I bought Drew and Louisa these deployment journals from Amazon. They are really nice. They have prompts to help them write about the deployment and their feelings. There's a calendar to record special days. During deployments, kids still need to have all those special days recognized. Life can't stop for them just because mom or dad is gone for a year. Another thing I like about this journal is that it includes all military branches, as well as all different kinds of deployments. Long before Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom, soldiers and marines and sailors and airmen went on other kinds of deployments that civilians probably don't realize. We still have troops in South Korea. When a soldier is stationed there for a year, often times their families cannot follow. Navy and Marines have a big base in Japan, and many times when they are stationed there, their families do not follow. So this journal also keeps those types of deployments in mind. Iraq is not the only place to get deployed to. Last year when my husband was in Afghanistan, people would give me the "oh, ONLY Afghanistan" look when I said where he was. Apparently some people don't watch the news.
Both kids grabbed pencils (well, okay, Drew grabbed a sharpie!) and started writing as soon as we got home from the spouses meeting I had to attend. The kids are like me in so many ways, and one is that they like to get their feelings out by writing them. So I knew they'd love these journals.
But that got me thinking. There are so many other aspects of life that kids could journal about if only given the prompts to do it. Why not keep some cheap notebooks handy (and believe me, we do!) and when a situation arises, write some prompts on the tops of the pages so they can write how they feel. Or even draw. Drawing journals are just as important. Ask a few basic questions about the situation that the kids can answer so they can figure things out in their head. I have done similar activities with Louisa before and it has helped her work through some issues.
All of this started because a friend sent me this link to this book! And then I ended up buying several more books that all have to do with daddy being gone and missing him. (Online shopping is one of the evilest things ever created!)
Last night I stayed up putting pictures of Daddy and the kids in frames, and laminating a few pictures for Hunter to carry around. He was carrying around a pic of Daddy that needs to be retired because it has been hugged so much. So I think the laminated ones might last longer.
Tonight we're going to make a Christmas video for Daddy. I'm doing it more for the kids than for him because they feel happy when they are doing something for him. They feel better knowing Daddy will have this little video to watch, although really I've sent him several videos already. A few of the ladies at the wives meeting wondered what they would say in front of the camera for 5 minutes. All I have to say is Drew + Hunter + sugar= entertainment!