Christmas packages during Deployment: get those Kids involved!

November 20, 2008

On the occasion of our sons first deployment, I could not stand that he would miss Christmas. I set up the tree, filled the stockings, cooked the turkey and baked the pies…all in October. (our new book We Serve Too!2, soon to be released ,mentions this!) This year, we have to do what most military families are doing, thinking about Christmas before Thanksgiving. I am not an expert at packing Chritmas boxes, but lots of good ideas can be had at the link below: The point of this blog is to encourage you to include your children in creating the boxes that will be shipped to your service member! Kids love Christmas, kids love packages and kids love their deployed parents! This is an opportunity to teach them that the giving is truly the best part of the season, by making them major players in filling the box.

My grandchidren and I spent last night , getting the giggles and outright laughter as we recorded a message to Daddy on his recordable Christmas card from Hallmark. Ours plays jingle bells after the sweet voices of his kids shout “Merry Christmas Daddy!” The giggles came into play as we had to practice this short message, and then try the recording 4 or 5 times before we got it right! After we had it the way we wanted it, we pretended to be Daddy opening his card. This was a bit sobering, and we could feel the great pleasure he would get from this ( and a tear for me ). The children worked on some home made cards and artwork to add to the box. We had filled his camosock (see my post on camosock, it has a link) and made sure that the sunscreen his 4 year old had insisted on was in there. We added the nutcracker dressed in combat gear, and used tootsie rolls for packing peanuts. The kids were thrilled with the idea that Daddy would get this heartfelt gift, a peice of ourselves was in there. Merry Christmas Daddy! Enjoy your holidays and make sure to get those kids involved!

Veterans Day…Talk to Your Kids about our Heroes

November 12, 2008

Veterans Day, a day we remember all who have served and are serving now. Our prayers rise to God with special thanks for each of them, and for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice , families that live with the daily reminders of loss on the behalf of our nation. Yesterday I attended our local celebration of Veterans Day. In our town we have a veterans memorial. A few hundred gathered there for music, a flyover, speeches by veterans who served in WWII and Vietnam. A young man who had just returned from the sands of Iraq spoke to us about the men fighting this war now, he said we are in good hands.

My one disappointment was that there were not many kids there. I encourage you parents and teachers to think a bit ahead of Veterans Day to see what the community is doing. As I stood there listening to our military heroes recount their days of service, I was thinking that our little ones should be getting the benefit of knowing that freedom requires sacrifice. As I watch (in awe) the flyover thundering under the blue Colorado sky, I thought that little ones hearts would pound with the excitement of “really cool planes”,and a parent could talk about the power our country has for defending good in the world. As I viewed rows of flags and names etched in stone, I thought that our little ones need to see the symbols of our nation. As I listened to the music, I wondered if they know the songs of the United States of America.

Some days are ment to live, not study. I asked my first grade grandaughter today what her class did for Veterans Day. “I did a worksheet Gramma”.

Next year she will be by my side at the memorial that bears the name of her father as an active soldier deployed to Iraq. She and her brother will be there for the flags and the music and the speeches. No more worksheets for my little ones.

Here is a video of first graders at Ft. Sill. Nearly all of them have a deployed parent. The shirts are cute, the voices sweet…enjoy ! Ft.Sill kids on veterans day

Kids:The Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance

November 8, 2008

Some of you parents out there will assume that your children will learn the National Anthem and the Pledge a Allegiance in school, we did! This is not necessarily the case, so kids may want to know about Francis Scott Key , who penned the words to our national anthem while watching a battle between America and England. He saw the flag of our nation still standing in the early morning light and wrote the words by inspiration there. Look around next time you are at a ballgame…do the people stop? Do they put their hand over their heart? Do they seem to know the words? As military families we need to teach these signs of respect and allegiance to the next generation. Here are the words to our National Anthem :

The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight;
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The words to the Pledge of Allegience

I pledge allegiance
to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic
for which it stands,
one nation,
under God,
with liberty
and justice for all.

Talk to kids about the words. the meaning and what a pledge is, it is a promise to be faithful to the country they enjoy. I think that there is much American bashing, an attitude of those who call themselves progressives, that this nation is inferior to others . It is not. Let’s teach our children what is worth fighting for. In Jeremiah 15 it is said that we must decide what is important and what is worthless. Read it, and then take inventory.

Here is another place to see original documents and quotes form the founding fathers…decide by the documents themselves what was being said. It is also a good place to go if you feel a little rusty on American History! :

KIDS :Teach them about our country's history/The Flag

October 28, 2008

This is an amazing election year and so many things hang in the balance. We have many areas where we can talk to children about what this country stands for, the freedoms that we enjoy and the truth that it takes brave men and women to protect those freedoms. Children today have little idea, of what a sacrifice really is, or why it might be necessary to make one.

If you are a military family, why do you serve? Have you shared your reasons with your kids? If you are a civilian family have you talked to your children about the sacrifices of self, time with family, the things we take for granted, that military families make?

Children need to know that freedom is certainly not free. Never has been.

Maybe a good place to start is with the flag that represents our country. Here are things to know about the flag of the United States of America:

*The 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies.

*Each star represents one state that is part of the United States.

* The colors of the flag are Red: Hardiness, Valor and Bravery.

White: Purity and Innocence. Blue: Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice. Talk with your children about the meaning of these words.

Teach children the right way to display the flag:

*Never let the flag touch the ground or floor

*If it is displayed on a wall, the blue field whould be on the left side.

*If displayed outside it should be illuminated, if not , only display it from dawn to dusk.

*The flag should be raised quickly and taken down slowly and ceremoniously.

When you are somewhere and the national anthem is played, make sure you stop, face the flag and place out right hand over your heart. Children observe what is important to you, and it becomes important to them.

Be sure to VOTE, your kids see what you do, it is important to exercise the rights that brave Americans have fought to protect!

Greeley, Colorado : Independence Day Parade!

July 5, 2008

The Greeley Independence Day Stampede has become a big deal! I saw in USA Today that we are ranked one of the top ten fourth of July celebrations in the country! I have lived in Greeley for over 30 years. Most of that time it has been small and not so differnt from any other midwestern town. Now though, we are on the map, at least one day of the year! I have to share some of the photos I shot today at the parade. The western flavor and the presence of Old Glory really makes it an authentic fourth of July!

The boy scouts keep a huge flag moving down the street.

Now you know you are in the west, here come the longhorns!(they are loose, but behave better than my dogs)

Flags on parade include flags of each military branch.

I always wondered how they do that!

Lots of fun, and lots more great stuff, but my photo journalism is somewhat lacking and these were the best of my photos. Hope your fourth was full of family, fun and remembrance of all we have as Americans!

"Switcheroo" and our National Anthem

July 4, 2008

I was just thinking about the woman here in Colorado who decided to switch the National Anthem for the Black National Anthem. I was thinking, when was it that we became so divided? I think it may be the empasis on multiculturalism. Those who support it would say it is a way to bring unity and understanding about other cultures. I think it causes division, and in our human need to belong, alliances that blur the bigger picture.

My father was an immigrant from Italy. He was a career Army officer and carried a copy of the National Anthem in his wallet. I remember a day when I asked him about being Italian and got a sharp rebuke. He was not an Italian, he was an American.

Why are we Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, why are we not Americans and our national Anthem belonging to us all? I do not get this. As the mother of an Asian child and a Hispanic child in our Caucasian home, I know that it is not race or ethnicity that make a family.

I am sure the woman who chose to pull this little “switcheroo” as she called it, feels pretty proud of herself this morning. After all, she got on the news ,and has, as a good friend of mine says, “caused a tempest in a teapot:” So where am I going with this? I guess I would like to say to those of you out there who are parents, help your kids to see the bigger picture. My Dad did that for me, when he claimed himself an American .

It's the Fourth, God Bless America!

I hope that the flag you fly in front of your home or business will make you think today of those who stand beneath her crimson stripes and 50 stars, defending our homeland. This country is the best place to live, work and raise a family on the face of the earth, regardless of the crazy things going on within her boarders. I am thinking today about the Supreme Court decision to invite enemy combatants (you know, the guys that are shooting at our soldiers, marines ,airmen ,sailors, guardsmen, and planting a bombs along the road wishing you would come by for a visit…) to share in the democracy that they so hate?

I know there will be many who will write on this topic better than I , I am no political expert. I am just a woman , a military mom and grandma ,who fervently loves our country and our warriors. I am amazed that intelligent people could defend this decision.
Easy to go on and on here, and many will. I believe that our fighting men and women are the best in the world ,are compassionate, and are well trained for the job they do. Maybe we should let them do it.

Anyway, back to the fourth, this is a day of remembrance. Remember those who have gone before, tell your children about them. Teach them that love of God and country are not out of date.
Teach your children about the honor of their heritage as Americans, teach them our songs. Let them know that even when we disagree, we have the right to disagree. Let them know that the flag symbolizes our allegiance, and the military needs their prayers.
I hope you will let the stars and stripes remind you today of the sacrifice it symbolizes.

One request from this mom and grandma this fourth of July: remember the families that wait at home, that have sacrificed the presence of a loved one. One who will not be at the barbeque this afternoon, they are busy defending your nation.

Our very own Flag

June 2, 2008

As I placed our flag outside the front door this cool late spring morning, I notice the card that has been part of it since the day we got it. This flag has been with us for about 5 years. Before that, it flew in a field of 3000 flags commemorating the attacks of 9/11 and our country’s  collective sorrow.

Like anything we see over and over, I barely notice this card now. On one side it has the name of a victim of those attacks, Joseph W. Flounders, age 46 who died in the World Trade Center. On the other side, a schoolchild has written his message to Joseph. As a former teacher my guess as to the age of the child is about 8 or therabouts. In case you have a hard time reading it, it says ;”You have died for no reason by terrorism, God bless you and your family” it is simply signed ;” Jarod”.

This flag  flew for a year with a yellow ribbon tied to the top of it, as our son spent a year in Iraq, and one joyful day, he himself removed it. Soon, the yellow ribbon will once again be placed there, and each morning my mothers heart will pay more attention to the details of that flag and it’s meaning for another year.

I could not be more proud of our son. For the reasons he chose to become a soldier.

Little Jarrod is right. I do not know Mr. Flounders, who he was, who loved him.  The part Jarrod got right is that he died for no reason. Terrorism is just that, a darkness that has no purpose but to instill fear and bring death. Those who practice it have no understanding of what our military men and women stand for under our flag. Things like honor, duty, protection of those weaker, upholding what is right, and bringing light into darkness. God uses you to lift oppression, as He sets the captives free.  God bless each one of you who have chosen this way.

Our flag stands outside our door. It speaks of beauty, and heartache. It makes me think that if all those who think they are wise in their belief, that we do not need to fight against evil,  maybe you could talk to Jarod. He probably has something to teach you.