Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jenna

A year ago or so I wrote a post about Jenna since we were celebrating her ninth birthday.

Today she turns ten years old so last night we chatted on the phone. She was on her way home from softball practice because last summer she was invited to play club softball with a traveling team. So I interviewed her as she traveled home.

So you're going to be ten tomorrow. Are you excited? Yeah

Why? Because I like my birthdays. They're fun.

When you're ten, does that mean you're a preteen? NO. That's when you're eleven.

Are you going out to dinner tomorrow night to celebrate? Yeah

Where will you go? I don't know yet but I get to pick.

Who's going to go? Me, Jeremy and mom and I don't know if Amber's going to come or not.

How do you like having a big sister like Amber? I like it!

Why? Because she's fun to visit and I like it because it's cool having an older sister.

You're only nine years old right now and already you're an aunt. Do you like that? Yeah.

What do you like about having two nephews? I like them because I like to feed them a lot and it's fun to have them around and it's fun to be an aunt.

Which one is the most fun? They're the same.

How is school? Good!

Do you like it? Uh huh.

What kind of grades do you get? All A's and one B.

Are you naughty in school? No! I'm one of the best kids in the class.

What makes you one of the best kids? My good behavior because I listen all the time to my teacher and I do my work good.

Do you have to stand in the corner very often? Nope, never.

What is your favorite subject? Ummmmm, I want to say Literacy Activities. It's like where you read with the teacher or by yourself and you do writing.

Do you have a BFF? Yeah, Chelsea.

What is she like? Ummm, she's really nice and she is very helpful to me. She's really smart and she's one of the best kids in the class, too.

Who's your favorite cousin? Anna

Why? Because she's really fun to play with.

Do you have a boyfriend? Ewww, I don't have one. Boys are icky.

Even Jeremy (her brother)? Yeah, kind of.

What's your favorite season - Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Spring.

Why? Because the weather is just perfect.

What do you like to do outside in the perfect weather?

I like to play softball.

Is that your favorite sport? Yeah

Why? Because you get out there and work hard and have fun.

What position do you play? Pitcher and sometimes first base.

What kind of pitching do you do? Windmill.

Are you good? Yeah, I'm fast at pitching.

What's the name of your softball team? The Thunderbirds.

Do you think you might play more sports someday? Ummm, I think I might do gymnastics or something.

If you had to decide right now what you'll be when you grow up, what would it be? Teacher or professional softball player.

Why? Because it looks like fun to do all that stuff.

Jenna couldn't think of any more interesting things for me to tell you, but I could. She's a sweet, lovable, and helpful girl who is sensitive to the feelings of everyone around her and anxious to spread happiness wherever she goes.

So, Jenna, we're wishing you a very, very happy tenth birthday. We love you very much!

Doctor Visit

I went to the doctor yesterday, a doctor who specializes in hand, upper extremity, and microvascular surgery. I wrote about another doctor visit before and it wasn't good so it seems only right that I should discuss yesterday's experience.

I've had trouble with my left shoulder and arm for many months. I'm not even sure when I injured it but I'm pretty sure of how I injured it. There was this Wii fitness challenge where you had to lie flat on the floor and stand up using only one hand and do it 5 times in some short period of time. I couldn't do it. But I did. And I knew I'd hurt something when I did it.

Of course, I always think time will heal injuries of this type so I did nothing until I saw my regular doctor last Fall on another matter. At that time I mentioned that my arm (and shoulder) had been giving me trouble for some time. He gave me a cortisone injection and after the initial soreness it felt great - for about a month. Then it flared up again.

Finally, during the follow-up for my Christmas season illness, I mentioned it again and told him I just wanted to rule out anything really dire like bone cancer so he sent me for an MRI. The MRI showed some rotator cuff or tendon damage - not severe but damage just the same. So he sent me to Dr. Anderson at the Bone and Joint Institute in Valparaiso.

What kind of woman am I? When I called to make the appointment, I was asked which Dr. Anderson I wanted to see - the husband or the wife - both with the same specialty. Every instinct in my body said that I wanted to see the husband. Why? I don't know. I guess it's old school thinking. Somehow it felt like a man would be more appropriate for bone and joint problems - or something - I don't know. Anyway, Dr. Anderson, the wife, was the first available (a bad sign? or just a victim of people with archaic thinking like myself?) so I felt compelled, reluctantly, to choose her.

My appointment was less than a week away and I received a ream of papers in the mail to fill out along with instructions on every single little item that I needed to take with me. Ugh.

But, as I filled out those papers, I began to appreciate the logic of it all. Everything that I needed - medical history, prescriptions with their strengths and dosages, and insurance names and numbers - was right here at my fingertips. Further, I had time to get the pictures from the MRI so that I could take them in too.

I walked in for my appointment and felt like the most organized person in the world. The ream of papers also had an appointment card and an address along with driving instructions so I was there in plenty of time too.

I sat down with a really good magazine and enjoyed a cappuccino from the machine in the waiting room. Then I had x-rays and a visit with a nurse. That visit was followed by a visit with the Physician's Assistant which was followed by a visit with the Doctor herself. I liked her. I liked the whole experience - except for the painful injection in my shoulder where I personally don't think it should have been. (Apparently a rotator cuff injury can hurt down into your arm where I'm experiencing the most pain. We'll see how this plays out.)

Anyway, I was so impressed with the facility that I opted to have the prescribed physical therapy there, too. It's a bit of a drive; however it is near Beth's house so that mitigates the extra gas expense, right? (Fair warning, Beth)

I go back in about six weeks so we'll see what happens.

(The doctor did say it could be treated with easy outpatient arthroscopic surgery and I couldn't help but wish they would just do that because it's hard for me to believe that torn tissue will repair itself with physical therapy but here I am making judgments again. Supposedly I'll develop some muscles that will take the strain off the damaged tissue. But, do I really want to go around with damaged tissue for the rest of my life? Won't the problem come back when I quit doing the bothersome physical therapy?)

See I really am like my Dad. He never agreed with doctors either. The only difference is that I don't argue. I just wait and see.

And, like I said. We'll see in about six weeks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Anna

Anna is grandchild #12 of our nineteen grandchildren.

Here she is playing with one of her many cousins.

One year ago I wrote about her and her 7th birthday.

Today we're celebrating her 8th birthday and last night we chatted on the phone.

Hi Anna, how are you? Fine!

You're up kind of late aren't you? Yes, Noah's upstairs already!

Okay, I have some questions for you. Okay

What did you like most about being 7? Ummm, I liked being seven because...ummmm ....uhhhh - I've no idea.

Do you like having two brothers? Yes

Which one is more fun? Sort of both. Noah is more fun because he's older than Eli and he doesn't cry. Eli is more fun because he's small and I like to play with him because he's so cute.

Do you like school? Yes!!

What's your favorite subject? Ummmm, mostly spelling.

I know you're a good reader. How about reading? Sort of

What do you like to do for fun? I like to go outside and play in the snow and just land in the snow on my face.

What kind of weather is your favorite? Summer or Winter and Spring. I like all of them!

Why? I like summer because I like to swim in my friend's pool and my pool and in my friend's hot tub.

In Winter I like to play outside.

And in Spring I like to help my mom plant stuff.

If you had to decide right now what you'll be when you grow up, what would it be? Can I tell you a lot? I want to be a singer and a waitress and that's all.

Why do you like being in Brownies? Because, ummm, all of my friends are in Brownies and we get snacks every time and also we get to do crafts. And today at Brownies everybody was singing Everybody, Dance Now! I was like what the heck just happened!

What's your new doll's name? Ashley

Do you like to cook? Yeah, because I like to help my mom 'cause I like touching food especially the eggs.

Do you like to clean? Nooooooo

Why not? Because it takes hard work and I like things messy so I can find them easily.

That seems like the opposite of how it should be. I know!

Do you like to sing? Yes!

What kind of songs do you like? Songs that I really know. My favorite singers are Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. For Selena Gomez I like A Year Without Rain and Round and Round. For Taylor Swift, I like Mine and Back to December and Sparks Fly, Speak Now, Story of Us and one more - Innocent and one more okay? - Better Than Revenge.

Do you have a favorite cousin? Jenna! 'Cause we're almost the same age but she's two years older than me.

What's your favorite food treat? Jello and cake and mostly Gold Fish.

What about s'mores? Definitely s'mores!!!

What are you going to do on your birthday? Tomorrow I have dress rehearsal for the talent show and I'm going to wear the clothes I picked out - a country style dress, blue leggings, like those twinkle toe shoes but they're different, a blue tank, and a pink sparkly hat.

What else should we know about you? You should ask me why I want to be a singer.

Why do you? Because I'm a really good one. When I sang for the audition, I didn't feel nervous anymore. I faced my fears.

Why else? You should ask why I want to be a waitress.

Why do you? Because it seems like fun. I've seem them and I want to do what they do - like my Uncle Jon.

And are you excited for the talent show? Yes! Maybe Jenna will be there.

And I know a few more interesting facts about Anna.

She's nothing if not stylish.

And she's a sweet, loving, extremely helpful girl with many interests and talents. And she's growing up way too fast!

Happy Birthday, Anna. Hope it's fun and exciting from beginning to end!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Grandpa and Dad and I

Lately, my dad has been very much on my mind. He died over a year ago in a nursing home and, somehow, no matter how much I visited, I always felt like I failed him on some level.

I miss him now. He loved me and I loved him. I believe we had a mutual respect for each other but we always butted heads somehow. Of the four of us kids, I was the one who stood up to him when his words or actions defied my sense of fairness and logic. That frustrated a man who was accustomed to being unquestioningly obeyed.

I just heard a song on Pandora about a guy who sang that he'd be ridin' in car #9 and it reminded me of Dad.

Back in his day, he did a lot of traveling by train but not the kind of train that we'd travel on. He hopped rides on boxcars and traveled from Indiana to Washington state, through North Dakota and Minnesota and back again. Dad feared nothing and no one and he did what he had to do to get where he needed to be.

But I muse often about this sad story:

My grandpa and grandma were estranged when Dad was young. I think Grandpa was a bit of a drinker and Grandma was intolerant of his antics. He left and no one heard from him for many years. So Dad grew up without his father. He did, however, have three older brothers who taught him the ways of the world - good AND bad.

Anyway, when Dad was probably in his early twenties he somehow connected with his Dad again. They talked on the phone and Grandpa said that Dad should come up to Idaho and see him.

Dad, who was living in Indiana at the time, said, "Okay, I'll grab a handful of boxcar and be there in a few days". Grandpa said, "well if that's the only way you can come, you better stay where you are". My stubborn Dad said okay and never went and they didn't speak again until Grandpa was a very old and confused man. What a shame. I think Grandpa was trying in his late and misguided way to finally be a caring father and Dad was too stubborn to hear that. All he heard was, "don't come".

They were both stubborn and they both believed in their rightness.

I suspect Dad and Grandpa were as alike as Dad and I were.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy 7th Birthday, Noah

Seven years ago today, our thirteenth grandchild, Noah Daniel, was born.

I wrote about him last year for his 6th birthday.

This year I decided to interview each of our grandchildren for their birthdays, not realizing that it's a tradition that Beth started years ago. So this year there will be two Noah interviews and I wouldn't be too surprised if they have similar questions. But since I've already done two grandchildren interviews, I have to do the last 19 and that includes this one with Noah.

So tonight I chatted with him on the phone. I knew that he and his family had just gone bowling so that seemed like a good place to start the interview.

Did you have fun bowling?

Yes, I got a strike and a spare and a split!

Which do you like better, bowling on Wii or bowling at the bowling alley.

Bowling alley.

What did you like about being six?

I liked going to the fair.

What do you think you'll like about being seven?

I don't know.

Do you like school?


What's your favorite subject?

Rocket math. It's where you have to write as many answers as you can in one minute. I have to do 40 of them which I can do. Ummm, my hand is getting tired from holding the phone.

Well, just a couple more questions, okay? (Then he had some questions for me.)

How many is a couple?

About eight (laughing).

Oh, I thought it was four.

Then I asked him what his favorite outside game is.


What's your favorite game in the house?

Wii Super Mario Galaxy 2 because it has Yoshi in it.

Do you like having a brother?


Why do you like Eli so much?

Because he plays with a lot of people.....especially Mom.

Are you good friends with Anna?

A little.

What's your favorite season - Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall?

Winter because it has a lot of snow and you get to play in it.

What's your favorite animal?

I don't have a favorite animal.

What's your favorite food?


What's your favorite restaurant?

Industrial Revolution.

(Having lunch at Industrial Revolution with some of his cousins.)

How much money do you have?

About 63 dollars and 79 cents.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A doctor.

What kind of doctor?

The kind that takes the babies to houses. (I think he wants to deliver babies.)

(Noah thought this bench looked like a doctor's examining table.)

What other interesting things can you tell me about yourself?

What? Oh, I have more answers.

So we concluded our interview because I was out of questions. But tonight when I was talking with my son about the difficulties of broiling pork chops to that perfect point, it reminded me of a Noah story. Beth had made pork chops for dinner and when they were eating, Noah asked what kind of meat that was. Beth told him it was pork and he replied, "Wow! Pork sure is chewy!"

I do have a couple more interesting facts about Noah.

He's a kind, interesting, thoughtful and practical boy with a sunny disposition and a positive outlook. And we're wishing him a very, very Happy Birthday!