All weekend long we floated on cloud nine as we celebrated not only Jamie’s homecoming from Poland, but more importantly the fact that he’s home with us for good. With the exception of 2014 (which included two cross-country moves), every year since 2011 has been touched by a deployment, so Friday night was a huge, huge, huge victory for our family. We might have been crawling 1mph to the finish line, but gosh darn it, WE CROSSED IT!
I’d love to share a few happy pictures and stories from our weekend, if you’re interested. 🙂
On Thursday night, the night before Jamie got home, I gave the girls a bath and set them up to watch Elf while I did the dishes. I glanced over at one point and felt that familiar lump in my throat as I marveled at how sweet they were. I thought about how they’ll likely never remember any of this chaos of Jamie being in and out so much. They’ll never remember Mommy’s exhaustion or stress. They love so hard and are quick to forgive, as kids usually do. They’ve been my little buddies and my constants through the ups and downs of 2017, and I’m so grateful for them… words just don’t touch it.
Friday was a loooooong day waiting, waiting, and waiting some more. Late evening arrivals are rough because the anticipation is so hard! I cleaned every lick of the house to keep myself occupied and then had our neighbor come over at 7pm (two hours later than expected thanks to Jamie’s flight delay) to watch the girls so that I could run on post (about 30 minutes away) to grab Jamie.
As soon as I got in the car, I changed the station from Christmas music (Hadley’s favorite) to the Christian station, and within 30 seconds the song “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells came on. My eyes filled with tears as I thought about how I listened to that song on repeat when Jamie first deployed and the comfort it gave me knowing that I wasn’t alone in the valleys.
This time, as I drove with butterflies and excitement, I listened as the song talked about God being with us when we’re on the mountaintops as well. The beginning of the deployment was a valley, but now we were on a mountaintop, and God (who remains the same) was walking through every single high and low with us. I was so humbled in that moment listening to that song. I know it wasn’t a coincidence that it came on right as I got into the car to get J.
Whether life is amazing right now or super, duper hard, give this song a listen.
He only flew home with a handful of soldiers, and I saw him as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. We both ran to each other, and dang – I’d be a billionaire if I could have bottled up that level of happiness and sold it.
Jamie wanted to surprise the girls at home, which is why I didn’t bring them, and in hindsight we were both SO glad we did things this way. There’s so much emphasis during deployments on how much more difficult it is to parent solo and also how much the soldier and kids miss each other, that you almost forget how much you truly miss your spouse for who they were first – your best friend and companion. Having a few moments to hug as long as we wanted and talk for a good half hour before the focus gladly shifted to the kids was awesome.
This was our seventh time to reunite after months apart, and to be honest, I think it was my favorite for the sole reason that nobody else was really around. No onlookers at airports. No pomp and circumstance at a ceremony. It was just us on a freezing December night, hopping out of a car, and running to each other. It was magical.
When we got home, I asked our sweet little neighbor to keep the girls in Hadley’s room while I put Jamie under a big box I’d previously wrapped in Christmas paper (his idea). When the girls came out, I told them to go open their surprise. You can see how it all unfolded in the video below.
Sadie clung to me for a solid half hour and was a little scared, but she finally let Jamie hold her when he offered her a piece of German chocolate. Shocker. She’s our little pig pig. 🙂
Jamie gave us a few gifts he’d thoughtfully picked up in Prague a few days prior, and my favorite was this gorgeous ornament. On a tree full of hand-made and personalized ornaments (which I absolutely treasure, don’t get me wrong!), this is by far the prettiest and most delicate one.
On Saturday morning we were right back to the grind and out the door by 8:25 for Breakfast with Santa at the Flint Hills Discovery Center.
We had a full morning that included breakfast (of course), cookie decorating, ornament making, play time, and then pictures with Santa.
Sadie: “You guys can decorate my cookie. I’ll just chill here and eat every Skittle on the table.”
Sadie was so anxious to go see Santa that Jamie had to put her on his shoulders to keep her from sprinting away.
When we finally got inside to see the big guy, she clung to us hard. She was intrigued by him though, so we opted for a family photo.
When we got home, we saw that Jamie’s first Stitch Fix package arrived. He needs to start building a wardrobe of professional clothes, and because our shopping options are severely limited here in Manhattan we took advantage of the “first box is free” offer last month and gave the mens service a whirl. He really, really liked everything they sent along, but decided to only keep a couple of things (like a casual blazer and a pair of pants) that he didn’t really have anything similar to. We’re definitely going to try again next month to see what he gets. If you want to give this a try for your guy, here’s an affiliate link.
Once we got home and put the girls down to rest for a couple of hours, we sat down to relax for a bit to watch all the pregame stuff for Army/Navy.
Ted snuggled up with me for a little bit, and then before I knew it, I fell asleep hard. If you know me, you know that I am not a napper. It’s nearly impossible for me to sleep during the day no matter how tired I am, so I was shocked that I went out cold so unexpectedly as soon as the game started. I bet I was just having an adrenaline crash, but either way, that nap felt guilt-free and good!
At halftime I got up to make a cheese plate for Jamie and me to snack on while we sweated out that last half of the game. It was a dang nail biter, but Army won for the second year in a row! I felt bad that the Navy kicker had the weight of that final missed kick on his shoulders, but Jamie was all “WE DO NOT FEEL BAD FOR NAVY EVER!” Hahahaha. He was so elated, you guys. He loves him some Army and Alabama football.
After eating dinner at home that night, we got the girls in pajamas and watched the first half of Elf yet again. I think if we could all live in a state of gratefulness over the tiniest things like I do in the few days after a deployment, the world would be a totally different place. Or at least my world would be. I was just so stinkin’ grateful for the simple moments all weekend, and I want to look at life through those lenses more often.
On Sunday, we ate some yummy pancakes, hustled out the door for church, and then spent the day enjoying the random mild weather, catching up on laundry, visiting a friend’s precious new baby, eating Jamie’s yummy chicken fajitas for dinner, and then indulging in celebratory champagne once the girls were in bed. What a weekend. What a life.
Y’all shared in so much of my joy this weekend, shown by your incredibly kind-hearted comments you left on my IG and FB. Thank you so much. People being happy for other people is one of the things that makes the world go round IMO, and this community of people simply rocks. <3