Why I’m Not Blogging

Does the picture not speak for itself? Soccer, cross country, band, a husband on a PT kick… It accumulates fast around here. 

There’s also Jack. I’m a worried mom teetering on when to say what. His regression is worse since they moved him to a new class. Here’s hoping a little structure will do the boy good.

If you need me, I’m almost at the peek of Mount Washmore. Hopefully I’ll be down again soon. 

Read More

The Thin Blue Line

(Photo Credit Misti Drew from her tribute to The Life Of Tye Jackson)

If you are new here, our family has dropped anchor in many different places over the years but we still call Kentucky home. Over the past 72+ hours I’ve watched the news with a heavy heart. Trooper Cameron Ponder was stationed at Post 1 in my hometown, Mayfield, Kentucky. He was working a stretch of highway that I’ve driven. Before he was a trooper, he was in the navy, stationed at my beloved Hawaii. While I didn’t know Trooper Ponder personally, since this tragedy I found out a few close friends did. 

From the moment I heard a trooper was shot on I-24 my thoughts went to my brother. How many times had he worked that area? Did the trooper know Tye? Was one of Tye’s friends killed? I have friends and family and friends that I consider family in that area that are first responders. They are state troopers, police officers, EMTs and firemen. The act was more than tragic. 

I’ve listen to most but not all of the audio from the police scanner from Trooper Ponder on Sept. 13. My heart stopped when I heard, “multiple juveniles in the car.” I know Trooper Ponder was trying to arrange for a hotel for the family for the night after stopping a high speeding vehicle driven by someone with a suspended license. I listened as the brother of another KSP Trooper said that Trooper Ponder volunteered to take the position at Post 1 so another Trooper could take a post closer to his family. This was a good man who had only begun his life gunned down tragically. He wasn’t in a bad neighborhood. He wasn’t fighting anyone off. He was trying to help a family. 

I’m bothered that some people have the perception that my brother would gun you down because of the color of your skin just because of a uniform that he wore and a power trip. You clearly didn’t know my brother or who the friends he had. I’m bothered that my kids go to school and have a perception that people assume they are racists because of the color of their skin. I’m bothered by the fact that we can’t all agree to just obey the law or suffer the consequences. Let’s today choose to teach our children the value of respecting authority and value of peace. I hate driving down the road and hearing someone act like the police officer is out to get you. That’s only if you are breaking the law. For the record, I have family members that do that. I want my kids to know they can go to a first responder for help, not to fear them. 

There is so much to say on this matter. I would love to hear your opinion, if you can place nicely…


Read More

Briaisms With Hashtags

First, thank you Thank you THANK YOU for all the kind words, support and prayers we received on Jack’s behalf. As a brief update to the update, we have a new IEP appointment scheduled. I’m trying to schedule doctor visits. School consultations and a brief visit with the PCM indicate that Jack may have institutional autism and that can cause his development delay. I see symptoms of that daily so I tend to agree and I’m pretty sure Ray would say the same thing. If I could be so bold to ask for specific prayer it would be that I don’t melt down during his IEP meeting, that Jack gets in to see the developmental pediatrician ASAP and that we find the therapies he needs to help him become independent. As frustrated as I was at the transition into this school, I think we are in a good place to help him grow. Thank you again for loving on my kiddos. Now on to the funnier side of our crazy Stiff life.

Bria doesn’t give me the one-liners that she did as a four-year old. She can still keep us in stitches or questioning our parenting skills. Her friends do to. Last week we had friends over. On the way over the little boy in the family said, “I sure hope I can play Infinity at their house.” His mom said she was sure he could play with Jack. Little A said, “No, Mom. It will be up to Bria. She makes all the decisions in the house.” Funny. I’m sure Bria thinks she does. #shewantstoruletheworld

Bria is back on the soccer field where she loves to be. Her new team name is the Cheetahs. It’s been an adjustment for both of us. New rules. New kids. New attitudes. Bria, bless her, to be as stubborn an ornery as she is for me, she listens to her coach. She moved from a team of 7 to a team of 14. Kids are all different. After her first practice I guess she thought the other kids decided she was passive because she listens. They decided they would have animal nicknames that matched the first letter of their name. Coach James is a jaguar. She asked what I thought she should be. I started listing off animals that start with a B. Beaver, Badger, Bear, Bee, etc. She said, “Mom, I’m Bria the bear. They need to know I’m aggressive.” Okay then. #lookouthereshecomes

Bria came home Thursday and said she is running for Student Council. As I filled out the paperwork I reminded her that the kids vote and she is new. “Mom, new people bring new ideas. Not that many people are running. I want to do this.” Heaven help me if she doesn’t win. #firststeptorulingtheworld

Apparently in second grade you also talk about presidential races, it’s that or her Dad’s obsession with the news. Bria recently told us that it’s time for a girl president. We asked her why she thought that. “Well, we’ve only voted for boys. Girls can do anything boys can do and people need to know that.” Okay then. We asked which girl she wants to win. She said she’s still deciding. #stiffforpresidentiscatchy




Read More

An Update on Jack

DSCF0322I think I’m glad I didn’t write this last night. I needed to sleep and to run and to pray and find some serious perspective. I’ve done all three but I have no real answers.

Let me take a step back, well a couple of steps back and explain…

This summer was long. Moving from place to place was hard on Jack. He didn’t really understand what was happening. He was regressing quickly until we didn’t get our stuff and had to go to Grandma’s for a visit. That was familiar and the regression seemed to stop or at least slow down. We got our stuff, moved into the house and there was so much happening, Jack really wasn’t finding stability. It’s obvious that the boy needs a schedule and to know what comes next. More than once I found myself saying, “Jack REALLY needs for school to start.” After almost 14 weeks and a couple of shots, that was about the happen. 

The new school had an Open House to drop off school supplies and meet the teachers. I walked into Jack’s room and froze. There were 26 desks in a normal classroom. I introduced myself and after a long chat found out that Jack had been placed in an inclusion classroom for language delays. Jack would have two teachers, one regular teacher and one special education teacher that are always together in the same room teaching together. There would also be an aid that floats in and out of the classroom. This is a little different from the very small class and special attention Jack had at Alvah Scott. He was only with other kids for things like recess, P.E., music, computers, library, Hawaiiana… you get the picture. I won’t lie. I probably had a look of sheer terror in my eyes.

I went home and immediately called my mother. She calmly told me that this was great news for Jack. She thought being around other normal kids is just what he needs. Um, Mom…he is around Bria 24/7. She explained how this could be a huge step for him. I began to get excited. Someone else was pretty excited to be getting on a bus by himself with his sister.

So I explained to both teachers how Jack is a great kid. He can read and he can do math and his test scores look okay but when you are around him you’ll understand more the struggles he has. I told them I was excited for the opportunity and I have big expectations for Jack. I received an email from his gen ed teacher saying he is sweet and seemed to be doing well. Oh my word! I honestly thought things were getting better.

Then it happened. Last night was back to school night. We arrived. We saw Bria’s work outside her class. Then we saw Jack’s. There were a mix of emotions. There was a little “Look what he can do!” and a little, “His work isn’t meeting the mark.” 

Outside the classroom he was supposed to fill in math facts about himself. 

IMG_9775Jack didn’t know his birthday. He is usually a great artist, especially with self portraits and that field was left blank. He’s lost more teeth than I can remember since the first one was lost on the Big Island during our spring break trip. His family math doesn’t add up. There was so much to be sad about looking at this sheet. Then I got to his desk.

IMG_9776This letter to me looked like a lot of the other letters kids wrote. He does already love Mrs. Ahlers. He talks about recess and math. It gave me a little hope. 

I listened to the teachers explain the class structure. It was intimidating but I was thinking about all the things that I would do to help Jack.  I was thinking about how this inclusion class might be the thing that did it. It might be what helps him make the connections that he’s not making. I was getting excited. 

That’s when I hit the brick wall. The special ed teacher pulled me aside. Jack isn’t doing as well as I thought. In fact, this class is not where he is meant to be. Mrs. Tampio was very kind but she let me know that in Virginia and most places just saying that Jack has a developmental delay won’t allow him to have services. They need a diagnosis. There are lots of key words thrown around. There are words that I don’t want kid to carry around as a label but the reality is, for him to get the help he needs a doctor to say there is more wrong with him than the fact that he was an orphan. Mrs. Tampio said they will continue to assess Jack. They have 30 days to work on his transitional IEP. I’m not sure what happens in the meantime. 

So I came home and cried. I cried because things shouldn’t be this hard for my little guy. I cried because I don’t want him to carry a label. I cried because I thought somehow he would be totally healed and this would be a testament to God’s miraculous power. I cried because I worried that I haven’t done enough. I cried because I heard 1,000 people who told us adoption was a bad idea saying “I told you so.” I cried because this burden that I happily carry around for Jack may be passed to his sisters if something happens to me. 

That’s it. For everyone who’s asked about his transition to this school or his adjustment to the area. Jack is happy. Jack is loved and we are going to find a way to do whatever we need to do for him. I’m off to call Tricare for our referral appointments. Prayers are appreciated that there is a reason we are here and someone will find some way to help little Jack. If you asked Jack, he doesn’t really need help. He’s pretty happy with how things are. It’s just his crazy worrying Mama that’s off her rocker…




Read More

Manassas With Nana and Papa

We were so excited to be able to spend 10 days with Nana and Papa. They snuck out in the quiet of dark morning, sort of like the calm before the storm on the first day of school. Before they left we managed to venture out one more time to the Manassas National Battlefield park. We were able to see the actual site of two major battles of the Civil War. 

First we briefly walked through the Henry Hill Visitor center. We saw where the Henry house originally sat and Judith Henry’s grave marker. She was 85 and bedridden. Shrapnel from the Union army tore through the wall of her bedroom. She suffered horrible injuries and died from them later that day. She was the only civilian killed that day.


Henry hill was where Stonewall Jackson earned his nickname. The confederates were at the top of the hill but holding it through heavy losses. Brig. Gen. Barnard Bee said, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall!” When the Union retreated from the hill a wagon overturned blocking the bridge. The undisciplined volunteers starting dropping their guns and running. We drove through Chinn ridge where everyone started to run.

We saw a memorial to Stonewall Jackson.
    Later that same weekend a lady told us that if someone has the same last name as your maiden name then you are related. I guess I know where my stubborn comes from…

    This guy! 

Now where’s that soapbox and my stool? Just kidding. I do want to say something though. I wonder if this statue, and it is impressive, will be torn down in my children’s life time. What the old saying? Those who choose to not know history are doomed to repeat it? A civil war is not something I care to repeat. I grew up in the south. Feel free to tell me my version of history is white washed. I think there are two sides to every story. I think there were people who were scared. They were scared for their plantations and their families. Fear is something that will lead you to make poor choices. It governs your view. This was a horrible moment in time. I want my kids to know what both sides were fighting for. (Shout out to Hawaii public school system. I think they gave a pretty unbiased historic perspective as people who didn’t have a dog in the fight so to speak.) I want them to understand what it was about and why we should be happy to have our country as it stands today. If they know the ugly, hopefully they will choose to try to make the world a better place and not relive that horrible time. As we walked along and read the sayings posted, we heard about the men who’s uniforms. There were more than 200 different ones and they all  looked the same. They didn’t know who they were fighting. 

Some of the quotes we read…

“I had a dim notion about the ‘romance’ of a soldier’s life. I have bravely got over it since.” – a survivor of the first battle of Mannasses

“I felt that I was in the presence of death. My first thought was, This is unfair; somebody is to blame for getting us all killed. I didn’t come out here to fight this way; I wish the earth would crack open and let me drop in.” – Private B.M. Zettler, 8th Georgia Infantry. 

That said, let me tell you what happened when we walked through the doors of the Henry Hill visitor’s center. Arleigh saw the painting that was in her 8th grade history book. The big girls know about the Battle of Bull Run. They watched a map light up and recount exactly what happened. We heard about the people dressing up and getting in their wagons to come down from D.C. and watch the spectacle of war. We saw all the different uniforms from both sides and talked about how hard it would have been to know who you were fighting against in all the smoke and noise. We walked outside and saw the cannons and the artillery wagons. We walked around the battlefield down to a stone house that still stands.

IMG_9663.JPG IMG_9670.JPGIMG_9688.JPG











It was all very fascinating. We stood by Lee Highway and noticed downtown D.C. is less than 25 miles away. Hard to imagine the people riding their wagons with their Sunday afternoon picnic to watch isn’t it?

The stone house held bodies, was a hospital and was briefly a tavern. I’d like to know a little more about it. 

IMG_9713.JPG IMG_9715.JPG IMG_9698.JPG









I think I’m going to have to go back after I read a little more. I’d like to know more about Stonewall Jackson and the people here, like the Robinson family. Before the Civil War James Robinson was a few black man that by the mid-19th century was one of the wealthiest men in the area. I know he was able to get his wife and children away before the war arrived at his doorstep. He hid under a bridge while the fighting raged and when the commotion died, he found many confederate soldiers dead in his yard. I believe there were 13 of them. As the war progressed his home became a hospital for Union troops. The foundation of his home is still there on Sudley Road. 

I’ll attach a few more pictures from the day. If you’re in our neck of the woods, clearly we think it’s worth a stop. 

IMG_9666.JPG IMG_9685.JPG IMG_9667.JPG IMG_9695.JPG IMG_9691.JPG IMG_9727.JPG IMG_9712.JPG











Read More

First Day of School

On Sunday we were visiting another church. (I promise I’m not just bragging about my kids. This story has a point.) The children’s minister looked for me between classes. She told me that she briefly met Arleigh and Hanan and how she was amazed by their spirit of adventure. Apparently she asked them about things they would love to do. She wanted to know about Jack. Then she said, “Do you know you have a very bold daughter?” Yeah… sort of aware. This could be good or bad but I just smiled and waited to see where she was going. It was Bria’s first time attending this children’s ministry. They do a few things in an age appropriate class then all the grades gather for a small worship service. She is in second grade. She volunteered to read the morning scripture. She stood in front of the large group and read without nerves or jitters. Then she sat down. I wish I was there to see it but we were in our own class. The sweet lady told me how she’s not used to visitors behaving like that. Funny thing is, military kids don’t always know how to be visitors. 

Yesterday Hanan went to school number five. That’s not even counting the two different preschools she attended. She got on the bus with a neighborhood friend. She knows. Find your crowd fast. I’m super proud of her. 

Arleigh started high school. How is that even possible? School number five for her in nine years. 

Not going to lie. This has not been easy. With the start of band camp we had some pretty nasty days. It’s amazing to see her confidence grow. She walks around a huge campus, finding her way without problems. I remember being all nerves going to high school. Sure there were people there I didn’t know but there also almost 40 that I had been with since kindergarten. At parent orientation, I watched as kids who had been in this school district forever melted down. My kid found her way without breaking a sweat.

These two hooligans started second grade at their second school.

First bus experience. New school. Bria was slightly offended at the bus stop when a very little boy asked if she was going into kindergarten. Later a mom asked if she was in 3rd or 4th so all is right with the world again. They rocked their day. They made it home and are ready to go again this morning. 

The thing about military kids that amazes me is this…

That is the hardest part. The good-byes. I’ve been there. There are moments when you think you don’t want to open yourself up to a new relationship because that means there will be a goodbye. My kids are brave and fearless and they have no idea. They solidify relationships quickly because they don’t know how long they have. 

I’m happy to report that all four rocked their first day. There were a few hiccups and a couple of sad parts but for the most part everyone is happy and ready to go back today. Thinking about our other moves, that is nothing short of amazing and worry of a prayer of thanks. Yep. Totally bragging but my kids are rock stars and so are their military kid friends. 

Read More