Raising Strong Military Kids: One Mom’s Story *guest post*

Today, in celebration of Mother’s Day tomorrow, I am happy to bring you a great guest post, about military moms.  The ones that stay home and keep the homefires buring, help arrange the pcs’, attending the departures and homecomings, and tuck little children into bed at night while
daddy is away.  The amazing military spouses (men or women) who remain on the Homefront…..
 
 

I will never forget my first time shopping at a commissary. At 21 and newly married, my husband Jim and I had just packed up all of our belongings to drive across the country from Seattle to Fort Belvoir. We were new to the military way of life, moving for Jim’s new orders with the Army Corps of Engineers. I went to the commissary and had no clue how the system worked – I didn’t even know that I needed an ID card! When we began adding our kids to the mix, I found out there was so much more I needed to learn.
Although we’ve come a long way in helping service members and their families, navigating deployment is still challenging. I want to share with you some tips that helped my three sons and me get through the tough times when my husband was called to service.
1. Network with other military wives and moms. Early on in our marriage, I met a woman who was raising four daughters. She gave me some tough love about coping with the day-to-day stress while Jim was away, but she was also a great example of how to face deployment. I learned that if she could do it, so could I! Make it a priority to meet fellow wives and moms to share your experiences and get the support you need from friends who truly understand.
2. Listen to your kids. Though you might feel alone without your spouse, pay close attention to how your kids are feeling. I realized that I had to be strong for my boys, but they often felt like they needed to be the adults while dad was away. Reassure your kids that it’s okay to be sad or angry and that you will get through the deployment together.
3. Reach out for support. As the director of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program [link to www.yellowribbon.mil], I’ve had the opportunity to meet military wives and moms from across the services and around the country. We host programs that help National Guard and Reserve members and families connect to other folks who understand what they’re going through. At these free events, you can meet other military families and get expert advice on everything from family communication to employment issues to financial planning.
Raising kids when your spouse is deployed can be challenging, but there are a number of support resources out there to help you. Register for an upcoming Yellow Ribbon event near you at www.yellowribbonevents.org.
 
 
~ Marie Balocki is the Director of the Office of Reintegration Programs at the Department of Defense.  In addition to being an Army Spouse for more than 30 years, she has served Military Families around the globe as a volunteer and Federal civilian for 18 years.  She is the mom of three grown sons.

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First Lady Welcomes Military Kids for Muppets Screening

Last week the First Lady invited military children to attend a screening of the the new Muppets movie at the White House.  We were lucky enough to be included in this group.  It was a huge deal for my kids and watching their little faces register who it was that was talking to them was a pretty incredible expereince.  I loved it!  We were greated by the amazing Kermit the Frog.  He spoke with the kids and took a picture with them.  They were not at all distracted by the man laying on the weird contraption talking for Kermit.  The First Lady was introduced by the always witty and fun, General Martin Dempsey.  He is probably one of the most hilarious people.  I’ve never not heard him speak and it not be funny.  In fact my kids are still quoting the jokes he told to the kids.  His normal repitore of token Irish jokes about drinking and signing probably wouldn’t work…but he actually took the time to come up with three jokes for kids.  It was perfect for them.
        

If you haven’t had the chance to see The Muppets Most Wanted (it just came out in theaters), here’s a little run-down.  
The Muppets are ready to take their show on the the road with a global tour.  But their new manager is actually a crook, and he works for Constantine, the World’s Number One Criminal!  Constatine, who looks almost exactly like Kermit, plans to steal a priceless treasure and blame it on the Muppets!



I have to say I am a huge muppets fan, and remember watching the old movies…I mean, come on, Kermit singing “It isn’t easy being green,” is probably the most recognizable thing.  They are hilarious and I’ve always loved them. Introducing them to my kids is just a natural thing.  Their first “come-back” movie of sorts I wasn’t all that impressed with.  I mean, it wasn’t horrible…but what I loved about this one is that it really harkens back to the old days of the Muppets.   I mean, the randomness of it all, weird cameos, a live running of the bulls (Hilarious!).  It doesn’t get any more Muppets than that.  The story line is engaging and funny, while maybe slightly over the heads of my two kids, there were lots of funny parts that they laughed out loud at.  Tina Fey is supurb and Ricky Gervais is perfect.  
Muppets Gets 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.  It would really be good for children maybe slightly older than mine, even though Brian did enjoy it.  Some of the plot was a bit complicated for him.  Adults who grew up with The Muppets will love it.  

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Honor Flight Network: A Great Way to Spend a Weekend

On Sunday I packed my kids up and we went to the National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.  My wonderful friend Kelly joined us for the day, and snapped some pictures for me while I was helping the kids.  If you’ve never heard of Honor Flight Network, it is a group of people who made it their mission in life that every living WWII Veteran gets the opportunity to visit ‘their’ memorial.  It is THEIR memorial, and Honor Flight makes sure that they are treated as such.  Flights come in from all over with the veterans and their escorts, or Guardians.  On Sunday we received Veterans from Dayton, Ohio.  Among the WWII veterans there were also Korean and Vietnam.  Many groups within the larger Network, accept applications to assist veterans from those campaigns make it out to DC.  My kids were absolutely thrilled with the experience and have already asked me to do again.  Other than my own personal gratification and warmth I receive for doing these sorts of things, knowing that I am actually making a difference; it is the looks on my children’s faces and their requests to do it again that make me want to keep going again and again.  This is a wonderful service opportunity, whether or not you are located in DC.  Make sure to Visit HFN and find out if there is a hub near you. 

Here are some snapshots from the day!
God Bless our Troops
Thank a Vet today

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