Jack’s “Special Friend” Book

Jack’s mainstream teacher has been a big old blessing to us this year. She takes time for Jack, has big expectations for him, pushes him and loves him so much. There are a couple of kids from Jack’s special needs group that get slightly mainstreamed with her. She takes a week and works them into her teaching plan.

I got a brief note saying that Jack would be the “Special Friend” if the week. She asked if we could send in some family pictures. I picked a few from this year’s adoption report since it was fresh on my mind and then made two pages that showed Jack’s like in China and the few days we were there and coming home. I sent Ms. Kosaki a note that I wasn’t sure what she was after and to feel free to use whatever she needed at her discretion.

Jack still doesn’t give us details about his school day. His communication skills are so much better but details just aren’t there. I hear that he went to PE or speech and that’s about it. So I packed the pictures up and sent them in with him. The project was exclusive to Jack’s class so Bria didn’t even have an idea of what was going onto fill me in on the details.

This week Jack came home with this.

Be still my heart!

IMG_5893.JPGInside we found that Jack was interviewed. It was pretty funny too. Anyone who knows Jack knows that he hates mashed potatoes. The texture makes him gag. During his interview he said mashed potatoes are his favorite. He also claimed to hate macaroni which really is his favorite. Go team! I was also surprised to see that “Let it Go” is his favorited song. Last night I caught him singing We’re Not Gonna Take It. As a side note he was also butt naked in the bathroom getting ready for his bath. His aim as he tried to pee was a little off because you must head bang if you’re singing Twisted Sister. I love that boy! I digress. His current favorite song is Uptown Funk. Don’t judge. It his highly rated by lots of Stiffs because I dare you to listen to that song and not shake your groove thang. 









The inside of this book had pictures each of his classmates drew and letters written just for him. I read them and it was nearly impossible not to tear up.

There were lots of letters like this one wondering why on earth Jack would be in an “orfange.” Some asked about his China family. Most of them said things like, “Jack, I like you. You make me laugh.” We feel the exact same way!

Kemani is one of Bria’s best buddies. I love that boy! He’s always smiling and one of the few people that gives Bria a run for her money. Did I mention that I love Kemani? It has nothing to do with his letter…


I’ll be getting Mr. Kemani a sweet Valentine’s gift this year. Anybody who says I’m pretty… He knows how to work it.

We’ve all poured over the letters more than once. I still catch the big girls thumbing threw it. Jack carries it around with him. I’m going to have to find a special place to keep it. 

I sent Ms. Kosaki a note to say thank you. I also offered to come in and answer some of the questions the kids had. Some of those sweet girls sounded super concerned about our little Jack Jack. So tomorrow, I’m going to share one of our favorite adoption books and talk to the class about why we chose to adopt Jack, why he’s delayed and why he might have been abandoned. Yes, we’ll talk openly about the fact that Jack was abandoned. If his 7-year old sister knows you can bet his friends know. Every family approaches things differently. We feel like honesty in the best policy and it will contain an explanation of China’s one-child policy.  Jack doesn’t really understand any of it and he won’t be in the classroom when I answer their questions. If you think about it, I would appreciate a prayer that I can manage to answer their questions and convey the right message. Guess what. It’s Hawaii, so I can also tell them about James 1:27. To say I’m a little anxious doesn’t quite cover it. 



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The Prayer Post

In the last two years I’ve had more than a few deep conversations with Mom about lots of spiritual things. Prayer is something we discuss often. This may not be the post for you. It may be a post just for Mom. I have some serious things to work out in my noggin. Things I’ve been discussing with Mom off and on over the last couple of years. 

At church Sunday morning, I had one kiddo show up for class. When you are in the sixth grade, you would pretty much rather be anywhere else than locked in a room with a Sunday school teacher. It became apparent that it was just the two of us so I let him join another class and I slipped into the back of Ray’s class. When I say slipped in, I mean it. There was barely room for me to drag a chair into the doorway. The topic of conversation was prayer in the context of parables. 

God works in mysterious ways. That’s something that I don’t do often enough. That’s all I’m going to say about that. 

So here’s one of the things I hate. Sometimes I hear, God answers the persistent prayer. (Luke 18:1 would be the reference I think.) I hate that story, sweet as it is. As this was being discussed, someone said that we should be bold and shameless with our prayers. I’m hear to tell you, I have been pretty bold and shameless with a few of my prayers. They don’t always get answered. Like staring at a monitor hooked up to an ultra sound that isn’t showing a heartbeat when you were only expecting to hear if the room should be pink or blue. I’m pretty sure Mom has said her share of persistent prayers and she watched her husband struggle and struggle is too light a term with RCC. What about the parents that watch their small children fight horrible disease like cancer? I’m sure they are bold and persistent. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wrestled with it. Mom has wrestled with it. I remind myself that Paul prayed for relief and never received it. I think about our friends, the Alexanders and what a wonderful example (even if they don’t know it) they have been for us. Still, I sit in a class I hear this story and all I can think is, “Am I not persistent enough in my prayers for Jack? If I prayed more would it help his development? Doesn’t every mother of a special need child feel this way? Do they feel like it’s a slap in the face too?” The struggle is real. I know I’m supposed to be learning something from this. 

I guess the point I’m getting to is that it’s hard for me to sit and listen to a class about prayer. Maybe it’s the plank in my eye right now. Can we just talk about your speck please?

So, here are some of my notes from that class…

  • Just as we live in JOY (Put Jesus first, then others, then yourself) we can pray ACTS
    • Acknowledge
    • Confess
    • Thanksgiving
    • Supplication
  • God’s will is that everyone be saved…and for us to have joy. We should note that joy is not necessarily happiness.
  • Content in prayer is more important than form
  • Remember to use the Lord’s prayer as an example
  • Even Jesus didn’t always get what he wanted (see above about Paul)
  • The takeaway given for this particular lesson was “Will God find faith? Will Jesus find prayer fatigue?” 

Prayer fatigue… sigh. I think I have all the symptoms. I was on it when we were in the process to get Jack. I was on it when we brought him home. It was persistent. It was bold. It was shameless. It went on until well, at some point you get a little angry. I had big ideas. I was stepping out in faith to do the right thing. I just knew Jack was going to be this shining example of what God can do. He is. It wasn’t my expectation. I thought he would come home and it would take lots of hard work and he would be totally healed. He’s not. He struggles. I struggle. Every member in this family has been frustrated with his delays at one time or another. It has also been a lesson in faith, patience, self control, mercy. We all had a lot to learn. I can see that God’s plan is working here. Really. And still, I pray that Jack will catch up. That Bria can have an equal. That the girls won’t have to take care of Jack after Ray and I are gone. I’m starting to realize that maybe that’s not God’s plan. It’s really, really hard to reconcile that in my head and in my heart. I know that I’m not the only mother that feels that way. I know there are so many people who struggle feeling like their prayer hasn’t been answered. I know that there are people who struggle with the death of a loved one. (I have too and I did find peace eventually.) Struggles just stink don’t they?

So, that’s what is on my mind in the twenty minutes that I get to go to a class about prayer instead of teaching one sixth grader about Phillip and the Ethiopian. Maybe I should’ve made Shawn hang out with me… 

Do you have thoughts? Anything you want to say about prayer? My ears are open. Mom, I’m talking to you!

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Works For Me Wednesday

It’s been a long time since I participated in a Works for Me Wednesday post. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I did. I get so excited when I find something that works. I just wanted to share. I’ll be linking up over at Giving Up On Perfect when she puts up this week’s post. 

Tis the season for PCS preparation. That means everyone is moving to you civilian folks. Summer rolls around and we all pack up and move. Every time we move, we purge. There is no better word for it. There is no room for extra stuff in those crates. I’ve been here long enough to know that it’s time to purge and contain. Don’t worry I’m getting to the point. 

When we moved here, I had to get rid of so many board games. There were missing pieces, broken boxes and well, just too darn many of them. Bria has sparked everyone’s interest in board games again. It didn’t take long to realize they are starting to look as scattered as the Legos. Memory games and card games are particularly popular. The girls take them out on the lanai and the next thing I know a box has blown away or something is missing. I have found a solution!

After looking all over Pinterest, I saw that a few people were using clear pencil bags to store puzzle pieces. 

It’s an excellent idea. So off to Wal-Mart I went. This is Hawaii and it’s not Back To School season so those little bags were running up to $5 a piece. No thanks. Most of our puzzles were purchased at neighborhood yard sales or given to us. 

I walked around for a bit and noticed these handy little containers for $1.50. 

IMG_5876.JPGIMG_5877.JPGThey are designed to hold index cards. You can find them in the office section. They were the perfect size for our giant deck of Uno, the Memory game and a puzzle. They stacked neatly and it’s super easy to throw everything in there. Plus, it isn’t awful looking on the shelf and kids can still see it. My poor kids, it’s out of site, out of mind around here. If they don’t see it, they don’t play with it. I think Wal-Mart will be seeing me again. 

I know Arleigh has a couple of containers like this that are 12×12 for scrap book supplies. I think I’ll see if the board games will fit in there. This will be so helpful with the move too. The lids snap so there is no chance of a piece falling out in the shuffle of boxes. 



My other new great thing is the Ibotta app. I don’t have time to clip coupons and we don’t subscribe to any newspapers. I gotta makes it easy to pick the coupons you want on your phone. Then you just take a picture of your receipt. Money and rebates are earned and it can be transferred to PayPal or to a gift card. My girls love to shop on etsy to it’s a win win! If you decide to try it out, here’s my referral code: xvhhikx 

You’ll find more on Ibotta here. 




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Mama How Come…

IMG_5843.JPGI hear “How come…” at least 423 times a day. I have some how come questions of my own.

How come I can walk across sleeping grass, lava rock and any other sharp and or hard objects but a lego breaks my foot? 

How come legos hurt even worse when you step on them in the dark?

How come I’m always looking for a way to sort/store those blasted things? If you have any brilliant ideas, how come you haven’t sent them my way?

How come there are always 1000 legos strewn across the floor but there is always at least one missing from the set the kids want to build?

How come I have a dog that tries her darnedest to eat legos? You’d think she’d figure out after I don’t know the 200th serving that they aren’t exactly edible. 

How come I seem to be more obsessed with legos than Jack and Bria?

I have four children. Three of them were born overseas. They are well traveled and have been introduced to more culture than I was at 30. How come one of them was recently shocked to hear that part of the population of Britain includes black people? So much for well cultured.

We live in a melting pot. Granted it’s mostly a melting pot of the Pacific. So how come Bria informed me that Martin Luther King was known for teaching people these 3 things. “1. Be nice to people. 2. Feed the homeless. 3. Plant more trees.” How come I’m suddenly wondering what’s in Hawaii’s MLK curriculum? Sounds more like her kumu’s curriculum. 

How come it’s Monday morning and I was up at 4:30? Oh, that’s right I have a 7-year old that refuses to sleep EVER. 

How come I have a 14-year old daughter? How come I was asked yesterday if I’m already having trouble with boys? How come they can’t stay little just a bit longer, like 35 years longer?

How come I can’t seem to find a way to end this post? Well, I guess this is a good a place as any. Have a happy Monday! I’ll be over here napping. 




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How Come

I hear, “Mama how come…?” well, let’s just say hundreds of times a day. I have a few how comes I could like to ask though.

Let’s start with How Come I’m the one sorting these?


You see where I’ll be all weekend. The real How Come post is coming Monday. If you’re wondering How Come Monday, did I mention I’m organizing Legos? Sigh. Watch where you step! These boogers hurt!

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Sit Down and Think About It

I think writing a post about being like a child must be like praying for patience. You pray for patience, you’re tested until you can prove your patience… 

Things were going swimmingly this morning. We were better than on time. We were EARLY! The calendar is clean. I know what’s happening for the rest of the day. Then I heard something from someone that made my blood boil to the point that I wanted to lash out, at least call them on it. Grandma says, “But Brandi, you just can’t fix stupid.” My response, “no, but I really want to punch it in the face.” Sigh. So much for being like a child. (Audible sigh.)

My friend Christine told me once that maybe I need a private diary instead of a blog. She may have been right but getting things off my chest in such a public way is gratifying. Still, I really have no right to insert my frustration into this particular situation. I thought I’d do a little internet research. That always helps. Right?

I got the answer right off the bat. “Sit down and think about it.”

I might need to sit the puppy at a computer and say “Sit down and blog about it but you get the idea.” I’m feeling better already.

Apparently it’s a common theme.

This one hits a little close to home…

This just made me laugh. Maybe there’s something wrong with me?

Because yes… I’m mean it’s not good to hold onto it right?


This could almost make me forget I’m mad. I don’t think I’m this angry.

Okay. So I’m back to the original theory. Sit and think about it… I just changed it to sit and click through memes for 10 minutes. Careful though. There are lots of naughty things on the internet. I really do feel better already.

What do you do when you get mad? ( I also realize prayer is an option. I just needed to calm down first…)

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