We have put a huge amount of thought into deployments over the years, especially for our little miss Claire. She has been known to cry for hours over missing Daddy and has a hard time understanding time; 19 more days, no, surly if I cry harder he will come home now. Just a year ago (when she was 6) she refused to talk to him on the phone or Skype. So glad she grew out of that and loves to talk to Daddy on the iPad now, such a little Daddy's girl.
I think the "count down" has been the one thing that has helped the most. Nate and the girls made a paper chain before the last few deployments and the girls took turns ripping one off each evening at dinner.
My friend Krystal's hubby is active duty Air Force and on his last deployment they got this super cool "flat Daddy." The minuet I saw it I was googling how we could get one. The girls love it! I did have to strategically place it in our house though. If you put flat Daddy in a spot a person could stand, it WILL scare the crap out of you passing it at a glance. It took a while for our dogs to adjust to flat daddy. Olive kept growling at it and looking at me like, don't you see that mom?!
Makenna was so excited to bring flat Daddy to show and tell at preschool! When I asked her what she told her class about it she exclaimed "This is my flat Daddy and it's my Daddy because he is in Afghanistan. He is helping people and keep them safe and keeping us safe because there are bad guys with guns that shoot fire!" Oh dear, traumatized four year olds at the no gun christian school. Not sure where the guns of fire came from.
They take turns sitting by flat daddy at dinner.
We have a family tradition that when you are two and Daddy goes away you get a build-a-bear. They have sound boxes inside with messages from Daddy. This is a pic from my phone of Alice getting her Puppy, Cupcake. Makenna and Claire bring theirs to "take baths" and get free ribbons. It's something special we can do as a family that is very low key, just swing by the mall. We have decided that the big exciting trips before deployment are not worth the stress. Nate and I are both trying to get everything together and emotional already. Trips are almost always a ticking time bomb. We try to keep life as normal as possible.
We taped Nate reading books and when he is gone I'll play them back on the TV. It's also really fun to see how they have grown. They love watching the one with baby Alice. This year I went to the library books and found all Daddy books. Our favorite was Hero Dad.
Once Nate sent the girls a prerecorded book, My Little Princess with his voice reading every page and their names at the end. It's very sweet and definitely on its last leg being one of the great treasures around here. The book is nice because they can get it out any time and hear his voice.
Face time is great when it's available.
Coming home from Kyrgyzstan this October Nate got stuck in the fog after a 13 hour flight and could't land, a very long wait.
"Where is my Daddy?"
And more waiting...
Makenna got to go up with the customs officer, very special.
Coming home is actually harder then leaving for a lot of reasons. It's a big adjustment for Nate taking off the soldier hat and getting back into exceedingly patient Daddy mode. I have been doing everything on my own for months and it's hard to delegate responsibilities. We are both pretty tired physically and emotionally over not really knowing when he is coming home. I have to cancel life because he might come home and then he doesn't day after day. Oh and day is night oversees so Nate can't sleep for more then a few hours for days.
So good to be together again.