Family Mobile: Bringing Families Together After Deployment

May 21, 2009

I wanted to share with you a new tool Paula and I created, to give a view of the family in transition. A mobile is such a great picture of what it is like to go through the ups and downs of deployment and reunion!

We Used the We Serve Too! characters

to illustrate the family. The mobile sways and dips as things are added or taken away (much like real life). It takes time to regain balance ,and to allow things to settle into a routine that works.

The good news is, all that feeling of unbalance is normal, and when we realize that it takes time, and adjustments (sometimes a very small adjustment ) to rebalance things, it gives us both hope and encouragement to see it through.

One important thing we wanted to express in our mobile, was leaving space for the family member who deploys. This we illustrated this way:There is an empty place, but there is still a presence there. One we suggest not be filled with other things. The danger is, that in our loneliness and need to get on with life, we fill the space, making it difficult for the person who is returning to fit in. To keep this space takes an awareness that it needs to be preserved.

The rest of the mobile is filled with the things of life: parents , friends, lessons, meals, finances, pets, errands, and yes…sleep!

We discuss things that can wait, things that can be taken off, or added (such as support through FRG’s, friends etc..) to make life balance again. If you look closely you will see there is an anchor at the bottom of our mobile. The mobile will work even without the anchor, but is much less stable. Though the mobile may still sway and dip, it is still better balanced with it than without it.

The anchor is what you believe. The thing that is bigger than you are. It transcends your circumstances and gives you a rock to stand on. It is the thing you base you life on. It encompasses the things that you want to pass on to your children. The faith that there is more than just ourselves. We hope you have such an anchor. If you don’t, we hope you will seek diligently with all your heart for what that is. Seek what is true and what is important. When you find that anchor, you will find the priorities will be easier to define, and life will have a new stability.

We hope that this analogy of family life during deployment and reunion will be of comfort to those of you facing these times. That you will be able to balance and re-balance each and every time!

We Serve Too! Our visit to Beacon School , Ft Carson

May 15, 2009

Some days Paula and I get to really see why we wanted to write books for Military children. Those are the days we get the blessing of spending time with the kids! On Tuesday, we travled to Ft. Carson, Colorado to read our books to four classes of preschoolers at the Beacon School. We had so much fun!

These children were engaged, polite and of course ,adorable. We loved reading to them and asking them questions. If you have ever been around preschoolers, you know they are very interested in anything new, and Paula and I had been introduced as real authors/illustrators.

I asked the kids in our afternoon group, “who can tell me what deployment means?” Preschoolers are a bit unprecitable, and I was not sure what the answer would be, these kids live on base and many have parents who are deployed . At first no hands went up, then a little boy raised his hand and said: “It’s when your Mom takes you to the doctor”….Ohhh, an APPOINTMENT…yeah that does sound the same! We then explained that deployment is when dad or mom has to go away to work for while…Oh, OK.

We read the stories and sang our song “The Creed of a Soldiers Child. Then becasue sitting still is not a preschoolers best thing, we sang and marched together.

A big Thank You Salute to Charoltte Nal who invited us to visit, and has been so encouraging to us in regard to our books. Also to the dedicated teachers who allowed us the time to be with the children they get to enjoy every day. Thank you to Mike Neustedter who took the photos of us with the kids to document our visit. Lastly, a thank you salute, to each of the little ones to whom our books are written.

Paula and I love this part of our adventure in books, meeting the wonderful people who serve too, those who support our troops and their families as they serve our nation. Thank you Beacon School for a wonderful day!

Wyoming National Guard Conference…and We Serve Too!

May 1, 2009

Paula and I and our small team, (the two of us, Ramona Baker and Beth Johnson), had a fabulous time in Wyoming last week!

We had the privilege of spending two days with 11 military kids at Warren AFB . One part of our program, consisted of preparing and making the Homecoming Boxes. We have a game we play with the Homecoming Box Paula and I have made. Inside are 15 items, and as the kids pull out the items that remind us of stories, then we tell them. After a day and a half, the kids still could recite every item that had been in our Box, and the story that went with them. Just goes to show that the Homecoming Box is a great tool to keep those memories alive. The memories will be even more meaningful, when they belong to them!

We also watched the DVD of the first book, and read the second book to the kids. We learned that age is of no real consequence with the We Serve Too! series. Even our oldest kids, age 12, loved and responded to the books, and the conversations about the content.

Our program ran 6 hours, and the kids loved every minute. At one point we showed them how a book was made (” a behind the scenes”, one child said) and then they did what we call “The Book Game” and created and book of their own complete with “blurbs” written by other children in the group.

Each child received a copy both We Serve Too! A Child’s Deployment Book, and a copy of We Serve Too!2 A Child’s Reunion Book. The parents received a Parent Pack: a copy of the Parent Guide for each book, directions to make The Homecoming Box , Tear Bottle, a sample copy of the Sticker Packs and some website information.

We had so much fun, and really enjoyed the wonderful kids we were with. Our best compliment came from one young man, age 11, who turned and said “I sure hope this program is here for my kids!”

Well, you can’t get a better review than that !

Thank you so much, to Denise Rampolla , Robin Gorsuch, and Bill Breckenridge, for inviting us!

I am posting the photos of a couple of the children’s finished Homecoming Boxes, pending permission to post the photos of the children at our Wyoming National Guard Weekend.