Category Archives: parenting

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Self-care – you can’t afford not to do it!

Yesterday a very busy mother of four young children who is longing for a break asked me, “How do you make time for yourself?”

I told her, you just have to do it!

So much easier said than done.

For many years, I minimized my need for self-time.  Sure, I would relax with a book or exercise at home with a dvd, but I didn’t really go too far beyond that.  Friends who wanted to meet me for coffee would be met instead with my flat response: “I can’t do it,” “It’s not realistic, I’ve got the kids home all the time.”

But do you know what?  I didn’t even stop to consider how to make that happen – I could have done it if it was really important to me.  But instead I right away assumed it was impossible. When it came to making time for myself (outside of home), with few exceptions I told myself I didn’t need it, that it was too much trouble to find a babysitter, too expensive or exhausting to make arrangements.

Well.

Over the last year I have been actively embracing self-care and it is a pretty darned wonderful thing to expand the ways that I enjoy my life!  After so many years of taking care of someone else and putting my own needs lower down on the list, I’m putting myself right at the top.  And I highly recommend it!

Taking more time for yourself begins with seeing it as an important and valuable use of your time.

This morning I went on a two hour nature outing with a small group of women to a park about a 15 minute walk away.  Later this week I’ll be going on a sunrise hike (I love these – this will only be the third one I’ve done in the last year – I get exercise, social connection, time out in nature and am home by 7 am, without anyone even realizing I was gone!)  Next week I’ll be going away for two days and one night to northern Israel for a women’s getaway. It sounds kind of decadent, doesn’t it?

The morning after the wedding, do you know where I was?  On a hike to a local forest.  When I arrived the organizer looked at me in shock and said, “Even though you said you were coming, I didn’t believe you would actually be here!”  I obviously didn’t get home very early the night before. :) I had a ridiculously full day that day, that included taking dd16 to Jerusalem for her seminary interview in the early afternoon, returning home, then turning right back around with the rest of my family and traveling to Jerusalem for that night’s sheva brachos. Does it seem I was making my day too full and stressful by going on a hike in the morning?

I made this commitment to myself before the interview was scheduled, and I decided I would go because it was important to me especially with the busyness of the wedding season to make time for myself.  I would have cancelled my appointment with my daughter and told the seminary administration I would have come a week later before I would have cancelled this time for myself.  Hiking in the woods and later sitting quietly alone for almost a half hour in the forest while the other women continued on a different trail was spiritually and mentally renewing for me.

Honestly, I’ve had to work through my mixed feelings about all of this.  I’ve been moving out of my comfort zone in this arena for a while and continue to expand the boundaries of how I nurture myself. Because I did so little self care in this way for so long, sometimes by contrast what I do now feels selfish and self-indulgent.  That’s not reality, it’s just my mind getting in the way of letting myself feel good about taking care of me.

self-care

We parents deserve to take time to care for ourselves.  We NEED to take time for ourselves. We are worthy of treating ourselves with kindness and compassion, to create and embrace opportunities to nurture those parts of ourselves that we tend to set aside when the responsibilities of life take up so much space.

When we become parents we don’t stop being the people we were until then – and once we hammer that into our own consciousness, we then have a great opportunity to model this lesson for our children.

The more I recharge myself, the more emotionally present I am for myself and for others.  Really.

Can you afford NOT to take time to recharge yourself?  Even if you don’t feel you deserve to take time for yourself, wouldn’t your children benefit from an energized, upbeat mother who values herself?

Learning to care for and love yourself the way you care for and love your children – the new horizon!

Avivah

The wedding was beautiful!!! (pics included)

What a beautiful evening our son’s wedding was!

We are still floating with joy at the joining of these two wonderful souls. What a special and beautiful couple they make!

I was so touched by the presence of friends from different stages in our lives – Beitar, Seattle, Baltimore, Karmiel and Ramat Beit Shemesh.  There were a couple of women who even knew me from high school, as well as a friend who I met at 16 and several others who came for the bride’s side but turns out also knew me from when I was in seminary (age 17/18).  It was very special to have friends share this milestone event with us and I can’t describe how much it meant to me to have each person there.

I don’t have official wedding photos yet;  what I have are some pictures taken by people on the sidelines when the photographer wasn’t looking (he didn’t allow pics taken at the same time he was shooting). Though they are the same poses by the photographer you’ll see that some of these are obviously in between moments and hopefully my family will forgive me posting these.

First, me and my husband.

Me and my husband

I had some angst about my gown after it arrived.  A blog-reader-turned-friend-turned-seamstress-for-the-wedding asked me what my concern was. I told her I was concerned the color was too much.

She responded, “This gown is to the ‘mother-of-the-groom black-gown’ phenomena what homeschooling is to the ‘keep your kid in an unhealthy schooling situation’ phenomena. It’s so in-line with Avivah Werner……”

So I wore it. :)

Next, a family picture.  Baby Rafael wasn’t feeling well and unfortunately was screaming for the few minutes we took a family photo.  :(    We put our desire for him to be in the pictures on the back burner since it was clear he needed calming, which is why he doesn’t appear in later photos.

Our entire family

Below: siblings picture (minus Rafael). Back l- r: ds11, ds9, dd16, dd20, dd22; front l- r: ds18, ds23, ds4, ds15, ds8

All the siblings except Rafael

Below: my three lovely girls, l – r, dd16, dd20, dd22.

(Edited -sorry, they requested I remove this.)Below: seven of our eight wonderful sons. Back l- r: ds9, ds18, ds23, ds15; front l- r: ds4, ds8, ds11.

wedding brothers

Below: Rafael (six months) later in the evening with his Bubby, wearing his protective ear gear (sound protection for loud music).

Rafael and his Bubby

The family pictures together with the bride were taken later in the evening and sadly only two pictures were taken even then. It’s very sad. In any case I don’t have any of those yet.  I hate to leave the bride out of the wedding post but I only have one picture and it’s not a good one.

I also don’t have any wedding pictures of the bride and groom yet, so I’ll instead share a picture taken two nights later at the sheva brachos we hosted in our home.

Aren't they the cutest couple?

Aren’t they the cutest couple?

When I used to think about marrying off a child, I imagined it would be a time with a lot of tension (since I’ve heard people talk about it in that way), but it wasn’t like that at all. It has been a wonderful experience all around and we are SO happy to have a new member of the family!

Avivah

wedding graphic

Wedding plans, post high school plans, birthdays…busy, busy!

Yesterday someone asked me how I find time to write so often.  Funny how others can look at the same situation completely differently than me – I feel like I hardly am able to find time to write!  It was good to be reminded that there are always two ways to view a situation and that I can choose a more positive interpretation.

It’s a busy, busy season of life right now!

First of all, the wedding!  Less than a week to go with a list of things still to do, but it’s all getting done calmly and without stress.  After seeing friends whose tension level was seriously racheted up when their children were engaged, my goal for this engagement period was to be emotionally present, calm, and to enjoy the joy of this time.  Thankfully that has been the reality and we are so grateful and excited as we prepare for our first wedding.  So often I’ve wondered who our children will marry, and it’s beautiful to see how perfectly our daugher-in-love complements ds23; they are a lovely couple!

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Ds18 will be graduating soon, and has spent the last few months considering his post high school plans.  Since he’s in a yeshiva high school (that includes a full secular curriculum versus yeshiva ketana where no secular subjects are taught) people say it makes it harder (and even impossible) to get into the selective post high school yeshiva he’s interested in, but I don’t believe that these kind of things need to be issues – yes, it sets the bar to jump over higher but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

He went to visit several yeshivas and it was clear to him that this particular yeshiva was the best fit for him.  But they didn’t get back to him quickly about setting up an interview and it looked like it wasn’t going to happen.  (They extensively check out the student before inviting them to interview.)  It was very exciting when he was invited to test there – they’ve never interviewed a student from his high school and it was significant to be invited.  The interview seemed to go well but he was told there was more testing to follow.

I was in the supermarket two days ago when he called. When he told me he was accepted, I got choked up and couldn’t respond.  After a minute of silence and no sound on my part he was sure I didn’t hear what he said.   “Mommy, did you hear what I said?  I was accepted to ‘Blank’ Yeshiva!”

I managed to get out a congratulations through teary eyes.  It’s a huge accomplishment and it happened because of the person he’s built himself into and the efforts he’s made day after day.  Oh, my, so much emotion.  I’d better get some bulletproof makeup for the wedding.  :)

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Dd16 has been considering her plans for the coming year, and last week told me she’d like to go to seminary next year.  While it’s not something we had talked about previously, I completely support her and told her it sounded like it could be a very good choice for her.  She has a specific seminary in mind, and called them two days ago for an application – and was told that day was the deadline!  She sent it in and went to visit and sat in classes yesterday, which she very much enjoyed.  She needs to interview there and it’s preferred that parents come, but I simply can’t go to an interview with her until after the wedding.  They have hesitations about accepting a student her age so we’ll see how that goes.

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Since Rafael joined the family three months ago, I’ve been busy working my way through a list of medical appointments for him.  Yesterday I spent hours in Jerusalem at a hospital having his hearing tested.  It was a very unpleasant test for him and he screamed for 45 minutes before falling asleep when his response to sound stimulation could finally be monitored, but I was very grateful to learn that his hearing is good!

Another project that has taken ongoing effort is getting mother’s milk for him.  I am so grateful to the many women who have donated to him!  He was obviously reacting badly to dairy formula when in the hospital and mother’s milk has been very important in building up his immune system. He’s been almost exclusively on mother’s milk for the last 14 weeks, which is a huge amount of donor milk that we’ve had to get.  For the times that we’ve run out, we’re fortunate that our pediatrician generously gave us sample boxes of a hypoallergenic formula.  I’m in the process of having him officially approved for a different formula (since he’s reacting even to the hypoallergenic formula he’s been getting) and once that happens we’ll be able to purchase it ourselves; hopefully that will be completed this week.

I’ve also been in the process of getting Rafael evaluated for early child development Ds9 and Rafaelservices.  My experience in Karmiel with this for Yirmi wasn’t pleasant and I was dreading going through this process again.  Just reading through paperwork for Yirmi (which I needed because we are opening a new file for him here and they needed it) gave me a sick feeling in my stomach.

The meeting with the physical therapist and social worker was very pleasant, completely different than my past experience.  The physical therapist said Rafael’s development is impressive said it’s obvious that we’ve been working with him.  Yes, we do invest time and effort into supporting his development but in line with my educational approach, it’s integrated into daily living rather than therapies that we stop our lives to do.  Rafael is a little cutie pie and we just love him to pieces!

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Can you believe Yirmi will be turning five soon!?  He’s doing wonderfully and I’ll update on him closer to his birthday.  We’ve been given an appointment with a developmental doctor so he can be evaluated comprehensively as part of the process to get speech therapy services.  Since he has apraxia, a clear and obvious speech delay, I hope services will be easily approved.  We’ve worked on his speech extensively at home and it’s exciting to see how beautifully it’s coming along.  He’s such a cute and smart little guy!

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We are in the middle of birthday season here.  We started the season with ds11 in April, followed by ds8 and then dh in May.  Ds14 will have a birthday the day after the wedding, then Yirmi two weeks later opens July, ds23 two days after that, dd20 a month later and now our lovely daughter-in-love joins the birthday line-up for August!

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Everyone is growing up so quickly!  Time seems to speed up more as the years go by.  As I feel the days flying by I have such a strong desire to be emotionally present for every moment  (which isn’t possible but it’s a direction to shoot for!).  Life is so full and it’s easy to get caught up in what needs to be done on a daily basis, so it’s really a conscious choice that I’m trying to make each day.

Avivah

overcoming-inadequacy

Feeling inadequate as a parent? Get realigned with your true values!

Tonight there was an informational meeting for a school opening in our area for the coming year.  There were aspects of the school that sounded interesting, enough for me to write in the details of the meeting into my planner.

And then I asked myself, WHY am I thinking about this???

Is there something that isn’t working in our homeschooling life right now?  Are any of the kids unhappy or asking to go to school?  Do they not have friends?  Is it too hard for me to be around them, or for them to be around each other?

No, no, and no.

My kids have lots of time to explore and play.  They have plenty of time for friendships and ‘extracurricular interests’.  They get along (mostly!) with each other. They’re bright and interested in the world around them, calm and settled inside themselves.

So after sixteen years of successfully homeschooling and seeing the short and long term benefits to our children, why was I thinking for even a minute about school?

comparisons

This happens to me periodically. This time it was because reading this lovely description of the school had me mentally comparing what I do and feeling that I was coming up short.  I began to fixate on adult-led activities rather than the long term process of supporting the natural development of children and their inherent learning process.  I felt the weight of the responsiblity of educating our children and it felt like an easy solution to send them to someone else who would take responsibility for their education.

No matter if that’s true or not!  What matters is that it felt true in the moment.   I was temporarily losing the comparison war and that triggered those pesky thoughts that periodically circle around – do I give my kids enough, do I do enough?

That’s what happens when I minimize the value of the things that are a natural part of our lives.  In one fell swoop I manage to take all the positives about our lifestyle and our children’s development for granted and with a mental flick deflect it to the sidelines as if all those things are insignificant.

Have you noticed how easy it is to downplay your successes and overly value what you aren’t doing? We all do this!  And the next thing you know, you’re feeling inadequate and looking to someone or something outside of you for different answers.  Sometimes I think that feeling inadequate is a pervasive theme for mothers.

At times like these I’ve found it helpful to stand back and consciously validate yourself.  You have to remind yourself of the value of what you do, to remind yourself about what your goals and vision are.  I took some time to think about what my short and long term vision is for our family, which was  really helpful in regrounding myself.

In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t end up attending the informational meeting about the school!

Avivah

swimming lessons

Musings while waiting at the pool

Five of my boys started swimming lessons last week.  Yes, five.

Their lessons were staggered throughout the afternoon, and I sat next to the pool for several hours and watched each one have his first lesson.  One of the swimming teachers looked over at me at some point and said, “You’re spending your whole day here!”

Despite what might have looked like inconvenience to others, I really enjoyed being there. I felt nostalgic.

It’s been about 17 years since our oldest three children took swimming lessons.  That was followed by years of many other activities and lessons, with me sitting at the sidelines watching and usually supervising younger siblings at the same time.

There were years of going shopping and to the dentist and everywhere else with all of the kids in tow.  Many years.  I didn’t get out alone too often, but while there were times that I longed for more ‘me’ time, lots of togetherness was the reality of our lives.  It was necessary and appropriate and something I really enjoyed.

Time moves on.  The children referred to for so long on this blog as ‘the littles’ are now almost 8, 9.5 and 11.  They’re old enough and independent enough that they don’t need me to set up play dates .  Ds9 and ds11 both can get to their extracurricular activities without me accompanying them; ds7 can go to his friends’ homes without me walking him there hand in hand.

As I sat by the pool, I felt wistful for those days of going everywhere with the kids.  Yes, I very much appreciate that it’s now possible for me to take naps and go places on my own without too much wrangling of my schedule.  I appreciate that Israel has safe public transportation and that has created opportunities for independence that our children in the US didn’t have.  But I kind of miss those years of everyone piling into the car and just being there with them – those times created lots of warm memories.

Someone said to me at the second lesson, “You’re not going to watch your seven year old every time, are you?  He just needs you to be here the first time.”  Sure, I could send him in on his own now that I facilitated the first lesson.  It’s not that he needs me to be there, but that he wants me to be there.  I want to be there for him.

I’m so glad to have this opportunity to sit and watch my boys as they do something new, watching them overcoming their hesitations and then seeing the flashing smiles appear on their faces.

Our kids grow up so quickly – enjoy every moment!

Avivah

Why we chose foster care rather than adoption

Can you believe it’s only been six weeks since R joined our family?!?  He so quickly became an integral part of the family that my younger boys told me they can hardly remember him not being part of our lives!

R - 10 weeks old (photography by Chani Ceitlin)

R – 10 weeks old (photography by Chani Ceitlin)

During this period, we’ve constantly been asked (literally in almost every conversation): “Why did you choose foster care rather than adoption?”   

The answer is simple, not based on idealism or preferences but need.  Here in Israel, babies with Trisomy 21 who are given up aren’t usually available for adoption – they go into the long term foster care system. And so we went where the babies who needed families were.

I have been very pained seeing babies with T21 being given up because of their diagnosis.  According to the placement social worker, they are the only children voluntarily given up as newborns – not those with much more complicated medical diagnoses or those with a more limited long term prognosis.

R - 10 weeks old

R – 10 weeks old

It was a combination of our strong family values and the desire to be part of the solution rather than complaining about the situation that prompted us to begin the qualification process to be foster parents specifically for an infant with T21.

“Practically speaking, what does it mean to foster?”

Our intention is to raise R as a member of our family in every way and unless his foster care status changes, he will be with us until he is an adult (age 21).  While in many ways this is very similar to an open adoption-  regardless of how we feel or what our intentions are, R is not legally our child.

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That means that we will have social workers coming into our home at least monthly to check on him for the next two decades.  It means he has a different last name than my other children.  It means visits from the birth parents.  It means significant decisions for him have to made in conjunction with his birth parents and social workers, and my personal preferences regarding his care can be overridden. (It also means that I needed signed permission before posting any of these pictures!)

Most significantly, if his birth parents were to change their minds they could at any time take him back.  Though it’s unusual for children who were given up because of their special needs to later be taken back, it does happen.

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I can’t lightly skip over this possibility because it has created a pervasive sense of unease within me that I didn’t anticipate.   I’ve shared this feeling with our social worker, and her answer is to sympathize but say, “This is the reality of foster care,” and to remind me that it’s the birth parents’ right to take him back whenever they want.

“Will R be able to be adopted at some point?”

When we were shown R’s file, we were asked if we were willing adopt him if his status changed.  We immediately said ‘yes’.  However, based on what was explained to us about why and when children are transferred to the adoption track, it seems to me the likelihood of him being placed for adoption is extremely low.

We didn’t go into fostering without a great deal of thought and discussion as a family.  We knew there would be challenges and we decided that letting fear of the unknown keep us from offering our home to a child in need wasn’t the right choice.

And though it would be understandable to hold back a tiny piece of one’s heart for self-protection, we’re not letting fear keep us from unreservedly loving our newest addition.

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Though the external circumstances aren’t perfectly smooth,  we’re so happy and grateful he’s part of our family!

Avivah

**Thank you to the wonderfully talented, patient and sensitive Chani Ceitlin for her photography!**

Purim 2017 – teaching children to be givers, great read aloud

Another Purim has come and gone, and it was lovely!

We enjoyed our Purim seuda with our family and guests. If you’re wondering why there seem to be no pictures of some family members, it’s because the pictures of them were together with guests and I’m not including pictures of our guests.

L to r: Ds9, ds7, ds10

L to r: Ds9, ds7, ds10

Dd22 and dd16

Dd22 and dd16

L to r: ds7, ds18, ds23

L to r: ds7, ds18, ds23

This beautifully arranged fruit platter was a surprise delivery prepared by our soon to be daughter-in-love!  (Do you notice two of our younger boys ogling it below? :))  It was so thoughtful and unexpected.  We and our guests completely enjoyed it and almost completely finished it by the time our Purim meal ended!

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After the excitement of Purim day, that evening we eased into a different focus by putting out a box next to our front door for people to donate their excess treats.  We were one of a number of drop off locations in the RBS area.  These would be packaged into mishloach manot and distributed to disadvantaged children in Jerusalem the next day.  (In Jerusalem, Purim is celebrated a day later than everywhere else, so they received these packages on Purim day.)

The next morning I went with three of the kids to bring the donations that came to us to the central packaging area.  We stayed for 3.5 hours to help package the items; the kids helped sort and package the treats for the kids. 1600 packages were prepared for children from snacks that were donated post-Purim in RBS.  I was involved in organizing packages for needy families; over a hundred packages went out for families in an economically depressed area.  We all felt we had contributed in a valuable way to others and enjoyed it at the same time, and look forward to being involved next year!

It was really nice for me to do this with our children.  Purim can so easily become about getting instead of giving (particularly for kids excited about the treats they get from friends), and I was happy to have the opportunity to shift the focus onto doing for others.

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Though Purim is over, I’m still working my way through our 300+ page pre-Purim readaloud!  The book is called, Let My Nation Live by Yosef Deutsch, and it’s just the kind of books I love to read with the kids.  It’s a non-fiction version of the Purim story that integrates so many commentaries, but has been written as a story and the kids have soaked in so much knowledge.  It’s well-written, well researched and really fascinating – the older kids ended up listening in when they were home because it was so interesting.

There is another book by the same author called Let My Nation Go, about the Pesach story, written in the same style.  I borrowed a copy of the Little Medrash Says Pesach Hagada but I’m hoping I can get a copy of Let My Nation Go to read with them instead.  Then that will be our primary reading in the coming month leading up to Pesach.

Note: this  is written for adults but our younger boys (7,9,10) have good vocabularies as well as good auditory attentions spans so they easily followed this.  I did sometimes need to explain the meaning of a word.  I’d say to give it a try if you’re hesitant and see how your kids respond.

Avivah

 

And now yet more wonderful news – our son is engaged!

We are thrilled and delighted to announce the engagement of our oldest son, Elazar!

You may remember him from a photo last week with his two youngest brothers:

Ds23 with ds4 and Rafael

Ds23 with Yirmi and Rafael

I began writing this blog 10.5 years ago, when he had just turned 13.  Some of you have been reading from the beginning and have watched him (as well as our other children) grow up through all these years.  He has become an amazing young man.

Last week my husband and I had the opportunity to meet the young woman he was dating (we went right from there to pick up Rafael!).  At that point it was clear that his intentions were serious and it didn’t take more than a few minutes for it to be obvious to us both what a beautiful person she is and to see what a perfect match they were!

Last night he proposed to this very special young lady.  It brings me so much joy to share with you all our overflowing happiness as he embarks on this new stage of life with his wonderful fiance, Rivkie!

Elazar and Rivkie

May you all be blessed with abundant good in your lives, and may we all share in continued good news!

Avivah

Exciting update on Yirmi’s growth!

Some of you may remember when Yirmiyahu was younger (he’s now 4.5) I was quite concerned about his growth rate.  He was born weighing 7 pounds but by the time he was 12 months had dropped down to the 50%.  And that downward trend continued the older he got.

You have to know that I’m not a parent who usually cares at all about growth charts.  I can see my kids growing and I trust they’ll each grow at the rate that is right for them.  But Yirmi was different and that’s why this relaxed mom got increasingly concerned.

Yirmi dropped completely off the growth charts for quite a while; he was getting older and older but hardly any bigger.  As a result I was doing a lot of research on human growth hormone deficiencies to gear up for getting him tested.  Two years ago I took him to a pediatric endicronologist to suggest starting the testing for growth hormone deficiencies, she told me that his malfunctioning bladder and kidney might be the cause of the issue.  Her explanation was that his body was using so much energy to function and compensate for the malfunction, that there wasn’t any energy left to grow.  She suggested waiting until after his reconstructive surgery to see what happened.

Well, in October 2015 Yirmi had major surgery and the issue was finally corrected.  He was last weighed and measured before the surgery. When I recently I took him to the pediatrician, I asked to officially check his measurements.

Pictures don't do justice to Yirmi's cuteness but hopefully you can see how tall he's gotten even without him stretching out (I'm 5'9).

Pictures don’t do justice to Yirmi’s cuteness but hopefully you can see how tall he’s gotten even without him stretching out.

She was astonished to see he has gained 5 kilos since then.  And we were both even more taken aback to see he has grown TWENTY TWO centimeters.  Do you know how huge that amount of growth is in less than 18 months?!?  He’s gone from the very bottom of the growth chart to now being in the 35% for height on the typical growth chart!  That means Yirmi is finally the same size as his same age peers!

He’s not a little guy anymore.

I knew he had been growing a lot because after two years of wearing the same size, his clothes had finally gotten too small and needed to be replaced.  And then I replaced that size with another size.  That’s why I didn’t make a special effort to have him measured until now – I was sure he was growing.

I can also see he can reach much higher to press the buttons in our elevator than when we first moved here in April 2015!

But to hear how significant the growth has been, and to know that he’s really solidly on the typical growth chart was quite emotional for me.  It was such a big concern for such a long time, and poof…now it’s not.

So much gratitude…and I was reminded to share this when recently speaking to a mother of a child with T21 who at age 3 is the same size Yirmi was at that age.  It’s one more reminder for me not to get stuck in the limited picture that sometimes presents itself, but to trust in G-d’s remarkable timing!

Avivah

Baby R’s homecoming! (pics)

Exactly two weeks after our official meeting with his birth parents, Baby R has officially joined our family!

Not only was the timing of this placement really fast, it is also amazing that just one week after we received our legal authorization to foster, we were contacted about Baby R.  Usually families wait for months.

When we were told about Baby R, we didn’t know if he had been named yet.  Ds14 told my husband that if we would be able to name him, he had a particular name in mind that he thought would be perfect.

A week and a half later when I first spoke with his birth mother I asked if the baby had a name.  She told me the name was Rafael.  When I told ds14 the name, he told me that this was the name he had thought of! Ds14 told me then, ‘It just feels like this baby is meant to be part of our family.’  Indeed we all had that feeling.  And the name fits perfectly with the kind of names we choose for our kids.  (Not to mention it’s not a name we’ve used yet for our other seven boys!)

Yesterday the placement took place and honestly I found it emotionally extremely draining.  Everyone involved was great – it’s just not the easiest experience.

I called from the taxi when we were a minute from home and the seven children who were at home all ran down and were waiting to greet us when we opened the doors to get out.  Such excitement!  (I’m sure the taxi driver was wondering what the big deal was.  :))

Everyone wanted a turn holding the baby, and to be fair we went from youngest to oldest. I cautioned everyone to stay calm and quiet because going to a home from the hospital is a big transition, and we didn’t want to overwhelm him.

Ds4 with Rafael

Ds4 with Rafael

Ds7 with Rafael

Ds7 with Rafael

Ds9 with Rafael

Ds9 with Rafael

Ds10 with Rafael

Ds10 with Rafael

Ds14 with Rafael

Ds14 with Rafael

Ds18 with Rafael

Ds18 with Rafael

Happy to watch even if not able to hold him!

Happy to watch even if not able to hold him!

Dd20 was at work and didn’t get home until later, and somehow even though dd16 spent hours holding him, we don’t have any pictures of her!

Dd22 with Rafael

Dd22 with Rafael

pic - baby hand

Ds23 usually comes home only every few weeks for Shabbos but made a special trip home for the night to meet Rafael.

Ds23 with ds4 and Rafael

Ds23 with ds4 and Rafael

I was up every couple of hours in the night since his days and nights are reversed, but that’s okay.  We’ll get that straightened out within a week.

I am so grateful for the generous nursing mothers who shared their milk with me so we would have it here for Rafael when he arrived.  His immune system and digestive system are already benefiting!  I’ll be needing lots more as time goes on but right now we have enough for at least the next couple of weeks.  (If you are a healthy nursing mother of a baby under 6 months who would like to help out with this and live in this area or have a way to get milk to us, please be in touch with me!)

It’s funny how everything happened so quickly but it feels so right for him to be with us. It’s really, really wonderful and I feel very blessed.

Avivah