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Kelvin Kruger (1951-2011): My dad... An inspiration, a fighter and my hero.

Kelvin Jon Kruger was born on Thursday, April 5, 1951 in Tyler, Minnesota. He was the fourth child of Helen and John E. Kruger. Kelvin grew up on his parents’ dairy farm in Ruthton, MN and tended to the animals and fields at a very early age. He had 4 brothers and 2 sisters. Born with a rumbling engine in his ear, Kelvin attended Canby Tech Vocational School for auto mechanics after graduating from Ruthton High School in Ruthton, Minnesota.

In 1973, Kelvin loaded up his car and moved to Southern California where he worked with his brothers Eldon and Harlan at Brothers Auto Repair. In 1980, the Kruger Family moved to the Fremont, CA, area. Kelvin had his first interview and was hired on the spot to work at Jim Moran Oldsmobile as a mechanic. When he wasn’t at work, he was busy helping fix the vehicles of friends, family and neighbors out of his home garage. It wasn’t long before Kelvin’s Auto Repair (The KAR Shop) sparked into existence. In 1984, he opened the doors to the KAR Shop in Fremont. Kelvin wanted to offer a complete, one-stop auto repair shop. He dreamed of offering a place where you could take your vehicle and know that it was getting the best, most honest service in the area. His dream came true. The KAR Shop quickly became one of the most respected independent auto repair shops in the area. The KAR Shop has a long list of customers who were there in the beginning and have stayed with him throughout his 27 years in business.

More than just an auto repair shop, The KAR Shop became a training ground for many mechanics who moved on to start their own businesses. Kelvin was a remarkable teacher – tough, but always demonstrating a better and more efficient way to get the job done. It was also the location where people could see the entire Kruger family at work. All three of his daughters and Natalie could be seen behind the desk at The KAR Shop at various points throughout the shop’s history.

In 2001, Kelvin was diagnosed with Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma. Not one to take anything sitting down, Kelvin put up the fight of his life against this cancer. He succeeded on many different fronts, including a stem cell transplant. For over 10 years, Kelvin fought an amazing, valiant battle against a terminal illness. He was and always will be an inspiration for how he fought. Even his doctors were amazed.

At the age of 60, Kelvin passed away at 9:35 on the evening of Tuesday, June 28, at his ranch in Sunol, surrounded by his loved ones. Kelvin is survived by his wife, Natalie Kruger; his daughters and sons-in-law: Jacquelyn and John Howard, Leilani and Tom Arendell, and Marla and Justin Tipton; his five grandchildren: Robert Thomas Howard, Lucas Daniel Tipton, Keilani Rose Arendell, Makaio Thomas Arendell, and Jack Kelvin Tipton; his mother, Helen Kruger; his brothers and sisters, Eldon Kruger, Karen Strom, Harlan Kruger, Teresa Herd, Roger Kruger and Jon Kruger; and many much-loved sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews and countless friends and extended family whom he cherished dearly.

Kelvin will always be remembered for his tough-guy exterior, but soft heart. He prided himself on being a strong man who took care of his family. He leaves behind a legacy of hard work, honesty, caring and persistence. Always wanting to be remembered as a hero, he succeeded in that desire. Not only do his family and friends believe he is a hero, but so do the other patients who knew him and who shared his diagnosis.

A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held at his ranch in Sunol on Saturday, July 16 at 1:30 pm. Please call (925) 456-4026 for more details if you would like to attend. The family requests that contributions be made to the International Myeloma Foundation in lieu of flowers. Please mail donations in memory of Kelvin Kruger to: International Myeloma Foundation, 12650 Riverside Dr. Suite 206, North Hollywood, CA 91607.


fear, birthing, 30 days to go

30 days to go... I can't begin to tell you how those four words strike fear into my very core. I have anxiety about whether or not I am ready for this child to be outside of my womb. I don't really have a choice - he is coming and that is that. I am thrilled to meet my son, I already love him to tiny bits.

I have had a wonderful, intimate pregnancy. I have been happy and healthy those whole time. As my time draws nearer, I am sad to see the pregnancy go. I will miss his little movements. I will miss keeping him safe and sound in there. Once he arrives, a whole new set of worries will begin.

Right now, I am focused on labor and I'm thinking about the many ways it could go. I have some ideals, but after reading "Birthing from Within" I have learned that perhaps my birth plan needs to get tossed. There is nothing about labor and delivery that can be really planned and having one will only set me up for disappointment when things don't go exactly according to plan. That strikes a cord with me, and not just because it means I get to be less specific about "my plan." I am constantly setting myself for unrealistic expectations. I just wish I could really get my head around what is exactly going to happen. Not the scientific stuff, that I know.

My son moves and wiggles and flops around all day. It's an endearing feeling that I totally enjoy. So, for tonight at least, I'm going to stop worrying and just enjoy. I'm going to try to just enjoy the remainder of my time with him in my womb.


I will birth my baby

I have been taking prenatal yoga (also known as and hour and fifteen minutes of kegals), which is supposed to be so good for me and baby. I am definitely feeling a new kind of stretch. Our instructor is encouraging and it's such a calm, relaxing atmosphere. The music, the mood, the breathing, the affirmations... It's all so peaceful and calming. So, in the midst of the patchouli haze of relaxation, why do I giggle when the instructor asks us to repeat the affirmation: "I will birth my baby."

Wait? I have a choice here? Someone else can birth my baby? Sweet.


121 days to go

Almost a year since my last post? Seriously? OK, so I'm going to say that going from just the two of us to a family of 3 and then losing our house in the fire did some serious damage to my blogging. Justin just sat down near me and said, "YOU'RE BLOGGING? What's it been? A year?" Ok, ok, ok. So, it's been a while. Aren't I allowed a break, dear blogdom?

In case this is news to you, Justin and I are expecting a little boy in May and I couldn't be happier. I find the world of pregnancy most enjoyable and very strange. I skipped right over the morning sickness and I have felt pretty good most of the past nearly 6 months. I know some of you ladies out there don't think it's fair, but I can't help it. So far, I have been extremely blessed. I have even managed to get Justin and Luke through this relatively unscathed... There is an evil monster that dwells in the hungry belly of pregnant Marla and she is irrational and downright shrill. Thank goodness, she has only appeared twice.

Also, like many of the mommies-to-be out there, I could do without some of the unsolicited advice, but thankfully I haven't been on the receiving end of many stranger belly rubs. Phew!

Kicking has become much more prominent in the last week and it's really funny. He likes to jump around all day. I imagine he's a little jumping bean bouncing from side to side in there. Well, little man, enjoy the room while you have it.

I do wish that sleeping was more comfortable. I can't seem to get comfortable at night, even with the snoodle thing. I really want to lie on my back, but you can't. This was news to me! So, when you see very pregnant ladies on TV or in movies lying on their backs... They're not supposed to! It cuts off a main artery when you're in the second trimester. So, in case you didn't know that - now you do. I didn't, until about 9 weeks ago.

So, that's all I've got right now. I'm trying to make heads and tails of the baby registry thing. It's one of many overwhelming items left on my list of things to get done. For now, I'm not thinking about the birth...



my husband and I agree...

This is how we feel at the end of Lost.



Something is causing a disconnect with some people in my life. I don't know what it is. Lately, I have been feeling like that person who always has crap going on in her life, so you avoid her so she doesn't talk to you about it. I knew someone like that once and I called him Sad Guy John. God, I hope I am not becoming one of those people. I just think the has been a rough year. Plus, I'm dealing with a whole new 8-year-old bundle of joy who lives with us, now. I think this must be what it's like to be all those people that keep dropping off the face of the planet the second they have kids. Formerly being a part-time step mom, this feeling of having no life never really surfaced until I started clocking in a full-time position here. I am now: Marla - full time step mom.

It's great spending so much time with Luke, because he's really a cool kid and I love him to pieces. But GOOD LORD he is a lot of delightful work. I take him to school, pick him up from school, do his homework with him, act as room parent in his classroom, participate in Cub Scout Den activities, attend school meetings and somehow try to run a home-based business and get a major fire-loss inventory done in there. It takes a lot of juggling and a lot of sacrifice. I gladly do the Luke stuff, because I enjoy seeing Luke flourish and succeed. I wouldn't do this if I didn't love him.

Every since the fire, people have said to me (and to others) on more than one occasion that they can't believe I haven't left. First of all, after I smack these people upside the head, I ask myself: what kind of deranged person wants a marriage to fail in the midst of crisis? We pulled together as a family. We got some counseling to get through some of the anger, pain and frustration and have really been quite tight since then. Second, what kind of jerk do these people think I am? This horrible accident happened and yes I was upset. But I was careful not to place blame and I certainly never thought of leaving my husband or step son behind. Sure, I wish things had gone differently, but all of us affected by the fire wish that the unchangeable past could be altered.

I am no hero for staying. This is my family. This is where I want to be. Maybe I need to keep telling myself that when I feel so terribly disconnected from what used to be my life. I'm still here. My life just got a lot more wonderfully complicated.


old news, but something I wanted to say

I am no prude. In fact, I have been known (not recently, but in my teens and early 20s) to have a cigarette from time to time. It's still legal to smoke, so while I don't really like the smell or what it does to surrounding lungs I don't really care if people smoke or not. If that person lives with me or is close working-promximity to me, then I might have something more to say.

It's no secret that the media loves Obama - perhaps rightfully so. However, if ANY OTHER candidate/president-elect were caught with a 20-year smoking habit, especially if that person were of the conservative variety, we would not see such a forgiving public. Scoff is you must, but you know it's true. I see blog after blog and comment after comment saying "oh, who cares if he has a smoke?" You know what? That's crap. Because if the cigarette were at the fingertips of another more conservative hand, we would never hear the end about the evils of smoking. We would not see such a forgiving public.

Hypocrisy aside, I worry what having a president who enjoys even just an occasional smoke, will actually cause smoking to increase in the US. "If the president does it, then..." or "If the president falls off the wagon, then there's no chance for me..." I can actually see the tobacco companies wringing their hands in sinister delight.

I don't usually make my political viewpoints known, but I voted for Obama. In my opinion he was the lesser of two evils. I say that, because I want you to be clear that I am not writing this as part of a post-election grudge. There is nothing wrong with loving Obama (except for you, Obama Girl). But I think it's dangerous to put on your rose-colored glasses and say all is well in fairyland, simply because it's Obama who will take office. I hope that we continue to think it's normal to question our leaders and the impact they have on our country and on the world.