kindergarten

My grand niece, Aleesia Spethman has had a very busy summer. She is part of an active family, which includes her three older brothers, who keep Aleesia very busy when she is at home. Of course, being the only girl in a house with three brothers, can have its up side, and its down side. It’s pretty hard to get brothers to play girly games, so sometimes, Aleesia has to be a bit of a tom boy, a role she has taken seriously…or maybe it just comes naturally because of her brothers. She can keep up with the boys on many of the things they do, but they still treat her like a princess sometimes too.

Aleesia is the girl her parents always wanted…not that they didn’t want those boys too. Jenny, Aleesia’s mom is very much a girly girl, and she wanted her own mini me to share her fashion sense, and all the other girly girl things with. They have a great time being girly together, shopping together, and playing the girly games that Aleesia wants to play, and her brothers are much too macho for. The boys are very considerate of their sister, but you simply have to draw the line somewhere. They do take her along on their adventures too, so what more can a baby sister ask for?

Aleesia loves her grandma. Every evening, after a hard day of playing with her friends and brothers, Aleesia is picked up by her grandma, my sister, Cheryl Masterson. She goes to her grandma’s house for a few hours. They love to spend time together, because Aleesia is seriously Grandma’s Girl. Don’t get me wrong, because she very much loves her parents and brothers, but she also loves her grandma very much. In fact, if Aleesia had her way, her grandma would just move in with her family, because then everything would be absolutely perfect in her world. My sister and her youngest grandchild have a somewhat unique relationship. Of course, Cheryl loves all her grandchildren, but some grandchildren are the type who just wiggle their way into your heart and take up a residency there. Some grandchildren are after your heart, and they make a sincere effort to be with you. It isn’t that the two of you do anything that is so out of the ordinary, but rather that you have opened your heart to their efforts to come in. I don’t know if that exactly explains how that is, but any grandparent who has been blessed with such a grandchild, knows exactly what I mean. And truly, anyone who has been blessed to have Aleesia love them a lot, is blessed indeed. I know, because I have been blessed to be one of those, and I love it. Today is Aleesia’s 5th birthday. For Aleesia, the next big adventure in her world will be Kindergarten…super fun!! Happy 5th birthday Aleesia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Alice Green has had an exciting couple of years. She finished her last year of pre-school, and now its on to Kindergarten. She has grown so much in the past few years…from the toddler that she was when I first met her young girl ready to get started on the next step in her education. Alice is a little shy, but once she gets to know people, she has a personality that bubbles with excitement. Alice really likes people, and of course, mostly kids. For three of her five years, she was an only child, and that meant that friends were a little bit more scarce, but all that has changed.

On December 21, 2015, Alice got an early Christmas present…a little sister of her very own named Izabella Harman. Alice was so excited. She had a sister, and before long, she would have a friend to play with who was always there in the same house with her. Alice was a good helper to her mom, my niece, Melanie Harman and my nephew, Jake Harman. She wanted to help with the baby, and make her laugh, and just be with her, in general, because that’s what big sisters do, and Alice planned to be the best big sister ever…a goal that I think she has definitely accomplished. But Alice’s excitement wasn’t over yet. On May 30, 2017, Alice got a little brother named Jaxx Harman. Jaxx would have not just one big sister, but two. I’m not sure how much he will like that when he is older, but while they are all little, this is going to be the best experience ever.

Alice is still the greatest big sister ever, because she loves her little sister and brother, and she loves to make them laugh. She and Belle play and giggle for hours, and very soon, Jaxx will join in the fun, because he won’t be a baby forever. Pretty soon, the Harman house will be filled with the laughter of three children in boisterous play. There is nothing greater than a house filled with the laughter of joyful children. For Alice, life is good. She is growing up, and she has Kindergarten to look forward to soon, and each day when she comes home, she will be greeted by her sister and brother, ready to play with the greatest big sister ever. Today is Alice’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Alice!! We love you!!

My grandnephew, Lucas Iverson is turning six today, and he is proudly getting ready to go to Kindergarten. Lucas is a special kid. He has Down’s Syndrome, but he isn’t letting that or anything else slow him down. He has had to work harder than most kids, just to arrive at the same place, but just because it’s been harder, doesn’t mean Lucas will quit. He’s no quitter!!

Going to Kindergarten is going to make for a big year for Lucas, but that isn’t the only big step in Lucas’ next year. Over the next few months, Lucas is going to have some tests and procedures at Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado. I’m not sure what they are hoping to find with the tests or the procedures, but I pray they will find a way to make his life easier. His young life has already been filled with tests, and therapy to help with walking and such. Most of us would have wanted to quit long ago, but Lucas just keeps plugging along, because, he’s no quitter!!

Hard work has paid off for Lucas, because he is walking now, and that is a very big accomplishment. I think that his sister, Zoey might have had a lot to do with that. Zoey is just a little over four years younger than Lucas, but since she could walk earlier, she inspired him…and she helped him along. Sh has never been the kind of sister to push Lucas away. She loves him with all her heart. When they are in the playpen, they love to wrestle, and that is good exercise too, so I’m sure it has helped to make Lucas stronger. From what their mom, Cassie has told me, it’s quite a sight. It makes her and their dad, Chris laugh. The kids have a great time too.

Like most kids, Lucas live to watch television and movies. His favorite movie right now is Moana. Now if you’re like me, you might have to look that movie up to see what it is all about. Well, it’s an adventure movie about a teenager who sets out to save her people. Lucas likes that sort of thing. He also likes reading his cardboard books and coloring. I’m sure he’s quite an artist. Lucas is growing into quite a big boy, and it s all because he’s no quitter!! Today is Lucas’ 6th birthday!! Happy birthday sweet Lucas!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Many people think of Kindergarten as almost a play date. They think of a classroom filled with toys, books, and craft supplies, as well as a playground for recess. Many people think of it as a daycare for working parents, and of course, a place for early childhood development. All these are good things, but this was not the original plan for the creator of Kindergarten, German born Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel. He wanted it to be a place that was both ‘a garden for children’, where children meet with environment and also ‘a garden of children’, where they play together and express themselves in a smaller garden world by means of play with their age group. He believed that “children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers.”

I’m sure this sounds odd to most of us, but when you look at his background, I think you will understand why he felt the way he did. Fröbel had an unhappy childhood with a severe step-mother. He was abandoned and treated in a strict fashion as a child. He got to know what happiness was, when he was living with his uncle’s family while studying at high school. He had a huge desire for education, strong Christian faith and love of nature. He studied mineralogy in Jena, Germany and architecture at the Berlin’s Humboldt University. Inborn skills of an educator helped Fröbel to realize the failure of teaching system because of its incompleteness and the failure to include the outside world in the educational process. The first kindergarten was established by Fröbel in Bad Blankenburg in 1837. He renamed his Play and Activity Institute to a ‘kindergarten’ two years later in 1840. That Bad Blankenburg Infant school used play, games, songs, stories, and crafts to encourage children’s imagination and broaden their physical and motor skills. “Kommt, lasst uns unsern Kindern leben” Come, let us live with our children’ turned into the catchphrase of the early childhood education.

Friedrich Fröbel also used studying and nurturing plants in a garden for stimulating children’s interest in the natural world. In reality, we can trace the similarities to the Montessori school system and the Pestalozzian consideration of importance to grow up in harmony with nature. Fröbel paid much attention to preparing for further school education by training the children through the complimentary self expression, creativeness, collective involvement, and motor activity. He considered training of all the vivid faculties: artistic, imaginative, linguistic, arithmetical, musical, aesthetic, scientific, physical, social, moral, cultural, and spiritual, complete growth and harmonious development to be even more important than any kind of knowledge. Fröbel’s kindergarten system flourished globally. Most kindergartens were organized for children of all social classes, ethnic groups and religious believes, Jewish as well as Christian. Fröbel’s vision of kindergarten seems to be so familiar and proper, however it was a fresh and revolutionary look on early childhood education in his time.

13532869_10206657885913369_359834100990588437_n[1]13606930_10206678903318791_5303133049315182074_n[1]My grand niece, Aurora Hadlock is turning five today. For her, these are exciting days. Aurora, or Rory, as she was nicknamed, is so excited about going to Kindergarten this year. I remember when she started pre-school. If it was possible, I think Rory was the most excited kid ever to start pre-school. That love of learning has never left her either. Rory looks forward to each day, because to her they are brand new…there are new things to learn…new friends to make…and each new day is a new adventure.

Rory, who’s mom, Chelsea Hadlock is very imaginative, has 10676195_10202953479705529_3463465173877702689_n[1]decided to have an Alice in Wonderland birthday this year. Her mom will make it such a fun day. Chelsea is very creative, and has the ability to make her kids’ dreams come true, so their birthdays are always a wonderful event. Rory is growing up so fast. Her mom says she is growing like a wildflower, and I think that is the truth. Rory is very much a girly girl, and she would wear a dress every day if she could. She loves dressing up, and has a lot of fun wearing dresses that are the same as, or very close to her mom’s dresses. Rory wants to look as beautiful as her mommy, and what a wonderful way to show her love for her mom too. Rory is very proud of her mom, and wants to be just like her. Rory has several favorites things, she loves tomatoes…shocking for a little girl, and sweet tea…again rare for a child, and of course, she loves to ride her bike…but then what kid doesn’t.

One thing that I didn’t know about Rory is that she wants to be a doctor. This has been a dream of hers for 11986937_10207241894556588_5179927847889566122_n[1]12002112_10204879110805103_8206092303737254724_n[1]some time. I find it completely amazing that this little five year old girl wants to be a doctor. Girls her age are thinking about being a princess, a mommy, or a ballerina…but never a doctor. I have to wonder what has made her choose this noble profession…and at this young age. I find that little fact about Rory to be especially awesome, because as a caregiver, I know how important doctors are. And just think, with her love of dresses, Rory can be the Princess Doctor. Today is Rory’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Rory!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

scan0204Have you ever noticed how completely uninhibited babies and toddlers are? If they like each other, they have no problem giving each other a friendly kiss. It doesn’t matter if they are boys or girls or one of each, but my favorite if when it is a boy and a girl, because they obviously have a little case of puppy love…or maybe it’s because babies tend to love most people. Whatever the reason, there is nothing as cute as two babies giving each other hugs and kisses.

Sometimes, I wonder why we can’t all feel the kind of love for other people that is so natural to babies. It doesn’t take very many years before we suddenly feel suspect of other people, or jealous, or just plain don’t like some people. I think that by the time Cheryl getting ready to kiss Carynwe enter kindergarten, we are already feeling a little less like sharing our friends with others, and so enters jealousy. Of course, it’s nobody’s fault, it’s just the way life is. I suppose it would be strange if we were just able to love everyone, although it would also make for a very peaceful Earth too.

It makes me wish that those baby years could just go on forever. Not for me so much, but for my kids and grandkids. I know that wouldn’t work either, because if my kids were babies, they couldn’t have had my grandkids, but I really do miss those baby years for all of them. It is that age of innocence that makes babies so sweet and loving, and as we all know that age of innocence turns to the terrible teens before our very eyes, and almost over night. Once you have experienced the terrible teens with your own kids, you will truly know Lovin'Sissywhy I prefer the innocence of babies, and baby kisses, over the terrible teens, and all that goes with them.

While I love my children and grandchildren at every age of their lives, there is very little that can compare to the days of innocence and baby kisses. They are not caught up in the day to day stresses and issues of their teenage years, but are rather simply set on bringing happiness and love to all who cross their paths. So the next time you find yourself wishing your babies were grow up so they could do things for themselves, remember that these days are fleeting, and baby kisses quickly disappear…when you are not looking. Focus on those baby days for as long as you possibly can.

Caryn abt 3rd gradeWhen most people think of Gumbo, they think of soup, and I do too, but there is another form of Gumbo, that isn’t quite as nice. In fact, this Gumbo is pretty awful. The Gumbo I’m talking about is the black, sticky, clay kind of mud found in many areas around the nation. Getting crossways with this kind of Gumbo can be a real mess, and in some places, very dangerous. Casper, Wyoming is known to have this kind of Gumbo, and any of us who have come across it can tell you just how bad it is.

My own experience with it was at the Kmart construction site when I was just a kid. My sisters and I were all curious about the new Kmart store going in, and since we lived just a block away, we liked to go over there and check it out sometimes. On this particular day, it had rained, and the dirt hill we had to climb over to get to the site was pretty soggy. I was not put off by that one bit, but perhaps I should have been. I proceeded to climb up the hill of mud, and sunk quickly to my ankles. Thankfully that finally deterred me from trying to go further, and changed my plan instead to trying to get out of there with my shoes…brand new penny loafers, which I had been wanting forever, by the way. In the end, I managed to get out and rescue my amazing shoes, but the shoes didn’t fare as well as I did. They shrunk by about a size, and I could no longer wear them. Man…was I in trouble. I don’t recall if I ever got another pair of penny loafers, or if they went out of style shortly thereafter, but I do remember that mud, and how awful it was. Ugh!! It was not a good day…especially when you add to it the fact that my mother was furious.

My cousin, Tim Fredrick and I share this type of experience. Once when Tim was in Kindergarten at Pineview School, in Casper, Wyoming, which we both attended, by the way, he recalls learning about the stuff of legends…in the form of the mud in the area. For any of you who don’t know it, the mud in Casper, Wyoming is pretty much all Gumbo. Gumbo is so sticky, that believe me when I say, “It will eat your shoes, if you get in there, and you will feel lucky to get out of it with your feet!!” This was the predicament Tim found himself in, Young Timwhen the playground had finally begun to dry after the rain, and because it had developed a thin crust of dry dirt, Tim mistakenly thought it was safe to walk across. Well, as you might have guessed, the crust broke, and that Gumbo mud ate Tim’s shoes. Tim couldn’t move, and if his friends hadn’t been there…some of them larger than he was, thankfully, that Gumbo might have got his feet too, but they pulled him out, just in the nick of time. Ok, I’m exaggerating just a bit, but that mud will get a grip on you and you can’t get out without help. I don’t know how Tim’s mom felt about all that, but my guess is that it was a feeling similar to my mom’s on that day long ago when I was a little kid. When it comes to Gumbo, I think Tim and I will agree…stay away, but it will always win. As Tim said, Gumbo is truly the stuff of legends!!

Amy's Preeschool program 1980Every child who has been in school, has also been in a school play of one type or another. It is very common, especially in Kindergarten to have a class play. All the kids in the class are so excited as the practice session take place, and they can hardly sit still long enough to get through the necessary studies before it is time for play practice. It doesn’t really matter what part each child is to play…at least not in Kindergarten, because they are usually happy with any part. Often there is a line or two for the child to memorize, and when they say their line, they feel like it was a monumental accomplishment, and really, it was, because they have never done anything quite like that before.

I remember my Kindergarten play vividly…or should I say one part of it. I have no idea what the play was about, nor the part I played in it, but I vividly remember that when the teacher said it was time to line up for practice, I was running to be first in line. I made it too, several times, but it didn’t matter. The teacher always made me move back in the line to about the midway point. I never could figure that out. It seemed very unfair to me that even though I got there first, I was not allowed to keep my place in line. Thankfully the teacher was quite patient, because she had to tell me to move back to that same midway point every day. I suppose that if she had explained to me that there was a certain order that we had to line up in, I might have understood, but she never said that. She simply moved me back. The whole thing really wasn’t my fault either, because after all, when you lined up for anything else, it was first come first in line. So how was I supposed to know that this was different. All I knew was that I wanted to be first in line and the teacher wouldn’t let me. Thankfully, I just did as I was told, and didn’t cry. Now that would have been humiliating!! I don’t know if my teacher understood why she had to tell me over and over to move further back, or if she just thought I was a little ditsy, but she never got mad at me, and remained a favorite teacher throughout the years.Amy's Kindergarten program 1981

I never heard that my girls had such a problem with their pre-school and kindergarten plays, so maybe it was just me being a little ditsy, I don’t really know. What I do know is that I think I prefer being on the audience side of school plays far more than I did as an actress. I guess that means I’ll never be famous, or at least not a famous actress, but I can live with that. Through the years, I have enjoyed watching everything from plays to concerts at the schools…at least as long as they included my daughters or my grandchildren, that is.

Bertha Schumacher HallgrenI have been reading my Great Aunt Bertie Schumacher’s journal for a while now, and every time I pick it up I find something new. She started her journal by talking about how any writer can become famous in time, simply by observing the events around them and writing about those events, how they made people feel, and what happened because of those events. As a writer myself, I began to think about what she said, because there really is a vast difference, I think, between a writer and a reporter. A reporter simply tells the events as they happened, but a writer elaborates on the events, the people involved, and their feelings. There are reporters who are writers, obviously, but I think it would be very hard for a writer not to interject their thoughts and feelings into a report.

Aunt Bertie wanted to tell a little bit about the things that were going on in their time. Still, she could not help but put into words how she felt about the events of the day. She mentioned that the first Kindergarten was formed in 1873. At that time there were only about 200 high schools in the entire country, but by 1900 there were 6000, along with colleges that were heavily endowed by the Rockefeller, Stanford, and Vanderbilt families. Fisk College for “blacks” came into being. Women were coming to the foreground. Football became a part of college life. You could become a doctor in four months…later it took three years, and we all know it takes much longer now. At that time, 98% of children were in the grades. Aunt Bertie mentions that it was thought that education was a cure all. Authors like Emily Dickinson, Bret Hart, and Mark Twain tried to enrich the world. There were streetcar and yacht races, P.T Barnum Circus, Dwight Moody held mass revivals, and McGuffy’s Reader taught moral lessons. And then she tells about the thing that bothers her the most, when she said, “But all this did not abolish CHILD LABOR!” Child Labor in a Cotton MillIt seemed to Aunt Bertie that there were so many changes that the nation was seeing, but the one thing that appalled her the most at the time, was still there, and still endangering the lives of children. It was so hard for her to imagine that with everything else moving with such monumental steps toward a more modern civilization, that was so much more educated, that no one could stop child labor. In fact it seemed to her that no one noticed it, or even cared at all.

Her writings picture disasters, such as the panic in 1873, at the height of the reconstruction of the 1870’s…widespread unemployment, bankruptcy of many people, and failure of businesses, the Great Chicago fire and fires in Wisconsin, Boston, and other places that caused the failure of Insurance Companies who did not have enough Reserves to cover all of these disasters, railroad strikes and violence. Then she mentions what she terms “the sins of society”, one million people living in New York slums…ten to fifteen people in three rooms. The thought of so many people being forced to live in such appalling conditions tore at Aunt Bertie’s heart. Somehow, these things just should not be, and yet this was the world we were living in at that time.

Aunt Bertie wanted to tell about the things that were changing in our world, and how many improvements those changes were making to the world, but her tender heart just couldn’t get past the horrible injustices she could still see. There are lessons to be learned from her writings. Lessons of compassion, kindness, charity, and love for our fellow man. All too often we are so busy working on the improvements we want to make in our lives, society, and our Great Chicago Fire of 1871world in general, that we forget about how those things could affect the lives of others. The greed of the factory owners could not see past the profit to what their child laborers were suffering. Many changes have come from the horrors of the past. Child labor laws now protect our children, and as an insurance agent, I know that companies must hold enough in reserve to cover disastrous losses, and that while no insurance company is completely safe from failure, there is far less chance of it these days because of those reserves. While those days and events tore at Aunt Bertie’s tender heart, maybe society wasn’t totally deaf to the plight of the people after all.

644145_3798924059182_1321134008_naMy grand nephew, Ethan Hadlock is in his second year of preschool, and is excited to be moving on to Kindergarten next year. Like most kids at this age, Ethan likes school, probably because it makes him feel grown up. I have seen such a change in him since he started school. He is no longer the toddler he was, but is maturing into a big boy, who knows a little bit about the big wide world that exists beyond the confines of his home. It is a rite of passage that all kids go through at this age, and it is a cool thing to watch.
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 Ethan has a little sister, named Rory. Rory is a force to be reckoned with, and Ethan has a tender heart. All too often in these situations, Rory ends up bullying Ethan, and like lots of brothers, he won’t fight back physically against this weaker sex child he lives with. Oh don’t get me wrong, Ethan is not constantly bullied by Rory, but she does know that she has the power to do so, and it is an efficient weapon when she decides to use it. And Ethan does have his limits, and when those are reached…well, their mom, Chelsea just wants to lock herself in the bathroom for a Calgon moment.

1452177_10201070762718781_1879900030_nEthan is very much into Ninja Turtles right now, and like most boys his age, he fancies himself a super hero. Not a bad plan. I think the world needs more heroes anyway. His family recently moved into a bigger house, allowing Ethan to finally have his own room…a very special thing for him. His room is decorated with another super hero…Captain America bedding and cars pictures, typical of most boys, but his DVD player belongs to the Ninja Turtles.

Ethan got to go hunting with his dad, Ryan, and is getting a BB gun for his birthday, so he and his dad with be going out to teach him safety and how to shoot his new gun. He is very much into doing things with his dad. He broke his arm a while back, and he gets the cast off the day after his birthday, which will be perfect for learning how to operate that new gun. Today is Ethan’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Ethan!! Have a super hero kind of day!! We love you!!

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