Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"A body pillow in your bed is no consolation..."

I ran across this paragraph today and couldn't help but share it...I can't tell you how many times someone has said to me "you knew what you were getting into when you married him" or "that's why I didn't marry someone in the military" or better yet, "don't you get free housing and healthcare" far from the truth!  I often find myself getting defensive when people act as if they have a clue what life in the military is like.  On the other hand, I feel like these same people who have their "soap box" opinions about my "choices" are just ungrateful...most of them lack appreciation for their spouse, take simple moments with family for granted, and are just plain ignorant to the sacrifices being made so that they can speak their mind.
While attending a spouse meeting at my husbands command, the CO said to us wives, Thank you for doing the hardest job in the Navy, with out you keeping life together on the home front, we would not be able to focus on our missions at hand!  (I could have hugged him for showing us some recognition)
I did not write this paragraph below but I think it says a lot of things that many of us military spouses keep to ourselves....

This is for the young women that are waking up at 6 a.m. every morning with small precious children that they have been left alone to care for. This is for the pregnant Military wife wondering if her husband will make it home in time to watch their miracle happen. This is for the childless Military wife, living in a town or on a base alone where she is a complete stranger to her surroundings. This is for the women that feel like a third leg when they go out with their friends and their husbands. This is for the Military wife that cancelled all her plans to wait by the phone, and even though the phone broke up and cut off every time you spoke to him you waited anyway. This is a pledge to the women that cry themselves to sleep in an empty bed. This is to recognize the woman that felt like she was dying inside when he said he had to go, but smiled for him anyway. This is for those of you that are faithfully in that long line at the post office once a month handling 2 large boxes and 2 small children like a pro. This is for that woman that decided to remodel the house to pass time, and then realized that she had no idea what she was doing and sighed and wished she had a little help. This is for all the lonely nights, all the one-person dinners, and all of the wondering thoughts because you haven't heard from him in days. A toast to you for falling apart, and putting yourselves back together. Because a pay check isn't enough, a body pillow in your bed is no consolation, and a web cam can never compare. This is for all of you no matter how easy or hard this was for you. Our military men are brave, they are heroes, but so are we. So the next time someone tells you that they would never marry a Military guy, don't bother explaining to them that you can't control who you fall in love with. Just think of this and nod your head, know that you are the stronger woman. Hold your heads up high, hang that flag in your front yard, stick 100 magnets on your car, and then give yourself a pat on the back. Be proud to be the woman that you are, be proud to be a MILITARY WIFE. ♥

Some of my fellow Navy wives!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

BOSTON...and a heartfelt Thank You!

 First, and most importantly, I want to extend a huge heartfelt THANK YOU for all of the support, prayers and encouragement that was sent my (and our) way after my last blog post!  I received so many comments, calls, texts, emails and even a very sweet card in the mail.  We were so relieved to have good news to share and felt incredibly humbled by all of the people who have offered up their support in the journey to come!  Some of my family and friends expressed that they felt a bit hurt that we kept things so secretive...for that I am sorry...but at the end of the day we both felt that it was best not to worry anyone until there was something definite to worry about! to BOSTON!!!

We had a blast...
All bundled up...

Waiting for the ferry to the aquarium...

These little tuxedos were so cute haha...

Shark watch...
I think he likes us...

At the Children's Museum..

A whole room devoted to big vs. small...I told Aiden to pick out a chair that was just his size!!!

Dramatic play...

Listening to a story...

Checking out the gift shop..
Practicing his Salute in the hotel room..
A little fish face contest in the cab...
We crammed a  lot into a short period of time...we ate and ate and ate, we went to the hotel pool, took several naps together, did lots of snuggling, stayed up past our bedtime, and soaked up every moment of our celebration.  Aiden was too funny...he loves the Curious George goes to the aquarium book, so our entire experience was compared to George's...George got snapped by a crab at the petting tank so Aiden was afraid to pet the sting ray, George saves a baby penguin so Aiden wanted to get into the tank with the penguins...I just love the way his little mind works!
Aiden was, as usual, a fabulous traveler...and our newest adventure, potty training, continued with great success during our trip!  We had a wonderful weekend and would often look at each other with silent relief...I am so Thankful for my family, my friends, my adventures, my health, and for Boston...a weekend we will never forget!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Tonight we are in Boston, MA and we are celebrating.  The Gunderson's have SO much to celebrate tonight!  Our prayers have been answered and we can all breathe a little easier tonight!  Leif and I are not the type of people to put our every waking moment, hardship, drama or worry out into the world.  We aren't perfect but at the end of the day we are beyond blessed and we know it.  We have had something weighing on our minds and in our hearts and thankfully, tonight, we are resting a little easier!  I wrote a blog ( that I never published) about the journey we were on and I will publish it tonight.
Very few people knew what was going on, and I apologize to all of my wonderful friends, but we made a decision early on to keep all of the details private until we had answers.  So private that my own mother, who I tell everything to, was just recently informed.  To read about how it all went down you can go here!
So....Tonight we are celebrating extremely positive test results.  No CANCER...our #1 fear and thankfully we are in the clear.  The tumor (in my head) is benign...the results were not perfect but they were positive.  We still have a journey ahead of us and there are still unanswered questions but the news is GREAT!  They incidentally found a cyst in my brain (which is benign also), I will see a neurologist, a surgeon and I will have the tumor removed and maybe even the cyst...but we are so, so, so happy with the news!  I left the doctor and felt like I was lighter...I felt like I was "me" again.  I was so happy, excited, and relieved that I cried.
We had decided to go to Boston for the long weekend...Good or Bad...we were going to enjoy our long weekend exploring "the North"...when we got into the hotel room tonight my husband looked at me and said "We are going to celebrate all weekend long" and celebrate we will!  Tomorrow we will visit the aquarium and maybe the Children's museum...we will see how much Aiden can little guy "celebrated" until 10:45pm tonight...and for once, adhering to Aiden's bedtime meant absolutely nothing to me...

Everything is an experience...good or bad

I am writing this blog with the thought that it may never see the "publish" button or maybe it will!  I am torn on this issue but feel the need to empty out my brain before it explodes...and here is why!

I have a tumor!

On my head (not in my brain)!

I am confident that it is nothing, terrified it's something, and embarrassed to admit I feel like this is all my fault!
Leif and I have wrestled with who to tell, if we should even tell anyone, what to say, how to say it...what will we do if it is...but it isn't...positive thoughts!!!  This is just a taste of my internal conversation and sometimes external conversation with Leif.  Up until I heard the word "Tumor", we kept everything to ourselves.  I was afraid to be a drama queen, a hypochondriac, afraid to make a big deal of nothing, I didn't want to burden anyone or make anyone worry for no reason.  I thought I could handle it...I thought WE could handle it but I spend most of my day in the company of a 2 year old who had no idea what's going on in my mind and I don't really get a lot of opportunity to pour my heart out to Leif and I am not sure I would if given the opportunity, as he is in the midst of a rigorous schedule and, again, I hate to burden him.  He is the person that I go to for everything but right now is just such a bad time.  He really needs to focus on work and I really need to just vent(something I rarely do on my blog)!
After my doctors appointment, the one where she says "It's a tumor and we need to get a better look at it to determine what kind" my phone rang!  It was my mom...10 minutes ago I was told I have a tumor in my head and now I am trying to pretend like nothing is up!  FAIL!!!  I usually tell my mom everything...but I didn't think she could handle this type of worry...I realized very quickly that I couldn't handle it alone!  So the journey to the words TUMOR are summed up below.

For the past 4 months I have had a constant headache.  Some days are better than others but regardless of the intensity, the headache is always there.  While laying in bed on Christmas Eve I randomly ran my fingers through my hair and noticed something odd.  There was a very definitive lump on the top of my head.  I woke my husband and had him feel for it, he looks at me and says "what is that?"  GREAT question...WHAT is that???

I'll be very honest...I was worried but I put it my mind I was half nervous and half sure that it would go away.  I avoided the doctor because I don't want to be THAT patient.  You know the one who has a slight cough and all of the sudden they are dying of something.  Aside from the headaches I feel fine and I am sure that the headaches are just related to all of the changes we have been going through and the lump is probably a swollen lymph node which is my body's way of telling me that I am about to get a cold or something.  Diagnosis complete.

Unfortunately I was living in a dream world.  The lump never went away and neither did the headaches.  I guess I have put it off long enough.  Part of me felt anxious about making the appointment and part of me felt really stupid.  Anxious because I felt like "IF" it is serious I am just about to open a whole can of worms, not just for myself but for my family as well.  Stupid because the thought of saying "Hi I need to see a doctor because I have a lump on my head" just seemed a bit humorous.  I was just sure that the lady on the other end would bust out laughing, put me on hold, and tell everyone with in an ear shot that she had a hypochondriac on line 1.  Her reaction was quite the opposite, rarely do you get seen same or next day at a military clinic but in this case I was able to be seen the next day!

Once the doctor came in, she asked a bunch of questions and then examined my head.  "hhmmmmm Wow, how did you find that?  That is a tumor, we need to get a better look at it"  of course she went on to explain that there many different types of tumors and some are absolutely NOTHING and others are something!  From that point until now has been a complete roller coaster ride!  After some frustrating moments with the Military Clinic (frustration and military clinic are often synonymous) I was able to get in for an MRI.  Now, I wait!
I am relieved that a small part of this is over...the images are in the hands of the doctor and my hope is that I am one step closer to complete relief! I am thinking, praying and hoping that it is nothing...but I am on edge, not sleeping, preoccupied!  I try to keep thinking positive thoughts...but every now and again my mind strays..not in a "poor me" kind of way but more of a simple "what if".  I think it's normal, well as normal as a tumor in the head can be!  So for now I wait...and pray...and worry..and have faith that everything will be just fine!  Everything WILL be just fine!  Regardless...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Another first...

The video above is an example of just one of the great moments of being a mom!  Although I am not a fan of cold weather and the Northern "hospitality" (or lack thereof)...I must say that the experiences Aiden will encounter will be worth our 6 month stay here in frigid RI.  So although I miss Charleston, I am thankful for this chilly night and for the fun of taking my little man ice skating!

For my own documentation here is how the night went down...
Aiden saw the rink and said "what's that?"
I said "It's an ice skating rink"
Aiden: "I want to go dere (there)"
Me: "OK but if we go over there you have to put on ice skates"
Aiden: "OK"
We paid for just Mommy and Aiden to skate...but the nice man at the skate rental INSISTED that Daddy skate for FREE!!!  Guess you have to chance breaking your ankle and getting rolled back a class Daddy (that is Navy talk for those of you confused)
We were all laced up and we hit the ice...Aiden LOVED the video you can see him let go of me and try to go on his own...after a few minutes they cleared the rink for the big truck to come on and smooth out the ice...and that was the end of Aiden's desire to skate!  His new desire?  Finding that ice truck after it left the rink!!!  OH to be 2 again!!!  We never found that sneaky little truck and for the next 20 minutes we carried Aiden around the rink!

Tonight, I am grateful for this first in his little boy has adapted to each and every change and new experience I have thrown at him...I KNOW that I am so blessed...he is my world and tonight my world was amazed by a pair of ice skates and an ice rink smoothing truck ( I am sure there is a more technical name for it) and I was amazed by the youthful innocence and pure excitement radiated from my 2 year old!

PS.. sorry for the blurry video...Hubby was skating backwards and trying to video, therefore he neglected to focus!  ( I think he should stick to Nuclear Engineering)