E&B 2013 Highlights (a.k.a. The Christmas Letter!)

2013 went by so quickly! So quickly that the “Christmas Letter” has turned into a “New Year’s” letter. I’ve discovered that getting things done with an infant in the house is a bit of a challenge. I asked Brandon to consider writing our year-in-review, and he responded, “not much happened.” If not much happened this year, I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to know what it takes to be an eventful year! Read on for the details of our “uneventful” year.


We rang in the New Year in Omaha with Brandon’s family, and then it was back to “work.” Brandon went back to Intermediate Level Education (ILE) classes at the Command and General Staff College at FT Leavenworth, KS and graduate classes towards his Master of Science in Administration through Central Michigan University. I started a new section of review classes for the CPA exam. I also took (and passed!) my first section of the exam. January was the mid-point of my pregnancy, so I began making more frequent visits to my doctor, but everything remained “boring” and normal.


Even though February is a short month, I managed to take (and pass!) my second and third sections of the CPA exam!


During Brandon’s Spring Break, we did some traveling! The first weekend was spent in South Dakota celebrating my grandma’s 95th birthday. The second weekend was spent in Omaha meeting our new nephew, Callan Gregory Frost. In between, we flew to Las Vegas for our last child-free vacation for the foreseeable future. We enjoyed the Tournament of Kings, Jersey Boys, Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, and delicious dinners at Hofbräuhaus and Roy’s.


I took and passed my last CPA exam along with the ethics exam required to become a licensed CPA. We also started looking at houses in Manhattan, KS and we had a signed contract by the end of the month! My sister hosted a baby shower for me in Atlantic, and my mom came down to help me sort the entire collection of baby clothes handed down from our nieces. We enjoyed seeing Brandon’s brother and his family when they visited Omaha the last weekend of the month.


At the beginning of May, I was completely surprised by a baby shower thrown by Brandon’s ILE small group. On May 29th, I had my last OB appointment and was immediately admitted to the hospital because Little Girl slept through her last ultrasound and didn’t pass the movement test. I was induced the morning of May 30th, and Sonja Anneliese entered the world via C-section at 01:13 on May 31st.


June was a crazy, busy month! We brought Sonja home from the hospital on June 3rd and we drove to & from Manhattan on June 5th to close on our new house. Brandon graduated from CMU on June 12th and he graduated from ILE on June 14th. The packers arrived on June 21st, and we moved to Manhattan on June 26th. Thankfully, it was a door-to-door move, so all of our household goods were delivered the next day. In the midst of all of this, I was struggling with breastfeeding Sonja and recovering from a complication with my C-section incision.


We spent the 4th of July in Omaha with Brandon’s family and spent the following weekend in South Dakota with my family. We enjoyed shooting fireworks off in both locations! I officially became a licensed CPA in the State of Tennessee (our legal state of residence). Brandon started working as the Planner for 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division at FT Riley, KS.


The first weekend in August, we drove back up to Iowa for the “Fasse Birthday Bash,” celebrating Emma turning two in July and Hannah turning six at the end of August. Brandon started traveling again with a trip to Bulgaria. While he was away, I had two job interviews and was offered both positions! I accepted the offer to work at a local CPA firm, Sink, Gordon & Associates.


Over Labor Day weekend, Brandon’s family visited us. We enjoyed visiting the Flint Hills Discovery Center for the first time. September 3rd was my first day of work and Sonja’s first day at daycare. Thankfully, I only work part-time until tax season, so Sonja doesn’t have to be at daycare all day. Brandon made his first trip to Africa in the middle of the month. 2nd Brigade is regionally aligned with AFRICOM, so Brandon attended several planning conferences for future training events.


Brandon’s parents came to visit us over Columbus Day weekend. We explored the pumpkin patch at Britt’s Garden Acres and the Sunset Zoo. Shortly after that, Sonja started solid food and figured out how to roll from her tummy to her back. Sonja turned 5-months-old on Halloween!


My parents visited us the first weekend of November. For some reason we seem to be seeing our parents more now that we have a baby! Brandon made his second and third trips to Africa.

We had a quiet Thanksgiving as a family of three in Manhattan because Brandon left for his fourth trip to Africa the following day. Thankfully, my parents offered to drive up to South Dakota with Sonja and me so we could spend the rest of the holiday weekend with family.


And finally we made it to December! We’ve ended this busy year with another busy month. Sonja started teething. We traveled to South Dakota the weekend before Christmas to celebrate with my family. Then, we spent Christmas in Omaha with Brandon’s family. Both families came to Manhattan the following weekend to celebrate Sonja’s baptism.

We wish you a very happy 2014!!

Erika, Brandon & Sonja


Where to Start??

Again, I have ignored this blog as life has continued to fly by much too fast! It’s hard to believe that we have now been back in the U.S. for nine months and our time at FT Leavenworth is quickly coming to a close. Brandon will start his last section of classes next week and will graduate from the Command and General Staff College (CGSC or “Major School”) in June, which means we’ll be moving shortly thereafter.

Our next duty station will be FT Riley, KS. I am grateful for the short move and staying relatively close to family in Nebraska, Iowa & South Dakota. Brandon is happy to be rejoining the “real” Army and an armor unit after our last few years at the training base before his current school. We are in the process of buying a house in Manhattan, KS, so that is adding another layer of complexity to our moving plans. However, if all goes smoothly with the inspections and financing, we hope to be closing at the beginning of June!

In the meantime, we are still anxiously preparing for the arrival of “Little Girl” at the end of May. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our siblings & family members with the amount of “baby stuff” we’ve been given. We are happy to not need to purchase so many new items, and those that have given us things seem equally happy to have the tubs of items out of their basements!

So, that is our quick & dirty update. We had a lovely trip to Las Vegas in March for Spring Break sandwiched between my grandma’s 95th birthday celebration and meeting our new nephew, so hopefully, I’ll have a chance to write about those things soon and share some pictures. In the meantime, here’s a picture of me at my recent baby shower at 34 weeks.

Baby Shower

Happy 2013!

Brandon and I enjoyed spending the holidays with our families this year, making the loop through Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska. It’s especially fun spending time with our energetic nieces and nephew!

On December 30th, we celebrated our 6th anniversary. We had a wonderful dinner experience at Dario’s Braisierre in Omaha. I am quite certain that we will be returning for the delicious food and quality Belgian beer the next time we are in town.

Now our seventh year of marriage begins, and I am confident that it will be just as eventful and amazing as the past six!

Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag, Brandon!

Brandon's 30th BirthdayIMG_5347Birthday - Brandon 2009

Yesterday was Brandon’s 30th birthday.  The day itself was very blah as it was rainy and only in the 50s.  But luckily, Brandon ended up not being in the field, or working much at all!  He was home by 2pm to spend the rest of the day as he pleased.  We had grilled steaks, green bean casserole, and crescent rolls for dinner.  Then I gave him some alone time at home while I was at my Basic German class most of the evening.  We had dessert when I got home: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip bars with Vanilla Ice Cream.

Since I had class the night of his birthday, we celebrated his birthday in style with dinner at the Rechberger Hof the night before.  We had a delicious German meal accompanied by a couple of beers, of course!  The Berkshire Hathaway shirt he is wearing in the picture above is a gift from his parents.  My gift to him is a new watch, but I’m letting Brandon choose the exact one he wants.  (If he can use that trick with my engagement ring, I can certainly do the same for his birthday gift!)  I made a cute watch card for him to open though.

So, Brandon has made it to the ripe old age of 30, and will hopefully see another 30+ years.  For someone who swore he wouldn’t live to see 21, this is quite the accomplishment!