We started this month with some snow, so it seems rather fitting to end it with some rather spectacularly hot days. Getting to play in the paddling pool and the slip n slide is definitely a perk of doing school at home! The kids invented an obstacle course that they could do "for gym". There was certainly a lot of running and shrieking. Michael is our water baby who thinks nothing of dunking his head underwater - he's quite terrifyingly wild in the tub - but by the end of the second day he seemed to get over his certitude that he "not like it". We spent a significant amount of time outside, working on "our" gardens. We even ate many of our meals outdoors.
Amelia's teachers selected a geography theme this week "since Amelia likes geography so much". I was a little surprised by this, but perhaps fewer parents are sending photos of their activities? Amelia was the only kid in her small group (another kid did show up for the first five minutes) this week, which did not bother her in the least because she adores chattering away on zoom, at least to adults. Other kids apparently spend too much time fiddling with their background and they don't ask questions that she knows how to answer. She doesn't let her inadequate french vocabularly get in the way of the chattering either. She just subs in whatever she doesn't know in English. Sometimes with an appropriately french pronunciation and occasionally she just uses her own invented nonsense (what she calls "french fry language"). This can make her somewhat tricky to decipher. One of Amelia's projects was to make a little book about countries around the world. I'm actually not entirely sure what the original assignment envisionned but I was happy with what we came up with. Everyone had fun this week looking at the flags and then seeing if they can remember which country they belong to. Amelia also had fun doing a science experiment with ants. There was great debate over the best place to attract ants. She wasn't too sure about actually holding a plate with insects on it at the end!
Michael thought all the cutting and gluing for the geography project looked like fun and he managed to talk me into letting him use scissors too. The trouble with Michael and scissors is that he gets bored after a while and starts seeing what happens if he cuts the door. Or his siblings. Once he reaches that point it's fairly difficult to remove said scissors without worrying about him cutting me or himself, so I've been slow to allow access. He might be growing up because this time he asked first "Michael cut door now?" and went back to cutting paper right away as soon as he inferred that the scissors were going to go away if he tried unsanctionned activities. I might even let him do it again next week.
Michael and Amelia are still enjoying their zooms with french playgroup and the library.
Matthew did a lot of writing this week. I find it interesting that he and Elizabeth are both working on "le récit", and in remarkably similar ways. Elizabeth's is obviously much longer. He was going to do another survey but ran out of time. His classmates have stopped showing up for zooms, so Auntie Janice dropped by a couple of times and he got to chat on the telephone with his teacher. To be honest this probably meets the goal of forcing him to practice his oral french better than playing with backgrounds on zoom with his friends... He did a science experiment this week measuring the temperature of various containers in the shade versus the sun. The experiment ran from 4:15pm to 6:15pm. The damp earth in the sun was 35C and in the shade was 2C cooler. We trapped some air in our yogurt pots with plasticine. In the shade it was 33.5C and in the sun it was 37C but it was so hot in the sun that the plasticine melted so I'm not sure how valid a result that was. He also had to compare a damp paper towel in the shade and the sun. We folded them up to try and preserve moisture but the one in the sun was totally dry and inclined to wander around the yard within about 15 minutes. He claimed he could feel a tiny bit of wetness in the one in the shade but I couldn't.
This week Elizabeth finished up writing her story (about a magic door). At the end of the week she found out that she could either write a new story or keep refining her existing story. So she decided not to submit it! I should note that her teacher has stopped actually teaching in her twice weekly classes. Now the small group class is "an opportunity for questions about the assignments" and the whole class hangout is an overview of the work to come in the following week. Elizabeth did a pile of math and some grammar and reading assignments as well as a fairly lengthy assignment on Canadian parliament. Her favourite part was to create her own coat of arms. There was other art as well, including a game where one person does a scribble and the other has to turn it into a doodle. She was able to complete everything independently until she came to the last page of her math. Here's a line. It is 16cm long with markings of 0 at 0cm, 1 at 7.5cm and 2 at 15cm. The first line was pretty straightforward. She needed to mark intervals such as 0.5 and 1.75. The rest of it was ridiculous. For example, she was asked to find 0.45 on the line. That would mean she was expected to locate 3.375cm. She's still working on being able to accurately mark lines to the millimetre and it's not out of the ordinary for her to be one or two millimetres off, having not spent a ton of time working with a ruler. Trying to mark two decimal places using a standard ruler is a stretch in my opinion and three is just silly. Some kids don't even have access to a printer and are apparently having to complete this using a PDF editor. The mind boggles.
It's been quite warm the last few days and we've been eating most of our meals outdoors. This weekend we ate all except one meal out on the back deck.
Although it was cold in the morning, the kids have been extremely keen to drag out the paddling pool and go swimming. I promised they could do so after church.
(I took a few pictures to remind me of what church-at-home currently looks like.)
Elizabeth's karate dojo did a zoom version of bookclub. She likes real bookclub better but this was apparently an acceptable substitute under the circumstances.
"The book this time round was Artemis Fowl which is a story about a 12 year old genius who catches a fairy because he wants gold. I still can't decide if he's a good guy or a bad guy. I liked him but when the book was talking from the fairies' point of view then I was on their side.
At book club Sensei Nick's bird would say chirp chirp chirp whenever he or Madison said anything. It was funny. He also has a snake and I do not wish to meet it.
I got to plant a cookie in my mouth because one of our tasks was to plant something like Holly had to plant an acorn to get her magic back. I got to have lemonade and oreos because at book club we always get to eat stuff but this time we couldn't.
I liked it. Erika and Daria were there too."
It was clear that the tulip festival would be a little different this year. All the festival activities were online. For a while, the NCC had put up signs forbidding photography in every tulip bed and there were discussions of digging up the tulips altogether. After a backlash cooler heads prevailed and it was decided people were allowed to photograph the tulips as long as they stayed 2m apart.
The weather finally warmed up enough for the tulips to emerge and we decided that the best shot at getting to see them would be bright and early in the morning while most sane people are still in bed. So right after breakfast we headed over and found that while a few other people had thought of the same idea it wasn't too busy. Most people were even doing a relatively good job of being respectful of other people's space.
There were still many many signs discouraging stopping, though the previous signs had been removed from the beds themselves. We had a nice stroll up and down the beds of tulips stopping only very briefly to photograph them and us. Nonetheless by the time we were done traffic was clearly picking up and getting to the point of being a bit more crowded than we liked. The tulips themselves were of course lovely as always and it was nice to get out of our space if only briefly.
We took this week quite a bit easier than the last couple of weeks, and consequently Elizabeth did not finish all of her assigned work.
We also did not do much in the way of formal art lessons, but we did spend some time talking about Mount St Helens, which erupted forty years ago this week. It happens that Auntie Mary was actually in Portland at the time so we heard about her experiences and saw some of her pictures. She even has some ash, which they had to shovel off their properties like snow! She's going to show us in person when we go visit her next.
We planted our garden and since the kids are all responsible for looking after their own plots this year a chunk of the week was spent looking after plants.
Matthew and Elizabeth also continued working on their fire project and actually managed to burn quite a few holes in leaves. They can reliably get smoke in leaves now, but have only managed to get a real ember a couple of times. Flames were spied, but accidentally blown out. They haven't been allowed to spend as much time out in the sun this week after the boys all picked up rather intense sunburns over the weekend though. Instead they've played on the swing and in the sandbox which has the advantage of being in the shade!
We've had a few classes outside as well, which is always fun.
Amelia's school asked them to try doing jump rope, so we spent an afternoon trying to teach her how to use a skipping rope. She can't reliably manage by herself but she DID actually learn how to jump over a rope that others are swinging and has made it up to 5 jumps.
We did a science experiment suggested by the school as well with pepper and water, along with our old favourite rainbow milk. We slacked off a bit on music practice.
Elizabeth has book club this coming weekend so she needed lots of time to finish her book. She completed many activities in netmath. She did some activities for her class. She avoided writing her recit.
Matthew had a recit to write as well, which he put off working on every day until Friday. He definitely much prefers to work on math! He also helped Amelia with as much of her work as possible, especially when she got to listen to books on the computer. He thinks he's getting away with something but although I don't count this towards his schoolwork he is still working on his french language and reading skills :) Again this week no classmates came to help practice his french, although I did manage to connect him with a friend and they practiced a bit. I'd say our efforts to speak french this week needed improvement.
In addition to lots of reading, Amelia made a craft with her class which she then played with all week. She made a mask with the leftover bits of her "bricolage". They also played in their cardboard box fort quite a bit.
Overall it was a fun week.
We were getting a bit low on groceries, so I decided that it was time to go shopping.
First I went to Loblaws Isabella. I knew I needed all the space in my cart as I had a long list so I didn't text anyone else to ask if they wanted groceries. Besides, it was 8am - pandemic style shopping means that I need to get to the store before 8:15am if I want to avoid standing in a line.
Since last time I went shopping there's been a noticeable decrease in people wearing masks. This time it was probably closer to 50% of people not wearing them. It also seemed like there were many more regular shoppers than my last couple of shopping experiences. In fact, I felt the store was a little crowded for my liking. Only two cashes were open and I had to wait nearly 40 minutes to checkout. My cart was too full and stuff kept falling off as I went down the ramp on the way out the store (a factor I had forgotten to account for!) It was pretty stressful, especially since I had to unload my groceries and pickup our Walmart click and collect before 10am. By the time I had finished it was 9:30am!
The Walmart order pickup was uneventful and I wasn't late. We'd timed it for 10 because that's when the Natural Food Pantry opens and I was hoping to get some more gluten free cereal. It was my first time going to Billings since early March. I've never seen the parking lot so empty! When I arrived, I parked near the main entrance, which turned out to be the wrong one. Only entrance 6 near the Independent was open. You go inside and sign in with the security guard. Signs on the door state you may need to show ID but he only wanted to know which store I was going to. It was very strange walking around indoors in an essentially deserted mall. The pharmacy was open, the grocery store and strangely, the cellphone store right at the entrance of the grocery store. The elevator was undergoing active repairs. I walked up to the Natural Food Pantry and was able to walk right in. In fact, aside from one of their two doors being closed and all customers needing to walk down a particular aisle to enter, it was a remarkably normal shopping experience. I was the only one in the store, so I grabbed my four bags of cereal and went to the cash. "Someone having a hankering for cereal?" the cashier asked. I can only imagine what he thought when I went back about 45 minutes later to buy 7 bags of chocolate for Auntie Janice!
I had texted her and some neighbours to see whether they wanted anything from the Natural Food Pantry and long story short I found myself wandering into the Independent to pick up a few more things and to check out if they had any yeast (spoiler: they did not). Another full cart later and I think I might have spent the most money on groceries that I ever have in a single day! I was interested to see that the Independent was super quiet and it was a really nice shopping experience.
Our weekend was pretty much all karate with a smattering of church and a few chores thrown in. After all the excitement of the karate tournament, we were ready to have a relaxing Victoria day.
The kids made a huge stack of pancakes - mostly on their own.