Round-Up: July 2017

Round-up: July '17

“Fine Fourth of July /Another one has passed by / Thanks to our soldiers.”  – James Horn

Goodbye, July!  I’m looking forward to August in a lot of ways.  July has never been my favorite month, and this one definitely wasn’t.  Is it okay for me to start out that gloomy?

I mean, it definitely had some highlights–for instance, celebrating our 3-year wedding anniversary over the long Independence Day weekend was SO incredibly special.  And we did some really fun retail therapy this month, as well as countless mommy-and-me dates.  Those are priceless to me.  We also discovered a new Mexican restaurant, drank a ton of coffee and swam pretty much every day.  But there were some stressful patches that come with being pregnant and also being in the Army lifestyle, and especially being both at the same time.  I’m lucky to have such a wonderful husband and daughter(s), and they definitely make everything better.  Before I get side-tracked, here is a list of what I was supposed to do, reflecting what I *actually* did this month, haha:

  1. Begin a walk routine.  But my morning walk routine was replaced by 3 weeks of swim!  Same benefits!
  2. Catch up on my baby diary ONCE AND FOR ALL.  No, but I did some SERIOUS catch-up, so yay!!
  3. Publish a blog post once a week.  Finally!  I’d like to do it more than once, but once a week was manageable.
  4. Drive “downtown” on my own.  I did it!
  5. Knit a tutu for my new baby.  Almost started it, but changed my mind about the yarn I had.  Time to shop!
  6. Add buttons and a pom-pom to my previous knitting project. I should post a pic of it!
  7. Put together a memory chest for my baby.  I made a temporary one, but would like to buy a prettier box.
  8. Take a Mommy-and-Me Tumbling class with my toddler.  OMGEE we love this.
  9. Take a Mommy-and-Me Swim class with my toddler.  We love this too!
  10. Create/Expand a category of my blog.  I can see this happening soon.
  11. Read to my toddler every day.  If we add this to our routine we will have more success!

While I can’t say this was my most productive month, I definitely feel good about what I got done!  I started a few new projects that weren’t on this list.  More than that though, I created quite a few mental lists of goals and intentions that I think will carry through August.  I already noticed them making a difference in my July!  While I didn’t get everything on my list done, I felt like I made some personal progress in a few areas…blogging and socially especially.  Any kind of progress in those areas feels extra big to me, since they aren’t always my natural strengths.  For me, making steps in the right direction feels like a goal in itself.  haha

I’m very hopeful about August and think it will bring a great many joys and accomplishments!  I’ll be posting about my August plans soon, and hope you’ll be back to share yours in the common section!  And if you have any thoughts to share about your July ’17, please be sure to leave those in the comment section below.  Comments are some of my most favorite things to read, ever.  And I’m a Lit major, so I really mean it. 🙂  Thanks for stopping by!

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My Favorite Stationary Supplies for Writing to My Soldier

My Favorite Stationary Supplies for Writing Letters to my Soldier

*This post contains affiliate links!*

Whether you just recently said goodbye to your soldier-to-be, or you’re swimming in those long weeks of Basic Training separation, writing letters to your man is probably a part of your life right now.  For me personally, writing letters became a very strong form of communication (funny how that works when everything else gets limited), and crucial to our relationship’s growth.  It was also romantic and that’s totally my thing.  haha Anyway, something I have mentioned before is that having a letter-writing station helped me never miss a day of writing.  But I never really shared what my letter-writing station consisted of.  A few of the items listed below are things I didn’t have, but really, really wish I did.  (No worries, they will all make an appearance on my nightstand during Ranger School– *sigh*).  Leave a comment at the end if you have any additional stationary supplies to reccommend.  Good luck to you and all your writing endeavors!

 

Address Stencil

If you’ve clicked around on my site before, you’ve probably heard me mention this.  It’s the perfect little tool to make the outside of any envelope look beautiful.  (ESPECIALLY if you’re using regular white business envelopes, like me).  A stencil can make all the difference in keeping everything straight and fancy.  Plus they are fun to use.

Address Stamp

But in case you are not a calligraphy-type person (ahem, hello–still aspiring there), this little address stamp can achieve much of the same elegance!  It’s a time saver and requires little to no skill (yay!).  I liked using stamps as a heading to my letters, for decoration purposes, but this stamp would be functional as well as cute.  I wish I had gotten one of these for my wedding stationary!

Roller Stamp

Roller stamps are an easy way to mark the date and number of your letters. I know most people would just say, “Um…isn’t that what the date is for?” and they are right.  But this is where practicality meets art-inspo.  My soldier’s letters would often arrive in clumps of 3 or more identical envelopes, and I didn’t want him to crack the letter open, see the date, and just start reading whatever letter he had grabbed.  Maybe I’m OCD about order.  Anyway, I created a paper band and would fold it around my letters with the “letter number” stamped on the outside of the band.  So that despite whichever envelope he opened (they all looked the same!) he could see the date/number stamped on the band and unfold whichever letter he had last left off on.

 


Fun Stamps

Onto a completely different kind of stamp–I think personal interest stamps, like these planets, are a great way to specialize a letter.  I think I might have sent my husband a few patriotic stamps while he was at Basic Training.  But for the most part, I would buy the most romantic stamps I could find (hearts, wedding ones, etc).  If those weren’t available, I tried to find another stamp that he would see and think of me.  One time I got a sheet of oil-painted landscapes, and another time I got botanicals.  I felt like this little touch of personalization would make him think of me on first sight.  You can even self-design stamps: use a picture of the two of you, a photo of your pet, or some object of significance that no one will recognize but the two of you.  Follow this link to order your own.

 

Basic White Envelopes

If you’ve read any of my mailing-to-Basic-Training guideline posts, you probably know I have a thing for white envelopes.  They might be super lame and super basic.  But it makes me feel so comfortable knowing my letters aren’t drawing any attention!  Obviously, if you use cards, these envelopes would be too narrow and unnecessarily long.  But if you’re like me and like using standard 8×11 stationary paper, these envelopes are perfect for being generically inconspicuous! ha!

Large Stationary Paper

Again, if you’ve ever read anything I’ve said about Basic Training letters, you might have realized I’m super wordy.  And that didn’t change when it came to writing my soldier at bootcamp.  hehe, oops.  I LOVED using large, standard size sheets of decorative paper.  The cute cards that were temptingly gorgeous were also too cramped for my daily letter-writing needs.  I felt like writing front and back on the card would make it look overwhelming and busy.  And it would kind of kill the cute and gorgeous thing.  So, I just used 8×11 paper, as decorative as I could find it, and filled page after page.  The size of these really gave me the room I need to write and to spread things out.

Inspirational Cards

I do have a soft spot for cards though.  And I did sometimes send them!  They perfectly convey “I miss you” without becoming a novel about how, why, and when you miss your special someone. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that–but that usually made it into my everyday-letters).  These are especially helpful if you pass a milestone during your soldier’s time in Basic Training (i.e. his birthday, your anniversary, a holiday).  It switches up your regular paper stationary with something a little extra special.  It becomes something he can grab from his locker and read before bed more than one night in a row.  Cards can be especially effective if your soldier’s love language involves words of affirmation, because cards naturally come with the connotation of care and appreciation.

  Envelope Glue

I hate, hate, hate licking envelopes!  (And can only ever think of the Seinfeld episode whenever I have to lick one, haha).  The sticky part of the peel-and-stick envelopes only sometimes work for me.  I pretty much use a few pieces of scotch tape on the outside of my envelopes, no matter what method of closure they have.  Or at least, I did.  Now I use this roller glue and OMGEE it sticks.  It makes a difference.  It’s good stuff.  And if you keep the cap on, it will stay moist and last a really, really long time.

Mechanical Pencils

I’m a pencil girl at heart, and love the flexibility of erasing.  <- for anyone who ISN’T currently in a pen-pal relationship with a soldier at Basic Training, skip this because I’m going to look crazy as I rant for a minute here.  Proceed with caution: sometimes writing a letter can be emotional.  You’re trying to be positive but there are some negatives you have to talk about.  You go on a tangent about something that happened at work and then realize you need to tone it down so that your letter doesn’t come off with an alarmist ring.  The last thing you want is to stress him out.  So you start changing an entire paragraph.  Anyway, pencils are my jam and they saved my skin because I definitely am a committer of “automatic writing.”  I write everything I’m feeling and then a few sentences in realize I need to change direction.  Enter little pencil.  And more importantly, little pencil eraser.

 

Colored Pens

Nothing says “commitment” like permanent ink.  These are not for the faint of heart (see above).  But they are for the creative and collected girl who wants to vary the color and overall look of her letters.  One of my favorite ways to customize a letter is by switching up the ink color.  Even though I’m really a pencil girl at heart, pens can be a creative way to vary your letters at a low cost.  I also happen to have horrible handwriting and write super long letters, so mixing up the paragraph colors can make the letter easier to read after a long day.

Stationary Organizer

A huge key to “making that daily letter happen” is definitely setting up a letter-writing station.  I know this sounds silly, but again, if you’re knee-deep in those long Basic Training months, you’ll understand what I mean.  Writing a letter isn’t always the hard part.  It’s having enough stamps on hand, the right envelopes, and general organization that sometimes makes or breaks the letter getting out.  I kept a stack of about 10 pre-addressed envelopes on my desk, beside my stamp sheet and pen mug.  It made writing letters a breeze, because I knew the only thing standing in my way between getting the letter out or not was simply if I indeed had something to PUT in that envelope at the end of the night.  It was motivating to see the envelope stack diminish over the week, and that level of organization kept me accountable.  It’s definitely a main reason I was able to send him something every single day.

Like I said at the beginning, if you have a crucial or beloved stationary supply to recommend, please leave a comment below!  I think all of us here in the Army family are always open to suggestions!   And even a single comment can really give someone inspiration.   Thanks so much for stopping by, and please come back soon!

 

**Read next: How To Address a Basic Training Letter **

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Glam Bag Unboxing: July 2017

The July 2017 glam bag hit mailboxes this week!  And the theme surprised me just a little bit, but I like it!  It’s all about lazy summer makeup and “doing less” so that a you can ultimately “do more.”  Apparently, the ipsy creators thought this theme is epitomized by the new ipsy mascot, a cartoon over-easy egg named Gudetama.  Some of you may already recognize him for his iconically lazy attitude and sluggish little depiction.  I didn’t.  And I still don’t know the backstory behind why ipsy chose him as their new mascot, but I can see why he fit the July 2016 glam bag theme!  Does anyone know why he happens to be an over-easy egg? haha  Moving on, the glam bag itself is pretty cute!  The brands that partnered with ipsy were fun because all but one were repeats.  It kinda felt like a mini-reunion of my glam bags over the past year.  And I really like the products that came in the July 2017 glam bag, so it was an overall, over-easy hit!

Seraphine Botanicals blush – Lychee and Gold

I think that this blush is so gorgeous.  It reminds me a bit of the Dirty Little Secret Cosmetics Illuminating Baked Highlighter in Bellisima I got in my June 2o16 glam bag.  While that product is technically an illuminator, it wears perfectly as a glowy, shimmery blush.  This blush differs from that product in the fact that it is glowy, shimmery, and SUPPOSED to be a blush. 🙂  It is infused with lychee and chamomile extracts, which are apparently responsible for the glow.  I’ve never seen or tried this brand before, but I’m liking what I’m seeing so far.  While it has no bearing on the product itself, can we just take a moment to admire the packaging?  It’s totally gorge!

BellaPierre Cosmetics Banana Setting Powder

I first tried this brand in the form of a mineral blush from my September 2016 glam bag, and wasn’t impressed.  Then once more I tried it as a mascara from my February 2017 glam bag and was not particularly stunned.  I don’t think BellaPierre Cosmetics are a bad brand, but they aren’t my favorite.  However, this product came along and changed all of that.  This powder has been with ipsy for a while.  It’s my first time receiving it in my subscription, but my sister got it in her ipsy bag quite a while ago and gave it to me (not because she didn’t like it, but because she is just super generous).  My daily setting powder is the Stay Matte 011 Creamy Natural pressed powder by Rimmel Londno, and my specialty setting powder is the HD Finishing Powder 01 Translucent by Nyx.  But despite the effectiveness of those products, having a good banana setting powder on hand is always nice.  And I really, REALLY like this one.  It’s banana-y enough to complement my olive skin tone, and it actually smells really good!  (I have a thing against pungent powders).  Probably the reason I was most excited to receive this was because my baby dumped my last one out on her bouncy tray and smeared it around.  Such an epic way to see a makeup product die.

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OFRA Cosmetics eyeshadow – Gold Rush

Another long-standing partner with ipsy is OFRA Cosmetics, as I received a nice OFRA highlighter back in my December 2016 glam bag.  Something that confuses me about this particular eyeshadow is that it claims to pull double-duty as both a matte and shimmer eyeshadow.  Umm… I’m pretty sure it’s just shimmer.  Which I d0n’t mind!  It also works wet and dry, which I think most eyeshadows do.  I love the shade and I REALLY love the improved packaging.  The little foam black disc holds the product in perfectly and makes all the difference.  Urban Decay–you have some work to do!

Ciate London Wonderwand Gel-Kohl Hybrid Liner – Black

My favorite of all Ciate London products is the Geology topcoat (for mani-pedis) I got in my January 2017 glam bag.  Even more than the felt-tipped eyeliner pen I received in my October 2016 glam bag.  That is, until I tried the Gel-Kohl hybrid liner.  I have to say, it is still the kind that requires sharpening, which you know I HATE.  But it is ridiculously pigmented, detail-oriented, smooth, and high quality.  And so I kind of can’t help but love it.  Ipsy considers it to be one of their most versatile liners, and even created a video showing 11 ways to wear it.  I don’t think I would wear it many of the ways that the video featured.  To be honest I think some of the looks would be very difficult to pull of with just this pencil.  But the fact that it is so detailed and yet has the potential to be so smudgy is not to be taken for granted!  And as if the formula (and star-studded packaging!!) weren’t enough, one end of this liner is a beautiful little angled brush.  It’s perfect for smudging and blending, but can even be used as an eyebrow brush.  They literally thought of everything!

Jersey Shore Cosmetics Mongongo Lip Conditioner – Mandarin Green Orange and Ginger 

I received a Mongongo Lip Conditioner back in my August 2016 glam bag, and it was their Vanilla Coconut Cream version.  I really liked it, and still use it from time to time.  While I often reach for my more liquid-y type lip balms, this brand of lip conditioner holds a special place in my makeup drawer because of its buttery texture and gentle moisturizing.  It never gives the lips a super goopy feel, the way many balms do.  And while I have noticed the coconut bead a little bit, it’s not enough to keep me from using this lip conditioner.  An unglamorous, but mighty little product!

And that’s my little glam bag brand reunion!  Thanks for reading my July 2017 glam bag unboxing.  If you are an ipsy subscriber, please leave a comment below letting me know what you got!  And if you aren’t a subscriber but would like to be, you can sign up here.  (Doing so will not give me any monetary compensation but will give me bonus points to use on fun products!)   Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll come back soon!

              The “back” of the ipsy glam bag…and apparently Gudemata the mascot.  I just had to include this!  Haha.  You’re welcome.

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Army Basic Training: Top 10 FAQs About Writing Letters

Top 10 FAQs About Writing Letters to Your Soldier at Basic

A few years ago, I had my fair share of questions about writing letters to my soldier while he was at Basic Training.  Luckily, I wasn’t alone.  Pretty much everything I wanted to know had been asked at one time or another by someone before me.  I’ve compiled a list of the 10 most frequently asked questions that a lot of us have had about writing letters to our soldiers-in-training.   Are any of your questions on the list?

  1. Why Hasn’t He Gotten My Letter?

There is a multitude of reasons for this, but the main answer is usually pretty simple.  The mailroom gets overfilled and it takes a few extra days for the letters to get sorted and distributed among the men.  But if your not sure if that’s the issue, I wrote a whole post on what could possibly go wrong between his mailbox and yours.

     2. Why Hasn’t He Included His Return Address?

If he hasn’t included his return address, it’s almost always because he is still in Reception.  That’s the first 7-10 days after your soldier leaves.  It’s technically not “part” of the 10 weeks of Basic, but it’s inevitable.  Reception is essentially the “in-processing” of Basic, where your soldier is issued his equipment, gets his head shaved, learns basic formation moves, etc.  He might be allowed to write you, but you won’t be allowed to write him back, and hence, he won’t have a return address to include.  Once he arrives at Basic Training camp, he will be able to share his address with you.

     3. I Forgot to Include ___ in the Address.  Will He Still Get It?

This all depends on what you left out.  If you forgot to include his rank or first name, don’t worry, his roster number will cover for you (or in some cases, the “roster number” is the last 4 digits of their social security number).  If you forgot his roster number, but included his rank and full name, it’s a toss up.  Out of his unit’s official title, the most important part is his Company information (A, B, C, etc) and his Battalion number (X-XX IN BN <- for example).  The Company and Battalion designation are extremely important, but if you forget to add the IN BN after the number combination, your letter will still make it most likely.

    4. Do I Have to Wait for the Commander’s Letter?

If you have received a letter from your soldier, that includes his return address and his roster number (or platoon and class information, if that is needed)–then go for it!! Mail those letters!  Your letters might not be distributed to your soldier til around the time that the Commander’s Letter makes it to you.  🙁  That doesn’t mean you can’t mail them though.  If your soldier has provided you with his return address and roster number/unit information, there is no need to wait for the Commander’s Letter.

    5. Can I Send Him Photos?

The details of this are definitely subject to the opinions of each Drill Sergeant.  Soldiers are allowed to have pictures of their loved ones, in fact, they may be allowed to hang one or two on the outside of their locker.  However, some Drill Sergeants are particular about pictures being sent through the mail.  As long as the photos are appropriate, most Drill Sergeants will permit the soldier to keep them.  They will order the soldier to open the letter in front of them, however, to sensor the photos.  Once the photos have been screened, the soldier will most likely be allowed to keep them.  There is only one definitive rule held by all Drill Sergeants: no explicit images are permitted.  At all.  There is no Drill Sergeant that will allow this, as it is a strict Army rule, across the board.

    6. Can I Send Him Something Besides Letters: Cards, Newspaper, Clippings, Calendars, etc.?

This one is much like the question above.  It is dependent upon the Drill Sergeant.  As a general rule, reading material (besides the Bible and the letters you send) are not permitted to be kept by soldiers.  So sending two or three sports articles might not be okay.  Most do not allow magazines.  Something like a child’s drawing or a calendar diagram (for your soldier to mark off the days) would almost always be allowed.  All things– letters, calendars, cards, etc MUST be mailed in a standard envelope, however.

    7.  How Will the Drill Sergeant Know if I Sent Him Something He Can’t Have?

There may be a temptation to send something the soldier “can’t” have.  I’ve heard of people putting gum sticks or thin lingerie in the envelope (not even kidding you).   You may wonder, will the Drill Sergeant even know?  The Drill Sergeants know to look for abnormalities in the envelopes–extreme thickness, noise, lumps, etc.  One time, I had sent such a thick letter, the Drill Sergeant asked my husband to open the letter in front of him, assuming it was filled with photos.  It was just a big fat letter! haha I’ve always been too wordy.  But even IF you can sneak something into the envelope without it being noticeable, that doesn’t mean you’re safe.

The soldier can get in serious trouble for having contraband, as they call forbidden items.  Even if the Drill Sergeants didn’t notice it when it came through the mail, locker inspections happen periodically throughout Basic.  A stash of gum or explicit photos could get your soldier in huge trouble.  You might be sending him something with the best intentions, but it could have dire consequences.  Do not put your soldier at risk of being punished or recycled (having to start training all over again)– just don’t send it!

    8. Can I Send Him a Package?

Not to keep saying the same thing–but this is just dependent upon the Drill Sergeants.  The simple answer is this: you CAN send them, but he won’t be able to open them without permission (and overseeing) of the Drill Sergeants.  If, upon opening, the package is filled with candy, goodies, and other edible contraband, the Drill Sergeants may confiscate the contents on the spot.  Some Drill Sergeants have been known to allow the soldier to distribute the sweets among all the men, right then and there, with no leftover-storage allowed.   Other Drill Sergeants have eaten the goodies themselves!

When my husband was at training, I sent him his cell phone and charger in a small mailing box.  He told the Drill Sergeants ahead of time that it would be arriving, and what was in it.  While he still had to open the box in front of them, the Drill Sergeants let him keep the phone/charger.  (Thank goodness!)  Packages are just dependent upon the humor of the Drill Sergeants, as well as the contents of the package.

    9. Can I Send Him More Letter Writing Materials?

Theoretically, you can.  You won’t get in trouble for sending blank pages, and your soldier won’t get in trouble for having envelopes and paper in his locker.  But rest assured, you won’t need to do this.   There is a mini store (the PX) that your soldier will periodically have access to.  He will get to visit the store at the beginning of training, and a few times a month to restock on permissible needs- paper, envelopes, pens, and stamps included.

    10. Is There a Limit to How Many Letters I Can Send Him and How Long They Can Be?

There is definitely not a limit, in quantity or length!  As much as you can manage to write, send it.  Your soldier will never tire of or get overwhelmed by mail!  I talk more about facing personal letter-writing doubts here.  I would not hesitate to send as much mail as possible!  But keep in mind that about 10 days away from graduation, you might want to stop sending letters, in case they never make it to him.  With mailroom delays and the normal length of time it takes a letter to travel, there is a risk that a few letters won’t make it to him before graduation if you send them too close to that time.

There are so many more questions to be answered about writing letters to soldiers at Basic Training, but these are the top 10 I continually ran into during my own soul-searching.  Hopefully one of your own was on the list!  If you have any more, share below.  It’s always fun to see what others have wondered and what answers they discovered.  It all helps our Army Family!  Thanks for reading and please come back soon. 🙂

 

**Read next- How to Address a Basic Training Letter**

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Troubleshooting: My Soldier Hasn’t Gotten My Letters At Basic

Troubleshooting: My Soldier Hasn't Gotten My Letters At Basic

 

It’s one of the most frequently-asked questions of any Army loved-one when their soldier is at Basic Training.  Everyone wants to know if their letters ever made it to their soldier.  Or why they haven’t.  Or if they will.  And while nobody can know exactly what goes on behind the closed doors of Basic Training camp, here are a few answers to help you through the fog that we have all been through.

 

Problem: He is Sending Me Letters, But Says He Hasn’t Received Mine

Solution:  If it’s still within 10 days of his departure from you, then he is still in a pre-Basic Training “phase” known as Reception.  It’s the soldiers’ first stage of being stripped down to the very core, where their personal backgrounds and circumstances fade, and they become a single unit of men training for the same objective.  It’s the stage where they are issued clothing, receive haircuts, and learn how to get into formation, etc.   Since this phase is so strict, there is no way that the soldiers can receive letters, in fact, you won’t even have their Reception address!  Note: they can send a few letters from Reception, which is why you are getting some, but they won’t include a return address.

If he has been gone for more than 10 days, but hasn’t been gone longer than 5 weeks, then he is in Red Phase.  It’s the first phase of Basic Training and supposedly the “hardest.”  I’m sure it varies from soldier to soldier.  But it’s the strictest phase during which they are introduced to the Army lifestyle.  It’s the phase that sets the tone for the soldier’s Basic Training experience.  Normally, letters and phone calls aren’t allowed during this phase, because the Drill Sergents are still in “breaking” mode.  Again, you might be receiving letters from your soldier, but he won’t be getting mail call until about two weeks into this phase.

 

Problem: I’m Not Sure If I Have the Right Address

Solution:  You have 3 options.

  • Wait to receive the Commander’s Letter.  It arrives at some time during Red Phase.  It will have the address EXACTLY as you need to write it (but make sure you get your soldier’s roster number, or platoon/class information if that is required instead of his roster number).
  • Copy your soldier’s return address EXACTLY as he writes it.   He won’t be able to write a return address until he is physically in Basic Training, (not Reception) so some waiting might ensue.  Your soldier’s way of writing his address might differ slightly from the Commander’s way, but both are accurate.  Just make sure you have the roster number/platoon or class information.
  • Get on the Facebook page of your soldier’s unit to see if the Commander’s Letter has been published there.  Make sure you have the right unit though, as they have very similar numeration.  If you don’t know the unit Facebook page, you can look up their training website where an address is often posted under FAQ’s.  Just remember, you will still need the roster number or platoon/class number!!

 

Problem:  I Never Got the Commander’s Letter

Solution:  The Commander sends out a letter but sometimes it gets sent to someone besides you (if you aren’t his primary point of contact).  Your soldier fills out a few different forms of contact during his in-processing at Reception.  If he put his parents or a sibling down as his primary kin, then they will more than likely receive any of the letters sent out by the unit.  You can of course get a copy of the Commander’s Letter by contacting that family member.  But that’s not always possible.

So, another solution is to find your soldier’s unit Facebook page and look for the memo posted there.  If you can’t find it the memo, consider connecting with a fellow family member on the Facebook page and ask for a copy of the Commander’s Letter.  Just remember that social media is not always a safe place for discussing military topics.  There are rules posted on the Facebook  pages about what can and can’t be said.  Always be careful and err on the side of caution…since it’s your soldier’s safety we are talking about here!

 

Problem: My Letters are Addressed Correctly, But He Isn’t Getting Them

Solution: If you’ve ruled out the possibility that he is still in either Reception or Red Phase, then there could be another very good reason.  There are portions of the training during which your soldier will be sleeping and training “in the field” (outdoors).  During that time, there is no mail call, and your soldier doesn’t get a chance to send letters out either.  Not to worry!  They build-up and are all eventually delivered in one big bundle.  But remember that the build-ups are company-wide, and so it could cause a delay in the sorting/delivery process.  Again, he WILL get them eventually, but that doesn’t mean he will always get them in a timely manner.  🙁

If your soldier doesn’t seem to be getting your letters, more than likely there has just been a significant delay in the mail sorting.  Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence at least once or twice during Basic Training.  It’s not done on purpose.  It’s a simple logistical issue of having mass quantities of letters arrive in the same distribution room.  There is no “delivery” process from the mail carrier to the individual soldiers–that’s the job of the Drill Sergeants.  And they have so many other tasks that sometimes mail call gets left behind.  Rest assured, the letters WILL arrive (as long as you have the right address and roster number!)

 

Problem:  I Think My Letters are Being Confiscated

Solution:  Your letters will never be confiscated, unless they contain something that is contraband: gum sticks, explicit photos, etc.  Your letters are US Mail and cannot be confiscated or discarded simply because the Drill Sergeant is trying to teach the soldiers a lesson.  To be honest, the letters MOTIVATE the soldiers much more than withholding them ever could.  The letters are the property of the soldiers, and the Drill Sergeants cannot just hold onto them for their own reasons.

When it does happen that your soldier isn’t getting his letters, it’s never that he is being singled out.  Sometimes, the soldiers (as a group) will get assigned a task at night in punishment for something they did or didn’t do during the day.  This task could get in the way of mail call.  But it’s not that mail call was restricted.  It’s just that training got in the way.    That’s pretty much the only kind of situation during which your mail will be “withheld” from your soldier (or if he is training in the field).   So out of all your concerns, assuming his letters are being confiscated is the least likely issue!

 

Problem:  I Think My Letters are Getting Him in Trouble

Solution:  You can’t get him in trouble for writing too frequently.  Don’t worry that you are “annoying” the Drill Sergeants.  They are well aware that the soldiers will be getting frequent letters.  It’s part of their job to relay the letters to them.  The only way your letters could be getting him in trouble is if you are breaking the rules.  You can read the guidelines about envelope restrictions here and material restrictions here.  It’s pretty hard to break the rules though…you have to be intentionally sending naughty things or  going out of your way to make your letters stand out in an alarming way.

 

Problem: I Just Can’t Figure Out WHY My Letters Aren’t Getting to Him

If you’re still in doubt about what could possibly be going wrong, do a quick troubleshooting exercise:

  1. Check the current date– Is he in Red Phase?
  2. Check the known training schedule (if he has been updating you on upcoming events)– Is he in the field?
  3. Check the address– Is it the right one, including his roster number or platoon or class information?
  4. Check the rules– Am I violating any obvious rules, like sending padded envelopes?

Out of all the possibilities of what’s happening (or NOT happening in the mail room) the very most common problem with sending letters to your soldier is a simple issue of overflow.  With one mail room and hundreds of soldiers, it’s inevitable that keeping up with the mail is going to be tough.  Unfortunately.  The good news is, your letter will eventually get to him!  The bad news is, he might not be getting a “daily” letter–more likely a weekly windfall.

In the meantime, just keep writing him.  One day, he will get your letters!  And I guarantee, the mountain of mail will be a day he won’t forget. 🙂  If you are having a concern that wasn’t addressed above, feel free to leave a comment below.  I  will answer your comment as best I can!!  And if you have a suggestion for another Army-family concern that needs troubleshooting, I would love to know.

Thanks so much for reading.  I hope your period of waiting goes by as quickly and painlessly as possible!  Basic Training is long and waiting is such a challenge.  But one day it is over and your soldier is yours to keep. 🙂  Homecomings really are perfect.  I wish you and your soldier all the best!  Come back soon.

 

**Read Next: 5 (Emotional) Letter Writing Myths**

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July 2017

July 2017 to-do list

“The fireworks are bursting in the sky, / (like breadcrumbs kids are throwing in the bay, / to fly in fun and freedom of July) / like fish we rush to see surprises blast away.” –  Richard J. Heby

July 2017 is looking like it’s going to be a quick month.  Is that possible in the summer?  I feel like summers used to have this aura of being long, relaxing, days of laze.  And then something happened and they became the time for trips, programs, moves, etc.  Maybe that’s because I’m not a student anymore? (At least for now).

I just feel like July is going to fly by.  Maybe because I’ll be 5 1/2 months pregnant by the end of it, and so my pregnancy is making time go by quickly.  Or maybe it’s because our current Army training situation will be coming to a close next month and so this “final haul” will fly by.  I’m not sure, but I can already feel like it’s going to be a quickie.  I’m okay with that.  Hopefully it won’t be so quick that I can’t get a few things done.  Things like:

  1. Begin a walk routine.  I think some sun vitamins and fresh air will help with my pregnancy anemia.
  2. Catch up on my baby diary ONCE AND FOR ALL.  I think it’s totally possible.  I hope.  See above issue.
  3. Publish a blog post once a week.  A bit steep, based on my previous posting schedule.  But I need to do this.
  4. Drive “downtown” on my own.  I need the practice, and more than that, I need the confidence.
  5. Knit a tutu for my new baby.  I’m thinking a pink fur one.
  6. Add buttons and a pom-pom to my previous knitting project.  It’s that baby cozy and a hat to match.
  7. Put together a memory chest for my baby.  I have some little sentimentals I’ve been collecting for her.
  8. Take a Mommy-and-Me Tumbling class with my toddler.  I think she’ll love it!  Almost as much as me. 🙂
  9. Take a Mommy-and-Me Swim class with my toddler. Never to early to learn to swim!
  10. Create/Expand a category of my blog.  More on this later….
  11. Read to my toddler every day.  Last month, 2 books was apparently too daunting. haha So we will try 1!

Wish me luck.  haha  What are your plans for July 2017?  Leave a comment below! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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