Parenthood
November 13, 2020
Virtual School: Week 10

We're really busy at work and it's time to produce our annual family calendars, so I didn't put much effort into changing kindergarten learning stations this week - large "house" out of fort magic and sheets stayed up, but kids gave it a makeover with different animals claiming certain "rooms". We had the costumes out too, and a certain amount of dress-up play ensued.

 

There was a game with "food" and also something where part of it became a prison for a wild animal. Michael was the wild animal.

 

Amelia's class had to make puppets out of old socks. We have old socks in abundance so Matthew decided he wanted to make one too. Amelia's class participated in a virtual field trip to hear an author read a book - except they had technical difficulties and there was no sound. Anyway, the theme of the week is geography, so Amelia played with a map of Canada puzzle and we read books from around the world. I tried to interest Amelia in a tetris-like puzzle but the pieces mostly were used as boomerangs. Sigh.

 

Lots of playing outside - Amelia is very into riding her bike, so Michael has renewed his interest in the balance bike and actually making progress. We went to the park! When we arrived it was quiet but it wasn't long before we had to flee the millions of non-social distancing kids. One mother was telling me all about how their whole household was ill, while said child was chasing Matthew to the point he decided to climb up somewhere inaccessible for some peace. Needless to say we won't be back at the park that late in the day again for a while.

 

Big news this week is that Elizabeth got to go back to karate in person. Sensei Cody has been doing private lessons with her once a week for over a year and we've decided recently to add a second lesson a week. We found out that she had the opportunity to come in person to Barrhaven and be the only person in the dojo other than her instructor. We also really appreciate that everyone wears masks. We figured we could take advantage of Ottawa's current declining Rt values. 

 

She's quite prepared to practice her bo outdoors all winter if she needs to, but she's begun working on a musical routine and it IS somewhat challenging to work on timing and music over zoom. She's been a really good sport about the extra difficulty of zoom lessons but it was obvious she really enjoyed her in person lesson. I was also impressed with her attitude. "I hope the numbers mean I can keep going for a little while", she said. "But if I can't, at least we had some time to work on the music part."

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November 11, 2020
Christmas cake

It was Remembrance day, so we ditched school and headed over to Grandma's to make some Christmas cake, as per tradition.

 

Matthew and Elizabeth did almost all the chopping this year.

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November 8, 2020
Indian summer

It was super warm today so the kids spent pretty much the entire day outside enjoying the last gasp of summer.  They scootered up and down the street endlessly, did karate, ran around half naked and generally speaking had a grand time until the sun went down.  Then grandma came over for dinner.

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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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