Monthly Archives: October 2013

Splashing around at bathtime

Today is Day 10 of 31 for 21, a blogging effort to raise awareness of Trisomy 21.
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I feel like this has been a heavy week with my posting thanks to the accident, so today I thought I’d share something a little lighter to bring a smile to your face.

Here’s a two minute video starring our little bundle of sunshine during bath time when we first transferred him to this baby bath from our previous set up two months ago. Okay, so it takes me a while to get these technical things done, what can you do?

We don’t usually follow our kids around with a camera taking pictures or videos but Yirmiyahu was having so much fun that we wanted to capture it! Even though he got startled every time he splashed his face, he had a great time, and so did we watching him!

Bath time. You’ll see at the end that he pulls to stand twice and plops right back down- at that time he was just learning to stand up.

Avivah

Filled with anger and resentment since the accident

Today is Day 9 of 31 for 21, a blogging effort to raise awareness of Trisomy 21. Sorry I forgot to mention it in my last couple of posts!
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I’ve been doing pretty well physically since the accident Sunday afternoon, except for the huge asthma attack that it triggered and has made breathing, walking and talking difficult.  It’s intensified all the pains in my neck and back from the accident but that’s getting better so I’m not worried even though it’s hard.

What’s not so good is how I’m feeling emotionally.

I’ve done a lot of thinking over the last few days.  When I was hit by the car, I had a blank spot in my memory from the time I was hit until the time I was sitting on the curb holding ds4.  Then I started to have flashes of memory that took time to piece together – some things have taken me until today.

Firstly was realizing that I was knocked down into the street.  When I was asked after the accident about what happened, I said the car hit me.  They asked if I fell down, and I said no – I didn’t remember getting up so I must not have fallen.  I did keep wondering how I could have been hit and not fallen.  Then I started getting pieces of memories and strained to put it together with physical clues – my new shirt that had a hole in the elbow, painful scrapes on my right arm, rough scuffs on the outside of my right shoe, soreness throughout my right side; trying to understand why all my flashes of memory were from the perspective of someone on the ground, not an upright position – I finally realized why.  I pieced this together in time to tell the doctor at the emergency clinic what happened, not that it helped since he was horrible.

What’s been replaying over and over in my mind is what happened to ds4.  About fifteen minutes after the accident a bystander said he saw what happened from down the street and ds wasn’t hit.  I accepted it as a fact even though it contradicted what I had been sure happened until that minute.  Since ds was lying in the street, the only other explanation was that I must have yanked him so hard he landed there so that’s what I believed.  But I kept thinking of my position when the car hit, how I only had time to start to turn toward him with the intent to get him to safety and I didn’t remember pulling him – and I have memories from then so I should remember it.

How could the car have missed ds? I couldn’t see how it was possible – I was hit by the front right of the car and he was closer to the center of the car than I was since he was holding my right hand a step or so behind me. It didn’t occur to me to question the bystander’s assertion, until today I suddenly realized it was physically impossible for anyone to have seen what happened from anywhere but on the other side of the crosswalk close to us; certainly it was impossible from down the street.  It was when I screamed at the driver that people looked around and by that time the accident had taken place.  Assuming that’s when this person looked up, he would have only seen that she didn’t roll over ds as she drove right next to him in the street.

I wanted to think I had pulled ds to safety but the physics of the situation didn’t make sense.   Hundreds of times I’ve replayed in my mind the position ds4 was lying in, I was lying in, his shock response for hours after the accident – and it became obvious the only way he could have been lying exactly parallel to me in the street but further up, is that the car hit us both at the same time and because he’s smaller, he was propelled further.  When I screamed at the driver, it’s because I saw him lying in the street and knew she had hit him.  It wasn’t until when this bystander said something that I accepted his perspective without questioning him due to my emotionally disconnected state .  If I had been able to think logically, in one second I would have realized it didn’t make sense.

I haven’t brought up the topic of the accident to ds but today I wanted to check out how he was doing.  Carefully, I said, “That was kind of scary when we were crossing the street a few days ago.”  He answered, “Yea, it was very scary when the car bumped us.”  Me (taken aback since I didn’t expect him to have any memories of the accident, but playing it cool): “Oh, did the car bump you, too?”  Him: “Yea, and it hurt me so much.”  I tried not to discuss what happened with my kids around but even if he happened to overhear me speaking about it, he wouldn’t have heard me use the phrase ‘bumped’.   (Later I realized he used that term because this is how I usually talk when I discuss the importance of safely crossing streets – ‘we do such and such so we won’t get bumped by a car’, to play it down so it won’t be a scary idea for them.)  And he’s definitely heard me repeatedly tell everyone how grateful I was that he wasn’t hit, so he can’t be repeating anything he heard somewhere else.  It was obvious that he has a clear memory of being hit by the car.

Then he asked me if I wish I had a car.  My kids periodically ask me this so it’s not unusual.  I told him, no, I’m pretty happy with what we have.  Did he wish we had a car?  ‘Yes,’ he told me, ‘because then we could have crossed the street in front of the other car (in our car) and we wouldn’t get hurt.’

Thankfully the car wasn’t going fast enough to cause either of us serious damage.  But emotionally I feel traumatized and victimized.  The woman who hit me is a lawyer and purposely withheld the information she knew I’d need to file a report.  I was so shell shocked; I knew she should give me the car registration information but I just couldn’t insist on it.  She went to her car to get the information and was taking what seemed like a long time.  She waited until the two guys from Hatzalah (emergency responders) who were there to help were talking to each other, then motioned me over.

At the time I thought this was very inappropriate.  I was just hit by a car, and I should walk to you?  I should have asked one of the guys to get the information for me, because it hurt me to walk and I was emotionally drained.  I was just trying to keep myself together.  But it’s because I was in a state of shock that I couldn’t ask for the help I needed.  And so when with difficulty I got her first and last name and phone number and she didn’t offer anything else, I didn’t push her.  She was acting kind of cagey but I assumed good intentions on her part and figured we’d call and get whatever we needed afterward.  Maybe the laws are different here than in the US and an Israeli driver would certainly know better than me what to do, right?

I was wrong.  We went down to file a police report the next morning but were told we couldn’t file a report without all of her information, so dh called the number she gave me. Her husband answered and said was already asleep for the evening (at 9 pm?) and when dh asked him for the information, he said it was dark outside and didn’t feel like going out to the car to get it.  Dh called a number of times the next day, but clearly she now knows his number and isn’t answering.

And this is the hardest thing for me after all of this.  Why do we have to undergo pain, trauma, emotional suffering and have to pay the financial price for on top of it all?  How can someone not care about doing something like this?  How could she not want to do whatever she can to try to make up for hitting us in broad daylight at a crosswalk? It’s so much not my way of relating that I simply can’t process it.  I’m really trying to let go of feeling like a victim and reclaim my power, but it’s hard to be in a country where you don’t know the rules and you don’t have an inherent sense of who to turn to, how to get things done…and you’re up against someone who knows exactly how to finagle all the loopholes.

I’m furious with this woman for having done what she did and having no remorse or shame.   I hate that she could care less about our suffering, particularly when I think what could have happened to ds.  But I don’t want to be filled with anger and resentment.  I know it will hurt me more than it will hurt her – it already is. I haven’t been able to sleep well since the accident. For the first two nights it was reliving the terror of seeing the car about to hit us and not being able to protect ds4, repeatedly seeing his body lying in the street and not knowing if she would stop before she ran over him.  Now I’m processing about how she’s responding and that’s not lending itself to a restful mind.

You know what gives me some comfort, what I try to focus on?  That everything in this world happens for a reason.  And that everyone pays the price for being the person who they choose to be; even if it seems she’s getting away with this now, she has to live with being a person lacking in character.  I don’t want revenge, I don’t want bad things to happen to her.  But I know that ultimately there’s no such thing as getting away with anything, no matter how it seems in the short term.

So if you ask me how I am, I honestly have to say that my  mind is too full of thoughts I don’t want it to be full of.  It’s going to take some time to release the emotions all of this has brought up but I’m hoping to slowly move into a better mindset.

Avivah

Planning your week based on your higher values

I’ve been thinking about different aspects of time and life management lately, precipitated by a discussion with a man who is starting his own business, in addition to a full time supervisory position at work.  I asked him about how he’s finding time to start a new business when he comes home exhausted after a long day,  and he pointed to the bulletin board in his office that was separated into four equal quarters.  He was about to explain when I nodded and told him I understood.

I was really grateful for this reminder of a principle that is so important but I’ve let it slide out of my life.  That’s the principle of organizing your life around what is known as the four quadrants.  (This is some of Steven Covey’s teaching, who is one of the two most insightful and far reaching authors I have read.)  I thought this was too complicated for a blog post but I briefly explained it to dd17 who has already started implementing it and has been finding it very helpful.

In short, every activity in life can be categorized in one of four quadrants.  The first quadrant is for things that are urgent and important.  The second quadrant is for things that are important and not urgent.  The third quadrant is for things that are urgent and not important. And the fourth quadrant is for things that are not urgent and not important.

You have no choice but to spend time in Quadrant 1 (Q1 from now on).  These are things that can’t be ignored, serious issues that leave you no choice but to deal with them.  Crisis falls into this quadrant.

The second quadrant is super powerful but the most neglected.  The more time you spend here, the less time you need to spend in Q1.  This is the quadrant of planning, reflection, spiritual growth, personal renewal – eating well, exercise, meditating.  The kind of things you never manage to find time to do because you’re too busy and one day you’ll get around to it.

The third and fourth quadrant are time wasters.  Q3 is filled with things that seem important because they’re so urgent and that’s why it takes up so much of our time.  Phones ringing, people knocking at the door or insisting they need something from us leave us feeling that this is a really important thing to do right now.  But they aren’t.

Q4 is non important, non urgent activities – time wasting activities that people overuse with the stated purpose being to relax from their stressful lives.  If it’s a meaningful relaxing activity that leaves you feeling recharged, it goes in Q2.  If it’s mind numbing and excessive, you’re looking at Q4.

So the first thing you need to do is assess what roles you play in your life, what activities they involve, and determine where each of these items are on the quadrants. The first two quadrants are where you want to spend most of your time but most people are spending the majority of their time in Q1 and Q3, the urgency quadrants.  We live in an urgency culture.  We can get addicted to the feeling or urgency because it makes us feel important to be so busy.  The problem is that urgency and importance aren’t the same, so all of this activity can leave a person feeling empty.

The goal is to move towards spending more time in Q2 – this is where quality of life comes from.  Where does the time to do that come from?  Q3 and Q4, the quadrants that will suck out all your life energy and leave you with nothing to show for it.  The more time you spend in Q2, the smaller the number of burning items in Q1 will become.  The man I mentioned at the beginning of the post told me when he first took this job, everything was urgent, rush, rush, rush.  After a month of putting practices based on these principles into place, things were running in a much calmer way.

Categorizing your activities is individual – an activity that one person experiences in one way can be experienced totally differently by someone else.

I used some of my resting time the day after my accident to do some quadrant planning.  I’d been thinking about it since last week and was planning to find a chunk of time to do some uninterrupted thinking so I took my opportunity when it presented itself!  After some reflection and writing, I took out my planner and scheduled in the Q1 and Q2 activities for the week.  This is the idea behind something I wrote about a long time ago, putting in the big rocks first.  (You’ll have to look it up if you’re interested.  :))

After you write down your important quality of life type activities for the week, then you schedule everything else around that.  You can spend your days doing little things that need to be done all day long, and get to the end of a day feeling as if you have nothing to show for your efforts.  When you prioritize your activities and execute around them, you can get lots of the smaller things done in between the big things and at the end of the day feel a sense of satisfaction that you’ve done things that really mattered to you.

Though I’ve just started doing this again, it’s been really good.  Even when things happen to throw off my time schedule that would have previously left me extremely frustrated, I still had a clear idea of what was my priority for the day and that kept me focused even when everything else about my day changed.  I made time for some deep thinking, time to write out some of my values and priorities, time to spend with my mom, time to speak to a relative in the US who I rarely talk to (great aunt).  I got all my homeschooling paperwork written up.  I went through 2000 digital photos on my camera and chose out about 10% to print out; I haven’t printed out photos in over two years though our family enjoys being able to look at albums to remember our experiences.  Now I can delete everything from my camera.  (Getting rid of clutter is a Q2 activity.)

My house wasn’t clean at the end of the day, since physically I’m more limited than usual right now.  I like when things look neat, but I was still able to feel a sense of accomplishment because the things that really mattered to me (and these will be different for each person) things it’s so easy to be too busy for – were done.

This is an incredibly powerful way to live life if done consistently.  I hope I haven’t made it seem to obvious in my effort to simplify a lot of material.  Please let me know if this sounds helpful to you!

Avivah

Today I was hit by a car

After two years of crisis and trauma, I’m grateful we’re finally coming out of the intense pressures that have become our standard daily fare.  Yesterday morning I had a long talk with my dh and said we need to consciously recognize that life is getting smoother – finally! – and move out of an urgency paradigm; it has to be conscious since urgency has become habitual due to circumstances.  That’s what I was planning to write about today.

This afternoon I took ds4 with me to pick up something from a friend; I wanted to take ds6 but he had fallen asleep and couldn’t be woken up.  Ds7 was at a friend and Yirmiyahu had fallen asleep. So I uncharacteristically set out with just one child to this particular friend.  After getting the item, I headed towards my mom, planning to surprise her with a short visit.

In Israel, drivers are obligated to stop for pedestrians crossing the street.  I’ve been very impressed by how good Israeli drivers are about this and as a result (at least where we live) most people will cross in front of a moving vehicle even before it shows signs of slowing, trusting the driver will stop.  Being an experienced driver and knowing drivers can be distracted, I’m very cautious and always pause and make sure the driver has slowed and is looking at me before beginning to cross.  That’s what I did today.

The driver had come to a stop but I kept my eye on her as I crossed (another cautious habit of mine) and as I did, I was horrified to see her begin to drive straight toward me.  My mind for a fraction of a second couldn’t process that she was looking straight at me and had started driving, but more urgent than understanding why she was doing that, was the knowledge that ds4 was between me and the oncoming car.

My heart froze as I began to turn towards ds4…the car was so close and the time to act was so short….

I turned toward him to yank him away and before I could pull him, the car hit me.

As I fell I couldn’t see ds4 and I had a horrible panicked feeling that he was going to be run over.  When I frantically looked in his direction I saw him lying on the street.  In a split second I jumped up and began banging on the window of the car to get her to stop driving, screaming at the driver, “What did you do?”  She still didn’t realize what had happened – the sun was shining in her eyes and she was still driving after having hit us.  Ds4 was terrified and crying and crying; I scooped him up and sat hugging him on the curb, trying to calm him (and myself) down.

People came running to help from all directions.  I very composed and calm on the outside, but I knew I was in shock; I was frozen inside.  I even calmed down the driver and told her I know it was a mistake, mistakes happen, everything is okay.  They asked me if they should call an ambulance but after a few minutes, ds calmed down and I said I thought he was okay.   I did agree for them to call Hatzala, which I really appreciated so there would be someone except for me to deal with to deal with the situation.

They told me to go to the emergency center or the hospital, but I didn’t have any id or money on me and I knew that I wouldn’t be seen without that.  I also knew I was going to get a big bill that wouldn’t be paid by anyone but me unless I got a doctor’s approval and that wouldn’t happen unless I took legal action.  It was just too overwhelming to have to go by myself right then and so I told them I’d go the next day to get checked by a doctor.  I wanted to think that I wouldn’t need any medical help because I couldn’t think about dealing with being in the hospital again; the shock thing again.  All I wanted to do is curl up in bed and have a good long cry.

Finally the driver drove off and I walked slowly to my mother, thankful that we had escaped what could have been a catastrophe but worried about the pain I was already feeling throughout my body.  It was scaring me that the pains were moving fast from one area to another, not localized at all.  From my mom’s house, I called my husband and asked him to meet me so we could go to the emergency center together.  That was an unpleasant experience, because the impatient doctor on duty spent hardly two minutes with me and ds4 combined.  I told him what happened.  He told  me to move my head up and down, right and left, thumped me hard down my spine in four places, then checked ds4 and told me we were very lucky.

When he came back with the written report a few minutes later, I saw there were several significant errors – he wrote that I said I hadn’t been hit and hadn’t been knocked down and when I brought hit to his attention, he began yelling at me that he’s only writing down what I said.  He wrote nothing about the pains throughout my neck, back, hips, and all down the right side of my body where I fell (though he noted that I was walking on a marked crosswalk when this happened – funny the details he felt were important to write).  He yelled that I can go file a police report but he’s only writing down what I told him.

There are times you feel more like advocating for yourself and times you feel less like it.  This was a time I felt less like it.  I had been hit by a car two hours before, was feeling very emotionally shaky and traumatized, had pain throughout my body that was getting worse as time went on and I have to fight with the doctor because he made a careless error and his ego wouldn’t allow him to correct it?

After over an hour we finally we got the new report.  He changed it to say ‘she says she thinks she was hit by a car’ instead of ‘she says she wasn’t hit by a car’.  He left it that I didn’t get knocked over. He wouldn’t put into the original report all the pains I told him about but added in that after an hour I had told him about pain in my neck.  (I don’t know why my back, hips and right and arm got left out.)  I showed him my torn shirt but he didn’t seem to be interested.  I was told I’ll need the medical report for further legal proceedings and the last thing I need is it to be written that nothing happened.

It was a very unpleasant experience on top of a very hard experience.

Now I’m home.  My husband is taking off of work tomorrow to be here; I hope I’ll feel better when I wake up in the morning but the people we’ve spoken to have told us to expect it to be worse and he wants to be here to make things as easy as possible for me.  I put in a call to our osteopath and though you usually have to wait two months for an appointment, I’m hopeful she’ll find room for me sooner.

Right after this happened, I was walking to my mom’s and focusing on my feelings of gratitude when suddenly I felt almost angry at God.  Like, why do You have to give me messages like this?  Am I so difficult that You can’t get me to take notice and grow as a person unless you put these kinds of things in front of me?  I had this feeling very, very strongly after Yirmiyahu almost died when he was eight months old, which came on the heels of dd18 being in critical condition and close to death less than two weeks before, both of these things coming on top of other significant difficulties.  Intellectually I believe that everything that God does is for our good but it’s not always easy to see or feel that in the heat of difficulties.

I can’t yet see the good in this accident.  I don’t know why this happened.  And I don’t know why anything that looks negative to me has happened.  But I’ve been able to see glimmers of good that have emerged from our most traumatic experiences so it makes it easier to trust that this time, good is also going to come from this.

Avivah

Need to submit application for homeschool permit – again…

Today is Day 3 of 31 for 21 – a month long blogging effort to raise awareness of Down syndrome.  You can check out other bloggers participating here.

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I got a call from the Ministry of Education earlier this week, notifying me that I need to resubmit my application for a permit to homeschool.  Despite having sent it five months ago, calling the office it was sent to and not only confirming its receipt but asking if there were any other legal things I needed to take care of and being told I had done all I needed to – apparently my paperwork just sat there. Now I need to start over with someone else.

I’m annoyed that this hasn’t been handled properly and it puts me under last minute pressure. The new guidelines are more intrusive and demanding than the prior list, which was still much more than I was ever expected to provide in the US.  Edited to add: After a 90 minute conversation with an experienced homeschooling mom , I’ve learned there haven’t been changes in the homeschooling law, despite what I was told – and I now have a clear idea of what I need to provide and what I don’t.  Basically it’s the same stuff that I was told before – philosophy of educational beliefs/reasons for homeschooling, curriculum (or my explanation of what we do) and evaluation methods.  Much less than what she’s saying is legally necessary. Thanks to our talk, I plan to challenge these false assertions and will only be submitting what the law states is necessary.  I understand they want to be sure that responsible people are ensuring the education of their children in a responsible way, but I don’t believe you can’t legislate responsibility.  People who are going to be responsible are going to do it anyway, and people who abuse their kids or use them as drug runners are going to do that no matter what oversight you try to impose on them.  Demands like these just place a burden on responsible parents, create more paperwork for those working in the department of education and it’s a shame since with all of that it won’t improve the end result.  Actually, I think it will make people feel less inclined to report their homeschooling.

Here’s a list of what I need to submit by registered mail, nothing else will be accepted – immediately (edited to add – don’t take this as legally valid since I’ve learned after posting this that it’s not):

At the top of the page – date in full, address and phone number

  • Details of children – names, national identification numbers, birthdates, grade levels; parents education level and occupations
  • Reasons for homeschooling
  • Educational plan, activities and means of evaluation
  • Detailed explanation of how social needs will be met (this is in bold)
  • Daily schedule
  • Details of adult doing homeschooling
  • authorization from school or proof of child’s school registration
  • Photocopy of both parents’ national identity numbers with details of children
  • Signature of both parents

All of this needs to be submitted by registered mail, and at the bottom is the reminder that you need to submit this for every child each year.  If you leave anything out, there is a bolded reminder that your application won’t be accepted.

Don’t ask me why your child has to be registered in school in order to homeschool.  I asked the local representative a month ago when he told me I needed this and he told me that’s just how it is – I don’t understand the logic.  Whatever.  I keep thinking of those early homeschooling families in the US and what they went through to get the good laws we have in the US.  I relate to the pioneer part but I don’t have the energy to advocate for changes in the law.  The day after I was told about this I went to the school to speak to their principals from last year and the secretaries to verify their status.  Don’t think that was a warm and fuzzy experience.  Now I have to go back and get written documention from them?  Oh joy.

What these guidelines are asking for is documentation of schooling, not learning.  Education and schooling aren’t the same, not by a long shot.  You can sit in school for years of your life and not learn much.  Schools can document all of the above but don’t have to account for if real learning is happening or if healthy social skills are being learned.  Conversely, you can have no academic plan or set times for each topic and have a home in which learning is happening non-stop!

After all of the above paperwork is processed, then they have to come to my home for a visit and check out whatever it is that they check out.  I don’t know, that we have light and running water?

I’ll keep you posted when I finally get this piece of paper! And I’ll try not to think about the fact that I have to start this all over again in the spring.

Avivah

A sample day in our homeschooling life

Today is Day 2 of 31 for 21 – a month long blogging effort to raise awareness of Down syndrome.  You can check out other bloggers participating here.

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I really enjoyed the holidays but it’s so nice to be getting back to our regular routine!  It took a couple of weeks to ease from the summer into our homeschooling schedule.  We hardly had a chance for it to feel like a routine before the holidays came along.  I’ve spent this week getting back into our homeschooling routine, and the first two days of the week felt like herding cats.  But we’re getting there – by the beginning of next week I expect to be back to normal.

I thought I’d share about what homeschooling looked like today. Not because it was impressive or unusual or because we covered an astonishing amount of material.  It wasn’t and we didn’t.  That’s why I thought I’d share – because it’s a simple and minimally scripted day.

It’s so hard to remember these details at the end of a day and I know I’ve left things out but I’ll share what I can remember.

I started the day by reading a new book to the younger boys.  After we finished the book I davened with ds4, then with ds6 (they do different things), then reread the new book to all the boys again.  After that I made breakfast and while we ate, I talked to them about the plan for the day.  The kids said they wanted to learn about penguins, and ds7 told me about a handout from his teacher in school of a polar bear and a penguin in the Arctic.  I told him that penguins and polar bears actually live on different sides of the world and don’t encounter each other in nature, which prompted them to ask what land animal is the natural predator of a penguin.  I asked them for their ideas on this, and told them we’d look it up later to see if they were right.

We cleaned up from breakfast and the older kids sat down with their math.  I sat down with ds4 and ds6 with a hundred number chart and we found some interesting patterns.  We read some poems of Robert Louis Stevenson (A Child’s Garden of Verses), then read several stories from Nach (Prophets) about Eliyahu and Elisha.  We read some parsha as well, then ds7 listened to two portions of the parsha leined aloud while he followed along.

Yirmiyahu at some point watched his daily pictures and words on the computer that is part of an early reading program that we started for him very recently.  Ds4 and ds6 enjoy watching this with him; it’s fun and relaxed for them all.   He watches it for five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening (if I remember).  He and I both prefer physical flashcards; I’d love to print out cards and laminate them but don’t have a printer or a laminator, and doing this here will be an expensive project so for now I’m sticking to the program and the cards I already bought.

One of the kids told me he wanted to learn about crocodiles, not penguins, which reminded me about a two minute National Geographic clip I had seen of a jaguar stalking a caiman.  So I showed it to them, and after we discussed it told them we’d have to save more crocodile learning for another day since the penguins were requested first. :) Ds7 read three Hebrew storybooks aloud to us (me, ds4 and ds6) while we snuggled on the couch.

Ds4 and ds6 spent an hour playing with blocks and Lincoln Logs; they’re in the middle of building some kind of city.  I’m glad we rearranged our home so we now have a playroom, because I can leave their creations like this out for a while and give them a chance to finish them.  I wanted ds7 to do his math then, but he was resistant, telling me he doesn’t know how to do it.  I realized he was intimidated by the questions on his lesson for the day – I only introduced subtraction with carrying in two digit problems the lesson before the holidays and he needed a refresher before taking on three digit problems.  I asked him to take out his base ten blocks to demonstrate but decided against showing him again since I felt his focus wasn’t there and it would be better to take a break from math for a while.

Dd12 came in to ask me about some questions on measuring angles.  I’m happy to say that in the few weeks since we started homeschooling, despite all the breaks for the holidays, she’s covered almost a half a year of math.  I’d like her to do two years of math this year to get her back up to the level she was on before she went to school.  Amazingly enough she managed to stay in the higher math class during that time.  While I explained the angle questions, I put on a short math video (from the Discovery Education subscription that I have) for ds7 about subtraction with borrowing.  I’ve never used any math videos and was impressed with how clearly it was presented.

I just showed him 15 minutes of the 50 minute clip that was relevant to him.  It was obvious as I sat next to him watching that he understood the concept.  So I got out his notebook and wrote out about fifteen new questions for him, starting with a few two digit questions and then the rest three digits like the ones from his lesson that he thought were too hard for him.  It’s not worth directly challenging something so small as this; better to show than to tell.  He very quickly did all of the questions without any mistakes.

By now it was time to make lunch so I looked in the fridge to decide what to make.  I took out a large container of cooked chickpeas, threw them in with the onions I had peeled and diced right after breakfast (thinking I’d use them for something!), then added a package of ground meat, sauce and spices – this is how I cook, making up things along the way.  I started a pot of rice cooking to go with the stew, and added carrots to the purple and green cabbage I had chopped a couple of days before, then mixed in the last of the homemade dill dip and lunch was on its way!

While the food was cooking, I put on a video about animal life in the Antarctic to follow up on the penguin discussion from earlier in the day.  This is geared to upper elementary and high school aged kids but our little kids enjoy these kind of programs – I always tell them if it doesn’t interest them they don’t have to watch.  The older kids had finished their work for the day and we all watched together.  Everyone except dd13, who is glued to her Kindle thanks to the library books I checked out for her a couple of days ago.  (This is her extra reading and doesn’t count for her school reading – she could easily rack up six hours a day of reading.)

Over lunch – it was past 2 pm by now –  I read them an encyclopedia article about penguins and that officially wrapped up penguins for the day.  After lunch I took a couple of the boys with me to do some shopping.  We were going to have a playdate with friends but by the time we got back it was late in the afternoon.  So instead, so we set out for the library. They enjoyed choosing their books and sitting in the library and reading books that we weren’t checking out.  We came home and while we got dinner ready, the boys took out their books from the library and sat down to read them.  After we had dinner, dh put the boys to bed (I know he finished a read aloud with ds11 tonight but I’m not sure what stories the younger boys got).

What’s really interesting is how each day is so different from another, while still having the same basic schedule.  Yesterday we did lots of Hebrew language, learned about human digestion and then the digestion of carnivorous plants, ds7 read some books in English aloud, they did a lot of drawing (dh gave dd a drawing lesson earlier this week so she’s been practicing drawing the perceptions that he taught her), hours of playing with blocks, and friends were over to play.  So many ways to enjoy life together!

Avivah

31 for 21 – Look at your child, not the timetable

It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since I participated in the 31 for 21 2012 blogging effort to raise awareness of Trisomy 21, more commonly known as Down syndrome.  There are 31 days in October, and Trisomy 21 occurs when the 21st chromosome is triplicated – hence the name – and for this month bloggers across the blogosphere are joining in.  During this month I won’t be posting only about Trisomy 21, though there will probably be more posts on the topic than usual.  But I will be mentioning my participation at the beginning of each post.

My general perspective on parenting is that every child has his growth curve (physically and emotionally) and we need to have patience and trust the individual’s process.  Sometimes there are things you see in your child that cause you to worry because he doesn’t doesn’t seem to be getting it as quickly as most other kids his age.  This could be academic, behavioral, psychological – and you have to let go of your fear and shift your thinking to believe in him so that you can reflect that back to him.

That’s why one of my favorite children’s picture books is Leo the Late Bloomer.  Leo is a lion cub that can’t do anything right.  All his friends pass him in all areas of development, and while his father tries not to show how worried he is, he keeps seeing Leo failing in all the areas that his friends are succeeding in.  Reading, writing, speaking, drawing, eating.  Time passes and no improvements, until suddenly, one day Leo ‘blooms’ – he seemingly overnight acquired proficiency in all these areas.

I’ve often thought how true this is of child development, and how important a parent’s trust in a child is to the process. And yet I sometimes feel I’m mentally groping to find the right balance in this area when it comes to Yirmiyahu (now fifteen months).

There have been two developmental milestones that I’ve been concerned about in recent months: eating and crawling.  Yirmiyahu hardly eats any solids and that’s not for lack of effort on my part.  And though Yirmiyahu started to army crawl a tiny bit when he was thirteen months, he prefers to sit and actively resists being put down on his stomach.   My question for myself – how much to trust his internal timetable, and how much to push him?  It’s not one or the other, but sometimes doing too much on one side of the equation leads to too little on the other.

All of this wondering about these two concerns came to a quick conclusion recently.  Two weeks ago Yirmiyahu got his first two teeth which were rapidly followed by another three.  Five teeth in two weeks!  Sometime in this same period, Yirmiyahu’s eating suddenly dramatically changed.  For months he rarely ate more than a teaspoon of food a day no matter what I tried – suddenly he’s eating several teaspoons of food at each meal!  My naturopath told me that until the teeth come in, a child is physiologically unable to digest starches.  Perhaps his body is finally able to tolerate solids foods and that’s why he’s suddenly eating?  I don’t know but it’s amazing how these two issues resolved themselves literally overnight without any intervention on my part.

As far as the crawling?  After almost two months of being physically able to crawl but resisting any efforts to be on his tummy, in the last week he’s suddenly decided he wants to crawl!  Not huge distances yet, but he’s doing it himself because he wants to.  We didn’t change anything we were doing, but it’s as if the internal sensor told him he’s ready to do this now.

Seeing these noticeable changes in such a short time has helped me find some inner balance and regain my trust in his individual process.  It’s helping me to let go of some of the worries about developmental steps being too delayed if I don’t push harder.  It’s challenging enough with a typical child to trust his inherent growth process when faced with issues that don’t match what is considered the norm, but it’s an extremely prevalent way of thinking about T21 so you have to really choose the paradigm you want your mind to spend time in!

Trusting in his inner time frame doesn’t mean we don’t provide him with a stimulating environment – it means while we do whatever we feel is in his best interest, we let go of the inner tension that tells us we have to make something happen or else.   Letting go makes it so much easier to enjoy the process of watching him grow up rather than worrying about things not happening fast enough.  While we’ll continue to read, talk, play with him – I don’t want to get hung up on the timetable; I don’t want to worry that I’m not enough because he’s not hitting those milestones by a given time.  Yirmiyahu is showing me that with our support and love, he’ll continue to do things when he’s ready.

Avivah