Thanksgiving Box

Thanksgiving is an amazing holiday. For starters, I love to eat. The thought of an entire holiday devoted to eating as much turkey and mashed potatoes you can, is amazing. But of course thats not all it’s about. When I think back on all of most memorable Thanksgivings, I don’t remember all the food. I know I ate it obviously, but it’s not what I remember. I remember being surrounded by my family. I remember laughing at the kids table with my cousins. I remember listening to Grandma and Dad playing the piano. And now that my lifestyle keeps me from being able to go home for Thanksgiving, I truly understand how thankful I am for those memories. I wish I completely grasped that when I was growing up, but I never thought those times would end. As a kid, it isn’t always as easy to see.

So this year, I decided to do an activity with the children I watch. The idea of this activity is to get the kids to think about what they are thankful for each day in November.

We started by making a Thanksgiving Box. 

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To make your own Thanksgiving Box you will need:

  • A Small Card Board Box
  • Card Stock or Construction Paper
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Letter Stickers (optional)

Start by covering the outside of your box with card stock or construction paper. I let Anna Kate pick out the paper (color or pattern) and I cut it to size and glued it to the box. Next, she took markers and colored in all the placed we couldn’t glue paper. Then we put together a little turkey. She helped draw the eyes and picked out the “perfect feathers” for our little thanksgiving friend. Once that was all secure, we used foam-letter stickers and spelled out “I Am Thankful For…” It was a great chance for her to practice her letter recognition and spelling. Once the outside was finished, she set out to decorate the inside. She spelled out “Happy Thanksgiving” with more stickers and drew things that reminded her of Thanksgiving. For her, that was a cooked turkey, a bowl of peas, a scarecrow, a pumpkins, and a batch of straw.

Next we started on what would go inside the box. We have been calling them the “Thankful Turkeys”. 

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To make these “Thankful Turkeys” you will need:

  • A Variety of Card Stock or Construction Paper
  • Markers
  • Scissors

As you can see, you don’t need much because you will be making these everyday. The actual turkeys are not what makes this project special, but instead what they write on them. Everyday, have the children trace one of their hands and decorate it to make a hand turkey. I gave the children as little direction on that as possible. I don’t like to give them examples so they don’t just copy my ideas. I like to leave the creative liberties in their hands.

Once they have completed their hand turkey for the day, have them write one thing they are thankful for and the date in the center of the turkey. Each day, have them complete one turkey and place it into the box. Since I don’t watch the kids over the weekend, and there are some days when they have extracurriculars, some days they have to make more than one. Brooks doesn’t enjoy making them as much, but the things he chooses to write are very entertaining. What he writes usually makes up for the rushed, “chubby fingered” turkeys he makes.

Not only do the children have to think about things they are thankful for each day, but by Thanksgiving Day they will have a box full of things they are thankful for. Anna Kate is so excited to be able to share these things with her parents, that she actually hides the box each day when I leave.

I have been amazed at some of the things the kids have told me they are thankful for. The first few were fairly obvious. They both chose family, friend, and God in no order for the first three days.  After that it got pretty unpredictable. They have said everything from “cheese” to “Auburn”. They have also taught me a lot about thankfulness. Again, I tried not to offer up too many examples so they would tell me what THEY were thankful for. After they finished naming off family and friends, they started to name off things that I take for granted in day to day life, like water and shelter. I found it amazing that at their age, they thought about being thankful for things like that. Things that I don’t even think to be thankful for now that I am paying for them.

Since we still have a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, we still have quite a few more turkeys to make. But I have enjoyed this project so far. There are a lot of ways to personalize this project to fit you and the little ones in your life. You could also do this project as a family or as an adult. Instead of drawing on turkeys, you could simply write what you are thankful for on a sheet of paper, everyday for the month. It would be a great thing to look back at on Thanksgiving day with the ones you love. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with! Happy Thanksgiving, All!

alyssa

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Hawaiian Themed Care Package

My husband and I are lucky enough to be to be able to say that our first duty Station is Schofield Barracks, HI. Knowing that we are moving to Hawaii when this Ranger School journey is over, has made all the difference for me. It gives me something to plan and look forward to. Honestly its not something I feel like I need to explain; WE. ARE. PUMPED. So it was really a no brainer when I had to pick another care package theme.

wpid-wp-1441632255503.jpegSupplies:

  • Priority Mail Box
  • Card Stock
  • Letter Stickers
  • Decorative Stickers
  • Glue or Mod Podge
  • Scissors
  • Hawaiian Leis
  • Packing Tape

Directions:

  1. Construct your box using the packing tape.
  2. Use your card stock to cover every surface of the inside of your box. Some people leave the inner walls of the box uncovered. I prefer to cover it all so it looks uniform and complete.
  3. Using stickers write out: “Almost Time To Get Lei’d” on the top and bottom flap. I wanted to make the word Lei’d really large, so I cut it out of card stock myself. You should be able to find big letters at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s, I am just picky.
  4. Cut the lei’s and be careful not to lose any of the flowers, Tape around the inside of the box. You may want to tape in several places.
  5. Use decorative stickers to decorate the other two flaps.
  6. I added a Hawaiian bucket list to one flap that included all of the things we had talked about doing together when we got there. I hoped that might lift his spirits.

Remember, you know your solider better than anyone. Add as many personal touches as you can. Have fun with your package and she/he will see the love you put into it. I know my husband is going to crack up when he sees this.

** This care package was featured on the Creative Care Packages Instagram page.

lyssa

Darby Pass – Ranger School

This week has been one of the most mind blowing adventures of my life. I have stepped out of my comfort zone so many times, and every time I have been pleasantly surprised. Three days ago, I woke up with someone I had only just met, sleeping on my couch, and plans to go to breakfast with a group of girls I had only known for a couple weeks. But every single one of us had something in common that day.

We were waiting.

Waiting to hear the already decided fate of our soldiers. Waiting to find out if our men had passed through the first phase of Ranger School, or if they had recycled. Waiting to find out if we would see them the next day.

Just. Waiting.

Zac had told me in his last letter that he would know Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, which meant while we were all waiting on the edge of our seats, they already knew. That was the hardest part for me. Knowing that Zac was either extremely happy, or extremely upset and there was nothing I could do, was really hard.

Throughout that day, we all kept extremely busy. Making posters, preparing food, eating snow cones, some of us even went to put together goodie bags for the Ranger students. But for pretty much the entire day, we were all refreshing our phones waiting to see our man’s roster number on the Go list.

wpid-wp-1436719935958.jpegI will never forget the moment that list was posted. I was driving myself and a friend, Jaiden, home from packing up goodie bags. The two of us were extremely nervous. Our stomachs were betraying us and honestly, they had been all day. There was a rumor going around that the guys in a certain company weren’t doing well at all, and both of our guys were in that company. So waiting for the list was one of the most nerve wrecking things I have ever experienced. We were on the highway when she saw it go up and she screamed for 30 seconds before she even thought to look for their numbers. When she finally saw them both we were both so hyped up and excited, we couldn’t stop screaming. Zac’s cousin was following in the car behind us, and my phone was dead, so we were throwing our arms and thumbs up out of my sunroof to signal to her that he made it.

After a small victory dance in the parking lot of my apartment complex, the three of us went out for dinner and celebratory drinks and picked up more food to take to our men the next day. We had a couple of girls over to finish up posters for the next day and packed up our cars. When it was all said and done, we got to bed around 1:45 AM. Which wouldn’t be a big deal, if we didn’t have to wake up at 5:30 AM. But we were so excited, it didn’t take us long to get going that morning.

IMG_0682In my panicked, nervous state, I managed to jump the gun and take a wrong left turn driving to a place I had been several times before. But we still got there on time. At 7:15 in the morning there was already a decent amount of people there waiting. Since the guys wouldn’t be released until 9:30 at the earliest, people continued to show up as time went on. The energy in that parking lot was amazing. Everyone was so excited. Every time we saw movement on the other side of the gate, we all watched intently, just in case. A lot of the girls in our little group made signs. We proudly showed them off to the world and took lots of pictures with them.

I had been hanging out with a lot of the girls I was waiting with, for the better part of the last three weeks, but it wasn’t until we all went through that experience together that we all clicked as a “family”. I got to watch almost everyone in our group reunite with their man before Zac came out. I saw so many beautiful moments that morning, I can’t even begin to express how amazing that felt. Every time one of my friends hugged her man, I felt it. I felt the weight we had all been carrying lifting, just one reunion at a time, and it was one of the most inspiring ten minutes of my life.


IMG_0702And then Zac came out.  Time stood still for a minute. We hugged and kissed and I jumped like a school girl. It felt so amazing. Almost like falling in love with him all over again. And the rest of the day flew by in a blur. He told me stories and he ate. We watched Boondock Saints and Wayne’s World. He snuggled Koda and Smittens. He fell asleep while Katie and I did his laundry. He played a little Clash of Clans. We packed up his stuff. And as quickly as he came out of that gate, he went right back in.

I didn’t expect to cry. But I did. We talked about how the next time we saw each other I would be putting his tab on his arm and he would be coming home. He gave me about six billion hugs, and every time he started to walk towards the gate he would turn back around and say, “Just one more.” I made sure he had his Open When letters and he assured me he’d never lose them. Watching him walk back through that gate was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in a while. Such a bitter sweet feeling that you just have to experience to understand.

wpid-wp-1436747797451.jpegAfter he was out of sight, I searched the parking lot for my friends. It didn’t take long before we all found each other. We shared stories, moments, some laughs and a few tears. None of us wanted to be alone so we all stayed together for dinner. We bonded so much through that shared experience. I am so excited to have such a solid support group through this whole adventure. We have grown closer to each other so much in such a short time. And I am so thankful for that.

Darby Pass lived up to the hype. It truly was worth all of the work that I put into it. It is crazy to think that I walked into this journey with free time and an open mind and walked out with a hilarious group of friends. These next five weeks will seem a little less lonely now, and my Ranger will be home before you know it.

lyssa

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lyssa

Creutzinger Update | 06-22-15

Today is officially Day 1 of RAP week for Zac. This makes it my first day holding down the fort solo. It’s been about two months since I have posted an Update so I am going to try fill that gap now that I have some extra time on my hands.

Lets start with Zac: 

wpid-wp-1435023510187.jpegAfter he graduated IBOLC, things were a little confusing for a while. As the Army often does, they made and then quickly changed his plans. We were expecting him to start Ranger School in May, and here we are, near the end of June. But during that time he was able to attend RTAC, which gave him an extra confidence boost that I think will really help him during RAP week. We also got to meet up with his friend Chris, from EKU, and his wife Tabitha. The four of us got a chance to go to the Infantry Museum together, which really gave me a better understanding of Ranger School and everything Zac is about to go through.

Outside of his Army Career, Zac started taking Scuba classes. He completed all of his pool sessions and will have to finish the rest after Ranger School. He is very determined to have completed it all before we make the move to Hawaii.

Little Old Me:
wpid-wp-1435023842976.jpegI have had a roller coaster of events happen these past few months. After Zac graduated, I got to spend a lot more time with him than I did while he was in IBOLC. He was of course, very focused on training for Ranger School, but getting to see him every night, was nothing short of amazing.

Then I received word that my Grandpa wasn’t doing well.

Now don’t get me wrong, I feel like I’m adjusting well to having long distance relationships with my family and friends pretty well. But the second I got word about my Grandpa, I was over the distance. It took us so long to get leave for Zac to be able to come with me, that I didn’t get a chance to say good bye. That was when the reality of the Army life style really sunk in for me. And it hit me hard. But I am so thankful that we were able to go home and be with my family the week following his passing. We came together and picked each other up in just the way we all needed. And I’m thankful that I was able to have Zac by my side through it all. Grandpa suffering is over and he can finally rest easy.

To our surprise, we were relieved when we got home. We both expected to get extremely home sick, but we didn’t. We decided that this meant Georgia really was our “home” in the way we thought only Ohio could be. We talked about how Cincinnati would always be our City, but were happy that we could find the pleasures of “home” in other places. This will definitely make all of the moving around much easier for us.

A few days after our return Zac took an RPFT (a test to determine if he’d be permitted to go to Ranger School) He of course did amazing. He found out later that week that he would be one of a handful of guys attending RTAC the two weeks before Ranger School. We of course had to scramble to buy everything on the Ranger packing list at that point, and lets just say it was anything but cheap.

wpid-20150613_215239.jpgWhen Zac left for RTAC, I started watching Anna Kate and Brooks again for the summer. I spent most of my days with them poolside. Between watching them and taking care of Koda and Smittens, I kept pretty busy. I also went to a painting “class” at Brushes and Beverages in Uptown Columbus with Katie and Tabitha. We had a blast and I’m sure the three of us will be going back. But even with all that going on, those two weeks seemed to drag on forever. When he finally called and asked me to pick him up I was watching the kiddos. The three of us picked him up and took him home. I still had several hours of watching the kids ahead of me, so he slept until I got back. We had Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner, per his usual request, and he fell asleep early. Throughout the next few days we ate at all of Zac’s favorite spots including Chipotle and Buckhead’s Bar and Grill. He wasn’t home long, but I cherished every second. It was over way too fast. But I felt more proud and excited to watch him walk into Ranger School, than I felt sad to see him go.

Before he left, I told him that I was going to attempt to finish a project a week. We talked about a few and I have the first few weeks of projects lined up. Between working, taking care of the fur babies, organizing Zac’s fan mail and keeping up with my usual chores, I should be plenty busy and hopefully have no time to feel lonely.

The Fur Babies:

wpid-wp-1435022893419.jpegKoda Bear has had an interesting few weeks. He spent a few days throwing up all over our apartment. At first I thought he got too much of a bone, then I thought he got into Smittens’ litter box, but after a few days of watching him I learned no matter what he was getting into, he was puking because he drank his water too fast. I have limited the amount of water I give him at a time and he stopped getting sick. The crazy boy just loves water so much that he can’t get it in his face fast enough. Once Zac left for RTAC, Koda started sleeping in bed with me through the night instead of just the mornings. He loves it. We had some issues when Zac came home because they both LOVE to spread out and take up the whole bed so there was no room for me. But we are back to normal now and both sleeping great. We also took him to the dog park for the first time with Chris, Tabitha and their puppy. (The two of them have been great friends to us since they moved down here and I’m so happy they are here!) It was so hot that we were the only people there at first. Koda attempted to play but quickly got too hot and tired. When we left, Koda was so tired he slept the whole way home in front of the air vents. He spent the whole time Zac was home giving Zac kisses and following him around. He definitely missed him. He is currently curled up on my lap, giving me snuggles while he chews on his bone. He is such a mama’s boy.

wpid-wp-1435023330672.jpegSmittens definitely misses Zac already. He was out playing before we left and when I came back without Zac, he was sitting under our bedroom window and he stayed in that spot all. day. long. The poor boy loves Zac so much. He has been warming up to me a lot lately, though. He has let me hold him without biting me, which is HUGE for us. He still won’t let me anywhere near him with his ShedMonster, so he’s still “over fluffed”. He has made it is mission to wake Koda and I up in the middle of the night, every night. He has knocked a full glass of water off my night stand, knocked over three different picture frames, knocked dvd cases onto the floor and been caught on video playing with his loudest toys, all around 4 in the morning on different nights. He keeps me on my toes, and drives Koda insane.

All and all, we are doing pretty great down here. I will continue to post updates as our journey continues.

lyssa