Monthly Archives: May 2011

Rescheduling dd16’s ticket

I told you when we brought dd16 home for Pesach, and I told you that it we made the decision to bring her home a short time before she actually got here, but I didn’t tell you why we brought her home.  After all, we’re not really the kind of family who flies a child back just to be home a short period of time at considerable expense, particularly since we told dd when discussing her attending the school she’s currently at that we wouldn’t bring her home until the end.  However, with our plans to move in place, there suddenly were a lot of factors that were dependent upon one another that we were trying to juggle.  As a result, there was a lot of pressure to make a decision without having the necessary details in place to make it.  So we brought her home for Pesach rather than at the end of the year, instead of waiting for details that weren’t speedy in forthcoming.

This is confusing to explain in writing since there were so many overlapping factors that were all being discussed in a very close period of time of about two weeks, but I’ll try to share some of the factors and hope it makes sense:

– We weren’t sure when in the summer we would be moving (this depends on when we sell our house, when we find a place to live, dh finding employment, and when there are available flights by the time we work all of the other things out!).  Her program ends at the end of June, and if we moved around that time, it wouldn’t make sense to pay for her to come back since we’d already be so close to arriving there.  But if we didn’t do that, then she wouldn’t have a chance to say goodbye to her grandparents, friends, or have any kind of closure with her life here.

However, we didn’t want her to spend 10 months away from home, and then just as we moved there, for her to come here and be away from home even longer!  I considered different scenarios and realized that most of the other possibilities would mean she might spend another 4 months away from us; this wasn’t acceptable to us.

– We weren’t sure what her legal status would be.  If she opens her own file at the age of 17, she will be a returning minor, with similar rights to a new immigrant.  However, she doesn’t turn 17 until November.  That created some new questions.  Could she move with us and make aliyah on her birthday?  She is allowed to spend four months total (aside from time at an approved educational program) between the age of 13 – 17 to qualify for this.

But – we were told that if we moved before she turned 17, we might invalidate her status, and she’d have to live here in the US on her own for several months before coming by herself. Then we were told that because of the age she began her current educational program at, she wouldn’t receive any benefits at all.  Then we had to prepare to file a legal appeal on her behalf (which was scheduled for the day of her departure).

So despite calls to offices here and in Israel, we weren’t getting a clear answer on whether she could stay there with us without invalidating her immigration benefits.  (I’m trying to simplify this but there are actually a lot more details involved.)

– She’s been having stomach pains that we wanted to get checked out.  I found an osteopath covered by our insurance, but it takes 3 months to get an appointment.  Fortunately, dh had made an appointment for himself back in January, so he was able to give dd16 his appointment that ‘happened to be a couple of days after she arrived home, and made another one for himself in June.  We were instructed to do blood work for her, which we rushed to do before Pesach so we could get a follow-up appointment before her return flight.  This was complicated by the inefficiency of the doctor’s office, who told me they had the blood work results and would call us back with a priority appointment that day, but didn’t call us back for 5 days (after Pesach).  At that point, told me that the H pylori test, which was critical to her work-up, wasn’t processed because she was under 18 so we had to do it in a different format.

When I got this call, it was Wednesday afternoon, and she was scheduled to leave Monday night.  I had to drive to the hospital, pick up the new form to have another test done, and do that first thing Thursday morning.  It takes three days to process this test, and we were holding our breath if the results would get there in time for her appointment with the osteopath, which was for Monday at 11:30 am.  Dd was supposed to leave for the airport at 2 pm. I really didn’t want to wait until that visit to decide if she’d go back or not.

– Her dentist said she needed her wisdom teeth out, and the first appointment I got for a consultation with the oral surgeon was in mid-May.  The first appointment for the surgery was on June 20, and I was told she had to stay in the country for a week afterward.  That meant she would miss the rest of her school year.  So I was researching what would be involved in having it done in Israel, in addition to calling the office here several times to see if there was a cancellation we would have.

So there was a lot of stuff to juggle about deciding when to bring her home, and once we brought her home, we had even more things to consider.  After going back and forth about all of this, dd and I agreed that she’d stay through the end of May – dd really wanted to be here for the Torah Home Education Conference, and she’d be here another month to get the stomach stuff diagnosed, then have the wisdom teeth taken out in Israel so she’d be there for the last three weeks of school.

Then on Friday, I called the oral surgeon one more time – and I finally got a nice receptionist, who I explained the situation to.  She managed to find an appointment for the wisdom tooth removal in the last week of May.  I was so happy when I put down the phone!  Now we’d be able to do everything before the May 31 departure date!

However, on Monday, she had her appointment and all of her blood work came back negative.  We were all hoping it would come back positive for H pylori – both this doctor and the osteopath she saw in Israel were guessing that’s what it was (and initially this was my guess, too, though by the time she came home with no improvement after huge amounts of powerful probiotics, I was thinking it had to be something else).  But it didn’t.  Everything came back negative.  So the doctor recommended further testing, which would necessitate an appointment with a gastroenterologist and an abdominal ultrasound.

Now, I was in DC getting the passports done, and by the time I got home, it was too late to get an appointment with a gastroenterologist.  This left me with a real dilemma.  I had only a few hours left before her flight departed, and in order to get partial credit toward another ticket, I needed to cancel her ticket and reschedule a new ticket before her flight took off.

I didn’t know how long it would take to get the appointment with a gastro, then how long it would take to get back those test results, then how long to schedule a follow-up appointment.  So I called the airline a few minutes before the flight left, and they told me I could cancel the ticket then, and reschedule in the morning.  This was great because it gave a me a couple of hours Tuesday morning to figure out what to do.

The first thing Tuesday morning, I took dd14 to the dentist.  As soon as I got back, I put on a science dvd for the kids ages 10 and down (this is a very rare thing so they were excited), and though I didn’t do it with this intention, it gave me time to make the necessary calls without interruptions.  I called our pediatrician, who gave me a recommendation for a gastroenterologist, I called the gastro, who gave me an appointment for mid-May, I called the radiation clinic and asked how soon I could get an ultrasound, and then I called back the osteopath with referral requests.  (That was the hard part since they rarely answer the phone!)

Then I called the airline, and I was able to get dd’s return flight rescheduled for May 31.  (And it only cost me $546, including the change ticket fee – I hadn’t been counting on this extra expense when we brought dd16 home, and was told the night before it would be more, so this was a nice surprise!)

This is the end of the post relating to dd’s ticket rescheduling, but was just the beginning of my day.  It was 11:30 am by now, and as soon as I got off the phone with the airline, I rushed out to a meeting, getting there ten minutes late, and as soon as I got home from that, had to take ds17 to the Megabus stop to return to NY.

Dd16 had asked before I left for my meeting if we could have a picnic, so she prepared the food while I was out, so that we could go directly from the bus stop to the park.  But ds12 wasn’t in the van by when I needed to leave and time was so tight that I had to leave without him.  After dropping ds17 off (half an hour away), we decided to go back for him because a family picnic isn’t fun when you leave someone behind.

When we arrived home, ds12 had just left five minutes before to go to a friend, but dd14 was still there, who was supposed to babysit.  But the person hadn’t picked her up (they’d just had a baby), so we were able to take her with us, then go pick up ds12 from his friend.

Then we had our picnic and we actually had everyone with us (except dh and ds17, obviously).  It was very warm out but the park was breezy and so pleasant, and as I said before, at this busy time I’m really making the effort to build in relaxed time together so the kids don’t feel like all I ever do is run from here to there!  We left at 4:30 to get ds12 to his baseball game on time, but on our way home, ds12 showed me his sneakers that I bought him three months ago were close to having holes on the soles.  So I dropped everyone off at home, then we zoomed off to downtown to find him some sneakers before his game (I haven’t mentioned that baseball season began before Pesach, have I?  Three games a week, and no, I haven’t been too sad that many of them have been rained out. :)

Fortunately we found an amazing pair at the thrift store that he’s very pleased with ($10 for Nike sneaks with shock absorbers), and we got home just in time to get everyone into the van and go to his game.  (It was 6 pm by now.)  Dh came along, which was really nice, and at 7:30, we took dd16 and the littles home, leaving the older four kids there to be brought home with one of their two grandmothers.  Dh and I both had to be somewhere, so he dropped me off at my shiur and continued on to his meeting.  Usually I drop him off, but thanks to this change, I got to my shiur ten minutes early, giving me the first quiet time in the day! (I just got a book about intuition from the library and spent those ten minutes answering the preliminary questions.)

Then dh came to pick me up at 9:45, and I went to bed early (but unfortunately didn’t get to sleep until 2 am.)  Another busy (and as of late, typical!) day, but we got some important things taken care of, and after weeks of working out these details, and we’re all so glad to have it settled that dd16 will be home with us for another four weeks!  (And for those of you coming to the conference, you’ll have the chance to meet her, since she’ll be participating in the teen panel.)


Getting Israeli passports

Today we went to the Israeli consulate in DC to get passports for all of us.  It’s challenging to find time when we’re all available to go, since the consulate is only open until 1 pm, there’s only one day my husband can possibly go, and I had/have appointments for various kids booked literally almost every single day of the last few weeks.  I had planned for us to go before Pesach, but my dh ran short on time that day and the next possible time we could go was this Friday.

Well, we drove to Washington, DC and piled out of the van on Friday only to learn that the embassy was closed –  the Israeli consulate is only open from 9:30 – 10:30 on Fridays!  So we piled back in and I suggested we take the kids to the National Zoo in DC, since it had been a long trip for the kid and then it wouldn’t feel like a wasted trip.  The zoo was just a few minutes away, but when we got there, it was jam packed.  The parking lots were all full, there were loads and loads of school buses full of kids, and since there was nowhere to park, we decided to change plans and go home.

Then I remembered a park I had once taken the kids to that we had a great time at, and had all agreed that we should return to.  I told the kids that we’d go there instead, and everyone was enthusiastic about it.  When we got there 30 minutes later, we found the park and parking lot almost entirely empty.  We were just about to cheer in delight when we realized why – there’s no park there anymore!  They’re totally rebuilding the park, and though it looks like it will be incredible when it’s done, that didn’t help us that minute.

We saw one area set apart from everything else that had a kiddie area – two baby swings, and a little slide.  So we took the little kids there, and after a short while of the older kids pushing swings and admiring their siblings when prompted to ‘watch me!”, they wandered off to look around.   When we got there, it was overcast and chilly, but the sun came out and it was turning into a very relaxing interlude in our day.  It was really nice that there were so few other people, because it made keeping an eye on all the kids really easy, and I could let ds5 go further in his explorations than I usually would unless I were right next to him (dh and I could watch him while we were relaxing on the grass).  Ds23 months found a chewed up baseball, and ds12 and ds17 had a catch – ds12 improvised by using his baseball cap as a glove.  Then they got the other kids involved, and we all ended up having a great time!

Today is the last day ds17 will be here until he returns for summer break, and even though dd16 had an appointment and I really wanted to be there with her, dh arranged for someone else to take her so I could go back to the consulate with the rest of the family for attempt #3.  (If you’re wondering why dd16 didn’t need to go with us, it’s because she got her Israeli passport in the summer.)

In order to get Israeli passports, the first thing we needed to do at the embassy was to register the births of our five children born in the US.  Then we would be able to get identification numbers for each of them, then have Israeli birth certificates issued, and then we could apply for the passports.

When we got to the embassy, we learned that since we didn’t have the US birth certificates for the kids, we wouldn’t be able to register their births.  The reason we didn’t have birth certificates is that we sent them in when we applied for US passports and they hadn’t yet been returned, so we thought that we could use the US passports (which arrived before the birth certificates were returned) as proof of their birth.  We were wrong. :(  But the woman at the intake area was so nice – she said we could just mail in the missing paperwork, since she had seen all of us she could verify our identities and we wouldn’t need to come back.

We also needed to defer ds17’s mandatory army service, but we were missing paperwork for that, too (school records and a letter from my husband’s place of employment stating that he worked there – who would have thought we’d need that?).  Anyway, I have the school letter on the computer at home so that won’t be a big deal, and dh got another letter from ds’s current school so ds’s school record until the current date would be complete.  We needed the work letter for a different part of the older kids’ applications with the Jewish Agency, so getting it now wasn’t any extra work.  The main thing is that ds17 was able to be interviewed and affirm in person whatever he needed to, and again, the fabulously nice and helpful woman working there said we could mail in what was missing and that would be it.

Fortunately, the kids who were born in Israel had expired passports that were able to be used to apply for new passports, so dh and I and 3 of the older kids were able to get our passports taken care of today. Hashem is being very kind in spacing the expenses of our passports out – so far it’s cost close to $2000 for the US and Israeli passports.

The woman was so efficient that we were able to take care of everything in about an hour, leaving us with some extra time before dh had to be at work.  (After this experience, three of my kids separately asked me, “Is everyone in Israel so nice and good at getting things done?”)  So we went to the National Zoo, and this time it was perfect!  The weather was gorgeous, there weren’t many people there, and it was very enjoyable.  I have so many balls that I’m juggling right now and it’s really taking a conscious and ongoing effort to stay balanced.  I especially appreciate opportunities like this for us to have fun together as a family, and I was sent two opportunities, via what could have been frustrations with getting our passports!