Monthly Archives: September 2017

A Story of Hope and Love

Someone shared this wonderful story with me of an adoptive father of 12 children, most of whom have Trisomy 21.  What in the world compelled this couple to travel across the world and adopt these abandoned children from various countries?

If I had read this story before I had a child with Trisomy 21 I simply couldn’t have related to it at all.  I had no part of me that could understand people who did things like that, and could only assume they were on a completely different elevated plane from myself.  I mean, why make your life harder?

 

Rafael, 9 months

Rafael, 9 months

I have a really different perspective now that we have our two treasures with T21.  Since we brought Rafael home I know that people sometimes put me on that elevated plane that I used to put others on, but from where I’m standing, it looks completely different.  It isn’t about picking up a heavy burden and suffering; the reality is so, so much love and blessing and gratitude and faith for all of our beautiful children.

Here’s the story I’m referring to – take a couple of minutes now to go and read it!  A Story of Hope and Love

I can’t even try to guess about seemingly negative things like why the author’s sister suffered as she did, but everyone can clearly see that it led to something very beautiful all these years later – his huge family of children with special needs – as a result of her being in his life.

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Ds8 told me a few days ago, “I’m glad that Rafael has Down syndrome.  Because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be part of our family.”  I’ve never articulated it in that way to our children, but he’s right – for us Down syndrome was the positive ‘hook’ that brought Rafael into our family!

Avivah

taco seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

A friend of mine gave me some packages of taco seasoning that she wasn’t using and while I wouldn’t have bought them, once I had them I started noticing how many frugal bean/legume recipes I had that called for taco seasoning. The mix of flavors definitely enhanced the taste of the final dish, even if the processed mixture didn’t enhance the nutritional value!

This recipe for homemade taco seasoning makes it possible to enjoy the convenience of a premixed taco seasoning mix without any objectionable ingredients!  It’s super quick to mix up, affordable, and good for you.

Homemade Taco Seasoning 

  • 1/2 c. chili powder (*note below)taco seasoning
  • 1/4 c. onion powder
  • 1/8 c. cumin
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 T. salt

Mix all the ingredients together, and store in a jar.  Two rounded tablespoons equals one packet of taco seasoning.

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* If like me, you don’t have chili powder in your pantry and don’t want to go out and buy it just to make this recipe, it’s easy to mix up your own. To make chili powder, the recipe I used called for: 2 T. paprika, 2 t. oregano, 1 1/2 t. cumin, 1/2 t. garlic powder, and 3/4 t. onion powder.

**Yet another note: chili powder and cayenne pepper are not the same thing! Cayenne is much hotter and not a good substitute.  I learned this years ago when I made what I thought would be a  delicious and exotic salad and dressing, and used cayenne since I thought it was interchangeable with chili powder.  Every single person took a bite and then reached for his water glass.  :(  No one touched the salad after that first bite.

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Avivah

 

Simanim Salad for Rosh Hashana

A reader asked for this recipe and I’m going to quickly share it now since it won’t be very helpful if I post it after Rosh Hashana!

This is a salad that integrates a number of the traditional symbolic foods for Rosh Hashana evening.  In the past I’ve made different dishes for each food, but in the last couple of years settled on making this salad.  Everyone takes a plateful and as we go through the symbolic foods, chooses from their salad a piece of each.

Simanim Salad for Rosh Hashana

  • 1 large head of lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 c. shredded carrots
  • 1/2 c. shredded cabbage (you can also use leek – a small piece, thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 apple, chopped
  • 1/4 c. chopped dates
  • seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
  • optional: 1/4 c. roasted beets, diced
  • optional: 1/4 c. roasted pumpkin, diced

Dressing:

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 t. lemon juice
  • 1 t. minced onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced, or 1/4 t. garlic powder
  • 2 t. honey
  • 1 t. mustard
  • 1/2 t. salt

Toss all the salad ingredients and place in an attractive serving bowl. Blend the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad before serving.

*If you integrate the roasted pumpkin and roasted beets, this integrates all the simanim except for fish.

There you have it, an easy and attractive way to serve your symbolic foods (simanim) for Rosh Hashana!

Avivah

 

 

apples-honey[1]

Rosh Hashana menu 2017 – gluten free, grain free

This year we have a marathon of cooking for the next three days, since this year Rosh Hashana leads directly into Shabbos!

I usually like to do baking and cooking in advance so that there’s not as much to do in the busy days leading up to the holiday itself, but I no longer have a full size freezer and my fridge isn’t very big.  So yesterday and today are busy cooking days!

Here’s a list of what we’ll be preparing for this Rosh Hashana – everything is gluten free and grain free except for the challah:

Breads:

  • cinnamon raisin round challah
  • regular challah
  • paleo dinner rolls (gluten free option)

Dips:

  • parsley pesto
  • black olive tampenade
  • eggplant salad
  • tomato

Protein:

  • baked fish
  • roasted chicken – savory/sweet (date-parsley-onion blend), paprika garlic blend and cumin garlic blend
  • roast meat with carrots and onions

Symbolic foods for Rosh Hashana (simanim):

  • simanim salad – I serve this on the two nights of Rosh Hashana – it includes apple, pomegranate, date, leek, cabbage and carrots
  • baked fish
  • baked fish head and baked whole fish
  • black eyed peas
  • roast pumpkin
  • roast beets

Salads:

  • green bean-olive
  • pomegranate
  • Israeli cabbage
  • hearts of palm-corn
  • red cabbage-apple

Kugels/vegetable sides:

  • apple kugel
  • vegetable kugel
  • potato kugel
  • carrot apple kugel
  • spinach nut loaf (using roasted sunflower seeds)
  • sesame green beans
  • roast potatoes
  • pineapple beets

Desserts:

  • brownies
  • chocolate chip cookies
  • apple cake
  • almond joy bars
  • pumpkin muffins
  • chocolate pudding

Wishing you all a year of blessings in the year to come!

Avivah

 

Shifts in our home as the teens move out of homeschooling!

It has been a busy summer and has only gotten busier as the official school year has begun! I’ve hoped to write in detail about some of the following points, but due to time constraints will just touch on some updates!

First of all, dd16 is now in seminary!  She travels daily to Jerusalem and I get to see her a few minutes in the evening, if I’m luckly.  She is really loving it so far.  My experience has been when my kids have wanted the school experience, they have thrived because it was something they chose and are emotionally invested in.

Next big change around here is that ds15 is now attending a local yeshiva high school.  It’s a new program with a small first class.  He leaves around 7ish in the morning and gets home about twelve hours later, so it’s a long day and that’s an adjustment.

Ds18 is in a post high school yeshiva (and I never got to tell you about his high school graduation and how he spoke beautifully when asked to represent his class…) and has said that everything is better than he expected. His yeshiva has a no cell phone policy, which has some benefits.  But it also means that in addition to seeing him once a month instead of once a week, I hardly speak to him.  I count myself lucky if I speak to him ten minutes a week.  And that’s longer than he’s speaking to anyone else on the phone during the week!

Dd21 is working on building up her industrial design business. She works from home, and that makes my transition from not having homeschooled teens around to keep an eye on younger siblings a little bit easier.  But she’s supposed to be working, not babysitting, so I really try to keep this to a minimum.

Dd22 is working locally and I enjoy that she’s living at home so I get to see her a bit in the evenings.

And ds24 and his lovely wife are doing well and it’s always nice to see them together!

So that leaves just the youngest five boys at home during the days – officially four are homeschooling this year.  It’s going to be a big shift not to have the older kids around.

I do like my children.  And I miss them when they’re not around.  But I’m grateful they’re growing into independent adults even if it means some pangs and inconvenience for me.

I’ve been busy in the last month doing lots of decluttering and reorganizing of my home space.  The kids (dd21, ds18, dd16 and ds15) built a pergola for our yard with swings and an integrated set of monkey bars, and we build another pergola on our porch that completely covers the porch.   They are all hard workers and did an amazing job.  I realized just yesterday that the one large beam remaining from building the pergolas is perfect for a balance beam for the kids, and yesterday set that up on the porch for them. It’s a nice to feel very settled as we begin our homeschooling year that everything was mostly in place to support us, inside and out.

I’ve also been giving a lot of thought in the last couple of months to what I’d like to focus on in the coming year, personally and with my family.  Doing this clarification process is always powerful for me.  I also just finished locally giving a four week family mission statement workshop series, helping others to navigate this process that personally has been so valuable for me.

Yesterday we finally had a speech evaluation for Yirmi, eight months after I started the application process.  We also had an OT eval a week ago, and Yirmi is now authorized for weekly therapy if we want it.

And just a couple of hours after completing the speech evaluation, I headed to Jerusalem together with ds11 to meet with the Ministry of Education’s representative regarding the new homeschooling application that I filed for this year to include Yirmi.  The rep is hoping that my past request made when living in the north was technically completed so that it will make the process of approving our new application simpler.

However, I got a call today from the local department of Education in the north asking me to remind them of the status of my file!  I thought they should be the ones with a record of that but sometimes I can have unreasonable expectations. :)   He wasn’t clear if an official exemption from the compulsory education law was granted or not.  However, the representative did remember me and that I had done all the necessary steps, and it’s clear that I’m not the one who dropped the ball in completing the legal paperwork.   If they don’t have a record that I was granted permisson to homeschool, we’ll need to begin the entire process again.  More on that as time goes on.

In addition, yesterday my bulk order arrived – I make an order twice a year.  Mostly this is several cartons of coconut oil, but this order also included a 20 kg bag of coconut flour and 11 kg of almond flour.  I’ve been wanting to make desserts that are gluten free for everyone in the family – until now we’ve made special desserts for ds5 that look as similar as possible as the gluten filled treats that everyone else gets.  While white flour and sugar still remain much less expensive than these ingredients, buying in bulk makes the cost of baking gluten free more reasonable.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer and your autumn is off to a great start!

Avivah

sadness

Making room for a child’s sadness

At our dinner table, we have a family tradition in which each person shares three things that he is grateful and appreciative for that happened in his day. This began because I wanted to teach my children to look for the good in their lives on a regular basis, and also to help all of us to share daily the things of import that happened for us that day.

It also leads to opportunities for meaningful discussion of topics.

Recently ds11 shared that he was grateful that he was able to bury a dead bird that he found on the sidewalk. I told him that even though that bird was no longer alive, it was a kindness for the bird and perhaps there’s some part of the bird that recognizes what was done for it.

I shared a short reading from the book The Light Between Us, in which the author describes doing an intuitive reading for a couple who had rescued many animals. She described the outpouring of gratitude ‘on the other side’ that was directed toward them.
I explained to my children that even animals have energetic prints that continue to exist after they die. Every act of kindness, even to the smallest creature, creates a positive energy in the world even though we can’t see it.

It’s an important message for us all – that our acts of kindness leave an effect even after the situation seemingly is in the past. As I was reading to them, I thought that it was particularly of value to ds9 to hear this.

Three weeks earlier he was given a tiny newborn chick in a shoe box by a neighbor who found it on the street. I cautioned him that it’s very, very hard to save a bird that small. But he poured himself into it, feeding it with a dropper throughout the day. By the end of the next day, the little bird was peeping and walking around. He had literally resuscitated this tiny bird and it was so exciting and moving for him.

He went to sleep happy that the chick had clearly turned a corner….and then he woke up in the morning to a dead baby bird.

He threw the bird in the garbage as if he didn’t care, but it was obvious it was a cover for how deeply upset he was.

Kids need to have a space to have their feelings, and so I opened up a conversation with him. The goal was NOT for me to tell him why it wasn’t so bad, he shouldn’t be sad, it’s just a bird, he’ll have another bird or another positive experience in the future. You know, all those things we parents say when faced with the pain of a child that we want to just wipe away. It’s hard to see a child in pain and let them feel their pain without minimizing it.

But they have to have the opportunity to feel the pain, deal with it and move through it. This is part of what matures a person emotionally.

As we spoke, he asked me with tears in his eyes why the bird died. I realized he wasn’t asking me for a physical explanation. He wanted to know a deeper reason. And I didn’t have an answer that made him feel cheerful and okay with it.  I told him that obviously this bird was meant to live only a short time and that he was part of making that bird’s path more pleasant. Then I sat with him quietly and gave him space to process that.

And even though that felt very inadequate to me – I still had that desire to say just the right thing that would wipe away his pain – it was enough.  So often, what our kids need is permission and space to feel their feelings.  And once they have that, they can move on.

Avivah