A New Soldier, and Some Free Books…

September 12, 2011

Well, we have been a Military family for a number of years now, and soon we will have a new soldier in the family. Our youngest is about to graduate from Basic Combat Training at Ft. Sill Oklahoma.  BCT is that process where boys become men and civilians become soldiers. They never come out the way they went in.

Now youngest son is on the path to a new journey in the Army. Life is good, busy and as always- requiring much faith and humor.

Paula and I will be travelling to Ft. Sill for this momentous occasion. We are going to be bringing some books with us, and if you are at Ft.  Sill, please contact us. We would like to give away a few books to the kids there. There will be a limited number of books , so first ones to contact us will get them!

We plan to have 12 books to give away, 4 deployment books, 4 reunion books, 4Homecoming box books. You will not know which title you will get…so surprise!

You can e-mail us at weethepeoplepublishing@gmail.com, that works better than comments here (since this does not go directly to our e-mail for some reason)  Write us your name, number and ages of your children (if you want to send names we can sign books for them.) You will have to pick up the books on post while we are there Sept 29 or 30. We will give you more information when you contact us. We can’t wait to meet you!

 

Does homeschooling and the Military Life work?

August 20, 2011

Dear Families,

Before I start this post, please know that whatever a good parent chooses as education for the child they love is just that, a choice. It is not that one things is better than another, in fact what works for one family may not work for another. This post is just something that I wanted to explore with you, something to think about and consider.

I started to write this post, because I have been thinking through this for quite some time now.

I am the product of those who used to feel that children needed public education. As one with a child development background and an elementary teaching certificate, I now have a better idea of the joys and the wonder of homeschooling children. If I could do it again, I would wade into this adventure wholeheartedly.

One question people like me asked was “How do children socialize with no other children?” I have come to understand, that they don’t, homeschoolers are not isolated in a bubble, there are others doing this too. Childhood is not lost, but instead enriched. Our society is unsure of the parental role in the life of a child, and we have been taught to be suspicious of things that are not organized on the level of public school, but that is something that can be challenged. It does not mean that you will choose it, just that it is a viable choice to make if you want to.

For Military Families, I am wondering if  this may be even better, if you can do it, since you will not have to start at new schools, where children have to repeat things they already have done, or have to rush ahead without the foundations laid by an earlier educational experience. Here is what I now know, in part thanks to my partner Paula, who has walked this adventurous road herself, that children thrive, and parents do too, if they want to teach their children about the world.

I came upon a blog,  written by Ann Voskamp, to which I offer you the link here. The beauty of the things she says, the reality of her children’s freedom and depth of learning, moves me. I could not address this as well as she does. I do not have the experience , but if I could do it over, it would inspire me to set out .

I know that we cannot all do this. That would be unrealistic. If you are sending your child to school ( as I did)  do so happily, and stay in touch with the teacher and encourage what they are learning. If you are on the edge of considering Homeschool, perhaps this will help.

What ever your family chooses, have a beautiful and productive school year!

Homeschool?

Pros and Cons for Christian Parents

from this link you can find other blogs by Ann on Homeschool.

 

 

Free Parent Guides for those with military kids!

June 7, 2011

Hi!

We would like to make you aware of the parents guides available for We Serve Too! A Child’s Deployment Book , and We Serve Too! A Childs’ Reunion Book. Deployment and Reunion bring up many questions for children and concerns for the adults who love them. With our free parents guides, you get the story word for word,page by page. There are suggestions of ways to  respond to questions. I want to give you a peek at what you can expect when you go to the link I will post here and access the guides. One of the first pages of our deployment guide goes like this:


Daddy’s unit was deployed his work is far away, and though we are not overjoyed a soldier must obey. The Army said we couldn’t go and Dad said wait right here and wait for me till I get back in just about a year.~ What does it mean that a soldier must obey? A soldier takes an oath, a special promise that he will go wherever the military sends him to protect our country. This is an important promise that every soldier makes. ~ How long is a year? Use the picture   to explain that a year is the time from one birthday to the next ( a child’s birthday is an important date for them) Use the seasons to go through it, e.g. the birthday is September you could say that is in the fall, ~ What things do you like to do in the fall? Winter? Spring? Summer? ~ What do you think the people in the story are feeling? ~ How did you feel when you were told how long your parent would be gone? ~ What things will the family miss doing together? ~ How can they make it easier to make Dad a part of the things they are doing?

 

A Page in the Parent Guide 2 or the

Reunion Book goes like this:

We all need some time for our family to mend, but I promise you things will get better again. I was not here for Christmas, it broke my heart too. (He picked up Ted Teddy and matched a lone shoe.) But our country called me and it hurt little dear, to know I would be gone when you needed me here. Let children know there is a bigger picture. You are serving your country and though you wanted to be there, your job is important for the Family (it is how they get what they need), for the people of the country where you deployed (you protect and defend people wherever you serve), and for our country (this nation cannot maintain its freedom without you).It is important to let children know you did miss them and the pain of separation is not only theirs, but yours too. This is a sacrifice you all make as a family. You might promise each other you won’t indulge in self pity and resentment. Make a team pact. Use this teachable moment to train them to think outside themselves toward the needs of others too.Discuss mending, what it means- and some ways that your family can mend. Incorporate your ideas naturally into your daily living as much as possible. As you model being OK, they will be OK  too.

This is just a small sample. You may go to our page http://weservetoo.com/parentsleaders/and get the free download.  Click on Book Guide 1(deployment) or Book Guide 2(reunion) . From our home page, click on resources, then parent/leader and you will get to the same page, scroll down to the book downloads. You can use it to talk with kids, open some discussion and help you to think through these things as well. We hope you find them helpful and that you and your little ones will enjoy the resources at We Serve Too!

Honor and Courage for Military Kids

May 15, 2011

 

The other day I was pursuing two  blogs written by Military mothers raising little ones as a spouse is deployed. This is something I do occasionally, to keep in touch with what people are experiencing and especially what the littlest members of the family are going through.

In these two blogs, each family had more than one child. In both families the children were very connected to the father, who was the deployed parent. Both mothers stated that the children had a very hard time with the separation, and the anticiaption of it before it happened. They also shared the children’s behaviors, of crying, searching for daddy, and angry oubursts.

Then came the differences. Parent A,  summarized with saying that her children would be forever wounded by this absence and that she was having a hard time accepting her role as single parent while her husband was away.

Parent B,  looked for creative ways to make the deployment a focused time of keeping the father in the children’s’ lives. She did things like placing pictures at child eye level and making a jar with daddy’s picture on it and giving them  a kiss goodnight from daddy before bed (a sweet Hershey kiss). This family was able to settle in, and though deployment was hard, it became manageable. The children were able to go on and be happy most of the time.

It was not those little things she did that grabbed my attention though. This parent stated something profound …the children in family B were proud that Daddy was a soldier. Mother B was too, and let them know  in no uncertain terms, what an honor it was to be a Military Family. Now I am not saying the parent A was not proud of her husband, just that it was not the focus, as it was in family B.

No one will argue that the military life is ever changing, but we do not believe it is unstable just because there is an absence for a time (sometimes a long time) . The attitude of the parent directly effects the children.

This is the core of the matter. We all need purpose in life. To know our purpose is a gift that allows us to endure sacrifice with honor and courage.  Spouses who are proud of the service thier loved one provides this country, are more likely to stay married and to find the adventure in being a  Military family. Those who are fearful, unsure of  the relationship and unhappy, generally do not survive.

Divorce in the Military has high numbers because we live in a “me first” time ,and are encouraged to find ourselves outside the marriage relationship. Sadly this is transfered to our children who are told they are “being cheated’ while a deployment is under way, rather than honored by a larger purpose outside themselves.

If the family can feel and embrace this larger purpose, they will weather the deployments, the changes, the reunions, and find a stronger and more bonded life within the Miltiary.

Paula and I have a mission statement :We Serve Too ! Honor and Courage for Military Kids! We hope that our resources help children and their parents embrace that badge of courage and honor they most bravely earn.

Every Month for Military Kids

April 27, 2011

 

 

The month of the Military Child is coming to a close. We have thought of ways to celebrate the resiliency of kids who learn to wait for a parent to return, who move frequently from friends and extended family, who can’t feel roots, though they test their wings in ways most children never do.

They sleep with bears that speak with the voice of a deployed parent, on pillows with that parents picture. They wear dog tags that say “I will be strong and courageous” and strong and courageous they are.

We cannot forget the children. April is a great month to celebrate them, but please remember, parents are deployed every month of the year, and children wait at home.

If you know a Miltiary Family, look out for the kids. Offer to help with homework, take them for ice cream, tell them you know it is not easy.

Kids are resilient, but not made of stone. Tears are good sometimes and a listening ear a comfort to the heart.

If you are a teacher and have a Military child in your class, perhaps you can make a point of having the class send notes, or artwork occasionally to that child’s parent. It will please the parent,  and create a belonging and sharing in your class that can  help that child feel less alone.

If you are a parent, remember that though your children are very close to you, you need to talk about problems and difficulties with another caring adult. You are the rock while your spouse is away, and children need to feel secure. The temptation to share too much with a child is there, as you feel alone too, but there are many people willing to help you if you reach out to your church, your friends, family or other Military Families who know what you are going through.

Children need to stay connected. There are many good resources to help you guide a child in creative and fun ways to stay in touch with a deployed parent. The resources at We Serve Too! are designed with this in mind. These resources can be found at  at http://weservetoo.com/

Lets remember to celebrate these wonderful kids, and not just in April!

 

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.

 

The Homecoming Box…is ready for you!

March 24, 2011

 

Well, our newest book is out and ready to guide those little hands into making a Homecoming Box of their own! The kids above have made their own boxes and are now using them to keep life stories in, until a deployed parent returns.  This new addition to the We Serve Too! series of books for Military Families is colorful fun, teaching children that they can make a family treasure .

The cover shows our two We Serve Too! kids (our grandchildren) looking quizzically at a decorated box. The story shows a group of children who have deployed parents learning the purpose and joys of The Homecoming Box.

I would love to hear from parents , teachers , counselors or FRG leaders  who decide to use The Homecoming Box activity. Paula and I have done a couple of workshops on these, and the kids come up with some really wonderful ideas. I know that the boxes make an impact and that Families can find new ways to tell the important stories of life as they face deployment, sustainment and reunion.

To see more about the homecoming Box, click here

Can writing help kids through deployment?

December 16, 2010

I have recently been made aware again, the power of writing , and the power that comes from that kind of expression. To talk about this way of making ourselves known, is one that we as parents ,grandparents , and teachers ,should ponder.

As a child ,writing became important in my own life, as I found a voice through those marks on paper. I found that I could move a heart, change an opinion, awaken an idea, explain the world from my own perspective (sometimes to myself!).

Here is a  poem written by : Leslie Slutzkey when she was in the 8th grade. As a young girl, her desire for freedom can be felt by many a young heart:

Being Me
I wish I could be me,
Feeling Free.
Like a bird,
Without a word.
Running wild,
Like a young child.
Loving, sharing,
Always caring.
Please G-d bless me,
So that I may be free.
I wish I could be me,
Feeling Free.

Leslie is now grown, a woman. She has agreed to allow me to share this, in hopes that other children may think about the healing powers of words.
Can you imagine the open door that words can give a child who is hurting from the losses of life? What if they could put that hurt on paper, and make it into story, or song, or poem? Could that be the way out of the shell that many wrap around their hearts? To share a common grief and make it into a created thing that could touch others and change how they see things is indeed powerful.
Perhaps to make a song out of a sadness, so that others who also miss a treasured parent, could say, “yes, that is how I feel too!” I am not alone. “
A journal is a gift that a child can use to document, share, and look at life. You can teach them that a journal is not an everyday list of what they did, but a living documentary of that which was important.
Writing can reveal the choosing of priorities and they will even get a glimpse of the way they see the world. A journal does not only need to be just written words, it can be scraps of life: a ticket to an event glued into the pages, coupled with the things they learned, and the people they shared it with.
Photographs are good memory joggers , as are quick drawings or small paintings. A crayon rendition of the flowers that came up in the garden, gives them a page to show to a parent who has returned home, and a glimpse into the heart of the child who shows it.
How to begin? A nice journal (I like blank pages) to get started, pens and pencils, and other art materials. Perhaps a sheet of ideas to get them started with questions like: How do you feel when Dad is deployed? What do you think is the best thing about being a Military kid, the worst thing?   Questions that make them think about who they are, what they believe and how they can create a way for others to share their visions.
Leslie’s poem says  to me: ” I want freedom”" but the child does not know how to find it. Perhaps a child had too much responsibility having to grow up too fast and take on too much. Many of our Military kids can relate to that. You may see something else in it. That is the beauty of poetry, you bring to it, your own life experiences or see something that speaks to you .
Healing can be found in those words, pictures and songs that come from the heart.
There is a  desire in within all of us for discovering our purpose, and our belonging in this life. A journal can open our eyes to what we are missing and what we are gaining .
Have you ever written a journal? Did you have any writings that you treasure and that revealed to you something new about yourself? If so , we would love to hear your story!
If you have a child who has written a story, song or poem, or done artwork that has to do with their experience as a Military Child, we would love to post it on our website on our kids page! Directions are there for you, and one  child a month will be drawn to receive a we serve too dog tag in the mail! http://weservetoo.com/featured-kids-and-stories/


Homecoming Box Workshop, part of yellow Ribbon Program

November 16, 2010

We were invited by the Wyoming Air National Guard to participate in a Yellow Ribbon Program this past week!

Paula, Ramona and Beth, our We Serve Too! kids team,  traveled on to Wyoming this past weekend while I stayed home after a minor surgery. I was fortunate that they brought back pictures of all the fun! Though I missed out on the activities, the kids made some wonderful boxes, so we wanted to share with you the adventures of the workshop:

Here the kids begin work on their Homecoming Boxes. They have played the game of taking items out of our Homecoming box and hearing the stories of each one. Now they are taking time to carefully craft a box that reflects who they are , and is a special place to hold memories while they wait for deployed parents to return home.

Here are some of our participants showing off their finished boxes!

Another activity is writing their own book. We show the children a mock up  (the real way we plan a book) then we read them the storyline as they do the illustrations. We give lots of choices so that no one has a book that is the same. They love this activity, and then they endorse each others books with testimonials on the back  cover! This group got a sneak peek at our newest book that will be published the first of the year called The Homecoming Box.

Kids need to get some energy out , and an obstacle course is just the thing! They love rearranging the course themselves!

Another activity was an Afghan snack of grapes, pomegranates and naan…then they voted with a purple fingerprint on what the favorite was… pomegranates win!

The day ended with children singing The Creed of a Soldiers Child to their parents.

Each child took home a finished Homecoming Box, a copy of both We Serve Too! books on deployment and reunion, our ABC Military Coloring Book,Our new

We Serve too! Around theWorld Afghanistan Coloring Booklet and a Dog tag that says “I will be Strong and courageous”.  We hope that they will remember this day,and that their parents will benefit from this Homecoming Box craft that helps to keep Families connected.

Thank you Wyoming National Guard for inviting us to be part of this wonderful day!

Birthdays…while parents are away

October 8, 2010

My grandson just turned 6. His daddy, who is far away in Germany, asked me to find the perfect gift. You know how that is, the parent is far from home and wants the gift to be spectacular, since they are missing all the festivities. There is something about it too, that we think we have to make up for the lost time with something memorable.

I noticed when I got to the store that most of the toys I saw would last about 5 minutes. Our boy is like his dad used to be, full of energy and likely to toss something just to see what happens when it hits. I think that most boys fit this description. Toy manufacturers also know and it too and it seems they create toys that will require you to replace it with another one, the very day of the birthday party!
As I crusied the aisles of Target, I finally came to the conclusion that the child would have to get something real.

The end result of all this,was a real two man tent (29.95) and a canteen (5.95), along with a set of tupperware containers to make collections in (3.95) (you know, rocks, cool other stuff and with a few holes in the top …bugs!) So for about 40.00, (the cost of any of the plastic breakables) my grandson got a gift that could be used for years and would make a fine thing to sleep in when Dad gets home!

Our grandson was thrilled with the tent which was set up in our living room. He and his sister slept in it. Now I have to figure out what wonderful gift from Daddy my granddaughter will get for her birthday!