I was never an Israeli child so I’ll likely never get this.

Lag B’Omer. I’m leveling with you: as an adult olah, I will probably never ever understand fully the appeal and utter dismissal for environmental health and safety that is this 33rd day of the counting of the Omer… in Israel.

Until this morning I couldn’t for the life of me remember what we Americanos did as kids in school on Lag Ba’Omer. It’s like the memories just weren’t important enough to hold on to. Maybe that’s sad in itself. But after being reminded, it flooded back: the whole school going to a big nature reserve nearby, to sprawl out with packed lunches, frisbees, kickballs, hula hoops, general running around and being kids enjoying the grass, trees, blue skies… Turning it into some kind of Jewishly-oriented environmental appreciation day.

FYI, I have some fond memories and a healthy dose of reality in remembering my rabbis and Lakewood-y teachers getting down with nature.

Here, perhaps it’s more memorable – as the kids seem to have a blast – but at what cost? Why does everyone need to make their own bonfires? Couldn’t it be communal? Why must we do it at all? Why isn’t better fire safety taught? Where’s the environmental appreciation in burning anything you can find and watching your yishuv from under a smoky haze?

Why is it a day off from school instead of a learning opportunity? Couldn’t our kids be brought to local nature reserves? Gather inside a cave, simulate the religious-historical  experience? Hell, learn about cave survival?

Point is, the odd/mystical/violent/depressing background to the holiday may be a lot for kids. Then let’s reframe it. Make it educational… and fun. Not destructive.

Because I gotta say, whatever the religious significance of Lag B’Omer – and it’s been totally lost on me from under this insulting black cloud – it can’t possibly be to disregard our beloved surroundings, the land we’ve yearned for, for so long.

That said… Sigh. Here’s my own little Israeli child enjoying his gan’s celebration the day before.

Another one bites the smoke.

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.

Homemade family magnets.

Don’t know about your kids, but mine loves to play with the fridge magnets. Well, with the fridge, period, but also, with the fridge magnets.

I combined that fact with a tip my mother (an early intervention specialist) gave me: show photos of family members to baby or toddler and teach them the names – mama, daddy, grandma, etc., to help him/her identify loved ones.

It’s especially important for us ex pats who left family behind. Half of my son’s extended family lives on one side of the globe, and half on the other. He has been fortunate enough to meet both great-grandmas twice now, but this is a way of incorporating them into his daily life. Same for his grandparents, uncles, and cousins.

It’s been on my to-do list for ages (it’s that kinda thing) and I finally got around to it this week. Here’s the recipe – cheap, easy, kid-friendly – if you’d like to give it a try.

Homemade family magnets

What you’ll need:

  • Photos
  • Colored paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Lamination machine/access to one
  • Stick-on magnets

Optional:

  • Love of your family
  • Fridge

Step by step:

  1. Choose photos that show a nice-sized, clear view of the person’s face (that’s the most important part, right?). For me, that ended up being a lot of photos of great/grandparents holding Koala – all the better, as he’s starting to recognize himself.
  2. Get the photos printed. For-real printed, not ghetto inkjet-style.
  3. Trim the photos down into fun shapes (for the sake of space and, yeah, fun shapes!).
  4. Create a background for each photo with a different colored-paper. Cut it in the same way but leaving a little bit of a border.
  5. Lightly glue the photo on to the paper (lightly, because it won’t matter once it’s laminated and you don’t want it to be weighed down).
  6. Go to Office Depot to get them laminated (it’s around four shekel a page). Or if you own a lamination machine, well, you know what to do.
  7. Place a strip of stick-on magnet to the back of each photo.
  8. Stick on fridge, bring your baby over and start naming people!

P.S. It’s a great idea for a kid’s birthday party if you can borrow/invest in a lamination machine.

P.P.S. If you’re friends with me and have a kid the same age as Koala, you better not steal that birthday party idea.

P.P.P.S. I think I’m falling in love with lamination machines. That could get dangerous. Stay tuned.

Koala update: Nine months.

At this point, the growing happens behind my back or out of the corner of my eye… I have to catch it when I can. Kind of like I’ve had to do since Koala discovered the stairs two weeks ago.

From the kitchen, I can suddenly turn around and see that Koala is reaching under the couch to get a ball. He looks like a kid.

Or I catch him peripherally, grabbing at the photo albums and I’ll turn and say, “no,” in my fancy stern mom voice. He’ll turn and look at me curiously. A few seconds later a cheeky grin spreads across his cheek-y face.

That cheeky grin. My favorite new thing? Koala knows how to make me laugh. And he uses it. Chances are, he grew to know my laugh while in the womb and is getting me back for all the bouncing up and down I caused him those 39 weeks.

My second favorite new thing? His relationship with Cheerios. The fact he always smells like crackers now. Baby soap and crackers.

Another favorite new thing? The sounds he makes. Especially when he yells at a wall from an inch away.

Or make that the internal rhythm he discovered a couple weeks ago, expressed in the form of a baby booty shake.

Expressive, he is. Koala arguably said his first word this month. During bath time, which is by far his favorite part of the day. He tried so hard, anyway. Da. Duh. Dththth. Duh. Dth. Duch. Duck! The mini rubber duckies he plays with in the bath were so appreciative, too.

My boy is nine months old, and so is my state of motherhood. And as such, I think this week I have truly begun to lose it. Not my mind, but my energy. Any adrenaline or freshly baked maternal excitement that’s been keeping me going the past months has drained, cooled, conked out.

How do all you working moms out there do it? How do I work two full time jobs, one that entails a nine-hour day and the other which requires 24?

I feel spent, and I join my parental peers in the perpetual search for the holy grail of parenthood – an endless, renewable energy source.

In the meantime, I look forward to Koala pitching in on the “Bring your baby to work” days.