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Little Moments

In my world of nursery, diapers and play dates, spirituality often comes to me at random moments. These moments are fleeting, and despite my efforts to make them last or to repeat them, they simply disappear. It’s not that I’m not taking the time to connect with G-d, although I could put in more effort in that area, it’s that my mind is always in multiple places at once and I feel as though I can never make these moments truly meaningful.

Sometimes, though, there are little moments that absolutely take me away.

On Friday, the second day of Sukkos, I experienced such a moment. That morning, my sister had left to the hospital to deliver her 3rd child (ka”h). The day of waiting at home was an anxious one, as we could not contact my sister or brother in-law because it was Yom Tov. It was also a crazy busy, oh-my-g-d-I-am-never-having-two-sets-of-twins one, as I found myself acting as a second mother to her two children who are close in age to my own two children. With naps and tantrums and snacks and bathroom reminders, it was as un-spiritual of a day as it could possibly be.

About an hour before Shabbos, my brother-in-law came rushing through the door. The labor was not progressing as expected and he needed to prepare food and anything that they would need before Shabbos started. As he left back for the hospital he asked me, “Can you please light candles for your sister tonight?” I immediately said that I would, but I remained standing at the door staring after him, long after he had gone. I don’t know why I couldn’t move. I don’t know why it meant so much to me.

I didn’t have so much time to think about it because there were four kids who needed to get into pajamas; two of whom were not thrilled to be sharing their Mommy and Tatty and two of whom were missing their Imma and Abba immensely. And then it was time to light.

I carefully helped the two older girls step up to the table and light their candles. And then it was my turn.

I lit one…two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight candles.

Eight candles.

And I was overcome.

My sister is more to me than just a sister; she is also my best friend. We have done so many things for each other over the years. Some incredibly embarrassing (how exactly is a kallah supposed to pull up her stockings when her nails are wet?) and some just incredibly special (she was there with her own two kids helping me while I went through postpartum depression); but nothing felt as enormous to me as this. That evening, my sister entrusted me with a Mitzvah that is so uniquely special to her and to her family. She entrusted me with their Neshamos and with the light that is her duty to bring into this world.

CandleLighting

To my dear sister, I hope I did you justice.

I couldn’t tune out the giggles, and whispers, and whines from the kids, so I instead allowed that to be the background music as I davened for their growth. I davened that they should continue in the way of Torah as you and I do and that one day they should cover their own eyes and bentch licht for beautiful families of their own. I davened that they should have as special a connection to their siblings as we do with each other and that they should always be there for each other in the best of ways.

And I’m not gonna lie. I davened that they would all go to bed nicely too.

Tonight, I am back at my house and you are at yours. We will be lighting our own candles miles away from each other, but you have helped to make my experience more meaningful. I think of that now; I think of the night that I lit eight candles, the night that I was forced to connect to Hashem in a more meaningful way because I was promising to do your part for you.

And so, most of all, I will pray that with our candles, we will be able to fill the world with the ultimate light of Moshiach.

Photograph by Rivka Bauman Photography 

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Parshas Veyeira

In this week’s Parsha we learn about the wonderful Mitzvah of Hachnasas Orchim, welcoming guests. Avraham Avinu was always inviting guests into his tent and taught us how we must treat our guests, no matter who they are.

For this week’s craft, you will need:

  • Consturction Paper – Brown and Beige
  • Sand
  • Stickers
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Here is what to do:

Glue one sheet of construction paper and sprinkle sand over it. Leave it aside to dry. In the meantime, decorate the beige construction paper with the stickers and prop it into a tent shape. Fold it in half and cut out a rectangle to create a “door”. With the rest of the brown paper, make a palm tree by rolling the paper width-wise and slitting about 5 slits with a scissor at the top about one inch down. Spread out slits to form a palm tree look. Then, stick the tent and tree onto your sandy construction paper with glue.

AvrahamAvinuTent

If you can’t get hold of any of the above materials why not find an old scrap of carpet, get your paints out and make your very own Hachnassas Orchim doormat!

Now go and invite some guests to your Shabbos table! 🙂

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Unlikely Union – In Honor of Rachel Imeinu

By Ettie Shurack

Today, the 11th of Mar Chesvan, is our Matriarch Rachel’s yarzeit. I forever hold a personal connection with the anniversary of the passing of Rachel Imeinu because had it not been for her, I would not have met my husband (in such a direct way). Being that we are soul mates, we would have met, it just may not have happened in such an easy clear-cut fashion. And from speaking with friends, the process of Shidduchim is not an easy one.

A couple weeks ago, on Simchas Torah, we were eating with close friends of ours and sitting at the table was a newlywed couple. There is something so special about spending time with a bride and groom. Something so exhilarating yet comforting, subtle yet energetic, gentle yet vibrant. Being that my husband and I had celebrated our eighth anniversary this past summer, I (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on who you ask) no longer consider myself a newlywed. However, I get an excited-clammy-palms, heart-beats-a-little-faster feeling every time I think about how my husband and I met. So when my friend asked if we could tell the story about how we met, I readily agreed. She has heard it countless times, and often has to prompt me about details I have missed. But, she tells me she loves the story because it is a textbook example of a Shidduch where Hashem’s hand is so evident.

Hashem is always present in all Shidduchim. In fact, there once was the story of a Roman noblewoman who asked Rabbi Yosi ben Chalafta what Hashem was so busy with, given that He finished creating the world long ago. Rabbi Yosi’s response, “Making matches.”  To which she replied “Is that all?” and made 1000 matches between her male and female slaves that very evening, only to discover the following morning that very few of them were satisfied. It is no surprise that making Shidduchim is a large part of Hashem’s day.

But my friend seems to think that our case in particular shows that nothing is impossible, if Hashem wants two people to meet. Our story depicts how a boy from New York working in Manchester can meet his soul mate, a girl from Vancouver who is studying in Israel through a wacky and coincidental series of events. Then again, is anything really coincidence? Or is everything divine providence?

And so my husband and I laughed and laughed while telling the story of how we met. We each have our take on certain details, but overall we’re in agreement on the general procession of events. I laughed so hard that tears were forming at the corners of my eyes.  It’s been a while since I laughed so hard. I hope it happens sometime soon again, because boy did it feel good.

One of my favourite parts of a wedding ceremony is the Bedekin.  I feel that it is infused with meaning, depth, and significance. A powerful and soul churning Chassidic tune is sung by the guests as the groom approaches his wife, with his father and father-in-law by his side. The groom and bride lock eyes after not seeing one another for seven full days.  The groom places a veil over the bride’s face, and the fathers each take a moment to bless the bride. The couple is then escorted towards the Chuppah where they will transform from being a young man and young woman to a husband and wife forever bound together.

At every wedding that I attend, I strive to be present for that moment. The moment where a groom, by covering his bride’s face, is announcing that they cannot see what the future will hold – and the uncertainty may be blinding at times, yet they are ready for the awesome journey that awaits them.

Over the last days of Succos, while I liked sitting across from the newlyweds, I loved sitting beside my partner and best friend of eight years. And what an amazing eight years it has been! Our journey together has included eternal joy, true happiness, endless laughter; as well as loss, pain, and tears. But without these, we could never have experienced hope, courage, inspiration, support, growth and encouragement.

Thank you Rachel Immeinu for bringing a dynamic, spontaneous, and adventurous 20 year old girl to the West Bank to hear a lecture on the Mitzvahs of being a woman at your burial place (just outside of Bethlehem). Ending up stranded in Jerusalem without a way back north to Tzfat, only to find herself at a complete stranger’s Shabbos table. One week of long distance phone calls. A kind, sensitive, and sensible young man’s flight from England to the Holy Land. Three dates, and hours of deep heart to heart conversations…A proposal right in front of a garbage can. And as they say, the rest is history!

rachel-imeinu
Photo Credit: LakewoodScoop.com

Wishing you and yours a great week ahead!

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I Miss the Showers

I miss the shower of the most stressful day of my life.

By now, those of you who know me from my posts will know I can be slightly nutty (or as my husband will tell you not slightly, all the way and completely nutty!). But don’t laugh because it’s true.

I wrote a blog post a while back about my water phobia and how it affects my Mikvah day. Besides for that, like most women will tell you, Mikvah day always has it’s last minute stresses and happenings that just mess up your supposedly stress-free-spa-day. The rush to get the children to bed on time, the preparations, the soaking and scrubbing and fears of missed scabs don’t make life easy. Then you have getting there, waiting, showering etc. It all builds up and finally, you dip. Of course, for me, here comes the phobia to mix in and the stress builds up to an all time high. The way out, dressing, make up, hair and driving always take an eighth of the time, the same stuff took you on the way there, but that is Murphy’s Law.

So let me tell you about the shower. The showers at the Mikvah that I go to are awesome. In fact, whereas I used to have a quick rinse once I got to Mikvah after preparing at home, I now stand for 20 minutes chilling out under the stream. Washing away the stress or more correctly, power hosing away the stress. They are so strong. Nothing like in my house or like in any hotel I have ever been to. It is a large space with glass doors, opposite a mirror so I can dance and sing to myself 😉 and boy is it powerful! Ahhh it’s amazing! It is worth every penny of the $22 I paid to get in. Sometimes I debate going back in after my dip just to feel extra good on the way home!

Shower

Well, Thank G-d I am now pregnant (pregnant mommy diaries will have to be another post on its own!). And oh do I miss my monthly shower. So much so that on days that have been long, hard and tiring and end with me curled up in back pain, I ask my husband if he can drive me to the Mikvah so I can pay $22 for a shower. I told you not to laugh.

There is also something else. I guess you can call it something deeper. As much as I love these long clean months, no monthly period cramps and full time availability for much needed hugs; I do sometimes miss the renewal. After two weeks apart who isn’t excited to finally be able to go back to their husband? There is nothing quite like the first hug on Mikvah night.

So yes, I miss it. I miss the excitement and the planning and the constant count downs that keep my brain wheels turning. Though on the other hand, I love not having to drag my beds across the room every two weeks and I am completely hyper about having a baby IY”H and did I mention how awesome it is to be able to get back support whenever I need? But…BOY DO I MISS THOSE SHOWERS!

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Parshat Lech Lecha – Craft

Hashem promised Avraham Avinu that his children would be as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the ground!  See if your child wants to make this starry picture, and then hang it up for all to see?

You will need:

  • Black construction card/paper (or black paint and plain card)
  • Small star cut-outs/stickers
  • Large star cut-out with the saying (attached to post)
  • A picture of your child
  • Glue

What to do:

If you don’t have black construction card or paper then paint your plain card black – or you could colour it black if you have no paint! Then cut the photo of your child into a circle and glue it into the circle space in the large star. Once it is glued on, your child can decorate the rest of the page with other small stars, either cut outs or stickers.

Here is the craft sheet in white:

WhiteStar

Here is how it can look at the end:

BlackStar

Another idea is to make some yummy star biscuits too! Simply take any sugar cookie recipe, like this one. Make large circles with the cookie dough. With a knife, cut out extra indented pieces for the star shape.

Also, the beginning of next week marks Rochel Imeinu’s yartzheit. You can give your child the below picture to colour and decorate – it’s an image of her Kever. Special thanks to Chinuch.org for the picture of Kever Rochel.

KeverRachel

Enjoy your little star! Good shabbat 🙂

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Fish Heads and Family

By Nechamy Rabin

I try not to be cynical but it’s hard to ignore that I don’t share in the emphatic excitement that some balaboostas have in preparing foods special for the Tishrei Yomim Tovim. In fact, even the non-food parts of Tishrei are less than appealing to me.

From the top.

I love apples. My figure is thankful that I craved them throughout both pregnancies. Dipping apples into honey is like dipping donuts into ketchup. Dipping anything into honey seems gross to me. Inside a recipe? Yes. Stuck to the roof of my mouth? Not even a little.

I also don’t like fish. And I really, really don’t like their bare heads and googley eyeballs acting as my Yom Tov centerpiece.

Yom Kippur has no food. What’s up with that? That’s worse than ew food. And the absolute PANIC that sets in when we sit down for the Erev Yom Kippur meal is its own category. It’s the one time of year that I’m never hungry. But I also know it’s my last chance to eat. For maybe ever. Stress.

Sukkos presents another problem for me, as I don’t enjoy sitting in a cold sukkah. In the rain. Chewing pine needles. I’m really more of an indoor restaurant type of chick. Which holiday can we work that into?

Well, despite my lack of enthusiasm for the holiday menus, I do look forward to each and every holiday. Lately, I’ve wondered about what it is that makes the Jewish holidays so appealing to me. I was inspired to discover that my joy comes from FAMILY.

It may be cold, I may be hungry, my fingers may be sticky, but when else do we all try to get together, to sit around and just enjoy each other’s company? Bli ayin harah, I have twelve incredible siblings. And while we can’t all get together anymore, as thank g-d most of us have been blessed with our own little families, there is always one chunk of family that makes it back home. And we have the best time, every time. I laugh until my eyes tear and I snatch clothes from closets far more interesting than mine. I spend time with my siblings’ babies and can rest assured that no matter where my kids find trouble in my mother’s big house, someone will be able to find them. I love to watch my children play together with their cousins and giggle the way only children can. I love to stay up late, talk, and to just be there for each other. I love that throughout the year, we have so many opportunities to stop, slow down, and celebrate life.

And let’s face it: honey cake is not a bad deal either.

Honeycake

Photo by: Jewishsearch.com

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Crafty Ideas for Sukkot

By Devorah Niman

Here are a couple of quick, cheap and cheerful ideas to keep your little ones (and big ones!) busy on Erev Sukkot!

Wafer Sukkah

EdibleWaferSukkah

You will need:

  • 10 wafers (any flavour)/3 large crackers
  • Packet of long stick pretzels
  • Packet of green sour sticks/lassos
  • Icing sugar or marshmellow fluff
  • Paper plate/cake board

Directions:
Take your icing sugar and mix with a little water to make “glue”. Dip the bottom of each wafer into the glue and stick on to the plate/board in a ח shape (3x43x3). Next, take your pretzels and place across wafers to make “beams”. Lie the sour sticks, “greenery” across the “beams” to create the Schach effect.
Side tip: If desired, create inner props with marzipan….or lego for those on a diet!

Wait till Sukkot, then eat and enjoy!

Cheap and cheerful paper plate Ushpizin craft

UshpizinCraft

You will need:

  • 7 paper plates
  • Pictures of Ushpizin
  • Felt tips
  • Any craft supplies you have lying around e.g. glitter, pom poms etc.

Directions:
Colour/decorate Ushpizin pictures. You can enlarge images to make the size you desire – or make your own. Cut out and stick it on individual plates. Decorate the plate. Hang them in the Sukkah in any arrangement you like! Please excuse the lack of decoration on the plate but this is the general idea. Special thanks to Chinuch.org for this Ushpizin template.

UshpizinTemplate

Here are two other ideas from Kveller! This one is a healthy version of my Wafer Sukkah. It is also an edible Sukkah craft, made with crackers and veggies! And this one (also an inexpensive paper craft) is another Sukkah decoration idea. Also known as “paper links”.

I would love to see some pictures of your completed creations, so feel free to post it and share your ideas on this thread. There are some other creative suggestions there. Wishing you all a happy holiday!

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The Road to Here and There

By: Nechamy Rabin

I have started and stopped this following post so many times that I’ve lost count. But today, I’m inspired to write.

I was the girl with boundless energy and who was always quick to laugh. I was quick to frustration too, but I wasn’t terrible 🙂

I loved to head projects and be smack in the middle of things. I was organized and boisterous and loved every second of it. All throughout high school, I was on the committee for our annual school weekend away and I always had something busy in the school play, be it as lead actress, choreographing a dance, or heading the entire production.

I volunteered with children who had special needs and I worked on Sundays as well as weekends, in an educational capacity. I took meticulous notes if class was interesting and made innocent trouble when I got bored. I just always needed to be doing something. I loved the feeling of accomplishment.

This energy served me well when I finished high school and went on to do program coordinating for a nonprofit in California, and then when I moved to New York and began to work in a local school. After I got married, my husband used to tease me about not being able to sleep in and jumping out of bed the instant that I woke up. When I got pregnant, I was slightly lazier, but still energetic. During the summer that I was pregnant, I worked in a preschool camp that required a 1.5 hour commute to Connecticut each morning (and then back in the afternoon) and it didn’t phase me.

When delivery day finally came around, I remember that at one point during labor, I told the midwife that I did not need such a long break between pushes. She and my doula laughed and said, “Now is not the time to be an overachiever.” But that was me. Seven weeks after my daughter was born, I went back to my job of teaching in the afternoons. When she turned nine months old, I enrolled in college for evening classes. It was hard- balancing everything, but there was a crazy type of adrenaline that came with it as well. I didn’t stop when I became pregnant with my second child and continued my rigorous schedule: Mommy in the morning with my toddler at home, teacher in the afternoon, and student in the evening. I didn’t think anything could stop me.

I was wrong.

My second daughter was born on May 25th, a rainy Friday afternoon. A holiday (Shavuot) was set to begin on Saturday night so once sunset hit on Friday, we would be in for a three day stretch of no electricity, phones, driving, etc. I didn’t want to be in the hospital alone and so I left 7 hours later. I was throwing up but I didn’t let the nurses see because I was so scared that they would make me stay.

I didn’t stop pushing myself. When the holiday was over, my husband returned to work and I was home with the newborn and my 2.5 year old. It was tiring, but my frustration level was at an all new low and I was getting very agitated with myself. I was used to pushing myself, so why wasn’t this working now?!

A wonderful organization sent me a delicious fresh breakfast every morning for the first couple of weeks. My sister came over with her three-month-old baby to help entertain my big girl and to be there for me. My husband was supportive and amazing and didn’t stop for a second when he came home. Still, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and found myself reduced to tears in minutes.

Visitors would urge me to sleep while they were there, to sleep while the baby was sleeping, to sleep whenever I could. They didn’t know that sometimes I just couldn’t sleep.

There were nights that I would lay awake for hours, sobbing until I was too exhausted to cry anymore, angry that I couldn’t fall asleep. There were days that I couldn’t nap, even when I tried. And there were times, especially when people came over to relieve me, that I wanted to stay awake. I wanted to be with other people and feel normal. Alone in my room, in bed, all I could think about was how little I accomplished and how much time I was wasting.

When the end of June rolled around, my big girl started camp. I was a bundle of nerves. She had never been to school, as she has always been at home with me. I felt like I should have been able to care for her at home along with my baby. I also knew that I was being a horrible mother and that she was getting the brunt of my anger at home and that she would be much happier away from me. Looking back now, I see that I was thinking terrible things about myself that were unwarranted. My daughter was going to camp because she was 2.5 years old and she would have a great time! I had just had a baby and wasn’t going to be able to entertain her and take her out, camp was normal!

Now that it was just me and the baby at home, I was sure everything would finally fall into place. I reasoned that I simply must have been too overwhelmed caring for them both and that now I would be the energetic and efficient mother that I planned to be.

Again, I was wrong.

The days were worse. I was a mess. When my baby didn’t sleep, I would scream at her. Through my tears, I would beg her to be quiet, beg her not to cry, call her names, wish she was gone. I never thought about hurting her and I used that as my measuring stick. I said to myself that if I ever feel like throwing her, I’ll know that this is PPD. But if that’s not happening, this is just me being an absolute failure.

At my 6-week appointment, I waited expectantly for the midwife to ask me about how I was coping. I went to a team of several midwives and it happened that the one I saw that day, was one that I had only ever seen once before. I am sorely disappointed that the practice doesn’t focus on scheduling the 6-week appointment with a more familiar midwife for the patient, as I was too uncomfortable to bring up my feelings with someone that I barely knew. She did ask the routine questions but cut me off with a check on her sheet even before I had finished articulating my thoughts. Thing is? If she would have known me at all, she would have recognized right away that I was so quiet, pensive, anxious, and just extremely out of character.

Over the next few weeks, I called my husband home more times than I care to remember. Sometimes I was too embarrassed to call and I would lay on the floor near the baby’s crib, crying nearly as loudly as she was. I would beg him to read my mind and come home. Eventually I would succumb and send him a text. He couldn’t know how much I had tried to withstand on my own before reaching out to him, and I would often become unreasonably hurt when he wouldn’t immediately understand me. It’s embarrassing to think about this now!

PostPartumDepression

One day, about ten weeks postpartum, I had a fantasy that I would mysteriously fall into a 6-month coma and get a break from my parenting responsibilities. It seemed like the best solution. No deaths, nothing irreversible. My in-laws or my parents would surely come in to help and my big girl would be fine just as soon as I woke up. I knew that I was thinking bad, bad thoughts but it really was appealing.

At that moment, I confirmed with myself what I had already been suspecting: I definitely had Postpartum Depression. Still, though, nothing changed. I told my husband about the coma dream and I knew how uneasy he was, but he didn’t say anything about PPD. I knew it in my heart but I wasn’t going to say anything because if I did, how would anyone know that I didn’t just make everything up?

Growing up, we always had to have ‘proof’ that we were sick or else any feelings of being ‘unwell’ didn’t count. I am sure my parents were just trying to weed out the fakers (who doesn’t try to play hooky one time or another?) but this translated into a huge obstacle at a really tough time in my life. I was desperately waiting for someone else to suggest that I had PPD so that it wouldn’t have come from me and that would make it more ‘real’.

Meanwhile, my husband was simply trying to find the right way of telling me without making me completely reject the idea. He had no way of knowing that I was waiting for him to bring it up. In the end, I so desperately wanted to feel better, I finally mentioned that I was worried that I might have PPD. My husband was extremely supportive and encouraged me to reach out for help.

At first, I tried to call SPARKS, an organization that offers services to women who are suffering from PPD and other issues. The first time I gathered the courage to call, I was put on hold. I hung up after seven long minutes of waiting. It was a while until I gathered enough courage to call again. This time, I was directed to a confidential voice mail. I left a message, but it’s been a year now and no one has ever called me back.

(Don’t worry, I didn’t wait all year for that call.) I soon got in touch with a family friend who is also a therapist. She tried to help me naturally as I was against the idea of medication. We soon realized that it simply wasn’t enough and I was too anxious to work through it this way. She suggested that I call a doctor nearby and schedule an appointment. As soon as I made the decision to do that, knowing full well that I would be starting medication, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and I suddenly felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I started on a low dose of Zoloft, some vitamins, and instructions to start adding in exercise every day. For the first couple of weeks, I also went on some heavy duty (awesome!!) sleeping pills just so that I would be able to sleep at night until the Zoloft kicked in and the anxiety would dissipate.

I knew that I was going to be okay.

Finally, I was right.

It wasn’t a smooth course. There were ups and there were downs. And then even downer downs. But as I began to take care of myself and allow myself to be constructive with this new sense of ease, I began to get better.

My baby is 14 months old now and I have been off of medication since the middle of May. Some days are still hard and sometimes, my emotions seem overwhelming but I’ve learned a lot about myself this past year and I am getting the hang of it. I can get out of the house with both kids by myself (might seem silly to some but a huge accomplishment for me) and best of all, I am laughing again. I started this blog because I like to laugh at myself and am so thankful that I can still do that.

I’m not perfect yet, and I should continue therapy to learn better ways of managing my stress, but I’ll get there.

Because I truly am a Supermom.

Written by a Balaboostas forum member, who also started her own blog: Motherly Lies
Photo Credit: 2006 Publications International

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Mikvah Struggle

I would like to share an inner struggle I recently went through.

Friday night was my Mikvah night. It was a long day, taking care of my baby, getting ready for Shabbos and the regular preparations for the Mikvah. All I remember of that day was one big daze.

When it was my turn to go and as I entered my room, I realized that I couldn’t remember if I did a bedikah that day. I could recall holding the bedikah cloth but couldn’t remember doing a bedikah. I went over the scene again and again in my mind. I was sure I did it, I wanted to have done it; I tried to convince myself that I must have. How aggravating would it be to go back home Niddah, yet again for one more night. So I continued to get ready and entered the Mikvah room, telling myself, it’s not such a big deal, and that Hashem will understand.

KosherWaters

Just as I was about to show my nice clean nails to the mikvah attendant, I began to cry. Tears of fear and frustration. What if I become pregnant from this one time? How will this affect the sanctity of my marriage? The health of my children? I began to explain myself to the sweet woman standing by the Mikvah, and with the gentlest smile she told me, “This is something you will have to remember if you did or not, and decide for yourself.”

Then she asked, “How will your husband react?” Thank G-d, I knew that my husband would support me if I did the right thing, but he will be understandably disappointed. I decided right then to not take a chance on a potentially big sin and go home. It felt right.

I came home and told my husband. I will never forget the expression on his face; pure respect and admiration. Totally worth it!

Photo Credit: Mikvah.org

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Natural First Aid Kit for the Summer

By Sara Chana Silverstein

Hey you, working so hard to pack for your summer family trip—I see you’re forgetting something! Oh, and you, over there, struggling to pack up your teenage boy for sleepover camp! You both are leaving out the most important part of your preparations: your “Natural First Aid Kit For the Summer!” Besides rubbing alcohol, band-aids and a thermometer, you should bring a little box filled with treasures for your natural first aid kit. I will quickly introduce you to a few wonderful items to help you treat bug bites, cuts and bruises. These natural products are safe and easy to use and most of them are available at your local health food store. If not, ask them to order them for you. You can easily teach your children going away to summer camp or traveling on their own, how to use these items.

  1. Green Clay — This has to be one of my most favorite healing tools. French green clay is pure clay from the earth. Green clay is fabulous for bug bites. Mix one teaspoon of green clay in a cup with just a few drops of water to form a paste. Paint over the bug bite with the paste and let the paste dry. If the bite is very sore you can paint over the existing green clay 2-4 times (letting the clay dry in between) or every hour until the healing begins. The bug bite should stop itching and will heal quickly. Green clay paste is also wonderful for kitchen burns: apply as above and you will be amazed at the way it cools and heals burnt skin (not for use on sunburns). Also, you can use the powder directly (not mixed with water) on diaper rashes and heat rashes.
  2. Arnica 30c — This is a homeopathic remedy that is placed under the tongue for falls and bumps. When you use any homeopathic remedy put a few pellets under the tongue and let it dissolve slowly. (It is best if you refrain from eating 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after the remedy, but this is not necessary in an emergency.) Ordinarily this remedy is given every 3 hours as needed for pain in about 3 doses, but if it is a true emergency the remedy can be given every 15 minutes until you seek out medical attention.
    Arnica
  3. St. John’s Wort Oil — I just love this oil; it is wonderful and soothing. The oil is great for sunburns, muscle aches and stiff necks. You can liberally apply this oil after a nasty sunburn (but do not go out in the sun directly after you put on the oil; let it soak into the skin first). You can also add two drops of pure lavender oil to the St. John’s Wort oil to help soothe the burn. This can also be used with aloe vera gel. The oil can also be massaged into sore and bruised muscles. It is also very helpful if you wake up with a stiff neck. The best quality oil is from Woodland Essences at (315) 845-1515.
    Oil
  4. Yunnan Paiyado powder — Wow, great name! This is a superb Chinese powder mix. It will almost instantly stop a cut from bleeding. Two summers ago, I was in the country and a neighbor sliced her finger while opening a tuna fish can. She had been trying for almost one hour to stop her bleeding finger. She was on her way to the doctor but stopped at my place first. I put some of this powder over the cut as she was on the phone deciding who was going to take care of her children while she was at the doctor, and by the end of the phone call her finger had stopped bleeding. It works like magic. It also helps promote healing of the wound. If you suspect a wound needs stitches do not apply this powder unless under the guidance of a professional. If stitches are needed I would take Arnica homeopathic remedy under my tongue on the way to getting those stitches! You can order this powder from New York’s Chinatown by calling (212) 962-0447.
    YannaPayo
  5. Rosemary, Lavender, Citronella Essential Oils — These oils are great as a bug repellent! You can purchase a small water spritz bottle. Fill the bottle up with water and add 20 drops each of all three of these oils. You can then spray on you or your children’s clothes all day long as needed. You can also burn these oils in a diffuser (You can find most essential oils and diffusers at your health food store.).

There is so much more to learn but my time has run out. Start with these items this summer and you will be amazed at how much you can help yourself, your kids, and your neighbors heal. Have a safe and productive summer, and happy healing!

Sara Chana, IBCLC, RH (AHG) is a lactation consultant, classical homeopath, registered herbalist, doula and mother of seven children. She has worked with over 10,000 new moms and babies.  You can like her Facebook page ‘Sara Chana’ and/or follow her on twitter @sarachanas. On August 1st, she will be launching her Breastfeeding App with 102 original videos at www.sarachana.com

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