Essential oils, anyone?

Aromatherapy-bottle-WIDESome thoughts about Essential Oils: I’ve been using essential oils here and there for about 6 years. I’ve tried several brands and noticed that higher quality oils have an effect, while the cheaper oils smelled nice but didn’t do much else.
Things I use essential oils for:
– helping open stuffy noses and wheezy lungs
– relieve sore muscles
– for focusing (for me and my ADHD son)
– to calm jumpy kids and help them fall asleep and stay asleep
– help soothe tummy aches
– clean and disinfect hands and surfaces
– keep away mosquitos and lice
– keep ants out of my house
That’s off the top of my head!

oils image 1
So when my dear friend, Chana Hinda Frazin​, shared some of her DoTerra oils with me, I couldn’t help trying it. I am truly amazed at their quality and effectiveness. (not gonna lie, they are pretty pricey, but per drop – the fact that they actually have the effect that you are using them for makes up for that extra investment!)

There was a decent article, not long ago, about the safe use of Essential Oils, and these are all practices that I have always cautioned about in using and sharing DoTerra essential oils. The fact is that the company claims that some of their oils are safe for consumption and I believe them. But I still won’t use them internally and I don’t recommend others to do so.

So all that being said, if you are looking for highest quality essential oils that actually have the effect you are trying to affect (hehe! how often do you get to use that word correctly!!), I invite you to check out my DoTerra website and see what they have going on over there!

And don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, thoughts, concerns… :-)

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More monitoring, less care

This article was posted on a pregnancy information board I follow:

Israelis develop wearable device for non-stop fetal monitoring

It got a few likes, no comments so far, but it was posted on a Sat night… At times like these, I want a ‘dislike’ button.

Technology seems to be disproportionately distributed in two main areas: social media and maternity care. As my dear friend likes to say, “when will the techies give up developing more ways to talk to each other and start working on developing a robotic maid!?” And I will extend that to, “when will medical techies stop developing more technology for pregnancy and start applying their energies to people who are actually sick??”

The device in the article is meant to allow a pregnant woman to be monitored 24/7 from home. According to the article, the fabric strap will register data such as fetal and maternal heart rates, fetal movements, and many other bits of information:

“Now you can see both you and the baby, the heart and all the data. What you are going to get in the app eventually is visualization that can tell you where the hand is, you’re going to see if the baby is awake, you can hear your baby’s heartbeat anytime you want. And, obviously, everything about you as the mom, if you are relaxed, how you sleep, your activity, your heart activity, everything about your pregnancy will be put into data,” he explained as he demonstrated the device for a mother-to-be, Michal.

Michal is then quoted as saying that this will help her be more connected to her fetus and be less dependent on doctors.

I doubt that. What I do think it will do is make pregnant women and doctors more dependent on flashing lights and electronic alerts than on their own instincts, training and care. I think it has the potential to lead to more unnecessary interventions, and concerns rather than reassurance and contentment. A device that allows care providers to keep even more distance from their patients is not a positive thing. Pre-natal care, at least in Israel, is already anything but “caring”. Most women go through their entire pregnancy never once being physically cared for by a nurse or a physician. She goes to a nurse in her health clinic for regular prenatal check ups where she pees in a cup, has her blood pressure measured in a machine (not with a cuff that requires the nurse to actually come in contact with you.) She may have blood drawn, but that would be with a different nurse. She will see her doctor a handful of times, during which her fetus is checked with ultrasound and that’s about it. In fact, women who don’t want an ultrasound at every doctor’s appointment are told that it’s not worth coming in at all! No one measures her belly, no one palpates her baby, no one touches her arm to comfort her or even takes the time to see if she needs comforting.

And what’s worse is the lack of continuity of care! When our dear pregnant woman shows up for her birth, she is cared for by the midwives on shift and the head doctor will pop in once a shift. I am in no way criticizing Israeli midwives. Most of the ones I’ve personally been in contact with have been caring, knowledgeable, competent providers. But they are operating at a deficit. They are working under conditions that do not allow them to connect and spend time with the birthing mothers. They have never met before the birth and therefor have only as much information as a medical chart can provide. And that is substandard maternity care in my book, reflective in a huge black hole in the health care system, not in the midwives themselves.

This device allows doctors an even greater measure of distance, and the “authority” to pronounce the needs of a pregnant woman based even less on actually caring for their patients. What it does perpetuate is the ridiculous concept that pregnancy is an illness, rather than a normal function of a healthy life. I agree that there are high risk pregnancies where a monitor like this one could be a lifesaver, both physically and emotionally, but it’s not being targeted to high risk OB’s, it’s being marketed all women, in the same category as a band to play soothing music to your fetus. as if the lovely sounds of your voice, your heartbeats, the internal slurps and gurgles of your healthy body aren’t enough.

I would love to see this technology applied in the medical fields of geriatrics, diabetes care, oncology, cardiology… situations where having a monitoring device like this would allow a person with real medical risks to live a more normal life without the constant disruption of doctors visits. Maybe such a monitor would have saved my friend’s diabetic father from losing his toe by detecting the infection sooner. Maybe it could have allowed my grandfather to spend his last days at home with family instead of connected to all the machines that were not supporting him, only keeping the doctors informed of his status. That would be progress!

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“Return to the land of your soul…”

I love this song. It’s about coming home, it’s about finding yourself. And it’s definitely about me, right now.

As you can probably tell from my facebook posts, and my facebook page, and many of my posts here, I love birth.

I love being with birthing women, and hearing birth stories, and reading the research, and debating birth practices, and speaking with birth professionals, and well, basically, if it involves birth – I’m there!

But lately, I haven’t been “there.” I’ve been in other important places, like with my kids and my husband. But I haven’t been at births. My kids are little, and DH’s job is not very flexible, and the availability of childcare is on the low side, and so I have been called away from “the land of my soul,” as it were. The place I feel I give my whole self. The place where I feel I am doing the work I was put here to do. I’ve been away.

Last week was my birthday, a good opportunity to reassess one’s life, goals, accomplishments. I can say with confidence and joy that I do not come up short! I have a beautiful, healthy little gaggle of children, I have a husband worth his weight in gold, we picked up our family from a life of relative stability and transplanted them to the place that we feel is so right for us. And I have been involved, one way or another, with birthing women as much as possible.

So the birthday present that I got from my husband was literally a sentence. And it changed my life in ways that no physical gift ever could. He said, “Ayelet, you need to start attending births again.”

If you’re not a doula, or if you don’t know one very well, or more specifically: if you’re not married to a doula, then you might not appreciate the gravity of that statement. It carries with it the weight of sleepless nights, of being late to work, of spending important occasions and holidays (like shabbat, or yom kippur!) with out me… it carries more meaning than a dozen roses, or a diamond necklace ever could. It was a ticket back to the land of my soul.

Well, the universe shifted with that statement without me having to say a word, because in the same week I got two calls from women looking for a doula. And just like that, I’m back. Back to “who I am…” to “where I am born and reborn again…” and oh, it feels so good!

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The Dangers of Sharing Your Birth Story
This post has been making the social media rounds. And it was enough to pull me out of my blogging hibernation.

This is the power of your story!

Here are my personal and professional thoughts on this woman’s very devastating and traumatic story:

Homebirth is certainly not for everyone, and no one should tell anyone what kind of birth to have. But this is not a representative experience of birthing at home. Her story seems to indicate that she did not have the appropriate birth attendants or enough support throughout her labor. I am just as devastated as anyone to read about this woman’s experience, but this is a story of a woman who was not prepared for childbirth. That is not a homebirth issue. If she had been in the hospital, they may have noticed the brow presentation earlier and rushed her for surgery. Although, it is not impossible to safely birth a brow presentation, for a skilled, experienced and knowledgable care provider.
If she had been at home with competent midwives, they would have been checking vitals, they would have addressed her concerns before birth, they would have noticed signs of distress way before the baby was born limp. And she would have been transferred much earlier on.
Stories are very powerful, as are our needs to share them, but it is very important to keep stories in perspective. This is a subjective account of one woman’s horrifying experience. If you had her in front of you and could get a lot of the details that are missing from this post, then you would be able to use this story to help you make better decisions about your own birth. As it is presented here, it is just another birth horror story to add to the pile.
What I picked up on was the lack of support she had from her birth team, before, during and after her birth. If you don’t feel supported, if you feel that your concerns are being brushed off or disregarded, if you are not getting good solid, evidence-based information from your care provider – whether it’s a midwife, a doctor, a high risk specialist, a doula or a tipat chalav nurse, then you’re not with the right provider. That is the lesson that I can see taking from this woman’s story.

The other thing that jumped put at me was that, once again, we are being given the proof of the significance of our birth experience in and of itself. Regardless of outcome, of circumstances – your birth matters! Usually this theme comes through in emergency c-section stories where the woman feels the need to grieve the loss of her intended birth, even though the outcome was a healthy baby and a healthy (or at least recovering) mommy.
This is often a reason that women seek home birth for subsequent births, specifically because of the significance that home birth midwives traditionally give to the birth experience itself. However, it must be taken in addition to professional, high quality care for the welfare of the mother and baby. Which, from this account, seems to have been lacking.

Sharing our birth stories is an essential part of the healing process. I truly hope the writer does achieve complete healing from her experience. I hope she can grow and learn from her previous birth so that she can make informed choices in the future. And I hope that you, dear readers are able to empathize with this woman’s tragedy while not allowing anyone else’s fears cloud your own decision making process.

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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


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!


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!


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!


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
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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