16 February 2014

Gettin' Real Over Here

Mike and I attended the pre-deployment briefing at the Airman and Family Readiness Center on Friday, and as I left the building with the dozen or so papers, brochures, handouts and so on to help us transition to life half a world apart, I thought, "Well, this feels real now."

Really real.

Not that the three week training Mike has already been on didn't make things feel real. Dropping him off at the airport, kids asking for Daddy, explaining over, and over, and over again that Daddy is at work in Ohio (where his training was), then the joy of reuniting. There was even a mini-adjustment period, ha ha.

The past two weeks that Mike has been home have been fairly stressful as we prepared for the deployment, for his next training, and the home front with a deployed family member, as well as the Force Separation Board. Not to mention all the sickness that's been going . . . Butterfly and Little Man with the stomach bug the weekend Mike got back, then Mike got it, then I had some flu-like cold the next week . . .

Saturday was very bittersweet. Mike and I took the kids to Build-A-Bear in Cottonwood Mall and they each got to pick out whatever stuffed animal they liked, and Mike did voice recordings for each of them to put in their stuffed animal. All three of them were immediately drawn to the My Little Pony's that were available - Butterfly picked Twilight Sparkle, Little Man picked Rainbow Dash and Flower picked Fluttershy.  The kids were so patient while we waited in line (it was apparently a very busy day in Build-A-Bear), and they hugged their to-be-stuffed animals tightly. When it was our turn, the lady took Mike to the back hallway where he could do his recordings and then we went to stuff the ponies.

Flower went first since she was the youngest. She stood on the little pedal to fill her pony with warm stuffing and then it was Little Man's turn, and then Butterfly's. After their pony's were stuffed, they picked a heart to put in their pony's, rubbed the heart in their hands for warmth and love, rubbed it on their funny bone for humor, on their head for intelligence, gave it a kiss and put the heart in. Then the lady sewed their pony's up and they were off to be groomed.

Putting in the recorded device.

Butterfly helping stuff Twilight Sparkle.

Preparing their pony's hearts.

Grooming Rainbow Dash with Daddy.
I stood back and watched all this and tried really hard to hold back my tears. And of course, I took pictures. It was very bittersweet. It was a sweet family outing and we had a good time together, but thinking of what the outing meant was hard. I don't think the kids understand that Daddy is going to be gone for a really, really long time yet. Knowing that they have something that they can hug that has his voice in it is comforting.

Right now they think it is great fun, and I hope they will find it all a great comfort in the months to come.

Afterwards, the kids got to play at the mall play place for a little bit, then we rode the train around the mall (very fun!) and then we had lunch at Johnny Rocket's together. It was a great day as a family.

When we got home, Mike resumed his packing for his field training. My stomach turns with anxiety when the "mo-bags" come out. Such is life though, and to me it felt like a precursor to the real thing - the deployment.

For now though, life goes on. We took Mike to the airport this morning to leave for his training and we most likely won't have contact with him until it is finished in two weeks. In the meantime, we'll listen to his voice recordings and look at pictures of Daddy and, of course, pray for him.

1 comment:

Cat said...

Aww. I'm glad you all got to do Build-A-Bear with the kids. Your youngest looks so tiny with that giant pony.