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.