Random things I haven’t posted about yet

This is not my first attempt at blogging. Usually I get busy or tired or depressed or I think “no one really cares anyways” (actually that’s probably the depression talking) and I just stop. But this one is different. This one is for me. And maybe that’s a lesson. Maybe they all should have been for me.

Today, as I’m sitting down to look at our homeschooling binder and preparing to at least catch Steven up on grade 5 while the uncertainty of a new school year looms (more on that later, I think), I’m realizing that there are tons of things I haven’t shared here. So here’s a list, in vaguely chronological order… the order I found the photos in dropbox anyways. I didn’t really edit them… so sorry for the mess that might be in the background.

We bought hair clippers back in April, knowing that we would all be way too hot stuck at home (with only an air conditioner in one downstairs window and some strategically placed fans) over the summer. I originally planned on just giving us all buzz cuts, but Steven wanted me to try and do his normal hair cut. I’m no hair dresser, but I think I did ok… enough that I pretty much did the same thing on myself. After doing that with craft scissors, I bought some propper shears so trims have been easier. I might actually keep it like this. Maybe I don’t need to pay $50+ for a haircut anymore? Will this pass once the pandemic is over? I don’t know. My hair was super long. I’m going to donate it when I can take it to a post office. Also, I found a grey hair! I thought Liam was just joking when he said he saw one.

These are carrot cake sandwich cookies. The recipe is here. You should make them. But make double. Trust me.
It was still snowing in May. Like the world was saying “It’s ok, just stay inside with your hot chocolate, it’s safer”. Our house is not well insulated, so I was wearing a huge sweater and a hat and mitts in my “office”, but I wish it had stayed cold longer. The heat is harder to manage.

For Mother’s Day, Liam and Steven made me pancakes. And then Steven did my nails. And then he set up this epic snack table for us to watch a movie.

I just really like this drawing. It’s one that Steven made in his first Outschool class (the outschool link I put there will give us each $20, you can put yours towards your first class). He’s done some other classes too. Some were just DnD games with people his age (instead of being the only kid at the table as he normally is), one was how to make an escape room. We offered to pay for one a week but he lost interest, hoping to get him into it again. If nothing else it’s a good opportunity to be social.

I mentioned my birthday dinner in a previous post, but here are some pictures on the cake Liam and Steven made. Oh, and I won yarn on my birthday too… so that counts as a birthday thing, lol. I also got some new cast iron pans and squirrel proof feeders, and the compact elliptical I had mentioned in a previous post as well.

In the middle of July, the numbers dropped to nothing in this area, so we took a bit of a risk to feel normal for a day. We went to Liam’s parents’ house for dinner, saw all of Steven’s cousins, visited Grandma and went to the beach. We stayed far away from everyone else at the beach obviously, most people were heading home by the time we got there anyways. But it was so nice to just have a normal summer day with family after over a hundred days of being at home. And then Steven actually slept over at Liam’s parents’ place for a week or so, since the numbers were still down, and we got a bit of alone time to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. For now, we’re keeping an eye on the numbers and have said he can go visit them whenever he wants to as long as they stay down. Right now the numbers are lower there than here.

And… I guess that’s it for this post.

Stay safe!
~Lauren

If I believed in something…

I’m not a person who really believes in gods or people who have passed away looking out for us or whatever. I don’t even really believe “everything happens for a reason”, though I do like to point out a silver lining when I see it.

Last year I made the very uncharacteristic decision to change jobs. I had all sorts of reasons to do so. Mental health, physical health, money… I needed to explain it somehow. When I explained it to others it always felt like I was still trying to convince myself. I really enjoyed that job and I care about the people there and leaving a retail job, especially just before the Christmas season, always makes things difficult for the remaining staff (and I LOVE working at the mall over Christmas… the decorations, the music, being soo busy all the time…). I tried to justify it in so many ways. I thought about waiting, doing the Christmas rush and applying to the other job in the new year. That certainly seemed more logical and would have made me feel less guilty.

But ultimately it just felt like something I needed to do, and for some reason I needed to do it right away, so I did it…

And a month later we got a new social worker with ODSP, who corrected some mistakes the previous worker had made (we told her multiple times to fix them, and she assured us she had). If I was still working retail, we wouldn’t have been able to afford rent. I would have needed to look for another job anyways, but the one I have now wouldn’t have been hiring. I’m not physically capable of working retail full time, and I’m not qualified for much else. I don’t know if I would have been able to find anything.

And then Covid happened. And I had a job that could pay me for at least one week off despite not having been there long. And after that week they had figured out how I could work from home. And I’m still working from home. If I was still working retail I wouldn’t be making anything right now because I would have refused to go back to work, making me not eligible for the CERB. Our landlord wouldn’t have given us any breaks. I don’t know what we would have done.

If I believed in something, I’d have to say that something was looking out for us. As it is, I still can’t explain my decision, but I am so happy I made it when I did.

Quarantine day 102

This was supposed to be a day 100 post… but somehow even in quarantine time is elusive, lol. I know I haven’t really been posting. Work is exhausting and family time is precious, and I just haven’t found the will or the time.

So, Steven dropped the homeschool thing pretty fast. He stuck with the assignments being sent from school for quite a while, but the last few weeks were difficult. We’ll have to see what September looks like. If we continue homeschooling it will be with a much different schedule. Only an hour a day or so most likely. There isn’t actually that much material to cover, it just takes longer to cover it in a traditional school setting.

Steven’s also been doing the odd outschool class (that’s a referral link that will give us each a $20 credit 😉 ). The ones he chooses aren’t always the most educational, but they let him hang out with some kids for a while, which can’t be a bad thing. So far he’s done a pokemon drawing class, a Dungeons and Dragons escape room and one that taught him to make his own escape room for Father’s Day, which resulted in a fun time for all of us.

We’ve continued to do our usually monthly Dungeons and Dragons games, but now they’re bi-weekly over video chat. It’s kind of funny because it’s just us three and one of our friends, so we all have to go to separate spaces to avoid getting an echo, but it’s nice to hang out and play for a while. Steven’s actually been doing a lot of one-shots. As much as I love our main game (and am kind of wondering if we’ll ever finish it at this rate), I have absolutely no problem with him spending his free time planning DnD games instead of playing Roblox all day.

We’ve started treating ourselves with delivered food a bit more often. We can’t afford to do it too often, and it’s always a bit of an ordeal (clean the table, put the dishes down, transfer the food to the dishes without touching the dishes, throw out the garbage, wash the table again, wash my hands every time I need to touch a dish after touching the bags the food came in…) but it really lifts our spirits, even if it is just McDonalds. For my birthday last month though we ordered from Fionn MacCool’s, and it was sooo good. We even ordered some beer and cider! Apparently you can do that now. You do need to show ID at the door for the alcohol, but the delivery agent let me show it through the door.

What else? Oh! With my birthday money I got a compact elliptical (among other things, like squirrel proof bird feeders and a cast iron pan). I’ve been using it to play Zombies Run! without going out. I’ve really been wanting to get active again, and I know it’s technically safe to go for walks and such, but I’ve been watching the people in my neighbourhood being less and less careful with social distancing, and other people are just unpredictable, so I’d rather just stay home. So I set the elliptical up in front of the TV and play a virtual scenery video from youtube and put on my music and my game and… well, it’s not the same as being outside, but it’s still fun and exercise and at least there’s an air conditioner. Normally I get up super early to go running before it gets hot, but now I can do it any time.

Yesterday, I was going to take a day off. Actually, the day before I had mentioned that I was sore from the elliptical and should do yoga, but when I woke up I decided to do nothing. But then Steven was like “I was thinking, if you’re going to do yoga, I’ll do it with you”, and I couldn’t turn that offer down. I really like working out with him, and it’s hard to get him to do anything resembling exercise.

Yesterday was also Canada Day! Usually we go down to the water here in Barrie and enjoy the festivities, but obviously not this year. Instead, we played some board games and watched a movie and enjoyed a roast.

Also, my stamps finally came in the mail, so now I can send out some happy mail! I probably won’t have time to work on that until the weekend, but I’m excited. I also updated our sad little sticky note that I had placed on the door asking people to leave deliveries there. I should have done that a long time ago. The colouring page is free here, I just added my own text in photoshop, and the same teacher has a lot of other cute colouring pages.

Anyways, I think that’s all for now. I’m hopefully going to get back to updating this more often… but we’ll see. I’ve missed a bunch of random stuff I should have posted about for the sake of memories, so I’ll put that together in some future posts.

Stay safe!
~Lauren

Easter

Luckily, Doug Ford declared the Easter Bunny an essential service earlier this month. Steven is hoping he’ll do the same for Santa in December. I’m hoping he won’t have to. But the way this thing is going, he might.

I was hoping for an outdoor egg hunt this year, but there’s a huge storm on the way. We had snow on Good Friday and now a storm Easter Sunday and Monday. People are saying it’s Mother Nature’s way of saying “stay indoors”. Hopefully people are.

Regardless, Steven had fun finding all the treats the Easter Bunny had left for him. He even found some kinder eggs in the egg carton in the fridge and a chocolate rabbit in the bread box.

There was also this huge “smashers” egg left out on the table that had a whole bunch of messy activities in it, through which he found a bunch of bones to build a dinosaur skeleton toy.

And he got a big Miraculous Ladybug Kinder Surprise egg. Steven and I love that show, we watch it together whenever there are new episodes. We had already collected all the toys from the little kinder eggs over the past year or so, but never found the larger ones in the store. He requested I ask his aunt to find more if she can, “because if the Easter Bunny found them maybe they’re in stock now”.

We’re going to have another video chat family dinner tonight. This time we’ll use Steven’s laptop. Hopefully, it will work better than the tablet. And Steven requested peanut butter pasta tonight, so that’s what I’ll be making. Not a traditional Easter dinner, but that’s alright. It will be nice to see everyone at least.

Happy Easter! Stay Safe!
~Lauren

I guess I should stop numbering the days…

This blogging thing might become weekly. Or whenever I feel like it. Work is exhausting, even at home. But it’s nice to see my family on my breaks.

Steven did most of the rest of the social studies unit we had started on Wednesday. I think he’s trying to finish it so he can have Wednesdays off. It’s not a bad idea to have a day off in the middle of the week, really. He did the math work from school yesterday and today. He could have finished it in a day, but apparently he thought he needed to do it in order, and one of the tasks said “talk to someone about math”, so instead of talking to one of us about it he went “my friends aren’t online, so I can’t talk to them about math, guess I better quit and play Roblox”. Hopefully that won’t happen next week.

After finishing the math today, we watched the video that had been assigned for Music (“Beethoven lives upstairs”) while decorating paper Easter eggs to put up in the windows. There was a post on a local Facebook group about putting up eggs so kids walking with their parents can still do an “egg hunt” this weekend even though all the usual ones at the parks and such are cancelled.

Now we’re working on finishing up our birds we started a few weeks ago. I don’t think they’ll be done today, we’ve had some technical difficulties. The model magic can be painted pretty easily, but it’s a little fragile. So Steven’s bird lost a wing and we’re waiting for the glue to dry.

Hope everyone has a fun and safe Easter weekend!
~Lauren

Homeschool days 10 and 11

Yesterday was crazy, so I didn’t post. Steven started distance learning and I started working from home after putting on one of my homemade masks and leaving the house for the first time in 2 weeks to take the bus to work and get some on-site training and pick up my computer and take a taxi back home… we were all busy and I was so anxious about going out and setting everything up at home was hectic… But today everything calmed down, and hopefully it will be the start of a new routine.

The buses have been split in two and back boarding for free for weeks, but this time when I went on there were signs saying no more than 15 passengers allowed and stopping people from sitting beside each other… and still someone thought it was ok to stand directly behind me at the door when we were waiting to get off the bus!

Steven’s teachers are providing weekly work for Language Arts, Math, French and Music so far (yesterday it was just the first two, but the others were added this afternoon). Each subject is broken down to do a bit every day, but Steven has decided he wants to stick to the homeschool schedule we had already established. So yesterday he did as much of the assigned language work for the week as he could, and then today he studied the next part of the body (the digestive system on Kids Health) and did the rest of the language work.

Steven’s teachers are using Google Classroom to communicate, and Steven has really been enjoying being able to talk to his school friends again in the chat room there. Their first assignment was to write about what they have been doing since school ended. They were supposed to write a paragraph and maybe add a picture or two, I’m pretty sure Steven wrote a few pages. But he was really excited to tell everyone about our adventures in the last few weeks.

This morning, it was really nice outside, so Steven wanted to do PhysEd outside. He probably also didn’t want to clean up the mess in the living room, but he said it was because of the weather anyways. So found a recording of the beep test. Our yard is nowhere near 20 meters, but he’s younger than the kids that normally do this test, and I didn’t want to make it too hard on him anyways.

I gave him some chalk and told him that if he ran really fast to the other side, he could draw on the fence until the next beep. It ended up being a pretty fun activity for him. There was some laughter anyways, as his drawings were repeatedly interrupted and he tried to rush to the other side in time to continue.

I mostly work in the afternoons, and I’m hoping that will continue to be my schedule so that I can do PhysEd and French with Steven in the mornings and then get him set up with the day’s work before I have to start working myself.

Working from home is eerily quiet. Everyone has been doing a great job keeping quiet while I’m working, but I’m used to being in a call centre surrounded by people. I’ve often complained about the noise, but now I miss it. Especially when there’s time between calls, and I can’t just turn to my neighbour and start a conversation. But I often knit when I’m on the phone, and I realized today that I am no longer limited to small, portable projects at work. I could totally make a sweater or something, because I don’t have to take it with me to and from work and keep it out of my coworkers’ space. I have a whole room! So that’s exciting.

My posts might become less frequent now that I’m working again because that’s taking up 9 hours of my day, but I’m going to keep updating when I can.

Stay safe!
~Lauren

End of week 2 in isolation

I need to go to work tomorrow. That is kind of terrifying. But it’s just one more day. I need to get on the bus, go to work, get my work at home training and take a taxi home with my work at home equipment, hopefully without coming in contact with too many people. And then hopefully we can all be home and safe until this is all over.

But, I saw some statistics on Facebook the other day that showed the effect all of this self-isolating is having on the flu. It’s way down compared to this time last year. The hope is that if this is working on the flu, it’s also working on Covid-19. But it’s too early to tell. The flu has a really short incubation period, so the data comes available quicker.

Today, I finished sewing the masks I was making. I had posted them on facebook and Grandma asked for some, so I just made a whole bunch. I don’t know who will use them now, but maybe they’ll seem less silly later. I had to sew them now because my sewing table needs to be turned into a work from home computer desk. So that’s done. And now I just have to run my new 100 foot ethernet cable through the whole house to our spare room that will be an office for the foreseeable future.

Homemade masks. They don’t have ties because I ran out, but Liam’s sister said she could add some elastic for me before giving them to whoever wants them.

Once I was done that, Steven and I made homemade pizza pockets. We use this recipe for the dough, and then roll it out and use a dumpling mold to make the hot pockets. I forgot how quickly they get eaten! I thought we had made enough to freeze some, but all 3 trays will be gone in the next couple days I’m sure.

Hope everyone had an awesome weekend. This week will be interesting for us. Steven’s teacher is starting to send assignments online, I’m starting to work from home… we’ll just have to take it one day at a time.

Stay safe!
~Lauren

Friday.

Today, we all woke up and decided we didn’t want to do anything. Sure, it’s Friday, sure we could decide to do nothing tomorrow instead, but instead we told ourselves we’ll do today tomorrow, though I’m sure we all realize we probably won’t, and I think sometimes that’s ok.

So here are some things I found on social media this week.

Steven’s teacher is starting distance learning next week. We’ll see how that goes. It looks like she plans on posting a few assignments for them to work through each week as they have time. We’ll probably be able to work them into what we’ve already been doing for homeschooling.

Stay Safe!
~Lauren

Homeschool day 9: French and Math

We do some French every day, but it has become pretty obvious that Steven has lost most of what he learned last year. Last year he could form simple sentences and this year he barely has a vocabulary. He has also expressed frustration multiple times over the fact that the teacher he had was very strict and wouldn’t let them speak or use words they knew that weren’t part of what they were studying. I wasn’t there, so I only have what he says, but he gets really, really frustrated whenever we ask about his French class. I don’t think it’s entirely the teacher’s fault. She’s probably just teaching what she teaches his grade normally. But the teacher he had last year being so awesome. She went above and beyond to make sure the students could actually use what they were learning, which impressed me because I remember being in French immersion in High School and having friends in core French who still didn’t know any French. So I was really proud of all the progress he had made in French, and it’s frustrating to see him lose it.

I printed signs to place all over the house to encourage the use of French. The month and day part of the calendar was an afterthought, so it was done by hand.

All that to say we’re going to start working on vocabulary even more. I labelled things around the house in French so he can see them often, and we’re going to start speaking partially in french. Just simple phrases like asking what he wants to eat or telling him to wash his hands but it will hopefully help in the long run. Oh, and I found these posters that help ask simple questions in French, too. I printed them out 6 to a page, removing some that don’t really apply outside of school, and posted them on the wall.

We also started working on area and perimeter in math today, using legos to help out. I printed out these worksheets and had Steven make shapes with legos, draw them on the sheet and figure out the area and perimeter.

Steven making a shape with legos to calculate the area and perimeter.

It looks like I’m going to be able to work from home starting early next week. We’ve cleaned out our spare room and I will be clearing off my sewing table to move in there and use as a desk. But before I pack away my sewing machine, I wanted to make some reusable masks. The CDC went from saying there’s no point in wearing one to saying it will probably help but they don’t want people to have a false sense of security. Definitely no false sense of security here, but I do need to go into work for some training to work from home, and I’m sure there will be other times when we need to go out as much as we don’t want to.

I’m using this pattern and literally whatever fabric I have around. I’m cutting up a couple of Steven’s old shirts, even. But for the inside, I’m using some reusable bamboo paper towels that we bought recently (originally because there were no regular ones anywhere, but I actually really like them). I had read an article in which they interviewed someone who worked on the n95 masks we currently use, and he said anything is better than nothing but bonded fabrics would be better than knit or woven. His example was the blue shop towels, but I think this is pretty close. I did the version with the pocket so we could add another layer if we wanted to.

Stay safe!
~Lauren

Homeschool Day 8: More social studies

Really not the most exciting day school wise. Steven got bored with yoga, so he tried out a cardio video on youtube. And then he continued working on the social studies workbook he started last week.

Then we decided to go for a walk. We’ve all been a little afraid to leave the house. And we were all very careful not to touch anything while we were out. And whenever we turned a corner and saw people we went a different direction, because as much as we’d like to believe everyone is being careful, we just don’t have control over other peoples’ actions. It kind of felt like PacMan. But it was one of the first really nice spring days and I just needed to go for a walk. Hopefully this time next week our back yard will be less mucky and we can enjoy outside by playing some games in a space we have control over.

A rock someone painted and left for people to find.

We did find this pretty rock on our walk. There are a lot of people around (or so I’ve seen on Facebook) who paint rocks like this for people to find. The idea is to find them and hide them again, and I was a little upset that the first time we actually found one was a time when I definitely didn’t want to touch it. But maybe we’ll make some ourselves some time.

This was after the initial tear-filled “what’s wrong with it?”

I just realized it’s April Fools Day. I guess none of us are really feeling like doing any practical jokes. A couple years ago, though, Easter and April Fools happened to be the same day. I made Steven a “soft boiled egg” for breakfast… only I had removed the egg and replaced it with jello! I thought it was pretty funny. He kind of freaked out a bit. Maybe I shouldn’t have used red jello.

And that led me to a thought – maybe we’ll actually find time to decorate some eggs this year! There have been a few years that we bought kits and just never got around to it.

Trying to find the positives of this situation. It makes it a bit easier, anyways. I guess that’s all for now. Hope everyone’s staying safe and doing what they can to enjoy isolation.
~Lauren