Thankfulness.

It was technically Koala’s second Thanksgiving, but it was the first he could actually eat at. And eat he did. The toddler with three nationalities has plenty of room in his little belly for turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes and pie. But then, who doesn’t?

And who doesn’t love drumming the 8-kilo turkey before mama starts the marinating?

Excuse the moment, but I also wanted to list a few things I’m thankful for this year. I’ll try not to lay on too much cheese, since we all just had a healthy helping of poultry. But…

It’s been on my mind a lot lately – how much I have. Hopefully I’ll never fully know or understand how much I should be grateful; all I can do is hope the good in my life is as plentiful as I feel it is now.

I’m in love with my son. It’s just such a complete, wholesome, out of bounds kind of love that I can’t fully express it. All I know is that I can never hold him enough, see him enough, feel him around me enough. He’s perfect for me, and I imagine that my husband and I are perfect for him. Like we are puzzle pieces jigsawed from the same board, and now we’ve all found each other.

And then there are the pieces still missing; the little one, the koala-to-be. I feel so lucky to be doing this all over again. Though there are times when I really wonder if I can love two kids like this. Is it possible? Do I have enough space? I honestly don’t know, but somehow humanity has birthed multiple children per family, so I’m about to find out how far the reaches of motherhood truly go.

In general, life is good. I try to appreciate as much as I can, and I know that being human, I’ll never truly get to point B in that respect. But I think about it often – what I have, and what I think I don’t have. And what I have is more than I ever could have wished for to keep me going in my life.

Koala update: Nineteen months.

Cars. Cleaning. Cartoons of Latin descent.

It’s been a busy month 19 for Koala. He’s managed a girlfriend – one who gives him a kiss on the cheek every morning and kisses up to me when I come in at the end of the day; quite assertive if you ask me (true Israeli woman). He’s fallen in love with another woman, Dora. Grandma is visiting this week. And he was Abba shel Shabbat in gan today.

New words this month: Bear, pear, o-pah!, and beep beep. And for some reason, na’alayim is easier to say than shoes.

Brooms are not safe. The sponja is not spared. Koala likes to clean, or rather twirl, ride, and wave cleaning supplies in the form of sticks. Toddlers will be boys.

In light of the fact that I have Thanksgiving dinner to finish up and Shabbat to make happen, the rest of 19 can be expressed in photos…

It Gets Better, Jew.0 (have to share, and keep sharing).

The It Gets Better Project, a series of videos by famous and non-famous people coming out on being hopeful for LGBT teens, has been catching attention around the social media corners I hang out in.

But I wonder if, aside from the teens who need the support, the misguided/hateful/ignorant people at the core of the problem are watching the videos?

Well, either way, visual expression of the optimism that it gets better – by those who have been there – is definitely crucial.

The following is an ‘it gets better’ video done by a group of gay Orthodox Jewish guys. I have to admit a couple of their faces and names are extremely familiar from my New York life. But the Jewish world is so small and connected that even if you don’t know them, chances are you know someone who they remind you of.

I can’t imagine the kind of strength and courage it took for them to do this. I think we owe it to their courage to watch the video and pass it along – to the ones we know who need it, and to the ones we know who aren’t understanding or accepting it, but hopefully one day will.

Signs of second life.

Differences between first and second pregnancy:

  • You’re fatter, earlier.
  • You know too much.
  • There’s already a kid in the picture, sucking up your time and energy (and probably your vitamin-intake, too).
  • A lot of second-time jokes (Double the fun! Back for more? Double trouble!)
  • For some reason I can’t pinpoint, it’s harder announcing it this time.

Ta da!

Before we go any further, I need to get this out so I can move on:

I don’t love the physical attention. I’m a private person and I don’t like my business growing on the outside where everyone can see. I like having secrets. I hate being observed belly-first when I walk in a room. I object to awkwardness of all types, and I must decline the requests to pat anything on my body.

There. Some reasons I can pinpoint why it’s harder this time.

Tonight I felt bebe #2 kick for the first time, so I thought it was high time to come on out about it. Little bebe #2, making yourself known. I’ve been waiting for you. I think you’ll make a good roommate these next months.

My unsuspecting Koala is going to be a big brother to this unsuspecting new-child.

Actually, Koala is definitely suspecting. Suspecting, and hitting my belly as often as he can.

Round 2 – ding ding ding!

Twilight: The highlights. But mostly the lowlights.

If I don’t get this off my chest soon, it’s going to haunt me forever and then I may need therapy and that will just make it all worse.

Disclaimer: I’m an avid reader. And I read anything. And when I say anything, I mean, I spent an entire Shabbat a month ago deeply engrossed in my brother’s copy of The Power Broker, a 1,000+ page text book about the rise and fall of New York City’s greatest and most controversial urban planner, Robert Moses. It was all I had in the house that I hadn’t yet read (fascinating, by the way).

So, yes, I read all four books of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. It was peer pressure at first, which is how these things usually come to be. I’m a fantasy fan, though, and a major Harry Potter nut. And I felt the same skepticism about Harry Potter before I actually read it in 2000. So, teen-girl-screaming associations aside, it felt logical to give it a chance.

Here’s my problem with the story: There is so much potential there. So much. I suppose that’s the highlight – the potential. I so badly wanted to lean over to Stephenie and say, wait, why’d you stop here? Why not explain this? Why not go further here? Why keep it so simple there? So much potential to be a way more engaging, heart-wrenching, painfully delicious story.

But, it fell flat. Unfortunately for me, having sat through it all. What kept me going was hoping there’s be more somewhere. Even with fifty pages left to the series, knowing it was the last book she’d do, I hoped. I really hoped. Somehow, the pages would extend themselves. Somehow, this wouldn’t remain a cheap read.

But it did. The lowlights – well, they were everywhere.

The writing was sub-par. Yes, you can write a seemingly young-adult novel and not have it be sub-par. Harry Potter isn’t the best writing in the world – it’s the creative elements of the story that keep it engaging – but it still lived up to a certain level of expectation.

The characters were flat. 2D. Too perfect or too imperfect. Too simple or too fake-complex. No one had any real problems. Everything was a neat package, even if it was packed with vampire venom.

And, like I said, the story could have gone a lot deeper, carried us further, given us real joy and harsh pain. I don’t know why she left it so surface-level. I don’t know her as a writer other than here. But it sounded like a publisher said, here, do this, so she did it. Maybe that’s even what happened. What a shame.

It would be cool to have Robert Jordan (rest his soul) or Orson Scott Card or even JK Rowling take a shot at the same story and characters. Give it that oomph I expect out of fantasy.

I guess I assumed way too much going into it.

Well, in any case, I’d like to thank the people who lent me books one, two and four, and the airport Steimatsky clerk who didn’t seem to judge me when I bought book three in a fit of desperation (I don’t have to explain myself).

Two mothers.

My mother is a split personality. As long as I’ve known her, this has been the case.

She can speak two languages fluently: her mother tongue, English, a language that rolls off her tongue like rain dripping down a car window in the summer; and Hebrew, a language she has been tripping over since they started offering it as a plaything in kindergarten.

When I watch her speaking to her friends, I’m completely engulfed in the security and warmth of my mother, who can wrap words around concepts and make sentences into stories. When I read the notes she leaves me under my pillow, or in my notebooks, I read the words of my mother, the writer, the poet, the thinker.

When I watch her speak to my teachers, or my friends, or my friends’ mothers, I watch a different woman. This one is timid; she doesn’t have much to say. She’s an immigrant, an outsider. She has five or six phrases she pulls out for whatever the occasion. Head-nodding replaces the verbal building-blocks I’ve seen in English. Body language suffices for the story-telling sentences.

I think to her, ‘But you know a good story that could add to this conversation. You have advice you could offer. Surely you’re just lazy to string the words together, to make an effort. Yes, you’re a latecomer. Yes, there’s more to you than grammatical error. You know it, but no one else does. You don’t let them. You’re too proud to make mistakes.’

But make mistakes, momma. Make mistakes for me.