Tears and Grace

I saw a sign recently. It said, “I laughed so hard tears ran down my leg.” At 40, there are days that I can relate. It usually involves a sneeze instead of a laugh but whatever. Last night, I thought about that sign except it wasn’t a tear. It was more like someone tapped a warm keg in my lap. It wasn’t warm beer or my own urine either… Let me back up.

I wasn’t exactly looking forward to our Sunday evening worship service at church. Bria was melting down. She didn’t want to go. Honestly, an hour long worship service for the six-year old can be a bit of a snooze fest especially if you’ve spent the afternoon in the pool and you’re exhausted. Adding insult to injury, as we pull out of the neighborhood all you see is the kids’ friends soaking up the late hours of a summer day and summer is almost over. Then there’s Jack. He was in trouble after our morning service. He wasn’t looking his usual chipper self. Ray left early because the night before a very rare storm led to lightening striking and the routers at the church were fried. He needed to fix them. So, I decided to fake it until I make it and packed all my grumpy people in the mom mobile and off we went.

Services started and I had to separate Jack and Hanan. Hanan has a tendency to get Jack wound up and noisy by teasing him. I guess it’s her form of entertainment when she doesn’t want to listen to a sermon. Quick reprimand and shuffle and I’m settling back in noticing Jack is upset. It wasn’t his fault so I put him in my lap to try and cheer him up. It was about this  time that he started to smile and then his nervous laughter started. I was hugging on him, trying to make him smile and the nervous laughter got much worse. Then I felt it. There was a warm puddle forming in my lap. 

Mama wasn’t happy. It’s not my first rodeo with Jack. You might remember that getting him home from Hong Kong, I smelled like pee on a very long flight. If you missed it you can read about it here. Ray has had diapers leak all over his back which is bad but I must say that when a six-year old looks you straight in the eye with the ability to ask to go to the bathroom and proceeds to pee in your lap… Let’s just say it didn’t matter that I was sitting in a worship service and I proceeded to lose all form of grace. Yes, Mom I remember peeing my pants and embarrassing you horribly when I was much older than 6. I’ve never claimed perfection.

I have a hard time disciplining Jack. Corporal punishment is apparently not supposed to be used on a no longer orphan. Jack can ask to potty. Jack can go to the potty by himself without asking. We’re back to accidents because he chooses not to ask or go. Call me horrible if you want but I stick him in the shower to clean him up with cool water. He’s not a fan. It worked for a bit. Last night, as I sat him back down in wet pants wondering what to do until our services were over, he looked at me and said, “I need a cold shower.” Yep. Parent of the year over here. Good grief. 

So it’s Monday. I have more on my to do list than I care to think about it. Jack and I have both showered and we’re looking for a do over. Here’s hoping I remember to have grace today. 


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There Is No Picture…

I’m going to tell you a story. It was a hot night in July… (Just kidding Grandma. That is an inside family joke meant to make her smile.) It was, however, a very hot Hawaiian afternoon in July. We dropped our guests off at the airport yesterday and headed straight to the soccer field to watch the last half hour or so of Arleigh and Hanan’s soccer camp scrimmage. Ray parked in the shade since we didn’t have chairs. Bria and Jack were playing around in the back of the van when I hear, “Oh no! It was itchy Mom!” from Jack. 

Oh no was right. Bria says, “His nose is bleeding.” This is unfortunately a regular occurrence for Mr. Jack. If I know he’s getting dry, I can pretreat but the poor kid just gets bloody noses. 

We have been all over creation. I had nothing in the back of the van because it had moments before been filled to the brim with suitcases and backpacks. I used all the wipes while we traversed the island with our guests. Hanan had been through my stash of tissues. Thankfully it wasn’t so bad yet. I grabbed Jack and laid him down. My mom-mobile is equipped with lots of little hidden compartments. Ray started digging hoping to find a napkin or anything to stop the bleeding. He found a stash of just in case tampons. A friend who’s son suffers with the same affliction had recently told me that was what she used. 

Yes. Yes I did. Don’t judge me. I had on a white shirt and the boy can bleed profusely. I opened that sucker up and stuck it in the bloody nostril as gently as I could. It did the trick. As I reached for my phone, Ray said, “No pictures.” I guess he thinks Jack has enough going against him without his mother posting a picture of a tampon shoved up his nose on her blog. It was funny though. He also didn’t seem to mind since his nose was no longer bleeding all over his favorite Monster’s Inc. shirt. 

We hung out for a little bit. He stopped bleeding and went to playing. No trash can in sight. I laid the grody thing down until I could find a rubbish bin. 

All is well right…Haven’t you learned by now that the Stiff’s can never do anything the easy way?

Cut to 8 p.m. last night and I’m giving Jack a bath. He was playing around, sticking his face in the water. Apparently the tampon just caused the blood to form some sort of alien looking booger blot clot that slipped out of his nose as he got a little water in it. Gross doesn’t describe it. I cleaned him up and immediately went to tell Ray all about it. I can’t keep anything gross to myself in case you didn’t notice.

As I’m telling him that apparently tampons cause gross bloody boogers, Arleigh walks into the room and only hears the words tampons, bloody and boogers. She has a look of true horror on her face. 

I explain that Jack had a bloody nose, I felt like MacGyver and I was as her British soccer coaches like to say, “BRILLIANT!”

Arleigh was disgusted. What if Joe saw? Oh yeah… Joe. He is one of the British soccer coaches. He’s the one that came over and asked for a ride. He’s the one that was in the car with the bloody tampon lying right there in the cup holder. Sweet! 

I always say I haven’t done my job as a mother for the day unless I’ve completely embarrassed my children at least once over the course of the day. I’m thinking yesterday it was a job well done. 

(So you know Grandma, I’m pretty sure Joe never witnessed any of my mess.)

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Mahalo Y’all

It is no secret that I covet your prayers, especially right now for Mom and Ned. Yesterday I truly felt loved. I’m certain Mom felt covered in prayer, Ned too. Thank you.

I spent yesterday laughing until I cried as people recounted Tye’s many stories. I cried over sweet text messages and comments. While I still say it was just any other day without him, he would have LOVED the attention. Thank you for your kind messages, phone calls, texts and emails. I read each one and feel very, very loved. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of the loved ones I’ve lost. It seems like the list goes on forever. I am also blessed with four kids that demand my attention. They don’t give me time to sulk and wallow. There is no place to go but forward. 

One of the things I miss most about Tye are the texts. He could make me go from aggravated to laughing my head off in the scope of a couple of messages. Yesterday, he would have been the first one I sent a video of Jack to.

Jack was completely freaked out by fire dancers when we moved here. In fact, our first month here we met a fire dancer who was so sweet. Jack would not come out from behind my leg. We ran into him about a half hour later in street clothes. He was Jack’s new best friend. Things have changed in 18 months.

Yesterday Jack decided one of Tucker’s toys looked like a fire dancer’s torch. It makes for much better practice than the real thing…especially inside the house. Jack says he’s ready for the luau.

I’m sure Tye is laughing with Jack… Not at him.

Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers. Please continue to pray for Mom and Ned. We could sure use it.

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What A Bad Day Looks Like

When Jack has a bad day, he has a bad day all over. It hurts him to his bones. Sometimes I even forget what his bad days look like because there are so many good ones interspersed with great ones. Then he has a bad day. It looks a little like this…


This was taken less than halfway through piano. When I say that Jack’s has bad days did I mention that they tend to cause my day to run south faster than a criminal trying to make it to the border? No? I should have.

I should also mention that I am super duper grateful for the blessings we’re given. Sometimes they come in the strangest packages. Tonight it came in the form of Miss Momoko.

Miss Momoko is our beloved piano teacher. The girls have learned more here in the last year and a half than I care to admit considering the number of years they’ve been playing. For the last several months she’s been telling me it’s time to fit Jack into the stream. I’ve been nodding my head and wondering how she’ll do it.

It was at Miss Momoko’s that Jack started having his bad day. It was pretty much the definition of a no good horrible bad day. He was really upset and unable to communicate why and that just made him sadder. After the girls were finished, Miss Momoko crooked her finger and beckoned Jack to the piano. His eyes lit up. He sat down and then this…

Oh my goodness this does my heart good! Sometimes it takes more than my little family. Tonight it was that Miss Momoko truly believed in Jack. She didn’t just think maybe he could try. She thinks Jack is capable of the same things as his sisters. She renews my hope that maybe he is.

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The Appointment

I don’t know who wanted to miss Jack’s appointment with the eye doctor more. Ray and I have been discussing the fact that we thought Jack’s eyes might be floating again. He continues to hold things very close to his face and we don’t know why. I was expecting at the very least patching again, maybe glasses and the promise of another surgery in the future. I thought the time between appointments would decrease. I’m a little tired of keeping Jack out of school for appointments. I think it’s like taking two steps forward for three steps back. Jack wasn’t happy to be missing school either. He loves it. He was cranky so I promised treats if he was good and “stayed on green.”

I learned a few things. God is good all the time. He actually does answer prayers. Also, I am not a doctor. 

In spite of Jack’s weird behaviors holding things so close and bouncing around, his eyesight is actually improving. The doctor saw the same crossing that I see but he said that when you measure Jack’s eyes, they are okay. It must be the shape of his face. He also noticed the left eye floating. Is is Jack or Jack’s brain or yes? We don’t know. His vision is obviously not affected. So for now, it’s okay. Only the crazy people staring at this eyes like his parents and doctor would probably notice. 

The best news of all… no more monthly or even every other month appointments. We are clear for six months! I don’t know what I’ll do with myself. I don’t have an appointment at that weird building until May! 

Jack was pretty funny during the appointment. For all his fussing about wanting to go to school, Jack really loves Dr. Young. It’s funny what he remembers. Dr. Young has a tongue depressor with stickers on it that he tries to get Jack to focus on during measurements. In the past he’s made a popping noise with his mouth. As soon as Jack saw the tongue depressor he started making the noise before Dr. Young even had a chance to. He knows that the lights will go out and he will see stars and doesn’t want to leave until Dr. Young hooks him up. The funniest thing was when Dr. Young said, “Okay Jack. You’re getting better. We’re all done.” Jack started to sing the all better song from Doc McStuffins. He doesn’t even watch that show very often but he did see it this weekend. Oh my word, I almost fell over. 

Grandma got to hear the serenade on the way home. She told me I needed to video it and put it up so she could watch it all the time. Here’s my I’m technologically challenged warning… I’m trying but I have a hard time getting videos up here.

Jack and I decided to celebrate at the boy’s favorite store…

Yes, he left with a yellow bag and a giant smile. 

I’m smiling pretty big today too. Everybody is heading back to school!

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Jack’s Toy

We’ve had lots of incidents with Jack and his toys lately. Some have been funnier than others. Last week, I came home from boot camp and Jack was a big hot mess. Arleigh said that he was upset because he flushed one of his two favorite cars down the toilet. Jack has been a bit fascinated with her bathroom lately. The car is on the big side for flushing but in his “GRREEEEEEN CAAAAR go away!” stupor I assumed it had happened. Never mind the boy has stopped putting anything away and losing things on a regular basis solidifying his place in the Stiff household, or at least as his mother’s son. Jack cried over Green Car for a few days. I was a bit bummed because it was one of the toys we had delivered to him in China while we waited to be able to get to him. (He never got it until the day he met us but that is beside the point.) He still had blue car, red car and purple car and he clearly learned his lesson… or so I thought.

Grandma was delivered to Kentucky yesterday and we initiated Operation Clean The Darn House. Hanan was helping Jack in his room. I heard Jack yell then Hanan squeal. Sometimes this is an excellent sign and sometimes this is a reason to hide. I chose option wait and see what happens. Jack came running into my bedroom pleased as punch. Green Car had not in fact been buried at sea but was buried under a pile of crap in Jack’s room. Finding one little green car and reuniting it with blue car was very exciting for one little boy.

Things are always interesting with Jack’s “Toys.” At some point, he’ll probably ask me to not share quite so much. I hope he grows up with his mother’s sense of humor. (I’ll be happy to share the story of my zipping my giant five-year old belly in a jumpsuit…you’ll see where I’m going with this.) Grandma’s last day here included a trip to Hickam Beach. 

(Yeah, I just feel like being cruel. This isn’t even my favorite beach.)

Jack was wearing a new swimsuit. He was doing the potty dance, you know the one. We’re trying to make him speak more and the bathroom was close and we were at the beach…so I was waiting him out. He finally said, “Mama, potty!” and we were off. We get to the bathroom and he was having a bit of a personal problem. I still don’t know how it happened but he had a very UNCOMFORTABLE wardrobe malfunction. Like something was attached to an article of clothing uncomfortable. I’m a girl. I can totally deal with girl bits. I am not a boy. Boy bits are not in my level of competence, poor kid. I decided to wait and see if he could deal with it. Um. No. I try to help. This is not a part of Jack’s anatomy that he appreciated the pull and tug maneuver to get the board shorts off. I was doing the best I could which is not saying much under the circumstances. Jack is quickly going from uncomfortable to being in more than a bit of pain and I’m trying not to panic. These are boy bits after all. He starts to whine and yell, that thirty seconds seemed to last 100 years but we finally achieved FREEDOM! Can I please get a Hallelujah and an Amen? Jack looked up at me and said, “Mama said no touch the toy.”

I can’t tell you how hard it was not to fall over I was laughing so hard. Jack has been seeing and endocrinologist. He’s had a series of testosterone shots to help his growth. It causes certain side effects in boys. My mantra for a bit seemed to be, “Jack stop touching, that’s not a toy.” Something, as usual was lost in translation between us but it made a truly horrific experience a bit more humorous for me. The funnier part was watching Jack walk like an old man down to the beach and then try to tell his Grandma what had happened to his “toy.” Oh my! 

Jack got over his incident fairly quickly. I’ll just tell him to send me the therapy bills later. We’re working on parts of the anatomy with the correct vernacular. Poor kid had no idea what he was getting into with this family. 

In other news, Jack has his follow up today from  his testosterone shot therapy. As always, prayers are appreciated. 

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