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.

 

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

 

 

July is nearly over…are you having fun?

July 21, 2012

The summer is still sizzling and I have not written a post in over a month! We have been playing in the sprinkler, taking a trip to see family in upstate NY, and generally having fun just being alive!

The last days and weeks have been interesting and so I will post some of the highlights…thing you may want to try with your little ones before the summer slips away.

One of the Mantis’s that we raised decided to pay us a visit, he is huge and I posted a few more photos on our facebooks page! http://www.facebook.com/weservetoo I wrote about this project before…it keeps on giving!

We would love to have you “like” our page while you are there! Thanks!


 

 

 

 

We saw Angelyne a deaf dog who knows some sign language. This was a free show at our local library….check out what your library has for the kids, you may be surprised!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just some old fashioned fun, a chunk of chalk and a few stones and you have hopscotch. It is great for kids to get outside and learn some of the games from your childhood, like hopscotch, red rover, jacks…if you don’t remember how to play, here is a link to explain hopscotch and some other sidewalk chalk games http://www.birthdaypartyideas4kids.com/sidewalk-chalk-games.htm

Here is our pinterest page , we have lots of fun ideas pinned that will be fun and affordable to finish the steamy days of summer.

 

Don’t forget to make the time…before you know it school will be in, and the little ones will be writing that infamous paper “what I did this summer’ , hope they can say that it was a memorable one.

Hope you are having as much fun as the We Serve Too! kids!

 

Summer Fun, tokens for your Homecoming Box, and Pinterest

June 7, 2012

Well, summer has begun and the We Serve Too! kids are off and running. I thought I would share some of the ideas that I have collected that are working to keep the days interesting  for all of us. We have three days a week, when this gramma is blessed with the kids for those days. Monday is make it Monday, Tuesday is take a trip day, Wednesday is “we Wednesday” since we include the kids Gigi (great grandma in the mix).

I have to let you know that I have become a bit of a Pinterest addict. When I used to teach mentoring classes we used to teach that women have a certain way of processing Gathering, Sorting Ordering and Beautifying, now without going into a huge explanation about each of these, suffice to say it  is exactly what Pinterst is all about and thus its incredible success! That aside, it has been fun to pin and then try these great ideas. You can check out my boards here: http://pinterest.com/weservetoo/ I have a board for our books of course , then one for Military Families, one just on Fun Stuff for Kids, Fun foods for kids and then a few personal boards as well.

Let me share a few things that we have been trying out:

This is the beginning of Rock candy

being made, you need a bunch of sugar

for this one, but gives 7 days of  watching

the crystals grow.

 

 

 

 

This is called the “naked egg” you put a regular egg into a glass of vinegar

Just make sure it is deep enough to cover it. The vinegar dissolves the eggshell

overnight, and if you gently brush the powdery shell off you can see the insides. Cool and gross.

(which of course makes if great)

 

 

 

 

Just a trip to some places that you may not think of right off the bat. Here the kids are at a rock shop,

they could pick out a geode, which looks like a common grey rock, they cut it in half and….

 

 

 

 

 

Ta Daaaa!!! Something wonderful to put in your Homecoming Box!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now this one may not be for everyone, but we sure have had fun with raising Praying Mantis’s. The kids Daddy gave them a kit http://www.insectkits.com/contents/en-us/p2_preying_mantis_habitat.html .  With the kit you get the  cage and directions, but no mantis. You have to send away for the egg cases, which I found cheaper (even with the discount paper in the kit) at a plant nursery online (just Google “ praying mantis egg cases”).  these little guys are great for your garden and you can release them there after the kids have had the thrill of seeing them hatch, hunt , grow…and as you can see , gain a personality. The do not bite or pinch and are quite friendly..but delicate, so you have to supervise the little ones so the mantis has half a chance at survival.  We highly recommend this, but we get it, if you are not crazy about bugs (aww, look at that cute face!)

 

 

 

We will add some other photos as the summer moves forward. I hope you will find some of the things I have pinned useful and fun. Have fun!

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.

Reunions are Joy and Adjustment…our free guide to download

January 23, 2012

Devon Edick's dad salutes the flag

 

After noting that most of our sales lately at We Serve too! are the reunion book, we say Welcome Home to those who have been serving in Iraq and other places in the world!

We are thankful for your safe return and your family has waited patiently and long for this day. We know things that are good do not necessarily mean that they are easy, so we are offering you the link to our reunion book parent guide. Even if you do not purchase the book, the guide is yours to use as you see fit. You can download it and perhaps at the very least know that you are not alone, that the things you are going through are common to many Military Families. Children love our colorful hardback books that come with a dog tag that says” I will be strong and courageous“, a fitting sentiment for those strong Military Kids!

This link http://weservetoo.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Reunion-Parent-Guide-letter-size.pdf will take you to the pdf, for coping with reunion. Again, Welcome home, thank you for all you do for our nation; for the protections, sacrifices and hard work.  We pray you will now find joy in your Homecoming!

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.

 

 

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!