Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tender Mercies, Tough Choices

The phrase "We need to talk..." has never boded well for me.

It usually means....

A. I'm in trouble.

B. The Superman found out. :)

C. Bad news....bears.

D. All of the above.

We have been without phone and Internet services until yesterday afternoon (our new, old house needed new lines) I was only able to check in with my sister through FB on Holly's phone.

Kelli's message Monday "Call me, Jason is ok but the car is totalled"

Monday was a day of tender mercies....My sisters guitar loving, Denver broncos watching , toddler superhero husband, survived, uninjured and accident by all accounts, he shouldn't have...He was watched over and protected. Tender mercies.

Kelli's message Tuesday..."Call me, we need to talk about Dad."

We need to talk...Tuesday was a day of tough choices.....Kelli had a chat with Dad's doctor....Basically we are not at the beginning of end of life with my Dad, we are at the end. His loss of brain tissue from dementia and further damage from the sodium levels means there will be no improvement in cognition. He is unable to eat or drink enough to sustain life because he is unable to cough or swallow effectively, IV and feeding tubes are not an option because he pulls them out, medications also ineffective. Other issues also complicate his care....As Kelli spoke to the Doctor, the reality of the days and possible weeks ahead became very apparent. It is time to let Dad's body dictate further care. No more interventions. Comfort our only concern now.

We are at peace with these choices. I may or may not have the chance to say goodbye, We leave for Utah in just over a week. But I am at peace with that too.

No one is ever ready to say good bye...but I am grateful for so many things...

A Sister who I love and trust with everything and that we can make these tough decisions together...

An ability to find the tender mercies each day and find joy even in sorrow.

So many friends and family who have reached out and helped lighten our load this year.

My knowledge that death is not the end, that families are eternal and the no heartache is forever.

I am most grateful that we had the opportunity to get my Dad to a safe place, we he will not die alone and that we were able to understand the "why" of the last few very difficult years.

Above and Beyond

Moving our crazy family is a strategic undertaking, even if it is just across town. We had done all we could to prepare for the big day and I just quietly prayed we have enough help to keep the Superman and I from carrying furniture together...Husband and wife carrying furniture, equals instant argument. Just saying....

We had more than 25 friends showed up, our move started just before 10 am and ended around noon. Many hands make light work in action.
We were amazed and humbled.
Thank you!!!
So the staircase at our old house doesn't like our china cabinet and the only way to get it out of the house was over the balcony (the same way it came in).
Nobody even rolled their eyes (at least not in front of me :)) Everyone went above and beyond. We also never went hungry....I was so thankful for not having to even think about food.

Courtenay Ward you rock thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! We would not survive without our Ward family.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

They're Moving... CRAP!

The Kramers are moving.....10 am Saturday, so if you are not attending your Goldfishs' funeral, taking your Chihuahua to water aerobics or alphabetizing your food storage....we thank you profusely in advance for your help :).....

If you're Mormon (or not), you have probably helped a lot of people move. Not that it's in the handbook, but is something we seem to do, often. We help our friends, and try to keep the "how much stuff could one family have" thought and eye rolling to ourselves. I have helped with some pretty crazy moves over the years and this is my pledge to all of you that this won't be one of THOSE moves, I pinkie promise :)

Every thing is in BOXES already and no we haven't packed our china in garbage bags :)

We do own a piano, no it's not grand and no it doesn't need to go up seventeen flights of stairs :)

We do expect ALL of our rug rats to help until its finished  and no we won't allow them to play bumper cars with the dollies while people are trying to use them.

Yes we rented a Truck, a big one...So No it won't take 14 hours with 2 mini vans and a Suburban.

No we don't have much FOOD STORAGE, we aren't that good of Mormons yet, plus they Won't.Stop. Eating.

The China Cabinet does need to be hoisted over the deck, but its okay if you drop it ;).

Saturday should be a blast, so THANK YOU. And if we can't be friends after this, we completely understand. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The toughest decisions in life, never come when it is easy to make them....

I feel numb right now. My sister called an hour ago...She was rushing back to Nephi, Dad is in the ER with critically high sodium levels,  Hypernatremia A condition that should not have happened in care. Kelli needed to get there ASAP....

Kelli just called to say Dad's sodium levels are the highest the DR has ever seen and he has severe pneumonia....the chance of recovery, slim and the damage from the sodium, neurologically will be quite significant sigh...Decisions.

We have decided to keep him comfortable, to wait and see....playing God sucks. Suffering sucks.

The Fix-It Faux Pas

"I can smell antifreeze?!" I say to the Superman as we start our marathon of errends on Saturday morning. He totally rolled his eyes at me.

{I'm admitting nothing, but I have at times maybe, heard noises or smelled smells from our vehicles and worried they were breaking down (ok something was breaking down...but it wasn't the vehicle)}

 I've never claimed to be normal, but I do have a slight phobia about being stranded by a vehicle...long story.....

 When we stopped to put the deposit on the moving truck...."It's leaking, like alot Grant!" "I'll check it when we get home!?" "I think we should head home NOW!"

Super decides to try one more we hit the Ryan road intersection, 3 blocks from home the Van starts SMOKING and is now making sounds usually reserved for reptiles....

We make it in the driveway...

The Superman immediately starts ripping the van apart...."It's the timing chain seal, I don't have the time to fix it, it will have to take it in"

Grant takes it in...They first call to tell us it's not what Grant said, then an hour later call back to say....Yes it's exactly what Grant said...

Grant went to pick up our "fixed " van Sunday evening....It was no longer spuing antifreeze, but now had a knock, miss fire in the engine. The mechanic said he had a quick look, but the problem wasn't obvious....and because it was a seperate problem than we had brought it in for we would have to pay to have diagnoised...Grant chose the bring it home...
Monday evening Grant ripped apart the van again...2 minutes later he comes in the house...

It's fixed!

Really?? A wire had been taken or knocked off the distributor cap....Any mechanic should have spotted it in seconds. (Especially from the sound)

I know not all mechanics are dishonest...But it's hard not to question this ones integrety. 

I don't like feeling disappointed in people.

We have rarely needed a mechanic, as the Superman can fix nearly everthing car wise. But I'm still on the search for an honest one, for the future.

We can't even be mad at the loser cruiser ...It's the First problem she's ever had...and Grant took the oppurtunity last night to change filters and plugs while it was already apart...So I guess it's all good.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Prescription for Gratitude

The Kramer offspring are VERY accident prone.....Otter bites, sticks through arms, split chins, mishaps with nail guns (x3) and terrible issues with the laws of gravity...the odder the injury the increased chance of it happening to a Kramer it seems. This fact increases my gratitude for a universal health care system in Canada....

We pay $128 a month for full medical coverage for all seven of us (work kicks in half of that)...doctors offices visits, ER, hospital stays, specialists etc...its all covered. In 19 years of marriage we have paid only one medical bill that I can remember, $32 for a doctor to fill out a form Grant needed for work.

I have never once thought twice about taking my kid (or the Superman) to the DR or ER, if they need it, we just go. Something I have completely taken for granted, until now...

My sister called me this weekend and said "Take a guess?!"" What?" "How much do you think the hospital bill was for Dad's 11 day stay?" The amount she rattled off, SHOCKED me...lets just say you could buy a brand new loaded sporty mini van, for less....

It's easy to see how it racks up when you get charged like this....

$9.40 each single Depends
$365.00 each 24 hr use of O2
$54.00 pulse ox check, each time (takes 30 seconds)
$50.00 razor (electric, required)

and the list goes on and on.

We could never afford to live were medical costs were like this.

 I am grateful for our medical care and coverage. If we had to pay for it the Kramer children would walk around in bubble wrap and helmets and bathe in hand sanitizer....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Dress Rules.

This won't get me any Mother of the Year points,  But I must share......
The rug rats have gotten themselves ready for Church on there own for years now (minus the weekly frantic search for shoes) and we only have a few rules.
1. Modest
2. Clean
3. Ironed
I rarely pay attention to what they look like as we walk out the door...The fact that we make it out the door is, in itself its own miracle :)....

We were rushed as we walked into Church, this morning and I still hadn't noticed anything amiss....
It wasn't until Dallyn got up to pass the Sacrament that I noticed this.....
{I know how irreverent of me!} 
Dallyn had done his own hair, and looked just like.... Think, SNL, Ed Grimley....

Nope, I couldn't even look at him...It was all I could do, to keep from losing it on the stand {bad parent}. Ed Grimley skits would not stop playing through my mind....I might have been the only one that noticed but, it made my Sacrament Meeting.

New Rule #4
Hair (must NOT resemble cartoon characters, vacuum cleaner attachments or anything from SNL)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Call Centre CRAZY

So it is ONE week til we move across town to a new house. It can't happen fast enough. I am the kind of person that once I get my head around something we have to do...I just want the job finished. Packing, de junking, Cleaning and sorting got old two weeks ago and now we are all ready to be done....

If the rug rats thought the last two weeks were a lot of work, they are in for a shocker this weekend, the Shed, carport, yard and deck are all calling their names, {of course they work, while the superman and I sip lemonade, lounging in our Adirondack chairs wear referee shirts and whistles and try to keep them from taking each other out with rakes and shovels and such} Good times. I. CAN'T. WAIT.

But today was my most cherished day of the entire moving process....Today I have spent hours sitting on hold, listening to crap-tastic elevator music, whilst changing all our utilities over to the new address, scheduling carpet cleaning and arranging a truck rental. Watching paint dry is more stimulating.

With the amount I paid hydro last week (we could have flown to Hawaii) I should at least be receiving a fruit basket from them, but no...after waiting on hold they tell me I need to do it on line...when I go on line it says to call in because we have a week carry over between addresses....on hold...45 minutes later I speak to Bob...Bob takes 90 seconds to set up the new account and then tells me there will be a charge of $13.89 for setting up a new account...its standard for everybody....I pay in body parts (arm & leg) every month and I have to pay more for you to hit send on your computer...I will never understand that...

The phone company was actually pleasant and nice (I'm serious) I was on hold for 3 minutes and There was no charge to move our services....

But the truck company takes the annoying cake. "Do you have a Truck available Mar 24?" "Yes, Well maybe..." "Well which is it " "It's $69 a day plus kms" "Kay but is it available?".... on hold ten minutes later...."No, I think its booked, You will have to rent a one-way truck" "Well how much is that one..." "269" "as in dollars?" "Yes, but that includes 100 km"..... (Now I suck at math but...)"Why is it so much more?" "That just what my computer says..." "Why would I pay that" "Well most people do." he says as I tell him "Thank you, but I'll call around."....

I call Budget...they have a truck, its $49/ day plus kms...sold! 3 minutes later its done.

So I think my phone Marathon is over....that was so much fun, I think we should move more often?!?!

Now if I just make the week without reverting to the fetal position.....YAY ME! Yup, I'm feeling the CRAZY twitch coming on :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Perfect Storm

Holly came in our room this morning at 6:45..."The power just went out" It was only then that realized how hard the wind was blowing. "Go back to bed!!!"....By 8 we knew schools and ferries were cancelled and still no power....

The wind was shaking the house, like never before, standing on the second floor felt like a rocking boat.

No power meant no heat or hot only saving grace....there was supposed to be a showing this morning so the house was spotless and all the laundry, dishes were done....and Madison had made banana muffins last night so we had something for breakfast....
Down side, all the books, board games we own are in boxes....

So after a rousing hour long game of "lock Bailey out of the house" the rug rats had run out of entertainment options... So, We decided to take every one storm watching (we didn't know the RCMP had advised everyone to stay home :))....

This is what Goose Spit normally looks like.....

This is goose spit today......

Hear the Titanic theme music...

waves and wind pushing logs across the road

The storm was unreal....sea foam flying looked like snow flakes in the air...waves were crashing across the road....and the wind made it nearly impossible to open car doors or stand up...It was AMAZING!

Power finally came back on just before 6 pm(almost 11 hours out)....some damage to the soffit on our house and fence panells blown down...but we faired pretty well.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Waiting For Sunday

Sometimes trials and heartache sneak up, blindsiding us. Others come roaring towards us like a freight train. We know they are coming and can do nothing to get out of the way....My head knew what we were facing, when we got the call in February. My head knew it wasn't going to be good or easy. But my heart, Quietly I prayed things would somehow be different, with my Dad.....
5 weeks ago

And Now.

Now my heart is trying to accept that my Dad's mind and body are losing their battle with dementia and malnutrition. Why must he suffer.

As soon as the Superman and I get moved, we are headed to Utah....probably to say goodbye.

The memories of losing Mom, still vivid...walking out of her nursing home, knowing it was the last time I would see her in this life, took every strength I had...In my heart, begging Heavenly Father to take away her suffering. Four days later she was gone.

  Not once did I ever imagine we would do it again.

I am prepared for the sight of his physical decline...but how do you prepare for the possibility your Dad might not remember who you are. How do you come to terms with saying goodbye, long before you knew you were.

Thinking about it all, brings instant tears. I wish I could fast forward this part of life.

There is a poem that I found when we were losing mom....

Where has my mother gone?
Will it be long before she passes on,
To God's loving arms of release,
Granting us both sweet release.
For wondering and fears.
Will know longer go on
Because I'll know where my mother has gone.

Saying goodbye is important to me, but not at the price of his suffering...I have left with my Heavenly Father, its not up to me. It's up to Him.

I do not know why some must suffer greatly in this life. But I find great comfort in the following quote.....

“Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.”
Joseph B. Wirthlin

Birthday Cake Cop-out

When it comes to birthdays around here I am totally mother of the year....Madison's sweet sixteen was yesterday and we did nothing....Between packing boxes, babysitting jobs, the ward talent show and Superman's work schedule we were never all in the same place....We promised we would celebrate BIG TIME when everybody was around this week end.....

But Maddie did get the pair of shoes she wanted. We offered a cell phone but Maddie wanted the shoes more than the phone (she's weird) Plus she is saving for the fancy-dancy cell phone she really wants, not the "low-rent one we would buy her".... Whatever.

The entire ward sang to her at the talent show...but around 9:30 pm it dawned on me (in WalMart) that we hadn't done a birthday cake...see I really am Mother of the Year....But I found these....
This totally counts doesn't it??? Madison got her very own bag of Birthday Cake Oreos....So I only redeemed myself slightly :) Madison we will make it up to you .
Happy Birthday and thanks for being such an easy going kid. We love you, really we do!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I'm So Sorry Dad.

We've seen it coming for months, years really. But the reality of today sucks.

"I feel like I've admitted him to HELL, Robin" Kelli tells me after the family/hospital meeting to determine our Dad's future care, this afternoon.

Skilled nursing care in the secured memory care unit, our only option, he didn't qualify for assisted living.

Severe dementia and malnutrition, have left him completely dependent on others for even his basic care now.

"Man I wish he was in Canada, Mom was in the Hilton compared to this place, Robin"

The US health care system is such a stark contrast to our Universal system here. With Mom we never had to contend with Insurance companies and paperwork. When she needed the care, it was there, the financial burden never crossed our minds, her care was covered completely.

Such is not the case for my Dad....

Even with the understanding,  that he will be living in better conditions in the nursing home than he has chosen for himself in California, my heart is sick over it.

A mind lost, dignity gone.

There is not even a glimpse of the man he once was. How will they love and respect my Dad when all they will see is complete dependence, anger, confusion and frustration.

How will they know....

My Dad:

is so funny
can conduct a symphony
can shoot a fly out of mid air with a rubber band
loves converse high-tops and brightly coloured glasses
loves to ski
taught thousands of students to love music over his nearly forty year teaching career
would say often "now the Church isn't for me but, you take my Grand kids don't you?"
ended every single phone call my whole life with "I Love you too, Robin!"

They don't know that, but we will always remember. Oh how I wish things could be different.

I'm so sorry Dad.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Farm Envy

The Superman and I have always had the "some-day dream" of living out in the country on a small farm...But since we are still mastering the concept of keeping the rug rats and dog feed and alive, and the lawn mowed, it hasn't happened yet....

But we do suffer from FARM ENVY and live somewhat vicariously through our friends who own farms and manage to keep their kids, dogs and livestock alive on them.

Today we spent a few hours on our friends bison farm....and LOVED it !

Dallyn hasn't rode a dirt bike since he was four, but bombed around on this one, like Evil Knievel...There isn't an ounce of fear in this kids body. He had the time of his life.

Alex climbing the hay stacks, chasing barn cats.

Bailey with the bison who's days are numbered.

Madison climbing fences.

Such a beautiful peaceful place :)

Still Laughing...

If you have never had a parent with dementia or mental illness, its okay to laugh at this post, I promise you probably won't go to heck for doing so.

For reasons, I am not supposed to understand, both my parents have not aged gracefully and have lost their ability to comprehend, even the simplest things, long before their time. It's the true definition of heartbreaking. My sister and I have found one {some would think odd}way of coping...

We laugh. A lot.

Mental Illness. Dementia. Not funny.

Some of the things parents with mental illness and dementia, do, funny....{here are the few TAME enough for family blogging}

My mom once ate her T-bone steak, in the middle of a fancy restaurant, with her hands, like a chicken drumstick. The more we asked her to stop, the more animated her eating became.

Or the time we discovered my mom had been labelled a "frequent flyer" but not the airline kind. She was on a first name basis with every EMS professional in the city of Lethbridge. She would even complain if it was one of the "older" ambulances.

Or the time the nurses had to take her phone away because she continually called 9-1-1 to report the illegal grow-op in the nursing home's basement. No basement. No Grow-op.

My Dad once stole the "it's a BOY" stork sign from a neighbours yard, crossed out all the information with a sharpie and add my sister's sons name...then sent a picture with the sign now proudly displayed in his living room

Or the time my Dad "borrowed" the neighbours cat, because her wanted took us a week to convince my Dad that a cat with a collar, tag and bell was not a stray (the cat was safely returned home)

But we are still laughing, after a hospital representative met with my sister yesterday after trying to verify information my Dad had given them....The Medicare system down in the States is a stark contrast to our universal heath system in Canada...requiring a lot of protocol and paperwork. So during an extensive health history the hospital rep was trying to take. My Dad matter-of-factly informed them that in his free time he enjoys....

"Gardening and growing marijuana"

The hospital representative wanted to confirm this with my sister....

Kelli burst out laughing!

My Dad has always hated yard work, can't keep a house plant alive, and, as far was we know does not grow marijuana...sigh.

{Remember my Dad is hospitalized in my sister's very conservative, very Mormon town, very small town. :) }

Thankfully they decided not to included that in their official report.

But we are still laughing.....


Friday, March 2, 2012

Stuff Found

Many good things about packing up your find stuff!!!

Bailey's birth certificate....saved me $80

My Costco card...this won't save me a dime :)

The foot piece to my fancy hiking stick (of course, I'll be running up mountains this very weekend)

Scissors (13 pairs and counting) All the ones we can never find.

The graphing calculator I had to replace already.

A red spiral notebook....

Over the Summer of 2009, Every time my Dad called I asked him questions about his life, mainly his childhood. As we talked, I jotted down notes in a red spiral notebook. I had mostly forgotten about it. But came across it while cleaning off the shelves in our back hallway yesterday....It made me cry as I flipped through the pages.

 After my Mom passed away, I realized there were so many things about her I simply didn't know, I had never thought to even ask her. I didn't want to say the same thing about my I started asking questions....

Because of our talks I know that...

That he went to primary, on Tuesdays and met on the 2nd floor of the 1st Ward building in Logan.

He had a black and white terrier, named Mickey

His favourite cartoon was The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show.

He had polio the summer before he started High School, and spent three weeks in St Benedict's Hospital in Ogden.

One of his first jobs was as an usher at the Capital Theater in Logan. Wage 35 cents/hour

He played in a Jazz Trio every Friday and Saturday night, during college at the Del Mar Club in Logan and because of Utah's liquor law's you had to bring your on booze.

Entered the Army because he was flunking out of College (served in West Germany)

Got his bachelor's and master's degree in Music.

His favourite time of year is Spring.

Even more poignant, now that he is unable to answer even basic questions.

I will treasure our talks and the things I know about my Dad because of them.

Take away: Ask while you can. Someday the answers will no longer be there.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fear Factor : Maddie'll Do It!

My rug rats are really gross!!! But this one wins the prize tonight.

She also ate this....

Yup, Buffalo Prairie Oysters or has Dallyn called them buffalo man parts.
Madison did not inherit her lack of gag reflex from me I'm heaving just thinking about it. She had to brush her teeth and gargle before she was allowed back in the house ;)
Way to go Maddie...way to honour the Kramer name :)