Monthly Archives: December 2010

Online digital children’s library

This morning I got a call from overseas from someone asking for help with a curriculum for preschool age children.  Not being a huge fan of canned curriculum, I told her she could look online but shared my perspective that: a) there’s no such thing as a standardized curriculum – it varies from country to country, state to state, and even county to county; b) it’s important to be aware of readiness and to ‘prime the pump’, so to speak.

I then asked her about what her specific concern was, and she told me that her young daughter (age 5) had trouble with the concept of sequencing in a story and was currently working with a speech therapist on this.  I said that a child the age of that age was on the continuum of normal in absorbing this understanding.  So, I continued, as long as the mother continued reading with her, the daughter would naturally pick it up without it being taught as a remedial skill.

And then the mother told me that was a problem, that she doesn’t read to her!  Well, obviously that’s a huge part of why the child can’t follow storylines – she doesn’t have experience in sequencing stories!   I explained to the mother that it’s unfair to say a child has a learning disability when they’re placed in an environment that they have no context to relate to or understand.  It often happens that parents treat their child for their symptoms instead of looking at where the root issue is; this is an example of a child being diagnosed with a learning disability when the problem is the home learning environment.  (I could go on and on with examples of this – it’s really upsetting when I see children labeled with their symptoms and then medicated or treated as if the child is the problem, etc, without anyone looking at what’s going on at home or making the changes that would make a difference for the child.) 

Anyway, I suggested that the mother begin regularly reading with her daughter, and she told me they didn’t really own many books in their native language.  I explained that could use/adapt what they have; kids don’t mind having the same book daily!  However, here’s a great free resource has children’s books to read online in 73 languages for anyone who wants to increase the books they have available to read to their children – it’s the International Children’s Digital Library.  Even if you have a great library near home, this can be a great way to access books in foreign languages!


Great article by Gabor Mate

Here’s a link to a great article – unlike most articles about parenting, in which I tend to disagree with at least some of what’s written (and often a lot more than just some!), I thought this one was dead on. 

That’s not surprising, I suppose, since the person being interviewed was Dr. Gabor Mate, coauthor of Hold On To Your Kids, whose view on parenting seems quite similar to mine.  This is the best parenting book that I’ve read in the last five or six years, and even though some find it hard to get through, I thought it was excellent and have recommended it to a lot of people.  It was the first  book that I ever read that I felt supported my way of parenting – a foundation of lots of love with clear boundaries, recognizing that parents must be the primary love figure in a child’s life to have any real power to effectively parent.   

This article touches on some very powerful ideas regarding addiction, attachment, ADD, parenting, bullying, the school system – lots of things worth thinking about!


Reading readiness activities

Ds4 is now recognizing the letters of the ABC, knows a lot of the sounds, and is starting to copy the letters on his own.  A week or two ago he brought me a scrap of paper that he had copied letters onto, and asked me what it spelled.  I sounded it out, and then he went off to copy more letters (randomly), bringing them to me each time to ‘read’ it.  He asked me to write different words for him to copy, and after a few days of this, progressed to copying simple sentences.  He wrote a ‘letter’ and left it at the home of a friend nearby; it’s nice to see how naturally this happens with just a little support from me. 

I love seeing how a child progresses through the stages of reading readiness when he’s engaged and interested – it’s so exciting!   I don’t actively teach reading  because I find it works out well for our children to respond to their interests rather than impose my timeline on them, and they’ve each taught themselves to read somewhere between the age of 5 – 8.    I definitely could help them learn earlier by being more actively involved in teaching them, but reading is fun and I don’t think it should become a chore and disconnected from the purpose – the point is to have fun or gain knowledge.  The primary reading readiness that I do is reading lots of books to the kids from the time they are young – ds1.5 has been sitting independently thumbing through books for months.  Once they know reading is a great activity, they’re going to naturally seek to learn to read on their own at some point. 

When ds4 draws a picture, I often ask him to tell me about it and then label significant parts of his picture, and sometimes I transcribe the story of what the picture is about as he describes it to me next to the picture.  (I don’t yet do this with ds3 – I only verbalize what he tells me he’s drawing.)  By doing this, it shows him I’m interested about what’s important to him, it helps me understand what he’s thinking about, and it at the same time it teaches that words mean something, that they relate to the picture on the page.

Last week my husband took this concept further in a way that both he and ds4 enjoyed.  They sat down together and wrote a book!  Ds4 told dh the story, bit by bit.  As ds decided on an idea, they would pause while dh drew a simple illustration, asking ds4 to clarify what was happening and what he should put into the drawing.  (Eg – what was Backpack Bear eating, what did he buy?).  The book is about 6 or 7 pages long, and made simple of 8 x 11 paper folded in half, then taped to keep it all together – not complicated.  On the cover it says that it was written by Daddy and ds4, and on the very back cover, ds4 suggested that they write a summary of what the book was about (I guess he picked that up somewhere, but I don’t know how). 

This was not only a nice bonding activity for them, but ds4 loves this book!  He keeps it in a plastic zippered pouch and a few times a day brings it out and reads it to me.  He of course has the entire thing memorized and feels so special to have written a book!  He loves that his own words and ideas turned into a book – there’s a real sense of ownership and pride.


Enjoying winter break

This year I’ve done something that I often warn parents about and have consciously avoided for years – I overloaded our family schedule and it’s simply too full for comfort.  It was easy to do – the difference between a schedule that is pleasantly full and one that is too full can be just one activity/class a week.  I have something outside of the house scheduled every day of the week, and different children have various outside commitments most days of the week as well, so I don’t get as much of the relaxing family time as I would like. 

And so I’m now especially appreciating ‘winter break’.  We have a two week break from our history class, co-op classes, piano lessons, and it is SO nice!  It doesn’t feel too quiet – it feels just right.  I’m really loving being able to spend lots more time at home just being with the kids.  I’ll have to remind myself of this for the coming year! 

Something that I did with my more relaxed schedule this week was to check out two movies from the library and watch them.  I don’t watch movies often; firstly it’s hard for me to find movies that meet my criteria, and secondly, it’s hard for me to find the time to watch them.  Now that I’ve watched them, I’m definitely ready for a very long break of not watching anything!  I like meaningful movies but after watching these two on top of the last two months of three highly emotional relationship situations that I’ve dealt with, my emotions are on overdrive!  I should have found a good comedy!

Last night I watched something about a 23 year old mother of two who was diagnosed with two months to live, and how she spent those two months.  It was a very thought-provoking movie, and what I particularly was pondering was that she chose not to tell anyone that she was dying.  This bothered me but it took me a while to put my finger on why, in the meantime prompting conversations with ds11, dd14, and later dh as I asked them their opinions.  I finally realized that what bothered me was as brave and selfless a thing it was to do – to spare loved ones of worry and leave them with happy memories, bearing the lonely burden of the knowledge on herself – it didn’t give the people in her life a chance to make their last months with her meaningful, or for them to have time to prepare themselves.  

Sometimes there are things you do that you’re uncomfortable with, because it’s better for those you love.  For example, an older friend recently passed away and chose not to have any speeches at the service.  I don’t know why she made this decision, though I know despite being a remarkable person in many ways, she was very unassuming and felt there was nothing special about her.  But even though she was so humble, I felt that it would have been a comfort for those left behind to be encouraged and inspired by the memories that would have been shared.  

Then the next movie was also about family relationships, between an elderly father and his grown children who cancelled the family reunion, so he went around the country to visit them and found that things in their lives weren’t as they had been presented to him.  This was a very well-done movie but as a parent I found this somewhat depressing, even though there was a nice resolution.  It made me think about our parents getting older, and that one day I’ll be getting older, and hoping that we can all continue to have warm and loving feelings towards one another.    

 Tomorrow I’m going to enjoy going to our homeschool gathering and chatting with friends, and tomorrow night it will be early bedtime for me – I think that will be more renewing than anything else! 


Cranberry Muffins (gluten free)

I bought some fresh cranberries intending to use them for Thanksgiving, but then my mom ended up making cranberry relish so I didn’t need to!  So they’ve been sitting around in the fridge waiting to be used, amazingly enough still perfectly fresh, and I thought this was a good chance to try out this new recipe with them – I made a lot of adaptations but the original was from here, the Mutritiousnuffins blog. 

Cranberry Muffins

  • 1 c. almond meal
  • 1.5 c. finely shredded coconut
  • 2 c. ground walnuts
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 3/4 c. honey
  • 1 c. butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c. plain yogurt
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 c. fresh cranberries, chopped

Mix the almond meal, ground walnuts, coconut, and spices.  In a separate bowl, mix the honey, melted butter, beating in the eggs; add in the yogurt and water.  Mix the dry and wet mixtures, and when combined, stir in the chopped cranberries.  Scoop into muffin tins (this recipe makes 18 muffins), and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  (I’m estimating on the time because I didn’t look at the clock; I didn’t bake the first batch for long enough and they were difficult to remove from the pan, and the second batch overbaked since I was putting the littles to bed.) 

Do not remove the muffins until they’re cooled, otherwise they crumble (but are still delicious).  These are nutrient dense and high in calories, making them super filling so you don’t need more than two or three for an easy and filling breakfast – perfect for days you’re on the go!

(This post is part of Simply Indulgent Tuesdays and Real Food Wednesdays.)


Questions about purchasing/storing bulk foods

>>Where do you buy grains in bulk?<<

I used to buy grains in bulk directly from a bulk distributor that had an option to sell to private individuals (at a markup from what they charged the stores), until I found a store that also ordered from them that allowed me to place my order with theirs, and pick it up when I do my shopping there.  This has been much more convenient for me, since the distributor was three hours from my house and then another hour-plus to any other place I was doing shopping.  And I’m a very good customer of that store, so they were happy to do it for me – but it’s not something they generally do so something like this has to be worked out with the store manager personally.   (I had another store that also agreed to do this for me, so I’m sure this is an approach others can try). 

>>Do you have suggestions on where to find stores or food wholesalers or distributors from whom to buy in bulk?<<

I started looking for suppliers by asking local health food stores who they ordered through, then contacting them to see if they’d sell directly to me.  Those suppliers wouldn’t but I knew someone was out there who would, so I kept nosing around the internet and making calls until I found my supplier.  I had to pick my order up locally, but another company I spoke to said they’d deliver if my order was above a certain amount, and we had access for their large delivery truck.  There are also co-ops you can purchase through who have either local drops or will deliver – Azure Standard comes to mind, but there are others.  If you know others in your area who are frugally minded, they might know of other local options or would be willing to share costs if you organized a large order. 

>>how do you prevent bug infestation of your bulk grains?<<
You prevent infestation by freezing your grains for 24 hours before repackaging them into buckets.  I love how easy this is in the winter – I can just leave the things in the van overnight after our shopping trip and transfer the stuff to buckets afterward.  But honestly, I don’t bother with freezing in the summer; I just don’t have the necessary freezer space.  However, I’ve almost never had a problem with infestation from my bulk food suppliers; the problems I’ve encountered usually came from discount grocers and sometimes from regular supermarkets – I quickly glance at the plastic packaging at beans/grains purchased in small amounts to check for signs of bugs since realizing that I couldn’t assume it would be clean.  I check all of the grains we use (except wheat) before using them. 

>>How do you store them (bulk items)?<<

I store everything in buckets.  I used to stack the buckets 2 or sometimes even three high, but then it got to be too many buckets for the small area I had available.  At that time, I made a platform using a free pallet to keep them off the floor.  So last year I bought very heavy duty shelving units that can hold a lot of weight and that has made it very easy to find space, since I can use the space vertically all the way up.  Very nice, and I always have plenty of space now.  It’s lots more organized, no more stacking buckets.

>>Where do you get your storage buckets usually?<<

Restaurants often have these for free since the bulk foods they purchase come in them; you may have to wash them out, but they’re generally happy to give them to you if they have them.  You can also approach bakeries, who get frosting in large buckets.  These are all (obviously :)) food grade buckets.   I prefer square buckets, which are harder to get hold of, but I find they’re much more space efficient – you lose a lot of space with round storage containers (this is true of refrigerator storage containers, too – I try to stick with square or rectangle shapes for this same reason).   Also, the lids on the round buckets are often different sizes and it can be a chore to match the right lid with the bucket it goes to.  But I still have to use them since I don’t yet have enough square buckets for my needs. 

(This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.)


Give someone what they want to receive

I’ve been talking in my classes recently about the power of the emotional bank account, how it’s critical to keep the balance in the relationship with our children high by making deposits and avoiding withdrawals.  This means that you have to understand what constitutes a withdrawal and what is a deposit.  And it also means recognizing that different people define deposits – ie meaningful expressions of affection – differently.  That can complicate things when someone thinks he has been building the balance and then realizes that what he thought he was giving wasn’t being received as it was intended.

We have to learn to give what a person wants to receive, not what we want to give or what’s easy for us to give – that’s what true giving is all about!  My ds4 gave me a plastic credit card and two rubber bands wrapped up nicely for a Chanukah present, and I thought it was so sweet of him to want to give me something!  However, while it’s cute and sweet when a 4 year old gives you what he has because that’s what he has, it’s not so cute when it’s an adult that you would expect to be aware of your likes/needs who gives you something that’s really not at all what you want or need. 

Tonight someone asked me about how to respond to her husband, who recently gave her a diamond necklace.  The problem?  She hates the necklace (doesn’t like diamonds or the style), hates how much money was spent on it, and doesn’t want the expectation that she’ll now wear it every day.  Though her husband intended to be generous and loving, she told me this was probably the biggest withdrawal in the history of their marriage – that he gave her something so totally unsuited to her, which is obvious to anyone who knows her even casually, something that is perceived as more of a burden than a gift.  

So how can we avoid this?  When attempting to build a relationship, look for clues as to what’s important to the other person.  The easiest way to do this is to see how they make deposits for others!  This can be challenging since recognizing other ways of showing love can go under our radar if it differs very much from our own way.  Sometimes we get frustrated with others who have different ways of showing their love, and it helps to realize that it’s not that they’re selfish or clueless, just that we’re speaking a different language.

I recently realized with a relationship in my life that has had a good bit of friction that we have diametrically opposed way of showing that we care.  I do things for people I like, and when people do things for me (or even just express the desire/willingness to do something for me), this is the biggest way they can show they appreciate me.  And so I did a lot of nice things for this person, some small and some big, in addition to verbally expressing a lot of appreciation, inviting her to our home on regular occasions, spending time visiting with her, etc.  This was challenging because it felt like a one way relationship, but I continued to make what I felt were deposits because I wanted to show the person I cared.

Imagine my surprise when I recently got an email from this person telling me that basically all I ever do is take from her and that I’m selfish and uncaring!  To say I was taken aback would be an understatement.  I had to work really hard not to respond emotionally, and instead to think about why she would say something like that.  I assumed she said she felt I was unloving because she felt unloved, which pushed me to think hard about what I wasn’t doing for her, what I wasn’t successfully communicating.  How would she prefer I show her I cared? 

Because I had given so much of what I would have wanted, this wasn’t easy for me to consider, but telling ourselves all the reasons we’re right and others are wrong isn’t what moves a person forward in life!  What I realized based on a comment in that email (complained that I never call her) is that she appreciates long chatty phone calls just talking about nothing in particular (which honestly frustrates me – very different from my communication style), and that she’d be happier if I called her for even ten minutes every week than everything else I was doing put together!  Since I kept my phone contact with her minimal and short when we did need to speak by phone, you can see how despite my best intentions, I wasn’t giving her what she wanted and she felt I didn’t care about her. 

This has been a growing opportunity for me to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone for the sake of this relationship.  No, it’s really not easy for me, but you can’t say you really care about someone when you don’t take time to think about what matters to them.

Sometimes you can make deposits even when you imperfectly do something.  My husband gave me a lovely fleece scarf recently.  I love it!  But what I love most about it is that he tried to find a color and pattern that he thought I would like, based on some comments I had made about other clothing I had.  Even though the colors weren’t quite what I would have chosen, it was very different than what he would have gotten in the past, and it was obvious that he cared enough to think about my preferences.  Knowing that he made the purchase based on that was a deposit for me, and I feel loved everytime I put on the scarf to go out!


Unpacking from shopping trip and trip to spy museum

Today we had our first real snow of the season!  I’m so glad that the snow held off for me to do my monthly shopping yesterday!  I always buy a lot but some trips are really big trips and this one was one of those.  I got a bunch of staples: 100 lb wheat berries, 100 lb spelt berries, 50 lb cornmeal, 50 lb rolled oats, 30 lb quinoa, 30 lb raisins, 50 lb onions, 50 lb potatoes, 30 lb yams, 2 flats canned cherries (12 cans in a flat), 2 flats canned peaches (29 oz cans), 1 flat 28 oz cans tomatoes, 2 flats (reg. size) organic tomatoes, 2 flats baby dill pickles, 2 flats regular pickles, 1 case whole wheat linguine (20 boxes), 12 gallons raw milk, 30 dozen free range eggs (these are visibly so much better than supermarket eggs – last month I didn’t get them and dh was really glad to see them again!), 3 #10 cans of spaghetti sauce, 4 containers plain yogurt, 4 28 oz cans pumpkin, ten 1.5 lb containers cottage cheese, 10 lb carrots, 12 lb. frozen mixed vegetables, and 4-5 lb boxes of clementines.  There’s probably more but I don’t want to go get my receipts and look through them, but that’s the gist of it. 

Then there are the things that I usually wouldn’t buy much of but am getting in preparation for my trip to Israel.  The kids aren’t thrilled that I’ll be gone and were even less thrilled when dh made a comment about making oatmeal for breakfast every day.  :)  I told them that I’d leave special foods for them to enjoy in my absence, they got much more cheerful about me going away!  Most of these foods I’d rarely buy, but my priority is to make it as easy as possible for whoever is staying with the kids to put together simple meals that they’ll enjoy, and for it to be something special for the kids.  So I got 6 packages of hash browns (20 patties per case), frozen french fries (maybe 10 bags?  I told ds11 to get the amount he felt would be good), 20 packages whole wheat tortillas, 1 case corn tortillas (the kids used to hate these but recently discovered when they’re crisped in butter that they’re very tasty), 8 (?) pkg. bagels, 10 boxes cold cereal, 2 big boxes of instant oatmeal (approx. 55 packages per box), and 1 case diced peaches in juice (individual serving size cans).  Oh, and ten bags of blue corn chips, and a bunch of cookies for my ds11’s Shabbos group. 

I also got a bunch of single serving size foil tuna packets to take to dd to supplement her food situation there, which she actually told me today she’s gotten used to.  I was pleased that even with the extra expenses of the foods I wouldn’t usually buy that cost-wise it was a very reasonable shopping trip.  I’m planning to do one more big shopping trip before I go to Israel, so that everything is totally stocked up before I leave (including perishables). 

The main challenge in buying all of this is having to unload and unpack it when we finally get home!  We didn’t get home until 8 pm, and between everyone being tired, and it being so dark and cold, we left most of the stuff to unload in the morning.  However, we had a trip to the National Cryptologic Museum scheduled for 10 am, which meant leaving by 9, and that meant we needed to start to unpack the van at 8 am!  And we all woke up later than usual (I woke up at 8:45), and it’s hard to kick into gear when you’re already really late the minute you open your eyes. 

I was really waffling about going since I had not one shred of desire to go anywhere at that point, with the pressure I was feeling to get everyone dressed, fed, and out of the house in less than 30 minutes – and to unpack the van from all those groceries.   But I felt it wouldn’t be right not to show up for a trip when I had made a commitment and as an organizer of many trips, I know how frustrating it can be when people don’t honor their commitments.  Then I got a message that our co-op classes for the afternoon were cancelled, so that took some pressure of the day off me (since I would have had to packed lunch to take with us and gone straight from the trip to the classes, not getting home until after 4 pm).  And I decided that honoring my commitment to attend came before relaxing, so I got into gear!  It really was a push to get everyone ready and everything done, but I put the focus on keeping it pleasant, and we managed to get there right on time with everyone still in a good mood! 

Strangely, we didn’t see anyone else there.  Before I had a chance to wonder about that, we were told that the docent for our trip had been called away for an emergency, and that our trip had been officially cancelled ten minutes before I got there.  Sometimes you have to laugh at the irony of situations – I made this massive effort not to let down the group but then there was no group to let down!  LOL!  (A message was emailed to everyone but it was sent after 9 am so too late for us to get it, and in any case, there was not an extra minute for me to check emails.)   As frustrating as this could have been, I really wasn’t bothered since it was obviously meant for us to go to the museum and not to get the message in time.

The kids had a great time.  They’ve become wary when I say we’re going to a museum since, well, some haven’t been the most interesting of our trips.  This was very interesting and the kids were engaged by a scavenger hunt with lots of decoding involved.  They were given some nice activity books, pencils, a decoding tool, and each of the older four earned a prize for completing the scavenger hunt, a challenging puzzle kind of game.  They said they’d like to go back another time for a guided tour since there was so much to learn about that they couldn’t get in this first visit.  Maybe if the trip organizer reschedules we’ll particpate in that next time!

I was surprised to see it snowing when I looked out the front door of the museum after an hour and a half, so I quickly bundled up the kids and headed home.  It’s been very cold lately and I wanted to get home while the roads were in good condition.  We made it home just fine and then the kids played outside for a while until we had lunch.  Then we unpacked some more groceries – breaking up the unpacking into smaller chunks of work has made it seem less like intimidating than usual! 

I still have the last part of unpacking to do – putting the bulk supplies in the buckets.  It’s not hard but it takes a solid chunk of time and organizing (finding enough empty buckets, lining them, labeling them, reorganizing the space they’re in), and I’m grateful that my ds17 used to do this for us!  The kids can help with this but other than dd14, none of them are able to logistically handle what’s involved independent of me.  I asked my dh if he would take care of this tomorrow, and he agreed, which is a big thing that I now know will be done well and not need my involvement! 

I know that this may seem like a lot of work – but part of that is because my shopping for the month is concentrated into one day instead of many smaller shopping trips.  I feel it’s worth it for the money that we save, the convenience of having what we need when we need it, and virtually always being able to purchase the foods we use at sale prices.

So now our house is well-stocked with food, and our children are well-stocked energy-wise with the experience of an enjoyable outing, and if the weather dictates that we cozy up inside for a few days, we’re ready!


Yummy Brownies

Here’s the brownie recipe that was recently requested!  This is a rich and delicious recipe, easy to make, and it gets gobbled up pretty fast, too!  I’ve been making this recipe for 18 years, but have been making it with my healthy adaptations for only 4 or 5 of those years. 

Yummy Brownies

  • 1 c. butter or coconut oil
  • 1.5 c. sucanat
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs (we like free range eggs best)
  • 1 c. cocoa
  • 1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour (we use hard white wheat and grind it fresh)
  • opt – 1 c. coarsely chopped nuts or 6 oz. chocolate or peanut butter chips 

Cream the butter/coconut oil together with the sucanat until light and fluffy.  Stir in the vanilla and the eggs.  Add cocoa and flour.  If using additions, stir in the nuts and/or chips at this point.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes. 

Perfect to take to a holiday party or as a dessert anytime that everyone will enjoy!

(This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.)


Watching the money for my trip appear!

I’m really getting excited about my trip to visit dd16 in six weeks!  I’ve made my ticket, reserved a studio apartment for the two of us to stay in for a few days, arranged with her school to take her out for the time I’ll be there, and now need to make arrangements with friends in a couple of different cities to spend time with them. 

I must share with you how amazingly all of this is working out.  When I decided to visit dd in Israel just two weeks ago, I didn’t have the funds to make the trip.  It’s not just the cost of a ticket, but for transportation, food, a place to stay, a passport – it all adds up really quickly.  We didn’t have the extra money from our regular budget to fund the trip, and we don’t charge expenses on a credit card unless we have the means to pay in full when the bill comes due.  I wasn’t sure where the money was going to come from but I just knew that this was a trip that I needed to make and I felt a deep inner certainty that all that I needed would come through for me.

I planned to buy my ticket last Monday night online, and was hesitant to purchase the ticket via credit card without a sense of how I’d pay for it two or three weeks later.  I had about three hundred dollars towards the ticket at that point from my parenting classes – which was a nice start, but still left a lot to cover! 

That very afternoon, a check arrived in the mail.  It was from a business contact who owed me money, who ignored invoices, emails and phone calls for over two years – and the very afternoon of the day I needed to make my ticket, the $656 I had almost given up on ever receiving showed up.  Incredible timing, isn’t it?!?

I put the check in a file folder since it was too late to go to the bank that day.   I didn’t end up making my ticket that night, either, since it was ds17’s last night at home so we ended up talking until very late at night about all that’s going on for him.  So it wasn’t until very late the next night that I made my ticket.  When I was ready to leave to the bank the next day, just hours after having made the ticket, I opened the folder to remove the check.  As I took out the check I had received, saw another envelope there.  I don’t keep empty envelopes in my files, so I checked the envelope, thinking that I must have left some kind of paperwork to file there – and found a check for $254!  A hospital had placed an order with me months ago for nursing pillows, and because I received the payment during the busy holiday season of September, I put it to the side.  And totally unlike me, completely forgot it was there. 

So far, Hashem has sent me $1191, enough to cover my ticket and almost all of my passport application fee!  When I told my dh about this, I said to him with a huge smile, “Doesn’t it seem very obvious that I’m meant to go visit dd?”  (He had been apprehensive about the cost when we initially discussed me going.)  And he very strongly agreed that Hashem (G-d) is clearly paving the way for it to happen.

It’s so amazing to see Hashem’s hand behind everything, and though a big unexpected roadblock just last night came up regarding child care while I’m gone, I trust that just as He is smoothing the path for everything else, He’ll help us resolve that issue as well.  :)