We had a new schedule this week again as piano shifted back to group lessons. This also meant Elizabeth is back to making supper on Monday evenings, which was great! Less great is the fact that we still don't have a stable schedule from our school teachers. Elizabeth's teacher appears to be showing some signs of hope, but she also scheduled a class this week fifteen minutes before it happened. She sent a message to Elizabeth's school account that we check once or twice a day to invite her to the class, but not to either parent. She didn't fail to send the email telling us we'd missed the class to parents though. We weren't amused.
Amelia's teacher has apparently decided that classes are going to be at 10:30am but rotating on different days throughout the week "for the convenience of parents". I'm unclear on whether the extra afternoon class this week is going to be an ongoing thing or not. I'm not sure why it's so hard to schedule classes and then stick to that schedule but it's definitely something many are struggling with across the board. Actually that's unfair; KV Dance deserves kudos for coming up with a plan to go online, choosing to stick with their existing schedule and staying with it. But the rest are all switching things around like crazy. It's no wonder so many people are opting out. We may yet decide to ditch Amelia's classes as I really think a schedule with this much flux isn't sustainable until June.
We discovered that the bunnies have multiplied over the winter and are far too comfortable in my vegetable garden. Michael tried hard to PAT BUNNY but bunny ran for its life whenever he got too close. We distracted him by building a "bunny nest" in the backyard.
The seedlings have sprouted; now the trick will be to keep them watered until the garden is ready to receive them. Unfortunately my garden boxes are falling to pieces. Matthew enjoyed pulling weeds in the garden as part of his outdoor time. Even though it rained a good deal this week and it was very cold, the kids mostly went outside several times a day. As it got warmer, they even did some of their schoolwork outdoors.
Michael and Amelia enjoyed storytime at the library and zooming with Grandir Ensemble. They suggested a blowing bubble activity that was a great hit later in the week. Amelia at first kept accidentally drinking the soapy water but eventually she figured out how to blow out consistently. She was very proud of this new skill lol.
Amelia worked on the letter Q and the number 7 this week, and did lots of videos about spring. Matthew read to her and Michael. So did Elizabeth. We did quite well speaking only French at home and while there was more screen time that I would have liked the only videos watched were in French.
Amelia made a gluten free salt dough butterfly this week which we will paint next week. Michael made a blob. The other kids thought they ought to have had the option to make their own butterflies but I couldn't bear the thought of more salt dough crafts to figure out how to display or dispose of. They did more episodes of draw every day with JJK (proportions; brainstorming). Our supply of printer ink and paper seems like it will need replenishing more frequently under the circumstances.
For physical education this week Amelia and Matthew did some bike practice and a number of dance/yoga gym videos. Amelia enjoys them. Matthew not so much, but it's apparently better than karate. He really dislikes exercising in front of screens.
Matthew's math focus this week was Canadian coins. He did a lot of math! This week he started emailing his teacher during writing times - he adores picking things out on the computer. A favourite activity is sounding out words in Word and he'll even sometimes choose free computer time over watching Pat Patrouille videos.
Elizabeth and Amelia both had small group classes and classes with their entire class over google hangouts. Elizabeth's music and gym teachers apparently made guest appearances. Her gym teacher is going to lead an optional workout every week on Fridays... during karate. She predictably wants to do karate instead.
This week Elizabeth got up early quite a few mornings as well in order to make herself a cup of tea or eggs and toast for breakfast and revel in the quiet without siblings. She mostly worked on work assigned to her by her teacher. She told me that she's having a hard time figuring out what to do and when - I took a look at the Google classroom and she's right. There are assignments to hand in that actually have nothing to hand in; she needs to watch a video. Then there are assignments that link to google documents that link to other videos and google documents, some of which have the actual assignments to hand in. It's really difficult to follow. Her main assignment we couldn't even find until Thursday and then of course neither of us had permission to open it. So I felt her schoolwork didn't go that well this week, although actually she made a lot of great progress; just didn't manage to finish much of what her teacher had assigned.
On Friday we bought some new music apps "Flashnote derby" and "Rhythm swing". Flashnote derby lets you set a note range to be quizzed on at different speeds. You can select solfege or English notes, or play the note on a piano. There are unicorns and aliens shooting spaceships and it's much more amusing than Mommy doing the quizzing. Rhythm swing is a fantastic app for following rhythms. If you are late (or early) the alligator eats the monkey. My kids have all tended to be a bit lazy in practicing these skills so I'm really excited to have found something that they are enjoying, even if the English spelling of solfege notes makes Elizabeth giggle.
We had discovered online shopping prior to all this, but now that many stores are closed we've had a definite uptick in the number of packages and parcels coming to our door.
The kids managed to break another laundry basket in a tug of war game ("I didn't know Michael was so strong"). Both the box and the packaging for the replacements have provided many hours of entertainment here this past week.
Chore time this week featured window washing and cleaning the chandelier. Our house is definitely cleaner under lock down, despite certain children coming into the house IN THEIR SHOES to go to the bathroom! "How did you know?" "I followed the trail of dirt!" "Oh". Matthew and Elizabeth both decided they don't like having to tidy our main entrance in the back and have subsequently been caught NOT throwing all their shoes and coats willy-nilly everywhere. This might have something to do with a new rule that the messiest kid gets to tidy that area at chore time(!) The dining room floor post meal times is still disgustingly crunchy, but at least it gets swept up.
This afternoon we connected with Lauren and kids again to play Settlers. Matthew had originally been interested but ultimately the lure of the screen proved too strong. Michael and Amelia really are too little to play these. Elizabeth enjoyed learning the game. We nearly pulled out a win - sitting at 9 points for quite a few rounds but ultimately Daddy managed to eke out a dramatic come back.
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!