Monday, February 8, 2010

from Jim, with love

There are two things that make any deployment go faster for a soldier overseas. Facetime with the fam, and goodies in the mail.

Skype has made this deployment different and better than I ever expected. Words can't express my love for the inventors of free little internet electrons that shoot through the air between Iraq and America. I could kiss them. The inventors, not the electrons. Whom are from either Estonia or Sweden. Wikipedia can be so unclear.

But Eli doesn't care about any of that. He will spend his first year thinking his dad lives in a box. But at least that box has a face and smile. Not like that archaic and impersonal thing we used to know called a telephone.

As for the care packages, my husband has been the grateful recipient of many. Thanks to you who have gone out of your way to bake, tape and drive your way to the post office. Some with multiple kids in tow. You can't know what your selflessness does for the moral of a soldier overseas.

Jim would like to thank you in his own words for being the envy of the FOB Warrior post office. And offer advice for anyone wondering what they should jam into those handy Flat Rate boxes.

(Keeping in mind that only my husband can simultaneously thank people for sending him mail while asking for more.)


Top 10 Care Package Contents
2009-2010 OIF Deployment

First and foremost, all deployed Soldiers LOVE care packages. On behalf of every Soldier that has been too busy or forgetful to ever send a “Thank you” note. . . Thank You. You could send a box of rocks and Soldiers would be happy to get a package in the mail; so if items from your care package did not make the Top 10 List, don’t think they weren’t appreciated. All of your mail have been and will be the brightest part of our day. Some additional notes: *Notice “2009-2010 OIF Deployment” in the title; often folks send the same items they send during Desert Storm. Truly, there are some classics (see #9 baby wipes and # 10 fresh baked anything) but Care Packages trends change from deployment to deployment. And of course this is all subjective. But what follows is my Soldiers' and my Top Ten List. So without further ado. . .
  • 10. Fresh Baked Anything – Yummy and it reminds us of home. (Taste vary on this one; but G. Nittle has kept me well supplied in TASTY “friendship bread” during both my deployments)
  • 9. Baby wipes and hand sanitizer – Iraq is a dirty country; that’s why we are here to clean it up. We have to get our “hands dirty” from time to time.
  • 8. Hygiene and pamper items – I have not yet figured out how to use the “bubble bath” someone sent me, but all the bath and body works shampoos, conditioners, and body washes are GREAT! Bonus if they are travel size.
  • 7. BULK (Anything enough to share with the entire unit or half of Iraq) – JEB Little Creek Chapel sent over 50 stockings for my Soldiers for Christmas. (Because of the busy-ness of having just arrived in country, we were unable to get a great “stocking group picture.”) Churches from Clarksville have also sent some MASSIVE care packages our way. The exciting thing is after all the Soldiers go through the boxes, our advise and assist unit gives the rest to our Iraqi Army partners, who are a close second for gratitude when it come to accepting your generous gifts.
  • 6. DVDs – Anything new and exciting to watch.
  • 5. Mix CDs – What’s new? What’s hot? (We have no idea, so I have always appreciated mixed CDs from any genre)
  • 4. Anything organic or healthy (that can be mailed overseas) – There are no Trader Joes in Iraq. (frown)
  • 3. Junk food – Yeah, we miss our favorite candy, chips, and jerky. Just don’t send these in BULK.
  • 2. Pillows, sheets, and blankets – This one is a unique request, but one that effects almost half of our time in Iraq. Soldiers usually don’t have room to take nice pillows and sheets to Iraq, but when B. Robinson and the gang from Dominion Power sent pillows and a twin sheet set . . . JACKPOT! And the good news story is that I plan on giving the pillows and sheets to an Iraqi family before we leave.
  • 1. Pictures or videos from home – We miss you all very much! And if we have an office, we tend to litter the walls with pictures of people we love.

And for a bonus feature, I will include:
MY personal Top 10 Care Package Requests
2009-2010 OIF Deployment.

  • 10. Fresh Baked Anything = currency with local nationals here. (One of the famous artists here is going to paint a portrait of Karen because I shared cookies with him)
  • 9. Anything organic or healthy (that can be mailed overseas) – There are no Trader Joes in Iraq. Gonna run out of my flavored organic oatmeal soon. (frown)
  • 8. Cigars – I know many of you are surprised that this didn’t rank higher, but I’m pretty much stocked up on “Vitamin C.” I always love getting cigars though; it encourages me to share. (My favorite right now is the Gurkha Platinum & Grand Reserve and the Acid Roams.
  • 7. U.S. Savings Bonds or Gold Bars – This would truly help send Eli to college. What is the tuition at Grove City these day?
  • 6. TV series on DVD – I don’t have time to watch movies, so this is a nice compromise.
  • 5. Mix CDs – (I need to stock the iPOD with some awesome workout music . . . any suggestions? PS Thanks to the Whaleys I have some serious Amazon bucks.)
  • 4. Frocs – Yes the inexpensive “fake crocs.” Any cheap knock off of a genuine creature comfort is great. I won’t feel bad giving it to an Iraqi before I leave. “I’m a size 9, just like everyone else here.” – I can’t recall the name of the Soldier in Band of Brothers.
  • 3. Rubber duckies and nice, big, fluffy towels – “You make bath time so much fun. . .”
  • 2. Crazy random stuff from Party City, Dollar Store, or Spencers – Makes for great goofy pictures! (Warning: Spencers stores are not for the faint of heart.)
  • 1. Small fishing lures – Yep, I plan on some serious fishing with Brandon when I get back. One small fishing lure a month will keep me motivated and focused on the finish line.


Crafty P said...

This is awesome! I live your guest blogger! Okay so next post... Cluless here would like to know how to adopt a soldier. Is there someone in Jim's "infantry" ( sorry I don't speak army) that needs some TLC? Let me know via email!
Ps Stella you spoil us! Two posts in two days? Wow! said...

I think the secret to get stella blogging again is snow and lots of it!! :-)

I LOVED this post, it makes me so eager to go out and buy stuff for Uncle Jim! And now that I know what he likes, it will be all the more fun!! If I may throw in my own little tip learned, when you go to the Post Office ask them to send you home with extra costoms forms that way you can fill them out at home and not have to fill them out at the post office with the long line behind you and your kids telling the whole line all about Uncle Jim and your package and the bad guys he's fighting and how they hope the bad guys don't get his cookies...

stella g. said...

Crafty, check your FB. i'm working on a soldier for you right now! anyone else want to join the fun? Jim knows lots of soldiers!

Circus, thanks for the bonus tip. definitely a good one. and i don't think you guys need to worry too much about Jim's tips. you all send great packages already!

which reminds me... i meant to add Jim's address to the post.

Rebekah Ortega said...

Ha! There are no Trader Joe's in El Paso either. Seriously, one of the reasons I moved back to AZ is for better grocery stores.

erin w. said...

I just adore that perfect little picture of Eli with his hands folded looking at his daddy!

Anonymous said...

aw skype is great! adam loves watching tom on it.

Susie said...

Thanks for such a great post!! You have inspired me to get busy and send our soldiers some goodies. Thanks to Jim for his wonderful list of appreciated items.

boqpod said...

"Size 9...just like everybody else"-That was Joe Toye in Band of Brothers. Judi & I just saw that episode the other night.

From Ambrose on Bastogne: "Sergeant Toye, back from hospital didn't like the silence at night b/w mortar attacks. To break it, he would sing, "I'll Be Seeing You" was his favorite...According to Heffron, "Joe was a hellu'va better soldier than singer" (p 186)"

We'll get workin' on a care package!

Julie B said...

I don't have a package yet, but a friend shared a funny letter from a kid her husband received while deployed. It read "while you're in Iraq, Jesus got your back!" Jim and his guys are in our family prayers. [I'm Julie from SPEP with the other reindeer baby : )]

Christie said...

This is my second time reading this post and it brings a little tear to my eye yet again...probably b/c I wondered if my own care packages to my own soldier were appreciated. I guess they are since Jim said so!