Monthly Archives: November 2017

Dd21 is engaged!

I am so happy to share with you that our daughter Michal (referred to here as dd21) is now engaged to Amitai Zaroom from Brooklyn, NY!

Michal engagementAmitai’s parents flew in today from the US.  They met Michal and right afterward both sets of parents met.  Really lovely people – no surprise, since their son is such a wonderful guy!  The l’chaim took place soon afterward at our home!

We are so filled with gratitude to experience this continued expansion of our family!

The four Werner girls - (l to r): dd17, dil1, dd22, dd21

Our expanded Werner sister group at the l’chaim- (l to r): dd17, dil1, dd22, dd21

The engagement party will take place in RBS-A this Saturday night at the Bais Mordechai shul on Nachal Luz from 8 – 10 pm.  If you’re local, please consider yourself invited! I’d love to see you there!

Avivah

loss of family

A sobering guided imagery exercise demonstrates the power of family

At the end of last week, my husband and I spent two very intense days at the mandatory foster care workshop that we were supposed to attend before bringing a child home. Obviously since Rafael has been with us nine months, that requirement was deferred but we made a commitment to complete the seminar before a year went by.

The room was filled with eleven couples who had passed the rest of the foster care screening process; attendance at this seminar was the final requirement before receiving approval to foster. Two of us already had children with us, nine didn’t. My husband and I were both impressed with the caliber of the couples there – really solid parents with good communication, stable families and a strong desire to give. In almost every couple, one spouse worked in the education or psychology fields.

The last seminar that was held took place the day before my son’s wedding, so attending that one wasn’t an option. I went to this because I had to, but I didn’t expect to learn much. Since this intended to prepare parents for fostering before bringing a child home, I thought it would be two very long and boring days of lectures about a topic that wasn’t really relevant to me anymore.

I was wrong. Although a lot of the content didn’t directly apply to our situation, I found the presentations very interesting and thought-provoking. Of course I love hearing about anything having to do with any aspect of child development! I made notes on a number of the activities they did but as much as I want to go through each one and share my thoughts with you on how it applies to parenting in general, I know I’m not going to have time so I’ll share just one!

This is the activity that I found the most powerful and it really deeply affected me. It was a guided imagery exercise. Sounds relaxing, right? It wasn’t.

As you read this, I suggest you imagine being in a deeply relaxed state and pause at each point that I say there was a pause, and consider the question being asked.

It went something like this:

“Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a place in your home that you love and feel relaxed.” I don’t remember if she said to imagine those you love around you or not, but I pictured myself in my garden, watching one of my children swinging. I felt very relaxed and peaceful.

(Abrupt sharp knocks on the door.) “I’m here because we’ve determined you can’t stay here anymore. There’s another family that very much wants a mother just like you and can’t wait until you come. They’re so excited that you’ll be coming! You need to get ready to leave now.”

She randomly called on people to answer, with their eyes still closed – I was the lucky first one to be called on – and asked: “How do you feel right now?”

You know how I felt? A huge pit in my stomach.

She continued. “You have thirty minutes to get your things packed up in this bag we’re going to give you. You can’t take anything big with you; it all has to fit in this bag. I don’t know when you’ll be able to come back here.” Pause.

Question to participants: “What would you take with you?”

Responses from every single person: “Photo albums, momentos to remember those I love.”

“You’re now in a car driving to your new family. As you drive, you notice the neighborhood you’re in is nicer and the homes are larger than your home.

Question: What are you thinking about right now?

Some answers: “How long it will be until I can go back to my family?” “What will the new family think of me/expect of me?”

“You get to your new home and the new family is so excited and happy to see you. Your home is beautiful and filled with many things you never had in your old home.”

Question: “How long do you think it will take you to adjust?”

Some answers: “I don’t want to adjust – I want to go back to my family.” “I’m never going to adjust.”

There were a couple more parts to the guided imagery, and then after a pause, everyone was brought back to their relaxing state, before being opening our eyes and ‘coming back’ to the room where we were.

My husband fell asleep in the middle, and as we opened our eyes, smiled at me and said, “Wow, that was great – I got a good rest!” I look at him with a pained expression and responded, “Oh, my gosh. That was a nightmare.” Feeling the loss of family, the dread, fear, loneliness, uncertainty, more fear..it was really intense.

During the discussion afterwards, we were reminded that however powerful what we experienced was, we are mature adults with a healthy self image and have had a lifetime to develop our emotional coping strategies. Young children don’t have that.

This exercise brought home to me in a deep way how much connection a child feels to his home, however imperfect and even painful it may be for him to live there.  As adults, we look at a new foster home and think how lucky the child from the troubled home is to now have a loving and stable family, a room of their own filled with toys, regular meals and clean clothes. The foster parent can understandably look at himself as saving this child, being a hero of a sort.  But for the child, it’s all frightening and unfamiliar, and often unwanted.

Even in the most unstable homes, there is emotional attachment to parents or siblings, and the familiarity of what to expect.  What this two day workshop brought home to me was the depths of loss that a child experiences, and how extraordinarily difficult it is to fill that hole.

I spoke to a number of the parents during the seminar, and every person but one told me they are reconsidering if this is something that want to do or can do. They were all discouraged and hesitant about continuing the process. The illusion of being a savior was definitely smashed and the difficulties were made very clear.

At some point during the second day, it was feeling very heavy and discouraging.  I spoke up in the middle of a session and shared my belief that the point in understanding the loss is to not to get stuck in it, but to ask how the loss can be mediated, how the hole can be filled. Yes, holes can be filled.

It doesn’t mean that the loss didn’t happen and you may not be able to completely ever fill that hole, but there’s a lot that a parent can do to create a positive and supportive environment for the child experiencing loss. Later a number of parents told us that they were very encouraged by that.

Another thing this seminar brought home to me is how extraordinarily difficult it is for anyone else to do what you do as a parent every day for your child – even these very wonderful parents who are the cream of the crop.  The power of the attachment you and your child feel for one another is so deeply significant and can’t be understated. Especially in a field in which children are constantly losing their attachment figures, the importance of those figures is so clear.

I’ve been asked a number of questions about foster care in Israel by parents considering beginning the process; if you ask your questions in the comments below, I’ll try to respond to them!

Avivah

 

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Lentil Rice Mushroom Loaf – recipe

Several readers requested the following recipe. Here you go!

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Lentil Rice Mushroom Loaf

  • 1 c. cooked rice
  • 1 c. cooked brown/green lentils
  • 1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
  • 1 c. chopped mushrooms (I used canned sliced mushrooms and don’t chop them)
  • 1/3 c. shredded carrots
  • 1/4 c. broth (I use chicken broth)
  • 1 c. quick oats
  • 1 t. parsley
  • 1/2 t. basil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 2 eggs

Saute the onion, mushrooms and carrots.  Mix in the remaining ingredients.  The spices are just a suggestion, add whatever you like in the quantities you like.

At this point I like to pulse the mixture with a immersion blender so that it holds together well when it bakes. Pour into a pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a greased pan at 350 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes.

Eat and enjoy!

Avivah

Pictures from our oldest son’s wedding!

Can you believe it’s been five months since my oldest son got married?!?

I hope it’s not too late for you to enjoy these wedding photos!

I expected to have some official photos to share with you quite a while ago, but there was a delay in the discs getting to us. We got them a couple of days ago, and as I promised right after the wedding, here are some of the pictures!

Our beautiful daughter in love!

Our wonderful daugher-in-law

Our oldest son on his wedding day

Our oldest son on his wedding day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family photo (Rafael wasn't feeling well)

Family photo

All of our children (except Rafael, who wasn't feeling well)

All of our children (except Rafael, who wasn’t feeling well)

The oldest seven boys

The oldest seven boys

Ds23 with ds18 at chassan tish before wedding ceremony

Ds23 with ds18 at chassan tish before wedding ceremony

Dh and ds23

Ds23 with the best father in the world at chassan tish :)

Ds15 helping ds23 put on kittel before bedeken

Ds15 helping ds23 put on kittel before bedeken

Bedeken ceremony

Bedeken ceremony

Bedeken ceremony

Bedeken ceremony

Dh and I walking ds to chupa

Dh and I preparing to walk ds to chupa

Dh and I with ds at chupa waiting for bride to arrive

At chupa waiting for the bride

Sharing a smile under the chupa

Sharing a smile under the chupa

Immediately after wedding ceremony - my son, the married man - so emotional

Immediately after wedding ceremony – my son, the married man – so emotional

Dh and I with our lovely new couple!

Dh and I with our lovely new couple!

Our full family photo with our newest addition!

Our full family photo with our newest addition!

It’s so nice to share these family milestone events with my blog readers, who after so many years together here are almost like extended family!

Avivah

Keeping thoughts positive about our upcoming meeting with Dept of Ed.

My husband was feeling under the weather this week and took a day off of work to stay home and rest.

At some point in the morning, he was doing a puzzle with a couple of the boys and looked up at me and said, “It’s such a beautiful environment here.  Thank you for all that you do – I know it doesn’t happen by itself.”

Often I look around at my home and family, and feel a deep sense of contentment: of being right where I’m meant to be, doing what I’m meant to to do, living my life every day with the people I love. I don’t ever take it for granted. It’s been a choice that I didn’t make one time, but many, many times.

It’s been a choice when feeling conflicted and pulled about finances, homeschooling, living in a different country.  But our decision to build our family in a given way has been a consistent. In our home there are a lot of people, a lot of personalities, a lot of things that are happening and moving parts in so many directions!

And now we come to a place of once again consciously making the choice to create this environment for our children.

We recently filed a new application that included Yirmi as he has reached the age for official homeschooling.  On Sunday morning we have an appointment – together with ds5, ds8, ds10 and ds11 -with a committee at the Department of Education regarding our homeschooling application.  I don’t find it appropriate for adults to question children about the educational decisions their parents have made for them, but no one has asked my opinion on how to run things in our government. :)

Yirmi, age 5- at day camp this summer

Yirmi, age 5- pic taken at summer day camp

I had a lot of anxiety about this process for a very long time – from the time Yirmi was an infant, actually.  I felt that submitting this application for a child with special needs would be voluntarily walking into the lions den. But as I’ve said before, making decisions from a place of fear isn’t a good place to be at.  If I’m feeling fearful I need to look at my thinking – and then I ask myself if I’m giving away my power to the officials at the Dept. of Education.

I can’t control what the people I will meet will say or do or think of me, but I do have a choice about the thoughts I allow into my mind!

  • I choose to picture a pleasant and positive meeting with all involved.
  • I choose to picture permission to homeschool all of our children, and particularly Yirmi, being granted quickly and easily.

I’m choosing to keep my thoughts focused on a positive outcome, rather than fearing our quality of life being threatened if permission is denied. I trust that the same One Who gave me these children to raise will help us through this process. That thought has helped me replace my anxiety with feeling empowerment instead. I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call about the meeting that I felt very calm – even after hearing the name of the person we’ll be meeting with (someone with a reputation for being very difficult to deal with).

I won’t write more than to say that this is a significant meeting, particularly since I’m not aware of any other child with Trisomy 21 being homeschooled in the entire country. So we’ll be blazing a new trail. :)

Another camp picture

Another camp picture :)

We’re looking forward to receiving our legal approval and to sharing our good news with you! We welcome all positive thoughts and prayers on our behalf as well!

Avivah

menu graphic

Weekly menu plan – nourishing, gluten free

After my last post when I shared some of my kitchen happenings, I got a good number of responses saying that readers miss my food posts.  I stopped sharing my menu plans when I moved to Israel, thinking they weren’t very interesting.  Interesting or not, it’s what we eat!

Here’s the plan for this week!

Sun: breakfast – homemade breakfast pizzas; l – black bean burgers, baked beets; d – chicken tamale pie

Mon – b- polenta; l – potato kugel, chicken soup; d – oriental rice (with cabbage and chicken)

Tues – b – morning rice; l – pumpkin smoothie bowls, d – chicken pot pie

Weds: b – oatmeal;  l – chicken pot pie; d – lentil meatloaf

Thurs: b – polenta; l – baked sweet potatoes, eggs; d – red lentil dal, rice

On Sundays I try to plan my menu for the week. I first check what I have in the fridge and freezer so I can integrate those foods. Today I defrosted chicken and a couple of frozen dishes that I’ll be using in the next 2 – 3 days. I also usually start the week by soaking at least two kinds of beans.

We make challah weekly and when there’s extra dough, we freeze it in smaller portions for use during the week.  This morning the boys defrosted homemade pizza dough for their own breakfast and each made his own version to eat.  My house smelled way too good for a Sunday morning! :)

Ds11 is preparing the black bean burgers for lunch as I write.  He didn’t mind making the recipe when I told him he didn’t have to chop the onions. :) Last week while I had the food processor already out, I decided to dice a bunch of onions at once and then popped them in the freezer in portion sized bags to make meal prep faster.  This morning I defrosted a one cup portion of the onions in anticipation of this recipe, so it was ready to be used by the time he began.

My purchases last week are influencing my menu this week!

Last week I got a case of bananas on sale for 4 shekels a kilo and put a bunch in the freezer, frozen as single bananas, chocolate covered bananas (for a Shabbos treat) and 1 c. portions of mashed banana. In addition, the kids ate so many fresh bananas, plus I made a couple of huge pans of funky monkey baked oatmeal for Shabbos in two different flavors.  This week I’ll be using the frozen bananas for smoothies.

There was also a good sale on pumpkin (2.90 shekels a kilo) so I bought a lot.  I put all that was on the refrigerated shelf into my shopping cart and then asked the produce guy to open up another huge pumpkin and give me half of it.  He couldn’t believe I really wanted that much and asked me a couple of times if I was really going to use that – so I had to reassure him that I really knew what I was doing.  Obviously I don’t have the buying habits of a typical customer.  :)  I prepped that pumpkin together with the boys the day that we bought it and froze it in 4 cup portions, so all it’s my ready to be used.

Having my menu plan ready at the beginning of the week gives me a calm and relaxed feeling around food preparations.  When I don’t have it ready, I end up wasting time and feeling pressured while trying to figure out each day what I should make.

Avivah