September 20, 2020
Dinner with Lorianne

We had a dinner party! Our one guest was Lorianne, who is back from the wilds of Winnepeg for a few months.


We learned some things from our dinner with Creighton and Rachel - this time our table was by the door so we didn't have to keep passing our guests in order to bring food in and out.


It was super nice to chat and catch up (and get rid of some surplus rhubarb), even if the weather wasn't super cooperative. By the time dinner was over it was down to 6C or something (!)

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Tea Party

The kids apparently had planned a dance/tea party with stuffies after church. We were shooed upstairs and they made little sandwiches (cucumber and cream cheese and cheese) and tea. Amelia wanted fancy water so they hacked a hunk of cucumber into a glass. Then they did each other's hair and had "appropriate" tea party music that they found on the internet.

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September 18, 2020
Virtual school: Week 2

I mentioned that we decided that Matthew needed a faster computer, so over the weekend Brendan put one together from spare parts. The kids were very interested and Elizabeth couldn't understand why he needed "three computers". I think they might actually understand the difference between a computer and a monitor finally now. Matthew is very fond of "his" computer, and is especially happy about being able to print things all by himself. We might need to invest in a toner company.


We have a new desk setup as well. The continuous surface works much better. He stores all his materials in the chest of drawers. We've experimented with sitting on a yoga ball to see if it helps with the wiggles. This was a failure as an actual seat as it increases rather than decreases wiggling, but he does like to roll about on the ball during breaks and that might be helpful.


We've continued to "go to school" every morning. Elizabeth goes earlier by herself because she has a standing date with Erika at 8:15am. The rest of us are not organized (or fast enough) to get out of the house and back by then. It's about as much as we can do to be back in time for the beginning of class! There's a construction site on our route which some kids find very interesting (Matthew, Amelia) and others too scary to use our own feet to pass (Michael).


We did violin in person again this week. We tried to connect to classes on the way out so as to miss less but the connection to the meets wasn't working for some reason. Matthew worked on some assignments during Elizabeth's lesson so kept up to date. I did manage to connect Elizabeth on the way back, so she got caught up some in the car, though she flatly refused to turn on her camera or microphone in the car and used text only. Turns out she missed English class only, so no great loss. We're not sure they even noticed Matthew left.


Amelia's teachers introduced music to their routine including a tambourine. Turns out this sounds exactly like static and it's impossible to concentrate on anything while she's doing this. Between the music and Michael becoming increasingly disruptive during "rendezvous" time the decision was made mid-week to move Amelia to the basement and to try setting up more formal kindergarten stations. This has worked better for work and it's more interesting for the younger two. I experimented with different stations every day aside from a reading corner but next week I'll probably keep the same stations all week. We've done a sensory bucket with water beads, blocks, puzzles, cars. Day one I made an obstacle course with ball pit and tunnels for gross motor. On Friday I set up the popup tent with stuffies and sleeping bags to play camping. Elizabeth isn't a huge fan of the stations because sometimes they haven't been cleaned up before she wants to do her extracurriculars downstairs, but she did help me stage the playmobile sets. Amelia also has her little desk with colouring things, scissors and glue.


I've carried on with pre-making lunches, but we're pretty lax about "coming home" - often the kids are busy doing other things and with the rise of covid in Ottawa we've started reducing our park time. Michael has insisted on coming in the "school door" more often than not, but we're discouraging this because we won't want to use the side door during the winter.


Other new things this week: Amelia's teachers started playing O Canada as part of their morning routine. There's also a third teacher. The second teacher has been designed official attendance taker and is therefore seen a little more often than the first week but still mostly doesn't seem to do anything visible to us and I've never seen the third teacher do anything at all. It's a bit weird.


Mathew's teacher did just dance for phys ed. Elizabeth was jealous. We haven't noticed Amelia's teachers trying to teach phys ed unless you count them trying to get the kids to dance (Spoiler: most of them don't).


Matthew's class continues to be too easy, and he continues to need the most help. He does seem to need less than last week, but I can't quite decide if the level of help he needs is normal or if he could use more reading support. There's been very little emphasis on practicing reading so far. Both Matthew and Elizabeth are showing noticeable improvement in their computer skills, and neither have any homework after school ends. Elizabeth is consistently done between 2 and 2:30. Matthew's teacher always teaches right until the official end time at 3pm, but it's mostly just going over the math assignment so I'm contemplating letting him skip it and do other things.


One interesting development - apparently one of his classmates is physically in Africa somewhere 6 hours ahead.

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Karate has been doing this thing where they give timbits to all the kids who are physically there while Matthew and the other virtual kids get to watch.


Matthew wondered if perhaps we could make our own timbits at home, and I not only agreed that we could but that he and I could make them together - without any other sibling assistance.


The girls were off with Daddy to locate larger ski boots, so he figured it would be a pretty good time. Michael seemed amenable to mostly amusing himself so we declared it a timbit day. We'd mixed together most of the ingredients the night before and very shortly we were frying small batches of chocolate and vanilla gluten free donut holes. Matthew wanted more chocolate than vanilla, so we made a half recipe of the vanilla.


The vanilla ones got covered in cinnamon sugar, while some of the chocolate ones were dipped in chocolate, dipped in chocolate and covered in sprinkles, or covered in icing sugar. I emailed Erika to ask whether she and Maria might be interested in sampling these delicacies from "MatTims Restaurant" (as Elizabeth immediately dubbed it) and the girls showed up twenty minutes later to help us try them out.


Matthew is already thinking he'd like to try making jelly donuts next time.

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September 16, 2020
Backyard wildlife

Now that we no longer have the biggest tree on the block the wildlife found in our backyard has shifted mostly to birds, though we still have a healthy squirrel, bunny and chipmunk population. There is also a skunk in the neighbourhood and undoubtedly many raccoons. Alas the wandering cats do not seem to have discouraged the increasing numbers of rats which live in our front garden despite several attempts to move them along.


We do have quite a few different kinds of birds though, and Daddy has had great fun trying to get a photograph of them all.

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September 15, 2020
Lost shoe

Elizabeth and I got to go sailing again this week - Monday sailing is over but they've started sailing on Tuesdays and Thursdays again in small groups.


Mike and his son are in one bubble so we decided that it would be fairly low risk. Elizabeth learned this week why it's important to be aware of where your feet are in relation to the lines! She was pretty shocked when her shoe went flying into the water. Luckily her shoe was not on tightly and she was not in danger of injury except to her pride.


Since the shoes in question are a little tight and not in good enough repair to pass down to a sibling, I told her not to try and grab it - for a moment there I thought she was about to dive after it. We just kept right on racing!

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September 12, 2020
Social Distance Walk

The littles and I went for a socially distanced walk in Commissioner's park with Auntie Janice to catch up on how the first week of back to school went.


We had a good time. Amelia and Michael enjoyed climbing the various stumps and playing in the "little house" (under a bush).

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