Yearly Interview Questions

For the last many, many years, I’ve tried to do a yearly interview with our daughters Amy and Lisa. I have one of those dad fantasies that Lisa will find them fascinating  to watch when she gets older (and that Amy would have).

These two pictures are scans of the list of questions I’ve been using. The list has evolved over the years and I don’t always keep to the script, but I think they’re a good jumping-off point.

I’m posting them because some new friends asked me about them and I said I would. I’m hoping they will spark some other parents to do something similar for their kids. I’d love to know what other kinds of questions you come up with – let me know.

I’ve often thought about rewriting them, cleaning them up, but there’s something nostalgic for me about working off the original list…

The first image is my list of questions – along with notes I’ve added over the years.


The second image is a list Lisa generated some years ago. I think she was about 9 or 10. We have a lot of fun with this list – though often she won’t answer all of them.


I hope you enjoy these and that you think about doing this with your own kids. Or maybe with yourself?

Lisa’s Birthday Palindrome

Lisa's Birthday Palindrome

Lisa’s birthday was today (Monday). She loves palindromes and I noticed her birthday IS one so I put together a little picture for her. She’s into “My Little Pony” right now (sorry, honey, I outed you!) so I thought this would make a nice birthday greeting…

Lisa and Scary Movies 1

The movie “Drag Me To Hell” was a decent entry in the ‘scary movie’ category. I saw it several months ago while it was still on the big screen. About a week ago, I rented it and watched it with Jean. Though she isn’t a big horror movie fan, she really liked the twist ending.

We talked to Lisa about it, thought it might be fun for her too. We don’t watch a lot of scary movies at our house and I thought it might be good to see it together, get a sense of what kinds of things would frighten her, talk her through them. Plus, it was one of the few I’ve seen recently that didn’t either swim in gore or shoot to be terrifying.

Jean and I talked to her a bit beforehand, agreed to tell her when the scary parts were coming, told her there were some funny bits to look forward to as well. We all settled in – lights on, popcorn ready – and turned on the DVD player.

About fifteen minutes into the movie, the major plot is launched: an old Gypsy woman is begging for an extension on her mortgage, the movers are there and ready to throw her out of the house. Alison Lohman’s character  –  a loan officer angling for a promotion by proving she can ‘make the tough decisions’ – turns the woman down. The woman is devastated and falls to her knees, begging not to be thrown out of her home of 30 years.

Lisa is squirming at this point.

The old woman is reduced to begging for mercy from the young bank teller, who flatly rejects her. Security is called and the woman is dragged out of the building.

The next Big Scene is the end of the work day. The teller gets into her car to go home, but sees the Gypsy woman’s car in the parking structure. Scary music comes up, the camera pans and the Gypsy woman is shown in the back seat – spirited magically into the car (she wasn’t there a minute ago) by her floating handkerchief.

A fight ensues during which the old woman attacks Lohman. The fight goes on for several minutes, but by the middle of it, we’d turned the television off.

I don’t want to get too descriptive for fear of embarassing her, but Lisa made it quite clear to us that she didn’t want to see any more of the movie. She was ready to walk out of the room if we didn’t turn it off.


It wasn’t fear. She wasn’t afraid of anything that had happened.

It was a kind of queasy disgust that the storytellers had taken this sad, broken woman who was losing her home and turned her into the Evil Bad Guy of the movie.

I was completely astonished. What an eye opener. What an education in conditioning. We (OK, I’ll just say “I”) have seen so many movies over the years, have seen so many crazies and plot devices and action sequences and etc that some of the basic features of the stories go sailing right past.

Here we were (the good parents) worried that she might be scared about the shadowy demons, or the quick cut scenes that make you jump out of your seat (surprised, not scared), or grossed out by the old woman toppling out of her coffin, and she responded on a much more human level – it just wasn’t right to make the Gypsy woman the bad guy.

What a treat to see such an honest and human reaction from your own kid.

Cleveland Clinic Day 9

We’ve been completely off meds for about 2 days now. Lisa has had a very bad headache since last night, it got worse this morning but according to her, it didn’t feel like a seizure, maybe closer to migraines. She had dry heaves four times between 9:00a and noon but nothing showed up on the EEG.

We met with her primary doctor here, Dr. Kotagal, at around 10a. We agreed that we should keep her here for further observation, since we’ve come this far, if we start again some other time, we might have to repeat the several day wean off of her meds. Basically, our attitude right now is “we’ve come this far, let’s keep going.”

During the afternoon, they attempted to induce seizure in a couple of ways. One was to have her hyperventilate, but this didn’t produce any results. Then, they tried flashing a strobe light at various speeds a few inches from her face but again, no results.

Lisa was very, very exhausted this morning, she slept on and off until after 11a.m. We woke her to talk with the doctors and nurses, plus she was up four times with those little interruptions I mentioned above, but she was very bleary-eyed and out of it for most of that time. When she woke around noon, she looked much, much better.

It’s 9p now and she’s doing World History homework.

After that and a little algebra, she can start on eclipse, the third book in the hot new Stephenie Meyer series.

Cleveland Clinic Day 8

Today, we crossed the one week mark.

There is no significant medical news, so I thought I’d post some hospital survival tactics. This might be helpful to anyone who has an extended stay like this.

  1. Find out the range of your roaming freedom and walk around. Lisa’s not confined to bed or the ward, but can walk down to the fishtank and the activities room. This is good not only for breaking the boredom, but for keeping you at least somewhat active.
  2. .(blank cuz I like some space between list items)
  3. Don’t count on the television. Unless you’re really, really an avid TV watcher, it will get boring eventually. Lisa brought New Moon (the follow-up book to Twilight) and finished all of its 547 pages 2 days ago. She would have finished it earlier but we did go through the Mork and Mindy marathon and the Spiderman DVDs. Which leads to…
  4. .
  5. Bring some favorite DVDs. The Cleveland Clinic (and no doubt a lot of hospitals) has a DVD player and a lot of DVDs to choose from in the activities room, but it’s nice to have some favorites along. Comforting to watch favorites.
  6. .
  7. Play games. They keep you thinking and active. Lisa’s made about $12,460,000 playing “Who Want To Be a Millionaire” with dad. Dad’s made about $27.50. She’s also killer at Sorry. Until I manually restacked the deck, she had 4 episodes of “dad got Sorry and sent Lisa’s piece home, then Lisa’s very next card was also Sorry and she put her piece back”.
  8. Make sure you fill out your meal selection menu. Find some favorite foods. I know, I know, but the food here has really been pretty good.

I’ll solicit some more from Lisa but she’s asleep so I’m going to leave her alone.

Cleveland Clinic Day 6

Saturday and we’re still here.

Lisa’s been stepped down off of all of her medications. Talking with the doctors and the ward nurses, it isn’t uncommon for this to happen. A child is brought to the ward, hooked up to all of the equipment and … the waiting begins. She’s had a couple of dizzy spells, some hand trembling, and some stomach activity reminscent of the very early seizures but nothing useful that could be captured on the EEG.

The most nerve-wracking thing about this is that she has a tendency to go into status very quickly so we were hoping to capture the information we needed while she still had some drugs in her system. Lowering her doses feels a little like playing Russian Roulette.

The other problem is that sitting around with no symptoms gets your hopes up. “Wow, maybe she’s been miraculously cured while we weren’t looking.” But this doesn’t really happen, not after this many years.

So, the waiting continues. Lisa’s now been through a Mork and Mindy marathon, a Bob Newhart Show marathon, is caught up on all of her homework, and has watched nearly all of the DVDs she brought, including all 3 Spiderman movies. We should have packed more movies. It’s like the Gilligan’s Island folks – they thought they were going on a 3 hour tour…

Cleveland Clinic Day 4

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving day and we’re still at the Cleveland Clinic.

Wednesday afternoon, we got to see some of Lisa’s MRI. There is some swelling in locations we didn’t know about but it seems pretty certain that 1) her speech and memory are localized on the left side of the brain and 2) the seizures are originating from the right side. These are good signs in terms of whether or not surgery would be effective. 

But, we haven’t had any luck getting seizure readings. Today, we agreed to reduce her anti-seizure drugs. She’s currently on four different meds: Lamictal, Keppra, Topamax and Trileptal. Tonight, we’ll take her off of the Lamictal then tomorrow morning, we’ll drop Topamax.

Some of the things we’re thankful for:

  • family
  • church family
  • enough food
  • music
  • our crazy dog
  • fangfish (redfang triggerfish)
  • board games