July 18, 2020

We continued our biking adventures with the chariot this weekend. The kids seem to really enjoy it and it has been super nice to be able to all do something outdoors as a family. We also went to a playground for the first time in many months as they are now open again. The kids are pretty good about keeping their distance from the other kids. We also had church at home which while chaotic and noisy is still an opportunity to stop whatever else we’re doing and spend some time with God as a family. Hopefully some small part of it sticks with the kids in between all the wiggling, poking each other spilling snacks on the floor and drawing on each other’s colouring sheets. To finish off the weekend we watch the three younger kids do a circus presentation complete with popcorn. It was adorable.

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July 17, 2020
Summer school jul 13-17 Circus week

It was a quiet week on the homeschooling front because Elizabeth was at circus camp all week!


Naturally we had to do a circus theme at home as well. The kids got to play with some of Elizabeth's circus things (scarves, ostrich feather and plate balancing), my juggling balls and Matthew even tried out my old unicycle.


It was a pretty hot week! I took Elizabeth to the store for the first time since the pandemic started because she wanted new shorts. Actually she also went to the shoe store on the same day. She found it very strange since she hasn't been in a store for so long. The next day I took Matthew and Elizabeth to Decathlon to find some raincoats and buy Matthew some supplies for his riding lessons that are coming up in lieu of the horseback riding camp he picked. I didn't get a photo but neither of them had any trouble at all wearing a mask, so I guess if school requires them I won't be worried.

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Circus camp

Pre-pandemic Elizabeth had been signed up for circus camp with her friend Samia.  For a long time it was all up in the air and no one knew what was going to happen or if it would simply be cancelled.  Finally the staff came up with a plan which seemed workable and safe enough from our perspective, in addition to meeting the various government requirements. The whole thing would be outdoors under an open tent. No shared equipment and limited numbers of kids so as to maintain distancing. There were two cohorts of only five kids (separated by whether they were doing post camp care or not). Elizabeth agreed it seemed reasonable and her parents decided to fork out the extra money to cover the increased cost. In the end she had a lot of fun. They did juggling, aerial work with silks, acrobatics, diablo, spinning plates and flower sticks.  Friend Olivia joined in at the last minute. At the end of the week the parents got to come and watch (all spread out around the park).

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July 12, 2020
Spring (and early summer)

My garden is pretty scruffy most of the year (especially the back!) but it does look pretty good in the springtime.


This year we assigned the kids their own plots with which they could plant what they wanted.


Amelia planted tomatoes and beans.


Elizabeth planted beans, sunflowers, peppers and a variety of herbs. I tried to talk Elizabeth into planting her sunflowers by the house but then the one I had planted there died so that was that.


Matthew planted tomatoes and carrots. Many, many carrots.


Michael and I planted pumpkins, and then I thought better of having the baby water and dig around the pumpkin roots and assigned him the potatoes instead.

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July 10, 2020
Summer school jul 5-10 Cousin Week

We scaled back schoolwork a bit this week but still managed to do some music, cooking, french, math and our summer journals. Amelia formally started Math-U-See sheets and was quite taken by the idea of word problems. She especially likes silly ones about elephants and cats. Matthew is working on tally marks and is steadily getting closer to the end of Beta (addition and subtraction). Elizabeth is still wading through fractions.


Elizabeth made cheesy macaroni with steamed vegetables and a salad for her meal this week.


Matthew participated in some online french "summer camp" programs put on by Eureka! We had hoped they would provide an opportunity to practice speaking in french but although they required you to sign up it turned out that this wasn't actually necessary and several hundred students participated in each one.


Matthew did one about gravity and another about different kinds of animals. The gravity guy had a lot of trouble getting started and used a technology called kahoot to solicit answers to quiz questions. This was cool in theory but in practice the kahoot would come up with four different symbols and you had to pick the right one but while it would show us the question on the presentation in a different screen, by the time the answer key with the various options and what their symbols were showed up the kahoot had expired. So you could either take a one in four chance or just wait for it to time out. Matthew was quite disgusted. The experiments were pretty fun though. He made moon craters with flour and an eraser, dropped weights into water and did an experiment with surface tension that involved turning a glass full of water upside down.


The teacher for the animal presentation introduced Matthew to a new technology too called padlet. All the kids were supposed to make a padlet with their favourite animal and insert a picture. We did manage to do this but there were so many responses it was quite challenging. I could see this working much better with a regular sized class. There were three unusual animals presented and then they had to pick their favourite. Matthew enjoyed this so much that he got the rest of the family to watch the videos and pick their favourites as well. Daddy liked the water-shooting fish best. Matthew liked the kea and the girls thought the Dik-Dik was SO CUTE!

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Cousin Week: Pottery Painting

Maria didn't stay overnight for camping (preferring the air conditioned comforts of her own bed) but she did come back in the morning for the last cousin activity of the week - painting egg cups.


It was supposed to go above 40C today so I decided it would be a good time to make car cookies aka our annual reminder of why we do not play in the car (we do not wish to be baked).


We suggested that the other cousins make car cookies too and were gratified to hear they made some oatmeal ones!


We put ours in the car at 10AM and left them for about 4 hours. This was probably a bit early as it wasn't in direct sunlight, but they still cooked. We also cooked a batch in the oven to eat right away and have some comparison. The cookies disappeared very quickly once they came out of the oven/car so I think they were a hit!

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Michael turns 2.5

At two and a half Michael is rapidly leaving babyhood behind. He's at that frustrating stage where he has IDEAS about what he wants to do but doesn't always have the physical abilities to make them happen. And sometimes those mean parents or siblings say no. This definitely results in the odd tantrum.


He likes to pretend things - he's fond of being a cat or a bunny. He loves to grab people's legs and go for a ride.


Michael likes his routines. He usually wakes up around 6:30am and goes to his door where he will knock and softly call "Mommy, mommy I want you". He usually needs a diaper change and will allow Mommy to go to the bathroom but only if "me tum too". Then we climb back into bed for a little nurse. For a few weeks he was waking up at 5am (ugh). I could often convince him to have a bit more sleep after an hour of nursing in that case though.


Once it's time to get up for the day, Michael first puts on his clothes (shirt first, THEN pants). Then he asks "me go downstairs NOW?" He appends the word now to almost every sentence. Now is popular and the other kids mimic his verbal patterns constantly. I have a standing agreement with Elizabeth not to allow him downstairs before 7am because he likes to go wake up his siblings. Matthew is safe because he's in the upper bunk and Amelia always tells him to go find Elizabeth. He's the only sibling Elizabeth allows in her room so he often will go jump on her head and roll on her stuffies if she's not already up. Then he drags her off to read stories and otherwise be his personal slave. Elizabeth sometimes thinks this is quite unfair but we tell her this should be incentive to get out of bed earlier...


Michael loves to read stories, often the same ones over and over. His current favourite is "Noisy Jungle". He likes books about animals and trucks.


His favourite snack is peanuts. And 'cocolate' And grapes (but he means cranberries). This is best eaten off the counter while standing on a little chair. He loves to sit in the fridge or freezer. Unfortunately he has also figured out how to open these. He also has started stashing magnets and other toys in the fridge.


Eating-wise he more or less eats most things. Breakfast he strongly prefers his peanut Chex, with milk. He's mostly stopped deliberately throwing food on the floor but is still a pretty messy eater.


He very much enjoys bouncing on couches - there's a definite wild streak. He will take all the cushions off the couch then climb up on to the back and pounce onto the bouncy part. He's been known to run at other people with scissors laughing maniacally and snip them. (Usually Amelia). Kids who have been snipped have gotten MUCH better about not leaving scissors lying around, at least for a little bit. "Me naughty!" He will give very nice hugs when someone is sad and is very affectionate.


He's not at all interested in toilet training.


He's pretty much stopped napping but loses the plot the closer it gets to bedtime. If he has a nap he still loses the plot but then plays in bed until very late so naps are not encouraged.


After supper we wash his hands and face. Then if he remembers he has a thirty second nurse (always the left side first). Then he goes upstairs with Daddy to get changed, brush his teeth, read a story, say prayers and hop into bed. Daddy then hangs out across the hall (out of sight) until he falls asleep. This is close enough to be able to abort any attempts to make a run for it.


Bedtime usually starts around 6pm but it's highly variable as to when he actually falls asleep.


All in all it's a pretty fun - if rather exhausting - stage.

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July 9, 2020
Cousin Week: Backyard Camping

We started the day early with a bike ride. Grandma, Auntie Yukiko, Matthew and Maria went for a 25km ride. Elizabeth and Erika went off up the locks somewhere and I took the little kids for a ride across Flora bridge. I was melting by the time I got back and it was only 9:30am.


The kids really wanted to go backyard camping and in the past cousin camp has included backyard camping together, so we decided to do it this week as well even though it was stinking hot (well over 35C).


Originally Auntie Yukiko was going to pitch her tent too but she ended up having to work early the next day and given the weather she decided to pass.


Uncle Chris and Auntie Yukiko came for supper and we made s'mores on the BBQ. I had totally forgotten about our Jr Church program moving to Thursdays, so we had a little delay while Elizabeth and Matthew paused for their small groups. After they were done we had a virtual campfire with the Teevens crew. We sang songs and told stories and tried to prevent Michael from doing grievous bodily harm as he flung himself around inside the tent. The kids have scattered rock shrapnel all over the backyard in course of their experiments with fire starting, so there were limited spaces where it was possible to pitch a tent without risking damage. We put the bigger one on the deck and the popup where the tree used to be. Erika and Elizabeth opted for the popup which I thought was great because I was worried about raccoons down there.


The girls were too hot so they got up and wandered around outside. Daddy put them to work watering the garden. We opened all possible flaps under the theory that if it rained we wouldn't be more uncomfortable than we were in the sweltering heat. Eventually it got dark and Michael abruptly passed out but not without some protesting that he wanted Daddy. It was quite pitiful - he didn't want to leave the tent but the bedtime routine requires his Daddy and he was SAD. With the sudden silence the rest of our tent (me, Matthew and Amelia) were able to sleep as well. Unfortunately I did not sleep well at all - when various children didn't startle me awake then an emergency service vehicle would go by sirens blazing. I don't know whether this noise is normally muffled by our windows but I was not amused by the noise pollution. Certainly some of the houses around here don't have good A/C and it would be reasonable to expect that extended siren noises would be quite disruptive in the wee hours of the night.


Although I felt a bit like I was keeping newborn hours, we did have fun and the kids are already demanding to know when we can camp again.

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