Merry Christmas ~ 2017

In the midst of the chaos of preparing for an overseas move I can happily say I’ve checked off two of my most important to-do items.

  1. Making our “Fort Hood” Shutterfly book and
  2. Making, ordering, labeling, and shipping our Christmas cards.  I typically give myself about a week to do that but I don’t have that kind of time this year!  Once they were delivered I knocked them out in 24 hours.  I literally got an ache in my neck so one might call it a labor of love!

Following this cute picture of Anna with Santa will be our 2017 update that I would like to include with the Christmas card but 250 sheets of paper to stuff into that many envelopes is a bit much.

Anna and Santa 2017

We hadn’t planned on seeing Santa on Saturday or she would have been decked out in Christmasy colors.  She enjoyed seeing Santa and even tried to go back in through the exit when we passed by him later on!  The toy was Santa’s incentive to get her to come to him… they got this shot, and then he put the toy behind him.  All the rest of the pictures they got were of her looking at him!  They were cute, but I wanted to see her sweet face, and that explains why there’s a bright orange giraffe in her hand.

This year was wonderful. While we have missed the friends we made in our earlier years and wish like crazy they could still be here with us, we have deepened and enriched friendships with those who are still here.

The kids’ friendships have deepened and become ever so precious to them and to Matt and me, making it even more difficult to leave. I am so very thankful that my kids have relationships with people they will miss… I’m glad this military life hasn’t caused them to put up walls to avoid getting hurt. I’d appreciate your prayers that they remain open to friendship going forward. I know that this move will be the hardest they’ve experienced just based on their ages and the depths of their friendships, but I also know that God has called our family to this life and He has prepared for them the exact people to get to know at our next duty station.  The great thing is that they have the ability to remain friends with those staying in the States thanks to social media.

Some updates:

Matt – What he began in the summer of 2016 is coming to completion.  Matt graduates in 16 days with his second masters degree… this time in Marriage and Family Therapy.  He is carrying a 4.0 as of this moment… we’ll see if that holds!  Matt isn’t sure he wants to hang up his shingle as a counselor after his Army days, but he is absolutely sure this degree will help him throughout his career, during and after Chaplaincy. This degree and the tools he’s learned are blessings that he is very grateful for.

When I asked Matt what he best remembers about this year his response was: “Turned 40; Tarheels won the National Championship; and graduating with a masters.”

Man of many words.

Jennifer – This year someone on Facebook challenged homeschool moms to add up the years we’ve homeschooled. Each kid added together totals 34 years for me. That is amazing. I’ve managed to get one kid through biology and geometry, just in time to welcome the second one into those oh-so-awesome subjects… with 3 more to go after!  Urg. I have continued to facilitate Financial Peace University alongside Matt, and we are incredibly pleased to announce that this class has taken us over the 2 million mark!  That means that since Matt and I started volunteering here at Fort Hood, the cumulative amount of money put into savings or debt paid off is just slightly over 2 million dollars! We absolutely adore hearing from past class members as they reach their next Baby Step! These people are on fire and are passing on the information to their friends..

I love being a mom to teens. I’m so glad that I read early on not to accept that the teen years have to be riddled with strife and angst. I read that their is a way to have a good relationship with your teens throughout these years and, while we still have a bunch of teen-years to go, I believe we’re off to a good start.

I also love being a mommy to littles. Seven is SUCH a fun and sweet age. I LOVE seven-year-olds! And of course, Anna Banana, the cutest baby girl on the planet – EVER – keeps me feeling young! I love being out and about with just the two littles and completely surprising people when they find out I have teens as well. They say, “No way!  You’re not old enough to have a 16 year old!  I thought you were (insert whatever age they thought I was).”  I thank my parents for good genes to pull that off!

I turned 40 in November and I feel 25.  I really don’t feel any different than I did then! I’m definitely in better health than I was at that age.  I’m determined to make my health over next 40 years better than the past!

I’m still madly in love with my high-school sweetheart, who treats me like a Queen. He’s wonderful… I don’t deserve him and I don’t take our great marriage for granted.  Well, I’m sure that on some levels I do, but I am constantly reminding myself not to. I tell the boys at least weekly the ways they need to emulate their dad: “Did you see what he just did? You need to do that for your wives when you’re married.”  If they don’t treat their wives like Queens it won’t be for lack of a fantastic example. I love that Anna has Matt’s example of what a husband should be to his wife. She will set a very high bar that young men have to contend with.

Hayden – Hayden is in his junior year and has been in the throws of SAT taking, Chemistry, Algebra 2, and lots of reading in Sonlight Core 400: Civics/American Government. All the teens are taking Rosetta Stone, German. Outside of school he’s been working hard at mowing yards so he could go attend many concerts here in Texas as he could. Being in this state* has given him the chance to see a great variety of artists and knowing that we were heading overseas and that his concert-going opportunities were going to be greatly limited, he decided to enjoy as many of these opportunities as he could. Matt is a good sport and attended almost all of these concerts with him. (They even went to Kansas City to see John Mayer for Hayden’s 16th birthday.)
*Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World and Waco has a lot of concerts as well.

A quick list of some the people Hayden saw this year include: John Mayer, John Bellion, Judah and the Lion, LANY, The Maine, and… oh well. I can’t remember their names. Let’s just say he saw a lot of concerts.

Carson – 9th grade is a breeze for Carson.  He’s taking Geometry, Biology (gross), and Sonlight’s Core 200: History of the Christian Church. Still our only introvert child, Carson enjoys riding his bike around post to get some alone time. He has several close friends and loves spending time with them. Carson has become quite the drummer and plays with the youth band on Wednesday nights and also played at Camp Eagle for both our youth group and Lackland Air Force’s.  He loves reading as much as he always has and his retention impresses me… a skill that will be a huge help in his life!

Bailey – This year has been a really good one for Bailey. He’s in the 8th grade and studying the second half of Core 100: American History.  Thanks to his 504 he is able to listen to many of his books on audio, making his dyslexia a non-issue. In fact, his dyslexia leads him to be smarter than the average bear in many ways, and he’s beginning to see the ways he’s different from his peers in a good light. He thinks outside of the box because the box just doesn’t fit him.  He has picked up several instruments in the past year and gotten really good on all of them.  He can play a little piano, but he is really good at the guitar, ukulele, and he just got a mandolin for Christmas. (A joint present from Matt and me and my grandparents, Granny and Grandaddy. And yes, we already gave them these gifts because we wanted to have a mini-Christmas day in this house one last time.)

Parker – I mentioned earlier that seven is a fun age. It really is!  I adore Parker’s humor, his snuggliness, and his wit. Parker is in the 2nd grade and this is the first year we’ve blocked out a 2-hour time for school.  I LOVE the time I get to spend with him each day. He’s going through Core B+C: Intro into World History. Parker had to say goodbye to some of his best friends this year and that made him a little skittish about making new friends. He shocked me one day by outright telling me this. I had encouraged him to go down the street to play with some new kids in the neighborhood and he outright said, “Mommy, I don’t want to make new friends before we move. It’s too sad.” Oh, my heart.

Parker has a tender heart and often says things that may hurt my feelings like this, “I don’t mean to be mean or anything, but, well, I like almost all the food you make for dinners, but this one, I think, maybe, it’s not my favorite.”  He stammers all over himself trying to find a way to say the truth without hurting my feelings!  It makes me happy that he is willing to tell me the truth and happy that he’s willing to TRY to figure out how to say it tactfully. That’s a skill that not everyone has!  (Hasn’t quite mastered it yet, but at least he’s trying.)

Anna – She’s newly 22 months old and I have only 2 more months of sharing her age by months. I can’t believe she’ll be 2 years old in January!

She still lights up the room, brings joy to all who see her, and is the smartest not-yet-two year old I’ve ever met! She’s a climber and I’ve quit trying to tell her to get down. She has some sass and when a brother tells her to get down she turns around, points her finger at him and sternly says, “get down.” It’s all we can do to not laugh, thus turning her into a spoiled brat. (We are nipping her sass in the bud while biting our tongues to keep from laughing at the absolute cuteness she exudes.)

We’ve been able to see Mama Kim twice this year. Our relationship with Mama Kim is one of the things I’m most grateful for in my life. I advocate for open adoption and hope that our story will encourage all potential adoptive families to consider keeping their adoptions open if at all possible.


With that, I think I’m done!  I hope to be able to blog once a week throughout our move because this is our family journal, a way I jot down our memories for our own sake, and for the sakes of the family and friends we don’t live near enough to keep up with each day.  As of today, November 29th, 2017, we have 17 days till we drive away from Texas. We’ll send 11 days in North Carolina visiting grandparents and we fly to Germany on the 27th… a short 28 days from today.

The next month will be a whirlwind of excitement and craziness as we prepare our household goods to store and/or ship, say our goodbyes to those we love, leave a state we didn’t expect love but brought us many blessings, and begin the search for a new home for the duration of our time in Germany.

I’m glad for this outlet to be able to share our hearts and our story, especially so that I can look back later and cherish these memories.



About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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3 Responses to Merry Christmas ~ 2017

  1. Beth Tarcza says:

    I’m sure you will b rushing to get to NC,
    but if for some reason you go thru Knoxville and have a need to stop. Call us up, we’d love to see you all.
    The Lord bless and keep you all thru all the parts and pieces of this move.

    Beth Tarcza

  2. Pingback: Merry Move – 2017 | thehamricks

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