So ever since Ted notified us on Thursday that he would be on a flight from Afghanistan to Kuwait, we've been on pins and needles waiting for his arrival! We didn't have much communication from him during the duration of his travels, but we did learn that he was going through Germany to Atlanta and finally to Dayton. His scheduled arrival time was 5:36 pm on Saturday.
I was guardedly optimistic about this time, and the kids were doing happy dances all throughout the day. I hadn't planned anything at all for Saturday, not knowing exactly what would be happening. I was pretty much useless all day, although I did get one load of laundry finished and made 4 dozen banana muffins. Other than that, I spent my time reading, playing Wii with the kids, checking flight statuses online, and wandering aimlessly around the house, picking up random things while not being fully engaged in any sort of cleaning project. The kids were delighted to have such a distracted mom, as they ended up spending 98% of their waking hours in front of the television, first watching Animaniacs DVDs from the library, then playing Wii, and later watching a movie.
When the phone finally rang and I got to hear Ted's voice for the first time in a number of days, I was first relieved to hear he was stateside, but then disappointed with him that plans seemed to be changing. Atlanta was pretty much shut down due to poor weather, but his plane had needed fuel, so they stopped in Alabama, where they waited on the plane for 2 1/2 hours before getting refueled.
We next heard from him once he arrived in Dallas, where they had been rerouted because of the situation in Atlanta. He sounded SO exhausted! But the good news was that once he had cleared customs, he was able to get on a direct flight to Dayton. New expected time of arrival: 10:55 pm.
By this point it was close to dinner time at our house. I had originally planned for us to have snacks in the afternoon and then eat dinner as a family at Cracker Barrel after we picked up Ted, since we had eaten there the day we took Ted to the airport when he left for his pre-deployment training in New Jersey. Obviously this plan was going to have to change! Thank goodness for Trader Joe's frozen dinners, LOL. We enjoyed orange chicken and rice, and then, since the kids were driving me cuh-razy, I sent the boys to my neighbor Chris's house to borrow some movies.
They took a vote and settled down to watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and by the time that was over, it was time to pack up and head to the airport! I had decided not to worry about the late time and to just take everyone along. I mean, really, how often do you get to welcome your dad home from a war zone?! The good thing was that Lucan had napped from about 3:00 - 6:00, so he was definitely recharged and ready to go! Zaden, as usual, was on his perfect little schedule, so it was no problem getting him ready to go. We started the Suburban and let it warm up so I wouldn't have to kill myself chipping off a half inch of ice from the windshield!
We arrived in plenty of time...I had planned for us to get special passes and go through security to meet Ted at the gate. However, I neglected to update my plan with the change in arrival time, and security was closed! So we simply sat in an area across from the ticket counter and waited. I nursed Zaden, the kids played "football" with Lucan's stuffed dog, a pair of socks, and a scarf, and the kids took turns chatting with Grandma J, who kept us updated as to the plane's progress since she was watching online. "Now Daddy's in Indiana! He's crossing into Ohio! He's a quarter inch away from the airport!"
It was rather quiet at the airport at that time, which was just fine. The girls had made signs to hold up, and we made our way as far up as we could go without crossing the red line where the security guard sat. Finally...FINALLY...after 8 months...we saw Ted walking toward us! My tall, handsome, exhausted husband was finally HERE! I captured the reunion with the kids on video, then gave the camera to Charis, so the latter part of the reunion video is sideways, because she turned the camera. Still, it's pretty sweet. :-)
So, here we are! I didn't think to ask anyone at the gate to get a picture of all of us. I think Ted and I both felt a little awkward about making a scene...there weren't tons of people around, but everyone who WAS there was definitely watching our large family! I saw a lot of smiles, but no one talked to us, and I was kind of in my own little happy bubble. So the idea of getting a family picture never even occurred to me! I took this one of Ted with all the kids once we got to the parking garage.
So, he's finally here, for 15 days, anyway. But I suspect those 15 days will be most memorable!