Going into this month, I didn't know if I would write about this, but I started Minne-Mama not just for the crafts and activities I do with Skyler, but as a place to show what we do as a family. The military has been, and especially right now is, a huge part of who we are and how we live. We had to say goodbye to my amazing husband this month in preparation for his deployment. It was a hard week away from home as we went to going away ceremonies, and in the week he has been gone, we have just been trying to get into our new routine for the next several months. He is gone a lot, so Skyler and I are used to being at home just the two of us, but I am trying hard to make life feel normal for us before the baby arrives and our lives change drastically again.
My husband is my best friend, and has been for over ten years since we met in high school. I like to think of myself as pretty independent, but being without my person still sucks. We were apart for four months when he went to basic training, but that was before we were married, before we had Skyler. Not only will this be a longer time away, but now Skyler and baby E are a part of the mix. I have been using most of my extra energy to prepare myself and our children for Joe to be away.
...and then I started looking up care packages, how to best send them, packaging baked goods...and I stumbled across care packages on Pinterest and realized how fun they can be! People decorate the inside of the boxes and do all sorts of amazing things with them. It has become my biggest distraction and is the one thing I feel like I can control with the deployment. I can send Joe a piece of home and show him how much we miss him in the care packages I send him. I am hooked!! Even though he just left, I made sure he had a package to open when he first got to his stateside training.
Since I knew he wouldn't need a lot for his stateside training, the majority of the box space was stuffing the Halloween-themed box with his favorite candy. I also bought him a calendar to use as a countdown and journal, and I had a lot of fun going through and leaving him messages on important days or just at random.
For my first care package, I went simple with the inside of the box - just using black, orange, and striped paper to write out "Boo! We miss you!" and "Happy Halloween" for him to find on the bottom when all of the contents of the box are emptied (I sent a lot of candy, knowing that Joe will not be the only one eating it!) On top of the candy went the calendar and Little Pumpkin Craft Skyler made for him, and I covered the top with spider web and plastic spiders (and used the leftover to make our spider web sensory bin).
I have already started working on the next care package, and will probably create a side tab for them in the future, not keeping them in the main part of the blog.
Other ways I have been preparing for the deployment have been mostly for Skyler. The night we got home after watching Joe head to the airport by bus, I set up Skyler's deployment wall that I have been piecing together for months.
His little red table has become our deployment zone and other than the lettering of "We Love Daddy" that I made, it includes two clocks for our time and daddy's time (more for me when the time different is greater, but Skyler is always saying "I like my clocks!") and "Army Bear" which was a gift that Joe brought back after a recent training.
The bin includes a variety of books on deployment and separation that I researched for months. We have read a few and I may do a later post of our favorites. The specifically deployment book we read the most is "Over There" which was given out at a family briefing I went to and it is great for a toddler! Skyler loves the version of "Guess How Much I Love You" which is a recordable book from Hallmark that Joe did before he left (I also took some videos of Joe reading some of Skyler's favorite books for him to watch when he wants to hear a book from daddy).
The little book in the front that says "Skyler and Daddy" is filled with pictures of the two of them and is Skyler's favorite part of the deployment table! He is always carrying his picture book around and talking about what him and daddy are doing together in the pictures.
The shelf above Skyler's table has calendars (that I made and decorated the backgrounds of) for all of the months Joe will be gone. I planned on putting them all up on the wall to the left of his table, but am not ready to see the empty calendars yet. When we fill a few, I will probably put them up. Skyler puts a sticker on every night. This picture was taken a week ago, we are caught up :)
We are also sticking with our countdown tradition, with a monthly countdown. The only change I am making is when I take off a link I write the date and a note to Joe on the back. I am going to save all of them and give them to him when he comes home. The little picture of him sticking out of the cup is a "flat daddy" that Skyler made at one of the going away meetings. He is on a little Popsicle stick and we are supposed to bring him with us and take pictures with him. Skyler and I are already talking about all the places we want to take flat daddy while Joe is away!
The biggest way that Skyler has coped with Joe being gone is with "Bear." We went to build-a-bear a few weeks before Joe left and he recorded his voice for both Skyler and baby E and Skyler made the bears. He talks about putting in the hearts and stepping on the pedal ALL the time! Skyler takes Bear with him almost everywhere and sleeps with him. It has been so helpful since Skyler hasn't been able to talk to Joe at all since he left. He loves to press the foot and hear daddy talk about how much he loves and misses him. Skyler will be bringing the camouflage bear that he made for his brother to the hospital when he meets him!
|I swear the camo shirt was completely accidental!|
I am hoping these coping techniques will help Skyler through this time, but honestly I have no idea how to help a two year old understand how long it will be before his daddy comes home. We are just going to take it one day at a time.