My nesting was not in vain! He returned late on the evening of the 29th! I will be working on the video and slide show sometime, but for now, here is the story and some pictures!
When we found out that our reunion was to take place two-and-a-half months early, Matt and I discussed the idea of keeping it a secret from the boys. Last deployment we KNEW the date of his return (at least within a few days) because it was a 15 month-er. We knew that it was unlikely that the government would extend them. I was able to give my boys the experience of anticipating his return. It was great to talk to them and count-down to the approximate date. We were able to go to the welcome home ceremony and enjoy the festivities. This time, with the always-changing dates, AND with the possibility that an early return might not happen at all, we felt it best to keep this information to ourselves.
When it was made public that our unit would be returning early, I asked my sweet friends here at home to help me keep it a secret, and I only had three people almost spill the beans. We’ve done well!
The day of Matt’s return I wrote the blog post called “Nesting of a Different Sort.” As I detailed in that post, I endured many days of working feverishly on getting everything ready all while telling the boys that we were getting ready for our friends (Jason and Audrey) to come stay with us for a while. This was not at all weird to the boys as Audrey and the kids have spent the night with us a few times, and we have slept there a few times. I have since asked them if they had any idea what was going on and they have assured me that they suspected nothing and were just happy to get a couple of days off school.
The story I used to keep them off the trail of the truth:
Jason and Audrey are in NC visiting family and have found a killer deal on plane tickets back to TX, only the flight lands in Killeen instead of San Antonio. Since they’re getting in so late (8:00 PM) and they live 3 hours away, they’ll just spend the night with us. (Matt’s original return time was 0310 and I wanted to, in advance, give the boys some reason that I was getting them out of bed. Otherwise, I was afraid they’d be worried.)
On the actual night, they wondered why I was getting sort of dressed up and I just told them that sometimes a girl likes to get all fru-frued up. They bought it.
When it was time to go to the “airport” I told them I needed to stop somewhere first. We headed to Cooper Field where we saw other cars, including the Myers’s car. They wondered why their friends were there and I told them that I thought this was just a function put on by the USO for families. That explained the music we were hearing from the field.
When we got there our friends were standing on the CAV patch that is embedded on the parade field. This picture shows the field from above.
Looking at the picture above, the boys and I came from the left side in front of the awning and met our friends on the patch. Michael M. was holding a bunch of Carolina Blue balloons, which were going to be used for Matt to easily spot us as he marched toward us, but Carson accidentally let them fly away. (Thank goodness for technology… I was able to text him to let him know that they had flown away and to where to look for us. Imagine how nervous he would have been had he been looking for the balloons and didn’t know they were gone! He might think that we hadn’t made it!)
While our friends took pictures and videoed, I asked the boys to read the center balloon, which said, “Welcome Home.” I asked them who they would like to welcome home and they sad, “Dad?” Yes, with a question in their voices. It took a lot of explaining but they finally “got it!”
To convince the boys that their daddy was in Killeen, Kari showed them his picture. A picture that Chaplain W. had taken an hour earlier at the airport when he and Chaplain G. greeted Matt as he deboarded the plane. There were TV screens in the building at the parade field showing a live-feed of the soldiers deboarding. As it turned out, our photographer, April Kroenke, had snapped a picture of this event occurring! So fun!
After we did “the reveal” we headed over to the bleachers and stood chatting while waiting. Having so many people there made it a wonderful experience. We were blessed to have each family around us on our special night! There was music and much dancing.
Marching toward us! Matt was in the second row behind the flag bearers. We couldn’t pick him out. So here’s the thing… We were going to stay in one place and wait for Matt to come to us. I wanted to have good pictures and I wanted us all to be together.
And then I saw him. And I ran.
I’m sure we would have gotten a dozen more shots as amazing as this one had I obeyed myself but I didn’t! I couldn’t! Here’s our first moment:There are other pictures that deserve to be in this blog post and I will share those somewhere, but for now, just know that there were tears from a few of us! This was a happy moment!My soldier… our whole family, and the people who joined us on our special night! (Minus Chaplain H and two of his kids who left before it got too late. Duty calls!)
We are blessed. We are blessed, indeed.