Sunday, December 8, 2013

2013 Christmas Letter Shock Family Update

2013 - A new year in a new place.

We officially moved to Austin on January 9th, and have been keeping Austin weird ever since. Our transition went smoothly, without any hiccups along the way. We are living in north Austin, tinkering on the edge of Round Rock. Our neighborhood and surrounding area has a lot to offer.

Atom had two job offers before we even left Virginia. He decided to take a job with TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) and really enjoys his work and his co-workers. We are still a 1-car family, even in Texas! Atom commutes by bike to the metro station and then hitches a ride with a vanpool to work. He rides 10 miles round trip each day! So far he has enjoyed becoming a Texan :)

Jenn has been busy chasing after the boys and managing the household. There have also been a lot of creative endeavors underway. Jenn found an amazing mom’s group that is very active. 

Many of the moms have creative hobbies and it has been a lot of fun getting to share our interests. There is always something to do for the kids (and the moms). She is also gearing up to start looking for a teaching job next fall.

Fletch continues to get bigger and smarter. He has attended two preschools, and the second one has turned out to be a great school. He is starting to learn to read, and we can’t wait until he can read to us at bedtime. Fletch also played T-ball this year for team Hot Rods. 

He had a lot of fun learning the basics of the game. And it was pretty entertaining watching him and his team play.

Wyatt is walking, talking, and keeping us on our toes. He loves to help around the house, even when it’s not that helpful. He really loves music and will stop to dance whenever he hears a good song. He is also really good at banging on the drum. 

He’s almost done cutting all his teeth, and we’re looking forward to some drool-free days. There is always some new developmental milestone being reached and it is still exciting every time.

We all are happy to be settled in our new home in Austin. We have been exploring the area, especially all the great food and music. Even though we are up north, we still like to venture into the heart of Austin. Whenever anyone visits, we use it as an excuse to go check out something in town. We took Uncle Matthew and Uncle Chris to Barton Springs this summer, and we have introduced both grandparents to Torchy’s Tacos.

We look forward to spending the holidays with family and friends. We hope that your holiday season is filled with peace, love and joy.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


The Shocks - Atom, Jenn, Fletch & Wyatt

Friday, May 31, 2013

One year of Pre School: DONE!

Fletch has completed his first year of pre-school. However, he did not finish where he started. When Fletch started school we were still in Virginia, wondering if we would ever get to Texas. He started school at Good Shepherd with Mrs. Barron.

First day of school 9.10.12

We really loved that school, but we always knew Austin was our goal! So once we got to Austin in January, we had to find Fletch a new school. We found a school very close to our home that had an opening for Tuesday and Thursday. Fletch had been going MWF. I had to take what I could get, so we enrolled him at Kids Day Out. 

Fletch finished his school year with Mrs. Machaela's class on May 23rd, 2013. 

Although he is going to miss a few friends, he will be starting at a new school in June. That's right, school is NOT out for summer! He will at least have the month of August off, but I want to keep his active mind engaged. And I'm not gonna lie, 4 hours to get stuff done isn't bad either. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wabbit Season

Gotta get a pic of the kids in rabbit ears every Easter, right? The boys had two Easter egg hunts this year. One with our mom's group and one in our very own backyard! Now that we have one (a backyard), I think this will be a yearly thing. Wyatt was about as interested as Fletch was on his first egg hunt. Fletch however, had enough excitement for the both of them. Here are some of the best pics from both hunts.

Wyatt is One!

Wow...we really have not been keeping up with this little family blog of ours, have we? As bad as we have been, we cannot let one very important event go under the radar. Wyatt is one! That's right, we kept him alive for his first year. He's on his own now. Just kidding!

Here is Wyatt's first annual birthday video:

Wyatt's 1st Birthday from Jennifer Shock on Vimeo.


You are the perfect bookend to our family. We forgot all the wonder and amazement that came with a new bundle of baby boy, but we are so glad you are here to remind us. I love watching you grow and take new steps every day. We all love you more than you will ever know.

Mama, Daddy & Fletcher

Monday, March 4, 2013

The New Shock Abode

Well hello everyone! Long time no blog. What is our excuse this time you ask? Oh just moving half way across the country and unpacking hundreds of boxes, that's all.

We found a great house to rent in North Austin in the Brushy Creek area. It is very family friendly, with tons of parks and outdoorsy things to do. We live on a little cul-de-sac that is affectionally known as "The Cove." We officially moved in on the 9th of January. Here is a tour of the house with some before and after pics.

Let's start in the master bedroom...not so empty, but not so filled.

And now it has a real bed! We are going to ditch the awesome modern red bedding and go for something different. We are eventually going to paint the room grey too. It's a little weird having grey carpet and tan walls. We have a big empty corner that may house a cute loveseat or maybe even an exercise machine. Who knows!

Moving on to the family room which is attached to the kitchen...

Nice and empty before, but now we have a new blue couch and rug. We also resurrected the Shock baby corral! We had to go buy some of those foam tiles to line the floor, so Wyatt does not crack his tiny skull on the tile floor. We also plan on getting a TV that is bigger instead of the tiny one that we currently have. Baby steps...

We were borrowing the landlord's kitchen table, partly because he didn't have room for it, but mainly because we sold our old one in DC. However, it was a counter-height table. Combine that with a not-so-graceful 3 year old, and you get a dangerous situation. When I was getting a quote for health insurance, Fletch fell off the chair, right as the sales rep asked me when I needed it to be effective. I told him, "How about 5 minutes ago?"Luckily Fletch was okay, but after that we knew that table had to go. So we found a new kitchen table off of good ol' Craigslist for a steal. Now everyone can eat safely at the table again!

I have to admit I was a little frightened of the lack of cabinet and counter space, but it seems to work regardless. I don't even have to store things on top of my cabinets! We have a lot of shelf space in our laundry room for the random things that do not fit in the kitchen. And once Wyatt is done with bottles, I will have even more counter space. Woo!

Let's move on to the living room and dining room. Here they are in their empty toy-less glory (ok, maybe just a couple of toys):

Now I say dining room, because technically that is what I would like it to be one day. For now it is Fletch's demolition area.

We also need to fill up some of that shelf space! I plan on filling it with family pictures. I just need to start hunting for frames. The bottom two shelves will still hold all the boys toys, but I plan on getting more of those colorful bins to make it look a little less chaotic.

For the living room, we got some new red leather couches and a rug I absolutely adore:

We still need a lot more rugs! Our feet are still not used to the hardwood and tile floors. I am also going to make a custom valance for that solitary window in the living room. I signed up for a class on Craftsy! I will probably make some for the three skinny windows in our bedroom too. I also have to paint a picture of Wyatt to go along with our giant Fletch painting. I think we will hang all my family artwork in this room. So the drawing of Daddy and my custom pin-up Atom got for me will all go on the wall eventually.

Here is my work-in-progress entry wall. I want to get a family name sign to put in the blank space on top as well as repaint that tree. I don't really like the bar being on this wall either. We have a lower console table in the family room holding our tiny TV, but I think I will put that here instead. Where to put the bar is the question! 

Alright, now let's head upstairs. As we go up, you can see my cross collection, otherwise known as the stairway to heaven.

First let's check out the empty 3rd room/guest room/craft room:

This is the biggest room upstairs, so it has the most jobs. Right now it's not in tip-top, picture worthy shape.

We are gonna keep the futon in bed-mode. Right now Atom and Fletch are building a LEGO set, so the card table is out and covered. I am in the process of projects which is why the futon is covered. 

We took our old CD racks and turned them into storage shelfs for all my sewing notions and some of my craft stuff. (There is still tons in the closet).

I like having my fabric out so I can remember what I have, although technically not all my fabric is out.

So let's see the boys rooms!

Here is Wyatt's room empty:

And now it is a nursery :) I have to make some more art work for Wyatt. I was still in art school when Fletch was in my tummy, so he got a lot of artwork for his room. I'm also holding off on picking any kind of theme for Wyatt's room, because we may get some awesome bunk beds and have the boys room together. Once we know for sure, I'll start working on that.

Fletch's room is next. He has the room attached to the 3rd room through the jack and jill bathroom.

And here it is all filled up! We finally got him a little dresser (another Craigslist steal) so we can start teaching him to pull out his own clothes and get dressed. He still has his firetruck bed. We just need to get a hammock for all his stuffed animals that are currently living on the floor in the corner.

We set up our bookshelves in the upstairs hallway to hold all the board games and Atom's LEGO sets. We also moved all of the children's books out there too, otherwise they just turn into a huge mess in Fletch's room and eventually they will both be reading at night.

So that concludes our tour. We are settling in, but things are not finished by any means. We still need things here and there. There is art and pictures to be hung on the walls. We also are going to do a little painting. I have been doing a lot of DIY projects and have many more in the works. I will probably be blogging about those on my blog though. 

Luckily we have a great landlord who has given us liberty to improve some things. For example, I can't stand kitchen cabinets without hardware to grab on to. In this kitchen, they are absolutely necessary on some of the cabinets to avoid pinching fingers. So we added some knobs, and it is amazing how just that little thing improved our kitchen. Since we will be here a few years, we don't mind paying for a few things to make us happy.

Thanks to my new backyard, I have the opportunity to garden. Now that spring is upon us, that is where you will find me for the next few weeks. I have to get with the experts, (and by that I mean the internet) to make sure I do not kill my rose bushes or fruit trees. 

Now that most of the major stuff is done around here, we have been venturing out. We went to the Kite Festival at Zilker park yesterday. The weekend before, we headed to Austin's ren-fest, Sherwood Forrest. I'll be back soon to share those experiences!

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 Year In Review


2012 has been a great year for this Shock family!

In January, Jenn received her Bachelors of Art degree, and graduated magna cum laude. She is officially licensed to teach art to the masses. However, she will not start teaching until Wyatt is a little older.

Speaking of Wyatt, we welcomed our newest family member on May 14th. Wyatt Rhys (pronounced Reece) arrived right on time and has brought joy into this home from day one. Wyatt is an over achiever. His first two teeth arrived at five months and now this baby is trying to crawl! He is having fun trying all kinds of new foods too. No wonder he never sleeps!

Fletch started preschool in September. He has been attending Good Shepherd Pre School and he loves it. We love to hear about all the fun things he does and what he learned that day. He has many best friends in his class. Fletch also enjoyed playing soccer in his soccer tots class. Running around is one of his specialties.

Atom has continued to work for Tetra Tech, but has been brushing up on his tech-savviness. He has taken some weekend classes to brush up on his Java programming skills. This will hopefully help him land a new job when we move to Austin.

That’s right...we are headed to Texas! Our condo has been sold and on the 21st, a giant moving truck is coming to take all of our stuff to Austin. We have been planning to move to Austin for years and it is hard to believe it is finally happening. We cannot wait to be closer to family and enjoy all the live music and culture Austin has to offer. It will be fun to explore Austin as a family. We hope to help keep Austin weird.

Just like the song, we’ll be home for Christmas. We look forward to a big family gathering for the holidays. Wherever you end up this holiday season, we hope you are surrounded by the people you love most. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Shocks - Atom, Jenn, Fletch & Wyatt

P.S. We hope to have lots of people visit us in Austin.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On the Move

We announced our move to Austin early last month. With that came a job search for me and house hunting for the family. I'm happy to announce that we've found both - a new job and a new house. I started my job search at the beginning of December. After three weeks I had four job interviews and received two offers. I actually cancelled one of the interviews as my schedule wouldn't allow for it and I had already received the offers. I'll be working for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as a web developer. It's the same job I've been doing for the past 13 years, just with a new employer in a different part of the country.

We are renting a four bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, two car garage, 2400+ sq ft single family home on a corner lot on a cul-de-sac in the Round Rock suburb of North Austin. It's an awesome house. It's over a thousand square feet bigger than our condo in Virginia. We need the room as the family had outgrown the condo. The house has a fenced in backyard so the boys have a safe place to run around. There's also an outdoor fireplace and built in grill, so the adults can enjoy the backyard and we can entertain outside all year long. The garage is detached, which totally fascinates me but I don't know why. It'll be nice not having neighbors who share "common area". I'm planning on commuting by bike because public transportation in Austin isn't as robust as it is in DC, I need the exercise, and I want to maintain our single car family status.

In other good news, The Mortgage Debt Relief Act was extended through 2013 as part of the Fiscal Cliff legislation. That means we won't be taxed on the forgiven debt of our short sale. We were hoping to close by the end of 2012 so as to avoid the taxation, since we didn't know if the MDRA was going to get extended. We haven't closed yet due to circumstances out of our control, but with the extension, the pressure is off.

I was hoping to ride all this good fortune into a fantasy football championship, but that didn't happen. I have the highest winning percentage in my league over the last 5 seasons, I've been in the playoffs six straight years but have a 1-11 post season record. In the 12 years I've been playing in the league that I'm commissioner of, my best finish has been third place. :(