Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm so glad when daddy comes home... even if it's only for 36 hours.

Last Monday, Neil learned he could come home for the weekend.  Music to my ears!  Flights were definitely not in his favor, and the best he could do was a late night arrival on Friday, and an early afternoon departure on Sunday.  To make matters worse, his flight from Chicago into the Springs was delayed 2 hours, so he didn't even get in until after midnight.  Luckily our friend, Dan came and stayed at the house so I could sneak out and get Neil without having to wake the kids.  It was so exciting getting to actually see him.  6 weeks really isn't that long, I realize, but it was long enough for me! 

Right off the bat we wanted to surprise Chloe.  As tempting as it was all week to spill the beans, I managed to keep it a secret.  Saturday morning we woke up to Chloe laying at the foot of our bed.  She was dead asleep, so we got up and headed out to the rest of the house.  Neil went in to surprise Ryan, who was happily playing in his crib.  At first he just stood there looking at Neil, as if to say, "Well, you look familiar, but I'm not quite ready to jump into your arms yet."  Then a few seconds later, he started to say, "Dada!  Dada!  Dada!" in his grunting/zombie voice while stomping up and down, and before we knew it, he and Neil were doing their tricks and wrestling around just like old times.

I kept peeking in on Chloe and eventually found her waking up.  After motioning to Neil that it was time, I went in and sat Chloe on our bed and told her there was a surprise waiting outside the door.  Then Neil walked in the room.  Chloe just starred at him for a few seconds with a shy, sorta half smile expression.  Then, all at once, she jumped off the bed and raced into Neil's arms.  She couldn't get to him soon enough.  It was a pretty sweet moment. 

Don't mind the mis-matched outfit.  Chloe has been living in this skirt day and night.  She'll put her jammies on at bedtime, but before she goes to sleep she'll change back into this skirt.  Drives me nuts, but I guess that's part of being an independent, opinionated 4 1/2 year old.

Chloe could hardly believe it was really Neil!  It was funny observing her cycle of hugging him then pulling back to look at him. I think it actually took a few hugs and glances before it sunk in entirely that he was really there.

When Neil asked Chloe if she was happy to see him, she nodded. When he asked her what she wanted to do, she replied, "Play with you!" It's really amazing how simple a child's needs and desires can be, and how no material object can be of greater value than simple time spent with a loved one.

The first thing Chloe did after greeting/hugging/loving on her daddy was draw this picture.  Chloe is on the far right, Neil is in the middle, and I am on the left.  And, Chloe informed us, Ryan is still in my tummy.

It was a lazy, uneventful Saturday, which is exactly what we'd hoped for.

That evening we went and got Chloe a new bike helmet. Then we took a stroll to the park. Up to this point, Chloe was either too small for this bike (which she got for Christmas), or just too afraid to ride it. Neil worked with her throughout the day and helped calm her nerves. From the looks of these pictures, she loved every minute of being on that bike. That's not entirely the case, but for the most part she was a good sport. And ever since Neil left, she's been begging to go outside and practice, so clearly his efforts paid off.

Neil's visit came to an end as quickly as we knew it would.  We dropped him off at the airport on our way to church Sunday afternoon. Chloe was very sad.  

As much as we all wanted Neil to stay, I'm grateful for the 36 hours we had together. He is working so hard, and I cannot put into words the absolute love and admiration I have for him. He's a week and a half into his PA training, with a week and a half to go. He flies back to CA the night of September 3rd. I am leaving the kids with Lori and Jared that same day to meet him in the Sacramento airport, where we'll head off to celebrate the completion his training and our 8th anniversary (6 days late).


Rebekah said...

i love all those pictures!!! i have some similar ones with seth when came home from deployment (way back when). those pictures will surely be cherished forever!!

Wendy said...

I'm so glad that Neil was able to come home and spend some time with you guys! The pictures are precious.

Cumorah said...

Aaah. So sweet. Hopefully this era of your life will be over soon, and you can all live happily ever after!

Courtney said...

so so sweet. I love how happy she looks.

Nells-Bells said...

this last picture just absolutely breaks my heart! it is so hard when the kids don't really understand why their daddy has to be gone or what is really happening. i'm so glad he was able to come home, even if it was for a little bit.