Two weeks ago Jack and I had the privilege of flying to Tennessee to surprise Steve when he came back from his 13-month deployment. His mom, Denni, called me about 5 days before he was scheduled to come home to tell me that she would be flying myself and Jack to see him. The original plan was for her & her family to drive down to welcome him home so I was shocked to hear that we would be going instead! It was so nice and gracious on hers and Joshs part. (I know I have said it a million times but Thank You!!!)
The trip started out with Jack, myself, a carseat, stroller, laptop, carry on, and 2 bags of checked luggage. I broke out in a sweat just writing that sentence!! We had 1 layover which worked out well for diaper changes and what not. Jack was so very well behaved on the planes. He actually ended up being woken up by another baby - the irony, huh? Everything was smooth sailing until I got to the hotel. Walking in I fell with Jack IN MY ARMS!!! I was so scared but he let out a 'semi-frightened scream' and then a giggle, so I knew he was just fine. I did bruise my knees pretty badly but I have been through worse. When we got into the room I was trying to wiggle Jack out of the hotsling and ended up breaking my Coach sunglasses - when I heard them snap I think I heard a piece of my heart break off and drift away, never to give that sense of yuppie entitlement ever again. sigh.
After we were settled in the room the countdown was on. The plane wasnt set to land until 1230 am and it was only 330 pm. I thought I would take a nap and rest up for the many hours of waiting for the plane to arrive but the excitement and anticipation was similar to that of a child on Christmas Eve, there would be no sleep. I managed to keep myself busy (Thank God for Wifi!) and finally it was time to go on post. We had to be there 2 hours early in case the pilot had a lead foot. (Okay, I really have no idea why we had to be there early - that just sounded like it would work, ha) Every 15 minutes a man would walk up to the podium and say "The plane XXXXXXX-XXXXX is set to arrive at Ft.Campbell at XX time" EVERY. 15. MINUTES. I think that made the wait a bit longer, but each time he made his way up to the mic the crowd would cheer louder and louder. Jack slept the entire time we were waiting which was incredibly convenient. Once the plane landed the entire vibe in the building changed from anticipation to complete giddiness. We still had to wait another 20 or so minutes for the soldiers to set their things down and get in formation to walk in for a "3-5 minute welcome home ceremony". When they started walking in Jack was awoken by the cheering and screaming which was perfect timing to get him out of the carseat to go find Daddy.
Trying to figure out which soldier is yours is like playing a game of "Where's Waldo?" and they only give you 15 minutes of family time before they have to report back to turn in their weapons. Luckily there were 3 of us wives sitting together looking for each others guys. I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was hilarious - all I heard was "STRICKLER- STRAIGHT AHEAD!!!!" and I was off like Big Brown at the Kentucky Derby. So with Jack in my arms I ran up to Steve and the look on his face was priceless! It took him a second to register but he said "How did you get here?!?!!??!!" After the initial shock wore off we got to talk a bit and then it was time for him to leave again. He ended up being back at his company for a few hours so we didn't get back to the hotel until almost 6 am.
We had a great visit and actually found a house to move into when we head back down at the beginning of the year. It somewhat fell into our laps and is such a blessing. Now it is time to just pack, pack, pack, only to have to do the same exact thing a year from now.
Brady was shuffled around between my mom, grandma, and my friend, but he had a great time and did great for them. The look on his face when he saw me in the airport was a face I will never forget. He was so happy to see me and the feeling was mutual.
I am so grateful to have gotten to go on this trip and even more grateful that my husband is home safe & sound!