Parenthood
November 6, 2020
Remember Remember

We were all psyched up for Guy Fawkes (and the official start of fireplace season in our house) on November 5th, but by the time we were organized enough for a fire the younger two were already ready for bed.

 

I might have delayed bedtime, except that it was very warm outside. When the outside temperature is above zero, we often get smoke sucked back down the other chimney into the red room. Since Matthew is using the red room as his schoolroom these days, we decided that it would be prudent to delay until Friday evening for our fire.

 

We had a great time sitting in front of the fire. Matthew is thinking that one of these years we should have a real bonfire.

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Virtual School: Week 9

First big snowfall this week. Our morning walk took MUCH longer than usual because they would keep flopping down to make snow angels. Amelia and Matthew were having too much fun to go in for school. So Amelia did her class outside and I let Matthew skip the first period. Amusingly many of the kids this week have discovered the new Google Meet backgrounds so based on a couple of comments I do not think the teachers realized that Amelia was actually outside.

 

Instead of school Matthew did his reading with me and played. When we came in, he hadn't obviously missed anything and he caught up with his asynchronous work before the next segment started. This is a bit of a theme. The amount of time where nothing substantive happens is mind boggling. Teacher will routinely spend 30 minutes finding stuff and checking if things are submitted and and responding to student questions etc etc So Matthew tends to check out mentally and do his work; might as well get useful stuff done. Then the talking is distracting so he turns the sound off. Then he gets stuck so he fetches me. I teach the lesson in 5 min. He finishes in another 5. Then teacher teaches lesson but he just did it so he turns off camera and does something else. This of course completely defeats the purpose of not homeschooling since he is then not listening to or speaking french. His teacher has started doing small group reading with two or three kids at a time, but even though his class is under twenty, it still takes more than a week to rotate through.

If I were not reading with him, he would be reading less than 30 minutes a week. Most of the work is done onscreen, and the one daily writing assignment is not assessed so Matthew frequently hasn't been doing it. Math is also a problem. Matthew's frustrated because they appear to be doing constant review. He's clearly ahead of the rest of the class but he's completed the assigned extra work. So we are doing our own thing about 90% of the time after doing the busy work.

 

But as soon as I think ok, this is dumb I should pull him out altogether, we have a day where teacher is actually teaching something useful and he even thinks about participating. For example - this week in Science the kids got to present their pets. Matthew presented Gabriel the turtle and had a wonderful time explaining what turtles are like. He also enjoys art class very much. In any case, there's a conversation with his teachers that is needed.

 

Other than our "outdoor classroom", kindergarten this week really only had three stations - a very large house out of fort magic complete with mini kitchen, bedrooms and (lego for food?), reading nook, and "the museum". The plan for the week talked about going to museums and traveling so we created our own museum and all week Amelia and Michael brought precious things to be admired on our table. Amelia also spent much time using the glitter glue the switch witch brought. Michael has taken to making and playing in little nests in his bed during Amelia's "rendez-vous". Unlike grade 2, I'd say virtual kindergarten continues to go well.

 

Grade 6 is doing some kind of space theme in science. Elizabeth was disappointed that most of the snow melted before she could do her private (outdoor) bo class with Cody, but there were still some tiny patches. She says school is "fine".

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November 4, 2020
Flu shot

We usually get our flu shots with Ottawa Public Health as they are the only place available to do the entire family at once if you have kids under five and don't all have the same family doctor. This year, OPH was not offering their usual family appointments but they moved all the public clinics to an appointment based only system so it was pretty similar.

 

They should have reminded us to fill out our forms in advance at home, but otherwise we were extremely impressed with how organized the entire thing was.

 

Our location was at Landsdowne in the Horticulture building. We did not tell the kids it was flu shot day until immediately before. This definitely was the right move for Matthew, but Amelia was uncharacteristically nervous. I was nervous too, because Matthew is getting too strong to hold for a shot but his nurse happened to have CHEO experience and managed to talk him through getting the shot without any screaming, hiding under tables or even too much visible anxiety. In short, it was his best shot ever and we were profoundly grateful.

 

Unfortunately, my own nurse was rather inexperienced and managed to inject my shot much too high. I knew it was wrong immediately as there was intense pain shooting down my arm and my middle finger went numb. In fact, I'm pretty certain she hit a nerve and she definitely injected into my shoulder joint. Long story short I now have vaccination induced bursitis and was unable to use my arm for 24 hours or feel my middle finger for several days. I am profoundly grateful that I was the one affected and not one of the kids. Of course, this is very unusual and I will definitely still be getting my vaccinations. But as recommended by the Ottawa Public Health head nurse, in the future I will be talking to anyone providing me or my children a vaccination to ask them how they figure out where to inject. Similar to marking your body parts before surgery or running a basic checklist, I don't see this as questioning the competence of my shot provider but more as a safeguard to ensure they are focused on proper placement and less likely to make such a painful error. I highly recommend that everyone else do the same.

 

Addendum: as of Nov 22, my arm still aches on and off and I don't have full sensation in my finger but it's improved quite a bit.

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November 1, 2020
Virtual All Saints Day

It was All Saints Sunday!

 

As usual, Matthew was St George. It's the only saint he's agreed to be since we started doing parades in 2016. He wanted Michael to be his dragon on the grounds that a younger sibling has always been his sidekick, but Michael wanted to wear a firefighter hat so Michael was St Florian.

 

Elizabeth was St Patrick (complete with rubber snake and a zoom beard) and Amelia was Joan of Arc (she wanted to wear "armor" and wave a sword).

 

I dressed up as St Mary. Since we aren't physically going to church and the parade couldn't really happen anyway, we did a virtual parade in Sunday school with a pretend march and all the kids dressed up. It wasn't the same but the kids enjoyed marching up and down in their rooms so I feel it was successful.

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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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