I got this idea from Playful Learning. Mariah has a ton of great ideas in her book and at her site. She has quite a knack for designing spaces for children (I love love love looking this as well so I end up spending way too much time looking at all her great ideas).
Before I invited O to join me, I drew a big heart for O and for myself on separate sheets of thick water color paper. I drew a few stick figures and wrote simple words that O is beginning to recognize (daddy, O, Jesus, family, etc).
After the quick prep I invited O over to the counter and told her I was making a picture of what it in my heart. I explained that things that I love are in my heart, and that it could be people or special toys, or feelings. I used the fine tip sharpies we have, so O was thrilled she got to use 'the fancy markers.'
As I was drawing, I briefly mentioned some things I was making, but I tried to be quiet so O could concentrate.
O made some very detailed pictures of her daddy when he was a baby, her daddy when he is grown up, two butterflies, and Jesus. After she finished the drawing, I handed her some water colors and asked her to paint the picture.
She proceeded to cover up every detail she drew with dark colors. After she finished, I asked why she chose those colors. Her response? "My heart feels black. My heart is sad, mommy. I miss my daddy."
It breaks my heart. Only about 40 days until we can see him graduate basic, but then he will be gone again for 12 more weeks. Oh me oh my.