Friday, March 11, 2011

Shipment #1

NLB is currently serving our country “over there” somewhere. And we’ve been doing our best to supply him with some comforts from home and goodies he might find difficult to come by. Also, as in my case, whatever random things fit in the box.

I sent my first box last week and he got it yesterday! Just under a week to get from here all the way over there. But it was not an easy process. More on that later.

You can fit quite a few items in one of those flat rate boxes that are especially for the military. Here’s a shot of some of the things I sent in his first box.


Some of these items were requested. Some I gathered on my own. And others were just random things I thought NLB or one of his roommates would enjoy.

And I packed that baby tight. There wasn’t much room for packing material. The protein shaker bottle and Crystal Light container are both stuffed completely full, having been crammed with as much stuff as I could fit in them. Also, I sent his birthday present, which includes a candle.


Actually, the Clorox wipes pictured above didn’t fit. They would’ve if I hadn’t packed these in the box as well.


That’s 6 dozen cookies.

6 dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies. That will be devoured, savored, and used as currency.


(I didn’t notice until I was looking at the pictures that these Ziploc vacuum bags also say “Sous vide,” which is something I see done on Top Chef all the time but would probably never attempt myself. But thanks, Ziploc, for making it seem like I could. If I wanted to. And if I had an immersion circulator to keep the water at a precise temperature. And if I thought anyone I serve dinner to would eat something that was cooked sous vide. Or knew/cared about what it was.)

The process of shipping the box nearly killed me.

First, let me say that I appreciate that the USPS and the Air Force do a good job delivering our stuff to our servicemen and women. However…they make it as complicated as it can possibly be.

You have to use a special box if you want to ship flat-rate. And you have to fill out customs forms. It has to go through customs even though it never leaves “our” possession. And the forms? While you can fill them out online and it’s “easy”, it’s not easy. Weight. Values. And you can only list 5 items. Um, I sent more than 5 items. The instructions are also not clear and the USPS site is less than user friendly.

Caedmon was so excited about packing a box to send to Uncle NLB. We got it all packed, I spent nearly a whole day trying to figure out how to go about filling out the online address form and customs forms correctly, and we took it to the post office last Thursday. My pregnant self unloaded my preschooler, we walked in carrying our 10 pound 10 ounce box, waited in line, and showed my forms to the guy behind the counter. I wanted to know that everything was filled out correctly and I’d done it right. He gave it the ok and sent us on our way.

Caedmon asked a zillion questions. Surprise, surprise. “Why do we bring the box to the post office?” “Who takes it to Uncle NLB?” “How does it get on a truck?” “Why does it have to fly in an airplane?” “Where is the airplane now?” “Where does the airplane stay when it’s not flying boxes to people?” He nearly wore me out. I promised that since Mimi retired from the Postal Service, she knew much more about it than I did and called to warn her that she needed to study up on how military mail is delivered.

Imagine my utter disgust and Caedmon’s complete freak out when the package showed up at our house the next day.

Apparently you have to sign all five copies of the customs form. A fact that escaped me because I’ve never done this before, but shouldn’t have gotten past the Postal Service Employee that does this every day. Except for Sundays and Federal holidays, of course.

I signed the papers and Caedmon and I took the package back to the post office. I had to promise him that it was, indeed, going to manage to get to Uncle NLB. But he wasn’t sure. And honestly, I felt a little iffy about the whole thing too. Especially since the tracking information that was emailed to me showed that it had been delivered already…to my own house.

But arrive it did. Yesterday. Or yesterday our time. I’m not quite sure what day it was when he got it there. And the contents made it fairly intact and secure. He’s already reported that the cookies made the trip well and that someone in his unit told him that 20 minutes after eating a cookie, he was still thinking about it. I’m not sure if it was that good or if he just liked chocolate chip cookies. A lot. The Lucky Charms bars were also a favorite, so I see more of those in our packing future.

All in all, it was a great learning experience for everyone. We’ve already started another box to send over in a few weeks. And if you have questions about how military mail gets delivered, Mimi has yet to conduct her class with Caedmon. She might still be able to fit you in.

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  1. Oh no I can't believe they sent it back to you!! Glad it finally got there though! I don't have any family in the military but I wonder if there are any organizations that will let me pack a box for a serviceperson. Any idea?

  2. What a great idea. You have such a big heart :)