Two weddings and a lot of amazing people

At Christmastime two of our beautiful (former) youth announced they were getting married!   A sweet set of sisters got proposed to on the same night, and their weddings were scheduled for two different weekends in May.  Facing a deployment, I decided that May sounded like a great time to trek back home to visit family and friends… and to attend two beautiful weddings!

Here is a fast breakdown of our time in NC… Matt was greatly missed.

Wedding #1:  Evan and Anna

_JEN3056 _JEN3069 IMG_4067iPhone photos and the pics I got with my real camera were not awesome.  Here’s one taken by the professional photographer, Carolina Portrait Designs:

10359508_10101143262325228_2487863007592138079_nWedding #2 was actually at the end of the trip, but since I’m in the wedding mood, I’ll share about it now.  Ned and Patti

IMG_4224 IMG_4231 Sweet sisters!  The one in blue was the bride of the first wedding.  I love Evan’s face… it’s like he’s saying, “One more picture?  REALLY?!?” IMG_4236 _JEN3701 _JEN3766Same professional photographer as before, Carolina Portrait Designs:

10258507_711382335567745_2287016958882897087_oAnd now to the much-less-fancy part of our travels!

We saw friends.  Lots of them.  Most of whom we didn’t get pictures of!

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We saw family, and loved every minute with them:

Grammy with the boys at the Schiele Museum in Gastonia, NC.

_JEN3599 Uncle Brad and Hayden examine something odd…_JEN3619

Aunt Erin and Parker check out something swimming…_JEN3625Visiting GreatGrandma  (Matt’s mom’s  mom.)IMG_4195 _JEN3582We rode a lot of four-wheelers._JEN3371We went to the beach and celebrated Mother’s Day~

_JEN3201 _JEN3314 _JEN3275 IMG_4140Matt sent me flowers for Mother’s Day.

IMG_4117I taught the boys to mow!

IMG_4161I watched as one of my children became a TEENAGER!

 

IMG_4078We enjoyed spending time with sweet Madison. IMG_4102

Here you can see Parker and Bailey trying to wake her up after a nap.  It was time to go to Mason’s T-ball game. _JEN3562We spent time at the ball fields!!

_JEN3395And finally, I took the boys’ annual “First Day of School” photos, even though we were not really doing school at the time!  In fact, these were the official “Last Day of School” and “First Day of School” pictures.

We did school until we left for this trip and started right back up again when we got home.  We will take our “summer break” when Daddy gets back from his work-trip.  _JEN3461_JEN3419 _JEN3467 _JEN3484Sweet Spidey…  we spent lots of time in the car.

IMG_4126 We slept in 9 different places and saw many state lines.  It was a trip very much worth taking.  We are so glad we went, but wish Matt could have joined us.  The weddings were precious and the time we spent with loved ones was priceless.  I’m thankful for the friends we have in North Carolina who welcomed us and reminded us of how loved we are.

 

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The Night I Became a Samurai

Oh, my little one.  He’s my little sunshine.

Yesterday was his last day of preschool and he had the best teachers in the world.  Ms. I was out of town this week, but Ms. W was there, and we remembered to take a picture of Parker with her.  She’s one of the rare ones, the kind of hourly teacher who falls in love with her kids and shows that in her care for them.  Ms. W always told me what Parker did in class, what he ate, and which little girl’s heart he was breaking at the time.  (There are two specific little girls who are both in love with him.)

When we gave her our hugs and loves, Ms. W cried.  She cried!  It broke my heart!  We hate having to say good-bye to our lovely preschool teacher!  Fortunately, we will see her around post because we know where she works for other functions… we will track her down!

Here is Parker with his beloved and absolutely beautiful Ms. W:

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That was our morning.  Our evening was much happier.  We took the bigs to soccer practice and since I had napped yesterday afternoon (I’ve upped my exercise routine and I’ve been staying up too late… it caught up with me), I needed to get my exercise in during soccer.  But, I have a 4 year old to watch, too!

The past three times we’ve gone to soccer and I’ve also needed to exercise, I’ve altered my expectations for my workout to include plenty of time to interact with Parker.  Let me state here that in the grand scheme of things, I’m not “the fun mom.”  I let my kids explore, I let them do seemingly dangerous things (climbing trees, skateboarding, etc) but I rarely DO things with them that they would consider fun.  I’ve learned to be okay with the kind of mom I am!  But let me tell you, these past few soccer practices have been fun for Parker!

One night we set goals to run from where we were to the farthest tree.  Once there, we picked the farthest soccer goal and made an obstacle course out of it.  Last night we “ran” one lap around the Lion’s Park here in Killeen before spending another hour at the playground.  While on the trail, I’d run from one park bench to the next and do tricep dips and standing push-ups while Parker caught up.  We spent a good 45 minutes going a mile! All throughout the process, Parker was playing an intricate imaginary game with me.  He was Kai and I was his Samurai sister. We’d have to get our power back by doing push-ups or going super-stealth.  He would chase birds, and then come back to the trail to be a ninja again.  We looked at our long shadows and made shapes and did all sorts of “fun” things. Things that I did with the bigs, I’m sure, but haven’t done much with Parker, mostly because the bigs are always around and monopolizing his time!

At one point Parker climbed onto this lamp post and said, “Samurai Sister, take a picture of me!” And so I did.

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If you look really closely (and use a lot of imagination) you can see the massive sword Parker is brandishing in this picture:

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I want to send a huge thank you to the family in their car who stopped to let us cross at the official crosswalk… we couldn’t step on the asphalt and had to jump from one white stripe to the next or else risk falling into the pit of fire.  I know we looked absolutely insane… I am, after all, am adult.  I’m sure I was a sight. But thank you for obliging us the extra five seconds we took crossing the street.

It was all worth it when during one of our moments of walking Parker grabbed my had and said, “I’m Parker and I love you, mommy.”

He is loving.  He tells me all the time that he loves me.  He kisses and hugs me more than the bigs ever did.  But there was something special about him coming out of character, grabbing my hand, and telling me that he loved me.  Apparently I had filled his love tank pretty full.

We are going to be spending many more nights at the soccer fields and I have a feeling this will be a great way for me to spend one-on-one time with him, get some exercise (even if it’s light exercise).  It will be fun to introduce daddy to this new game.  We’re past the half-way mark of this deployment and when he gets back we’ll be in for some fun fall soccer!  More hours at the ball fields means more special Parker/mommy (and eventually Parker/mommy & daddy) time.

My heart is full.  Beyond full.  I love being a Samurai.

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Just us… (and strep throat)

In honor of our 15th Anniversary, I decided to go back in time five months to the trip Matt and I took just before this deployment started.

We went to Comfort and Fredricksburg, TX on the recommendations of our good friends… who happen to be from TX.  (So they know where to go!)

First, let me tell you about the place we stayed.  We stayed at the Haven River Inn which has as its mission to be a “quiet, safe ‘haven’ from the busy-ness of life.”  It is a haven, indeed.  In the collage below you will see our breakfast.  I’ve never had better breakfasts in my life.  I would love all my German friends to stay here a few days so they can see what America has to offer in regards to breakfast!  So good.  Beyond delicious.  I’ve never had better eggs and, while I’m usually not a fan of flavored pancakes, these banana-infused gourmet pancakes were out of this world!

not resized1We had deer in the front yard every night after we returned home.  Something we’re not used to seeing in the city!  In the collage above, the room on the second floor with the lights on is the room we stayed in.  We had the place to ourselves, and were I to be a professional writer, I could have created unlimited stories based in this house!  It really inspired me and made me want to write!

The hosts were so friendly and made our stay so comfortable.  On the third floor is a fully stocked kitchen so we were able to bring leftovers back, make coffee any time, and store food in the fridge.  (And by food, I mean coffee creamer, which, to me, is a food group.)

Because we’re history nerds, Matt and I couldn’t resist visiting the National Museum of the Pacific War.   We really want to bring the boys back in October for a live reenactment.   not resized In the evenings Matt and I walked the town, window shopped, and ate local snacks (although I will admit we avoided the chocolate dipped Twinkies and chocolate dipped bacon).  I wish I had had a tripod with me to get clearer images, but these were the best I could get free-handing it.  At the very least, these images remind me of what I was seeing… the beauty of small-town Christmastime.not resized2 The first night we ate dinner at  The Brewery.  YUM.  As in, good enough to go back the second night!  _JEN1296 There was reportedly a “German-style market” going on in a nearby town so we had to check it out.  Food was okay, ambiance was not even close to that of a German market, but it was a beautiful day and we were together.  If you’re going there for the feel of a German Christmas market, you will not find what you’re looking for.  If you’re going to check out local arts and crafts and some interesting foods and soaps, you’ll be in your element.   Below is a picture of  Matt trying out a brat.   _JEN1326 We had heard only good things about the Dodging Duck.  I want to go ahead here and say that my memory of this time is a bit foggy.  I wasn’t feeling great at this point but assumed it was just because we had already run a few miles and gone to the market.  We felt a bit out of place with all the college-age hipster kids we were dining near, and I wasn’t really in the mood to chat.

And to be honest, Matt and I were staring a deployment in the eyes and we had talked about everything we could think of, including the elephant in the room (deployment), and were both unable to push the inevitable out of our minds.

The image below is an after-though picture I snapped as we drove by… I was really not myself.IMG_2860After dinner entertainment:  So my husband has a slightly different sense of humor than I have.  He enjoyed the first Anchorman.  I did not, but sometimes I quote it without knowing what I’m saying, because he does frequently.  At this time, Anchorman 2 was out and we wanted to go somewhere cool and sit to watch a movie.  I’ll give Matt credit and say he told me we could watch any movie out, but I wanted to give him this luxury before he deployed, knowing I would have access to the next year’s worth of movies in theaters while he would be stuck in a sandbox somewhere.

It. Was. Awful.
My FB post during* the movie was this:

I’m sure I made my husband sit through some chick flicks in the past. We are EVEN after this.

No. I think he owes me. 10 more chick flicks. AT LEAST.

The comments that followed:
o Friend 1: What are you watching?
o Me: Anchor Man2
o Friend 1: ROFL!
o Me, an hour later: I’m still suffering. Will this ever end?
o Friend 2 from our dating years: He did sit through Runaway Bride
o Friend 3: My husband’s favorite movie- anchorman. I did not go with him to see anchorman 2 (partly because I had a work function but…)
o Me: From now on I’m not going to guy movies of this genre. He can refuse to see another chick flick with no fear of backlash from me. Password to get out of any future chick flicks is: anchorman. Not case sensitive. Matt Hamrick – did you catch that?
o Friend 4: I still refuse to watch the first one!! When my husband wants to watch those movies, I just go take a long bath!!!
o Me: That sounds great. I’ll do that next time. Or anything else under the sun or moon.

 *No one was bothered by my being on FB during the movie. I had the brightness very low and we were almost the only ones in the movie.  Yes, I’ve seen the previews to turn phones off.  It was interact with civility or die.  I chose to FB!

As we left the theater I told Matt that I suspected I was getting strep throat.  We spent an hour in an urgent care clinic and Matt went into CVS to pick up my medicine.  Back at the Inn we went to bed right away.  By morning I was still very sick.  My throat hurt and I wasn’t any better.  We drove home earlier than we had planned and I got in the bed.  An ER trip that night determined that I am now allergic to penicillin.  Strep throat, fever, and hives are not a fun combo.

They prescribed a Z-Pack and I was better by the 23rd, in time to take care of my kids who ended up getting sick!  Fortunately the entire Hamrick family woke up feeling fine on Christmas morning!

 

Not sure how a blog post about a romatic getaway evolved into an ER visit and family illness, but when you’re family, those things kind of blend together!  In the end, we had a great time away from our kids and we really appreciate the M family for taking care of our loved ones while we were gone.   We are blessed beyond measure in our relationship, with our kids, and by our friends!

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15 years at 19 weeks!

Why yes, I can understand why that blog post title might be a little confusing.

Let me explain.  Today Matt and I celebrate 15 years of marriage and we are the 19 week mark (plus a few days) of this deployment.

We are half-way through this time apart, barring any extensions Uncle Sam may throw our way, and we have been celebrating the half-way mark all week!  So excited to be at this point!  It’s all downhill from here, baby!

Jen and Matt married almost 14  years April 2013

While hitting this milestone is pretty sweet, the sweetest milestone we’re currently celebrating is our 15th anniversary.  I’ve written this paragraph three times, and nothing quite sums up my thoughts on this event.  I guess I’ll use bullet points:

    • I love our story.  High school sweethearts, college loves, married young.  Not a single thing I would change!

Jen and Matt dating Oct 2995
Jen Matt dating 5-11-1996

Jen and Matt dating 1997?

  • I simply don’t feel old enough to have a 15 year old marriage!  I still feel about 24 years old but something tells me that it’s not mathematically possible to have a 15 year old marriage (and a 13 year old son) and only be 24 years old.  I guess I am older than I feel!
  • We don’t have this marriage thing all figured out, but we do have a fantastic relationship and I thank God for it daily.  I may have taken it for granted for years, but now I literally praise God for Matt and our marriage any time I put on or take off my wedding ring.  (I don’t sleep in it nor do I exercise in it.  I’m not one of those wives who can claim to have never taken it off.)
  • Matt’s mom and dad raised him right and he’s next-to-perfect when it comes to being thoughtful, a gentleman, and helpful around the house.
  • We are a perfect match when it comes to temperature!  We both hate the heat and love to keep the house cold.  Neither of us ever complains that the other is freezing/roasting us!  You may think this a small thing, but if you’ve met me and have heard of my disdain for heat, you’ll understand why this is such a big deal!
  • We are compatible in that we are both natural night-owls.  We prefer to be up late and sleep in.  One day, in retirement, we will be able to resume this fantastic lifestyle.  The Army and homeschooling cause us to reign in our natural tendencies.
  • My love is determined to let me know how much he loves me.  He has already sent me over 100 letters since January, and I presume more will come.  I cleared out a drawer to keep them in!
  • I love that we are on the same page in regards to our finances.  I think it’s funny that we spent the first 10 years of our marriage wearing the wrong hats.  He’s an introvert, quiet, and we assumed that meant he was the “nerd” in the family and should carry the responsibility of handling the majority of the finances.  I’m a “flaming extrovert” (his words), not quiet, and we assumed that meant I was the “free-spirit” and had a tendency to spend.  Through our experiences with Dave Ramsey’s material we learned that our “money personalities” were not at all tied into our actual personalities.  He is a spender and the free spirit and I am the saver… very much the nerd!  I love that we are still learning new things!!
  • Back in February of 2012 we hit a precious milestone… we had been together (including the years we were dating) for half of our lives.  If you want to read more of the ways I love this man, please check that blog post out.

Matt, I am honored to be your wife.  I love being your bride.  I treasure raising your sons.  I look forward to our future!  (One day, we will be empty-nesters and will stay up late, sleep in, and enjoy the view of mountains from our own home!)

C4 ball photo jen matt May 2013

 

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13 weeks!

I have finally discovered the main reason I have not been writing as often as I did in the past.  My current set-up is quite uncomfortable.  Before, in Germany, I had my computer in the living room where my family congregated.  Here, it’s in my dining room (in the only place we could fit the desk).  In Germany I was able to sit in my recliner while I wrote, so spending a lot of time at the computer wasn’t a problem.  Here, I am sitting in a cheap office chair, and I can’t tolerate more than an hour at a time, and those hours are generally spent doing computer work I have/need to do.

So, I’m in the middle of trying to rearrange my house to fit my computer into that room, but it’s not going to be easy.

All excuses aside, I am going to write this post and give you a brief update on the past few months.  Once I’ve gone back and blogged about each of these events, I’ll come back here and include links to those posts.  For now, I’m just letting you know what’s been going on with the stateside portion of the Hamricks.

JANUARY 2014

As you know, Matt left for Afghanistan in January and we count our ‘weeks’ differently.  I count from Saturdays, because he left our house and I slept alone that Saturday night.  He counts from Sundays since he left US soil on a Sunday!

Since we are at the 13 week mark, I have honored the occasion by titling this post “13 Weeks.”

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Also in January I began facilitating two Financial Peace University classes.  This is what I do “for me” during this deployment.  I am absolutely loving these classes and I am working very hard to make sure I can teach it again in the summer or fall.  My morning class has paid off (or saved up) a total of $95,812 and my night class has seen a financial turnaround of $182,503.  Since the class started, people in the two classes combined have made their lives financially better to the tune of $278,315!  All I had to do was  press play on a DVD player!  You KNOW I’m not the one teaching!  I’m just making the DVDs available for people to watch and THEY are doing all the work!

The last Monday in January held a huge surprise for us: a flight to Germany!  We were preparing for a Space-A adventure and had hoped a flight would pop up for us sometime that week, but hadn’t expected it to so suddenly.  The night before I had checked the schedules and there were no flights in the 72-hour forecast.  When I woke up and checked the update forecast, I noticed a flight and been added for THAT DAY.  The boys and I took off on an adventure that allowed us to visit dear friends for three weeks.  This trip healed my heart from its extended grieving over Germany.  I just needed to see it again.  It’s still there.  I can always go back.  That trip left my heart full of precious memories.

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See Ramstein?!? That was our destination!

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Doesn’t every three-year-old boy want to be awoken by a princess? (My sleeping beast was not in the mood…)

FEBRUARY
Half of February was spent in Germany, as I just mentioned. It also held my second son’s 11th birthday.  I can’t wait to share the whole story with you about how we ended up where we were, but I’ll tease you a bit by saying we got to spend Carson’s entire birthday with my parents.  It. Was. Perfect.

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It was also during this month that Carson began attending Bob’s Diner (Fort Hood’s youth group) with Hayden!  It blows my mind that I have two kids in youth!

MARCH
During March we celebrated some fun birthdays.
While Carson was celebrated on his birthday with Nana and Papa, he still wanted a “friend” birthday here in Texas.  We had such a great time at that party we pretty much repeated the entire event a few weeks later to celebrate two other Hamrick boys.  Parker turned four, but don’t tell him.  He insists that he’s three still.  He hasn’t decided when he’ll turn four, but it won’t be until at least Christmas.  Bailey turned 10… the third son to enter double digits!  We had a great party celebrating both of them here at the house.  I love that my boys want to be home and want to host here.  They love having people in our home as much as I do!

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Our friend Audrey surprised us with a mini-party on Parker’s actual birthday even though we weren’t planning to celebrate until the weekend! No one turned down the cupcakes!

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Bailey and Parker designed this cake. Literally. Bailey built the large tree-house and Parker built the “thing” that is in the water… he insisted that it make it on the cake.

I was asked to share a devotion with PWOC and I felt led to share our financial testimony.  It was a great blessing to share my heart and I have heard from several ladies that they’re interested in taking the class if I’m able to offer it again.  If one family becomes debt-free as a result of my sharing our story, it is worth the transparency!  (Oh, and before I stood before the group of women, I talked with Matt to make sure he was okay with it!  Of course he was!  He and I both have a passion to show others how to avoid the mistakes we made and to help others in scary situations find their way out.)

March brought some crazy weather.  While I was down in Austin for the day a huge store blew through and knocked our basketball goal over onto Matt’s Jeep.  Fortunately the only metal to touch his Jeep was the rim of the hoop!  Just a tiny spot of orange!

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On the last day of the month I was honored to be able to take photos of a reunion.  I saw a daddy reunited with his children and a husband reunited with his wife.  Matt and I are still so early in our deployment that my heart wasn’t too tender to attend.  I was glad to photograph the family, but more than that, I was honored to be at the event with them.  I loved being a part of their special moment.

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APRIL
My husband was born on the first day of April, but he’s no fool!  He was, however, “April Fooled” because the gift I ordered for him didn’t arrive in time for his birthday.  Or a week after his birthday!  In fact, it didn’t arrive until the 9th!  But he was VERY impressed with my gift-selection, which I’m thrilled about.  I haven’t been able to surprise him in YEARS!
I ordered for him a Lunchbox amp.  It’s about the size of, well, a lunch box.

April has also brought me a great deal of sadness.  I was home during the shooting that took place here at Fort Hood, and I was on lock-down for hours with my children.  I watched the news live along with the rest of the United States.  Honestly, I only felt fearful the first thirty minutes until I felt certain he was on the other side of post.  After the fear dissipated, I was left with apprehension and heartbreak… for the victims, for the shooter, and for his family.

A different kind of sadness: One of my best friends is leaving Texas and moving to the east coast.  I am not ready for her to leave and yet, she is in the middle of a PCS.  Jessica, Owen, and Connor were able to spend a few nights with me on their way out of town, and for that I am incredibly thankful.

This picture was actually taken a few weeks ago (on the morning of Parker's actual birthday) when we spent the night at their house.  I thought it was too funny that his other BFF is trying to wake him just like Kayla did in Germany!

This picture was actually taken a few weeks ago (on the morning of Parker’s actual birthday) when we spent the night at their house. I thought it was too funny that his other BFF is trying to wake him just like Kayla did in Germany!

My mom’s dad, my precious “GramJack” passed away a week ago today, and I was grateful to be able to fly to North Carolina to be with my family as we honored the man he was.  As you know, leaving four children behind is no easy task (emotionally or physically) as there is a great deal of effort in getting them squared away.  However, my precious friend, Audrey, was more than willing to watch my boys for me while I went to NC.  I drove to San Antonio on Tuesday (which was perfect, as Fort Hood was going to be on lock-down on Wednesday for the memorial services for the victims of the shooting).  We arrived pretty late and went straight to bed.  I flew out Wednesday morning and was picked up by my dad’s parents, Grannie and Grandaddy.  I was able to see a few family members that evening.  One of my favorite moments was when my niece came to me as if she knew who I was.  At 18 months, Madison really hasn’t had a lot of time to get to know me, but she still came right to me.  I rewarded her by taking her on a four-wheeler ride!  Her big brother, Mason, is as loving and adorable as ever!
Thursday was the funeral and the emotions of seeing family I haven’t seen in 10 years mixed with the sadness of knowing that I’d never again hear GramJack ask my boys if they were married yet.  (I was asked that question on a regular basis when I was a little girl.  He loved to tease!)

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Friday I flew back to my babies but arrived so late that I didn’t expect to see any of them…  However, two of my stinkers were still awake at midnight when I got there.  Bailey and Parker met me at the door, and then Parker proceeded to wake Hayden so HE could see me!  I got my loves and then crashed!

We got home yesterday after I finally got to spend a little time visiting with Audrey.  She told me some of the sweet things my boys had said or done and graciously left out the annoying things.  Bless her!

I am looking forward to getting back on our routine tomorrow.  OH!!  About that routine!  I have to share this tiny news with you, and I’ll write more about it later.  (At least I intend to write more later…)  We added a new curriculum to our schooling and I am so very excited about it.  Last night as I was getting ready for bed when Bailey came in and asked me if I would read to them from our school book.  It was a Saturday night.  (That is a clue to those of you who have used this curriculum before.  If you have used it, you’ll probably know which one it is by the fact that Bailey was asking me to read to him!  If you don’t know, stay tuned!  I’m excited to share it with you!)

I want to write more regularly but I haven’t managed to fit it in with our new schedules here in TX.  Sitting in an uncomfortable chair, having a deployed husband, using a more challenging curriculum, and traveling quite a bit is keeping me away.  These are my excuses.  I know full well that we will make time for the things we really want to do, and so I assume that I just don’t want it badly enough to get up early like I did the past few years.  Maybe I’ll work myself back toward that idea.  Until then, at least I got you somewhat caught up!

 

Posted in About my faith, brothers/boys, Discussing debt, family, friends, germany, homeschooling, military, Texas, travel | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Dr. Pepper Museum – Waco

Now that I have the big trip to Germany behind me I am able to look back at some of the fun things we’ve already done this year and journal about them.

I mentioned in my Happy New Year post that before Matt deployed, our family ventured north about an hour and a half to Waco, TX, home of the Dr. Pepper Museum.

We really enjoyed looking at all the artifacts in the museum and tasting the samples of Dr. Pepper served by a soda jerk. Bailey loved the taste of Dr. Pepper served this way.  I prefer the current version from a perfectly-balanced modern-day fountain machine.  Hayden and Parker each got a Big Red, which tasted to me like Grenadine (the stuff that you can add to Coke to make homemade Cherry Coke).20140103-152842 After our tour we drove to the actual spot where Dr. Pepper was invented.  How fun!0KHeOJd2RaaUA9tgj9on6w-001About a half-mile away is the Waco Suspension Bridge.  We were told it was a must-see if you’re in Waco.  We had fun!
hGkKQN5GT%GRO41Nk%OOxA After we finished with the fun in Waco we drove a little further north to West, TX.  So far my favorite “Texan” treat has been kolaches, which are actually Czech in origin.  We love them and the very best place to get them is at the Czech Stop.  It was worth driving 20 minutes away from home just to get these before heading back.  (My favorite is the sausage, jalapeño, and cheese!)  MHQC9ZCERliqaosf6G7RlQWhat fun we had on this little adventure!

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Carson is 11 now!

You know you love those cheeks!  (I am aware that I’ve shared these pictures before, But I simply can’t help myself!)

Baby CarsonWhat about these?

Baby CarsonOh, how I miss Baby Carson!  The consolation prize for there being no Baby Carson any longer is that there is a fantastic big-kid Carson now.

I am so proud of him and love to watch him grow, even if he no longer carries around those chubby cheeks nor lets me kiss them!

Carson’s birthday was on February 17th, while we were still on our vacation.  Since we couldn’t invite friends over on that date, we had his party a couple of weeks later.  I’d say he pretty much celebrated for two straight weeks!  Here are some fun pictures of the celebrations and descriptions of what was going on!

This collage is from Carson’s actual birthday.  I surprised him with Krispy Kreme Donuts and his grandparents surprised him by BEING there!  Carson got to FaceTime with Daddy, a very special conversation indeed.27 After we settled in back at home in TX we had a real birthday party with friends included. We all had so much fun seeing our friends after a month apart and Carson loved all the gifts he received.  Do you see a theme?Recently Updated17 And while I figured “Lego” would be the theme, we couldn’t find a bakery to do a Lego cake on such short notice, so he picked a Hobbit cake.
After food, cake, and ice cream, all the kids headed back out side for more fun the the street.  Yes, we’re great parents.  Recently Updated18And you did see Parker wearing Santa pajamas and socks… in the middle of the street.  That’s how he rolls.

Many thanks to our friends who came to celebrate our sweet second son, Carson!

To hear the group sing Happy Birthday, see the video below:

 

To read a story about Carson’s welcome into this world, click here.

Posted in brothers/boys, family, friends | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Eczema, be gone!

I’m impressed.  As in, “I expected good results, but I didn’t expect this,”  kind of impressed.

_JEN2072 Bailey suffers from severe eczema.  In fact, he had a flare-up that was so bad in January that I sent these images to his pediatrician via RelayHealth.  (That’s our favorite way to communicate with our doctors for minor issues like refills and quick medicines that don’t require a visit.  I do my best to avoid going in to see someone if the problem is minor enough.)

KNsZg3PUQzmJmAlEX1TxvQApparently this wasn’t minor in her opinion and she made an urgent visit for us that day. The problem was, she prescribed the same medicines and creams that he’s always had. They are gross, thick lotions, some of which include medicines.  Neither of us like the creams, lotions, or medicines, which leads us to being lax about his skin care once inflammations are under control.

I mentioned Goat Milk Stuff to the doctor and she was very interested.  I can’t wait to take the following images to her.  I believe she’ll be as impressed as I was with the results.

Bailey and I did apply the steroid cream until the open wounds were healed.  Once they were under control we used Vanicream, which is basically a lotion that is free of any additives.  We never had to resort to the bactroban, which was an ointment that was to be used only if his open sores became infected.  (Yes, I know I’m a horrible mother for letting his legs get this bad.  In my defense Bailey wore pants for much of December so I didn’t really see his legs very often.  He didn’t complain much about itching, and it was when he wore shorts on a warm day that I realized how far his eczema had spread.)

The pictures above were taken before any treatment at all.  We used the medicinal cream for one week before we flew to Germany.  We left in such a rush that we left his medicines at home, so he went three weeks with no lotions or creams.

The pictures below were taken after we got back from Germany.  Day 1  was taken before we started using Goat Milk Stuff products.  The two following are on the 7th and 10th days.

20140302-110236 In this picture, notice his ankles.  That’s where he was suffering the most.20140302-111402

When I look at those pictures I can hardly believe the difference.  Bailey is so pleased with his legs and at how “normal” they look.  He was beginning to get self-conscious and was worried about soccer season.

So here’s what we used:

Laundry detergent:  1 Tbsp per load.  I have even given Bailey some towels to consider his own and he washes them with his laundry.  Everything that touches Bailey for now is Goat Milk Stuff related.
Purity Bar:  I have had Bailey switch from using a name-brand men’s body wash to using a goat milk stuff bath soap.
Lotion Stick:  I believe that this is what has made the biggest difference in Bailey’s skin, primarily because we used it multiple times a day!  Think of a chapstick tube, enlarge it, and then change the ingredients from a lip balm to a lotion.  It’s thick, like lip balm, but is for your skin!  Our hands didn’t have to touch it and so we were both willing to apply it to his legs frequently.  And Bailey could do this himself!

I have already placed my order for the larger size (deodorant sized tube) lotion stick for Bailey to use regularly and another small stick for my purse.

I also tried the bath fizzes myself!  (No, I did not share.)  I LOOVED this!  It actually did what the description said:  “The powder reacts when it hits the water producing a “fizzing.”  Adding bath fizzy to your tub fills the bath water with the relaxing scent of lavender essential oil and leaves your skin smoother and softer.”

PJ Podcasts:  Click HERE and a new window will open with an archive of all her podcasts. (I can remember exactly where I was when I first listened to her Test Podcast episode and the first two “real” episodes, including the one on the importance of sleep:  Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC, on a Chaplain Family Retreat – running on the treadmill while Matt took the boys swimming.  Each of the following podcasts have been very valuable and have in some way impacted my homeschooling, home management, parenting, and now health plans.  Such a wealth of information and wisdom in these podcasts.

PJ Blogs:  Click HERE and a new window will open on the home page of her blog. There’s a contest going on for a high-value prize!  Check it out!

PJ parents:  Click HERE and a new window will open on the main page of her website that introduces her family.  Here are their philosophies:

We have a very simple philosophy when it comes to parenting and educating our children. It can be summed up as follows:

*  Everything is a God issue and a learning opportunity (including making and selling goat milk soap).
*  Hard work builds character which is an essential ingredient to a successful life.
*  Each of our children are unique individuals with unique strengths and weaknesses and are raised as individuals.
*  The family unit is a team and we all are sometimes called to sacrifice for the team.

For full transparency:
While I run I enjoy listening to podcasts.  After I listened to one of PJ’s podcasts on raising children with multiple intelligences, I contacted PJ and told her our story.  I asked if she’d be interested in having me write a review of her products in exchange for a few samples. She agreed because I am a long-time listener of her podcast and I was thrilled!  I love to write, and I LOVE to share when I find products that have helped my family, so I was thrilled to be able to try this product out and share it with you!  She wasn’t taking much of a risk because she was confident her products would work and that I’d become a repeat customer.  I love a savvy business owner!  While I don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body, I am the child of an entrepreneur and I love to read and learn about how businesses work.  So, yes, I got the products in the first image for free, but I have already ordered more of them because I was so pleased with how well they worked for my son!

Posted in About my faith, family | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

That Crazy Wrap Thing

This particular post is very exciting for me!  I’ve never had a guest author so today marks a first for me!

Christy has done such a good job of introducing herself in the following post that I really don’t have to do much other than stop writing so you can get to her content, but let me at least tell you how I know her.

One day when I lived in Germany I saw this really cute young mom at the library with a baby strapped to her back and a few other kids running around.  She introduced herself to me and something inside me said, “Oh, man, I hope she’ll be my friend.”  I loved her quiet spirit.  (Something I don’t have.)

I must have done something right because she did allow me to become her friend and, without question I count her among my closest friends.  Here are a few pictures with notes about some of our fun times together.  I want you to have these images in mind when you read her words…she isn’t just some person I happen to know.  I value her opinions because I know her and I trust her.

Here is our group on my birthday in 2011.  Christy is standing directly beside me.  (She made the “Belle” cake for me since Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie!)  And don’t you just think our babies are the CUTEST?!?
Nov 5, 20111

Here are the four of us in Barcelona – the trip these girls surprised me with for my birthday in 2012.  Christy is on the far left holding her sweet little one (not pictured above because, well, he wasn’t born yet).Park Guell in Barcelona

And here we are in the Wiesbaden Entertainment Center just a couple of weeks ago, when I flew there to surprise Aimee and get hugs from both Aimee and Christy (pictured on the right, but by now I hope you would be able to pick Christy out of these pictures).

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Now that I’ve told you how I met Christy, and shown you a three-year span of  our friendship in three pictures, I would like to stop writing and let Christy explain why she’s my guest for the day!


Hi! My name is Christy and I’m a friend of Jennifer’s. I am honored that she’s letting me post on her blog today, and I feel certain she wouldn’t have let me if she didn’t believe in me. Thank you Jennifer!

I’d like to tell you my story.

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I’m a military wife, and a homeschooling mom of 4. (Sound familiar? LOL)

My husband is leaving the Army this Spring to attend seminary so he can become a Chaplain. He has a passion for Jesus, and he wants to serve our soldiers by bringing the Holy Spirit to them. When he decided to take this route, I was supportive – but at the same time apprehensive. Because in his going to seminary, it means that we wouldn’t get paid. For THREE YEARS.

Of course, in his unswerving faith, he believed that God would take care of us – and He has. That’s what I want to share with you today.

Last July I started an at-home business with an amazing Christian company called It Works Global. They have a commitment to real, natural, good-for-the-body products. Of course, I love ALL the products, but the most famous and popular one is the skinny wrap. Look what it can do! It works in 45 minutes!!!

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Obviously, this is a product that is in high demand. Business is good. SO good. That’s why I’m here to share with you.

I have had many friends over the years that started with network marketing companies, but I never really believed that they could make money. Good money. REAL money. This company is the real deal, because it has an amazing compensation plan and a product that is HOT.

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The company pays us distributors SO well, because they are a debt-free company (shout out to Dave Ramsey! Woot!). In fact, they want all of their distributors to be debt free as well, which is why they are offering GOOD bonuses (Get Out Of Debt).

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Now, on the verge of our military separation – I have no more worries about money, because I’m making more than enough to support our family. My husband won’t have to juggle work and school at the same time. I can still stay home with the babies and homeschool them, and raise them the way my Lord wants me to.

I love to help people, so I just had to share with you the potential here- think about what this could do for your family, for your finances, and for your children. Prayerfully consider if this is a blessing that you need. I would be happy to walk you through getting started, if you would like to take that walk with me.

If you are interested in the awesome products, I’d be happy to answer your questions about that as well.

You can email me: wrappingchristy@gmail.com

or find me on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wrappingchristy

Wishing you & your family many blessings!

Christy


Like I said, I don’t think there’s much I can add to what Christy said other than to share my personal favorite product.

I love the Greens.  I have taken a break from coffee (GASP) and have been able to replace coffee with the greens and not go through massive withdrawals.  I have the greens early in the morning and then before I go for a run.  I don’t know how long I’ll be “off” the joe, but I love that I have something healthful to drink instead.

I love that I can get my kids to drink the greens, too, although I will say the boys prefer to have their greens mixed into grape juice or Gatorade.  I did too, at first, but now I enjoy them straight up!  (Berry all the way!)

I am not a distributor, though I’m sure if I wanted to be, Christy would gladly bring me on!  But I am happy to share what I like about the product and to give my personal recommendation for the greens.  As I use more of the products, I’ll happily give my opinions on those, as well!

Posted in Discussing debt, friends, weight/health | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 weeks = (about) 1 month!

It is so great to say that we have one month down!

Sort of… Matt and I count the “weeks” differently.  I count my weeks on Saturdays since he left my house and I first slept alone on a Saturday night.  He counts from the next day, a Sunday, when he flew out of the US.  So yesterday we hit four weeks on my count and today we hit that mark on Matt’s count!  We will be able to say that we have hit a full “calendar” month sometime this week

The past two weeks have been very exciting for the majority of Hamricks.  Not sure if Matt’s life has been very exciting and I can honestly say I am thankful for that.

The boys and I hopped a flight to Germany on January 17th and are enjoying spending time with friends we love in a city we have missed.

I look forward to sitting and taking the time to blog about our adventures, journaling them for our memories but also so Matt can hear more details than he’s getting in our occasional twenty-minute phone conversations.  Funny story:  when he calls me from Afghanistan to the US, we have a perfectly clear line.  However, when he calls me here in Germany, (much closer physically) we have a 4-5 second delay and horrible sound.  (The call routes through the US, apparently.)

He is doing great and is enjoying a little travel  - mainly in Blackhawks.

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Once I find myself back in Texas, I’ll write more.  Until then…

Posted in family, friends, germany, military, travel | Leave a comment