Spring is just around the corner! Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. My signs-of-spring-checklist goes something like this:
Growing things: Green shoots push up from the ground, tiny buds appear on trees and tulips and daffodils are breaking ground.
Birds: Robins and bluebirds greet me in the morning and I hear the welcome cry of geese overhead, returning from their winter holiday in the south.
Daylight: The days are noticeably longer…the sun is still casting its warming rays after 6pm here in Colorado Springs.
Susanna Leonard Hill’s In Just Spring Contest is starting! Her holiday writing contests are infamous legendary…I wouldn’t miss one for the world. The instructions for this one are: write a children’s story with a spring theme in 350 words or less and make sure the last line says, “(Character’s name) knew spring was here at last!” There is a super prize as well…a chance to submit a picture book manuscript to KidsBooks editor Laura Galvin! WOW! I’ll be linking up on her blog where you can go to check out everyone’s stories. I hope you enjoy my entry.
Years ago, most soldiers were men…and most of the time, if they had families, their wives tended house and home and children until they returned. But things have changed! These days, many of our brave soldiers are women…and a good number of them are mothers of young children. According to the government:
“The demands on military members and their families are increasing and are becoming more complex. Military families sacrifice their personal comfort and experience tremendous upheaval when soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, reservists and National Guard members are called to serve our country here or abroad. Children are especially vulnerable when separated from parents due to deployments. Their unique developmental perspective and limited life experience put them at a heightened risk for emotional distress during the separation period.”
There are very few picture books out there that address this issue…I’m excited to offer this story (344 words…phew!) to little ones who are missing that special person in their lives.
WAITING FOR SPRING
“I’ll be back when it’s spring” whispered Rachel’s mom. As the old pick-up disappeared down the hot dusty road, Grandmother gave Rachel’s arm a little tug. “Come on, girl! We need to get busy making cookies for the Labor Day picnic.”
Rachel loved baking with her grandmother. The smell of fresh cinnamon tickled her nose reminding her of the fragrance of her mother’s cinnabar soap-scented skin. Mama hadn’t even been gone an hour and Rachel was already missing her. How could she wait until spring?
The trees turned scarlet and gold as the weeks passed. Rachel’s dad pushed her in the swing…so high she thought she might touch the sky. Rachel loved her daddy and loved the sound of the wind as it whistled past her, but it made her think of her mother, laughing and singing. Rachel missed her mama’s sweet voice. Spring seemed so far away.
One morning, Rachel awoke to the sound of sleigh bells. The world outside her window was covered in snow and Rachel hurried to get dressed. She loved the snow! She built a snow princess and put her scarf around the princess’ neck. A gust of wind brushed the scarf across Rachel’s cheek…it felt like mama’s soft touch. Would spring ever come?
The yard was a muddy mess for the next few weeks. “It’s the spring thaw,” said her daddy. It can’t be spring, thought Rachel, because mama’s not home yet.
Her grandmother filled a vase with daffodils. “These are the first spring flowers,” she told Rachel. Rachel didn’t believe her because if it was spring, mama would be here.
Rachel went to the barn. “We have four spring lambs,” her dad explained. Rachel was happy to see the baby lambs, but she knew they weren’t SPRING lambs because mama wasn’t there. She walked back to the house. The scent of cinnamon reached out to Rachel. Was Grandmother baking cookies without her?
Rachel ran up the porch steps. The music of a lilting voice filled her ears. “Mama, you’re home!” Rachel knew spring was here at last!
Photo courtesy of www.etsybaby.blogspot.com
NATURAL DYE COLORED EASTER EGGS (a craft from my book)
Coloring Easter eggs is lots of fun…you can turn this activity into an educational one by using natural dyes. You will need three bowls. For yellow, use 1tsp turmeric in a cup of hot water. For blue, crush a bunch of blueberries and cover with hot water. For red, crush a bunch of cranberries and cover with hot water. Be careful to cool the water before the children dip their eggs. You can also use food coloring if you don’t have the time.
After the eggs are colored (or you can use plastic eggs), you can add pieces of foam and felt to make these animal-inspired Easter eggs…use a marker to draw in the lines
Photo courtesy www.glueguncrafts.com
Here are some resources for families who have members deployed:
The Association of the US Army http://www.ausa.org/resources/familyprograms/resources/InternetResources/Pages/ChildrenDeploymentResources.aspx (for children who are experiencing separation problems)
From Sesame Street: http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/tlc
From the Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/find-help/military-families/deployment-services
From Military One Source: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/deployment/military-and-family-support-programs
Substance abuse and mental health services administrationhttp://www.samhsa.gov/dtac/dbhis/dbhis_military_intro.asp
- DIY Easter Egg Dye (wholefoodsmarket.com)
- Ostara Egg-time, coming up… (rennashesso.wordpress.com)
- Natural Easter Egg Dyeing Made Easy: Eco-Eggs Egg Coloring Kit (ecochildsplay.com)
- Budget Friendly Easter Baskets (pennypinchboutique.com)