Tuesday, August 08, 2017

And Just Like That.....the Countdown Has Begun!!!

He's gone.

I didn't know if this day would ever come. It has been looming over us since last October and the closer the day came, the heavier it felt.

Most people dread this day. Yes, it STINKS, but there is a Silver Lining: we are no longer dreading the day Alex leaves, but now counting down the days until he's back home. Even though we are just in the beginning, we know that taking one day at a time makes the months fly by and before we know it he'll be back. Homecomings are oh so sweet. For those of you who have never experienced a homecoming, I can't tell you how highly I recommend you finding one near you and going to witness it in person. There is something magical about seeing a family reunited. I have been to dozens of homecomings and everyone is unique and special.

Anyway, as with our last deployment, I will be keeping a daily blog. This helps us stay connected with Alex and allows him to see the ins and outs of our days and have topics of conversation for when he talks with the kids. It's also very therapeutic for me. We welcome anyone who wants to come alongside us on this journey.

Our timeline was a bit crazy yesterday and I didn't get home until 6:15 this morning, which is why I am just now writing about our farewell.

We were blessed to get to spend the day together  so I'm going to share some photos recapping our final day together up through today.

Alex and I prepped our necklace pieces...his goes on his dog tags and mine goes on a necklace Alex bought me before the last deployment.

During the morning we had homemade breakfast burritos. Then we went swimming and played a lot of family games and the kids and Alex played Star Wars!

Alex wanted one more meal at Chipotle, so we headed there for lunch and then we ran to Target for a few last minute odds and ends that Alex needed.

Once we arrived home, we had just a short while before it was time for Alex to say "see you soon" to the kids and for me to take them over to my parents for the evening. Here are some of the pictures from this time together:


Once I dropped the kids off at my parents, I came back to the house and my amazingly thoughtful husband had the most touching gifts for each of us set out. (I kept the kids' a surprise until we came home from Grandma and Grandpa's). For those of you that remember, Alex became quite the amazing letter writer and made my heart flutter extra from all of his thoughtfulness. Well, he's already started. He left each of us a personalized, hand-written note and a sweet little gift.

I did not read the letter then, I saved it for after I got home from dropping Alex off.

Alex had requested to go to Burger Lounge for dinner. I had never been there, but the closest one to us was in Temecula. So we loaded up the car and headed there on the way to Camp Pendleton.
For those of you that live near a Burger Lounge.....IT WAS DELICIOUS!!!! (Emma and Jordan, they just opened one in Vegas in the Aria ;) ).

Next, my amazingly romantic man gave me directions and he ended up taking us to the beach where we were able to sit in chairs under a cabana and just sit and talk and enjoy the beautiful waves crashing in the moonlit sky! It was gorgeous....however, it was hard to capture the beauty of it, so we have some sandy toes and a nighttime selfie to document our amazingly refreshing time. Isn't God so good!?! Seriously what my soul needed before we headed to our final destination!

While at the beach we looked at the clock and it was about that time. Alex changed over into his uniform and we headed towards the area where Alex was going to leave for his deployment.

Once there, we had to carry his gear to his line. He had to get it weighed, go to the armory, and do a few other formalities. Once he was done, we were able to spend some extra time together before they had to load the semi with their gear and get on the buses. 

Once the buses arrived, emotions amped up and we knew what was coming, but before we said our "see you soons" the Patriot Riders showed up!!! They escorted the buses to their next location! I love the Patriot Riders....another reason I think everyone should have a chance to come to a Military Home Coming...they escort the buses home too!!!!

Then, came the final farewell. While this was the hardest part of the day, by far....it was also the sweetest because we were able to exchange some amazing words of affirmation with each other, as well as words of encouragement for this next journey we each will be on, together, but separate. We count it an honor to serve our country this way and now the COUNTDOWN IS ON UNTIL HOMECOMING!!!!

The buses finally pulled out around 3:50 and I headed to my car to drive home. I listened to two podcasts from Donald Miller's: Story Brand...if you haven't listened to this podcast, I love it and have learned so much! I arrived home at about 6:15 in the morning. I read my beautiful letter from Alex and then quickly changed and headed over to my parents for a few games of Pickleball. The kids had a blast. I think we all did. 

Afterwards, we all went to breakfast and then came home and relaxed. I was dog-tired, but didn't really get a chance to sleep like I'd hoped. We watched Summer Magic, per the kids' request and then we had a light lunch, since we'd had a later breakfast. 

The kids then went to their rooms to read and do some summer math and I did a little bit of work.  Then we received a phone call from Alex letting us know he'd made it to stop number 1 and would be boarding in a little bit for stop number 2. Then, Hudson and I took Madison to gymnastics. I don't have a video (but hopefully I will soon)....Madison did her Flyaway on the bars to night without a spot!!!! This is a big deal...she's been working so hard!

We then came home and the kids are both passed out and I'm about to join them. I just wanted to finish this recap so that when Alex lands he has something to look at. 

We love and miss you babe! Working on your first care package! Love you to the moon and back!

***Tomorrow I'll share with y'all about the amazing Anniversary gift Alex got me to help keep us connected on the deployment....it's seriously on of the coolest things I've ever seen! My hubby is such a romantic! Love how he knows what speaks to my heart, often times better than I do. 



I love this post so much. Tears are streaming down my face. I can't imagine how hard it was to send your husband off.....& as a dad- to say "see you soon" to your children. THANK YOU ALEX for serving our country!!!! This post....& your story has made an impact all the way over in Montana. I'll be following along and praying over each of you. Big Hugs!!! XO

Kellee Krause said...

Stephanie, great detailed account. Praying for you guys. You are strong. God's got you!

Vanessa Warren said...

Alex!!!! We are so proud of you - thank you for serving our country. We will take good care of your precious Stephanie & the kiddos. We'll be sure to love on them extra hard. Stephanie - you are a strong woman & mama. I am so crazy proud of you & honored to call you friend. Love you! - Vanessa xo

Autumn Bartlett said...

Sending many prayers on the wind for you all.....

CMitz said...

Tears are flowing for you all friend. Praying the days fly by. So honored to be along on this journey with you. God is good all the time.

Amy @Set Free said...

You are an incredible family! Thank you, Alex, for your selfless service. Steph...you are an amazing momma, I'll be thinking about and praying for you! xo

Emma said...

Love you guys!! ❤

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this season of your lives. Tears fill my eyes as I read this! We will keep you in our prayers and look forward to your blogs. Thank you for your service, Alex! Thank you, Stephanie for your service and sacrifice.