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)
No fair! You’re not suppose to make readers cry with a submission to a spring contest. The best thing about a picture book is that you care what happens to the mc. The last line of each “page” touched me so deeply. You had me leaning in as you described time passing, lovely. Promise you’ll continue with this and submit it. It’s timely, it’s an underserved audience, and it’s sensitvely written. I could go on and on. Such beauty, Vivian. Thank you.
Pamela…I am speechless…something that doesn’t happen very often, I can assure you.:)When I started writing the story, it seemed to take shape by itself…what you see posted is pretty much how it was originally…as I reread it each time to revise, there wasn’t anything I could take out…and, with only 350 words to work with, not much I could add.:)I thank you so much for your encouraging words…and yes, I agree, this is a topic that remains under-addressed and I promise to pursue this story and see that it gets out there where it can helps the thousands of little ones who are missing their mamas!
Really nice. I’m glad mom came home. Hopefully for good.
Thanks for stopping by, Gretchen! Susanna’s contests really get us thinking and creating.:) I’m glad you liked the story…and yes, hopefully mom is home to stay.:)
Wonderful, touching story, Vivian. You did a beautiful job of making this real and fascinating, with a continual line leading the reader from page to page.
That is wonderful praise, Marylin, especially from someone who really knows what they are talking about.:) It was a powerful topic…and I think I surprised myself.
Great take on the topic Vivian. It was heart-wrenching and hopeful at the same time. Living near Ft. Hood army base, the subject is very real here; however, (I agree with Pamela) more folks need to know about the real sacrifices made by our fellow Americans and their families.
So true, Donna! I appreciate your insightful comments…I’m in Colorado Springs now…which has a huge military presence. I fear that most people don’t realize that many military families are struggling just to get by…even if neither parent is deployed. Our local Head Start program tries to reach out to help both the children AND the parents…but their resources are limited and budgets are always being cut. Adding deployment to that mix creates even more hardship…and, as you point out, sadness for the little ones.
Beautiful story, Vivian. I could feel your emotional involvement with the subject. Thanks for sharing it.
Thanks for the kind words, Wendy.:) I did get emotionally involved in this story as I wrote it.
beautiful story! you’ve breathed life into your character 🙂
Thank you, Donna! I appreciate your kind words…I’m thrilled the mc is so alive to you.:)
What a sweet story, Vivian! Really nice job with your language. It has a real emotional pull.
Coming from a wordsmithing language pillar, that is high praise! Thanks so much, Penny…I’m thrilled it turned out with so much life.:)
Seem to have lost a long comment bemoaning the modern trend towards mothers, in particular, regarding career as more important than providing a stable home environment. In my view one of the two should be a constant during the crucial years..
I’m sorry you lost the long comment…but I’m glad to see I’m not the only one it happens to.:) I know people have a right to choose the path they wish to travel…but children do suffer when there aren’t appropriate parent surrogates to step into the gap that is created when moms (or dads) are absent. I appreciate your insightful thoughts. 🙂
What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it here. Very well written!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Reshama! I love participating in Susanna’s contests.:)
I really like this. What a unique spin on a spring story!
Thanks for taking the time…and for the lovely comment! I know how busy everyone is and I appreciate the visit.:) Hope you’ll come back again!
This is precious, Vivian, and so thoughtful of those children who, too, sacrifice for our country!
Thank you so much, Jarm! I’m sure most people don’t think about that fact…these kids are sacrificing quite a lot…without being asked if they wanted to.:)
Vivian, I loved it 🙂 It was very touching. Great job!
I’m so happy you loved it, Denise.:) I became more and more involved with the main character as the story progressed. Thanks so much for stopping by.:)