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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Jack Update Part 437

I’m starting to feel like Jack’s eyes have taken over… this blog, our calendars, every day activities. I know it’s a short season and it will pass, but man no water is hard when you have a boy living on an island with a pool across the street. Bathing is a nightmare. Cream in his eyes four times a day and patching for six hours a day is taking it’s toll on both of us. I was hoping for some spectacular news… 

We did get some news. His eyes are healing, just ever so slowly… ever so freaking slowly. Jack is still at risk for infection. I’m trying to remember that we have skated through a major surgery with no infection…a huge blessing… instead of focusing on how SLOW the recovery is. I’m was praying about it this morning and realized his surgery moving up was a HUGE blessing. If we had to deal with no water through summer break I’m quite certain I would LOSE MY MIND. I’m trying to be thankful for the little things…clearly trying is the operative word these days. Actually I know we are extremely blessed that Jack’s surgery went as well as it did with no true set backs. 

Jack’s eyes were stronger this week. Patching has helped and our cool new patches finally arrived via amazon…

We have a whole host of boy patches to choose from that won’t curl around the ends. Even better…Dr. Young released us to two hours a day! That means no patch at school. The six hours were killing Jack. He doesn’t fuss about the patch or try to pull it off, but he is grumpier. His teacher can’t really decipher his communication style yet. She told me the other day he wanted his eye cream. I had no idea why he would say that, we call it medicine. In his grumpy moments, Jack has started yelling “I want ice cream!” If you saw Jack rolling around in the street of China screaming his full head off because I tried to give him a bit of my ice cream cone you would understand how funny we find this. He has become his father’s son asking for ice cream multiple times daily and not just when he’s mad. Anyway at two hours, we can easily do that at home and hope our boy is a happy camper at school.

Jack’s right eye is still turning in. It’s not bad. The patch has really helped speed up the healing process in that eye. His left eye is still rolling up. The patch is helping strengthen that eye. It was hard to know which eye to patch now. They both need a little help. The doctor finally decided to continue only with the right eye for now. We’ll just be back and forth to his office a little more in the coming months to make sure we’re getting it right. It’s all good. The valet staff totally knows us now and our schedule. I think I’m the crazy haole that tips. 

Even though we are under strict no water orders, I’m a little bit stir crazy and all the kids are too…even the four legged one. Last night, I grabbed Ray from his office, we picked up some dinner and had a picnic at Dog Beach. No water or sand reached eyes. We were careful and I was able to recharge a little aloha for my Mama heart. 

We have recitals this weekend but I see Bellows in our near future!

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Another Jack Update

Jack is a hard nut to crack. Recently I feel like I’m going head to head with his teacher. There are only a few more weeks of school. It’s hard to decide if the juice is worth the squeeze if you know what I mean. Yep, heard someone else say that the other day and I knew I had to use it. It’s so fitting here. She won’t be his teacher next year. She won’t even be at this school. How hard to a push back? It’s hard to know. She recently told me that Jack needs to see a psychologist, you know in her professional opinion. I was wondering how a psychologist could learn anything from Jack considering any question is answered with “yes” because he thinks that’s what you want to hear. After talking with another mom I will ask his pediatric growth specialist when we go back if he thinks it should be a consideration. Why does it sound so wrong in my head though?

Jack is progressing at school. His fine motor skills are better almost daily. His speech isn’t where we want it but he’s recently started calling me out. If he doesn’t have my full attention I hear, “Mama, look at me!” The other day he was “reading” a book. He started asking me questions. I had no clue what he wanted to know. I heard, “Mama, just answer the question.” He’s addressing people a little more regularly including kids in his class. This is big news for us and he usually only addresses adults and maybe his siblings. He’s got letters, colors and numbers down. I think we’re ready to tackle kindergarten next year. He won’t be completely mainstreamed yet, but we are working toward that goal.

We had all the pre-op appointments yesterday. Jack was once again a total Rock Star. I know he was nervous. He managed to even communicate a bit with his eye doctor making the measuring process 1000 times easier. Jack’s eyes have progressively gotten worse in our time here. With each appointment his measurements are off even more. We know it’s time for the surgery. We know it will help him and yet… it’s scary business. This final appointment was for measurements and decisions. The decision was muscles in both eyes will be tightened on Thursday. This will most assuredly help but it may not be the final surgery. We’re prayerfully hoping it’s one and done.

After Jack’s eye appointment we snuck in some Korean BBQ. It’s the only meat other than a chicken nugget that I know he will eat heartily. Plus, there’s white rice. What more could a guy ask for? I’ll admit it. Yummy’s is a treat for both of us. I knew I would need it for his next appointment.

Jack passed his physical for surgery with flying colors. He was awesome. The medical assistants know Jack. I imagine that they cringe when they see his name. His first trip to the clinic, we could barely get him weighed and measured correctly much less get a blood pressure. He was screaming his fool head off from the moment I took him out of his stroller. Yesterday he walked in like he owned the place. He hopped on the scale, held still to get his height and held his arm out for a blood pressure cuff. Our MA was thrilled. He knew Jack loves Cars so he brought in Lightening McQueen and ‘Mater stickers. Jack was thrilled. Brian Domingos has made a friend for life! Jack was so excited for his stickers I think he guaranteed himself more on every trip into the clinic. Overall it was a good visit. Jack is a healthy little boy.

We’re pressing forward with surgery on Thursday. We’re nervous but also ready for the surgery and recovery to be over with. No pool or beach this weekend makes us all a little bit sad. Hopefully we’ll find something else fun to do. Prayers are appreciated that this week and recovery go by smoothly.

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