Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Care Packages

So deployment is coming to an end and the only thing I'm sad about is that means no more creating care packages! So, this post will be dedicated to the ones I made :) This deployment, my husband traveled to may different countries & when he finally settled in Afghanistan, he had a PX he could go to unlike last deployment, so I didn't send him many, only for special occasions, or if he just wanted some extra monster.  P.S. you're not supposed to send liquids in USPS but I always do. I take the monster out of the boxes and put them into ziplock bags just incase they were to explode (but they never did) & do not write that you have it in there on the customs form!

The first one that I sent him was literally RIGHT after he left so the decorating was minimal, but I took effort into what was actually included in the package. It was for Thanksgiving. Inside was Turkey Jerky for turkey, canned yams with marshmallows, cranberry sauce, green beans, corn, potato chips for potatoes, sweet tea mix, stuffing, oatmeal pies & pudding for desert, dip because they don't sell it in Europe, and a letter. Then I found some cool looking tape for the outside so it would set it apart from the other boxes.

Next, I sent out a Christmas package.  I decorated the inside of the box with wrapping paper and some tinsel.  I included inside some monster, a stocking, candy canes, chocolates, gum, reindeer ears, nuts, a Christmas card, and a hickory farms sausage and cheese package (which they LOVED). I put what I could into the stocking and I wrapped everything else like presents with tissue paper.

The next one I sent him was baseball themed with a lot of snacks in it for patrols.  I found a box full of individually packaged peanuts that would fit in his pockets for patrols, a lot of beef jerky, and some quick foods like mac & cheese, tuna fish w/ crackers, and pop tarts for when he was on watch or just hungry late at night and nothing was open.  I decorated the box with his favorite team, St Louis Cardinals, put a little banner that he could hang in his room, and included a few photos of us at all of the baseball games we have been to.

I was able to fit more than this in the box.

This next package, he never received and it was just a randomly decorated one that I actually found on Pinterest.  They changed their mailing address after I sent this out so it got returned to me and it was beat up, this package took too much time to make so I told him I would send him this picture of it because I wasn't spending my time doing it again lol.

I sent out this package for our 1 year wedding anniversary, which is paper!  He wasn't supposed to come home anytime soon after our anniversary, so I sent him a slice of our wedding cake in a mason jar. I also sent a cookie cake in a jar (instead of cake in a jar) because he LOVES cookies and not cake.  Since it was June in Afghanistan, once the cake got there, the icing had melted and made the cake very sweet, but we were still able to eat it together over Skype (which is in another one of my blog posts) Anyways, I sealed both of the mason jars, put labels on them, and wrapped them in a lot of bubble wrap. On one flap of the box I included photos of our first year of marriage, which wasn't a lot since we only got to spend 4.5 months of it together.  As for paper gifts, I got him a book, and shutter fly desk calendar with photos of us to help him count down the days, and some NICE toilet paper haha. I gave two things that weren't paper, some headphones that he's been asking for this whole deployment and a USB that had a ton of music and some more photos on it. I wrapped everything up and put some random pieces of paper in the box just to fill it up and be funny.

The last package I made was for 4th of July, and I'm pretty crazy about this holiday.  Everything I put in this package had red, white, and blue on it.  I put some small flags and I found red, white, and blue glow sticks and put a few in there.


The care packages during my husband's first deployment weren't as good as this go around but here is one that I liked and didn't send him one like it this time since we had R&R during St. Patrick's Day. I'm Irish and also LOVE St. Patty's Day.  I covered monster cans with bud light stickers which I took right off of bud light bottles that were used the night before lol but I used the lime ones because they are green. I also tried out candy sushi since he loves sushi (& yes I know it has nothing to do with St. Patty's Day). 


Friday, July 11, 2014

The Second Half of Deployment

R&R is over and this last half of deployment is slowly but surely coming to an end.  It is coming to an end much faster because it is actually ending early!!!  I am currently trying to get a home for us so I can move everything in before Jon gets home.  Finding rentals near Camp Lejeune are extremely stressful; as soon as a house goes up for rent, it is rented out.  It is even harder when you live 6 hours away!  But anyways, here's what we've been up to since R&R!

In May, Rocky got me flowers for Mother's Day & I went up to New York for Memorial Day Weekend to visit my friend, Jen.

June was very exciting! I went to quite a few Orioles games. June 1st was our 1 year wedding anniversary!! I sent Jon a care package with a slice of our wedding cake in it so we would be able to eat it together! By the time it got there all the icing melting into the cake and he said it was really sweet..mine tasted good though :) June 13th-15th I flew to Missouri for my brother in law's wedding & it was also my birthday weekend!

Jon's little brothers & sister

Me & Jon's cousin, Sam
Before the wedding
Talking to Jon on the phone!
First Dance

July 1st, Jon got promoted to Captain! I'm upset I couldn't be there again for his promotion..seems like he will only get promoted during deployments lol. 

July 2nd, the girls in my family took a trip up to NYC for the day! It was crazy hot but we went to Serendipity and got the most delicious frozen hot chocolate, walked around a little bit, saw Pippin on Broadway (AMAZING) & when to John's Pizzeria for dinner.  Then, of course 4th of July we had a big family cookout & get together because it was my cousins last family cookout for a while since he left for India a couple days later! The guys in Afghanistan were hoping to have a 4th of July cookout, but it didn't plan out. They ended up eating dinner at the chow hall, but they had "better" food there that day. They also had a 5 mile motto run that day & we got to Skype! 

I have finally found us a home to rent!!!! It took FOREVER, but now it's over and all I have to do is find people to help me move in lol but I'm so excited to be living together again and to decorate our new place! We have tons of extra rooms, so come visit!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Trip to Europe!

*Disclosure: to see the photos bigger, just click on them!*

In March, we were able to meet up in Barcelona, Spain for some R&R/late honeymoon celebration. It was AMAZING!!!

It was my first time flying out of the country AND I was all by myself so I was freaking out. Luckily, my flight was at night, so I slept most of the way.  I had to change flights in Germany and man was that confusing.  I was so happy they had English signs for everything but I feel I walked through their entire airport!  When I finally landed in Barcelona, Jon was standing there waiting for me. His flight landed about 10 minutes before mine; perfect timing! We took a cab ride to the hotel which was on the other side of town.  Once we checked into the hotel, we walked around and ate some local food for lunch and walked around some more to see what was around us and then we had Domino's for dinner. I know, you're not supposed to eat things that are in America when you travel, but I was tired and pizza was fast and easy to get. It did taste different than we make it here, and they didn't have any garlic sauce!

The next day, we decided to make sure we were well rested, and we finally got out of the hotel around 11 am and started being tourists! We went to Sagrada Familia, a beautiful church which they are still building after a hundred years! We had to stand in line for a little less than an hour to get in tho.


After that, we went to go visit a another building built by Antoni Gaudi, Casa Batllo. His architecture is absolutely amazing!


After that, we walked around a little bit, ate dinner, then decided to go explore Las Ramblas which has tons of different shops, restaurants, and bars.

I don't remember what specifically happened on what days after that so here are some photos:

Tapas on Las Ramblas

Christopher Columbus monument pointing towards the US

They were recording a music video!

Arc de Triomf

Olympic Stadium

Magic Fountain

Protesters (don't know what it was about tho, it was in Spanish)

We stumbled upon an amazing performance.

 After spending 5 days in Barcelona, we boarded a cruise ship for 9 days! This was Jon's first cruise and I actually had been on that same exact cruise ship 6 years ago! On the very first day, we made friends with an American military couple, Erika & John, who are stationed in England! What are the odds?

Our first stop was Morocco, Africa. We woke up that morning, went out on the top deck to look at the city, and it smelled awful. I was so excited to visit Africa, because how many 23 year-olds get to go there? We stepped off the cruise ship and took the shuttle into the middle of the city. They dropped us off and instantly we were bombarded with locals trying to give us taxi tours. The funny thing is, they would all go up to Jon and ask him if we wanted the tours. They would ask him about 3 times and the second I spoke up and told them no, they walked away.  It was very weird. We walked around and explored on our own. We went to a little shop where we ended up buying a Moroccan rug that was hand made by women in an African village. Each rug was labeled with a number which told them what village the rug was from.

Laying down asphalt by hand.


                                                   Hassan II Mosque

Our next stop was beautiful Madeira, Portugal; it is a little island off of Portugal.  We decided to take a taxi tour around the island, and in the end, I'm very glad we did because it is all hills.  Our taxi driver spoke English very well, was good at telling us details about the island, and a good photographer!  Our first stop was the botanical gardens with a wild bird section.  They had our everyday pidgins in their bird section which was pretty comical.


After that, we went to another one of the island's main attractions (if Jon was here, he would be able to remind what it was called, sorry lol). These men would use baskets, that are used to carry food up the hills of Madeira to their homes, to take tourists on rides back down the hills.  The streets are very narrow and it's pretty scary when you turn a corner and a car pops up out of nowhere!




After that, we continued driving around, went to the second highest point of the island, and then our taxi tour was over and we walked around town a little bit before heading back to the ship.





Our third stop was Lanzarote, an island off of Spain.  We decided to do an excursion on this island since there wasn't much to do on your own.  This island is filled with volcanic rock from the multiple volcanoes on it.  We drove out to Timanfaya National Park to see the volcanoes.  They are not active volcanoes, but there is still a ton of heat produced by them.  There is a restaurant in the park that uses the heat from under ground to cook their food!!


We then went to go ride camels, sight see, and to a winery! I really wanted to ride them in Africa, but they unfortunately didn't have an excursion for that, so we settled for Spain. and don't worry, they actually didn't smell bad! They are very well taken care of and we named ours Rocky :)

We headed back to the ship so we could leave and head to Malaga, Spain, but first that night was the ships big "White Out" party AND at midnight, it was officially St. Patty's Day. So, we had a little fun, which caused for a rough next morning in Malaga.


Malaga, Spain has a huge bull ring, but unfortunately we missed the bull fight by a couple weeks. We walked up this huge mountain to get to a castle and then took a sight seeing tour bus back down to the ship.  There wasn't much to see/do there so we were only on land for a couple hours.  We went back to the boat and took a much needed nap and then went back out to roam the ship only to find out that not many people celebrate St. Patrick's day.


That was our last stop on the trip before heading back to Barcelona. We saw shows on the ship almost every night, went out to the pool, did pub trivia, and many different little things here and there. It was the best vacation I have taken so far and we'll have to do some major planning to top this one!  March 19th, the ship docked in Barcelona and we took a taxi straight to airport since my flight was in a couple of hours and Jon's wasn't long after that.  The flight home was awful since Jon couldn't come home with me but I'm so thankful we were able to even have R&R and that we were able to plan this amazing trip for it.

The Appalachian Mountains on my flight back