Monthly Archives: January 2011

Educational video on 39 biblical categories of work

A couple of weeks ago our family sat down together on Friday to watch this program about the different biblically determined categories of work that are prohibited on Shabbos (Sabbath).  I thought it was valuable to visually demonstrate what each category is; understanding what these categories are helps a child grasp how anything related to that category would be considered working and forbidden on Shabbos. 

In general, I think it’s important that children are taught about why their families do what they do religiously, not just what to do.  In this case, seeing what the categories of work are and realizing that everything that is forbidden to do on Shabbos falls into one of these concrete categories makes it much easier to grasp that the prohibitions against working on Shabbos aren’t restrictions without a purpose, but restrictions to create a day of peace and serenity when individuals and families can recharge and renew themselves, physically and spiritually. 

Here’s the link for the video – it’s only about a half hour long, and can be viewed by children of different ages.  Most of the kids would be interested or at least willing  to watch it again, which will help tham pick up some finer points that they missed the first time around (and for the littles, anything they get to watch on a screen is fun to them).  

Interesting to me was how many of the activities shown in the film our family has done first hand.  It helped me appreciate how the hand-on experiences we’ve given our children are helping them have a more complete foundation for later learning. 

Avivah

Falafel with tahini sauce

We recently enjoyed falafel for dinner, served with tahini sauce, fresh salad, and plain yogurt. This was (like most of our meals :P) very frugal, and once the garbanzo beans are soaked and cooked, fairly quick to put together. I did an approximate price breakdown so you can see how affordable this is, as well as some of the strategies I use to keep food costs down.  These costs are for a meal for 9 people.

Falafel

  • 1.5 lb dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans (soaked, sprouted, and cooked – you can leave out sprouting if you’re short on time)
  • 4 cloves of garlic or 1 – 2 t. garlic powder
  • 2 T. dried parsley or 1/4 c. fresh parsley
  • 2 t. sea salt (I used Real Salt)
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 3 t. baking powder
  • 3 T. warm water

Blend the chickpeas with water (I use some of the water they cooked in, keeping everything in the pot and blending with an immersion/stick blender).  Mix the spices and baking powder in a separate bowl so they blend evenly, then mix well into the chickpea mixture.  Form into flat patties so that you can cook it without deep frying it.  Fry in buttered pan on each side until browned, or spread into a well-greased pan and bake as patties or a loaf at 350 degrees until it looks done.

Cost: I bought the chickpeas on sale for .59 lb, figure another .20 for the spices.  Total cost of falafel loaf- 1.09.

Tahini Sauce:

  • 1 c. tahini (sesame butter)
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. cold water
  • 3 cloves garlic or 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. sea salt

Blend all of the above ingredients until smooth.  Serve as a sauce for the falafel loaf.  I bought the tahini on sale for 2.99 for 16 oz, and this was about half the container, so 1.50 for the tahini, about .50 for the lemon juice .  Total cost of tahini sauce: $2.

For the salad, I chopped up lots of pickling cucumbers, tomatoes, and homemade lacto- fermented pickles, and made a simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  I used reduced produce for this (.29 lb for cukes and pickles, .49 lb for tomatoes), and I bought the olive oil on sale (naturally!), 3.99 for 1 quart/18 oz.  So a large amount of salad (guesstimating about 12 cups) including dressing was about $3.50.

I didn’t make the yogurt with raw milk, something I often like to do and which is very affordable.  I used store bought plain yogurt on sale for .99 a quart.

Total cost for an ample and filling falafel dinner for a family of 9 – $7.59.

(This post is part of Pennywise Platter Thursday.)

Avivah

Cabbage Wedges with Cheese Sauce (grain-free)

Earlier in the week I mentioned the menu for my mother’s birthday party, and promised to share the recipe I created for cabbage wedges with grain-free cheese sauce (got concept from here).  The sauce recipe there reminded me of a very processed white sauce, but I make a simple and very delicious white sauce from scratch, and it occured to me that a) I could use nut flour to make it grain-free, and b) I could consider the cabbage in place of noodles (eg macaroni and cheese concept)! 

I had heard of using carrots and summer squash (zucchini, yellow squash) as grain-free pasta substitutes (use a peeler and peel length-wise down the vegetable so you create long strips), but I think you can use just about steamed vegetable if it appeals to you!   (When I say pasta substitute, I don’t mean in terms of flavor in as far as being a base to put tasty sauces on.)

Okay, I know that might sound weird, but the kids really liked this new cheese sauce, which eliminates the whole wheat flour I usually use as a base.  Even ds20 months was sitting in his high chair munching on cabbage, and since I served the cheese sauce separately (because my mother is minimizing fats right now), the serving bowl of sauce got a good workout being repeatedly requested back and forth across the table!

Cabbage Wedges with Cheese Sauce

  • 1 head cabbage, cut into eighths
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 c. nut flour (whatever kind you have)
  • 4 c. milk (I used raw cow’s milk but coconut milk would work, too)
  • 16 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 t. sea salt (add more salt if using coconut milk to balance the flavor)
  • sprinkle of pepper

Steam the cabbage wedges until tender.  While the cabbage is steaming, prepare the sauce.  Melt the coconut oil, then saute the onion in the oil.  When onion is translucent, mix in the nut flour. Then stir in milk and spices (I wasn’t sure if the nut flour would thicken as regular whole wheat flour did, so I used less milk than what I listed above, but wrote in what I would do in the future so the consistency would be better – it got very thick).  Continually stir the mixture as it thickens so it doesn’t burn.  When the consistency is what you’d like it to be, stir in the shredded cheese.

You can put the cabbage in the oven and heat it with the cheese sauce on top for about 20 minutes, or just serve without any further ado!  Serve cheese sauce warm over any kind of pasta or steamed vegetables. 

This would be suitable for anyone who wants to eliminate grains or glutens, or lower carbs. 

(This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.)

Avivah

How I developed my parenting approach

I’ve really been enjoying giving parenting workshops and sharing principles that have been so helpful in my own parenting journey with others, and am grateful for the fantastic moms who attend and keep me on my toes with their questions!  This week I’ve completed the second of the four week parenting sessions I’ve been giving, and this coming Sunday we’ll be starting our third session. 

I had been under the impression that parents are so busy that it would be too hard for them to participate in a parenting class that went on for a long period of time, so I set up my classes so that parents only had to commit to four weeks at a time, and planned to limit the entire series to 12 classes.  This was despite my personal preference to cover more issues with more depth, which obviously means more classes!   However, the women in both the Sunday morning and Monday night classes have asked if we can continue beyond the twelve week limit, which I’m happy to do since it aligns with my preference!   (I was also asked if I would give a separate set of classes about homeschooling, and another on marriage – but I really don’t have time to give more classes at this point in my life, and in any case, most of what I teach regarding parenting can be applied to husbands and homeschooling!)

Here’s some of what we’ve covered in the past eight classes:

  • having a proactive approach, formulating a vision for parenting, understanding where you should apply your energy (circle of influence/circle of concern), and taking responsibility for the results you want to see in your life
  • understanding where the source of your power as a parent lies, debunking the myth that parenting techniques are the answer
  • importance of being the leader/authority for your children
  • learning to change your thought patterns, reframing, visualizations, affirmations
  • building the emotional bank account, creating homes of love and warmth nonverbally – power of touch, acts of kindness
  • quality time – what is it, and how even busy moms can find time
  • verbally expressing love, affection, the challenge of praise and how to give positive feedback and compliments to maximize the value

In the next four weeks, I’ll be discussing issues related to discipline – I’ve been promising this was coming and asking the moms to be patient and trust that I would get to it.  I needed to set a foundation in which parents understood how and why to build the critical relationship between parent and child before focusing on discipline, because effective discipline necessitates having a strong working relationship in play, or the discipline ideas could too easily be taken out of context.  So now we’re finally getting to it!   If you’re interested in joining either of our classes (Sunday mornings 10:45 am – 12:15, or Mon. 8 – 9:30 pm), email me for details so you can get started right away!   (Classes are $50 for 4 weeks, mothers only.)

I’ve been asked how I developed my approach, as well as asked to define what I mean when I say that I have a relationship-based approach to parenting.  The answer to the first question is that I’ve spent years reading widely and thinking deeply about parenting issues, and my kids got to be the guinea pigs while I tried philosophies out. 😆  Being around my children all day long for years as a homeschooling parent meant that I had a lot of incentive to do something more than just get by, since I couldn’t ignore issues or think they’d magically get better by sending them away for hours a day when I didn’t have to see them! 

I was frustrated that I wasn’t finding complete and comprehensive answers in the numerous books I read; so many recommendations seemed contradictory, and some things worked for a while but then fell short.  I didn’t like that parenting seemed so coercive and controlling, but I also didn’t like the lack of structure or guidance that authors who shared those concerns advocated.   I learned to evaluate what I read and to adapt concepts I liked, and to ignore the rest, pulling different things from very different places (not necessarily parenting venues).  

But  the main thing was I paid attention to how I was feeling about what I was doing, and how my kids were feeling.  That’s how every parent can assess if the approach she’s using is most effective.  Do you feel basically calm and at peace with how you handle daily life with kids?  Does it mesh with your intuitive sense of how you should be parenting?  Are your kids relaxed and happy?  Learning what ideas were best ignored took the longest time – some things that really aren’t good long-term strategies sound great and are very popular! 

About five or six years ago I settled into a very nice place that hasn’t shifted much, that has taken me through a lot of ages and stages, including several teenagers, and I’m very grateful to  be able to enjoy my children at a different level than I had previously experienced.  I really like them.  To do that, I needed to be able to effectively create boundaries while building strong relationships of substance.   I continue to be open to new information, and regularly assess and adapt – I think every parent will constantly do that, if she’s paying attention to the unique needs of every child – but they are small tweaks that still are based according to the same underlying concepts. 

The main challenge for me over the last few years became to understand why what I was doing was working, even though some things were counter to conventional parenting ‘wisdom’.  I had to look beyond my specific actions and identify what the underlying principles were before I could effectively share them with others to apply in their different life situations.  

I refer to my approach as relationship-based parenting because I’m convinced that the relationship between a parent and her children is critical and foundational to everything else that happens.  I’ve had plenty of times I’ve done things wrong, and what surprised me over the years was how unimportant those things ended up being, leading me to my conviction that if the relationship is in good shape, then everything can work out.  And if the relationship is wrong, then the best techniques in the world aren’t going to be of much use – you don’t have any true power.  Power is a huge responsibility, and claiming your parental power means understanding what it is and how to harness it.  That’s what I share with parents. 

It’s a holistic approach, and the women in my classes tell me that it’s different from anything else out there.  That’s probably because a) I’m holistic in my approach to life in general so my parenting is obviously going to be as well, and b) I share lots of things that have worked for me that aren’t traditionally taught in parenting classes, some of which don’t seem immediately to be directly applicable, but I’m sure it won’t surprise any of my longer-term readers that I feel everything is connected, and in the end, it really all does come together! :)

(edited to add – forgot to mention for any of you who don’t realize from past references here – the classes are held live in Baltimore, no phone options or recordings available at this time!)

Avivah

Respecting child’s learning readiness

>>I am a new homeschooling mother, having just begun this year with my 3 boys – ages 6, 5 and 16 months.  Our reasons for homeschooling were to be able to address social/emotional issues – to raise our children with manners, respect, good communication skills and having positive relationships that we felt we were unable to accomplish satisfactorily while they were in a school setting. On that front, my husband and I are both amazed at the changes we have seen in just these 3-4 short months.<<

How exciting!

>>However, now that I feel like we are on the right track with our overall goal, I need to focus on the academics/learning goals.  But I am getting stuck. The idea of letting kids learn at their own pace, when they are developmentally ready for it, is one that (at least, theoretically) I believe in. But practically, how do I become confident enough to say that its ok for my 5 year old to not begin reading Hebrew if he’s not ready for it? And I know that he’s not ready because every session ends in tears. Then I get frustrated that maybe I am not a good enough teacher, that maybe a different method would work better and I end up getting upset at him for not being able to ‘get’ it. <<

It’s challenging when your heart and your head are giving you different messages!  It sounds to me like this is about being afraid that you’re going to fail your son, and that somehow you’re inadequate.  When a child isn’t ready, it doesn’t matter how well you present the material – so this isn’t about you not being enough.  It’s about your son not yet being ready to learn to read. 

Since you didn’t tell me how you handle teaching reading, I’m going to assume that you follow a traditional drill approach.  ‘Drill and kill’ hasn’t been termed in this way for nothing!   Perhaps as you step back from systematically teaching him to read, you can instead look for ways to play with letters/words with him.  There are flashcards of the alphabet that you can get to play matching games with, cookie cutters in letter shapes to use to bake with – you don’t even need cookie cutters – you can give him some bread dough next time you’re baking and let him form the letters of his name or another word that he wants to make, talking about the sounds of the letters as you go along.  There are a couple of online sites that I’ve never used but have seen recommended for teaching Hebrew reading.  (Readers, please share your resources in the comments section below!) 

 The goal isn’t to make him learn, but to a) refrain from demotivating him by pushing him too soon for something he’s not ready for, and b) show him that things connected to reading are fun so that his intrinsic desire to learn is enhanced!  With time he’ll make the connection to reading being fun.  Here are some past posts that may shed some additional light on how I handle this.

http://oceansofjoy.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/reading-readiness-activities/

http://oceansofjoy.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/waiting-for-interest-the-early-years/

http://oceansofjoy.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/hebrew-reading-and-writing/

>>My 6 year old learned to read both Hebrew and English in school last year and is progressing well.  But he gets upset that he has to do more work than his brother, and if I cut out reading for the younger one, than the older one will be that much more upset. So what should I have the 5 year old do while the 6 y.o. is working at the table?<<

For starters, maybe you can make reading more fun for the older one so the perception that he’s stuck doing the boring stuff while his brother gets to have fun is minimized.  It wouldn’t be fair to insist on the younger one having to do something just because his brother doesn’t want to suffer alone!  However, the reality is that there are different things expected of different children, and if you’ve made the effort to approach learning in an engaging way in line with their readiness and ability, at that point you can let the boys know this is simply how it is.  Kids don’t have to like and approve of all that we do. 

>>This brings me to another question: is there such as thing as spending too much time playing lego? The two boys can spend literally hours playing with their legos, and when I try to encourage them to do s/t else – puzzles, art, board games etc. they don’t want to. After their work is done, I allow them to play as much lego as they want, but I don’t want 5 y.o. to play lego while 6 y.o. is working on reading /writing. Am I being reasonable? I tell him to choose a learning game, but he is very resistant.<<

There’s nothing wrong developmentally with spending hours on legos and not wanting to play with other things – it sounds like they’ve found something the really enjoy!  But if it’s interfering with the way you want to run the house, then you need to clarify to them what the limits of playing with legos are.  You can empathize with their desire to play as often as they want, but at the same time firmly let them know what the parameters for playing with them are.  “I know you like playing with the legos because they’re so much fun, and after we finish with xyz, we’ll be able to take them out.  Right now we’re doing xyz.”

>>I think a problem I have is that I read many homeschooling blogs and so many describe what their children are learning and the many hours they spend doing it. My 6 y.o. is at the table for maybe 1-1.5 hours total doing workbooks. So I feel inadequate that I am not teaching them enough, especially if I will be laid back with my 5 y.o.’s reading.<<

It can be challenging to read homeschooling blogs and books, to feel inspired or encouraged but not to compare ourselves to those we read about.  Realize that you’re only seeing a little slice of life wherever you’re reading; we all have times when children are dragging their feet, aren’t excited about going along with the plan we’ve made up, the house is a mess, and it doesn’t seem like much learning is happening.  That’s reality, and no one is exempt.  I said to a homeschooling friend recently that when reading homeschooling magazines or books, you could get the impression that most homeschooled kids are doing things like building their own high powered telescopes using scavenged materials during their free time every day!  

To me, the power of homeschooling is in much more subtle things than outward accomplishments.  It’s about the kind of people your children are developing into, the relationships you establish with them and that they create with one another.  It’s about children developing an intrinsic value for learning, that comes in part from having their internal timetable respected and nurtured.  It’s about the people they are becoming, not at how early an age they do algebra or if they’re going to impress the neighbors or validate me to others as a good homeschooling mother by virtue of their accomplishments. 

>>We do a lot of ‘other’ learning – reading together, cooking and baking, household chores, discussions on science, geography, current events etc. that we all really enjoy, but the table learning is frustrating for all of us. They drag their feet (in some subjects) and want to get back to playing, and I get upset that there isn’t enough formal learning happening. <<

So if they’re learning and everyone is enjoying it, what is the value to you of table learning?  Is this what you perceive as ‘real’ learning?  Or are there things that they can’t learn any other way that are critical for them to know now?  Learning doesn’t have to be formal to be happening; in fact, much of the most powerful learning is informal! 

>>It also bothers me that my 6 y.o. was a good student and always did his work easily in school, but now because he has so much more playtime, I feel like he just wants more and more and is resistant to a lot of work.<<

It sounds like you’re afraid that by letting him play more, he’s developing bad habits.  If you’re generally an undisciplined person yourself and don’t have expectations of him in any other areas, you’d be right to be concerned. But a six year old wanting to play more and do less of the boring stuff is pretty normal.  He did well in a framework where he didn’t have any better choices, but now he has choices and sitting quietly for long periods doesn’t hold up well in comparison!

>>So to sum up, how do I become confident enough to follow my kids’ lead on what is appropriate for them at a certain stage, without worrying about what others are doing, and especially what their class is doing at school? And secondly, how do I make the distinction between when they are not ready for s/t yet, and when they are just dragging their heels because they want to go play?<<

Fear and comparisons to school schedules and other homeschoolers are very common, but they are also paralyzing and keep you from finding the special path that is just right for your family.  I think letting go of the worry becomes much easier when you and your husband clarify what your goals in homeschooling your children are, and talk about how to be true to those goals in your day to day approach.  When what you do is aligned with your beliefs and values, you’ll naturally be much less concerned about what others are doing/thinking.  This takes some time, but it’s very worthwhile, because without a flight plan, how will you know if you’re on target to reach your destination?  

Avivah

Birthday dinner for mom – grain free

Today was my mother’s birthday, so we invited her over for a dinner in her honor!

She has recently started eating according to Eat To Live, a plan that about ten years ago I thought was healthy when I followed its tenets (right after the book came out), but now know is damaging to the body in the long run (though there are some very positive aspects to it).  Those concerns come as a result of lots of reading about physiology, combined with my own search for better health after years of low fat/vegetarian eating.  Little did I suspect when I thought I was eating in a way that I thought was incredibly healthy that I was damaging my metabolism and teaching my body to be incredibly thrifty with fat storage.  This means since having baby number eight 3.5 years ago, it’s been very difficult to lose excess weight despite eating moderate amounts of properly prepared unprocessed foods, even after eliminating flour and sugar from my diet. I’ve been so frustrated and stymied by this, and despite having read lots about physiology and fats, only now am I finally really understanding how someone who focused on healthy eating devel0ped the same metabolic issues found in chronic dieters eating tons of junk food interspersed with restrictive diets.  I’d like to share on the dangers of so-called healthy low-fat eating on the metabolism in a future post, but this post isn’t about that.  😛

The introductory stage of this plan my mom is on is heavily produce based (that’s one really good part), with a small amount of nuts, starchy vegetables, beans, and nuts allowed, no grains (also a good thing) but very little fat otherwise.  It was surprisingly easy to make a meal that would work for her as well as for our family; the main difference is in fats and animal proteins, and accordingly I planned for a vegetarian meal with the fats on the side.  So I didn’t saute the onions for the soup, served cheese sauce on the side rather than as topping, and didn’t dress the salad.  Very simple.

So here’s what I made:

– 16 bean soup with broccoli and onion

– steamed cabbage wedges with cheese sauce on the side (this was a grain-free recipe I made up on the spot, and it turned out great; will share recipe in a couple of days)

– sweet potato fries (made with coconut oil even though it’s not on her plan, but I didn’t want to use heat-unstable extra virgin olive oil).  (When mom mentioned eating coconut oil to her doctor (before she started this plan), the doctor responded with horror, “But that’s trans fat!”  No, it’s actually not trans fat, it’s saturated fat, and there’s a huge difference in how they are processed by the body. :roll:) 

– large fresh salad

– bowl of olives

– plate of red pepper strips

– tahini (sesame butter) dressing

– dessert – frozen blueberries

Some of my kids felt we should make her a birthday cake, but I don’t think it’s a kindness to put a stumbling block in front of someone even in the name of love.  Dd14 wanted to make her a birthday card with a picture of a cake on it, but ran out of time before she got here.  In the end, everyone was too full for the blueberries so I sent her home with a bag of them.  :)

Avivah

High protein low carbohydrate snacks

Someone was recently asking me about what to do with her toddler who is constantly hungry.  After determining that it wasn’t coming from a place of boredom or seeking emotional connection, I suggested that some of his food choices be changed to foods that were more nutrient dense. 

Then today I shared my thoughts on insomnia with someone else whose child hardly sleeps; melatonin production is connected to serotonin production, which in turn is affected by diet.  What basic changes in diet need to be made to support serotonin production?  Adequate proteins and fat, which generally means removing some carbohydrates from the child’s diet (most kids have very high carbohydrate diets – lots of grains, flours, dairy, and fruits) – and even when some of these foods are seemingly nutritious, there has to be a suitable balance of quantities. 

I’ve also been asked to share ‘primal’ meals and snacks, so with all of these situations in mind, I’m sharing some suggestions! There are many more possibilities, so these are just to get you thinking in that direction.

Meals:

  • soups with protein and veg (eg. turkey, carrots, onion, celery)
  • omelets, fritatas, hard boiled eggs, scrambled, cooked with butter or coconut oil, and served with veggies
  •  sausages, hamburgers, salmon/tuna patties, steak, chicken, fish, meatloaf
  •  fries – carrot, squash, sweet potato
  •  salads with proteins and nuts, any combination
  •  steamed vegetables with butter, olive oil
  •  tacos/wraps with lettuce replacing flour tortilla
  •  egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad
  •  eggplant parmiagan, shepherd’s pie (can replace mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower)

 

Snacks:

  • sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, walnuts, mixture of nuts with some dried fruit
  •  celery with nut butters (almond, peanut, sunflower, cashew) or cream cheese, topped with raisins
  •  avocado chunks
  •  string cheese, diced cheese, diced meat
  •  hummus and vegetable sticks
  •  berries and cream
  •  devilled eggs
  •  cottage cheese and unsweetened applesauce

 Muffins, pizza crusts, breads can be made with nut/coconut flours – I’ve posted a pizza crust recipe made with nut flour and some other suitable recipes as well.  I think I posted one that was a veggie base – you can blend steamed veggies with eggs and bake it to create something that you can spread stuff on as you would with a sandwich.  (edited to add- sorry, I just checked and either I didn’t end up posting it or I can’t find it now.  Here’s something very similar to give you an idea of what I mean – you can use steamed and blended greens or broccoli instead of the cauliflower for other options.

And funnily enough, after I had written this post and was preparing to link to Real Food Wednesdays, I saw that the theme of the day there is Grain Free/Low Carb!  So be sure to check out the post there as well as the additional links for what I’m sure will be lots more fantastic ideas!

Avivah

Dd and concussion

Yesterday was ds12’s birthday, so we enjoy a nice birthday dinner and then a special home movie.  Everyone got to sleep late, but somehow, I woke up much earlier than usual today!  I love the idea of going to sleep early and getting up early, but it doesn’t seem to work well for me at this stage of life.  So even though my early rising was prompted by concern I was feeling about dd16, I appreciated being able to have an early morning today.

On Thursday night my dd16 slipped, fell down five steps, and her head slammed into the wall.  It was a serious fall, though she didn’t pass out, and was loud enough that it brought people running from all over who heard. It was, as she put it, one of the scariest things that ever happened to her, and her friend who was with her said the same thing, that just seeing it was incredibly scary. 

As soon as I learned about this (she mentioned it on her blog), I was concerned that she had suffered a concussion, even though she insisted she was fine when I called her.  (She always plays down any pain or discomfort she has.)  I told her I wanted her to get arnica and start taking it every few hours, and find an osteopath who could do cranio-sacral work to deal with the blow to her head.  She agreed to find out about where to buy arnica and to look for an osteopath but I could tell it was because I said so, not because she was concerned. 

Yesterday morning I was surprised by an early morning call, letting me know she was on her way to the doctor since she was having so a lot of nausea and bad headaches.   Knowing how much she dislikes doctors and her tendency to tell me everything is fine, it was obvious she was worried about her symptoms, which in an of itself concerned me.  By this time, I was absolutely positive that she had a concussion, and though I didn’t have much confidence in this doctor, because I’d already heard that the feedback from students who have been there a couple of years is that the diagnostic ability/competence isn’t very high, I told dd that at least it would be valuable for assessment purposes.

When I called her back later in the day to find out how the visit was, she told me the doctor said she couldn’t have a concussion since she wasn’t vomiting, and that her symptoms were from stress.  Right.  She was perfectly healthy two days before but she got so stressed out over her relaxing and enjoyable Shabbos with friends that she starts having intense head pain and nausea, and there’s absolutely no connection to a major blow to the head the day before her symptoms began- makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?!?  This isn’t the kind of thing that instills confidence in the medical profession. 

Dd16 realized based on the reading she did about this before going that it wasn’t accurate, but the other girls in her program accepted the stress diagnosis, even though all of them are skeptical about this doctor.  Dd couldn’t understand how they were willing to accept feedback that made no sense, especially since they know her and that she’s not a person to make things up, and they know that the doctor doesn’t have a reputation for being competent.  (If you’re wondering why she went, it’s because this is the doctor the school sends the girls to.)   She found the unquestioning confidence in medical authority somewhat disturbing. 

I think it was harder for her to feel invalidated than to experience the pain and discomfort she was having, to have what she was feeling to be minimized since it must just be ‘stress’.  I said to dd that it must be hard to be in a situation where there’s not much understanding or validation for the physical symptoms she was having.  And she said, “Yes, but I’m lucky I have a mother like you to talk to.”  I really love her!  And I feel pretty lucky myself to have such a wonderful daughter.

Thank G-d we’re not dependent on this doctor to be her primary care physician, and I’m very, very grateful that her dorm counselor has an interest in alternative health so she is a great resource person for dd.  Otherwise I don’t know where she’d start trying to get the information and help that she really needs.  Her counselor even offered to lend her money for the visit to the osteopath.  I’m also grateful that we know about options to the ‘let her suffer and wait it out’ approach, and have the resources to pay for this, since private doctors are outside of the coverage of the school insurance plan. 

I was glad to speak to her early today and hear she has an appointment this Thursday with an osteopath.  She’ll have to take the day off from school to travel over 2.5 hours in each direction to get there, but the main thing is that she has an appointment!  And she was glad to tell me that a friend called her grandmother, a doctor here in the US, and told her what the doctor dd had gone to said, and the grandmother doctor said it was inaccuate information and it definitely sounds like a concussion.  Now another friend of hers in the school is planning to call her parent who is a doctor about dd, and dd is feeling better just knowing that someone else in her school knows that it’s not all in her head!  (Or should I say, that it literally is all in her head? :P)

Even though dd didn’t have a stress component regarding her concussion, I did :), and I’m also feeling much better knowing that she’ll be seeing someone who has the possibility of offering her concrete help. 

Avivah