So the trip to pick up the girls was a big success and we are all now back under the same roof. And I then immediately went into a week of leave which allowed us plenty of time to reconnect; it was not really necessary though, because apparently, they really missed their Dad over the summer.
After getting approval from my Chain of Command to travel, I got my vehicle serviced and headed to Texas with a carload of snacks, suitcases, hand sanitizer, and face masks. I spent the night about an hour from the meet-up location and then picked the girls up the next morning.
To say the girls were happy to see me would be an understatement. In fact, it was a little difficult to pry them off me so that their mother could say goodbye to them. While it was amazing to see them and have them back, I try to be respectful to their mother by giving her ample time to say goodbye, as drop-offs certainly have to be difficult for her. Armed with their toys, tablets, snacks, and several activity books, the girls were ready for an easy trip back.
We drove for about six hours before stopping about halfway between the pick-up location and our house in Arizona. Surprisingly, the girls wanted to keep on driving (to get back to their kitties), but I thought it best to get a hotel and a good night’s rest. The girls eventually concurred after getting to eat their Happy Meals while watching Nickelodeon’s cartoon line-up. And they were just a little bit cuddly, with one or both of them always using my shoulder or legs as a pillow. I guess they really missed their Dad.
When we got home, in complete defiance of my instructions, the girls ran inside the house screaming for their kitties. Predictably, it took the cats about 30 minutes to come out from under the bed. After that, the cats would just not leave them alone, which the girls loved.
Immediately after they scared their kitties, the girls wanted to open their presents (Gabriella’s from me and both of the girls’ from their Grandparents). Shortly after, Gabriella and I were putting together a giant Lego boat that I gave her while Elaina continued to expand her Lego house.
The next week was spent relaxing, playing, and for me, getting massive headaches; regarding the latter, you would be absolutely amazed at how quickly your brain hurts when it goes from ten weeks of utter silence to talking, shouting, singing, crying, and/or some type of musical instrument playing every waking moment. We spent a lot of time in the backyard, with the girls either on the trampoline or in their pool. One of the requests they had upon their return was a soft, green lawn, so I had worked diligently over the summer to give them just that; they were thoroughly impressed with the result.
The girls were also excited to get back to painting, of which I had a surprise for them. Instead of their usual cut-outs to paint over, I had created Star Wars cut-outs for them so that I could line my bedroom wall with them. Talk about a win-win; they got to paint and I got some high-quality Star Wars paintings from two up-and-coming artists.
They came out pretty good too (which was great, because I have a dozen more for them to paint). And of course Gabriella chose to paint BB-8 and Elaina chose to paint the Millennium Falcon.
We also took out the Brio train set (an expansion of the set that I had when I was a kid) and laid out a pretty solid track (Thanks, Grandmother, for Gabriella’s gift that added to the collection). They love putting the pieces together, but call me in when they need to connect opposing tracks. Easier to clean up than Lego too (which we played quite a bit of as well).
Gabriella must had had a bit of a growth spurt, as she was one pound short of being able to use a booster seat (with no back) when I picked her up, but was easily over the 40 lb. minimum by the third day back. And when we measured her annual height on our oversized ruler (that I made a few years ago), she was one inch taller than Elaina was at that age. Go Gabbs!
They had to FaceTime with their extended family in California and Texas, as well as with Elora and Emma, their best friends that moved from Fort Huachuca over the summer when their father retired from the military.
And even though the girls did not particularly like it, we had to do some activities in their workbooks to get ready for the new school year (“That’s real school, Dad, not pretend school!”). All in all, it was a great week of leave spent with my girls (we even went on a wagon ride searching for Tarantulas, but unfortunately, did not see any that day). I cannot even explain how happy I am to have them back. Even with the constant cleaning, laundry, and preparing meals that will barely be eaten, it is nice to be back together and to have our routine again. School starts in a week, so you will certainly get a post about Elaina’s first day of 1st grade and Gabriella’s first day of Kindergarten.
Thanks for checking in on us.