Getting random messages asking if I photograph military homecomings might be my favorite thing. I don't do homecomings often, despite being in a large military community. I love them a lot, but they aren't where I've focused my marketing efforts, so it always makes me jump for joy when someone reaches out about one. Andrea messaged me in March after seeing my name on a thread in a military spouse group. Her husband, James, was deployed on CVN 77 - aka "the Bush", named after President George H.W. Bush - and was expected to return the following month.

We scheduled our coffee date for approximately 2 weeks before the boat was expected back. In case you haven't read another homecoming blog post from me yet, I meet all of my homecoming clients in person shortly after booking. This allows us to 1) get to know each other and 2) share information about homecoming in a way that doesn't jeopardize the servicemember's command, mission, safety, etc. Days before we were set to meet, Andrea found out that James' boat was extended for an uncertain amount of time. When Andrea walked into the coffee shop with her double stroller looking exhausted, I immediately flashed back to our deployment extension news. The exhaustion and loneliness you feel doing the solo parenting thing in a city far away from family and friends who can step in to help you with your kids.

Mom holds a baby who is waving an American flag | CVN 77 Deployment Homecoming, Norfolk Naval Station, VA

It was easy for us to swap stories of solo parenting during a deployment, although I will say that Andrea definitely had a more challenging experience having a 3 year old and 1 year old! Meeting Max and Camilla that day was such a pleasure. They were so fun and their love for their mama was evident. I couldn't wait to see them all reunited with their dad! Much like Jude's first year of life, Camilla hadn't seen much of her dad since she was born, and Andrea was uncertain about how the homecoming would be for her.

When the day finally arrived we were blessed with incredible weather, which is not always the case for April in Hampton Roads. After the boat pulled in, we sat in a tent to protect the kiddos from the sun and anxiously awaited the text message telling Andrea that James was leaving the boat. Andrea convinced me to start a TikTok for KCM, which I've been awful about maintaining haha.

Suddenly streams of sailors began to leave the boat, so we headed over toward the pier to wait. When James finally made his way over to Andrea, it was an explosion of joy. The hugging, kissing, and smiling didn't stop for at least 10 minutes (and I'm sure it came back regularly throughout the day). Andrea's fears about Camilla re-meeting her dad and Max seeing him again were immediately calmed. Scroll to the end to see Camilla and Max's sweet reunion with their dad after his long deployment!

Toddler boy waves flag and smiles at the camera | CVN 77 Deployment Homecoming, Norfolk Naval Station, VA