Sunday, December 18, 2011

I'll Be Home for Christmas (and NOT only in my dreams)

Well, we had a big suprise for the kiddos for Christmas this year. While they had their Annual Cookie Decorating with Grandma, I was headed to the airport to pick up "you know who." Now, I know you are thinking..."how does she know Santa Claus?" But, it's even better. I wasn't picking up Santa, I was picking up DADDY!!! Yep, their one-and-only, bad-guy fighting, video-chatting, made-their-Christmas-list, not-supposed-to-come-home-until-after-Lydia's-birthday, DADDY!! The cool thing, we've kept it a secret for more than a month now- from the kids anyhow.

Lolli, Pop, Aunt Crickett and Huck all came down for the "cookie decorating" (code word for "Coolest Christmas Suprise Ever"). Friday night they watched the kiddos while I headed to the Sunday School Christmas party. I returned home to a feverish little girl- unfortunately it's the one who is allergic to Ibuprofen AND Tylenol. So after a tortuous tepid bath and a still sky-rocketing fever, we headed to the ER (thank goodness for Army health insurance).

Our local hospital is great and there is a rarely a wait at the ER. We were fortunate to get in quickly, but were not so fortunate to go home right away. Because her fever conitnued to rise to 104.4, they gave her a dose of Benadryl, followed by Tylenol and then kept her to monitor her reaction. She fell asleep while we were waiting, and I got the exciting text from Scott letting me know he had reached Germany and was still on time to get home about 11:00 on Saturday morning. Lydia's fever came down after an hour or so and she had no reaction to the Tylenol so they sent us home. I woke her at 6am to give her medicine and thankfully she was fever free.

Saturday morning seemed to come early after a long night at the ER, but I was so excited about Scott's return and the BIG surprise, I didn't really even care to sleep in. We got the kids dressed in their "Smitten with Daddy" shirts I made them (they didn't think twice about why they were wearing them) and all of us headed over to mom's house to decorate cookies. Pretty much I only had time to take the kids inside before heading to the airport to meet Scott.

When I got to the airport I had to do all I could to hold back the tears. It was almost Christmas and there were many, many soldiers coming home. The entire airport looked like a military base because there were probably 3 soldiers to every civilian in the place. Permanent signs have been put up at the Atlanta airport welcoming the troops home and there were USO staff throughout handing out treats to the men and women. The greatest thing of all was listening to all the cheers and clapping as any soldier passed by. At the top of the escalator up from the terminal train, they had a USO stand where a little girl and her grandmother sat clapping and cheering each time a soldier came up- they were great about not missing a single one. I was kind of sad that I hadn't brought the kids to see the tremendous outpouring of love from everyone towards the men and women who serve our country, but I was also thankful for their surprised faces that will forever be burned in my memory.

Security checks took longer than we anticipated, so I ended up standing at the top of the escalator for about an hour. There were about 200 soldiers on his flight coming home on leave from both Kuwait and Afghanistan. I talked for a short bit with another family waiting for the son/boyfriend/brother. We exchanged info from text messages from our soldiers, trying to predict when they'd be coming up the escalator to greet us. Well, their soldier came first and it was then I started to cry- at the top of the escalator he just dropped to one knee and proposed!!! Of course, Scott came up shortly after that and I was all teary eyed and looked pathetic. I attempted to video him and all the clapping for him, but I ended up so excited I just ran to him and the iPhone got intermittent shots of the floor before I stopped videoing.

We grabbed his luggage and jumped in the car towards home. Derek and Jamie (and baby Zaila) had been working on pre-wrapping the box we were going to put Scott in so the kids could "open". We kept in communication with all of our contacts back at the cookie decorating and we just enjoyed each others company on the VERY long drive home (thank you to everyone who decided to shop at the Mall of GA on Saturday, December 17th when we were trying to drive home from the airport in standstill traffic).

Once we got home we soon realized that Scott would not fit in the box I had picked out for him. Everyone thought it looked small, but in my defense he would have fit if it wasn't for his boots :) So, we came up a new plan. We put his bag and his hat in the box and he hid in the basement. We called the grandparents and they headed over with the kids while we all waited in anticipation of their surprise.

The kids came in and I hassled them about the gift and whether or not they could open it. I finally said they could and they (and my nephew, Wesley) tore into it. I don't think they knew what to expect when they found the bag and the hat- Scott snuck up from the basement stairs behind everyone and I think he scared all the adults too. Harbin's reaction was great- he just fell face to the floor when he saw Daddy. When we asked what he thought, he said he thought that someone was dressed up like Daddy (how cruel does he think we are?). Catherine looked like she was going to burst into tears, but was the first to run over to him and give him a hug. Lydia followed shortly after and didn't let go of him- literally, he carried her all day. Ella was unsure at can see the pic of her leaning on the box as she gradually pushed that towards Daddy until he finally picked her up and hugged her. After that she was fine and enjoyed getting tossed around by him and really enjoyed playing with his hat and backpack (which is one of her new favorite words).

He's only home for 15 days, but we are thankful to have him for our 9th anniversary, Christmas and New Years. The kids think it's the best Christmas present ever and it will definitely be hard to top that next year!!

Enjoy the pics and I'll enjoy having my hubby home!
The mom.

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