June 3, 2020
Terrible Tomatoes

Amelia wanted to go to a "magic" pasta restaurant for her birthday supper. Elizabeth used one of her quiet times to invent a menu and make an appropriate sign.


We deliberately kept the menu a little simpler (though I wished we'd saved the jello cups for the restaurant- that would have been easier to serve!)


Amelia, Daddy and Michael drove to Lorianne's house to pick up a present from Lorianne's roommate, which provided an excuse to drive to the restaurant. This also marked the first time we refilled the gas in the van since pandemic restrictions came into effect (and the tank was only at half).


I only had to "go to the bathroom" once at the beginning (because we hadn't had time to make the rainbow drink in advance), and then "I just went to check on the kitchen" to help with unmolding the jello. I am also happy to report fewer health violations. The kitchen might have been slightly less attentive than at Crazy Pickles and may still need to work on plating skills but it was less stressful.


Amelia loved it and says she hopes to go back to another magic restaurant soon.

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Amelia is five

At five years old, Amelia is creative, strong-willed, gentle and dramatic.


She loves anything art related but isn't too fond of writing. She prefers to play indoors, mostly by herself. She likes character toys like playmobile, lego, shopkins and stuffies that she can use to tell stories. She also likes to play house and other imagination games with other people. They don't necessarily have to do anything but they need to be there and allow her to set the scene. "I'm the sister and YOU are the daddy." She doesn't have to be the boss though; she adores following along in plays invented by her siblings.


Amelia feels things very intensely and is apt to express her feelings loudly. When she feels wronged, she screams. We've been working on this because she definitely uses the drama queen act as a strategy to get the upper hand in an argument with siblings. There has been a slight improvement. "People not being nice to me" is her main complaint about life, but in the grand scheme of things the kids do get along pretty well. She's quick to forgive wrongs and pretty generous.


She's improved quite a lot in her struggles to be completely potty trained but still has the odd accident. This does still seem to be related to too much sugar.

She loves sugar, cheese and pasta - none of which are things she should have in quantities. Her favourite breakfast is Chex. She's probably the pickiest kid in the house at the moment, but she will eat most things. It's a struggle to get her to drink enough throughout the day - probably inherited from her mother who has the same problem.


Amelia likes to talk. She prefers to speak in English, but her oral French has improved dramatically this year. If she doesn't know the French word she seamlessly subs in the English one. This, coupled with a slight lisp, can make her difficult to understand especially if she's excited and/or you aren't fluently bilingual.


Amelia will happily chat away for a very long time over video with anyone who wants to listen. She also likes to read books. She's into Magic School Bus stories and fairy tales right now. At bedtime she frequently demands to be told a "Mary and David" story (aka a story from when Mommy was very little). She especially likes to add criteria. Popular examples include "when you were being naughty" or "that has a [insert farm animal] in it". If no such story exists then she's happy to invent one.

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Fifth birthday party

Amelia had originally wanted to do a birthday party with her friends at Flying Squirrels but since that was clearly not happening we concentrated on making her birthday a special and fun day with her family.


Lorianne dropped by virtually for breakfast birthday candles over a "stack" of pancakes. The kids insisted on setting her a plate.


We (mostly) took the day off school, although the older two had tasks they had shirked the day before and Matthew had a scheduled phone call with his teacher. At school she would have had a pinata full of toys to share with her class, so I acquired a pinata from Bulk Barn. She's not supposed to have sugar anyway so we decided to keep it toys only but splurged a bit for more expensive toys. All four of the children got a squeezie stuffed animal, and the older three also received rainbow scratch art pads and a smaller squooshie thing that I was sure Michael would destroy in five minutes.


I invented a treasure hunt for the kids to follow to find the pinata, with some clues being pictures for our non-readers and some being easy to read for Matthew.


I was not ready for our family zoom call, but ready or not it was soon time to log on. Amelia had originally wanted honey sandwiches for lunch but opted for ham and cheese and cheesy bread once she saw the special bread I brought home. We figured that although we are always more than five people it would probably be acceptable to have one person to come for socially distant cake outside. Amelia was thrilled to have Grandma J come to her birthday party "for real life".


I was busy getting cake and rainbow jello ready, so Auntie Janice graciously took on the role of zoom host mid-call. To be fair, Michael was definitely the loudest and sadly he has no mute button. Amelia wanted a pony cake, and we own a pony cake pan so this was a fairly easy request to fulfill. She was very excited to open presents, shorts, a fibre optic light, some makeup, a squishy whale (plus promise of a pillow to sit up against in bed) and a giant play mobile set. Grandma also made her a new better fitting face mask which is just in time as she needs to wear it to go get her next set of immunizations.


Virtual guests included the Sunnyside and Teevens cousins and their parents, Auntie Janice, Mom and Dad, Auntie Mary, Auntie Muriel and Aunt Judy and second cousins from Wellesley.


After the party, Matthew and Amelia spent some time building their playmobile set. Then it was time for Amelia's birthday party with her friends from school. Three playmates all came and we sang happy birthday over the bit of cake cut off the pony. Then Amelia asked her friends to show her favourite stories and show her their rooms etc. I was surprised by how engaged she and her friends were - I'd expected she'd be done after 15-20 minutes but she chatted until the 40 minute time limit was up!


There was more playmobile playing after the call and then it was time to get in the car for her restaurant outing to Terrible Tomatoes.


Amelia said it was the best birthday ever.

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June 2, 2020
19 years

We obviously couldn't go out to celebrate 19 years of marriage, but we did manage dinner and a movie. Elizabeth graciously agreed to act as our waitress for the evening.


The other children were fed at 4:30pm and put to bed absurdly early (everyone was in bed by 6:30pm, if not exactly all asleep). I had prepared food in advance so Elizabeth just had to bring it out. She coveted our dessert but not the garlic stuffed mushrooms!


After supper Elizabeth put herself to bed and we watched "About Time" which we both enjoyed.


Hopefully the world will have sorted itself out by our two decade mark next year, but it was quite a lovely night "out".

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May 31, 2020
Corona Cup

Another weekend, another virtual karate tournament.  This time Elizabeth moved up and finished 4th in kata.  Given the level of competition this marks a significant improvement and a very impressive finish.  She placed 7th again in weapons.  Matthew was tenth in kata but tried out the kicking and the TP challenge this time.  Elizabeth tried to up her TP game by tossing it over her head and kicking it on the other side, but it turned out the judges were looking for more and she was disappointed with her finish.  This time Erika came over to cheer the others on and to practice (at a distance) with Elizabeth before her turn.  There was also some brief oooing and ahhing as the crewed mission to the space station aboard the Dragon spaceship was launched.  Finally Elizabeth also participated in the pet trick challenge with Gabriel the turtle.  All in all a very exciting weekend.

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May 30, 2020
Belt display

When Elizabeth got her black belt we realized that the certificate was something of significance and ought to be displayed properly somewhere. This got us thinking further and after some research into what other people do with their such certificates we decided that it would be fun to display the belts along with it. The problem was that we didn’t like any of the commercial display options. Daddy foolishly said something along the lines of “I could make something better”... so roughly a year later time was finally found to take the various parts which had been procured for the purpose and turn them into a finished product. There was some hemming and hawing over exactly how to do it as the idea was somewhat conceptual but in the end it worked out pretty much as envisioned. After a few days of staining the wood and then trying different belt arrangements it was done and hung on the wall for all to admire.

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May 29, 2020
Homeschool wk may 25-29

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.

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