Category Archives: Military

“Miss you to Pieces” deployment book and a GIVEAWAY! Happy Veterans Day!!

(From Carol: I have been involved with my neighborhood summer swim league for a few years and I have met some of the most amazing people who live right here in my neighborhood through the swim team.  One of them is Donna Purkey, who is an award winning author!!  She has a husband and two beautiful children L and R.  She wrote a book for children to help them deal with a parent on a military deployment.  It is a WONDERFUL book , and I encourage you all to purchase a copy for yourselves, or a military family you may know.  I am certain it will help with the anxiety of a parent being deployed!  For Veterans Day 2013 I want to honor Donna, her husband Keith and their children by letting you all share in Donna’s story. AND a GIVEAWAY!!!!)

Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone has a dream to follow. For me, telling my story was following my dream. I have always been a writer and I’ve always enjoyed writing. I am probably one of the few people in the world who still has a pen-pal (since 1988!) and we actually write letters to each other – you know, the “old-fashioned way”. But, that is a topic for a completely different blog post! It has been a life-long dream of mine to write and publish a book, and here’s my story!

I am a Navy wife and mother of two young children. I am also a teacher and a writer. I’d venture to say that I am following my dreams, but to be honest, I never dreamed of marrying a sailor and living the military lifestyle! It just happened…and I am so glad it did! Our children are our greatest gifts and it is because of them that I was inspired to write what has become an award-winning book!

Purkey family: R., Keith, Donna, and L.

Purkey family: R., Keith, Donna, and L.

A few years ago, my husband deployed (which he often does). My children were only two and three years old and I wasn’t really sure how the deployment was affecting them. We used a variety of activities to keep Dad a part of our lives and I had to believe they were making a difference. But, to be honest, I despised the never ending paper chain. It was a visual reminder of how much longer we had to wait. The length was depressing.And, we were counting backwards which was ridiculous because my kids couldn’t even count forward. We did, however, love our “Flat Daddy” – a life sized photo board of my husband (from the waist up).  He mostly hung out in the living room, and my kids often tried to feed him, kiss him, hug him, etc. He even joined us for Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house and it was a huge hit!

The following year, my husband deployed – again! This time, we had “Dad pillows” and we filled a jar with chocolate kisses so the kids could have “a kiss from Dad” each day. Well, that didn’t work. What kid is happy with ONE piece of chocolate? It was such a tease. And, my kids couldn’t understand why Dad would only give them ONE kiss each day? I quickly lost interest in this idea. It just wasn’t working for us. We needed something else. Something more meaningful. Something more creative.

That’s when I came up with the project that became the inspiration for my award-winning* book, “Miss You to Pieces – A Deployment Story and Project Idea for Kids.”

miss you to pieces

“Miss You to Pieces” is the story of a young boy, Riley, whose dad deploys for six months and the unique puzzle project that his mom (that’s me!) introduces to help Riley count the days until his dad’s return. Simply put, the puzzle project involves adding one piece of the puzzle each day (two pieces on some days!) and when the puzzle is complete, Dad will be home. There’s a little more to it though……

Throughout the story, Riley experiences the normal range of emotions that kids often feel during deployment. But, he grows, just as his puzzle grows, and he comes to realize his mom was right, “The days are like puzzle pieces – some are more exciting than others. But each piece is important because it helps the puzzle grow. And, each day is important because it helps you grow bigger, smarter and stronger!” The story reassures kids that their emotions (like Riley’s) are normal and temporary. And, the puzzle project offers a fun and meaningful way to count the days while providing a daily opportunity to talk and keep the family connected.

As I mentioned, the story is based on my family and our experiences with deployment, but it is undoubtedly a story that most military families can relate to. The puzzle project is something we have done (more than once) and it’s not only fun, it provides us a special time each night. While my kids are looking for the puzzle piece they need (they are numbered on the back by the way!), we talk about Dad, our feelings, our day, whatever!  We connect as a family and we strengthen our family bond. We build ourselves as we build our puzzles. And we stay connected just as our puzzle pieces stay connected. 

I mention that my story is geared towards military families but I’d like to add that ANY family that experiences temporary separation – or any family that is “counting the days” to a special event – can be touched by the story and inspired by the puzzle project. In addition, it’s an excellent teaching tool to illustrate the sacrifices of military families!

To conclude, I’ve told my story and in doing so, I’ve followed my dream of writing a book. But, to be honest, writing my book wasn’t really about me. My intention in writing the book was to share our project idea so that it would provide other families with a fun and meaningful project to not only count the days of a deployment, but to create an opportunity to connect with each other. I also wanted to show kids that their feelings are real and normal. Riley’s example is both comforting and encouraging to children who are experiencing the emotional roller coaster that is common during deployments. 

I truly hope that my readers will create their own puzzle projects and so I’ve included “Tips for creating your own puzzle project” at the end of the book. And, the tips are good, but you’ll have to read them for yourself!

donna at school

*”Miss You to Pieces” has recently been awarded Honorable Mention and a Five Star rating from Readers’ Favorite 2013 Annual Book Award Contest.

 Donna Purkey, mother, author, teacher, speaker, has been married to her husband since 2003. She lives in Suffolk, VA with her family and enjoys sharing her story with schools, Family Readiness Groups, MOPS, etc. Autographed copies are available through her directly. She may be contacted directly at

donna book award

GIVEAWAY CONTEST:  Donna is giving away one signed copy of her book to a lucky winner.  Here are the rules for the contest:

1) Like the “Miss you to Pieces ” Facebook page
2) Write a comment on this blog about why you like Donna’s idea for her book, or share your own deployment story, or one of a friend or family you know.
YOU MUST complete both steps to be entered once.
To be entered twice you need to share this blog post on your facebook page or Twitter.  Please include your FB page or Twitter name so we can confirm!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!!!


My 15 minutes of fame

I recently wrote a post about Sequestration and how it was going to affect my family.  I wrote the post in the middle of February as Bluebell and I were just finding out about the furlough and how many days it could be.  We were crunching the numbers to figure out what we could do to change our budget in such a way that would allow us to stay as close to our lifestyle as we were able to and still absorb the loss of $800.00 per month or what we thought would be about 12% of our monthly income.

This post was syndicated on BlogHer, and I was thrilled.    Then I made a  comment on a story written in the Huffington Post and to my surprise I received an email from one of their reporters asking if he could call me and talk to me about how Sequestration was going to affect our family.

We talked on the phone and then to my surprise he asked if he could drive down from Washington DC to visit with us and interview us for a story.  I was thrilled.  I am just an average lady, and this made me feel like a movie star.  A reporter coming to talk to us?  We are just average everyday people trying to raise a family and live our lives as well as we can.

We agreed for him to come talk with us, and he drove on down.  When we answered the doorbell, a very nice young man named Arthur Delaney came in and talked with us about Sequestration and how it will affect us.  He asked intelligent questions, and seemed very interested in what we had to say.  We talked about our kids, and our lives.  We showed him our plans to make our garden bigger this year so we can be more self sustaining.

All in all we had a pleasant time with him.  We learned a bit about him as well.  Our kids came home just at the time that we were through talking and after he saw our boys he could tell why we were so concerned about our grocery budget shrinking.

After Arthur left and headed back to DC Bluebell and I had a good feeling about the story he would write, yet we were anxious as well.  Did he “get” us?  Did he understand our concerns?  Did he understand that we weren’t complaining? That we know we are blessed, but that we are concerned because we have to  tighten our belts?

A big part of the story, in my opinion, is how thousands of workers in the Hampton Roads area are going to be furloughed at the same time.  If we have to tighten our belts, then they probably do as well.  And if thousands of people are tightening their belts at the same time, it can have a devastating effect on our local economy.  THAT was the story I wanted Arthur to write, and crossed my fingers that he had understood.

A few days later Arthur called me and told me the story was being published the next day.  So on Saturday March 30th , I took a deep breath and opened the link to the story.  I read it, and immediately thought Arthur had done a great job.  He had understood that we feel blessed, that we know others are worse off then we are.  He “got” the bigger picture of the impact sequestration will have on the Hampton Roads economy.  He had spoken with a professor from Old Dominion University and gotten his take on the affect sequestration would have on Hampton Roads as well.  I called Bluebell and told her to read the article.  She did and liked it also. So I was excited about the article.  Then something happened that I didn’t expect.

The comments started.  I suppose I should have expected it, but so many people had such negative and to be honest, even downright  mean things to say.  I tried and tried to just turn the other cheek and not engage any of the comments, but I finally buckled to my own internal pressure.  I made a few replies of my own.  Of course the people who were just being nasty I ignored, but the ones who had apparently completely missed the point I replied to.  And the ones who had read the article with intelligence and had UNDERSTOOD the point I applauded.  After a few back and forths with a couple of commenters I realized that no matter how much I tried to reason with them and tried to get them to see the big picture to the Hampton Roads economy, they just weren’t going to hear me.  They just wanted to be mean.


All in all, even with the nasty comments, and mean people, I am glad we were able to share our story with a larger audience.  Not for ourselves, but so people understand how a small effect can have a larger ripple effect when it happens to thousands of people in the same community at the same time.

So now I have had my 15 minutes of fame, and I am okay if I never have any more.  Although it was cool, and I enjoyed it, I am not sure that my ego could take anymore mean people telling me I am stupid for not just putting toe molding on my floor.  Seriously, read the comments for yourselves…..  They COMPLETELY missed the point.

Big shout out to Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post.  He was professional, classy, smart and respectful!  He has a lifetime fan in me!

How Sequestration will negatively affect my family.

I tend to lean towards the left when I am discussing social issues, and tend to lean more towards the right when discussing fiscal issues, but right now I am leaning towards disgust with both sides.

I am not extremely politically savvy.  I don’t understand all of the subtle nuances of the budget, debt ceiling, deficit reduction etc.  I read about it, but to be honest it seems to me there is a lack of nonpartisan articles out there.  Some have their viewpoint (Democrat) and says the Republicans suck.  Others have their viewpoint (Republican) and says President Obama and the Democrats suck.   The list of partisan websites goes on and on.  However, I have yet to read an article that blames them ALL.  THAT is what I want.  Something that gives me just the facts.  So after reading and reading I have come up with what seems to me to be the facts.

We are in terrible debt.  Our economy is a mess and we keep spending money.  We spend too much on Medicare and Social Security.  Medicare, Medicaid and entitlements are in bad need of reforms.  The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.  I was in favor of the richest of the rich paying higher taxes.  Not because I am jealous, but because if I was in their shoes, I would be okay with giving more to help those who have less.  I can only assume that others share the same ideals I do.  I can’t be the only one.

I am also okay with getting rid of loopholes for oil companies and super wealthy Americans.  That is a revenue.  I suppose it is a “tax increase” as the Republicans tout it, but in my mind it really isn’t so much an increase as it is a “fairness meter” to level the playing field a bit.

Okay, so all of that being said, I understand that President Obama originally put the Sequester before Congress.  I believe he was using it as a bluff.  I don’t think he thought that the Congress would let it happen.  Quote from CBS “The $1.2 trillion sequester cuts, which were initially set to kick in on Jan. 1, emerged out of Congress’ 2011 budget negotiations. Congress agreed that if a congressional “supercommittee” couldn’t come up with an acceptable deficit reduction plan, Congress would just slash $1.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years — half coming from defense spending and half from non-defense. The cuts were designed to be so drastic that Republicans and Democrats would be compelled to craft an alternate, bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction.”

So that tells me the sequester was agreed on by EVERYONE.  Now we are 10 days out from the sequester happening and Congress is on a week vacation.  Seriously???  WTF???

If the Sequester happens thousands of Civil Service workers will be forced to take a 22 day furlough.  That is 22 days off without pay.  In order to make this forced pay cut more manageable for families instead of 22 days off in a row without pay, each worker will have one unpaid day off per week, or 4 unpaid days per month. Unfortunately for us Bluebell is a Civil Service Worker.  She will get 22 days off without pay.

This is a BIG deal.  I know for my family that means a loss of over $600.00 per month in income. That is A LOT of money to remove from a family budget.

That basically equals 1.5 of my paychecks, so I am working for free for three weeks!

We recently had a family meeting and talked to the boys about what was going on and if the furlough happens what it will mean for our family.  It means No eating out.  No hot school lunches. They have to pack every day.  It means no more allowance, a timer for showers (10 minutes only) and a serious reduction in our grocery bill.  No more snacks, just basic necessities.  No more hair appointments for me, back to coloring my hair with a bottle. If the furlough extends for any length of time, it means no Boy Scout summer camp this year, no summer swim league, no family weekend camping trips and possibly no graduation celebration for our High School graduate. It means I have to work every Saturday to try and bring in extra income.  It also means we have to use our income tax refunds to pay bills.  No extras this year.  This may not seem like a big deal to y’all, but it is a big change for our family lifestyle. The total loss of income to my family will be over $4000.00.  That money has to be absorbed elsewhere in my budget because the mortgage needs to be paid.  We need water and electricity and heat.  There may be extremely limited air conditioning this summer. That is not pretty in Southeastern Virginia.

I have to say I was very proud of our boys, because when we had this meeting there was not ONE single complaint out of any of them.  In fact, they asked what they could do to help out the family.  That was a very proud mama moment for me.

Congress, and the President could learn a lesson from my boys.  My boys could teach them that when times are tough we rally together and pitch in to make it work.  We compromise and reach a deal that everybody can settle on.  These are values Bluebell and I taught our boys when they were in Kindergarten.  Maybe Congress and the President need to spend some time in Kindergarten to relearn how to compromise and get along.

There are thousands of families that will be affected here in Virginia.  If every family has to tighten up the way we will, I wonder how long it will be before local businesses are affected??  The economy on this area will no longer be inching up, but will come to a screaming standstill.

I don’t lay all of the blame on the President’s doorstep.  Nor do I blame only Congress. I blame them all.  I have decided I am making it my personal mission to email and/or call EVERY Congressperson, Senator and the President to ask them why they feel it is okay to make American families suffer financial consequences such as these.  I am also going to ask them why THEY do not have to receive furlough.  They are Federal employees also.  Why are they above suffering along with their constituents?

I urge you all to join me in asking our Representatives these questions.  They need to know the American people are not happy.  Many people will agree with me, but I wonder how many will actually take the time to contact them.  If you are willing ti put your money (pun intended) where your mouth is, here is a list of all the United States Congressional Representatives with phone numbers.  If you click on their name you go to their website where you can get their email addresses.  Here is a list of Senators.  And the White House.

I am starting my email campaign today.  Will you join me?