Countdowns and Cupcakes.+Add.Feed Info1000FOLLOWERS
I'm Rachel! A Navy wife who's learning the ropes of the military lifestyle one day at a time and sharing it with you all. I'm wife to A, puppy mom to B & R and a frequent crafter, baker and care package maker.
With an unexpected day off from my day job, my husband and I went on a day date: bowling, window shopping and lunch out.
“We used to do so much during the weekends, but we haven’t been as active lately.” My husband said this as we were talking about how much fun we’d had during the day and it struck a chord with me. For about the past year, we hadn’t spent a whole lot of time adventuring together, something that I love doing on the weekends.
Now, all of that being said, my husband and I do spend time together, but with busier professional lives, the weekend excursions have taken a backseat. Usually I am fitting a week’s worth of content creation into a few days while he recovers from a very exhausting week. Granted, we do it while sitting near each other, but it’s just not the same is it? Then when you fit in regular house maintenance, any sort of personal maintenance (like the gym) and regular adult errands (laundry and grocery shopping), there has been a shortage of fun.
That’s what made Saturday so wonderful.
There are a lot of things we both probably SHOULD have been doing, like finishing the yard work or getting ahead on blog posts, but it was nice to put the to-do lists away for a little bit and have some fun.
And that got me thinking: why was this one afternoon so unusual? Isn’t the whole point of working this hard to give ourselves the freedom to enjoy life? Certainly that’s the idea of trying to run my own business and be my own boss, so why is it keeping me from doing things?!
Answer: because I’m letting it. I’ve allowed myself to stop making my personal life a priority and no matter how much butt-kicking I’m doing professionally, I just don’t feel whole when my personal life slips through the cracks. I need to make it a “have to” instead of just a “want to”.
I mentioned on Instagram last week that I felt like I needed to recharge. In reality, I think I needed to reprioritize. Do I have to put out three new blogs posts a week? Probably not. Do I have to launch a new product twice a month? Probably not. Do I need to push my business to grow so hard that I forget to enjoy what I’m doing? Definitely not.
What do I need to do?
I need to workout regularly for my physical health.
I need to soak up the precious time I have with my husband right now.
I need to seek out opportunities for growth, both personally and professionally, but not at the other’s expense.
I need to set limits for my professional endeavors so they do not consume my entire life.
That’s it. When you really narrow down your to-do list into the true have to list, it suddenly doesn’t seem so overwhelming.
So what does that mean for Countdowns and Cupcakes?
It means I’m not going anywhere, just slowing down a bit. There will still be care packages, deployments and dogs (the most important one, clearly). I will still be on social media connecting and engaging with you all. I may post on the blog a little less frequently, but the content I do post will be better and not written at 11 pm when I’m half-asleep. I may not add as many new products each month, but the ones I do add will be the ones I feel really good about!
And most importantly, I will get better at this whole work-life balance thing.
Have you ever had to slow down in one area of your life in order to give much needed attention to another area? How did you do it?
How many of y’all had Valentine’s Day sneak up on them? Yeah, I understand. Even with all the in-your-face advertising, so many folks find themselves scrambling to put together an evening for their significant other. So you come home with some wilted grocery store flowers and that’s the end of it, right? It doesn’t have to be! Even the biggest procrastinator can put together one of these last minute date ideas.
The key with these last minute date ideas is that they don’t need that much planning, but are still impactful. You will likely need to pick up a few items on your way home from work, but these ideas don’t require reservations or tickets. If you aren’t normally a Valentine’s Day rockstar, break out one of these ideas and step up your game.
Last Minute Date Ideas
1. Pop some popcorn, break out the chocolate and have a movie marathon. Choose a theme like romantic comedies, musicals, super heroes or even thrillers and try to pick movies neither of you have seen.
2. Have a super fancy dinner…at home with takeout. Seriously, go all out. Break out tablecloths and candles, the fancy dishes and get dressed to the nines before having pizza or Chinese food.
3. Have a board game night and place a friendly bet on the winner. Try classics like Monopoly and Battleship or new favorites like The Oregon Trail card game or Catchphrase. You could also invite another couple over to up the fun and the stakes.
4. Write and exchange love letters (bonus if you read them out loud to each other). Ok so this one will require a little work on both of your parts, but it’s such a sweet idea that I couldn’t skip it.
5. Candlelit floor picnic. How romantic would this be?! You could eat takeout, make something fancy or just have a regular weeknight dinner. The idea here is to have an indoor picnic full of candlelight (and maybe a glass or two of wine), conversation and together time.
6. Have an at-home chocolate tasting. People are all aboard the wine tasting train and it’s ok, but show me a place where I can try like 12 different kinds of chocolate without judgement and you will have my heart forever. It would so cool to bring home a bunch of different brands and types of chocolate to find your favorite. You can find some variety at the regular grocery store, but I am always impressed with the selection at World Market. They have so many different flavors!
Don’t be a Valentine’s Day dud this year! Even if it’s last minute, you can still put together an evening for you and your significant other that’s fun and unique. Do you have any suggestions for last minute dates? Add them in the comments so all the procrastinators can benefit!
Did you know that St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner? Well, it is if you’re planning a care package; with just under a month to go until March 17, now is the time to get your box decorated and filled. I genuinely like filling holiday care packages because you usually have so many more options that fit your theme. Plus you get to flex your creative muscles when it comes to translating holiday favorites to care package-friendly contents.
St. Patrick’s Day care package contents
Food: food is a go-to for most care packages and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. The good thing about holiday care packages is that most major companies produce packaging or products to fit the holiday. Products like Goldfish, Pringles and M&Ms all release St. Patrick’s Day products that fit your care package perfectly.
Other food items that fit a St. Patrick’s Day theme include just about anything with green packaging; things like gum, certain candies and Emerald nuts all come with green packages. Skittles (taste the rainbow) and Lucky Charms are also great care package additions for St. Patrick’s Day because they relate to the holiday.
While everyone thinks of alcohol, specifically beer, with St. Patrick’s Day, you know you can’t ship alcohol so it’s time to get creative! These Guinness-flavored products (fudge, chips and BBQ sauce) are a fun way to add a little extra Irish flair to your care package. You could you also look for Irish whiskey flavored items, like this fudge. As a word of caution, fudge will likely melt if temperatures are too high so definitely consider all of your options.
I also love the idea of putting together little mini care packages for your loved one to share with co-workers. These rainbow tubes are really cute and easy to put together. The only concern here would be the chocolate melting during shipping, but depending on where you’re shipping them and how long it will take, you may be ok.
Clothing: there is a whole market of clothing just for St. Patrick’s Day, so your choices are almost unlimited. I selected these two items because they’re the most versatile. Most of the time your loved one will wear their uniform while deployed so having a bunch of holiday clothing may not be the most useful. The socks and t-shirt (which also comes in a “luckiest mom” version) below could easily be worn beyond just St. Patrick’s Day. The t-shirt could be so fun if you were letting your significant other know that you’re expecting right around the holiday!
Toiletries: for some reason, a lot of toiletries (especially those targeted to men) come in green packages. Irish Spring products have the perfect packaging for this theme as does Dove. Some brands (and flavors) of mouthwash are also green. If you’re looking for something a little more obviously St. Patty’s Day, there are some really cute shamrock soaps on Etsy.
Greeting cards: odds are you sent a greeting card in your Valentine’s Day care package, but why not send one in this one too? They make some really cute (and sometimes slightly inappropriate) ones on Etsy that I’ve linked below, but don’t feel like you have to buy one! You could easily make one yourself with some card stock, markers and stickers. This is also a great way to get your little ones involved in putting together this care package.
Other items: part of the fun of a holiday care package is that you get to send holiday-themed items and I found some really cute ones for St. Patrick’s Day. My favorite has to be the coffee mug. Even though alcohol is a no-no, my husband basically lives on coffee when he’s deployed so this mug would be a funny addition. I also like the idea of sending a drink container that keeps things cold or hot, especially if it fits the theme. The tumbler below is really cute, but maybe not something your loved one would use every day. A green Hydroflask water bottle is a great alternative for year-round use. I can personally vouch for what a good job they do of keeping my drinks cold. You could also send lottery tickets as a fun extra!
Whether you’re sending food or sassy greeting cards, there are tons of great products to send in your St. Patrick’s Day care package! Don’t forget that my St. Patrick’s Day care package design is on sale now; order yours before they sell out!
Want even more care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.
When you’re not in a relationship (or if you’re a military spouse separated from your loved one) it can feel like there’s nothing for you on Valentine’s Day. I beg to differ. If celebrating with a significant other isn’t an option, you should celebrate all the other people you love! There are ways to share the love with family, co-workers and neighbors, but the most popular non-romantic Valentine’s date has to be friends. Luckily there are so many wonderful Galentine’s Day ideas that will have you and your best friends feeling the love on the 14th!
My husband and I have spent a lot of Valentine’s Days apart throughout our relationship and I’ve always been lucky enough to celebrate with some fantastic friends. While it won’t take the sting out of missing my husband entirely, celebrating Galentine’s Day certainly puts some of the fun back into the day.
The key to any of these Galentine’s Day ideas is that they’re fun and different from the normal Valentine’s Day romantic activities. Ultimately, just about any activity can work for Galentine’s Day as long as it’s something you and your friends enjoy. You could even combine some of these ideas and make a whole day (or evening) of it.
Galentine’s Day Ideas
Take a class
I’ve found the best way to avoid focusing on missing my husband is to try something new that’s just for me. If you add in a friend or two, that makes it even better. Class ideas include cooking, painting, pottery, workout, photography or wine tasting. If you opt for that last one, definitely plan to take a cab or have a designated driver!
Have a fancy donut date
And I mean super fancy: try one with funky toppings and unique flavors. Sit in the donut shop, savor your treat and enjoy the conversation. You could also do the same thing at a coffee shop, ice cream store or bakery. The point here is to treat yourself and slow down long enough to enjoy it.
Do something physical
If you’re feeling down about not spending Valentine’s Day with a significant other, you may really want to spend all your time on the sofa, watching Netflix and eating candy. But I don’t think you should, instead get a Galentine and get moving! Go for a run, take a nice long walk, take a yoga class or try rock climbing. Not only will it keep you from wallowing, but you may even enjoy yourself.
Have a spa night
Spa days are popular Valentine’s Day gift ideas, but turning it into a spa night makes it great for Galentine’s Day. After the day is over and the little ones are in bed, give yourself a little pampering. An at-home manicure, pedicure or facial are all nice Galentine’s Day ideas, even if you do it solo and FaceTime with friends!
Don’t act your age
I think when women reach a certain age, we make ourselves a list of things we’re “too old for” and it’s not always fair. So in honor of Galentine’s Day, think of things you enjoyed when you were and do them again! Maybe it’s having a slumber party complete with staying up too late and laughing too hard. Maybe it’s going roller skating and rocking out to all the top 40 hits. Maybe it’s eating dessert for dinner. Whatever it is that you think you’re too old to do, go for it and drag your friends along with you. Let yourself go for just a little bit and you’ll be amazed at how much fun you actual have.
Valentine’s Day may be marketed towards couples, but it can still be fun if you’re flying solo. Hopefully these Galentine’s Day ideas have gotten you excited about celebrating a different kind of love on the 14th!
I know spring and summer tend to get all the date attention with their warm weather and outdoor activities, but winter deserves more credit! The cozy blankets, warm fires and the romance of snowy nights are truly the makings of a picture-perfect date. If you’re willing to get creative, you can come up with so many fun winter date ideas!
A lot of winter date ideas focus on the holidays or snow day activities, but let’s be honest, that only covers a small portion of the winter season. There are so many winter dates that aren’t holiday-themed or snow-dependent, even a few that you can do outside! The key to a good winter date (or any date for that matter) is lots of time spent together so ultimately it’s important to do something you both will enjoy.
Winter Date Ideas
Living room camp out
Drag all of the blankets, pillows and sofa cushions into the living room and set up camp for the night. Watch movies, eat snacks and snuggle by the fireplace. This is a great, low-key date idea that won’t break the bank and still allow you to reconnect. You can also add in little ones fairly easily.
While you’re camped out on the living room floor, you’re going to need something to watch. Pick a TV series or set of movies on Netflix or AmazonPrime and binge watch all night long! Some recent favorites from my house: Psych, Bones, Downton Abbey or The Crown.
Ok so maybe this one does involve snow a little bit, but you can also find indoor ice skating rinks. Follow up your best pairs skating routine (or frequent falls) with a little hot chocolate (or adult beverage) and you’ve got a great date.
Watch a sunrise/sunset
Sunrise and sunset watching have long been a date staple and this doesn’t change during the winter. With the shorter days of winter, you won’t even have to get up too early to catch a sunrise!
Board game tournament
This idea will be better if it’s a group date and a few couples participate. Pick games that aren’t too complicated and involve a lot of group participation. Options like Cards Against Humanity and Catchphrase will be sure to bring out the laughs. The Oregon Trail Card Game is also a good option, especially for those of us who played the computer game as children.
Visit a museum
Museums are great additions to your list of winter date ideas because they aren’t weather dependent. Plus you’ll walk away having learned something during your date which is always nice. Admission varies on museum topic and location, but many are free or offer discounted tickets for students or military.
Go indoor rock climbing
Winter date ideas don’t all have to be inside and involve snuggling! This is a great time to try an indoor activity like rock climbing. It’s fun, gets your blood pumping and is something you can both learn together.
Go see a play
You don’t have to travel to New York City to see great theater. Most major cities play host to traveling plays throughout the year and the winter is a great time to see one! If ticket costs are a bit too high for your budget, consider going to a matinee instead. Same performance, cheaper tickets. Colleges and universities also frequently put on plays (or have traveling productions stop there) and those tickets are usually VERY reasonably priced.
Theme dinner night
One of my favorite winter date ideas is cooking with my husband, especially if it’s a new dish. You could totally have a theme-dinner night (think Italian, French or even nostalgic comfort food) and make the cooking part of the fun.
Go to an arcade
Arcades are not just for teenagers. Places like Dave & Buster’s are more and more popular among adults, especially since they have adult-only hours and serve alcohol. Plan to eat and drink as you try to win as many tickets or points as possible. Surprise your loved one with a prize you won for a fun keepsake!
Bowling sounds a little cheesy when it come to date nights, but it can actually be fun! Make it a contest and have the loser buy dinner or drinks.
There are so many great causes out there in need of donated time and talent. Choosing an organization that appeals to you both and spending a day giving back is a unique twist on the date night concept.
Test your teamwork at an escape room
I think my husband and I are going to give this one a shot! These escape rooms are all the rage right now and can be a bit pricey, but seem like a blast. This is also a fun group outing idea for multiple couples or even single friends to join you.
Rent a cabin and have a romantic weekend getaway
This is probably the ultimate (and priciest) winter date idea on my list, but it should definitely stay on your list. A weekend getaway is kind of like two or three weeks worth of dates combined into one outing and it can be really refreshing! Check sites like Groupon Getaways for deals that can make it much more affordable.
Share your winter date ideas in the comments below! For more date ideas, check out some of my other blog posts!
Raise your hand if Netflix has judged you with its “Are you still watching?” message during a binge-watching session? Yeah, me too. On lazy weekends, my husband and I often lose a few hours (or more) to a new addicting series. As boring as it may seem from the outside, those weekends are some of my favorites and have inspired my newest movie care package design.
I’ve written before about date night care packages, including ideas for a movie care package, and love the concept of sending them during a deployment. Being separated by timezones and distance does not mean you need to stop dating your loved one, even if the date changes a bit in concept.
This movie care package not only works for a deployment date night, but it also gives a little hint at date nights to look forward to at home. The bottom paper features a bold red and black color scheme along with a little bit of sass to put a smile on your loved one’s face. I don’t often combine fonts, but like the contrast between the block and script fonts.
The four flaps feature shimmery black paper and movie-going must-haves. The soda, film reel and popcorn bucket feature multiple layers of paper to make them as authentic as possible. My favorite is definitely the popcorn bucket and the individual popcorn kernels. I love the way it turned out!
Another one of my favorite features is the movie tickets that I’ve customized a bit so they fit a deployment care package.
You could include a wide variety of items in this movie care package including popcorn, popcorn seasoning, other movie snacks, movies, soundtrack CDs and entertainment magazines. It could be a lot of fun to watch the movie together (if you can manage to find a strong enough internet signal, almost as if you’re together.
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.
Hi, I’m Beth! I’m a business woman, Army wife, dog mom, CrossFit Coach, fitness enthusiast, lover of food, wine, travel and good laughs. My life motto is: “Travel. Eat. Talk. Be Kind. Be Fit. Be Open”
What inspired you to start your blog or business?
Moving every few years stateside I was able to re-start my career. Sure, I was frustrated that every move meant my career was basically starting over but at least I was able to maintain my professional identity. When we were given orders overseas and I was forced to quit a remote job due to the SOFA, I. Was. Devastated. Before receiving these orders, I had finally found a job with a fortune 500 company that could ‘be done from the moon’ said the hiring manager. FINALLY! We could PCS all over America and I would not have to start over!! Unfortunately, neither of us took into account the possibility of an OCONUS PCS and what the SOFA might do to that employment status. After being overseas for just over a year and struggling to find my identity I found ServingTalent, they had just launched and were looking for help getting off the ground. They were a full-service staffing agency for professional military and foreign service spouses. Their story was identical to mine! Two spouses with advanced degrees and years of experience finding themselves unemployed after an overseas move.
As a founding member we have fought every day to share the tremendous value that military and foreign service spouses bring to the workforce. More and more employers are coming around and agree with our assessment that military spouses truly are an untapped resource!
What’s the main message you hope your blog shares with your readers?
There are so many ways to answer this. Military spouses looking to get your career back, don’t sell yourself short! Put yourself out there, meet people, and spend time on your resume, ask for help our community is more than willing to help their own.
What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?
The spouse community! Hands down! The most diverse, helpful, accepting, funny, and resourceful group of people you will ever meet! Other military spouses get you, I promise. If you haven’t connected with those around you yet give it time, this community is filled with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
Tell us a little bit about your journey as a military spouse-the ups and downs, lessons learned, etc.
I came into the military life with absolutely zero exposure to the military. No one in my immediate family was in the military, we had no military bases around my hometown. My husband is 3rd generation military with his father and grandfather serving in the military. We dated for several years before marrying and our careers were treated like ‘civilians’ treat their careers. They were things we spoke to each other about but we were not involved in each other’s daily work life. Shortly after marrying, quitting my job, and moving I was thrust into an FRG Leader position for his unit that was deploying. Knowing nothing about the military other than the course I just completed to hold this volunteer position I was lost and so confused as to why me, as a civilian and his spouse, was now part of his work day, in a small way…it was so foreign to me.
This was my first experience with how amazing the spouse community is. A tenured spouse took me under her wing and helped explain all of the things I didn’t understand. She was my rock throughout my first few years and first few deployments. Now, 11 years later I see how coming at this military life as a team in some ways is necessary. When I say team, I mean taking the time to understand what this life is about, we are faced with constant changes and things that are out of our control. Once I took time to understand how the process works, or in some cases doesn’t work, we were approaching this life as a team rather than a couple with separate careers.
What’s the number one piece of advice you would give a new military spouse?
Be prepared to be unprepared! If you can master that line of thinking, you will be unstoppable in this journey! This lifestyle can throw a lot at you: some of it in your favor, some not, some making total sense and some complete nonsense. The more that you can prepare yourself to be completely unprepared, the better you will be at tackling all of this uncertainty like a champ!
What or who has been the biggest help or source of support to you in your role as a military spouse?
My husband has been patient beyond measure. From the early days when I questioned EVERYTHING and didn’t understand anything to now when I still question EVERYTHING out of frustration.
There have been a few ‘senior spouses’ that have set examples in more ways than one. Not only have they shown me how to successfully navigate this life, they have been amazing friends and demonstrated just how important grace and humility are. The larger spouse community has been outstanding: from that first tenured spouse that helped out the struggling new girl, to the incredible volunteers that have pulled together some pretty amazing feats, to the good-natured friends I have made along the way.
Do you have a favorite place the military has taken you? What is it and why?
Germany! We were stationed in Vilseck for about 3 years. Even though we went through a 9-month deployment and a few months of trainings in eastern Europe we were able to travel and see so much of Europe. My eyes were opened to so many new things about culture, food, living, governing, and more. We could grab the dog and jump on a train or hop in the car and be in a new country with a different language and amazing food in a matter of hours. We made some amazing friends.
Just for fun:
Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? Riverdale (I have Korean Netflix which has limited variety.)
What’s your favorite hobby? CrossFit, travel, cooking, eating
Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla with cinnamon
Tell us a random fact about yourself. I auditioned for The Apprentice in 2007 and made it through 2 rounds before falling flat on my face during an on-camera interview.
What a great profile from Beth this month! I think her story of finding a career and a place overseas is very inspiring and timely as so many folks are finding out where they’ll PCS in the spring/summer. I can relate to her story so much, especially as I’m faced with an upcoming PCS and significant career change. You can find her on the ServingTalent website, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Need care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.
You’ve said some variation of these exact same sentences at least once, but probably even more often than that. You didn’t mean anything negative by it. You actually did it without thinking. You don’t even realize that you’ve belittled yourself.
But you did.
When you say you’re “just a military spouse,” you end the sentence before adding “and I work a full-time job and I’m getting a master’s degree and I manage to balance all of those things with taking care of kids/house/life while my spouse serves the nation.”
That’s a lot more impressive, isn’t it? It’s also more accurate.
But when you say you’re just that or you just do this, you don’t keep going and when you don’t keep going, you sell yourself short. When you say you’re “just” something, it leaves no room for all of the other amazing, wonderful things you are or do.
I too am guilty of selling myself short, usually in a misguided attempt to be modest or deferential to someone else’s accomplishments. But when you think about it, that’s absurd. I can be humble, modest and in awe of someone else for all their kick butt moments and still be dang proud of my own.
So in 2018, I’ve given up the word “just”; I quit it cold turkey. Moving forward I will remember that I am a sum of many parts and seek to acknowledge all of them. It will be tough some days, especially as my husband’s career forces me to adjust and reevaluate my own. But no matter what, I’m worth a full explanation.
And so are you.
Join me in making 2018 the year of the full explanation. Stop selling yourself short because you feel like it’s something you SHOULD do. Stop saying that you’re “just” anything.
Give me your full explanation in the comments so I can get to know you better!
“Rachel, it’s only January. We haven’t even had Valentine’s Day yet. What the heck are you doing talking about St. Patrick’s Day?”
And ordinarily, I would agree with you, but when you operate in the care package world you have to think ahead! Shipping a care package overseas can take anywhere from 7 days to 3 weeks so planning a month in advance is really a necessity.
“But Rachel, everything in the store is still pink and heart-shaped. I can’t put together a St. Patrick’s Day box yet!”
I took a lot of inspiration from our recently trip to Ireland for this care package set. Even though we went in November, everything was so vibrant and green. Everywhere we went the grass was picture perfect. My husband, who is in charge of the lawn here at home, couldn’t get over it! There’s even a Johnny Cash song called “Forty Shades of Green” all about their landscape. After our visit, I totally get why.
I knew this care package needed to have as many shades of green as possible, and while I wasn’t able to get 40 in there, I got quite a few!
The bottom of the box incorporates at least three shades of green all by itself. As soon as I found the mini shamrock paper, I knew that it needed to be the bottom of the box. I loved the green-on-green and since I knew the overall design was going to be heavy on shamrocks, it fit perfectly.
A holiday care package designed by yours truly isn’t complete until there is at least one play on words in the design. Well this one has two! The first is the green text on the bottom paper. Instead of “I wish you”, it’s “Irish you,” get it? I know, it’s a little cheesy, but it was too good to pass up.
For the flaps, I chose a much brighter green as the background. It’s actually almost the exact same shade of green as the mini shamrocks in the bottom paper. Here is where I went a little crazy. I added a second play on words and used glitter paper for the text.
Eeek! I know, glitter seems to be the kryptonite to almost everyone out there (including my husband), but I love it and it’s very festive. Luckily this paper doesn’t shed glitter as easily as some other papers do so I think you can get away with sending it. I like the simplicity of the flaps because they really allow the theme to pop.
This St. Patty’s Day care package may only cover four shades of green, but your loved one’s co-workers will be green with envy watching him/her open it. You can purchase it right now in my Etsy shop for $15 with free shipping! The sooner you order, the faster it will ship and you can get started filling your box with all sorts of goodies.
If you’re stuck on ideas for contents, don’t worry! All of my care package flaps come with a card listing out content ideas. I will also have a blog post all about what to put in a St. Patrick’s Day care package later next month.
Want even more care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.
This country has been at war for more than a decade and a half. When you write it out, it kind of blows your mind doesn’t it? For more than 15 years, military families have endured multiple deployments, unspeakable loss and the hardships of a decade plus of ups and downs. How do families survive that? Kristine Schellhass tackles that exact question in her memoir, 15 Years of War.
I have the privilege of meeting Kristine at the 2017 Military Influencer Conference and immensely enjoyed hearing her presentation on self-publishing. After hearing all that she went through to get her book out there, I knew I needed to read it myself. Luckily, Santa brought it my way for Christmas after seeing it on my military spouse-created gift guide.
Summary: Less than 1% of our nation will ever serve in our armed forces, leaving many to wonder what life is really like for military families.
He answers the call of duty in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Pacific; she keeps the home fires burning. Worlds apart, and in the face of indescribable grief, their relationship is pushed to the limits.
15 Years of War: How the Longest War in U.S. History Affected a Military Family in Love, Loss, and the Cost Of Service provides a unique he said/she said perspective on coping with war in modern-day America. It reveals a true account of how a dedicated Marine and his equally committed spouse faced unfathomable challenges and achieved triumph, from the days just before 9/11 through 15 years of training workups, deployments, and other separations.
This story of faith, love, and resilience offers insight into how a decade and a half of war has redefined what it means to be a military family.
My thoughts: Sometimes you are lucky enough to find a book that just gets you. This is one of those books for me.
I can relate to Kristine’s story so much that it might as well be my own. Oh wait, large chunks of it really could be! She perfectly captures what it’s like to a military spouse in the middle of a never-ending cycle of deployments and TDYs all while trying to keep any shred of normalcy going on at home. It’s heart-wrenchingly difficult and the only thing that keeps you going are the wonderful times in between. She does a wonderful job of sharing both the highs and lows of military life.
I love that the book told the story from both her and her husband’s perspectives. As hard as life can be for military spouses, it’s important for us to remember that our spouses aren’t exactly on vacation. My husband, like many service members, doesn’t really like talking about what happens during a deployment (or even during a normal day at work) so reading her husband’s perspective was eye-opening for me. I imagine this will be the case for most readers, whether you’re a civilian or a military spouse.
If I had to pick just one word to describe this book it would be real. Kristine doesn’t sugarcoat anything and really lets the reader into the darkest corners of her life and marriage. I appreciate that as both a reader and a fellow military spouse. She gives the world a realistic glimpse of what military families have been through over the past 15+ years and that’s so important.
No matter what your affiliation is to the military, you will find the story captivating and powerful. Without hesitation, I recommend adding this book to your reading list!