Library Day 23 or something like that… :)

How many of you know your library card number, or should I say numbers by heart? I DOOOOOOOOOOO! I know ALL THREE by heart. I say quite proudly to strangers, and I don’t know my driver’s license. Go figure?! Priorities in life= library visits.

I ran into a woman at the library about a month ago. I couldn’t place how I knew her in that brief moment of time. So I said, “Hi! Do you work for the Multnomah County libraries?” We had this little three minute conversation and then both went on our merry way. Later in the car the light bulb moment took place. “OOOOOOOOH!” THAT’s who she was! Long story short, she knew my sister, she was a librarian, and we had met at the Eric Kimmel talk recognizing Beverly Cleary’s work last summer. All of these little light bulbs went off too late though. She was in her car, and I in mine. I really had a strong desire to call Debbie at that moment and share my little story.

I had to be happy with emailing it later in the evening. But it wasn’t the same.

The funniest part of the encounter was my parting words with this woman, “I love the library, it’s like shopping, but for free!”

That pretty much sums it up for me.

I can shop for three of my favorite things: books=knowledge, music, and movies. Yes please!

Whenever I take my classroom students to the library which is unfortunately only every other week for, “check out time.” I help guide them through, “Book recommendations.” This is where I pick their brain about passions, interests, and which author they have yet to discover. We talk about good fit books and then I help them find a new genre along the way. I also encourage them to check out a non-fiction book each week. I’ve had some students take on the biography challenge this year, and branch into wild weather and now animal fact books for their research reports.

The library is my happy place and it always has been.

When I was super small we would visit our beloved Lusac Library in Anchorage about once a week. I loved walking into the children’s section, pulling my favorite books by familiar authors into a giant pile.  I loved laying down in the fun reclining chair circle and pretending to read all the picture books laid out beside me. When I later became a strong reader, I would go through periods of obsessively reading all of the books by a certain author. Here is where our tastes in literature part ways at times Debbie.

I was obsessed with all forms of narratives, historical fiction, biographies, and fictionalized human experiences. Anything science fiction, dystopian, or set in a far off land did not interest in me in any way. Unfortunately I was stubborn and didn’t branch too far from my literary tree of preference until later in life. However, with all this being said, our library beheld the keys to all of our literary desires.

I go to the library some weeks, two or three times. I am a fervent believer in the public access system and I encourage my students and families to support their local library every year. A favorite quote from a fifth grader, which was overheard by a colleague of mine, always brings a smile to my face.

“Hey man, I went to this place dude, and like, they GIVE you cd’s, movies, and books for free. For free man!” “Oh yeah? What place?” Student looks around, “The library, the library does!” 🙂

Let’s make a series of commercials for t.v. about the library, I’m ready to write a screen play and shoot it! Needless to say, I support all libraries and feel immediately at home in them. Thanks for sharing your library in H.K. Debbie! I love you! xoxo


This hangs in my classroom and it is a daily reminder for me and my students about the choices we make. Food for thought today. 🙂

Obsessions of the 80’s and early 90’s through the present 2000’s because of you…. Day 21

Here is a list of inherited obsessions you originated and I carefully crafted after you:

(Well most of them that is! Thank you very much dear sister.)

  1. The color red, it looks good on both of us, what can I say?
  2. Lips: it started with that pink lip phone, continued onto any clothing, lipstick, purse, or shoe with a lip print. In fact I purchased lip blocked shoes in HK with you! haha!
  3. Hedgehogs: Now THIS is your obsession alone, but I indulge and purchase items for you of any hedgehog relate-ability.
  4. Dolphins: Another copy. “What your favorite animal Rachel?” “Dolphin!” “Why is that?” “Well….it’s my sister’s too!” (Insert giant grin here. 🙂 lol.) circa age 8-11.
  5. Red backpacks: I owned say, 3 of them, I think there is one buried in the closet some where. Shhh, don’t tell.
  6. Jeans: Me=bell bottoms, You=tapered leg, we both love jeans, what more can I say?!
  7. Socks: Mom started it. End scene.
  8. Drawing symbols after I sign my name on any letter to family or friend. I must insert the following: a heart, Star of David, music note, smiley face, flower, and sometimes a tear drop.
  9. Stickers: see previous blog if feeling confused.
  10. Judy Blume: Thank you mom!
  11. Laura Ingles Wilder: Thank you mom, x3!
  12. All of a Kind Family: Thank you mom, x4!
  13. Noel Streatfeild: T.Y.M.!x5!
  14. Swing dancing: copied beginning in 1998, took lessons for two years with friends at a Fred Astaire studio along with some tango and ballroom; then 1999, seeing you dance at the Crystal and Andy too, who knew?! 🙂
  15. Thai food: thank you, I like it very much now…. Not the first time in 1995, but what can I say, crocodile tears were real with those hot pepper flakes in that soup!
  16. Piano: TYM and Dad x6.
  17. Driving: That was all you in 2002, thank you for being EVER so patient and teaching me. I check all three mirrors EVERY time I switch lanes and back up, 2x’s.
  18. Portland: All you. ❤
  19. Sign Language: I ❤ you.
  20. Blue, turquoise, and anything boutique-y type of fabric.
  21. Saying, “Groovy!” When I really mean cool.
  22. Not saying,”Like, or sorry,” and paying close attention to when I slip back into previous language habits, thank you for this keen eye to detail.
  23. Learning how to use iPads, technology, and other varieties of this nature.
  24. Introducing me to the one and only, Sarah McLachlan.
  25. Seeing Savage Garden as my first concert in Seattle. Trying to win tickets to it while visiting you in Vancouver with Mom and Laurie and her kiddos. 🙂
  26. Learning how to navigate traffic on any given bridge and maintain speed. This goes along with #17. As well as knowing how to change: radio, cd, brake, gears, and air-conditioning without taking my eyes OFF of the road.
  27. Circumnavigating the world of resumes, cover letters, and interviews with practice and an editors eye.
  28. Being brave enough to start a blog, case in point.
  29. Airedales: all things airedales, all the time, and bringing Ari into my life in 1994. Eternally grateful for this and my furry faced best friend for 14 years.
  30. Anything sister related goes without saying: I love because of you!

The list could quite possibly continue on and on, however I felt that capping it was necessary for this occasion. Just know how grateful I am to you for sharing so many wonderful things over the years. I am eternally indebted to my big sister for sharing her loves in life and her love in general!  Have a stellar major day! xoxo.


Alef, Bet, Vet, Day 20

When you are a young child, who teaches you information? Who guides you along the way? Your parents, or guardians, yes, yes of course, well one would hope that they do. However, your siblings provide the examples.

Watch a child, any young baby, or toddler when they are amongst other people. They are fascinated by the alternative human beings beyond those in their small niche. They are most intrigued by other young people. They can distinguish between adult and child. Their stares and interest are paired with a hard wiring in the brain that encourages them to try to emulate the behavior they see. This is the learning process folks.

My guide was Debbie. Now I realize I have already touched on this subject a bit in previous blogs, but this topic of learning is different.

Debbie taught Hebrew classes at our synagogue in her late high school and early college years. I loved it. I can still see you walking down Temple Beth Shalom’s hallways with a giant Hebrew alphabet board and a bag of books slung over your shoulder. You sang the alef, bet, vet, with my kindergarten class, I’m not sure if you remember.

My teacher was Joy Grisan. I loved her. I felt special in her class and I enjoyed her story telling and art projects combined into one.  I can fondly recall the story of baby Moses in the reeds. We used pipe cleaners to fashion our tiny Moses baby and made itty-bitty baskets to hold him within.  I can see the tiny dixie cups filled with grape juice for snack time.  Our mom was the executive Hebrew School coordinator and long time volunteer for years.  Sunday school was a familiar affair.

Correct me if I’m wrong, I mean, I was little, but I think Joy took you under her wing and showed you some ideas, lessons, and helped you organize yourself as a traveling Hebrew teacher. I know that this was one of your part-time jobs in Bellingham during your first few years of college, or maybe it was all four years. Your days at Temple Beth Shalom helped shape your abilities as a teacher. Early classroom management, choral reading, and literacy skills were being fostered under your tutelage.

I used to sing the Alef, Bet, Vet, with you along with Debbie Friedman’s music. I loved those times in the van with you. Singing was always my favorite and still is. Go figure… 🙂


Sharing in this same experience of Jewish culture with life in Hong Kong was so important to me this past fall. I am grateful for the Shorashim experience we had together. I loved it. Every minute of sitting with you and Declan. I loved how he’d look up at me and see if I was singing along too. He was adorable. I loved sitting in services and being given the gift of a community experience to question the Torah and think together. This is one of the most important things, I believe about our culture. The ability to question and have a shared learning with other people. It all goes back to education, and the connectivity of all of this with music.

I love you Debbie! Have a Happy Monday of vacation. 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! 🙂

Memory Challenge Day 1

I had an epiphany the other day in a dance class. Well, most of them come during those moments when I really get in my head…

My sister is embarking on another leg of her journey this next week. I wanted to do something to help. I wish I could be there every day to hang out, help however I could, hold her hand, but H.K. is too far away. Alas and sigh….So I thought, what if I posted a daily memory in the form of a blog, for her to have something to look forward to before or after each radiation treatment? I can only imagine the difficulty she endures with every treatment.


Interesting word choice isn’t it?  Honestly, take the base word “treat” out of it people, there’s nothing treat-like about any cancer therapy. Yes we are thankful there are options, and yes I acknowledge the importance of this next course that is impending, 30 to go and counting. However, base concept, it sucks. Without superfluous and flouncy words, it sucks. It’s like that song in Avenue Q, “It sucks to be me,” just omit the me, change be to have, and me with cancer.

If she has to be challenged physically and mentally on a daily basis to face these treatments and believe in her body’s ability to fight off the toxic cells, I can challenge myself in a positive way for both of us. Challenge the memory to focus on the positives about parts of life we have shared together. So in so many words, I’ll be posting a lot throughout the week. If you’re wondering why, this is your f.y.i.

I firmly believe in the power of positive thinking. So thinking and positivity I shall send.

My challenge to you my friends is this: what can you do to challenge yourself positively to focus on in your life?  What are the things you have gratitude for? Who would you run to in this moment and never let go of if you had the strength to do so? What would you say if you allowed yourself to push away all limitations and fear? Consider this your opportunity. Seek out your truths and rid yourself of fears.

Sparkle on in your own journey.