12 months! We made it to the end.. well, almost! J has left his deployment location but he is not home quite yet. He will be soon! Returning from deployment often takes multiple non-commercial flights with layovers at different military bases. Also, service members who are deployed to a combat zone are highly encouraged to spend a few days at a deployment transition location to decompress, relax, and review and provide feedback on the deployment. It helps ease their transition back into normal family life.
At the start of this month, my grandma, C’s great-grandma, was still here. She spent a total of 24 days at our house and even though we didn’t do much because of the cold weather, it was still wonderful having her here to talk to every day. I especially loved hearing her talk about her childhood and her years as a mother of many young children. She has now moved farther south down the coast to visit more family members while the cold winter months pass at her home in Pennsylvania.
Also escaping winter in their home state are J’s parents who have rented a condo near Destin, FL (on the Florida panhandle) for the next few months. C had a long weekend off of school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day so we drove over to visit them.
My best friend, R, and her daughter showed up for a last-minute visit the day before we drove to Destin. We left early in the morning, dropped grandma off at the Tallahassee airport, and then continued on. It was a 4 hour drive so I was glad to have company along the way! R and I have been friends for nearly 26 years now. Our daughters are just over a year apart in age and get along so well. I love seeing them play together and hearing the conversations they have… so stinkin’ cute! They decided on this trip that they should be sisters since neither of them has a sister. R and I were also the only girls in our families and certainly have been sisters to each other so it’s incredibly touching that our daughters are choosing to be sister-friends as well.
We spent three nights in Destin with J’s parents; R and her daughter were there for two of them. It was a cold weekend but we still walked on the beach once, went to a playground, and went out to eat. On our last full day there we went to the Gulfarium, which is an open-air aquarium on the beach. C is a huge fan of museums, aquariums, and other places of that nature. It was so much fun seeing her squeal and run around with excitement looking at things and asking questions. She loves examining park maps to see where to go next and how to get there. I love her enthusiasm for learning new things!
Coming home from Destin, the house seemed empty after having great-grandma here for so long. Dulce had an especially hard time… she was a big fan of grandma (who had given her lots of lap time and snacks) and obviously missed her as she whined nonstop for a couple of days and sat on “grandma’s chair” for a while.
Since then we have gotten back into the swing of life, preparing for J’s return. I needed to get the house clean and organized – not because he needs to come home to a clean house, but because he will bring a tornado of military gear home with him and that doesn’t need piled on top of anything else. The only thing I changed when J left and therefore had to change back was our bathroom.. I had taken over his shelf in the shower and used his sink as the catch-all for my hair styling tools.
C has had no interest in doing any sort of countdown this past year, other than our monthly photos. I think the big three-digit numbers were beyond her comprehension at this point. When we got down to two weeks left, she was finally willing to create a countdown with a stack of papers that she hung on the fridge. Removing a paper each day and seeing how many days are left (now that the numbers are small and comprehendible) really helped her understand how little time was left.
The last couple weeks of this month were tough for C and her moods were often tumultuous. Seriously, we had a few extremely difficult days. The ah-ha moment came when she finally said to me “I know you are excited about daddy coming home but I’m not excited for him to come home. I’m nervous.” That helped me understand that her negative behavior was coming from the big confusing emotions she is trying to sort out in her head. It helped her to get it out and talk about it. J coming home is a huge change for her! He has been been gone for an entire year, while C has been approximately 4.5 to 5.5 years old. She doesn’t have a lot of long-term memories of life before he left so much of what she remembers is from this past year… of him not being here, of having my undivided attention, and of being allowed to eat more mac-n-cheese dinners than she should have. Based on her behavior and attitude toward J when we saw him in Europe and in Colorado, I’m not anticipating any problems but we will certainly be aware of making the adjustment for her as easy as we can.
Month 12 Events:
Month 12 Accomplishments:
Onto the homecoming!
“Missing someone is part of loving them. If you’re never apart, you’ll never know how strong your love really is.”