Posted in Children, Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, Music

Surviving the Pandemic – First Day Back in Classes

3 puppets

My husband teaches music and has many daycare and preschool classes. Today was his first day back, teaching in class. Only one center has opened at this time. He returned just as I finished my previous post, so I thought I’d share how his class went.

“I haven’t seen you for a very long time,” Mr. Sheldon told the class.

“No, but we saw you on the video. And you were talking on there.”

The class watched his videos during the past weeks when he was unable to go in.

“Mr. Sheldon, why are you wearing those garbage bags on your feet?”

He was wearing the blue slippers worn by surgical teams.

“Well, those turn my outside shoes into inside shoes.”

“Cause of the coronavirus?”

Yes, that’s it. Kids understand a lot.

The supervisor exclaimed that they were going to tell him about the slippers before he came but they were just so excited that Mr. Sheldon was coming back that they forgot.

Mr. Sheldon explained that he couldn’t give stamps today.

“We’re not supposed to have stamps because they touch one child’s hand and then another child’s.” He pointed to his hand and demonstrated. “I will keep the stamps for when we can do that again. But I’m not going to tell you which one it will be. It’s going to be a secret.” They never know what the next stamp will be.

“OK. But don’t lose it.”

“No, I’m not going to lose it. I will know exactly where it is for when we can do that again.”

He couldn’t “high five” the children at the end of the class, so he had them hold up one hand with the other and shake it as they said “Good-bye Mr. Sheldon.”

They were so excited to have him back today. Music day is the highlight of the children’s week. Many parents tell Mr. Sheldon that music day is the one day they never have a problem getting their children to go to school.

Posted in anxiety, Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, COVID-19, faith

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 8 at Home

tulips

We’ve had two months of isolation. In Canada, things are beginning to open up.

This week I have been thinking about the economy and wondering what the impact will be of closing down businesses, schools, etc. We are seeing resistance to closures. We need to find a middle ground, a new normal going forward.

For Mother’s Day we met at the border with our children and grandchildren. It was 28 degrees Celcius which is 82 Farenheit. The sun was beating down as we sat next to the pavement on 0 Avenue. Two roads run parallel to each other, one on each side of the border, with a small ditch between them.

0 avenue

I wanted to pass our umbrellas over to the other side, but we were not allowed to pass anything. This is the border. There is surveillance. However, sitting here is allowed. Marked and unmarked border patrol vehicles constantly drive by. Not ideal, but so nice to see the family after so many weeks.

The grandchildren don’t like coming here, we are told. I don’t blame them. They have seen their cousins and their other grandparents here. There are many families doing the same thing along this stretch of road these days.

As we drove back we got a phone call from our son telling us that his wife’s friend works in border patrol and she said that the Peace Arch Park had just opened. It is a no-man’s land, between Canada and the U.S. A symbol of peace. We decided to see if we could meet there, and to our surprise, we could. What a difference! But so eery to see the closed boarders, normally packed with vehicles, completely empty! Only one lane was open.

empty borders

We need to get back to work. We need to get back to normal, as much as possible. Thank you to everyone who cooperated so well and helped to flatten and lower the curve in B.C. Now that we know what we are up against, as we have seen around the world, I think we can loosen the restraints.

As I said before, I have been trying to picture what this will be like. My imagination fails me as I begin to visualize who has all been put out of work.

I am haunted by homeless tent cities that have been dismantled as people have been placed in motels, locally. Haunted as I think about how many more people will be homeless in coming months.

I am haunted by seniors’ homes that are understaffed, where there is sub-standard care and unacceptable neglect. Haunted as I think of a country that is facing a financial crisis.

I am haunted by playgrounds that have yellow hazard tape around them. Haunted by the thought of how long we will fear this virus.

I am haunted by hearing of a woman being fined for taking her child to a swing in a park.

We will all be scarred.

playground

“Look for the helpers” – Mr. Rogers. Look for the good people.

We are incredibly blessed to have people who continue to put themselves in harm’s way to help. Meanwhile there are those who now do not want to go to work. The “help” our Canadian government has given could turn into a nightmare. I’m concerned about the impact of CERB. There will be some dismantling to do and I know not everyone will be happy.

Sometimes my husband is irritable when I bring up these subjects. I try to strike a balance. I have a bit of an obsession with trying to figure out where we are headed. Yes, it might make me a bit anxious, but this is better for me than not knowing and then being taken by surprise.

In the midst of all this I understand how important it is to keep faith. Faith in people, and faith in God and his goodness. He will carry us through.

Yesterday, Sunday morning, I wanted to drive to a church parking lot and just pray and read a scripture. The lot was empty. We don’t have a home church right now, and the first church we went to had a gate that was closed so we drove on to another church.

After that we went to a small park and had a time of “worship.” That’s how it felt, being out in the fresh air, viewing the beauty of God’s creation. Someone had made a chalk drawing on the sidewalk.

brighter days

Yes, brighter days. My sister is recovering from surgery, and it feels like brighter days. I noticed I was very distracted this week, as she went in for surgery. I did not write anything in my planner. That’s a sign. My mother seems to be doing well, still going for weekly tests. Her calcium is still high, but not so high that she needs treatment. This need for constant monitoring is concerning, though.

I called my mother on Friday and she was doing well. Another thing I failed to do, for the first time ever, was to send Mother’s Day cards. I can scarcely believe it.

One of the centers where my husband teaches notified him that they are opening, however, he has not been called back at this time. He is hopeful that things will open and he will be able to teach again, soon.

Tomorrow we will record another episode of Music with Mr. Sheldon. Last week we sent a package of activities to the grandkids which they will receive any day now. They still had not watched this past week’s “Mr. Sheldon” when we met them yesterday. Maybe our son is distracted too, and forgot.

My heartfelt prayers are for all the various needs of people around the world, and specifically in Canada and the U.S. at this time. I just wrote another article about hope and salvation. I have a site entitled Faith Insights where I write about spirituality.

I hope this is the last “Isolation” article I need to write. I hope we are open for business after this week and I can write about normal life. But of course, we know life will not be normal for sometime. In the meantime, take courage, all of you “helpers” out there!

be calm

Saw this and the end of season tulips on a “distancing” walk in New West on Saturday.

more tulips

 

Posted in Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, COVID-19, De-stressing, Food, Food Security, Home, Marriage & Family, Music, sustainability

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 7 at Home

tsawassen Mills
Tsawwassen Mills May 3, 2020

Went to Tsawwassen Mills for our weekly social distancing walk yesterday. I realize now what I am subconsciously doing. I’m conditioning myself for the new normal. My brain feels like it is spinning, sometimes, like it lacks traction, when I try to imagine what we will be walking into in the next months, maybe years.

I read an interesting speculative article in the National Post. “We’ll have to reinvent ourselves,” futurist Nicola Danayov says.

Regarding the measures to control the virus, Danayov says, “when you’re selling survival you can justify anything.” He adds that the public will have to weigh in on these measures with “debate and discussion and a vote.” We will need to give careful thought to the best way to move forward, calculating the risks. As I mentioned in a previous article, I pray that we will come up with new, creative solutions.

One solution I saw this morning, in an article, was body temperature scanning at a liquor store. The concern, of course, is around privacy and the storing of information. Maybe the risk is minimal if there no identifying information attached, like when your speed limit is read back to you from a road sign. I don’t know anything about this technology, but it sounds like a possibility. You can go to Science World and have your body temperature scanned without submitting any information about yourself. Maybe it’s like that.

Looking ahead I picture there will be a lot of mask wearing. Airlines already require passengers to wear masks during flights. We will continue to physical distance. Sanitization and hand washing will continue. Full face shields might be required at public events.

We will need wise leaders to guide us into the future. People who are actually thinking things through to their logical conclusions. We’ve all seen knee jerk reactions that have not proved to be helpful.

Apart from keeping the food supply chain going, and people keeping their homes and having a means of providing for themselves and their dependents, my concern is that we not be trapped by fear. That is why I am traipsing about a little now. We went out twice this week.

I see meet-ups in parking lots, distancing by six feet. I see families doing “virtual hugs” with grandchildren after a social distancing walk in a park. Face-time and Zoom are great but we need to figure out how we can move forward in closer proximity with one another, with some degree of physical connection. I read that handshakes may be a thing of the past. Let’s find a way not to allow that to happen.

I’ve thought a lot about “essential services.” Never have lowly tasks been so highly valued. I think there is a lesson in this for all of us.

What is truly essential, I ask myself? Some businesses will collapse under the strain of protective restrictions and this has made me ask the question, “What is essential?” What could we reduce or even live without?

In my youth we were not wealthy. Most of the time our family lived very frugally. One advantage we had was that we lived on a farm and were pretty self-sufficient in terms of fruit, vegetables and meat. We bought our milk from a neighboring dairy farm. We still purchased staples at the grocery store.

I think of the list of non-essentials we did not spend money on back then because we could not afford them. A lot of businesses would close today if people lived as we did back then.

I spent a number of years in the Philippines and was impressed by how well people could do with so little. I was touched by their sense of gratitude and joy, too. My parents grew up in poverty. My mother told me that her family was able to write a letter once a month when they tore the page off the calendar and wrote on the back of it. Often when I see junk mail in my mailbox I think about the fact that not once did we receive a flyer of advertising in the Philippines. The average citizen could not afford a newspaper.

What would our society look like without non-essentials? Jesus admonished us to be content with “food and clothing.” That’s really paring it down to essentials. Analysts are saying that we will be spending less on non-essentials in coming months and maybe for years. What will that look like? Can stores reopen and stay open with the restrictions imposed on them? Will there be customers? How many people will hesitate to go out? Will their spending habits change?

As I said previously, in one of my updates, I am troubled when I look at high rises. I wasn’t sure why, but I am beginning to get some clarity. They are the exterior symbol of prosperity, of modernization. But when we really think about it, they are a visual of how people are treated like a commodity. They say, all you need is a box to live in, a space from which you can go to make money and then go to all the places where you will spend your money. You are needed to keep the economy going and the more of you we have in a small space, the more money will be spent.

The economy is reeling. But suddenly the economy is taking second place to life itself.

Where I lived in the Philippines life centered around harvest, not the economy. Essentially life centered around procuring food. A good harvest provided food and a little money for essentials. If you had a job or a business, your aim was to make enough to buy food. Unlike Canada, the focus was not on bringing in as many immigrants as possible to boost the economy.

I read today that the coronavirus will affect enrollment of foreign students in Canada. Why is this a concern? Because International students contribute C$21 billion annually to the nation’s economy, according to government data.” International students “are crucial to Canada’s higher educational institutions as they pay higher fees. They make up more than a fifth of the post-secondary student body and bring in close to C$6 billion ($4.3 billion) in tuition annually, according to a Royal Bank of Canada report.” (see article)

It is essential to train students in Canada so that they can then stay and work here, which means we are draining the best resources out of developing countries. Of course, the U.S. has done the same to Canada, head-hunting our most skilled. I read recently that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) send home money equivalent to one tenth of the Philippine GDP. I have witnessed mothers separated from their children for years on end. One mother’s young son died while she was working as a nanny in Canada.

flag

These are thoughts that run through my mind as I ponder our future and the future of the whole world.

Tomorrow we will create another Music With Mr. Sheldon episode for the children. My husband is doing a few domestic things these days. Here is the kombucha he bottled this week.

kombuchaMy mom is somewhat improved after her I.V. so this is good news. My sister’s cancer surgery is scheduled for Thursday. She will not be allowed any visitors during one week of hospitalization. As difficult as I find it not to be able to fly out and be with her at this time, it must be even more challenging for her family. She has been isolating from them for three weeks now.

While some send cheers, thoughts, sighs and best wishes, my deepest comfort arises out of the knowledge that my concerns are brought before the throne of God in prayer. The same God who pays such intricate attention to every detail of creation will care for me and those I love.

On a final note, I know families are struggling relationally while being isolated in close quarters. There are ways we can approach these challenges that can actually draw us closer together if we have a long term vision for our relationships. Show a little faith in each other. Speak words of support. Your kids and your spouse are trying. Give love room to grow.

Posted in art, Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, De-stressing, Health, Home, Music

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 6 at Home

latte
Latte delivered to my “office.”

I missed my weekly distancing walk on Sunday with family. I was sad about that, but it’s OK. I’ve been having some minor health issues, not coronavirus related. My system has always been sensitive and requires a delicate balancing act.

This past week I celebrated a birthday, in isolation, as many of us are these days. The day before I was a bit down about this, but then I told myself I would make this day great! And I did! Our son and daughter-in-law gifted us with Skip the Dishes so my husband set up the app and we ordered a meal. Another new experience!

skip the dishes

For breakfast I requested that he make us waffles. His first time.

“I gave you the opportunity to do something special for my birthday,” I smiled at him as we were in the living room later that evening. He smiled, a little tentatively.

“I had never made waffles before.”

“It’s really not that difficult. The only thing you have to do is be willing to stand over a waffle iron and know how to beat egg whites,” I told him.

The waffles and the latte (above) were his “gift” to me. We used bacon drippings in the waffles and had them with eggs. The drippings gave the flavor of bacon and eggs. It was delicious!

During this time we are trying not to waste anything, however, we pulled a glass container out of the fridge today and neither of us were able to identify what it was. It was green and furry. Well, we try.

I just finished my part in the production of Music with Mr. Sheldon. My husband has gone down from full-time work to about five hours a week, but he is a trooper. I’m glad I live with someone who insists on being optimistic. This morning when I awoke feeling really off, he had to take over the filming on his own, for the first time.

Guess what I did, after I rested today? I got out my guitar and started singing. I even printed three new songs off of Ultimate Guitar. I want to put a plug in for the site. It is one of the best investments I’ve made. Lately I’ve learned to sing Tennessee Whiskey, Chris Stapleton. Never thought I could do that, but it’s amazing what you can do if you try!

For about twenty years I stopped listening to the old Rock’n’Roll music I used to love. I think music was my surrogate parent and taking a break was actually a good thing. During those twenty years I was a worship leader. Last week I organized all of my worship music. I have a huge collection. Now, strangely enough, I’m picking up some of my old secular favorites again. I can’t say why a lot of the worship music just does not appeal to me at this time in my life. It’s not like I’m having a crisis of faith. But I am re-evaluating a lot of things.

After singing for awhile I decided I might as well put my adrenalin to use editing and I finished the Mr. Sheldon video in the bedroom, with a latte–did I mention my husband roasts his own coffee beans? He stayed in the living room to teach a couple of groups of students in a school that has gone online. Earphones come in handy these days.

I noticed flags near our place are at half mast this week. I haven’t seen any news report on this but between the coronavirus and the shooting in Nova Scotia, we have reason to give acknowledgement. Yesterday we met a lot of people applauding health care workers with bells and other noise makers during our walk, around 7:00 p.m. I became teary-eyed because I had just got off the phone talking with our son who is a health care worker in the U.S. Three people died in his dementia unit this week, but not of the coronavirus. I could hear his heartbreak over the fact that relatives were unable to visit in the past month and only came in during the final hours to be with their loved ones, outfitted in protective gear from head to toe and not allowed to touch their family member, but needing to remain six feet away. I do hope there is more leniency for seniors to have visitors soon.

One bit of good news is that my sister’s cancer is localized, so she will only require one surgery. We are so relieved that it has not spread. We are still working at stabilizing my mother’s electrolytes, with family taking her for weekly lab tests and an intravenous intervention that left her feeling unwell this week. She is a very stalwart and positive person of faith, so I read between the lines when she said, “I’ve had better days” and seemed eager to get off the phone to rest.

paintings

This week I finished a painting I’ve been working on. Two paintings, actually. I’ve recently tried my hand at acrylics, after painting watercolors for years. It’s been a challenge. Here is another painting I did this year.

roses painting

We haven’t dug out the puzzles yet. Still time for that. Cheers!

Posted in Children, Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, COVID-19, De-stressing, Home

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 5 at Home

tree with green blossoms

Saw this lovely tree during a walk in the park on Sunday.

I read recently that this is a good time to analyze your life strategyThis assumes we have a strategy. I haven’t really thought of a life strategy, in those exact words. Now I’ve been looking at my life to see what sort of strategy I have and it’s caused a bit of a shift because a strategy involves a plan and an objective–how to get the thing we want.

When I think of strategy I imagine scrambling to the top of the heap and I’ve never been that kind of a person. I like to come alongside. I like to help others. I’ve worked under people who clearly had a life strategy and I was part of their success plan. I actually didn’t want to be like them. My life has been guided by principles like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” “Give and it shall be given unto you,” and be “faithful in the little things.”

Yesterday my husband explained to me why I am having a difficult time with this isolation. It is because I want to help everyone. This morning I checked a few sites I follow to see what others are doing, what “strategies” they have, or words of encouragement. Here are samples of what I found.

Tim’s Blog “We are wandering, perhaps, but we are not lost. And we are not without opportunities.” Taken from his audio recording while he walked in the early morning. This is a great time to look for opportunities.

Another Slice writes with a beautiful pathos and optimism about an 18 year old son who is missing out on all the celebrations around graduation that we have always taken for granted.

Harsh Reality ‘s ten year old daughter set up a google classroom and was discouraged when no one showed up. Her father told her something I needed to hear today, too, that “if she wanted people to interact she needed to really take the reins of destiny and put herself out there.” Sometimes I wait when I need to take action.

Diane Reed is going through her house and reflecting and organizing, as many of us are doing these days. She ran across cards she made years ago and writes about the Early Diane. I encourage you to check out her lovely artwork and maybe buy something from her Etsy site Diane on a Whim.

Patrick Ross shares some insights for creative types who may wonder why they are not able to seize this opportunity for creativity as well as expected.

What I know from my past experience interviewing creatives about their process…suggests this isn’t a great time for many of them. A key element found in most creatives is empathy.

Empathy is what allows creatives to produce works that move the reader/viewer/listener. It also makes them more vulnerable to experiencing the pain of others, in ways that can at times be debilitating to the creative spirit.

I love these glimpses into the lives and thoughts of others at this time. They are so relatable.

This week I heard about one of the many amazing new things that have come out of this isolation. On Sunday friends and family celebrated two very special women by doing a drive-by “birthday parade” for one, and an encouragement “parade” for the other who will be having cancer surgery shortly. I was moved to tears by this show of love and support, even though I wasn’t there to witness it. There were cards and signs and balloons and gifts left at the end of the driveway. Both of these women are very giving and social. This isolation is particularly difficult on them. Maybe it is not a coincidence that the birthday girl is also a cancer survivor in the same family.

On a somber note, I’ve heard this week about a nurse whose ears are raw from wearing a mask as she sometimes works back to back shifts covering for others who are sick. Isolating may be difficult. Wondering how we will pay the bills may be difficult. Looking after young children 24/7 may be difficult. Not getting out to see the people we love may be difficult. But I could think of worse things, like being on the front lines without relief.

These days I draw encouragement from whatever sources I can, and try to give support in return, without beating myself up over how little I feel I can do. I remind myself, everything counts. This is my short term survival strategy (as I keep looking for ways to serve). Smile.

After four weeks of solitude, I broke out of jail for a few hours this week. I bought flowers at Superstore, making a swift ‘in and out’ of the store, from the outdoor, fenced, gardening area. We did our first take-out meal in five weeks – burgers at DQ. We took the burgers to the home of a senior friend and sat outside on the patio and shared them with her. It was lovely. Chilly, cloudy, but lovely. Human contact is suddenly so precious. (I know the admonitions to not meet with anyone outside your family, but let’s be reasonable.)

Once again, we recorded an episode of Music with Mr. Sheldon for the children. I’ve discovered a new gift. I simply love editing and producing video! This is not work for me. It is pleasure!

Now I have started a new prayer for wisdom for those who are deciding how to open up the economy again. I pray for creative ideas, things that may not have been considered, which can be implemented to help keep people well and make things work out better than expected. I also pray for the right timing. I’m leaning towards sooner, like two months, maximum, of isolating before beginning to loosen restrictions.

There are concerns about which I am not writing here in the interest of being mostly uplifting in my conversation. Our words make a difference. During this pandemic I am paying more attention to how I use my words.

tree curved branches

I saw this unusual tree on our walk. A good root system helps this tree to survive. If I think about my life strategy, I would say it boils down to learning to draw sustenance from my Source.

Trust in the Lord, with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5,6

 

Posted in Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Food Security, Health, Home, sustainability

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 2 at Home

daffThis week my thoughts and prayers are centered around long term consequences of the coronavirus. These are areas I am concerned about:

  1. Truck drivers. Truck drivers are being affected by closed restaurants and bathroom facilities. With awareness growing, something is being done about this, including having food trucks at stops. Remember that truck drivers are also impacted by the stress of being distant from families who are coping at home.
  2. Farmers and crops. In Europe migrant workers are needed to harvest crops, but countries are currently on lock-down to prevent the spread of the virus. Here in Canada we also rely on migrant workers in our farming industry, particularly fruit farmers in the Okanagan and vegetable farmers in Southern Ontario. Borders to the south are closed to unessential traffic. Opening them to migrant workers is essential, unless we can fill their shoes with local workers. We may have to step up to help in an unprecedented way. We cannot afford to break the supply chain. The result would cause untold suffering and devastation. We don’t need to complicate an already difficult situation, by failing to provide for our future food supply.
  3. Cancelled medical procedures that are urgent and will permanently affect future well-being if they are not carried out in a timely manner. Wisdom and courage is needed on the part of health care professionals to make the best decision in each individual case.
  4. Safety in home situations where violence is an issue. Being isolated in close quarters, under stressful conditions, increases the risk of abuse. It is essential to practice patience, give each other the benefit of the doubt, not instigate conflict by starting subjects that are controversial, and not thinking we have the “right” to vent our feelings with aggression. Physical violence is not acceptable under any circumstance.
  5. Caregivers of children at home. I am always thinking about and praying for parents who are unaccustomed to having to care for their children 24/7. It is challenging to oversee their activities at home, to provide nourishing food daily, without the option of going out, and to help them with emotion regulation. Families are consistently in my thoughts and prayers.

This week has progressed in much the same way as last week in our home, with my husband losing more of his income sources. We are staying inside except for walks and getting groceries and essentials. We discovered a park that has wide sidewalks where we have room to social distance as we go for a walk. We went for a walk in a light drizzle with our married children one afternoon. This was a real boost for my spirits.

Spring flowers are cheering me as well. This week we also completed our third Children’s YouTube Music video with Mr. Sheldon (my husband), hoping to add some joy to the lives of children at home. My father-in-law says he watches the video when he needs a lift. This brought a smile to my face.

Please keep the above concerns in prayer. I know there are many other concerns to add to the list but this is sufficient for today. Blessings!