We rang in the New Year with plenty of friends, though not all could make it. I enjoyed having everyone here, even when they were poking fun at me for making them play beer pong outside on the deck in the cold. :-) Lucky for me I have a husband who knows me so well he warned them ahead of time that I'm too neurotic to allow beer pong in the house. Sometime after the ball dropped though combative’s did manage to move their way into my living room from the backyard.
Ah hell, I can't prevent everything! I learned not long ago that combative’s in just about any setting come with the Army lifestyle. I've given up on trying to prevent it in my living room, or any other room for that matter. Now I just try to keep my living room IN TACT when it happens.
Everyone had left with their respective DD by about 2:30am except for one couple who was staying the night. I managed to have Gunnar settled down and in bed by 3am. I never imagined my little guy could make it that long, but he was so excited to have other kids there and he was having a blast! His room and the playroom were even clean by the time everyone left. What more could I ask for? Oh yeah....SLEEP! Well we got to sleep by about 4am, and I can't tell you the last time I stayed up that long, but it was well worth it.
It’s day four of 2012 and we have already acquired two much needed things on our check list, a new (to us) car and new bed (a Christmas present from mom and dad). Two friends have given birth to beautiful baby girls and a much anticipated baby girl Rowe as well as baby girl Richardson will make their appearances later this year. Gunnar is back to school and Curtis is back to work, and life is back to its ever changing, ever hectic schedule. I managed to take some time today for myself to reflect on the past year, and to make some homemade chicken noodle soup.
It's bitter cold outside and nothing warms you up like real chicken noodle soup. There is also something about the long process that allows me to just think, or in this case reflect. In 2010 our life was forever changed when we made the decision for Curt to join the Army, but it was 2011 that brought the real changes. In February, Gunnar and I flew to Oklahoma to watch Curt graduate from Basic Training as an honor grad. To date it is one of the proudest moments of my life, yet I know it was just the beginning of many yet to come. In April Curt graduated AIT and reported directly to Ft. Bragg, NC while I anxiously awaited news of whether he would be granted TDY to come back to AZ and help me with our DITY move. His TDY was granted and in the beginning of May we drove from Mesa, AZ to Ft. Bragg, NC, arriving May 8, 2010. Mother’s Day 2010.
It was a long hard drive, Gunnar and Curt rode in the Penske, aka the "Big Banana" and I drove the Juke aka "Rib bit". May she forever rest in peace in that junk yard in the sky. When we got here we stayed off post in a rent by the night apartment. It had 2 bedrooms and a kitchen with everything we needed to avoid eating out. We were able to register Gunnar in school on post in the neighborhood we had chosen even though we weren't able to move in yet. We had been told the wait time would be about 6 weeks but were pleasantly surprised when it was only about 2 weeks.
We moved into a small (and I do mean small ) 2b 1b townhouse on post. Shortly after we moved in I totaled my brand new Juke while Curt was in the field and G was in school. Luckily I wasn't badly injured and I didn't hurt anyone in the vehicle I hit. A few days later G was out of school for the summer and not long after that we got word that we were moving AGAIN! This was actually good news as we were being moved out of the small place and moved into a much larger 3b 2.5 bath townhouse that had been newly renovated in the same neighborhood, just down the street. We can still see our old place that is now in the process of being renovated as well.
However before that move could take place, Mom came to visit for Gunnar's 7th birthday and to enjoy some of our lovely NC humidity? After Mom's visit the movers came, packed and moved us like a whirlwind and before we knew it we were in the new place. Unpacking wasn't nearly as fun since we had JUST done it a month or so ago, but slowly it got done. More slowly than I would have liked. I vow not to let it take that long again, but hopefully we will not have this lengthy of a "move" again. I swear it felt like a non-stop move until August.
Speaking of August, that's when Gunnar and I went to visit family on the Jersey shore. We had been back for a bit in 2007 but G didn't remember, and not everyone was there to meet him. This was my chance to show off my little man and boy was I excited! The only downfall was my missing husband. Curt couldn't get leave, so he sent me and Gunnar without him. I will be forever grateful for that time, yet I do still wish he had been able to go with us. I did have the pleasure of introducing G-man to more cousins than I can count and I have a picture I will hold dear forever. I was even able to meet cousins I had only seen in pictures. We were blessed to be able to spend time with my grandparents and my Aunt Sue and Uncle Jim. I was even able to introduce Gunnar to my Nana who had never met him.
Later in August Gunnar started 2nd grade. We have since settled into Ft. Bragg and made many great friends. G played soccer and will start baseball shortly. I volunteer with the FRG and seem to get more involved with each meeting I attend. I will also be volunteering at Gunnar's school. G is getting good grades and is far above grade level in both reading and math. Curtis is also excelling and still enjoying his new career.
The rest of the year seemed to fly by. Curt spent the later part of October in the field. I had a delicious birthday dinner, cooked by my friend Candice's mom. She made us chicken parm, and boy oh boy was it good! Curt was able to come home for a few hours on Halloween to go trick or treating. It was raining and cold here, so we attempted to trick or treat at the PX, but the trick was on us because that was an EPIC FAIL! Lucky for us Gunnar doesn't (can't) eat much candy, and was just excited to wear his costume.
On the rare occasion that I begin to doubt we made the right decision by leading this lifestyle, like when Christmas was spent crying on Skype, instead of hugging in AZ with family. I look around and it doesn't take me long to realize that Christmas is only one day out of the year, and yeah it sucked, but even if it sucked big fat monkey toes, it's still better to have Christmas in NC with my husband and my son and a couple goofy soldiers sleeping on my couch, than if any single one of us had had to be alone on Christmas. Or if I could have been in AZ but Curt had been deployed.
November came and went just as quickly. Mom came to visit again for a few days. She helped us hang curtains and pictures. She's always amazing at decorating and redecorating. I hope she can always visit close to the times when we PCS, if not I will be forever lost! We also ended up getting a dog while she was in town. True to her word, she had nothing to do with the decision. It just happened to be the right dog. I had NO intention of getting a dog, but if I have learned one thing, sometimes you just have to say "yes". Her name is Lucky. She's a Border collie mix and brindle in color. She's beautiful, about 2.5 years old and had puppies before we got her. She was picked up as a stray when we adopted her from animal control's adopt-a-ton at Petsmart.
I cooked Thanksgiving dinner here with the help of a few friends. I think there were close to 25 bodies here if you include all the kids. It was pretty amazing all things considered. Thanks to Courtney's Dad I even managed to save the gravy after Candice and I put raw giblets in it unknowingly. Well we knew they were raw, we just didn't know to cook them before putting them in the gravy! The gravy was saved and Thanksgiving was a sweet success.
December was warmer than I anticipated it would be here. The weather fluctuates a lot, and I don't care for the cold but for some reason it really seemed to bother me the closer we got to Christmas that it was warmer here than AZ! Mind you it was usually only by a few degrees and our lows tended to be lower, but I wasn't taking any of that into consideration at the time. Nor was I taking into consideration that I don't like the cold. I was just rather distraught that I couldn't be in AZ for Christmas.
Curt started his 1/2 day schedule on the 15th and Gunnar started winter break on the 16th. Things just got a bit chaotic from there. We were always on the run doing errands or hanging out with friends or even sometimes doing errands with friends. That's when you know your life is busy! We went to Curt's Christmas party, which the FRG helped put together. I think we did a pretty good job if I do say so myself. If nothing else I enjoyed seeing everyone together in one place, not working and seemingly having a good time. I wish I had had more time to spend with everyone but it was nice to see and chat with the people I did.
Then before I knew it, it was Christmas Eve! We had two of Curt's buddies spend the night because my rule for all holidays is that no one can spend it alone, and all are welcome here. I am SO thankful they stayed because I would have never been able to help Curt get the 3 in 1 game table my parents sent for Gunnar put together. It took all 3 of the guys to do it! They even helped Curt wrap all the presents when I passed out. Awe man I love them!
Christmas morning was great for Gunnar, and that's all that really matters to me. I cooked a big breakfast/brunch like my Dad always does, and the guys played with G-man. There was a lot of skyping, crying and napping. All in all, minus the whole skyping and crying bit, it was pretty damn good.
Now I've come full circle. The year ended with a bang when even Gunnar was partying like a rock star until 3am, and I can't speak for anyone else, but I had a great time. So when it's all said and done and I look back at 2011 and all the changes it brought, I think the biggest changes for me are not the ones you can see, but the ones that remain unseen. The changes I've made within myself, and how I've grown as a person, a wife and a mother, and how our family has grown together.
I know that 2012 will bring its own challenges and its own changes. So I'm here, ready and waiting and you can be damn sure I am going to rise to the challenges no matter how big or how small and I may still be fazed by change, but that doesn't mean it can break me.