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Care Packages

“Reasons I Love You” Care Package

July 12, 2017

If you’re anything like me, you probably tell your husband that you love him a lot. But what I don’t do as often is tell my husband WHY I love him. I often think it in the moment, but then something happens or a I get distracted and rarely share it with him. And frankly that’s a shame. Who doesn’t like hearing why someone else finds them awesome?

So when it came time to put together A’s travel care package, I knew immediately that reasons I love him would be the perfect theme. I found a small white box at Michael’s to hold all of my notes. I gathered all of my cute Post-Its and pens and got writing.

At first I thought writing more than all of these notes would be hard, but as soon as I started, the ideas started flowing.  Before I knew it, my little box was full of reasons I loved my husband.

This was quite possibly the easiest care package I’ve ever put together, mainly because there are so many reasons I love my husband! But seriously, this is a really quick way to make a big impact on your loved one; you can even have little ones or other family members contribute notes. I put in a few reasons from Ruger and B. You can make it as simple or complicated as you’d like, making it very budget friendly.

This would be a great thing to include in an anniversary care package or even give to someone as their anniversary present. If you really wanted to take things up a notch, you could write each reason on the back of a photo. Just like the reasons you love someone, the ideas for this care package are endless.

If you like this post, I’d love it if you heart it on Bloglovin’ or pin it on Pinterest.

Books Military

Under the Sabers Reflection

July 6, 2017

Earlier this year, I set the goal of reading more books by and for military spouses and finally made it to my third one! I was initially drawn to Under the Sabers partially because of the sensational backstory and because it was set at Ft. Bragg, where we’re stationed. I was prepared for something very similar to Home Fires Burning, and in some ways that is exactly what I got, but in others the two books couldn’t have been more different.

Summary: “In the summer of 2002, Army wives were in the headlines after Biank, a military reporter for the Fayetteville Observer, made international news when she broke the story about four Army wives who were brutally murdered by their husbands in the span of six weeks at Fort Bragg, an Army post that is home to the Green Berets, Airborne paratroopers, and Delta Force commandos. By that autumn, Biank, an Army brat herself, realized the still untold story of Army wives lay in the ashes of that tragic and sensationalized summer. She knew the truth—wives were the backbone of the Army. They were strong—not helpless—and deserved more than the sugarcoating that often accompanied their stories in the media.

Under the Sabers tells the story of four typical Army wives, who, in a flash, find themselves neck-deep in extraordinary circumstances that ultimately force them to redefine who they are as women and Army wives. In this fascinating and meticulously researched account, Biank takes the reader past the Army’s gates, where everyone has a role to play, rules are followed, discipline is expected, perfection praised, and perception often overrides reality. Biank explores what happens when real life collides with Army convention.”

It’s hard to profile individuals and accurately portray the wide variety of human nature, but Biank did a fairly decent job of selecting diverse women to follow. Rita is the newest Army wife and while at first she struggles to find her place in the both the community and her marriage, I think her story is possibly the most compelling because of how she contradicts so many stereotypes.  Delores and Andrea Cory’s husbands are high ranking and they are so ingrained in the military lifestyle that it’s hard to imagine them existing outside the Ft. Bragg bubble. But then they both go through unspeakable tragedy and have to reexamine everything they though they were.  And last, but certainly not least, is Andrea Floyd, one of the four Army wives murdered by their husbands in just six weeks. But her story is even more complex than a simple newspaper headline would lead you to believe.

Each wife presents an interesting look at a slice of Army life, and more broadly military life in general. But what frustrates me the most is that taken individually, each story doesn’t do the entire military spouse community justice. The sensational stories are the ones that make for entertaining reading: the affairs, the abuse, the death. I understand that’s compelling entertainment for the average person, but it’s still so stereotypical! For every military spouse living a Lifetime movie, there is another military spouse living a completely normal and boring life (or as boring as you can get in the military) without any of the dramatic bits. Frankly, I wish those stories were told more often.

Overall the book was a compelling read and for someone outside the military, it’s probably pretty educational, or at least seems that way. But for those of us living it every single day, I thought it was a bit dramatic and didn’t really touch on the coping skills or mechanisms necessary to get through this life.  If a new military spouse picks up this book looking for tips, I think he/she will walk away disappointed and perhaps a bit overwhelmed with worry.

Have you read Under the Sabers? What were your thoughts? Do you feel that portrayals of military spouses lean towards the overly dramatic or stereotypical?

Care Packages

Mini July 4th Care Package

July 5, 2017
Mini July 4th Care Pacakge

Happy 5th of July, y’all! Hopefully you all had a wonderful day with your family and friends. I know things were quiet around here yesterday, but I’d like to think that I’m making it up to you today by sharing my mini July 4th care package.  I had to get creative with this care package since it would be traveling with A instead of getting shipped to him.

I’ve done mini care packages before and really like how they pack so much fun into such a tiny package. The challenge is of course finding items that fit into mini care packages.  This July 4th care package gave me a very tough time because the box was so tiny and almost every July 4th item I found was too large to fit.

Mini July 4th Care Package

I did find peanut butter cups and Hershey’s kisses that were festively wrapped so they worked perfectly in my July 4th care package. I also squished a red, white and blue drink koozie in the bottom of the box. But I wanted to send something more than just candy and a koozie. So I kept shopping and got a little creative.

And that’s how my patriotic trail mix was created! I combined yogurt-covered craisins, yogurt-covered blueberries, regular craisins, cashews, banana chips and red, white and blue M&Ms.  I packaged it in plastic baggies and jammed a very solid portion into the box.

I capped off my mini July 4th care package with some cute stars cutouts (left over from previous care packages) and a little message. While this care package isn’t as extravagant as many of my others, I think it still gets the job done while not taking up a lot of space.

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Lindsay from Uplifting Anchor

July 3, 2017

There are so many amazing military spouses out there kicking butt on a daily basis that deserve to be recognized and I’m excited to feature one of them each month with my Military Spouse Profile series. If you’re interested in sharing your story (or know someone who might), please send me an email!

Introduce yourself to my readers! Tell us a little bit about who you are.

Hello, I’m Lindsay. I am a military spouse and the mother to one rambunctious toddler girl. Our family loves to travel and we’ve taken our suitcases all over the world. I find solace in writing, hearing the hum of my sewing machine, and getting lost in good books. I thrive on random living room dance parties and cooking up something comforting. I believe in supporting and strengthening the community we are in.

What inspired you to start blogging?

My first year of motherhood was incredibly humbling. My husband was deployed for my entire pregnancy, making it home just in time for the birth, and then deployed again when our daughter was only 3 months old.

We had faced deployments before, but never with a child. I felt lost, tired, unhappy, and hopeless. My daughter and I were miles from family, so I spent a great deal of time building a mom/military spouse support system.

That system expanded far and wide. I was impacted by other strong women that raised me up in a time of great need. The internet and the home base support that was built around me showed me how positive leaning into others can be. I want to continue encouraging those that walk a similar journey, and so a year after my daughter turned one, the blog was born!

What’s the main message you hope your blog shares with your readers?

Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses. Readers should know that they are ALWAYS ENOUGH.

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

I have three favorites: travel, experiences, and community. We’ve seen an incredible amount of the world. My experience as a spouse has shaped me as a person. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I am also a person that has a hard time asking for help- but when I have needed it, our community knows how to rally for one another.

Tell us a little bit about your journey as a military spouse-the ups and downs, lessons learned, etc.

This could be an entire book! My husband and I have known one another since we were 17. The first plane ride I ever took was to see him graduate from boot camp. I then broke up with him because I did not want to be a military spouse. Even then, I knew only a small fraction of the sacrifices this lifestyle would entail. However, love won out. My heart could love no other. So here we are- almost nine years married and twelve years into his career.

We’ve moved four times, lived overseas three times, faced five deployments, and seen more than ten countries together. My down times have come when the sacrifices we’ve made have tested our marriage and challenged me personally and professionally. I’ve put the term “choose happiness” to the test. I firmly believe that we do have to choose and work for our own happiness, it does not just come.

My downs are also my ups, because each down has catapulted me through a great challenge and change. I can see the good on the other side of a dark time.

Moving overseas is always a roller coaster of emotions, and we have done it a lot! I would consider the times we’ve been overseas my greatest downs and ups as a spouse. I face a big choice during these times: to choose to make the best of it. When I make a positive choice, I can enjoy the adventure despite being far from family, American culture, and normal comforts.

I am grateful that I can make home wherever we are. I’m proud that I’ve found a way to keep a sense of self during this time. I’m also extremely proud of our marriage.

What’s the number one piece of advice you would give a new military spouse?

Do not shy away from educating yourself, knowing your resources, and getting help. I wasted many years (and so much effort!) in military spouse denial. The support you need is out there- please seek it.

What or who has been the biggest help or source of support to you in your role as a military spouse?

  1. My family and friends are very supportive of our journey. We do not get to see extended family very often, but both set of parents, even into their mid-sixties, are so adventurous! I take heart knowing they will get on a plane to get to where we are. They’ve also answered countless defeated deployment phone calls, sent care packages, and just been the booster seats I’ve needed to get through tough times.
  2. I would also like to note that author/speaker/counselor Corie Weathers changed our lives. Her book Sacred Spaces lifted our marriage out of a hard time, and we make a point to listen to her podcast each month. It re-centers us.
  3. My own husband and our communication. Even in the hardest of times, we hang tight and lean in together. We are far from perfect, but he supports me and knows my heart.

Do you have a favorite place the military has taken you? What is it and why?

Seoul, S. Korea- that overseas tour was amazing. We lived there two years and it solidified us as a couple. We only had each other and we saw all that the city had to offer. I was able to start my own dance program there. We made life-long friends, and I will always look back on that time with great fondness. It was an adventure of a lifetime.

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? The Crown!
  • What’s your favorite hobby? I love to embroider and quilt
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate: always and forever. 
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. I was a dancer on Carnival Cruise Lines

Many thanks to Lindsay for sharing her story! I love Lindsay’s mission to show her readers that they are always enough! I think that’s probably something that we all struggle with, but it may be a bit harder for military spouses, especially when the military comes first so often. You can find Lindsay on her blog, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Care Packages

Care Package Freebies

June 28, 2017
Care package freebies

Care packages can get downright expensive. Between the contents, the decorations and the shipping, the total can really start adding up. While there are plenty of ways to save money on care packages, I think we can all agree that the best way is to get things for free. Luckily, there are quite a few companies and organizations that offer care package freebies to military personnel.

Where to find care package freebies

Hershey’s: Hershey’s support of the military dates back to WWII when they worked to create heat-resistant chocolate to add to troops’ rations. And now they want to send a little chocolate to your loved one! You’ll need to fill out the online application and they will ship something out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Chick-fil-A: many fellow military spouses have had success in getting local stores to donate care package freebies just by asking the manager. Sauces from Chick-fil-A and similar stores seem to be a popular choice and one that stores are very willing to donate.

StarKist Tuna: the company will send pouch tuna products to deployed troops with overseas addresses. You will need to email consumeraffairs@starkist.com with your request, as well as your loved one’s name and full address. These care package freebies will be mailed directly to the service member.

Dunkin’ Donuts: I don’t know about y’all but my husband runs on coffee when he’s deployed, so why not make it Dunkin’? You can enter your service member into a monthly lottery to win an entire case of coffee here.

Books for Soldiers: in my opinion, this may be the coolest of all the care package freebies. Troops can request a free book by filling out the online form. And it’s not just books! Volunteers donate CDs, DVDs and games that can be sent overseas.

Treat the Troops: if you’re looking to send your loved one something that’s homemade, Treat the Troops cookie donation may be just the way to go. Since 1990, the entirely volunteer-driven group has shipped out over 5 million cookies. You can request a package of cookies here.

These are just a few of the many opportunities to score care package freebies, but don’t overlook opportunities right in your backyard. So many people are willing to donate to folks in the armed forces that you could easily fill multiple care packages with donated items from friends and family.

Where have you found care package freebies?

Disclaimer: I have not taken advantage of any of these care package freebies, but am basing my recommendations off word of mouth from other military spouses.