Deployment Homecoming

Happy Halloween! Today was bananas at school. (Friday + a dance + kids in costumes + Halloween = oh my!) Somehow I kept my sanity, and managed to string together a few coherent thoughts about all that I’ve been wanting to share in regards to Stephen’s homecoming. That’s what you’re getting today, a big ol’ deployment dump. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Before homecoming

For MONTHS Stephen had a certain date that he had been tracking would be the day he’d leave Afghanistan. Somewhere around a month out the date started getting kicked around. Sooner! Later! Way later! The original date! Sooner! Later! Ack! It was giving me heartburn and stress and anxiety (especially since a few days difference meant he’d either be here for my 30th birthday or not). In the end, he left Afghanistan 3 days after the original date; it was accurate after all!

The question mark was a type-o. LOL!

The question mark was a type-o. LOL!

As he stated in his post, the first stop was Romania. Once he got there, I knew the countdown for me was on. All the things that I had been putting off that were time sensitive (getting my hair done, waxing, picking up the dog poop out of the yard, grocery shopping), went into hyper drive. In the midst of running around, I was also worried about how we’d be in touch. I knew that the FRG would e-mail (and call and text) when he was in route, but I was fixated on not knowing exactly how his arrival would coincide with my work schedule. There were a few days of me really stewing. The apex of craziness was when I got a flat tire on the highway two days before he was due home. Sigh. Thankfully, some very kind people helped me, but there were definitely ugly, ugly tears.

Our car affectionately known as the Gold Nugget about to get towed.

Our car affectionately known as the Gold Nugget about to get towed.

Homecoming

Stephen was on track to arrive on a Monday. Very early that morning he left Romania and was en route! Meanwhile, I decided to work a half day. I considered taking the entire day off, but I kept thinking about his return from Afghanistan after his last deployment (I literally walked in circles all morning) and knew the distraction would be good for me. Plus, it was a crazy week at school and I had a ton to do, of course.

Stephen was able to call me from Maine and we spoke briefly. It was still early in the school day here (the start of 2nd period). Hearing him got me excited and also really freaked me out- I was worried that he’d arrive earlier than I expected. I ended up using flight tracker to watch him travel from Maine to Texas. That calmed me down a lot!

When my substitute showed up after 4th period, I bolted. I had to go to Discount Tire to swap cars. (The car with the flat had gotten fixed while I was at work thanks to the help of some friends, and that was the car that I wanted to pick him up in.) From there, I headed back home for a quick lunch and lots of primping.

homecoming sign

I had plenty of time even though Flight Tracker indicated that he was due to land early. I pulled up to the ADAG about an hour early. It wasn’t a huge group since it was only 1 company arriving, but the energy was buzzing. I went to the bathroom 3 times. I was anxious! The FRG leader suddenly ushered all of us outside – the plane was fixing to arrive. We stood in the El Paso sunshine and watched the sky waiting for the plane to appear. Eventually it wooshed into view but then took forever to taxi, and even longer for them to deplane. Eventually a line of green-clad soldiers began to stream by. I saw Stephen immediately, but he didn’t see me. I’m a shorty and a few people were in front of me. Even with my sign and screaming his name, his eyes passed over me without recognition. I scurried back inside the building. The soldiers were routed into a different room, but I knew that once they were all off the plane, it wouldn’t be long until they marched in. I wanted to stake my claim on a good spot, which I managed to do.

Less than an hour later, the music blared and the fog fogged as the guys marched in. Stephen was easy to spot, and I had my eyes on him immediately. Being the good soldier that he is, he kept his eyes straight forward and didn’t see me. Someone spoke briefly and the men were at last released.

I shouted Stephen’s name and held my sign up while charging toward him. He didn’t realize I was there until I was practically on top of him and we had the longest, sweetest hug ever. We snapped a few pictures and then headed outside to get his bags. Unfortunately, it ended up being a two hour wait. There were also some National Guard soldiers from another state on the plane with them, and for some reason, all of their bags got unloaded first. Only to be immediately reloaded. Meanwhile, the sun was setting and we were getting antsy. Eventually his bags materialized. The long day was over!

It's dark and blurry, but I love this shot of Geronimo greeting Stephen after 9 months apart!

It’s dark and blurry, but I love this shot of Geronimo greeting Stephen after 9 months apart!

After homecoming

I’m hesitant to say too much because he hasn’t even been home for two weeks, but it has been better than I had hoped so far. I wouldn’t say we’ve fallen back into our old rhythm. It’s more like, we are rebuilding our family, finding a new routine. I’m sleeping better and eating worse. Haha! I guess that’s too be expected.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how last time felt so unsteady. It was almost like a dream. He came home, we went to Australia, we spent a few weeks together, he went back to Germany, I moved, we got orders to move to Fort Bliss. It was constant motion. Now, I feel like we are side by side, standing still. I get all mushy and doe-eyed when he does things like take out the trash. We tagteam taking care of the dog. He’s been a real sport about doing things I want to do (going to a school basketball game, trying yoga, watching my shows with me), and that means a lot.

Hopefully there is a lot of time ahead of us before we face any more major changes – my job is stable, we are set to stay in EP for a while, there are no field problems or deployments in the foreseeable future. This is it. This is our life now. Which is a good thing because I like it.

IMG_7020

I know that’s a lot, but I can’t wrap-up a post about the end of Stephen’s deployment without saying that my heart is with those whose loved ones are still deployed/preparing to deploy. In the midst of our everyday lives, it’s easy to feel far-removed. I don’t feel that way; I keep y’all in my prayers.

Geronimo is 8!

Today is Geronimo’s birthday.

gmo1

My little boy, who started out as a wiggle-bottomed ball of fluff, the boy who would cry because he couldn’t get on the couch, who was afraid of his own shadow, who couldn’t walk on a leash, is eight years old. He’s a senior dog now! How did that happen?

I can’t help but think of Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. She describes growing up as like rings in a tree or nesting dolls; that you are every age you’ve ever been all at once. That’s how Geronimo is when I look at him. He might be eight today, but to me he’s also the brave international traveler that he was at six, the ball of energy he was at three, the perfect snuggler he was at five, tripping over his feet at one, and everything in between.

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It feels like I only just welcomed him into my life, and it feels like he’s always been part of it.

In honor of the furry man of the hour, I’m sharing eight fond Geronimo memories:

1. His adoption story!

gmo 2006

2. That time we ran (literally) into a Civil War re-enactment.

3. Geronimo’s first time swimming:

gmo swimming

4. Being so afraid about moving him to Germany (I cried dropping him off at the airport), and then he thrived there!

5. Geronimo’s reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden:

gmo3

6. Quizzing Geronimo on how well he knows me.

7. Geronimo participating in a 4th of July parade in Lubbock. (We were representing Stephen’s work – Above and Beyond Pet Care Hospital – and Geronimo was so not feeling the doggles.)

gmo lbk

8.  The great many runs we’ve shared together.

Geronimo is a perfect companion. At times he is crazy/frustrating/infuriating/bananas, but he is also loving, sweet, hilarious, and adorable. We hit the jackpot with this kid.

gmo hug

Happy birthday, Geems! We love you!

Friday Five

Another week has come and gone. ‘Twas quite a week in the life of me. (You like that quality sentence there?) Let’s get to the goods. Five things on my mind at this very moment:

1. Shameless self-promotion: I wrote a post for the phenomenal website, A Practical Wedding.

apw

If you don’t already read APW, you should! It’s not just about weddings; a huge facet of the website is navigating relationships and reclaiming wife. The stuff on there is amazing, and I’m still in shock that words from my brain were good enough to be included among the other genius posts. (My post from Wednesday on this here blog was also one that I spent a lot of time on. Lots of good comments so far. Check it out and join the conversation!)

2. A new obsession: The Dumb Ways to Die song.

dumb ways

They were talking about this on the radio earlier in the week, and I cannot stop listening to it. So catchy and strange and cute. For the record, my favorite is “Use your private parts as piranha bait.” (If that’s not intriguing enough to get someone to click a link, I don’t know what is.)

3. Romantic moment of the week: I found a journal Stephen kept on and off during the first year of our relationship.

ich liebe dich

Homecoming, fall of 2001.

I had a really rough night recently. The usual deployment stress (not hearing from Stephen + heightened emotions following this news). But then! Then I found this journal on our bookshelf. If you want to feel loved, read the words your spouse wrote after the first time you kissed. I just basked in his descriptions of me and the joy of young love. I’m not going to share anything he wrote (he’d use a drone to strike me down if I even attempted it), but tucked in the back of the journal was a note I’d written him on our two-year dating anniversary in 2003. Here’s a little quote, “Thank you for all that you’ve given me and all that you have taught me. Thank you for always being more than I asked for and more than I could need. Thank you for loving me and letting me love you.”❤  I also have to shout-out to 2003 Amy for using a semicolon twice in that letter.

4. Geronimo related story: I was rubbing Geroinmo’s tummy yesterday and noticed something weird.

geems

First I thought it was a tick. Do we even have ticks in El Paso? Well, I took a real close look and realized, it was not a tick. It was his nipple.

5. Shout out: Today is my friend Julie‘s birthday!

5k

I’ve gotten to know Julie over the course of the last year after reading each other’s blogs and both ending up at Fort Bliss. We regularly meet up to run together, do yoga, and indulge in our love of Starbucks. I consider her my battle buddy, and life in El Paso wouldn’t be nearly as fun without her here. (Never leave me!) Wishing you a very happy birthday, friend!

Now it’s time for me and J to get birthday mani/pedis! Enjoy the weekend, y’all!