Sunday, September 30, 2012

You Wrote the Book of Love!

In August, I came across this craft on Etsy. It's a book called "How to Pray for Your Sailor." Essentially, each prayer or verse is on a 4x6 card and is laminated and spiral bound. It's made to be durable and portable. ...And it's $18. 

Yes. Eighteen. Dollars. 

My first thought when I saw the book? "Wow, that's super cool!" And when I saw the price? "Yeesh. I can do that myself." 

And I did! And so can you! 

Cost:  $2ish without shipping , $4ish with First Class shipping 
(Even if you have no materials at home, it won't cost you more than $5!)

  • a 4x6 photo book
  • colored cardstock
  • photos
  • markers
The photo books I found at Wal-Mart were $1 and came with removable cards for the front and back covers. I decorated both. The front you see here, and the back is in the below photo collage.

I cut each card to 4x6 and then added either a favorite Bible verse, a happy thought, something super mushy and romantic, a promise for when he comes home, or a photo that I know John doesn't have a hard copy of in Afghanistan. I slid two cards into each photo sleeve (one facing forward, one facing backward) so each page was double-sided.

If you throw it in a 5x7 envelope, it should ship First Class at no more than $2.  I put this in the 100 Days Box, but I have another photo book that I'm going to gussy up and send John's way... sometime in the future.

Et voila! You have a really personal, cute book and you just saved $16. That's $16 for a manicure... or 4 boxes of Oreos... or shipping for a large Priority Mail box... or... !


Friday, September 28, 2012


When I first decided to wear John's dogtags, I never thought it would be such a conversation piece. In June, when I started wearing it, I tried to keep it hidden under my shirt because I didn't want to draw attention to it. Now, 113 days in, I forget I'm wearing it for long stretches of time.

From what I gathered (via the internet, of course) after deciding to wear one of John's tags, wearing it is actually pretty controversial in the military community. This is why I've decided to keep John's on: it's not to make other people comment or to make them pity or commiserate with me. I don't think I'm serving next to John (after all, he's in Afghanistan for a year, with all of the crud that comes with deployment. I'm just dodging bullets and crazies in Baltimore, but I can get a sub at Quiznos and enjoy plunking my butt onto my couch after a crazy day at work.). I don't think I deserve recognition for just waiting for and worrying about John; he's doing all of the hard stuff, after all.

Here's why I wear it: it's a tiny reminder of the guy I love to pieces and who I'm going to marry in less than a year. I wear it because I miss him. I wear it because, even though it sounds really, really idiotic, it's nice to wear something that he's also wearing  7,000 miles away. It feels like he's a little closer. True, maybe it only makes him feel 6,999 miles closer... but closer is closer. I'm not splitting hairs.

Even though I don't notice it anymore, doesn't mean that no one else does. It's quite the conversation starter and comments magnet! So, I've compiled (or really, just tried to remember as best as I can) the comments that I've gotten regarding John's tag.

Most common question:
Is it real?
(Answer: Yeppers. Totes real.)

Second most common question:
Doesn't he need that?  
(Answer: John has two others that he wears.)

Third most common question: 
Can I touch it?
(Answer: Really, honestly, it's just a piece of metal. It is not imbued with magical properties. I promise. Otherwise, I'd be alohomora and wingardium leviosa-ing stuff all over the place.)

Fourth most common question:
Are you in the military/Army?
(Answer: HECK NO. Does it look like I could possibly, possibly, possibly be in the military? I'm a complete wimp.)

Cutest comment:
(During the summer I was a vacation Bible school teacher, and John's dogtag was a source of endless entertainment. I'm assuming this is because it is shiny and big.) The following is the cutest exchange about the dogtag I've had thus far:

Tiny, little girl (pointing to my necklace ) : What's that?
Me: It's a necklace.
Tiny, little girl (grabs it and examines it): It's not a necklace; it's ugly!

(Answer: How can you argue with that? Yeah, it is pretty ugly. It definitely does not go with many outfits. Mostly just the ones with camo.)

Most obnoxious comment:
(Paraphrased because I was so taken aback.) You know dogtags don't work when the IEDs explode. Soldiers are in so many parts, it doesn't work for identification.

(Answer: Here's a fun fact--this isn't funny. In fact, it ruined the night. I truly think the person who said this thought it would make me laugh. It didn't and I don't think I have to explain why. I'm going to chalk this up to the person's misplaced sense of humor, feeling awkward about John's deployment, and consumption of a lot of booze.)

Weirdest comment:
In all fairness, this was asked by one of my students who is goofy and continually just a little bit "off."
Are you gonna cheat on him?

(Answer I Said in My Head: Are you stupid?)

Comment that made me cry my eyes out like the wuss I am: 
A few weeks ago, two Marines were recruiting at my school. I just happened to be in the hallway when they were hopelessly lost and looking for a room number. At the end of giving them directions, one of the Marines asked me if I had someone in my family serving the military.

Me: My fiance's in Afghanistan right now.
Marine: Well, thank you for his service. And thank you for yours.

(Answer: Say something dumb and stunned like, "Um, okay. Sure. No problem." And then walk away as quickly as possible and try to keep it together.)

Funny how a small piece of metal can be a hub of conversation! There's still so much of the deployment to go, so I'm sure there will be (at the very least) a Dogtags: Part 2 post.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

I Am a Sushi Ninja!

One of the hands-down worst things about Afghanistan (you know, after the weather, the IEDs, the decade-long quagmire of weapons and man power, et cetera, et cetera) is that there is simply no sushi to be found.  I know, right? Who woulda thunk? 

John loves sushi. One of the last meals we ate on the day John deployed was some amazing sushi at the mall (you have got to love a place that reels you in with free spicy crab roll samples). We regularly talk about getting sushi when John comes home, too. (Yes, a lot of our communication revolves around food. Our mutual love of delicious comestibles is one of the strongest pillars of our relationship. Especially salt on pizza. Yum!)

But I digress. Anyway, John hasn't had sushi in over three months. Torturous. And, while I can't send the poor guy real sushi in the mail, I found a sweet (literally) recipe for candy sushi. I fell in love with it immediately. If you follow the link, the directions are spot-on and worked perfectly.

I used Swedish Fish and Mike 'n' Ikes for the sushi fillers. The Mike 'n' Ikes were a little tough to cut, but I was also using a kinda-sorta dull bread knife since everything else was in the dishwasher. Next time, I think I'm going to use longer candies (Sour Punch Ropes, Twizzlers, etc.) to make it look just a little more like real sushi.

As much as I fell in love with how absolutely adorable the sushi looked, I loved the packaging even more. My sister gave me the awesome pun (visit her hilarious Tumblr here!) and I decorated the inside of the box with it. Best thing ever? I figured out that if I packaged the sushi in a 9x7 fudge pan, with just a tiny little bit of bending, it fits perfectly in the small Priority Mail box. That means it cost just a little over $5 to send John a little bit of delicious happiness! Win, all the way around!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beach Box

I'm a little ashamed to admit that I'm blogging while the hot messes from TLC's American Gypsy Weddings are strutting their scary, scary stuff on screen. I need to kick my addiction to awful TV shows... but they're so entertaining! How can you pass up a show with quotes such as, "I'mma marry my first cousin" and "If if you shine a light in their face,  they're gonna get 'muskert'"? What does that mean? I have no idea. I don't know if anyone does. But they DO have a tanning bed in the nursery, so there's that. 

I didn't mean for John to get another box so quickly. I was hoping that he would get it this Saturday, but USPS is on their game, and it got to him on Wednesday-- just five days after I sent it.  So, without further ado, I give you the Beach Box!

I had meant to send this in the summer, but I ended up sending other, unplanned boxes, so this one just didn't make it into the line-up until last week. It's by far my favorite package so far. I had decorated it in June, just after John left, and I could not wait for him to see the inside. I thought it was cute.

This was the message on the four inside flaps. Cheesy, probably... but I like it!

The items were from all over the place-- Amazon, Etsy, Walmart, and LebCo's one and only Smitty's!

You're probably wondering what the deal with the crab is. Last fall, I sent John a flip book that I had drawn with a little dancing crab on it. Why? Because I can't really draw anything else... but I knew I could draw a stick figure crab. And it fits! We both lived on the Chesapeake-- I'm in Baltimore, and John was in VA Beach. Since then, our little crab has adorned most letters and post cards that we send back and forth. He's a cute little guy, and he's fun to doodle... especially in faculty meetings.

Here's the finished product! I wrapped everything with ocean critter wrapping paper, threw in crab confetti that I found on Etsy and a CD of this summer's top hits, and colored the outside of the box. Boom. Roasted.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Sending Sunshine

This is it! The last birthday box post for a year (and hopefully, forever, since I'll only be sending John birthday boxes if he's deployed again). 

I know, I know. Afghanistan already gets a lot of sunshine, especially in the summer, but this is a different kind of sunshine... edible sunshine! 

I tried a different technique for wrapping the inside of the box this time around. It would have worked beautifully, had I not used really cheap-o Dollar Store gift wrap (even though it was exactly the color I wanted).  I think the picture makes it pretty self explanatory, but here are the directions, just in case: 
  1. Cut the box apart and glue it, face down, on the underside of the gift wrap. 
  2. Let dry, and then cut the box out of the gift wrap. 
  3. Reassemble and then glue into place. I also used clear boxing tape to reinforce the weak side. 
It takes more time to do this, but I think it has a nicer, finished look to it than gluing scrapbook paper into the inside, which is my go-to move.

My favorite items from the box-- olives, olive tapanade from Harris Teeter (John really likes both of them), manly stationary from American Greetings (you would not believe how difficult it is to find it), a grow-your-own-sunflower kit, and a "bromantic comedy" collection (Knocked Up, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall).

So, that's what the box looked like! I made one HUGE rookie error. In my excitement to send this box, I forgot that Lysol wipes will make EVERYTHING smell and taste like Lysol. I even reminded myself multiple times that I was going to throw it in a few Ziplock bags and duct tape them (and possibly even heat seal them). Did I remember? Of course not!  I'm pretty sure John had to chuck everything edible in the box. It was probably not a bad thing since he didn't want me to send him a lot of unhealthy food... but it was his birthday, and birthdays just beg for candy (and it's so easy to find yellow candy, too)! 


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Of Brownies and Banners

John's birthday was in August, but when I prepared these boxes, I hadn't a blog yet. So, now, I get to relive birthday preparations! I'll post all of the birthday ideas I used by the end of this week. 

I sent three birthday boxes to John, mainly because I go overboard when I do almost anything. The first box, was a countdown box (see it here). The second box was a celebration box. No presents, just dessert, icing, candles, plates, and utensils. The third box... well, you'll just have to wait to see that one!

Originally, I wanted to send cake in a jar-- which I've been seeing flying around Pinterest quite a lot, and which one of my friends who has already gone through deployment swears by-- but my mom convinced me to bake brownies instead so John could share them with his coworkers. I baked the brownies in an 8x8 foil tin (which just happens to perfectly fit into the bottom of a medium Priority USPS box) and went heavy on the plastic wrap. John reported that the brownies made it intact and that they tasted fresh. Win, all the way around!

When I decorated the inside of the box, I rigged up a happy birthday banner to stretch across the box when John pulled the flaps open. The banner is made from scrapbook paper and ribbon. To create it, I just cut triangles, decorated them, bent the top of the triangle over the top of the ribbon and taped it into place. I glued the ribbon between the scrapbook paper and the cardboard box and used a binder clip to clamp it in place until it dried.

Then, I filled the rest of the box with balloons (nothing in them this time), taped it up with awesome Happy Birthday boxing tape from Michael's, and sent it on it's merry way to John!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

The 100-Day Mark

I desperately want to open this blog post by saying, "Oh my gosh! Just 100 days? That's crazy! It seems like yesterday that I said goodbye to John!" But saying that would be entirely false and a disservice to the energy it's taken to chop a swath from John's departure to today. It feels like eons since I've held John's hand and decades since I said goodbye to John at the MAC terminal in Norfolk. So, I'm going to light my imaginary pipe and stroke my imaginary beard and be reflective and long-winded.

I'm writing this post with a healthy dose of shame and regret. Before I dated John, I gave little thought to the military. I was (and continue to be) anti-war and pro-people (including those in the military). I was super anti-war in high school, but college came, and I got tired of the shout-down, louder-makes-righter style of debate that seemed to be cultivated from the 24-hour news cycle. And then I got wrapped up in school, clubs, papers, and eventually finding a job, navigating a move, becoming a full-fledged adult, and surviving teaching in the inner city. I feel guilty now, that I wasn't more empathetic or active... or something. I don't know what that something would have been, but I wish I would have been or done it.

I say this because we are so used to living with perpetual war, that we forget real, live people are living and dying in Afghanistan. The frequently used catch-all, "troops," conjures up a faceless, nameless group of people with no back stories, no loved ones, and only one mission-- to serve until we decide to bring them home again. We forget that there are around 80,000 Americans still in Afghanistan, still risking their lives for a war that many of us barely remember on a daily basis. That means that there are 80,000 families, too, waiting every day to hear from their soldier or Marine, sailor or airman. That's a lot of little kids missing out on time with Mom or Dad. That's a lot of time that families can't get back. That's a lot of people, and while our society does a great job (I'm truly not being sarcastic here) at appreciation and gestures towards the military and military families, I don't think there's really a deep understanding of what it truly means to have someone you love serving a deployment in a warzone. After all, if the majority of Americans really understood it, really knew what it's like to say goodbye to someone in the middle of the night and not know how to gather the strength to walk away from them, really knew what it's like to blow kisses at a computer screen, or imagine about a zillion times a day what the homecoming is going to be like, would we so willingly and quickly have started two wars? Would we still be in Afghanistan?

Before John left, I had friends and acquaintances who had served in Afghanistan or Iraq, but honestly, I was very removed, as most Americans are. I feel guilty for not being better at reaching out to my friends who were serving or waiting. Maybe, though, deployment is one of those things in life that one only truly understand and empathize with after experiencing. Even so, I wish someone could have taken me aside (or maybe, more accurately, I wish I would have cornered my friends who have survived deployment) and told me exactly what the first months would be like instead of most of what I found on the internet (there really is some good stuff out there, too), which was 1) whining and complaining about everything (Even with deployment, not everything is awful all the time.), 2) patriotic and romantic platitudes ("You can do this." "He'll be home soon." "Don't lose hope." "If you don't stand behind the troops, feel free to stand in front of them." Yeah, because these are helpful when you want to crawl under your bed, cry yourself to sleep, and hibernate for the next 12-13 months.), or 3) a cleaned up, sanitized Superwoman-esque portrait of the writer (I get it. You're awesome. Good for you. I just want to know how to get from one day to the next without growing an ulcer the size of a watermelon in my stomach, thank you very much.).

I'm only speaking for myself and not for anyone else or any other circumstances than my own. I will gladly concede that my life is not as difficult as it could be (I cannot imagine doing this with children or other family responsibilities). I'm not trying to cast myself in any particular light-- positive or negative. I'm not looking for praise or pity. I'm just being truthful and reflecting on the past three months. With that said, this is what it's like to wait for someone who has shipped off to war.

Every single day of the past 100 has been tough in it's own way. And, I know they have been a thousand times harder for John than they have been for me.  But, good news for both of us: we have an amazing (although truly, "amazing" falls far short to accurately describe them) support system. Our friends and family have been loving, understanding, and caring in ways that have humbled and challenged me to be a better, kinder person. John's situation is relatively good and could be far worse. In the grand scheme of things, we have much to be grateful for. After all, as more than one person has reminded me (either gently or otherwise), dealing with deployment is what I "signed up" for when I fell in love with John.

While not a very helpful sentiment, it is true. John and I renewed our friendship through letters while he was at boot camp, which turned into long, long phone calls while he was in A and C school. I began dating him when he had 5-ish more years to serve, I said "yes" to him when he had 4-ish more years to go, and we'll start our lives together when he has 3-ish more years on his contract. It was part of the deal. We had heard rumors for a long time that he was going to deploy at some point to Afghanistan. That, too, was part of the deal. I knew everything up front. And, for both of us, "making it through" the deployment was never an option. We're a done deal and we have been since we started dating; 7,000 miles doesn't change that. Nothing ever will.

I think, though, that no matter the preparation or awareness of the situation, deployment feels insurmountable and monumental. Before John left-- and we're talking months before-- I cried more than I care to admit. There was a day I couldn't stop crying. I went through the stages of grief, which surprised me. I fixated on how little I could control and how life was spinning out of control. Even though I normally sleep like a rock, I had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. I'd wake up in cold sweats or feeling nauseous. It was tough to ignore the impending deployment, even through some of the most exciting moments of my life-- getting engaged, telling our friends and family, getting engagement photos taken-- were taking place.

The day of John's deployment was the most difficult day of my adult life.  I'm sure at some point I'll write about it, but I'm still not ready. I haven't let myself think about it in any detail or depth since my drive back from Norfolk on the night John flew out. And for now, I'll leave it at that.

After saying goodbye to John, the second hardest thing was to think about the future in a normal, constructive way. About 10 hours after saying goodbye to John, driving up back to Baltimore, and grabbing a few hours of sleep, I was at school, administering final exams to students. Then I had to grade them. Then I had to pack up the room. The next day, my youngest sister came to Baltimore to visit my middle sister and me. There wasn't time to think about what had happened, other than to try to ignore the gigantic, empty, gnawing sensation in the pit of my stomach.

For the first two weeks, I was a manic mess.  I slept as little as possible, did as much as I could so I didn't have to think, and was glued to the internet (confession: I still am). I waffled between barely being able to think about and get the energy to do laundry to getting erratically excited for John's fifteen days of leave (which, at that point, were 7 months away) or his possible return date (which was more than a year away).  I missed meeting up with good friends who came into town because I passed out on the couch and slept for the next 12 hours. After about two weeks of being frenzied, I crashed hard. I went from being awake all the time, to trying to sleep 2-4 hours in the middle of the day to create the illusion that time was passing faster.

I'd like to believe that I kept it on lock down in front of people for when I was at my craziest (which isn't saying that much since crazy is my normal). I didn't cry in front of my students, ever, and with the exception of missing some school and telling them what was going on, I think I kept it level for them.

But, as they always do, situations improve with time. I still worry all the time-- which I can't imagine will change until he's home for good-- about everything, no matter how much I pray or talk to other people. But that worry is dulled (on most days) by communication. We write letters and emails and try to chat or Skype as often as we can. Of course, that doesn't change that he's in a war zone or that news headlines that include "troops," "killed," and "Afghanistan" always seem to pop up right when I haven't heard from him in a bit. It doesn't change that his base takes fire on a pretty regular basis. It doesn't change the fact that on his base, three people died  from mortar fire this week or that I woke up to that headline on CNN on the morning of September 11, a day I was already feeling jumpy about. 

But communication does make it easier and I'm thankful for that. It is a blessing to get to laugh with John, hear his voice, and see his face, even through the filter of a choppy internet connection. There is nothing like the thrill of finding a letter sandwiched between magazines and bills in the mailbox at the end of a tiring work day.

While I wish more than anything that John wasn't there,  it is not all terrible; there are many things to be thankful for. My life is full of wonderful people-- from college friends who I can always count on no matter how long it's been since we've seen each other, to coworkers who always, always have my back, to my home church family who has been so welcoming to John and supportive of both of us, to our fantastic families who sustain us, to everyone who has politely put up with my spew of random stories about John. I am so thankful for my apartment's postwoman. I am thankful for my former students who didn't trash my room while I was seeing John off and for this year's students who ask me about my husband, even though I correct them with "fiance" every time. I am thankful for everyone who has sent John care packages, emails, letters, cards, and Facebook posts and who continue to ask about him, even when they know I'm going to talk for longer than they anticipated with an answer longer than they wanted.

I am so glad today means 100 days are over and that they're never coming back. They're gone. And the beauty of reaching this mark? We're now 100 days closer to so many things-- John's leave, his homecoming, the end of school, our wedding, and the beginning of our life together. I'd do these 100 days all over again and as many times as I'd have to if it meant that I get to spend the rest of my life with him. And since I will get to marry him in just 301 (not that I'm counting), bring on the next 100!  It's time to get this over with so John and I can move on to better, more exciting things. I'm ready. Let's go.


Friday, September 14, 2012

100 Days Box

So, technically, today is Day 99 of John's deployment. But, he got the box I sent him and opened it already, so I can post pictures of the 100 Days Box!

Originally, I was going to make the entire box 100 themed: 100 Grand Bars, 100 calorie snack packs... you get the idea.  However, because I'm dumb and didn't write a shopping list when I went to Wally World, I ended up getting side tracked and buying a lot of other items (and honestly, there aren't that many cute and useful 100 items to buy and I didn't have the time or patience to count out sets of 100s of things to package on my own). The box quickly turned into a pun box.
 A. Nifty got milk? straws that turn regular milk into chocolate when you use the straw. The card said, "I love you a chocolate!"
B. Lipton's 100% Natural Passionfruit Mango Iced Tea. Card: "I've got passion (fruit) for you, man (go)!" I warned you, these puns are dorky.
C. To-go honey Teddy Grahams. Card: "I love you, honey!"
D. Extra gum. Card: I am Extra happy that 100 days are over!
E. Planter's Nutrition Cinnamon Raisin Granola Swirl peanut butter (this stuff is brand new and was on crazy sale at Walmart. It looks delicious!) Card: "I'm nuts about you!" (Predictable, I know, I know.)
F. Powerade Zero, grape flavor. Card: "I am grape-ly excited to hug you again!"

I also sent this rad card. Maybe I overdid it on the girl quotient. And yes, I know I have arthritic-looking, spidery fingers.

Yes, tuna puns have a picture and section all of their own! John really likes these ready-to-eat tuna packets. They run  between $1- $2.50 depending on the brand, flavor, and store. Walmart sells generic ones for less than $1, as does Aldi's, but they're the unflavored packets.

Herb & Garlic: "I garlic you a lot!"  (That one's a stretch...)
Sweet & Spicy: "I'm sweet on you, you spicy man, you!" (You were warned these were dorky! Don't complain!)
Lemon Pepper: I wish I coulda Kist you in the last 100 days! (This one's pretty clever if I do say so myself.)
Hickory Smoked: "You're hickory smokedin' hot!" (I cracked myself up with this last one.) 

In this care package, I also included Crunchie's freeze-dried strawberries, which I found at Walmart. I also sent a DVD of Braveheart because why not? 

I also included a few magazines, but that's a post for another time since it's 1 AM here, and far too late for me to be writing a post.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Sing"lish Bulletin Boards

This school year, I've challenged myself to try to have a lot more fun in my classroom. So far, my bunch of kids are really great, and not having to deal with behavior management has given me time to be a bit sillier than I normally am. It's so wonderful to be able to be myself in my classroom, rather than a strict dictator.

I started with my classroom layout. I put up this Carly Rae Jepsen bulletin board because 1) I can only use part of this board since the bookshelf obscures it and 2) I saw something similar on Pinterest and thought it was fun.

The second poster is an awesome (read: extremely dorky) play off of Nicki Minaj's "Starships" for our vocabulary quiz average tracker.  (If you follow the link for "Starships," be prepared for an acid trip. It is weird... unless you think that Maori hip-hop dancers on an island being invaded by an alien in the form of a bikini-clad, green-haired, gigantic-badonked, sand-wallowing Nicki Minaj is reasonable and normal.)

And then (my favorite display of all), a nod to LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" on my classroom door.

Currently, none of my students have said any of the following, "Oh, wow, Ms. G.! You're so funny!" "That is the coolest thing ever, Ms. G.!" or "This poster has changed my life! It's made English class relevant!" I have gotten a half laugh from one kiddo and a lot of eye rolls from the rest.

I'll take it. I spend a lot of time in my room. It's nice to look around the room and feel at home, comfortable, and happy. And, it's nice to crack myself up once and awhile with a stupid pun or two.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Quilts of Valor

I spent all of Saturday shopping with my mom-- groceries in the morning and then fabric in the afternoon. We dodged some pretty serious storms to get to the border of Lancaster and Lebanon for Burkholder Fabrics' annual sale.

Mom is a quilter and a Family and Consumer Science Teacher (read: Home Ec). I'm not a quilter or a FACS teacher, but I enjoy giving second opinions on patterns and colors, so we had a fun two hours scouting rows and rows full of fabric bolts to find just the right material for Mom's projects for the next year.

And, even in the least likeliest of places (as it always has a habit of doing, at least in the past two years of my life)... the military popped up.

This year, Mom's program is taking on a new service project called Quilts of Valor. QOV is non-profit that connects quilters and their homemade quilts with wounded, recuperating service members. Coincidentally, Burkholder's is a supporter of the program and sells coordinated, patriotic fabric rolls. 

Take a look at the QOV website. The quilts are astounding-- true works of art. And, if you're a quilter, think about joining the project!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Birthdays are the Best!

Today was an awfully hot, miserable day. My classroom was insanely muggy, and the kids, while they weren't bad, were sluggish and tired. I don't blame them.

J's birthday was two weeks ago, and he received his packages, so I can safely post the care package I sent him. I definitely went overboard for J's birthday, but I have no regrets. It was the summer, I wasn't working, and it was a lot of fun to construct them.

I sent this package so it got to J a week before his birthday. In it were 7 wrapped presents with instructions on which day to open each package.

 This was the rhyme I wrote and glued onto cute scrapbook paper ($5 tablets of  50 pages of cute, coordinated papers are available at Wal-Mart in the craft section). Then I glued it onto each side of the inside of the box.  (I'm rather proud of this rhyme! My English degree's working for me!)

 I tried to find cheap, funny, and useful things for J's countdown box. Here's what I ended up with:

A) I bought these stick-on mustaches at Michael's in the dollar section of the store. It was $2.  The same ones are at the Dollar Tree for $1. And, of course, I couldn't help a writing a dorky pun.

 B) The last present J opened was an Earth, Wind, and Fire "best of" CD that I bought from FYE's crazy awesome cheap-o bin. Most of the music is from our marching band days, which is pretty awesome. And seriously, how could you be sad listening to EWF?

C) I wrote J a letter on a roll of crepe paper and rerolled it with directions for him to unroll it. I thought it would be annoying in a fun way and make him slow down and enjoy the package instead of rip through everything!

D) Some of the other items I included... a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (but I forgot to include a spoon... whoops!), a removable wall sticker with a fantastic Emerson quote for his barracks wall (found at the Dollar Tree), sour gummy worms with a dorky note ("Bookworms for my bookworm") and a few magazines, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Creole seasoning and Chicken of the Sea pink salmon packets (if you haven't seen these, they are fantastic-- healthy and ready to eat!), a pocket lint package (J told me he'll just save it until he comes home... I thought it might be helpful with uniform stuff, but count a swing and a miss on that one for me), and a package of pretzels.

After I filled the box, I had some room, so I blew up balloons and threw colorful pom-poms and little notes to J. If you're going to do this, make sure you don't blow up the balloons too much. It's better if the balloons have a little give for the trip. J said that all but one of the balloons made it intact and that he enjoyed popping them.

The outside of the box was a bit plain Jane, but I wanted to use the packing tape I bought on sale at Michael's. Check out the packaging aisle where they sell paper bags, tins, plastic containers, and package decorations. I picked up a bunch of graphic packing tape rolls for 99 cents (normally they're between $2.99-3.99). When I sent this box, the postman smiled (which is rare for him) and said, "Wow! That's tape? Nifty!" And then he went back to scowling.

Time to watch a bit of the DNC convention and try to stay awake past 9 PM!