September 7, 2020
Pandemic violin lessons

When school shut down in March, one of the things that stopped was violin lessons for Matthew as he had no violin.


Now violin lessons are starting up again. Since there are no extracurriculars allowed at school, their beloved teacher is offering lessons by Skype or at her in-home studio. Since Matthew needed to be fitted for a violin anyway, we decided to go try out lessons. Everything is well set up with hand washing and mask wearing required and much ventilation. Matthew did his lesson out in the waiting area because I needed to watch and take notes in order to hopefully be a good support person when we need to do lessons over Skype. Elizabeth did hers in the studio. Since Elizabeth is more advanced than Matthew her teacher was further away sitting behind plexiglass.


The kids were very happy to get to do an in-person lesson. Matthew is very happy to have his own violin and loves to practice for anyone who cares to watch. At his level there is a lot of focus on proper technique - most of which I'm pretty sure I never learned in my own lessons(!)


Elizabeth loves lessons but historically hasn't much liked to practice because she thinks she sounds "like a dying cow". Matthew and Elizabeth agreed in the car that she might now sound like a "squawking duck" more than a cow, but I was struck by how much she has improved over the last year.

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Erika starts high school

We've been teasing Erika that she needed a cheering squad to show up at her first day of high school.


I was very very tempted, but settled for tagging along for pictures and mortifying both Elizabeth and Erika by asking some random kid and dad if they wouldn't mind moving off the front steps so we could take pictures. Dunno why that was embarrassing but apparently it was.

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Marshmallows with cousins

One of our summer bucket list items was to "make marshmallows with cousins" because apparently they have never done this before.


We made vanilla with sprinkles on top, red food colouring and vanilla with sprinkles mixed in, lemon and a chocolate/vanilla mix. I still haven't quite gotten the hang of getting the bottom smooth (and not sticky). The batch Erika and Elizabeth made unfortunately got a bit over mixed so the texture wasn't quite as good but I think all in all they were considered quite popular.

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Exploding Bubbles

Erika and Maria head back to school this week (Erika tomorrow). We think the risk of covid from in person school is too high, and the potential long term consequences too severe to risk, so sadly we must suspend our social circle.


We took advantage of the weekend to get in our last quality time as a bubble.

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September 6, 2020
Biking to Aylmer

Over the summer, the kids (especially Elizabeth and Erika) went biking with Grandma from time to time. Early on, they decided that one of their summer bucket list items was to do a long bike ride to Aylmer Island at the end of the summer.


Last week we realized that we were running out of time before school started. The weather was not great all week but Sunday seemed acceptable and before we knew it the entire bubble was ready for our grand expedition! Grandma does more biking than the rest of us and she reckoned it would take about an hour to bike out, half an hour to recover and an hour to bike back. Let's just say that Grandma is a wee bit faster on her bike than the rest of us, so it actually took us about five and a half hours with lots of stops to admire the scenery, a stop for a snack and washroom break at Aylmer beach and a very popular stop at the Cassis Gelato et Sorbet Maison for the most enormous "small" scoops I've ever seen. Our group tried marshmallow, chocolate, lemon and blueberry. Apparently they were all very nice.


Yukiko had a meeting in the afternoon, so she only rode with us to Remic Rapids, but the rest of us managed the entire 30km round trip.


I should add that I was by far the slowest on the trip out, hauling 63 lbs of children + water and snacks and other things in the Chariot behind me. Luckily Brendan agreed to pull the chariot and also some of the children were tired on the way home so I actually found the way back much nicer than the way out. The scenery was beautiful and we enjoyed ourselves very much.

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September 5, 2020
Ottawa Race Weekend

We all signed up for the Ottawa Race Weekend in May, but it was obviously cancelled. Instead they sent out race kits to do at home and we were invited to run our race any time before September 7th. We kind of left it to the last minute, but we didn't receive our medals until Auntie Yukiko was in Japan, so there was some justification for the delay.


Then we realized that we had actually signed Erika and Elizabeth up for both the 2k and the 5km and Yukiko didn't actually get around to registering before the pandemic hit! Anyway, our results were supposed to be submitted by September the 7th so we decided to do our run after dinner. The girls ran from the corner of Bronson and Carling up to Hartwell locks and back by themselves, while the rest of us ran from Bronson and Carling to the far end of Brown's inlet and back. Uncle Chris was the official timer and medal holder.


Auntie Yukiko got Erika's 2km medal, and although I tried to get Maria to come run we ended up letting Michael wear Elizabeth's shirt and 2km medal. He was extremely pleased with himself.The girls say they will still run again later sometime but we won't bother with official results.


The 2km boys finished in 19 minutes. The 2km girls not far behind at 20 minutes. Erika and Elizabeth finished in 34 minutes.

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September 4, 2020
WKC Worlds

The WKC World Championships were supposed to be in Madrid Spain this year and Elizabeth had a very good shot at making the Canadian Team.  She was extremely anxious about the concept as she didn't think she was ready for the worlds.  We had pretty much decided that if she qualified we were going to go and we would deal with her wrath if need be as one simply does not get the opportunity to do such things every day.  We had gone so far as looking at hotel information and had nearly booked a room when COVID-19 hit and all that got put on hold.  As it wore on it became apparent that it wasn't just going to be delayed but would simply not be happening this year.


Instead they decided to allow people to submit their best effort for each division in video form.  This allowed for everyone to turn in really good performances and in that respect probably actually meant that it was tougher than normal as they didn't have to worry about the nerves of actually competing on the world stage.  Also without the normal country qualifiers more people got to submit their best effort than would normally have actually made it to the worlds.  So overall it was probably a tougher competition than it might otherwise have been.


Elizabeth has been working very hard on her traditional and creative weapon katas and decided to compete in weapons despite having limited practice doing so.  She ended up submitting entries for 4 divisions.  After the judges had reviewed everything she placed, 6th in creative weapons, 6th in traditional weapons, 4th in classical forms and 2nd in hard style forms (all for girls 10 and under by date of birth Jan 1).  Team Canada did extremely well with many of her teammates placing in their various divisions and amusingly enough actually sweeping the girls 10 and under hard style forms.


It is hard to believe that just 3 years ago Elizabeth was competing in her first real tournament.  Elizabeth seemed a little surprised by how well she had placed, but the concept of being 2nd in the world at something did put a little smirk on her face.  Erika was a little frightened to learn of her cousin's achievement, but also proud.  Needless to say her parents are beyond proud of her.

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Summer school aug 31 to sep 04

Last week of summer is always a case of trying to wrap up all the overly ambitious things we didn't actually get around to finishing. Elizabeth and Erika worked on their dress but didn't finish. Matthew, however, did manage to make a fairly respectable quilt for Amelia's dolls. I was impressed how well he was able to manage with very little input.


We read books, and did art and played outside and cooked a little.


Elizabeth finished her last big presentation, which was to make a puppet show for her siblings. She decided to do a show on how to calm down when you are frustrated. Then Michael and Amelia had to do an impromptu show of their own.

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September 3, 2020
Canoe Camping

Our bucket list said we were going to go camping, so camping we went.


We weren't going to go canoe camping with the little kids just yet but we also didn't want to share a large communal bathroom at a campsite near Ottawa during pandemic. Nor did we feel quite up for a more remote site with no outhouse facilities as Michael loves driving but after about an hour and a half he gets a little antsy.


So we decided that we'd book all the sites at one of the campgrounds at Lac Lapêche. We were hoping to bring others in our bubble too, but in the end it was just us plus Erika.


Lac Lapêche can be very windy and our time there was no exception. We took one look at the wind in our faces on the way out and decided we should have two canoes instead of three. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we had quite a lot of room to spare!


I packed lots of canoe snacks for Michael but we weren't even out of sight of the beach before he declared that he was all done and ready to go home. I did manage to avoid nursing him until we were around the (less windy) corner. There were dozens of loons but it was much too windy to even think around taking photos - any time we stopped paddling the canoe ended up drifting at an alarming rate and aimed backwards. Matthew privately told me later that he just shut his eyes because he was so concerned about smashing into something. Brendan, Elizabeth and Amelia's canoe got within a paddle length of a loon. It was pretty special! We also saw a heron catching his supper.


Our campsite was very tucked away. My canoe got there first and unloaded the desperate-to-get-to-dry-land baby, convenient-teen-baby-whisperer and barefoot-helper. We emptied our canoe, then I headed back out because I had the map and realized the others wouldn't see our site from the main bay. Good thing I did! Eventually we were all unloaded and tents set up.


For supper I planned hotdogs and s'mores in order to minimize washing up. It's a good thing because by the time we'd eaten, caught a few frogs, had a very mushy swim in the swamp, tucked all the children into tents and hung the food barrel on the bear hooks it was very dark. Brendan and I sat by the fire for a few minutes and then crawled into bed ourselves just in time. I literally zipped up the tent fly and suddenly it was pouring.


Matthew and Amelia were very keen to have Michael in "their" tent, so Brendan and I had the novel experience of being in a tent to ourselves with no kids for the first time in over a decade. I did predict that this would not last the whole night, but it's understandable that the kids were nervous given the storm with up to 43km winds whistling through the trees.


Actually the wind was so loud that I didn't even hear Michael screaming his head off until I got really close to the tent. I did hear Matthew repeatedly hollering "Mommy I need you!" - that boy can project his voice. Matthew told me that Michael hadn't wanted to go to sleep and ended up falling asleep cuddled in his arms. But then he woke up and was inconsolable and the loons were too loud and he decided he needed help. I accepted my fate and crawled into Michael's sleeping bag with him, thinking sad thoughts about my own dear little air mattress. The older two were quite scared too, so it was either schlepp all three and sleeping gear in the pouring rain back to the parent tent or stay put. Amelia insisted on holding my hand the rest of the night. Matthew checked that I hadn't left the tent at regular intervals and if I thought that noise was keeping Michael awake or not. Eventually we all slept, for some value of sleeping. It was quite cold because of the wind and the ground was hard and rocky. So rocky.


In the morning there was no more rain, but Amelia and Elizabeth were sorry they'd picked such thin camping pants and Michael and Matthew regretted bitterly their foolish decisions to leave behind their shoes. Since Matthew had deliberately not worn shoes, he didn't get (much) sympathy nor did we let him off the hook when helping pack up in the morning.


Despite some initial dawdling, the kids all pulled together well to take down the campsite and we actually left by 11:08am. Of course it was windy again on the way back - the wrong way! It was quite a bit less windy at first. By the time it was getting serious we got to the turn and there we were very happy to find out the wind was at our backs and we could practically drift home. Michael fell asleep but the waves were so high that they splashed right over the edge of the canoe and woke him up - luckily not until we had made it back to the beach.


A quick lunch and we were on our way home - Elizabeth had a karate tournament video shoot. All in all we had a really good time and a longer canoe trip in the near future might be feasible.

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