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.

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Happy Anniversary, and 30 Day Drawing Challenge: Day 6-8

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!

Or should I say “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NOTES FROM THE BACKSEAT!”

My blog is two years old today.

Here, have a cupcake:

Ain't she cute!?! Just the sweetest little cupcake in the whole wide world!

Ain’t she cute!?! Just the sweetest little cupcake in the whole wide world!

Now, on to the drawing challenge, and yes, I’m really behind, but I will finish this. I will!

Day 6: Favorite Drink

Honestly, I don’t have a favorite, so long as it’s cold.

Day6

Day 7: Favorite Bird

I really wish these lists included less “favorites” and more random things to draw. I don’t have a favorite _____. Most of the time, I’m lucky just to have a favorite color. I really was at a loss, so I drew the first bird that came to mind while staring mindlessly at the calendar above the kitchen table.

Day7

Day 8: Amusement Park

Well that’s vague, isn’t it? Technically any park that brings joy, amazement, and fun is an “amusement park”, but I went with the good old stand by. When in doubt, go back to where it all began…

Day8

Thankful Thursday: February 21st!

Today, at 4:55am PST, my daughter turned seven years old.

Listening to Daddy sing "Happy Birthday" at 0700 CST this morning.

Listening to Daddy sing “Happy Birthday” at 0700 CST this morning.

My darling little girl is turning into a beautiful young woman before my eyes and it terrifies me. She is a huge blessing to all the people in her life and there is no way to avoid her infectious joy in her presence.

28 weeks pregnant with Sissy

28 weeks pregnant with Sissy

It wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, it was really difficult. Having based all my childbirth knowledge on the experience of others and what I’d seen in movies, I was not realistically equipped to handle the things that would come my way. I had a tough pregnancy emotionally. I have mentioned before that my daughter’s birth was not something that was planned ahead of time. My pregnancy was a surprise. Telling my mother that I was pregnant and moving across the country to get married was a nightmare and I was torn between the two families for a long time.

I remember stages in my pregnancy where I just wanted to die. I didn’t want to be stuck between the families. I didn’t want my mom to hate my in-laws. I didn’t want all the fighting and the drama. There were times when I wished for something to happen. I never considered having an abortion and even when it was suggested that I take the morning after pill. The night of “THEE” sex, while my husband prayed with me that nothing would result from it, I secretly prayed that God’s will be done. I’ve never told my husband that. But here I was, halfway through the pregnancy wishing I would trip and fall in just such a way, it wouldn’t be my fault and everybody would stop being mad at each other because of me. That’s a very painful thought to admit to having. I was in a very bad place. Pregnancy was NOTHING like it was in the movies and I was vomiting several times a day well into my eighth month.

The wedding occurred during the weekend I hit 28 weeks pregnant. I forgot my husband was wearing a microphone and promptly announced to the entire church that I needed to pee… My father-in-law, God rest him, always did get a kick out of that one. I still remember him laughing from the front row. I also burned my hand on the wax from the unity candle, but that’s another story. Our first ultrasound was late because I had to switch doctors (apparently at 19 weeks pregnant the baby is too small and moving around too fast to be seen on the ultrasounds… It’s a uterus, buddy, not NASCAR!)… So the day before our wedding, we found out that we were having a baby girl, though I’d been referring to the baby as “she” the entire time. FYI, that’s a baby, not an “it”. I couldn’t call my baby “It”.

It was my little sister who noted that the chamber of Sissy's heart actually was heart-shaped in this ultrasound.

It was my little sister who noted that the chamber of Sissy’s heart actually was heart-shaped in this ultrasound.

My due date came and went, and on February 20th, 2006, my doctor sent me to the hospital for an NST (non-stress test), to determine if she was strong enough for an induction. Well, as it turned out, I didn’t need one. “Go have breakfast and then go to the hospital.” said the doctor. Well, after eating my Burger King breakfast in the car on the way to the hospital, we arrived about 10:15am and when I got out of the car there was a gush. And when I say gush, I mean someone just kicked a big ass hole in the side of a full swimming pool, it gushed! And for some reason, I didn’t expect the fluid to be warm… Seriously, they don’t tell you what it’s gonna feel like because most women don’t have “spontaneous membrane rupture”, I had no expectations, but was NOT expecting hot water to be running down both legs and soaking my pants. Logically it makes sense when you think about the average persons normal every day body temperature.

The look on my face must have been something between “I can’t remember what I was doing” and “WTF?” because my husband asked me if I left something at the doctor’s office. I promptly replied, “Either I just peed on myself or my water broke.”

So we waddled into the hospital ER, having no idea if that’s where we were supposed to go at that time of day. I was admitted once they confirmed I had not, in fact, burst my bladder, and the adventure began. I’ll save the gory details, but a bitchy nurse, a failed epidural, three hours of pushing and nearly 19 hours of labor later, my daughter was here… And the trouble began… She was 9lbs 9oz, delivered vaginally and had her first bowel movement in utero, which means the NICU was on standby in case she had breathing troubles as a result of swallowing the meconium. She had not, but it still puts a new parent on edge. It was another two hours before I got to hold her because they wanted to make sure she was just fine. Well when you know that babies bond with their mother in the first three minutes, it really sucks to not see your baby until she’s two hours old.

Nearly 19 hours of labor, I want it noted that my husband was the only one smiling.

Nearly 19 hours of labor, I want it noted that my husband was the only one smiling.

IMG_0761Shortly after I held her for the first time, I decided that this time I really did need to pee. My husband took the baby and was sitting on the couch with both our mothers, while the nurse helped me to the bathroom. This is wear I promptly blacked out. (I told you it was trouble.) My helpless husband was holding our tiny newborn daughter and not able to come to my rescue. My mom told me that she saw me step into the bathroom doorway and then suddenly I was gone and the nurse was yelling. When I woke up, I was sitting on the floor with a nurse in front of me, my mom was behind me, Hubby was in the doorway with the baby and everyone was trying to figure out whether or not I had hit my head… Needless to say, I’d never seen that happen in a movie…

But the baby was fine and eventually, I was too.

Me and Sissy, 3mo

Me and Sissy, 3mo

Over the years, things have come up. After she was born, I pushed myself to bond “magically” like they do in the movies and ended up overburdened, exhausted and hospitalized (twice) for Postpartum Psychosis (like, Postpartum Depression, only with paranoia and delusions/hallucinations)… It was not a good time in our lives. We were kicked out of a women’s ministry because she couldn’t sit still when she was three (before we knew she had Proprioceptive Input Dysfunction and Sensory Integration Disorder). She was diagnosed with autism just after her fifth birthday. And now, my baby girl is seven… It’s really hard to believe that the chubby little baby I struggled so hard to love is a bright, beautiful, and overwhelmingly joyful little girl now…

Chubby little baby girl

Chubby little baby girl

My sweet girl. So grown and yet still so little.

My sweet girl. So grown and yet still so little.

I still don’t feel that “magical” bond to her, like you’re “supposed” to. But that’s why I talk about my experience. Not every woman will be connected to her child with some magical bond. It may sound cold, but my daughter was a stranger. I didn’t know her anymore than she knew me. We had to learn to love each other.  I knew what to expect of myself when I gave birth to my son and the entire pregnancy, delivery and postpartum went by with no issues at all.

I was in a really bad place when I got pregnant with my daughter. I was drowning in a town that literally will suck the life out of you and kill any chance you had of having a dream or a real life of happiness and joy. My daughter saved my life. She’s a huge blessing everyday and I am so thankful that my prayers were answered all those years ago.

God’s will was done.

For that, I am thankful.

Happy Birthday, Sissy!

Happy Birthday to Me (you? Mommy?)

When you plan your own birthday “party” and the only people in attendance are you, your two kids, your best friend and her infant son, singing “Happy Birthday” gets a bit dodgy in the middle. I have to admit, the whole thing made me laugh, and for that I was grateful. I really needed to laugh on my birthday of all days. Being near Christmas, my birthday has rarely been the best thing I do all year. Having my husband half a world away makes the whole month of December that much more lonely.

I admit, I did not handle December very well. But 2012 is behind us and 2013 is three days in the making. I have been 28 for a whole four days, and I’ve taken that time to write a list. A bucket list of sorts, but these are all the things I want to do in the next year. Twenty-nine things to do before I turn twenty-nine next December. But first, some birthday cake:

" “The angels have the phonebox”. That's my favorite. I've got that on a t-shirt. " -'Blink', Doctor Who, Episode 3.10

” “The angels have the phone box”. That’s my favorite. I’ve got that on a t-shirt. ” -‘Blink’, Doctor Who, Episode 3.10

Now to my list. Some of these will be silly, some of them very serious. Some will be well within my comfort zone (hence the time constraints placed on some of them), and some are so far beyond anything I’ve ever done that I’m pretty sure they wont get done until after my husband returns from Afghanistan this summer. Wow, this summer… He sounds so close and yet, he’s still so far away.

Yes, the list, sorry about that.

29 Things to do Before 29

1. Complete a book of Sudoku Puzzles in the month of February, cover to cover in order, no cheating.

2. Get shot with a paintball gun. Of course, this means I have to go paint-balling with my husband, but what better way to bond after a deployment then to fire balls of paint at each other, right?

3. Go zip-lining. This one requires me to overcome my severe aversion to heights and falling.

4. Climb a rock wall. No doubt this is a precursor to #3.

5. Read 29 books. This averages 2.5-3 books a month. I got this one.

6. Kiss my husband on the lips.

7. Do Zumba three times a week for at 3 consecutive months. I got the game disk for Xbox Kinect from the husband for my birthday, I will use it to tone the rest of the baby pudge let over from giving birth to children weighing the same as the standard bag of sugar.

8. Finish my first novel: in March and April.

9. Complete my figure drawing sketchbook.

10. Have portraits taken of myself (whether I post them here or just write about the experience I’m not sure yet). This one is an exercise in learning to appreciate my own beauty.

11. Wear three pieces of refashioned clothing in the month of June. (I should have plenty of options by then.)

12. Take one photo of myself everyday for a month (can’t be February, it’s too short)

13. Get another tattoo (I already know what and wear, just need to get on with it)

14. Complete my blog series: 30 Days with Autism that I started in 2010.

15. Blog every Friday  Thursday about something I am grateful for that has occurred in the past week. Let’s keep the gratitude fresh.

16. Write one short story a month, no minimum word count.

17. Pay off my truck.

18. Craft 31 piece of jewelry in the month of August.

19. Give up Soda (once I finish what’s left from my birthday party.)

20. Give up my hair for Lent. Headscarves all day, every day from Feb 13- March 30.

21. Learn to play guitar. Hubby plays guitar… Another one of those re-bonding activities… Maybe while I’m recovering from being shot with a paintball gun?

22. Stop biting my nails (again). To be successful, I have to have real nail growth on a continuous basis during the 12 weeks leading up to and including my next birthday.

23. Lay under the stars with my husband (possible sleep on the back deck, that counts as camping, right?)

24. Blog a video of myself reading a children’s book like I do to my kids.

25. Fire a gun. Another one of those “Let’s celebrate your homecoming” activities.

26. Buy “embarrassing” lingerie and actually wear it. Wear it again in front of the husband. (There will be no pictures on the wearing, there may be pictures of the buying. FYI, almost all lingerie is embarrassing, we really only wear it because we think our husbands will like it.)

27. Take my husband to an archery range. He has yet to see me in my element. Archery was the only sport I was good at in middle school and after the gun range, and a paintball course, archery is a nice change of pace.

28. Fully potty train my son, no more diapers. We are slowly venturing into the world of pooping in the potty. This will save me $60 a month once we get this down.

29. Solve a Rubik’s Cube. (This may take a while)

So there you have it. my list of 29 things. These are all realistic and completely doable. That’s why I chose them. I wanted a list that I could actually finish and say “I did that”. So, I’m a few days behind on some of these already, but I will be updating this list with other blog posts as I complete each number. My goal is to have the list completed by December 30, 2013.

Let them eat cake!

I bake.

Have I told you that?

No? Well I do.

I bake for fun. I bake for something to do. I bake to relax. I bake to stress myself out right before a really big party with all the upper level Officers in my husband Squadron. But for nothing else, I bake for myself. It’s a hobby I enjoy, and I’m quite talented for having no training at all. I admit to watching a lot of Cake Boss, and making comments like “That’s not as hard as he makes it look. Watch this!”

I bake mostly birthday cakes for my kids, myself, and my husband. I always seem to outdo myself and even my “simple” cakes look a lot less simple than I give credit for. In honor of my son turning three this week, I decided to release a few images of some of my favorite cakes that I have done. I wont be making this year’s birthday cake until tomorrow, but I’ll edit the post later with that image.

So sit down with me and have a slice of cake:

1. Decapitated Tinker Bell
This is a favorite simply because it was the first time I had ever piped a cake. I did the whole cake using a sandwich baggie filled with icing and the tip cut off of it. The shaped cake pan came with coloring directions which is like using a paint-by-number, only with icing. My daughter turned four that year and I wanted to do something for her, though she wasn’t having a party. It’s a little weird that she’s disembodied, but we had a full bodied Tink holding the number 4 as a candle. I think that makes it better, right?

Not too shabby for piping from a Ziploc baggie.

2. The Reece Cup of Cakes
My daughter, as many of you readers has figured out, has autism. This is no secret, neither is the difficulty it causes when it comes to making sure she gets the right balance of nutrients. Peanut butter, from very early on, has been a staple source of protein for her. She loves peanut butter… A lot… When we were discussing cake ideas for her 5th birthday, she again wasn’t having a party, so we just made a simple something. She requested a chocolate chip, peanut butter cake. I said she could have whatever she wanted and she pushed me to the limits on this one. A double layer Devil’s Food cake, filled with a rich layer of peanut butter and chocolate chips, was exactly what she got. It was a really rich cake. It tasted just like a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup, and was a huge hit with the whole family. I have had requests for this one a few times since.

Also, my first time with lettering and the flowers are done in her favorite colors. What’s a good mom for, after all?

3. Tonka
My son turned two last year (obviously since he’s turning three this year), and what kind of boy would he be if he wasn’t into trucks? I don’t know the answer to that question, but he is REALLY into cars, trucks, pretty much anything with wheels on the bottom (this includes chairs, rolling desks and strollers). I was inspired by his love of cars and this adorable idea I saw in one of my cookbooks. It was a “Figure Eight Racetrack Cake”… I didn’t like that, so I built my own. This was a 12 inch round with a 6 inch round stacked in the center. I had to pie this thing in the fridge on my spinning cake stand because the heat was melting the icing off the cake faster than I could pipe it on. I piped EVERYTHING! Every blade of grass added to my carpal tunnel. Every line in the “pavement”, but it was worth it. This cake was awesome!

The trucks I got at Walmart for, like, $3 a piece. He loves his trucks and they go with the set he already had.

4. Halloween with Squadron
My husband had an event we had to attend with his Squadron last October. I had made cupcakes for a fundraiser and offered my kitchen up, yet again, for this event. I was given complete control over what was done, it just had to serve 80 people! Yes, you read that right. We had been with this Squadron exactly 2 months, when I was asked to make a cake to feed 80 people! Problem #1: My kitchen is the same size as yours. It’s not grand by any stretch of the imagination. Problem #2: I had never worked with fondant before (and haven’t since either). Problem #3: Where on earth was I going to store my family groceries while this thing was taking up space in my fridge and freezer? All of these problems got solved when I decided to make two cakes instead of one. I used the same model for my son’s second birthday cake, a 12 inch round bottom and a six inch round top tier. Instead of using one layer of cake per level, I used two and I studied, at length, how to cut a cake that large to feed that many people. The final results were a hit. I used yellow cake, chocolate icing/filling, and homemade marshmallow fondant (Much thanks to my husband for rolling that stuff out for me, it’s a pain without a sheeter). I went above and beyond by putting Rice Crispy Treat “Torii” on top of the cake.

I alternated the colors to pull the cake concept together and keep with the theme. I hand drew the spider webs on the fondant with food coloring pens.

5. Lalaloopsy Party Time
My daughter turned six this year. Lalaloopsy have become all the rage at our house. Our son has some of the boy dolls, my daughter has girl dolls. They have large dolls, Littles, Mini’s. They have furniture and feris wheels and school buses. It amazes me. These dolls are so CUTE too. It’s easy to see why kids love them. They are brightly colored. Have funky little names and their back stories are just darling. For example: “Bea Spells-A-Lot was sewn from a school girl’s uniform. She is a real smartypants, who always follows the rules and loves to talk…A LOT!!! She has a pet owl.” When my daughter wanted a Lalaloopsy themed birthday party, I knew I was in trouble. You see, at the time, they didn’t have Lalaloopsy themed party supplies. On top of making the cake, I had to make decorations that would flow with the idea of rag dolls coming to life. It was a lot of fun. The cake was half chocolate (the left) and half yellow (the right). I used a variety of techniques to complete this cake and if you look closely, you might even see the toothpicks I used to make the dolls stand up. This cake was SO MUCH FUN to make! The “button” marshmallow boarder took the longest, but most of this was done in a day. The cake is a double layer and sits about 4 inches high. My daughter and her friends loved it! It will be hard to top this cake. I guarantee it!

I used graham crackers and royal icing to make the house in the back. The “trees and bushes” are mini marshmallows with green food coloring spray paint (my stove was green for a week). The beach is crushed graham crackers.

 

 

EDITED: Little Brother’s Third Birthday Cake:
This was a single layer chocolate cake. Covered with chocolate icing and I used Green Apple, Pull-n-Peel Twizzlers for the stripes. The top tier was a two layer, chocolate filled, chocolate cake. I used Fruit-by-the-Foot candy for the bow and ribbon. Iced in blue to contrast the chocolate tier below it. This was a really simple cake. 9×14 base stacked with a 6 inch round, 4″ high. What more could a boy ask for than a stack of presents on his birthday!

Not the best, but certainly adorable in it’s own right. The first time I’ve worked with “gifts”.