The Stella Frankl Lending Library

I have always had an affinity for reading. I am pretty sure I was an early reader and I used to tear through books like nobody's business. In elementary school we had a 600 minute reading challenge every year where kids who read 600 minutes got a free pass to 6 Flags for them and a parent. I often read 1,200 minutes.

So, naturally, I've accumulated a lot of books over the years. Kids books, teen books, young adult, and full size novels. I've estimated that my collection of books is upwards of 500 books, possibly close to 700. I've held onto a lot of books that I will probably never read again but I kept them so that my kids can enjoy them as much as I did when I was younger.

When we move to Israel I'm not sure we'll be able to find English literature in abundance like you can here in America. I never really went to any libraries when I was there but I didn't see any either. I decided about a month ago that I would like to share my books with more than just my kids when we move. I want to share them with anyone who would like to sit down with a good book.

I reached out to my community here in Pittsburgh asking if anyone had books they could donate to my cause and I got a bunch of responses. I'm starting to stockpile books now and catalog them so that when we move we can offer a lending library to the Yishuv we end up on.

And why am I doing this in honor of Stella? Because Stella embodies Ahavas Chinam (baseless love). Stella gives and gives and gives without ever asking for anything in return. The decision to grant public access to my personal library was not an easy one, nor one that I made lightly. But Stella has inspired me with her giving nature to give a little of myself.

Besides, have you ever heard Stella read books to kids? It's like listening to a story on fast forward. One of the funniest and most enjoyable experiences and I will cherish the memories of those book readings forever.


Fun at the Children's Museum

As a joint birthday gift to both Yaeli and Sophie for their birthdays, Rivkah and I purchased membership to The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. For a pretty good price we now have a year where we, my mother and Rivkah's father can take up to 3 children as many times as we like. Since the girls spend the days with Rivkah's father, this will be most useful for him.

When we went yesterday the kids had a blast. While Yaeli and I worked together in the arts and crafts room, Rivkah and Sophie went upstairs to play with toys appropriate for a 1 year old. Yaeli got to make a painting using marbles covered in paint. We put a paper down in a large bowl and put the marbles on top and spun the bowl around. The ensuing painting looked really neat. Then we moved on over to make a painting by cutting out shapes using newspaper and then painting over it and lifting the clippings. This left an outline of the shapes. Then we went and made some (not-so) scary masks.

We then went to join Rivkah and Sophie. We found them upstairs where Sophie was enjoying eating sand and playing with a light-wall. After Sophie proved that all she wanted to do there was eat the sand, I took her downstairs to play in the "garage" room. We all ended up there for the remainder of our stay.

I'm looking forward to using the heck out of this membership. I've always had fun there so it's nice to have an excuse to go. I hope the kids have fun too.


Expectations Ahoy!

The year the Pittsburgh Pirates took a giant leap towards repairing their abysmal image in professional sports. For the past 20 years they not only had never gone to the playoffs. They had never won more games than they had lost either. Their collective record over the last 20 seasons was 1374-1796 for a mere .434 winning percentage. That's just horrible.

This year, however, they went 94-68 for a .580 winning percentage. That didn't just break their streak for them. It smashed it. It showed that they weren't just good enough. They were GOOD.

So when they made the playoffs and won the wildcard game, the expectation was that they could go to the World Series and really have a shot at winning it.

Instead, they got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. It was crushing. In the back of my head I knew that I should be happy that they gave me a great season of baseball to follow and a thrilling playoff run. I even got to go to one of their playoff games (a 5-3 nail-biter). But I wanted them to win more. I wanted them to win it all. So I was disappointed for a time.
Setting expectations for ourselves can be very important. We expect to do a great job at work. Great job parenting our children. Be a great husband, student, runner, hockey player, son, brother. The list goes on and on.

Sometimes, though, we do a really great job and still fall short of our goal. I finished the race I entered but fell short of my time goal. I passed my test but only got a B. I washed all the fleishig dishes in the house and then found a small stack on the dining room table. There are so many examples of things like this. The important thing is to celebrate the success and continue to push for perfection. When I get wrapped up in the 5-10% of what I didn't accomplish and don't celebrate the 90-95% of what I did accomplish, I lose my drive to succeed.

The same thing goes with parenting. I have very high expectations for my children, based on what I know and feel that they can accomplish. Sophie started walking at 9 months old. That's an amazing accomplishment. I can't focus on the fact that she falls down a lot. I have to celebrate her success and keep helping her get better. When Yaeli doesn't let me help her put on her shoes, I should celebrate the fact that she knows how to put them on her feet (not tie them yet) and not get so upset that she's making us late.

The lesson here is simple. Keep setting goals and celebrate the successful parts while still pushing to complete the whole thing.