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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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 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.

A Poem

Middle of the night crisis: Check

Discovering their was a poem bursting through the chaos: Check

Blogging it for the world: In Progress (:P)

ARMY WIFE

I don’t dream about him.
Or the day that he’ll come home.
Or the way he wrapped his arms around me
When I was feeling weak.
Or the way he sighed so heavily
before he kissed my cheek.

My protection from my own despair
Has left not one memory
Of what it was to hold his hand
Or joke and laugh with glee.

I don’t remember what I said to him
The night he left my life.
I just remember the pain I felt
It cut through me like a knife.

I hid it well for days and weeks
Until care package day.
When over customs forms I cried
There was so much to say.

I love him dearly
Oh so dearly
He’ll never know the pain.
Or the thousand tears that fall each day
like slow and steady rain.

One day he will be by my side
The way it’s meant to be.
But for how long he gets to stay
Only time can see.

The Army has my soldier
But I still hold his heart.
His duty comes before our vows
Of til death do us part.

The time has come to dream again
The worst part of my day.
Cold, lonely and worrisome too
The bed too big to stay.

The time to sleep is coming.
I wake with every fear.
The knock at the door,
The never ending tear.

So rest my head
So full of dread
And cry my silent tears

For my ranks are known out far and wide
Through every step and every stride
This is the way we live our life
This is to be an Army Wife.

©Rainshadow Noba, January 8, 2013

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.

Untitled: A melancholy short story (and just in time for Christmas)

Suffice it to say, I was not going to get out of Christmas without a major issue or two. That said, parts of this story are true, parts of it are lies, and parts of it are just my way of silencing the wicked little woman who lives behind my ear without actually acting on the things that she tells me. Though she does speak the truth, or at least, the perceived truth, most of the time.

This short story is my way of dealing with Christmas. If you don’t like it, I really don’t care. I’m having an apathetic kind of day.

Untitled:

Closing the computer, she looked around the room.

Disconnected.

This was the way that she felt, so she would bring this into reality. “Reality was tangible,” she thought as she logged off her social networking page and signed off of her Skype account. Wishing she were brave enough to turn off her phone, she lowered the volume to silent, instead. With her only connection to the world outside her front door muted, her world inside the house now mimicked the disconnected feelings that tormented her. The only sound was coming from a child’s toy being quietly played with in the corner of the room.

The fact that her thoughts were irrational made no difference to her. She had been abandoned. She’d been left along for far too long for him to be coming back. A single hot tear rolled down her cheek following the salty trails left behind by the tears she’d cried before. It was true that he had left her attention for that of another woman. It was work he’d told her. Logically, rationally, she knew it to be true. He would never purposely betray her in such a way. The problem was, at times such as these, when the loneliness paved way for emptiness which in turn transformed her heart into an inescapable hollow hole, on days such as today, logical and rational had no place.

As the hollowness in her chest grew more heavy with each beat of her heart, her mind wandered to long forgotten hurts, and to pains she had fought hard to bury. “He’s having an affair,” states one voice flatly, emotionless, as if making a statement of fact. “That is not true and you know it,” says a much more childlike voice, so full of optimism and hope. “He loves you. He just forgot.” “Again,” replies the flat voice in turn. Back and forth these two voices bicker. For hours, passing arguments between them as if playing a fame of tug-o-war. Caught in the middle, between logical reason and fearing inducing doubt, her pain builds.

It is all too easy to believe the lie. Often times, the lie contains just enough truth to bring doubt. Doubt, when added to past pain and hurt,  to fear. Fear makes everything true. You fear the bumps in the night, so there must be a boogeyman. She doesn’t want to believe the irrational pain could be true. Fear and doubt cloud her judgement. She knows these things to be true:

1)His female coworker had been away from some length of time.
2)There was business to be dealt with. There was always business to be done.
3)He had left her alone to discuss things with this coworker, another woman.

Hours later, her hopes of having a good day had long since passed as visions of an affair played in her head. Knowing his love for her, knowing his job would be lost didn’t stop the illogical visions from dancing just behind her eyes. As the day progressed, the pain, the emptiness and the hollow ache grew. Suddenly, it wasn’t only an irrational fear of betrayal that blazed through her mind. The emotional pain became too much, as it often did. Her brain desperate for a logical cause of this chemical release began to ache for a rational explanation. Visions of metal, sharp and gleaming under bright lights, began to flicker through her head.

“One quick swipe,” the emotionless voice whispered in her ear. “One quick swipe and you would understand this pain. Transformed into a reality, a physical cause to be controlled.”

The little optimist, having long ago run out of new arguments to fend off the doubt, sat in silence. The one who was so innocent knew the truth in the words of her darker sister. The woman’s brain had always had trouble processing emotion. Like asking a computer to describe and experience ‘love’, the woman had a much better grasp on the physical realm. Reality could be controlled; it could be altered. Like the turning off of the phone and computer to better handle the feeling of ‘disconnect’, a small change in reality could make the feelings real.

The imaginary pain and perceived hurt could be made real. All the rest of the day, she was egged on by the wicked little voice. “You know you want to.” and “You’ll feel so much better if you do.” chorused through her head as she prepared a lonely dinner for herself and the children. She had barely spoken a word since that morning, when so suddenly, he had disappeared from her life. Her phone rang not once, her email sat empty, not a single text message arrived. The hollowness where her heart sat began to expand making her breath catch like heavy sobs though her eyes had run dry hours before.

She feared the things she thought. Both the imagined actions he took against her and the solitary way her mind sought to fix the problem. She feared he would hurt her; she feared she would hurt herself. After a long day, the house fell more silent. The children tucked into their beds snug and warm against the bitter cold of a winter’s night.

Quietly, she stepped onto the chilly tile of the bathroom floor. Mindful of the creaky door on the medicine cabinet, she pulled out her husbands used razor. Staring at her own reflection, she saw what he must see.

A young woman, aging before her time. Her blue eyes, though swollen from a long day of tears, were still hollow and sunken from many nights of little sleep. Her body, already slim, had grown to bare bones from the days of foodless stress. She sometimes thought herself beautiful, but those days were growing fewer and farther between.

She stood there. One arm held out in front of her, wrist bent outward over the vanity sink, she stood there, staring at herself. Holding the steel against her skin, she steadied her gaze, glaring at her own dead reflection and without any joy at all, declared,

“Merry Christmas”

©Rainshadow Noba, December 25, 2012

NaNoWriMo WINNER!

I did it, dear readers, I actually did it.

I wrote my novel of 50,041 words… Of course, that includes a dedication page and two epilogues (I couldn’t figure out how to end the story… So I wrote two).

I love it! My story is complete and final.

Thank you, dear readers, followers, and friends for all the support and encouragement you have given me over these past 30 (-ish) days. Without the encouragement of people I care about, I would not have made it as far as I did.

I’m gonna go eat junk food a decompress for a few days.

I need to get caught up on laundry and dishes, and I trip to the commissary wouldn’t hurt either 😛

The world of self-publishing is still a confusing place for me and I’m not sure I’ll ever release my story to the public, but yay that it is written.