Friday, September 26, 2014

And then there was Finn!

{Welcome to Earth, Finnian!}
On June 20, my brother's wife delivered the most perfect nephew I could have imagined. At five pounds, eight ounces, Finnian Oakes Shackford was a teeny, tiny bundle of pure love. Crushingly, it would be almost a month before the West Coast contingent could make Finn's acquaintance, but it was well worth the wait.
{Ah, Breakwaters... Where I once threw back Alabama Slammers, I now cuddle my brother's kid. Crazy doesn't cover it.}
Tom and I came a bit earlier than the rest of my family to hang out with his grandparents.

Finn got in a little pool time too.

Ok, let's see... How about some gratuitous pictures of Sir Finnian sleeping like the little tiny angel he is?

Obviously this kid is beyond cute when he's asleep, but when he opens his eyes? Forget about it...
{It's like his hand is reached out in benediction, "I bless you with my adorableness."}

Sidenote, while Finn was obviously the main attraction, Vermont in July is also pretty outstanding.
 
We stayed at a camp right on the lake and spent more than a little bit of time soaking up the Vermontyness of it all.
{I love this picture so much.}
{The view from my room/magical forest lair}

Where was I?  When my parents and Midgey arrived, we all met up at an amazing place in South Hero, and I was able to take a few quick pictures of Mike, Erin, and Finn before dinner.
{Go here. Fine dining in the middle of (practically) no where - the best kind of surprise.}
 This is one hell of a good looking family....

I always suspected that my brother would be a great dad, but seeing him in action was...beyond. He is so patient and so loving; my heart practically exploded watching him cuddle his son. 
{This picture is everything.}
A couple of weeks after he was born, my brother and Erin asked me and Tom to be Finn's godparents. After momentarily questioning their judgment, we happily agreed. In all seriousness, it was a huge honor, and we were thrilled to take on the role.



And now, my favorite picture from Finn's baptism, in which he gives Tom the judgiest eyes I've ever seen.
 
After the baptism, Erin's parents, Vickie and Ernie, hosted a lovely brunch at their home. There was plenty of delicious food, but everyone was mostly interested in devouring Finn.

 
 

{Well, hello there, Deedee!}
What else? This has gone on long enough already, so I'm just going to dump the rest of the photos here...

Mo brought supplies and we all decorated onesies for Finn - here's my contribution.


 
 
 
 
 

Annnnd, here's the fam, plus a Golden Doodle named Amador.

So, to sum up - Finn is perfect and amazing and I can't wait until December 26th when I get to cuddle him again.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

34 Down, 16 to Go

{How have I never been to Pennsylvania?}
Back in April, Tom and I checked Hawaii off the list, and it was some of the most fun list checking I've ever done.

We had been talking about taking a vacation for several months, but that was obviously put on hold when Tom parted ways with Yamaha. Happily, it was only a couple of months before Tom had an offer for a new improved job. About a week after he accepted the new position, we were on a plane to Oahu.


Neither of us had ever been to the Aloha State before, and...the hype is real. It was as perfectly tropical and lush and gorgeous as it's cracked up to be.


Having watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall no fewer than five times, Tom was pre-sold on Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore; the product placement clearly worked. That or he was subconsciously hoping that Mila Kunis would be there. Not that I was complaining...
 
 Here is my sad attempt at taking a picture of our room.

And here's what it actually looked like. You know, in color.

Since I'm already promoting them, I might as well throw in another marketing shot for posterity.

Point is - it was perfect.

On our first full day there, it was rainy on the North Shore, so we headed back toward Honolulu and spent the day in Waikiki.



After a few hours in the sun, we made our way to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. It was a strange juxtaposition - visiting a war memorial in the middle of our tropical vacation, but we were both really glad we did it. All four of our grandfathers served overseas during World War II, and fortunately all four returned home safely. It was incredibly moving to be there in the place where our American involvement in that war began.



Since I am the worst and have waited so long to write about this trip, the days have blurred together a little bit. To be honest though, they kind of all blurred together as they were happening. It was one of those wonderful, totally itinerary-free vacations where days of the week cease to exist. So, let's just rapid fire this business.

Tom and I disagree on the ending of Lost. Stay with me...this is related. Anyway, Tom hated the ending, but I didn't mind it. Even if it wasn't perfect, nothing will ever tarnish my love for Sawyer, Kate, Jack, Charlie, Sawyer, Hurley, Desmond, Sayid, and also Sawyer. I know it was kookoo bananas, but I loved that show. Sometimes we see the guy who played Michael at the farmers market, and it takes every ounce of will power not to shout, "WALT!!!!" in his general direction. Anyway, apparently much of Lost was filmed on the North Shore of Oahu, some of it right down the street from our hotel, so we spied a few location spots during our travels.
{WALT!!!!}
{Not sure why I'm popping the leg like that. Awkward.}


The banyan trees were on Kawela Bay, which according to Lost Virtual Tourist, is where Kate caught Sawyer skinny dipping... Despite the lack of naked Sawyer, it was my favorite of the beaches that we visited.



Kawela Bay is also where we spent quite a while watching this crab dig a hole. Riveting stuff, this.
video

There was also an awesome fruit stand across the street at which we managed to find and purchase the one unhealthy item - fried banana.



We also went to the beach where they filmed footage of the plane wreckage in Lost. However, this beach is now frequented by nudists, so I did not take any pictures... This was also where we had our first encounter with a sea turtle. Yes, our first encounter - stay tuned.
At one point, we also drove by a YMCA camp, which served as the camp for The Others. This photo from the internet will have to suffice since in a mishap that I would rather not dwell on, I lost all of the pictures I took with my phone while we were in Hawaii. Just writing that sentence pains me. On the bright side, this post would have been twice as long if I had all of my phone pictures...
This was the view across the street, and was apparently worthy of being photographed with the big camera... Isn't it hideous?


On my sister's recommendation, we also made a point to drive out to Laie Point. Again - such a disgusting view.



I almost forgot - we decided to get way into the Aloha spirit with a soft top Wrangler rental for the week. I also let Tom wear his shirt as unbuttoned as he pleased without comment with minimal comment.


Everyone said we had to go to Giovanni's shrimp truck. So we did. It was a'ight, but I was more into the poke we bought from Foodland (a local grocery chain).


We were also told by several people not to miss the shave ice at Matsumoto, so we indulged in that as well.

Our second to last day was devoted to exploring under da sea, which brings me to our second encounter with a sea turtle. We had rented a GoPro from the dive shop, so while they're still not great, our pictures turned out much better than when we've just had the underwater disposable.
 

And here's when I got so excited I was afraid I was going to start hyperventilating - one of the many things they tell you to absolutely never do when scuba diving. Happily, I got my shit together enough to take a few pictures....

I have to get my scuba certification - breathing underwater is pretty much the best.

{It's like if James Bond had a scuba diving mission...}

On our last day, we took advantage of the snorkeling right in front of the hotel. Tom had ordered a waterproof case for his iPhone before we left, so fear not, we have more grainy underwater photos to share...

Our flight home was pretty late at night, so we enjoyed a couple of sunset cocktails before we left. 

And we were treated to quite the show on the horizon.
{Just watchin' some surfers...}
Full disclosure - Tom spotted this guy and took these.

{Oh, hey Mr. Whale!}

{See ya.}
 So, to wrap up, Hawaii was amazing, we had an incredible time, and I will forever be Team Sawyer.
{I mean...come on.}