Posts Tagged ‘Laura Jafri’

Foreign Exchange Student Fills Life With Joy

Laura Jafri

Laura Jafri

Life Can Be Overwhelming, But…
There are so many things in life that can be rewarding. Life is so busy and can pass us by like a blur. In my own personal circumstances, I feel very overwhelmed with the demands that my life presents. I have five young children who are very busy. Most of my time is dedicated to running them around and making their lives “go.” Add to that, two children with special needs. That, in and of itself, is a full-time job. Children, marriage, and having my own business make my life very busy and stressful. Despite all the stress, these are also the things that make my life feel fulfilled.  

People may think that I’m crazy, and maybe I am. It seems that I always take more on. One of those extra things that I took on this year was adding another child to our family. In February, we had a foreign exchange student from Sweden move in with us for six months. We didn’t know what to expect. Who would it be? What would they be like? What kind of changes would it bring to our family dynamics?

Welcome Home
We welcomed an 18 year-old Swedish “daughter” to our house in February. None of us knew what she would be like. It was a bit of a risk considering that it’s a six month commitment. She was nervous and we were anxious. I can’t imagine being 18, traveling half way across the globe and moving into a stranger’s home. She also didn’t know what to expect from us — what a brave move on her part!

Getting To Know Our New Daughter
We spent the first few weeks getting to know each other. She seemed quiet or nervous; I can’t imagine being her. It is incredible to me how attached I have become to her already, just after two short months. Our instructions were to treat her like she was one of our own children. It hasn’t been hard at all. She is such a wonderful person and has brought such an amazing experience to our family. We take her to school, pick her up and take her to all of her soccer practices. I go to her games and I find no difference for how passionate I am for her as I do for my own children. 

She isn’t that shy, nervous girl anymore. She has fit into our family like a glove. We have so much fun with her. I can’t imagine missing one of her soccer games. I love her and worry about her as if I have known her forever. I am already dreading having to give her back.

Open Your Heart
There are many organizations that offer this type of opportunity to Owosso families. Our exchange student came to us through the Owosso Rotary Club. It is something that Ayaz and I had always wanted to do. When the opportunity came up this year, we were excited to do it. I’m so glad that we did. Maybe we got lucky with such a smart, kind and wonderful student. For us, she has been a wonderful addition to our family.  I truly love her and I’m so glad we did this.  I highly recommend people consider taking in an exchange student. It has been so rewarding for all of us to love and learn all about her. I know that I will be crying on her graduation day and I can’t think about the day she’ll leave. 

I wanted to share with you how amazing this has been for us. I really recommend it to the right people. If you open your home and your heart to a child, it is amazing the rewards you get in return. 

Disclaimer
The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect Memorial Healthcare. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author.

Comment Policy
All readers are encouraged to leave comments. While all points of view are welcome on Memorial Healthcare’s blog, only comments that are courteous and on-topic will be posted. All comments will be reviewed and responded to (as needed) within three business days of submission. Participants on this blog are fully responsible for everything that they submit in their comments, and all posted comments are in the public domain.

Linking Policy
This blog may contain external links to other sites. Memorial Healthcare does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information on these Web sites. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended as endorsements of any views expressed, products or services offered on outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring those sites.

Advertisements

Keep Those Lines of Communication Open With Your Children

Laura Jafri

by Laura Jafri

There are so many challenges to being a parent and raising children, especially in today’s society. It’s so important to keep communication lines open with our children.  Growing up in present times is so different from the days when I was a child.

There is so much out there available to our children. The internet is a wonderful creation but it can be a curse too. I can think of so many times that I have Googled something and a million options pop up. A very innocent search can invite a number of unwanted answers.  I cringe to think of how many
times that may happen to my children.  It takes a lot of supervision to raise a responsible child.  

My friend, Marianne, touched on this wonderfully in her last blog.  At our house, computers are not allowed in our children’s bedrooms.  Video game systems also must be in a common area of the house.  My kids always have to ask if they want to use the computer or play a game.  My oldest son has a television in his room.  We put it there because my elderly mother stays in his room when she comes to visit.  She likes a TV in there in case she has trouble sleeping at night. My son is not allowed to watch TV in his room unless he asks.  He rarely does because my kids really only use their rooms to sleep in.  We also have a block on all our televisions in the home. If the program exceeds a TV14 rating, it requires my husband or myself to punch in a code.

So how does this all relate to talking to our kids?  I want my kids to always feel that they can talk to me about anything.  I’m not stupid.  I know that there will always be things that my kids don’t tell me or ask me.  However, I want them to know that they can always come to me.  They should feel that they can talk to me or ask me anything.  My children are still young.  I know that the tougher days are ahead of me.  I have tried to lay down a foundation so that when the day comes, they will come to me.  I am starting to see the benefits of this with my oldest child.  He is a teenager now and the difficult questions in life are starting to surface.  I don’t want my kids to learn about life from the World Wide Web.  I definitely don’t want them to learn from their friends.  I think that it is great to have friends to talk to, but I have no idea what values have been instilled in them, so why would I want my kids to learn from other people’s parenting?

I have always told my kids that it is so important to talk about their feelings. Even my 9-year-old approaches me sometimes and says, “You know how you said I can talk to you about anything?” I even got to use that line on him this week when he did something I didn’t appreciate.  

I hope I’m doing the right thing.  I’m learning as I go along this parenting journey.  I guess I figure it can’t be too bad to take the time to talk to, and truly listen to, our children.  I learn just as much from them as they learn from me.

===========================================================

Disclaimer

The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect Memorial Healthcare. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author.

Comment Policy

All readers are encouraged to leave comments. While all points of view are welcome on Memorial Healthcare’s blog, only comments that are courteous and on-topic will be posted. All comments will be reviewed and responded to (as needed) within three business days of submission. Participants on this blog are fully responsible for everything that they submit in their comments, and all posted comments are in the public domain.

Linking Policy

This blog may contain external links to other sites. Memorial Healthcare does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information on these Web sites. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended as endorsements of any views expressed, products or services offered on outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring those sites.

What Do You Want for Christmas?

Laura Jafri
By Laura Jafri

Are You Already Exhausted?
The holiday season has only just begun and as usual, I’m tired already. It seems like every year, Thanksgiving comes and I hit the ground running. I know that I am not alone on this one. Why does it have to be so overwhelming? It’s so hard to enjoy it when all we do is worry about the next thing on our list that we need to do. I have thought about it a lot over the last week. My personality is the type that needs to have everything really organized and if it needs to be done, it should have been done yesterday. It’s a very stressful way of thinking sometimes. I’m really going to try to enjoy things more this year. I always end up enjoying the holidays, but it’s a stressful road. I guess I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I just want to slow down and enjoy what I have. I have a great husband and five amazing children. When you constantly go at a break-neck speed, it’s impossible to really feel good and enjoy your life. I’m making a promise to myself to try to do what I can, but to make sure that there is some real quality time that I spend with my family this year. I want to make memories that I will be able to remember and keep with me forever. It can be hard to do that if your memories are all a blur.  

Take Time to Disconnect
Thanksgiving was nice, but I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year. It’s amazing what happens when people put their phones, iPads, computers, etc. down for a while. We don’t need to have the TV on. All we need to do is look at the people around us and truly enjoy them. Who they are, what they think and what they say. It’s miraculous how, without the electronic distractions, our family can talk, laugh, and play together. It’s so nice to feel like you have time to talk with and listen to your children.

Share Dinner Together
One of my favorite things to do is to have dinner together. Growing up in an immigrant Italian family, that’s what you did. You always ate together as a family and it wasn’t a rushed, crazy time. We sat and talked and laughed. It’s a perfect time to connect with your family members and see how their day was. It’s always a social event in an Italian household and I want that for my kids.  I want them to grow up and have those warm memories.

Taking it Downstairs
One of my children’s favorite things to do is have “downstairs time”—when the whole family goes to the basement after dinner and plays together. There is no agenda—just real, free time to do whatever we feel like doing.

Giving Yourself Is One of The Greatest Gifts
I think that I’m reaching a point in my life where I’m tired of being tired. It isn’t any fun being too spread thin. I want to make sure that I have no regrets as far as the time that I give to my family. I really believe that giving yourself to your loved ones is the greatest gift you can ever give them. That is something that will not only stay with you forever, but it will stay with all of them forever too. I don’t think that I will look back one day and think, “I should have gotten more done instead of having that great night with my family.” We all work too hard and forget what life is truly about.

I think that I know what I want for Christmas this year. I want to slow down and spend REAL quality time with my family—unadulterated time without the numerous distractions of this day and age. I want to make memories that will bless my whole family forever.  What’s on your Christmas list?

I hope that everyone has a peaceful and blessed Christmas!

===========================================================================================

Disclaimer
The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect Memorial Healthcare. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author.

Comment Policy
All readers are encouraged to leave comments. While all points of view are welcome on Memorial Healthcare’s blog, only comments that are courteous and on-topic will be posted. All comments will be reviewed and responded to (as needed) within three business days of submission. Participants on this blog are fully responsible for everything that they submit in their comments, and all posted comments are in the public domain.

Linking Policy
This blog may contain external links to other sites. Memorial Healthcare does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information on these Web sites. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended as endorsements of any views expressed, products or services offered on outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring those sites.

Advocate & Raise Awareness Every Month

Laura Jafri

Laura Jafri

There is always so much talk about breast cancer during the month of October.  This month of awareness has almost come to a close for another year.  It’s really important to remember what we learned during the month of awareness.  We should always remember and put into action the tools that the awareness movement has taught us.

Every October at our office here in Owosso, we change all our exterior light bulbs to pink and hang a large pink ribbon on our chimney.  It looks so nice and makes us feel good to know that we are raising awareness with such a simple change.  The staff at our office wear pink breast cancer awareness shirts as well.  

This year it felt a bit different for me personally.  Two weeks ago, I discovered a lump in my breast for the first time in my life.  The feeling was one of instant despair.  My heart sank and I was filled with fear.  I cried every day despite the fact that I was trying really hard to distract myself.  I had many friends that were concerned for me and they encouraged me to think positively.  

My mammogram was scheduled for October 26th.  It seemed forever before that day would come.  When I went for my appointment, they did the mammogram and then they informed me that I would need an ultrasound as well.  This frightened me but I understood that it was important to double check and to compare the two tests.

I left with no answers, just more questions and fears.  They said that I may hear back from my doctor next week.  When you are in any circumstances that are stressful, the waiting for answers seems to take forever.  It makes it so difficult to think of anything else.

I received a call from my doctor’s office today.  The were calling about an unrelated matter.  My husband asked them if they had the mammogram results yet.  They did.  The mammogram and the ultrasound both looked normal.  Wow!  I can’t believe it.  It could have been so different.  There are so many women that hear terrible news.  I feel so blessed that my news was good.  However, it makes me feel even stronger for those that were less fortunate.  

I will keep advocating and raising awareness.  We all need each other.  We need to be strong for our friends.  We need to step up and do what is right and help our loved ones so that they can conquer their battle with a friend by their side.

=====================================================================================

Disclaimer

The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect Memorial Healthcare. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author.

Comment Policy

All readers are encouraged to leave comments. While all points of view are welcome on Memorial Healthcare’s blog, only comments that are courteous and on-topic will be posted. All comments will be reviewed and responded to (as needed) within three business days of submission. Participants on this blog are fully responsible for everything that they submit in their comments, and all posted comments are in the public domain.

Linking Policy

This blog may contain external links to other sites. Memorial Healthcare does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information on these Web sites. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended as endorsements of any views expressed, products or services offered on outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring those sites.

 

Advocating For My Children With Special Needs

Laura Jafri

Laura Jafri

I am very blessed with five amazing school aged children. They are all very bright and each have their own special personalities. The oldest is in 9th grade, then I have a 6th grader, 4th grader, 2nd grader and a kindergartener. This, in of itself, is a challenging household. Then, when you add the fact that two of them have special needs, that is a totally different story.

At first, I didn’t know what to expect. My only daughter (the 6th grader) has severe autism. I have learned so much from her. One thing that I have always believed was that she was very smart and I wanted her to have the best education possible. It was her right and she deserved it. WOW, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into!

Over the years, I found myself hitting many brick walls in many different areas, especially in the school system. The services that my daughter needs in order to put her anywhere near an equal playing field compared to her peers is enormous. As a parent, it was very frustrating but, not knowing any better, I would say “ok.” Well, that didn’t last too long. I quickly figured out that I don’t take no for an answer—that’s all there is to it. My child deserves the best education possible and I am going to advocate for her to make sure that is what she gets. 

That has become a huge undertaking. It doesn’t mean that it is as easy as just asking for it. I have become a very involved and proactive advocate for my child. She needs me and I am going to do it. The challenges are sometimes overwhelming for parents. Then, my youngest son was diagnosed with autism as well. Being an advocate for two children with special needs is the role that God has given me. It means endless meetings with teachers, therapists and administrators. The time commitment is huge but the emotional investment is completely overwhelming.  All any parent wants is the best for their child.  It’s so painful to feel like every day is a battle for your children. All you want is to give them the lives that they deserve but the task is great and it is life-long. 

I have been very fortunate to meet some educators right here in Owosso that are willing to travel that road with me. They are supportive and try to give me and my children what we need. You can always tell who those teachers and therapists are, because they share a sincere passion for helping your child be successful. Unfortunately, there are some that don’t share that passion. As an advocate for your children, you need to figure out who those people are and work closely with the ones that will make education both an enjoyable experience for your child, as well as a successful one. Now, I never feel like I can’t be honest with them and tell them what my expectations are. That way we can work together to achieve our goals. Then you begin the process of carrying out an education plan (IEP) that is best for your child. 

Although this process is emotionally draining it is what I need to do as my children’s advocate. It can feel like a lonely battle sometimes. I want you to know that you are not alone. I am here! If you would like additional information on this topic, you may contact me via email at laurajafri@gmail.com. I have also listed some pertinent web sites for resources on this topic below for reference.

Autism Society of Michigan

Autism Society

Autism Speaks

=======================================================

Disclaimer

The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect Memorial Healthcare. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author.

Comment Policy

All readers are encouraged to leave comments. While all points of view are welcome on Memorial Healthcare’s blog, only comments that are courteous and on-topic will be posted. All comments will be reviewed and responded to (as needed) within three business days of submission. Participants on this blog are fully responsible for everything that they submit in their comments, and all posted comments are in the public domain.

Linking Policy

This blog may contain external links to other sites. Memorial Healthcare does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information on these Web sites. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended as endorsements of any views expressed, products or services offered on outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring those sites.

Stay Strong

Laura JafriLife takes us in so many directions. The way we react to life’s dealings is the key to remaining somewhat sane. 

GROWING UP
My life was somewhat sheltered as a child. I grew up in Toronto, Canada, with a stable family. We ate dinner together every night, and more importantly, loved each other very deeply. We kissed good morning, goodnight, hello, and goodbye. Both the males and females in the family openly shared our love for one another. It may be because I grew up in an immigrant Italian family where showing affection is a part of the culture.

MEETING MR. RIGHT
Then came the day that I started University. The very first day of orientation, I met my now husband, Ayaz. He was smart and good-looking, but I wasn’t looking for anything and neither was he. He grew up in a totally different type of family life and in an extremely different culture. Within days, there was no fighting the chemistry and love that was already growing between us.

 MARRIAGE
After a six-year relationship, our two worlds collided when we got married. Our families tried hard, but the differences in us were overwhelming. The first year of our marriage was very difficult. I was a Canadian, living in a country (United States) where I could not work and knew no one.  He was a resident at a nearby hospital but I rarely saw him; he was always on call. After his one-year obligation at the hospital, we moved to Owosso (Michigan) for a job opportunity. Our original plan was to work a few years and move back to Ontario to be with our families. 

OUR FAMILY BEGINS
Shortly after moving to Owosso, I discovered that I was pregnant. Ayaz worked hard and my pregnancy progressed beautifully. At the end of my eighth month, I asked for an ultrasound. My doctor didn’t think that it was necessary because everything was going great. He agreed to the ultrasound and found something wrong with the baby’s stomach area. He then referred me to a neonatologist in Lansing. Within a few weeks, I had a high-level ultrasound and the doctor asked everyone to leave the room. He looked at us and said, “There is no compatibility with life, you are this child’s life support system, without you it will die.” Reality slapped me in the face.  I was still pregnant and standing over gravesites to choose his, while he was still moving and kicking inside of me.

Our son, Adam, was born August 1, 1996. He only lived 1 hour and 10 minutes. We had to plan his funeral while breast milk leaked from me. Our funeral director warned us to be there for each other. He told us that 95% of marriages end with the death of a child.

The next few years were filled with much despair and also joy of new births. We had Joseph one year later and Sarah one and a half years after that. Sarah was quickly diagnosed with severe autism. Once again, the experts warned us that 80% of marriages end when there are children with special needs. Since then, we had Noah, suffered two miscarriages, Aaron, another miscarriage and finally Jacob. Jacob was also diagnosed with autism, milder on the spectrum than Sarah. It was at that time that we decided to become American citizens — I could never leave Adam behind.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
What did I learn from all of this? Life is not easy. It is very easy to let the chaos take control of you. I have a firm belief in God and that is where I draw my comfort. The other thing is that I have an amazing husband. None of this has been easy for him either. When I was weak, he was my strength. When he is weak, I am his. We love each other and although stress can constantly test us, at the end of the day we have each other and five of the most amazing children in the world.

Meet Our Newest Mommy Blogger; Laura Jafri

Laura JafriMy name is Laura Jafri. I met my husband, Ayaz, in Toronto, where we both lived and were raised.  We met at the University of Toronto where we both attended college. Two years into our relationship, he moved to Louisville, KY, to attend dental school. We continued our relationship, long distance, this time for four more years. He was scheduled to attend a general dentistry residency in Rochester, NY, shortly after graduation. We married 5 weeks after his graduation and immediately moved to Rochester, NY.  It was a tough year. A new country for me, being Canadian at the time, I had no ability to work and my husband was gone constantly.  His call schedule was horrible.

From there, we moved to Owosso where he got a job as an associate in a practice.  He was working every day and I found myself pregnant for the first time. The pregnancy progressed beautifully. Until it ended in tragedy. Our lives from that moment on took on a direction of its own. I realized instantly that I am not in charge. Life gives many blessing and takes them too.  

My husband has a wonderful practice, Mid-Michigan Dental Center, here in Owosso, and I love to manage the children and run the business aspect of our practice. We now have five beautiful and busy children, Joseph just turned 14, Sarah is 12, Noah is 9, Aaron is 7, and Jacob is 5.  I am looking forward to sharing some of my experiences with you — some of them very difficult but with each one a lesson to be learned and still having the love of my life with me 23 years later.