Emotional Lifecycle of Deployment

Several of my friends are sending their husbands off on deployments this month, which of course leads to much reflection for all of us. Each time one of us goes through this, I think we all go through it just a little too, even if it’s not our turn. (See a post from Mrs. Woods when my last deployment began. She explains it well, and nearly brings tears to my eyes as I read it one year later.)

Deployments bring with them so many emotional challenges, and we often talk about whether this feeling or that feeling is “normal.” Well, just a reminder to those of you embarking on this winding journey, it’s all normal no matter how crazy it may seem.

I created this infographic for a class last year about the emotional lifecycle of deployment for military spouses. Hopefully someone who is getting ready for, in, or completing a deployment might find it useful.

P.S.  Check out my friend’s new photography blog, Confessions of a Sisterwife, which she created as a way to use art to help get through deployment. Her photography is gorgeous.


Anatomy of a Care Package

Depending on the situation of the Marine or soldier on the receiving end, the contents of a good care package should vary. However, a good care package does have some basic anatomy no matter where your Marine or soldier is or the standard of living that he or she enjoys (or despises, depending!).

care package anatomy

care package anatomy

The Anatomy, Explained:
(ie. items your care package can include)

  • Toiletries (a.k.a. hygiene gear)
    – razors, soap, shampoo, baby wipes
  • Pictures
    – of family, friends, pets, etc.
  • Letters and cards
    – and drawings from children, nieces or nephews are good!
  • Snacks (any favorites go here)
    – I try to keep these relatively healthy: peanut-butter pretzels, popcorn, nuts …
  • Food
    – only really needed if the diet consists of MREs; include canned soup, fruit, easy-mac, etc
  • Reading material (favorite magazines, books)
  • Entertainment (other than reading material: movies, games, music, whoopee cushions!)
  • Goodies from home
    baked goods in jars!
  • Something humorous. Use your imagination here.  (I sent several toy animals that grow in water. Apparently they are very entertaining.)

The one thing that I think tops the list for a good care package: personalize it! The one pictured above was an anniversary package, and you’ll see that I decorated the sides of the box with “Happy Anniversary” and included items that go along with the theme – the book, The Five Love Languages, a CD of our favorite songs, an anniversary card). And, check out an older post about a birthday-themed package too.

If you have any ideas to add, please share!

And PS: Happy Birthday Marine Corps!!

A Birthday in a Box

My husband’s birthday rolled around last week, but since he is currently serving overseas I couldn’t spend it with him.  Have no fear though – I created a Birthday in a Box to send him!

Birthday in a Box

Birthday in a Box, ready to go!

Yep, all the birthday fixin’s in the standard care package box shipped direct to Afghanistan. I have to admit, I was very proud of my accomplishment! And I was thrilled when he received it the day before his birthday so he could open it on his actual birthday, but wasn’t tempted before! (That part was pure luck – I was worried that it wouldn’t arrive on time.)In case you have someone somewhere who needs a Birthday in a Box, here is how I put it together:

First, the Cake
No birthday is complete without birthday cake. I am into baking lately and have wanted to try my hand at red velvet cake. The problem is, no birthday cake is going to last the weeks it takes to get to a base in Afghanistan. The solution: cakes in a jar. You bake the cake in the jars, attach the lids, and they seal right up. I sent six jars so he could share with friends and kept one for myself so I could see what jar cake tastes like three and a half weeks later – it was surprisingly delicious!

Here is a great tutorial on baking jar cakes that a fellow military spouse friend sent me (she sent her husband pumpkin pie in jars for Thanksgiving!).  Note: you do need new jar lids. I love reusing my jars but for this project I just bought new ones.

And in case you too have a hankering for red velvet cake, you can find a yummy recipe here. And yes, you do need that much food coloring. I know, try not to think about it!

Red Velvet Cakes in a Jar

Red Velvet Cakes in a Jar

The Icing
I didn’t even attempt to make and jar this. Thank you, Betty Crocker, for your delicious, nicely packaged cream cheese frosting fit to sit on a shelf or in a box for weeks (or months).

The Cake Accessories
As we all know, no  birthday cake is complete without candles! I sent a pack of candles, and I hope someone lit them for him so he could make a wish.

Jar cakes (bubble-wrapped to travel!), icing, and candles

Jar cakes (bubble-wrapped to travel!), icing, and candles

The Gift
A care package box isn’t very big, so I decided the gift would be waiting for him upon his return instead. I printed out an image of his gift (some tools that he wanted) and placed it in a gift box with a note on top saying that the tools would be in our garage when he gets home.

The Party Participants
Jack and I donned party hats and sent photos so he would know we were celebrating with him. They were placed on the inside of the card announcing his Birthday in a Box.

jack in his party hat

Jack was more interested in the lizard.

I wrapped each jar in bubble-wrap, placed everything else snugly around them, tagged each item with a little note, and the Birthday in a Box was ready to go to Afghanistan!

A Birthday in a Box

Happy Birthday, Keith!