December 2014. Just a great picture of Evie trying to sit in a tiny box just like a cat. This cracks me up every time I see it.
In honor of this lovely lady visiting soon, here are some shots from her last Oregon visit that never got shared. November 2015 – we decided to go play outside for a nice photo shoot and it immediately started raining on us. So I made Evie jump in some puddles and hug Megan and try to catch a ball (that one cracks me up). Within 15 minutes we were all back inside changing into dry clothes and curling up on the couch.
Evie is so excited to see Auntie Megan again! She’s pretty disappointed that the kitties won’t be joining her, though.
June 2015, Seattle, at the top of what Evie still calls the Space Noodle (and don’t you dare correct her). After taking some selfies with Daddy, Evie bonked her face on something and lost her mind. Tim calmed her down by showing her the pictures they just took together, then showed me. I love this image.
I am in the process of organizing pretty much all my photos. Seriously, all of them. And it’s mind boggling and overwhelming and lovely and insane.
I grew up taking photos on film, printing them (doubles even! always doubles. why??), storing them in shoeboxes, and poring over them from time to time. Then digital came along and made taking photos so much easier and faster and more convenient. Instead of shoeboxes you had memory cards and then thumb drives and eventually external hard drives. The result, for me at least, is that I have *tens of thousands* of photos, edited and unedited, sitting on various hard drives. This is not surprising to anyone who knows me and has seen the state of my house most of the time. It fits. But it’s not ok, especially now that I have kids – I take way more photos than ever now and if I ever want to do anything with them other than post them to Instagram, I need to get my shit together.
This is a really long way of saying that I’m looking through a lot of old photos right now and it’s making me nostalgic. This will be a looong process, and I thought it would be fun to share random bits and bobs here as I come across them. Like Throwback Thursday, only whenever I feel like it.
So here’s the first installment. I came across this folder tucked away on a little memory stick in a box. I had forgotten just how breathtaking Okinawa sunsets could be. Camp Foster Plaza, Okinawa, circa November 2010.
It’s been four years since we lost Tim’s mom, who we now refer to as Grandma Debbie, though she never got to hear herself called that. She died when I was just a few months pregnant with Evie. Debbie knew, and was so thrilled at the prospect of being a grandma. Now she has three beautiful granddaughters.
While visiting Jeff City last month, we decided to meet for a few minutes at the bench and tree dedicated to Debbie in one of her favorite places. Without realizing it, we planned our visit for May 28 – exactly four years to the day since she died. It ended up being a lovely time – Evie chased Gramps and Uncle Kevin and looked at bugs, Grandma Jeanne got to hold the babies, and we took some family pictures.
The days before Tim’s return were a flurry of nerves and COAs and maybes and possible flights. They sure don’t like to make anything easy.
I had a list a mile long of tasks I wanted to get done before his arrival, most of which had to do with cleaning up the house so he wouldn’t think 1) we’d been living in filth for 8 months and 2) that he had to start immediately cleaning up. However, the closer we got to the actual arrival, the less I cared about that. The only things that actually got crossed off of that list were: hang up welcome home banner; make welcome sign for airport complete with glitter; stock fridge with cheese and beer. You know, the important stuff.
Making the airport sign was sort of a rite of passage for Evie and me, and it was fun to do together. My favorite part was the glittery snail she inexplicably asked me to draw, because of course. What welcome home sign is complete without a snail?
His arrival date had changed so many times that we didn’t know for sure when he was coming home until the night before. Even the day of, weather delays necessitated that we remain super flexible. Which, as anyone who knows me personally can attest, is the exact opposite of my jam. He was originally scheduled to get in at 1:30pm…then 9pm…then 10:30pm…then midnight. The weather in Denver was so bad that they had to sit on the runway for almost an hour. Until I saw his plane take off on my flight tracker, I was convinced it would be cancelled and we’d have to do it all over again the next day.
Finally his plane was in the air and it was time to wake up Evie to go to the airport. She was sleepy and confused while I pulled on her boots and coat and put her in the car, telling her we were going to get Daddy. As we were driving to the airport, I finally believed it was real.
Evie and I brought in our sign and sat down just outside security to wait. People saw our sign and smiled. Luckily she was so sleepy I didn’t have to keep her entertained. In fact, she sat down on my lap and we just cuddled. We talked about how we were going to give Daddy big hugs.
Finally, there he was. As soon as Evie saw him, a huge grin crept across her face. We were prepared for any reaction, so we took it slow. He leaned in and asked tentatively for a hug, and for just a moment she turned away like she wasn’t sure. A few seconds later, however, she was in his arms. From then until now, she has been his shadow.
She wakes up and immediately asks for Daddy if he’s not there. If he leaves the room, she asks about him until he comes back. She wants him to strap her in her car seat and change her diaper and hold her on walks. For a few days, she even told me to ‘go away, Mama,’ so she could have him all to herself.
Just like pregnancy and childbirth, I never want to forget how hard this deployment was on all of us. I’m not sad to see it end. At the same time, it’s still the end of a ‘just the two of us’ kind of era for Evie and me and it makes me (already!) look back on it with some fondness.
While Evie and I snuggled in the airport minutes before greeting Tim, I whispered in her ear: “We did it. We did ok, didn’t we?”
And my little firecracker of a child sighed and leaned into me and said, “Yeah.”
February is such a great month for countdowns. Especially coming out of the longest damn month of the year no matter what anyone says, January (31 days of post-holiday dreariness, no thank you). Getting to February was one of the last big goals of this deployment, and I can’t believe we’ve made it! I can’t give details of his return due to OPSEC and what we’ll call military flexibility, but I can say that it’s coming fairly soon. Soon enough for us to get excited, but far enough away that we’re still counting down. We’re to the point where when people say ‘it will be over before you know it!’ I no longer want to punch them in the face.
This deployment has been full of artificial targets I’ve imposed to try and get us through and make the time go more quickly. Just make it to fall. Just make it through our Missouri trip. Just make it through the holidays. Just make it through long, cold, gray January. With each one, I trick my brain into thinking that if we just make it through xyz, the rest will fly by (this is a damn lie, but it seems to work). Except now that we’re in February, it finally feels true.
I’m so proud of how we’ve been managing, but honestly the previous months have felt like we’re just keeping our heads down and putting one foot in front of the other every day. Making sure we’re both fed and watered every night is a remarkable feat. We bathe once in a while. Sometimes when I get a wild hair, I take out the trash or go grocery shopping. Really we’re just keeping it together until my buddy comes back.
Now that it’s February, we’re still in a holding pattern, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can start quietly making plans for family dinners and weekend getaways and catching up on Downton Abbey. It will be a long, slow process of readjustment, but we’re so ready to get started.