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Care Packages

PCS Care Package

September 20, 2017
PCS Care Package

It’s easy to get stuck in a care package rut: they’re for deployed troops and come in decorated flat rate boxes based on some sort of theme. All of that is 100% true of course, but there are so many other groups who would enjoy a care package! Luckily military spouses don’t have to look too far for another care package recipient: new neighbors. A PCS care package is the perfect way to welcome a new neighbor to the ‘hood.

PCS Care Package Ideas

PCS Care Package

Squeaky clean PCS Care Package

Moving is a chore, am I right? Whether you’re just changing houses or going to another state, the entire process is exhausting. Just when you think that all the work is done, you realize that the previous owners maybe didn’t leave things as clean as you’d like them. So add one more thing to your already packed to-do list!

A great PCS care package for a new neighbor would be a basket (or bucket) of cleaning supplies to help that process along. Everything from tile cleaner to sponges to paper towels help get a new house in squeaky clean shape. Add in a nice scented candle to make it feel homier and you’ve really helped them feel welcome!

Live like a local PCS Care Package

Military families often move to a new home without really knowing a whole lot about the surrounding area. Where the United States of America tells us to go, we go. It doesn’t matter if they have decent Chinese food or a grocery store we’re familiar with. Help them learn the ropes of their new home with a PCS care package full of local area resources.

Menus from local restaurants (and maybe a gift card or two), a guidebook with fun locations and activities for the family and your recommendations for grocery stores, dry cleaners and so on would be great things to add to this care package.

PCS Care Package

Dinner’s covered PCS Care Package

When I move, the first room that has to be unpacked is the kitchen because if I can’t eat a normal meal, I get very cranky. But if you’ve just moved across the country (or to another country), grocery shopping and figuring out what to eat for dinner is probably the last thing on your mind. You can help your new neighbors by showing up with dinner in a basket!

This particular PCS care package has a few different variations: bring the ingredients and a recipe like in the picture, bring something fully prepared that all they need to do is heat or bring a few gift cards to local places so they can choose when to use them.

Or if you want to go super simple: show up with pizza and paper plates. You’ll still meet the new folks and be the hero at dinnertime!

Take a little piece of home with you PCS Care Package

For every new neighbor that arrives, you have to say goodbye to someone you’ve gotten to know pretty well. You can send your neighbor off to their new home with a few pieces of the place they’re leaving behind. A coffee table book with famous scenes from the town (or state) along with a few unique foods are great contents for this PCS care package.

A PCS care package is a great way to welcome new neighbors, something military families have plenty of! Have you ever given or received a PCS care package and what made it great?


Surviving Hard Deployment Days

September 18, 2017

It’s so important to live your best life, no matter what curveballs the military throws at you, including deployment.  It’s why believe so strongly in thriving during deployment, something I work to achieve each time my husband is gone and something I hope to help other military spouses do as well. But let’s be real here, not every day is a “kick butt, take names, be a rockstar at life” kind of day even in the best of circumstances. When you add a deployment into the mix, there are bound to be some hard days.

I don’t talk about hard deployment days that often, not because they don’t happen or because they are not worth sharing. I’ve always tried to look on the positive side of most things, including deployment. That doesn’t really gel with detailing my bad deployment days, but I think only posting the good stuff really gives the wrong impression.

Because no matter how many cute care packages I make, the days are still lonely and the nights are even lonelier. I can tell myself that A will be home soon until I’m blue in the face, but that doesn’t do me a whole lot of good when the dog is sick in the middle of the night. It doesn’t matter how busy I am or how many people I surround myself with, my heart still aches when I remember that my favorite person in the world isn’t coming home tonight.

Hard deployment days happen to me probably more often than I would like to admit. Or at least, more often than old me would have wanted to admit. They have a way of taking even the most pulled together, confident people and turning them into big ol’ hot messes. You think that maybe you aren’t cut out for this life. You reach for the wine or the chocolate or maybe you shed a tear or two. You’re not sure you can do this whole deployment thing anymore.

But eventually it’s tomorrow and you get up and get on with it, not because you necessarily want to, but because you have to. Life doesn’t stop because you’re going through a deployment and you can’t stop because you’ve had a hard deployment day. When I remind myself of that, when I force myself to use the little kernel of inner strength I have left, when I put on my big girl panties and just get on with it, that’s when I beat the hard deployment days.

Life doesn't stop because you're going through a deployment and you can't stop because you've had a… Click To Tweet

Deployment is hard; it will always be hard and sometimes that catches up with you in a perfect you-know-what storm of awful. It happens to all of us, whether we’re on deployment #1 or deployment #21. But you can survive them and get back to thriving during deployment. In the end, you are stronger than even the hardest of deployment days. Remember that.

Do you have hard deployment days? How do you survive them?

Care Packages

Anniversary Pun Care Package

September 13, 2017
Anniversary Pun Care Package

Some of you may remember that last month A and I celebrated our five year dating anniversary. Well technically, we’re waiting to celebrate it because A is currently deployed, but I made sure he was still feeling the love thanks to my anniversary pun care package.

Even before A left, I knew that I wanted this box to be food themed, mainly because there are so many cute food puns out there! I chose four of my favorites and started cutting out all the pieces. This is probably the most labor intensive box I’ve sent him so far because each flap had multiple layers, but the end result is so worth it!

Anniversary Pun Care Package

I picked a dark blue as the background for this anniversary pun care package so that everything would pop against it. Plus dark blue is my husband’s favorite color so I couldn’t really go wrong! This was the rare care package that I opted to not wrap all of its contents and instead covered the top with a layer of tissue paper. Truth be told I was running a bit short on time and couldn’t find the right color paper to go with everything. I ended up really liking the blank slate the white tissue paper gave me; it made sure your attention went right to the box’s flaps!

Anniversary Pun Care Package

I packed this box full of goodies, including a microwavable mac and cheese dinner to remind him of our first date, but my favorite was definitely the personalized book I made! I used a company called LoveBook and it could not have been easier! The website has a bunch of pre-made templates, but you can edit them to fit your relationship. I put together a paperback story of our relationship and absolutely loved the way it turned out.  If you haven’t given LoveBook a try, definitely give it a shot. (P.S. this is totally not a sponsored post. I just really loved my book!)

I know I say this a lot, but this anniversary pun care package may be my favorite one yet! I so wish we could have celebrated five years as a couple together, but this care package was a nice placeholder under we can be together again.

Care Packages

Nut Care Package

September 6, 2017
Nut Care Package

There is no one in this world who has the ability to drive me nuts quite like my husband. It’s a good thing he’s cute, huh?! But oddly enough, the things that irritate me when he’s home are some of the first things I miss when he’s gone. Truth be told, even his odd quirks are part of the total package that I love. This realization led me to create this nut care package for him.

Last deployment, I discovered the appeal of the small flat rate boxes and when I was planning out his care packages for this deployment, I knew I wanted to use a few to fill in gaps between larger boxes. I’ve previously sent nut-themed care packages before, but wanted this one to be a little less nutty. The small flat rate box was just perfect!

Nut Care Package

One of the many things I love about small flat rate boxes is that they are so quick and easy to decorate. Don’t get me wrong, I love designing and decorating the bigger boxes, but every once in a while, I want something a bit easier. So I kept this one very simple, even repurposing items from my nut care package in the shop. But I love how it turned out!

The blue paper was really bright and things popped against it really well. The trick to decorating small boxes like this is to decorate all the paper and then glue it to the box. Don’t try to decorate paper after it’s attached to the box. I speak from experience!

Nut Care Package

Then came the easy part: filling it! I always try to send new things and even though it was tiny, my nut care package was not an exception. The OLOMOMO nuts were a complete impulse purchase at World Market just because they were different. It turns out they were a 50-50 hit. The cinnamon-cayenne flavor was not a winner, but the salt and vinegar ones were!

Not a ton fits in a small flat rate box, but I tested a few different content combinations to get the most out of my nut care package’s space. Luckily, a few of the items were squishable and fit into the tight space.

Nut care packages are really fun to put together and could include a lot of different things:

  • Peanut butter
  • Other nut butters – Justin’s nut butters come in individual serving packets that would fit into small spaces.
  • Any mixed nuts or nut snack packs
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • M&Ms, Snickers, Butterfingers, etc.
  • Trail mix – you could try my homemade patriotic trail mix!
  • Nut Exactly snack bites – my husband loves the peanut popcorn ones.

My husband may drive me nuts, but I will always send him care packages. What’s something about your loved one that normally drives you nuts, but that you miss when he/she is gone?


Military Spouses & First Ladies

September 5, 2017

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen my post about First Women by Kate Andersen Brower. I finished up the book late last month and loved it. It offers a really interesting look at modern first ladies, covering everyone from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Readers got to see how each woman handled motherhood, the spotlight and the responsibility of being married to the most powerful man in America.

As I read through each chapter, I couldn’t help but feel a connection to a lot of these ladies, not because I know what it’s like to be the first lady, but rather because I know what it’s like to be a military spouse. The more I read, the more I realized how much military spouses have in common with these well-known, powerful women.

#Militaryspouses have more in common with first ladies thank you would think. Click To Tweet

Both women give up a lot for their spouses’ career. 

As soon as their husband embarks on the campaign trail, the career paths of future first ladies are altered forever. Sometimes they have to give up their own aspirations entirely or face coming to grips with a drastically different version. Oftentimes, they feel that their duties are a bit token and don’t provide the same amount of satisfaction as their career. Military spouses basically face the same challenges. Finding a job (let alone a career) as a military spouse is an uphill battle.

Then when you factor in moving away from home, not seeing their spouse very often and all the other little changes, military spouses and first ladies know all about sacrifice.

Both women recognize their spouse may be in danger because of his job. 

The stories of Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan are real enough to hit close to home for military spouses. Most of the first ladies profiled acknowledged living with a level of fear for their husbands’ safety. They would often kiss their loved one good-bye, not really knowing if they’d see them again. Military spouses do this before every single deployment.

Both women have to go through a significant learning curve when it comes to their husbands’ job. 

First ladies don’t really have any idea of what’s in store for them when they move into the White House and military spouses are oftentimes equally clueless. Both groups have to quickly learn on the job and roll with whatever punches are thrown at them. There isn’t really a manual, but just bits and pieces of advices from those who came before you and your own best judgement.

Both women have to stand up to quite a bit of scrutiny and ideas of what they should be.

A few days ago, there was a quite a bit of media buzz about First Lady Melania Trump’s shoe choice while visiting victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Would anyone give a flying flip if she was just some other person? Probably not. But that’s the cost of being first lady: people suddenly have all sorts of ideas about what you should do and when/how you should do it.

Like it or not, military spouses experience similar attitudes and stereotypes. But gone are the days where both groups embody 1950s housewife ideals. First ladies and military spouses have opinions, dreams and goals and aren’t afraid to share and pursue them.

Both groups of women are some of the most recognized and talked about groups in the country, but unless you’ve been one, most people can’t even begin to understand what their lives are like. After reading this book, I think military spouses should take heart in knowing that the first ladies probably understand them even better than we realize.

Have you ever come across a group of people that you have a lot in common with, even though they seem very different?