Monthly Archives: March 2014

Switching seasonal clothing highlighting how fast kids are growing

Ds4 on spring hike with dh last week

Ds4 on spring hike with dh last week

Here in Israel spring is in full force.  The trees and flowers everywhere are blooming, the breeze is warm, the sun is shining brightly…yes, I feel for those of you who are once again dealing with snow in the US.

The last couple of days I’ve taken a good chunk of time to go through the clothing boxes I have stored in my attic, to take out clothing better suited to the warm weather we’re having.  (I buy when I find good sales and set aside clothing in good condition that was passed along to us and then we usually have what we need when a new season begins; instead of running around to stores I can just take out the box for each child.)

Goodbye, winter!

Snuggling up for reading time in the winter!

Snuggling up for winter bedtime reading!

Since the three younger boys were born within three years, I tend to hold on to a lot of clothing in the sizes they’ll be wearing. Today I realized that I’m finished with the size 4 clothing until Yirmiyahu will need it.  Since I won’t need as many duplicates as I’ve had until now, I went through it all and set aside lots of clothing to donate.  There’s nothing like giving away too small clothing and taking out clothing that was previously too large to highlight how fast your children are growing!

With ds7 having a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks, followed by ds4 having a birthday six weeks later, I have a bittersweet feeling of watching the chapter close on having this cluster of littles being little.  Below are the three cute boys who have long been referred to on my blog -until this year – as ‘the littles’.  I can sit at the park and watch them play without having to get up and run after any of them.  It’s very nice, actually.  :)  From left to right are ds4, ds6 and ds7 on a spring hike a few days ago.

spring hike 3 boys resized

How quickly they’ve grown!

And here are the three children long referred to – until this year – as ‘the middles’.  When I started this blog they were 4, 6 and 7, about six months younger than the three in the picture above are right now.  No need to call them the ‘middles’ anymore with the three ‘bigs’ out of the house this year.  From left to right, ds11, dd13 and ds15.


Enjoy the time with your children – the years really do go by quickly!


Yirmiyahu update – 20 months

IMG_2282Time is zooming by and Yirmiyahu is already 20.5 months old!  And since today just happens to be World Down Syndrome Day, it’s the perfect time for an update!

Where is our busy little man up to now?

Climbing – For quite some time Yirmiyahu would climb up the first stair of our home, then go back down.  When I take him to the park (usually at least twice a week – all the  kids there know that’s his spot!), he spends most of his time at the bottom of the slide, standing next to it, climbing up and then climbing down.  And then a couple of weeks ago, literally from one day to the next – he climbed up the entire spiral staircase in our home to the second floor.  This was very exciting – he loves it and has a great time waving to us from under each step as he does us – but it’s also a little nerve wracking.  A couple of times I found him upstairs with no one in sight; both times he had climbed up himself when no one was watching him.  He’s really fast and he loves being able to go where he wants to go!

We quickly got a baby gate to close off access to the stairs and closed off the open spaces along the sides of the stairway so when he was climbing there wasn’t the fear of him slipping through the side to the drop below.  The gate works fine as long as we latch it.  For a while we were pulling it shut behind us, until Yirmiyahu began to push it open and then climbed up. A day or two after this,  I watched him push the gate open, climb up a step, then turn and carefully pull the gate shut behind him – funny to watch since he’s copying what we do but the reason we close it behind us is to keep him out!  Since I want to encourage his climbing, I let him climb as often as he wants as long as someone is there to keep an eye on him.

Standing – Yirmiyahu began standing independently a couple of months ago and has gotten much more stable.  He regularly cruises around holding on to the couch and chairs, and in the last week he’s begun taking a step in the direction he wants to go in before falling into the arms of the person he’s going towards.  I have a feeling that he may begin walking as suddenly as he began climbing the stairs, with a long preparatory warm up period as he builds his core muscle strength.

Signing – we’ve taught Yirmiyahu some basic words in sign language.  Recently he signed something to one of the older kids, who showed me the sign and asked me what Yirmiyahu was asking for.  It was the sign for a pear and we had only showed him the sign two times a couple of minutes apart a week before – funny that Yirmi remembered what it was better than his older siblings!  He’s done this a couple of times, signed something a week after having been shown the sign, and at the time we showed him the sign we thought he wasn’t absorbing what we were showing him.  We don’t plan to use sign language extensively, but want to give Yirmiyahu the ability to express himself to some degree while his verbal skills are still minimal.

Reading – Several months ago we began an early reading program with Yirmiyahu.  I began using the BrillKids Little Reader program, which is excellent.  If I’m on top of things, he watches this twice a day but it’s challenging since his siblings all run to the computer when I put this on for him and then he gets distracted looking at all of them rather than the screen.

A few weeks ago I began printing my own own flashcards to supplement his computer program.  Each card is half the size of a letter size piece of paper, with a picture of the word on the back.  I laminated them and use them to quickly flash through each side with him.  I thought this would hold his interest more than the computer program but it hasn’t worked out as much like that as I anticipated.  Interestingly, the set of cards he likes best are action words – and that’s the only set I  made that has no pictures.  I act out each word as I show it to him and he cracks up at some of my charades so no surprise that it’s the most interesting group of words!

Ideally it would be best to use the same five to ten cards each day for a week and then rotate and add in new cards.  But I’m not that systematic.  I made almost 180 cards (clothing, body parts, transportation, colors, toys, common animals, wild animals, nature, action words and things you eat with) and I pick up whatever set I think he’ll be most interested in at that moment.  Part of why I’m relaxed about this is because I think of this as reinforcing his computer program so I’m not strict about the structure.   Sometimes I show him the cards a few times a day, sometimes just once, sometimes in addition to the computer program and sometimes not.  It takes less than a minute each time so it’s not an issue of major time, the bigger issue to is to remember to take them out.

The Little Reader program has options for customization that I haven’t explored much yet.  However, I did do some customizing to create a new category called ‘family’.  This includes all his parents, siblings, and this week I added in my mother and her husband.  (I’ll add other family members as time goes on.)  For each person, I’ve loaded two or three pictures.  In addition to dh and I, dd17, ds15, dd13, ds7, ds6, and ds4 each did an audio recording of their names.  So what happens is Yirmiyahu sees the name of each person flash across the screen while hearing that person say their name at the same time, then sees a picture of the person as the name is repeated.  It’s the same structure as the general program but with words that mean something to him.  I play this category kind of as a reward for him after doing his regular words – he LOVES this.  He sits there absolutely mesmerized and can watch it play again and again.   This week I changed the order of all the pictures and people so it’s not predictable what the next screen will show, and in honor of Purim I added in fun pictures of each person in costume.

I can’t really tell you how much he’s picking up or not at this point (though I think it’s highly likely he can at least recognize the names of the twelve immediate members of our family) since my focus is on providing stimulating input, not on testing.  I’d like for him to be reading English well before we start on Hebrew reading and my general goal is for him to be reading English by the time he’s five or six.  That will take work but I think it’s realistic for my relaxed way of doing things.  I know of people who have taught their kids with T21 to read at 3 or 4 and though I’m sure Yirmiyahu is capable of it, I don’t know if I’m capable of the necessary consistency!  My goal is more of a general direction to move towards, not something rigidly fixed in my mind and if we achieve it a bit earlier or later is fine.

Growth – Yirmiyahu has hardly grown since I posted two months ago that we had finally seen some growth after beginning to supplement for cerebral folate deficiency.  I really don’t know what to do about this.  I posted a picture in my last post of him a year ago at 7.5 months and he weighs only five pounds more now than he was then.  It’s not that having a child who is small for his age is inherently disturbing to me; kids come in all sizes and the outside doesn’t determine the value of what’s inside.  My issue is that he has the same tall genes as everyone else in our family and to be so small is a result of that pesky extra chromosome suppressing his growth and that’s a medical malfunction.  Sometimes I feel like I’m failing Yirmi that I can’t figure this stuff out for him.

Health – Overall Yirmiyahu is doing great – he’s strong and healthy and smart!  There is one medical issue that needs to be taken care of now.  We had an appointment with the nephrologist this week who was appalled that he hasn’t been treated surgically yet for the bladder malformation and felt it was medical negligence that the other doctors recommending leaving it this long with it being at the most severe level, when it could be taken care of so easily surgically.  It’s hard to know which doctor to trust when they’re both saying such different things and both are supposed to be good doctors.  At this point my preference is to do surgery; once it’s taken care of we never have to worry about this again.

The alternative to surgery is ongoing daily antibiotic treatment, which the first urologist and I have a difference of opinion about.  He felt there’s no downside to taking the long term daily antibiotic route (for the next five years at least) and I feel this will seriously compromise his health.  Yirmiyahu restarted antibiotics again a couple of days ago and as of today his stomach is already a mess. I’ve worked hard to rebuild his gut after he went through so much in the NICU and then the PICU and it’s like starting at square one again except if he has to be on antibiotics every single day, that doesn’t leave time to help him grow good gut bacteria.  He’ll need to stay on antibiotics until he has surgery.

The earliest appointment I could get with the recommended urologist is in two months; the appointment is to discuss surgery and we’ll schedule surgery based on his feedback.  I don’t have any idea when we’re moving so I hope we’ll still be here by the time the surgery is scheduled; otherwise I’ll have to start this all over again with different doctors in the area that we move to, and that will delay the surgery by several months more.  Right now I’m making plans with the assumption we’ll be here and if something changes, I’ll adapt my plans at that point.

What isn’t new is the joy and light this little person has brought into the lives of us all!  I love watching my older kids come home each week and interact with him – they are so in love with him!  I joke that his first words are going to be, “Oh my gosh, you’re so CUTE!” because he hears this all the time.  They younger siblings enjoy him but the older kids ages 13 and up simply delight in him!  Last night one of the kids said he hopes Yirmiyahu doesn’t get spoiled because of all this adoration he gets, but I told him a child can’t be spoiled with lots of love.  They can be spoiled when they’re allowed to act badly and it’s considered acceptable, because after all, he has a disability.  But to return some of the love he radiates out to us all back to him isn’t spoiling at all!


(This post is part of the Day in the Life Series that is part of World Down Syndrome Day.)

Purim pictures 2014

Five middle boys - ds15, 11, 7, 6, 4

Five middle boys – ds15, 11, 7, 6, 4

Dd17 made a large batch of cinnamon rolls before Shabbos and put them in the freezer, then made another large batch this morning so we’d have enough to give out to everyone.  Ds15 confirmed they tasted good when he came home – while he was out he stopped at one family who was in the middle of eating our cinnamon rolls and told him how good they were, continued to the next family who had a pan of our rolls on the table and told them how good they were (and offered him some, which he was happy to accept!), and went to a third family who was eating – guess what? – our cinnamon rolls!  (They also offered him some and being a teenage boy, he didn’t mind having some more).

I enjoyed a relatively peaceful morning with all of the coming and going; the kids and dh did most of the deliveries while I got ready for our meal with 24 people.  In the end one guest didn’t show up so it was only 23.  There were a lot of kids but everyone got along beautifully and we all had a very nice time together.

For our Purim meal, dh did a story presentation accompanied by quickly drawn pictures to illustrate each scene.  The kids were all very engaged, even the one who just turned two years old!





Ds15 and Yirmi watching cartooning show together

Ds15 and Yirmi watching cartooning show together 

Yirmiyahu didn’t like either of the two costumes that I got for him, so when he woke up wearing his green pajamas this morning, one of the kids had an idea to make him a little green boy.  Hence the green face paint on his forehead.  He found having it applied quite a blissful experience.  Seriously.  When it got rubbed off at the end of the day, the kids wanted to reapply it just so I could see how much he loved it!

Yirmi - 20 months

Yirmi – 20 months



I have lots of other pictures but all of them have people who aren’t family members in them so I won’t share them here.  I’ll make up for it with a couple of pictures from last Purim instead. :)

Dh, me and Yirmi the bear (7.5 months)

Dh, me and Yirmi the bear (7.5 months)

Me and Yirmi

Me and Yirmi

This year was a slow start for me for getting into the spirit of Purim, but in the end it was a wonderful holiday with family and friends.  I hope all of you who celebrated Purim also had a wonderful holiday!


Today’s medical testing for Yirmiyahu

ekgYesterday I mentioned that I had some doctor visits for Yirmiyahu and a couple of readers were concerned about what was going on.

Today we went to check out two things, his heart and his kidneys/bladder.  When he was born his heart was enlarged (not typical for T21) and he had a bladder malformation (also not typical for T21).  I had his heart checked when he was six months and was told to come back to check it again, which I did today.

When he was in the intensive care unit at  8 months old, they found that Yirmiyahu had developed a urinary tract infection as a result of the bladder malformation that led to a situation called hydronephrosis (swelling of the kidney due to back up of urine).  At that time they said the malformation was a level 5 out of 5, five being the worst, and that they anticipated having to correct this surgically.  They told me to wait until he turned a year old to do the surgery since he was so small.  At the 12 month check there was some improvement and the nephrologist said there was no longer an immediate need for surgery and that his kidneys were fine.  The urologist told me the chance of the structural problem improving without surgery is 20% (which I found encouraging since originally we were told there was no option to surgery).  They both told me to keep an eye on it and get further testing done to see how things are going.

So that’s what today’s doctor visits were about.

First his heart.  We started with an an EKG and then did an echocardiogram.  After reviewing the results, the doctor told me everything looked good.  I asked for more details and he told me,  “There’s no sign of any heart problem. Whatever was there isn’t there anymore. ”  I asked if I need to come back in six or 12 months to check this again, and he said, “No, there’s no problem.  His heart is perfectly healthy.  You don’t need to come back ever again!”  I feel like I should highlight and bold that statement and then make it really big letters because to leave it in normal letters isn’t really representative of how I feel.  I think I’ll repeat it.  “His heart is perfectly healthy.  You don’t need to come back ever again!” 

Now about the bladder and kidney ultrasound.  I have been and remain apprehensive about this situation.  When they found the UTI last year, I hadn’t see any signs of it (the only one I would have seen was a fever but it must have been low grade) and I worry that I could miss it again.  This concern is constantly in the back of my mind, that something could be wrong that could affect his kidneys and I wouldn’t be aware of it.

The person who did the scan didn’t discuss the results with me; they give you a disc of the scan and email the doctor the specifics.  I was waiting for the disc when another father waiting for his disc came to complain about the long wait.  (I had to wait an hour and forty minutes for my disc!)  The person responsible for distributing the discs told him that if there’s no problem it will be sent in the mail.  Then he started to tell me to go home and wait for my mail, and the person who did the scan came by as he was speaking and interrupted him, saying, “No, she definitely needs to get her results now.”  So clearly there’s something wrong.  I already know there’s a structural problem and I’m hoping this is all he found but I’ll have to wait until the coming week to find out more about that.  It’s a little frustrating to me that he couldn’t tell me anything about what he found and keep me from worrying for another week.

Whatever the results, I’m glad to have gotten all of this testing done today.  Obviously the wonderful results are wonderful, but I try not to close my eyes to things that need to be dealt with.  Hopefully the results of next week’s doctor’s visit will be good as well.


Getting into the Purim spirit!










There was a knock at the door tonight, and when I went to open it I was surprised to see dd17 standing there!  We weren’t expecting her home until tomorrow night and everyone immediately clustered around her and clamored for her attention.  They do this to ds20 when he comes home, too, and I always wonder if it’s overwhelming for the older kids to have so many people excited to see them and trying to get their attention at one time.

Dd did some shopping in Jerusalem for me for mishloach manos and after she finished showing me what she got, she said: “When I spoke to you on the phone I got the impression you’re not in a Purim mood so I made a list of projects/activities I’m going to do with the kids to make it feel  more like Purim.”  She’s right that my mind has been somewhere else and right now she, dd13 and ds12 are starting to decorate the house.

It’s true that in past years I’ve been much more invested in preparing for Purim, but lest you think I’ve been totally out of it, I’ll reassure you!  I got the four younger boys costumes organized a few weeks ago (still haven’t come up with anything for Yirmiyahu).

We invited another large family, my mother and her husband, and another friend about my mom’s age for the Purim seuda, so we should have about 23 people.  Tonight I wrote out a menu plan and spoke to both my mom and my friend to decide who would make what.  I’m making challah, soup, chicken, roast potatoes, tomato salad and coconut cake, my friend is bringing another salad, side and dessert, and my mom is bringing a chicken and dessert.  We’ll borrow another folding table from my friend and some more chairs since we only have enough for 18 people.  It’s nice to have that planned.

Yesterday we did a marathon hamantaschen baking session!  Ds4, ds6, ds7 and ds11 were busy for a long time making hamantaschen yesterday afternoon – we did a standard simple cookie dough with mixed berry jam for the filling.  Then later in the evening, ds11 and dd13 stayed up late to make another huge recipe – they made berry and orange hamantaschen and they look gorgeous!  They look like they’re from the bakery and they were sure to present me with some freshly baked hamantaschen to taste so I can say from firsthand experience that they are delicious!

Now tonight they want to make yet another large batch since we have a problem of the hamantaschen getting eaten….the kids are planning to include some hamantaschen in their personal mishloach manos to their friends so they’ll need some more.  Well, honestly they have enough but they want to make more so they’re saying they need more.  Last night they were up until 1 am and that made for a late wake up for them so I told them tonight it’s got to begin earlier.  Since it’s after 10 pm my time as I write this, I don’t think it’s going to happen until tomorrow!

Speaking of tomorrow, I’ll be taking Yirmiyahu for some doctor visits in Haifa.  I need to get an EKG and then a heart ultrasound (sorry, forgetting the technical term), then a kidney ultrasound.  I’m so glad I was able to get them both done in the same city this time, in the same medical complex.  I’ll need to get a bus at 6 am-ish and hope to be home by 2 pm; and hopefully all the results will be clear and this won’t need to be monitored for at least another six months.

I suppose sometime after that I’ll make a definite plan regarding our family mishloach manos – right now I’m leaning towards baking some kind of yeast cakes (probably cinammon or chocolate buns) and then attaching a small packaged treat as the second item.

So our  plans are coming together and I’m sure when I wake up in the morning and see the house decorated, we’ll all feel Purim is in the air!


Creating stress for myself and then letting go of it

meditationAfter taking a few days to think about it, we decided to put our home back on the market to sell.

I was feeling pressured trying to rid my home of dust or dirt to meet the exacting standards of potential buyers – my kids said it’s been more intense than Pesach cleaning!  After scrubbing and scrubbing, taking out all the windows and screens and washing them all, cleaning out the window tracks, dusting off the tops of the cabinets and window blinds boxes (don’t know who would have looked there but…..), I didn’t feel like my home looked better at all.  In fact, with my laser focus on dirt, I kept seeing more areas that needed to be cleaned.

Our agent wanted other agents in the city to come by yesterday to see our home since she said it’s better when the buyer’s agents personally see the home in person rather than just with pictures.  I was getting more and more uptight as the morning ticked on –  I was doing so much but didn’t have a significant feeling of progress.  When at noon I walked into the younger boys’ room and saw that ds7 decided to reorganize his shelves and move everything into a pile next to his bed and ds11 put the linen on their floor instead of where I asked him to put it, I almost burst with frustration to see a room that I thought was finished needed to be cleaned again when I still had so much to do.  

My husband was home and heard my mounting tension, and suggested I rest and try to unwind a little.  Good idea.  I was taking this waaaaay too seriously.  I asked him to let me know when a half hour went by, so I would have an hour to get things finished up before they came.

I went upstairs and chose a recording of Dr. Bernie Siegel’s to listen to, Meditations for Overcoming Life’s Stresses and Strains.  It seemed appropriate for how I was feeling that moment.  I turned it on to listen, lay down and closed my eyes.

This is what I heard, all in the slow and deliberate soothing voice of Dr. Siegel.  “……listen to your heart.  What does it want to tell you…about the pressure…that you are creating?”

I began relaxing, thinking how true it is I’m creating pressure for myself with this cleaning frenzy.  Ahhhh.  Must let go of that.  He continued, “How does it feel?” What is affecting it?  Go inside yourself- ”

“Avivah,” my husband called up in an urgent tone, abruptly interrupting my attempted meditation, “they’re here!”

What?!  It’s an hour and a half before they’re supposed to be here!  I bolt upright and rush downstairs to see that my wonderful husband thoroughly scrubbing the stovetop is in the middle of what has become quite a mess.  The stove top is sparkling but the grates and burners are all over the countertop, there are black crumbs that were scraped off that fell to the floor below, dirty rags visible – given ten more minutes the kitchen would have looked lovely, but at that moment it didn’t look good at all.

I didn’t mention that the washing machine stopped working before Shabbos so the repair man came that morning, leaving behind a working machine and a laundry room piled high with unwashed laundry. This is a room I usually have well under control.  Not this time!

I grabbed a broom to quickly sweep away the crumbs and the agents began streaming in (between fifteen and twenty) as I took a deep breath and accepted that despite my hard work that day and the week before, things didn’t look the way I wanted them to.  It was so obvious to me what a ridiculous waste of emotional energy all my tension about this visit had been.

You know what the best relaxation was?  That they were all here and now it’s not something to think about.  It was a quick visit as all of the agents went through our house – it probably took less than 15 minutes for all of them to finish.  I doubt one single one cared about my messy kitchen or the laundry piled on the laundry room floor.  I also doubt they cared about my sparkling window screens or the freshly scrubbed trissim (roll-up blinds outside the windows of Israeli homes). They were looking at the big picture, not the little details.

Having people checking out my personal space is stressful for me.  Really stressful.  I’ve had lots of time for reflecting on what thoughts are causing me to be so tense as I’ve been scrubbing during the past week.   Because I know that the real stress isn’t coming from people coming to look but the thoughts I’m thinking.  While I can’t control what people will be thinking as they view our home, I can control what I think of what they’re thinking!


Some of my favorite quotes about overcoming fear

Overcoming our fears is something we all have to do, usually more often than less.  There are lots of great quotes out there that relate to different aspects of challenges and the fears that come along with that, but here are some quotes that I’m finding helpful right now.  They remind me of what I already know and help me keep my focus in a positive place.

(I unfortunately don’t know who to attribute some of these to, but none of them are mine!)

Fight your fears and you’ll be in a battle forever.  Face your fears and you’ll be free forever.  Lucas Jonkman


FEAR – Forget Everything And Run – or –  Face Everything And Rise…it’s your choice.



You can’t change what you refuse to confront.


Fear doesn’t shut you down – it wakes you up.


 Fear is not real. It is a product of the thoughts you think.


Do not fear change.  Change fear.



 Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.

Courage is one step ahead of fear.


Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.  Marilyn Ferguson


And my favorite three, because they answer my biggest question about fear – how do we confront and overcome fear?

When fear comes knocking at your door, send faith to answer.  Joyce Meyer

Let your faith be bigger than your fear.

And my very favorite?

 The task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you.

Front of the Class – inspiring movie

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t watch many videos for entertainment.  I find it really hard to find movies that I deeply enjoy and find valuable.

Last night I happened on such a wonderful movie that I had to share it with you!  Front of the Class is the true story of a young man with Tourettes syndrome, who is determined to be the kind of teacher he never had.  To watch how this man never gave up in the face of this unending challenge and refused to let the Tourettes determine his quality of life was very, very inspiring and very moving.

My husband watched it with me and we were getting teary eyed at the same parts.  :) This movie was simply beautiful, extremely well acted and very moving.   It leaves you with a powerful message to believe in yourself and never give up no matter how hard things are.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!  If you watch it I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Why I haven’t been posting lately – trying not to be consumed by fear

overcoming fearLately I’ve had what for me is a very long break in posting, almost two weeks since my last post.  I always have more things to write about than I have time to write and usually when my posting slows down it’s a reflection of my time constraints.  A break of this length is very, very unusual, since writing is a bit like breathing for me and I’ve had time to write.  So why haven’t I posted in so long?

The reason I haven’t been writing is because…. I haven’t had the emotional energy for it.  

When we were preparing to make aliyah three years ago, I had many fears and anxieties about what we were doing and I had to very actively and consistently work with my thoughts to moderate them so the fear wouldn’t overcome me.  We would be moving with a family of 11, nine children including several teenagers, a stage of life in which families are strongly advised not to  make aliyah.  We made the decision very quickly and hadn’t spent years saving for it, so the savings that we had in place would have to suffice.  Since we had lived in Israel after marriage and legally changed our immigrant status then, we wouldn’t be entitled to any financial benefits that new immigrants receive, despite not having received them all those years before.  I wanted to buy a home so our family would have the stability of having our own place, but everyone advised against this and buying a home in Israel is complicated and very expensive.

I shared about the general things we were moving towards but didn’t detail the intimidating specifics (in large part financial) at that time since writing about them felt like giving too much weight to my fears.  I was trying to do very difficult things and any energy spent talking about it was going to take away from my energy in moving forward.

When we finally got through the process and moved here into the home we purchased from overseas, I was able to take a deep breath.  We did it!  And then I regretted that I hadn’t detailed  all that I was doing and what I had to do in order to make that move possible because it was an incredibly intense time of fears and faith.  It took a lot of physical effort but even more than that, it took enormous emotional strength.  I actively worked on trusting the process every single day and believing that everything would work out, even when roadblocks kept coming up and it seemed it just couldn’t happen the way I was picturing.  I credit our move to that faith but it wasn’t easy at all; developing faith was a very active and conscious effort for me at the time.

I’ve been feeling very unsettled lately and emotionally it’s very similar to how I felt when we were getting ready to move to Israel.    I have some fears that are taking a lot of energy to actively manage so that they don’t become overwhelming and this is a big part of why I haven’t wanted to write.   It’s much easier to share about hard times when they’re over and successfully resolved, and I’m smack in the middle of a lot of insecurity and uncertainty.  

My husband has currently been unemployed for two months and we were just notified several days ago that we won’t get unemployment benefits for that entire period because he missed a check-in meeting a couple of weeks ago that he didn’t realize was mandatory.  It’s not their fault that he didn’t understand the rules properly, but that was a hard blow for me since it was money we were relying on.  Making aliyah is an expensive proposition but we expected and planned for that.  What we couldn’t have planned for was repeated hospitalizations of our kids and the accompanying increase in  expenses and simultaneous drop in income.  Thankfully we had reserves because that’s what got us through all of that but that couldn’t be expected to last forever no matter how incredibly frugal I was and it hasn’t.  

In America there are social nets that help people in difficult situations that don’t exist here so struggling there looks very different than struggling here.  Being a person who has always lived simply in order to avoid debt and have money set aside for emergencies, I don’t have a high level of tolerance for financial instability and so I have a lot of fear about this right now.  I look forward to sharing the amazing things that happen for us to change this situation and do believe that things can literally change from one day to another for the better but this is where it’s at right now and it’s very hard.  

On to the next thing, our plans to move.  After four months of analyzing the particular community we wanted to move to and finally announcing our decision when it was definite, it’s become clear in the last few days that we need to change course.  That’s a very sudden change.  While I tend to make decisions quickly, I don’t do it rashly and I certainly don’t tell people about something until I’m very, very sure of it and thought through all aspects of it.  Changing a decision like this that had so much forward motion isn’t easy and means I’ve had to consciously let go of my vision and be open to something else.

Why the change?  There are a number of factors but the biggest one is It’s become clear to me that my husband needs to be near the Tel Aviv area for work since most of the jobs available in his field are there.  We were recently told by someone who trains and places technical writers that it’s easier to find work in the north than to find work in Jerusalem, and since we live in the north we understand what that statement means.  It’s not easy at all to find work in his field in the north.  In the area we were planning to move to, working in Tel Aviv would necessitate a 2.5 hour commute in each direction daily, which isn’t feasible.  Right now I consider it of critical importance that he be best positioned where there are the most prospects for him in terms of employment while still being commuting distance to Jerusalem for my older kids.

As far as the actual moving plans – that’s also being affected by our changing decisions.  We were planning to stay here while our home was for sale, giving my husband time to look for work and then moving into a home we purchased in the other community at the end of the summer.  We’re now in the uncomfortable position of needing to move so that my husband can find employment in the area where there is work (in Israel, employers generally only consider hiring those who live close to where work is, so being hired first and moving later isn’t a commonly accepted practice).  But in order to move, you need to have a job so you can demonstrate your ability to pay your rent to a potential landlord.  It’s a catch-22.  

My husband and I have discussed this and decided we won’t move until he finds work, and he will live away from home during the week if necessary.  This way he can be local for hiring purposes but we don’t have to move until we have a stable income.  Hopefully he’ll find work very soon, but even if he’s hired two minutes from now we won’t move until after Pesach (Passover).  Since we aren’t interested in buying a home in the new community at this time, we’ve taken our home off the market and will rent it out instead.

I’ve decided on the larger area we’ll move to (I think – I’m afraid to assume anything is definite anymore) and narrowed down the neighborhoods we’re considering to two, and need to do some more research to determine which would be better for us at this time.  One is more expensive than the other but would be better socially; the other is less expensive but socially we can’t tell yet what it’s like.  When I told my mother what community we have in mind, her jaw literally dropped – it wasn’t what she would have expected and it’s not what I would have expected, but I think it has the potential to be very good for the entire family despite it being a big shift.  I’ll share about that when there’s something more specific to talk about.

Right now I’m trying to balance needing to move forward and being unable to move forward.  It’s not easy.  Very little is in my control right now and though intellectually we may know that none of us really have control of anything, sometimes life allows us the illusion that we have control and that illusion is comforting.  Many of  my illusions of my efforts making a difference have been stripped away and to say that’s uncomfortable is putting it mildly.  

Almost every day I have times that I feel anxious or fearful, and then I remind myself that I need to do my part and God will help me.  It may not come the way I want or when I want, but it will come and it will be good.  And when it all works out, I’ll be able to share it with you because now you have a context for understanding that those good things didn’t always come quickly or easily for me.