I Messed Up

Sometimes people say that blogs are all sunshine and rainbows and people don’t talk about the real stuff. The things that happen every day. We have a lot of blue skies and rainbows around here, a fair amount of sunshine too. It’s easy for me to post pictures about all the good great things that happen around here on a daily basis. Today, I’m going to fess us. I had one of those brown cloud moments. 

I like to tell my kids that circumstance is not an excuse. Well, that holds true for me today. Just because I’m stressed out about our schedule and everything that I should make happen over the course of a day doesn’t mean I can be ugly to other people. Today, I was ugly. I’ve apologized but can’t truly make up for my behavior. Even though circumstance is not an excuse, I feel very human and need to explain the backstory.

I’ve just returned from a nice but emotionally exhausting trip back home. We arrived to an excellent camping adventure. I’m still not caught up on laundry and we had a wonderful week-long visit with old friends. Toward the end of their visit, we started soccer camp for the girls. Arleigh and Hanan are in the same group, making it somewhat easier, but I either have to schedule carpools or be prepared to be out of pocket four times for drop off and pick up each day. Our visitors are gone, but three kids playing long hours of soccer, trying to entertain Bria and Jack while getting everything done apparently wears on me by the end of the week. Add to that I decided to fix dinner for one of the coaches tonight. While he would probably be happy with grilled cheese, I decided to make a big southern dinner because I’m apparently crazy. It required a trip to the commissary in-between soccer drop offs and pick ups. And I chose roast that I have to get in the oven EARLY.

Last night a friend sent a text hoping to get together for all of us but mostly one of my kids and one of hers. I’ve been saying no a lot lately and felt like I needed to make an effort. In the middle of chores, extra dinner guests and soccer schedules, I lost sight that my friend was doing something really nice for my daughter, taking her out to breakfast and started to worry about the schedule. 

In the middle of their nice breakfast, I was really rude. I sent an ugly text, not to that friend but another. My frustration leaked out that by letting Hanan go off with them, I might have thrown off not only my schedule but hers. I wasn’t kind. I was grumpy and said if Hanan was late, I would lose my lid. I sent it to my friend that was kindly taking my daughter out to breakfast. 

Straight to hell is where I feel like I’m going. While I apologized in a text, I know that’s not enough. It was rude and uncalled for and not very Christian. If I was worried about Hanan not being at camp, I should have insisted on her staying home. Also, I’m clearly too old for this texting business. 

So it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I am not the best kind of friend. Sometimes I forget to be grateful. Sometimes I’m just downright bitchy. If you don’t believe me, ask my husband. 

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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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This Long Weekend

On this long weekend, we made a trip to the North Shore.

On this long weekend, we got to celebrate Hanan’s birthday with Dole Whip and shrimp from trucks.

On this long weekend we got lost in the world’s largest maze following a very bossy 6-year old.



20140707-102824-37704060.jpg On this long weekend we had a great start to celebrating our amazing country's birthday with a trip to Bellows Beach.

On this long weekend it was another great day at the beach until Jack literally crossed paths with a bad squishy. It wrapped his ankles and he didn't know better and picked the blasted thing up. I got stung getting it off of him. Good times!

On this long weekend we got to hang out with other friends on Ford Island for a fabulous dinner and fireworks. To my left I could see the Arizona. In front of me was the USS Mercy. To my right, the Mighty MO stands watch. I had some serious chicken skin. (Goosebumps for you mainlanders.)


On this long weekend I also go to go to the Chief’s luau. I ❤️ the chief! He loves to tell the history of Hawaii, what they eat…like everything from the ocean we are surrounded by including tourists! It was a fabulous night with great friends.




On this long weekend Bria joined the hula dancers on stage. She’s front row center.

This long weekend was pretty darn good!

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Bad Squishy

Last week we went to Bellows for Ray’s birthday. Poor Ray planned his own birthday since we arrived the day before. In my defense, I had planned an impromptu Redneck Riviera party but we’ll wait on that until next year. Bellows is where I find my aloha. Ray managed to reserve one of the oceanside beach cottages. They are so hard to come by. So I woke up and off we went.

DSCF1409 DSCF1400 IMG_3238






Because seriously… who couldn’t find their aloha here? And as worried and worked up as I’ve been, I think Ray was thinking more of me than his birthday. 

Our first wakeup, Ray and I went for a walk. There was much to discuss about my trip without little ears. On our walk Ray was laughing at my fear of bad squishies. 

In case you’re wondering our bad squishy looks like this.

IMG_3261That long line is actually lots and lots of thin hair like tentacles that shoot barbs. It’s called a Portuguese Man Of War. They are nasty little boogers. They aren’t actually the jellyfish from Nemo but they hurt like the dickens and allergic reactions to their venom can be BAD. 

So we went out to the beach with a warning to the kids. Keep your eyes open. They are bad this weekend. Houston, we have a problem. Have you met this kid?



That one in the middle with the board? I seriously think she took it as a dare. She is not going to miss a little body board or body surf because of some stinking marine animal. 

Bria wasn’t actually on her board. Hanan decided she wanted it. Bria went out to body surf the white wash. Probably not the best idea I ever had to watch that happen but we knew the lady next to us had some spray for stings. I was braced for it to happen to someone, I just had no idea who.

Pretty soon I heard Hanan yell, “Bria’s stung! Bria’s stung!” Bria comes out of the water with the little blue hairs everywhere. She had one very long one wrapped around her left arm. Her legs looked covered but that’s an exaggeration. Both legs had at least one wrapped tentacle and little hairs scattered. Ray started pulling them off. They were stinging him. I grabbed what I could but there was one thicker blue one that I couldn’t get. If you rub them, they can get stuck and require a trip to the ER to pull out barbs. Back in the water we went. Ray was washing his hands, I’m rinsing Bria’s legs. The rest of the blue hairs slid right off thankfully. 

My kid whined. She yelled. She never really cried. I got her cleaned up and settled down. Jack and I went up to the cabin to potty. When I came back down, Bria decided to work on a sandcastle, accidentally dug one up and was stung again. This time she was so mad she pulled the tentacle off herself. Heaven help us if anyone teaches that kid to cuss. 

It wasn’t pretty. 


DSCF1360The sting happens for about an hour. Then the itch starts. I’m thankful for nice people willing to share their spray. It really helped and I will now keep a stash in our bag. 

We weren’t sure if it was jet lag, the adrenaline rush, or the venom but this was our result. Most likely it was ALL OF THE ABOVE. 

DSCF1363That NEVER happens. Bria napped for about an hour. We finally woke her up when I started worrying that she was getting too much sun. She ate some lunch and went straight back at it. 

Never fear. Even bad squishies can’t make us lose our aloha. We always find it again right away. 

IMG_3234It would be hard to lose it forever here. 





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Use It Or Lose It

When you’ve been away for so long, where do you start? I guess it’s best if I just jump right in to the deep end. It’s a giant shock but things seem natural much faster. Right? Tell me the water isn’t too chilly! Here we go…

Over the three weeks that I spent in Kentucky, I found myself telling Ned “If you don’t use it, you lose it!” Wait, you didn’t know I was in Kentucky? That’s right. I haven’t been blogging. I was in Kentucky, then two wonderful days on a beach in Hawaii. Now I’m home…sleeping in my own bed, climbing Mount Washmore on a regular basis and desperately searching for my aloha. This is what happens when you don’t blog. You get off track easily trying to catch up. I think I may have lost it for a bit. Here we go…

I used to wake up with blog posts screaming to get out of my head. Even if it was just a paragraph. I almost craved sitting down at the computer. This was my creative outlet. I haven’t used it. I’ve lost it. Even two days on the beach and Bria being stuck by a Portuguese Man Of War wasn’t pulling me out of it. This is so unlike me. So, since we’ve been home I’ve been thinking about why.

Gran tried to tell me that if I didn’t have nice things to say I should just be quiet. THIS IS A PROBLEM. Just ask my mom. I’m not quiet. I like to be in control. In fact, I left Golo and was maybe feeling a bit out of control and threw a little hissy fit last night. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fair. I wasn’t being fair. I promised Mom this morning that I would control my tongue. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m overstepping so I gripe to her and she just doesn’t need that right now. But I digress. 

Here’s a list of things that are on my mind all the time.

  • My stepdad has stage 4 cancer. 
  • My mom is the primary caregiver for a person with stage 4 cancer. 
  • I live literally a world away and feel like I should be closer to help.
  • My stepdad has stage 4 cancer. 
  • I want to suck the aloha out of Hawaii but I feel guilty when I do because there are people in my family dealing with all of this while I’m a world away. 
  • I have a teenage daughter and a tween. Boys are starting to creep around and cause havoc.
  • Jack’s delays are slightly better but the older he gets the more aware I am that he is severely delayed. He’s frustrated. I’m frustrated. Some of his behaviors are wearing on his sisters who were full of compassion when we got home. It’s totally understandable. They are wearing on me too. I constantly wonder if I’m not doing enough or worse if there is nothing that can be done. 
  • My stepdad has stage 4 cancer. 
  • I have friends going through things that I can’t even wrap my mind around. I want to help everyone. I often feel ill equipped to do anything. 
  • I have kids. I’m worried about everything.
    • Education
    • Peer pressure
    • Their spiritual life
    • Boys
    • Clothes
  • Tye’s death hangs over me. I don’t think Mom has had a moment to really grieve. I don’t even know if I have. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I still think about texting him. He would be getting the biggest kick out of Bria and Jack right now and yelling at the boys chasing Arleigh and Hanan. 
  • Where we’ll be moving…guilt about not being close to Mom…only a tad bit of guilt knowing I beg to stay right here…knowing my kids beg to go back to Virginia but it’s been so long I’m afraid it won’t meet there very HIGH expectations. Not knowing where we’ll be this time next year. 

You can sort of say I’ve had a lot on my mind. Plus I started my own business from home. www.initialoutfitters.net/brandistiff/ 

I guess I’ve had a hard time finding the happy lately. I didn’t have anything nice to say. I will admit that I’ve struggled with my faith. Mom is prayerfully hoping for a miracle. I’m just going to say it out loud. I know God is in the business of miracles. I’m having a hard time believing he’ll give me one. I told Mom while I was visiting, I felt so called to go out and bring Jack home. I had huge expectations that things would be hard. In fact, I thought they would be next to impossible but a little love and caring and good old American education and Jack would catch up with God’s help. That sounds really awful doesn’t it? I love Jack. I wouldn’t do things any differently. It boils down to the fact that my great expectations didn’t match God’s plan. I’m really okay with it. I’m aware that I needed the refining. I’m just having a hard time setting expectations that will likely be defeated again. I guess I’m having a hard time believing that God would choose that miracle for me. It’s okay because I know we have something bigger to look to. I’m babbling. Clearly, I’ve lost it. Do you get what I’m trying to say?

I guess I need to practice what I preach. I don’t want to lose the blog, it’s a history for my kids and their kids that will hopefully last a lifetime. Unfortunately for them I’m pretty good at documenting the good, the bad and the very ugly for them to remember forever. Then there is my own hot mess in my head. 

It’s time to find my aloha again. So here we go… I’m going to get back to (almost) daily posts.


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“You Haven’t Written Anything Since May 12 Mom!”

So one of my kids sat down at the computer a few days ago. I was trying to throw dinner together. “You haven’t written anything since May 12 Mom!” What? Really?

Here’s the deal. It’s PCS season. My kids are upset that their friends are moving. I’m upset that my friends are moving. It was the end of the school year. Do you know how I feel about the end of the school year? It’s worse than preparing for Christmas! Now the kids are home. One wants to meet up with her friends. Another is inviting friends over to swim. Then there is Bria. She can’t quite decide if she wants to move into Katey’s house or if Katey should move in here. I don’t feel like writing. I worry about Mom. I worry about Ned. I worry about our next duty station. I worry about Ray worrying about our next duty station. I don’t want to leave but the thought of the majority of the rest of our friends packing up and leaving at the same time and we’ll still be here… that’s no good either. 

So lots of things have happened since May 12. There was an anniversary (19 years!) I became and independent consultant for Initial Outfitters. Hanan was bumped up to play with Arleigh’s soccer team. I ran the Makahikki. I got ridiculously sick from running the Makahikki. Hanan graduated from sixth grade. That’s a big old deal here in Hawaii. Jack got both his front teeth knocked out at a soccer game when he walked in front of a swing while we were sitting up our chairs. Mother of the year right here! Today the kids and I will leaving for Kentucky. 

I think I might need to pack. In the meantime here’s a picture of the spaces…


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