it was well done. Michael was less interested in the whole thing as the story was too long for his liking. Also the teeth were deemed "too scary" (it was about an alligator).
We also did a lot of painting this week by popular demand.
Amelia looked for signs of spring outside and worked on the letter k. She enjoyed meeting with her class (only three other students - not sure if this is because they are splitting the class into groups or if the uptake is that terrible). She was engaged for approximately five minutes at a time, spending the rest of the call slithering off the couch into a puddle in the floor. They are doing "collections" of numbers, which she seems to find slightly confusing. We played a game where we show a number of items and then hide some and she has to figure out how many were hidden. She did NOT understand why she couldn't just cheat. "Mom! It's easier to tell if you look under your hand!" After a few times I think she's starting to get the point, but she thinks this is irritating. More popular was writing letters in baking soda, especially since we then used food colouring and vinegar to see what happened. Matthew came and helped her and Michael. She also enjoyed some matching games and planting seeds.
Matthew is working on time telling, addition and sequences in math. He worked hard this week reading to his siblings. He's very interested in using the computer (he has his own log-in which he finds VERY exciting, but is sad we won't give him the password). He's been writing messages on the computer and then gets me to correct them. PLEASE ignore the terrible grammar error on his Pentecost page. I decided it was not worth correcting but know it bothers me too. Also, he knows there's still many days before Pentecost. "I just want to get ready". He LOVED having a class with his teacher (5 other students). We were pleased to hear him talking in complete sentences and seeming fairly eager to share about what he was up to. His big writing project this week was a description about a person and he chose our friend Jane from the cottage. Since he's helping Elizabeth with the restaurant this weekend, he decided he needed to practice his cooking. He chose a recipe from his cookbook from Auntie Janice and followed it with surprisingly little assistance.
Elizabeth is still working on her lego movie script (adjusted expectation: 5 minutes of film instead of an hour), but her idea to make a restaurant became somewhat all consuming. She spent much of her quiet times this week planning Crazy Pickles' grand opening. She also spent quite a number of hours online with friends (they can now text and facetime without parental assistance), both just chatting, practicing karate and working on her "étude social". Her teacher has given them two projects to work on, plus is teaching them about fractions. Since she has been working on fractions at home since last summer she's feeling pretty comfortable about things. Since her teacher still doesn't believe in communicating with parents I have no idea whether she's on track or not. So I'm just giving her the time she says she wants and then filling the rest of the time with my own stuff.
We had to dig out the snowpants again. The kids were not too sure about this - they've apparently moved on from winter and were not too pleased to be denied bikes and scooters again. Luckily it melted fast! We had sleet and hail along with several flurries. Elizabeth proved she'd been listening to our lessons on weather when she said: "Hail?! Isn't that what comes with tornadoes sometimes?"
Elizabeth was doing cartwheels in the house and Matthew darted underneath her with the end result that he got kicked in the head. There was much blood and tears and concern over his adult teeth that were bleeding after impact. He did lose a tooth, but it was a baby one. Elizabeth is skeptical that her contribution was related but has agreed to be more careful!
My mom sent us some devotional materials to do every day during holy week.
"I have a little adventure for you this week", she wrote.
After each devotional the kids had an activity.
Palm Sunday (Matthew 23:37) the kids had to find feathers or draw chickens.
Monday (Matthew 26:6-12) Look for a jar that might be used to store perfume. We didn't have enough for everyone to hold one, so Elizabeth drew hers.
Tuesday (Isaiah 49:6) Take a flashlight and look in a dark place. We talked about how we need light to find lost things and Jesus is the light to find us!
Wednesday (John 2:19-22) Build a temple and knock it down. We did the reading but didn't do the building because Michael was supposed to do the knocking down and he was in bed. We shouldn't have waited for him because Michael was VERY upset when the temple got knocked down.
Thursday (Passover story) Dip branches in water to represent hyssop in blood. Put on the lintel and two doorposts. Or, alternatively, smear water all over the windows.
Friday (Matthew 27:45,50,51) Tear the cloth in the temple. We didn't have an old cloth to tear but we improvised.
Saturday (Psalm 130) Find a seed, and plant it. Now wait! We waited a long time, because our seeds hadn't actually arrived on Saturday. Now it's Low Sunday - the last Sunday in the Easter Octave and we finally got around to planting our seeds!
Meet Lucianne (Lucy) and Jackson (Jack), the latest characters invented by my children. They live outside up a tree named Melody (which, incidentally starts with M and ends with E and this is not a coincidence). The tree opens onto a secret dimension if you know the right password. Or song? This was not information they wanted to share.
"In the game" the kids are playing, these extremely creepy kids don't smile and speak with what we think is an attempt at a British accent. Did I mention they are creepy? Lucy bosses Jack around constantly and gets Amelia (who is herself) to "translate". Their speech patterns are quite odd - it's not just the accent but also unusual vocabulary choices.
Brendan reckons Lucy and Jack are an attempt at recreating the atmosphere of some of our recent read alouds - Enid Blyton meets Lucy M Boston meets Arthur Ransome.
Lucy has red hair artistically arranged and sparkly nails. Jack has red and yellow hair and the translating Amelia has green bangs to show that "she's not from around here". They are very polite, and Lucy is constantly reminding Jack to show his manners in the most creepy way possible.
"We intend to stay for two weeks", said Lucy. "Would you be able to accommodate us?"
They clearly had a brilliant time so even though it got very tiresome very fast we let it go. Eventually they made it be known they would like to have a sleepover. Elizabeth offered to have Matthew stay in her room (she usually doesn't even let him set foot in her room so this is a Big Deal), but I told them that it would be mean to leave out Amelia. So they decided to go camping in the "studio" instead, and I let them even though it's a school night.