Military Child~ Building Relationships with Family

I wasn’t raised the military way. I grew up in the same city as my grandparents, and for a while, the same city as some of my aunts and cousins. I saw my grandparents all the time! From them stopping by for coffee, us all having dinner together or the outings we took for birthdays, seeing them at our church for plays I was in, or choir performances. There is no way for me to share just how much I saw my grandparents. My cousins I didn’t see nearly as much, but there was a time that we saw a good amount of each other. We knew where each other’s homes were, and what the connection between our family was, and when it came to decorating the tree for Christmas at grandpa’s home, well, that was always fun! Even with the family that wasn’t really around we were still close with. My cousins on my dad’s side we would see one to two times a year and got along great. We had relationships with a lot of our family.
When it came to church and friends, I still have the same friends I grew up with! The church was the same my whole life (except for one year when my parents tried moving us all to another state… That didn’t last). I know the city I grew up in, in and out. I know the restaurants and churches and shopping places. I know many of the people.
My children; they don’t have that. Any of that. And this is true for many military families. For the most part you move every 3-5 years, some more often and some less often but that is the average. So every 3-5 years your children have to make new friends, have to learn a new area, a new routine, attend new churches, and some have to be the new kid at school all over while others have to find new homeschool clubs. Yes, they may know of the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, but they don’t really know them. For some that isn’t a big deal because they are social bugs and they can do that. For others, as much as you know they are family, it’s not until the end of the visit that you are back to being comfortable with them. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to be close to people you don’t see that much as adults, how much harder is it for kids? Not many, if any, holidays and birthdays are spent together. When you know something about your family and then a year later you see them again only to find all these changes, it hits kids hard.
When your child asks you why their friend’s grandma is always at their home or why the grandma goes to the same church as they and why doesn’t hers, yes you give the answer of “we live in different states because we are a military family”, and so on. Our children don’t really get it. They understand the facts but they don’t really understand the why. It’s so hard on them. One day they will get it; one day they will understand but today, their little hearts just want their family. Their little hearts want “normal”.

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As a family we all need to work hard to build and maintain relationships with those in our family who can’t be around much. This can’t be a one sided thing or it won’t work. So if the relationship between family is at all important to you and something you wish your children to experience, then lets put in the time and effort to help teach them how. Here are some ideas.

1. Phone calls! Let and encourage our kids to call grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Let them share their day to day life with them and teach them to learn how to also listen. Sure at first this can be a little tricky but they will get used to it, you did didn’t you?

2. Letters! Did you know that hand writing stimulates the brain? It helps with fine motor skills and the thought process. It also help some pour their heart out and be real. And everyone enjoys getting a letter in the mail!

3. Skype! Thank God for Skype! Yes it has issues from time to time but to be able to see the person your chatting with miles away is worth the issues! Kids can show off their art projects and get the reactions right away! Family members can join in singing Happy Birthday without even being there! What a great way to build those relationships!

Building these relationships have to go both ways, kids won’t always think to start the conversations and they really won’t continue if they are the only ones pursuing it. The adults in their lives need to be actively building relationships with them and not just expect them to start it.

How important are these relationship to you?

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Do you have other ways of building long distance relationships with family? I would love to hear them!

The Highlights: February

I love reading posts online about a whole range of topics and I have to say there are some very creative and elegant writers out there. Here are just a few of the posts that I really like or have been inspired by recently.

“Laundry Room Renovation” –If I could only pick one area to fix up in our home it would be the laundry room, so posts like this are exciting to me and give me lots of ideas!

“Christian Cleavage” – Yes another post in the modesty debate, but this one I feel says it all. It mostly comes down to the heart.

“An Easy Activity That Stops Whiny Boys in Their Tracks” – All kids whine at some point, here is an easy way to help them stop.

“Do You Fit the Profile of the Average Christian Woman?”  – This is by far my favorite post I read this week.

“Dear Mom Who’s Done Having Babies”   -This one spoke right to my soul and brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me that I’m not alone in how I feel and that it is a season, it has been a long season and I’m not sure how much longer it will be, but it will one day be better. That brought me some peace. Will we have more children? Only God knows. He knows our hearts and knows what the plans are that He has for our family. And it is in that I have to place my trust.

(When I have at least four really good posts I want to share, I will make another post like this. Until then, enjoy these and follow me to see more posts from Of Sparrows & Butterflies.)

Movie Review: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Ok I know, you are probably thinking “it’s a SpongeBob movie…. why would I ever see that?”. Well this review is for those of you who watched the show at all when you were young or who have kids who love this show and you think to yourself “it can’t be that bad! I used to like it!”.
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Let me just start out by sharing with you the first words that came out of my kids mouths when the movie was over; “That was great!!”. And now my first words to my husband after getting the kids in the van and shutting the door; “OMG!!!! That was torture!!! I feel like every brain cell has died!! I feel sick to my stomach! Why did we see that?” all while basically hanging on to him as if I was going to die… followed by a hug and my husband agreeing with me and pointing out that we basically just sat through 9, yes that’s right, 9 episodes of SpongeBob! Sure I used to like this show and will still sometimes watch it with the kids, but that is one, just one episode at a time….normally followed by weeks if not months of not seeing it!

Now onto an actual review :).
The movie itself was ok. Will I ever see it again? NO! Will we ever own it? Highly doubtful(now watch, one of my “funny” friends will go get this for my kids next birthdays…..don’t even think about it or there WILL be war!). The best way to describe this movie is….watch 9 episodes in a row. That is it. The same humor, the same type of jokes, the same level of stupidity. Yes, just like the show, it has its funny parts, I will admit to laughing a good amount of times. Lesson? Well there was a little about teamwork. I guess that was the “lesson” from the movie but really I don’t see that lesson sticking with kids the way it played out, but who knows.

This movie is rated PG for mild action and rude humor. Basically, if your kids are allowed to watch the show at home then the movie isn’t any worse, its just a mater of if its worth your time and money. For me, I am so glad we got the matinee showing but even with that, I wish we would have just waited until it came to red box, it would have saved us $19 (and I could have walked away for a break!).

And one last thing. REALLY??? Antonio Banderas!!! You are so much better than to play in this movie! (You did it great job though 🙂 )

Will you go see it?

MOPS~ Tell Your Story

Can I just get a quick show of hands to anyone out there that is in MOPS? You too? Oh good! Ladies I cannot tell you just how much MOPS has been a blessing to me this year. Moving to a new area, starting from scratch with a new home, new community, new year of homeschooling, and having to make all new friends not just for myself but for my kids as well, I knew that I needed to get involved in something and it needed to happen in a way that I couldn’t back out.

Through a friend at my last base I was introduced (via FB!) to a good friend of hers who was also coming to the new area I was going to. We became instant FB friends and bonded on the fact that we would both be new here, both homeschooling, and well we had a mutual friend who is has great taste in friends so we must be friends!  Right after moving we met and she started talking about how she got involved in the MOPS group here because she also knew she was going to need the support and her last MOPS group was awesome in that. A few weeks later I met the woman who was leading that MOPS group and loved her and knew I needed to join it.

A few weeks after I made the choice to join and went to a few of the playdates to start meeting people I was asked if I would consider being a Table leader. I wanted to say yes right away because well, I like to say yes. But I took the advice of the woman who was leading it and prayed about it. But it didn’t take long for me to say yes as I knew this was a way for me to be committed to it so that I couldn’t back out and also a way for me to start my journey of Women’s Ministry that has been on my heart for a while now.

While I thought I would be helping and blessing these women (and I do hope I am), I have been blessed so much more than I ever thought possible. I have learned far more this year (and it’s only been one semester) then I have ever learned about myself or God in my adult life.

This year’s theme for MOPS is “Be you Bravely”. Wow! I know this theme wasn’t made just for me but sometimes it sure feels like it! And guess what? This goes perfectly with my desire to know what it really looks like to Thrive in Christ! Isn’t it amazing how God brings just what is needed to your feet as you need it?

At our last meeting we covered the courage to tell your story. To show who you really are and where you have come from. Bit scary right? I think so. It’s one thing to share the basics about yourself or to go a little deeper with a few others and talk about more personal things. But to truly tell your story so God can use it for good – that is a step that takes a lot of courage. It also takes a lot of thought. Not everything you go through will be a story that everyone needs to hear. Stories that include other people should really be protected as you don’t know if the other people in your story are ready to share it.  You should be courageous in sharing the stories that God wants you too, to the people God wants you to share it with. But that doesn’t mean every part of your life needs to be on display for the world to see.  Start by sharing it with God. Yes He already knows it, but He still wants to hear it from you. If your spouse doesn’t really know it, share it will them. Then if you are feeling called to share with others, do so with close friends. If you are still feeling the call, then share it with a small group that would benefit from it. (You wouldn’t share a story about childbirth to a group of parents having issues with teens unless it can somehow relate, right?) Share with those who need to hear.

Sharing isn’t just for others, it starts out being for you. It’s healing to say the words and thoughts you have been living with and just to have someone listen. Even if they don’t know how to respond, just voicing it starts healing for you. It helps you to see how big or small the issue really is, it helps you to get out of your head. It’s the starting point. It also helps you to see if you need to get help for it instead of brushing it under the rug. It’s also a way to help us continue to feel the blessings that have come from that story over and over again.

Since joining MOPS I have shared some of my stories with my table. But the story that I was asked to tell our Teen MOPS group is one I have only shared as facts before. Not really voicing the feelings of it, not sharing the emotions or the deep truths about it. That group got my unprepared, unguarded, emotional story about how I first came to be a mother and the first few years that followed. Did they get all the facts? No, they heard the emotions, the real life thoughts, struggles, and blessings.  They heard what God wanted me to share. And from that point I have seen were I still need healing, really how much God has blessed my life and worked through me. I can tell that at least some of what I had to say really reached out to those mothers but it’s amazing to me just how much they reached back to me and by asking me to share, they have made a difference in my life to let the healing begin.

Ladies, I urge you to start telling your story, to be real with your friends and family(maybe even with your church group). And if you are needing support or friendships, look for a MOPS group in your area.

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“MOPS International is dedicated to meeting the needs of every mother of preschoolers. MOPS strives to attain this vision through the local MOPS group. A MOPS group is started through a local church, and often has a leadership team made up of 8 key positions, although many groups start with only 2 or 3 leaders. Most MOPS groups vary in size from 10 to 200 women. MOPS groups usually meet once or twice a month, and often provide childcare through the MOPPETS program.” ~Taken from the MOPS website

“Teen MOPS provides a faith-based, supportive, nonjudgmental environment where teen moms can come together for mentoring and encouragement. In Teen MOPS, the teaching, activities and friendships are all focused on the very distinct needs of teenagers. Teen MOPS helps teen moms become more self-sufficient, confident, mature and giving young women. Teen MOPS groups can meet in public schools or community centers, as well as in churches, and often meet twice a month for teaching and/or activities. Teen MOPS leaders receive additional resources specifically related to teen parenting.” ~Taken from the MOPS website

“A group for mothers of school-age kids. At MOPS International we believe Better Moms Make a Better World. This is true during the preschool years and beyond. As mothers enter the school years, new challenges and issues arise, but the need for community and hope remains. For this reason we offer MOMSnext, a ministry to mothers of school-age kids. A MOMSnext group is an open, accepting place for all mothers of school-age kids to experience authentic community, personal growth, practical help and spiritual hope” ~Taken from the MOPS website

“A Military MOPS group is sponsored by a base chapel or local church. Because of the unique situations Military moms face, MOPS International has designed this program with a great deal of flexibility. Military MOPS groups meet once or twice each month and typically provide childcare through the MOPPETS program. Military MOPS meetings include time for developing relationships through teaching, discussion groups, creative activities and fellowship time over a shared meal or snack.” ~Taken from the MOPS website

Thrive

Thrive, such a powerful word, but what does it mean? What does it look like to thrive?

If you listen to Christian Radio at all I’m sure you have heard the song “Thrive” by Casting Crowns. From the moment I first heard it last January there was something about it that spoke to me. For this past year it would just nudge me at the most random(at least to me) times. Times where I was either feeling really down(and I don’t mean just having a bad day down) or even times that I felt I had a plan and everything was going to go right, this song would again sneak up on me, on the radio, on Spotify, or even just in my own head. I’ve known this is something I need to dig deeper into but kept just thinking about it instead of actually acting on it. So this year that is what I am doing. I’m going deep to truly see what it means to thrive.

I don’t for one moment think this song is talking about a worldly view of what it looks like to thrive (such as being wealthy or famous) but rather what it means to thrive in Christ. To live wholly for Him. We are here for a purpose, to bring God glory.

Mark Hall says it so perfectly on this part of the song’s description:
“God didn’t put you here just so you could survive through hard times. He put you here to thrive, to dig in and to reach out and this record is an effort to draw a picture of what a believer, a follower of Jesus, would look like if they dug into their roots and understood God and themselves more.” ~Mark Hall

This year, lets dig in and see what it really means, what it truly looks like to Thrive in Christ.

Here is a page with teachings from Casting Crowns and their call to dig into the word. Watch the first teaching clip on the page and tell me you don’t want to dig in and THRIVE!

Philippians 4:20-Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Welcome!

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Welcome to Of Sparrows & Butterflies! My name is Emma (wife, mom, military spouse, homeschool teacher, chef, and maid are just some of my titles). With a family and home to care for, my life, as is yours I’m sure, is crazy and fun. Here I write about so many things, but they all have to do with family, friends, home, homeschooling, or the most important, a daily walk with the Lord. I hope you will join me in this wonderful journey called life and find the joy hidden around every corner.

Field Trip Friday- Chocolate Factory{Yummy} Link up Party

It’s the first Friday of the month! What better time to plan, go on, or look back at our field trips! Feel free to link up your field trip posts(just take a quick look at the rules before doing so).

Who would really say no to a chocolate factory field trip? Not this mama (or her kiddos)! We had a lesson on the history of this delicious food and got to see some if it being made as well as being able to taste the cocoa before its turned into chocolate (it was a bit bitter) and then taste their sweet milk chocolate.

(I promise, she was happy, just had a mouth full of chocolate!)

This field trip was lots of fun and very yummy! The kids are already asking to go back and as much as I would love that I’m thinking our next “sweets” field trip will be like a bakery or hard candies so we can compare some of the history and maybe make a timeline of how all these amazing things came about.
Looking for some fun places to take your family or a group? Here are a few I found that look interesting and if we are close to some of these we may just have to check them out!

Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Field Trip Friday Link up Party!

Its the first Friday of the month! What better time to plan, go on, or look back at our field trips! Feel free to link up your field trip posts(just take a quick look at the rules before doing so).

Day at the Zoo! 

 Spending six hours at the zoo is fun and boy do you learn a lot in that time and get your exersize done! My kids would have stayed longer if the zoo wasn’t closing and the storm was starting (thank you Lord for the rain!) I fully believe in staying at field trips as long as you can and the kids want to stay to get the most out of it. So when mommy is ready to go I tend to push myself to stay longer if the kids are still learning. We may just need to take a few breaks.
The zoo opens up a whole world to the kids. It not only allows them to discover animals they had no clue about and help them see more of this big world but it also helps them connect with the outdoors and the amazing creatures that our Lord created while being in a safe environment.

This is my buddy 🙂
So cute!!!! I really wanted to take him home!
I love how this zoo had the Peacock and Chickens running free so the kids got to get up close to them.
Hello again there buddy!

Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

School in the park? Why not?

One of the many benefits to homeschooling is that we don’t have to do school in a classroom setting, we can do it on the couch, on our beds, at the kitchen table, in a designated homeschool room, on the computer, or even out and about! Some places we have found that make school fun is the park, the zoo, and the car!
                                  ~Park~
 We take a few pages or books with us and play on the playground to get some of the energy out and have fun. Then we take a snack /drink break and work on the school pages or books we brought with us. Being outside doing it feels great and since the kids are eager to get back to playing they focus on the school and get it done faster.

                                   

                                   

                                         ~Zoo~ 

 Find a spot to eat lunch and pull out a book or some activity pages they need to get done for a break from walking and a time to regroup our minds. Again being outside is great!

                                        ~Car~
 This year we have lots of driving we are doing every week and they are good chunks of time not just ten minutes here and there. With this in mind I decided to do the big chunk of our history in the car. We will be using “Story of the World” this year and instead of reading the book I got it on CD so we can listen to the stories as we drive and we will do the activity book at home. This will help make the load of stuff we need to do every day easier and help the drive time go by faster and not feel like a waste of time.  A few other things we will be listening to in the car include “The Narnia Series”, Awana CD’s, Chinese language learning CD’s, history facts, and math facts.

Where are some places you like to do school with the kids? (Trampolines make for great math fact reviews and exercise!)

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers