The Goose Goes for Your Heart

Dear loyal, caring and generous readers and friends,

Today I come to you with great and wonderful news!

http://www.startsomegood.com/BlueStarFamilyPlatoon

As you know, when I’m not here flapping and honking about people I know and places I go, I am very involved in connecting and supporting military families. My heart goes out to the moms and dads, husbands and wives and the children of our brave troops.

Every month, I attend support meetings of these families and present them with Blue Star Banners to hang in their windows.

Two proud and grateful moms...of course, one of them is Mother Goose...

Two proud and grateful moms…of course, one of them is Mother Goose…

The stars on these banners represent a member of the family who is absent from the home and presently serving our nation somewhere around the world. Often these men and women are serving in harm’s way, sacrificing family time for the sake of the United States, to keep us safe and free.

“Why, Mother Goose? Why do you do this?” you may ask.

I do this for several reasons:

1. I have twin sons in the U.S. Navy and I’m always hoping to find other moms who want to share experiences with me.

2. I have found many good friends by “looking for the banners” in the windows of homes I drive or walk past daily.

3. Families need these connections so that they can be informed of the services and resources available to them as military families and veterans.

4. It’s a grand old tradition that is still viable today.

5. It keeps me busy and helps me to not worry so much about my own sons — I’m thinking of others, instead of myself.

Anyway, the GOOD NEWS is that we are in the middle of a very important fundraiser so that we can continue this great work. With only two weeks left in our campaign, we are on track and getting closer everyday to our goal of $2,500.

But we need YOU, dear and beautiful reader! If you can just throw $10 at us today, GREAT! I’ll take it! If you can give more, GREAT! I love you!

But if anybody believes in this easy way to support the troops and their families, please jump in TODAY!

Here’s the link to the website where we are doing our campaign:

http://www.startsomegood.com/BlueStarFamilyPlatoon

Mother Goose is most grateful for your support TODAY! Plus if you click on that link, you’ll actually get to see a video of Mother Goose explaining most sincerely why you really DO want to help our campaign…

THANK YOU from the bottom of my feathery old heart…

M.Goose addressing Marine families at the Park Ridge VFW Post.

M.Goose addressing Marine families at the Park Ridge VFW Post.

Start Some Good with a Goose

First of all, God bless you for reading this sometimes silly and eccentric blog. Thank you for your visits and your kind comments and thoughts…

For the past year and a half, Mother Goose has been working on a mission with the Blue Star Family Platoon. It really all started as a response to a volunteer request for a non-existent organization. Well, you know Mother Goose…I just can’t leave things the way I find them. I have to always be starting some good somewhere in the world…

I began to attend family support meetings for parents of Marines, and seeing that they were hungry for connections to other families, I supplied them with Blue Star Banners. Each month I found myself at one of four different groups who meet in the Chicagoland area, collecting requests for the banners and then following up the next month and presenting the families with banners to hang in their windows.

One for Erik, one for Adam...

One for Erik, one for Adam…

Many of my readers have visited the Facebook page I created for Blue Star Families.

This old tradition is still a valuable one — it’s really one of the first levels of connections we military families can make with each other and with our neighbors. Each star on the banner symbolizes a family member who is serving in America’s Armed Forces during a time of war or hostility. Ever since WWI families have been hanging banners in their windows. Of course, the family of Mother Goose sports a two-star banner — one star for Adam and one star for Erik who are my twin sailor sons.

My husband has been very proud of my efforts in support of military families in our area, but the cost of banners over the past 18 months has begun to take its toll on my checkbook balance… I had given away nearly seventy banners, and Mr. Goose thought maybe it was time for a new business plan.

So that’s why I’m VERY happy and excited to announce the launch TODAY of my peer-funding project and here’s a wonderful link to my site:

http://startsomegood.com/BlueStarFamilyPlatoon

If you click on that link, not only do you have the opportunity to support this good cause, but you’ll get to see a live video clip of me, Mother Goose, explaining my project and asking for your support! Wow! The real Mother Goose talking and telling a story! You won’t want to miss that show!

A huge thank you for your kind support of this fundraising campaign! If you can give, GREAT! If you can share it with others, GREAT! I’ll be sending out updates as the days go by so that you’ll know when we reach our tipping point and how the funds are being used.

We want to purchase more banners to give away.

We want to build a website for this good stuff.

We want to become a real non-profit 501(3)c so that we’ll be eligible for many grants and donations.

We want to expand our network and someday help to create a space for veteran and military families to gather.

Mother Goose is bringing smiles to the faces of proud military moms and dads all across the nation.

Semper Fi Addison Marine Families

All big dreams start small — but no donation is too small for Mother Goose and the Blue Star Family Platoon!

The Goose Mans the Booth

Every weekend, indeed everyday, brings new opportunities to build awareness of the old Blue Star Banner tradition. Mother Goose and, of course, Mr. Goose have been spotted in several locations lately — making those connections to military families and explaining the benefits of having a banner hanging in their front windows.

Mark is completely in charge of setting up our booth and blowing up the balloons.  Thank you, dear!

Mark is completely in charge of setting up our booth and blowing up the balloons. Thank you, dear!

In fact, just this past weekend, we braved the drizzle and dropping temperatures in lovely, convenient Oak Park to occupy a booth at the 40th Annual Day in Our Village celebration. Thousands of local residents visited Scoville Park and were treated to tasty concessions, an excellent variety of live music, pony rides, face painting, hair dyeing, balloons, candy, a lot of brochures, information overload AND the opportunity to sign Thank You cards to send to the troops.

Love that kid in the front...

Love that kid in the front…

Yes, that’s dear Mother Goose manning the Blue Star Family Platoon booth!

You may notice that she is wearing large dark sunglasses even though the day is obviously overcast. Nobody even knew that behind those glamorous Hollywood shades, Mother Goose was hiding two hideous eye infections…

We had thousands of visitors to our booth and so many folks signed the Thank You cards. People care very much about our brave servicemen and women — often Americans really want to do something concrete to show their support, but are simply unaware or unsure of ways they can make a difference in the day of a soldier or sailor.

Hundreds of Americans signed cards to send to the troops!

Hundreds of Americans signed cards to send to the troops!

Mother Goose is always glad to provide those ways and opportunities.

A very special shout out to a friend of Mother Goose who showed up at the booth with a container of freshly baked bars to bolster the energy level of this goose. Regina is the mom to a very special Marine — a Purple Heart recipient who will be retiring from the Marine Corps this autumn. In fact, Regina and I met BECAUSE she had a Blue Star Banner in her front window!

Regina saved my life with her home-baked, still warm from the oven gooey bars.

Regina saved my life with her home-baked, still warm from the oven gooey bars.

THAT’s exactly why I do this for a living! Well, actually, I don’t get paid…yet.

I am working towards making that dream come true.

Doesn’t it seem like this would be the perfect career for this goose?

In the weeks to come you will be called on to support a very special project of mine. I will share details as the days draw nearer, but let me just say right now that Mother Goose is going way out on a limb with a military family support project that will dazzle you and bring a tear to your eye…

Enough said.

M.Goose Spots Some Banners in the Windows

(Originally posted over at the OTHER Mother Goose site: mothergoosesalutes.wordpress.com)

Sometimes Mother Goose just goes out joy riding. When I was a youngster, we’d drive through the countryside, the dirt roads and sometimes the trails through the forests…just to go for a ride. We would look for deer in the fields at twilight, a gravel road with agate potential, a blueberry patch along the side of the road. Sometimes we went looking for “real estate”.

Back in the 60’s in the country parts of northern Minnesota, any random passerby could pull into the driveway of an abandoned house and walk right into the empty house. These “real estate” adventures comprise some of my fondest memories. With our parents and grandparents permission, we could go snooping around other people’s homes and lives — houses full of stuff were highly regarded as treasure to our family!

Imagine fully furnished homes just empty of people and left to the rages of time! I began my stamp collection from the abandoned mail of these homes. We also collected antique “Ball jars”, door knobs, glass medicine bottles, barbed wire and tools. Once we found an abandoned home in a quiet valley complete with a functional piano on the front porch. I launched into my memorized material and entertained my family. For some reason, we never felt like we were trespassing…just checking the “real estate”.

Today I didn’t go into any of the homes I stopped at — just stood outside. I didn’t leave anything but blessings. I didn’t take anything but pictures.

Blue Star Banner in Stickney, IL

Blue Star Banner in Stickney, IL

A Blue Star Banner, a Marine flag and a U.S. flag flying proudly in front of my friend's home.

A Blue Star Banner, a Marine flag and a U.S. flag flying proudly in front of my friend’s home.

A Blue Star Banner in a watchful Berwyn neighborhood.

A Blue Star Banner in a watchful Berwyn neighborhood.

Only God knows the deep pride and sorrow of a Gold Star Family.

Only God knows the deep pride and sorrow of a Gold Star Family.

A Seamstress on a Mission

(This story was originally published over at Mother Goose Salutes)

Amazingly, Mother Goose has found yet another soul who has taken their grief and pain and transformed it into an avenue of healing and comfort for others. Like Dawn Hedrick and Richard Casper, this woman has experienced great personal loss.

I am honored to introduce Chris Davidson, a North Carolina resident with a gift for stitching memories into lovely patriotic quilts and banners.

Chris Davidson, Memories in Stitches

Chris Davidson, Memories in Stitches

Memory quilts are a beautiful tradition. The quilt is sewn from the clothes of a loved one and seem to contain even more comfort and warmth than a regular quilt. When Chris lost her two adopted sons, she began quilting the fabric from their little shirts and outfits into her designs. Sewing and quilting became her grief therapy.

Soon she was creating quilts for others in her community — Memories in Stitches, rose out of the ashes of this mother’s tragic loss.

Chris’s husband is a retired Air Force serviceman. Through his connections with the Air Force and living in a small town, Chris became aware of a need for customized, hand-sewn Blue Star Banners for military families. Military families are tightly connected, and orders for her banners have well-exceeded her expectations. She also creates the most exquisite Gold Star Banners and quilts to honor the memory of fallen soldiers and servicemen.

When Chris sews her banners and quilts, an invisible staircase to heaven opens above her. Her prayers are carried up to the throne of grace; blessings come flowing down onto the quilts and banners she is sewing. “Some banners and quilts go together very smoothly,” Chris explains. “Others can take a lot of time, and if anything can go wrong, it will.”

After a year of making these beautiful keepsakes, Chris Davidson has come to the conclusion that the recipients of these difficult quilts and banners simply need more prayer and comfort than others, and she’s OK with that. “I had one banner,” says Chris. “I don’t know why, but I was in tears most of the time making it.”

Sometimes she works through the night to make a special banner to be presented at a funeral or memorial service for a fallen soldier. The heart of Mother Goose breaks to think of those nights at the sewing table of Chris Davidson.

Chris Davidson Gold Star Quilt

Typically it takes her about four hours to sew together a banner for a customer; quilts can be designed and constructed in about a week. Bless her heart, Chris prefers to donate the banners and has finished 21, yes 21, already this year. She has a waiting list of at least thirty more, and works 10-12 hour days at the sewing machine to complete the orders.

She would like to continue giving these banners to the families, but the reality is that fabric costs money. In fact, all of the projects for the past two years have been funded by her dear husband — in total, $2,000 in supplies plus the cost of maintaining her sewing and quilting and embroidering machines.

If you visit her Facebook page (and Mother Goose is confident that you will!), you will see so many photographs of Chris’s extraordinary work. You will also see a place to donate to her cause. I hope that you are moved to help this kind and gracious woman with her patriotic and heart-felt stitching business. She’s not trying to make a profit by any means — she’s just called to help folks heal from their losses and find comfort in these quilts and banners.

Mother Goose salutes Chris Davidson, a seamstress on a mission.

Chris Davidson Blue Star Banner

Mother Goose Begins Another Blog Project

In response to an overwhelming request for more stories about our brave servicemen and women and the families who support them, Mother Goose is honking for joy to announce the launch of a new project, Mother Goose Salutes.

http://mothergoosesalutes.wordpress.com/

The mission is over in Iraq (as far as we know anyway…), and I know that our country is drawing down and out of Afghanistan. We have troops and advisors around the world, but no new wars coming up after Afghanistan. More than a decade of war has left our nation tired and in need of healing and restoration.

But by the same token, we have thousands of veterans to care for now that the wars are ending. We still have families flying Blue Star Banners and praying for their soldiers and sailors and airmen and women. And now we have the new policy from the Defense Department lifting the ban on women in active combat duty. The higher ups are beginning to dialogue about a new Selective Service plan that might include women.

There are so many stories of heroes and so many local events honoring our Heroes. Mother Goose is running from person to person in the Chicagoland area telling them that military families have special needs and challenges. You can see the tracks of her big old rubbery feet in the fresh-fallen snow — she’s got so much ground to cover and so many stories to tell. The Goosemobile is warming up even now for an appointment to talk with a Gold Star Mother about her upcoming “Support the Troops” project.

Will you follow me on that exciting journey?

Will you join me?

Will you join me?

Are you afraid that Mother Goose will abandon her first love of telling heartwarming stories for the general public? Never fear! Mother Goose has been around for years and years telling those thought-provoking and tear-generating stories for all to hear. I’m not going anywhere far away, just another adventure around the corner.

With love and goosedown to stay warm today,
Mother Goose

Mother Goose Speaks Out

I’m just a goose! How do I find myself in these amazing places with such wonderful people? I’m baffled and honking about it!

M.Goose addressing Marine families at the Park Ridge VFW Post.

Once upon a time, Mother Goose was a regular mother with just the barest notion that our nation was at war. Whilst soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen fought valiantly in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mother Goose turned her beak in the other direction. In fact, she buried her head in the sand. You may have called her Lady Ostrich in those days.

And then the impossible happened — my twin sons enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and my ostrich life came to a screeching halt. Even though they are still stateside, training for a highly technical and difficult position onboard nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, to this goose, military family life has already begun. Of course, when they eventually get deployed and head out to sea to see the world, Mother Goose will probably have a nervous breakdown. Maybe a double, twin-sized nervous breakdown…

Last evening, Mother Goose and her ever-supportive gander attended a wonderful meeting of Marine families in a nearby suburb of Chicago. Let me just tell you right now, these are some of the bravest, kindest and most gracious moms and dads that I have ever met.

As the sharing time progressed around the room, several parents reported that their sons had returned from active duty around the world, including combat action in Afghanistan. Two families had just experienced the gut-wrenching days of knowing their sons were now “boots on the ground” in the hot war zones of Helmand Province. Some were active and stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. There was a new “poolie” present with his family — just freshly enlisted and in preparation mode for boot camp next summer. All stages of U.S. Marine life were shared — hugs and tears and common wisdom were served up as easily as the delicious potluck dinner.

I was there at the meeting because I wanted to speak to the group about Blue Star Banners, an American tradition dating back to WWI. Military families are encouraged to hang the banners in their front windows to inform the neighborhood and the community that one of their sons or daughters is serving in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces during a time of war or hostility. Each star on the banner represents one soldier or sailor — of course, Mother Goose is proud to fly a banner with two blue stars.

We left the meeting humbled by the patriotic hearts, the faith and the love of these U.S. Marine Corps families. We will return to their next get-together to present Blue Star Banners to these amazing moms and dads. Now it’s time for Mother Goose to get to work. Honk! Time to buy more gold fringe at the JoAnn Fabric Store to glue to my banners.

I buy my banners from the American Legion online store. Then Mother Goose attaches the gold fringe to the banners — it makes them look extra special.

P.S. Do you know of a military family in your neighborhood? Please let them know about this wonderful old tradition. Please visit my Facebook page to see pictures of Blue Star Banners in the windows as well as pictures of our many friends’ sons and daughters in the service. Feel free to “like” our page if you are so inclined and share it with your friends. And, of course, please continue to pray for the troops — until they’re all safely back home with their families.

Biker Goose

This past weekend, Mother Goose attended a local festival, Rockin’ for the Troops, a fantastic fundraiser for the organization Operation Support our Troops — America. Beside “manning” (or goosing) the exhibit table in the Expo Tent on behalf of the Blue Star Banner tradition, we also enjoyed many different aspects of the festival.

What’s a festival without an inflatable airman?

There were many bands on the stage Saturday, but one of the most wonderful was a group out of Chicago known as The Voice. They perform mostly classic Motown hits, and they do it with a great passion!

The Voice in their peach-flavored, nice-tailored suits. These guys were HOT!

And, of course, headlining the concert was the Lt. Dan Band, featuring Gary Sinise. This cover band is so wonderful — Gary takes them on USO tours around the world to entertain the troops in harm’s way. I believe he said they had been out on eleven tours this year already. Gary has a GREAT patriotic heart, and is involved in so many ways making life better for the troops and veterans, including his own Gary Sinise foundation and Operation Iraqi Children.

Of course, Mother Goose could not get close enough to him to honk “I love you, Gary!” in his ear, but the nice people at Wikipedia have let me borrow this picture of Gary taken a couple years ago in Chicago.

One heckuva patriot, Gary Sinise…

One of the biggest thrills for Mother Goose was about midway through the evening when the Wild Fire Chapter of Villa Park came riding into the park — you could hear the sweet roar of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and see the crowd rise to their feet in salute for these fun people. Bikers are actually really nice folks. And with the natural shift in demographics these days, most bikers are actually the same age as Mother Goose — some older, some younger, but mostly they are people just like us! Seriously! Here are some pictures of some awesome bikes:

As far as the eye could see…

So much shiny chrome, it burned the eyes of the goose.

This bike was painted to honor the memory of 9/11. It was breathtaking in person, and stopped us in our tracks.

Port side view of the 9/11 bike. Or maybe it’s the starboard side? I don’t know, I’m only a goose, not a sailor…

Certainly you are asking yourself, “Why is Mother Goose so intensely interested in bikers and Harley-Davidson motorcycles?”

Mother Goose and Brother Goose

Maybe it’s in my genes…

Biker Goose is done puffing up her patriotic feathers for now. God bless our brave troops!

Mother Goose Rocks the Expo Tent

Mother Goose had the great joy and privilege of attending the 7th Annual Rockin’ for the Troops festival yesterday at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL. This family-friendly event is the primary fundraiser for Operation Support our Troops — America, a great patriotic organization that has been packing boxes of supplies and goodies and sending them overseas to our men and women in harm’s way. Headlining the concert was Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band. WOW!

You are probably thinking that Mother Goose spent the day with Gary. Perhaps you are wondering if I was on the stage singing with the Lt. Dan Band. Maybe you’d like to see a picture of Mother Goose dancing with Mr. Sinise…

Well, I’m sorry to report I don’t have any pictures of any of those circumstances.

But it was still a rockin’ good time!

We arrived at the park early on in the hot sunny day as representatives of Blue Star Banners. We were ushered into the Expo Tent with our boxes of supplies and our brochures and our banners and our balloons and our basket of candies. We quickly set up our exhibit — concert goers and curious tent crawlers were already milling around to see what sort of goodies might be available for free.

Just a little background on the Blue Star Banner…originally designed and implemented during WWI and seen in windows ever since, the service flag has a blue star on a field of white to symbolize a member of the family serving in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Mother Goose, of course, has a banner with two blue stars representing her sons, Adam and Erik, who serve in the U.S. Navy. I have a deep burning desire to see these banners displayed in the windows of homes across our communities and nation.

Sometimes we Americans forget that we are at war and that our precious sons and daughters, our brave husbands and wives are making sacrifices each and everyday around the globe to protect our freedom here. Hence, the banner in the window serves as a reminder to the neighborhood that freedom is never free. In our society, military families are often invisible until there is a tragedy in the news. The Blue Star Banner gives recognition to military families because they deserve to be known for their daily sacrifice, and hopefully never need to replace a blue star with a gold star, the ultimate sacrifice.

So here are some photos of your friend, Mother Goose, honking and flapping about Blue Star Banners at the Expo Tent at Rockin’ for the Troops!

How wonderful that our exhibit table was right next to the industrial fan! I didn’t mind at all…

How much patriotism can one goose display?

I met so many nice folks and chatted happily about banners until I was hoarse. America is filled with GREAT people, and I think I met most of them at the Expo Tent.

I made many new friends, and got face-to-face greetings and hugs from many people I have only known from afar ala facebook and email. By the way, have you been to the Blue Star Banner page on Facebook? It’s a really neat virtual place to see banners hanging in the windows AND faces of the men and women we call our Heroes. Please click on the little box over there on the right and you’ll end up in Blue Star Banner land. You can even “like” us if you’re feelin’ it…

Mother Goose wants to tell you all about the concert itself, but let’s just stop here for now.

I learned last night that one of the servicemen who was tragically killed in Aurora on Friday was a local sailor. Please bow your heads today and pray for the family and friends of Petty Officer John T. Larimer of Crystal Lake, Illinois. This is a sad time for America — please be kind to the people in your circles today. Love, Mother Goose

Another Fallen Soldier

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

— Mary Elizabeth Frye (1932)

We got news this morning that another Marine in our Chicago Metro area has been killed in action in Afghanistan.

Corporal Alex Martinez USMC

Alex is the second Marine we’ve lost in a month’s time. Corporal Conner Lowry was returned to his family on March 9th. His mother was presented with a Gold Star Banner and a prayer shawl by the president of our local chapter of Blue Star Mothers. And now, Mrs. Julianna Martinez, the wife of Corporal Alex Martinez will be presented with the same.

It breaks my heart.

Since my sons joined the U.S. Navy last year, I pay more attention to the war. I sadly and shamefully confess that until my boys left for boot camp, I gave little thought to our soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. America’s been at war, and I’ve been at the mall. Like other Americans, I’ve complained about the cost of the war and the futility of peace in these Middle East nations. I prayed general prayers for the safety of the troops. But it’s never really personal until it’s your own family or friend who leaves in defense of freedom.

Now my days are different. I spend hours each and every day, coordinating the dissemination of Blue Star Banners. I lie awake in the early hours of the day, thinking of new ways to elevate the awareness of this old tradition. I look for banners in the windows of the homes in our town.

I write letters to my sons to keep them informed about family activities, never letting on that I worry about them as deployment day draws nearer and nearer. And my tears fall every time there’s bad news from the Department of Defense.

Now I have friends whose sons and daughters face mortal danger each and every day. Now I pray for soldiers, airmen and sailors by name because the war is very personal to us.

Nobody wants to support this war — but everybody should support the families of the men and women who have been called to serve in the Armed Forces. Find a way to make this war personal. Adopt a soldier. Buy them a cup of coffee through Green Beans Coffee. Pick a soldier from our Blue Star Banners facebook page and commit to pray for him or her. If you know of a military family who is expecting a baby, please tell them about Operation: Shower — we want to bless these Mamas!

I hope you’ll find joy and peace in your Easter celebration this weekend if you are a Christian. If you’re Jewish, God bless your Passover celebration. If you’re someone who just loves bunnies and candy and spring flowers, that’s all good too. But if you think of it, please pray for the family of Corporal Alex Martinez. Love, Natalie

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