Weekend Coffee Share – thoughts from a teacher during the Covid 19 pandemi

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Welcome weekend! Would you like a cup of strong, black coffee from my French press, or perhaps some green tea today? 

I just finished my usual two cups of coffee, while admiring the sunrise. It is Saturday morning, and I am looking forward to give my sweet girl some one-on-one time this weekend. She is still snoozing away, so we have a few minutes to have a virtual coffee date before she wakes up. How is your week? Are you in quarantine? Social distancing? 

The world is crazy, and still we try to maintain some of our routines. I work, since schools are considered essential, here in Sweden. (Older children, 15+ years old have online classes.) I feel very good working. I’m in good health, and I like providing  normal for the children whose parents needs to work during these difficult times. Work is a little special at the moment, there’s both children and colleagues missing. We try to help out where we are the most needed at our school. This week I’ve only been at my own department, since I’ve had a lot of children there all week. Not the whole group, but more children than all the other departments. 

Before Corona many children with a little cold were sent to school. You only stayed at home with children that had a fever, or a stomach bug. Nowadays anyone with the slightest symptoms of a cold are advised to stay at home. Our school have a policy that encourage parents to also keep siblings to sick children at home, and keep them at home 48 hours after the last symptoms disappeared. We have the sibling policy since it is impossible  for both the parents and us to know exactly what the child’s illness is. Is it a cold? Allergies? Or the big bad virus? And of course there are people in risk groups that would be more likely to get the virus if their immune system were down, due to a cold (both children and personnel.) This is the least fun part of my job, to have to repeatedly ask parents to keep them at home long enough. Our parents are very good at this, for the most part, so I don’t think it’s overwhelming, it’s just not fun to have to be a police (sort of.) The majority of the parents are very responsible, and I feel that we have a great, open line of communication with them. We are following all the recommendations from our health department to stop this pandemi the best way we can.  Our principal offered us to vent our concerns about the situation at a meeting this week. I attended, mostly to show my support to colleagues that are worried.

We are practicing social distancing in Sweden. I follow that strictly in my private life, but at work I have to make exceptions. Children have always been drawn to me, but in these times there is even a bigger need of comforting them. They want to sit close, there is constantly one, two, three, or more children that wants to sit in my lap. I sometimes need to say no, to not be unfair to anyone, but I try to offer comfort to all of them. They seem OK with all this craziness going on around them. When this all started I didn’t notice that it affected them too much, but these past few days I’ve noticed some insecurities in some of them. It’s a wonderful group of children that I will miss dearly when they move to the next chapter of their education. I feel blessed to be a part of this chapter. Naturally I will do everything I can for them, while I can.

Right after mandatory hand washing for anyone entering our school, one of the first things that was changed when this craziness started, was the way of things in our lunch room. We have an inviting lunch room where we sit in small groups at tables with approximately 5 children and one teacher. We teachers take turns at setting the tables with the wonderful food our chef prepared for us. We put dishes with food on the tables before the children enter the lunch room. Before the virus the children were encouraged to serve themselves of the food. This was part of enjoying delicious food, eating the colourful, beautiful dishes with your eyes before tasting them. This way they were also being given the opportunity of perfecting their table skills. Meals enjoyed together, participating in meaningful conversations around the table is an important part of the children’s education. Now the teacher at the table serve the food to all the children. This works out great, just a small change to how things were before.

This week we’ve had many discussions about the future with our little students, preparing them for the school they are going to after the summer holidays. We’ve made some Easter decorations, and I’ve lead a lot of organised exercise. We have a gymnastic program, with different exercises for children with uptempo music to go with it. It is about 45 minutes, and I’ve used variations of that program 4 days this week. Every day except yesterday, when we had yoga instead. The children asked for yoga on Wednesday. We haven’t had that in a while. (Frankly because the yoga program they’ve used to do before I started felt lame, and it was hard to engage some of the boys.) I felt a need to incorporate some new poses and worked on that Wednesday and Thursday after work. It felt good trying some of them on Friday. I took it slow, and only tried a handful of the program that I prepared. We’ll try the rest next week. I found a good mix of yoga music on Spotify to go with the program. I think an important part of having both gymnastic and yoga with young children is to evaluate with them how it feels in their bodies afterwards. How nutritious food (that is an important part of our school’s profile,) along with exercise make us feel strong, both physically and mentality. These children are getting a head start on a healthy lifestyle. If my daughter was younger, I would choose our school for her, and that makes me feel incredibly good working there. Speaking of it, I signed a new contract for work this week, a permanent position where I am right now. (It’s custom here to start with a trial position for 6 months.) I am thrilled about that! I love my work, and to be a part of developing the ski profile further is very appealing to me.

Do you need a refill on your coffee? Tea? 

I know that I told you about my daughter, how she’s been attending a special school these first months in Sweden, where she’s been getting extra help learning the language.  Well, yesterday was her first day at a new school, within walking distance from our house. It is a regular Swedish school. It will be challenging at first, but she is going to do well. Several of the children in her new class gave her drawings that they’ve made, and little welcome notes. I think I was almost more touched by that gesture than she was. It made my heart very happy. It is a huge challenge learning a new language, and a new culture. I know it, because I’ve been there. I felt like an alien the first years in California. My daughter is doing very well. She loves it here, but I do understand some of her challenges. I am not pushing her in any way. She is allowed to “adjust” in her own pace. It is a great school she is starting. It has a very good reputation. She’s already been attending the after school program at this school since new year, and know some of the children. It’s a small school and the children that attends lives in our part of (the outskirts) of town. 

It seems like most of the world is on lockdown, but as you can tell it has been a pretty busy week here. I do absolutely take the threat of this virus seriously. I do not participate in anything but what is required, work for me, and school for my daughter. I have my groceries delivered, so that I don’t have to go to the store. We spend our free time at home, or in the surrounding forests. It’s been a cold, and beautiful week. We’ve been taking many walks.

I received a book I’ve ordered in the mail yesterday. I’m excited to read it this weekend. I’ve been interested in homesteading my whole life, and this book seem very relevant, modern, beautifully made, with appealing photos, easy to follow descriptions, and recipes. I very much look forward to adding some new skills to my inventory. I remember doing some fermenting of vegetables with my mom as a child, but I would love to perfect that skill myself. Something I will be working on this spring. My new book have a chapter about that, and it was one of the reasons I bought it.

How are you spending these special days? Please tell me in a comment and stay safe! WE are in this together.

Love,

Maria

Weekend Coffee Share – The Situation

 

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I’m so glad you could make it to our weekly coffee date! How are you? I mean, how are YOU really doing? 

Many people work from home here in Sweden. Some businesses are closed. I personally know several people who lost their jobs. We are practicing social distancing, but people are doing this on very different levels. Essential businesses are open, schools are among these businesses. The older children have their lessons online, younger children, 15 and under have regular school. I’ve been working all week. Anyone with slightest symptoms of a cold are staying at home, both teachers and students. It is emptier than usual, but it actually feels good to go to work. I feel that we (my colleagues and I,) are providing an essential service caring for our future (the children) in these unusual times. When the children are taken cared of the parents with important jobs, that needs to work, can give their jobs undivided attention. 

I follow the news closely, and of course there are so many thoughts going on in my head. I’m sure in everyones head. I do strongly believe in social distancing, to slow this virus down, and at the same time I believe that keeping the schools open as long as possible helps to keep us calm and strong. I’m saying no to all unnecessary social contacts for our family. I send my daughter to her school, and go to work, nothing else. I turn people away that wants to visit, and I’ve said no to numerous playdates for my daughter. I don’t go to the grocery store, I have my groceries delivered to my porch. For now we have everything we need. I even scored some yeast this week! 

Do you have everything you need? Are you in good spirits? How is your area? Are you in quarantine? Are you working? Does the situation give you extra time on your hands?

Spring is here now, even though the mornings are cold. It’s been a beautiful week, and we’ve been playing outside with the children many hours every day. On Friday we joined a dance party over YouTube for school children in Sweden. There is a famous DJ that normally comes out to schools and dance with the kids, due to Corona he choose to do his thing over YouTube instead. It was fun! We had speakers outside at a playground area and danced with the kids almost two hours.  

Thank you for joining me for coffee this weekend. What are you up to? I’ve been spending today (Saturday) putting a new desk together for my daughter. I let her do as much as she could herself. It made it into a longer project than it would of been if I did it myself, but it was definitely worth that. She mastered basic tools that she hadn’t had much experience with before, like a screwdriver and a hammer. She was very proud of herself, and the result was great 🙂

Please tell me how you are doing. Stay safe my friend.

Love,

Maria

Weekend Coffee Share – Seedlings & Gratitude

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Welcome in for a virtual coffee in front of the fire place. It is  7am, about 10F/-12C outside, and the sun is shining. I just poured a second cup coffee for myself, what can I get you? 

I’ve been lingering in bed this morning, highly unusual for me. The reason was an owl. I was trying to figure out what kind of owl I’ve been hearing. I am still not sure, maybe a Pärluggla (Boreal Owl) or Kattuggla (Tawny Owl)? These are the two most common owls in the area. I haven’t been able to see it, but I hear it every day, more and longer periods this past week.

I’ve been staying at home this week with a cough. The schools, and most businesses are still open here, but anyone with even light symptoms of a cold is advised to stay at home due to Covid-19. I feel better now. If I don’t hear anything new today, like that the schools are being closed, I’m going to work tomorrow. 

I’ve kept my daughter at home with me this week, and we’ve been having a mindful, peaceful week at home. One of our biggest joys at the moment is to watch the seedlings in our window sill grow. You can visibly see them get bigger over night. 

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I took these photos yesterday, and they are already much bigger!

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I have plenty of seeds for a vegetable garden at home, but I was running low on my favourite kitchen herbs. I ordered some online and they arrived the other day. I’m going to plant them next week. 

How are you holding up? Are you working from home now? Do you have everything you need? What’s the recommendations where you are? We are advised to limit social contacts, stay at home when we are sick, wash our hands frequently, big crowds of more than 500 people are not allowed, the older children get their lessons online, the grocery stores have somewhat limited supplies, and older people are advised to stay at home. 

My daughter and I have been talking a lot about the situation, gratitude, and what the consequences of the virus may be. She is so wise for her age. I still cannot believe that she is this incredibly intelligent, thoughtful being that she is, and not a helpless little baby or toddler anymore. We’ve been discussing gardening, and where our food comes from, and we’ve been experimenting with baking bread without yeast. She loves baking and fresh bread as much as I do. We’ve also been talking about our homesteading/off grid dream that is still very much alive, even though I see us doing it in Sweden and not in the US now. I got a message from my daughter’s dad, which is unusual, saying that he was grateful for her being here with me in Sweden. That was touching. 

We’ve spent most of this week inside, literally, the only exception going to the woodshed to get more firewood. Last night my daughter asked if we could go on a short walk. We did. We are surrounded by several lakes, and we walked to the closest one, its only minutes from our house. It was very beautiful. 

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I hope that you are safe, healthy, and in good spirits.

Love,

Maria