Thursday Already

June 30, 2011 by Adam in Family

It's been a wacky week, as often seems to be the case.

On Tuesday, I left work early to go on a tour of Edgewood with Emma and Jamie.  It seems a good school, with relatively small classes and a nice campus.  It did help that we were touring in the summer when things were less busy.  We still haven't decided, but the good news is that Emma will do well no matter where she goes.

Next I took Sam to the dentist, where he was chastised for his brushing technique.  Otherwise, he's doing fairly well.

Poor Joanna has been working really hard all week, getting ready for the estate sale.  We've sold some jewelry, a washing machine, and donated a ton of clothes to Womenspace.  Usually we see each other regularly throughout the day, so I made her chat with me for a half hour after she finished paying her mom's bills.  It'll be nice to get out to the beach next week, just the two of us.

I took Wednesday off to hang out with the kids.  Jessica took the younger kids to see Megamind.  Sam and I played with planes in Minecraft and then went to see the new X-Men movie, with a high-speed chase passing by us on the way.  We returned to find the girls making cookies, and I scooped Emma away to get her ballet outfit.  Dinner was tacos.

Jessica is working out really well, and has a great, calm way with the kids.  It's a tad expensive to hire her for the summer, but I'm glad the kids get all the attention and it's easier to leave the house.

Kevin arrived to take Duncan and Berry to Rochester for two weeks.  Jessica took the kids to the airport to surprise him.  I think Joanna is going to dinner with them to ease the transition, and then Kevin and kids depart in the morning.  It'll be quite the strange experience to have an empty house, something that almost never happens.  Hopefully we can get things cleaned up a bit.  We currently have boxes of photos, decorations, and other odds and ends that have been brought over from Colette's house.

A few moments to relax sound lovely too.

Tuesday Already?

June 28, 2011 by Adam in Family

It really started to feel like summer yesterday.  The weather was hot, kids were at home with Jessica, our babysitter, and going to work seemed more of a chore than usual.

Christopher is heading out today, taking a bus to Portland and flying back to France.  Duncan and Berry are leaving Friday this week.  Sam and Emma are going to their mom's Thursday morning.  Joanna's still going through her mom's stuff and won't likely return to work for at least another week.

I think Jessica is working out well, at least for the younger kids.  Sam is still a bit of a challenge, though she somehow managed to bring him along with everyone else to feed ducks.  Sam also went to work for my mom yesterday, hauling things around.  I had to intervene with a phone call, but it all got sorted out.

We've lined up my dad's house to get away next week for a couple days.  It's going to be really strange not having any kids around, which almost never happens.  I might bring the raft along and see if we can paddle around the bay.  Hikes sound lovely as well.  Or just relaxing and being lazy.  It sounds blissful just thinking about it.

Going through Colette's things continues.  We sold the washing machine yesterday, very quickly, though no bites on the car yet.  I'm not sure if we'll be ready for an estate sale by this weekend, but we'll see.

I'm looking forward to Wednesday and taking the day off.  Maybe we can set up the slip-and-slide and have some fun if the weather heats up again.

Colette's Memorial Service

June 25, 2011 by Adam in Family

Sam and Emma have returned from Bend.  The younger kids are playing YouTube videos, Christopher is working in the kitchen, and Joanna is chatting with the neighbors in between yard work.  I'm tidying up and getting ready for a grocery store run in preparation for pizza and Mythbusters tonight.

The service for Colette was this morning, almost two hours of preparation, talking, and food afterward.  Joanna and Christopher put together excellent speeches and songs at the last minute.  They were both particularly touching and funny.  A number of Colette's friends spoke, talking about how much she loved her grandkids and kids.  It was a good mix of laughter and tears.

Now we're hanging about, taking it easy.  There are still financial things to sort through, and a surprising amount of stuff to deal with at her house.  I think I'll try and organize some furniture moving tomorrow while we still have Christopher about.

Hanging in there . . .

Mocha Friday

June 24, 2011 by Adam in Family

I just finished my Friday mocha, working through assorted issues here at work.  I'm not quite into the swing of things, but I'm catching up and dealing with assorted crises.  Joanna's planning on taking a few weeks off to go through her mom's things and take some time to reflect on things.  I think this has all been so fast for everyone, there hasn't been time to think about it at all.

We have Colette's memorial service tomorrow, and Joanna was busy practicing her songs last night.  We were going to have an estate sale this Sunday, but I think that's been pushed back to let Joanna sort through everything.  We've got the car on Craigslist, and are trying to figure out what to do with the Florida house and associated debts.  Christopher leaves Tuesday for Portland.

I've been doing support stuff - cleaning, laundry, dishes, and duties as assigned.  Yesterday I was out power washing, much to mom's amusement when she came to visit.  The patio looks fabulous, though.

Joanna and I did manage to get out a little last night, going for Thai food and a romantic stop at Wal-Mart to get pictures for the service.  Our babysitter Amber was sweet - bringing flowers and refusing to take any money for babysitting.

Duncan and Berry's last day of camp is today.  I think they're ready to stay at home, as they both ended up a little worn out by the fast-paced camp lifestyle.  I've been packing them up and taking them in, letting Joanna sleep in.  Duncan has started playing Portal after getting Joanna's permission, and is so excited he changed his wallpaper from Minecraft to a Portal-themed one.

I Skyped with Sam and Emma earlier in the week, for both fun and telling them of Colette's death.  Emma covered her face with a ball she was playing with, eventually saying "Can we talk about something other than dead people?"  I think it was initially hard for Emma, as she was close with Colette - something I'll probably talk with her off and on over the months ahead.  We chatted about their Bend adventures.  Emma made a new best friend.  Sam's having fun babysitting his baby cousins.  I'm excited to see them this Sunday.

The weather has been absolutely stunning and the garden calls out to me for pruning and puttering.  Maybe we can get outside more this weekend.

The Last 48 Hours

June 22, 2011 by Adam in Family

Yesterday was so busy that I wanted to give a little more detail about what happened the last couple days.

We moved Colette to our house Sunday, as it became apparent her health was getting worse.  Hospice has been wonderful, getting us all the medication and equipment we needed at no cost.  We got her in a hospital bed and shuffled kids around to give Colette her own room.  People started to come by to visit her a last time.  By Monday Colette had become non-responsive and had stopped eating and drinking fluids.

Because of the speed of it all, we ended up having to scramble around to get things done while the power of attorney was still valid.  Joanna and her brother were going to go to the bank Tuesday morning, leaving me to keep an eye on Colette.  Suddenly her breathing changed, and I called them back in as they headed to the car.  We changed plans and Joanna and I made a quick trip to deposit some checks and leave the account closing for later.  By the time we returned, she was fading quickly and passed away quietly.

We had people coming by all day to pay their last respects.  At one point, I thought the EWEB woman checking the meter was coming to visit, though I wasn’t quite sure what the long metal rod was for.  All the narcotics were disposed of in used kitty litter, evidently to dissuade drug addicts.   We picked up Berry and Duncan, told them the news, and they cried when they saw her.  Berry was happy that she didn’t cough anymore.  Eventually we got kids to bed, watched The King’s Speech to get our mind off things, and got some sleep.

Today has been mostly focused on dealing with Colette’s finances and belongings, and Joanna and her brother went to the mortuary.  I managed to cancel her phone service, but Comcast wanted a death certificate.  EWEB put me on hold for five minutes, as they wanted someone who was the executor of the will, which didn’t exist.  Fortunately they got in touch with the owner of the rental who was vacationing in Italy and he was okay getting service switched back to him.

There have been some oddly amusing moments.  We’ve had so much food brought over that we’re inviting people for dinner in order to get some of it eaten.  The table has four different bouquets now, so I’m not sure we’ll have room for anyone to eat.  Joanna’s brother spent a long time entertaining the bank staff reenacting his shark taming techniques.  It’s been a quirky week.

I think tomorrow we’ll get the car ready to sell, finish closing her accounts, and get her house ready for an estate sale.  I’m tentatively planning on going in to work in the morning.  We’ll see if I can make it through the afternoon.

Bonne Nuit

June 21, 2011 by Adam in Family

Colette just passed away, very quietly.  We all had a good cry, got a call from the social worker, and are busy calling everyone to let them know.


Colette Update

June 20, 2011 by Adam in Family

I think we're all feeling a little overwhelmed.

Christopher and Joanna brought her mom over yesterday, as we typically do in the afternoons when people are around.  It was pretty clear that she wasn't ever coming back, and was much worse than she'd been the day before.  We brought in a hospital bed for Berry's room, and she spent the night last night.  Colette's been sleeping pretty well, though she was up at 3 a.m.  Joanna was pretty wiped out this morning after taking care of her.

The RN from hospice thought that she had about three more days left.

Sam and Emma went off with Jamie to Bend, so the house will be a little more quiet.  I took Duncan and Berry to their YMCA camp.  Poor Duncan looked on the edge of tears when I dropped him off and sadly explained, "I feel embarrassed."  I felt really bad for him, and introduced him to the bored teenager sitting at the drawing table.  Hopefully he perked up after a little while.  I'll fetch him back in an hour or so.

I'm not sure there's a lot that can be done, except keep Colette comfortable and pain-free.  I'm taking on a support role - cleaning, cooking, watching kids, doing laundry, and all the other boring things.  I left work early.  Joanna finally went off to take a shower.  The oxygen generator whirs away in the background.

Father's Day

June 19, 2011 by Adam in Family

I have three of the four kiddos awake and have stolen a few moments to myself after cleaning the kitchen, doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, and making tea and crumpets.  Joanna told me not to let her sleep in too late as she wants to pamper me.  I think I can at least get a breakfast of my choice out of the day.

We're wrapping up a three-day weekend, the days blending together.  Friday was beautiful and sunny.  Joanna spent a lot of the day with her mom, visiting the bank, and doing all the practical things that need to be done for Colette.  I played with kids and kept the house running.  The weather was amazing, so we broke out the kid pool and the younger kids had a great time splashing about.  Yayoe came over to deliver dinner.  Joanna and I went out to Laughing Planet for dinner.  There was a band playing outside that seemed to be a Glee cover band, as they played both Forget You and Bad Romance.

Saturday I took kids to the library, where they were having their Summer Reading program.  Duncan picked up a Captain Underpants book and Berry got the caveman book by the same author that Duncan already had.  She's been carrying it around to her great amusement.  Emma was granted a second book by a kind librarian, and cheerfully got a Warriors book.

It was pretty drizzly, so we ended up playing a lot of Minecraft with Matt.  At one point, I think we had five people on a server, messing around and generally being silly.  I'll try to make a video of it.  I did get the kids outside in the rain, walking to my mom's house to bring in the mail.  I went off to Market of Choice to pick up groceries and pizza.  I had invited Emma to come, she declined and regretted the choice once my cart was half-full.  I ended up talking to her on the phone until I returned to the driveway where she helped me unload the car and get ready for Mythbusters.  Sam, Emma, and I played a bunch of Apples-to-Apples before the start.

Sam and I played a little Grand Theft Auto IV, which we recently discovered multiplayer for.  I hopped in a fire truck and had fun hosing him down and putting out the fires he kept setting.  Ironically, my truck caught on fire and blew up.

And now it is Father's Day.  Happy Father's Day, dad.  Thanks for passing along the ability to focus on odd technical things for hours on end and the love for games.  Plus the laid-back humor thing.  That one has kept me going through quite a hard times.

I'm going to cause it to rain today by planning a BBQ for this evening.  Otherwise the plan is to take it easy, bring Colette over later in the day, and spend as much time with Sam and Emma before they go to Bend for a week.

Last Day of School

June 16, 2011 by Adam in Family

Sam and Emma have their last day of school today, getting out around noon.  They're going over to Jamie's for the afternoon and then I'll pick them up after work.  I think the last week of school has been pretty laid-back for them.  Sam hasn't had any homework and there was a party in choir on Tuesday.

Joanna took Colette to the oncologist and the news wasn't good.  Her bilirubin levels are high and the estimate was 2-4 weeks of life left, down quite a bit from 3-6 months.  It left everyone in a somber mood and my mom was over yesterday evening trying to frantically sort out financial things with Colette.  We're also getting more equipment and medication - oxygen tanks, wheel chairs, and powerful pain meds.  The good news is that there seems to be a fairly well-established support system and hospice is guiding us through it all.  Colette is also still quite sharp, funny, and charming, entertaining us periodically throughout dinner last night.

I stayed up late last night, picking up Joanna's brother from the train station. Evidently the signals were out, so the train had to stop at each crossing to manually turn on the signals, travel a little forward, and turn them off again.  Christopher ended up coming in around 1 a.m., and I was pretty exhausted when I woke up this morning.

Thank god for espresso.

Last Week of School

June 13, 2011 by Adam in Family

The transition to summer is always a strange one.  The kids didn't have homework, babysitters and vacations are lined up for the next few weeks.  Time is being taken off of work.  I think everyone is pretty excited about the summer routine - Sam with his endless computer time and Emma with swimming and reading.

The weekend was a mix of work and play.  Saturday was pretty busy, especially for Joanna.  I took Sam and Emma to the library to pick out a free summer reading book, then went hiking at Hendrick's park.  Joanna returned from ballet and kindergarten graduation, and we all ate lunch together.  Then she was off to check on her mom while we all had some quiet time together.  She seemed to be feeling a little better, getting some rest and a bit more energy.  Hopefully the medication is improving things.

I put Sam to work doing yardwork in exchange for a video game purchase.  Later that day I took Emma food shopping, picked up pizza at Provisions, and we had a normal Pizza and Mythbusters.  Sunday morning was eggs, bacon, toast, and playing.  Evidently it was the best food ever, as Emma finally lost her tooth.  Joanna went to her mom's to visit with hospice.  They're covering all expenses, and can help with wheelchairs, oxygen, and the like.

Duncan and Berry had two birthday parties at gyms, so they returned in the evening pretty wiped out.  Sam, Emma, and I played a ton of board games: Three of a Crime, Apples to Apples, Creationary, Cosmic Encounter, and The Last Night on Earth.  It was great fun, and I was impressed with Emma's ability to hold her own.  We were done with board games at the end, though, and Emma and I played Trine together in co-op mode while Sam played with Matt online.  Eventually we took a break to watch dinner.  After kids went to bed, we finished watching Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, which is a very bizarre and funny show.

Saturday Post

June 11, 2011 by Adam in Family

It's a quiet afternoon, the sun streaming in through the living room windows.  Soon we'll be off to the store and then fetch some pizza for Pizza and Mythbusters.  Last night everyone but Sam went swimming and had a great time.  We picked up Sam on the way home, with he and I watching a movie while Joanna checked up on her mom.

Colette isn't doing very well, and Joanna's brother is coming over from France this Wednesday.  It'll be good to have the help.  I think we're going to stuff him in the shed, at least for the first night.

Bittersweet Mocha Friday

June 10, 2011 by Adam in Family

I just finished my Friday mocha, feeling exceptionally perky.  It's been a whirlwind week, with Colette's illness and end of school events.

Wednesday night Joanna and I went out to Cosmic Pizza, eating a tasty pizza with gluten-free crust.  Edison choir was there, lots of cute kids singing and hitting various percussion instruments.  We mostly talked about Colette, trying to figure out all the things we need to do.

The two big Colette decisions are whether or not she wants to try chemotherapy, and whether or not she'd like to try to travel to France.  At the moment, she doesn't feel up for travel, so it may be that instead Joanna's brother comes here.  Last night, I picked up a big batch of prescriptions, so it may be that some of the more annoying symptoms like fatigue and coughing will clear up.  Mostly we're wanting to figure out what Colette wants to do with what time she has, however long that is, and then do what we can to make it happen.

Everyone seems to be pitching in.  My mom helped with legal issues, and somehow twisted people's arms to get Colette in to Whitebird for some dentistry.  Yayoe has offered great advice and suggestions.  Colette's friends have been helping pick up kids, go grocery shopping, and the like.  Sunday hospice is coming by for a consult to get a sense of what they can do to help.  Joanna has been filling out forms and getting insurance lined up.  It made a huge difference for the prescriptions I picked up last night.

I went home early yesterday as Coyote Kids has ended, and Jamie dropped off Emma.  She was very sweet and cheerful, playing with Layna when she and Maria came by to help Colette pick up Berry and Duncan from school. Later Emma and I went to her school's carnival.  It's probably the last time I'll go to Crest Drive, as Emma's school ends next week and she'll be at another school in the fall.  It was strange, as I've been going there for the last seven years and I have so many memories.  In any case, Emma played with Kate and Daniel, and then spent her last ten minutes eating Phad Thai.

It looks like we're swimming with the kids tonight.  We'll do a library run and pick up free books for whichever kid goes.  Joanna has kindergarten parties, ballet, meeting hospice, and two birthday parties.  I'll probably do some yard work and spend time with Sam and Emma.  Pizza and Mythbusters will happen in there sometime.

Life, as always, is a strange mix of wonderful and terrible, sad and funny.

Back to Work

June 06, 2011 by Adam in Family

It's Monday.  As usual, life continues to be good and difficult, happy and sad.

I left work early on Friday to help at home.  I talked to Colette and Joanna, then ended up maniacally cleaning and doing laundry until it was time to get Emma.  We stayed at home, having a quiet night with the kids.

Saturday morning Emma went with me on an errand spree.  We went to Borders to use her gift card that my mom got her.  Emma insisted on buying me a mocha, which was very sweet.  She ended up with a doodle book that she really enjoyed, and had a little extra for another trip sometime in the future.

Next was Metropol for goodies, a hair cut, Down to Earth for weed blocker, Party City for birthday party supplies, and the grocery store before heading home.  Joanna and the kids were off at ballet practice, and I watched them after lunch so that Joanna could go to a baby shower.  Somehow I managed to mow, put down weed blocker, shovel mulch, and clean the house.  That night we went out to watch Berry and Duncan's ballet.  It was fun getting gussied up and the performance was quite fun.

Sunday morning I hung out with kids as usual.  Emma and I did a bit of homework, and she and Joanna made a lemon cake for the party.  Since the weather was so nice, we hung outside doing gardening and puttering about.  I did a quick library run by myself, returning for final party preparations.

The party itself was lots of fun for Emma, and her friends were all very nice.  Duncan got in on the Mario Kart playing.  Berry gobbled up all the hors d'œuvres. Sam arrived and played with Matt and Josh on the computer.  The party guests wandered off.

I took Emma and Sam for a little walk, telling them about Colette's cancer.  They were fairly quiet about it, which was somewhat expected.  Mostly it's a starting point for future conversations.

My mom, Yayoe, Colette, and Bob arrived for dinner.  The grown ups were outside and the younger kids had pizza and Mythbusters.  Sam heaped great praise on Joanna's homemade pizza, which is something I never get.  I guess I have to keep her now.

We wrapped up the night with lots of cleaning and Doctor Who.  Only a week and a half of school to go.


June 05, 2011 by Adam in Family

Emma, Joanna, Collette and I all went down to the Hult center to watch Berry and Duncan's ballet performance.  Theirs was just one small part of a much larger performance that was quite good.  Emma wore her fancy dress and was quite enthralled, despite being pretty long.  Collette bought Berry some fancy roses, which were much appreciated.


June 03, 2011 by Adam in Family

Life is such a strange mix of wonderful and terrible, pleasant and sad.

We've had some strange work news as of late, annoying reorg rumblings that hopefully won't impact me much, but might cause challenges in the future.  Yesterday Lisa died, which continues to be hard for everyone on our team.  Today, Collette got the news of her CAT scan from yesterday, and the results were not good.  We're all still feeling stunned, talking to more doctors and trying to figure out what to do next.  My mom and Yayoe have been very helpful to talk to, and I suspect we'll take them up on their offers to help.

At the same time, Joanna and I had a good time at the vet's club Wednesday night, eating good food and listening to the blues.  The kids have been their usual funny and pleasant selves.  Spring finally arrived with sunny, warm weather.

I took the afternoon off work and cleaned maniacally, thinking as I scrubbed, folded, and picked up.  I'll be getting Emma soon and I think we'll all take it easy tonight.  Lots to think about, and plenty of simple things to appreciate.

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