Owen and I arrived in Alabama after his bedtime. Since he slept on the flight, he somehow (very unlike Owen) stayed asleep until we put him in the rental car. He was awake for the ride back to the TLF (temporary living facility) on base and then crashed for the night. Well, sort of. It was a rough night, even for Owen standard, but I have to hand it to the kid. He hasn’t slept in his bed since August we are constantly living somewhere else. This was his fourth pack ‘n play sleep in four different places since August. He’s a total trooper.
Alex had been living in the TLF by his lonesome for three weeks while we were in Iowa. He was so anxious for us to get there. The last time we saw him was in Germany at the airport, which seemed like an eternity ago. Owen was really happy to see him but due to the cheap flight schedule, we got there on a Sunday night which meant that Alex had to go to work right away in the morning leaving Owen and I holed up in a TLF (the beginning of what would become MONTHS of being holed up in a tiny TLF but that’s a story for another day).
Owen is thankfully pretty resourceful and can make just about anything into something fun.
He did yoga with me and makes it look so easy.
Lots of lounging in the inflatable duck tub (although for whatever reason and for the first time in his little life, he refused to take a bath the entire 10 days we were at Maxwell).
When the weather wasn’t too warm we scoped out the parks that were within walking distance, but they were a little lame in Owen’s book and he got bored with them quickly.
When it was too hot to go outside, we went to the building next door where they had a nice air conditioned playroom and he actually enjoyed several hours spent in there.
My beautiful friend Kristin came to visit us twice while we were there!
Kristin and I go way back to my Colorado days and even though we’ve never even lived in the same time zone, our friendship is stronger than ever. We saw each other often in Colorado, San Antonio, she was in our wedding, and even came to visit me in Germany.
She’s been with me through the highest of highs and lowest of lows and I simply cannot imagine life without her. I don’t know what I did to be blessed with such an amazing friend like Kristin, but I definitely did something right. I haphazardly played match-maker and she’s been dating our good friend Grady for 2+ years now (I didn’t mean to set them up!) and they’re hoping to visit us in Korea. How awesome is that?!
It was so nice to have her company in Alabama!
But I bawled my eyes out after saying “see you later.” I know I will see her later, and hopefully soon, but that never makes it any easier. Sometimes it seems so unfair that we have to be so far apart from the ones we love and cherish the most. I’m holding onto the hope that one day Grady and Alex will be stationed at the same base so we can be next door neighbors.
Alex’s schedule was really nice during SOS–something I knew I shouldn’t take for granted. He left around 7:30 and was usually home for dinner. That NEVER happens in the fighter pilot world, so we enjoyed it as much as we possibly could. While he was at work, we got in a lot of playtime and giggles.
We rehacked McAlister’s Deli while in Montgomery, but I have to admit, I remember it being so much better…
Maxwell had a really nice air park that we took Owen to on the evenings. It was one of his favorite activities. One of the wheels on the B-25 wasn’t locked so we probably spent hours spinning that wheel.
On the weekend, we explored downtown Montgomery. It’s a very small city, smaller than Des Moines, but their downtown is very nicely done. There’s a river walk and several great restaurant options. We often went out to eat with the others in his SOS flight and had a lot of fun.
We went out for Mexican and margs (virgin daq for me) to celebrate Alex’s birthday.
And had incredible cupcakes I picked up from a local bakery back at the TLF, much to Owen’s delight.
It was better than I remembered. Plus, we got to have lunch with an old friend from the USAFA days who is currently stationed there and just happened to be eating there. It was great!
Back in 2011, when we lived there, I always wished I could get my niece and nephews to Mississippi if for no other reason than to play on the awesome playground on base. Unfortunately, that never happened. Never in a million years did I think I’d bring my own son back to play on that park, but that’s exactly what we did after lunch.
We drove all around town and discovered that Columbus has really boomed since we left. There’s even a Starbucks! There is just about anything you could possibly want besides a Target and I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I could live there again – in a nicer house – and be very happy there. I cursed it a lot…but it’s really a very nice place! It was so nice seeing all our favorite places and spaces around town.
We drove by our old house…I can’t say I miss the house all that much. The stained carpet, the wood paneling, the tiny kitchen, the tiny bathroom, the tiny closets…but it was home enough and honestly, we made that place sparkle…but take that with a grain of salt, you can only polish a turd so much. It is currently empty and available for rent (anyone need a house in Columbus?!) so we peeked in the windows and were pleased to see that it was still in the condition we left it in, despite the disgusting floors. Oh, but the pretty bushes we planted out front were all dead.
We stopped by the neighbors to say hello and they were so surprised to see us. Ronnie and OD were so good to us during our time in Columbus and became our adopted grandparents. They really took care of us and we were so thrilled to see them again. We spent the afternoon chatting and they really enjoyed seeing and meeting Owen.
They gave us the scoop on Columbus (they always know the juiciest gossip) and told us the devastating news that our sweet neighbor, Martha, a widow who lived on the other side of us, had passed away from breast cancer a few months ago. I knew Martha wasn’t living there when we drove by because there were no flowers in her yard, she had the greenest thumb of anyone I’ve ever met and was also so kind to help me attempt to keep my petunias alive. She used to write us during our first two years in Germany but I never really thought much of it when the letters stopped. It was difficult news to receive and process.
For dinner that evening, we took Owen to our favorite Thai place. It is still a good place to get Pad Thai, but the difference is that we’ve now had really good authentic Thai food (and we just learned that it’s even better in Korea) since but it was still tasty.
The next week was Alex’s last week of SOS classes and the weather was much nicer. His flight commander had everyone over for a BBQ at his beautiful 1836 plantation home and I swear to you, after touring that house and seeing all that southern charm, I now have new life goals.
Owen and I found a new park on base that he really loved.
Alex’s grandparents from Texas drove over to spend a couple of days with us and got some one-on-one time with Owen. Owen really adores his great-grandpa. While Alex was at work, I took them downtown and we toured the first confederate capital building.
There was a Bass Pro Shop just down the street from their hotel and they really wanted to take Owen in. Okay, I’ll admit that I’ve never been in a BPS so I was a little confused as to why they wanted to take him there so badly, but after seeing all the animals, fish, and “big trucks” I now understand. Owen was in heaven. The employees totally get it too and don’t mind at all if you’re just there to play.
Owen and I really struggled to get through the last couple of days. There was a lot of coffee – even decaf has a placebo affect on me – and we watched Thomas the Train diligently at 12:30 every day (it’s the only TV he’ll watch).
We got bored.
Thankfully, they repaved the road right outside and Owen spent a day glued to this window. I even let him eat his meals there. The construction guys loved it and waved as they went by.
Alex had a bit more free time by the end of the week so we took Owen to the Alabama Cattleman’s MOOseum which was nothing spectacular, but Owen liked looking at all the cows. “Mmmm!!”
We found a sweet park downtown and Owen got some good much needed dad time in.
Finally, it was SOS graduation day. If I had a nickel for every graduation of Alex’s that I’ve sat through, we’d have enough to retire comfortably on. But, I’m very proud of him and he got the distinguished graduate honor which means he was top rated in his class. And I got to see him all spiffy in his blues…a very rare occurrence.
The next day we flew back to Iowa together for a really really super fast two days that I’ll tell you about in another post.
Before I go, can we just take a moment and applaud Owen for taking a stellar nap today? He’s almost at two hours! I can count on one hand the number of times Owen has napped longer than one hour. He has also been sleeping through the night the past few nights. I think we’re finally nipping this jet lag in the bud, almost three weeks later. I still go to bed at 9 pm every night but I think that’s just third trimester rather than jet lag. 🙂