Friday, June 28, 2013

20th Flaunt My Friend Friday! Dawn!

For this flaunt, I wanted to flaunt a military family in honor of the upcoming Fourth of July! This is my friend Dawn...currently her husband is deployed. I know some days are rougher than others but she just keeps on being a great mom to her four kids, baking delicious treats, and doing fun things! While I know her family and her heart is missing a part of itself during this time, I'm so glad she's sharing a bit of their life with us today!

My name is Dawn, married to my husband John for almost 16 years.We have 4 kiddos,Austin (14),Katelyn(12),Meghan(9) & Madelyn(4).We are an Army family so I guess that makes my kids Army brats since its the only life they've ever known.We've moved around more times than I can count on both hands & lived in Texas, New York, North Carolina, Louisiana & currently back in New York & going through a deployment as well. The challenges that come with the military life are huge but has also provided tons of opportunities we probably wouldn't have had otherwise. Our kids won't ever have a childhood home to return to or go to the same school for longer than 3-4 years,they won't have that one best friend, they know what sacrifice is & are wise beyond their years at times, but they are proud Americans & that is enough for them.

How long have you been a military family? He has almost 19 years of service In the Army,but as a family, 16 years

How many deployments? Second,but first with kids. First was to Bosnia & current is to Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom

How did you prepare for this recent deployment? Him, you, kids, household? We didn't have much time to prepare for this deployment as he was basically thrown into a new unit just about a month before the deployment started,so really it was just a "in shock,go through the motions" type thing

How are you able to keep in touch? We are able to Skype pretty regularly,which helps immensely with the separation

What types of things have you been able to send him to keep in touch and send a little bit of home? I send care packages every week with his favorite foods,snacks etc that he isn't able to get over there & include the kids in on any special occasions/holidays to put in pictures,school programs,report cards & hand drawn pictures/letters

Can you share some of the fun things you do? Right after he left I bought a world map & taped it to our kitchen wall,then I printed out pictures of the kids & one of daddy and glued them onto both locations, just so they can kind of understand where he is & it has also increased their knowledge of not only the U.S states but the other countries, plus it makes for a great conversation piece for anyone who comes over. I also put a clock above it with his time zone so they can always know what time it is there,it really helps them to stay connected,by knowing when he is sleeping,eating dinner etc. We also have daddy dolls which is basically a stuffed "person" with a plastic piece on the face so you can insert your own picture into it,he comes with us to the park,out to eat,bedtime.It has really helped my 4 year old.


How do you discuss it with your children? I keep it as simple as possible & only if they ask questions first.
How does it affect your kids each differently? It has been the hardest on our youngest,she was very much a daddy's girl & him leaving,tore her world apart. Even tho we are halfway through this deployment there are still nights of inconsolable crying from her,which just means extra snuggles that we both need.


How do you keep it together during such a trying time? One day at a time. I know that sounds so cliché but its the only way honestly.If you focus on the length of the separation you will get overwhelmed very quickly. With that said,i am still overwhelmed on a daily basis & there are times when I just have to lock myself in my room for a few minutes to re-group.

What kind of support is offered for military families during deployment? Every unit has an FRG (family readiness group) that is designed to keep family members up to date on their Soldier & activities we can participate in. Another wonderful support is the USO,which is a non profit organization that offers so many programs to not only Soldiers,but their families as well, from offering free lunch,ice cream socials to breakfast for deployed troops who wouldn't get breakfast otherwise. They also offer a United Through Reading program in which the deployed Service member can read a story to his/her child while being videoed & is then able to send the video and the book home to the child so they can always hear a story from daddy/mommy.

What can the average person do to help support? Honestly, just being there for a friend/family member associated with the military. Don't assume because they aren't crying every time you see them,or asking for help all the time that they don't need it. We,along with our Soldier,have been taught to "suck it up & move on"... Supporting a USO would be awesome as all the donations go right back to the Soldier's & their families & without such donations,they would not be possible. Above all,support the men & women who put their life on the line 24/7, 365 so that we can be free.
Thank you so much Dawn! Thank you to John! Thank you to your children!
Can't wait to hear when he'll be back in all your arms safe & sound!
"It is the love of country that has lighted and that keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism." ~J. Horace McFarland

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cave Week Days 3 & 4: Bugs & Cave People

We definitely started out the first 2 days with a bang with Caves and Bats.

The next two days was loosely Cave Dwellers (mainly bugs!) and then Cave People.

On Wednesday we started the day reading a couple of non fiction books about Cave Life... looks of creepy crawlies... spiders, salamanders, cockroaches, crickets, and also the blind fish & salamander that live in the dark zone of the cave and never see light! Went on you tube and found a couple clips showing these kinds of creatures.

Later that morning we skyped with a friend and her 2nd grader read Salamander Rock to us! That was fun. It was our first experience on skype... I still find it awkward and the boys just kinda stare. The book was a neat pop up one with some of the critters we had just talked about.

Then we had a bug lunch... a skewered grape millipede, a cream cheese & cracker spider with carrot legs, a cream cheese & cracker beetle with pepperoni wings and a blueberry head, "bugs on a log", and a piece of cheese cut out with my crab cookie cutter (but looked enough like an insect of some sort!). They ate it outside and it was a hit!

Our afternoon snack was "Bears in a Cave". I let them use their not yet painted caves from the first day and gave them a handful of Teddy Grahams. I'd call out... 2 bears go into the cave, 3 more bears go in, one leaves, 2 more go in... how many is there? Just did that various ways. They said their bears wanted blueberries... so I gave them blueberries to split up between the bears before they gobbled all it up ;)

We ended by painting our caves. What a mess. They're heads were just not in the game by this point. They weren't even really trying, just sort of slopping the paint on it. I had to step in and help, and eventually our caves were painted (oops no pic of the finished cave and my camera battery just died!)

After that I put in a Bugs Life movie and called it a day!

A Bug's Life


Then Thursday was learning about that prehistoric people lived in caves. The night before I made the cave in the dining room again. Took some rocks from our Rock Sensory Bin and 4 of my battery operated candles and made a "fire" in the cave. I turned it on for them before they came downstairs for breakfast. I heard a lot of "awesome!"

Speaking of breakfast... if they didn't have a kitchen, refrigerator, or grocery stores... how were they going to have breakfast? Out to the backyard to "hunt" for it! Back in my Girl Scouts days we called this "Jungle Breakfast"... you had to find your breakfast in the nearby woods. I hid individual cereal, bananas, individual milks, spoon & napkin, bowl and a cup. Sure a cup might not of been needed... but they love finding stuff... it was like Easter! I wonder if the neighbors heard us? They've got to think me a complete loon! I even put on an animal print wrap thing I had from a costume long ago. They were calling me "Cave Mama"... ha ha.

Bed head went nicely with the "cave mama" look!

A banana in the rocks and a spoon &napkin in the fork of the tree

Read this book: "Me Want Pet" by Tammi Sauer. Jake really liked pointing out the bad grammar and that they were talking "wrong". Perhaps a little cliche, but it really got the boys interested and they found it funny too!

And flipped through this book: "The Secret Cave" by Emily Arnold McCully

Then we went to meet up with friends to play at a local nature center. Lucky us got to see some of the same bugs and critters we've been talking about. Cool!

Afternoon snack involved carving (with a paper clip) into chocolate! It was suppose to be peanut butter cups... but I completely forgot. So I just broke of the rumps of two chocolate bunnies we had from Easter :) They practiced first on a meat tray... then carved their bunny rump before consuming!

Last but not least we watched a couple you tube videos on cave paintings... then did some cave painting ourselves!

Little bro checking it out, he got in some scribbles too!

I just taped brown craft paper to the underside of their playroom table... and under they went to draw! I even climbed under to give it a whirl :)

Tomorrow we're "celebrating" International Mud Day (pretty much play in the mud and make some edible mud pies) a day early since we'll be traveling to see an actual cave!! Not sure if I'll do a wrap up post or not, since I've already posted each of the days. Next week is "America Week"... so I need to get an outline for it going. After the Caverns we're going to overnight and go see Thomas Jefferson's Monticello so that'll kick off the week for us!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cave Week: Day 2 Bats!

Today was H Family Summer Camp Day 2: Bats!

 We made some Bat Hats, I got idea from it here.

I told them to wear black shirts today too

Then we read books about bats, lots of fun info to learn! A few things we thought were neat:

- a brown bat can eat 600 mosquitoes in an hour
- bats hang upside down when they sleep
- there are a 1,000 different species of bats, 45 in the United States

They really liked this book. It wasn't full of information, but it was neat how everything (to us) was upside down since it was how the bat saw things. The boys thought that was neat... "How did the author draw that?"

Hung upside down like bats. Luke wanted NOTHING to do with hanging upside down or even leaning back ;)

Then we watched this music video on echolocation (it's catchy, consider yourself warned)

After watching this we played a math game that I sort of made up from various ideas I had seen. I just copied & pasted a bunch of mosquito clip art and printed out. I was going to use dice, but couldn't find them. So just used cards. Going back and forth between them I'd flip up a card and that was how many bugs they ate! They'd mark them off until the last bug was eaten.

For lunch we were sure to include a fruit salad since we learned some bats also eat fruit.

Usually Luke naps and the big boys have quiet time... today they fell asleep too! Just like Jake noted... bats do... they sleep during the day. It was actually quiet for once! Ahhhhh.

After everyone was up we made a bat snack, got the idea from here. It was a very yummy snack if I do say so myself... if I closed my eyes I could pretend it was a fruit & cheese tray to go with wine!

I used Cotto Salami cut into eighths instead of chips like idea

One bat was not quite awake yet

Then worked on some connect the dots bat worksheets while I prepped this "My Itsy Bitsy Bat Book". Definitely read the instructions on how to cut and fold this! It's simple once you learn the trick, but I would NOT of figured out on my own :)

Then they colored their books and read them to me. It was neat to see what little details they chose to add in of what they've learned today.

Good Day. It was Bat-tastic!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cave Week - Day 1

So I really didn't think I'd have enough material to do a daily post... or energy... but ends up I do! At least for today that is!

H Family Summer Camp - Cave Week: Day 1

Mostly did everything on my plan...

They woke up to find a CAVE in the dining room (I threw in a handful of plastic snakes, spiders, a lizard and a camping lantern)... so of course I had to serve them breakfast in a cave!

Then they got ready and we did the Stalactite & Stalagmite Experiment. After showing them some pictures and reading some information on them, they really seemed to understand the concept.

Instructions per the TLC site:
In this stalactite and stalagmite experiment for kids, you can accomplish in your kitchen what it take Mother Nature years to do in a cave. All you need are a few simple household items.

What you'll need:

  • Two jars
  • Water
  • Epsom salts
  • String
  • Small weights
  • Plate

How to Conduct the Stalactite and Stalagmite Experiment

Step One: If you sat in a cave for thousands of years, you could watch stalactites and stalagmites form. Or you could make your own in a matter of days.
Step Two: Fill two jars with warm water. Mix in Epsom salts until no more will dissolve. Wet the string and tie a weight to each end. Drop one end of the string into each jar.
Step Three: Put a plate between the two jars, with the string hanging over the plate.
Check your "cave" at least once a day to see if stalactites and stalagmites have formed.
By the way, if you're wondering which are 'tites and which are 'mites: Stalactites have to hold on tight to stay on the ceiling of the cave. Stalagmites have to be mighty to stand up on the floor of the cave.

Jake did an entry in his leftover school science journal... I just told him to do whatever it is he'd do at school. Then Evan did a piece of paper for himself as well.

 We read some books and you tube videos about caves (here's a cheesey yet good for kids video actually showing the caverns we're going to on Saturday, and after that I caught them in the cave with hard hats on... good call guys! Later they had lunch and their afternoon snack in here. Had to break the news though, the cave had to come down to do our art and also because it wouldn't be easy for mama & daddy to eat dinner there tonight ;)


 After some prep work to make our caves, we were ready! You can see the post where I got the idea & instructions here.

 Now the very very drippy caves are drying on top on the stove... hopefully they'll be dry enough to paint tomorrow!

 We did some worksheets I printed from online, cave word trace and a maze. Then I caught them on their own doing their own cave pictures, unprompted! Front & back they're filled with lots of details!

All in all a mostly good day. They still got a bit crazed as witnessed in above pic... but honestly I think it went well. Now lets see if I can keep this up all week :)