Planners, Homeschool and a Deployment

I am coming to terms with the fact that I am NOT a “slacker blogger”, as I have referred to myself in the past. I am, however, an extremely busy, homeschooling, mom of 4 whose husband is often out of the house, out of town, out of the state, or out of the country. (And I’ve recently signed on as co-leader of our new FRG during a deployment because I wasn’t busy enough.) I’m still a writer, even if it’s not here, though I anticipate many more writings here in the future as I do tend to get wordy during deployments and sometime in the next two or so weeks, my husband will be gone again… This time, for nearly a year… This time, it’s Korea… This time, he’s the company commander… This time, I am instrumental in helping to form our FRG and the families of our unit. I’m excited and nervous. Our first FRG meeting as part of the command team was a few weeks ago and I’m torn between being authentically me, and being the “commanders wife” (because we all know SHE wouldn’t have purple hair and Batman themed shoes, right?)… Everything is changing, all at once, but the show much go on, and on it will.

Our school books for next year have already been purchased. Sissy is a soon-to-be seventh grader! Holy goodness y’all! I started this blog when she was so little, and though I haven’t always been here to write, she has been by my side growing into a beautiful young woman. I’m excited to see how she continues to grow and learn in the coming years. Bug is nearly 8. He wants to be “The Flash” when he grows up… The boy was born earliest and hasn’t stopped moving since. Punkin will be three in August and isn’t talking yet. He’s starting to manifest some autistic-like behaviors and he’s already seen more specialists than I can count in his short years. From failure-to-thrive to possible apraxia, he keeps me on my toes. Mini Mouse just turned one this past March. She does her best to keep up with her brothers… Seems I’ve got three speedsters in my midst.

Part of getting next year’s school work together was getting my new planners. I love my planner! I mean, I really love my planner. I’m not the most organized person in the world, and this thing helps keep me together on the day to day business of running a home: FRG meetings, basketball season, doctors appointments, the military and homeschooling.

To be honest, when we started homeschooling, I had no idea what we were doing. I’d tried using planners and could NOT make my brain function in a linear enough way to make my life simple AND use the planner. They seemed to just make things harder. I couldn’t keep up with the writing and the teaching and lesson planning was NEVER my strong suit in school. In fact, I repeatedly got marks off for having incomplete, incoherent lesson plans. I was always taught the purpose of a lesson plan (from a teaching standpoint) was so that anyone who walked into your classroom could teach your lessons in your absence. That doesn’t fly with homeschool and I was freaking out. My best friend had a planner that she had barely used and wanted to throw out, but as is her style, she thought of me instead and passed it on. I WAS HOOKED!

The Well-Planned Day is easily the best planner for OUR family. I stress that this is what works for us because the planner was given to me by a friend whose family struggled to use it. Our family has thrived on it for at least three years now and I couldn’t imagine using another planner. I look forward to ordering it every year and get excited when it finally arrives. This year, knowing my husband would be deployed and I’ll have slightly more obligations outside the home, I got my typical planner as well as the On-the-Go Planner. This, I feel, will allow me to keep notes on lessons and our day as things happen throughout our day.

The Well-Planned Day has loads of features that extend beyond just a homeschool lesson book.

The front of the book contains: Before the lesson planning begins, there are keepsake pages and so much more. On the keepsake page, you get to fill in some basic information about your family for this school year. Things like, grade levels, ages, favorite things to do, all of this will change year to year, so it’s nice to have these little mementos (with a place for photos) each year. There is a page for “staying in touch”. This is a great place to write names and special dates. Anniversaries, birthdays, just special dates that you’d like to reach out on. There is a section for special projects and household chores. These can be written by the day if you’re anything like me and need to focus on certain tasks per day, or by week, more as a chore goal, AND there’s a place for monthly projects. I LOVE the monthly projects! These are really helpful when I know the garage needs to be cleaned out or I have to budget for something big. I can set a deadline on that budget at a certain month OR I can simply write in “Clean the Garage” on the May box and know that I don’t have to worry about the garage right this minute because I’m doing that in May. Then, I just have to focus and get it done during that month. It’s so easy when I have things written down. I don’t make it through deployments or long separations without writing my chores down because I get easily overwhelmed by having to do everything on my own.

There are separate pages for each child to have there own unique schedule as well as your own (if you write out daily schedules for lessons). These pages also include room to write which books your student is using (so you know what not to use if it wasn’t a good book for your particular child’s learning style), it also includes space for your child’s stats and a photo so you have a second place to keep specific information on each child, each school year. There’s a Year-at-a-Glance page featuring all major (and some minor) holidays throughout the year and each half of the planner features a Semester Goals page (I like to make notes here on where our lessons should be by the end of each semester).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Each month, you’ll find: Each month begins with a Month-at-a-Glance calendar. There’s a place on the side of this two-page spread for notes and plenty of space to write in appointments and happenings for the whole family (remember that we are a family of six and still have plenty of room for appointments, sports, meetings, etc.). Each day on the calendar has a scripture reference printed to facilitate reading through the Bible within the school year, if that’s what you choose to do. Sometimes, I read them. Other days I don’t. We school year-round, so there’s plenty of references to facilitate that. There is an entire page of tear out shopping lists (six lists per month) and a two-page article on a homeschool specific topic. These topics range from how to pick curriculum for each child’s learning type and challenges and how to budget meal plans and stick to it. Each year, these articles are changed, so in the four years I’ve been using this planner, I’ve never received the same article twice. Also each month, is a small section for your monthly budget and a section for book lists for that month or field trips you’d like to take. Then come the detailed lesson pages. Now, I only have two kids in school now, but this planner supports up to four students per subject. Each of these lesson pages comes as a weekly planner. Each week has a section for Weekly Priorities, Dinner Menu, Bible verses for the week and an organization or teaching tip.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nearing the back: At the end of each semester, there is a section for your successes. I love this section because this is the stuff my family has done, the places we’ve been and the challenges we’ve overcome in the past few months. When you have kids with learning disabilities, when you have kids with special needs, when you have a husband who is deployed, SEEING THESE SUCCESSES MAKES A DIFFERENCE! It is such a blessing to not have to see the day to day crap to be able to see where we have made progress. Included within that section is the semester attendance reports and grade progress. I use these to track our work daily (or weekly) because our umbrella school requires us to check in twice a year with attendance and grades. There is also a color printed, gloss finish report card to be filled in for each child (remember this planner is workable for up to four students). Future plans and the next Year-in-Advance pages are helpful to me because it allows me to plan out any changes to next school year in terms of books or scheduling. With my husband deploying to Korea soon (like before the first of June, he’ll be gone, SOON!), comes the realization of block leave when he returns. Here at Ft Hood, TX, they get 30 days when they return (that’s new to us). Future planning makes it easy to set up our schedule, in advance, knowing that he’ll have that 30 days at home and that we DO NOT have to use that precious time filling in worksheets and answering quiz questions.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the first semester section of the planner, there is a special section just for holiday organization. Gift buying, card sending, get-togethers, budgets, etc., all the planning in one place. LOVE IT!

IMG_2791

Well-Planned: On-the-Go has a lot of the same features, in a smaller format and a much more portable design.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I’m so excited to have my books, in hand, and ready to go. As daddy leaves us behind for Korea, our schedule, our routine, it’s what’s going to get us through. We support him, we support each other, and these planners help to support us.

September 11, 2013

I know it’s late, but that’s how I roll…

September 11, 2001:

I sat in my therapists office as he railed on about worry and fear, telling me: “don’t worry about yesterday, its in the past and you can’t change it. Don’t worry about tomorrow, it isn’t here. Focus on today only.”

I’ve often joked about how my life could have been so different if I had actually taken his advice and focused on “today only”. My young, impressionable mind could have become royally obsessed with the Towers, the airplanes, the people.

Instead, I still fear the past, I still worry about the future and I can’t relax today. Instead, it took me years to process what I’d see and heard that day. The conflicting actions of the people in my life who were supposed to help me through it. Viewing that much hate and that much love and still so much indifference all in a span of a few hours left me with a lot of confusion.

Even further down the years, I’m married to a soldier. He’s fought in the wars that started that day, as has his older brother and so many other men and women. Not all of them come home. When you look at the death counts (a phrase that shouldn’t even exist), do you just count those in the Towers, the ones in the airplanes and the ones in the Pentagon? Or do you remember that so many more have died as a result of that day? Each soldier, contractor, or civilian who has died in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan has died because of what happened September 11, 2001.

Let’s remember this, when we look at other war-torn nations and think we can help. Decades ago, we thought we could help. Today, we mark the anniversary of the day that help bit us in the ass.

Let’s remember those who lost their lives because our government focused too much on today and not enough about our future. Let’s remember those people who lost their lives because a small group of anti-Americans decided a plane would make a great weapon of mass destruction. Let’s remember the soldiers who have lost their lives taking the fight to another country, so our children can grow up without seeing bodies in the streets or living in fear of being murdered in their sleep as a message to the town.

Let’s remember.

Rainbows and Unicorns

This is a difficult topic for me, explaining for my absence while I sort through it all. My husband returned from Afghanistan nearly two months ago and it hasn’t been like you see on TV. It’s not been like the other wives talk about. That running across the room, jumping into each others arms, crying real tears of joy and not letting go. That pure, ecstatic joy that you just can’t control. I want one thing clear before I go any further:

I love my husband. I do now, and always have, love him with all that I am. The thought of not having him in my life everyday kills me.

I just don’t always feel it. When my daughter was born, she was a complete stranger. I didn’t know her, so I couldn’t love her in that mystical way mother’s often describe. There was no instant bond. I had to learn to love her and who she was (and is) growing to become. The way she sucks her finger when she’s nervous. The way she takes showers so she doesn’t have to sit in the bath water. The height of her laughter and her ability to make checks with stripes work magnificently. I had to learn to love her. Taking this pressure off myself when my son was born, knowing I wouldn’t feel that “magical bond” with him, actually made bonding with him a lot easier. I put too much pressure on myself and I always fail.

This is what I did at homecoming. Every homecoming is different. You’ve got the couples that can’t wait to run down the stairs and jump into each others arms and kiss like nobody else exists and the world has stopped spinning just for them. You’ve got the couples who are quietly holding each other in the middle of the chaos, just standing there, silently thankful for answered prayers. You’ve got the couples who are loudly screaming and yelling and jumping around like tailgaters at the Super Bowl after a touchdown, and they don’t care who is around. You’ve got the wives who brought large signs. Babies who’ve never met their father. Children and parents running to their family member, their soldier, their hero. It’s very overwhelming for people like me…

It puts a lot of pressure to feel what they feel, to express those feelings the way that they do, try to find balance and not fall.

I chose to stand at the top of the bleachers waving my arms like a mad woman with the kids on the steps in front of me doing the same. It still took him a minute to find us, but it was worth it. The hard part is that I felt very little for my husband in that moment. There was no “heart knowledge” of the love we have shared for the past seven and a half years. I know in my head that I love him very much, but in that moment, he was a stranger. I was more excited to see him with the kids. Holding them, kissing them, just talking to them. I didn’t care to talk to him myself. Holding him, kissing his face, none of that mattered to me. My children had their father and that is all that mattered. I put pressure on myself and I failed. I expected something different than I had experienced before and I shouldn’t have.

To put this into perspective, since I got married in November 2005, I have seen my mother for a total of 14 days. Three days when my daughter was born in 2006. One week when my sister graduated high school in May 2006. Four days when Little Brother was nearly two, in 2011. I feel very little love towards my mother. In fact, if not for her being my mother, I’m not sure I’d ever have contact with her. When I don’t have constant contact with someone in a meaningful way, I lose my ability to genuinely care for them. This is what happened during the deployment. Nine months of my breath catching when the doorbell rang. Nine months of my blood going cold when an unfamiliar car appeared in my driveway. Nine months of stealing myself for the worst, remaining brave for the kids and putting on a happy face… Nine months of building a wall around my heart to protect myself from the worst outcome possible…

That’s not an easy thing to tear down.

We’ve been working on it since he got home, but in those first few days it was like living with a stranger. We had both changed so much and neither of us knew what to really expect. Nothing seemed to be going right. In the past few weeks, there have been long nights, intimate discussions, and a lot of tears. Old hurts are finally starting to heal and we are coming together as a couple again. It should be romantic. The idea of “falling in love” all over again. In truth, it sucks and it hurts. This is my husband. He is the father of my children. I should have the heart knowledge of love for him. I should feel it after having him gone for so long, but I think I’m expecting too much of myself at this point. The “head knowledge” is there. I know there is no one else I would rather be with. There will never be anyone else. I’ve just got to take the time for my heart to catch up.

Hopefully, with old hurts beginning to heal, this will allow us to come together more fully and allow us to become more vulnerable with each other and that will help bridge that gap between the head and the heart. Some days are easier than others. He’ll do something or say something and all I feel is love. Other days, I truly struggle with the man beside me. The man that has promised to always stand beside me. The man that I promised to always stand beside.

We aren’t standing still anymore. We’ve moved. The ground beneath us has shifted and we are struggling to find where that leaves us once the ground goes still again.

For nine months, the ground shifted, twisted, and turned under our feet. For nine months, we were on different planets, shifting and twisting and turning in different ways. We’ve had two months to work on us. We’ve had some really horrible moments… We’ve had some really great times…

It’s called Marriage.

Thankful Thursday: May 24, 2013 Edition

Look what I found on post. They were just giving them away with a free bus ride.

20130604-115710

I know I haven’t been the best blogger these past few months. For those still reading my posts, I say “Thank You!” If you’ll bear with me, things are in a huge state of flux in the Noba household right now. I may disappear for days, weeks and months at a time as our family faces reintegration. I would ask those of you who pray to do so for our family. In the ten days since my husband has been home some difficulties have already come to light and let’s just say:

“Not all homecomings are joyful and triumphant. Not all homecomings are easy. Not all homecomings are kisses and rainbows and unicorns and butterflies. But we are committed to getting through this stage of life as we have all others. There will be more on this in the future. Of this, I have no doubt.”

Thankful Thursday: May 2nd

I know I’m about two months behind on these. Life really has gotten in the way, and I do plan on catching them up, even if I have to write two or three a week.

Since today is our second birthday here at Notes From the Backseat, I thought I’d go back to just how this blog got started. I don’t think I’ve ever really gone over that other than to say it’s all my husband’s fault lol

Let me take you back in time about two and half years or so. I’m sitting in the passenger seat of our Honda CR-V as my husband drives along the interstate. In the backseat, Sissy sits behind daddy, Little Brother behind me and the cat, in her carrier, wedged between the car seats. Strewn about the floor board in both the back and front are duffel bags, diaper bags, crafting bags, supplies for the kids (such as snacks and DVDs). In the very back, a stadium stroller, a dog in a crate, two large suitcases and a bunch of pillows and blankets. On top of the vehicle was a large black bag, securely strapped down full of more travel supplies and all the Christmas presents, already wrapped and hiding from the kids so as not to ruin Santa just yet.

You see, this was Christmas 2010 and we were in the middle of a PCS from beautiful, sunny Southern California to bitter, cold, dreary Central Virginia. From forecasts like “78 and sunny” to “23 with a wind chill of 10”, we drove through snow, ice, rain, sunshine, warm and cold. Ten states in Five days. Not a trip I’d want to make in such a short time ever again.

During our trip, things would come up between the kids, or between us that just made us laugh. I used these to update my status on Facebook with the title “Notes from the Backseat #__” and had a great time with it. After a while, my husband decided that “Notes from the Backseat” would be a good blog title, though it would be a few more months before I actually started the blog, shortly before our last PCS to Middle Tennessee (which is actually on the Kentucky boarder, not sure how that works).

So in honor of our second birthday, and in being thankful for all this blog has done for my sanity over the past two years, I present:

THE BEGINNING

#1: “i can’t wait to tell people to look at my tooth hole”
#2: “ok mommy, go back to your seat please! Go!”
(This was while I was leaning over in my seat making sure her movie was playing in the right language lol)
#3: “can I get out of the car?”
“like now? Can’t you wait til we get to Albuquerque?”
“well, okay mommy”
#4: “mommy, you can close the wind”
(She meant the sunroof)
#5: “look mommy! Cows! Moo Moo Moo!” -then she proceeds to giggle for 3 minutes.
#6: “i see snow! The holidays are here!
#7: “no no no!”
“what?”
“you cannot drive in the snow!”
#8: “oops! It’s not working!”
#9: “look at all the snow! It’s turning white!”
#10: “a birthday! Is it my birthday? I love parties!”
#11: “op! You’re out! Op! You’re out! Op! Everyone’s out!”
(we think she’s playing tag by herself)
#12: “mommy, my tooth is growing up”
(I’m just glad its not growing upside down)
#12 (ish): “ok, kiddo, let’s look for some boots for you”
“And Dora too!”
“ok let’s look for some shoes instead.”
#14: “you rescued the marble! you’re my hero mommy!”
#15: “Did you steal my pizza?!”
“MMMmmmMMM” (courtesy of Little Brother, he ate it all)
#16: “mommy, I think I know why its upset.”
“why is it upset?”
“cuz its dark outside. Can I have a hug?”
(she misses her daddy already)
#17: “mommy, when the movie’s over, I can have poptarts”
(no she cant, but it was a nice try, wasn’t it?)
#18: “thank you so much, SuperHero Mommy!”
(after putting the post-it over the sensor on an automatic flusher)
#19: “mommy, the tv is big so now we can play ping pong!”
(daddy said when the tv got here she could play Kinect sports ping pong lol. It’s here and she wants to play)
#20: Daddy: “honey, do u want subway or should we try Bo Jangles?”
Sissy: “jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in adkfirnuch eeeeeeh!”
Daddy: “i said Bo Jangles not Jingles Bells”
(she’s not quite sure what the words are LOL)

So there it is. The 20 status messages that got this blog started. My kids have always been a source of joy to me. Sure there are days that are long. There are days that are difficult. But all too often, the days are just days. Reflections of who we will be tomorrow and who we were yesterday. Today, while walking home from school, Sissy remembered about a trip she and daddy took to the beach during block leave last summer. Just the two of them, for an afternoon, went to the beach and made sand castles “and I got to knock them down!”

Today, I’m thankful for this blog.
For the people my words have touched.
For the enlightenment it has brought to others.
For the piece of mind it has brought to me.

Slacker Blogging

I seem to have become depressed over the past week. I’ve been taking the death of the cat very hard…

As a result, my blog is suffering. Sorry guys.

I promise to get back with it this week. More Autism Awareness blogs and the 30 Day Drawing Challenge posts are coming this week. I will get caught up and finish on time. I promise.

I’ve sent my husband an email to help me stay on task and focus. I need things to keep me moving…

On a side note, I will be updating on my 29 Things list soon… I’m failing myself already, and it’s only April…

Why we are chosing to homeschool next year: UPDATE

So many of you voiced your frustration of the issue of my daughter’s test and her teacher’s… inability to teach effectively… And I am being nice about this. Thank you for the support. It is not easy going through all of this alone, and I really do think of my dear readers as a little blogger version of an extended family.

(To be honest, I talk to most of you much more often than family anyway.)

I have had a meeting with the principal and the teacher. We discussed the tests in question (and her report cards missing grades for the past two quarters, which turned out to be an error with the printers, not any fault of the teachers). We also talked about my daughter’s behavior in class and I made sure to point out which ones are manifestations of her disability and how it’s effecting her test scores. We went over the reasons that she cannot get an IEP, a 504, and why her gifted evaluation was done a little too half-assed for my liking. (Though this is done at the district level, NOT at the school level and they shared my frustration in this area.)

Ultimately, she is still being homeschooled next year. I have already submitted my request for the registration packet to the online virtual academy she will be attending next year. Public school has reached a point where they are simply ill-equipped to handle a child like my daughter. In emails to other parents, who also have autistic children in this district, I have found that they too are struggling with little help from the school. With autism being the faster growing diagnosed learning disability in the country, we have GOT to focus on how to reach these kids. Everyone agrees that early intervention is the key, but what are we supposed to do when BY LAW, our insurance company doesn’t have to cover services she can receive in school for free, but the school refuses to allow her access to those services. I can site specific examples, and did, of how my daughter would benefit from Occupational and Speech therapy, and yet, she is denied both.

Homeschool will allow me to teach her in terms of real world applications. This is an area that has always failed me. I can know the textbook inside and out and still not understand how it applies to the world beyond the classroom. I think this will go a long way in helping Sissy understand the world around her and maybe, someday, she’ll be able to better navigate the world than I do.

So now, we bid our time. The teacher has agreed to take more time and patience in grading Sissy’s tests. She is going to be more diligent in grading, particularly if Sissy has shown in class to know the answer but marked it wrong on the test. She has agreed to bring Sissy aside and ask her to explain answers that may be the result of her autistic way of thinking. I have been asked to send emails and return the tests if something comes home a little off from what I think it should be, so that her teacher can work with Sissy at school.

I can only hope that these small changes carry us constructively through the end of the school year. These next two months may help determine what we do when Little Brother gets to Kindergarten in Fall 2014. Unfortunately, we wont have much information about next school year, for either child, until May.

 

Also, we successfully navigated the “Preschool Round Up”, now we wait. Our packet was complete. Our “I” were dotted; our “T” all crossed. Now it’s a waiting game to see what happens and how much our current deployment pay will be used against us when determining Little Brother’s preschool eligibility. We wont know anything until, quite possibly, my husband is home from Afghanistan, something I find ironic to say the least. So now we wait. We wait for the school year to end. We wait to see if Little Brother will be allowed to attend a public preschool. We wait for daddy to come back to us.

We wait.