5, 6, 7, 8, Day 18

Learning to walk, learning to dance, learning to bogey down baby!  Debbie was there for it all. She sat through endless hours of me practicing my beginning ballet, prancing around the house in tutu’s and tap shoes. I can keenly recall dancing in our front entry hallway in our Anchorage house. It had 4 sliding mirrors. It was perfect for the emerging diva extraordinaire, moi!

One of my fondest moments in our home involved walking into a giant Passover seder with my child’s accordion strapped around my back, and serenading folks with song and dance. Only the uninhibited folks. That was me!

Flash forward to the most awkward years of my life and the years of settling into oneself for my sister. I was 15, shy, and a desperate fashionista who chose to wear overalls…yes overalls, why? I have no idea. Apparently I thought overall shorts were cool especially in the hot and humid August air of 2000 in Portland, Oregon. My sister had invited me to a swing dance class at, The Crystal Ballroom.

Two amazing things transpired that evening:

  1. I learned that I really loved to dance, but needed confidence.
  2. I saw my husband for the first time, unknowingly, I thought he was the cutest guy with the best moves. Little did I know that it would be a mere 4 years later before we’d meet again.

My sister has amazing groove if you didn’t already know this. She and her husband Doug met while at a Salsa club. They fell in love dancing and have been partners ever since. One of my favorite memories of the two of them was their swing dance at their wedding. It was ABSOLUTELY amazing and beautiful. They were made for each other. I loved watching them glide, smile, and spin around the dance floor.

Back to the swing dance lesson: Debbie was so patient. She stayed through the whole hour class before the “real” swing dancers came to get down and groovy. I keenly recall the tall gangly guy who I danced with for about 15 minutes of the lesson session. He later sauntered over during the band portion with all the amazing dancers hopping about the floor. I smiled shyly and agreed to go out on the floor and work on the few moves we learned. Debbie encouraged me with a smile and I stepped onto the floor. Little did I know that my attire would get in the way of my movement. Tall gangly guy decided it’d be fun to spin me and rotate me with the other hand. However, he didn’t plan for an overall strap to hinder his spin ideals. Well, needless to say, we got quite tangled into one of the most precarious situations I’ve ever encountered. I squirmed, removed myself from his grasp, and slid back to my spot on the side lines beet red and panting. I happily tapped my toes and watched Debbie get asked to dance again and again.

Then, someone caught my eye. A flash of blue eyes and wide smile.  A white wife-beater tank top, suspenders, and a classy fedora just slightly tilted forward. “Man he’s cute,” I thought to myself. Debbie had just spun back over to me and caught my gaze. “Ohhhhhhh they’re just show off’s Rachel.” “They’re so good….” “Yeah, they’re a bit cocky, and good that’s true,” she replied.

Cut to a scene change to the second term of college for me.  There, standing before me and Lincoln Hall 75 was him. Show-off man, Andy. Now, my hubby. I am proud to call him my swing dancing king.

You see, Debbie first helped me to get into dance. She later introduced me to zumba which helped transform my work out routines. I am eternally grateful to her for sharing this passion with me. I can’t wait to zumba with you again Debbie! I love you, and I hope you shake or shimmy a bit today. Just a few steps will lighten your mood.

Be spark-lar-ific! I love you big sis!

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Boing boing blonde Day 17

“Hey (hey)
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations, no (hey)
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within”

-India Arie

Grooving to her song for the first time in the mid-2000’s I always felt a kinship with her words. Why is that we are so deeply connected to hair ladies? I do realize our hair is part of our physical characteristics, attributes, and identity of our selves. Although, for women it can often take on this higher power of how we view ourselves. I remember getting a random hair cut before the 5th grade school pictures. “Wahhhhh wahhhh,” moment early on in life. It was the beginning of the brick cell phone age and the hairstylist was pre-occupied with his telephone call.  A few snips too many later, my bangs were two inches from my hair line, or so it felt like. My poor self circa age 11 was traumatized. “Oh the horror…” 🙂  Mom solved it like any hair issue should be solved, she pulled out a bow with fun twisty colored tendrils and clipped it into my half up and half down ‘do. Easy fix, except for…my forehead was cold for a few weeks.

I know I already wrote about your hair crisis with the hair dryer, but I have one other favorite hair memory for you Debbie. It took place in the basement of Charlene’s beauty parlor. I had been playing upstairs after getting a quick hair trim.  I meandered down stairs into the  beauty parlor and you turned around in the swivel chair. You had this crazy nude colored hair cap on with a few long strands of hair pulled through. Here’s a photo to set the idea in place…


This was the 90’s version of highlighting hair folks. Enter…the cap.

Now, how many of you got your hair colored this way? One strand of hair crotched through at a time? Oh my well…needless to say, I went into a sheer fit of giggles that lasted until you gave me a look as if to say, “You can either get out or shut up, or I’m going to shut you up …” 😉 I had such a way of being endearing, I KNOW…  insert eye roll here: <  …. >

Hours later… you emerged a new lady, with bouncy, boinging curls. Delicately highlighted brown hair with blonde streaked through your hair for all to see. I’m pretty sure you loved it for the first while, but I don’t remember if you ever tired of it. I thought it looked amazing of course. As anything that you did, I considered pretty much the end all be all of cool!  I’m pretty sure I asked if I could get high lights and the response was when you’re Debbie’s age then: yes.

I hate to admit it online, but ok it’s fine to be honest here: I’ve never highlighted or dyed my hair.  I have been considering trying some fun color, but then I always feel like, ehhhhh, no thanks, I’m finicky and will get bored of it.

Who knows…maybe when you come back we could have a little box of color hair dye par-TAY. 😉 Could we dye the little guy’s hair a fun color too? Maybe some blue streaks??? heheeheeee. Maybe not.

Next time you want to try out a color, remember to throw on the blue or pink style from me! Sparkle on sister. I love you! Have a fantastic day! xoxo.


Prom night y’all Day 17

(Seriously, as a preface to this blog. I had to go back and look into what day we’re on here dear sister. THAT’s a great sign! 🙂 I lost count!)

“Now I’ve, had the time of my life, and I owe it all to youuuuuuuuuuu…..” 

Flash into the light of the camera’s focus, pink taffeta and a group dance move, sashay and swoosh….oh yeah and Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray, what’s NOT to love about that movie, eh? I know how you feel about this flick Debbie, one of your all time favorites! I think I still have the copy of the VHS tape you made with Mannequin and Dirty Dancing double feature. Classic movies that we LOVE!

Speaking of dancing, and movies… shall we reflect upon your epic night in high school?

I wish I had that collaged box I made for you YEARS ago with the most fantastic photograph of you in your red prom dress with the giant bow. It’s amazing.

Although I did not go to my own prom, I did attend morp with a friend. Like you sister, good friends equal the best dates. No pressure, just fun, and silliness. HOWEVER, I wore my brides maid dress as my special attire for the evening. HA! Yes, bridesmaid’s dress. And since I am the keeper of such eternal costumes, we could take a walk down memory lane when you return and parade around the house in these threads if we so desired…I think the nephew might find it hilarious! 😉

I remember mom shopping for your dress at Nordstroms with I believe Roxanne or Donna. (May Roxanne’s her memory be a blessing. Her style was impeccable and FABulous. Always matching, always perfumed, immaculate, and glossy. I smile thinking about her. ) I digressed.

Back to the dress.

Mom came home with this beautiful gown all packaged up in a fancy bag and hanger to go. I, being ever so curious, tried to peak without tearing the plastic. HA! Stealthiness and six year olds do not go hand in hand.

However,  your sweet sixteen year old self was impeccable. Your long newly highlighted blonde coiffure all puffed up with a pretty bow. Black stockings, black heels, black gloves, yes gloves, and the bow. Ok now, the bow is something we need to take a pause for and discuss. The bow was more than a mere ruffle. It accentuated the derriere just slightly above the peplum layer. The diamond encrusted center completed the fabulous 1991 look. A true bustle for that new decade!

Photo on 2-9-15 at 5.54 PM

I don’t know what magazines were popular back then, that was way beyond my ability levels, but as far as I was concerned, you looked like a princess and absolutely perfect.

My other favorite prom memory was when you called home part way through the evening. Mom answered and couldn’t help but chuckle when she got off the phone. Apparently receiving help getting INTO said dress was all fine and dandy, but when you needed to use the restroom, things became quite complicated. Mom suggested to TAKE OFF the dress and then go about your BUSIness. Bahahahahaa, I laugh thinking about it. We’ve all been there ladies! The moment of true occurs when you self talk the following, “Oh wait, how do I….ummmm….let’s see….no wait, that’s not going to work….Oh the hell with it, I’m taking it off!”

On that note. May your dressing today be as flawless as your images in those photographs. I love you! Have a sparkly fantastic Tuesday in H.K.! xoxo, your adoring little sister and fan.

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Bat Mitzvah x3 Day 16


One of the most important days in my life, aside from my birthday and marriage, was my bat mitzvah, June 1997. The other most impressionable moment in my life was my sister’s bat mitzvahs. Yes, not one, but two.

You see, when you grow up in Anchorage, ALASKA, it’s a long, LONG, way from the family on the east coast. So naturally, Debbie had two bat mitzvah’s. One in Jersey so our beloved Grandma Lilli could be present and the other was in our synagogue in Anchorage. I remember them. I love going back and re-watching the videos that we have of them. Oh how I adore your fabulous outfits, shy smiles, and confident voice chanting prayers and singing.

You were my first Hebrew teacher you know! We bonded through singing Debbie Friedman together. I keenly recall the moments when we’d receive a new cassette tape in the mail from you, when you are away at college. Good old mix tape days! Those were where it was at! 🙂

On my bat mitzvah you were there. We planned to sing,”Turn, Turn, Turn,” our mother’s love for folks songs instilled in us through and through. Not only did we sing a lovely duet, but we signed it as well. Because, naturally, that’s what you do when you know two languages, why not incorporate them both? AND one of our close synagogue friend’s was deaf. It was so meaningful to me and our community. Beyond words, in my opinion to share that with you encompasses so many things about our relationship: love, music, courage, and communication.

Andy and I were re-watching my bat mitzvah tape, around this time last year. It seems only fitting now to reflect back upon it a year later. You were so proud coming up to read alongside me with the torah. I can’t wait for the day that Declan will have his bar mitzvah. It’ll come sooner than we realize. Your sweet baby boy is growing up.

So I leave you with this prayer today as this second half of the radiation rounds continue.

Mi Shebeirach (Misheberach)

Mi Shebeirach avoteinu v’imoteinu,
Avraham Yitzchak v’Yaakov,
Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel v’Lei-ah,
hu y’vareich et [name] ben/bat [parents]
baavur she-alah/she-altah
lich’vod HaMakom, lich’vod haTorah.
Bis’char zeh HaKadosh Baruch Hu
mikol tzarah v’tzukah umikol nega umachalah,
v’yishlach b’rachah v’hatzlachah
v’chol maaseh yadav/yadeha,
im kol Yisrael. V’nomar: Amen.

Here is a link to our favorite singer of songs by Debbie Friedman.  http://youtu.be/pHKo3CjuzpY

You share her name, her strength, and her beauty for loving life. I love you endlessly sister! xoxo.

Yellow Herbie Day 15

There are ten years between my sister and I.  I was always keenly aware of this age difference for the first eighteen years of my life, as I’m sure my sister was as well. Although, to be the little sister is quite different than the elder. For one thing, I was given the opportunity to have a mentor and role model, where she, was given a sweet little shadow that wanted to emulate her every move. 🙂 Adorable at times, but annoyingly awkward and over involved at others.

One such occasion was the summer mom went to Israel. She was graduated and working an office job for the summer and taking care of me in the morning and evenings. I remember being dropped off at summer camp at my elementary school.  She’d pick me up at the play ground and I’d run to you and think, “That’s MY sister.” Oh I loved it so much. I felt super cool that my big sis would come get me and drive me home. Teeheee…you never knew eh Debbie?!

Then entered the boy crush for that month. He had a pony tail, and a yellow herbie or volkswagen. I think he also had a pierced ear, what a babe and a rebel right?!

All I remember of him, was the one evening you were helping me wash my hair out and you were on the phone with him.

Man I love thinking about that gray, plastic, cordness/portable telephone. I yelled for you from the bathroom and you popped your head in. “Aren’t you going to help me wash my hair out?” I called.

I could hear his voice come through the phone as you sat down to help me with my long tendrils. “How OLD is your sister, she can’t wash her own hair, woah…” The conversation commenced and you continued to help me. I was covering my eyes with a wash cloth as you poured water over my head. “You know Rachel, you could learn how to rinse out your own hair…” and that was the moment that I knew I was growing up.

As silly as it sounds, it was true though.

She always gave me good advice, she taught me how to do countless things, but in that one silly hair washing moment, I felt a shift, a change, and that sense that, “Huh…I’m not three years old any more.”

Thanks for pushing me to take a baby step forward, and for also helping me with my long knotty hair that summer. I love you! And as for the boy, he wasn’t so great after all. But the yellow herbie car was cool. 😉

xoxo. Have a sparkly fantastic Friday!!

ari and i flowers

“Protein,” Day 14

Do you have a green thumb? Do you desire to grow a garden? Have you ever picked your own vegetables straight out of a garden bed, brushed them off and bitten into a freshly picked one? I have, many, many grateful times.

Growing up we had a garden. We had 6 giant raised beds in our yard, 4 huge patches of raspberries, one strawberry pot and bed, and 6 flower beds in all. Our yard was AMAZing thanks to my mom’s keen eye for horticulture and my dad’s brawn. We grew every thing imaginable, but the most successful of all were: carrots, peas, zucchini, cabbage, raspberries, cauliflower, chives, marigolds, forget-me-nots, Sitka roses, current berries, irises, ferns, and Mountain Ash trees.

In Anchorage, Alaska the soil is fertile and your crops will inevitably, well how do I put this mildly, grow to become ginormous.

We once had a cabbage that grew to be larger than the size of me grown, a grown seven year old. To this day I have never seen produce larger than that found in Anchorage.  At the Alaska state fair you can feast your eyes on just about every type of vegetable imaginable and see it magnified. It’s a sight to see and enjoy if there ever was one.

Debbie and I both especially loved our sugar snap peas and raspberries. If I’m correct in my recollections….raspberries are your favorite of the berries right Debbie?! 🙂

One particular late summer afternoon we had a few colander’s full of raspberries in the kitchen. Mom taught us to rinse them out, lay out cookie sheets with paper towels and dump the berries onto the towel to dry.

Debbie and I would probably each about a quarter of the berries by the time we traipsed in the door, to the kitchen, rinsed and washed the berries and laid them out to dry. Debbie was working away, I was stuffing my cheeks with berries. Mom walked in and at that exact moment Debbie gagged. She’d been eating berries too, but she didn’t look at the last one she’d popped into her mouth. “Gahhhhhhh, cough, gulp, I think I just swallowed a bug she gasped,” between breaths. Mom looked at her dead pan and said, “Protein,” and walked away. I looked at Debbie, she looked at me, and we both looked at mom. Who proceeded to state, “Grandma Lilli always said, “A little dirt won’t hurt you, and a bug is just extra protein.”

“If you say so,” I thought to myself, but gosh I was sure glad it wasn’t me on the receiving end of: the bug in mouth line.
Who knew that we were having a life lesson in that moment in time?!


Sparkle on, and watch out for bugs. Hahaha, I know….not really funny….but it kind of is… love you! xoxo

Dear Mom, Your words have rung true when I’ve been on many a run and swallowed something as it flew into my mouth… ewww, I cringe even writing it, but ti’s true, you’re right…it’s merely….protein.

Love you Debbie! Watch out for extra protein opportunities today. Haha, I love you! 🙂

Science Fiction man….Day 13

Nowadays it’s this type of lit that is all the rage: Dystopian literature, which is merely a shoot on the literary tree of options, branching off from what is known as science fiction.

If you know my sister than you know that she loves to read. She is the biggest advocate of children’s literature, and getting kids to read anything and everything that they are interested in. We both get this from our mom, who instilled in each of us a love for learning and reading.

One thing I distinctly remember about my childhood was my sister’s tiny paper back books. She would devour a whole series in a matter of a few days. She always had a book with her. When we went to dinner, drove in the car to and from Sunday school, ate breakfast, helping me get dressed, books, books, books and nothing but books.

On her first day of middle school she walked the icy morning route to the bus stop. Little did she know that she would meet her life long friend on that bus. They bonded over sci-fi lit and have been best friend’s ever since.

Here’s the thing about Sheli, this friend I’ve described, she’s amazing. Hands down. A-mazing.  She was considered our adopted daughter/sister of our little family. I loved her to pieces and I can still hear her laugh to this day. I smile just thinking about it.

She and Debbie would go to these Star Trek viewings at a friend’s house. Ohhhh, as if I really even understood what the whole deal was in the first place?! But my understanding was this: they had an amazing kinship and it was rooted in a mutual love of literature.

I could ramble on about my observations, and memories of those two, but I think that’s Debbie’s story to tell at a later date. Although I will say this. One thing I loved about the two of them was their amazing ability to share laughter with one another. Oh, and especially the dance moves to Madonna’s, “White Heat.”

Now, I recently requested a revival of this dance when Sheli was in H.K. She politely declined, HOWEVER, I was really looking forward to it. Maybe I’ll have to make that happen at Diva Den then? I’ll look into that and leave you on a cliff hanger until next time. 🙂

Just remember, you’re new best friend could be reading or have read that novel in your purse! Open a book up, you never know what it might lead you to!  I love you Debbie, and I know you’ll open a book or two today!



“Rescue Rangers!” Day 12

Alright, raise your hand if you recognized the title?  This is the title of a well known story from the ’90’s involving: Two tiny white mice, a crazy seagull/bird, an orphaned child, a crazy lady who could be Cruella Deville’s sister and a rescue mission with a giant diamond encased in a skull!  Phew! If you guessed right, here is your gold star *!

This large story book was given to me by none other than, my sister.

I remember it as if it were yesterday, I was surrounded big pillows, propped up in mom and dad’s bed re-watching Alice and Wonderland on vhs for the thirtieth time, covered head to toe in chicken pox. “Don’t scratch!” Debbie snapped at me….”BUT IT ITCHESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!” I growled. Ugh….chicken pox. If I didn’t think I would die from the bumps I was surely going to drown in the bath of oatmeal as a result of said pox. Damn those little bumps.

She was adamant I wasn’t going to have crazy scars all over my face. She helped out by rubber banding on thin gloves to my hands each night for a week. “That way, you won’t pull them off in the night,” she told me as she helped tuck me in.

I love you too, and thanks.

rachel little girl

I only have two tiny scars that are so difficult to identify, so you were right Debbie, your glove technique worked.

Where does this whole, “Rescue Rangers,” fit in you might be wondering…well here it comes…

Back to the pillows and tv.

Debbie came in and sat down on the bed next to me. She showed me my school picture from the year prior and promptly stated, “You’ll look like this again in no time! And in the mean time, here, you can look at this book and I’ll help you read it.” She pulled the big picture book out from behind her back and laid it down next to me.

I loved that book, I loved the movie, I watched it many times. I also enjoyed, “The Rescuers Down Under,” aka the story continues in Australia.

Who knew that all these years later children do not have to endure the trials and tribulations of chicken pox any longer. To be deprived of such an awful experience… 😉 I’m so glad that Declan didn’t have to go through it! Although, my memories of it are far better than many children’s. Especially having a mom who looked into alternative options to help ease the pains, and a sister who began her library lending early on. Who knew you were becoming an early literacy advocate with your sister as your first student?! I’m proud to have been your first kid to provide good fit books for!  Thanks for being there for me.

I love you! 🙂 xoxo


“Grease is the word…”

I will always remember the first time I saw this movie. Or…rather movie-musical. These moments stick in my brain like gum to side-walk, they just won’t let go. Perhaps I’m just drawn to story telling of all kind, and hence my love for musical theatre.

The first time I saw Grease was the summer after Debbie’s second year at college. The summer of 1993 I was so excited to have Debbie home. We got to breathe the same air, she could drive us to run errands, and more importantly cart me around with her on the weekends, YAY! What memories… I was thrilled, I’m sure it was stellar for her to have her eight year old sibling with her when she was home for summer break.

The movie adventure began when we were sitting at the table discussing something or other and Debbie was reading the usual funnies as we call them in our house, or i.e. comics.  She skimmed the movie section of the paper and said, “Oh the Diamond Center is showing Grease! I love that movie.” I promptly replied, “Grease?! What’s THAT…what a weird title for a movie.”

Long sister stare transpires.

“I’m taking you to see it, that’s that.”

I can see the title credits rolling before my eyes even now, the overture tune playing, those blaring horns, “Dahhhhhhhhh nuh nuh nuh… Grease is the word, have you heard…bop bop bop bop….” Needless to say, I loved it. I soon became obsessed with all things 1950-60’s the next year. My music education from those decades later came from my parents.

Dad taught me how to jitterbug on our rug in the family room and my cassette tape of the classic 1950-1960’s playing through the stereo.

Debbie’s poodle skirt would later make an entry into my 8th grade Halloween costume. It’s hanging in a closet somewhere…I think our nieces now enjoy those delightful costumes I wore and Debbie before me.  Thank you mom for supplying amazing opportunities for creative play.

I’m so glad that my first memory of a big screen movie musical was shared with my big sis. We have watched and re-watched MANY Hollywood musicals, but this one stays emblazoned in my memory bank.

Strike a pose today from Grease Debbie! I love you! 🙂