Choosing wedding music for the chupa

So many little details go into preparing for a wedding!

Right now I can’t describe the different things that I’m doing all at one time. It’s overwhelming if I try to describe it or think of all the different details that I’m arranging, and then I start to feel stressed. Dealing with one piece at a time is how this entire period of preparing for two weddings so close together has been manageable and relaxed for me.

So I’ll just share about one piece. :)

For the chupa (wedding ceremony), three songs are chosen – one for the chasan to walk down to, one for the kallah to walk down to, and one for when the cup is broken at the end. Michal asked Amitai for his feedback on what song he thought would be a good choice for her to walk down to.

He chose a song that I love, love, love. Bo’i Kallah, by Yaakov Shwekey.  I thought it was perfect.

And then Michal told me that she is choosing a different song.  Something that better reflects her thoughts and feelings. I didn’t think I could love a song any more than the first one, but when I heard this one, I got choked up because it is so …. her.  The song is Tefilat Kallah – Prayer of the Bride, by Yaakov Shwekey, and has had special meaning for her even prior to getting engaged.

I’ve been practicing listening to it and not crying – so far it hasn’t worked. :) I get teary at the same point every single time. But since I didn’t cry at either of the last two wedding ceremonies (even though I had to take a few deep breaths and close my eyes to keep the tears back), I’m hopeful I’ll make it through this next chupa without flooding the ceremony as well.

The only problem with this song is that the vocal range ranges from very low and very high. Not a problem for a singer with an unusual ability to hit very high notes. But Michal has asked her oldest two brothers to sing this for her as she walks down, and they’re concerned about the necessary vocal range. We’ll see what happens!

Avivah

My husband and I with our lovely bride!

Wedding of Tehila and Meir – pics

On Thursday evening we celebrated the wedding of Tehila and Meir! Appropriately for a wedding on Rosh Chodesh Adar, it was an especially joyful wedding!

Tehila started the day of her wedding by praying at the Kotel. Since a bride and groom have a special spiritual power to give blessings on the day of their wedding, she then went to a Jerusalem hospital to bless sick children and their families. In October 2015, ds5 had a serious surgery and Tehila was there when a bride came to his room to give him a blessing. She was so impressed by this that at that time, she told me when it was her wedding day, she planned to do the same. And so she did.

The director of the ward where she visited was so touched and impressed by her that she came to the wedding to let my husband and I know what a special daughter we have. She told me that parents were crying at the beautiful blessings she gave them.

The photos I’m able to share are dependent on what was sent to me by friends and family who took pictures from the sidelines. I don’t yet have pictures taken by Meir’s family members, and most of the pictures I have are from before the wedding when the couple couldn’t yet see each other, so he’s underrepresented only for that reason.

Here are some pictures for now!

Tehila - reading prayer for the brideTehila – reading prayer for the bride

t wedding - t bouquet

Family pic

Family pic

My husband and I with our lovely bride!

My husband and I with our lovely daughter!

Tehila with her brothers

Tehila with her brothers – note Rafael grabbing kippa off of ds8’s head

Fun pic with brothers

Fun pic with brothers!

Rafael - almost a year since this cutie joined the family!

Rafael – just five days short of a year since this cutie joined the family!

My oldest son and his wonderful wife

My oldest son and his wonderful wife

Before bedeken

Before bedeken

Getting a blessing from her father at bedeken

Getting a blessing from her father at bedeken

Meir speaking to Tehila at bedeken

Meir speaking to Tehila at bedeken

Giving a blessing to her sister

Giving a blessing to her sister after bedeken

The chupa was so beautiful- one of the most beautiful I’ve ever been to. Actually, it was the most beautiful I’ve been to. :)  I was able to be very present and really appreciate each moment; it was definitely easier since this isn’t my first child to get married and I knew what to expect.

While I managed to keep the tears at bay, I was told by a friend that there were many people crying during the chupa from deep emotion and happiness.

Circling the chasan seven times

Circling the chasan seven times

t wedding - chupa 2

Kallah circling the chasan under the chupa

 

Married!! Being introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Samberg for the first time

Married!! About to enter the hall as they are being introduced as husband and wife for the first time

Meir dancing for Tehila

Meir dancing for Tehila

It was a very special evening for a very special couple!

This is what I’ve been writing and teaching about parenting for all these years – this is what it leads to. To amazing young adults that I feel proud and humbled and grateful to call my children, watching them go onto their independent lives with the necessary skills to be successful in relationships and in life.

Avivah

Dd23 at her engagement party with dd21

Having two brides in the family at the same time

It’s been busy with our two upcoming weddings to prepare for and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to share more here, especially with so much going on!

As we’re just hours away from the last Shabbos spent together before our oldest daughter’s wedding, I thought I’d share about a comment/question that I’ve been constantly hearing:

What is it like to have two daughters engaged and getting married around the same time?

The short answer? Amazing. Wonderful. Unbelievable blessing coming through the spiritual and emotional pipelines.

But I realized that with this question being raised so often, maybe that’s not really saying enough.

My daughters have also gotten comments about how hard it must be. One of them shared with me a question she was asked: “Isn’t it hard being engaged at the same time as your sister? Don’t you compare who has more and who gets more, whose chassan (fiance’) is better, etc?”

When my daughter shared this with me, I was taken aback. I thought this revealed a lot about the questioner, but after sharing this comment with many others who agree it’s a legitimate concern, apparently what was unusual was my surprise about the sentiment expressed rather than the concern raised.

Here’s our experience.

Each of my daughters is marrying a wonderful guy, each who is perfect for her. Each young man is very different, with different strengths and abilities. What in the world is there to compare? Who is happier? Who got a bigger diamond? Whose fiance is more thoughtful?

That would be ridiculous. Comparison is the last thing any of us are thinking about, especially our daughters. I think it’s amazing it is that our daughters can share this special stage of life with each other as they go through similar experiences, and they’ve said the same thing. For our family, it’s only heightened our happiness for them to be engaged at the same time. They’ve always been good friends and now this is brings an added dimension to their relationship.

Dd23 at her engagement party with dd21

A friend told me yesterday, “Only you could have that attitude.”

What in the world????? Did I get pushed up onto a pedestal because I recognize and welcome the abundance of having so much positive energy in our home at one time???

I can’t deny that there’s a lot of time and energy that is necessary. Planning a wedding is a lot of work, and doing it times two so close together is a LOT of work. That’s no contradiction to it being a wonderful experience! In fact, most of the things in life that bring us the most happiness are the things we’ve invested the most in.

For us, the experience of having two daughters getting engaged two weeks apart, and soon to be married twelve days apart, has been about seeing how perfect Divine timing is.

We humans can find a way to ruin anything good – no matter how good! – by finding something to complain about! I was very conscious from the beginning of the first engagement that my focus would be on my gratitude. It was important to me to be conscious of that since I knew it could very easy to get into overwhelm or complaining about how much there was to do, if that’s the direction I chose to go in.

Yes, it’s a choice.

The thoughts we think are a choice. What we focus on is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Gratitude is a choice. It’s not all about what is sent to us in this world, but the attitude we choose to take when various life circumstances come our way.

Fortunately for us, in this case enjoying this period and enjoying our two brides has been an easy choice for us all!

Avivah

Why perfectionism will make you believe you’re never a good enough mother

Recently I spoke with a young mother who wanted to address some concerns she was having with her young children. As I listened to her detail all the issues she was having, I thought about how demanding her expectations were.

When she paused, I told her, “It seems to me that you hold yourself to a very high standard that will make it impossible to ever feel good about your parenting.”  She admitted that she’s a perfectionist.

Sometimes it’s not your children and their behavior that is the issue; it’s your unrealistic expectations of yourself.  Those high expectations can masquerade as something positive – for example, in the case of this mother, it sounded like wanting to be the very best mother possible. That sounds admirable, doesn’t it?

Right. It sounds good, but if there’s so much tension and inner pressure about it, clearly it’s not healthy.  Saying she wanted to be a good mother was just prettying up a huge sledgehammer in her mind that she was constantly using to beat herself up since she never lived up to her perfect ideal.

While some people think perfectionism is a positive quality, I couldn’t disagree more. Perfectionism is deeply damaging and it guarantees that a person will never feel enough, no matter how hard they try.

perfectionism scale

Not only does perfectionism affect you negatively, it harms your children as well, because they need to look perfect in order for you prove to yourself and the world that you’re a good enough parent. They’ll never feel good enough, either – not for you and not for them. And then they’ll internalize that perpetual inadequacy within themselves.

Parents, step back and reevaluate your expectations of yourself and your children, to have a realistic idea of what to strive for. You will probably benefit from checking in with someone from the outside who has an objective perspective.  This isn’t about lowering the bar and saying that anything goes. Not at all. It’s being nurturing and compassionate of yourself and your children to let go of unrealistic ideas that only bring feelings of pain and inadequacy to you all.

We all need to have space to just be, to move at a pace that is appropriate for us. That’s a critical component that allows the natural developmental process to unfold. We can’t move forward in a healthy way when the inner voice is a driving taskmaster, saying, “More, more, better, better, don’t stop because if you do you’ll never be good enough!”

Can you let what you've already done be enough? Or do you have to do' just one more thing' to feel you've done enough?

Can you let what you’ve already done be enough?

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating – again and again and again.

You are enough as you are right now. Really.

And when you can let yourself feel that, ironically you’ll then free up some emotional energy that can applied to being more of who you want to be – from a place of self-love, not self-shaming.

Avivah

 

 

Clothing-Alterations

Remaking my mother-of-the-bride gown

My sister-in-law will be coming for the weddings, and very generously offered to bring me a gift. I told her that what I wanted was a sewing machine (I left mine behind along with most of our other belongings when we made aliyah since we didn’t bring a lift), and that the gift would be to bring it to me! She agreed, and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it!

The sewing machine isn’t here yet – I just ordered it last night – but just thinking about it got my sewing juices flowing.  We mostly have males to outfit for the weddings, which is pretty straightforward. Early on I bought the ties and bow ties for both weddings, dh got a new suit, and this week I’ll go through the younger boys wardrobes to be sure they have what they need – the clothes from ds’s wedding seven months ago should still fit them.

Then there’s the gowns. The two brides found their gowns each within a couple of weeks of their engagements (and quite miraculously neither gown needs alterations), but despite my desire to get the gowns for the sisters and mother wrapped up much earlier on, these are still very much in process.

For the first wedding, the color scheme is blue and I was fortunate to find a gown in the first place that I went.

For the second wedding, the color scheme is maroon.  I went to three different gown places and couldn’t find anything. There aren’t a lot of maroon gowns available, so finally I ordered a gown online. It was the perfect color and it had a couple of features I liked but would require a matching shell and another significant alteration (you can see the pic here). As I thought about the alterations and shell shopping, I kept thinking about adapting a gown that I bought for ds24’s wedding.

It’s a very high quality gown that I got for a great price but I purchased it before we decided on a color scheme for ds’s wedding, so the color (black and ivory) didn’t work. It’s been hanging in my closet all this time, and I thought fleetingly, what if I took apart both gowns and then put them back together, combining different elements of each….it might work.

Too much work to sew by hand, and with no machine, it wasn’t an option. But like I said, my creative juices started flowing at the thought of the sewing machine. So around 11 pm, when due to tiredness there was less well-reasoned restraint to hold me back, I started taking them apart. I intended to just start taking it apart, little by little, but the new gown was assembled in a completely different way than I had anticipated. So once I started I had to completely take it apart.

With the new gown I had just purchased now a pile of cloth – the only thing left assembled was a zipper barely connected to the original lining – and the other one partially disassembled, I mused ruefully that I might have just ruined two perfectly good gowns if my idea didn’t work out. I wouldn’t have time to re-sew either one of them before the wedding, and in any case, neither of them worked for my needs without substantial alterations and there wouldn’t be time for that by the time the sewing machine arrived.  I reassured myself that my backup plan would be to rent to a gown and if I couldn’t find a maroon gown, I’d get a neutral solid color gown instead.

At 3:45 am, I decided to call it a night, but by that point the gown was mostly finished. Yes, sewn by hand. Amazing what you can do when you’re not being interrupted by young children! I still want to do something with the sleeves but I think the gown actually looks quite nice. The bodice is black, the skirt section is maroon and overset with black lace. I don’t think anyone would guess that this wasn’t the way it looked originally.

After I finished it I thought it’s too bad I didn’t take a picture of both gowns before I started, but since I don’t have a working camera it’s not very surprising that I didn’t. :) So you’ll have to wait for the pictures from the wedding to see my handiwork.

Dd21 was very complimentary when she saw it, and since it’s for her wedding, her opinion is the one that matters the most to me.

So I can now check one more item off of my to-do list!

Avivah

So much to do!

Really busy but not stressed – well, mostly not!

We have just under a month before Tehila’s wedding and then twelve days later Michal will be getting married!

A number of their friends have commented that I must be stressed out planning for two weddings so close together. No, I’m not. :)

Having said that, I’ve been conscious about creating space inside myself to keep centered. That means recognizing what is necessary and what isn’t. So even though I technically have time to write here, there’s been a longer lag than usual since I’ve been choosing to leave myself some time that isn’t filled with activity in the evenings.

It’s not just planning for the two weddings but also the time of year that it falls out that adds to the intensity of what needs to be done. Of course there’s the week of sheva brachos celebrations nightly following each wedding – I didn’t know until my son got married that it’s the sheva brachos that really wipe you out!

The second wedding will be the night before Purim; we’ll celebrate Purim, and the next day we’ll go right into the Shabbos sheva brachos we’re hosting. When people hear the specifics of the dates they look at me and ask with great intensity, “But HOW are you going to do that???”

I tell myself (and them) I’ll just keep it simple and it will all get done. That works to keep me from getting stressed about it all.

A couple of days ago, someone said to me, “All the work you’ve done on yourself for years is going to come into play right now.” She’s a life coach – can you tell? :) She’s right, though. Years ago I could have done everything that needed to be done, but not without stressing myself and everyone around me.  I wouldn’t even have had the goal that I have now, let alone the internal tools to meet that goal – to enjoy this very special season of life and to be emotionally present and relaxed.

So much to do!

So much to do!

——————————

Here’s an update on some of the non-wedding stuff I’m busy with this week:

Right now we’re working on making different school arrangements for ds15. The new program he was in hasn’t actualized in the manner it was originally described. Good people and good intentions, but different than what we signed him up for and not a match for him.

I’m starting the process of registering Rafael for a specific day care for the coming year – this day care has a special inclusion program and there’s a lot of demand for the very limited spots. I met director yesterday, got the registration form, and toured the facility. In a couple of days the evaluations and letters of recommendation I requested last week from different professionals should be ready.

If you’re wondering why I’m putting Rafael in day care since I’m home with the other kids… there are things I need to do because he’s a foster child. I was initially told he needed to start day care this past September when he was nine months but I pushed for him to be able to stay home with me for another year. My goal is to find the best option for him; I have a good feeling about this particular program and think it will be a good match for us.

Speaking of educational plans for next year, I’m also beginning the application process for Yirmi to attend a gan safa (kindergarten with a language focus) in the coming September.  Though it seems incredibly early to be thinking about next year,  it’s not! This is exactly when all the applications start to go in for the next school year. This week I’ve been working on getting his paperwork together and hope to open a file for him with the municipality this week.  I’ve been told that I’ll need to advocate strongly to get him in to a gan safa since they prefer to place children with T21 in lower functioning frameworks rather than with ‘typical’ children with language delays. But there are enough parents who have already done this that it’s not blazing a new trail to get this accommodation.

It might seem ironic or confusing that I’ve just spent all this time and energy to procure an authorization to homeschool him for the current school year and here I go turning around to get him into the school system for next year! It’s actually because of the positive experience dealing with the bureaucracy that I feel ready to deal with this gan process. Prior to this, I was concerned that if Yirmi was in gan safa (which I think he would LOVE!), I would be refused an authorization to homeschool him the following year. Now I’ve decided to take the advocacy for him one year at a time and not worry about what will happen too far down the road.

Oh – and yes, Rafael is still waking up in the middle of the night! Not loving that very much. 2 am looks much better to me when my head is undisturbed on my pillow. :) Actually, 7 am looks much better to me when my head has been undisturbed from my pillow at 2 am. :) So goes life!

Avivah

 

One year old - hurray!

Rafael is one!

Our little Rafael is growing fast and just celebrated his first birthday!

It’s been ten months since he joined our family. Ds11 told me he doesn’t feel like it’s been that long – on one hand, it feels like he’s always been with us and on the other, time has flown by!

Here’s a picture of Yirmi (then 4.5) and Rafael (2 months) in the first hour after he arrived home.

Yirmi holding Rafael on his first day home

Yirmi holding Rafael on his first day home

Here they are again, ten months later!

Yirmi (5.5) and Rafael (1)

Yirmi (5.5) and Rafael (1)

Rafael is super active, cute and generally a very happy little guy. We appreciate that except at 2 am, when we would rather he sleep. :)

One year old - hurray!

One year old – hurray!

Grateful for this little member of our family and we look forward to many more birthdays to come!

Avivah

visions

The joy of watching dreams manifest in my life

Two nights ago we had the official engagement party for Tehila and Meir. The only thing missing was that we didn’t get a family picture with our new couple. :(  It wasn’t for lack of wanting one! Fortunately, the wedding is in just seven weeks so we’ll make up for that soon. :)

I’m happy to have a picture of our lovely new couple, though!

Tehila and Meir at their engagement party

We are so deeply grateful and happy to welcome Meir to our family. It’s a very special thing to watch your child find the person she wants to spend her life with, and we all like him almost as much as she does!

********************************

Several months ago, I was contacted by a writer for Mishpacha magazine. They were planning a new column that would come out monthly over the course of a year, interviews with women who had fulfilled a dream. She wanted to know if I would be willing to be interviewed.

At that time, I shared with her about my most recent vision that had come true, of Rafael joining our family.  They held off on printing my interview since they said I was too well- known and didn’t want me to be featured in the beginning of the series.

My interview for the Dreamscapes column came out last week in Mishpacha’s Family First, right in the middle of this very special season of celebration for our family.  And as this issue came to print, I’ve been thinking a lot about the manifestation of a different vision that has been very close to my heart for years that is unfolding right now.

In February 2011, I spoke to my husband about the possibility of making aliya that summer, with nine children ranging in age from 2 – 18. To say he was lukewarm to the idea would be putting it mildly! One of the things I told him then was the following:

“In another five years, our kids will be dating and getting married. We already know that the older two girls want to live in Israel when they’re married. It’s not likely that Baltimore will be very compelling for any of them.

We’ve invested so much in our family and that connection is very important to us, but over time our kids will end up living in completely different parts of the US and even the world.  The older our family gets, logistically it’s going to be very hard to continue to physically be there for one another.  But if we move to Israel now while all the kids can make the move with us, hopefully by the time they’re ready to get married, they’ll want to stay in Israel. And hopefully being in the same small country, we’ll be more able to be physically present for one another even after they’re married.”

It’s a huge credit to my husband that he agreed to make the move, despite his hesitations. We shared the vision of continued physical proximity and connection as our family expanded, and it continued to be an important factor in our decision making process when we moved from Karmiel in the periphery of Israel to much more centrally located RBS less than three years ago.

I don’t take it for granted for a second that we’re been able to be present for these moments in the lives of our adult children. And I don’t take it for granted that each of our three couples is starting their lives here in Israel. What I feel is a very deep sense of humility and gratitude for Hashem’s kindness to us.

Avivah

 

tehila and meir engaged

Celebrating Chanuka, a birthday….and another engagement!!!

Dd22 celebrated her 23rd birthday on the first night of Chanuka in a very special way – by getting engaged!

We are delighted to announce the engagement of Tehila to Meir Samberg of Memphis, TN!

tehila and meir engaged

The l’chaim was at our house last night (the first night of Chanuka).

For Michal’s lechaim exactly two weeks ago, I shared a picture of the expanded Werner ladies group.  Below is the expanded Werner guy group. :)

L - r: ds11 months, dh, ds24, Meir (dsil1);

L – r: ds11 months, dh, ds24, Meir (dsil1);ds15, ds11, ds18, Amitai (dsil2), ds10; front: ds8 and ds5

Dh and I with our three couples!

Dh and I with our three couples! L- r: dh, ds24, dsil2, Meir (dsil1), Tehila (dd23), dd21, ddil1, Avivah

I can’t tell you what a beautiful feeling it is to watch one’s children find their soulmate! Each and every one has chosen such a special person who is uniquely suited to him/her. Really, it’s remarkable. And so exciting!

The engagement party will be this Monday evening from 8 – 10 pm in RBS at the Bais Mordechai shul. If you’re reading this and are local, please consider this an invitation!

Avivah

pic taken after the meeting was finished, l- r: me, ds5, dh, ds8 (behind), ds11, ds10

Our meeting with the Ministry of Education officials and the results

It’s been so busy with the engagement and wedding preparations, but I wanted to share with you about the meeting we had at the Ministry of Education.

We got to the Ministry early but were refused admittance since the guard said he didn’t have authorization for us to enter that day; he refused to call the people we told him we were meeting with and told us it was our problem to call them ourselves. Since I had never had direct phone contact with any of those who would be on the committee, I was stumped as to how we were supposed to do that.

He also refused to let us sit on the bench on the opposite side of the checkpoint just two steps away. Finally, ds5, exhausted after traveling two hours to get there, lay down on the floor and put his arms under his face to use as a pillow. Then the guard let me sit with him on the bench. :)

I decided the only thing we could do was wait for them to let us know we were late and call in an authorization for us to go in; fortunately it wasn’t much longer before I received a call from the secretary asking if I forgot that we were supposed to meet that day.  Just as I answered that call, an experienced guard came in who knew how things were supposed to be done and directed us to where we were supposed to go (the new authorization wasn’t waiting there, either!).  Not the most auspicious beginning for an important meeting!

We entered the room where three officials were waiting to meet with us together with all of the children we are homeschooling, and I right away noticed their eyes fall on Yirmi (ds5) and linger there.  While they were asking us about ourselves and we were responding, Yirmi went over to one of the officials, tapped her on her arm and asked her for paper to draw. The woman was quite warm and friendly to him, and he returned happily with his paper to his seat while we continued the meeting.

Then they started questioning the kids. Ds11 felt the most pressured; as the oldest sibling present, most of the questions were directed to him.  Some of what he was asked: if he wants to homeschool, if he wants to go to school, doesn’t he think it would be better if he could do what his friends are doing, does he think he’s on the same level as his friends….

Ds11 responded that he was happy homeschooling, he wasn’t interested in going to school, his friends in school don’t especially like being there and aren’t learning more than he is.  As she kept asking and asking, I could see in his eyes that he couldn’t understand why she kept asking similar questions to those he had already answered.  It felt like she was working to elicit a negative response from him.

She asked him what he would do if I let him go to school for one week; he answered but at this point, I decided this line of questioning had gone on far enough.  I asked rhetorically, “If a  child wants chocolate for breakfast every day, should I give it to him?  I’m the parent and I’m the one who will decide what is right for my child educationally.”

She disagreed, and told me that an eleven year old is mature enough to make these decisions for himself. Clearly we have a different perspective. :)

They asked each child all about what his academic schedule, extracurricular, friends. When one of the officials pulled out a book in Hebrew and pushed it toward ds11 to test his reading, I saw another son’s face blanch. He is reading in English and Hebrew, but due to dyslexia it’s not yet on the level of what is typical for a child his age. He’s doing amazingly, though, and we all see huge progress on that front! (I shared about the approach I’ve taken and the materials we use for him here.) But understandably he didn’t want to be tested out loud by strangers.

I motioned to him reassuringly and told him aloud that he didn’t have to read if he didn’t want to. I felt it was really important for the security of our children that they knew that I would protect their boundaries.  Another son also said he preferred not to. The official was about to put away the book and I told him he didn’t ask Yirmi if he wanted to read! Yirmi loves to read books and of course he enthusiastically agreed!  He isn’t reading aloud yet and there’s no rush on our parts; our focus is on input, input, input and not on testing the output (ie testing).  We’ve recently started Hebrew with him – because he sees his brothers learning with dh and is constantly requesting to learn with him as well – and we’ve been doing flashcards in English for years.  But he looked very cute looking into the book studiously and then beaming up at them.

There was extensive questioning about how I would address Yirmi’s educational needs, and didn’t I  know how much benefit the child and the parents get from the special education system? My focus is not on expressing negativity about a different system but on what I feel I can offer in the home environment, and that’s what I shared.  I added that I don’t feel I have to know everything and am quite comfortable reaching out for support and help when necessary.

When the  meeting was finally over – it was probably about an hour long – as soon as we walked out one of the boys right away asked if they’re ever going to have to do that again. They hated it! And I hated that they had to do it – it’s an intimidating process even for adults and too much pressure for a child.  Afterward I found out that legally I could have refused to bring them but I thought that it was mandatory since the school year had already started. (That’s what I was told.)

Dh and I felt the meeting went as well as could be hoped for; they were clearly charmed by Yirmi and him being so natural and comfortable lightened the atmosphere for everyone.  Overall I felt comfortable with the officials and so did dh.

The next day dh happened to pass one of the officials who was waiting outside a building he passed, and the official told us they had all been very impressed with us. That was hopeful but nonetheless, I didn’t jump to any conclusions about what the outcome would be – particularly about Yirmi. I’ve been told it’s very difficult to receive approval to homeschool a child with special needs, particularly if those needs are immediately apparent (like with Trisomy 21). And this is where my main concern about this outcome lay.

When the email came, I held my breath while I opened it. There was an individual file for each child, and after opening the first one, went to Yirmi’s.  It said the same thing as for all of his brothers.

The results? We received authorization to homeschool each of the following children: ds11, ds10, ds8 and ds5.

Yes, we received the first authorization (as far as I know) in the State of Israel to homeschool a child with Trisomy 21!!!

pic taken after the meeting was finished, l- r: me, ds5, dh, ds8 (behind), ds11, ds10

After the meeting, l- r: me, ds5, dh, ds8 (behind), ds11, ds10

I feel like writing a bunch more exclamation marks and jumping up and down and can’t think about this without tearing up with happiness.  We were ready to go to court to appeal if we were denied permission, but I kept picturing a peaceful and pleasant outcome of our meeting with the Ministry of Education officials. My mantra I repeated to myself over and over again was, “It can be easy, it can be easy.”

I have to add here that this was a huge personal victory for me. I had so much anxiety about this process for so long, and once he got to age 5, finally put my concerns to the side and did what needed to be done. My thinking had caused me to feel disempowered and threatened, and I consciously worked to release the fear I felt about dealing with these officials. They’re only people.  It’s so easy for fears to grow and grow, unless we recognize them and let them go.

What does this mean for now? The approval is for one year, which means it will need to be renewed for the coming school year. Since home visits are part of the homeschool requirements, we will be seeing one of these officials another two times this year when she comes to visit. One positive outcome of having a social worker regularly come into my home as part of the foster care process is that I’ve become much less sensitive about having officials in my home.  I don’t agree with having home visits as part of the homeschooling oversight process and think it’s invasive and inappropriate, but I’m not threatened by it.

We’ll take it one year at a time and trust that things will continue to work out for the best!

Avivah