Monday, April 25, 2011

Biography Questions - First Half of My Life

Senior Picture - 16 yrs old

What were your parent's occupations?
     Dad was top secret for Lockheed. He specialized in making sure electrical parts in aircraft worked, and were considered safe.
     Mom went to work in order to put my brother and I through private schooling - this was due to learning of our deafness, and wanting us to remain in mainstream education while having smaller class sizes. She managed cafeterias for the L.A. City Schools.
My Parents - Dancing

How many children were in your family?
   Two - my brother and I.

Where did you grow up?
     Born in Ohio
     Moved to California when I was two - lived in Hollywood
     Moved to Inglewood as a toddler, and attended Kindergarten and part of 1st grade there
     Moved to Torrance, and attended the rest of 1st grade through 4th grade
     Moved to Arleta (in the San Fernando Valley), and skipped the 5th grade, attended 6th and part of 7th grade there.
     Moved to Sepulveda (now known as North Hills), and lived there until I married Randy when I was 18.
     Graduated High School when I was 16, went to college for a year, then got a summer job - and also became, I stayed at my job to pay for my wedding (mom and dad paid for my cake and Church on the Way's reception hall - it was known as Van Nuys Baptist at the time)

What did you want to be when you grew up?
     A roller derby girl
     Airline Stewardess
     Legal secretary

What was your first job?
     Secretary for title officers at Safeco Title Insurance Company - I was 17 years old.

What made you leave that job? Did you get fired?
     I remained there until I got married, and left because the house we purchased was kind of far away - I wasn't familiar with the commuting thing.

Randy & I kayaking Lake Tahoe

What are your most memorable trips/vacations?
     Lake Tahoe -  has always been the family's favorite summer vacation spot -- camping, beaching, miniature golfing, ice skating Squaw Valley, horse back riding, boating, skiing, walking through the towns.
     East Coast  - was an amazing month-long trip for our family of five (Chris, Kim, Ashley, me and Randy). We flew our tent and sleeping bags along with us, rented a minivan, traveled from West Virginia all the way up to Montreal Canada. Washington D.C., New York City, Niagara Falls, Cooperstown, Kennenbunkport Maine, Rhode Island and the mansions, covered bridges and syrup of Vermont, Elite university of Connecticut (Yale), Massachusetts - Salem, Cape Cod, Plymouth, and Nantucket.
     New York City -  the kids were all grown, one married, two in college; so, I purchased two tickets to NYC for Randy and I. When our daughters heard about it, they were appalled that they weren't included in such a trip. So, to add a bit of 'responsibility to your now grown life', we said they could come if they saved $150 or $200 toward their airfare (can't remember exactly how much, but something like that)...they whipped that up without a problem (when there's a will, there's a way ;-). We had the best time! NYC will always be a favorite for us.
     London, England - Randy and I walked our legs off. Chris (our son) and his wife had moved there to work as accountants for their respective companies. I was a Realtor, and had several properties in escrow, and several had closed within a short amount of time, and decided to take some of my earnings and use it toward visiting Chris and Angela, as well as a country we had never been to. Bath, England was amazing, as well as London becoming such a wonderful, interesting, busy place.

Christopher, Ashley, and Kimberly

Do you have a family? How did it start?
     It started unexpectedly. I was told by my doctor (who was afraid to have anything to do with causing my hearing to worsen - I had low tones, but no comprehension of speech without lip-reading) - that I shouldn't take birth control pills just in case I had a deaf-related disease called Osteoclerosis. He felt that it may instantly take away everything I had at the time. I figured if that was the case, I didn't want birth control pills anyway -- goodness gracious if they had the ability to do that, what else could they do?

     So, Randy and I were introduced to 'foam' -- insert, wait 10 minutes, and voila, 95% safe.

    Whether we thought those were the longest 10 minutes of our lives, or we truly fell within the 5% category, I don't know -->   but, it turned out that I didn't have a horrible flu bug that just wouldn't go away.
     Married February 10, and delivered Christopher Dowayne Sprenkel on December 22 = conceived one month after marrying...I was 19 when he was born.

     I didn't really want to be a mother -- though I've always been a happy person, with lots of independency, will and drive, I wasn't happy about much of my childhood. Besides that, I was never the type that ogled over everyone else's new baby. I didn't think I wanted a family, nor that I could be a good mother.

     That all changed when I found how much I loved my son, and THIS baby was the best baby of any and all babies ever born -- besides Jesus, of course.

     So, I wanted two more sons. They would play sports, and I'd fix them pancakes on Saturday mornings, and go out and do things, and be Tomboys right along with them! This is perfect!! A life of sports, roughness, and eating. Praise God Almighty!

     Lo and behold, our second child was the most precious little girl -- Kimberly Denise. She brought something out of me I didn't know was possible...laces and bows and frilly dresses and socks; french braids and tap/ballet lessons. Never did I know that motherhood could be this wonderful. I wanted another...

     So, we tried for one more baby -- boy or girl, it didn't matter; but, I knew my max, my limit, would be three children. Ashley Renee was born, and she was the completion of our beautiful, fun family.

     Oh, and those girls were signed up for sports as soon as their ages allowed ;-)...along with tap and ballet, and gymnastics, that is.

To be continued...someday...

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Pleasure of a Saxophone

Yesterday, after church, Randy and I drove to Downtown Houston for brunch. Birraporetti's has good food and even better service. The people that work there, and dine there, are an obvious mixture of breeds and lifestyles. Old and young. Black, brown, and white. Gay and straight. Sunday church attenders and those that don't. Those that openly thank God for their food, and those that dig right in. 

For some reason, it's easy to become 'neighbors' with everyone there - to smile, to say 'hello', to ask where someone is from, what did they just do in Houston, etc. "We just came from church" - "Oh wow, what church do you go to?" - "We just saw 'Amadeus' at the Symphony Hall" - "We're celebrating our Anniversary" ... and, the tables are situated in such a way that at least four other tables hear what the one is saying, and that's how you simply chime in.

Amid all of this is a live musician. He has a small, out-of-the-way, area in which to play his guitar, have a microphone, and a stool. He doesn't play so loud that you can't have a conversation, nor so low that you can't hear him...he's like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, he's just right.

Well, Randy and I were finished eating, and were on our way out the door - which causes you to walk by the musician. I noticed, though, that he had set his guitar down, and brought out a beautiful saxophone. I was so happy to see the sax that I told him I was going to stand to the side and listen to his next song. I wasn't going to miss an opportunity like way.

I didn't explain about my deafness, nor about my cochlear implant. He may have known by looking at me, and seeing my processor and magnet on my head; but, it was never discussed, nor pointed out. I've always wanted to hear a sax, and understand its purpose within music. I no longer wanted to imagine its sound; but, to truly hear it.

 Will I like it? Will it be better than my imagination? Worse? -->  I wanted to find out.

He began to play, and left his small area to stand right in front of me...a foot away.  He closed his eyes, and gave the entire rendition his all. He plays extremely well, and it took everything I had to keep from bursting into delightful, blissful tears. I literally could have sobbed right then and there.

He played high notes, then swirled down to lower ones. They were crisp and clear, yet smooth. He'd hold notes for 12 counts or more in various places; but, at the same time, it all sounded so beautifully wonderful.

It was then that I understood the pleasure of a saxophone. The hearing of a beautiful instrument by someone who was very good at playing it. Though he was as close as one could get, I desired to be even closer. I suppose I wanted to hear more -- don't stop, keep playing, everybody be quiet and let me hear this even louder.

But, though that wouldn't have been realistic, I'm glad it couldn't happen because I surely would have broken down and cried. I surely would have had to explain that it was the first time I had ever heard such a sound from a saxophone -- in all my life.

Thank you, Jesus, for that opportunity...I loved it.

As my husband opened the door for us to leave, it was then that the tears started flowing. He was like, "Oh, nooo!" But, I didn't care - even if those walking along the street saw my tears ... I allowed myself to cry, and told Randy how wonderful it was to HEAR that saxophone.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My New Friend, Pam

Pam and I - I'm without makeup in this one, can we tell? Yessss

After moving to Houston, Texas, I decided to attend Beth Moore's final Fall study (in November); I got there a little late for a good seat, but found one toward the back in the lower section of Houston's First Baptist Church. I saw a beautiful lady sitting at the end of the row with a few empty seats beside her, went up to her to ask if the seat next to her was taken...she said, "No". So, I sat down and we immediately went into conversation mode. 

The Bible study hadn't started yet, so music was playing in the background, and, mind you, there were probably 2500+ women in this church --> and they were ALL talking, every last one of them!  Which means, it was very noisy for me. 

**All of that sound goes directly into my microphone, and tells my brain that Gina has placed herself, once again, in a  massive head-banging rock concert  sound-overloaded environment.

Lo and behold, Pam is saying something to me, and I was trying to read new lips (everybody speaks differently, you see), and was also trying pick out her voice from within the noise; so I, of course, quickly begin to get things wrong. ("So, what's your name?" - "I'm 50 years old, how about yourself?" - kind of thing.)  Besides, my implant's processor was in desperate need of a tuneup (mapping to CI-wearers). Which then lead me to explain that I am deaf, had surgery and can now hear --> artificially...and, sometimes it takes more work to hear than other times. This was one of those times.

Well, instead of saying, "Oh, OK, it was nice meeting you," Pam wanted to know all about it. Ahhhh, a sigh of relief -- someone who isn't taken aback, but willing to do what it takes to help me along. She didn't shun me, she welcomed me - even when I got 43,249,498.2 words incorrect. Thank you, Lord...and thank you, Pam.

We exchanged E-mail and telephone information that night, and began to slowly make plans to do things together. One evening, I was driving (my trusty Jeep Wrangler, Rubicon) and Pam said something to me while leaning forward to put something in her purse. I didn't hear her, nor could I see her lips, and quickly went into deaf survival mode by laughing, smiling and responding with: "Yeah...".  My new friend looked at me and asked, "Did you hear me?"  Oh my goodness gracious, this woman wasn't going to let me slide my way through in life. Turning a little red, I said, "No." She then asked (with a smirk), "Then why did you answer?" 

I nodded my head thinking, "I like my new friend. Thank you, Lord, for bringing her into my life. She's going to make me a better person, I can see that right now." But, I was probably even more red in the face by now, maybe not, I'm not sure, as I don't remember :-).  I answered honestly --> "I do that, at times, to spare myself from having to ask people to repeat. Plus, I feel like I've been given the gift of hearing; so, I shouldn't miss anything anyone says."

She replied, "Well, I don't mind if you need me to repeat." Pam also wanted to know what she could do to help me hear better.

Those are key words for anyone around those who are hearing impaired --> help us 'hear you' by looking at us, keeping your hands away from your mouth when you speak, don't over enunciate -- slow down just a bit, but talk normal; and shave long mustaches or beards.

When Pam and I are around a group of people, she quickly notices if I'm having difficulty following along, and will inform everyone I can't hear well, and what they need to do to help me be a part of the conversation. She's very kind about it, and presents herself well. I sit there in amazement of my new friend -- I haven't had one like this before.

The other day (5 1/2 months after meeting each other), she and I got together to talk about God, family, life, etc., and we were having iced tea at a place with an outside patio. All of a sudden there were firetrucks and ambulances with sirens sounding all around. It was so loud, it drew her attention toward them and to wonder what could possibly be going on. For me, I was immersed in conversation and didn't notice them all that much. She asked me if I could hear them, and I said, "Yes; but, it's kind of vague." I then realized that this time SHE was the one in sound-overload, and I was the one placing sounds in the background while conversing. 

(Either that, or it's a sign my brain isn't deciphering high tones as well as it does lower tones. I'll have to discuss that with my audiologist on my next visit.)

Well, that's the gist of my progress with hearing, and with my newfound, God-sent friend, Pam.

At a Beth Moore Bible Study - she's without makeup in this one, but can anyone tell? Nooo!