My 100th post!
This is my 100th post. In honor of this special event, I’m going to attempt not to complain about anything. It will be difficult, but I will try. Also, I have posted a new bald picture of myself to the left. I also “backposted” a fuller version of this photo below in the Happy Birthday U.S.A post. It’s me in front of a Chicago police car blocking Michigan Avenue.
To catch up on today’s events: my father-in-law is not good at all; my brother is about as well as could be expected, but has a long way to go; I have chemo tomorrow.
Let’s turn our thoughts to a slightly more happy topic: my nephew Aaron. He is currently stationed in Kuwait with the Air Force. (I usually say Iraq because he is on the border, in case someone is questioning that.) That is not the happy part. The happy part is that he is a great kid. He is 10 years younger than me (9 years, 9 months and three days to be precise), so I get to call him a kid for the rest of his life. He was the first kid I ever babysat. In a move that would get all adults involved arrested today, I babysat for him when he was just a year old, which made me 11! ELEVEN. It wasn’t as dangerous as it sounds. My 9-year-old sister was there to help. 😉
He recently celebrated his birthday in the desert. He’ll also celebrate Thanksgiving there and although we hope he is home by Christmas, that remains to be seen.
Recently, I packed up a box of goodies for him. If you don’t personally know anyone stationed in Iraq, then you may not know that they live for treats from home. I sent him a ton of miscellaneous stuff: sunscreen, a gift card, shelf stable snacks, toothbrushes and so on. When I found out that he is living on about $30 a month, I had a mild heart attack and immediately filled up a box and mailed it to him. I know his room and board is free (if you can call his living conditions “room and board”), but that doesn’t cover incidentals – like when he works over and don’t make it to the chow tent before it closes, or toiletries, or Starbucks. (I can spend that much in a month on just toenail polish. I’m just kidding. I only own two bottles of nail polish – and they did not cost $15 each.) He’s living on very little because he has a wife and infant at home to support!
Aaron is one of those kids who joined the military for the benefits it offered – education, career and all – not to be a hero. Well, maybe he wanted to be a hero, I haven’t asked him that specifically, but he doesn’t strike me as someone too concerned about it. I do know when he joined, he stated he was going into a military occupation where he would never have to shoot a gun. I can remember him saying the recruiting officer promised he’d never have to do that unless he wanted to! Fast forward to the war in the desert, he’s finally shipped off after a couple of years of waiting and wondering. He did have to learn how to shoot a gun this year, before they dragged him to the desert, and he wasn’t too excited about it. From what I understand of his new “desert” position, he trains military convoy drivers. I think the stress of this job really sunk in for me when I read on his blog that he checks the reports every morning to see who made it back (alive or uninjured) from the convoys he sent out the night before.
So, I thought it would be nice to share some ideas of what you could send to Aaron or any soldier you know stationed in Iraq. They have kind of a special status, since they are stuck in the sucky desert, have to deal with the heat and are far from home – many not knowing when they’ll be allowed to come back.
Aaron’s wife, Barb, told me that small packages and letters are best. He loves to get cards. If you want to send a package, check out the postal service’s special priority mail box. You pick up the box (two sizes available, free) at your local post office for free, fill it up and mail it for $8. I found the “break even” point of using this box versus regular package mailing was 4 pounds. At 4 pounds or more, it was cheaper to use the $8 box.
Here are some ideas any soldier would love. And if you happen to send Aaron something he doesn’t need or can’t use, he is definitely a person who will share it with someone who can:
* calling cards
* individual serving drink stir-ins, like Kool-Aid flavors, lemonade or iced tea. He has to drink tons of water, so these help him stay hydrated.
* granola bars
* individual tuna packets with crackers
* any shelf stable convenience food in case he misses chow times
* homemade goodies that do not contain chocolate or anything that will melt
* new funny cards and/or stationery he can use to send to other people
* rolls of film
* toothbrushes & combs (apparently, these get gunked up with sand or get lost often)
* candy or mints – make sure they won’t melt easily
* small games – cards, handheld electronics, batteries
* DVDs for entertainment
* baby wipes
* any creature comforts!
His mailing address is below. You will need a custom’s slip for boxes, which the post office actually filled out for me when I took the package in to pay for it.
SRA Aaron C. Rost
APO AE 09366