This week, Elizabeth's teacher suggested she might want to write one of each of the various types of writing assignments they did this year (ie a recipe, a "récit", an interview, a fable and a flyer). Elizabeth initially told me she thought it was "impossible" since she had spent several weeks doing each of those the first time. This of course convinced me that it would be a good idea to do as many as she could. She worked very hard and actually managed to do all except the flyer, which she decided to defer to next week.
In English she completed an assignment about ninjas and typed up part of a longer story she's been writing on her own about elephants. She also finished off her grammar and math assignments for the year. She was very motivated to finish math because she wants to catch up to Matthew in prodigy. He's apparently a higher level which will not do.
This week for her supper preparation day she cooked hotdogs on the bbq and made chocolate brownies for dessert. She also finished up her Canadian social studies project on parliament - she had to invent her own political party. This project was quite frustrating because it was so close to being a good assignment, but as it was the information it asked for was not provided, nor was it easy to find poking around on the internet. Her other major accomplishment this week was finishing off her science project on forces, which took help from both Mommy and Daddy. Partly the assignment suffered from the same issue as the social studies project - potential of being a good assignment, but Elizabeth lacked the basic knowledge of simple machines and the physics required to complete it. The assignment certainly didn't provide much in the way of support there. Worse, it assumed we had numerous pulleys and a force gauge. It left me wondering whether the teacher had actually read the assignment because Elizabeth asked her numerous times over two weeks whether she was actually supposed to complete the entire thing and was assured over and over that she was. Now, I highly highly doubt any of the other kids completed this. It was extremely vague about how to set up the remaining experiments and it would be very unusual to have the required equipment. However, I looked up whether it was possible to make a force gauge at home and it looked like doing so would be both educational and a challenge. So we did! Sadly the first (and easier) version that we created wouldn't work at all with the pulley assignment so we had to redesign. Brendan spent an hour or so pulling out his hair and trying to keep Elizabeth interested in the assignment rather than turning herself into a human pretzel. Let's just say that she has little to no interest in simple machines!
More popular was art this week, where Matthew and Elizabeth did two drawing classes with JJK and Elizabeth started working on her goal of learning to draw a recognizable horse.
Matthew's main writing assignment this week was to summarize highlights of the year. His favourite part was definitely when his class switched from grade 1 to grade 1/2, partly because he really liked playing with the grade twos but mostly because the class became much calmer and quieter afterwards. He might be a loud and bouncy kid at home but he prefers a calm environment (!) I've always been told he's a model kid at school. He also continued to work on his math, watched a few of Amelia's stories and videos and read J'aime lire with Mommy. Outside he's still working on his "fireplace" but the focus seems to have shifted to building a proper fireplace as I think he's discouraged by how much patience it needs to coax an ember into flame. He's had a lot of fun building things recently - this week he turned an old Home Depot project (a car) into a boat, and he's partly taken apart a pallet and then is using it for various projects. We've had a few chats about safety - pictures not withstanding he's actually not allowed to have it propped up in ways that could crush unsuspecting siblings. Nor are the kids allowed to play with ropes (this has been a rule for a while). They wanted to use it as a leash tied around their waists and that worked for about 30 seconds, after which I took a photo and then confiscated the rope...
Amelia's class was focussed on "les metiers" this week - so she watched a bunch of videos and read books about different types of employment. In her class they had to do a presentation on their favourite kind of job. I was interested that the suggested jobs were the classic firefighters and doctors and bakers, but her classmates aspired to play professional football, an airplane pilot and "to be just like mommy and daddy". Amelia apparently wants to be a "jouer de piano" or pianist.
Everyone worked in the garden. Our hose is malfunctioning so watering is a bit of a chore unless you like getting wet. We're starting to do some weeding now that plants are getting big enough to identify.
I tried to be a bit more intentional about physical activity for the middle two. We were moderately successful, but I'm hoping to go for more bike rides. The younger three all enjoyed doing an impromptu obstacle course around the main floor so I'll have to try that again. Perhaps this is something Matthew and Elizabeth would enjoy setting up.
Michael attended his classes (sometimes with Amelia) and generally spent most of the week playing with his siblings. He was quite interested in "helping" in the kitchen this week as well.
Overall our week was very focussed on helping Elizabeth wrapping up her year, but although I felt like the other three were more on their own when I reviewed what we actually did it seems like they weren't utterly neglected. Next week is the last official week of the year!
Not to be left out Dourvris decided to run a virtual in-house tournament as well. The interesting thing about this in-house was that as it was virtual they decided to include their Central American locations as well. The kids thought this sounded like fun until Elizabeth's judge turned out to speak next to no English. Mommy and Daddy thought it was amusing but Elizabeth was distinctly unimpressed. She decided to do her kata inside so she could wear her white gi and did a pretty good job (getting high praise from the judge following her routine). We felt she even had a shot at first given the other competitors and were quite surprised when she got 4th instead. Turns out this may well have been the judge getting mixed up (he had made a similar error earlier) as when her virtual certificate arrived it said 2nd. So who knows, but she put in a good effort. In Bo she lost to Daria but that's not too surprising as Daria has been doing Bo longer.
Matthew has improved a bunch but still tends to rush. He's doing much better at not forgetting parts but still has to focus very hard and lacks power in his kata. Still he's clearly getting better so that's exciting. Matthew got 9.95 and came middle of the pack.
Erika is doing the same kata as Elizabeth (because the dojo had a pile of kids all doing it and no one else at Erika's level on the team) and as such it is a pretty hard kata for her level. She too is showing consistent improvement which is nice to see.
Overall the tournament was fun but a little less organized that the SMA ones we've been doing lately. I guess that's hardly surprising given the amount of effort the SMA ones must take to put on but still a bit disappointing to only have one judge per division. The kids still think it is all lots of fun and are looking forward to the next tournament.
This week was a shortened week for us because Tuesday was our 19th wedding anniversary and Wednesday was Amelia's birthday. So I guess you could say we slacked off a bit.
If this week had a theme other than PARTY TIME, it was probably science. There were many science experiments this week. Elizabeth has a big project on simple machines and different kinds of forces. Unfortunately, her teacher has stopped teaching anything (she didn't even show up for the small group) and the sheets provided were comically inadequate so we ended up finding our own material to supplement. She completed 8 out of the 13 projects. I guess she gets to do the remaining ones in the last two weeks. The physical demonstration of levers was entertaining to all, but the rest was a bit of a trial and she suggested that perhaps she could just skip science for the rest of the year. She spent much of the rest of her time this week working on grammar, reading and math sheets online, with a few random sheets on money and decimals. She enjoyed working on her English writing assignments much more - this week she finished an assignment on Victorian England, read about grammar and finished her cricket horror story that she's been working on since that time that I tricked her into eating bugs. This will need its own post... For supper this week Elizabeth made a roast chicken. She did not find this as easy as I expected, mostly because she didn't like touching or looking at the carcass. There was some elaborate and ongoing dress up play. I don't have a photo but Elizabeth was definitely involved.
Matthew's class is moving into a period of review, which he is relieved to hear means fewer writing assignments. He's fondly looking forward to "real" home school soon as apparently I don't assign as much homework. I believe he may have forgotten about summer journals though because there's about to be some daily writing in his future... His official math this week was mostly word problems. For instance, he needed to find items that were bigger than a potato, but also lighter. He enjoyed this assignment greatly. He also needed to figure out different ways to make the same amount of change.
Amelia had great fun doing science experiments to investigate the effect of having a black pot over an ice cube vs a white pot. She figured the black pot would melt less because black is "more shade". Matthew was inclined to feel superior as he already has done similar investigations in the past. We did a hydraulics experiment. Matthew was very jealous that he was not the kid wielding the drill. We attempted a rainbow sugar density experiment. The idea is that you put different amounts of sugar into the same volume of water in order to create different densities of sugar water. Then you colour each different kind and carefully pipette the layers one on top of each other. Matthew and Amelia were skeptical that it would work. It didn't, despite several attempts. Our attempt to blow up balloons using baking soda and vinegar wasn't very successful either, mostly because we don't have any narrow necked bottles right now and our balloons were tiny. It still did work. Kind of. Finally, Amelia's class is looking at nutrition and the kids were talking about the relative nutrition of the various cereals we were eating (this has been an area of interest for some time, partly because Amelia needs to watch her sugar/fibre intake so everyone is always checking to see if "their" cereal is "healthy"). Anyway, we noticed that the serving sizes for Honey Nut Cheerios was 3/4 cup vs 1 cup of regular Cheerios and one thing led to another. We measured out each kind of cereal to see what their serving size looked like. Raisin Bran was the most interesting as they assume a much higher number of raisins in their serving than is typical. Much discussion about whether one should eat cereal by volume or by weight was had. We didn't have time to measure out the same weights of cereal to compare them properly but some day that might happen...
Amelia received some new toys this week so there was a lot of assembly (mostly by Matthew) and then creative play.
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.
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.
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.
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".