We Serve Too! Changes Ownership, Welcome ;SB Gems Publishing!

February 19, 2014

I would like to introduce you to the new owner of We Serve Too! Sandra Bramble has opened SB-Gems Publishing and has the know-how and the connections to take these great books to the next level.  Paula and I are proud and pleased to hand the reins over to her.

Seasons come and go in life and this one has now turned toward retirement for Paula and I , allowing something new to stand instead. This buyout has been of Gods hand, and we stand amazed at the perfection of a plan that began years ago at the yellow ribbon event, when we met Sandra for the first time. Sandra has the heart it will take for the Military, as she has spent her life in the trenches with Military Families. She knows the ins and outs of social networking that Paula and I could never wrap our heads around, but that are essential in today’s marketplace. Best of all ,Sandra loves the books, and sees the worth and purpose behind them as they encourage Military children to embrace the honor due them, as they serve beside their parents, enduring long separations as their parents defend our nation.

Sandra, we salute you in this new endeavor, and if you are a friend of ours from over the years, we encourage you to support and encourage Sandra just as you have done so many times for us. We will be staying available for SB-Gems Publishing in any way we can, so this is not goodbye, just a welcome and positive change for us all.

Off we go, a new adventure!!

moms choice award 007

We Serve Too! What are these books really about?

October 3, 2013

What are the We Serve Too! series of books really about?  Shannon, a young Military wife and mother, spoke our exact mission and desire as we started out on this journey nearly 10 years ago. She talks about the way children react to the books and how being with other Military children gets them talking .

Thank you Shannon, for sharing the way our books impacted you, and sharing that Little Patriots Embraced was there to help as you dealt with two young sons needing encouragement while their Dad was away from home. That you used the prayer for Daddy as you Skyped as a family, touches our hearts in a special way .

I am posting the video here, it is really what our books are about:

These books are about family, about loving and missing and joyful reunion. They are about talking with children, and parents having a chance to learn that they are allowed to express feelings too, you don’t have to be strong every minute.  These books are about children learning to cope with life, in a positive way, and feeling honor and courage in being a child who’s parents serve this country. Alot to ask of a children’s picture book, but we are thrilled that that, and more, is what our books are about.

 

A Deployment Goodbye Gift

June 19, 2013

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I just wanted to draw your attention to the newest changes on our website!

 

https://www.weservetoo.com/We Serve Too! A Child’s Deployment Book, read in its entirety to you by Kathleen, just for you! (scroll down a bit)

 

https://www.weservetoo.com/Color_Sing_Create.html Deployment Goodbye Gift, a new song by Paula Johnson. Honestly, I was in on the writing of this song, ( as in being the first to hear it) and the first time, I knew it would be something really special. Then, Paula had a good friend and musician have her children sing it, and I could not keep the tears from leaking. I cried through the whole thing. It’s sweetness and bittersweeness touched my heart, and I know touches other hearts as well. I personally love the voices of children singing just about anything, but this one, with the lyrics so meaningful for the children we love and work for, is just a special experience.

We hope that you are finding the summer a time of joy with family and friends and that you are enjoying each one of these sunny warm days while they are here. It all goes so fast, so breathe the early morning freshness, the smell of suntan lotion, BBQ grills, and chlorine at the pool. Enjoy the taste of cool watermelon, and an ice cream cone or two. Take the kids out after dark to see the shining stars (we take a ride in the wagon around the neighborhood) . We pray for you some summer joys, and would love to hear from you about what you think about our books, songs or other resources for your Military Family.

Reunion,the Single Parent, and the Daddy Box.

January 26, 2013

Soon our family will be welcoming home our soldier and we are so excited! He will be living and working close enough to be present for holidays, birthdays and just weekends with the We Serve Too! kids. This is new to all of us and we can’t wait! As a mother, grandmother, and someone who has worked closely with kids all my life, I have been contemplating a few things about this . I believe that We Serve Too! A Child’s Reunion Book is a great way for kids to talk through a reintegration no matter if the family is intact, divorced or supported by grandparents or other caretakers.

If you are a single parent returning from deployment , or the caretaker of children while someone has been away, here are  three  things that might be a little helpful to remember:

1.Kids are creatures of habit (actually we all are ) and what they are used to is not always easy to undo. In our Reunion book we address this, in showing that feelings get complicated . Not expecting things to go smoothly will avoid lots of hurt feelings.

2. Homecoming is wonderful…sometimes. Everyone has had lots of time to think about how great this is going to be!  No one has thought about what it will be like when a child wants to go home to the parent they have been living with when you have them for the weekend , what it will feel like when the child rejects gifts or planned activities that have been lovingly offered, or on the child’s side,what it will feel like to be disciplined by this parent they have waited so long for.

3. Take it slow. Get to know each other again. Find things that you share in common. Let kids know that though they are used to life one way, life has changed course …for the better! Let them know that you understand they miss Mommy , but you love them and you are there, they will see Mommy in a day or two (or whatever the arrangement is). Be confident, friendly and not overly empathetic. When kids know you are acting in their best interest, they begin to feel safe and accept the new arrangements. Finding things to do, like getting kids engaged in helping you make dinner, washing the car together, reading a story, will help calm the feelings and build bonds between you.

Here is one word of caution, don’t be intimidated. Don’t let kids cry and get when they want…this will create a mess beyond your imagination and honestly makes kids feel insecure and scared. They need to know that a mature adult is caring for them and they are not in charge. It is hard sometimes  being a parent who has been away, it creates undue guilt at times. If you want to read more about this, look at our free parent guide on our reunion book here:https://www.weservetoo.com/Discussion_Guides.html

As the grandma, I want to help my son as he comes back, gets an apartment , and begins to enjoy his beautiful We Serve Too! kids!

I came up with the idea of a “Daddy Box”. This  box has a few things he may not think about or know about yet: the special soap that little girl needs, the laundry soap for said little girl who is allergic to other kinds, children’s Tylenol, children’s cold medicine, a box of band aids , neosporin for any little cuts that happen, a toothbrush and favorite toothpaste for each kid, children’s shampoo. You could add maybe a few favorite foods that kids are used to, night lights, or toys that are familiar and may need to be found in both homes. If you have a young lady nearing teen years,  who will be with Dad, make sure that you provide things in case changes of life occur on his watch. I bet you could think of some other things, if you do, please let me know since I only have two more weeks to get it ready!

If you are a parent coming home, Welcome Back, and thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Why Are Books Effective For Reaching the Heart Of a Child? Book Giveaway!!(yes, free books!)

November 27, 2012
http://www.faithdeployed.com/2012/11/why-are-books-effective-for-reaching-the-heart-of-a-child-plus-give-away/
Join our conversation about books and children with our friends at Faith Deployed (this is a great blog for Military Families). You can enter the giveaway by leaving a comment at the end of the blog on Faith Deployed.
The blog is discussing how a hard back children’s book is a special gift to a child, and why we felt we needed to print our books that way, though it is more expensive and difficult than paperback or e-books.  The contest will award 10 We Serve Too! books and 1 Grand Prize of all our books (all 4 full color hardback books, each with a dogtag, the Military ABC, and our Afghanistan booklet) !!! We can’t wait to read your comments!
A big thank you to Jocelyn Green of Faith Deployed for featuring our books!

Fall will bring Soldier Daddy closer every day…

August 14, 2012

 

 

 

The kids have had a wonderful summer that has slipped by awfully fast. We hope that you have tucked away a few sunshiny memories to think on as the fall and winter come. We are looking forward to soldier Daddy coming home, leaving the rugged terrain of Afghanistan and being instead close enough to hug!

 

As a mother, I can hardly stand the end months of this deployment, just waiting and praying that he will be out of there and equally proud of how he serves this country with every fiber of his being. My grandchildren can hardly wait for the Daddy they miss to be here, really here in person.

 

We have worked hard to stay connected and close even with all those miles between us. Calls and notes, packages and facebook messages. Soon all that will be replaced with a PCS to Colorado, and we are thrilled!

Paula and I will be going to a local elementary school to bring the We Serve Too! books to kids and teach them about Veterans Day. This will happen of course in November, but we are planning now, since we will be working with more than 500 children. We were told that they did not understand Veterans Day last year, and so we have vowed to change that!

We will be talking to them about books, illustrating ,and  being an author. We will be letting them illustrate a book of their own, and best, we will be telling them of the sacrifices that are made for them each and every day. These children need to know that other children wait for beloved parents to return. They need to understand that all through our history, men and women have chosen to risk everything to keep this country free and our way of life intact. If they do not understand that, how can they ever understand the gift they have been given, and the weight of that gift? If they don’t know that this country is unique and special, how will they find the passion to defend it?  Paula and I are not really just talking about books at all, but about something infinitely more important. We hope the kids will embrace it.

Here is hoping that your last summer days are blessed and restful, and that the excitement of a new school year will carry the little ones into good learning situations!

The Daddy Book: Proof of Love and Commitment

March 26, 2012

All families who have experienced the long days away of deployment, know that sometimes our perceptions are colored by our feelings of missing the one we love. This can turn to a belief that we NEVER get to be together and the slope of self pity that just sometimes happens for us all. We know that the work being done is important , but the connections are important too. We are in the midst of the deployment cycle as our soldier is in the “stan” and we here at home working to keep the connections fresh and happening!

I want to share with you a project I have been working on lately, one that you might want to take on as well. This can be as indiviual as your family, but I want to state the thinking behind it.  There are many things out there that are suggested for keeping connections between parent and child during long deployments. This one is created to span the length of a Military career, and a number of deployments.

Our family is now on four years and counting of our soldier being away from home. Two years in  Iraq, two in Germany and now in Afghanistan, will bring us eventually to five. I started the Daddy Book, so that my grandchildren could look at it whenever they want. They can see when Daddy was home, when he sent letters and photos while he was away, that e-mails came from him, and that through it all he has loved them, parented them, and been a father even while defending our country. Some of you will have longer or shorter deployments, but what matters is that the perceptions of being left, perhaps of missing out, can be spoken to, with proof of things that could otherwise be forgotten.

The Daddy Book is an ongoing mission. You can set in up in a million different ways; it can be a scrapbook as ours is, or a box you keep things in, or a file folder that is marked for each deployment. Kids can help, or you can make it for them, and just update it as things happen. Encourage the parent who is away to send notes, letters, photos and other things to add. Be sure to take lots of photos of family events and times together when you are finally reunited.  Here are a few photos of the Daddy Book  so far: in it there are the cards, letters and e-mails, photos, a Psalm 91 bandanna that he carried in Iraq, a coin from that same deployment. I have labeled each page with the post they were at, what they were doing and marked the times he came home and took them places they love, like the children’s museum and build a bear workshop. You will have your favorite memories too, and the kids will love to look through them.

Flat Rate Boxes filled with love…some ideas

February 15, 2012

Oldest son is now deployed again. That means we are like many, are getting out the flat rate boxes and filling them to the brim.

This time I have worked on getting the kids involved in a Valentine Box, even though we know that Valentines Day will be awhile behind us by the time it arrives in Afghanistan. These crafts do not have to be necessarily for Valentines Day, since love is what we really want to send every day!

So here are some ideas, if you are also filling boxes:

This is so easy and inexpensive. The plain wooden frames I picked up at Micheal’s http://www.michaels.com/ for 1.00 each. Then we used acrylic and painted those cute fingers and lay down the handprint. I had both kids write their name with sharpie, and covered it with decoupage glue for a shiny finish. You could get fancier if you want to let the kids decorate with glitter, etc… but I liked the plain print which shows how they are growing, and the way they are now writing their names.

 

 

 

 

 

This little bird says “flying my love to you”, and sports some real feathers. Just paper, scissors and glue for this one. Imaginations could come up with many kinds of birds, happy to fly love wherever needed!

 

This one is a little more complicated, but makes a nice handkerchief. What our soldier will do with a silk hanky in Afghanistan is anyone’s guess, but the sentiment is real and sweet, and the kids had fun making them.

You will need some “gutta” which is really a gluey sort of stuff, and silk handkerchief and some silk paint. The best place I have found to get these things is Dharma Trading http://www.dharmatrading.com/

Just look for beginner silk kits and they are worth a try, really fun and kids love the way the silk spreads, hemmed in by the gutta in their design. They then will let it all dry, wash the gutta out .(everything the gutta covered will turn out white) You can achieve a similar effect on paper if you are not into crafts by using white crayon and then washing over it with watercolors. Kids love that too.

Along with these the standard beef jerky, hand warmers, and tootsie roll pops, we also added a recordable book. I am sending this in a pre-paid envelope so all our soldier has to do is read and record and shove it back in the envelope and send it home. We will have him “read ” the bedtime story, his voice there, even while we are wishing he was sitting on the edge of the bed. The book  http://www.hallmark.com/online/in-stores/storybooks/recordable-storybooks/was somewhat pricey at $29.00, but I think well worth it. We got the story “Guess how Much I Love You”, which is a sweet story with cute illustrations.

AHHHH…as I was searching for a link for you, I found much cheaper recordable books here: http://astore.amazon.com/recordable-books-20 …well, that’s good! (for you).

The idea is to give you some simple ideas, that do not require lots of time or money. Just some fun things to get the kids interested in making things that a deployed parent will love as keepsakes and reminders that they are well loved , even though they are far away.

 

Preview of the Art for our Relocation Book!

October 22, 2011

Hi!

There has been nothing new on this blog for awhile, I have been at the drawing board, literally! I am going to post the cover and two pages  of our upcoming book on relocation…I think you all have stories about PCS (permanent change of station, for those of you outside the Military)

This is the cover…as you can see, moving can be difficult. The tone of this book is to help kids know they are not alone in not wanting to leave behind what they know, but that good things can come of it. Paula has written this in her famous rhyming style, and it is fabulous!

The story title is Little Daisy’s Worst/Best Day! I don’t want to give it all away, but do want to let you know that is a true story, that the author Paula Johnson experienced, as Daisy had to leave her home full of foster kids (social services said too many dogs,) and Paula and Barry took Daisy to live with them on the farm.

All the feelings of sad , mad, getting used to things, and finally acceptance, good memories and positive outcomes are there for parents and kids to discuss.

 

What kids can resist wriggling, soft, sweet puppies? The story begins with 9 of them!

 

 

 

 

The long scary ride to a new place far away. Not only far, but also different! You can see that Daisy is not too thrilled, but as it does in real life, the new that we resist, can be the best!

Well, that is all I will share right now! I have lots of painting yet to do! We would love to hear your stories of kids and PCS adventures if you want to share!

 

We are hoping to publish by early March! We will keep you posted!