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SOUTH SIOUX CITY -- Master Sgt. Shane Potts can now keep a tea party date with his daughters Malin, 6, and Kaylee, 4.

"They seem intent on having a tea party," he said as his daughters tugged on his leg. "Guess we're having a tea party."

A member of the civil engineering squadron of the 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa National Guard, Potts just returned following a six-month overseas deployment.

With the assistance of his wife, Michelle, a Harney Elementary School English Language Learner (ELL) teacher, Potts was able to keep his return a secret until Monday afternoon.

"That was the toughest part," Michelle Potts said. "Shane was able to come home on Sunday, spend time with our (11-month-old) daughter Layne, while Malin and Kaylee spent the weekend with my parents."

Malin, a kindergarten student, was shocked to see Potts walk into her Harney Elementary classroom Monday.

"I wasn't expecting to see daddy today," Malin said, grinning ear to ear.

Kaylee was even more surprised when Potts arrived at her E.N. Swett Elementary School preschool class. 

"Daddy's been gone for so such a long time," she said.

Potts will be taking about a month off before returning to work at the 185th base.

Until then, he'll be able to reacquaint himself with his girls. 

"When I left, Layne really didn't have a personality," Potts said of the 11-month-old. "Now, she has a big one."

He said he's looking forward to plenty of tea parties with the other women in his family.

"That's what keeps me going," Potts said. "I needed to come home to see my girls."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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