Sunday, May 27, 2012

Free Printable Words of Thanks for Veterans

Printable Thank-you Notes for Veterans
Veterans often sacrifice many aspects of their lives in order to serve the country. These printables are simple words of thanks for veterans and their families. I have included five different notes with a small picture on each.

How to Print the Veteran Thank-you Notes
  1. Click on the image below to enlarge.
  2. Choose file-print near the top of the screen.

I hope you find these thank-you notes for veterans to be helpful and that the words brighten the day of veterans or family members who receive them.

Find more printables and articles at the Wildflower Bouquet site map.

Rowan County Military Honor Guard – Still Serving Fellow Veterans

Presenting American Flag at Funeral - Photo by U.S. Navy at Wikimedia Commons
Few people cherish the thought of attending a funeral, but one group of veterans have dedicated themselves to providing military honors at funeral ceremonies for fellow comrades. Many people think of honoring those in the military who are deceased on Memorial Day, but this group of soldiers provide services throughout the year.

My dad was a veteran who graduated from the United States Naval Academy who served in the U.S. Navy for five years. His life ended abruptly due to a wreck on the interstate many years after he served in the military. It was a tough time for our entire family.

Honor Guard Provides Military Rights at Funerals - Photo from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HALS NC-2 at Wikimedia Commons
One part of the funeral service that stands out for me is a group of men came to pay their respects and provide military honors. These were some of the volunteer members of the Rowan County Military Honor Guard. They may represent a variety of areas, including:
  • American Legion
  • Post #107, Post #327, Post #342
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Post #3006, Post #9131
The beautiful notes of Taps still ring in my ears when I think back to the service. After the gun salute, the men did not hesitate to retrieve the shells and present them to me along with heartfelt condolences.

Many veterans say they would do it all again if their services were needed. Many of them are still quietly serving today and have done so for many years by volunteering to honor deceased veterans and provide a bit of comfort to the family. I do not believe that any of the men who attended my father's funeral had ever met my dad, but they came...and they served well.

They also provided a flag with an informational brochure describing the symbolism of each fold, and I cherish each and every item that our family was given. I wish to publicly thank the Rowan County Military Honor Guard. Well done. Your personal service will not be forgotten.

Never Forget - Photo by Christine Singh at Wikimedia Commons

Friday, May 25, 2012

Kids Want to Play When You are Exhausted? Quick and Easy Game

Quick and Easy Game for Kids - © Katrena
Sometimes it seems as if the kids have unquenchable energy when I'm ready to rest and relax. Here is a quick and simple game that my kids have thoroughly enjoyed playing over the years. It is well-suited for someone who wants or needs to stay seated and does not require any special equipment other than a chair. This game may be played inside or outside and works great when you have children of different ages and abilities.

  1. Find a place to sit where there is room in front of and on either side of the chair. (The area in front of the chair is the bridge.)
  2. Have the child or children go to one side and wait.
  3. Call a child's name and ask a question (see below for some ideas). Make sure the others know not to answer anyone else's questions.
  4. If the child answers correctly, tell him/her that he/she has permission to cross the "bridge" if he/she dares.
  5. If the child answers incorrectly, give him/her the correct answer and try another question until he/she answers correctly.
  6. Repeat the process until each child has crossed the bridge.
  7. Continue playing with different questions and the kids move in the opposite direction.
This game is great for groups with various ages and abilities because you can customize it to suit the needs of each child. For example, if you have a very young child, you might ask if she can clap her hands, touch her toes, count or name objects, identify a color, or sing a song. This is a great way for you to assess how well the kids are learning subjects in school, such as math, English, social studies, science, a foreign language, etc. You might also use the game as a fun way to teach information like one's address, phone number, social skills, rhythms, and even dance steps.

Fun and Easy Game for Kids - Photo by PaulLemiski Joel Savard at Wikimedia Commons
You can make the game more challenging by having the kids to crawl, hop, skip, roll, or jump across the bridge. Of course, you might also assume a "troll" personality and attempt to catch them as they go by. Each time you play the game, you can make it fun and different.

I hope you enjoy playing this game! Find more great ideas, such as scavenger hunt clues, printables, and articles at the Wildflower Bouquet site map.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Words Can Leave a Lasting Wound or a Lasting Legacy

Words Can Cause Damage Deeper than Sticks and Stones - Photo from Wikimedia Commons
I remember listening to a friend's speech in 4-H when I was a child. She began with the words "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can break my heart." I heard that speech more than 25 years ago and still remember the look in my young friend's eyes. She spoke from the heart...a heart that had been pierced by a double-edged tongue.

The damage often begins in childhood. The kids who don't fit the mold are typically informed of that difference at an early age by other children. All too often adults send those negative messages as well. Too short. Too tall. Too large. Too thin. Special diet. Clothing style. Hairstyle. Family history. Reading ability. Lack of agility. Speech. IQ. Eyeglasses. The list could go way beyond the computer screen.

One of the participants in my group exercise class mentioned something about me being talkative and outgoing. I had to admit right then and there that I tend to be quite shy and reserved the majority of the time. Sure, I can get up in front of a group exercise class, turn on some music and lead a group through a workout, but my natural instinct is to hide from groups who are simply socializing. I guess part of that stems from the feeling that I never fit in as a child. Perhaps I am simply in self-preservation mode at times.

Sporting Competition Can Lead to Bullying © Katrena
Yes, words can wound, but non-verbal language and the intent behind the words can speak even more loudly. I remember the day my school classmates gave me a standing ovation during a basketball game. I had worked hard, really hard, all season. I don't think there is a thing the coach could have done to turn me into a "good" player. My self-confidence was probably below zero because my position during games had been to sit on the bench the entire season, but I came and cheered because I was part of the team. 

Yet, during that home game, the coach gave me the cue to join the other players on the court. I nearly fell off the bench due to the shock but was delighted to finally have the opportunity to play. As I ran to my position, I saw everyone on our side of the gym standing and clapping like crazy. I was later informed that my classmates were thrilled because they knew we had won the game when I got to play. I finished out the season only playing in one other game...the one the coach knew we had already lost.

I told my oldest daughter that she won first place in my eyes after she ran her first 5K. She finished what she started, cut several minutes off her previous best time, and did not give up. Even though only the fastest kids' names were announced, I could not have been prouder of my daughter. I was excited for my second daughter when she was chosen to read her paper for a Veterans Day program. She had been in speech therapy not long before that time, and to hear her speak eloquently in front of hundreds of children, teachers, parents, and those who have defended our country made my heart swell with pride, and I made sure to tell her that. My youngest loves to tackle the dog and brush her teeth. I laugh and tell her that she might make a great dog groomer, dentist, or even a lion tamer when she grows up!

Inspire Others With Encouraging Words © Katrena
I love to teach group exercise classes for kids. I try to ensure that the classes are fun. If we play freeze dance, everyone can keep dancing when the music comes back on. If we do the limbo, nobody has to sit out – they can discover new and creative ways of getting under the stick! One of the kids' favorite games is the snail – we join hands and I lead them into a tighter and tighter circle and finally unwind the group back into a single circle facing outward. Nobody is a loser. Sometimes we sweat. Sometimes we smile...or maybe even laugh. The idea is to teach the kids that being physically active can actually be fun. Everyone wins. At the end of the class, I like to give the kids a high five before the go out the door. Every once in a while, a child will come up to me and give me a huge bear hug. No words needed.

Hearing the cadence of a different drummer can give people the ability to enjoy rhythms never imagined by others. May the wounds that run deep within us serve to open our eyes to the needs of others and inspire us to say the very words they need to hear!

Readers may also wish to check out my free printable I love you notes or words of encouragement. Visit the Wildflower Bouquets site map for more stories of hope, inspiration, enjoying simple pleasures, and more.

The Joy of Marching to a Different Drummer's Beat - Photo by Roosewelt Pinheiro/ABr at Wikimedia Commons