What’s the big deal about Brittney Johnson!?!

I’m so glad you asked!

She’s the first Black female lead in the role of Glinda on Broadway’s Wicked!

I am very hopeful that by the time Anna is a grown woman we won’t have to make a big deal about this because the arts and education will be more equitable, for now, in 2022, it’s a big deal when a Black female has the lead role!

Brittney Johnson has been in the Wicked ensemble and has been the understudy for Glinda but as of February 14th, 2022, the role was officially hers! Now if she’s not there, someone understudies for her!

I was able to see Wicked several months ago and when I found out that a Black female was to become the lead after February14th I knew I had to make sure Anna saw her in that role. If you’re a long-time reader you may remember when Anna said she wanted to be white so she could be a ballerina. We were ready with books in-hand to show her Black ballerinas – representation matters! She needs to “see herself” on the stage, in books, in her community, and in her classrooms. Taking Anna to Wicked with Brittney Johnson on stage was critical for me, during this season where our family has the privilege to live in the greatest city in the world. The way Broadway goes, you don’t know if the lead will be on stage the night you are there until you are handed your playbill… and I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I looked at the little slip placed inside and saw that there was no substitution listed for Glinda! OH MY GOODNESS! I was so excited!

We were able to take our friends Jamie and Joy and it was Joy’s first time to see a Broadway production as well. The show was wonderful and the their excitement melded with ours to make it an perfect experience!

{The following information may be boring for some audiences.}

Anna is a bit young for this show as it can be loud and some of the characters are scary. I prepared her in advance by showing her videos of the monkeys getting into make-up and costume. We also went to a small production of Beauty and the Beast before which was a workship with the actors. The actor who played the Beast was fun and interacted with the kids and said, “In a few minutes you’ll see me on stage and I’ll be dressed in a pretty scary costume, but you’ll know it’s me because you’ll recognize my voice.”

That was stellar! And Anna did recognize his voice and told me so during the performance (sorry to the people around us).

Knowing I wanted Anna to see Wicked I used that experience and the videos of make-up and costumes to prepare her expectations for the scary monkeys.

During Wicked she held my hands and tensed up most at the voice of the Wizard. My prep worked paid off because she enjoyed watching the monkeys and didn’t seem too scared of them.

Anyway, on the way home Anna and I shared Airpods and watched several videos of Brittney Johnson. Two of my favorites include her first night’s curtain call when Lindsay Pearce was so excited for Brittney that she forgot to take her own bow and an interview Playbill did with Brittney. I’ll link to both below but be sure to watch the clip of the first curtain call AND look at the picture on CNN’s article. There are two different links: one for the video and one for the photo. In the CNN link you can watch Brittney’s first entrance in bubbles and her opening line says it all: “It’s good to see me, isn’t it?”

Yes, it is, Brittney! YES, IT IS!

Also, because I know you’re dying to know… Anna does have a favorite number: “What is this feeling.

Click here for link to article.

Brittney Johnson’s smile and the excitement on Lindsay Pearce’s face brought tears to my eyes in this clip:

Interviews of Brittney Johnson on her new role:

‘Wicked’ Star Brittney Johnson: ‘Black History Is Happening Right Now. I Am Living Proof’

How Being an Understudy Prepared ‘Wicked’ Star Brittney Johnson for Her History-Making Role

And now for some pictures and a video from our Girl Date:

1 & 2: On our way to start our GirlDate!
3 & 4: Before the show.
4: With the stage in the background… girl can’t keep that mask on her nose and she was happy to be there, I promise!
5: I videoed Anna clapping and then snatched a quick picture of the cast at their final bow.
6 & 7: Anna waved at the Krispy Kreme guy so he brought her up to the front of the line and gave her a free donut to eat while we waited in line. Krispy Kreme donuts make me this happy, to, baby girl!

Her face when she looks up at me! I think we have a theater-lover.

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Protected: March 21-24, 2022

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And one flew the nest…

There’s really no easy way to start this post. I’ve written the first sentence and deleted it many times. How does a mom summarize in a post her experience raising her first child and then preparing to launch him into the wide world? I don’t know! It’s my first time! I’ll let you know how it turns out!

I am writing this six days before Hayden officially launches into adulthood. He is going on a grand adventure that he has been dreaming of for quite some time, and he gets to do this adventure with his best friend. I can’t wait to watch the next stage of the journey unfold for him because I know how hard he’s worked to get to this point. I know the challenges he’s faced and the obstacles he’s overcome and I’m very proud of him.

Many of you are wanting to know exactly what he’s doing and what this grand adventure is but he’s sworn me to secrecy. Someday I’ll see if I can share a bit of his journey once some of his experiences are in hindsight and not in the future. In the meantime, if you want to support him on his journey here’s his Venmo. I’m sure he’d greatly appreciate anything, as he paid for his degree out of pocket and has saved for this trip with very little from us aside from a graduation gift.

We began putting together a Redbubble website from which you could purchase different items with his art but we only got two images uploaded before he flew. If you want to check out what’s there, click here: Art by Hayden Hamrick. Hopefully he’ll find some time to add more designs! He has so many on his iPad but they’re still in layers and need to be converted for uploading. Not sure he will find time while he’s on this grand adventure!

Anyway, back to the nostalgia. All I ever wanted to be was a mama. He made the job so easy and has been a treasure every step of the way. He has grown me and challenged me… he has helped me become more compassionate and I am quite amazed at how much parenting him raised me.

I’ll be honest… I’m kind of numb. People are asking me how I’m doing with this big life change. The best I can describe it is that it’s similar to how a family feels before a deployment. Everyone knows a change is about to happen and, in many ways, all are eager for it to just take place so the anticipation of the goodbye can just be over with. But that also means he’ll be off on his adventure, not home every night for dinner, not there to take Anna on dates or show Parker new styles for his outfits. We need the goodbye over-with but don’t want him gone, if that makes any sense.

I will say, the past week or so things have been really good, though we did go through a rough period where everyone was very short-tempered with each other. I fully believe that was the anxiety and grieving that comes along with the kind of change we are facing. For some reason we hit a peaceful place in the past week and things have been going very smoothly.

I’ve been praying for this kid of mine fervently. He seeks God and is very receptive to the Holy Spirit. We are watching him take his faith as his own, something that every person has to do or their faith will not hold.

I’ve made him promise to text me every day for a few weeks, just until I get used to him not being here. I dread watching Anna come to the realization that we won’t be visiting him every Saturday.

Hayden is a treasure. He has been my treasure for the past (almost) 21 years and now it’s time to let the world experience what a treasure he is. We are praying for God’s protection over him, his body (safety and health), mind, and heart. We are praying that his faith grows exponentially, in ways it can’t while living at home. We are praying for his provision, something he’s confident God will take care of. He’s seen God provide for us so he has every confidence God will do so even when he’s not with us anymore. (Matt and I are, understandably, more tentative in this area due to our financial struggles early on. Hayden has been wise with his money and has paid for everything in cash his whole life, and has graduated debt-free, so he’s entering adulthood with much more wisdom than did his parents… for that we are very thankful!) We are praying for the friends he makes to be a blessing to him and for him to know when to set boundaries with people. Oh my goodness, there are so many things we are praying!

But maybe more than anything else, we are praying that the words spoken over and about him from multiple pastors at our church come to fruition. They have said that Hayden is an evangelist for people who would never listen to people who look like us. Because of who he is and how he expresses who he is, others who also express themselves in unique ways will trust him and be open to hearing about his faith in Jesus… those very people would likely expect me to be judgmental of them or maybe, they would assume that the Jesus I love wouldn’t be open to loving someone like them. Which, of course, is the farthest thing from the truth! The Jesus I love DOES love them as much as He loves every other human on the planet! But they may be more receptive to Hayden than to me.
And for that I pray!

I’ve been praying this song over him since I was in college. I very clearly remember falling in love with this song and listening to it while I made bulletin boards for my Elementary Education classes. I didn’t know for sure at that time if I’d even have a son, but this song really settled deep into my heart.

Cheri Keaggy’s Little Boy on His Knees.

He see’s me in the morning
Lifting him out of bed
The sun comes with little warning
A brand new day’s ahead
To the kitchen for some breakfast
A plate of toasted bread
A cup of milk just as expected
Close your eyes and bow your head

You can thank him for anything you want to
For the flower’s and the trees
And pray, Lord Jesus, make me
A little boy on my knees

He’s Mommy’s little helper
Learning to comb his hair
And loves his baby sister
Though he doesn’t always share
A quarter in the bucket
A memory verse or two
Although he may not know it
He’s beginning to follow you

You can thank him for anything you want to
For your Daddy and for me
And pray, Lord Jesus, make me
A little boy on my knees


Written mid-March, posted 3-23-22

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The Hyatts take NYC!

We love having JoshAshleyMasonMadison come to our house! (You have to say that really fast as if it’s one person!) Josh and I planned a strategic week so that they could see as much as possible but also not be completely worn out. It turned out to be a perfect visit and we didn’t even burn down Fraunces Tavern. (We’ll get to that in a bit.)

Train Travel is always an adventure in a large group but we never lost anyone (on the train, that is).

Crossing the Manhattan Bridge and looking at the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Oculus

9-11 Memorial Pools

Fraunces Tavern

We were able to sit down as soon as they opened. The restaurant was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

The little candles on the table were a fire hazard on the boys’ end! Thankfully I noticed the fire before it got out of hand!

Statue of Liberty

We have been saving this particular New York City site to do when Mason came. Parker has wanted to see this with Mason and we really enjoyed the experience. There are a lot of steps.

Krispy Kreme, a guy in a $2000 track suit, and the Elf Bridge

Rockefeller Plaza, Radio City Music Hall, FAO Schwartz, and Saks Fifth Ave.

I mentioned near the top of this post that we lost a kid. We didn’t actually lose one, but she lost us. We had spent the entire week walking as a group and every time I looked back, Anna had Madi’s hand. When it was time to leave FAO Schwartz we all headed down the front stairs and then turned right, toward the rear of the store. (Everyone must leave through one exit.) Half of our party was out the door when Ashley asked where Anna was. We turned around and she wasn’t with us. I wasn’t worried at all as I figured she had kept on walking toward the rear of the store where the candy is. We usually make a pass through there so I assumed that she had just lost track of us. Matt was the only one to re-enter the store to find her, but when a few minutes had passed I decided to go back in. The doorman asked what Anna was wearing and passed the info on to the entire staff, all of whom were wearing ear monitors. He also alerted them that I was in a hot pink jacket (obviously not a true New Yorker since they only wear black or gray). It was at that time he heard that Anna had been found and was near the front door. As I passed each display I heard the employee manning that display say, “She’s passing the drones.” “She’s passing the magic stand.” “She’s passing the Tonieboxes.” I could hear a live play-by-play of my path through the store!

I arrived at the front to find Anna crying, a friendly mom (whom I don’t even think I thanked!) and an employee standing together. I hugged Anna and comforted her, and I think during that hug the mom left. What happened was that when Anna hit the bottom step just behind us, she saw a display that interested her. She stopped to investigate but didn’t tell anyone. By the time she noticed looked up she couldn’t see us anymore. We assumed she was with us… she thought we would naturally stop because she stopped. She walked around for a few minutes looking for us and then did exactly what I’ve told her to do: find another mom who could help her. (I think moms are often easier to spot than employees in stores and moms are generally going to be very fast to help reunite a missing child to their parent.) I was so proud of Anna and glad that this crisis turned out the way it did. She learned a lesson and so did all of us!

Believe me, I know how many different ways this could have gone. If I’m going to lose a kid in NYC, FAO Schwartz was the place to do it. It was full of families and had a very attentive staff with a solid protocol for missing children!

New Year’s Eve

We ordered Chinese and stayed up watching the NYC new year’s celebration, only to have our internet lag and we missed the last 4 minutes! We caught a few random fireworks being shot off nearby and then went to bed. Lazy and cozy are the best words to describe our evening.

Autographing the wall


Written 3-17-2022 and backdating to 12-31-2021.

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Christmas 2021

Our Christmas was precious. We spent the day together, opened gifts, watched a movie at home, then went to see a movie in the theater (my first since COVID hit).

My mom had given us this Mickey ornament and after searching through Disney World and not finding an ornament we liked better, we decided to call this our official 2021 Family Ornament.

We always start our Christmas morning in our bedroom reading the birth story in Luke. We then sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before Matt and I go downstairs to get in place. The kids then come and break through a wrapping paper wall. (This year I was out of Christmas paper so I had to use new baby paper! Kind of fitting!)

It was the year of the Unicorn!

Anna showing Liana her new apron and oven mitt set. (Yes, Liana was “with us” as we opened gifts.)

Gifts from Mama Kim and Anna’s siblings

Matt – Dundie Award; Hayden – Basquiat book; Carson – new shoes (that he could pick out); Bailey – shirt from Ashley; Parker – a new Pinwheel phone.

In the back of my mind was the knowledge that this was likely our last Christmas with all seven of us together in the same room. Bittersweet…

And one more picture because it’s funny:


Written on 3-26-2022 and backdating to 12-25-2021.

Posted in About my faith, brothers/boys, family | Leave a comment

December 2021 – Catch-all

December was a very full month for the Ham-Fam, from Disney World to Matt’s promotion to having a household of 10 for a week. That doesn’t even include Christmas!

This post is going to be a catchall of fun things that December 2021 held!

WILMINGTON, NC

The day after Matt’s promotion I flew to Wilmington, North Carolina to surprise Aimee for her birthday!

We had every intention of just sitting on her couch talking and drinking coffee the whole time but Cory had another surprise for both of us! At dinner he gifted us with a night in a hotel! That meant Aimee was able to get away from all the things that moms have to do if they are in the house. We had an ocean view and slept very well! I thought the sign in the bathroom was funny considering we had TWO fire alarms that went off while we were trying to play a card game! We were very disturbed!

ICE SKATING

Some new friends invited Anna and me to go ice skating at Industry City (a place I’ve become very fond of lately). We had a blast and found that this rink was higher quality and the skates more comfortable than those at the Prospect Park ice skating rink.

GINGERBREAD HOUSES


Written on 3-26-22 and backdating to 12-23-21.

Posted in family, friends, NYC/Brooklyn, travel | Leave a comment

Matt’s Promotion to LTC

What an honor it is to write this blog post. I started this blog back in 2009 when Matt was a fairly new Chaplain at our second duty station. He was just about to come home from Iraq, his first (VERY LONG) deployment and I needed a place to share and document our journey.

Matt promoted to Captain shortly after graduating from (what was then called) the Chaplain Officer Basic Course (CHOBC) and began his career at Fort Jackson serving Basic Trainees. (July 2006) I think the picture of us with his commander is of him receiving an award. Carson was NOT a happy camper.

His next promotion took place after his deployment to Afghanistan. Here are pictures from Matt’s promotion to Major. (September 2014)

We are fully aware that not every Chaplain has the opportunity to promote to Lieutenant Colonel and so this most recent promotion is one that Matt is particularly grateful for.

Due to COVID very few people were able to attend his promotion ceremony. Partly due to the size restrictions on the room we were using and partly due to the fact that several of our invited guests actually had COVID. Even though we were missing lots of people we would have loved to have had there, we were very happy with how the day turned out.

First, the venue. OH MY GOODNESS! I’m in love with this place! I first saw the venue when I went to visit Matt at work one day when he was leading a seminar in the city. The views from the 30th floor are breathtaking! We knew that should he be picked up for LTC that that is where the ceremony should take place.

See the tall rounded windows? That’s the room where Matt’s promotion ceremony was held.

290 Broadway

Looking south you can see part of Brooklyn, One World Trade Center, part of the Oculus. (Not all of those are visible in this picture.)

Back in the summer I stopped by and took a tour of the building. Here I am with One World Trade Center over my shoulder. Amazing views!

Per tradition, we all took a part in the “pinning” ceremony. Anna and Parker held the new rank; Carson and Bailey removed the old rank; Hayden and I placed the new rank on Matt’s shoulders.

In the slideshow below you can see Matt addressing the guests and introducing everyone to each other. As it was a small enough crowd he had time to do that. Parker held Matt’s grandfather’s flag during the swearing in ceremony.

Looking north you can see the Empire State Building!!

I was going for the Chaplain Corps colors but it’s not an exact science.


After the ceremony and the reception we went to dinner with the Rittermeyers. Anna and Lorelei were fast friends and were adorable together. We passed by the famous Fraunces Tavern on our way to Cobble and CO. After dinner, Matt and Phillip got pictures in Times Square with the Father Duffey Statue. At what other time would they be in their dress uniforms in Times Square?!? The guys were wearing the new uniform and they turned a lot of heads. Handsome men they are, but these uniforms are a throwback to the uniforms of the WWII era. (I admit, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy ran through my mind all day! This was the first time I’ve seen Matt in this uniform… I also wondered if locals thought they were actors in a show/film since very few people have seen this new uniform.)

All that excitement wore our Princess out. Thankfully she had a knight in shining armor to carry her.

This was a very special day and we were honored that so many celebrated with us, in person, over Facebook live, and even in spirit only.

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Macy’s Santa ~ 34th Street

For some reason, in my mind the “real” Santa is on 34th Street. Maybe it’s because of the original Miracle on 34th Street movie, which fed my love of NYC and its parade, but for whatever reason, being able to bring my littles to Macy’s on 34th street to see Santa has been a treat!

Her curls… 😍
I have a picture of baby Hayden with this tree at the bottom of this page!

Even though we had a timed entrance we had a very long wait. I’d say it was an hour before we saw Santa and 90 minutes for the entire process (until I had checked out and taken our photo home). Somebody talked daddy into carrying her for a while!

I loved that they let me take pictures during and didn’t have to buy the photos if I didn’t want to… but I couldn’t resist!

And I don’t even mind the mask! It’s a marker in time… at Christmastime 2021 in NYC we were all wearing masks and this picture is just a marker of this moment in time.


Time warp back to the past!

Hayden with Macy’s Santa in 2001! His first Christmas (7 months old).
Nana, Papa, and Hayden with “the tree.” See Anna with the tree above!

Written and posted on 2uesdsay, 2-2-22 and backdating to 12-14-21.

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