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

30 Day Drawing Challenge: Day 2-5

Okay, so yea… I got hit hard this month. Now, as the month is winding down, we are preparing the house and our hearts to have my husband come home sometime within the next 6 weeks, though we don’t know exactly when yet. It’s gonna be a lot of change and my blog is no doubt suffering for the changes that have happened and for those yet to come. My “29 Things to do Before 29” list seems to be a flop, but is still salvageable and I will just have to adjust some of the times on some of the items. With a little shift here and there, and having my husband home with the kids, it should be a lot easier to fit it into my schedule… I take on too much and then come down hard on myself when I can’t get everything done. This is always an issue. But I have drawing, so for the next few days I will make a mad dash to the finish (which seems to be my M.O. anyway 😛 )

So, on with the show

Day 2: Favorite Sport
To be honest, I meant to draw swimming and forgot, so I drew a football. I don’t really like football. I like to sit beside my husband and read a book while he watches football. People who know me would be shocked to learn that I really enjoy swimming. I enjoy the feel of the water gliding across my skin and I enjoy the focus. It’s one of the few times I really relax, when I’m in the water. I’m not a strong swimmer by any means. I don’t like to be splashed and I prefer to be by myself or with a small group when I swim. It takes me a long time to get used to the water temperature. I mean, like, ridiculously long. It comes to the annoyance of everyone I swim with. I know it drives my husband crazy because he likes to splash me as I’m “acclimating” to the water step by step. I cannot just jump into the pool. It is physically painful when I do this. But swimming is my favorite sport… Enjoy the football.

Day2

Day 3: First Car

1983 Datsun Nissan Pulsar NX This was my first car. Go ahead, click the link, I can wait.

Done now? That car reminds me of an uncool Delorean from the Back to the Future movies. But really, my drawing is the most accurate depiction I could come up with. Nothing like having dad try to teach you a three-point turn in a car with no brakes… I almost hit a dresser my mom was painting in the driveway… Good times.

Day3

Day 4: A Secret About Yourself

I’ll let you sort this one out on your own.

Day4

Day 5: Favorite Movie

This one was hard because I love so many movies. I chose a movie that I felt represented a multitude of great things and storylines that have lent themselves well to other stories and other mediums. Whether it’s “Oz: the Great and Powerful”, “Wicked: the Musical”, or the Gregory Maguire novels, it all started in one place, with one pair of silver slippers (yes, in canon they were silver, not ruby. Ruby filmed better, for those who don’t believe me, open a book). I think on some level, we are all captivated by the land of Oz, the magic of the “horse of a different color”, and the characters we meet along the way. From the fearfully coward to the heartless metal man to the ignorant brilliance of a man made of straw, we understand these characters and their quest. Secretly, we all wish we could go “somewhere over the rainbow”.

Day5

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…

30 Days with Autism, Day 2

April 2nd: Autism has taught me that it doesn’t matter how long it takes to walk a block, it’s more important to know the scent of each flower along the way.

When my daughter was in Kindergarten, we lived in California. Fall 2010 she started Kindergarten, she was 4 years old. K was so excited to be starting school a whole year before she was supposed too. She has an avid love of learning anything and everything that can be taught. She could recite Dr. Seuss books from memory before she could ask for a glass of milk. She couldn’t wait to buy a backpack and supplies. Living in Southern California, we were lucky enough to be able to walk the quarter mile to school and back. She had morning Kindergarten, so her class time was from 9:25am until 12:45pm. It should have taken us less than ten minutes to walk to school each day. This, however, never happened. It wasn’t that we couldn’t have made the walk in that time, it’s that it was fall in California and in California flowers are always in bloom. My daughter experiences the world through her nose. If she could smell people instead of shaking their hands, I’m sure she would. Each day, as we passed the driveways of our neighbors, the flowers called to her. Her OCD got the better of her and I often gave in to her. That block and a half walk took nearly thirty minutes, twice a day. Each morning, we would leave the house at 9:00am. Each driveway or yard we came to, we’d have to stop and smell each and every flower. On days when we were running late, we’d simply smell one of each color from each yard. Now, we had rules. For instance, she wasn’t allowed to walk up a driveway to reach a flower or through a yard towards the house. She had to be able to smell the flower from the sidewalk, and she wasn’t allowed to pick any of them, which she was okay with. I missed these walks when we moved to Virginia mid-year, where it was frigid cold and we had to take the interstate to get her to school. Though, those car rides had there own adventures (like the time we saw the family of deer at the creek near the house), nothing compared to those walks in California. We would sing songs she was learning at school, smell every flower, and talk about anything and everything. My husband was in Georgia for training (we are an Army family, now), so sometimes we would talk about Daddy. Did you know that every plane flying over Southern California was carrying people back and for to Georgia to see their daddy’s? You do now, and that was important at the time. It wasn’t about the tantrums, it wasn’t about the fits and the OCDs, it was about the flowers and the quality time together. Adjusting the time we left the house was a small price to pay for the ability to get to know what was in my daughter’s head after so many years of no gestures and no words. The time she asked “Where does God lives?” was a great conversation to have with my then four year old girl. (Consequently, God lives on the second cloud from the right when facing North on Cambridge Street.) She taught me great things as we went for our walks and she enjoyed the time that was just me and her. Day 2 isn’t about overcoming some great challenge in our family. It isn’t about making progress towards some IEP goal. Day 2 is about patience, that sometimes you really do need to slow down and not always for the obvious reasons. Life is a journey, one that should be fun. What good is taking a walk if you don’t know the scent of each flower along the way?

30 Day Drawing Challenge: part 2: Day 1

I don’t really have a good build up to this one… I’m seriously at a loss for words, and I think that part of this is a result of the events of yesterday and the exhaustion I am still feeling today.

Believe it or not, there are four parts of these drawing challenges, or at least I have four separate versions downloaded onto my computer right now. I was invited to participate in Part Two, and I accepted. I need something to focus my brain for a bit, and I’m totally being a slacker on my list of things to do this year…

Part Two.

Part Two.

Day One: Muppet

Well that’s pretty vague, isn’t it? Many people have chosen to focus squarely on The Muppets. The pride of joy of the Jim Henson legacy. Too many people forget that Jim Henson and his muppets had their hands in a few different cookie jars over the years. From Yoda to Ludo, Jim Henson has worked on Star Wars, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Sesame Street, The Muppets (and all it’s “spin offs”, including Muppet Babies), Fraggle Rock and much more. So instead of focusing on one specific muppet, I chose to go with a few. Jim Henson was a man with a vision, and the “muppet” in all it’s forms is something to be celebrated.

Red from Fraggle Rock, Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street and Baby Animal from Muppet Babies.

Red from Fraggle Rock, Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street and Baby Animal from Muppet Babies.

Why we are choosing homeschool next year

Alternatively titled: Why my daughter’s teacher is a fricken idiot!

I’ve tried to be nice about all this, I swear, I really have. It has gotten to the point where other students are now calling out the teacher during class and they are being ignored even though their answers are, in fact, correct and the teacher is wrong! Instead of ranting about all the crappy things my daughter’s teacher has done (and not done) this year. I’ll let the tests speak for themselves. These are actual questions from the tests my daughter, a second grader, has taken this year. I will mark for you the answers the TEACHER feels are the correct ones, regardless of whether or not she is correct. I have pictures of some of them, it’s starting to get cute and annoying.

Let’s start with Math: This is a hugely popular subject at our house, where my daughter had to stop learning multiplication because it was causing problems with her (second grade) teacher teaching skip counting…

1. The teacher felt the correct answer to this question was C. 2 meters. Keep in mind the very next question on the test referenced a motorcycle being 2 meters long (in the question itself). I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a “real medium dog” the same height as a motorcycle is long.

I love how she underlines "real" and then claims the medium sized dog to be two meters tall... For reference, that makes the average "medium dog" taller than I am.

I love how she underlines “real” and then claims the medium sized dog to be two meters tall… For reference, that makes the average “medium dog” taller than I am.

2. Kay’s plant was 6 centimeters tall. Four weeks later it was 24 centimeters tall. How much did it grow in four weeks?
A. 30 centimeters                        B. 10 centimeters
C. 28 centimeters                             D. 18 centimeters

Now despite being blatantly wrong, Sissy says a boy in her class actually confronted the teacher regarding the correct answer, which is D. 18 cm. He was told that he was wrong. Let me explain why the score is now Teacher 0, Students 2. When you ask “how much did it grow in four weeks”, you are NOT asking how tall it is now, but the rate of growth over the given timeline. SO, had she asked “How tall is it at the end of the fourth week?”, which btw, the answer still is not A because the problem states the plant was 24 cm four weeks later, asked and answered. BUT, she asked “how much did it grow in four weeks”, thus making the answer the difference between the height of the plant at the start and finish of the four weeks which is 18 cm.

3. Danny has a plant that is 6 centimeters tall. The plant grows 4 centimeters each week. How tall will his plant be in four weeks?

This one was open-ended meaning the students had to write out and solve a problem to arrive at the solution. Now for me, the plant started at 6 centimeters tall (way to go Danny Boy!), for each of the next four weeks, it grew 4 centimeters. Then it asks how tall will it be in four weeks. This means that 4+4+4+4=16, or 4×4=16, but any way you look at it, over the course of the next four weeks, Danny’s plant will gain an additional 16 cm. Add that 16 cm to his previous height of 6cm, and you arrive at the addition problem 6+16=22. Danny’s plant is now 22cm tall. Apparently, not according to Teacher but hey, I’m no teacher, I’m just a mathematics major who took a class on Differential Equations as an elective…

Score: Teacher 0, Students 3

Here’s the picture of Kay and Danny to confirm my side of the story.

But at least the kids make good gardeners. Those plants are growing pretty well... Even better when the teacher grades the test.

But at least the kids make good gardeners. Those plants are growing pretty well… Even better when the teacher grades the test.

Then there’s the problems that arise when the study guide answers don’t match the answers to the test. Pretty sure that IS a parallelogram, and unless you are studying Euclidean Geometry (at this point I’d love her teacher just to spell “Euclidean Geometry”), that one up top there, is a type of Rhombus. We’re now 0-5 to the Students.

Study guide that was given to us by the teacher for the purpose of studying.

Study guide that was given to us by the teacher for the purpose of studying.

The test. Note that the letter G is the designation for the parallelogram and that shape looks exactly like the one on the study guide and yet, Sissy still got the wrong answer.

The test. Note that the letter G is the designation for the parallelogram and that shape looks exactly like the one on the study guide and yet, Sissy still got the wrong answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s move on to Language Arts, consisting of spelling, language, vocabulary, reading and reading comprehension. This is where it gets REALLY fun!

Two, To, Too... There is a difference and even my, then, six year old could see that.

Two, To, Too… There is a difference and even my, then, six year old could see that.

Look very carefully at this one. Notice that little circle placed randomly in the sentence, near the end there. Look close, it’s there. That’s not a random circle, that’s the letter “O”. When asked why she put it there, my then six year old, told me the word “too” needed two “o”… Why yes Folks, my then six year old was already correcting the grammar on the spelling tests. Makes a mother so proud.

Here we have "role reversal" the teacher spelled it correctly, so Sissy misspelled it for her.

Here we have “role reversal” the teacher spelled it correctly, so Sissy misspelled it for her.

Oh and when you format the spelling test so that the kids have to identify and correctly spell this weeks words, the least you could do is actually misspell the spelling word. You can’t fix what isn’t broken and you just confused the hell out of the kids, particularly the autistic child who knew the word, but still gets it wrong because her teacher failed her own test. That’s bringing us to Teacher 0-Students 7.

Let’s continue.

She got a perfect score on this homework assignment despite not following directions.

She got a perfect score on this homework assignment despite not following directions.

There’s the homework my daughter didn’t do “correctly” using the phrase “more clear” instead of the word “clearer” (which I was always taught wasn’t a word anyway) and the teacher didn’t notice. I’m half convinced she could randomly write anything in those blanks and her teacher wouldn’t know the difference.

There was the test on comparative and superlative adjectives where even the teacher wasn’t sure what she was supposed to be grading.

And yes, we get dozens of tests marked up like this one. Where correct answers are marked wrong and then fixed and then marked wrong again, but she gets the points anyway. It's confusing.

And yes, we get dozens of tests marked up like this one, where correct answers are marked wrong and then fixed and then marked wrong again, but she gets the points anyway. It’s confusing.

Or the time Teacher clearly didn’t read that weeks story and I can cite the page number and paragraph to prove it…

When you ask about a specific from the story it helps to READ THE STORY!

When you ask about a specific from the story it helps to READ THE STORY!

For those without a second grade reading book at home, this is the content of page 58. If you note paragraph two, as I wrote on the test, you will find the correct answer to the question.

For those without a second grade reading book at home, this is the content of page 58. If you note paragraph two, as I wrote on the test, you will find the correct answer to the question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the test where multiple answers were correct. Yes, they were both smart dogs, but they were also both girl dogs. Sorry Teacher, you failed that test too.

Tara and Tiree, another story from class that involved two smart, girl dogs.

Tara and Tiree, another story from class that involved two smart, girl dogs.

 

And the one she got marked right though clearly half a verb phrase and a prepositional phrase do not equal a sentence subject.

I circled "mom" while arguing with Sissy about whether or not "mom" was the subject... It is by the way.

I circled “mom” while arguing with Sissy about whether or not “mom” was the subject… It is by the way.

 

Pay attention to sentence #6 on this one… If you have to rewrite the sentence post-exam to make the vocabulary word fit the test, you fail as a test preparer.

The vocabulary word is "descend" the word they were looking for "descent". FAIL!

The vocabulary word is “descend” the word they were looking for “descent”. FAIL!

Now I know I may see harsh, but I was a teacher before I got married. I know what goes into making a lesson plan and what goes into assigning homework and how much time it takes to grade all of this. But COME ON! My daughter’s grades are suffering because her teacher is just downright lazy. Every page of homework she brings home is a worksheet printed off the internet. These sheets come from websites I use during the summer to homeschool Sissy. I requested a meeting with the principal of the school nearly two weeks ago and haven’t heard back yet. I know there are answers on these tests that my daughter got wrong because of her disability. Plain and simple, her brain sees things very linear and I’m trying to work on that with her. There are answers she gets wrong because she truly didn’t know the answer.  And there are answers she gets wrong because her teacher is a fricken idiot!

THIS is an autism related answer. "as far as we can see" means "we see nothing else", makes sense to me.

THIS is an autism related answer. “as far as we can see” means “we see nothing else”, makes sense to me.