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!

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.

 

 

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

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!

New booklet on Afghanistan, from We Serve Too!

October 15, 2010

Paula and I have been working on a new series of coloring booklets for kids, to help them understand something about where deployed parents may be going. The series starts with Afghanistan and Iraq. There are other booklets to come showcasing other places like Germany, Japan and Korea. The name of the series? We Serve Too! Around the World, of course!

Our Afghanistan coloring booklet,is going to  press ,and will be available soon! These  can be used at FRG meetings, pre-deployment activities, or just to help kids explore and talk about where their parent is going. They can be used in school activities to help kids understand a culture other than their own. These booklets are unique, they also touch on why our Military is there and what their parents may be doing while deployed. Some things the booklets touch on: housing, language, food (a recipe is included in each one) , things kids do there, animals and some basic history of the region.

Here is a sample of We Serve Too! Around the World: Afghanistan!

Get out your crayons, and watch for our announcement of finished booklets! To order We Serve Too! books and resources go to http://weservetoo.com/website/

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!