Christmas Reunion and a New Year coming

January 5, 2013

Hi, I have not written anything all the Christmas season and into the first 5 days of the new year. There is a reason for that, I have been busy soaking up the joys and blessings of our first Christmas with our soldier son for quite some time.

This year, he was here , being Daddy to the We Serve Too! kids and enjoying his brothers and sister. We had a beautiful day and overnight in a downtown hotel and a wonderful meal that made us all full for many hours later.

We had so many things to be thankful for. My husband had come through a rough operation and subsequent life threatening blood clot to the lung, and that fact that we were all sitting together over dinner, all in only two weeks,  by the grace of God, made it seem as if our days were gold.

I watched soldier son, play with his kids, open a lovely painting done by his daughter to hang in his apartment that will finally be in the same state we live in! ( I had to show it off below).  After two tours in Iraq and recently a year in Afghanistan, this was a reunion we had waited for a long time.

There  will be a shift in how we live soon, the New Year coming will bring him home in ways we have not enjoyed for years. He will have more time and visits with the kids and there will be joys and struggles ahead as they learn what it means to turn reunion into regular life.

As I watched the days slip by quickly, this time, not a year but only a matter of weeks will pass until he flies back home, and I  know that this will be a new chapter for him and for us all. This Christmas will be a lovely memory of candlelight, tiny colored lights on the tree, laughter and conversations, and love we had being all together.

I know that many of you will be starting a deployment, or welcoming a reunion. Whatever the New Year brings , may you have the strength and courage to face it square and count the joys that come each day. If you need some help to explain deployment or reunion to little ones this year, please read our free discussion guides on our website https://www.weservetoo.com/Discussion_Guides.html, our books and resources are there for you, and if they help, we have done what we set out to do.

May this New Year bring you blessings ,

Kathleen and Paula

 

 

Thanksgiving , the table, and the making of a Tradition

November 23, 2012

Hoping that you all had a great Thanksgiving ! It is always too much food and everyone ends up sleepy and content, and only wanting more pie after an hour or so.

I was thinking that we need to be a bit more aware of how spoiled we are. Paula sets two kernels of corn on each plate so they can contemplate the early pilgrims rationing of food, staying alive on that tiny morsel of food.

I started a new tradition last year and we worked on it this year too. I got a pretty cheap white tablecloth at Sams, and some Inktense pencils from Derwent. They are great because they are permanent after you set the design with some heat from a hot iron, and your can keep the masterpieces year to year.

Here is a small sampling of the artwork at our house, , and though a bit messy in places, I love it.  We sign each design and put the year there. I love last years when a little one was thankful for french fries. A design done by my mother, a turkey running for his life, and one thing that we are all thankful for, that a son is now out of Afghanistan and on his way home.

It gives everyone a chance to document and express that gratitude that we really feel! Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Salute to our Armed Forces, Armed Forces Day May 19th

May 18, 2012

 

Don’t forget that tomorrow is our chance to thank those who serve in our Armed Forces!

This is a day to thank you, those who defend our nation;

You have a job that is often difficult, times far from family and friends, and one of the most honorable things a person can ever do.

Thank you for the hard work, the overcoming, the times when we are sure that you wonder why you signed up for this. Thank you for the times when you know full well why you did,  some of you would do it  again.

Thank you for defending those of us who live our lives every day without a thought about why we are free, or how we stay that way.

Thank you and a big salute to those who have gone into combat, or supported those there, in all the worlds conflicts over the years. To those who are there now in Afghanistan, we are here praying and your nation is behind you.

http://articles.springsmilitarylife.com/articles/military-176-free-http.html here is a link to tomorrow’s activities around Colorado.

To all our friends in every branch of the Armed Forces, we salute you!

July 4th, A Simple Celebration

June 30, 2011

 

Here is a link for a simple but meaningful July 4th celebration. It takes very little preparation , and gives kids a base of understanding . Here is the link to the site http://www.prageruniversity.com/4th-of-july-declaration.html

I am going to try this with our little ones, come Monday.

Hoping your celebration is wonderful! Our country is unique and we need to pass along to our children the beauty of what we have here.

Happy Independence Day!!

The Easter Story…in cookies!

April 11, 2011

This recipe was given to me by Paula when I asked her if she knew of a good way to do something meaningful for Easter. I wanted something for  my grandkids to teach them something more than to search for jellybeans. Our kids were very interested and engaged in this.  If you want the kids to enjoy a hands on, meaningful,  and yummy activity try this one!

Ingredients:

1 cup of whole pecans in a ziploc bag (I had two kids so divided into two ziploc bags)

1tsp. vinegar

3 egg whites (don’t get any yolk in it)

a pinch of salt

1 cup of sugar

A large spoon,mixing bowl , wax paper, cookie sheets

Preheat oven to 300

Take the bags of pecans and let the children beat them with a large spoon to break them into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3

Let the children smell the vinegar. Put one tsp into the mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. (they can try it on a folded paper towel, touching their tongue to it, like Jesus did on the sponge and  hyssop) Read John19:28-30

Add the egg white to the vinegar (since it won’t work if the yolk is mixed in, I separated the eggs and did not have the kids do that ). Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life, to give us life. Read John 10:10-11

Sprinkle a bit of salt into each child’s hand. Let them take a tiny pinch and place it in the bowl, then taste what is in their hand. Explain that the salt represents the tears shed by Jesus’ followers and bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1 cup of sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16

Beat with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks are formed (12 to 15 minutes) Explain that the color white represents the purity in Gods eyes of those whose sin is cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3

Fold in the broken nuts. Drop by the teaspoon onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60

Put the cookie sheet in the oven. Close the door and and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed.  Read Matthew 27: 65-66 .

GO TO BED! Explain they might feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus’ followers were amazed to fine the tomb empty and open. Read Matthew 28:1-9

He Has Risen!

I did this with my 9 year old and 6 year old grandchildren. I looked up Scriptures ahead and marked them, knowing that the attention span may not allow for me to look them up as they waited, but I was probably not giving them enough credit. They loved taking turns adding the ingredients, but I could not convince them to taste the vinegar! They really were excited about getting up in the morning to see what the cookies were like. They thought they tasted like marshmallows and had several!

Do you have any special activities you do with your kids for Easter? We would love to hear about them!

P.S.

(If you have nut allergies, you can use some chocolate bars that are cold, and can break them up in the same way and add those to the cookies instead, to get the rocky tomb idea, though I have not tried this.)

 

 

April Month of the Military Child…Ways to give them Honor?

March 29, 2011

 

Kids… They bring us tears, laughter, joy and heartache. We give them our hearts, our homes, our lives …

April is the month  in which we honor the children of our Military Families. These children sacrifice the time that they would have with a beloved parent ,as that parent works to defend our freedoms, our livelihood, our way of life as we know it. Without these brave warriors, we would not have the safety and privileges that we enjoy as a nation.

So , how can we help when these children,home waiting for a parent to return?How do we help them look at the year ahead missing that important person? How can we help as a Family is apart and the parent at home shoulders all the responsibility? Here are a few ideas, and I hope that you will post others that I have not thought of!

* The We Serve Too! books are great for starting conversations and honoring the feelings and lives of Military kids. Read the stories, and check the parent guides for good conversation starters. Here is the link to our website http://weservetoo.com/

* If you are not the parent or close relative of a Military Family, consider a box of books to be donated to the children of a nearby Military installation, school on post, or daycare center. The books are great for educating civilian children on the sacrifices made by kids with parents that are deployed or returning too.Local school libraries are another place that donations are appreciated.

* The Homecoming Box books make a great activity for a group of children or for one child. The book explains the Homecoming Box, and there are instructions in the back on making the boxes that become a family treasure.

* Host a Homecoming Box party or FRG activity and let the kids work together. It is always good to let the kids talk with one another as they share the same journey.

*Here is the link http://www.operationwearehere.com/Children.html to the childrens page on the website of Operation We Are Here. There are lots of resources on it , and I bet you will find some ideas here about things to do with the kids.

* Taking time to talk with children can enlighten you and also provide clues as to ways to honor them. Ask about school, friends, homework. Do they need  homework help, time away, an outing with one of their friend in tow? Maybe they need to practice their fast ball, get a ride to dance class, just talk to someone about what it is like missing an absent parent.

* be supportive by going to the school play, the science fair, the choir program. You will enjoy them more than you think, even if your kids (and maybe especially so ) if your kids are grown!

* If you are family, or a close friend, let them know that you miss their dad or mom too.

* Offer help or meals to the family. Not just “call me”, but ” I am bringing dinner, what night this week is best?” Supporting the Family helps kids feel secure.

* It doesn’t have to been hard, take a lot of time or money. An ice cream cone, a cute sticker for that child that sits behind you in church, a smile and a “thank you for your parents service” , can let a child feel the pride of being part of a Military family.

Please post an idea, so that many can make a difference for kids this month. April is a month to remember, honor and express our gratitude for the people who give so much.

In the words of a soldier: “If you help my child, you help me. Nothing is more important to me than that.

 

Best Christmas Cookies ever!

December 23, 2010

I am about to reveal to you a wonderful family recipe that was brought over from Scotland by my great-grandparents on my mothers side.

Not only are these rich and delicious, they are easy to make especially for people who are very busy (like parents who have a deployed spouse for instance!)

I have some in the oven now, and my fingers are literally sliding over the keyboard due to the amount of butter (yes I did wash, but this stuff is seriously buttery!)

Here is my Christmas gift to all of you who visit us at camo-n-kids and We Serve Too!

Scotch Shortbread cookies

1 cup of real butter (no, not margarine, you will miss the rich taste)

5/8 c. suger (10 TBSP)

2 cups of  white flour (this is not health food, loosen up and use the right stuff, you won’t be sorry!)

Mix this with your hands until you can make a ball, but don’t  over handle it.

I roll into small balls and use a cookie press, the flat ones with a picture on them,( dipping in flour first so they don’t stick). Rolling a ball and flattening with the bottom of a glass works too.

Oven is at 300 and you cook about 25 minutes (check that they get only a golden brown, not too dark)

That is it! These are rich and a couple is enough with a cold glass of milk.

Merry Christmas!!

Ft. Carson: We Serve Too!, Tradition, and Homecoming!

June 6, 2010

This weekend Paula and I had the privilege to go to Ft. Carson and donate 500 books to the little ones. We read our stories, asked some questions and got some wonderful hugs! Here are a couple of the people that helped us do that, friends from the West Childcare Development Center on Ft. Carson, as they assemble the books with dogtags to pass out to the children there

After the passing out of the books , we heard of a tradition there are Ft. Carson that we had never heard of before. We were told that if we came back to the post late at night, 300 or more soldiers were coming home from Afghanistan! The tradition is, that as the busloads of soldiers come in the gates, the firetrucks, lights flashing , horns blowing, drench the buses with water, symbolizing the washing off of the dirt of foreign soil and welcoming them back home.

Because this particular homecoming was happening inthe middle of the night, families anxiously awaited their arrival at the event center about a half mile from the gate’s roundabout. The only ones to witness the firetrucks and that part of the celebration, were one little boy and his mother, and these two grandmas!

As we joined the families of our brave service-members, we were struck with the beauty of the welcome. Prayer, the Army song, a reverence for the completed mission and thanks to the families who had endured or lost. Then a joyous reunion of smiles, snapshots, laughter, hugging and tears. What a privilege to be there.

As we left I thanked a young soldier and asked if he would mind if I gave him a hug. I had never gotten to see the homecoming of my own boy, twice from Iraq. He obliged me.

Welcome home each and every one. Thank you, from all of us, for the work you do and have done. May God bless and keep you, and your families!

The Big Picture, or, mail yourself to Daddy!

May 24, 2010

Today we traced around the kids so they could send themselves to Daddy for his birthday coming up in June.

I think that the kids enjoyed the idea of travelling folded up in an envelope all the way to Germany. This is an easy project which lets the kids be creative about what they want to wear, what they want to do to make the picture their own.

All you need is a roll of craft paper , some crayons and markers and some tape to tape it down to the floor so it doesn’t slide around. The other good thing about it is that Daddy not only gets this great artwork, he now knows the size of those kids who may have grown a little since he was home last!

Hope that if you try this easy and inexpensive gift, that you will have as much fun as we did!

We Are the Free and Unconquerable People of the United States of America! Teach kids about Pearl Harbor.

December 8, 2009

old radio
Please take a moment to listen to this radio address by Eleanor Roosevelt.
You will hear the words she spoke (click on her name)as the world began to hear about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Children need to hear about the history of our nation. It is our job, to keep the history alive ,to teach children that many have made the utimate sacrifice to secure their freedoms. Listen to the language used, Eleanor Roosevelt acknowledges the emotion of the moment, fear, and tells the nation, that “we the people, are ready for action” and that “we are the free and unconquerable people of the United States of America!” We still are, though there are those who do not know it. They try to convince us that this is no longer true. Teach the children, that honor, bravery and good are displayed in our great military. We need to begin to look at the way we saw our nation then, and the dangerous changes we have made. Bring back that sureness, that we are a nation of people, united, who will not bow to evil.

May our nation continue to be blessed.