Sunday, 23 October 2016

The final care package!

Title - You are so hot like a sunrise!
Themed colour - Red

Date of posting - 20/10/2016
Date of arrival - To be announced! 

The day has finally arrived where I send my final care package to my man... Well at least for his first deployment because there is always that possibility of him being deployed again. When I sent this off I had mixed feelings. From joy knowing that it will hopefully be the last one (or at least the last one for a few years) and not having to nearly pull my hair out trying to make each and every little detail perfect to pure happiness knowing although it's the last one in the next few months he will be home again! Due to the unknown of when he will be returning home, there was a cut off period of guarantee that the care packages would arrive to them being the 5th of October, 2016. I'm aware that I've sent this off later than that date but due to work and study (including assessments being due) I've done my best to send this as quickly as possible relying on it arriving within two weeks like my other care packages have! While there is a possibility of it never arriving for him I accepted that risk when I sent it and just hoped for the best.

Another 'reason' I will use for sending this off later than the date I read was the due date for guarantee of arrival was because I struggled with the theme for this one. Although I tried to be creative like always most of the websites I used for ideas used the red care package for valentines day or Christmas which I couldn't use. For people who are not Australians, you may not understand that there is more to this than just giving a compliment to my loved one. So, if you are to watch that you'll discover the joke to this idea.

Image (above) - Design of care package.

Image (above) - The Red Care Package!

Images (above) - The packed care package. Although I had managed to fit every item into one box when I went to the post office the care package weighed in at 2.6kgs which I was surprised about. Since there were lots of little items I got another small box (only cost $1.75) which I was able to pack with items to make the weight under the 2kg! 

Items in this care package included:

  • Stress Ball 2 pack
  • Red letter
  • Packet of Jelly beans
  • Optical Illusion book
  • Snickers bar
  • Can of Pringles
  • Doritos - Cheese Supreme
  • Bhuja snacks - Beer mix
  • Sesame bar x2
  • Deck of cards
  • Sour Straws
  • Box of band-aids
  • Vegemite cheesybites
  • Maltesers box
  • Killey Python packet
  • KitKat Bar
  • Tube of toothpaste
  • Skittle boxes x2
  • Box of Tic Tacs
  • Cadbury crunchy bar
  • Picnic bar x2
(I also included a KFC packet which has a little wet wipe, napkin and spoon which I sent just to tease my loved one as he is craving it and is hoping to have it as his first meal when he gets back home. Just forgot to put it in the picture below.)

Image (above) - Items in care package.

Review on purple care package -
Due to sending the red care package sooner than I had imaged, the purple care package has only arrived yesterday so I'm not able write my review as we haven't opened it 'together' over video call yet. I'll be sure to do another post soon about both the purple and red care package (hopeful) success. Until he receives both of them and opens them, thank you for reading!

Madeline - 23/10/2016

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The fifth care package!

Title - Roses are red, violets are blue, through the distance... I still love you!
Themed colour - Purple.

Date of posting - Wednesday, 5th of October, 2016.
Date of arrival - To be announced!

So, with this being the second to last care package I am sending I have started to run out of ideas on items to send besides food, also the colour of this care package did not help with items to send! Due to all the food items on the care package, I did end up writing sticky notes on a few items telling him to share them since I know he is working on his body before coming home. As I couldn't find many good ideas online to do with purple care package I started brain storming ideas and this was the result of the hard work that I had been thinking about for awhile. 

This care package was surprisingly on schedule for me and when I had aimed to send it, but this was only because I had finished the care package three weeks ago. The effort of these care packages often takes me a few days or weeks, so with all the letters in this care package I did it earlier to avoid the stress of making this as well as going back to uni. So, fingers crossed he enjoys this cheesy care package, and also the second to last one... which is slightly exciting but at the same time makes me feel a little sad. Strange because no more care packages means that he is home, so I shouldn't feel sad at all, right?

Image (above) - Design of care package. It wasn't until I took the photos of the care package had I realized that this care package looks a little girly due to the pretty colours and love hearts but I know my loved one won't mind. Also, surprisingly the whole design of this care package was done with my own brain unlike the other care packages.

Image (above) - The Purple Care Package!

Image (above) - The packed care package. This time I was lucky enough to have all the items fit in the care package with a few items bubble wrapped so they didn't break or melt on everything. Thankful it weighed in at 1.94kgs!

Items in this care package included:
  • Hand written letter (as usual, like in every care package I've sent so far)
  • Packet of Freddo Frogs
  • Shapes - Pizza flavour
  • Cadbury chocolate block - Turkish Delight flavour
  • Grape mentos 
  • Violet Crumble
  • Cadbury Chocolate bar
  • Box of nerds
  • Classic Logic Puzzle book
  • Lo-Carb Rocky Road bars x4
  • Choc Jewels (better known as freckles, lol)
  • LCM bars
  • Mini m&m's tube x2
  • Mario Party DS Game

Image (above) - Items in care package.

Review on green care package -

If you saw my last care package post, you would have known that my loved one opened it without telling me because he was so excited. So then he had to pretend to open it a few days later during a video call and act surprised. This time he was an absolute gem and waited a few days until we were both free to video call so I could watch him open it. As I've gone back to uni and he is working 12-18 hour days he woke up at 5.30am to call me. Now, in my opinion if that doesn't make him the best boyfriend in the world... than I don't know what is. In my eyes he is a gem! Anyway, that is enough of my babble that isn't about my care package. The green care package thankfully was a success and I was over the moon with his reaction, especially watching his face glow when reading the letter which is incredibly sloppy! He laughed at the mint leaf too as he started eating the lollies which came as no surprise to me considering how much he ate from the yellow care package!

Madeline - 05/10/2016

Monday, 26 September 2016

The truth of deployment, in my eyes

As someone who has said goodbye to their loved one, I feel as I can relate to how many people that have also experienced the deployment journey. Whether it has been your loved one, a close mate, brother/sister, mother or father, just anyone in your life that you’ve had to say ‘see you later’ to as they embark on a temporary journey of a life time, to server their country for the better good of people living in war-torn countries, poverty or even to be posted to a training base. I’ve come to realise, there is little appreciation for everything that they do on deployment.  
The reality is that, yes, they may be killed on deployment but they may also be killed back home when driving to your house, walking the dog or even shopping at the mall. The truth is, nobody knows when you’ll die. While the feeling of the unknown for you back home may be daunting upon you when you watch the news and see something has happened near their deployment location, you cannot live by assuming the worst. Before his deployment, I would constantly live in fear questioning what would happen if he was killed while away. Trying to understand how I would cope with knowing our last kiss, our last hug and holding of hands was a rushed goodbye in the airport on the night he left. I realised that these thoughts got me nowhere. The overthinking will eventually eat your insides to the point where you can no longer sleep, eat or even concentrate on living your life while they live their own, miles away from you and in my case, on the other side of the world. In the first few months of deployment, every single news article that I read in newspapers or online and watched on television instantly filled my body with fear and panic that my loved one was in danger. It is ridiculous, I know that now, but at the time I didn’t know any better than to have these feelings stirring inside of me. I knew that he was fine, he would tell me not to worry every time I had the chance to explain what I had seen, thinking it would be related to him. Like he once told me ‘You can’t believe everything you see’ and ‘You can’t assume the worst of everything relating to me, because if it happens, it happens. You live by everything happens for a reason, so use that motto for me.’ The truth of this was scary, we are both young and I wasn't sure if he would be safe. Knowingly trusting his words of 'You could be killed when taking the bins out' I knew that it wasn't going to be easy, but accepted yet another challenge to our relationship. As I am writing this four months, which is 126 days later, I'm confident when saying that the deployment journey, as challenging as it is, is possible for anyone. Nobody told me it was going to be easy, nor did anyone tell my man what to expect on the deployment. Eventually you learn to live with whatever may occur, but to only live for the day.

I believe there are good and bad in this world, whether their actions are intentional or not. There will be a point in your life where you may face a near death experience or know of someone dying and understand it’s a matter of appreciating the life they have lived or the life you have instead of expressing negativity. I am only young, nineteen years old and counting. I can write that I have experienced life for all that it is worth and enjoyed every moment I have lived as a young person. However, I cannot say that I know everything of it’s true value in life. There are times for everyone when it will all feel like too much, it’s not a ‘I want out of this life’ but more of a, ‘how am I living this life’ which I guess can be a difficult thought for ourselves and also our deployed loved ones. When I am writing this, I think it would be fair to say that the deployment journey effects everyone associated with the person who has been deployed. From this, I want to make it clear that nobody has more of a challenge than them because the reality is that they have been sent overseas, often with a large time difference to back home making contact difficult, they are working long days/nights sometimes between 12-19 hour days alone on only 5 hours of sleep and we almost forget that they are just humans too. I can’t write to say that I know what it is like to be deployed, instead I am writing as a partner of a deployed man. There have been too many times where he tells me that I'm doing it hard, but when I look at the changes to my life compared to his life, the only change was that he is no longer physically around me. While there are plenty of times I throw myself on my bed and cry myself to sleep because I miss him, I know it's not forever. The roller coaster of emotions I feel are normal, my man isn't around me and sometimes all I want is to be in his arms and hear him tell me that everything is going to be alright. Instead, I cuddle up to the giant teddy bear he gave me which smells of him and tell myself 'only a few more months and he will be home'. His position? How he handles it? I would have no idea, our communication is very limited and when he has a bad day he hides it, I know that is partly because there is the assumption an army soldier is strong and as some people criticizes, 'have no emotions' but I know that it isn't easy. Life isn't easy but with the right support and love from the people surrounding you anything is possible, and that is all I have tried to show my man since he left. Until he is home again, I continue to wait for him while I continue to live my life knowing that everything is going to be alright, no matter how difficult the days and nights may become.

Madeline - 27/09/2016

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The fourth care package!

Title - "You are doing a great job" - Encourage Mint.
Themed colour - Green.

Date of posting - Tuesday, 13th of September, 2016.
Date of arrival - To be announced!

As an army girlfriend I could list so many items that are green to send to my soldier! Since this is also my loved ones favourite colour I knew this was going to be an enjoyable care package to create! From the beginning of my loved ones deployment I had decided to slowly buy items here and there whenever I saw them and put them in the colours box to prevent the stress of doing one big shop a few days before sending it. The green care package was one of the easiest, this is because there were so many green items I purchased from food, toiletries, even items to use in the few hours he may have 'free time' in (a rare occasion for him at the moment, lol) and more food!

I had originally planned to post this over a week ago, but it took longer than imagined to have finished the decorations on it. The letters alone on the care package took several hours over a couple of days to complete, so, I'd make a recommendation that IF you aren't good at cutting letters out (like me) then maybe spend money on stickers. I bought a bunch of silver stickers but I like the font of the letters which is on Microsoft word rather than the stickers. After that, I cut out the letters individually then outline them on black cardboard and cut them out. Also, a tip with this is to keep some of the base colour to use use when making the middle hole for letters i.e. A, O, E, etc. I've found this gives a nicer finish to the letters rather than shoving scissors into the middle of the letter.

Image (above) - Design of Care Package. The letters aren't perfect as it took longer than what I had imagined and almost lost my 'cool' after day three of working on them.

Image (above) - The Green Care Package!

Image (above) - The packed care package! So, as you can tell by this image unfortunately there were too many items in this care package to even close the lid. After using my Tetris skills and packing I finally found most items to fit. However, when I went to the post office the package was overweight so I had to remove a packet of wet wipes, a can of pringles, packet of chewing gum and a milo bar, to get the perfect weight of 2 kilograms... #winning 

Items in this care package included:

  • Twirl chocolate bar, mint flavour
  • Box of shapes, Orginal barbecue flavour
  • Extra spearmint chewing gum x3
  • Milo bars x2
  • Ritz snacks, sour cream and onion flavour
  • Speed Puzzles book
  • Hand written letter
  • Mint Pattie
  • Pringle cans x2
  • Body wash, Orginal Source
  • Breaking Bad season one
  • Yoyo
  • Cleansing Puff
  • Smartskin face wipes x2
  • Ball on a paddle
  • Mentos x2
  • Exercise massage ball
Image (above) - Items in care package.

Review of yellow care package:
The yellow care package was another major success! My loved one forgot to tell me that he opened it, and surprisingly it only took nine days to get to him from Australia. As I only send the care packages once a month, I have told him many times any food items are to last the whole month, but he ate 2 of the 3 bags of lollies within 24 hours of receiving it.. But I guess with the long days/night he needed it! The green care package will be sure to have another review in my next care package post, fingers crossed for another success... Not sure if he will find this as cute as the minions. Thanks for reading!

Madeline - 13/09/2016

Sunday, 7 August 2016

The third care package!

Title - You are one in a minion!
Themed colour - Yellow

Date of posting - Monday, 8th of August, 2016.
Date of arrival - To be announced!

My loved one and I love the minions! So, although I had other ideas for the yellow care package when I saw this themed idea online I knew I had to make one the same. I had so much fun making this care package (like all my care packages) as I didn't fear he wouldn't like it as I know minions are his favourite.

Surprisingly, I struggled to try and not buy too many items for this care package. This care package mostly includes food items, especially lollies as requested by him. I've found that although the weather is extremely hot, the turnover has been very fast with previous care packages that food items I thought may have melted haven't... yet (anyway)! I always wrap all of my items that I'm worried about melting or breaking in bubble wrap. This can help to ensure if they are to melt that they won't completely ruin the care package straight away along with the obvious reason of bubble wrap preventing items from breaking (hopefully anyway).

 Image (above) - The Yellow Care Package!

Image (above) - The packed care package! Surprisingly this care package including all it's items were the perfect size. This packaged weighed in at 1.91 kgs which I was thankful for since the first care package was too heavy and the second one I had to purchase another box!

Items in this care package included:

  • Hand written letter
  • Starburst snakes
  • Despicable me fruit tails - Orange and Raspberry
  • Ritz snacks - Tasty Cheese flavour
  • Maggi Beef Noodles
  • Minion Candy character 
  • Maggi Chicken Noodles
  • Minion Tic Tacs x3
  • Wagon Wheels x2
  • Starburst babies
  • Minion Toy 
  • Flake chocolate bar
  • Starburst Fruitful mix
  • Minion Bath and Shower Gel x2

Image (above) - Items in the care package

So, in case it wasn't obvious from this care package my loved one had requested a lot of food to send over, especially his favourite lollies Starburst. I'm hoping this care package will last him for at least a week as I know that he generally eats the food from the care packages I had sent him within 24 hours. That is because he loves food from home, like all the snacks and bits and pieces that I send him. My suggestion is that send them anything that they really like because it can be difficult for them to eat due to limited time to go to the mess.

Image (above) - Care package box design

Review of orange care package:
So, I was lucky enough to be able to have a video call with my loved one when he opened this care package. It happened to be our anniversary as well which was special for him and my luck (or should I say amazing timing)! His face was filled with delight when he opened it and that is why I have sent this care package earlier than imagined... seeing the happiness on his face when he opened it meant the world to me. There is no better feeling in this situation to see your deployed loved one smiling with joy and talking to you. So... I guess the second care package was also a giant success!

Madeline - 08/08/2016

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Some days may be bring sunshine and others may bring storms

Some days are going to bring sunshine... This may be receiving a letter in the mail, having a Skype call or even just a normal call. You may even wake up to a loving message from them. The time difference won't matter when you hear from them once a day. So, whatever it may be that brings you the happiness or comfort is going to make you feel like you are on cloud nine, but don't be afraid to fall.

Others may bring storms... A storm will never last forever. While they blue skies may disappear and turn into grey, it doesn't mean that a rainbow won't appear, and the blue sky won't return. So, although you may be having a bad day, remember a bad day only lasts 24 hours. Tomorrow is a new day and you can start over again, and again every morning until your loved one is reunited with you.

There are going to be days when you just want to cry. You may have one reason, many reasons or no reasons for it and at the end of the day it is okay to be like that. Many people cry.. it may not even be because you miss your loved one. Nobody expects you to be strong all the time. Just because you come across as a positive person, never be afraid to let down your walls. If you think you aren't strong, you are wrong. There is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about if you aren't having a good day. I've had many so far, and he has only been away for 52 days... sounds like a long time but it's only been 7 weeks and 3 days. Somedays you'll realise that time has passed so fast and you count up how long it has been and think you are so close to them coming home. Other days it will feel like the time is taking forever and the day is longer than 24 hours.

So, if you feel like you are going to cry enough tears to fill a river, then let yourself. You may want to be alone, have someone nearby to vent to or just find a stress relief for it. Whatever your way of coping with your emotions is the best way because what works for me, may not work for everyone! It is important that you surround yourself with an amazing support group though. This may be family, friends, co-workers, someone you know that also has a loved one deployed or even someone online. You don't need to talk about them, talk about anything! I'm also finding this blog as another way to express myself as well as hopefully help other people in my position.

All of what you may be feeling is natural. While I am not an expert at this long distance - deployment relationship, I've managed to accept the bad days along with the good. At times you may deny the bad day, but eventually it will get the better of you. I can only say this one thing... you don't always need to be strong, especially around your deployed one. I was worried of making him feel guilt when expressing my emotions, but he did not mind at all. It is best for you to express your feelings so they know and can try to help you. Surprisingly, the things you may think are a big issue, they will explain to you to be something ever so simple. Two brains are better than one, and your loved one when leaving would have assumed you'd be feeling worried and anxious about them while they away. This is more than likely because you have no idea what they are doing, and generally as they can't tell you, you won't know but just believe them when they tell you they are doing well. Have trust, confidence and believe them.

Madeline - 15/07/2016

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The second care package!

Title - 'Orange' you glad you got this care package?
Themed colour - Orange.

Date of posting - Tuesday, 12th of July, 2016.
Date of arrival - Sunday, 24th of July 2016.

I found this care package enjoyable to create. While I was struggling with ideas for orange items to send over in this care package, I've realised if you buy piece one at various times when you are ready to send the care package you'll have a full box of goodies for him/her! Since my partner left on the 24th of May, I've have been purchasing small little items here and there which are cheap and can be sent overseas and putting them into the pre-packed boxes I'm eventually sending off. So, although I thought I didn't have much for my orange care package... it turned out that I had a lot! Of course, I was cautious about the weight of it, making sure it wasn't over 2kgs so I didn't have to pay.

 Image (above) - Orange care package!

Image (above) - This time I had to send two boxes! This was because everything didn't fit in the main box and it was over weight. The main box weighed in at 1.864 kgs without the watch or game, so I purchased a smaller box that weighed 0.673 kgs!

Items in this care package included:
  • Box of shapes - Chicken Crimpy flavour
  • A toothbrush (may be used to clean teeth or weapons)
  • Packet of fruity chews
  • Sunscreen - SPF 50+
  • LQD - Tropical flavour (to add to water)
  • 250 Mixed puzzles book
  • (Another) Pair of undies
  • Face washer towel
  • Tic Tacs - Orange flavour
  • Niva Men deodorant - Stress protect
  • Nintendo DS Game - Crash, Boom, Bang!
  • Orange 'happy candee' in a tube
  • Tic Tacs - Peach and Lemonade flavour
  • Hand written letter
  • G Shock Watch - His new pride and joy that he bought online and got delivered home for me to send over to him
Image (above) - Items in the care package

Just like the first care package, I am so so excited to send this off! I feel like these are a great way to keep in touch and even if you aren't very artistic, it's enjoyable to make. I've seen lots of great ideas on other blogs and I am hoping to create something amazing with mine!

The title name was hard to think of but, if you can't think of anything use the internet! People create care packages for all different reasons, not just military, you can use their ideas along with yours to create something your loved one will truly enjoy.

Review of blue care package:
SUCCESS! My loved one was over the moon when he received it. We had made an arrangement that he would open it when we were on video call on Skype but he couldn't resist and opened it while I was asleep. Surprisingly, the m&m's had not melted which was a positive and it only took 11 days from when i posted it to when he received it. He is 'patiently' waiting for the next one, asking when and what colour it is... Keep posted for my next care package, until then thanks for reading!

Madeline - 12/07/2016

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Touching Base Event

Today, I'm writing this post with a happy heart... and not because of hearing from my loved one! Last night I went along to the 'Touching Base' evening at the local Community Centre at the base where my loved one works when he is home. Touch Base is a group started by NEDC for those who partner is away on deployment, on a course or involved with other factors relating to their service. It was an amazing first time experience that has left me with joy and a motive to write another blog post to share with everyone who may be reading! 

Thanks to the Facebook Page 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment I was able to find a closed group on Facebook named Partners & Family of the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. It's amazing how much is available via social media these days!! Through the closed group I was able to find events being held during the day and evening for family and friends to go along to that support partners/family/friends of loved ones that are involved in service. 

It was a mixed emotional experience before going to the event. When saying goodbye to my loved one at the airport over a month ago, I noticed that most of the deployed soldiers had families and children they were leaving behind. However, my partner was leaving behind his family and friends and I... His girlfriend of just over a year who was 19. So, I felt that going to this event would be a struggle for me as I wouldn't "fit in" or be able to make conversation with others easily as I imagined our situations of life would be different. 

My assumption of the age differences was right.. So, naturally I felt uncomfortable but all the people who were there talked to me and made me feel very welcome! Although, I was the youngest (by far), I would consider myself a mature person for my age, so I think that helped! I spoke with a lot of people who attended and got the chance to listen to their stories, which is inspiring to hear... Especially, for someone young like me. Being able to listen and discover this group was highly enjoyable!

I would 100% recommenced that regardless of where you may live to do some research pre-deployment as to whether anyone is organising events similar to the one I went to. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet others going through a similar situation to yourself and create new friendships! While it may be out of your comfort zone, it's also a chance to share stories, listen/offer advice and most importantly support one another. 

Never forget you aren't alone throughout this journey! Don't feel guilty for having 'a bad day' because it is going to happen. Bad days are just a reminder to be grateful of the good days. While it is challenging for your loved one who is on deployment, you will go through a roller-coaster journey of emotions during their time away from home. It is natural to feel that way and nothing to be ashamed or have guilt over.

Madeline - 29/06/2016

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The first care package!

Title - Something out of the blue to let you know, I love you!
Themed colour - Blue.

Date of posting - Wednesday, 15th of June, 2016.
Date of arrival - Sunday, 26th of June, 2016.

Today was a very exciting day for me as I was able to send off my first care package to my gorgeous partner! While creating this care package I felt uneasy as I was unsure whether he would use the items that I sent or whether the items would go to waste. As there is a first time for everything, I decided to go with my gut instinct along with the help from the following blogs/websites:

When purchasing food items I had to considered what would be appropriate for the journey i.e. whether a bumpy ride would ruin it and question if it would melt in a car because realistically it's going to be very hot on it's journey and when it arrives. Ideally, foods are going to be difficult items to send over especially as it is summer in Iraq, whereas it's winter in Australia. If the item is likely to melt in a car then I decided I wouldn't send it to him. This was because I didn't want them to melt and ruin the other items in the care package.

Considering whether to send toiletries I decided to send just the basics as I've read that most stuff is available for them to purchase at the local store that apparently contains almost every essential you need to use in the bathroom. I know that my man likes certain brands that are Australian so I decided to send only a few items and if he wants other items then I'll send them at his request.

Image (above) - The box design

Image (above) - Desired set out of care package

Image (above) - Reality of how the care package is packed before sending

Items in this care package included:
  • Mini M&Ms
  • Oreo cookie box - Strawberry flavour
  • Australian Flag (paper)
  • Pringles grab & go - Salt and vinegar flavour
  • Niva sensitive shaving cream (in a tube)
  • Hand written letters x2
  • Niva chap stick with SPF 15
  • Mentos - Mint flavour
  • Powerade Mountain blast powder
  • Moisturising facial cleansing wipes
  • Extra chewing gum - Peppermint flavour x 2
  • Maxx trunk underwear
  • Lined notebook
  • Ball point pen (with 4 colours)
  • Pocket pack of tissues
  • Protein FX Lo carb choc-coated protein bar x2
  • Chupa Chups lollipops (Cola and lemonade flavour) x2 
Image (above) - Items in the care package

To All Australian family, friends and other individuals who are sending care packages to loved ones please know that ANY type of item being sent letter or box has FREE shipping as long as it is 2 kgs or under is weight! This was my first package I sent and was caught out... I decided to pay for it as it was a once off. It cost $16.30 to send my package which weight 2.47 kgs. So I hope this is helpful!

I'll be sure to include a review about whether my partner enjoyed the items that I sent in this care package and whether he has asked for any items to be sent in my next post! Until then thank you for reading.

Madeline - 15/06/2016

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Things to do before your loved one is deployed

Before your loved one leaves on their deployment journey there may be a lot on your mind including when they leave, how you'll manage and when you'll hear from them again. Personally, I was worried about everything from whether he had packed enough underwear to when I'd be able to start sending letters to him. In the weeks leading up to him leaving I wanted to make sure we got to do a variety of things to make him feel relaxed. So, here is a few things which you may want to do with your loved ones before they leave:
  • Going out for a meal - Food always goes straight to the heart so eating with your loved one at a nice restaurant or your favourite pub is a nice idea. Whether it's with family, friends or just you both. 
  • Going on your usual date - Our typical date was to go bowling and then go to the gaming arcade. Even though it may be the last time you'll do the activity you both enjoy, remind yourself that you'll do it again once they are home.
  • Having a lazy day/night - While celebrating and going out may be enjoyable sometimes it's nice to spend a night at home... so grab a pizza and watch a movie with them in bed!
  • Reminiscing - Think of all the best memories you share together. Personally, I thought this would have made me an emotional wreck as we won't be doing it again (for a while) but instead it made me feel comforted. 
  • Help them pack - This is a difficult task, and also an emotional task but your loved one will appreciate the help, as it isn't easy for them either. If you are sneaky you'll be able to pack something of your own that will be a surprise for them when they find it.
  • Remind yourself it's not forever - It's clearly going to be an emotional period of time for you and your loved one but they will be back home quick enough. It may be a good idea to plan activities to do like creating a care package fortnightly. This will help you keep busy and thinking of ideas for them!
  • Let them know your true feelings - This is so important! There is absolutely nothing wrong with talking to them about your biggest and smallest concerns when they leave. Don't be afraid to cry, but remind them of the positives like how proud you are.
  • Night out with their mates - Whether it's a few drinks, dinner or just ice cream hanging out with a bunch of their mates is a great way to say final goodbyes but also enjoy company. Especially friends that are outside the army, people they won't be spending the next few months around.
  • Day with their family - Family is so important, and it's a good time to make plans on how you'll manage to communicate with one another when you hear from your loved one. This may include planning a time to visit for a group Skype call, or sending a bulk package of letters to them. While away they won't be able to talk to everyone as time is limited for them.
  • Going for a drive - As they will be leaving their hometown or the place they know as home, if they aren't based in your hometown, this can be a nice date day for you both as well as them having a tour before they leave. When they return, you'll be able to go on the same drive and see what has changed in the months that have passed.

At the end of the day, if there is something you haven't remembered to do in the lead up to their deployment then remind yourself they will be back home before you know it and you'll be able to do these things with them again! You may want to include sharing with them what you look forward to doing when they get back home in a letter or care package.

Madeline - 25th of May, 2016.