Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas was wonderful with my family - but Christmas without Gunnar was really freaking hard. I don't want to do this anymore.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

OH - NC - OH - NC - OH - NC - OH ...

I'm packing up the kids and half the house and heading back to Ohio to spend the holidays with our families. Only problem being, Ohio is 8.5 hours away and the kids passionately hate the car ride. I can't blame them, they are some active kids (as any 1 year old and 3 year old should be) and don't enjoy being strapped into a seat for hours on end. Most kids would nap for a large portion of the drive, I assume, but mine have not too much interest when we're driving. Specifically the 1 year old, she will usually sleep for 3 solid hours when we're home and she's in a bed. On the road, she's good for about 15 minutes of sleep then goes back to screaming like she's being murdered mode.

I have to arrange the car just right so I can reach the toys, sippy cups, books, DVDs, snacks, tissues, and directions. Yep that's right, no thanks to the ridiculously lame North Carolina freeway system, I still need directions until I get to Virginia. We only make one stop on the way, which sounds kind of hardcore I'm sure but stopping more than absolutely necessary would only prolong the torture.

Every one of these drives makes me wonder why the heck I just don't stay in Columbus. I am only keeping this house in NC so Gunnar has a home to come back to when he returns. And since I have no idea when that will be, I think it's important to keep this place. Not that I want to. Being here and alone makes me miss him more. I haven't spent much time thinking about what Christmas is going to be like without him. It will be our first Christmas apart since 1999 I think.

I am always amazed how much work it actually is for me and the kids to be away for a few weeks. The lists I make of things to take seem to get longer and longer every time!

I'll try to keep this updated while I'm back home, if I can tear myself away from actual adult conversations.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fort Bragg Friendliness

Tonight was the 2-508 (that's Gunnar's Battalion..I think, I'm pretty sure actually) Holiday party! I was actually looking forward to tonight for a lot of reasons. First, it was a reasonable enough reason to wear something other than running shoes. I actually coordinated an outfit, did my hair and wore makeup. I looked pretty alright too compared to every day this week that I couldn't be bothered with any of that because I didn't leave my house barely. Second, Santa was going to be there and it was at some sort of arcade/pool table/pizza & wing joint on base that I'd never been to and figured my son would think it was cool. Third, I took it as an opportunity to actually meet some people around here! How great would that be?! To actually have some people around here talk to and hang out with would be pretty ok. Generally I don't make new friends super easily although I really don't have a problem talking to people I don't know. I just don't actually like that many people when I meet them. Sounds bitchy, doesn't it? Anyway that's really besides the point because I didn't meet a single person. I went with my pal Ashley and her two daughters and when we arrived the party room was standing room only so we were banished to the general arcade area and only able to pop in the reserved room occasionally to grab some food etc.

The people I did try to talk to couldn't be bothered to have any sort of conversation with me. Most people there seemed to know a lot of people already. I totally expected that, and certainly didn't expect anyone to be there waiting for me with a big welcome sign. I just thought the general attitude and vibe of the event would be just a tad more welcoming, more inviting, more friendly. It was a let down for sure.

And it really doubled the always present feeling of being completely isolated down here.

Hair and make up done...Ta Da!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What is HE doing here?

This is going to sound horribly selfish but since this is my little blog and I can say pretty much whatever I want to, I'm going to share this little feeling I've been having. Every time I see soldiers around base I really want to know what he is doing here. Seriously. Why is he here and not in Afghanistan? If my husband has to go over there for a whole damn year, why is that guy still here? And that guy? And that guy? Then I give myself a figurative smack in the face and think well maybe he just got back. Maybe he is leaving next month. Maybe he was there and injured and recovering or worse, completely traumatized or something. I realize they can't send every single soldier there all at the same time and there are jobs that don't actually require deployments. I think I just get super duper jealous when I see soldiers and their wives and kids, families together, because I wish it were me and my family.

My husband is the sexy one on the left...

To see more of these photos of Gunnar's platoon, check this out

Monday, December 7, 2009

Still Trying

After a few weeks back up in Ohio for the Thanksgiving holiday, me and the kids are back here in Fort Bragg aka Home Sweet Home. And just trying to make it work, as usual. I have left the house twice since we got in Friday night. We went to the commissary once (my own version of hell basically) and to the beloved Bed, Bath and Beyond today. Not too exciting. So basically I don't have too much to report.

I missed an opportunity yesterday morning to chat with Gunnar on Facebook. I have mobile alerts set up so if he is on and sends me a message, it will go to my phone, I can hop online and we can have a chat. This opportunity is quite rare and relying on electronic communication is always a little sketchy. Anyway, there was some sort of a delay in the electronic universe and by the time I knew he was online, his time on the computer was like 14 seconds away from being up. So I cried for a long time. It seemed like a long time anyway. I can't really handle the idea of missing a chance to hear from him in any sense of the word. I obsessively check my phone constantly to make sure it's on, the volume is up, it's fully charged etc. If I wasn't neurotic enough before this deployment, I certainly will be by the end of next summer.

Gunnar was able to call a few hours later. I might have mentioned before that we definitely always keep our conversations light and funny as all hell. It's great stress relief for both of us. I for one, am the world's biggest, most frequent cryer, so it's an accomplishment for me to not have a breakdown the second I hear his voice. All the strength in the world couldn't stop the water works yesterday though and poor Gunnar had to listen to me sobbing, making likely zero sense till I calmed down enough to have an actual conversation. Talk about a waste of some very expensive international calling card minutes!! It was, as always wonderful to hear him though. He is still doing really well. His platoon is very active and that worries the shit out of me constantly but they are all very capable soldiers. They seem to get called in any time any one needs some extra umph. I cannot for one second imagine what it's like to have people actually shooting at me. That's the kind of thing they are going through every day too. It's too hard to understand what any of it is really all about either. I gave up trying.

All we can really do is hope every last one of those soldiers comes back healthy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Then and Now

Gunnar has been in the Middle East for almost 1 month now. I am looking forward to the 1 month milestone because it seems like time has actually passed somehow! Our life one month ago was so very different from it is today. I personally can't speak for Gunnar's day to day activities. I know very little about how and where he is actually living. But last month at this time, oh let me just tell you - it was nearly perfect! Gunnar left for work in the morning, was home for a nice lunch midday, done for the day mid afternoon and we had all evening to be together! I had dinner made, we had meals at the table as a family. Life was good.

Life now is just missing something. Something huge. It's Gunnar. I love him and miss him like crazy. I had the mindset to just get through every day so tomorrow will come and we can just get through that day too. Then a really very wise and incredibly inspirational woman told me I need to actually live this time and not just get through it. Truer words were never spoken, I'd say.

I'm really going to work on changing how I am living this year without Gunnar.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes

I was getting pretty down in the dumps after not hearing from Gunnar for a week straight. That's something that I can simply never get used to. When two people's lives are really one life, which is what happens after lots of years together, if you're lucky, missing your other half is very profound. I just wanted to hear his voice and know that he is ok.

So last night when the phone rang at 11:37pm with a funky number on the caller ID, I knew it was him. And guess what? He sounded great! He is comfortable, eating well, sleeping well, not in need of any major necessities although he did ask me to send him a coffee mug (random much?). I was really proud of myself for not turning into a sobbing mess because I was this close to doing just that when I heard him say "hi baby" to me, like he always does. We talked and laughed and joked around. It was exactly what we both needed. We only had a few minutes to chat - there is only one phone for the platoon and he is a swell guy and passed it onto the next fellow after 10 or 15 minutes.

Today I had an entirely different outlook on things. I just really needed that confirmation that he is doing ok to get on with my life here too.

I'd like to also point out how amazing I think it is that all the different units in the Army have Facebook pages. It's a fantastic way for everyone to communicate and I guess I had no idea the Army was so into social networking sites. The 1st Sgt for Gunnar's company posted over 60 photos of Gunnar and his platoon. Getting to see his face was almost as good as hearing his voice. In case you didn't see the FB pics here's one for your viewing pleasure.

Am I a lucky girl or what?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fayetteville is No Fun - First Edition

We (meaning I) decided to get out and about today and go do something fun. We've been indoors most of the week and pretty much starting to go crazy. The weather effects of Tropical Storm Ida reached North Carolina early this week bringing with it rain, chilly temperatures and 40mph winds. Suffice to say - we stayed in. A lot.

Today was beautiful though and we decided to check out Fascinate-U, Fayetteville's childrens museum. I don't think this place qualifies as a museum by anyone's definition. It is advertised as a miniature town with a post office, grocery store, etc. Truth be told it really wasn't anything like that at all. The toys were dingy and old and most things didn't even resemble what they were meant to. The kids were amused, but not for very long. I had high hopes that this place was going to be at least a little bit awesome, I would buy a membership and we would have something to do all winter here. No such luck. I did get a few good pics before the batteries in my camera died (of course).

Gus at the command center. What you can't see is the sharp, torn mesh around the speaker. Awesome.

Gus is a pretty excellent meteorologist.

Gus and Maisie, crime fighters.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gone Daddy Gone

Sorry for my absence but the days leading up to Gunnar's deployment were spent just being together mostly. We made lists upon lists of things to pack, in addition to the lists the army supplied him. Gunnar and I were mostly fine and normal and joking and parenting together and then one of us would get so sad and just look at the other. No need for words - we knew exactly what the other was thinking.

"Damn. I don't want you to leave/Damn. I don't want leave you."

We cried a little, every now and then. For God's sake we just spent 4 months apart and now we're saying goodbye for A YEAR. It's a completely unfathomable amount of time to be away from your home, your family, your country, your wife, your life, your children. Gunnar calculated that out of 17 months our family will have lived together for only 1. Talk about testing your strength!

I dropped Gunnar off with his unit the evening of Wednesday, October 21st. He was required to be there at 9:45pm. We spent all day looking at the clock - mentally counting down how many more hours and minutes we had together. I dropped him off and the following morning he began traveling. They first flew to Maine, then Ireland, before finally making it to the Middle East. He was still a country or two away from Afghanistan for a few days waiting for another flight. We were able to talk daily which truly made this transition loads easier for both of us.

Gunnar arrived in Afghanistan last week and still hasn't made it to his actual job location. His assignment will involve him living on the side of a mountain, basically in a cave, with access to showers and some form of civilization only once monthly. I cannot begin to imagine what that life will be like for him. I intend to send tons of letters, pictures and care packages but knowing it takes a few weeks to get to him is really frustrating.

Afghanistan is dangerous. It really, really is. He has only been there a few days and is already telling me about crazy shit he has seen. I am in a constant state of worry not knowing if he is safe or ok.

The kids and I spent a week or so in Ohio immediately after Gunnar left. It was wonderful to be back home with my incredibly awesome and supportive family and friends. There were a lot of times I was strongly tempted to move back for the time that Gunnar is deployed. After lots and lots of thinking and talking, I decided to come back to North Carolina and do my best to make a life for me and kids here while we wait for Gunnar to come home.

So far, so good. Life is 100% different without Gunnar here. It's just me and the kids. All day, every day. I am going to have to come up with lots of crafty things for us to do all winter to make the time go by. I worry about them getting bored. As for me, I'll be fine. I've got Netflix, DVR, and my crochet hooks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

So Much for Hoping

All I can say about last night's post is that I was




Gunnar is actually supposed to be deployed next Thursday. I am trying to process this but have no idea how to. We barely got to be together for 2 weeks and now prepping for a really long separation. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Stay in Fort Bragg? Go back to Columbus? Split my time between the two? Who's going to get my mail and newspaper here? Ok - not a life or death situation but still, there's a lot of details to work out. I don't know if the property management company would be too keen on providing housing for people that just abandon it anyway. It's just really very confusing. Gunnar is really upset. On top of that he has a nasty cold and just feels like crap altogether. A part of me thinks he might really enjoy a lot of aspects to being deployed. It's boys with toys in the biggest playground in the world. I think he will actually do a really great job there too. This is what he does best. I don't know how to even think about missing him for an entire year though. It's crazy to think of all the things he's going to miss.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Here's to Hoping...

We just heard that Gunnar's unit might actually be deployed next week!!

Pardon me while I lose my mind real quick.

Ok. I'm back. There's a lot of reasons this might not really be true. Here are the supporting facts:

* Supposedly troops only ship out the 15th of each month. Next week would be the 22nd.

* Gunnar and his soldier pals are supposed to complete a 2 week readiness course before any deployments can happen. Gunnar is only 3 days into the 2 week course as of today.

* There is supposed to be 1 month notice before deployment happens so soldiers can get their affairs in order (power of attorneys etc.)

That's all I can come up with right about now. I am going to try my best to not freak the heck out till I actually have a good reason too.

Stupid rumors.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

...And Another Thing...


Big juicy disgusting spiders.

They are everywhere! They greet me in the morning when I'm attempting to make a pot of coffee. They scurry around when I'm trying to stomp on them in the hallway. I've seen them in nearly every room of the house, each on different days. Sometimes we do see two or three in a day. I'll admit I am scared of spiders. They freak me out! But on a totally different level, it's just gross to have bugs in your house.

So I called the neighborhood center today and the lady on the phone laughed at me in her cute little dumb accent. She said she's been chasin' them all 'round her house too and those suckers just don't git it, do they? Apparently unless you see at least 5, yes 5 big juicy disgusting spiders in one place at one time, it's not something they're going to help you out with.

Under normal circumstances, I would probably roll my eyes about the whole situation. But today it made me cry my eyes out for most of the afternoon. I really don't want to spend the next however many months/years here squashing spiders!!

Culture Shock

Well, I'm definitely not in Kansas anymore. As in Kansas = Columbus type of way. It's hard to describe the sights and sounds of the new neighborhood and surrounding areas. Our neighborhood is nice, big yards, good sized house, can't hear the neighbors etc. For some reason it's the cool thing around here to crank your car stereo up ridiculously loudly when you're driving down the road though. Gunnar said yesterday "I though bass went out of style, like, ten years ago". I thought so too. That sort of thing is just a bit annoying. Combine the bumping bass music with the rumble of artillery being fired all day and night, this place can take some getting used to. Oh, and then there's the massive jets flying low overhead, but I don't mind those much at all.

We venture off base and into the outskirts of Fayetteville pretty regularly. We explored the mall today (mediocre but decent) and have been to nearly all of my favorite chain stores. Of course we are all supposed to prefer and adore mom and pop shops but my goodness! There really is something supremely comforting about walking into every darned Target and knowing which way to turn to find exactly what you're looking for!

Another thing I immediately noticed when the family went out for lunch last week - people still smoke here. Everywhere! As a former smoker I can appreciate having a smoke and a drink together but since the smoking bans in Columbus, that sort of combination has been a thing of the past for several years. I did a double take when the hostess asked "Do y'all want smoking or non?". Oh! And actually getting to any destination is an exercise in patience greater than child rearing. I know the south has a reputation for having very slow drivers, and it's 100% true, but there's also the longets traffic lights in the history of the world here. I went to a few stores yesterday and really, I think I spent more time in left turn lanes with a red light staring back at me than actually perusing the aisles of the stores.

I have a lot of stuff to get used to around here. I am trying to stay optimistic but sometimes it's easier said than done.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Settling In

Well we finally all made it to North Carolina. After a very bumpy road getting the truck unloaded (figuratively speaking) we are now faced with the enormous task of putting all of our shit away! Thank the heavenly stars this place has tons of storage space, because we have tons of junk. We are huge fans of throwing things out, and we do frequently, however there is still just so much stuff everywhere.

I have to take a moment and give an enormous shout out (however incredibly tacky that may be) to my parents and Nathan and Tim for packing and loading the truck and getting it down here. My in-laws, Connie and Denny came to Columbus and helped get the truck loaded and followed it down to Fort Bragg. They arrived late Saturday night but we were unable to unload the truck until we were able to weigh it on Sunday afternoon. With all the manpower, the unloaded went very quickly. Saying goodbye to my family was so impossibly hard to do. I really don't know how to function without them nearby. Connie and Denny stayed with us another night and then left for the beach. We joined them in Myrtle Beach for a night and then went our separate ways again. I can't even begin to describe how exhausting all of these goodbyes are all the time.

The word on the street around here is that Gunnar's unit may be deployed as early as mid-November. My brain seriously can't even process that information right now so I am just not going to think about it.

I am still trying to find my way around the new neighborhood. It's a strange place to me for sure! I am trying to get used to where everything is and how to get from point A to point B. It's not at all easy, I am learning though. And the base itself is like a ghost town. We must be in a war or something because there is not too many people around here. I really hope it starts to feel like "home" sooner rather than later.

I swear I will post some pics soon. I have definitely been slacking on uploading pics lately!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Big Day

I am calling it the Big Day because I honestly think I put more time and effort into planning for Gunnar's Infantry graduation than I did for our wedding. I planned every outfit, shoes, lip gloss to match perfectly. I got my hair cut, colored, nails painted, lost 30 pounds and bought super duper cute clothes. I was positively giddy to see him again! Of course it was 89 degrees and 120% humidity and I had to walk up and down hills and through Georgia mud to get to the Turning Blue ceremony but it was all SO WORTH IT! I felt like I was going on a first date again or something. The Turning Blue ceremony is the process in which the soldiers actually become part of the Infantry. There is a lot of Infantry pride with this group and it was actually amazing to see all of them in their spiffy dress uniforms. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a soldier in uniform!

We were able to spend the day together and then Gunnar had to stay in the barracks one last night. The following morning was the formal graduation ceremony at the National Infantry Museum. It was absolutely spectacular. Anyone that didn't get teary during the speeches had to have serious issues. I was really moved by a lot of the things they talked about but mostly the amazing history of the place and how intensely proud I was of Gunnar at that moment. After the ceremony we "hauled the mail" out of Georgia and drove north all day. It was fantastic to just be together again. We've always loved road trips together and this was no different.

The weekend was full of visiting family and celebrating Gus's birthday. We needed to get housing arranged and sent in all the necessary documents as early on Monday as we could. The house we requested had a waitlist of up to 4 weeks and our position on the waitlist was #29 out of 29. This meant that Gunnar would head down to North Carolina on his own and we would move down when the house becomes available.

I got a call on Wednesday that our house is ready and can we be there by 3pm Thursday (today). Ummm no. We arranged for Gunnar to go "move in" on Monday but the poor guy only has a roll of toilet paper and a pillow with him. Why is it that things either take way too long or happen so quickly that I can't possibly be ready in time??

Gunnar made it down to Fort Bragg today in just about 8.5 hours. And most likely he stopped for some reason every hour or at least every other hour. I thought it was a lot farther for some reason but all of the sudden 8.5 hours feels really manageable and not so much like it's the other end of the universe.

We don't have a moving date just yet. I am going to wait to see when Gunnar can get leave time and when I can round up some movers. I am excited to see Gunnar's pics of our new place though!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Not cool Army...not cool

Well all fun in the sun has been canceled due to the new info that Gunnar actually only has SEVEN days of leave in between Fort Benning and Fort Bragg. Even though he is not required by his new unit to report for duty until October 23rd, his current unit only granted him seven days of leave. That actually includes graduation day (how day #1 of leave is also graduation day is beyond me) so Gunnar will be leaving for North Carolina mid next week.

I am incredibly disappointed. I had so many fun things planned for our weeks together before we had to move. We were going to go to Oktoberfest, spend our 4th wedding anniversary together, take the kids to the park, go out to a movie...the list goes on and on. Now the scenario has changed so drastically I am really having a hard time processing all of it.

We were planning to move to a house mid-October. Most of the homes have a waitlist and the month of leave would allow for us to move all together when a home becomes available. Instead, Gunnar will need to report for duty next Thursday, stay at some barracks or something similar and then we will move down when a house is ready for us. I thought this was going to be the end of our separation for a while but I was quite wrong. I really need to learn to roll with the punches better because it seems like we'll be getting punched. Often.

To add to our logistical nightmare, we only have one car. We sold Gunnar's late spring since there was really no point to store it all summer. Gunnar will need a car at Fort Bragg - the place is HUGE!!! So I may not have a car here until he can come back to get us.

We have a lot of things to jam into the few days that he will be home. I am driving down this Wednesday, spending the day with him on Thursday and leaving after the graduation ceremony on Friday morning. We are driving to Cincinnati-ish and staying somewhere there Friday night to get up early Saturday morning, drive straight through Columbus up to a big family picnic in the Cleveland area. Then we'll head back to Columbus Saturday afternoon and meet some friends for beers. Sheesh! If that's not enough activity, we are having Gus's 3rd birthday party the next day (Sunday) and having Gunnar's parents out for the day too. It's enough to make my head spin right now. Then we'll have just Monday and Tuesday and he'll be heading to Fort Bragg on Wednesday next week. This is so different from our plans to spend a day at the beach and a month hanging around Ohio.

I am so ready to head down South and pick Gunnar up.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Drumroll Please...

We finally got Gunnar's orders! Our family will be stationed at Fort Bragg North Carolina. This was definitely one of our top choices. It's where Gunnar was stationed the first time around (way back when) so he knows the area and it's a reasonable, although still long, drive back to Ohio and our families. Fort Bragg is the largest military base in the US and it's basically like it's own town. Which is a good thing because everything I hear about the nearest town, Fayeteville NC, is less than spectacular. We will be just a few hours from the ocean though, which is a very nice bonus. North Carolina is huge, as my mom and I learned last night looking at maps. It seems like everything is a few hours away. I've got a lot to learn about the new place! At some point Gunnar decided he preferred Fort Carson, Colorado because many of his Army buddies are being stationed there. I think North Carolina will be a good location for us though, and I can't wait for Gunnar to show me around his old stomping ground!

I started yesterday trying to learn about on post housing etc. To say I am confused would be an understatement. There are waiting lists for much of the housing on post. Some are reasonable though and quite doable since Gunnar reports for duty Oct. 23rd. We were hoping for 10 or 12 days of leave but his orders say he'll have over a month! I am still waiting to find out if that is actually true - seems too good. So I learned that there are 10 different neighborhoods at Fort Bragg. We are eligible for certain neighborhoods based on Gunnar's rank. It seems like a fairly complex set of rules and regulations. I did request a welcome packet, so hopefully that will give us a clue where to start. I looked about about a dozen different websites, neighborhoods, floorplans etc to try to figure out where we should apply to live. Then my attempt to fill out the housing application didn't go too well because it was full of tons of abbreviations that still make no sense to me. I wish Gunnar was here to help me figure this stuff out.

We have just slightly more than 3 weeks till his big graduation and then our mini beach vacation! It seems like 3 weeks shouldn't be a big deal, after 4 months of being apart but in fact just the opposite is true. It seems like time has never moved so slowly. Every day is dragging by. I know it's much worse for Gunnar though. He has this week of training and because his least favorite drill sergeant is back with his platoon, it's been miserable the last week or so. He is so close to being done and so fed up with this lifestyle. No freedom or free time, even when they don't have training (Sundays for example) he still has to stay in the barracks the entire day. Occasionally he get a 3 hour pass, maybe once a week and can head to the PX for some Starbucks and people watching. I can't wait to get him away from there so he can properly relax and enjoy himself. 23 more days!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Waiting Game

We still have no word on where we'll be moving to. I have been checking Gunnar's Army email several times a day (ok - dozens of times a day) to see if there's any news. It's a strange thing for me to know that we are moving soon and can't plan for any of the details. I am hoping we are able to live on base, but if we cannot we are going to need to find off-base housing pronto. I am completely in the dark about what the whole process entails and how and when we actually know what to do. What a strange life!

I am very much a mid-west type of girl. I like cities with lots to do but no so big that it takes an hour to get downtown. I like that the countryside is never too far away. I love the drastic difference between summer and winter and how wonderful fall and spring are in between. I love watching seasons change and everything that goes along with that. Most of all my family is here. I've never lived away from my family at all. I went to college 15 minutes from my parents house. I've never lived more than 10 minutes from them. My sisters and brother are all within minutes of me. The thought of being hundreds of miles away from makes me sad beyond belief. Somehow though, I still feel like we are doing the right thing for our family.

Gunnar is doing well. He has one week of training left and then "Hell Week", which for those of you that don't know, is the culmination of months of Infantry training all rolled into one hellish week. It's meant to push the soldiers as far as they can go, on very little sleep, not enough food, and intense physical challenges. Gunnar doesn't sound too excited but knowing that after that it's just biding time till graduation. He will have a few weeks after Hell Week to finish up silly tasks and then be done!

We have decided to leave immediately after graduation and hit the road. We're heading to Myrtle Beach for two nights before "hauling the mail" (as my father-in-law says) back to Columbus to hopefully make it back in time for the weekly family Sunday dinner at my parents house. Ideally he will have 10 or maybe even 12 days of leave before reporting to his next duty assignment.

Well, I better go check Gunnar's email (again!) and see if there's any news. It will be really nice to start googling my new place to call home!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Big Improvements...sort of

So in my last post I was tell you all about Gunnar's placement in week #4 of his 15 week training program. Well, he was only there for about 1 week when he was re-assigned and was moved ahead to Week #10 out of the program. It was absolutely great news! This means he has a 3rd (and hopefully final) graduation date of Sept 18th. Because of the advancement, he no longer has a family weekend in August so I won't be able to see him till his actual graduation date. He has been writing tons of letters, which make me laugh and cry every time. It's a great way to really keep in touch. And undoubtedly somewhere in every letter, Gunnar mentions his burning desire for a night of going out for ice cold draft beer and chicken wings when he comes back to Columbus. I laugh every time! He said all his other army buddies are talking about going out for lobster or steak dinners, and there's my hubby just wanting some buffalo wings!

Plans for graduation traveling are underway. Since graduation is on a Friday, I will be leaving Columbus solo on Thursday and heading south. My best pal Rachel lives in Chattanooga, which is right along the way, so I'll have a place to stay for a night before heading to Ft. Benning, Georgia in the morning (depending what time actual graduation takes place). Then Gunnar came up with the best idea I've ever heard - he wants to drive east and spend a night at the beach before heading up to Ohio. Sort of a teeny mini vacation which I think he totally deserves at this point! The downside is that we will miss a big huge family picnic up in northern Ohio that Saturday :( I think a night or two at the beach will be a great way to spend a few days after being apart for so darn long though! In the 11 years we've been together Gunnar and I have always absolutely loved riding in the car together. I can't wait to have a roadtrip with him. I am wondering if it's too early to start packing...

In other really great news, Gunnar has use of his cell phone once again. Apparently morale has been a bit low in his group and one of the other prior-service fellows requested that all PS guys get their personal phones back. So each night after training, we are able to talk or text again. It's really amazing being able to communicate again on a regular basis. We have been talking for nearly an hour each night and it really makes a big difference for both of us I think.

So things are definintely moving along now. It's crazy to be able to say that I am going to see Gunnar next month! We have about 5 more weeks to go and then he'll be home for an undetermined amount of time. I am hoping we get at least 2 weeks before moving but it's anybody's guess really.

Speaking of moving. Gunnar told me last night that we should know in the next couple of weeks where we will be moving to. I am not holding my breath though because we thought we would have known something by now. It's a really strange thing to know I am moving my whole family somewhere next month and have no idea where. I can't even begin to work out the logistics since I have no idea where we will be. A lot is still up in the air, obviously.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What the....

I had to wait a few days to process the change in plans before sharing it with all of you. Gunnar relocated to Georgia and after a week of in-processing (aka doing not much of anything at all), it was announced Friday morning that he would be joining week #4 of Basic training. All along it was understood that he was exempt from Basic training since he is prior service. And because the WTC course in Oklahoma is a sort of refresher-course-in-place-of-Basic for prior service. Well the week #4 info came as one heck of a blow. Gunnar was assuming he would be put into week #8 or #7, worst case scenario. That was the word on the street anyway. Also, Gunnar's contract clearly states 14 weeks of Army training and this little set back makes it closer to 19 weeks. We were planning for an early-mid September graduation and now he is scheduled to graduate October 2nd.

Basic training is brutal. The drill sergeants are ruthless and he is really miserable. I understand this is how it is intentionally set up but Gunnar has been there, done that before and really doesn't belong there. All of his prior service buddies are in the same boat and all pretty upset about this. I'm pretty sure if they had known ahead of time that this was the plan, they all still would have re-enlisted, and would be better prepared, knowing what they're getting themselves into.

Gunnar's cousin (a fellow I've never met and lives somewhere in the southwest) is an Army recruiter. Gunnar gave me all his contact info in case I had any questions or needed anything while he's gone for the summer. I felt this little situation warranted an email to the guy. I asked Joel what in the world Gunnar is doing in Basic training at this stage in the game. Joel said he couldn't believe Gunnar was surprised to be in Basic again. Army policy states that any soldier out of the service for more than 48 months needs to complete Basic training again. Some good information that would have been nice to know a few months ago!

So it's going to be a long time till I see my Gunnar again. His phone was confiscated so we no longer can text or talk like we had been able to. He has called a few times from a pay phone but the lack of communication has been really hard. I can't believe it's going to be like this for another 10 weeks. He is sending me a letter every day, which is pretty awesome. But I am only sending him a letter once or twice each week. He has to do 25 pushups for each letter he receives. I feel terribly guilty knowing how hard he has to work to read what I write but I know he is thrilled to get the letters too. Damn drill sergeants.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy Graduation!

A few days ago (Wednesday) Gunnar graduated from WTC (Warrior Training Course) in Oklahoma. The WTC course was designed as a replacement for Basic Training for prior service recruits to the Army and also gentleman that were prior service in other branches of the military and re-enlisting in the Army. After graduation Gunnar traveled to Georgia on Thursday to go to Fort Benning where he will complete his Infantry Training. Infantry training at Fort Benning is unique in that it is a combination of basic training and MOS training. Because of this, it was understood that Gunnar and some of his fellow WTC grads would be jumping into and existing training class mid-stride. However that might not actually be the case. There are rumors going around that they may make all of the prior service fellas go through basic training again. I was mostly infuriated when Gunnar told me this. I was figuring it up and he should in theory be gone for another 9 weeks (based on his contract he signed with the recruiters) but this basic training set back could mean he is gone for another 12-15 weeks! Talk about not being able to plan for anything ever!

I was really stressing these details till my pal Rachel put things in perspective for me. She pointed out that the longer he is in training, the longer he is stateside and not actually fighting on the front lines somewhere. Good point Rachel! That completely made my day. I would rather Gunnar be 4 states away marching around GA than fighting bad guys in Afghanistan.

Gunnar won't actually find out what their plans are for him until next Friday. This may actually be the biggest waste of a person's time to be in limbo for more than a week. This seems really quite disorganized and I am learning to not have very high expectations for the people in charge of planning these training courses. So in the meantime he is doing silly busy work, cleaning barracks, formation a few times each day, texting me non-stop. He sent me a message today saying he was done for the day at about 6:54am. Why oh why couldn't they send him home for a week if he isn't even doing anything?!

There have been other puzzles to figure out this week like figuring out how our new health insurance benefits paperwork mysteriously never was submitted, how to get insurance after the fact, which doctors to see, how to get prescriptions filled, etc. I had more than one crying meltdown with very friendly customer service representative at Tricare. After all was said and done and sorted out, it did all get straightened out. I took a deep breath and had a glass of Chardonnay with my parents and all was right with the world again.

I knew none of this was going to be easy, and I am becoming more accustomed to being flexible as dates and times and training schedules change constantly. I am really ready to have my family back together but have an undetermined amount of time to wait. But I'm ok with waiting because like Rachel said, Gunnar is safe where he is, even if we are all homesick.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Re: Previous Post and How it Backfired

Last time I told you about how I love to write letters and send them to Gunnar. Well apparently his drill sergeants didn't think it was all that cutesy to be calling his name over and over again during mail call. Two night ago they made him to 20 push ups for each letter he received. Of course he got 5 from me that day. So to get his mail he had to do 100 push ups in front of the entire platoon (164 people). I felt awful!! I asked if he wants me to stop sending them to him. He said no, the letters were worth every push up and to keep sending them.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Letters from Home

I began writing Gunnar letters before he ever left for the Army. I know how much soldiers appreciate letters and even though we can text and talk, there's just nothing like getting a letter in the mail. Gunnar didn't have an actual address for the first week and a half so when he finally gave me his address I had over a dozen letters to send to him already. He was more than shocked the first day they had mail call and he had a ton of letters, way more than anyone else in his platoon. It really made his day. He received another 7 letters yesterday in the evening. I think he is beginning to get quite a reputation. He said seeing the stack of mail for him had him grinning from ear to ear and was a real emotional booster. I never run out of things to write either which is sort of funny because it's hard to distinguish one day from another these days.

I think in my very first blog post on here I had preferences for where we will be stationed. I've since decided I absolutely could not possibly care less where they send us to. More than anything I just want our family back together and they could send us to anywhere they please and I will be the happiest girl in the world. It's been about 2 1/2 weeks into the 15 week separation and I'm ready for it to all be over.

Gunnar mentioned yesterday that the probability of him being deployed is quite high. And the average ship out date post Infantry school graduation is 72 days. I guess I always knew the liklihood of him being deployed is fairly high but I just figured we would have some time together as a family, some time to get settled God knows where first. It looks like that might not be the case. I seriously don't know how to handle that right now so I'm not going to think about it yet. Channeling Scarlett O'Hara - "I'm not going to think about that today, I'll think about that tomorrow."

Gunnar's actual training is underway now. I think he enjoys a lot of it. He learned to give an IV yesterday and was quite good at it. He is doing combat drills and lots of physical training. He pulled a hamstring earlier this week and has been in a tremendous amount of pain, likely because he hasn't sought any treatment. It's so hard to know that he is hurting and I can't be there to help or even to offer comfort of any kind. This is the type of thing I don't think I'll ever get used to.

Friday, June 5, 2009

1 Week Down, 1 Million To Go

Not really. That was really dramatic of me but that is really how it feels most days. Luckily Gunnar and I have been able to stay fairly closely in touch since he's been gone. We text several times in the morning and evening and we can talk every day or every other day. It's been just over a week now since he left. I would be lying if I said I was getting used to him being away. And truthfully I never want to get used to being apart. I want him to know how much I miss him but at the same time I want to sound at least somewhat upbeat when we talk so that he doesn't worry too much about me and how me and the kids are doing. It's a delicate balance. I send him pictures of the kids, but don't want to make him homesick. But I think he really is anyways. He sent a text today saying that nothing could prepare him for how hard the seperation has been for him. I know exactly how he feels. It's hard to hear him having a hard time with this because he is the strong one, the tough guy in the relationship. I'm the emotional one. I'm the one that can cry over On-Star commercials and don't even get me started on that doggone Beyonce "Halo" song. That turns on the waterworks every time!

Things at my parents house are working out really well. Gus seems to be finally adjusting to his surroundings. He asked me the other night what happened to his house. It's so hard to explain this to him! I do think he gets it though on some level because he asks when we are going to be all together again. It's precious. He will be so thrilled to see his Daddy in September!

Gunnar's new haircut - courtesy of Uncle Sam.

Gotta love a man in uniform.

Gunnar has been questioning if this decision was the right one lately. He sometimes thinks he should have joined the reserves instead. I really hate to hear him doubting this because sometimes I do too. But deep down I think it's just the homesickness, sleep deprivation and 18 hour days that are doing the talking in his head. I think when he finds his groove he will be happy to be where he is. My dad says he is "in his element" in the Army. And I agree.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

...And He's Off...

So our last date didn't turn out too be all that magical. Because of timing, children etc we just hung around the house till I had to drop Gunnar off. We made BLT's, had leftover potato salad and were mostly really quiet. I didn't want to make things harder than they already were going to be and Gunnar HATES to see me cry, so it was just easier to not talk. What else was there to say really? After Mom came home from work, Gunnar and I jumped in the car and headed out. We drove in silence, every time I opened my mouth to speak, I got all choked up and stopped myself. I made sure to turn the radio off so I wouldn't remember any songs from the car ride and cry every time I hear it again for the rest of my life. We said our goodbyes and I drove back home. We texted and talked that night a lot. Which was really very helpful.

Yesterday morning Mom and I packed up the kids to go watch Gunnar swear in. We got there early and were able to hang out for a while. We split before the official swear in only because it was taking forever and the kids were getting tired and antsy. I could see so much in Gunnar's eyes. He has never been very emotional or talkative about his feelings. But there was so much in his eyes yesterday morning - it felt like my heart was actually going to break. He was sorrowful and I could tell he was starting to wonder if he was making the right decision. The longer we stayed there, the harder it was going to be for him. So I said goodbye (again) and got out of there. Gunnar spent the majority of the day at Port Columbus airport. His flight wasn't till 6pm so there was a lot of down time. We talked a lot again all day and he said so many really amazingly sweet things. I saved every single text that made me say "Aww" - my cell phone's memory is going to be shot pretty darn quick with this little adventure. There were some detours here and there and Gunnar ended up flying to Dallas, then into Oklahoma City really late last night. The last bus to Fort Sill had already departed so good old Uncle Sam put Gunnar and another fellow up for the night at a nearby hotel. I think it all worked out for the best though because Gunnar was able to have a really nice relaxing evening and good night's rest before heading to Fort Sill this morning. He arrived around 2pm this afternoon. This is the text he sent me from the bus

"just loaded the bus for fort sill. Walking out into the warm air it kind of hit me, a big smile came to my face and in some weird way I feel like I am heading back home. I know that this is going to be tough on us baby. The days and nights of not being together, the missed birthdays, the missed holidays, the lonliness. But I think it will all be worth it in the long run. I can promise that the next few years will be an adventure and that I love you and so happy we are in this together."

I don't know how he knew this is exactly what I needed to hear from him but it was like a huge sigh of relief.

Gunnar and I at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Something-or-other) yesterday morning.

Gunnar on the bus from Oklahoma City to Fort Sill - he looks happy and ready. And that's all I needed to know.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today's the Day

Today's the day I halfway wish was never going to come. Gunnar will be on a plane tomorrow headed for Fort Sill OK. He is staying at a hotel tonight (silly rule they have) and then off he goes. We had a super busy weekend getting fully moved to my parents house. My dad and Gunnar's dad, Denny were AMAZING and we really couldn't have got it all done in 1 day without them. Gunnar's mom, Connie joined us as well Sunday and Monday. Gunnar had a lot of people that wanted to see him before he ships off. We did have a spur of the moment fun time Friday night when we went to see a Kenny Chesney concert with Jeff and Nikki. It was really excellent to get out and enjoy things as much as possible before our long summer apart. The concert was a blast!

I tried explaining to Gus that Daddy will be gone for a while but he just doesn't understand. It will be interesting to see how he reacts when he realizes that Daddy isn't going to be around. I know we are all going to be pretty darned sad for a long time.

So tonight we are going to have our very last date for a very long time. I'm not sure where we're going yet but I am going to do my very best to not be a cyring, sobbing mess through dinner. I'll let you know how it goes...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Busy Bees

It's been a busy week here. Lots of packing, tossing things and trying to figure out what goes to the parents, what goes in storage, and what goes in the trash. I am trying to keep it together but reality hit me like a ton of bricks last night when I realized we have only a few more days and nights together. Gunnar's parents will be here most of the weekend helping us move and undoubtedly they want some more time with Gunnar before he heads to Oklahoma. And so do I. We are enjoying ourselves as much as we can (with 2 kids and a house to move). We had a few cold ones on a patio last night, and had our favorite tabbouleh this afternoon. I am hoping for one more nice date with just the two of us sometime before he has to leave next week.

Tomorrow also marks my last day as a full time employee at Children's Hospital. So very many mixed emotions! I am so excited to be a stay at home mama for my kids but boy oh boy I am going to miss everyone (ok - almost everyone!) at work. I love, respect and admire so many of the women I work with. I think they do the most amazing work everyday and I have learned so much from them. It's been a joy and and honor to work with such lovely ladies.

The highlight of my weekend amidst all the chaos, hustle and bustle, is that my very dearest friend Rachel is in town this week. The person that keeps me the most sane - which is exactly what I need right now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Well we are getting ready for moving day next weekend. I have to admit I really hate moving but I am so excited to be going to my parents for the summer. We found a storage unit and will likely be filling it to the brim next weekend. I am trying to only take the essentials to the parent's house so we don't completely bombard them. But what exactly are the essentials when you have a 2 year old and a baby? Pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, I think. Gunnar has only a week and a half left before he leaves. I am dreading the day most of the time. Other times I just wish it would hurry up and get here so we can get on with it, and get it over with too.

Next Friday also marks my last day as a full time working mom. I can't begin to describe how happy I am to finally be with my kids more than at work. I am nervous as all heck to leave my job - to put it simply, I adore the girls I work with. My manager neglected to hire my replacement until after I leave my full time status so training will be interesting. Gunnar keeps telling me it's not my problem anymore but it's not really that easy. Even though there have been a lot of changes there, I still feel a lot of loyalty to the place.

We are definitely trying to make the most of our last few days together. Gunnar and I have never really been apart before. We've been together for almost 11 years, and living together for at least 8, give or take. I can't really imagine what this is going to be like, but I'll find out soon enough I suppose. I wish we could just relax and spend the time together but there is just too much to do! Packing and organizing and everything else really gets in the way. I am hoping to take him out on a nice date sometime next week.

For your viewing pleasure, I found some ridiculously adorable photos of Gunnar from his first enlistment waaaaayyyy back when (no really - it was a really long time ago, I was in the 5th grade or something).

October 1991 - First week of Basic Training

Summer 1993 - From boy to man in just 2 years *sigh*

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


So we have 20 days before Gunnar officially "ships out". And we are packed and ready to move to my parents house and send him on his way. Except we're not. Not at all actually. We still have tons to do (isn't there always tons to do anyway?). Gunnar had to meet the recruiter again yesterday and for the billionth time give them copies of all of our legit documents (birth certificates, drivers licenses, marraige license, social security cards etc.) I swear he has geven them these things every few weeks for the last 4 months but I guess making photocopies of that stuff just never gets old if you're an Army recruiter!

I have been trying to come up with lots of fun activities to keep me and the kids busy this summer. Luckily Columbus has some really great festivals and things to do and see. We are also going to try to visit some friends out of town etc. I am hoping the summer just flies by but somehow I'm thinking that's not going to happen. I worry about Gus the most - he and his Daddy are best buddies and at 2 and a half he just can't understand why his Dad will be gone for so long. I think moving in to my parent's house will be the best thing to ease that transition. At least I hope so. Kids are adaptable though, right?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Glossary Terms

If I could figure out how, I would add a section for learning what all these darned abbreviations and acronyms all mean. It would be tremendously helpful to me if the US Army could just include all of the words in their terms but that would be way to easy for me to figure out what's going on.

So the abbreviation of the day is MOS (see previous post) and it means Military Occupation Skill.

And there you have it

By the way, just like I said it would happen, I didn't do any packing or proactive readying my family for moving in 4 short (very short) weeks this weekend. It was simply way to gorgeous outside and I think we all just wanted to be together and enjoy it. And you know what that means - we've got to get down to business ASAP! (Get it? ASAP? Oh nevermind...)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Well hello there...

Welcome! I am going to writing about this army adventure our little family is going to be embarking on together soon. I will be the very first to admit I understand very little about the Army or how it all works. There are billions of logistical details to be sorted out and acronyms and abbreviations to become familiar with. And I'm so glad you can all learn these with me.

Let's start with what we do know. We know that Gunnar is leaving for training on May 27th. He will be in training for 11 weeks. In my not-so-good-at-math brain, I came up with training being completed around mid-August. Gunnar kept saying he would be graduating sometime around Gus's 3rd birthday (Sept. 12th). I know I'm no mathmetician but I really feel like I'm generally better at math than he is. So I just figured he is wrong. And I hate being wrong. As it turns out - he will be in training for 11 non-consecutive weeks. Not the same thing. Not the same thing at all. So in a way (ok - I give in - all the way) Gunnar was right. He will be gone for about 15 total weeks (give or take a few days). I have no idea what he will be doing in the 3+ unaccounted for weeks, but I highly doubt it would involve coming home or being able to recieve visitors.

Gunnar's training will be in Oklahoma for the first 5-ish weeks. Since he is "prior service" he is not required to go to Basic Training again, but he does need to go to a refresher course. That's the Oklahoma part of the training. Then he will be doing who-knows-what for 3 weeks, then going to Georgia for 6 weeks of Infantry training. Gunnar re-enlisted "at the needs of the Army" which means he didn't get to pick what job he wants to do. Infantry was way at the bottom of his wish list. He calls Infantry men "bullet catchers". Certainly not a name I like to hear - it makes my stomach hurt when he says that. But the Infantry is basically combat-soldier-front-lines-kicking-in-doors type stuff. (On a side note, Gunnar likes to play the "O Hail, O Hail, O Infantry" theme song around the house and Gus sings it "O Hail, O Hail, Oh Up A Tree" - which makes it waaaay cuter). One of the other downsides to this Infantry business is that it really doesn't apply to the civilian world. Apparently there isn't a huge market for busting down doors and shooting people as a business. That is one of my biggest concerns. Ideally it would be great if Gunnar does get an Army job that will apply to the "real world" so when he gets out of the Army, finding a nice, good job would be a breeze. Hmmm.

The whole job situation is one of the main reasons Gunnar re-enlisted in the first place. He had joined the Army when he was young, shortly after high school and was in active duty for 4 years. He then joined the Army Reserves for 6 years while he went to college and had a series of other jobs. Nothing really stuck his fancy as much as those good old soldier days. So there you have it.

We started the re-enlistment process in mid-December and after 4 really long months of Gunnar meeting with the recruiter and supplying every document that has ever been created with his name on it, extensive backround checks, paperwork blah blah blah, he finally got in! I had started to think it was never going to happen and it very nearly didn't. Enlistments are very high right now (likely due to the crappy economy) so the number of re-enlistments they are taking is comparatively low. It seems backwards to me. I would have thought they would prefer prior service folks over young newbies but in fact it's just the opposite. I am learning that a lot of things just don't make much sense. And there was actually a cut-off date for prior service re-enlistments. Gunnar got in after that date so I learned to not really put too much weight on dates in general.

I decided that with him gone all summer long, I really was just not that into living in our apartment with just me and the kids, wouldn't it be fun to move back to Mom and Dad's house!? I think it will be really good for the kids because they always prefer Grammy and Papa's house to their own anyway and it might ease the blow of having Daddy gone for 4 months. I plan on putting most of our crap in storage, taking only what we need for the summer to the parents house and then at the end of summer moving it all to our new home. Herein lies all the nitty gritty details. We are running out of weekends to get all this organized and squared away and it feels overwhelming most days. I plan to start packing up the basement and creating mountains of crap to give/throw away this weekend. But damn. It's going to be 80 and sunny all weekend long and all I'm going to want to do is run around the backyard with the kids!

Speaking (writing?) of moving...we have no idea where we will be living when Gunnar has completed his training. We know it will be an Army base in the US with an Infantry unit but that's about it. I think that narrows it down to about 8 or 10 possible locations. When we started talking about this whole plan we were really hoping to be stationed somewhere overseas, Europe being our first choice. An overseas assignment requires a minimum 4 year enlistment. But you can change your MOS (no idea what it stands for but it means "job" to the rest of us) 24 months prior to your End of Service Date. Sooooo.....Gunnar did the shortest enlistment because he will be eligible to get the F out of the Infantry in about 1 year (it would have been 2 years if he had done a 4 year enlistment). Are you following all this? Good. Some of our "stateside" options include Fort Bragg NC, Fort Drum NY, something in Georgia, Fort Campbell KY, something in Washington state, Fort Carson CO, Schofield Barracks HI, ummmm how many was that? That's all I can remember right now. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I never end up in one of the Plains states but it's really not up to me at all.

In a nutshelll (apparently a really very large nutshell) that gives you an idea what's going on right now. I have no earthly idea how to wrap this up and not abruptly end a post. All I can say is thanks for reading and I'll update again soon!

Bye for now.