Returning Home in a Surprise Box

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

I had the coolest bike. It was red with a sparkly red and silver banana seat. You know the ones. I was zipping down the street in front of my house and had finally gained enough speed that I knew I would be able to catch air off the manhole if I hit it just right. My 10-year old-legs couldn’t pump any harder, the chain on the bike was working so hard it was starting to smoke, I swear! Closer and closer, my heart was pumping! This was going to be the flight of the century!!!

BAM!!!!!! My bike hit the manhole and my face hit the curb. Not my face really, just my upper lip. My entire upper lip spread across the entire surface of the rounded, pebble covered surface off the curb, implanting tiny specks of asphalt into every closed and open pore. It all happened so fast! Screw any slow-motion dramatic moments!!

I hopped up instantly out of pride, grabbed my bike and ran it three houses down to my black and white safety net of a home. I was fine. No tears, No panic, No emotion, period. Until?

I saw my mom.

What is it when we see our safety net? A wall of armour turns into a puddle of mess. It happened to me last night at about 2 am.


What I wanted to invite you into this week was my world of returning from deployment. I anticipated sharing with you all what this little Canadian family does in preparation for Glenn getting home. Hahahaha

I remember printing off a How-To-Do-Deployment resource guide. And well, I found out it didn't really fit our family because we are kind of unique in that we are not military, in that Glenn is not a uniformed soldier. I can’t send him care packages and he isn’t covered for benefits, etc…

He’s also not like a plain-clothed civilian though cause he is actually working with live bombs and training - there's a BIG risk there. And well, groups are protective about who’s a “brother”. And rightfully so. So, we are navigating something new here and might do things a little different - it doesn't mean our way is better, it just works for us (is that politically correct enough for everyone? hahaha).

Ok, my goal when Glenn is home is that THIS is his safe zone. He has also been gone for 4 months and we only get 21 days with him before he is gone again - so we want to maximize game time, movie time, lovin time… you get the idea. Which means… I want to knock off as many tasks as I can before he is home.

I typically get the cars serviced, house cleaned, laundry is done, dog groomed, the fridge full, etc… no mundane tasks to do. I also typically get all caught up with my clients and arrange things to essentially have a clear schedule for when he is home.

But these last couple of weeks have had a little different of a focus - both a BIG plan… and a distraction. Let's start with the distraction.


A little while ago I talked about having an auto-immune disease and the last couple of months have been an even bigger battle for me than I am used to. I'm that “tired mom”. No matter how much sleep I get, number one, I don't sleep well and number two, it doesn't seem to be making a difference. I fight all day just to stay awake. For the purpose of this blog I’m just going to talk about some trains of thought I have, please know my mental toughness keeps me out of here most times.

The doctors believe my thyroid nodule is cancerous and I am at the top of the list for surgery, yet until this week it has been almost 18 months that we have been talking about getting it out. About 4 months ago I developed pain so severe behind my left nipple that it was waking me out of a dead sleep and then recently became painful all the time. Mammograms and ultrasounds are booked and attended and of course, in the meantime, Dr. Google is visited as well. While I am waiting for results I read that those with thyroid cancer run an increased risk of breast cancer. Then my Dr called me yesterday.

“How soon can you come in?”

Not… “everything is ok, but we want to explain why there is pain, can you come in?” But, “How soon can you come in?” So, I stop breathing. And we book an appointment an hour later. Talk about a stressful moment.

I find out that it's just some very large cysts. YAY! My thyroid surgery is booked for November 5th! Yay!! And I drive home feeling like I am finally making headway into my health.

That was 4 days taken up by Dr's appointments that would have usually been spent on getting-ready-for-Glenn. Now I’m super behind, but I’m healthy so that's ok. And? The Universe has my back cause Glenn will be home for surgery so Win-Win!!!

Then I’m chatting with Glenn about some issues we are having with our son at school and he simply writes:

I can't wait to come home and just love on all 3 of you.

And then I realize that we are 1 day away. And it's like seeing my Mom again that day and all I can do is cry.

And it's the holding my breath for results.

And the single parenting for 4 months.

And the empty bed and lonely nights.

And the letter from Gerry’s teacher at 8 pm.

And the trips to Repsol 4 days a week.

And everything that we do as moms, the wiping the noses, the Covid tests, the just crossing our fingers and hoping that we are doing it “right”.

And now I see my Life Preserver in the Water. Now I know I am coming up for air and no longer have to breathe through a straw like I was from last week… 1 day. 1 day. 1 more sleep.

I did it. I made it.

Now…. what else has been distracting me??


A 7-week Plan has also been in the works!! One of the things that we do for FUN around events is we TIME-TRAVEL. If Glenn is going to be missing a birthday or Anniversary we time travel to that event while he is here and pre-celebrate it! It has been such a fun strategy for the kids and us… and it has meant that often we get to have 2 or 3 or even 4 Christmases or Birthdays!! Hello Presents!!!

Now this year we knew Glenn would be cutting it close around Aila’s birthday (Oct 24th) and were not sure how it would play out with International travel and Covid. So about 7 weeks ago he found out that he would be getting home on the 23rd… BUT… we thought we would be sneaky. We told Aila that flights were really expensive on Fridays and Saturdays so Glenn had to miss her birthday by one day and would be getting home on the 25th. My kids are so resilient, she immediately says; “so now we get to travel into the PAST!!” Wow, how did I get so lucky??

Aila starts her usual count-down on the calendar, and on her special light-box and we start to build the excitement of his arrival. I tell her that Daddy is going to send her a special present via Amazon to get here before the 24th to make up for missing the actual day. We talk about the special dinners we are going to have when he is home and she even asks for her birthday theme to be a ‘Welcome Home’ theme this year.

Time to get Gerald in on it - we want him to have a special part too and to know that he is also significant! He loves being my co-conspirator and has done an amazing job keeping this HUGE secret! So he and I come up with the final details of the plan:

Gerald has a follow-up appointment on Friday for the covid test that he had a couple of weeks ago. It’s not a big deal and should only be about an hour-long appointment - Aila, do you want to come or go hang out with a buddy? Luckily? She chooses a buddy. Thanks to the Smith Family for helping out!!

I will be taking Gerald from school early, Aila will be going to her buddy's place while Gerald and I slip to the airport to pick up Glenn (I'll post a video from Glenns first return from deployment). Gerald and I are going to bring Glenn back to the house and get him to sit inside some Amazon delivery boxes donated by (thanks Heather!!) and set them up on the steps of our porch.

I’m going to text the Smith Family and ask them to let Aila know her birthday gift arrived from her dad and that we are going to come and grab her from their place so she can open it (tell her she can go back and play after if she wants) and bring her back to open the boxes to find her Dad home, on time for her Birthday, 2 days earlier than she expected!!!

If she doesn't bawl her eyes out and jump up and down… I sure know that I will be!!!!

I’ll post the video on my site so make sure to check back too!!!!