It’s hard to believe that a week ago I was back in the states. With my big boys. Now here I sit in my too-quiet house. I miss them. Though. Let’s be honest, it’s not all bad.

For example, I paid for my flights with all the money I saved on groceries since Cole left for basic in October… with enough to spare for a souvenir sweatshirt! Since when do sweatshirts cost $40? Wow! Still, I had the cash burning a hot hole in my pocket. It is amazing how much one teen/twenty-something eats.

I cook almost daily, sometimes twice daily, we are not blessed with Uber Eats or really any delivery or even any nearby restaurants. If I want to not-cook & spend money on take-out I have to plan for it. I have to make extra effort to go out of my way to pick up foods. It’s faster, easier and healthier to just cook.

Not only is Cole out of the house, but he slid right into a job with pay. Granted he’s in training, but he’s also a soldier. He is getting paid. He is immensely proud to have his own money, as he should be. In fact, he took me out for a Starbucks, Panda Express (how I miss quick, easy, non-German lunches) and a fancy lunch. He. Took. Me.

Once a trainee graduates boot camp (Family Day at Fort Jackson), they proceed directly to AIT (Advanced Individual Training). This varies per person, both location and training. It depends on the job they will be doing in the Army. Cole is going to be a Satellite Operator (One last shot of Moose). He will be working hand-in-hand with Nick, Network Operator (The Hard Way), which means… they are together!

I was beyond lucky that Cole was granted a pass between basic & AIT. I had him all weekend. Well. Me & my parents & Soren & Lindsay. We had a wonderful weekend at the beach, away from the Army, stress and daily life. I had some alone time with my beautiful boy, and some game time with my kids. It wasn’t enough but it was so much better than nothing. And then? Then I brought Cole to AIT.

AIT where Nick was waiting to see me too! Because. My boys are together! They are in the same regiment, same battalion, different companies. They aren’t doing the same job so they aren’t doing the same training. Someday, if they are lucky, they may be stationed in the same place, working hand-in-hand, their jobs complimenting one another.

For now they are stationed in the same place, with matching name tags. They are still in trainee mode and cannot move freely without a battle buddy, or mom. Once I had Cole, I made my way over to Nick’s barracks to sign him out. His first floor was overflowing with soldiers, it was “Phase Day” and that means checking in, moving up, new color-coded badges.

Once I signed in blood that I would be responsible for Nick, we made our way back through the gaggle of oh-so-young kids. Nick flanking my left, Cole flanking my right. And then it started. Giggling. Moon eyes. Elbows prodding sides.

“Are they brothers?”

They turned red and walked a little faster, each grabbing an elbow and pulling me along. Out of the hallway, back into the bright overcast day.