Finding Home.

They say it takes six months to feel at home at your new duty station… I have always found that to be true and it was the case here at Fort Hamilton. By six months we had our favorite pizza delivery place (which is different from our favorite place to get a slice), knew where to get the best vegetables (not the commissary), and how to navigate around the city without getting lost. It felt like home and we were glad to be here.

But lately I’ve noticed a new layer of feeling at home. Here are the ways:

I have friends.

Guy friends for sure, but I’m specifically talking about girlfriends. People to go get pedicures with; People to meet for coffee (who are always up for coffee and are okay with whatever mood I show up in). People who bring me apple butter, apple jam, and apple butter because it is their favorite season, too! (Oh. My. Word… so good… so good!)

I have go-to spots to take friends:

The above photo gallery reveals a few. Below, a picture I took Thursday night after having dinner there with another friend. I had eaten at Time Out Market, which has many restaurants. That night, though I had had Fornino’s Funghi Misti Pizza… the only pizza I’ve ever craved. I also have a favorite Greek place, Something Greek in Bay Ridge.

Breathtaking views of this city from Time Out Market.

I have already had to start saying goodbye to loved ones…

Not just friends, but those I’ve welcomed into my heart as family. I don’t want to go into it but my Covid-Bubble-Buddy PCSed and took Anna’s BFF with her. Then, our pastors felt called to another church on the opposite coast, and another set of church leaders happened to feel called to minister in another state, as well. I use “called” very seriously. I believe these callings were from God and were in His timing, but we miss them very, very much.

We’ve gone to the same vacation spot two autumns in a row.

Catskills 2020 on the left, Catskills 2021 on the right:

I have a favorite building…

…and I will go to great lengths to see this building and will crane my neck to get a glimpse when driving, walking, riding… I pretty much love seeing the Empire State Building and every time I do I think to myself, “I can’t believe I live here.” (I will even suffer through sessions with a less-than-stellar therapist because her office happens to be across the street! Yes, I have a therapist. Yes, I selected her due to her location. And yes, I’m continuing to go to her because of her location. And maybe also because it takes a while to know if someone is a good fit or not and I think I owe her at least a few more visits before calling it quits.)

Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful?

I have a favorite bridge…

…and which one is probably no surprise to anyone. The Brooklyn Bridge… and this was a picture taken on another coffee date with a friend.

Those are some of the reasons I am feeling more and more at home here. It took a bit longer to get to this point simply because of Covid, but things are progressing just fine and I know that when I leave here I’ll take it pretty rough. I miss parts of everywhere we’ve lived and people at each stop along the way. I’m thankful for this life we’re living and the amazing people we welcome into our family as we travel this journey.

Posted in family, friends, military, moving, NYC/Brooklyn | 2 Comments

Three weeks in…

So, the kids have completed three weeks of school and the short version is, they’re doing great. In fact, we all are.

I’ve wondered many times over the past 15 years if I’d have a crisis of identity when my tenure as a homeschooling mom came to an end, not sure who I’d be without that label. I’ve wondered what I’d do with all my time.

I really thought I’d grieve when it was time to put away the books, whether it was by sending my kids to school or by graduating the last one, but I haven’t grieved at all. I’ve pretty much grieved all I care to grieve this year, just with the challenges our family has faced. (It’s been a rough one…) Those challenges definitely put things into perspective, and I believe that has helped me adjust to these changes so well. (Things are much better lately, just as a side-note.)

We haven’t regretted our decision to send Parker and Anna to our local public school for a minute. They are doing really well and have adjusted to the changes. They come home from school tired but not weary. I was most worried about homework because I have a professional opinion that homework is mostly unnecessary. So far I’ve been okay with what they’ve been brining home. I do not look forward to the day when I find it absurd… but I will have to remind myself that the reasons we decided to send them to school are worth some of the headaches. So far, that has been true. If I had to guess, I’d say they will stay in school as long as we’re assigned to Fort Hamilton, and then we’ll assess the situation when we move to a new location with a different set of offerings regarding homeschool community. By then, they may prefer to stay in school and as we always say, “kid-by-kid and year-by-year.” Based on how I know these two kids, Parker may prefer to homeschool high school if we have a strong homeschool community but Anna may prefer to stay in a classroom setting either way.

So far I’ve found plenty of ways to fill my days:

PWOC (Bible Study), a pedicure, coffee dates (plural), IKEA trip, 35 miles of running, multiple doctor appointments for things I’ve been neglecting the past few months, and I’ve made several dozen cupcakes for different people. I’ve had so much to do that I’ve decided to highlight a day each week as a reminder to schedule nothing. (I literally took a purple highlighter and outlined one day each week in October.)

We homeschooling moms tend to watch that yellow bus go by and wonder what school-moms do with all that time! We (teasingly…longingly…) envision bubble baths, Hallmark movie days, plenty of time to figure out dinner, and a house that is spotless because there aren’t people there making it dirty all day long! I’m bound and determined to make some of that happen! I will say, the house is staying a little cleaner, even though I do still have three people home during the day depending on the bigs’ work schedules.

Riding the bus

One major change in all of this is riding the bus. The first week of school our kids weren’t scheduled to ride the bus because they were new students. We were told it could take three days or three weeks to get things squared away so we were prepared for the long-haul. Fortunately it only took five. That first week we walked the mile to school and then I either walked home or went for my run. Once the bus situation was settled we began figuring out that routine.

They missed each other!

Tomorrow (Monday) is one of my “purple days.” I have a few household tasks I want to do, including decorating for fall – I’m really late on that this year! But I’m also wanting to do one of those activities I always assumed public-school moms do… so, your suggestions are welcome!

Posted in family, homeschooling, Motherhood Musing, NYC/Brooklyn, parker | 2 Comments

First Day of School ~ 2021-2022

What a great morning. The kids woke up ready and eager for their day. Getting ready was a breeze and we walked the mile to school with little issue… other than the fact that their book bags were overfilled due to the stuff they have to bring on the first day. Matt and I ended up lugging much of their belongings most of the way.

The PTA ‘chalked-the-walk’ and it was super fun for the kids to see the welcoming messages.
There he goes!

I don’t have permission to share her name but since her face is covered I think I it’s safe to share a photo. I’ll ask permission to share soon, but Anna was in preschool with this friend. They were glad to walk to school together.

As soon as the kids were off Matt hopped on the R to Manhattan for work and I took off on a run around Bay Ridge. I think I circled the entire thing! 5.5 miles!

I look forward to seeing less yellow in my tracks eventually. Well, along the road at the start I had to stop for red lights… not much I can do about that.

This post does not include my thoughts about this day. I haven’t really had time to process them, but I will say we are confident this was the right choice for this season. We are good though I may have teared up when I got home from my run and they weren’t here. I just can not wait until the clock says I can go pick them up! I’m already counting down. (I’m sure I’ll get used to this but for now, I’m missing them!!)

All five of my kids are currently students.

I don’t know many people who have college students, a high school student, a middle schooler, and a Kindergartener!

Hayden and Carson are college students at Central Texas College. Hayden is taking his last two classes to finis his associates degree and Carson is taking his first four classes for the same degree. Bailey has only a few classes left to graduate high school so he’s my only student at the moment. I just love these people!

This photo was taken on 8-25-21 when the bigs started school.

Anna’s first and last day of preschool 2020-2021:

Letters for her friends (in the box Anna is carrying) and cupcakes for the adults.

Posted in brothers/boys, family, homeschooling, NYC/Brooklyn, parker, running | 2 Comments

Mother-Son Dates

I recently had a mom who is a few years behind me in this parenting journey ask me how to connect with her sons as they grow from little boys into preteens, teens, and into adulthood. Please note that I do not claim to be the authority on this but I do feel I have a good relationship with my sons and would love for my friends to experience the same with theirs. One suggestion I gave her was to “date” each kid on a regular basis. That doesn’t have to mean “often,” but regularly. In a perfect world I’d love to take each kid out once a month but in reality, that never happens. There has never been a year where I’ve managed to have five dates a month, all 12 months. Just hasn’t happened. What I have managed to do is let them know that dates are a priority and that we’ll rotate through the bunch and then start over. Some years all I’ve been able to manage is one date a month, which means each kid only got two dates… but at least they knew it was coming. They knew I was looking forward to it.

Rules:

  • The kid chooses the date.
  • Must be cheap (I set the parameters – lunch or just coffee/ice cream; movie; a paid activity or something totally free…)
  • Just us. No siblings, no other parent.

Here is something for the mom considering starting dates with her kids, specifically her sons, to remember:

These dates are rarely magical or even memorable individually. But they are memorable cumulatively.

They’ll remember that their mom or dad took them on regular dates (even if it wasn’t often). Just last week I took Bailey to a diner on Coney Island and he told me that one of his friends couldn’t imagine going on a date with their parent. Just not part of their family culture… Bailey seemed to think that was the unusual family dynamic. I wonder… My kids will probably not be able to tell you the specifics of dates they have had with me but they’ll remember that we’ve been on many together.

I told that mama not to be too worried if she took her son on a date and when she got home, wondered, “Did he even enjoy it?!?” He did. He just may not show it. SHE may be looking for deep, intimate conversation and connection. He’s not. He’s just living his life and doing something mom said they were going to do. But as an adult he’ll look back on his childhood and remember that mom regularly took him for dates, just him, and it will mean something to him.

Another thing to remember, many boys do better “shoulder-to-shoulder” rather than “knee-to-knee.” What that means is that many boys will talk more or are more likely to open up if they’re doing something side-by-side than sitting face-to-face. Likewise girls tend to prefer the “knee-to-knee” or face-to-face, just chatting and connecting. So, moms, gauge your kid. He very well may be the kind of person who loves just sitting and talking, and that’s perfectly fine. But for most boys you’ll have better success if you are both doing something, even something as simple as walking.

For those of you who are wondering about the mother-daughter connection, or why I wrote this from a mother-son perspective, I have a few thoughts.

  • I was a boy-mom for 15 years before having a daughter so the vast majority of my experience is related to the mother-son dynamic.
  • Father-son relationships are not my specialty… you’d have to check in with Matt. (But I will add that the vast majority of Matt’s interactions with our kids are fun, hanging out, going to concerts, while the vast majority of MY interactions with our kids revolves around teaching, correcting, instructing, redirecting… and thus, dates with my sons where we are just BEING together are critical for our relationship. I may or may not admit to being a little jealous of the father-son dynamic some days.)
  • Mother-daughter and father-daughter dates are just as important, I just don’t have as much to say about those right now as our daughter is only five years old and we get some pretty good fun-time just hanging around the house. Because she’s the only girl and because she’s six years younger than the next sibling, there are many times we are together, just BEING, while the rest of the people are out of the house. And she’s at the age where I can call errands “a date” and get away with it. As she ages I will prioritize her in the rotation as much as I do the boys but so far, I’ve been able to do plenty of “girl-dates” with her.

Happy Dating!!

Posted in brothers/boys, family, Motherhood Musing | 3 Comments

Back to School… but not the way you’re thinking!

15 years I’ve been a homeschooling mom and I’ve loved every single year. I find it hard to believe I’ve graduated two kids from our homeschool. I never intended to do that but planned fully to go back to the classroom once all my kids were school-age. I loved being a teacher and I loved the camaraderie I had with my fellow teachers. I loved decorating my ladybug themed classroom and teaching next to my best friend (the one we named Anna after). We were so cute with our matching Belly Bumps! I still have that Ladybug book given to me during my Ladybug baby shower.

But after having three babies in three years, Matt joining the Army, and us finding out we’d be moving halfway through Hayden’s Kindergarten year, we decided to homeschool – “just for that year.” And we never stopped.

We have had amazing opportunities to follow history and walk in the footsteps of real historical figures like Kit Carson, Paul (the one of the Bible!), General Patton, Julius Caesar, and now, the Founding Fathers.

Along this journey we’ve walked with many other homeschooling families. At every duty station along the way we’ve been close with other families who have chosen to educate their kids at home, and we’ve gotten our kids together formally and informally on a regular basis. I generally cringe when asked, “But what about socialization?” My answer has always been the same:

“We have so many opportunities for socialization that we have to say NO to some in order to get our school work done! From soccer to church to co-ops and neighborhood hangouts… we socialize. Don’t worry about that!

~every homeschooling mom ever

UNTIL NOW.

Stuttgart had limited socialization opportunities but it was there. Until we moved to Fort Hamilton, Stuttgart was the duty-station with the least homeschool opportunities but even still we were content and made sure that the kids were getting enough time with peers. Sending them to school never crossed our minds.

Homeschooling during COVID was a B-L-E-S-S-I-N-G. I watched teachers heroically manage classrooms from home and they rocked it! However, the pressure put on parents to figure out how to manage their kids’ schedules and school work was overwhelming. I felt so bad that millions of parents now have that as their understanding of homeschooling! I assure you… what parents had to do last year was NOT homeschooling! Homeschooling is much easier than that!! I PROMISE! Anyway, I am thankful we were already homeschooling when all that went down and because we were already in our groove and absolutely nothing changed for our family, educationally. Except for the fact that we moved mid-pandemic and to this particular duty station.

A few weeks ago when asked if I was planning to homeschool again this year I said that I was. I’ve even pulled out the school stuff and begun preparations for the start of school. And then I read a friend’s blog post it unlocked something in my heart. She’s a fellow homeschooling mom whose passion for teaching her own kids is admirable… she’s a PRO and a hero of mine. If you want to read her words, check out her blog titled, “At Home On Purpose.” (And if that title doesn’t prove she’s a passionate homeschooling mama, nothing will!).

It took all of three minutes to read the blog post and another two to decide to investigate my own options for schooling Parker and Anna. I recognized my own kids’ experiences in her story about this Forth of July.

A single conversation with Parker, during which he said he was excited about the possibility of trying “real school,” convinced me that it was time to give it a try.

And so… Hamricks 4 & 5 are officially going to school in the fall! (With one caveat: if COVID closes school, we will probably do our own thing… we will most likely NOT do the online school thing unless it seems like shut-downs are short-term.)

I am totally at peace with this decision. Both kids are excited and just yesterday they each met friends going to their school in their grades.

This means I will only have one student next year, a Senior, who is going to be doing Dual Enrollment, earning credits toward his Associates Degree. I honestly don’t know what I’ll do with my time every day, but I’ll figure that out in time. I hope to be able to get back into running and maybe write a bit more. I would also like to take some baking classes to improve my cake and cupcake making skills. I could be a volunteer or a substitute teacher! Lots of possibilities!

We’ve always said that we take homeschooling kid-by-kid and year-by-year. I believe holding loosely to my identity as a homeschooling mom and truly wanting to do what is best for my kids has made this decision very easy, but I thank Kristal for her obedience to the Lord’s directing in her life and her willingness to share publicly what’s going on in her world… her words were the nudge I needed to follow suit. “Iron sharpens iron.”


In case you missed the main point: Socialization is a big deal for all homeschoolers, it’s just that most of the time we’re able to provide plenty of that in our day-to-day lives. Just not here, in the biggest city in the US. (Fun fact: If Brooklyn decided to leave NYC, it’d still be in the top five largest cities in the US!)


Check out the Facebook Memory from exactly 4 years ago today!

Posted in brothers/boys, family, homeschooling, military, NYC/Brooklyn | 2 Comments

Not-so-full Disclosure

I have had a pretty full summer and writing has been the last thing on my mind. Actually, it has been on my mind, it’s simply been at the bottom of my priority list.

I really do feel there will be a time when I will be able to sit and write about what June and July have been like for the Hamrick Family but that time is not now.

I know many disapprove of vagueness that leaves the reader wondering what’s going on but as of now, I’m not at liberty to share details. I do, however treasure transparency and want to avoid the impression that I share only the highlights of our lives to make things look perfect. I hate the idea of making others think that our world is perfect and that we have no struggles so I’ll share that our June and July make 2020 look like a highlight reel. This has been the hardest two months of my life and someday I’ll share why and publicly give the glory to God for His healing and provision. In the moment, I’ll share now that we are daily giving God glory for His presence and comfort, for His promise to be with us and never leave us. For His promise that there is nothing on this earth we can experience that He himself doesn’t understand personally. Do those promises erase my pain? Nope. I always assume Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego felt absolutely nothing while in the fiery furnace… SURROUNDED BY FLAMES and yet not impacted by the heat.

That is not my experience. I FEEL THE HEAT AND THE FLAMES and I don’t always see the fourth Person beside me, though I trust fully that He’s right here. I sometimes have to force my mind to remember that He is.

I will assure you that we have a great community of believers praying for us as we walk through this tough time and we are not trying to do this alone. I will also assure you that what we are dealing with is not a marriage issue or a sin issue with any of the Hamricks, nor is it a work issue for Matt.

As soon as I’m able to write freely about what we’re going through I will and you will understand why I am keeping this mostly private, but one thing God has been working on me is remaining present in my life and doing things I love, for those I love.

One of those things is journaling our story and we’ve had some great moments in the past few months in spite of the hard. So… here I am. Writing. Something I’ve been avoiding because I hate sitting here writing about the good and not the hard, making it look like our world is perfect. Doing that makes me feel hypocritical.

Having said what I’ve written above, though, gives me the permission to go on and share with you the lovely things we’ve seen and done, knowing I’ve been truthful with you. And that truth is, I’d go back and re-live 2020 a hundred times over if I could fix what 2021 has become for our family. There’s the hard, ugly truth.

And now I can move on to other truths for our family, those that I eagerly want to focus on and remember.

For those who are praying, you can just pray, “Father I join the Hamricks in prayer for their situation.” He knows. I appreciate your prayers and believe they are effective and powerful and maybe, just maybe, my putting this here will allow you to be a part of seeing a major prayer answered. We, those of us praying diligently and fervently, are asking God to let this be something that someday helps others… that this time of hurting isn’t wasted at all. That this time isn’t stolen from us but is really just a season of preparation and that we’ll genuinely be thankful for it on the other side. I’m ready to be on the other side.

I’M DESPERATE TO BE ON THE OTHER SIDE…

If you are on Spotify you can follow the playlist that I have playing constantly in our home. There are so many songs that are speaking to me right now and having these on repeat has been wonderful.

For my fellow Pampered Chef fans, you can tell that this stone has been with our family for a very long time, perfectly seasoned and well-loved. It died in June, user error (not my error… 😉), so not covered under warranty. And it was sentimental as I’ve had it for so. very. long. Just another hit for 2021…
Posted in family, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Miscellaneous June 2021

As usual I have several things to share that don’t really warrant a post all on their own.

I’m still working on my cupcakes and thought these turned out pretty cute:

I have wanted a comfy spot to sit on my back porch and when we spotted this just the PX, I was sold. Impulse purchase, it was, but I do not regret it! I love it! (And since this photo was taken we have had our deck replaced… looks even better out there!)

S’mores Time!

I have the cutest bowler!

Carson has unique form… but it’s effective.

Twinning with my girl!

Another girl-date to TimeOut Market, this time with Katie!

Gorgeous sunsets at the Bluff (here on Fort Hamilton):

Writing this on 10-16-2021 and back dating to June 2021.

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Summer Church Fun

This summer we have had a blast at church. We’ve had birthday parties in parks, moving-up recognition for the kids, and Father’s Day with friends.

But to start this post I want to share a bit about how we get to church. For my NY friends, you’ll roll your eyes at the transplant who finds this amusing. For those who don’t live here, this will be a peak into what it’s like to get to church in the busiest city.

Our Sunday morning routine is that we get in our Truckster around 8:50 and drive to the train station which is almost exactly a mile from our house. While it’s walkable, it’s not always pleasant to do so, especially in church clothes or in less-than-perfect weather. Fortunately, the 2-hour time limits aren’t in effect on Sundays so we can park for free right outside the station.

We take the R toward Manhattan (and, as we are the last stop on the R-line, we only have one direction we can go). We’ve learned a few tricks. When we get to 59th street, if there’s a D or N already in the station we hop off the R and onto one of those, as they are Express lines and skip lots of stops, getting us to our destination about five minutes faster. (Same at 36th… if there’s a D in the station we hop over.) Once we get to Atlantic-Barclays we make our way to church. If the weather is nice we’ll climb up out of the subway station and walk above ground, which is what this video will show. There is a very good view of the Empire State Building along the way, though this video in no way shows it. Things always look less impressive in pictures.

If the weather is bad we can stay underground and weave our way through the subway station, coming out very close to our church. In the video I actually show the exit we use when the weather is bad.

Another notable image on the video is the building 1 Hanson Place. The “inclement weather subway exit” is the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower and is visible from many locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan. It’s pretty neat to be driving around town or riding on a ferry and see the building where your church is located.

Before the video of our walk from the subway to church is a video of us on the train. When your daughter’s hair is so gorgeous it takes your breath away you video it so you can show her later. (Also, I know her mask is under her nose. I can’t find a way to keep it in place!)

On this particular Sunday our church prayed over the kids’ upcoming school year. These two sweet girlfriends owned stage. Positively OWNED it. Oh yes, the Princesses were in rare form! (Wait… who am I kidding… They were in typical fashion, not rare form.)

Parker has joined the tech team at church and runs a camera most Sundays. He truly loves doing this job.

Waiting for the train on the way home after church. Every now and then Parker splurges on a Carmel Frapp.

Parties in the park.

It’s been really nice to have friends here in NYC to celebrate. The princess in the video above had a birthday party in the park and she invited us. It just so happened, another church friend hosted a birthday party just after the first one at the exact same spot in the same park! At the first party, Anna got purple hair!

At the second we hung out with a LOT of our friends! Someone hit a milestone 30th birthday and he is a person worth celebrating for sure!!

We also had Friday Nights in the park… We only made it to one due to travel, company in town, and more travel, but the one we made it to was SO much fun!

WHO NEEDS A PLAYGROUND?!?

We are so thankful we found Liberty Church – thanks Brian and Sheri! We love the people and feel at home there. Solid Biblical teaching and Godly friendships are a treasure not to be taken for granted.

Father’s Day with friends.

I feel like a heel because the pictures I got of the fathers were blurry and frankly, I didn’t take many at all! We did a lot of eating and a lot of talking… very little picture taking. But that doesn’t mean the fathers of these families don’t deserve all the thanks in the world. They are amazing men, fathers, and husbands.

Posted in About my faith, family, friends, NYC/Brooklyn | 1 Comment

Jane’s Carousel

From the moment we knew were moving to NYC I began dreaming of taking Anna to all of the local carousels.

Jane’s is one of the most popular and it was, of course, closed for much of the first year we were here.

One Sunday after church we met another family at DUMBO for lunch at TimeOut Market. Most of our family ate Jacob’s Pickles, had Sugar Hill Creamery ice cream for dessert, and after we visited with friends, we went outside to ride the carousel!

Riding a carousel with the Brooklyn Bridge as the background… I can’t believe I live here!

View of Jane’s Carousel from upstairs in TimeOut Market near Fornino, a restaurant I’ve since tried and fallen in love with!
Anna signing our wall.


Written on 10-16-21 and backdating to 6-13-21.

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NY Aquarium, the Bronx Zoo, and AMNH

Over the summer we are trying to do one fun field trip per week.

In June we visited the NY Aquarium on Coney Island and were able to take Amber with us.

NY Aquarium

If you are at all familiar with Coney Island you’ll recognize the Cyclone photobombing!

Anna loves her mask-necklace from Cousin Lincoln!

The outdoor Sea Lion show was so much fun!

Bronx Zoo

A few weeks later Carson went to the Bronx Zoo with us and treated his younger siblings to a stuffed animal of their choice. Something we never really did for the bigs because we were paying off debt when they were Parker’s and Anna’s ages. What a sweet big brother!

On our quest to hit all of the Carousels in NYC, we rode the Bug Carousel at the Bronx Zoo!
Parker had honor of signing the wall!

⚠️Warning: The second clip in the following video is loud. Keep the volume pretty low. You have been warned.⚠️

We learned that driving to the zoo doesn’t really save us any time AND gets us stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for over an hour. Next time, we’re going to pack some fun train-activities and settle in for a long train ride where MOMMY doesn’t have to do all the work!

Museum of Natural History

A few weeks later Amber’s family went to the Museum of Natural History with us and we attended a short-term Exhibition called “Sea Lions: Life by a Whisker.” Fun way to connect our live viewing of sea lions to a documentary on their habitat and ways of living.


Written in August, posted in September, but backdating to June 10! One day I’ll be caught up!

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