Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The D Word

So your spouse came home today from work earlier than normal. For the first time in your marriage you couldn't completely read him/her. S/he looked sad yet strong. Looked frightened yet excited. Oh-oh. This was it. You had talked about the D word before, but it was all what-ifs. How often would the kids get to see him/her, at least on Skype. How often could they call?  What do we do about birthdays and Christmas? Who's going to mow the yard and shovel the snow from now on? That dreaded D word in now in YOUR house. And it's real. Your spouse is deploying.

The first section of this post deals with things the service member can to do make things easier on the family.

1.) Hire a gardener. Set up reoccurring visits. YOU, the service member, need to do this or at least let the spouse know she/he can and should. Often we think as the spouse we can handle it all, and the truth is, we can. We just shouldn't have to. Oh your friends said they'd help? Perfect! For that one tiny time they do and barely make  a dent in those weeds on the side of the house. The truth is people have good intentions, but they have lives too. And you'll be gone for months if not a year. Who wants to mow your yard for free for all that time? Dude, even your best friend wouldn't keep up that commitment.

2.) Put in fresh remote batteries before you leave. There will be one night where she's struggled with 2, 3, 4 however many kids you have (I have one, and I STRUGGLE), and she will finally have them all bathed, brushed, and asleep by 9:30. She NEEDS to watch her show now that she recorded. Why won't the dang clicker just work? Tears. You get it now, right?

3.) Exchange the propane tank on the BBQ for a new one, unless it's barely used. But if over a year old, just exchange, those things leak too. While we're on it, I'm about to blow your mind. Still have the batteries from the remote? Good. You need them for a self lighting BBQ. No joke. Hundreds of BBQs are put on Craigslist each year over....a double A battery. So change that too. Unscrew the ignition button and pop a new bad boy in there.

4.) So you still aren't sold on hiring a gardener? Fine whatever. Then at least get your girl some weed-eating string (yes, you go buy a three pack of self feeding string-- you did leave a self feeding weed eater right?), and make sure she has a full gasoline jug for the mower. Ok while we're talking about gasoline, let's talk about cars. Go prepay her oil changes. Yep, at our local Toyota dealership, we can get  a package of three changes for a discounted rate when we prepay.

5.) The next few items are for the kids. Order a Daddy Doll or a hug-able doll from Operation Give a Hug. You can also make one at Build a Bear, if they have the camos in stock (ACU's...). Our has a record-able message from Dad.

6.) The USO where you're (the soldier) going probably has a program called United Through Reading. They will record you reading a book and send the video and book to your child. You just need to make an appt, show up, and read. My son loves these!

7.) Have a countdown that kids can see. We made a castle. Each block represents a month of the deployment. Each week, we take away one block. Our castle now only has two floors when once it had three!

8.) Have a pick me up. We have a bowl of HUGs and KISSES chocolate candies. When we need a hug or a kiss we take one. Warning, store these up high or your kids with hug and kiss themselves sick.

9.) Leave notes of encouragement for your spouse. You could write letters and title them "when you need encouragement," "when you're overwhelmed," "when you're lonely." And write a note inside to address the future sadness and loneliness all spouses feel during a deployment. Write notes to older children too. "When you don't like going to school," "when you're arguing with Mom or feel like she doesn't understand you."

10.) This next idea is for the kids. Use hot glue (or school glue but it takes 8 hours to dry) on cardboard to write your children a little note. They then place white paper over it and create a rub art form of your note. This can also be done by writing (press hard) with white crayon on white paper. Kids then water color over to reveal your message.

11.) Change the filters on everything in the house. The humidifier, heater, ice and water fridge filter, that pitcher of water in the fridge--everything that has a filter...change it. Replace appliance light bulbs--dryer, microwave over the range light, and hard to read bulbs (that means your 15 foot high chandelier in the foyer). While you're up there, dust that thing :)

Oh look what happened about a month after writing this? 

12.) Finally, set a clock up with the current time. Because um, the 1/2 hr thing is just dumb. But we want to know and you want us to quit asking, "So what time is it there?"

What can we at home do for our soldier?

1.) Care packages! What do they like? Well you won't fit in the box, but they still can enjoy a few treats from home. I haven't tried sending baked goods yet, but Google "cake in a jar," & "deployment cookies." Some things my soldier likes are magazines (fitness, cars, science, you must keep it clean folks!), gum, hard candy, gummy candy, chewy candy, jerky, books that I just read. He likes to see the creases and bends where I held the book. It gives us more to connect about besides talking about the day to day. He also appreciates deodorant (the PX there doesn't have "his brand."). I also sent him a blanket because he was cold at night. A friend sent her spouse a pillow. Bags of nuts and trail mixes are welcomes. Protein bars are appreciated. And here's my number one care package tip!

Send a sick box. Your soldier at some point will get the runs, a cold, the flu, a tummy ache, and ear ache, etc. Sent one box loaded with the goods s/he needs to feel better. Think of it like a mini medicine cabinet .
Another great tip? Prepare your postage online (yes, you can fill out a customs  declaration online). You'll save about $1.50, and they'll even pick it up from your porch if you schedule a pick up. Don't forget to save your soldier's address for easy 5 minute prep next time for your postage label.

The BIG thing right now is decorating the box (yea, the box they're just going to throw away). So here are my noble attempts with some duct tape:

2.) Send cards and postcards every week if not more frequently.

3.) Send crafts and creative ways to show you love them and are missing them. Pinterest is your best friend for this. 

Well good luck to you! Deployments don't last forever, but they certainly do suck while you're in the midst of them. Be blessed. Take it one day at a time.

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