Mr. Jack And The IEP

First let me say that I have been on both ends of an IEP… for the gifted child and for the special ed child. Maybe it’s just me but there is nothing like an IEP either way to make me feel like a bad mother. Seriously, Arleigh’s IEP in Tennessee left me feeling almost evil. There is no IEP process for the GT program in Hawaii. I’m almost thankful. Here the teachers look at tests and decide based on classroom experience and test scores whether or not a student can handle the program. Parents are informed, they can choose to participate or not. If the parent wants them in GT against what the teachers suggest, there’s a discussion that has the potential to go either way with the counselors and registrar. Again, been on both sides… I honestly liked the non-formal approach SO MUCH BETTER. It could be aloha spirit and now I get to wonder all day long if that’s screwing my kids up to.

Years ago, when my Arleigh was first starting school we prayerfully considered what to do. Public school was the answer for our family. Multiple moves, multiple states, some with better education reputations than others and I still say public school is working well for us for many reasons and on many levels. I understand it might not work for everyone. 

Anywho… Back to this guy.


He’s pretty cute. I just had to throw a picture in there. 

Jack is progressing. The only thing I like about the IEP process, other than chatting with his speech therapist and teacher is that I’m given the opportunity to reflect. Two years ago, Jack started preschool in Hawaii. He was assessed as having the vocabulary of a 9 month old. Basically, he didn’t talk. He couldn’t communicate much beyond pointing… including his immediate needs. That was after being home for a year. Talk to other adoptive families and most of the time a child has caught up pretty well. Yet, here we were excited that he could walk and was starting to really run. 

Yesterday I got to hear that Jack is reading on a first grade level. READING ON A FIRST GRADE LEVEL!!! His sight words are almost up to date. He is blending sounds. The sounds of his speech are mostly great. His math is on an average first grade level. Hallelujah and amen!!! His progress is such a blessing. Really. Such a blessing. I need to remind myself of that.

Yesterday was the easiest IEP ever. We all agree on where Jack is, where we need to get him to and how to do it. I love his teachers. I love his speech therapist. And yet… I left knowing I should be excited about his progress but was very concerned about his future. Am I doing it right? There are 4 kids in this house. Am I enough? What if I did this? Should we push him to do that? I don’t really understand the data from all the testing they’ve done. Why can he read and write and still not understand any abstract concept? Sigh. 

Isn’t that what we do with all of our kids? Am I reigning Bria in enough or should I let her be the bossy pants she was born to be? Is Arleigh hitting her real potential or is she too shy? Hanan is really coming into her own here and where about to pull her out of a school where she is excelling. Am I on top of school work? Should I supplement more? How can we possibly supplement more? Are we letting them just be kids? That part… the letting them just be kids seems to be easier for me here. Sure, run, play, meet your friends at the park… Can I really do that on the mainland? Won’t I have to stalk them there? Will they just have to be home? Will they be able to find their independence if they are stuck with me? Soon we’ll be discussing cars and colleges and can time please just stand still for a second?

Well, I guess it’s true. Blogging is cheaper then therapy. Bottom line is… Jack is a rock star. His progress is evident. We just need to keep it up!

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Find Your Aloha

Have I mentioned that I love it here? One of the things I love most is the spirit of Aloha. I think when we moved here I thought you said Aloha for hello and goodbye. It really means so much more. I joke about finding my aloha like I need to find my happy place but really I’m talking about so much more. That’s why I really appreciated a little project Jack brought home from school.

Jack came home with a little green bag. Inside the bag we found Aloha Bear. He was a total haole. (I can say that because I’m haole but at this point, I’d like to think I’m hapa. That’s another blog post.) Aloha bear is a little white bear dressed up in a black suit, clearly from the mainland with a giant handmade lei. He came with a book called Aloha Bear And The Meaning of Aloha. The book was well worn and dogeared with notes from past first graders scribbled on the inside cover. It also oozed aloha. Jack’s assignment was to read the book and discuss with his family what our meaning of aloha is then write about it and draw a picture. I can’t tell you how much I LOVED this little assignment.

We read the book. Aloha means hello, good-bye and love but that is not all… Bria lost her aloha for a second when she realized it was Jack’s assignment and not hers. I told her she could make her own aloha picture anytime she wanted and better yet, help Jack. Bria’s definition is the one Jack used, “Aloha means to love, to share, to care and to be kind to others.” I just love that kid! I think everyone should be filled with a little aloha spirit.


Granted, the laid back atmosphere and views like the one above does seem to make it easier for us to play nice.

It’s easy to find aloha here…

I told someone yesterday that yes I like to take surf lessons but no I don’t consider myself to be a fabulous surfer. After everything that has gone on in my life in the last couple of years, I love that for a couple of hours all I have to think about it is paddle out, wait for the wave and then where do my hands and feet go. I don’t have to worry about anything…except maybe the crushing wave or the occasional shark. When you go out with friends… well, there’s not much better. It is like having my very own recharge button.


I kid Ray all the time. I tell him if he actually insists that we leave. (I’m very aware the insistence is the US Navy but Ray is an easier target.) I’m going to tattoo the islands on my wrist with Be The Aloha at the bottom. I need to take the reminder with me.

Aloha isn’t just no cares. It’s love and kindness and doing the right thing for the people around you whether you want to or not even when it’s hard. Ray and I toss around James 4:17 a lot. “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Kind of hits you over the head doesn’t it? The thing about having an aloha spirit is that you don’t need to be reminded of James 4:17, you are always ready to show love, kindness and compassion without any expectations of return. The greatest thing is, the aloha spirit is contagious! If you share aloha with someone, you can bet they will spread it to someone else.

If you are spreading aloha… everything else is nicer and happier and less stressful…kind of like these two…

There are times that I talk to people that are so busy, so wrapped up in everything going on that they can’t possibly share aloha because they have none. There are times when I stop and look around and think maybe I’m only sharing aloha with my little family because I think that’s all I can muster. That’s when I need that recharge button because once you start going, it’s easier and easier. Making other people happy has a tendency to make me happy too. Weird huh?

If you are interested in reading Jack’s book, I saw a used copy on Amazon.

I’m off to see where I can spread some aloha today…

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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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