Tag Archives: Sweden

Studying Health and Nutrition the Fun Way, and Swedish Välling

We are on a bit of a ‘health-kick’ here right now – we’ve invested in a juicer, a manual grain-mill, and we are sprouting seeds, making coconut yoghurt and kefir, brewing kombucha, and having all sorts of fun! My 12yos is even growing wheatgrass to juice (they love the whole process! Though I am the only one who is willing to drink the stuff!)

I discovered that grain is easier to store for longer than flour, and there are advantages to milling your own grain in that the nutrients present in the flour begin to dissipate following the first 48 hours after milling. I’m reading a book called “Nourishing Traditions” which talks about the necessity of soaking grains the old-fashioned way, so we’ll try that some time too.

nourishing

This got me to thinking about Välling – the staple drink for babies in Sweden. I assumed it was something you had to buy ready-made, like rusks (does anybody remember having Farley’s rusks for breakfast?!) But then I found a really simple recipe:

Skrädmjölsvälling 1port

Ingredienser

Skrädmjöl 2-4 tsk
Vatten 2 dl
Salt

Gör så här

Koka upp tillsammans under omrörning och söta gärna med honung eller fruktsaft. Önskad mängd vatten kan naturligtvis bytas ut mot mjölk.

Basically, what you do is boil 2-4 teaspoons of flour, it can be wheat, whole wheat, rye, or oats, with 2dl water or milk. Stir constantly. Add salt and sugar (honey) if you want to and think the taste requires it.

Basically, I don’t recommend it – paediatricians in the UK and the US (and, I suspect, the World Health Organisation) don’t recommend wheat for babies under 8 months old, and don’t recommend putting any cereal, no matter how thin, in a baby’s bottle due to the risk of choking. Not to mention, don’t ever give babies salt! (And no honey before 8 months either.)

Another interesting fact that I discovered when my brother was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease is that it is a disease commonly found in Swedish people among others, and the suggestion at least on the Swedish side is too early introduction of wheat – before a baby’s digestive system is mature enough to stop the wheat particles from entering into the bloodstream.

Nevertheless, Välling is something so homely and comforting I can’t imagine Swedish people giving it up any time soon!

If you’re in the US, you can try and buy Välling at http://www.scandiafood.com/ (Just don’t give it to your kids) 😉

 

[Originally posted on the Svengelska Hemskolan blog]

p.s. Although I do love the book Nourishing Traditions, and I’m completely sold on the idea of the necessity of raw fermented foods in our diets, NT also advocates the ‘old fashioned’ eating of meat. I accept that there’s a valid health argument in the book for questioning our modern diets (the chapter on fats makes really interesting reading), but I reject its conclusions on ethical grounds.  So if you’re vegan/ vegetarian, you might want to be aware of that before thinking about purchasing the book.

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Barnkammarboken

barnkammarboken

When Stora Pojken was little, we were given a beautiful book called “Blå Barnkammarboken” which roughly translates the Blue bed-time book.

When we went to lessons at the Swedish school, one of the teachers was using another, Silver bed-time book of songs which included a CD, and a few weeks ago when I was looking for resources for learning Swedish, I discovered there is now a whole range of books in the series, ranging from anthologies for very young children right through to ghost stories for older children.

When we got our copy of Blå barnkammarboken, they didn’t include CDs, but I have found a place online where you can listen to samples and buy MP3s here. [note, that’s not the link that was in the original post, but that’s lost, can’t find it again.]

Track 3 is a little song called “Små grodorna”, and it goes like this:

“Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se,
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se,
ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar havar de,
ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar havar de,
ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack,
ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack!
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se,
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se”

And the translation:

“The little frogs, the little frogs are funnny to see,
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to see!
No ears, no ears, no tails have they,
No ears, no ears, no tails have they!
(And then they sing the Swedish equivalent of ‘rebbit’ or ‘croak’ or whatever it is that English frongs say – ku-ack-ack-ack!
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to see!”

It’s an absolute must-learn traditional Swedish Dagis nursery rhyme, and you’re really not culturally literate in Sweden without knowing it!

Roligt, va!

Over to you:

Which language(s) are you learning / teaching in your homeschool?

If you or your children are learning an obscure language, how and where are you finding resources and community to help you learn?

Välkommen till Svengelska Hemskolan

n Sweden-politcal-map

Years ago, when the children were little, I kept a blog called ‘Svengelska Hemskolan’.

“Svengelska Hemskolan: Homeschooling in the UK with links to Sweden with intentions to follow the Charlotte Mason philosophy, mostly using Sonlight Curriculum, and also themes / projects / unit-studies, lapbooking and which usually looks a lot like unschooling!”

Since the platform is about to close, and there isn’t an option to just directly import posts into wordpress, I thought it would be mice to copy them over. so the next few posts will be on the theme of homeschooling with a Swedish twist 🙂 Some of the posts were also posted on Multiply, which I loved while it lasted, but lost access to my posts as I couldn’t figure out at the time how to export them before it closed, so I’m glad to find some of them again.

Hej!
Well, I’m not sure how much of this will be Swedish and how much English… I guess we’ll just see how it evolves! Det kanske blir rätt svengelskt!
By way of introduction, we are homeschooling in the UK but lived in Stockholm for a while and are keen to keep our Swedish going. Stora pojken gick i Dagis och kan lite svenska, och alla barnen går nu i svenska skolan en gång i fjorton dagar för att träna i svenska.
mvh
Lillbjorne
Svengelska Skola

Memories of Lidingö

This is probably a bit random and disjointed. It’s largely taken from a series of tweets that I posted, so apologies for anybody who has already seen most of it. Apologies also that there are no photos – I have some, I just can’t figure out how to get them into WordPress.

Earlier in the week, I was unable to sleep. I was worried about the whole business of eviction in general and specifically about meeting with the housing association the next day. As I was tossing and turning, a memory came to me which reminded me that this is actually our third experience of eviction.

Last time, it was quite a different experience – the landlord decided that he wanted to move in to the house we were renting, but because we had only been there a few months, we hadn’t unpacked everything.

I had unpacked too much, but most of it was still in boxes and some of it was still in storage. So although it was unpleasant, I don’t remember it completely flooring me. Somehow, we just got on with it. It didn’t even occur to us to apply for emergency housing because at the time we still had our own house that we were renting out back home.

The first time we were evicted, we were in Sweden. We were renting a tvåa apartment – that is, a two room apartment (one bedroom, one living room) in Hjorthagen in Stockholm.

We were only given one month’s notice to get out, due to the whole apartment block being refurbished.

I had finished my course (Scandinavian Studies) at Stockholm University as part of my degree from UCL in London – the reason we were there in the first place – and since we had felt quite homesick, and it was so hard to survive there on one income, we decided to move back to the UK.

I don’t know what we were thinking. Can you imagine what it is to organise an international move inside of a month?!

To complicate things, Husband’s employer refused to let him go.

I don’t know what the laws surrounding housing or employment are in Sweden. Now, it seems to me that both these demands were unreasonable. Surely one month isn’t sufficient notice of eviction, and it surely isn’t acceptable for an employer to refuse to accept a month’s notice to leave a job! But that was what happened, and not knowing any better, we just did what we were told.

Somehow we packed our stuff, cleared our apartment, bought a big trailer to fit all our furniture and shipped it  all back (actually took it ourselves), with our car, to my mother-in-law’s house and then we flew back to Stockholm.

We had found and arranged a temporary sub-let of a tvåa apartment on Lidingö – the beautiful, big island outside of Stockholm. We were there for around six weeks, and it ought to have been a pretty fabulous summer holiday, except for the fact that I was too stressed to enjoy it.

lidingömap

I remember buying bread (I’m not sure why that’s such a vivid memory) and I remember that the little local library was ‘sommarstängd’ (closed for the summer) the whole time we were there. I had forgotten until I started thinking about it, but the main library in Lidingö Centrum stayed open, and I remember getting the bus there with my son several times.

I have a vivid memory of being on the bus to Stockholm one time when my son needed the potty, and I just had to get it out for him there and then! His dagis (short for ‘daghem’, day home, meaning nursery or kindergarten) hadn’t been willing to potty train him at all, so I had decided it was time and that I would get him trained before the end of the summer. I don’t recall whether or not I was successful. I suppose I must have been.

We had to walk past the library every day to get to the little supermarket and the beach. I remember there were dozens of flying ants all around the pathway through the woods to the library, and that they fascinated my little boy but gave me nightmares, playing to my fears of being powerless I suppose.

I remember spending a lot of time at the tvättstuga – the ‘washing cottage’ which is a communal laundry centre that apartment buildings have. This apartment complex was much more modern than the one that we had lived in all year in Hjorthagen. There, you only needed a key to get into the building (and it seemed to be left open during the day) but on Lidingö you needed two sets of keys just to get into the tvättstuga.

I also remember with envy the fantastic torkskåp clothes driers. You can’t get them in the UK, which is such a shame because, in my opinion, they are much more efficient than tumble driers and since you hang the clothes up to dry inside the cupboard, they come out in a much better condition. Perhaps one day I will be in a position to import one! 🙂

The landlady was a divorced American vegetarian, Sunny I think her name was, with a son named Attila, which is obviously memorable. She was taking her son to the States for the summer, and our enforced holiday perfectly coincided with hers. I have a vague feeling that we may have left meat in her freezer, and I worried for ages that I might have left the toys out, or left the back door unlocked. That’s the sort of thing stress does to you. If you’re reading this, Atilla’s mom, I apologise. Thank-you for letting us use your lovely apartment.

I also remember a fellow Englishman coming to visit and cooking spaghetti bolognese for us! Mike? He was a friend of a friend (Marie Åberg – whatever happened to you?!) that I had met at the Swedish Church in London. Neither of us were religious at the time, but it is a great place to connect with Swedish people when you’re learning the language.

I remember that, on the last day before we went home, Husband was late coming home from work. I remember being super stressed and irritable and worried about making our connections the next day.

While we were waiting for him, we went to the play park behind the apartment building. I remember having a conversation with another foreign mum. I can’t remember whether she was British or American, but she said that she had lived in Holland before moving to Sweden. I asked her how she had found Holland and how it differed from Sweden.

She answered that she found that Swedes were not at all service-orientated. She explained that there was no ‘the customer is always right’ philosophy. Whereas in Holland, or the US or even in the UK to a lesser extent, people will go out of the way to ensure that the customer was happy and would return for more business, but in Sweden, people dealing with the public all seemed a bit grumpy and unhelpful. I confess I had also found that somewhat to be the case myself. I had also found that you get a completely different attitude depending on whether you spoke English or Swedish, but that’s for another post I guess.

I remember that, while we were on Lidingö, Husband caught the ferry to work rather than the bus through Lidingö Centrum and into Stockholm. That was pretty cool actually. I miss the ferry. Cornwall definitely doesn’t have enough ferry boats. Ferry boats are my favourite. After hovercraft. (That shows my age a bit there!)

The last week we were there, my son lost a little ‘kramkanin’, a soft cuddly rabbit. We lost it somewhere in Stockholm, so we had to go back and retrace or steps but we never found it. He had had it since we first went to Sweden when he was 20 months. In fact, I think it was something he had had since he was a little baby and that it was a gift from Grandma. When we left Sweden, he was 3 and a half. So I had gone out to Sweden with a baby, an d was coming home with a big (little) boy.

That little kram-kanin represented him and his lost ‘babyhood’ somehow. I think I was more distressed and emotional than he was. I may have made up the word ‘kramkanin’ by the way. I remember trying to explain to the ferry staff that we had lost this little teddy rabbit, and they looked at me like I was nuts. So I suspect that ‘kramkanin’ probably isn’t a real Swedish word! 🙂

All of that happened 17 years ago now. But it is all very fresh in my mind now. I hadn’t even thought about Lidingö for ages up til now.

It is funny thinking of living so close to the seaside then, since we live by the sea now (although not close enough to walk there). The weather that summer was fabulous if I can trust my memory and I think we went there almost every day.

It was quite a nice beach although I don’t really remember whether it was sandy or stony. Stony, probably. I remember that the great big Silja car ferries came past between Stockholm and Lidingö on their way to Finland, and that as they did they caused a huge rippling wave to crash onto the beach, and that it made all the children scream with delight.

I remember finding an injured bird on the way home from the beach one day, and that all the people I asked to help with it refused, saying that “Things just die. It’s the natural way of things.” I didn’t dare take it back to the apartment as there were lots of cats around, so I just left it. But I remember being a little shocked and stung to find that people could be so hard. Or maybe I’m just a softie?

Anyway, the stress of being evicted and unsettled after Sweden began ten years of insomnia for me. I eventually managed to get on top of the problem but I know I am prone to sleeplessness. I really don’t want to start it up again so I try to be quite strict about bedtimes, and if I can’t sleep I try to avoid getting up and going downstairs.

But now we are so unsettled again I think I may need to learn some kind of meditation techniques or something to protect myself.

We saw the Housing Association yesterday and it all seemed positive in the morning. They pretty much said that the house was ours.

But in the afternoon, there was a flurry of calls from the Housing Association and the Council querying the fact that we used to have a house, and we used to have money a few years ago and now we don’t.

It seems as though they think that we are somehow scamming them or have done this to ourselves on purpose. Because, you know, losing your house and job to rent somebody else’s place is *such* an attractive and tempting prospect. (Really?)

And then to top it all, I finally got a call back from the Adoption Agency this morning, three weeks after telling them that we were having to move house. They have decided to take us off their books and close our file, and they told us that, if we want to go ahead and adopt, we will need to contact them again in a year’s time.

Realistically, having waited all this time after all these losses, I think I am just exhausted physically and emotionally. I also think I will just be too old (45) in a year’s time. Unless my health improves drastically (as opposed to worsening due to stress and disappointment), I don’t think I will have the ability to take on another child, and especially not a deeply traumatised one as I know is inevitable with adoption from foster care. So that is probably the end of our adoption journey, unless God intervenes with blessing and favour, of which – despite everything we have been through – I always remain hopeful.

 

 

 

Introducing the Little Bears – history part 1

“Little Bears” was originally going to be “Little Bears Family Dayhome” (1) – a childminding service, way back in 1998 when we were first home from living in Sweden. We had decided to move back to the UK because we were a little homesick, and thought that we should get Dragon-tamer’s name down for a primary school back home.

As it happened, we didn’t even get as far as researching primary schools. Instead, we tried out a couple of pre-schools, as Dragon-tamer was aged 3 at the time. The first pre-school we tried was a shock-to-the-system in comparison with our Dagis (1) in Sweden. The Swedish philosophy of preschool education is a gentle home-from-home which encourages learning through play, and recognises the essential reality of attachment in child development. When Dragon-tamer started at Dagis, we went through a two week long process of inskolning (2), slow and gentle acclimatisation to the new setting while the parent gradually removes his or her presence, only when the child is ready to be left.

Back in the UK, this acclimatisation process was unheard of, and when we requested it anyway as we felt it necessary (especially given all the changes Dragon-tamer was having to get used to in one go – new country, new home and now new preschool), we were told that sitting in on more than one session was impossible. Instead, we made a compromise – I was allowed to sit outside the room where I could watch and listen to the proceedings in order that I could feel reassured. But no such reassurance was permitted to the child. I hope that understanding of child development has improved in the last 15 years.

What I heard and saw in that pre-school (unattended children crying for example) convinced me that it was not professional enough or appropriate for our child, and so we tried a second pre-school. The second setting presented almost the other extreme: this was instead a very rigid academic preschool which insisted on numeracy and literacy sessions for 3-year-olds. When I voiced my concerns and asked if we could arrange our attendance to avoid the academic sessions, we were told again that this was impossible. This time there was no room for compromise. The pre-school leader told me confidentially that she agreed with my concerns, but the setting was run by a parent-governor board which believed in the better-sooner-rather-than-later principle. Again, I hope that understanding of child development has improved in the last 15 years.

Well that’s enough for now! I haven’t blogged in a while, but I will try to post more regularly, and history part 2 will tell what we did after preschool, and how we discovered home education quite by accident.

Some notes on Swedish words:

(1) Dagis – short for daghem, dayhome, also known as forskola, preschool, and barntradgarden, kindergarten. A childminder’s would be a Familjedaghem, or Family Dayhome.

(2) Inskolning – acclimatisation process

(if somebody could let me know how to get Swedish characters, please let me know!!) 🙂

The Simple Woman’s Daybook

My friend Kathryn (the bookworm) introduced me to the Simple Woman’s Daybook meme, and I thought I would give it a go today:

http://thesimplewoman.blogspot.com/

Check out The Simple Woman for links to other Daybooks and instructions if you want to add your own.

Outside My Window… it’s grey and drizzling. Actually it looks very lush and green out there, I may get everone into their wellies and go out for a splosh in the puddles.

I am thinking…that I should really finish up on the computer and gather everyone into the living room and start school now.

I am thankful for… relative peace in the house this morning! A roof over my head, plenty of food, family, friends, car, all that I need. To have a dishwasher!

From the kitchen…DS has loaded the dishwasher without complaining this morning so all I need to do is tidy up. Oh, and hoover (now that I check, there’s quite a lot of work to do in there 😦

I am wearing… a pink t-shirt and black jogging bottoms, (and bright orange socks).

I am creating… I’m not being very creative at the moment. I might start another scarf (my forte is chunky knitted scarfs using 2 different yarns – one thick and one thin, in co-ordinating colours – it makes a lovely effect). I’m also wondering about making some clothes for my daughter because it’s so hard to find modest clothes for girls. But the price of material is so horrendous, that I’m contemplating making some kind of hippy-looking rag-quilt type clothes from scraps. (Is there a proper name for that?)

I am going…to ballet this afternoon (well not me, my daughter). I’m rather relieve there’s no other activities to worry about any more for a Tuesday… but there’s a possibility of a Hebrew lesson this evening. I’m waiting to hear.

I am reading…a huge pile of books! See yesterday’s entry! The fiction title on the list is “Lucca” by Jens Grondahl.

I am hoping…that school will be a bit more successful today. I’m not actualy feeling too well (I think I’m fighting something off, and I have toothache) and I don’t want to fight with the children again today.

I am hearing… happy noises from the children playing upstairs, the whirr of the computer’s fan, and now the gentle hum of the dishwasher.

Around the house…lots of houseplants without a home (they had been moved into the garden for the summer, but the summer has given up a bit so they had to come in again while the weather is so cold and miserable.

One of my favorite things… bookshops and libraries which also allow you to drink coffee (how very civilised)! We first discovered this concept in Sweden when we lived in Stockholm – especially Lidingo library which remains one of my very favourite places. But failing that, Borders is pretty good.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: actually nothing much on the agenda this week, just Ballet this afternoon, and Girls’ Brigade on Thursday evening, but I’m looking forward to seeing my Swedish/Finnish friend Tieja for coffee at Ikea next week.  I might take a walk into town if the weather clears up, perhaps take the children to a park.

Here is picture thought I am sharing…