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My journey as a mom, teacher, and Navy wife, one challenge at a time!
Author and Army wife Acacia Slaton Beumer sent me her children’s book I Miss DaddyÂ to review. Although I state in the above post title that this book is for military kids, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Military families may be the main audience, but I think this book could be a great teaching tool for civilian kids, to show them what other boys and girls -perhaps their classmates- are going through.
Beumer’s first book, Launch Out Into the Deep, was published in 2011 and was given a gold seal of approval by Mom’s Choice Awards for children 12 to 18 years of age. Her latest book, I Miss Daddy, focuses on the relationship of a little girl and her parents, while her Soldier father is deployed to Afghanistan.
In the beginning of the book, the main character, Jana, is acting out because she misses her father. It seems as if her mother has to constantly reprimand her. Jana tells the reader what she misses about her dad and shares some happy experiences she’s had with him.
Then one day a letter arrives for Jana. After reading the letter together, Jana and her mother, along with Jana’s little sister, are able to have a discussion about Jana’s daddy. Jana learns that she’s not alone. Her mom misses Jana’s father too, and it hurts both parents when they see Jana hurting. Then Jana, Jaci, and their mother pray that God will grant their daddy peace, love, and safety.
I Miss Daddy hits close to home for me right now. My husband isn’t deployed, but he is away from us for several months for training. Baby J is only 20 months old, so he doesn’t really understand yet what’s going on, but I know he misses his daddy. I see it every time he reaches out for a playmate’s father or snuggles against a male nursery worker at church. I call it his “daddy complex” in jest, but it’s really quite heartbreaking. Reading this book makes me realize challenges Baby J and I will most likely face together in the future.Â What’s important for me to remember is that although my son may lash out or misbehave, there’s an underlying cause. But he can’t express his emotions to me the way an adult can. A book like this is a great starting point to talk through our feelings and get to the root of the problem. He needs to know that he’s not alone.
I think military spouses can be outstanding at keeping a straight face, holding emotions in, and driving on. For the most part, we have to be. At least, I know I do. If I dwell on sadness or loneliness, it will just tear me apart. But maybe our kids need to see through that mask just a little bit.Â They need to know that like them, we’re not just “okay” with our lives moving on without our spouses. It’s something we just have to weather together as a family. And one day it will be over, and our loved ones will be home.
The print length is 36 pages, but the actual story is 25 pages, including the discussion questions. I think that’s long enough to get the point across but short enough to hold a young child’s attention.Â The illustrations are bright and realistic. I’m not sure if there’s a term for it, but the illustrations look like photographs that have been turned into drawings.
You can purchase I Miss Daddy on Amazon. It’s available both as an e-book and paperback. Find out more about the author, on her website launchoutbook.com.
Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this post!
Have you been reading the Body after Baby guest posts? You can read posts, product reviews, and even enter the fitness giveawayÂ HERE.
Today’s guest writer is Gabriela. I met this mama several years ago, along with Lindsay, when we deployed to Afghanistan. Afterwards, Gabriela went on to become an Army drill sergeant! -Elisebet
Hello, young and strong women and mothers. I would like to share my so-called â€świsdomâ€ť and experiences for the â€śbody after baby.â€ť Thank you, Elisebet, for the opportunity to share my perspective, and I hope that it can help someone out there.
The Top 5 things that helped me along the wayâ€¦
Manage your expectations.
Learn to get help and allow others to help, because no one can do it on their own (and be happy).
Work with what you have and accept the results because of what you have.
THERE IS NO BIG SECRET TO LOSING WEIGHT AND LOOKING LIKE A VICTORIA’S SECRET MODEL (Besides most of us arenâ€™t models; weâ€™re mothersâ€¦ embrace it happily).
So the first thing is managing expectations; I think we get easily and quickly discouraged, because we are looking for overnight or weekly results. After a baby nothing is easy and everything is upside down, backwards, and just plain a mess. Weâ€™re a mess, our homes are a mess, our lives are a messâ€¦I was ok with that. I accepted it, because I was happy. Some of us donâ€™t think about the bundle of joys we were given after theyâ€™ve reached two years old, and theyâ€™re throwing tantrums. I know. That was me sometimes. I was more concerned with the house chores and food than I was enjoying my babies. I have what they call â€śIrish Twins,â€ť which means theyâ€™re less than a year apart. For two weeks my kids are the same age. It was hard in the beginning. But I got smart as they kept growing. What I did was accept imperfect solutions. And in turn it did two things for me; well, it helped with my sanity for one, and it made my children more responsible and independent.Â For example, I made games out of clean up. And I didnâ€™t go back after them, if they didnâ€™t do it â€śmy way.â€ť I accepted the solution the way they did it. Of course, if there was jelly all over the carpet or something crazy like that, than yes I would clean it up. But for the most part I accepted it. And I didnâ€™t feel the need to clean up better, they were just gonna make another mess later anyway. So, if you have so many things to do in one day or week or month, than youâ€™re going to have to manage expectations. Same thing with my husband (even to this day:/); when he cleans, I am just happy that he did it. The results of how he cleaned arenâ€™t what I expect. I should be able to expect a grown man to clean the house the way I do, especially since weâ€™ve been married for 10 years. But itâ€™s not, and thatâ€™s ok now. Accept different results, by managing your expectations.
What do I mean by accepting yourself? Well most of us are easily and quickly discouraged because we, once again, are expecting overnight (or a weekâ€™s worth of working out) results. Our bodies went through 10 months of drastic change. Try giving back the same work and energy back to your body for a solid 9 months, then you can complain if the results arenâ€™t the same. But for the most of us, we donâ€™t do that. I know I didnâ€™t. It wasnâ€™t until both my kids went to school that I started to care about my body again. For me, that was ok. I wasnâ€™t interested in being a VS model. I was happy being a mom. I generally ate healthy and did enough around the house to maintain a decent size and shape. I walked the dog; I played with the kids, go on walks, went to the pool (cause we were in FL). But I accepted myself because I knew that I wasnâ€™t making my body a priority. I made my kids and family a priority. Could I have done both? Easily. So the only question you have to ask yourself is, which is a priority? And Iâ€™m not saying that you canâ€™t do both, but at some point or another one will conflict with the other. And the result will be that one of those priorities gets bumped, so accept the result after one of them gets bumped. Accept yourself and the results that come with your priorities.
Assuming you have so many priorities, like I did. Work, school, kids and their school, the house, dinner, cleaning, doctorâ€™s appointments, play dates, family events, birthday parties, extracurricular activities, etc. (You get it. Itâ€™s SUPER busy, and I am sure I am not the only one) Because life throws us so many curve balls we sometimes need to sit one out. We canâ€™t always hit home runs. Certainly not all by yourself and not all the time. So how do you get help or accept help. Well, the funny thing about help, is that it comes in different forms, amounts, and from people you probably you didnâ€™t expect or from someone you donâ€™t really want it from. But you have to learn to accept help.
The main thing about giving helpful ideas and sharing experience is simply that you can take what you want and leave what you donâ€™t want. But this by far is not a super secret to being successful or fit. It is simply my take away on the things that I struggled with and experiences I went through. So whatâ€™s the â€śbig secretâ€ť? The big secret is that there is no big secret. The biggest things that have helped me are acceptance, moderation, commitment, patience and hard work. Although I â€śpig outâ€ť on the weekends I am committed (mentally) to know that I am going to the gym during the week and eating healthier during the week in order to enjoy the weekend. But on the weekend we still do activities that help sustain a healthier lifestyle like biking, hiking and swimming or simply playing sports that my kids are in like doing soccer drills that help my daughterâ€™s skills and we are staying active in the process. You just have to figure out a way to make it fun, and possibly pick up someone interested in helping you, because although you can do it alone, itâ€™s easier with a partner.
The biggest excuse I hear is â€śI donâ€™t have time.â€ť Time is a luxury; if you waste it or abuse it, it will never work in your favor. So be selfish with your time, because in the long run it will help you and your family out more. And I donâ€™t know about you, but I would rather be fit than look like a VS model, being fit serves a purpose. But being fit doesnâ€™t mean having the body of a supermodel. So, what Iâ€™m about to tell you might be regarded as harsh or blunt, but thatâ€™s kind of the point. My best advice is this, truly embrace the fact that your body might not ever go back to what it used to be. I really mean for you to sit there and accept that you may never be the same weight or shape. Iâ€™m not saying this is true for all women. Iâ€™m just saying itâ€™s a lucky break if your body does go back to what it was after kids. For some of us, it gets better, it did for me (at least in my husbandâ€™s eyes, which was an important factor). But for others itâ€™s a struggle, a challenge, and a battle (which it was also for me).Â A battle we give up on so quickly. And we give up because we donâ€™t see the results we want when we want them. So the sooner you can embrace your new body the better. But donâ€™t think of it as something bad. Think of it as your result from bringing the miracle into this world, because no battle is pretty and now you have the scars or weight or shape to prove it. Be proud of yourself, be content, and be grateful that your child is here in this world because you did what you were supposed to like a mother should. BUT now itâ€™s game time. Do you want your body back? (or as close to it as possible) You will have to be a little selfish with time, with house work, with all the things (excuses) that you use that stop you from getting a new body. Most of us carry the burden of â€śI have to do the cooking, the cleaning, the doctorâ€™s appointments, the soccer mom duties, the play dates, the grocery shopping, etc.â€ť But you arenâ€™t as adamant about your personal time for something that will make you feel better and actually results in a better lifestyle that aids the overall outcome of your familyâ€™s well-being.
Disclaimer: All information presented during this event is purely personal opinion and shared for educational purposes only. The information contained herein is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise, weight-loss, or nutrition program. Please note, My Life: A Work in Progress does not necessarily endorse any opinions presented by guest writers during this event. Not all exercise or nutrition programs are suitable for everyone.
I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine. I deployed with Lindsay to Afghanistan several years ago and have stayed in touch ever since. We’re both mommies now and military spouses, so there’s always lots to talk about. Like me, Lindsay has been on both sides of the military- the deployed service member and the loved one waiting back home. She agreed to share with us her top ten tips for helping your little ones cope with deployment when their mom or dad is away. -Elisebet
Sit your children down before the deployment and explain in an age-appropriate way what is happening to the deploying parent, how long the deploying parent will be gone, and ways that you can keep in touch during deployment.
2. Set a routine:
Children (and adults) need a routine. So the deployed parent is goneâ€¦okay, who says the rest of the family canâ€™t come up with a fun routine! Routines help people stay organized and make daily transitions go smoothly (or as smooth as they can be).
3. Get thoughtful:
Let your kids design a card or make a drawing for their deployed parent. Sometimes we as the parents get stuck in the rut and are quick to buy a birthday or a special occasion card, but why not let your child design something special for their parent.
4. Respect the transition:
We all cope with things in different ways. Some people handle stressful situations better than others, but when you stop and think how do the children cope with the separation of a parent, it may be a lot more challenging than expected. Children are already transitioning through different stages of their childhood which is stressful enough, now add on a parent being gone for a year or longer, and that really throws everything off.
If you are a parent, and have a child over the age of, oh, letâ€™s just say one years oldâ€¦then you know children are curious. Prepare yourself for your child/children to have questions about the deployed parent; such as where the location is, what does he/she do while deployed, how long will the parent be gone, how old will the child be when the parent returns.
6. Have fun!
Just because there was a major change in the life of your family, doesnâ€™t make it okay to just sit around and mope because your military member is gone. Get out, or just plain get creative and have some fun! I personally introduced myself to Groupon and started searching for cheap things to do around our town to get the kids out and having a good time. Just happened to get a great rate to a local museum of science and technology for the entire family, and I made an effort to at least try to take the kiddos about twice a monthâ€¦.if not more!
7. Express yourself:
Find different ways to let the children express their feelings about their deployed parent being gone. If you donâ€™t provide or allow your child(ren) to express how they feel in a positive way, then chances are in time they will express their emotions in a negative way.
8. Start a group:
Sounds silly I know, but in todayâ€™s social media frenzy way of life, groups that are created are actually quite productive! You can start a group in your community, your church, on social media or even just online. You can create a group to be whatever you decide it to be; either a group for military moms, families, spouses in generalâ€¦..the beauty of it is that you can choose what type of group it should be, probably based off of what is the growing trend in your area (ie. At your local church, there are over 15 military wives; therefore you decide to start a military wife group that meets every Monday at the church). Having a group can help other to connect and vocalize their feelings and what they are going through during the deployed service membersâ€™ time away. So many times, spouses and families feel abandoned during the deployment and do not know or want to reach out and ask for help. A group setting though can encourage the families to desire having a friendship with others that are going through a similar experience.
9. Let the countdown begin:
Decide with your family a fun way of counting down the time till your deployed service member is home. Children especially will love the fact that they have an idea of when they will see their deployed parent, and letting them get involved in the process is a lot of fun also! Of course, be sure to keep it simple, start a calendar towards the last few months or even major milestones like the end of each month, have your child put something to represent another month that is over and that much sooner to seeing their parent again!
10. Stay positive:
No matter what role you play in having a loved one that is serving overseas, stay positive in the fact that yes, they are gone (or will leave), but they will also return. Never make a promise to children that they will see their loved one in however many months, because reality can happen, and you never want to promise something that you cannot be for sure of. Sorry to add that, but unfortunately bad things happen. However try to not dwell on anything negative but instead stay positive, surround yourself with positive people, and make every effort to keep yourself and your family happy and supportive! Time goes by so much more quickly if you stay positive and keep an upbeat attitude on life!
Trust me when I say, I wish that I could claim that I followed my own advice during my husbandâ€™s one year long deployment…because I most certainly did not! But that is why I was able to muster up this list of advice for others that will or are going through a deployment of a loved one. Consider this as my life lessons learned and hopefully helpful advice for you! I only wish I would have incorporated all of the points mentioned above into my time with my children while my husband was gone, and if the day comes again that my husband will ever need to leave for a deployment, I vow to my family that I will do what I advise so many others that are going through a similar situation to do.
About the Author:
I live in a family of four consisting of myself, my husband Wilson (who we call Willie), and our two sons, Joshua and Gabriel. I would say to sum up my title, I am a full-time everything! I work full time, used to go to school full time but needed to put that on the back burner ’til hubby returned from his deployment to Afghanistan, and most importantly I am a full time…all the time mother (that is my fav job of all). I am for sure kept busy and even more so this past year since I am went solo on this mommy thing, but life couldnâ€™t get any better or chaotic, and that is my little family!!
I could talk so much more about my family life, but then I would be writing a novel…that would never end, so if you are interested in my insanity, come follow me on Facebook, Lindsay Carrasquillo (yeah, I am the only white girl with that last name so you should have no problem finding me)!Â