>Reintegration, Part I


Here is a breakdown of the day Matt returned up to the present moment!
8:00 am – Bailey goes to school
9:00 am – Hayden and Carson do some school work
11:00 am – I begin to work on last minute things and Bailey comes home from school.
12:00 pm – Lunch
12:30 pm – TJ watches the boys during their nap so I can go get my phone (which I had left at the nail salon the night before…they closed before I realized it…Verizon took care of me, though!)
1:30 pm – I return home and decorate the van.
2:30 pm – I get my shower
4:00 pm – The boys and I head to the Main Gate to watch for the busses to drive through!!
4:15 pm – Yvonne and her crew show up to join us in the excitement
4:30 pm – We hear that the busses are going to come through at 5:30, we decide to wait it out.
5:30 pm – We hear that the plane has not even landed, we’re freezing and kids are getting hungry.  We give up, decide to go get some pizza to kill time before the 7:25 pm ceremony (but I give my phone number to a lady who was going to wait it out…she would call if something changed)
6:00 pm – Lady from the gate calls and tells me that the busses are on Powers, about 15 minutes away.  We kick it into high gear to clean the tables we were sitting at in the PX and load 7 kids (ages 10, 8, 7, 5, 4, 3, and almost 1) into 2 minivans.
6:15 pm – We arrive back at the gate and RUN to the bleachers.  (Bailey decides to sit in the van because it’s too cold!  We take the extra pizzas to share with the die-hards who had stayed in the cold.)  
6:25 pm – Bailey comes out of the van crying because he wanted pizza
6:26 pm – I’m the first to spot the BLUE LIGHTS signifying their arrival!
6:31 pm – The busses slowly drive up 115 and turn into post.  Dozens of police and motorcycle escorts leading and trailing
6:40 pm – We had just seen a bus that held daddy, though we didn’t know which one.  He had seen us, though!
6:45 pm – We take our time getting to the Special Events Center and arrive ready to be INSIDE for a while!
6:51 pm – I get a call from a friend hoping to find out where to meet us in the SEC.  I miss a call, ended up it was Matt trying to call in.
6:53 pm – I call Matt for the first time in 14 months and 2 days…he had been issued his work phone!!  While we are chatting (me telling him where to look for us when he marches in), the phone beeps in letting me know the battery is dying.  So much for updating Facebook!)
Here is the crowd waiting for Matt (not everyone in this shot was for Matt…but 7 of them!)
While at the SEC we listened to music, danced to YMCA, Chicken Dance, Conga, etc.  It was sort of like a Prom with wives and kids, no men.  
7:30 pm – They gave us a 2 minute warning, and one minute later they started “the song.”  Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue by Toby Keith.  The smoke started coming in out of the doorway they were about to enter.  And in marched our soldiers!  Some 250 guys from various units, all returning to their families.  They got into position, and we saw Matt!  He had spotted us long before we saw him!  The news people had caught me pointing Daddy out to the boys, and later they interviewed us.  We made the news, even though they called him Captain Mark Hamrick (even after having him spell his name for them!)  Back to when they were standing at attention.  The Rear-D chaplain prayed and then someone told the soldiers,  “Thank you for your service, fall out!”  And the boys were off!  I didn’t get a hug for at least 2 minutes as the boys were all over him!  I am not complaining!  It was a beautiful sight!  
Corie and Yvonne were on camera duty, taking video and stills for me!  I was so thankful that I didn’t have to lug a camera along with me!
We kissed, hugged, and it all still felt so surreal.  This is when the news crew asked if they could ask us some questions.  This was just for Hayden!  God worked this out just for him!  Our friends, TJ and Nick were interviewed and shown on the news in NOV when he returned from Iraq.  Then a couple of weeks ago when we went to welcome some other friends home, Hayden saw the news crews interviewing soldiers and their families.  Hayden has mentioned a few times that he hopes we get on the news.  We got to the SEC long before the news crews and claimed our spot.  The news crews ended up plopping right beside us, and videoing us off and on even before the ceremony officially began!  We were their featured family! At the bottom of this blog is a clip I recorded from the TV.  Not sure how to view it not in reverse!
The Hamricks together again!
8:03 pm – We leave the SEC as a whole family! 
If you recall, I took a picture just like this the night he left!  One day I’ll find the CD I’ve burned it on and post them side by side!This tent housed all the soldiers bags.
We arrived home and enjoyed showing Daddy all the neat things we had done to prepare for his return.  The boys had “Friday Night Movie Night” and slept downstairs.
Saturday we woke up lazily, had breakfast, and then Christmas.  
After we got ready we headed out to get Matt’s real Christmas present…a Blackberry Storm (I’m a little jealous!)  We spent the entire day driving around in our van marked with all the tacky notes I had written all over!  People gave us thumbs-up and waved!  It was fun!  We had lunch at Noodles, and they gave us 2 free meals and 5 free drinks!  There are people out there who are just hoping to show their appreciation!  It is amazing what a wave or a “thank you” does for a soldier!  
After running errands all day, we headed back home and the boys spent the night at Super Woman’s house.  We told Yvonne we were planning to leave for church at 10:00 am.  At 10:18 she sent me a text saying the boys were ready to come home but she didn’t want to send them without having heard from us.  That text woke us up!  OOPS!  We had slept in!  This is what it is like for those who have no kids!  
So here we are, the boys have each taken their turns on the PlayStation 2, and we’re about to eat the Tortilla Soup I made.  (Thanks, Hollie for the recipe!)  
We are loving being a family again!  Matt said he still feels sort of like a guest, until he gets his dresser drawers sorted out the way he wants them.  (He left them this way, but now has other clothes he prefers.)  Also, I’m not asking him to do certain chores around the house for 2 weeks to let him get settled in and see how we have changed.  It will be easier for him to watch and see how things run around here and jump in rather than expect that we do things the same way we did back in December of 2007.  
God is good…reintegration has begun and we are thankful for your prayers!  


About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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