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My marriage has had a turbulent start to say the least. Six days after our wedding, my husband had to report to Fort Hood while I stayed behind for a month for the packers and movers. After a blissful 4-5 months together, he was gone to Fort Irwin for his month-long training. Our son was born two months later. Two weeks after that he had deployed to South Korea for their 9 month rotation.
That first year was rough. I know of many military marriages that start out with the same predicaments, and some even worse. Here I was, 7 hours away from my immediate family and friends, with a two-week old and a three-year old, and my husband half of a world away. My emotions were all over the place, but the one thing that really kept my mind in a good place was assembling care packages to send to my soldier. I wrote about my experience here in My First Deployment As An Army Spouse.
Today I’m going to share with you some of the packages I put together with my kids. Let it be noted that this was also a way to help our three-year old daughter feel closer to daddy. Every package, she made a picture to send with the care package, along with a kiss blown into each one.
We tried to send one every two weeks, although sometimes that didn’t always happen. We mostly used the large flat rate boxes from USPS. In fact, you can order these on their website specially made for care packages, along with some other great resources here. Don’t forget to correctly fill out your custom’s form before you get to the post office for faster service. Here’s a link to From Cadet Life to Army Wife’s great post about how to fill out those pesky forms correctly.
1. Father’s Day
This was the first holiday without dad. To let him know the level of how much he was missed already, I traced each of our hands, and used ink for the babies hand and put those on each flap. In reality there wasn’t a box big enough to express how much we missed him! So this had to do. Here’s what we included:
- His beloved baseball cap that he forgot
- His favorite snacks such as golden raisins and a monster Slim Jim
- Our son’s hospital bracelet that he intended on taking and forgot as well
- This Daddy’s Tie printable from KiKi & Company that he could wear to the Father’s Day Brunch he was attending that morning.
- This free World’s Best Dad printable bookmark from Handmade in the Heartland
- Bourbon Bacon Brittle from What Molly Made
- We put the brittle in mason jars and added these Printable Father’s Day Labels from Lia Griffith
With every care package I also put our son’s hand prints so that he could see his growth each month.
2. Fourth of July
This was one of the hardest one’s for myself. We had went to a parade with another army wife and her kid’s. Seeing all of those soldiers, and all of the patriotism surrounding this day, it was impossible for me to not think about how proud I am of my soldier and how dearly I missed him.
This day also created a very dear memory to me. I allowed my daughter to stay up late to watch the post fireworks from our driveway. This was the first time we had one on one quality time together, just the two of us, since her baby brother had been born. Us girl’s, out there together, having time alone with each other watching fireworks was a night that I will always cherish.
Care package contents included:
- Red White and Blue glow stick bracelets and glasses (he was going to a USO concert that night, so I thought those would fun to wear 😉 )
- His favorite ranch style beans (can’t have a BBQ without the ranch style beans!)
- Firework Sugar Cookies from Mom Dot
- This printable with some lyrics from “Chicken Fried” from the blog My Red Door Designs
- I taped it all up of course with American Flag Duct Tape
3. Opposite Part’s of the World
The time in South Korea is 13 hours ahead of Texas. When I was waking up he was settling down for bed. So goodnight to him was good morning to me, and that’s what the theme of this care package was. For this one, my daughter glued cotton balls on the morning side to create clouds, and stars on the night side. Inside this care package was:
- A coffee maker (the one in his barracks room didn’t work)
- His favorite coffee by Kicking Horse
- Soft and Chewy Lemon cookies (seriously the best lemon cookies I’ve ever had) from Averie Cooks
4. The Mashup
September is one of the busiest months for our family. We have our anniversary, our daughters birthday three days after my husband’s and the start of football season (go Steeler’s!). I dedicated a flap to each one, with my daughter decorating her birthday one herself (can you guess which one that is?)
This care package includes:
- A couple of plates, napkins, and cups from baby girls Paw Patrol themed birthday
- Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction
- Some of his uniforms (this was when they switched over to the scorpion camouflage)
- These really cool rapid cookers (ramen and mac) he could use with his barracks room microwave
- By this point I realized footprints were easier to get than hand prints, so I made the switch. I also added developments baby was making.
5. Gaming essentials
There were a couple I didn’t grab pictures of. When I sent his Xbox One, I made the flaps green and added a whole bunch of “achievements” with this template to make your own achievements from The Sack. A quick reminder that if you send something valuable like this to make sure you have:
- the products serial numbers
- get insurance on the package
- make sure the post office knows it’s fragile
- pack it with a ridiculous amount of padding to ensure a safe arrival
I hope these inspired you in your care package assembling! What are some fun things you have done when sending a care package? Comment below, tag me on twitter @gracethaneblog, or on facebook @graceandthane.