Saturday, February 26, 2011


This morning I woke up early for no reason. Wide awake, I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock. It was 4:20. I waited for it to turn to 4:21 and thought about what I was doing seven years ago to the second. I was giving birth to my first born child on the third floor of St. Vincent's hospital in Portland, OR. A picture perfect delivery of an even more perfect baby boy. I was tempted to sneak into his room and wake him up for the occasion but decided that I would use the moment instead to get on my knees and thank God for this child who turned me into a mommy. Even now as I type this I cry thinking about the moment I met Jack.

He came three and a half weeks early but was over 7 pounds. Since we lived away from all of our family It was just me and John and the hospital staff. I wanted to show him to the world. I wanted every human being on earth to see my perfect baby. It still blows my mind that billions and billions of people have had this experience and yet it is just as miraculous and awe inspiring every time.

Jack was delivered upon my first practice push and I literally didn't have even one sensation of pain throughout the entire experience (not counting the level four tear that I was unaware of initially.) He cried for a few seconds, they put him on my chest and he just looked deep into my eyes and nursed. From the beginning, he always seemed to make deliberate and soulful eye-contact. He was beautiful. The easy labor and delivery left him unswollen and unblemished with a perfect round head of sandy hair.

The first thing I said was "John! He looks like you!" John said, "But he has lips!" This is a perfect conversation to start out this kid's life because over the seven years I see so many ways that he got the best of each of his parents. I love that kid. I love both of my kids. I feel equal intensity of emotion for each of them but there is something about that first born baby that makes an impression on a mother's heart like nothing else. Happy Birthday, Jack.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Payday Doesn't Always Come On Friday

Yesterday Jack stayed home sick and I was down and out with my stupid mystery disease. This time it hit my feet bad and I couldn't walk. My health has made great progress this year. I don't look like a holocaust victim anymore but I still get occasional joint flare ups and the horrible disfiguring sores. Enough about that. It stresses me out and I can already feel my mom's heart racing sixty miles away as she reads this. The point is Jack and I got to lay around all day long doing nothing and just bonding. Kristen took Abe for a large chunk of the day so Jack and I just chilled. I know it stresses his little six year old soul when he sees his mommy hurting and sometimes I think its best to hide It from him as much as I can but sometimes I need to get real and tell him I'm hurting. We were laying in my bed and I showed him my sores and swollen crippled feet. He said "Mom, I don't want to see them anymore. It makes me too sad. Also it makes me confused."

Why is that buddy? is it because you can't predict when I will feel good and when I wont?"

"No, it just makes me pray to Heavenly Father and ask him why he had to create stupid germs and diseases. And why does he have to let my mommy hurt? Then I think about It and I realize that its the whole point of life. God sent us here to be tested and if things were always easy there would be no purpose to life. If things were always easy, we wouldn't even know they were easy."

Holy crap. I spend a lot of worry on wondering if these kids are getting the gospel of Christ. In that moment, I realized that I would go through every bit of suffering that I have to hear my son explain this concept to me in such an eloquent way. He gets it. The spirit was unbelievably strong. He went on to tell me this long comparison between life and video games and how its so frustrating to get killed over and over but every time you play you get a little bit farther and you find the places to get your life recharged and you figure out how to avoid the bad things and you get to the next level and eventually you beat the game and you wonder why you ever thought it was so hard. He told me that its just like life. We just have to keep trying and when we beat the game we will have eternal life and live with Heavenly Father and Jesus forever. It will all be worth it.

I cried and I pulled out the Book of Mormon and read 2 Nephi 2 to him and briefly explained the concept of opposition in all things. I love that that chapter is addressed to Lehi's "first-born in the wilderness of affliction" If father Lehi had had an X-box I'm sure that Jack's Allegory of the Video Game would have been included. I have always been totally anti-video game and if I didn't have to compromise with three males on it, one of whom is the breadwinner and secret video game buyer and holder of a bizarre opinion about the merits of video games as they relate to one's ability to survive a possible Town of Gilbert urban combat scenario, I would ban the machine from the household. (longest run-on sentence ever) But I must admit that as I listened to Jack's hard earned wisdom the statement that continually repeated in my head was "All things testify of Christ" There are lessons to be learned everywhere. Smart kid going for my Achille's Heel and combining the Gospel and Halo.

Once when I was in my early twenties I was asked to speak at Stake Conference. I didn't want any of my family coming to watch because I was afraid that it would make me nervous. Of course my parents showed up anyway. When I introduced them to my stake president I rolled my eyes and joked that they were conference crashers that were there uninvited. He looked at me and said "One day you will understand that payday doesn't always come on Friday."

After our talk I suggested that Jack give the Family Home Evening lesson and I got some great Flip video footage of his passionate little gaming testimony. One day I will learn how to actually post those videos. When I do, you will see a chicken laying an egg in my living room, Jack break dancing at the state fair when he thought no one was looking, Joselyn Orrell's birth, Abraham defeating three pantry locking devices within 30 seconds, a tortoise chasing a chihuahua and winning, incriminating video of Clark Gartner stealing the device and throwing it in the mud, John falling asleep while snuggling an assault rifle, and that famous drill sergeant guy, The Gunny (R. Lee Ermey) looking straight at the camera and saying "John Kramer? That's my best friend, ya Jackwagon. Hoorah, Semper-fi," Yes, the day I learn how to post video will be fabulous. For now I'm still searching for a reasonable way to right-click on a mac with one hand and I'm taking my paydays whenever and however they come.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Jack told me this morning that he has made a "little bargain" with our dog Lala. He rubs her under the chin and she licks him on the hand.

"Do you think it's a good deal?" I personally hate being licked by the dogs so I was curious how this deal came about.

He looked at me like I am crazy and said "YEAH. Its a good deal for me. I wouldn't lick someone for a scratch."

So thats a relief, I guess.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Birthday

For the first time since I have known him, my sweet husband pulled off a birthday surprise for me. He bought tickets to Sarah McLachlan and told me about it hours before the concert started. We had a romantic evening last night with no kids and amazing music.

Spontaneity really doesn't come easily to John so I was so impressed that he was able to pull it off babysitter and all so that I could have a romantic night out for my birthday and Valentine's Day. (It better be both because we spent a small fortune)

Sarah is amazing. It was at the Comerica Theatre which used to be called Dodge theatre which is an amazing venue (yes, this is where I attended a concert in a wheelchair to get front row seats for a Coldplay concert. I will have to tell that story one day)

Other than the Chatty Drunk Lesbians in front of us who "whispered" i.e. shouted into one another's ear the entire time to the point that it was hard to hear the music, it was an incredible musical feast. Sarah did a lot of her old favorites and deep cuts that I thought I was the only one that loved them, and she answered questions from the audience which made it really intimate and entertaining. Her voice is absolutely flawless. She sounds every bit as good live as she does on the albums. Few artists can really pull that off. I have seen her in concert many times back in the day before I had kids. Sarah took a ten year hiatus to be a mom too so it really felt like connecting with an old friend. She is very authentic on stage and her songs are so relevant and powerful. She has one of those voices that just instantly soothes. John loves her too so we both had a great time. Whenever I see live music like that I think "I gotta do this more often" It made me feel like Staci. Not mom, or wifey, or Sister Kramer…Staci. I think "Oh yeah, I forgot that I love music. Oh yeah, I'm fun! I'm an individual outside of all of the roles I fill at home." Not that I don't love filling those roles, but it is easy to get out of touch with who I am as a person. For that reason John's gift to me was genius. He even leaned forward and asked those drunk lesbians to shut up during my favorite song.

One of my favorite moments of the night was signing up for a program called World Vision. It is one of those programs where you sponsor a child living in poverty. They had a table set up at the concert with all of the available kids for sponsor. It was heartbreaking. I of course saw the face of Jack or Abe in every one of them and I couldn't imagine one of them getting their picture taken and then waiting for word that they had been selected. I plan on corresponding with the child so I was looking for one that is Jack's age so that he will get into it. I was scanning for a boy born in 2004 and then I found Nara. He is a Cambodian boy born in 2004 and his birthday is today. Of course I felt a connection to him since we share a birthday and I thought it would be a lovely birthday present for both of us. I cried when I thought of him finding out he had been sponsored. He is so cute. There is a picture and a little profile about the kid's situation and personality. His parents are farmers and he has tons of siblings and his favorite thing is spelling. I love him already.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I rarely get on here and just rant and rave. Actually, I do rant and rave and then refrain from publishing the post and it gets out of my system and no one has to read my negative outbursts.

John as not been picking up any extra-duty work at the department so he has been home a lot more than we are all used to. He has been on a tear of getting stuff done around the house so I'm secretly hoping his fever lingers a while longer. He has turned into Laundry Man, which is a side I have never witnessed and that incidentally turns out to be very sexy. I also liked last week's super hero alter ego which was Carpet Shampooing Man. He has also discovered a humble little tool out of my scrap booking box that has sealed the super-hero thing up for the boys. Wielding a glue gun he is Toy Fixing Man. I am personally curious to see if the illusive Yard Maintenance Man will make any appearances.

Abe hasn't been sleeping well lately. He's in the very predictable ditch-the-nap phase of toddlerhood. He has been drinking chocolate milk before naps and bedtime lately and I just realized that maybe it has caffeine in it. So I looked at the box and in bold print it says right across the top "CAFFEINE FREE!". Oh good, I haven't been caffienating my three year old. I'm not a dumbass after all. Then I looked closer and saw the tiny type above the caffiene free claim. 99 percent. So an entire percent of this kids drink is pure caffiene, yet they feel justified putting Caffiene Free! in huge letters all over the box as long as each one is preceded by a teeny tiny 99%. Yes this reminds me of last year's otter pop debacle wherein they print on the box "One Hundred Percent Pure Fruit Juice" followed by "and other ingredients" Which other ingredients happened to total three percent upon a closer look. I don't know why I'm complaining about this. I need to let it go.

But while we are on the subject of really annoying things, lets talk about when you call a business and they put you into a computer queue and tell you over and over how important your call is. Not important enough to actually answer, but still very important. Or worse, when you just have to call the doctors office but before you can even hear the options you have to get a lecture about how if you are calling with a life threatening emergency you really shouldn't be calling but instead you should hang up and dial 911. Usually by this point I am saying into the phone NO SHIT, SHERLOCK, WHAT DO I PRESS TO GET TO A PERSON? (don't judge me, I know you've all done the same thing) Then I get to hear the long winded lecture again... en espanol. I probably shouldn't get so irritated by the ever encroaching mexican culture, but if you don't speak enough english to navigate the dentist's answering machine maybe its time to think long and hard about which country you really want to be living in. If you don't have any interest in learning a country's language, that country is probably not for you.

Speaking of our immigrant friends, I had an unexpected knock at my door that turned out to be the mailman with a letter I needed to sign for. We have had the same mailman for four years and he's great. I bake him cookies for holidays and we shoot the breeze when we get the chance. He has been sporting a big Steelers coat for the past month so when I saw him through my peephole I was ready to offer condolences on his team loosing. Instead of Robert, there was a new guy. A mexican who didn't speak even a word of english besides "sign?" Believe me I tried. I launched into a big explanation about how Robert loves the Steelers and they lost and blah blah, but the new guy was a deer caught in the headlights. He was literally at a loss for words. It was awkward. So I guess even the Federal government is giving jobs to illegal aliens. Or perhaps this man was legal to work, but just lacks the drive to learn how to communicate in America. Either way, I know ten people who would line up for that job and our country is passing them out to dudes with no english and no social skills. Annoyed really doesn't describe my feeling for the current global events. Terrified is closer to the mark.

Also, let me take a minute to complain about my washing machine. It is an early model front loader and it has caught a disease. Every load comes out smelling like mildew even if they don't sit in there at all between finishing the wash cycle and being moved to the dryer. There is some major design flaw going on that I think is worthy of a total product recall. Now I'm noticing a new breed of laundry product that cleans the washing machine. I find it ironic that you need to spend money to clean the inside of your washing machine. Not to mention that these products don't work. Clothes go in with regular spots and wear and they come out infused with the aroma of a moldy basement. I have tried running cycles with pure bleach and still every load smells like it sat for days. What I don't understand is why we still even have the washer dryer system in this day and age. In Europe we always had one machine that did everything. We didn't have to switch wet clothes. After the wash cycle completes, it drains and then starts drying. You put dirty clothes in, you get clean dry clothes out. Why hasn't America adopted this clearly superior method? The europeans do it because they don't have the space for two machines. They don't usually even have laundry rooms. This wonder machine is usually tucked in the kitchen or bathroom. If I could get a hold of these euro machines, I would buy two and then run two loads at a time. They can't be too expensive, we had them in our missionary apartments after all.

Yes, I put a lot of emotional energy into laundry. I fantasize about having a housekeeper who does nothing but laundry and dishes. Why can't my washer and dryer be more like my dishwasher. My million dollar idea for Whirlpool or Kenmore or whoever wants all the marbles: go to Europe and take notes. This includes the fact that Europeans don't use liquid bleach that spills and ruins everything. It comes in little solid tablets that dissolve in water. It makes so much more sense.

Kramer Boys

Kramer Boys