Sunday, September 13, 2020

First Day of School 2020

Serafina started her last year of infantil (sort of like doing Kindergarten and 1st grade in three years) last week.  She started 5 años on September 10, 2020.  As with all three years of infantil, she is will the same kids and same teacher as last year so she was very (VERY) excited to go back to see her friends and her seño.

The beginning of this school year obviously looked a lot different thanks to the pandemic being caused by COVID-19.  All summer we had heard rumors that Spanish schools would go back in person -- I feel like this is a good consolation prize for enduring one of the world's strictest lock downs in the spring.  As the start date approached and we still hadn't heard much, we all got a little worried (both my American friends who send their kids to Spanish school and also the parents in Serafina's class).  

Finally the week before school started, we had a mandatory meeting with all the parents (of course we were told with less than a day's notice) to go over the new procedures and how to keep everyone safe while going back to school during a pandemic.  Despite the lack of notice, I thought the school did a good job -- separating the meetings by class, requiring social distancing, masks and such.  It was easily one of the most confusing meetings I had sat through in our time in Spanish schools.  Understanding Spanish is hard enough but behind a mask, it is next to impossible.  Then add in social distancing and I was so so SO lost.  Luckily one parent kept sending the group chat a play by play of the meeting so I was able to piece together all that was taking place.

There were quite a few changes taking place.  First, staggered starts for the school (Serafina now goes to school from 9:30 to 2:30 which is super weird since I have been so used to the 9:00 to 2:00 schedule).  Typically only one gate is used for everyone to enter and exit the school however now all the various gates are open to use (and each classroom has a specific gate they are required to use).  In the morning, kids walk into the school by themselves and go line up, no parents allowed (teachers and other helpers are there to direct the kids) and in the afternoon, parents enter the school and stand on a dot to wait for their child come to them, all socially distanced.  Only one family member is allowed to bring the child(ren) to/from school each day and parents aren't allowed to loiter around before or after school.  Masks are required for all children when not inside their classroom and we must send a clean extra mask each day.  Reusable water bottles are required, only one class goes to recess at a time, kids eat in their classrooms for snack, specialist teachers aren't rotating classes -- I am sure I am missing many things but they seem to have done a good job creating the "bubble" or pod type system that many countries and schools are using.

Overall, I feel really good about all the procedures the school and government have put in place.  I know it is not an easy decision to make and as a teacher and parent, I know that everyone is doing the best they can.  A lot of parents seem to be upset that more precautions are not being taken.  In Spain, it is illegal to not send your child to school starting when they are 6 years old (infantil is optional but the other grades are not).  So from what I have heard, parents are mad that they are being forced to send their children to school or risk fines, homeschooling does not exist here.  I will not speak one way or the other on it, each country and place has different systems and rules and they do what works for them.  But for us, as a family -- we are very happy that Serafina is back learning in the classroom and we feel that it is best for us.  

UPDATE 9/17/2020

Well, we aren't even a week into school and I needed to update!  SO much happened within the first three days of school, it was a little crazy.  And VERY hard to keep up with -- all the translating.  So, the first two days of school were optional for lack of a better term (it was like a parent directed strike to show the school/city that the parents wanted more safety measures put in place and that they shouldn't be fined for not sending their kids to school).  We choose to send Serafina to school because it was best for her.  THEN we got notice that Serafina's amazing teacher was considered high risk so her doctor released her from work -- so basically she is no longer Serafina's teacher and we have no idea if or when she can come back.  To say I was heartbroken was an understatement.  AND now there is another strike, this time with the teachers (I think) and it goes until October 16th.  But you can still send your kids to school which is what we are doing because again it is best for Serafina.  We have no idea who her teacher will be, and so far she has had a different teacher everyday this week :(  I would say only about half the class is going which works for me -- lower ratios!  Overall, Serafina is still very much enjoying going to school and we know that it is best for her.  Who knows what will happen with this school year but it is shaping up to be quite the adventure!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Life Lately Round 12

Well it has been a little over a month since I last updated everyone on our life here in Spain...  When we left off, the state of alarm was lifted and things went back to the "new normal" which for a few weeks looked a lot like the old normal.  Our sleepy beach town came alive with all the tourists as if there was no pandemic and it has worried us.  Restaurants and bars are packed, people are out and about -- but at least the beaches are being patrolled.

Of course all the tourists mean the numbers of COVID cases are rising yet again -- back into the 1000s of new positive cases daily but this time no shutdowns are happening (yet).  Various regions throughout Spain have gone back to some of the earlier phases but nothing like the strict lock down of March and April (thank goodness).  We get a new update from the base almost weekly of areas within Spain or Europe we can't travel to due to increase in case numbers.  And coming from Spain, quite a few countries have shut their borders to us.  

In early July our region made a stricter mandate for masks -- basically all the time you are outside your home or not with your family.  So even walking to the grocery store by myself, I have to wear a mask.  Walking Serafina to camp, I have to wear a mask.  Taking the trash out, mask on.  Luckily the mandate doesn't require (but does encourage) masks for kids under the age of 6 so we don't make Serafina wear one unless she is inside a store -- especially with her asthma, it is better for her if she isn't in a mask.

Speaking of her asthma, we saw the pediatric pulmonologist in Jerez (so a Spanish doctor) at the end of June and he was amazing (and spoke perfect English which made it easier for all of us).  He was just as shocked as we all are that her breathing issues only started in early March.  He switched up her inhaler (this is now switch number three in just about as many months) and wants to get some lung tests as well as allergy testing done.  Because of COVID, we have had a hard time scheduling her testing but we hope to have it done by the end of August.  And the inhaler switch has helped A LOT so that has been good.  
Camps started up again for kids, with more limited spaces and more safety/health precautions in place.  We decided to sent Serafina to camp since she desperately needed social interactions with kids and to practice her Spanish -- and it is the same camp she went to last year so we knew it was amazing.  They have temperature checks at pick up and drop off, lots of hand washing...  The teachers wear masks or face guards (or both).  But the kids are able to be together and run and play.  They aren't doing the same activities as they did last summer, but she is still having fun and that is all that matters.
We have been able to enjoy time with friends, going to the beach and out to eat.  We all carry masks everywhere and I have ours stashed by the door on hooks so we grab one each time we leave the house.  We are still hanging out with the same few families and friends over and over again, keeping our circle small and trying not to take any unnecessary risks.  We have had a few friends travel within Spain and Portugal in early July but now that things are slowly shutting down again, we feel like we missed our opportunity to travel.  But that is fine with us -- we are just so thankful Spain took things seriously the first go around so we can get out of the house and actually enjoy our summer and let Serafina play with friends. 

As of right now, both the base school and Spanish schools are planning on having in-person instruction starting this school year.  We enrolled Serafina in both just to keep our options open. Our first choice is to keep her in Spanish school but distance learning in Spanish is a little (A LOT) challenging for all of us.  So keep your fingers crossed things stay okay and we get to send our sweet girl to Spanish school in September.    

And that is really it -- hopefully my next update is just as boring!

Friday, June 19, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine Updates (Final Update)

Over the past month or more, the country of Spain and our small province of Cadiz has begun to slowly loosen restrictions to create our "new normal" -- which basically means the continuing of social distancing, not gathering in large groups and wearing face masks.  Our entire territory of Andalucia has moved into Phase 3 which is the final phase of things loosening up.  And thankfully the numbers within our region and the entire country seem to have stayed low.  

If you need a refresher on our past weeks -- week one here and week two here and week three here and week four here and week five here and week six here and week seven here and week eight here and week nine here and week ten here and week eleven here.

The estado de alarma is set to expire for real this time on June 21st so in two days (and it will not be not extended).  Since March 14th the Spanish government has been voting to extend it every two weeks The state of alarm allowed the central Madrid government to take control of all of the territories (sort of like if the American federal government had taken control of the states).  Once the state of alarm expires, the territories then resume control over what happens with COVID and such.  As of now, we haven't heard if or how things will change once the state of alarm ends but we are fairly certain things will stay the same as Phase 3.  

And as the weeks go on, I feel more and more like we are back to "normal" -- you know, other than wearing masks everywhere, no school for Serafina...  But Trevor is working full-time again and Serafina and I are home each day trying not to lose our minds!  We are doing just fine, but the days sure are long.  Some summer camps are opening up but no word on the amazing camp that Serafina went to last year yet -- I am hoping and praying and crossing all of my fingers and toes.  I have hired a babysitter to watch Serafina a few days a week to give us both a break from each other and to have Serafina keep practicing her Spanish.  And even better, the babysitter will watch Serafina in her own home so I get to be ALONE in the house for the first time in way too long.  However, of course, I find myself running around like a crazy person getting all the errands done without having to drag Serafina around.  We have been able to do some fun activities with friends as well -- going to a local small farm to learn about planting vegetables and Serafina went for a one day camp they had.  She had a blast and came home exhausted and covered in dirt. 

The beaches are open with social distancing and even the pop up beach bars (called chirinquitos) are being built which makes me really happy because it means things are slowly going back...  My girlfriends and I have been going to our favorite restaurants every Friday night which has been so amazing.  Most are very small and local so it has been fun seeing the owners and chefs we have gotten to know over the years.  And also we are so happy to be together and supporting the local economy.  

It has also been amazing seeing friends.  While we continue to see the same friends over and over, it has been so good for all of us.  Although the goodbyes after playdates have been very hard on Serafina.  We are noticing that this season of change has been hard on the kids, adults too even.  For so long the kids were told they couldn't do anything because of COVID so Serafina and a lot of her friends have been struggling with now being allowed to do things.... But we are working on it and keep talking about how the virus is slowly going away and such.  

More and more people are arriving in our small beach town for the summer so it makes us all a little nervous but also happy to see people enjoying their lives again.  Borders still aren't open within the countries in Europe, but they will start opening up on June 21st -- with only countries from the European Union (and the Portugal border won't open until July 1st).  We still aren't sure if we will travel this summer -- depends on a lot of things.  We hope to at least be able to take a road trip around Spain but we are also being realistic.  At this point we are perfectly happy to spend some time enjoying our small town, the beach and friends!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine Updates (Week 11)

I really don't know when I will end these updates -- maybe when the estado de alarma is finally lifted (which I believe is set to happen at the end of June).  But it is not ending in the next two weeks, so you have at least have two more of these as the government agreed to yet another estado de alarma which was expected.  The state of alarm allows for the slow reopening of everything, so it makes sense to continue it as needed.  Because from what I understand, as long as the state of alarm is in place, the government can mandate the slow opening of things (which is a good thing).    

A few people asked how eating out was so I thought I would touch a little on what it is like...  Two weeks ago we entered into Phase 1 which meant restaurants could open with many precautions and only for outdoor seating at 30% capacity.  One of our favorite restaurants opened up in Rota so a small group of girlfriends and I made reservations to finally go out and eat dinner.  At the restaurant, we obviously sat outside at a table that had been completely disinfected, including the chairs (everything was cleaned after a table was done eating).  There was only one menu, taped to the table in order to easily disinfect.  Waiters wore gloves + mask, but we did not wear masks at the table (seeing as we were eating and all).  Many places have fully closed their indoor access (including bathrooms) -- this restaurant did allow us inside to pay but hand sanitizer was placed outside the door, one person in at a time and of course masks on.  It felt so good to get out but also still so weird....  

If you need a refresher on our past weeks -- 
week one here and week two here and week three here and week four here and week five here and week six here and week seven here and week eight here and week nine here and week ten here.

We officially entered (our small province at least) into Phase 2 on Monday.  Basically it means more places can open up -- all at reduced capacity (nothing over 50%), we can gather in groups of up to 15 AND the beaches in our town have opened again but social distancing is still required everywhere as well as masks are required whenever you can't socially distance.  Our family will still keep our groups smaller and will continue to make choices that best keep our family safe and healthy, but I also trust that the Spanish government is doing a wonderful job at safely opening up the country.  Numbers continue to be the low, and our small province of Cadiz saw three days in a row with NO new cases (or hospitalizations or deaths -- very good news).  

We also ventured out as a family for the first time this week, something we used to do all the time.  It felt really normal but also really hard because it was so obvious of the world we are now living in -- social distancing, masks, gloves, etc.  We went to Jerez (the closest larger city) to do some shopping for needed items that we have been unable to find online (or that won't actually get to us anytime soon).  Sadly, Serafina has gotten really used to wearing her mask, using hand sanitizer and not touching anything outside our house -- we have really drilled it in to her.  We are explaining things in a way that makes sense for her (and often taking her lead when she comes up with reasons why we have to wear masks or gloves), but also teaching her that this may be the new normal for awhile so she needs to learn the new way of life.  We have been really impressed with her abilities to adapt but we can also see the toll it is taking on her, not being in school, not being around kids each day and figuring out how all of these new changes affect her and more...  
Each phase  lasts a minimum of two weeks, so moving into next week we won't have any new things loosening or whatnot.  We are hoping to get to the beach as a family one of these days if the weather cooperates (it has not been cooperating -- so SO windy).  So now it is just getting used to this new normal and hoping things keep going in the right direction of lower and lower case numbers each day...

Saturday, May 23, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine Updates (Week 10)

Well I decided to finally switch to weekly updates, especially now that we have some more freedoms and our lock down looks like how it is in much of the world.  Things here are slowly opening (some places opened last week with Phase 1) with massive precautions and regulations put into place -- such as everyone entering must wear a mask + gloves and only a certain number of people in the store at a time and only outdoor seating at restaurants.  It is this bizarre taste of normalcy without actually things going back to normal...  And in a very weird sense, it almost seems harder because now we all want things to go back to before COVID decided to ruin 2020.  

And now that we are on the other side (hopefully forever) of living through the strictest lock down in the entire world, I can say that we came out stronger -- maybe not better in some places but definitely stronger as a family, as a community, even as a country.  I feel closer to my friends here than I ever have before; we spent 45+ days entertaining our children inside without any sort of break or escape and we survived.  But I will say I don't ever (EVER) need to do that again.  It still feels like a bad dream but it also feels like just yesterday was day one, so I am thankful it went by fast.  Now hopefully we can keep moving forward... 

If you need a refresher on our past weeks -- week one here and week two here and week three here and week four here and week five here and week six here and week seven here and week eight here and week nine here.

So as our first week of loosened restrictions came to a close, we settled into yet another (new) routine to navigate this crazy new normal.  We are still doing mom school each weekday morning -- both in English and Spanish (obviously I am preparing the English stuff and the Spanish stuff is coming from Serafina's actual teacher).  Serafina continues to love school and learning, making her the easiest student I have ever taught!  Trevor is now going into the office each morning and then home in the afternoons which is usually when Serafina and I have meet ups/playdates with her friends, allowing Trevor to continue work if needed.  I am still getting in workouts most days as well as walks with Serafina on days we don't have a playdate lined up -- and then walks/runs by myself in the evenings just to get some alone time.

This week has felt almost normal -- minus the mandatory masks we have to wear whenever we leave the house.  The Spanish government announced masks are mandatory for all people in Spain (there are some exceptions, but as healthy able-bodied people, we have to wear masks).  But more and more things are opening up.  We had to change the tires on our car this week so we were able to get that done fairly easily and quickly.  I was able to get a pedicure and go back to my amazing massage lady this week too.  People are out and about enjoying walks or sitting with family/friends for a coffee or meal.  It is really refreshing to see people outside of our immediate family.  Of course, COVID is always in the back of our heads but it has been nice to feel a little return to normal.  

Serafina had a follow up appointment for her asthma.  We were able to see a doctor in person and not in the COVID tent so that was nice.  Sadly, she was given a more specific diagnosis of moderate/persistent asthma.  She is now on a maintenance inhaler for the foreseeable future with a rescue inhaler as needed.  Whenever school starts again, we will need to create an asthma action plan for her and provide a rescue inhaler at school as well.  She hasn't had any sort of asthmatic episode/attack in well over a month, even with running around and playing more with other kids -- so I am hopeful she can grow out of it or it was/is related to whatever she had in early March that started her whole asthma thing and in time it'll also go away.  
I went out to dinner with friends as well and it was... well, weird.  It was really fun seeing friends but also very weird having to wear masks (we didn't while we ate) and seeing SO many places open for outdoor seating.  It was wonderful seeing people out and seeing our town alive again, but also worried us all because social distancing was not happening at a lot of places.  It was almost like a reverse culture shock being around people again.  

We are hoping to move into Phase 2 on Monday as numbers keep going down (in our region, in our territory and within Spain).  Phase 2 will mean more places will open, we could eat inside a restaurant and we can gather in larger groups (up to 15) while still keeping social distancing (and now masks) in place -- which is also next to impossible with kids so we are still only seeing people within Trevor's command.  We are washing hands frequently and staying safe and being smart about it all.  We are all fully aware the threat of COVID is still present.  But we are slowly getting there...  

Saturday, May 9, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine Updates (Week 9)

And here we are starting another week... I cannot believe we are going into week nine of all this.  I understand why we are still in lock down but I also never ever thought it would last this long.  While our province gets to move into phase one this Monday we are still learning about what that all means...

If you need a refresher on our past weeks -- week one here and week two here and week three here and week four here and week five here and week six here and week seven here and week eight here.

May 9, 2020 (Day 57)
I had a hair appointment today at a salon in Jerez (closest bigger city but within our province, about a thirty minute drive away).  Know the rumors of places opening up soon, I had messaged the salon to see when I could get an appointment when they were able to open up an to my surprise they had opened this week!  So away I went to get pampered, spend some time out of the house and get a much needed haircut (my hair was SO long and heavy it was giving me headaches).  The appointment itself was wonderful, it was really weird seeing everyone in masks -- although I did have to take mine off at one point so the stylist could cut and color my hair properly (and also to see my face shape to figure out a good haircut).  I saw other clients have to do the same thing, so sort of defeats the purpose but oh well. I never felt unsafe, everything was being cleaned constantly.  And other than the stylist, I never came close to other people.  

At home, Serafina and Trevor just hung out.  Serafina really hates change and has a hard time whenever either of us get a haircut so she was pretty upset most of the day knowing I was getting my hair cut and then hating it when I got home.  So needless to say it was a really lazy day and no pictures (because I was gone most of the day)!  I got in a walk tonight between the rain storms, not looking forward to a week of rain. 

No update on what moving to phase one means for us (as Americans associated with a military base)… So hopefully some information comes tomorrow.

May 10. 2020 (Day 58)
Mother's Day -- looked a little different this year since we were limited to things around the house but still a good day.  I got to sleep in and Trevor took Serafina for a bike ride so I had some time in the house by myself which is always nice.  Other than that we had a pretty low-key day -- the rain started yesterday so we have been doing things outdoors between the rain storms. 
While we learned that we can gather in small groups of 10 or less, we still don't quite understand what that all means -- do we have to keep with the same 10 people, do children count, do we have to wear masks, and more... But we do know things are slowly starting to open up, like retail stores and restaurants but will limited patrons and must still keep social distancing.  But it looks like we are actually start seeing friends tomorrow which is HUGE and so needed and will be amazing.     

May 11, 2020 (Day 59)
Today was a HUGE day.  WE GOT TO HAVE A PLAYDATE AND SEE FRIENDS.  We have been encouraged to keep our gatherings within our command (meaning the group of people Trevor works with) so that is what we will be doing for these first few weeks, but it works out great because we LOVE a lot of the families in our command -- and Serafina loves their kids.  So today we got together with two other families (keeping it under 10 people); it was just the moms and kids but it was SO nice to have other human contact outside of Trevor and Serafina.  AND I got to meet my friend's new baby that was born the first week of lock down.  It took awhile for the kids to get into a groove but overall they played well.  Serafina had SO many questions on our way to our friend's house because for so long we have told her it wasn't safe to see other people because of the germs.  Today felt like the first semi normal day is a very long time and it was so very welcome.  Of course COVID was always in the back of our minds, making kids wash their hands so often, all of us sitting far apart and not hugging each other on arrival, but still -- face to face conversation and interaction was SO wonderful.  

Another low day of numbers (but that is to be expected on a Monday as new cases have always been under reported on Sunday and Mondays throughout this whole thing).  I went to the store this morning and it was nice walking past a few places that had opened up and it was fun seeing store doors open.  And tonight on my walk, I saw a few restaurants open with patio only seating but it was amazing hearing people out and enjoying time with friends.  Brought tears to my eyes to see things oh so slowly returning to normal.  Hopefully we can keep moving forward...

May 12, 2020 (Day 60)
No playdates today -- we figured we would do one every few days or so as to not overwhelm the kiddos.  Serafina didn't even ask to see friends today so I think we made the right decision.  I did bravely take her to base to run errands this morning.  Trevor had a meeting and we had to get to base to check on a few things which meant I had to take Serafina with me.  She did SO well, was SO well behaved but was also SO nervous -- on base we have to wear masks everywhere (in town we are encouraged but it isn't 100% mandatory like it is on base).  But this was the first time she had been out on errands with me and so it was hard for her to see people in masks, gloves, distancing, me telling her to not even think about touching anything...  It was a lot of her to handle so we had a low-key afternoon with lots of snuggles.  She and I also took a short walk looking for painted rocks that some of our American friends have left around the town.  It was really fun and we of course gathered some plain rocks to paint and go leave out as well.  

Still lower case numbers being reported which is still really good news.  We are all hoping the downward trend keeps going...  Sadly (or maybe its a good thing), the 8PM clapping seems to have stopped -- especially since we are all allowed out of the house now and since things are relaxing...  I am not even sure we can call what we are doing a true quarantine, especially how it all was even just two weeks ago.  The release is slow and deliberate and while it can be really frustrating at times, it is needed.  There have been rumors that summer camps will open up and I am just crossing my fingers -- we have done great with Serafina at home but she needs socialization and more Spanish than we can even come close to at home!

May 13, 2020 (Day 61)
Another big day for us -- our house cleaners came back :)  Now I missed having my house clean but I missed them as our friends more.  They have been cleaning our house since we moved in, so over 4 years ago and they have become a part of our family, helping us do anything that requires extensive Spanish, bringing us food when we are sick, checking in on me whenever Trevor travels, loving on our sweet Serafina like she was their own.  Plus as an added bonus we all got to practice our Spanish this morning!  And we painted rocks and did mom school (including some assignments from her actual school teacher).  We had another playdate, again only seeing people within Trevor's command (co-workers).  We know the importance of keeping the number of people we have closer/prolonged contact with at a small number so that is what we are doing.  

Numbers continue to go down (even continuing to stay low after the usual low numbers that always happen on Sundays and Mondays), so hopefully things keep going in the right direction.  We also learned that our territory has really ramped up testing for people with antibodies so that is also good news.

May 14, 2020 (Day 62)
Today was low key because there was SO much rain, SO much.  We did mom school, played with the puppy -- Trevor had to go into the office today but got mail and my Dyson arrived so I was really excited.  Serafina and I took a walk in the rain to put out the rocks we had painted -- I had fun getting caught in the downpour, Serafina not so much :)

May 15, 2020 (Day 63)
And here we are, another week gone -- and it feels so weird to be in this "new normal" where we can see friends in small groups, but nothing is actually back to normal....  It is a weird time we are living in, that is for sure.  We had a long day -- Fridays are the day that Trevor spends most of the day in the office and while our usually fairly decent at going potty outside dog decided that today was the day he forgot ALL his training and went inside constantly.  It was rough.  We had friends over (again with the same families we have been seeing all week) which was really fun for the kids -- but made for a rough evening for Serafina when she was SO sad her friends had to leave.  

snuggling with my friends baby
Numbers are still looking fairly good with things trending downward with new cases.  Sadly the Spanish are starting to plan and hold protests nationwide which will result in large gatherings -- which of course has us all nervous.  Really hoping it does not result in a spike of new cases or a backtrack into the extremely restrictive lock down.  

Also I decided to start doing weekly updates on life in Spain during COVID-19 -- especially since our lock down is no longer the strictest in the world and we aren't even truly in lock down/quarantine anymore.  Obviously if something big happens, I will update more frequently but for now we are chilling in Phase 1 for the foreseeable future!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine Updates (Week 8)

Here we are, going into eight weeks of this lock down.  I don't even know what to think about it anymore.  It has become our normal and I am not always a fan, none of us are, but we also know it is needed and that the numbers prove it works and we are saving lives.  There are days I can't even believe we have survived (are surviving) the most restrictive lock down in the entire world (I don't even think China had this strict of a lock down).  But hopefully after this week, things start to loosen up even more....

But if you need a refresher on our past weeks -- week one here and week two here and week three here and week four here and week five here and week six here and week seven here.

May 2, 2020 (Day 50)
Fifty freaking days we have done this.  Today is the first day that adults (and those over 14 years old) can go outside for walks or to exercise.  It was really fun seeing everyone's pictures from being out and about today -- and also seeing how much it helped our mental health!

Adults have two time slots they can go outside -- I missed the first time slot (morning) because I needed to get to the grocery store this morning.  But I did make it out in the evening after Serafina went to bed and it was heavenly, I am on a serious endorphin high right now.  It seemed like EVERYONE was out which was a little weird because I have not seen that many people in weeks but also so fun seeing how happy people were just to be outside.  Serafina and I took her allotted outside time with a walk to the beach (and a walk along the beach collecting shells).  It was fun but I wish we could have sat on the beach with friends... Maybe one day.  While we were gone, Trevor turned our driveway into a caseta for feria so we hung out outside most of the afternoon -- it was SO nice out.

And another decrease in numbers which is always good, they just keep going down thankfully.  All good signs that we can keep with our loosening of restrictions.  Our house cleaners are scheduled to come back the week of May 11th and I am SO thankful.  I miss them so much (and not just because I then don't have to clean the house).  So slowly but surely we can get some of our normal lives back.

May 3, 2020 (Day 51)
It was HOT today -- Trevor took Serafina out on her walk (to the beach today) and I got ONE hour to myself at home.  It was glorious.  I sat and did NOTHING and it was so needed.  First time I have been alone in the house in 51 days.  Serafina and I made donuts to deliver to her buddy whose birthday is today (which thanks to the state of alarm, no parties or celebrations with friends).  I went on another run tonight and while I am not usually one to exercise in the evening (especially at 9PM), it felt good being my first real run in over fifty days, it was good.  We had a pretty low key day which was nice.
breaking the rules by driving + delivering donuts
AND new case numbers dropped BELOW 1,000 today for the first time since the state of alarm was issued -- such good news.  There has been talk starting next week (May 11th) we can go to other people's houses and even have small gatherings of 10 people or less.  We probably won't know more until mid week when the government meets, but until then I will be praying for PLAYDATES!  All fingers and toes are crossed!

May 4, 2020 (Day 52)
Another fairly low key day -- mom school+ puppy play time (Serafina pretty much thinks Gustav is a doll and wants to carry him around all day) + beach walk.  It was a little windy today but we had fun on our beach walk.  Serafina is a little more used to the walking part of our hour and understanding we can't sit/stop really (and yes, we know people who have been stopped by the police).

Case numbers had a BIG drop again today -- down to around three hundred fifty!  We know that case numbers often drop on Mondays because there has a been a trend of under reporting on the weekends and/or holidays (and it was a holiday weekend in Spain).  But it is still good news! 

May 5, 2020 (Day 53)
It was a long rough day, so I will keep this short.  Not sure why but we were all just over it today -- so we kept things low key and easy.  Serafina wanted Trevor to go on a walk with her which worked great for me as I got some quiet time in the house.  We ordered out dinner for only the second time since all this started and it was really nice to not have dishes and to not have to cook.  Numbers went up a little as was expected, but still new case numbers were under 1,000 and deaths were under 200 so all still going in the right direction.  And I am off for my run -- or most likely walk since we had a big heavy dinner.  But I will enjoy the nice weather and the sunset :)

May 6, 2020 (Day 54)
Today was a good day or at least not a bad one :)  Serafina is really doing well with mom school and has really taken off with her reading which is fun to watch.  She also learned a poem in Spanish for one of her (actual) school assignments which was a process for the whole family!  I was really proud of all of us.  Gustav had a vet appointment this morning and thanks to COVID only one of us could go, so Trevor took him.  He did great and even got two vaccines and was NOT sleepy or calm all day.  No pictures today (sorry mom).  I am also heading out for a walk tonight to enjoy the sunset and to get out of the house for a little bit.  We didn't take a walk with Serafina today since she wanted to stay and play outside with her water table and I didn't want to fight it...

The estado de alarma got extended yet again which we expected because it allows the government to have control of the gradual reopening of things.  However, we did not learn anything else about the next phase (phase 1) which is supposed to start on Monday so we are all a little frustrated.  We have been looking forward to May 11th for SO long because it has been when we are supposed to be able to gather in small groups (under 10) and go to others' houses -- aka PLAYDATES.  So fingers crossed we learn more information about the next phase soon!

May 7, 2020 (Day 55)
Another day... started out good, then just kept going downhill seeing as we are all OVER IT.  There have been so many different rumors flying around this week -- school is going back May 18th, school won't start in September, we will be able to gather in small groups May 11th, no one will be able to gather anytime soon because numbers aren't low enough... Every single article we read or thing we hear seems to contradict each other and it is getting really frustrating.  It sounds like we should know a little more information tomorrow about whether or not our province can go into phase 1 starting Monday (so meaning we can gather in small groups).

Serafina did great with mom school and today for Spanish school we did a yoga video which both she and Gustav LOVED (in fact we did the video about 3 times)!  Trevor went into work today and the rest of us stayed home.  Sadly no walk again today because we were waiting on my IKEA order to arrive that I ordered almost a month ago (oh geez).  But it did come and Serafina enjoyed painting the boxes and now I have a new very cool coffee cart + more space on the counter!  Another early post because I am running again tonight.  It seriously does so much for my mental state to get out of the house and see other humans (not like we can talk or walk together but it is fun seeing how happy everyone is just to be out and walk/running/exercising).

May 8, 2020 (Day 56)
Another week down... how is that even possible?!  Everyone seems to be OVER IT this week so hopefully things start to loosen starting next week.  As far as we know, the government is meeting tonight to decide on what will happen next week regarding phase 1 -- sadly numbers are up over 1,000 again when they have been down under that for almost a week.  So who knows what will happen.  I think at this point they have to loosen things or people are going to revolt.  

UPDATE: WE ARE MOVING TO PHASE ONE!  Our small province of Cadiz is on the list to move to phase one starting Monday, May 11th.  Right after I published this post, we learned that Madrid was denied moving to phase one (which makes perfect sense as they have had seriously high case numbers) but also worried us a little (regional governments (so the territory of Andalucia for us) had to ask the national government for permission to move onto phase one; each territory (like a state) had to meet certain criteria with case numbers, testing, hospital beds available, etc., BUT if only parts of the territory met the criteria then those provinces (like a county) could move forward, it is insanely complicated and I am not sure I am explaining correctly).  And just a little but ago we got an update on what territories and provinces will be moving onto phase one (it is roughly 51% of the country as far as I know) and while we don't quite understand exactly what phase one means, we know it is further loosening our restrictions and it makes us all SO happy.

We had a good day overall.  Trevor went into the office for the whole day so it was just me + the two kiddos (Serafina + the puppy -- which we call him, we hardly ever call him Gustav -- oh well!).  We did mom school and Serafina is SO into reading we just kept practicing reading for most of the morning!  We also finally went on a walk (I forced it upon us which was needed for everyone).  The rain is supposed to start this Sunday so figured we should get out to the beach while we can.  I am heading out on another walk (maybe a little run) again tonight.  I have never ever been one to exercise at night but I am really starting to like it!

So a little about our allowed walks/exercise time... Kids + one adult are allowed out during the day and we usually see anywhere from 1-5 other families out when we go (so not many).  Adults are allowed out in the morning 6-10AM and then again from 8-11PM (which is when I go, after Serafina's bedtime).  And the adult evening walk time is PACKED.  It is like every single person in our town comes out for a walk and I am sure it is not safe, but it is also amazing to see humans and see everyone so happy.  Everyone waves and says hi to each other, it is really fun when you run into friends and you get to wave from a distance and have an in person conversation.  I would say I see about 75% of the people following the social distancing rules and in general, everyone is very aware of their surroundings.  Many people are wearing masks and gloves (I have not seen any Americans out running/walking with masks or gloves).  When people are stopped on the street/boardwalk to talk, they are spread out.  The most fun part is that there are hardly any cars on the road so everyone is biking, walking, running, rollerblading in the streets!  And the sunsets have been gorgeous so an added bonus to head out in the evening.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine Updates (Week 7)

Well here we are, the start of yet ANOTHER week.  This will be our 7th week in a very strict government and military (through the Spanish) enforced lock down.  This is the week that hopefully can set the tone for the possible loosening of the restrictions...

But if you need a refresher on our past weeks -- week one here and week two here and week three here and week four here and week five here and week six here.

April 25, 2020 (Day 43)
Ugh, a LONG day.  Rainy and wind.  There was another massive storm in the middle of the night -- so much flooding out in town and in people's houses (thankfully not our house).  Trevor and I cleaned + organized the house and Serafina had a lot of meltdowns.  She didn't sleep great last night -- so much coughing, despite her inhaler (so another call to the doctor will be happening on Monday).  And that was pretty much our day...
Children are allowed out of the house starting tomorrow which should be interesting... We have told Serafina about it but she is very confused, not quite understanding how the germs haven't gone away but she can go outside now.  There have been SO MANY articles and handouts being sent around (both by the Spanish and the base) about what it'll look like and what we can/cannot do.  And then also books and handouts explaining to the children what is happening (which is needed, these kids have been told for 6+ weeks they can't leave their house).  Even an official document from our town government.   

More good news today -- another day of more people recovering from COVID than new cases!  Spain has also increased the number of antibody tests they are performing  and is now separating the numbers (those with active cases of COVID and those with positive cases through the antibody test).  And the number of active cases are continuing to decrease.  And there is notice from the president that all citizens (and us) may be able to go outside for an hour of exercise each day starting May 2nd.  I am sure it will depend on how everything goes this week with children being allowed out....  Cross your fingers for us!

April 26, 2020 (Day 44)
Today was a big day -- in many ways.  Today I should have been running my half marathon in Madrid with some friends so I was a little bummed to be missing yet another thing because of COVID.  The race has been postponed so hopefully it will all still work out...

BUT today was THE day that Serafina could go outside our gate for the first time since March 14th -- and while she was a little nervous, she was also SO excited.  In her own way to understand and process everything, she asked so many questions about what was happening.  But we had a blast, her riding her bike and me walking beside her.  We ran into a few other parent + kids out and everyone was very aware of giving each other 6+ feet and keeping our distance...  It was quite surreal actually, to be going outside our gates without going to the grocery store or to get mail -- just to be outside.  And then not talking to anyone and not seeing a lot of people, just odd.  But it felt good, normal.

More good news for numbers again today too, a significant drop in numbers for new active cases.  AND no new patients have been admitted into the ICU for the past fifteen days in the major hospital in our province (in Cadiz).  And the the death toll finally dropped under 300 for the first time in weeks, all very very positive signs.  The government will vote on April 28th to loosen restrictions even further if the downward trend continues.  So keep crossing your fingers for us!

April 27, 2020 (Day 45)
Another big day for us.  First up, the numbers in Spain are still looking really really good, another drop in active cases and more news from our regional government of Andalucía that they plan to slowly reopen everything throughout the months of May and June.  So hopefully the numbers continue to go down.

Then Serafina's inhaler wasn't working the way we wanted/needed it to so we called the hospital (our medical system here is a joint hospital + regular doctor's office so we all just call it the hospital) to check in.  Once again they were amazing and recommended we come in... Because it is a joint hospital + doctor's office, everyone has to go through a screening before entering the actual facility.  Because Serafina has a dry cough + shortness of breath, we knew that we would be flagged and screened so us + the doctors decided it would better if she got screened today and then go from there for an appointment if needed.  I was extremely nervous for the screening, since they did warn us everyone would be dressed in hazmat type gear so I explained it to Serafina that the doctors would be dressed like superheros and that worked great -- she was not scared at all.  And they were WONDERFUL.  Thankfully she did not have to be tested for COVID seeing as she has had her cough for 2+ months.  The doctor did hear wheezing so we got ALL the steroids for her and will do a full breathing work up/exam when COVID is no longer a threat with a specialist in Jerez.

Then the biggest news of all -- WE GOT A PUPPY!  It has been in the works for a month or so and we have slowly been acquiring things for our sweet puppy.  Serafina figured it out pretty early on so EVERY SINGLE DAY she has asked when the puppy would arrive.  He finally arrived today and we are all in love.  He is tiny and just barely 6 weeks old so he doesn't do a whole bunch, plays for a little then falls back asleep which frustrates Serafina because all she wants to do is play with him.  He is a miniature schnauzer which we are excited about since he is hypoallergenic and supposed to be very good with kids + families.  Perfect for us!  So -- internet world, mean our newest addition, Gustav the Puppy.

April 28, 2020 (Day 46)
Another decent day.  Serafina struggled a lot with Gustav and not wanting to let him sleep and instead wanting to play with him all day -- but that is to be expected.  But overall she did well, we laid some ground rules and while she isn't pleased at a few, she is getting it.  We went on a bike ride today and ran into our really good friends which was so amazing and so hard at the same time. The kids did well trying to stay 6+ feet apart which was pretty sad to see.  Serafina and I also made cookies and of course all she wanted to do was eat the dough :)

Another decrease in numbers for active cases and another update from the Spanish government that things will slowly start relaxing every two weeks, starting this weekend -- with everyone allowed out for exercise (most likely similar to what we are able to do with the children, one hour a day and within 1km from your house).  But again all positive signs of moving in the right direction and at a safe and slow pace!

April 29, 2020 (Day 47)
Another day with much of the same -- mom school + puppy time.  And now that we can ride bikes (or basically be outside for an hour), we work that into Serafina's day too.  So far I am the only one that has gone with her, as only one parent is allowed to go...  Probably need to change that soon since an hour in the house by myself seems heavenly right now!  Serafina has chosen to ride her bike and I walk/run along side her.  We can go for an hour within a 1km radius of our house, so today we did a little over 2 miles and didn't use the whole hour -- and enjoyed heading down by the beach!  Serafina is doing well with the puppy, learning that it is hard to leave him alone when he is sleeping.  I, on the other hand, seem to be quite allergic to our so called hypoallergenic puppy :(  We are doing all we can to make it better for me (attempting to get an air purifier and a better vacuum which is not easy when nothing is open and Amazon isn't really shipping), but we have high hopes I just need to get used to him (and for the outdoor pollen to go away too)!

A slight rise in numbers today :(  Which makes no sense to me when there were four days of decreasing...  Who knows.  BUT the bigger news out of Madrid is that the president announced a four phase plan to get us to our "new normal" which will hopefully happen by the end of June.  Here is an article (in English) outlining the phases and such. 

April 30, 2020 (Day 48)
Wow, it is the end of April.  Still not sure when it will all really end and we can go back to hugging friends and such... The Spanish government released its four phase plan in further details today (they are starting with a phase 0 which we are currently in).  Starting Saturday, ADULTS can go out on walks/runs for exercise and with similar rules as the walks for children -- one hour only and within a 1km radius of your house.  AND there is a schedule for who can go out when, it is kind of ridiculous but also makes sense, especially for the larger cities.  Adults will be able to go outside to exercise from 6-10AM and again from 8-11PM and children will be able to go out (still with one adult) from 12-7PM.  Another adjustment to our routine, but we will make it work.

Our days pass by pretty much the same except now things happen between puppy nap times since Serafina wants to just play with Gustav.  She is also on steroids due to her asthma and while I love that she somehow sleeps with NO nightmares or night terrors while on steroids, she is SO hyper during the day which is SO hard, but tomorrow is the last dose of oral steroids so that should help.  Hopefully. 

Today was hard though because it should have been the first day of our town's feria or spring fair. It is seriously THE best event in southern Spain and my favorite weekend of the entire year. So it was just a little depressing to know that we are missing out on something amazing today.  But we drank our rebujitos and put on some nicer clothes for a quick picture.
May 1, 2020 (Day 49)
Another week down....  I honestly don't even know when I will end these seeing as this could go on for MONTHS, as the phases to slowly release us don't end until mid-June and even then it isn't all a guarantee that it will all go according to plan. Maybe once things get a little looser, I will start doing weekly updates, who knows...

Trevor had to work today in the office so it was just me, Serafina and Gustav for most of the day.  Gustav is such a chill puppy which works great for us, especially now with our steroid hyper + crazy child (thankfully today is the last day, although I will miss the better sleep -- first picture is of her WILD eyes).  We did mom school this morning even though it is a Spanish holiday (their Labor Day).  We went on a bike ride and Serafina begged me to play with "just one friend" -- it was so sad and so sweet. 

The big news out of today was that there doesn't seem to be a time or distance limit on when adults go outside to exercise which is really awesome (you just can't leave your city limits).  Everyone is pretty excited and we know this is a step in the right direction.  I find it odd I could take a walk at 10PM but I may just do that tomorrow night -- head down to the beach and see the sunset.  While the beach isn't open to sitting or sunbathing, we can walk it which I fully plan to do (which if you know me, I HATE sand so this is a big deal).  We find it odd we still can't walk as a family, but oh well -- after 6+ weeks of no walks, we will take what we can get.   

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