October 31, 2020
Pandemic Halloween

For Halloween, I asked the kids if they might like to be something not too scary and maybe even cute. So Elizabeth was a flamingo, Matthew was a black panther (the animal, not the superhero), Amelia was a unicorn and Michael was a dinosaur. Of course, by the time Halloween actually rolled around Elizabeth was kind of regretting not being something like a zombie. So she decided to be a witch's flamingo or something, with half her face made up to be "frightening" and the other half to be sweet and gentle. The overall effect was not exactly cute, but I guess it was an attempt to compromise.


As a child we did not celebrate Halloween, so as Halloween approached and Ottawa Public Health recommended children did not go door to door my first inclination was to just skip the whole thing.


My children were not on board with this idea and reminded me of how my mother once taught us how to trick or treat. She dressed up as a different person at each door of our house, and we said "Trick or Treat!" and got some candy. Mom actually also forced us to soap the patio door window in lieu of candy. True story! I vaguely remember her telling us about people throwing eggs and toilet papering trees but for some reason she didn't insist we try those things too. Anyway, so that's why my kids trick or treated at every door of our house this Halloween.


We also did a candy exchange with our neighbours. Everyone put out candy on their front steps (we hid ours in the backyard) and we all went around to each other's houses one group at a time in the morning. It was nice to trick or treat when the kids WEREN'T super tired. Then the kids ate candy.


We had our winter tires put on at home by a roving service, and Grandma J came over to have hers done as well. She stayed for dressing up and Halloween themed supper. She also went through the kids "scary haunted house" that they invented. It was half Douvris half Glebe Community Center Halloween party inspired. Amelia and Michael enjoyed it enough to want to go through it a second time, but the second time ended with Michael in hysterics after Matthew was just a little bit TOO intense with a spider. Then the kids ate more candy.


At 5pm we went out onto our front lawns to dance in our costumes with our neighbours. Rafale came over to trick or treat for a hotdog which was pretty fun. Some of the boys played distanced frisbee, to Elizabeth's great consternation. Then the kids ate even more candy.


We've been trading candy for toys after Halloween with the so-called "switch witch" since Elizabeth demanded we start in 2016. Usually we give them a few evenings to consume some of the candy, but with unrestricted access to candy (since we aren't going anywhere) and having had to be more organized (since acquiring things now tends to require advance planning) we declared an end to the candy gorging on Halloween night for the first time ever. Elizabeth received paints, Amelia received glitter glue and the boys both received Lego.


Us parental types and Elizabeth ended the evening with a Halloween movie - the modern Ghost Busters.

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Halloween scavenger hunt

One of our neighbours invented a photo scavenger hunt, so we wandered around the neighbourhood in the afternoon looking for the various items. The scariest thing we saw was the Covid Tree, which unfortunately is not Halloween related.

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October Food

Here's a photographic record of (some of) October's meals.


We had papaya one breakfast as we've been reading Swiss Family Robinson and they were curious about what they tasted like. No one was a big fan.


This month the kids demanded to have a pasta week. Originally this was supposed to be pasta for breakfast, lunch AND supper. I'm not a big pasta person so I vetoed more than just every day for supper. By the end of the week Elizabeth was begging to eat something different. I pointed out that it was her idea and her meal plan. I don't think we'll do that again anytime soon lol. Amelia thought it was a great idea though.


Halloween week we tried to go a bit "spooky" (by special request). My "ghost" pizza looked much much better before we cooked it (too bad no photo!). The kids very much object to green noodles, even though they admitted that it tasted the same with their eyes closed they don't really like having to eat their food with their eyes closed and couldn't get over the colour with their eyes open.

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October 30, 2020
Virtual School: Week 8

We started the week with a zoom with cousins on Sunday. Matthew and Xander chatted about Minecraft.


We're getting ready for Halloween, so for kindergarten we setup a "spooky" room by special request. Brendan kept bonking his head on the "teeth" down on the door posts so these didn't stay up terribly long. There was a haunted tunnel with "spider web", fake spider and ghosts, books, a rope spider web, an oobleck with eyes sensory bucket and cars. Amelia's class were reading and drawing about cars this week. They happened to be reading Michael's favourite book all about cars in a traffic jam. Amelia was very excited because the teachers spent several days getting the class to guess why they were in a traffic jam and she knew the answer. She was very restrained, when asked to speculate she said "I can't tell you because I have the book". Then she read parts of the book to her classmates over Google Meet because the teacher can't easily share presentations on their Chromebooks without setting it up in advance; it takes too long(!) Amelia's certainly doing a lot of chatting during class.


Elizabeth has received permission to skip gym after she complained that exercising in front of the computer was a waste of her time. She was a little taken aback that these "easy" exercises that do absolutely nothing for her are so difficult for many of her classmates that they needed a break and water afterwards. In our board, it turns out that virtual teachers aren't allowed to suggest to the students that they go off camera at any time for liability reasons. They can't even ask the kids to go out into the backyard to collect leaves. I think this is dumb because when we enrolled in virtual school it was made quite clear that an adult was expected to be within earshot at all times. So I feel like they should be allowed to say: go and do gym outside if you have permission from your parents. Anyway, Elizabeth's teacher says she can practice other sports instead in a different Google Meet.


Matthew's class did some art with leaves. Otherwise he did his work without enthusiasm. He says "Teachers don't respect kids. They think they forget everything they learn and teach the same thing over and over again. I don't know why we can't learn more new stuff." Our lamp post that got knocked down last winter was replaced one day and aside from the two sprinklings of snow we received this was by far the most exciting part of his week.

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Pumpkin Carving

Amelia carved her pumpkin during school. I intended to carve Michael's then as well but he was not interested. In the end Matthew cut off the top and we left it at that. We didn't even scoop out the seeds!


In the afternoon Matthew and Elizabeth scooped out their pumpkins and then in the evening they carved them with their friends Bianca and Nico over zoom.

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October 28, 2020
Elizabeth's foot

Elizabeth and mommy have almost exactly the same size foot now.  Daddy finds this more amusing than mommy does.  Daddy does not find that his daughter has absconded with his footwear.  Mommy does...

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October 23, 2020
Virtual School: Week 7

I had help setting up virtual kindergarten for the week - Matthew and Elizabeth were "kindergarten fairies". Stations were: Fort magic building pieces, blocks, doctor stuff, playmobile people, books and balls. We rearranged the couches to try and cordon off a place for kids to roll around on balls without rolling into radiator knobs or fabric cupboard doors. It was fairly successful, although my fairies did rearrange the furniture a bit through the week until told to knock it off.


We have a new cover for the coffee table, so we setup a station upstairs where the kids are allowed to paint. We're thinking of getting something to cover the couches too... Amelia's been working on a presentation about hummingbirds, which involves a lot of paint and glue. She's enjoying "teaching" Michael how to make things.


For science they cut up mushrooms. Amelia also enjoyed showing off the results of her experiment a few weeks ago to plant carrot tops in water and dirt. The carrot top in water grew much better than the one in dirt - she was very surprised!


Amelia's class is now doing this new thing where the rendez-vous times are split by teacher. She had "la petite classe" with the ECE in the morning slot, and "la grande classe" with the teacher in the afternoons. She's not super fond of the small class because that teacher "only plays boring math games". This week they were reading a story about a monster that brings a bird into a cave, so the house Matthew built Amelia became the monster's cave and we played out the story at home. This was much more interesting to Amelia than her actual school, where they were working on retelling narratives. Amelia thought this was also "very boring". "I'd much rather roll on the ball!" She rather creatively suggested to the teacher that they rewrite the story to be more interesting "what if we add a hummingbird to be the other bird's friend?" but although the teacher has been pretty good at following the interests of the kids there was nothing doing. Amelia was inclined to pout - "I had a PROBLEM and I thought of a FIX and NO ONE liiiiiiked it". I was inclined to think of this as a valuable life lesson.


I spoke to the school board this week about the stupidity of having a schedule where kindergartners and upper elementary don't share the same breaks and long story short Amelia is now able to skip her first afternoon period to play with her siblings outside without getting marked absent.


Matthew's class was working on the selection of the proper article in front of nouns (also a main topic). He discovered the dictionary this week, which tends to be more accurate for getting the gender BUT it's not as fast as using siri to look things up on Google. The number of ways he uses technology to cheat is rather astounding. He continues to have little to nothing to do in math. In theory they are working on series of numbers but the actual work is entirely busy work. He commented that he thinks teachers don't know that kids actually remember stuff.


Elizabeth had a pj day and got to watch a movie. It rained all week, but that didn't stop her from doing her bo lesson in the rain.


We've been getting ready for winter too, so we cleaned up outside, took down the swing for the winter and thoroughly cleaned out the car.

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October 17, 2020
A birthday party

We celebrated Grandma's birthday with chicken teriyaki and carrot cake. Grandma came over for dinner first, then Chris and Yukiko and the girls dropped by for some cake and present opening outside.


It was nippy, despite the large number of barefooted and barelegged children that insisted on hanging out outdoors. I was particularly amused by Amelia's insistence that it was so cold she needed a full snowsuit... but no shoes...


After supper Brendan and I watched the Elton John movie with Grandma in the basement, which we all enjoyed.

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