Monthly Archives: June 2013

The last day of school!

Today was the last day of school for all of kids ages 12 and down, and dd16 finished 12th grade over a week ago, so as of now we have just one child left in school – ds14, who has a different school schedule than the other kids.  The kids who finished today came home with report cards and certificates of good behavior and workbooks/activities for the summer, and I keep thinking how happy I am that we’ve completed this stage in our lives and are moving on to homeschooling!

As positively as I feel about the summer, I know that the transition period won’t necessarily be easy.  This is more of a concern to me right now since for the last week and a half I’ve been really wiped out and exhausted.  Transitions require more of an investment of parental time and energy than when things are running according to routine, and I’m going to have to make a very conscious effort to get to sleep earlier so that I can do what I need to do!

Dd16 will be running a two week day camp for young boys beginning tomorrow.  It’s ironic that here in Karmiel, far from a bastion of English speakers, that all of the families sending are English speakers so the camp will be in English!  She offered to take ds4 and ds5 for free, but we settled on me paying a discounted price, since it will be more work for her and I don’t want her to do it without any gain.  It’s a small group of nice kids and especially with dd running it, I know the boys will enjoy it.  Particularly for ds4, it will be special since he’s used to being home with me.

Dd12 and ds7 both asked me to send them to the camps their schools are running.  I told dd12 I was open to it but we needed to discuss it, and that discussion hasn’t yet happened.  (Updated to add – she asked me about this at 7:45 the next morning.  I told her I wasn’t comfortable registering at the last minute like this, but if she wanted to take care of the registration on her own, it was fine with me.  So she did and will be in camp for the next two weeks.  :))  As far as ds7, I think he needs to deschool and I’m not the slightest bit interested in sending him to camp.  He was telling me about his day in school, including the fifth grader who told ds7 to give ds11 the message that he hates him, and then the boy kicked ds7.  Then he got kicked by a seventh grader not long afterwards.  I pointed out that it didn’t seem camp would be much fun if the same group of older kids were there.  The kids are careful not to do this when teachers around since there’s no tolerance for this kind of behavior, but it makes unsupervised school time unsafe for kids.

Ds7 is a great example of a student who has everything going for him – he’s the top student in his class (and unfortunately knows that- I’ve always avoided this kind of comparison, preferring to focus on each person doing his best), is friendly, great at sports, and students and teachers really like him.  He’s the kind of kid who shines in school, but even so there’s a tension and unhappiness that we’ve all noticed in him.  If I’m seeing this in a boy who is excelling by all accounts, what’s it like for the kids who aren’t successful in school?  I’m looking forward to the restoration of his natural easy going nature as he unwinds inside.  I spoke to another mother of a large family, and she told me all her kids are uptight and unpleasant by the end of the school year – they start to get back to themselves after some vacation time.  I wonder how many people think about how this kind of tension affects their children’s personality development long term?

Last year, I was really looking forward to summer vacation, and then gave birth a day after it began.  That was followed by time in the NICU, daily trips back and forth to the hospital, then followed by constant doctor visits.  And before I knew it, the summer was over and the kids were back to school, and I hadn’t had a chance to be with them in the way I had hoped.  I’m looking forward to this summer being different. My plans are very low key – mostly to take them to local parks, read books and play games with them.  As boring as that sounds, I think it’s just what we all need – time to relax and spend time together as a family.


Using xylitol water to change oral ph

Back in Feb. 2008, I wrote about tips for improving dental health.  Many of these were from Rami Nagiel, before he wrote his book Cure Tooth Decay and became widely known in the traditional foods camp.  My problem with Rami’s approach is that I don’t feel it’s doable on a budget and that it’s somewhat extreme.  Rami’s approach is very absolute and doesn’t leave room for sometimes having grains or sweets.  That’s very tough and not realistic for many people, even those dedicated to their children’s health.  Since it’s based on high quality organic meats and vegetables, it’s also financially very daunting.  It was thinking of this that made me feel hopeless yesterday, since I know we don’t have the funds for his protocol no matter how frugal I am and I also know that I can’t follow his guidelines 100%.   What did encourage me was remembering about Dr. Ellie Phillips approach.

Dr. Ellie is a dentist who has worked with pediatric patients and others for many years.  She’s written a book called Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye (I haven’t read it) and is now writing another book that will have information about the importance of diet to your teeth.  I’m guessing this will be along the lines of the traditional foods approach.  What is very encouraging about Dr. Ellie’s protocol for kids is that it’s so doable, and she doesn’t tell you to stop having all foods with phytic acids or anything else.  Her approach is highly effective, affordable and doable.

The main issue with her protocol is consistency.  For kids, she says that giving them xylitol five or six times a day after any food that isn’t dairy or vegetables will reset their mouth bacteria from acidic to alkaline.  She recommends giving it in the form of xylitol water to drink.  The recommended amount of daily xylitol intake for maximum dental benefits is between 6.5 – 10 grams a day; I think that’s about two teaspoons a day.  No benefits have been demonstrated by giving more than that.

We were regularly brushing their teeth with xylitol for a while and then we got inconsistent and tapered off.  In any case, it seems that drinking xylitol water is better and having it a few times a day rather than just at night before bed is much better.  It’s also best to drink it throughout the day, ideally after each snack and meal to reset the ph balance of the mouth.  Here’s a great article about mouth bacteria that is a must read to understand why people get cavities – if you’re someone who brushes and is careful about diet but you still have issues with cavities, this will explain what is going on and you’ll understand how important it is to systematically reset the ph balance and how xylitol works to benefit that.  Reading this explanantion gave me a lot of hope since I already was convinced the issue was something about his acidic mouth fluids and I’m very optimistic based on her many years of experience that this can be the answer to helping ds5 reverse his dental caries issue.

Yesterday I started giving xylitol water to the younger boys (including Yirmiyahu even though he has no teeth, because he was in my lap when I was giving them drinks and he wanted some, too!) and they were very receptive.  They loved it!  So getting them to drink it won’t be the issue; the real concern is me keeping it in mind on a daily basis and making it into a family habit.  Since there’s always so much going on this is a challenge for me but I’m going to do my best!

To make xylitol water, all you do is mix a couple of teaspoons of xylitol in hot water to dissolve the crystals, mix it and then add cooler water.  This amount will be for one child for one day.  I tripled the amount and put it all in a mason jar that I’m leaving on the counter so I could give all three younger boys some during the day .

Today I’m going to make some of the xylitol water into ice cubes for them to snack on after meals as a ‘popsicle’ dessert.  Since I don’t want to mix them up with our regular ice cubes, I’m going to save some of the cooking water from the beets I’ll be boiling this morning and will add a little bit to the mixture to give it some color.  This won’t affect the effectiveness of the xylitol.

You can also make xylitol candies by mixing it with plain gelatin and juice, a project I once bought ingredients to undertake and never got around to.

By the way, Dr. Ellie’s website and blog are packed with useful information and she consistently comes across as an incredibly knowledgeable, nice, sincere and caring person.  She has produced xylitol candies that can be eaten after meals, but never does she give the impression that you must buy her products to have good dental health.  She has developed a protocol for tweens and up for reversing decay and eliminating pockets that is a must read, so check that out after you read the article about mouth bacteria that I linked above.


Dental woes for ds5

Today I took the kids to the dentist for the first time since we moved to Israel almost two years ago.  It’s embarrassing to me that I haven’t done this sooner but I’m so busy taking care of so many things, that everything takes longer than I want to get done.  I didn’t understand how the dental aspect of the health insurance here worked, and the person at the office I spoke to about it quite some time ago also didn’t.

Well.  Today’s news wasn’t good.  The kids I took were ds7 and ds5, and it was ds5 that I was particularly worried about.  I briefly wrote about this two years ago in the midst of our aliyah preparations, that when I took him for a routine dental check, I was shocked to find that he had a lot of cavities.  A lot.

This was very surprising to me since he wasn’t yet 4 years old, was homeschooled and therefore had very limited access to sugary treats.  We had a very good diet that included lots of healthy fats, raw milk, pastured eggs, broth, fermented vegetables, and no white sugar or white flour at all.  Of course we did have baked goods with organic sucanat and nut flours or freshly ground whole grain flour, but not the amounts you could attribute his level of cavities to.  And his cavities were totally disproportionate to all of the other kids’ state of dental health although they all have the same diet and similar toothbrushing habits.

I asked the dentist at the time what she attributed this to, and she said it’s possible he has highly acidic saliva.  I debated with myself about how to handle all of those cavities, knowing it’s possible to heal cavities, but decided to go ahead with traditional fillings since it was such a short time before we moved.  Knowing what I did about dental health, I was afraid we wouldn’t have the necessary factors in place for healing to take place, and so he had all of the cavities filled traditionally (20 – between almost all of his teeth).

Fast forward to today.  We’ve been a lot more careful with brushing with him as a result of his history, though his diet is worse than it used to be.  Firstly, our family diet isn’t nearly as good as it was for so many years due to cost and accessibility issues though most people would still call it very  healthy, and secondly, he’s at kindergarten daily and they get plenty of sugary snacks – it seems there’s always a party of some sort going on.

Ds7 was checked first, not much to be concerned about there despite all the sugary garbage he also eats regularly.  As I expected.  Before ds5 climbed into the chair, I warned the dentist he might find a very different situation.  And he did.  15 cavities, between most of his teeth.

I asked the dentist for his advice on prevention of this kind of thing, and he told me regular brushing and flossing.  I told him that we do regularly brush and that doesn’t seem to do much to help this particular child.  I told him I felt that ds5’s mouth ph was very acidic and causing this problem, and he dismissively shook his head and repeated that we need to brush and floss more.  I wasn’t hurt or surprised at this response; I’ve gotten used to very limited help from the professionals who are supposed to be experts since their learning is from an educational model that looks at the body as components rather than a holistic whole.

I felt kind of hopeless about this child’s dental health when I walked out of the office.  I absolutely don’t believe that this is an issue of inadequate brushing and know that this is going to be a constant issue with him unless we can figure out how to change his oral ph.  I know a number of things that can be done for healing cavities but just can’t afford all the traditional foods necessary.

Fortunately my discouragement was short-lived and I decided it was time for more research to see what else we could do.  I’ll share some of those things in my next post!


Yirmiyahu on all fours!

While we’ve been  busy with our kitchen preparations, look who learned how to support himself on all fours!

on all fours - 11.5 months

I never really gave much conscious thought to physical stages of development with any of the nine children before Yirmiyahu.  But since he has low muscle tone, having the strength to support himself on all fours is a big milestone!  Yirmiyahu has been rolling and scooting himself forward and backwards and around in circles, but being able to be on all fours is the first step to creeping (that’s the official term for crawling on all fours).  It’s such a gift to have the opportunity to be aware of and appreciative of each stage.

It’s amazing how exciting something so seemingly small can be.

"Wait, aren't you supposed to pick me up now?"

“Wait, aren’t you supposed to pick me up now?”

"What if I make cute faces at you?  Then will you pick me up?"

“What if I make cute faces at you? Then will you pick me up?”

"Read my body language - pick me up!!"

“Come on, you know you want to!  Pick me up!!”

Sorry, no more pics after that – he got scooped right up for a big hug!  There’s not much tolerance around here for leaving cute babies alone!


Living in the middle of the kitchen renovation chaos – pictures

Our kitchen renovations are going along really well, but there are some still some things left to do so you’ll have to wait a bit longer for final pictures.  For now, I’ll share the earlier part of the process with you.

This is our living room/dining room right after all the kitchen cabinets were delivered.  It looks more spacious in the below picture than it felt.

crowded living 1

Here’s a different angle and this is more reflective of how crowded it felt.  When we had to eat Shabbos dinner here, we felt very, very squished.  Yes, I was wishing for a Shabbos invitation!  We were very fortunate that we were invited out for a Shabbos meal (for lunch) for the first time in the eleven weeks that my husband has been gone, and the person who invited us didn’t even know all we had going on!  Amazing timing!

crowded living room

Everywhere we looked were signs of the new kitchen waiting to happen!  Ds5 playing with Yirmiyahu on the stairs – notice the new built-in oven below, prior to installation.

Donny playing with Yirmi on the stairs

We had to move our largest couch to a different place to accommodate all the cabinets.  Our living space became very cramped, especially when the contents of the kitchen were packed into boxes that further crowded our space.  But when your kids all play in a radius of a few feet from each other regardless of how much space you have, they don’t mind so much.

Yirmiyahu in the middle of bubble blowing fun

Yirmiyahu in the middle of bubble blowing fun

Brothers having fun playing together - ds4, Yirmiyahu, ds5

Brothers having fun together – ds4, Yirmiyahu, ds5

Back to the kitchen.  Below is a before picture of my kitchen.  As I said before, it was functional but not incredibly attractive.  The space allotted for the fridge and oven on the left side of the kitchen was big enough for a standard size fridge and oven, neither of which is what I have.  So we left our huge oven in the original space and moved the fridge to the opposite wall which worked out well.

kitchen before

However, the fridge also partially blocked the window behind it, as you can see below.  I had two main goals in doing kitchen renovations, one of which was to open up this space by moving the fridge to one of the two main walls where the cabinets were.  I felt this would not only make the kitchen feel more spacious, but would improve the airflow and light.

kitchen before 1

My second goal in renovating the kitchen was to create more usable space, which was a challenge since I lost counter and cabinet space by moving the fridge to the wall where the main length of cabinets were.  Even though we’re not done – we still have to retile the backsplash and cut down a cabinet and countertop so they’ll be custom sized to the remaining space – I’m very encouraged by our progress on both fronts!


Our frugal kitchen upgrade

I’ve been meaning to share with you my latest miracle, but today has been a tiring and stressful day so I’m afraid I won’t give it over with the enthusiasm it deserves.  But since this directly relates to my stressful day and the busyness in our house right now, I’d better explain!

Since we’ve moved in to our apartment here, I’ve had it in mind that I’d like to put in new kitchen cabinets.  The bottom cabinets are original to the apartment, and the top cabinets, though good quality, are a different color than the bottom cabinet and don’t fully use the wall space available.  Since my kitchen is functional though not beautiful, this hasn’t been a high priority.

When my husband left to the US ten weeks ago, I took the opportunity to get some things around the house taken care of.  My husband works really, really hard and it’s not relaxing for him to have a list of projects to work on when he gets home.  So I try not to even mention my thoughts about the things I’d like to do around the house!  I decided with him away it’s the perfect time to get some things taken care of.

One of these things was to see about improving the way space is used in my kitchen; I’ve been preparing for homeschooling by doing some things to make our home feel more homey and to make the space more efficient for our needs.  About two months ago I began scouring the internet looking for used kitchen cabinets.  As some of my long term readers know, we’ve done a lot of renovations in the past ourselves, including putting in a new kitchen in our house in the US.  When we did that, I bought a high quality used set of kitchen cabinets in excellent condition for a great price, and this is what I wanted to do now.  Of course, the savings aren’t just in buying the materials inexpensively, but in not having to pay for labor costs.

That was the snag with my scenario this time around.  My husband is in the US, my oldest son is in Jerusalem and doesn’t have vacation until mid-July, ds14 isn’t home until 7 pm most nights, and to top it all off, we don’t have any power tools.  But where there’s a will, there’s a way, so I kept looking and trusting that somehow we’d be able to upgrade our kitchen for a budget friendly price.

After a month of looking, I hit pay dirt!  I found a two year old kitchen, great quality, nice looking, being sold by the person who had just purchased the home that this kitchen was in – his wife wanted to renovate.  The price was good, he was willing to negotiate with me and was pleasant to deal with.  We set a date for me to come by to check it out in person, and then pushed it off for two more weeks because he wanted to wait until he was living in the house.

About fifteen hours before I was finally set to look at this kitchen, I got a call from a friend who is a real estate agent.  She just sold a home and the sellers want to give away the kitchen that is there because they’d like to put in a new kitchen.  Did I want it?  I thought it was unlikely the measurements and features would suit our needs but it was worth taking a look.  At 11 pm I headed over to check it out, and since there was a short with the electricity, was able to see it by the dim light of my cell phone’s flashlight.  Very surprisingly, the kitchen had all the features I was looking for, though it was a very different look than what I was intending.

There were removal costs for this set of cabinets that the first one didn’t have, but it would still be cheaper than buying them.  Not only that, it would leave money in the budget to pay others to do the labor, and this was a really appealing feature of this kitchen!  It was a decision in line with something I’ve been working on but haven’t had time to share with you, be being conscious and taking active steps to value my life energy and make life as simple as possible for myself!   So for the first time ever in our family, none of us will be more actively involved in the physical renovations.  Dd16, ds14 and I are all very happy about this, since we know from previous experience what’s involved in a kitchen renovation.  Hashem is so good to us!

Right now my kitchen is partially dismantled and my house is a disaster, stacked with all the kitchen cabinets, the contents of the previous cabinets in boxes all over, the old cabinets on my porch….There is a big snag that was discovered after they had begun putting the cabinets in that affects how the kitchen will be assembled and is requiring me to mentally be flexible and consider different possibilities than what I had painstakingly planned based on repeatedly working out the exact dimensions of the space involved.  So I’m going to go to sleep and hope that some amazing solution will come to me when I wake up and that the kitchen will look even better than I planned, since the alternative is to be really stressed out!  Somehow it’s all going to work out so I have to keep trusting the process and not get caught up in the pressures of the moment.


School parties, performances and events – nice but not something I’ll miss much

Yesterday afternoon, I attended ds5’s siddur party.  A few days before that, I attended dd16’s high school event that is in lieu of a graduation ceremony. This coming week there will be a performance of some sort for dd12.  As the school year winds down, there’s a lot going on!

Ds5 receiving his siddur

Ds5 receiving his siddur

Ds5 center right

Ds5 center right

In the past two school years, I’ve attended a number of events – a sixth grade bas mitzva performance, my first grader’s chumash party and before that his siddur party, school birthday parties for the kids in kindergarten and other miscellaneous events.  There have been quite a few.  This has been particularly interesting for me as a long-time homeschooler, since people so often talk about how hard it must be for homeschooled kids to miss out on all of these special occasions.

Ds5 - kindergarten birthday party

Ds5 – kindergarten birthday party

Ds5 with other birthday boy at joint kindergarten party

Ds5 with other birthday boy at joint kindergarten party

It’s been very nice to attend all of these along with the other mothers and feel part of things.  This feeling was particularly strong in the first few months I was here, as I pictured how left out I’d be if the kids weren’t in school.  But as time has gone on, experience has shown how fleeting and insignificant this sense of belonging is.  I get a lot more connection and bonding by chatting with moms in the park or store.

Ds6, top right as the captain of the ship, leading his class onto 'stage' -first grade siddur party

Ds6, top right as the captain of the ship, leading his class onto stage – opening scene at first grade performance followed by receiving siddur

Ds6 top right, before stepping to front of stage for his solo

Ds6 top right, before stepping to front of stage for his solo

With few exceptions, the events have been very nicely done, with a lot of time and effort invested by the teachers/administration to make each one special.  I’m grateful that my kids were able to have these experiences and particularly glad that this year there was a siddur party in kindergarten (in the past it’s always been first grade).  After ds7’s siddur party earlier this year (which was particularly special), ds5 kept asking if he would also have a siddur party next year when he was in first grade and now he’s had it so it won’t be a perceived lack when he’s homeschooled next year.  (This party was the most meaningful of them all, since ds6 had the lead role in his class with two solos and a duet.  This degree of personal opportunity is unusual but he has a small class and he had the willingness and confidence for these roles, and we all enjoyed seeing him shine – I wanted to post a video of one of his solos but the blog interface wouldn’t allow me to upload the file type used -sorry!)

Ds6 at his siddur party

Ds6 after receiving his siddur 

As lovely as all of these have been, I must say that attending them gives me increased confidence that kids who don’t go to school (and their parents!) aren’t missing out on much.  I have absolutely no feeling of regret or wistfulness that the younger kids won’t have these opportunities, only positive anticipation about the experiences they will have as an integral part of homeschooling that dwarf  all of these.


Ordering missing parts from company and save money!

Before Yirmiyahu was born, we were given some baby items, including a high chair.  At the time, I was told the high chair was missing some screws, but since the factory of the company (Keter) that makes this high chair is located in Karmiel I planned to buy the missing screws from them.

Fast forward to just a couple of weeks ago, when we pulled the high chair out of storage to put it together and put it to use!  We noted the missing screws, and I headed to the Keter factory store in the industrial zone to buy some.  When I arrived I was told that this is the older model so they no longer have parts available for sale.  I began thinking how ridiculous it would be to have to throw out the entire chair just because of some missing screws, but they are made in a specific way and it would be extremely difficult to find a substitute at the hardware store.

Then it occurred to me to ask them if they could order the screws for me.  They initially didn’t think so, but I asked them to check on this and after asking someone in a higher position they told me they could.  I was told they would order an entire set, enough to replace every screw and small part on the high chair.  I didn’t need all of that but this is the only way they could order it.

When I asked how much it would be, the woman in charge smiled at me and told me they weren’t going to charge me.  I wasn’t expecting that but of course I was very appreciative!  (My kids have asked me why it seems that so often nice things like this happen to me, but I believe that we all have wonderful things happening all the time – perhaps because I try to be conscious of it and share it with my family, my kids get this impression.)

The moral of the story?  If you have an item that needs a part that is hard to buy, try contacting the manufacturer for a replacement.  Usually you’ll have to pay for the parts but generally it will still work out to be a lot less expensive than buying a new item!


Speech and communication assessment for Yirmiyahu

This past Thursday was my last day at Shalva in Jerusalem, something that I had very mixed feelings about.  I don’t enjoy the long travel time to get to Jerusalem, but once I’m there I enjoy it so much.  The therapists are so encouraging and warm, about me as a mother and about Yirmiyahu.  It’s nice to be with other moms with babies with T21, and it’s just overall a really warm environment.

Yirmiyahu (11 mo) in Shalva's sensory room

Yirmiyahu (11 mo) in Shalva’s sensory room

You should see how much he loves this when it has bubble and lights at the same time!

You should see this when it has bubble and lights at the same time!

Then there’s the local child development center, where Yirmiyahu goes for weekly (soon to be twice a week) therapy.  As appreciative as I am for the services being offered locally, the environment is really different.  Here’s an example.  This past Thursday, the speech therapist at Shalva and I were discussing the feeding issues with Yirmiyahu.  I mentioned that I started giving him Chewy Tubes to chew on, and the therapist exclaimed appreciatively and impressed, “Wow!  You have everything!”  She’s told me a number of times what a great mom I am and appreciates the time and energy I put into researching options to help Yirmiyahu.

Now here’s how the same conversation would go at the child development center.  I mention the feeding difficulties and tell her I gave him Chewy Tubes to gnaw on.  She would say (we didn’t have this conversation but it’s been exactly the same in every conversation): “What is that?”  I explain. “What makes you think that’s a good idea?”  I explain.  She asks me, “Did someone recommend this or did you just decide on your own to do this?”  Sometimes she just says, ‘hmm’, and sometimes she tells me the research doesn’t support whatever it is I’m talking about.  You get the idea.  It’s just a very different kind of conversation in the two places.  In one I end up feeling appreciated and in the other I feel defensive and almost attacked.

Today I had an appointment at the child development center and though our regular physical therapist wasn’t able to be there today, the speech therapist already scheduled to join our session was.  I’ve gotten used to a certain kind of attitude though I don’t like it, so today was a really nice surprise.  Even a few minutes into our meeting, I already had a good sense of rapport and warmth with her.

Then we had the assessment, which was a total pleasure. She began by asking me to tell her about Yirmiyahu, so what could I say?  Except the truth, that he’s amazingly cute and communicative and intelligent.  I know, you’re not supposed to say that a baby with T21 is intelligent because the traditional medical model tells parents that these kids are born mentally retarded which is a total lie and sorry, I have to rant for a minute and say these doctors are going to be held accountable in some lifetime for the stunted potential of all the children whose parents treated like them they were retarded as a result of what they were told.  I just spoke to a mother like this a few days ago and I thank God that I happened to meet her and give her some hope because after speaking to the doctors, she had absolutely none and having a more realistic and hopeful picture will change the quality of her life and her baby’s life.

Anyway, back to me and the therapist.  I’m a straightforward person so despite knowing that people will think I’m in denial or living in a dream world, I tell her the truth, that he’s very bright.  She asked me, “Really, you think he’s intelligent?”  I tell her, ‘Absolutely, and very attentive, aware and curious.’

Yirmiyahu gazing at his sister, mesmerized by her flute playing

Yirmiyahu gazing at his sister, mesmerized by her flute playing

Loving his sister's flute!

Loving the full body musical experience!

And guess what?  Throughout her assessment she kept commenting spontaneously not just about his cuteness, but about how curious and aware and attentive he is.  At the end, she told me that his communication is very good, specifying all the ways she noticed this. I asked her, “Do you mean for children with T21, or for typical children?”  And she said that his communication skills are on the same level as a typical infant, and that she can’t find a single area of concern.  The feedback at the child development center tends to be lukewarm, and meeting this therapist and having this feedback was really a very nice shift.

I’m hopeful that we will have more of these kind of interactions as time goes on….but it was really a poignant and sad feeling to say goodbye to the wonderful staff at Shalva where this was typical rather than unusual.


Fun – restoring a missing component to my busy life

I have so many things I’ve been thinking about and working on lately that I want to share with you!  Okay, let me just start with one thing and hopefully as time will allow I’ll be able to share about more of them.

On Thursday one of my closest friends from the US who is currently visiting Israel met me in Jerusalem.  We had a wonderful three hours together, and though I always enjoy time with this friend, this visit was something even better than usual!

She met me at Shalva after Yirmiyahu’s last therapy session was over.  We had initially planned to hang out and chat for our time together, which would have been great.  But after I admired the one she was wearing and told her that earlier in the day I had been shopping at the Machane Yehuda open air marketplace to buy some scarves but couldn’t find something like what she had on, we decided to hop on a bus and do some scarf shopping in the Geula neighborhood where she had made her purchase.  We strolled the streets of Geula, shopping, shmoozing, having pizza, shopping and shmoozing some more.  I got a lot of great scarves (and enjoyed spending every single penny on myself), had a yummy piece of pizza, enjoyed being able to talk to a good friend who understands me (she responded to something I said with a hint of a smile and the comment, “Are you doing that self-sabotage thing again?”  Oh, for the honesty of good friends!), and enjoyed the very unusual experience of spending time with a friend without kids around.  (Well, Yirmiyahu was there but stayed asleep in the wrap most of the time.)  I had such a thoroughly enjoyable time and felt so renewed, that it really made me think about why this kind of experience felt so unusual for me.

I’m not good at having fun for its own sake.  I’m good at being responsible and well-thought out and getting things done.  I try to be present and helpful to the important people in my life.  I enjoy talking to friends and strangers, I’m a pretty positive person and I enjoy lots of things that I do throughout the day.  I’m not so great at giving my own needs priority (another post hopefully coming up soon on how I’ve been addressing that lately) and as far as having fun…my kind of fun is being able to mark off all the to-do items in my planner at the end of a day.  I operate from a strong sense of duty and fun isn’t my natural way of being.  (If you’re familiar with the Myers Briggs personality system, you’ll recognize from this statement that I’m a J rather than a P – P personalities put fun before duty.)

But I felt so lighthearted and happy after my time with this friend, that I determined that I need to find more time to have fun just for fun.  This ties in well with the self-nurturing stuff that I’m working on, but it’s going a little further.  As a result of this awareness, I called to reserve a spot at a mother’s retreat in a couple of weeks, something I would usually not be able to justify – not the time away from my family nor the money spent.  The friend who was trying with no luck to convince me to go with her was delighted to hear about my change of heart!  As it turns out, all the spaces are taken so I’m now on the waiting list for a spot if someone drops out, and don’t know if I’ll end up going or not.  But that’s okay.  Just making the call and putting myself first, not because I’m desperate to get away (I’m not) or horribly unhappy (not at all – I’m feeling very blessed and happy with life) is a good change for me.

Do you also find it a conscious effort to have fun?  What kind of things are fun for you?  How do you make time for fun in your busy life?  I’d love to hear your ideas!