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

Homeschool Day 7: Heart and Lung Science Experiments

Steven did some cool science experiments today to build on what he learned about the heart and lungs last week. We did one that shows how the diaphragm and lungs work together by following the instructions here. If we did that one again, I would probably use a smaller balloon for the “lung”, so it would be easier to see it inflating and deflating.

I would use a smaller balloon inside next time so it would be easier to see it inflating.

For the heart one, we more or less followed the instructions found here because I like how the experiment was set up, but we didn’t have a lot of the supplies. In my online search for an experiment, I had seen other people doing similar things with jars covered in balloons (with tiny holes for the straws – the balloon needs to seal around the straw) and then pushing down on the balloon to “pump”, instead of squeezing the bottle, so that’s what we did instead. Oh, and we stirred some red paint into the water because we didn’t have food colouring.

Once our experiments were done, we got back to our Dungeons and Dragons game from yesterday… and Liam and I were both killed by a large group of mimics. Steven was a little upset that we didn’t get to do everything he had planned. He felt he didn’t have enough time to plan and was quite convincing in that argument. So we had another discussion about how there really aren’t any hard deadlines or schedules or anything anymore, and if he needs more time he can just say so. I expect it will still take some getting used to. But he’s already working on our next game, and this time we told him to just tell us when he’s ready, instead of setting a date we plan on playing.

And this evening we had our first big family dinner over facebook messenger’s video chat. It took a bit to get figured out, but I’m sure it will go smoother next time. We typically have dinners at Liam’s parents’ place fairly regularly, usually with his sisters and their significant others and a lot of Steven’s cousins too, and I know that’s something everyone has missed.

I’ve been trying to think of what else we’ve been missing and how to fit those things into our new reality. I’m really looking forward to warmer days so Steven and I can do yoga on the back porch, but for now I’d settle for less rain and convincing someone to go for a walk with me. We’re all a little afraid to leave the house, but we haven’t seen a lot of people or even cars outside. It should be pretty easy to stay away from other people and not touch things.

This blog has been helping too, just to organize my thoughts a bit.

Stay safe out there!
~Lauren

Homeschool day 6: Dungeons and Dragons (that’s Language Arts, right?)

Today we all kind of woke up on the wrong side of the bed. None of us slept very well over the weekend, and I think it’s finally catching up to us. We had a talk about how we rarely go anywhere (except school, work and boy scout meetings) normally and we’re just doing all the things we normally do, but that it’s different now that we can’t go anywhere, and we’re all going to try and figure out how we can make things easier on ourselves.

Luckily, today was always supposed to be a more laid back day school-wise. Since before we started homeschooling, Steven had decided he wanted to make a Dungeons and Dragons one-shot for us, and when we started homeschooling we looked at the curriculum together and talked about how he could cover some of the necessary items in Language Arts with his one-shot.

Steven getting ready to play Dungeons and Dragons

Liam and I made our own characters for this game, but Steven had to decide what the world they were in looked like, and what challenges they would face. Then he had to present it in an engaging way. But the thing with Dungeons and Dragons is, you never know what your players are going to do. Even if you try to lead them in a certain direction, they might choose another, and you need to adapt and use your knowledge of the setting and the game to either get the game back on the track (or one of the tracks) you had planned, or improvise another direction entirely on the fly.

If you haven’t played before, there are lots of resources online to get you started, a lot of which are free or inexpensive, and it might help to watch some gameplay and tutorials on YouTube (Try Handbooker Helper and Critical Role… I may be a little obsessed with those guys).

If you want to play regularly, I highly recommend at least getting the core books (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual), but here’s a link to get you started with then rules at least. You will also need pencils and paper and a set (or twenty) of polyhedral dice, but there’s also apps for that if you don’t have them on hand and can’t go out. Maps and miniatures are all available as printables online too, or you can play with just your imaginations. And if you have no idea where to start your game, find a pre-made module to run. A lot of them even have characters already made up to play with.

Homemade printable minis from the Canada Day one shot I ran. The one in front is from “The Log Driver’s Waltz”, I unfortunately don’t remember where I got the other artwork from (I wasn’t really planning on sharing at the time), but I’ll update if I find it.

Steven has been playing Dungeons and Dragons for a couple of years now, but he watched us play and wanted to join long before that. If you’re looking for something simpler but still with just as much potential for imagination, Hero Kids is great for all ages. The math and mechanics are much simpler, the characters are cuter, but the possibilities are not limited at all. It’s just as much fun for adults as it is for kids. I noticed this morning that they currently have a Lockdown Bundle on sale for $5.99 (USD, I think?), which includes the core rules and some pre-made games to get you started, loads of content for the price. And Hero Kids comes with everything. Printable minis for all the characters and monsters, maps for the adventures, it’s all there. You just need some 6 sided dice, which you probably have somewhere in your house, and if not there’s still an app for that.

My Hero Kids collection.

We didn’t quite have time to finish our game today. I think Liam and I might have had more questions about Steven’s made-up setting than he had answers for. But that’s part of the fun! We’ll probably continue playing for an hour here and there over the next few days, after the regular lessons we have planned are done.

Hope everyone’s Monday went smoothly. Stay safe!
~Lauren

End of Week 1 in Isolation

Honestly, other than the constant feeling of impending doom, isolation isn’t really abnormal for us. It’s been nice to be home, not going to work and spending time with my family, and I don’t really miss going out because we honestly don’t really go out. We have missed dinners with family and our monthly DnD game, and Steven asked today when he would be able to have his cousin over for a playdate, but those are all things we’re working on being able to do while social distancing.

Errands have been a little more complicated, but we’re lucky to have family members (in this case Liam’s awesome sister) to help us out with our weekly grocery trip.

Groceries! Don’t mind the super dirty storm door… that someone apparently drew on…

We normally do a big grocery trip a couple of times a month and I’ll often grab a few other things on my way to/from work. But we’ve been trying to only send someone for groceries once a week and get everything we will need for a week or more. It means fewer points of contact for us, as well as for the people helping us and for the people who still need to work so we can get food.

We’ve got a system for unpacking groceries now too. Basically, Steven keeps his hands clean and runs around opening doors for us and helping remove things from boxes that we’ve opened to avoid contamination… and then we still disinfect everything we can and wash our hands even more than we already were for the first couple days after those groceries come into the house.

Found this after I posted the other memes on Friday and had to share.

I’ve really been trying to focus on the here and now because if I start trying to think even about the next few weeks I kind of drown in the uncertainty. I’ve never dealt well with uncertainty, and there’s a lot of it going around these days. I called my work a few days ago to arrange an unpaid leave of absence since I used up all my vacation days last week and I was planning on staying home for at least another week. It turns out they are working on having people work from home, which I had been told before I left was highly unlikely. So I applied to work from home and am waiting to hear back.

I’m so grateful that I will (hopefully) be able to work from home, but now I’m in this weird limbo that’s giving me some (additional) anxiety. I was expecting to be off for at least 2 weeks, we planned for it financially, and I was honestly looking forward to a second week off. But now I don’t know when I’m going back to work. I don’t know when I’m going to hear back, or how long from then it will take to get set up at home, or when I’ll actually be expected to start again. And, as it often does, it took me most of a day to process those emotions and that anxiety and form it into words, and in that time I was maybe a little grumpy and less fun to be around.

I’m pretty sure my family is used to me having days like that by now, but I always feel bad when it happens. Especially when it’s a day that I’m home. It feels like wasted time, wasted potential. I can’t help thinking of all the things I could have been doing if I hadn’t been in a funk. And it’s not like I didn’t accomplish a lot on Friday, it’s just that I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be, I didn’t connect with the people around me as much as I wanted to.

So I tried to push that out of my mind and enjoy this weekend. Steven and I coloured some pokemon pictures I had printed. He says we should do that more often because “it’s a good bonding activity”… he doesn’t yet understand why I’m laughing at that, but he’s not wrong. I feel like we might be doing more of this in the future.

Steven and I also spent quite a few hours cleaning his room. It’s his Saturday chore, but his room was such a mess that he didn’t know where to start cleaning on his own. Hopefully, now that it’s clean again he’ll be able to maintain it himself for a while.

Steven’s collection of collectables, some of which were lost in the depths of his messy room until today.

Oh, and Steven cooked toad in the hole for brunch today. Actually, yesterday he also helped make the English muffin loaf he wanted to use for eggs today. He’s decided he’s going to cook something every Sunday. I think his plan is to get back to the basics because he’s a little out of practice. We just haven’t had time to cook together as we used to the past year or so, but we will have time for the foreseeable future.

Steven cooking toad in the hole, with homemade english muffin loaf.

Hope you had a great weekend and are staying safe!
~Lauren