Category Archives: health

kids outdoors

Kids enjoying outdoor time without gadgets

Over three years after first hearing about it, I’ve just read the book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv.

There were a number of points made, but the overall message that I appreciated being reminded of was that nature is an important contributor to the quality of life to a child, and something to consciously nurture.

I also appreciated when the author pointed out that being in nature isn’t about taking your kids to a distant national park or walking through a forest, which is what you might mentally picture when reading the title (I did!). Nature is all around us, every day and everywhere we go.

My kids who were raised in the US had different opportunities than my children do now, but they’ve all had a lot of nature/outdoor experiences in their lives.  Volunteering at a sheep farm for several years, trips and classes at the nature center, hikes with a naturalist, enrollment in Junior Rangers summer programs at a state park, sailing lessons, bee keeping, treehouse building…

When I got into gardening, my kids joined in.  We incubated duck eggs and raised the ducks.  We did family projects that were mostly done by the kids  – outdoor renovations like building a platform deck, a brick patio, raised garden beds and a wooden six foot security fence.  They participated in 4H activities for years.

Our yearly family camping trips were such special times for us all – activities included hiking, fishing and boating but mostly was about just enjoying being in nature together.  There is something so centering about being outdoors, hearing the birds begin to chirp as the sun rises, sitting around a campfire at night…

Even our monthly shopping trips were an opportunity to experience nature, as we shopped in Amish and Mennonite farming communities.  At one supermarket I would park our van right next to the horses in the field, and when we bought our raw milk from the farmer we would sometimes go into the barn to see the cows. When I got our free range eggs, we visited yet another farm where we got to see their horses, dogs, turkeys, chickens and ducks.

When they went to sleepaway summer camps, we sent to programs with an outdoor focus where they learned canoeing and archery along with other activities.  Membership in Girl Scouts included hiking the Appalachian Trail (and coming upon a rattlesnake) and a yearly group camping trip.

Now we’re living in a different part of the world with different opportunities.  The specifics look different – we don’t have a car and that has drastically cut down on going places like national parks and campgrounds.  But wherever we’ve lived there have been opportunities to get outside.

Something I really appreciate about living here in Israel is that  It’s a culture in which it’s safer and more accepted for kids to be out without adult supervision. In the US I closely supervised my kids when they were outside, and wouldn’t have been comfortable with things that I now routinely allow.

Our boys spend lots of time riding bikes and scooters, rollerblading, creating hideouts in bushes in the public parks, and playing with friends outside.  Two of our boys participate in a weekly survival/fire/knives/hiking group and that allows them to explore areas beyond our residential neighborhood.

I still love gardening and am grateful to have a yard (albeit much, much smaller than in the US!) where my kids plant alongside me.

We don’t have family camping trips (due to not having a car to get there) but for the last two summers, we’ve set up our large family sized tent on our porch and the kids spent weeks sleeping there in the summer.  My husband has found some local hikes that are accessible by bus and has taken the kids there – one of their favorite hikes happened when they didn’t quite find the place they set out to get to.  But on the way they found animal bones and picked almonds from trees they discovered and had a great time – they plan to go back this year when the almonds are in season and do some serious picking!

It’s really about awareness and looking for opportunities even in the small moments – seeing the interesting bug or bird and taking the time to observe it, sitting quietly on the grass together and listening to the trees rustle in the wind…you don’t have to go far from home for your child to be able to experience nature.

While parents will sometimes say that kids need to invest in their technological skills so that they aren’t left behind, I feel that’s very overrated.  Kids today are inside much more than in the past, on screens and devices and that takes away from the time that they’re outdoors.  Kids need to be outside, to move their bodies, to feel sun on their faces.

I enjoyed these photos taken by a mom of four children who has chosen to limit her children’s access to television and electronic gadgets – she beautifully captured the ability of kids to just be in the moment, to entertain themselves, to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

You know what motivated me to buy this book?  I wanted to read something inspiring, something affirming, something that focused on something that isn’t achievement oriented but is about letting your kids have room to grow and just be.

That’s a big value for me – to give our children the space and time to be kids, to grow at their own pace, to have a sane and enjoyable pace of life.  It’s something that I sometimes feel is getting lost in our society’s ever increasing pace of life, the drive to accomplish and get things done…as people are getting more disconnected from one another and from themselves.

Nature and outdoor time is part of the answer to shifting away from that driving pace and getting recentered with yourself and your family.  It can be intimidating for parents to get their kids away from screens but it’s worth the effort – there are so many benefits to the individual and to the family!




Surgery for Yirmiyahu postponed

This morning my husband left with Yirmiyahu for the hospital (since I was sick).  He called me after traveling several hours to get there and then waiting at least another two hours, saying that there had been a technical error.

It seems that Yirmiyahu was scheduled for a different procedure than the surgery he was supposed to have.  After they got the logistic mixup straightened out, the doctors checked out Yirmiyahu to see if they could go ahead with the surgery today.  Yirmiyahu has been congested for the last couple of days, and the anesthesiologist said they won’t perform the surgery today since they’re afraid that he’ll come out of the surgery with a lung infection due to pooling mucous.

I had scheduled an appointment with his pediatrician the day before we moved, exactly two weeks ago, to get the necessary blood work done and to speak to her about the surgery.  I asked her while she was doing the blood draw if she could tell me anything about what to expect and she said, no, she didn’t know anything.  “But,” she said, you’re good at figuring things out for yourself.”  In disbelief, I told her that I didn’t think this was something I should have to work out for myself.  Wasn’t there anyone who could tell me about the surgery in advance?  “No,” she said, then patted me on the arm and with a smile wished me luck, telling me she had other patients to see.

When someone from the hospital finally called just before the last day of Pesach and told my husband it was only an overnight hospital stay, I heard about it later in the evening and wondered aloud how that was possible.  It didn’t make sense to me that it was a minor procedure that a very short hospital stay implied.  I kept thinking, this doesn’t make sense.  With no way to reach anyone at the hospital to get my questions answered, I rationalized that perhaps they were going to use newer larascopic surgical techniques that are supposed to cut down the recuperation time.

So the surgery didn’t take place, and we’re not sorry about that.

A couple of good things came out of this twelve hour trip that would have otherwise seemed like a huge irritation and waste of time.  Firstly, a surgeon spoke to my husband at length about what to expect from the surgery, drawing diagrams and detailing the entire process.  The surgery is complex and will take several hours; we’ll need to expect at least a week long hospital stay.  It was good to finally get solid facts.

Secondly, I’m going to get referrals and find the best possible surgeon in the Jerusalem area to perform the surgery.  I’m very unhappy with how badly all of this was handled every step of the way and will not take Yirmiyahu back to that hospital in the north.  This delay gives us a chance to get ourselves organized medically locally and make sure Yirmiyahu will get the care he deserves.

We’re all so happy to have Yirmiyahu back home – he was only gone for 12 hours and the house didn’t feel the same without him!  I’ll be sure to let you know when the surgery is rescheduled – I assume it will be sometime in the summer.


‘Bought’ movie, view free until Mar. 6

Sometimes I feel discouraged about the direction the world is moving in and wonder what it will be like when my children are raising children.  I wonder if they will have the freedom to make choices that are in line with their beliefs and values.  Will they be able to choose (for example) home birth, home education, and alternative health care choices for their children?

Last week I watched the new documentary Bought with dh, dd14 and ds12.

The goal of this program is to open a conversation about who is manufacturing our food and medicines, who is dictating policies regarding both, and how this is affecting our health.  We don’t have much transparency in these areas and consumers deserve to know more about this so we can make informed choices for our families.

This program confirmed much of what I already know, but it didn’t depress me.  Actually, it gave me hope.  Hope that there are a lot more people out there who are doing the research that I’m doing, who are coming to conclusions that I’ve come to, who are concerned about the same things that concern me.

As dh said when we finished watching, it was very nice to feel that we’re not alone.

‘Bought’ is available to watch online for free until March 6.  It raises valid issues that would be of concern to almost all of us if we knew what was involved.  I’m a proponent of the concept of ‘informed consent’, and we can’t make informed choices when critical information is withheld for the sake of financial profits.  I would love to believe that people are rising up and demanding transparency from the major manufacturers, but the real power will come from a critical mass of educated parents making these demands in unison.


A return visit to the burn unit to say ‘thank you’

I’m sorry I haven’t been around much lately.  I’ve been super busy and on top of that my laptop has been out of commission and when I have access to my husband’s computer in the later hours of the evening, I’m too tired to think straight anymore!  But I miss you all when I don’t write.

A while ago I took Yirmiyahu for a standard hearing test.  It wasn’t clear at that time if he was hearing well or not.  Initially he responded to all the tones but after several times turning his head to the sound of someone calling his voice and seeing no one there, he began to look intently at the woman in the glass enclosed room when she spoke into her microphone (though her mouth was covered) instead of looking to the speakers that her voice emanated from.  I’m not concerned about his hearing but this is something that has to be checked out to be sure there’s no issue and the way to do it with a child this young is via the BERA test which tests the brains response to auditory stimulus while a child is asleep.

To make a long and exhausting story short, after traveling for the BERA test to a hospital in a different city that’s only a thirty minute drive away but an hour and a half trip on two different buses, he fell asleep after being given the medication.  The technician attached the electrodes to his head, and as she was almost finished, he stirred and sleepily opened his eyes.  If he hadn’t seen a strange woman looming over him and had black wires hanging down over his eyes, he probably would have fallen right back to sleep but he was very alarmed.  I waited 2.5 hours for him to fall asleep again, but the same thing happened then. So I had no choice but to reschedule for this week.

It was very frustrating to spend so long traveling and then waiting there for four hours and return home late in the afternoon not having been able to get the hearing test done, which takes maybe 15 minutes at the very most.  But one thing I was able to do while walking him around in the stroller trying to lull him to sleep was to visit the nurses in the burn unit where I was hospitalized in April so they could see how well I’m doing.

I had such a powerful emotion that came over me as I walked into the unit.  I had never walked in to the unit before – when I was admitted ten months ago, I was wheeled in with bandages covering my face.  Though my eyes weren’t burned, my sight was affected for the first few days and on that evening I could hardly see anything.

I didn’t expect the nurses to recognize me since I looked very different at that point than I do now, but both nurses I saw remembered me when I started to speak.  I started to say hello, and I hardly had a chance to say anything before I started crying.   It’s interesting that other than the exceptions that I wrote about, I didn’t cry much during my hospitalization but since then, I’ve had a  number of waves of emotion that come over me when thinking about my accident and God’s amazing kindness to me.  I told the nurse I don’t know why now I’m getting so emotional when everything is fine and then when things looked so bad I wasn’t crying.  She smiled and said, “They’re happy tears,”  and she’s totally right.

She told me how wonderful I look and told me that she would have to look with a magnifying glass to see the remaining signs of the burns. To me it’s noticeable but many people have said they can’t tell I was ever burned, and I’m not going to point out the signs of the accident!  That same evening I went to an event and saw many people who I hadn’t seen since before I was burned, and all of them were exclaiming that they couldn’t believe that I look ‘perfect’.  I’m telling you, you get so many compliments on how good you look after an accident like this!  In all the years before this put together I didn’t get as many compliments as I have in the last eight months.  :)

Beginning three days after I was burned, I took a picture each morning while in the hospital.  Not because I wanted to see how bad I looked – I didn’t – but because I believed that one day I would be healed.  And I knew that I would look back and think it must not have been so bad, that in the intensity of the experience it felt worse to me than it really was.  The pictures are a tangible proof for me to remember that, yes, it really was that bad, but I don’t have to look at them to appreciate how incredibly fortunate I was.


My journey towards healing adrenal fatigue

adrenal fatigueAre you dragging and can’t get your day started without coffee?  If so, this post isn’t going to be theoretical for you!

There’s now a lot of talk about adrenal fatigue in the alternative health community, but when I began learning about over seven years ago, it was something neither I nor anyone I knew had ever heard of.  (In the mainstream medical world this flies under their radar and they say it doesn’t exist since they only recognize the most extreme form of adrenal fatigue, Addisons disease.)

I was somewhat familiar with adrenals before then, since eleven years ago I visited a naturopath for a suspicious growth on my neck.  He checked a number of things as part of the overall intake and told me, ‘your adrenals are shot’.  I asked what the consequences of that were, and whatever he said wasn’t so compelling – I was much more worried about the swelling that brought me there.  (I later healed this on my own by going sugar and wheat free – the disappearance of the swelling was a side effect and not something I intended – and it wasn’t until I researched candida at a later point that I understood an overgrowth of yeast had caused this symptom.)

Adrenal fatigue is when your adrenal glands are overstressed and can no longer keep up with the needs of your body. That malfunction causes a snowball of symptoms that become increasingly severe if left untreated.  (For a more detailed description of adrenal fatigue and the accompanying symptoms, read here – I really strongly recommend you read this since a huge percentage of people are suffering from some degree of adrenal fatigue.)

Do you think knowing about this made me take any action to heal my adrenals?  Nope. Too busy to slow down, rest and nurture myself, and that’s basically how you heal adrenal fatigue.  I did pass the information on to friends who I saw had symptoms, though.

There are many symptoms but for me the first and most obvious was my difficulty losing weight despite an excellent diet.   After my seventh child I was able to get close to my ideal weight before becoming pregnant when he was eight months old.  After my eighth was born, it became very, very hard to lose weight.  I don’t like to use the word impossible but it’s often felt like that.  And the flip side is it’s extremely easy to gain weight.

Despite my adrenals being very depleted, I was able to continue to function surprisingly well, which I credit to eating a very nourishing diet.   Time went by and I began to have some more obvious signs of adrenal fatigue, though I didn’t recognize them as such for quite some time – most notable of these was bronchial stress in the winter.

When we decided to move overseas almost three years ago, we began a prolonged period of intense stresses.  Last year after two of our kids almost died within two weeks, I began crashing emotionally and physically.  I was extremely depleted and exhausted, I had no motivation or desire to do anything, a total feeling of apathy, I didn’t want to get up in the morning.  An energy healer told me my adrenals were in bad shape.  I was like, ‘Yeah, I know.’  Do you think I made it a priority then?  Nope.  I knew I should and tried to take some vitamins but my husband was in the US for several months with our oldest daughter and I was trying to hold my family together.

Then in October I was hit by a car.  At this point it was clear to  me that my adrenals were really struggling, it wasn’t intellectual knowledge anymore.  I started taking vitamins more but I couldn’t seem to muster the energy necessary to really do what I needed to do.  This is a catch 22 of adrenal fatigue – I was exhausted and totally drained and needed enthusiasm to jumpstart a self-care program, but enthusiasm was the last thing I felt.

A short time before I was burned at the end of March, I had determined that I needed to make healing my adrenals a priority.  Adrenal fatigue only gets worse and I didn’t want any more wake up calls to take care of myself.  And then I was burned and spent nine days in the hospital.  I had several lessons from that experience and one was that I need to take care of myself in as loving and nurturing a manner as I take care of my children.

To simplify a big topic, healing your adrenals basically entails removing the stresses from your body while strengthening the adrenals so that you can heal.  I asked my husband to bring my vitamins to the hospital for me and spent most of my time in the hospital resting and meditating.  It was just what I needed.  The real challenge was to maintain a self-care regimen after returning home from the hospital, with all the demands of daily life.

I’ve been making this a priority and almost three months after my burn accident, I’m happy to share that I’ve been making progress in this area.  Self-care isn’t something I’m good at so all of the things below have taken a lot of conscious effort to do, and it’s been a process and continues to be a process.

Here are some of the steps I’m taking.

– nutritional supplementation

– amino acid supplementation

– nutritious and regular meals

– lots of fluids

– minimal sugar and flour (mostly Shabbos)

– added salt

– positive thoughts

– gentle exercise

– earlier bedtime

Each of these target different aspects of adrenal fatigue.  I have a busy life and it’s not easy to stop and make myself a priority, but this is exactly what I’m trying to do.  So far it’s been three months and I keep getting better at self-care but none of it is automatic or effortless yet.  Every aspect that I listed above deserves a detailed blog post (I’ll try to elaborate on some of these in the future); when I list these points it looks easy and effortless but each of these things have required me to really exert myself and change longstanding habits.

It took years of putting myself last to run myself down, so it’s not a quick fix situation.  Just like it took a long time for me to see the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, it’s going to take time to see visible signs of reversal.  I’m feeling better and have some encouraging signs that things are beginning to heal, and I continue to remind myself that I need to continue to do the right things and eventually I’ll fully restore my adrenal function.

Back to my comment in the beginning about coffee – when a person is too tired to do what they need to do without a pick-me up (eg use of a stimulant like coffee), this is a sign that your adrenals may be struggling.  Trouble getting started in the morning is a sign of adrenal fatigue.

I’m not a coffee drinker but for years I’ve noticed I’m more energetic in the late evenings than the mornings.  I often chastised myself for not getting to sleep earlier, for being so undisciplined.  Little did I know that my cortisol levels were reversed and that was the biochemical reason for my late nights.  Cortisol levels should be high in the morning and low late at night, to reflect the natural cycle.  Someone with adrenal fatigue will have the opposite cortisol levels, which is why I felt energetic at night and was dragging in the mornings.  It wasn’t laziness or lack of discipline and when I finally understood this it helped to me let go of the self-shame and blame I had around this issue.

We live in a time of fast paced living with lots of expectations of ourselves.  Our bodies weren’t created to deal with the kind of lifestyles most of us live.  Pregnancies and raising children are some big stresses on the body (I would guess most mothers of a large family are suffering from adrenal fatigue); work and interpersonal stresses can also create a big strain on the adrenals.  Understanding what your adrenals do, what stresses them and how to heal adrenal fatigue is a big piece for many in restoring health.


(This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays and Hearth and Soul.)

Why auditory processing is important for your child’s social skills

auditory processingYesterday we had an evaluation with a neurodevelopmentalist for our ds12;  given that I’ve learned so much about neurodevelopment in the last couple of years, I anticipated that she would tell me in-depth specifics particular to my child based on concepts I was already familiar with.  And that was true.  But I also learned something that really, really shocked me.

I’ve always believed that ds12 is an auditory learner and this is what I attributed him being a late reader to.  In the home educating environment, that wasn’t an issue; he continued to learn even when his reading skills were weak.  His comprehension and memory of what he learns is excellent, and what he seemed to be struggling with were visual skills.  I believed he learned best through hearing.

Well, guess what?  I learned that ds12 has very poor auditory processing skills, and that he’s compensating for this with his visual processing!  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  It’s like when you think white is black, and then learn that black is actually white. I was totally and completely wrong on this.

Why does this matter?  Poor auditory processing skills are hugely important and have consequences for many kids – I’m sure most of you have a child who isn’t processing well auditorily.   The ability to listen affects many life skills- here are a few:

  • speech and language
  • attention and concentration
  • development of appropriate behavior
  • learning and memory
  • development of social skills

Do you have a child who is lagging in any of those areas?  Even without a diagnosis like ADD, ODD, ADHD, depression, anxiety, learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorder, I’m sure at least one of your kids is struggling in one of these areas.  Some of these challenges are sometimes attributed to poor parenting or emotional issues and in fact, your parenting approach is very important at the root level.

Last year prior to pulling ds out of school, I consulted with a psychologist who trained with Dr. Gordon Neufeld.  Although I began to study (via his dvd trainings) Neufeld’s paradigm of viability and venturing forth over three years ago, I wanted her feedback in understanding why ds was so emotionally reactive.  I understood the role feeling safe, secure and supported makes for children, I understood the need to give a child space to emerge at his own rate, and I understood that we don’t push a child into a predetermined mold or expect them to be like anyone else.   But this wasn’t enough.

I’m very familiar with several different personality and energy typing systems and how each of these affects the nature of each of my kids.  I understand how my energy type interacts with the energy type of others and over time have tried to integrate all of this knowledge into my parenting.  But all of this wasn’t helping me figure out why ds12 (just had a birthday – it’s the birthday season for us now!) was still struggling to manage his emotions and had poor social skills.

Well, now I have what feels like the missing piece of the puzzle!  The evaluation revealed that ds12 processes auditorily at a level 5.  This is the level of a five year old.  Remember, I thought that his auditory processing was strong and therefore even though I was knew auditory processing was important, I didn’t think this was an issue for him.  Big, big mistake but that’s okay, we learn and move forward!

Okay, pay attention here because this is key!  What difference does your level of auditory processing make?  It directly correlates to your emotional maturity.

Someone processing at this level won’t pick up social cues.  They will overreact emotionally to things you wouldn’t expect an older child to react to.  They will be anxious in a  new situation because of the fear they aren’t going to get the cues of what is expected of them.  This isn’t about intelligence.  It’s about not having sufficiently developed this particular skill, and this will be one aspect of the program that is being designed for ds with the goal to get him up to an 8 – 12.

Are you wondering what your auditory processing skills are like?  The auditory processing of the average adult in the US has dropped from a 7 to a 6 in the last generation, and we can expect this to continue to drop with the high amounts of visual mediums that people spend hours engaged with daily.  This means we are an emotionally much less developed people than in the times that the Constitution was written, for example, when the first sentence of an article could go on for a page and half and speeches could go on for hours.

Nowadays, we can’t hold onto information long enough to process something that long. We need smaller and smaller bites of targeted information because we don’t have the patience or ability to process things that are more complex.   On online forums, people apologize for a long post when it’s three paragraphs- hardly enough to put together a complete thought!   When I think of what Twitter and Facebook must be doing to our brains (if not heavily limited), to our attention spans and our emotional state, it’s kind of frightening.

As I learn more about the importance of auditory processing, I’m grateful that even though this is something that needs to be improved, there are things I’ve done that have been very important for our kids even without knowing the technical reasons behind it.  A couple of these things are:

1) I’ve heavily limited screen time.  No computer games, no handheld games, no ipods, ipads, no television.  I do use the computer for educational programming, up to four hours a week.

2) I’ve done a lot of reading out loud to my kids from the time they were small until they were much older, as well as providing them with lots of audio books.  For our oldest three kids, I stopped our regular read alouds when ds14 went into high school – his late return interrupted a reading routine we had for years and that was a real loss for us.  Both dh and I read out loud to all the kids except for dd13, though she listens in if she’s around.  Currently dh is reading The Hobbit with ds12, I’m a few chapters into Danny, Champion of the World (Roald Dahl) with ds8, ds6 and ds5.

We also provide them with a lot of audio books.  When I figured out how to access the US library system remotely to check out audio books, it was a very exciting for us all! Dd13 and ds12 listen to audio books almost daily.  When my oldest kids were younger, I purchased many cassettes of Torah stories that were a daily part of their childhood, and recently have found a way to provide our younger boys with something similar that they listen to several times a week.

Here are a couple other things I’m currently doing: I read a chapter of Sefer Yehoshua/The Book of Joshua out loud at breakfast.  (This works out to two or three times a week, not every day.)  I read part of the Hebrew text, then translate it into English.  Dh learns Pirkei Avos/Ethics of our Father at the dinner table in a similar way.

I just started doing something similar with ds12 last week with a non-Torah text.  I happened upon used copies of Harry Potter 5 in both English and Hebrew and bought them a couple of years ago.  I read part of a sentence from the Hebrew version and ds then reads me the corresponding translation.  We’re both enjoying this a lot even though we have the British version so sometimes I have to translate the British word into American English for something for him. :)

We should be receiving our neurodevelopmental program in the next day or so and will be adding in whatever activities are suggested to improve the auditory processing issue, and doing them as a family.  The more I learn, the more I see that we can all benefit from improving our processing skills.  I remember things best when I see them or write them down, and what I always thought of as being a visual learner means that I need to strengthen my auditory processing.

It’s exciting to know that something that seems so simple – our auditory processing – can actually affect so many things in our lives.  The next official evaluation will be in four months and at that time I’ll share what improvements we’ve seen.

Edited to add: A reader emailed me privately to ask if I did this evaluation through the Israeli health insurance system.  No, I didn’t.  I don’t want to sound negative but my feeling is that it would have been a huge waste of my time and money.  The reason is because what the system does best is slap a label on and then push for medication, which is not what interests me.  I want to find the core issue and address it, not cover up the symptoms.  

Everything for for my kids that I’ve found helpful has been outside of the traditional framework, unfortunately.   I’m working with someone privately in the US on this.  If you’re wondering how we are doing it from a distance it’s like this:  First I filled out a detailed 13 page intake form, and then sent in a number of videos of my son performing various activities that were requested.  After this, we had a ‘face to face’ appointment via Skype.  Then the program will be designed for him, it will be sent to us, and we’ll be sent training videos of how to do various activities with him.  


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.


Combatting the sniffles with natural antibiotic tea

feeling-sick[1]feeling-sickYesterday a few of the kids along with dh and myself woke up with the sniffles and a sore throat.  I had all the ingredients for this natural antibiotic tea on hand and decided to make a double batch to combat the germs going around.  This is a recipe for the brave and adventurous!  When you see the ingredients, you’ll understand just why.


Powerful Antibiotic Tea


  • 1 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 t. fenugreek seeds
  • 1 t. powdered ginger or 2 T. raw ginger
  • 1 t. fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 licorice root
  • 2 T. mullein

MIx all the ingredients together in a pot.  Pour 2 quarts of boiling water on it and let it steep about thirty minutes.  Strain the tea mixture through a cheesecloth and add the sweetener of your choice.  (I usually add the stevia leaves to my tea mixes but forgot to add it this time.)

Drink this throughout the day until it’s all finished.  The best time to take it is as soon as you feel you’re coming down with something but it’s helpful even after you’re already feeling under the weather.  This is very spicy and is best drunk as quickly as possible!



Vehicular heat stroke – summer safety video

Every summer, children all over the world die after being forgotten in cars.  The two year old son of a close friend of ours almost died several years ago when a friend who was doing carpool for the parents that day forgot he was in the car.  She wasn’t used to having him with her and locked the door behind her when she went into a store to do her shopping.  That’s how easily a responsible and caring person can forget a little child and put their life in danger.   She found him unconscious when she opened the back door to put her shopping bags in the car and started screaming for help.  He was immediately taken to the hospital, and though his situation was very serious, thank God he survived with no lasting injuries – but even a couple of minutes more would have been fatal.

A car gets very hot, very fast on a sunny day.  A young child can die on a hot day in as little as fifteen minutes in a closed car.  Please be super careful with your children!  And be aware of other little children who may have been left behind.  If you see a young child in a closed car, don’t assume that they’ll be okay or their mother will be back in a minute.  Do something!  Get help immediately, break the window – every minute counts and can be a matter of life or death.

There are always those who can’t imagine how anyone could forget their child, but don’t think that it’s beyond you.  Things happen and people can become distracted.  Some tips to help you remember to make checking for your child a habit (I saw these on the comments below the film) include:

– put your purse next to or with the strap through the car seat  – for moms I think this is the very best idea

– strap in a stuffed animal in the front seat next to you every time you travel with a child, as a reminder to check for the child

– make it a habit after getting out of the car and taking a few steps, to turn around and check if your child is still there

Please watch the short clip above, and take this message to heart. There are too many horrible deaths in this way every summer and with the increased awareness of us all, we can prevent some of these tragedies.


Update on dd18

I’ve gotten a couple of emails this week asking about how dd18 is doing, asking if they should continue saying tehillim for her.

I’m very grateful to share that dd18 is doing much, much better.  Her full recovery will take time and it is currently anticipated that she will remain in the US for an extended period, but we are optimistic that she will continue to improve with time, and believe that a complete recovery is not only possible but probable.

For all of you who have been saying tehillim for her, thank you so much!  There’s no question in my mind that your prayers and concern for her have had an impact in her recovery process, and I am so grateful to you all.  The tehillim circle that was begun is officially now over.  However, knowing the power of prayer we would be grateful if you would continue to keep her in your thoughts.

At this time in which I’m sharing my gratitude with you for our daughter’s progress, I’d like to request your prayers for two others who are going through difficult health situations right now: Yonatan Simcha ben Leah Rivka, an eleven year old boy in my community just diagnosed with lymphoma, and Chaim Dovid Reuven ben Chana Rochel, a father of several children who has stage 4 lung cancer.

May all those in need of healing have a full recovery in every way!