July 22, 2021
Summer bucket list: Make your own pizza

One of the items on our list this summer was to make our own pizzas. Mission accomplished!

1 photos / videos

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July 18, 2021
Old Fashioned Week

The kids very much wanted to do an "old fashioned week" as one of our weekly themes this summer. I think the original impetus was to be allowed to use candles as much as possible, but when we started talking about what this meant the concept quickly evolved.


We decided that our target "era" was just after the last pandemic one hundred years ago (ie roughly 1921). Since we have indoor plumbing, we would be a rich family. Since we were not going to be using electric lights and have live-in servants, we would be old fashioned.


The girls had to wear dresses every day. The boys had to wear shirts with a collar. Elizabeth decided she would be the maid. Amelia and Michael were the kids of the house. Erika was the governess and Matthew pivoted between being a kid and being "the gardener". Elizabeth did some research into what a 1920s maid might do and she and Erika came up with a schedule. In theory Elizabeth was getting up at 5:30am to "milk the cow". Then she tidied the house, opened the windows for ventilation, and made tea. She cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner, and prepared a high tea at 3pm. We invited Grandma, Chris and Yukiko (twice) and our friend Greg from church to join us for tea.


On the first day we were woken with tea at 7am "Good morning my lady, Good morning my lord", she said. I don't normally like breakfast in bed but this was extremely civilized (especially the part where we got to lounge in bed until breakfast time!) We went down at 8am to find the breakfast table completely set. The governess brought in the children. Since children of that era were to be "seen but not heard" we had a rule that they could only speak if spoken to. Breakfast was EXTREMELY quiet. Once the children had eaten, they placed their hands on the table and waited. Then we had morning prayer (including our staff) and the children then asked to be excused. They followed the governess out and then we got out of the maid's hair.


The maid's responsibilities included turning the chicken eggs we are incubating. The kids did all of their lessons offline and completed the entire week without any screen time.


We were not allowed modern devices like phones, cameras or computers except upstairs in the office. Interestingly I actually got more work done than usual as my domestic helpers freed up so much of my time. As the week wore on Brendan and I did cheat a bit - Brendan tended to carry his phone in his pocket so we did take a few photos.


We tried to limit the use of the car. Originally Elizabeth had wanted us to do without entirely but we needed it to get to riding/bible study as well as our camping trip so we ended up making a few exceptions.


A few times during the week I sent the girls to the store to acquire supplies. This was a big deal because Elizabeth is a bit shy about such things and the idea that she would go to the store without an adult was very intimidating.


We looked up menu ideas and tried to have our meals reflect 1920s cuisine. We were interested to find out that toasters had been invented. Brendan was dismayed to learn that there wasn't really any cereal (aside from Wheaties). He might have been caught sneaking cereal later in the week.


We found out that domestic servants in England weren't supposed to have names "above their station", so we renamed Elizabeth to Betty.


Notable moments:

*The maid spoke with us to see whether we might ask the children to be less messy.

*Ringing the bell at meals to summon the maid

*The gardener and the governess needing to be separated as they were not getting along.

*Michael correcting us when we called him Michael "It's MASTER Michael"

*The gardener became indignant when his sister was allowed to sew but he was supposed to work. There was nearly a mutiny when it was pointed out that sewing was girl's work.

*Elizabeth used a sippy cup with a plastic nipple end to simulate "milking" her cow

*Biking in a skirt is hard work. We ended up allowing people to change.

*Elizabeth and Erika forgot some of their purchases at the store. Elizabeth wrote me a note using ink and a feather pen to tell me lunch would be slightly delayed as a result.


Elizabeth learned a lot about prepping meals. She said her favourite part of the day was getting up before anyone else was awake, followed by making high tea. The younger kids thought the best part was eating high tea, although getting to ring a bell to ask for things was a close second. Brendan liked the quiet meals and better table manners. All in all it was a HIGHLY successful experiment and I would definitely recommend it.

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July 16, 2021
Canoe Trip

Last year's site (11) was nice aside from the swimming, so we decided to try out site 12 instead. It's our favourite at Lac Lapêche in Gatineau park so far. The sites were larger, there was a convenient gathering place for eating right by the water (so no need to schlepp all our gear halfway across camp) and the rocks sloped nicely into the water before a big drop off so no weeds to navigate.


The boys weren't too sure about the little fish that liked to nibble people's toes but I think everyone else went for a swim at least once while we were there. The main drawback to the site was the canoe landing spot but even that wasn't so bad. We had hotdogs and s'mores for supper and just managed to get things more or less away before the promised rain rolled in. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the campsite was pretty sheltered. Some places got wet but by the fire mostly just a few sprinkles. It rained on and off at five minute intervals but after the initial downpour it was pretty pleasant actually and Brendan and I stayed up watching the fire until nearly 9:30pm. Next time we might bring a tarp!


We tried out some new ideas including clips for the canoe and twisting the clothesline to hold clothes on without clothespins and both were very successful.


Matthew greatly enjoyed playing with the fire. It was a good thing I brought two lighters as he emptied the first one on day 1! This camping trip was also notable as it was both Margaret and Yukiko's first canoe trip (!) and it was our first camping trip without any kids in diapers (!!)


It rained fairly hard all night but cleared by morning. Amelia had me up at midnight and five am (she found the dark and rain rather scary) but the boys slept in until 7 and I actually ended up waking Michael! The "dark sky" fly is definitely highly recommended!


On our way back Yukiko, Michael and I had a loon swim right under our boat and pop up to have a look at us! It was possibly close enough to touch with my paddle. I really wished I had kept my phone rather than dutifully putting it in the waterproof case in Brendan's canoe! Elizabeth, Amelia and Brendan's canoe left the campsite last but arrived first - Elizabeth's competitive nature triggered "beast mode" and they paddled hard! Her technique has improved so much since last summer. Our canoe was the slowest but we probably traveled the shortest distance and we thoroughly enjoyed our ride. Michael didn't help our speed as he insisted on "helping" by paddling backwards, especially on the journey out.


We had lunch at the beach after returning our extra canoes and were thrilled to meet Mr. Fox who came to check us out.


All in all we had a fabulous trip and everyone enjoyed themselves greatly.

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July 15, 2021
Hatching eggs

We are participating in an egg hatching experience through our local homeschooling group. They provide twelve eggs and all the equipment we need. We put the eggs in and then turn them three times a day. At three different points we "candle" our eggs (holding a flashlight up to the egg). Today was a candling day and... we had no idea whether any of our eggs were good or bad. Apparently it's easier to tell at day 10 so we're going to wait until then and hope no eggs explode. That's apparently a thing...

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July 11, 2021

Once again Dianne and David hosted an "at home" triathlon which was most excellent. Despite a slightly smaller than standard pool the rest of the setup is in my opinion better than the "real" thing and it's always amusing to tell your kids they get to swim 50 laps.


In the lead-up to triathlon the kids were unusually nervous about the swim section, and not at all concerned about the bike portion (historically the part they worried about the most)


Neighbours Elizabeth and Charlotte came this year as well. Elizabeth was in the same heat as Matthew while Amelia was in the same heat as her friend Charlotte.


Prior to the race, neighbour Elizabeth had been talking a great deal about how she was so terrible in the pool, so Matthew was surprised to find she was much faster and more comfortable in the pool than he was. He has resolved to learn "proper swimming instead of just doggy paddle". They stuck together all race and had a lovely time chatting especially during the run/amble/walk section of the race.


Again this year Elizabeth and Erika decided to compete up a level. Last year they did the 14-15yo group but it was "too easy".


Elizabeth and Erika Swim 350m (50 laps), bike 10km, run 3.5km in 1:20:00

Michael Swim 20m (3 laps), bike 500m, run 100m in 18 min

Amelia Swim 25m (4 laps), bike 1500m, run 500m in 18 min

Matthew Swim 75m (11 laps), bike 3km, run 1km in 31 min

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Cumberland Heritage Village

We're gearing up to do an old fashioned week next week, so we thought we'd go to Cumberland Heritage Village to do some research. Unfortunately I didn't realize that all of the demonstrations stopped at 4pm (the time we reserved). On the plus side, we basically had the grounds to ourselves.


There was a morse code challenge that we spent some time solving.


We had fun wandering around and looking into all of the buildings. Matthew enjoyed getting the turkey to gobble at him. One interesting thing Elizabeth noticed was that one of the houses had two stove tops! This was the house that was closest to our target era so everyone paid close attention to how it was decorated and organized.

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