Last week had to be one of the longest weeks of my life. We were waiting for Kevin to get home, and every time I heard from him, we were going to be waiting some more, because his departure date got moved back another day. I know that some people might think, "You have made it 6 months - what is another day?" Well, let me tell you, at the end of a deployment, every day feels like a hundred. It was torture.
Luckily, on Friday, we got word that he and finally left Africa for Germany on the first leg of his trip. It was such a huge relief, and we knew that at least he was that much closer to home. Saturday morning, the kids were so happy. They even got to chat with their dad on my phone for a bit. (The only sad thing was that Lily had come home sick from school the day before with a fever, and she was super worried about getting her dad sick.)
On Saturday, we also found out when to expect Kevin, which turned out to be sometime after 1 am. He would have to unload and a few other things before we could pick him up at Ft. Carson, and so I was expecting to get him around 3 am - not the most ideal time, but beggars can't be choosers, right?
About one in the morning, I got a very quick phone call to let me know they had landed, and then I tried to sleep for another few hours while I waited for him to call and say it was time to get him. Sometime after 4 am, I got a cal, but instead of saying that we should come get him, he told me he was only 5 minutes away! (The first thing I said was, "But I haven't brushed my teeth yet!")
I didn't have time to get all cute like I had planned, so I quickly brushed my teeth and woke up Lily and Derek, who still thought we were getting in the car to go pick up their daddy. Then the doorbell rang, and when they answered it, there he was!
Best moment ever!!
He came inside, the kids recovered from their shock, and got to give their daddy giant hugs. I haven't seen Derek smile that huge in months. At one point, he turned to me and whispered, "Mom, this was what I have been waiting for. For Daddy to get home!"
And little Lily, who had to have grown 4 inches while he was gone, had to get her special daddy hugs too :).
Another best moment ever, was then taking Kevin upstairs to get his baby, Arthur. He cuddled and kissed him, and when Chewie finally woke up enough to realize what was going on, he completely recognized Kevin. It was a miracle. He even called him "Da", just like he did when he saw him on the computer.
This was my best moment. Kevin with all three kids. And I love that it was only 4:#0 in the morning, but Lily and Derek were already giving him a tour of the things that had changed, especially Arthur's room, which I had completely redecorated while he was gone.
Kevin hadn't slept in quite some time, his body was on a completely different time zone (he was ten hours ahead of us in Africa), but the last thing he wanted to do right then was go to sleep. We talked, had a yummy breakfast, and got ready for church. While he was gone, he had been having church with his buddy, Andrew, since they were the only two members of our church there - thank goodness they were together in the same camp. He couldn't wait to go to church for real.
And after he was ready, he sat at the piano and played, just like he always used to - and Arthur decided to help him out. It was another wonderful moment of my morning. And even better than that, was a little bit later, when Arthur took his VERY FIRST STEPS ever, and he took them not only in front of his daddy, but to him.
Before we went to church, Kevin had "prize give-away", when he gave us all sorts of fun things he had found in Africa - although he didn't buy any of them until the week before he came home when he was in a different country. The place where he had been living for the 6 months was too poor to ever have tourists, and so there was nothing to buy there. He managed to find us some really cool things.
When we got home from church, it was his turn for "prize give-away" - I had been storing all sorts of fun things for him, everything from Lily's Father's Day gift that couldn't be mailed, to new clothes and shoes. And lots of special treats.
Not that just being home wasn't a wonderful treat all on its own. He was so happy to have so many comfortable places to sit or lay down, after months of nothing. And at one point, he stood staring at the fridge in awe, and turned to me almost in tears to see so much food and to have it in a fridge. I made him his favorite dinner, chicken fried steak, and I even had a Costco pumpkin pie for him.
That was when the exhaustion finally hit him, but luckily, they gave him Monday off of work, and so we took the kids out of school for the day, and made it a family fun day. We had yummy breakfast, and then we went shopping at Costco and Target to stock Kevin up on things he needed (and so he could go to a real store again). We had churros at Costco, and Kevin gave Chewie his very first taste, which he loved!
We also went to Halmark and got our new Christmas ornaments, and then we went out to lunch at Chipotle - Kevin's choice :). When we got home, we watched "The Price is Right" - a special all Plinko episode we had been saving to show him. Later on, after dinner, we had a fun family home evening where Kevin showed us pictures and told us some stories from his deployment. We finished things off with dessert and a family game of Mario Party.
It was an amazing reunion, and although I know we now are in the transition phase of having Kevin home (which can be tricky), I couldn't be happier to be together as a family. Finally.