Saturday, September 24, 2011

Queen of the House

This was taken before her injuries.
Nap time together.
This was taken before her injuries.
Those who know even a little about me quickly realize I am an animal lover.  I've posted before about the number of farm cats we have (most are rescues).  This blog post is honor of our miracle cat, Paisley.  She's like a furry member of our family.  Or as our 3 yr old would say, "like a person in a cat suit."

When she was just ten months old she was hit by a car and sustained three broken legs.  After many hours of surgery, ten weeks of cage rest, physical therapy, hydrotherapy, and a ton of prayers our sweet cat was eventually able to walk again.  It took another 4-6 months before she was able to run, climb and jump.  All of this was accomplished through the daily prayers of our young children, my husband's willingness to spend a whole LOT of money on a cat, my dedication to doing the physical therapy & hydrotherapy (it's true that cats really don't like water) and the dedication of the veterinarians at Bit & Spur Animal Hospital.  She not only survived, but has surpassed the veterinarians' highest hopes.  Though Paisley is left with a limp due to her right front leg being shorter than her other legs, it doesn't seem to bother her and it certainly doesn't keep her from jumping on dressers, or climbing around behind the entertainment center.

Just 2 weeks after surgery.
Paisley is now a little over two years old and is living the good life of being ruler of our house.  We love her and in exchange she brightens our days by getting in her favorite "dead cat" sleeping position right in the middle of a walkway so we have to step over her.  She sleeps where she chooses, in whatever position she chooses and brings great comedy to our family.
Best friends watching cartoons.

Her favorite way to sleep post-surgery.  I think she became so
accustomed to sleeping in odd positions due to the external
pins on her front leg that she just prefers this now.

Lying right in the middle of Luke's school work.

This cat truly sleeps where she wants, when she wants.  She was sound asleep in the pictures above until I disturbed her with the camera flash.  Far left she's in the bathroom sink, middle she's on top of my dresser and far right she's laying in a basket of clean laundry (note the paw lifted up to block the camera flash from her eyes).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Constantly Amazed by the Ignorance Around Us

Have you ever seen someone that doesn't seem to have ANY common sense at all?

In the news we hear about the people who think it's okay to leave their young child in the car alone while they run into the store, post office, etc. Typically one of three things happens: the car is stolen with the child in it, someone takes the child, or the child finds a way to get out and the mother drives off leaving the child behind unknowingly. What is wrong with these people? Sometimes drugs or alcohol are involved, but many times it's just a seemingly normal mom who thought it would be quicker to run into the store without the child.

Friday evening our family was in Sears Essentials and a little girl of around 4 or 5 years old was skipping and running up and down the toy isles.  What caught my attention was the fact that she was barefoot and completely ALONE.  Not an adult in sight anywhere.  I kept my eye on her for a while thinking her mom or dad would come from the next isle over any minute, but no one ever came looking for her.  The young girl just looked at a few toys here and there then ran to the next isle.  At one point she even ran around a few isles in the electronics department which was right beside the toys, then apparently realizing there were no toys over there she ran and skipped back to the toy department.  A good 7-8 minutes had gone by at this point with no adult supervision of this child.  We were ready to leave the toy section so I let one of the sales associates know about the young girl by herself.  As soon as we turned to walk off the mother of the girl came walking over from another part of the store.  I overheard her tell the sales associate she had been keeping an eye on the little girl.  Yeah right!  I had looked around many times hoping to find a parent watching her from a distance and saw no one.  The way the girl was running back and forth from one isle to the next there was no way anyone could have kept track of where she was without being right there.  I just shook my head and went on with our shopping.  A while later we walked near the toy section again and I noticed the same little barefoot girl was back, skipping up and down the isles by herself.  I don't think her mother had a clue in the world that leaving her young daughter alone like that was a danger.

Common sense is partially instinct, but the larger portion of common sense is learned. This means people need to be taught by their parents, grand parents, teachers and other mentors things like:

  • You cannot leave young children unattended ANYWHERE (car, home, front yard, etc.)
  • You cannot let an elementary age child play games on the internet without some supervision to make sure they are playing what they’re supposed to be playing and haven’t accidentally clicked to something that is not child friendly.
  • Children should not walk around in public areas barefoot (neither should adults for that manner). The floors in stores aren’t THAT clean, not to mention who lets their child walk barefoot through a parking lot to and from the car? Broken glass, sharp rocks and hot pavement are the first dangers that come to my mind though I’m sure there are others.
  • Put all trash in a trash can, don’t throw it out the window of your car or leave it in the parking lot. Adults who litter are teaching their children to litter. Children learn more by seeing and observing than they do by listening.
I could go on and on, but what’s the point? The people who NEED to read this the most are the ones who are least likely to read it (again the common sense thing). All I can say is we should try to be good mentors to others and by doing so hopefully we can help the next generation improve.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Going Against the Grain

As parents we always try to do what is best for our children. We give them healthy foods, constantly watch over their safety and teach them what they need to know at appropriate times. What do you do with a child whose birthday falls after that dreaded "September 1st" mark which deems them to wait another year before starting Kindergarten? Do you just go with the flow and wait another year? Experts tell us the first three years of a child's life are the most important. This is when they learn to walk, talk and socialize both verbally and through facial expressions. So if you are an assertive parent perhaps you taught your two year old her colors and then at three you taught her shapes and how to count to ten. When your child is four you teach her everything a typical preschool would teach; letters, the sounds they make, counting to 20, etc.

Getting back to the "after September 1st" birthday.... Now that you have prepared your four year old for Kindergarten, what exactly do you teach your child who is now turning five, but will have to wait another year to start Kindergarten? Do you continue on and teach them the basics for reading, counting to 100, and so on? Or do you give them the year off and just let them play and "be a kid" until they start Kindergarten the next year?

I personally believe that giving them the year off is a total waste of the super-powered learning skills that young kids have. Ask any expert and they will tell you the best age to learn a foreign language is age six and under. It's not that older children can't learn a foreign language, but it requires a bit more work. Obviously the average American isn't trying to teach their five year old a foreign language, but I feel it's important to continue teaching children in fun and engaging ways throughout the year (yes even during the summer). One of my favorite books on this subject is "Learning All the Time" by John Holt. I think this should be required reading for all parents and caregivers. Children have a true LOVE of learning as youngsters, but too often they lose this by the time they reach 8-9 years of age due to boredom and lack of being engaged (another topic for another day). If a child is ready to start Kindergarten at the age of four, they should be allowed to do Kindergarten level work, regardless if they are at home or at school. I know what many of you are thinking... What about social skills? Just because a four year old is academically ready to start Kindergarten doesn't mean she is emotionally and socially ready. Well, I agree with you, but what if the child was tested by two separate teachers and then allowed to participate for a day of Kindergarten before making the decision. Either the child has what it takes or she doesn't. (I'm using she throughout this simply because it's easier than saying "he or she".)

Now, to get to the real issue. Our three year old will be turning four this November. She already knows her colors in English (and many of them in Spanish as well). She can count to 15 in English (to 10 in Spanish), and she knows the alphabet and basic shapes. I have done very little formal education with her, yet she watches educational cartoons and participates when we play hide-and-seek in which we always count in Spanish (you should try it, it's fun!). The next logical thing for her to learn would be the sounds each letter makes and to count to 20. I have all of next year to teach her this (remember she will be turning four in Nov.), however once she's learned all of this the next stage is beginning to read. As a homeschooling parent I feel that the September 1st birth date deadline is simply a "suggestion" and not a firm line for every single child. I'm not saying that our child is exceptional, but what I am saying is that I refuse to just sit back and wait for our child to be old enough to start Kindergarten. I think education should always be based on ability, not on what everyone else is doing. If your child is ready to learn then by all means show them the way and make it fun. Education should never stop, not for our children and not for adults either.
This is just one of the many ways we play games and have FUN while learning.