Auntie Janice had planned to run a cousin camp this week, but with the pandemic our plans obviously couldn't go ahead as originally envisioned.
Nonetheless we have planned to do cousin things all week. Today Janice challenged both bubbles to an emoji scavenger hunt!
We had fun finding all the items, but I didn't plan out our approach at all and wildly underestimated the amount of time it would take to find things. This ended up being super stressful when we were scrambling to finish in time to get Elizabeth to her online class (in the end we didn't manage - boo!).
Then we had to find books and I made the mistake of getting the kids to choose their favourites and instead of doing the scavenger hunt everyone wanted to read instead!
We took a little break and then came back to it after. This time we divided and conquered and it went more smoothly, however we never ended up finding ducks or bicycles as we were going to bike to Dow's lake and just ran out of time.
Erika and Elizabeth went to karate then we shared our photos over zoom with the other bubble and planned out the rest of the week.
One of the ideas on this summer's bucket list was to have a "lazy day". So after church the kids put back on their pjs, dimmed all the lights (including putting cushions to block windows where the curtains were deemed insufficient) and had a tea party.
Apparently the idea was that they had to "relax" for 30 minutes with their stuffies before they were allowed to have the tea party, but predictably the younger kids weren't doing it right so after a bit of a kerfuffle Amelia went off to do a lazy day "playing by myself without annoying people around me". "Mommy? Can I tell you something? That was just TOO LONG to be quiet!"
Elizabeth was inclined to cancel the lazy day altogether if "no one else knows how to be lazy but me" but Matthew fetched her some tea which considerably smoothed rumpled feelings and Michael gave her some "tisses". Then the remaining kids watched many hours of inspector Gadget en français (Amelia doesn't like Inspector Gadget so declined to participate).
It was a very lazy day.
We totally missed berry picking season last year so we decided we'd better get going. We went for opening in order to try to beat the heat - it's been very, very hot for days. I should have called in advance because apparently Rideau Pines got picked out of strawberries on Canada Day and raspberries haven't really started yet.
They took pity on us and allowed us to see what we could find. Even though technically they were selling neither strawberries nor raspberries we took home both! The picking wasn't great (but I've seen worse) and since I had already made strawberry jam my goal of a fun outing was easily met.
We came home in time for Isabelle's birthday zoom, though I didn't quite have our cake ready in time to sync up the Happy Birthdays. Luckily she didn't mind doing it a second time!
Elizabeth has been practicing her signalling while on her bike, so in the afternoon we played on the swing and on bikes, and we finally got around to eating the other jello we made on Canada Day. I was quite amused by my Canadian flag version.
Then we put the three littler kids to bed early. Elizabeth was then in charge of babysitting in case of shenanigans and watering the garden while Brendan and I went on a Live History zoom date. Strawberry Blonde dropped off gluten free desserts and we set up in the basement to pretend we were early 1900's passengers on the Carpathia (sister ship to the Titanic). It was all good fun. The actors used the technology pretty well, sharing their screen to play various period games and "passing" items from screen to screen.
This week was the official start of our "summer homeschool" so we have a new schedule.
Some goals this summer include a focus on math for the three older kids. Amelia will start Math-U-See Alpha more formally. Matthew will try to finish up Beta and I hope to finally finish fractions with Elizabeth. We'll see. We have plans to do some graphing with Elizabeth as well. Matthew has been avoiding actually doing math problems in Prodigy so this week he got to do stuff with pencil and paper, to his chagrin. Elizabeth is going to do some kind of presentation every two weeks.
Speaking french was hit and miss this week. Amelia and Michael participated in three playgroups. Amelia was particularly chatty on Thursday where they were doing a scavenger hunt show and tell.
The three oldest kids are keeping a daily summer journal. Amelia writes one sentence and then dictates the rest of her entry. Matthew is writing five sentences this year and Elizabeth is writing one page to give her some practice with synthesizing as she shares my tendency to prattle.
We started the week off with a sleepover with Erika and Maria, who joined us for Monday's music and cooking classes.
We introduced them to our note practice and rhythm practice apps. Maria and the three younger kids watched some videos about different kinds of instruments and the orchestra while Elizabeth practiced her piano with Erika's moral support.
For cooking class we continued on the curriculum we're using (Kids Cook Real Food). The lesson was all about spices and herbs - we pulled out all the spices and got the kids to smell it and classify them as savory or sweet. Then Matthew and Amelia made biscuits while the older three girls did a bonus lesson on estimating quantities. How much is a tablespoon of sugar? A teaspoon of cinnamon? Then they all got to add savory spices to their biscuits. Some learned that liking the smell of cumin doesn't mean you like the taste. Others learned that when Mom said "less is more" it applied to paprika too...
Elizabeth was excited to do her magic class again. She's got a new trick using a glass and a paper that is particularly fun.
Elizabeth made hotdogs on the bbq for supper almost entirely without supervision!
Tuesday is adventure day. We went canoeing.
There was a fair amount of art this week. JJK was talking about colours so we pulled out the watercolours as instructed and they got to play around with contrasting colours and warm vs cold colours.
Elizabeth is working on an advertising project and this week she was in charge of collecting ads from various sources to analyze. When we first assigned the project she was not enthused but when she realized she could milk it to watch another episode of Inspector Gadget (Ridiculously full of ads) and to go for a solo bike ride with Erika she perked up considerably.
Friday was science day. There was weeding and talking about how plants grow. Then a very popular lesson with fire and food. I got the kids to guess which items would burn best (and worst). Elizabeth was under the impression that greasy items don't burn well so she was quite surprised by the chips. Then we did a lesson on how to safely put out grease fires using the flaming chips as an example of a very small controlled grease fire. The kids were quite impressed.
In the afternoon Matthew was invited to his friend Elsie's for a play date. We biked over. They played on her trampoline and in the sprinkler (at the same time) and ate popsicles and generally had a marvelous time. Bonus: they mostly spoke french! Elizabeth also had a playdate. She went biking with her friend Olivia and apparently learned to ride her bike with no hands (eep!).
When I first woke up, Daddy asked Michael to look out the window to see if there were any fish and there were! Looking to see if there are various ridiculous things outside is a bit of a stall tactic we use with the kids to get more sleep. I think this is the first time there's actually been something to see!
I was very excited to view Auntie Janice's beautiful artwork.
I didn't get around to deciding what I was doing for my birthday until the very last minute, because as I explained to the kids I was too busy sulking about not being able to do what I wanted to do to actually figure out what I could do. The kids thought this was very silly, and helped me figure out a plan.
In the morning we had breakfast and went for a family bike ride (plus Erika). Then we came back home for a BBQ lunch with our entire bubble. Yukiko very kindly cooked for me. We went up to the locks and got sidetracked watching a boat go through so we were a little later getting back than I intended so we watched the Canada Day midday show during and after lunch. Auntie Janice was featured during the O Canada sequence at the end - we needed a little help to be sure we found the right singer though!
After lunch we made jello flowers again. I tried my hand at a Canada flag! Then we had a birthday zoom. I served a Canadian themed layer jello (strawberry cheesecake flavour) and birthday cake for the bubble crew.
Then I helped Elizabeth and Erika get ready for Leaping Lemons - my birthday restaurant!
After everyone left and Michael was in bed, the rest of us watched firework reruns on TV. All in all a highly satisfactory day.
Erika and Elizabeth decided to plan a new restaurant a couple of weeks ago, all themed around lemons.
Elizabeth suggested she might like to do the restaurant for my birthday and I decided I'd like to do this. Yesterday. Which perhaps might have been a bit unfair as it gave the girls very little time to prepare. I did give Elizabeth the entire afternoon off school the day before to prepare, and Erika was there to help.
One complication of having decided so late was that I was shopping for fish at 5pm the day before Canada Day. Needless to say the options were limited and I decided to try frozen with some trepidation. It was actually the right decision - I think the frozen fish was better than the fresh stuff I found. Erika wanted a certain flavour of chips that were nowhere to be found so I bought a backup option but I neglected to buy a backup sorbet, which in retrospect was an error.
There was much baking and planning and zesting and lemon squeezing. Three different kinds of lemonade were made (mint, plain and pink - using strawberry and raspberry puree). By the time the restaurant was due to start all of the food was prepped and ready to go, with the exception of the sorbet which the girls had unfortunately left to the last minute and tried to hurry up by opening the freezer every 20 minutes to check whether it was frozen yet. Strangely this didn't help.
Matthew isn't a strong reader yet so the plan was for him to take orders and the girls would listen to the answer and check it off on their cheatsheet in the kitchen. Unfortunately we underestimated how much more difficult it would be to have multiple tables and they had a hard time hearing. Ordering took a long time and Elizabeth and Matthew disagreed on what people had ordered, leading to a revolving door of waitstaff coming to check what was needed over and over again as well as some frustration and hurt feelings behind the staff only door.
They also forgot to assign someone to be cook, so their original plans had to change on the fly. Erika took over cooking duties very well, aside from one small error that arguably was my fault as the prep cook. I had put the broccoli out into the steamer but hadn't filled it with water. The broccoli was served raw, but slightly singed. Despite the kitchen filling with smoke and nervous giggles emanating from the kitchen no adult intervention was required. In fact, I am pleased to report that I did not need to go into the kitchen at all during the meal.
They did a really good job with the food. The fish was really good and the cookies were especially divine. The guests all enjoyed the restaurant very, very much.
That's not to say the restaurant ran entirely smoothly. Erika panicked and sent the first course out on small plates with no sides. Then they decided that everything had to match and so all the food came out on small plates with the sides following somewhat randomly. The sorbet refused to freeze in the extremely warm kitchen and was served as an exquisite slushie instead. The staff ended the evening extremely tense and Elizabeth burst into tears, declaring that she was never going to run a restaurant again.
However, after the staff sat down to their own proper meal after the restaurant had closed and with a post-mortem chat, some hugs and some making up, tears were dried and plans began for "next time".
I just hope they will make me more lemon cookies...