Thoughts on crime, fear and pluralism in the face of extreme hate

I’ve been thinking about this since the boys were kidnapped. So much has happened since then.

The difference between NY scary and Israel scary is the difference between crime and terrorism. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately. Crime is everywhere. And it’s worse in some places than others. And it’s scary to live in a place with a high crime rate because crime can happen to anyone. And you take precautions, and maybe carry pepper spray, and you live your life. Terrorism is different, in particular radical Islam terrorism, because there are no precautions you can take. The terrorist is not out to steal your money because he’s a social misfit who can’t control his law breaking urges. The terrorist is a person who is ideologically and purposefully committed to your destruction. He believes with every fiber of his despicable being that what he is doing is what Allah wants and that it will bring him eternal glory.
And it pains me to no end to be writing this. Because, to my pluralistic western mind, it sounds and feels do similar to racism. But I’ll tell you why it’s not. Because I do not hate Muslims or Arabs. I do not automatically judge someone who is Arab as being a terrorist. However, I have immutable proof that it is Arabs who are Muslim that are the terrorist that are committed to my destruction. And for that reason and that reason only do I feel this way. If I were on my way to a interfaith peace conference in Jerusalem, I would still be afraid that I might be killed by an Arab on the way. And I would still be able to sit next to an Arab who chose to attend a peace conference and offer them love and tolerance.

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Update on the Dough Hook…

I found it.

In the garbage.

Thank you, toddler.

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Have Deck, Will Freeze

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We built a deck, and it’s the love of my  life. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole, but I do love it enough to sit out here with my coffee in the chilly morning even though the couches are soaked! (Don’t worry, I brought a towel)

Coffee! That brings me to the other reason I’ve decided to pop back out of obscurity: muffins.

Apple sweet potato muffins, actually, moist and hearty with just a touch of sweetness, and begging for adaptation!

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I’m sharing it because last night was one of those nights that threatens to push me over the proverbial edge. Not that it takes much these days, I’ve been teetering recklessly on the verge of insanty since the beginning of the grape harvest, around mid August. My other half works in the production division of one of this country’s largest wineries, so when the harvest starts, my sanity ends.

Two months of 12 hour shifts for hubby means 24 hour shifts for momma. We have another 2-3 weeks of this, but the good news is that he brings home the “medicine” that makes it all ok! L’chaim!

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So last night, a half hour before he had to leave for the night shift (at dinner time) I made a mad dash to the store for flour and eggs, because we ran out of bread and Monday is my big kids’ long day at school, which means extra sandwiches. No problem! I have a lovely stand mixer at the ready, I can mix up a batch of bread while the kids eat dinner, it’ll rise during bedtime, by 9pm I’ll have sandwiches packed for everyone!

Except… my dough hook is missing. It’s still missing. Now it’s not that I can’t mix some bread by hand, but by the time I gave up looking for the dough hook, the kids had finished their dinner and it was time for PJ’s and stories. That’s when the next adventure ensued.

Did I mention that I broke a large Pyrex baking pan yesterday afternoon? Well, keep that in mind, it’s relevant.

At this point it’s around 8pm and im rummaging through the boxes of winter clothes that we just brought down from the attic to find footie sleepers. The 3 year old puts his on excitedly only to start crying. “There’s somesing shark in dere and it’s scratching me!” He’s so articulate! So we take it off, and sure enough, the soft fabric that usually covers the back of embroidery had been worn away and it was pretty “sharky” if I do say so. Duct tape is mother’s best friend! Taped over the sharp bits, and we’re back to hunky dory.

Five year old T is ecstatic in his cozy grey football sleeper, 7 year old O is surprisingly cooperative despite her sleeper being too small, and mister N10 year old is too busy reading “The Return of the King” to bother with pyjamas anyway.

So I sit on the couch and put on the baby’s footies. Well, suddenly he’s flailing like he’s possessed! It occurred to me to check if something was inside the PJ’s only because of the prior incident. I stick my hand inside the feet and feel around, but they seem fine.

Well, if he’s already undressed, I might as well wash that old cut on his big toe. That’s when I find tons of tiny shards of glass in his little feet! He’d been walking around barefoot all afternoon without the slightest complaint, until I tried to cover his feet! Poor baby! Thank God, just the soap and water washed most of them away. But there were five that needed to be dug out, N10 was a super helper, and my neighbor came and saved me too. That and the miraculous sedative powers of breast milk!

Ok, so now it 9-ish, 4 kids are sleeping peacefully with no sharp anythings poking or scratching them, 1 big kid is reading for 5 more minutes, but I still have no bread for sandwiches. And by now I’m exhausted.

That’s when these muffins happened. My ingredients were limited by 6 weeks of holiday meals, but I found an unspoiled sweet potato, a granny smith apple and combined it with my newly purchased whole wheat flower and eggs – and Viola! Muffins!

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So now that the rain soaked through the towel I was sitting on, I will leave my lovely new deck and go inside to write the recipe. (And add some pictures!)

Apple Sweet Potato Muffins
Pre-heat oven the 350°

2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4-1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
(Optional:
Coconut, raisins, pecans, chocolate chips, anything else your little heart desires…)
1 sweet potato shredded + 1 green apple shredded for a total of about 2 cups
1/3-1/2 C honey
1/2 C oil of your choice (butter, coconut oil, canola, olive…)
1/4 tsp (or more!) Cinnamon
Dash of salt
3 eggs
1/2 C milk
1 tsp vanilla

1.  Take all that dry stuff (flour, bang powder, sugar, salt, and additions) and mix them all together in a medium bowl.
2. Lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl with the milk and vanilla. Put aside.
3. Combine all the wet stuff plus the cinammon and dash of salt in a saucepan over medium heat. (If using a solid fat, like butter or coconut, then I recommend melting that first them mixing in the honey, then adding the shredded apple and sweet potato. But it’ll work just as well to just toss it all in.)
4. Cook that until the sweet potatoes are soft and mushy (about 10 min) and then remove from heat and stir to cool.
5.  Temper the egg mixture by adding about a tablespoon at a time of the hot mixture to the egg mixture while stirring. Once the eggs are warm and you see they’re not going to scramble on you, you can add the rest of the hot stuff,just make sure you keep stirring!
6.  Pour that whole wet mixture into the dry bowl and stir gently to combine
7. Fill your muffin tins (mine made 18 muffins)
8. Bake for 30 min, until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
9. Give it to your kids for lunch! (Or breakfast, or dinner… these days anything goes!)

Today I’m buying bread from the store.
The end.

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The week of “yes”

I’ve made a decision to act on every positive impulse I have for one whole week.
It’s an idea that’s been rattling around in my brain for a while, so I guess my first act in this plan is this post! Since it’s 1:30am now, I’ll explain more tomorrow, including where the inspiration to do this came from, and what I’m hoping to achieve.
In the meantime, I intend to record my experiment here, so let’s see what happens!

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Homemade “cup of noodles”

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I cooked all my shabbat food last night. I stayed up till 1am to get it done so we could go on this gorgeous hike with our kids’ school!

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Sooo worth it!

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(I didn’t go in, got the water fun vicariously!) The kids had a blast and we came home tired and starving!
So I tossed this little gem together in 10 minutes! .

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hope it fills some of your bellies on “one of those days”!
Ingredients:
400gr uncooked egg noodles (ramen, or any type you like)
4 cups water
1 tbs kosher salt (or 1 heaping tsp reg salt)
1/4 c dried wakame
1 c frozen peas and carrots
2 Tbs teriyaki or soy sauce
1 tsp Worcester sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp white pepper

Directions:
In a medium pot bring water and salt to boil.
Add wakame and noodles and cook unvovered until soft and most of the water is absorbed.
Add the other ingredients, cook another 3 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
Serve and enjoy!!

I haven’t posted on my blog in ages, but this was too awesome not to share!!
(Plus tomorrow is my birthday, so I figured I’d do something productive before I turn 34!!)

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An article I just can’t finish

With all due respect to the author, I am unable to fonish reading this Times Of Israel article about justifying Netanyahu’s decision to release prisoners and enter negotiations with the PA leaders.

I’m having trouble continuing to read b/c of this:

These terrorists, despite the terrible acts in which they played a central part, should have been released to their homes many years ago — from the moment that Israel’s governments decided to forgive their handlers.

via Why Netanyahu is right on the prisoners | The Times of Israel.

No. That is a skewed view of justice that undermines your premise. A person who murders is responsible for his own actions. Humans have free will and no matter the circumstances, even severe brain-washing, a person must be held responsible for his choices and his actions. Referring to their “handlers” as if the terrorists are non-human is wrong. It is the exact premise on which the “negotiations” can take place at all!

That somehow we are being called upon to view Erekat and Abbas based on their professed intentions and not on their consistent actions, is a travesty!

Let’s take a trip down a different road of thought, shall we? You are a hard working business owner struggling to get your idea off the ground. You subscribe to newsletters from some of the best motivational speakers and business coaches out there. What are all their emails and catchy facebook memes telling you? All your great ideas and your talent are wonderful, but it’s your actions that show who you truly are. The decisions and choices you make are based on your internal belief system and they drive your actions – and that is what will bring results in your business!!

And in your terrorist agenda.

So no. I disagree from the outset of your article. Terrorists, murderers, co-conspirators and “handlers” must be treated as human beings – and held responsible for their choices and their actions and the dogma that caused it. In my opinion, they should not have even been serving life sentences at all. They should have been put to death. And then we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all. Humans are not bargaining material. Not the terrorists being released and not the precious lives they obliterated. And most importantly, remember that now the lives we are bargaining for might be yours, or your children’s.

Are you still willing to go to the negotiating table to offer your own life for the ones who will be released? Would you consider entering a business agreement with a CEO who has made it clear that his agenda is to destroy your company? I wouldn’t. The only scenario I can think of where that would be the right move would be if I know I’m going down anyway, and hoping to lighten the blow. If that’s what Netanyahu is thinking… God help us! (Who essentially is the only One who can.)

And on that note, I’m going back to my newborn.

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Separating “Nursing” from “Breast-feeding”

There is a common misconception that nursing is another way of saying breastfeeding, and while it is true that it is almost impossible to breastfeed without nursing, it is also possible to nurse and bottle feed. In fact, it is essential to your baby’s health and development.

Here’s the truth. To nurse a baby means to tend to her needs, and it has come to be specifically associated with feeding. Women who breastfeed their babies are, by necessity, in close contact to their infant during feedings. There is, by necessity skin-to-skin contact, and most often there is also eye contact and interaction. Some mothers sing to their babies during feedings, talk to them, read to them. Many babies will reach for their mother’s face, or hand and play while feeding. What goes on during that interaction?

The obvious is the actual milk that is being given to the baby, which I don’t have to sell you on. It is obvious that mother’s milk is the perfect food for a human baby, and that fact has been discussed and proven ad infinitum, so I’m not going to go into it here. (But if you’d like an absolutely excellent read about that, I highly recommend Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding. Totally wonderful book, very clear and easy to read.) And the decision to use artificial milk or to supplement with artificial milk lies solely with each individual family and their individual needs.

But here’s the not so obvious information about nursing. That physical interaction that goes on between a baby and his mother during feeding is directly related to the health and development of the baby, as well as the health of the mother.

Let’s start with mom. When you are producing breastmilk for your baby, your body secretes specific hormones for that purpose, oxytocin, prolactin, endorphins are the main ones. These hormones, aside from directing the production of milk, also provide other benefits: stress relief, mothering instinct, and pain relief to name a few. So now my bottlefeeding readers are going, “Ok, so what does this have to do with me?” The thing is, that if, for whatever reason, you have chosen not to breast feed – or even if you are pumping and giving bottles of breastmilk, your body will produce these hormones when you “nurse” your baby. That is to say, when you hold your baby in your arms during feeding, making eye contact, talking and singing to your baby. That is what nursing is. And you can do it with a bottle too, if you choose to. When you nurse your baby, your body will produce the same hormones as if you were actually breastfeeding, albeit in smaller amounts. Even fathers or other care givers will experience the “nursing high” and reap all the benefits!

Now let’s talk about your little one. When a baby nurses, her body also produces oxytocin, also known as the hormone of love and connection. And guess what, your baby will get his oxytocin fix from being close to you while he’s eating, even if he’s not actually suckling at your breast.

Why am I telling you this? Unfortunately, in most of North America and a lot of the developed world, breastfeeding is still not the cultural norm. Many of today’s new mothers are children or grandchildren of women who were convinced that breastmilk was substandard to factory-produced “scientifically proven” baby milk. That attitude is hard to shake. One of the major factors in successful breastfeeding is having a lot of support, so it is not surprising that so many women in our generation have trouble breastfeeding when our own mothers and grandmothers are looking at us if not disdainfully, the with uncertainty and concern for the well-being of our baby!

Another huge factor in establishing a healthy breastfeeding relationship is birth and those critical first hours post-partum. With the birth system in most of the world being as broken as it is, again, we are not left to wonder why so many women have trouble getting that most crucial breastfeeding relationship off to a good start. And while almost every obstacle can be overcome, to do so requires the support and education that is only recently becoming available through mother-friendly birth campaigns, books and birth and post-partum doulas.

Another important thing to state here is that most of the time, the decision to bottle feed cannot be undone. Meaning that even a woman who made the decision to use artificial baby milk under duress, or due to circumstances beyond her control or knowledge, cannot go back to breastfeeding even if she wants to. There are also circumstances where a baby cannot breastfeed due to complications like cleft palate or premature birth. And mothers who are bottle feeding, even if they are giving exclusively breastmilk, can feel very frustrated by the loss of “nursing.”

So I’m here to tell you that every mother (and every father, and every daycare worker, and every babysitter) can nurse their baby. Every single one of you. When you choose to hold your baby when you feed her, make eye contact with her, caress her arms, talk to her or sing to her – you are nursing your baby.

The only mistake you can make with a bottle is routinely putting your baby down and propping up the bottle. Those of you who know me know that I don’t make blanket statements, I am very aware of the significance of the choices we all make, and the individual needs and concerns of each person. So I am going to be very clear here: “Nursing” your baby is essential to his development! So grab your breasts, or grab your bottles, but whatever you do, nurse your baby!

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