Saturday, December 11, 2010

Debt Free

First 4 digits of a credit cardImage via Wikipedia(Cross-posted on Atom's blog.)

My family is debt free! That's the best holiday present money can buy. We paid off our car two years early in August and I paid off my student loan a few days ago. We pay our credit card each month in full, so we don't have any credit card debt. As one of my friends so eloquently posted on Facebook "Congrats! not owing shit to anyone is a great feeling." It is.

We celebrated by spending money! We are going to an exclusive New Year's Eve party in New York City with my sister Lisa (a.k.a. Aunt Lili) and bro-in-law Steven. My company has an office on the 31st floor of a building in Times Square, eye level with the ball drop! We're going to be all dressed up with an awesome place to go. We also booked a weekend getaway to a quaint riverside inn at historic Smithfield Station for just the two of us. Thank you Living Social Escapes.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shaggy to Short

The time came when finally Mommy and Daddy agreed that Fletch's hair had gotten out of control. Aside from all the annoying strangers asking if he was a girl, Fletch was always rubbing his eyes since his hair was constantly irritating them.  Even if we combed his hair, it never stayed in place. We just were not ready to start shelling out cash for baby styling products. We got a good recommendation for a salon for kid haircuts, Cartoon Cuts, as well as a stylist there.

We headed over this week and Fletch got his first haircut. This is a pretty fun looking place. If I wasn't a Leo and obsessed with my mane, I just might let them cut my hair (just for the opportunity of having an elephant wash my hair).  Of course Fletch was super fantastic, and sat there patiently and didn't let out one peep. Having a small television at her station playing cartoons may have had something to do with that, but I will still give Fletch the credit.  It was sad to watch all those locks come off, but Abby was nice enough to save them in a little baggie for me. Fletch also got a certificate for his first haircut:

And here is the before, during and after:
What do you think? We kind of miss his shaggy-do. That's the great thing about hair, it grows back! He's still handsome as ever though.

Messy Milestone

About a month ago (I's been a while) Fletch got a mean independent streak. He wanted to start doing things on his own. This includes using utensils during meal time. He downright refused to let me spoon oatmeal into his mouth one morning, so I decided to let him try on his own. With splat-mat spread under his chair and safety goggles on mama's eyes, I let him go for it...

Give the boy a fork or a spoon, and he will demolish a meal!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shock Family Circus 2.0

We have done a little updating on the blog recently. There were a few complaints from friends and family that they could not post comments on the blog. After a little research, it seems that the previous background was interfering with the comments. Stupid html. I changed the template around a little and picked a new background, and voila! Due to those changes, I had to re-do our banner. Since I've had a little practice with GIMP, I think the new banner is cleaner and snazzier looking. We hope you enjoy and feel free to post as many comments as your little hearts desire!

Mini Soda

Every Fall semester, I get a 2 day break from classes. This year, we decided to head up to Minnesota to see the Hamer Clan. The last time we were in Minnesota was in July of 2007 (right before the bridge collapsed - which we may have contributed to by driving a van full of people across it numerous times). A lot has happened between 2007 and 2010, specifically Fletch. So of course Fletch had to go meet his Great Grandma!
We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather while we were there. Uncle Bill & Aunt Ginger now live on Lac Lavon in Apple Valley. Their new house is amazing and very accommodating. When you look out the back door, you have a fantastic view of the lake. This time of year all the leaves are changing color and the area is beautiful.
Saturday morning, we got up early and headed to Fischer Croix Farms. YES, another farm! We just can't get enough. Before we did anything, we had to get a picture with all of the cousins.

Once the required formalities were out of the way, we got down to business, picking apples. I had never seen an apple tree until that day. I had no idea they were so short. We picked mostly Haralsons and Honey Golds. We even saw some Cortland apples that almost looked purple.

After we picked apples (and ate a few along the way), the kids took a ride on the tractor/train. Fletch has a serious love of trains. He was too small to go on his own, and we were too big to fit with him, so his cousin Emily was nice enough to take him along with her.
After the kids finished the tractor ride, we hitched a ride on the tractor trailer ride to the corn maze. I have never done one of these. We have one at Cox Farm, but for some reason have never done it. We tackled the maze as a family. We lost a few people, but according to Daddy, there is always a 10% casualty rate. In the end, we all made it out alive.
After the farm we headed over to OCB (Old Country Buffet), not to be confused with OCD. I forgot how crazy it can get in a buffet restaurant. Dinner was much more relaxed, and the whole family came together for food and games. Aunt Gail came over and got to meet Fletch and hang out with us. We played Wits & Wagers until it was time for everyone to head home and put kids to bed.
Sunday, Fletch got to meet his Great Grandma.
Fletch is Atom's Mom's first grandchild, but not Grandma Hamer's first great-grandchild. We had a nice visit and dropped off some pictures for Grandma to display in her shadowbox outside her room. Grandma Hamer thought Fletch was a cutie and she giggled at him quite a bit. He is quite an entertainer.
Monday, everyone else had to work. So Uncle Bill, Aunt Ginger, Cathy, Atom, Fletch and I went to the Minnesota Zoo. We didn't stay very long because Fletch got tired and cranky and Cathy and Ginger had other things that had to get done that afternoon.
When we got home we had a yummy lunch and even played dominoes out on the deck in the beautiful weather. I've played Mexican Train numerous times, but never with a gorgeous view of a lake. We taught Uncle Bill and Aunt Ginger how to play. We played with some really old dominoes that belonged to Atom's Great Grandmother, and Aunt Ginger was very kind to give them to us.
Once Cathy's kids were out of school, we all met up at the Mall of America. It's the largest mall in the United States. We had been there last time we visited Minnesota, however we didn't get on any of the rides. Since they had kiddie rides, we took Fletch on those. He had a blast.
Ben, Louise, Fiona and Adele joined us at the mall as well. After we ate some dinner in the food court, Aunt Ginger offered to take Fletch home with them so the adults and big kids could ride the big scary rides. We are so grateful, because we had an amazing time. We rode just about every ride and did the ropes course too. By the time we got home we were exhausted from running around and laughing so hard.
Tuesday was our departure day, so we didn't do much but hang out and pack up. We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, so we headed to the food court to get some dinner. I went to get Fletch a kids meal and when I came back to our table, I saw a blonde flight attendant seated at our table. When I got closer, I realized it was a friend from church. Kristin is a flight attendant for Delta. She wasn't on our flight, but her flight was leaving the exact same time as ours. Talk about a small world!
We got home safely and passed out as soon as we got to the house. We had a great time in Minnesota and had the best hosts and tour guides possible! Having fun with family is always a great time.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Farm Frenzy

The farm has been a popular destination for the Shock family this fall. Our first farm visit was to Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Virginia. The Poseys are members of the farm, so they invited us out for potato picking and a pancake breakfast. We hitched a ride on the tractor to pick some potatoes first. As usual, Fletch enjoyed the ride.
After our potato picking, we enjoyed homemade pancakes and wandered around the farm. Daddy's allergies started acting up as soon as we got near the farm animals, so we packed up to head across the road to the Bluemont Vineyard. Fletch was exhausted, and before we could get up the hill he was already passed out. Since Fletch was asleep and Daddy wasn't feeling so well, we had to skip the free wine tasting that day. I did snap a picture of the amazing view from the winery patio on top of the hill.
Not bad for a phone-camera, since I forgot to bring my real camera.
Every Fall, Cox Farms has a fall festival. Since we are members we get to go to preview weekend for free. Last year was our first time going, and we had such a good time we decided to make it a yearly tradition. There are so many things to do, and see and EAT at Cox Farms. We saw lots of animals:
We also: did some apple cider tasting, the hay ride, played on some little tractors and played around in the kiddie area.
The most exciting thing was the slides. This year Fletch was big enough to go with Daddy down one of the many slides they have. Fletch had mixed emotions. He seemed a little scared, but also excited.
After we exhausted ourselves roaming around the farm, we headed out and picked up our free pumpkins. It looks like there is no pumpkin shortage this year.
A few weekends ago, there was a Fairfax Fall Festival right by our house. It was held at the Government Center, which technically isn't a farm, but they did have a petting zoo. This was Fletch's first opportunity to get hands-on with farm animals. He had no fear sticking his tiny hands near giant animals and their long sharp teeth. Luckily, we didn't have any accidents and Fletch still has all 10 fingers. He got to pet a llama, goats, donkeys, chicks and bunnies. There was a giant tortoise roaming around, and that was the only animal Fletch was not interested in. I think he prefers fuzzy creatures.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

National Preparedness Month

Full logo with tagline and trademark...Image via WikipediaSeptember is National Preparedness MonthIf you haven't created an Emergency Plan, it's not too late. You can take simple steps to better prepare yourself and your family. Review the Family Emergency Plan template and Emergency Supply Kit checklist on Ready America's Web, and start down the road to preparedness. We have an family emergency kit including our emergency food kit. You can buy ready made kits from Costco or build your own like we did. 

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Walking and Talking

Fletch is on his way to being a productive member of society. He can walk and talk on the phone at the same time.

What's next...a bluetooth?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Something's Missing

Can you figure it out? Something large and colorful is no longer taking up space in our living room. The baby corral has been retired. Now that Fletch can walk, it was getting harder to convince him that staying in the corral was fun. Also, I hosted book club and needed to make room. Once I took it down, and remembered how big our living room looks, we decided to keep it down. However, ever since we took it down, Fletch has lost interest in his toys. Apparently the cord to my laptop is WAY more exciting. All those toys you see laying on the floor are toys that I pulled out trying to entice him away from my laptop cord. I was unsuccessful as you can see.
We did have to make some more safety precautions, now that we have a free-range baby. So we headed over to the super baby megastore with our 20% off coupon and got ourselves a gate for the stairs.
Now Fletch is free to roam around the house. Mamma and Dadda have gotten a few extra gray hairs, but nothing a box of color can't fix.

Monday, August 9, 2010

And we're walking

Yep...Fletch is officially walking. I guess that makes him a toddler. EEK!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Month in Georgia Part 5: Back to Atlanta then Home!

It was another kick-back kind of week, but we did finally make it to the zoo on Thursday. It would be ridiculous if we didn't go since it is walking distance from Scott and Anyess' house. We got up early and started our day. First stop was the Flamingos. They were stinky!
We didn't stay there long, so then it was on to one of my favorites...the elephants! They were being fed while we watched. They were covered in Georgia red clay. I had never seen a red elephant before.
We passed a sleeping wart hog family on our way into the jungle.
Then we saw the giraffes. A baby giraffe had been born about a month ago and it was finally out in the open for everyone to see. 
The rhino was being elusive, as well as the lions and tigers. The zebras, however, were glad to put on a show for the camera.
Zoo Atlanta has a lot of gorillas. Growing up in San Antonio, I think we had one. OK, maybe two. However, they NEVER came out of their cave. NEVER! So I was in awe watching the gorillas and their families out in the open. We saw silverbacks:
And we saw a mama gorilla and her baby. The baby gorilla was born on May 23rd, the same birthday as Atom! 
Fletch even got to take a picture with a gorilla!
(did you people really think I'd give my baby to a gorilla?)
We saw some smaller monkeys on the way to the bigger primates.
Then we were on to the orangoutangs. They are smart! There is an interactive tree in their area with a touch screen. They can play matching and memory games and they are rewarded with treats. I had a little Planet of the Apes flash back for a moment. 

We went in the reptile house to cool off for a bit, but I didn't take too many pictures in there. It's hard to take pictures of animals behind glass. Luckily, I got some great pictures of the Pandas even though they were behind glass too.
I love pandas. Not only are they adorable, but they were the mascot at my first elementary private school, Henry de Oso. Weird animal for a mascot, but we didn't really have any team sports anyway. 

On the way out we took a ride on the carousel. Fletch picked the giant gorilla to ride on at first, but then we moved to the manatee because it moved up and down. Again, trying to pry his hands off of that pole was a challenge.
I was able to console him with another pole-gripping opportunity, when we went on the train ride.
After the train ride was over, Fletch made me aware that it was about time to leave. He adamantly demanded we go, but passed out before we even got to the gift shop. I grabbed a souvenir tee for him and enjoyed the air conditioning for a little bit. Considering he was passed out, I figured I'd go check out the Cyclorama. Of course there are no strollers allowed on the tour, but he had a good 30 minute nap before the tour started. There are also no pictures allowed. The only picture I took was of the The Texas, a civil war train that was part of The Great Locomotive Chase. I'd give you details if I knew them. Again, I'm not a huge Civil War buff. But here's a picture...
Well you know I had to take a picture of this, right? wink, wink. The tour starts with a brief history movie about the Battle of Atlanta. Then we were all escorted onto the spinning platform in the Cyclorama. It was an interesting thing to see. Would I be bored out of my mind if I was a kid on a field trip, absolutely. 
Friday evening, we had friends come over before we departed the next day. We grilled and hung out all night talking about a wide assortment of things until we all threw in the towel and passed out. Saturday morning we loaded up the Xterra and hit the road back home. We were blessed to have safe travels there and back. It was great to spend a good amount of time with family and friends. As much as we enjoyed traveling for the month, we're looking forward to everyone coming to visit us at home.

A Month in Georgia Part 4: Savannah Weekend Trip

On Friday, we packed up for a weekend trip to see Aunt Lisa in Savannah. Atom had never been and it was only 4 hours away. On Saturday, we went down to the river front for some lunch and sight seeing. We went to see The Waving Girl statue.
After that we were on a mission to find pint glasses. Considering the loose drinking laws in Savannah, you'd think this would be an easy task. Unfortunately it was not. We walked away with one and it wasn't really specific to Savannah. Oh well, we had some fun and a few beers along the way. Sunday we hit the beach. We went to Tybee Island. First we went to the light house. I had never been in a light house, much less to the top of one. My sister went with me even though she had been before. There were a lot of stairs to conquer, but once we got to the cat walk, the view and nice cool breeze made up for it. 

Once we made our way back down, we headed to the beach. This was Fletch's first time at the beach. Since he already got eating sand out of the way, he was more interested in the water. Daddy and I brought him into the ocean for a few minutes, but I was not too comfortable going very deep or staying in too long with him in my arms. So we let him crawl around in the sand for a while.
We packed up, rinsed off and headed to the Crab Shack for some early dinner. We ordered a huge boiled plate that had: shrimp, crab legs, crab claws, crawfish, sausage, potatoes and corn on the cob. It was DELICIOUS...

Outside the front door of the Crab Shack, they have an alligator pond. YES...GATORS! You can buy some gator bait to tie to the end of a fishing pole to have them ferociously fight for it, if that's your thing. I preferred the napping baby alligators.
After a great weekend with my sister, we headed back to Atlanta on Monday.
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