Archives for posts with tag: care packages

I’ve been missing Brooks like crazy. I’m thinking it’s primarily for three reasons.

1. I’m madly in love, and can’t help it.

2. It’s been two months and reality is setting in.

3. Laying around injured gives you too much time to think.

I’d like to think point number one is the most important, but really… if you allow yourself to dwell too much on the “I’m so madly in love I can’t live without him” bit, guess what? You’ll find yourself madly in love feeling like you can’t possibly exist a minute without him. That’s not too conducive to a year long deployment. After a few weeks you might end up crazed with all the longing and missing, and pretty sad and depressed, possibly bitter and angry. It’s not a pretty sight.

So as much as I love Brooks I try not to dwell so much on it (which is really, really hard – but doable). Staying busy is key because if you’re busy chances are you’ll be too exhausted to dwell on things.

Recovering from this surgery has really thrown me for a loop. I’ve had way too much time on my hands to think, and coupled with the fact that we’re at the two month mark, the reality of the whole thing has been hitting me hard.

So I was thrilled when my friend Dalia said she’d pick The Boy and I up for lunch and then come back with us to help me clean my patio. Getting out of the house these days is such a treat, and spending time with Dalia is always fun, so I was super excited! And then, and then, afterwards, Dalia took it upon herself to clean my patio. It looked so nice by the time she was done. I was so happy because I’ve been wanting to go outside and enjoy the yard with The Boy but it’s gotten so ugly out there with pollen everywhere and leaves and these little fuzzy long things. So yay for a clean yard and amazing friends!

After Dalia left The Boy and I worked on some art projects.

I’ve been wanting to tackle some stuff with BB for a few days now but with him being sick it was out of the question.

We have his basketball photos laying around waiting to be mailed out to loved ones. I thought it would be nice to include a small art piece from Little B. I saw a neat playdough flower print activity on this blog: http://thechocolatemuffintree.blogspot.com/2011/03/modeling-clay-stamped-flowers.html

The premise is that you take playdough, make a flower on a flattened piece, and use that as a stamp to make prints. Too cute!

This is how we tackled it:

First, as I was searching for paper in the art supply closet I spied about a bazillion (alright, slightly less) white paper lunch bags. I figured I could take two and cut them to size to create small pieces of art that would fit inside an envelope.

And, since we were in dire need of playdough, we also made up a new batch. Here’s the link for that:¬†http://tinkerlab.com/2011/03/rainbow-play-dough/

Playdough making was fun, and Little B, as usual, asked if he could taste it because it smelled so good. We’ve been down this road countless times. He always tastes it, he always says it’s good, then ten seconds later starts gagging. That whole process happened again. I just sat back and watched it unfold.

In the Chocolate Muffin Tree blog the blogger wrote that her daughter took a small ball of dough, flattened it, and drew her design with a toothpick. I decided that using a flat disk of playdough would be difficult. So we fashioned a disk but added a handle for easy printing. And instead of a toothpick? A chopstick.

The finished products are too cute. I’m kinda sad I didn’t make enough paper for me to keep one, but hey, tomorrow is another day ūüôā

I have my head wrapped around mailing out another care package to Brooks. I’m so sad I’ve been unable to do that. I like sending him a little piece of home. It makes me feel better about the whole thing somehow. I like including things Brooks has done but also always try to add a personalized piece, something made specifically for the purpose of uplifting the biggest Brooks in the Julius household.

I had seen a blog post on frugalfun4boys.com about making oneself into a super hero. I thought it would be cool for Brooks to turn his Daddy into a super hero. You have to love the picture we used.  Here is our process:

And the last thing we tackled? Both Brooks like to play. They can be consumed by one activity for long stretches of time. It’s amazing, really. So we thought long and hard about making him something fun that we could then send him. We settled on silly putty, because it bounces, stretches, and is just plain fun.

Here is where we found our recipe:¬†http://frugalfun4boys.com/2010/08/27/homemade-silly-putty/ Brooks chose the color blue for his Daddy’s silly putty, and afterwards spent a good hour testing it to make sure it would be fun enough and not defective in any way, shape, or form.

So all in all, we had a great day. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. Whatever it is, it’s bound to be good.

 

Yesterday we spent so much time in the car and ran so many errands that knowing we had to run to the Commissary to grab a few items didn’t even faze us! And we were both pretty excited that today was Tuesday, which meant gymnastics. BB loves his gymnastics class and really looks forward to it each week.

So after a morning spent homeschooling we loaded into the car and ran over to Cove. Brooks is extremely outgoing, which is why when he claims he’s shy it cracks me up. He can make a friend anywhere he goes. He’s made a few good friends at gymnastics and looks forward to hanging out with them as much as he does attending the class.

After gymnastics Little B had a playdate, we ran to the commissary to stock up on food for our Spring Break trip to San Antonio, and came home to work on D.Brooks latest care package.

There is something about assembling care packages for D.Brooks that makes me feel somewhat better about him being so far away. I love sitting down and writing him a letter. Sappy and long. But then there’s the care package. A simple box that with a few thoughtful items and home baked snacks screams “home” in every sense of the word.

I can’t ever imagine all the things Brooks goes through. The sacrifices alone are overwhelming when I think about them. He doesn’t get to experience the comforts of home. He misses sports practices, events, trips. His schedule is never his own. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Brooks would never complain about that kind of stuff. If he’s homesick I can decipher it by the tone of his voice or the things he doesn’t say, as opposed to him actually telling me. My point is, that although I’m told from time to time that my sacrifices are big too, I just don’t buy it. While Brooks is on the other side of the Earth, doing who knows what, I’m in our home, comfortable, spending each moment with our child. I don’t miss the practices, the events, the trips. I make my own schedule. I get to kiss our son every night and listen to his nonstop chatter and see the gleam in his eye when he’s being silly. I see him grow and change, ¬†notice the subtle changes in his likes and dislikes.

So when we put our care packages together we’re trying hard to bridge that distance. To bring a piece of ourselves and our home right into his Chu “over there.” Because we want to make it better for him even if he’s not asking us to. Maybe, I’m trying to make it better for myself too. Because I know he sacrifices so much because of us. And knowing that is sometimes too much to bear.

So after our Commisary trip The Boy and I were both looking forward to finishing up the latest care package. We filled it with homemade snacks, art projects, and homey things for his room. Little Brooks got it in his head that Daddy could use a banner in his room and so for art today I pulled out some items so he could do just that.

Here’s the banner, in all it’s glory, currently tucked into a box, ready for shipment first thing tomorrow.

Hopefully it’ll be a speedy delivery!

I’ve been looking forward to today since I learned that VLA, the local theater, was hosting a workshop for their upcoming children’s play. I’ve always felt that if Brooks would try his hand at drama he would discover a passion for it within himself that he never knew existed. He’s always done well at small scale productions, such as skits in Campfire, or small dramas within a church setting. I’ve tried to coax him to try his hand at something at a grander scale but have always been given a definitive no. So I was naturally thrilled at the idea of a workshop, presuming that the nature of the program would help Brooks get over his skittishness over acting. And I was right!

The workshop consisted of three parts: choreography, music, and acting. They taught the kids a small portion of Cinderella and at the end parents, friends, and relatives were treated to a small show. I was so excited to see Brooks up there, natural as all get out, as if he’d been doing this sort of thing his whole life. Off stage, while he waited for his cue, he was a bundle of energy, hopping about and moving nonstop. How he heard his cue is beyond me, but he did well. He came out on time, had nice big facial expressions, and nailed his part. Of course, the boys had the easy part. The poor girls had a small dance, a song, and hand movements to learn. Brooks just had to act disgusted at the girls while he made a big circle around them and then exited off stage behind them.

So in one week’s time we’ll head back to VLA to try our hand at tryouts. He’s hoping to get a minor part. He had so much fun. He’s been talking about the experience nonstop. For sure this seems to me like something he’ll have a passion for, so we’ll get him as involved as we can as opportunities present themselves.

After the workshop we headed on post for his basketball game. Brooks worked so hard. I know he would have made D.Brooks proud. It was a nail biter of a game: we almost went into double over time and only walked away with the win in the last few seconds of the game. The kids were so excited that they won, since they all worked hard for it.

After the game, CYS had scheduled a shooting tournament by grade level. Little Brooks competed against five other kiddos and ended up coming in third. I think his nerves got the best of him because at home he hits his shots consistently. He was so upset with himself afterwards he wouldn’t talk the whole way home. I know he’s¬†competitive¬†but I think that he was¬†disappointed¬†in himself more than anything. We had a huge heart to heart and he’s ready to work hard so that next year he can try his hand at it again.

By the time we came home I was ready to call it a day, but we wanted to finish D.Brooks’ care packages. The box I found was so big that we decided to combine our packages. Little Brooks worked on his time capsule by coloring the outside of the box. Then he filled it with a few items to represent the month of February: the money the tooth fairy gave him, a picture of a bike representative of learning to ride without training wheels, a piece of string to represent the rope he climbed at gymnastics, a fossil I found today, and the ribbon he won at the shooting tournament. He also added a few extra put-ups for his Daddy Put Up Jar. Lastly, he went through every single piece of artwork he’s created recently and carefully picked out the pieces he wanted this Daddy to have.

We’re sending a whole lot of love a really long way.

Today, The Boy and I headed to Fire Station number 3 in Killeen for a quick field trip with our local homeschool co-op. We were able to chat with D.Brooks for a bit in the morning, did a half day of homeschooling and headed out to fire station. Honestly, when I signed us up to attend the field trip I wasn’t expecting much. We’ve toured several fire stations before, and done the whole: sit in the cab, take the picture, get a flimsy, red, plastic fireman’s hat, don’t forget your coloring book routine. And we enjoy it, don’t get me wrong… it’s just always the same. So when we left this morning I was expecting more of the same and was pleasantly surprised by a whole different fire station tour.

The firefighters at Station Three were absolutely wonderful. They took their time showing the kiddos all the implements necessary to do their jobs, answered questions in their entirety, were funny, engaging, and brimming with information. We learned so much today, from the fact that most of their calls are not fire related, to exactly how the jaw’s of life work, to the in’s and out’s of their schedules. After showing us their vehicles and the clothing they must wear to keep safe while fighting fires, they took us inside the firehouse to tour their home. We were able to check out their kitchen, living room, bedroom, and even their bathroom. They told the kiddos about a typical work day schedule, spoke about their training, and gave us some insight to the things that make their jobs tough.


One of the firefighters made a great point in that they said that they are paid for what they can do, not what they do, because each shift is different and sometimes you don’t get called out much. It was an insightful trip and we were so glad we made it out today. It’s wonderful spending time with real heroes, and people who are extremely dedicated to what they do. Their passion for their¬†profession¬†is evident in all they do. Little Brooks even said after leaving that he may want to fight fires when he gets bigger, funny little man that he is.

We returned home to work on baking some goodies up for D.Brooks’ care packages. I know Brooks prefers to eat healthy, but most baked goods just aren’t. I did try to appease his¬†preference¬†for healthy foods by making him homemade granola and carob wheat walnut brownies. The brownies are ridiculous. The recipe only produced nine brownies so I split one with the boy, to taste test… of course. I was half tempted to taste test another, just to make sure, but then I felt bad, so I didn’t. We also whipped him up some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that are moist, chewy, and super duper tasty. Yay for care packages!

Brooks was able to settle into his room today, which included hooking up his internet. I have to say after four deployments that I wasn’t expecting much from his in-room internet connection. I think it was his last deployment that he had a satellite or some contraption on top of his room to help with the connection and it wasn’t a huge improvement. I am super pleased that his internet was hooked up quickly and that the connection is wonderful. How wonderful for both him, and us, that he’s able to call several times a day, from chatting online to video phone calls. Seeing him is an unbelievable gift, and makes it feel likes he’s here with us, partaking in our day to day, a simple phone call away. Yay for great internet connections!

Today, being Friday and all, is our Campfire USA club meeting. We were doing a lesson on Pets for our Environmental Emblem and I had told the kiddos they could bring their pets to show and tell. I was tickled pink that we ended up with five dogs, a tarantula, four hermit crabs, and some gold fish. The kiddos had a great time telling their club mates all about their pets and did a wonderful job taking and answering questions. Campfire time always flies by! I always feel like an hour just isn’t enough to get all our activities in, and sure enough while playing a game we realized we’d gone over our scheduled time. Thankfully our parents are super understanding and we were able to squeeze in a snack. I think the kiddos had as much fun as I did. And the best part? Brooks called right at the end to say good night!

It’s the perfect ending to a perfect day!