Saturday, October 29, 2011

Atlanta Trip 9: Wrapping Up

Can you believe I had 9 posts worth of pictures from this week-long trip?!  It was so much fun, though, and I'm so thankful for that time with my family!  If you're still hanging in there in this long series, here are a few pictures that didn't fit anywhere else:
The kids' table at our Sunday afternoon cookout.
Grandpa bought Elias a ride on the train at the mall!  He was beyond thrilled!!!  Notice the blue tickets he's holding - he still has his souvenir train ticket!
Jessica has an app on her iPad that is an adorable version of The Monster At The End of This Book - a book we used to read when we were kids!  Elias absolutely stinkin' LOVED it!  He would just laugh and laugh - scream laughing!  We definitely bought that one for our own iPad.  This picture is Grandma showing it to them before bed one night.  Many thanks to Patriot & Azlan for putting up with his craziness while reading this one!
So that was our visit!  Our return home was also an adventure, since Atlanta traffic caused us to miss our morning flight.  However, there was another flight 2.5 hours later that they put us on for no charge, and it was really no inconvenience to us at all to get home a little later than originally planned.  So, we enjoyed a long car and train ride with my sis to get to the airport, then extra hangout time waiting for the next flight!  Score!  So it was a fantastic trip - all that I had hoped it would be - and I'm so thankful for how good Elias was to travel alone with!  What blessings God has given me in my family!!!!!

Atlanta Trip 8: More Celebrating

Patriot and Azlan's birthdays are only a couple weeks apart, so we had a family celebration for both boys, since we wouldn't be able to come back for Azlan's party.  Also, Patriot and Azlan are both in karate classes, and while we were there, they passed their tests to move up to orange belt level!  Way to go, boys!  (We went to watch their testing, and Elias LOVED seeing all the kids doing their karate!  He sat still on my lap for the entire hour just in awe of all the kicking and movements and shouting.  He still walks around going "A-ya!" like the kids did.  Maybe martial arts are in Elias' future too?!)  So we had a lot to celebrate that day!

And when you have a lot to celebrate, where else do you go but Chuck E. Cheese's?!  It had been more than 2 years since Elias went to Chuck E Cheese's (with the same crowd actually!), so it was definitely more fun for all of us this time!
Loving the helicopter flying around in this game.
Pushing buttons on Deal or No Deal.
This was a helicopter-type ride that you pedal like a bike.  He wouldn't actually ride it, but he loved to just touch it and shake it!  He called it the Thingmajigger from The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That.
What's really funny is that even though he loved touching the games and pushing their buttons, he refused to actually play or ride any of them.  So we didn't spend one token there, which actually ends up being a lot cheaper...  So if he's happy to just run around and look at things, I guess I'm ok with that!
Looking adoringly at Chuck E.
Then he finally found the thing he loved best - seeing himself on TV with the bluescreen!!  He danced there until it was time to go.  :)
Then we went back to the house for cake, ice cream, and presents.  I for some reason didn't get any pictures of cake time...  But it was yummy!  Then it was present time, and in true Grandma fashion, she had brought one for Elias!  She said she felt bad that the other boys were getting birthday presents, but Elias wasn't getting anything.  I think that's sweet.  So all three boys were simultaneously ripping into presents!  Mayhem.
They were all very excited with their haul, and Elias didn't let go of his little Cars 2 Lightning McQueen and Fillmore characters for the next 48 hours!  (He's holding them in the pajama photo in this post!)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Atlanta Trip 7: Birthday Insanity

One of the reasons we scheduled our trip when we did was so we would be there for Patriot's 7th birthday party!  It was possibly the coolest party ever!  It was a video game-themed party, so they rented something called Rolling Video Games.
There was a very large number of very loud, very excited boys.  I've never seen such a thing!  Kinda glad my kid is only 3...  I've got some time before we're doing things like this...
It was a trailer outfitted with 4 large-screen TVs, and up to 16 people could play simultaneous video games in there!  So Patriot had 15 friends over, and they had some intense video game action in there!!!
Not being a gamer myself, Elias and I only peeked in to see the insanity, but it was hilarious!  The boys were so excited!  After the boys had turns, they let some grown-ups in to give it a try.
Birthday boy playing an intense game with Grandpa, Brother, and Daddy
Only after the truck left were the boys willing to come in and participate in the rest of the festivities: pasta, cake pops, and presents.  Jessica had ordered cake pops shaped like video game controllers - how cute were these?!
Elias sure thought it was tasty!  He gobbled his down and immediately said "More?!"
Patriot's birthday was actually the next day, and so we went to school to eat lunch with him on his special day.
It was Elias' first time in a school like this, and my first time since high school!

It was HILARIOUS how much Elias LOVED the school cafeteria food!  For Elias, I chose something that Patriot called "stuffed crust," which in my mind would be something like a pizza calzone.  When Elias was eating it, though, I saw that it was all white, so I asked Patriot what it was stuffed with.  He said fish.  HA!  Elias LOVES fish, so he actually enjoyed it way more than he would've pizza.  So there ya go. 
I chuckled at how my child is probably one of the few who would be happier about fish than pizza.

Then after school, the whole family met Patriot at the bus stop, and they even took the dog decorated with some birthday balloons to celebrate his big day!
So happy birthday, Patriot!  Can't believe you're seven already!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Atlanta Trip 6: Decorating Pumpkins

Grandma had brought with her 3 pumpkins donated to her grandsons from a friend in Kentucky, so one afternoon we decorated them!  I say "decorated" because Patriot and Azlan carved theirs, but Elias and I opted for drawing with a sharpie.  When I say "Elias and I," I mean me, because he didn't care in the slightest about the pumpkins.  But I drew a really cute cat on ours!  So there.
This is as long as Elias lasted.  You can see him already getting out of his chair to go run up and down the hill some more.
This is the really scary face that Azlan wanted to put on his pumpkin!
Then he decided he'd rather have the Red Power Ranger on his pumpkin, so Grandma printed out a picture and helped him draw the design.
Patriot using the dremmel.
Jessica is deep in concentration.
Mom used a terrifyingly large knife.
We ended up with three awesome pumpkins!

Atlanta Trip 5: Downtown

One afternoon we took the MARTA train to downtown Atlanta, which of course, thrilled Elias to the depths of his soul!
Too excited to sit still!
Grinning at Grandma

We went to Centennial Park, where the Olympics were held in 1996.
Grandma with her boys
The park was beautiful, and the weather was just perfect.  There were also some really great playgrounds, and the boys had a great time playing!
Azlan & Patriot "selling" Grandma some ice cream at the playground's "store."
The curly slide is always Elias' favorite!!  If you look closely, you'll see his skinned left knee - he did that on the concrete just a few minutes before this photo was taken, but he shook it off and kept playing.  There's fun to be had!

Then we tried to go to Hard Rock Cafe for dinner, but the wait was too long, so we instead visited an only-in-Atlanta kind of place called Aunt Pittypat's Porch.  (Aunt Pittypat is a character from Gone With the Wind, which takes place in Atlanta.)  Good, down-home Southern food there!  :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Atlanta Trip 4: Aunt Jessica's House

We were very grateful that my sister's house had enough space for us all to be able to stay there together!  Good times!  Elias had a few things about the house that were his favorites:
Elias' single favorite thing about Aunt Jessica's house were the decorative fake pumpkins. She had two on shelves in the living room, and those were seriously his favorite thing to play with!  They were hollow and open on the bottom, so he would stack them and call them a pumpkin patch, or he liked to try to put his foot inside. (Note that he had to take his socks off to play with them...  Whatever.)
Patriot & Azlan have bunk beds, and there is a trundle bed that pulls out from underneath, which Elias slept on.  He thought it was fun to sleep in there with his cousins, and Aunt Jessica was sweet enough to put a homemade train quilt on his bed!  He. Loved. It!  So much that he actually napped in it our first day there - a combination of loving the bed and being so tuckered out from our exciting travels.

He LOVED their electric keyboard.  He played the piano as much as we would let him!
...and sometimes MORE than we let him.
They have a huge backyard that is a big slope.  He LOVED running up and down that hill!  I'm standing on the back deck to take this photo, so that's how steep a slope it is!
I have no idea why, but he liked to lay down on the side of the hill and shout "Help!  I'm stuck!"  Talk about the boy who cried wolf!  No way I was going to go down there each time he said that...  ;)
They also have a big bathtub and lots of bath toys Elias had never seen before!  Very cool!  He was especially taken with one, which was a little grabber shaped like a snake head (Elias called it a dinosaur) and it had a trigger you could pull to make the mouth move.  He quickly figured out how to pull the trigger to move the mouth, and then he thought it was really funny to act out one of his favorite scenes from Thomas & Friends Hero of the Rails with it.  I was pretty impressed at his ability to make the mouth move and match up with the words!

Everything is more fun at Aunt Jessica's house!

Atlanta Trip 3: Family Fun

On this trip, we went to the Atlanta area, where my sister and her family have lived for a couple years, but I've never made it down to visit.  So we just decided to create our own fall break and go for a visit!  (Unfortunately, it wasn't a real fall break, so Justin couldn't take that much time off work...  He had to enjoy the visit vicariously through our nightly Skype chats.)  Since all her children and grandsons were going to be at the same place at the same time, Mom didn't want to miss a minute of it, so she drove down from Kentucky to be with us.  Then, Dad flew down for the last couple days of our time together.  It was really a special little reunion!  We did our best to make fun memories together.
We ate at the Chick-Fil-A Dwarf House in Hapeville, GA - the very first Chick-Fil-A restaurant!
We picnicked in the back of Grandma's car... A special request by Azlan.
We played at the park.

Grandma & Grandpa bought the boys matchie pajamas.  Grandpa (a bass guitar player) picked them out - they have guitars on them and say "Rocking World Tour: It's gonna get loud!"  We all thought that was appropriate.
Grandma took all three boys bike riding.  Azlan was kind enough to let Elias borrow his old big wheel.  There were only minor injuries.  :)  Major props to Grandma for getting Elias to wear a helmet!

Atlanta Trip 2: Country Mouse in the City

This belongs as part of the traveling post I published yesterday, but the story is so good that I thought I'd rather give it its own post.  Now, I'm not uninitiated when it comes to travel - I've been around the block a time or two!  But it's been several years since I've flown through a large airport, and in that time I've gotten really used to small town life.  So Elias and I were both just completely stunned to descend through the clouds into the Atlanta airport, which is HUGE!!!  SO MANY airplanes going every direction.  Honestly, I was overwhelmed; Elias was just impressed.

So then we got off the airplane and the number of people in the terminal was just unbelievable.  (This was 5pm on a weekday, so peak travel time for businesspeople, I'd guess.)  We followed the crowd and the signs that pointed us toward baggage claim.  I didn't even realize that there were concourses and we'd have to take a TRAIN through 4 concourses just to get to the exit!  Elias was, of course, thrilled that not only was there an airplane, but there was also going to be a train!

The best part of the story comes, though, before we get to the train.  To reach the platform, we had to take an escalator down, and as we're lining up to get on it, I realize that Elias has probably never been on one before and wouldn't know what to do.  There are no escalators in our small town, that's for sure!  So I was explaining to him that it was stairs that moved us down, and he just needed to step on and stand still.  HE. LOVED. IT.  Seriously, the awe on his face was priceless.  There were so many people and I was juggling a preschooler and two backpacks, so no way I could've gotten a photo.  It was so great, though, that we were drawing attention from the masses around us, and people were cracking up when they realized that this child has never seen an escalator before!  It was a classic case of country mouse coming to the big city!!!

We of course enjoyed the train, and then got to take another escalator back up to baggage claim, and many people were once again entertained by how much my child loved the escalator.  He, in fact, asked to do it again, but that just wasn't gonna happen.

Who knew, though, that in all our exciting travels that day, the part my 3-year-old would love the most was the escalator?!!?!

The next day, we visited a mall that had escalators, so Grandma took the opportunity to snap a photo of Elias on his new obsession:
We took every opportunity we could find on our trip to ride an escalator, sometimes just over and over again.  To this day, his eyes light up when he hears the word "escalator."  Ah, it's the simple pleasures in life.  :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Atlanta Trip 1: Flying in the Sky!

In preparing Elias for our trip to Atlanta to visit family, I told him that he and I were going to be flying on an airplane to get there, and from that moment he was SOLD.  He asked me every day for two weeks before we left, "Do we fly in the sky in an airplane today???"  Um, not yet, buddy.  But finally, the day arrived, and of course he LOVED it!  I was very thankful that one of the cheaper airlines that flies out of our area had a direct flight to Atlanta.  So we drove about 1.5 hours to get to the airport, then only had a 1.5 hour flight until we were there!  I am so thankful that my little buddy is such a great traveler, though, because he really made it easy on this mama.  We had FUN flying together!!!

It just so happens that the Branson Airport IS a Bass Pro Shop, so there were certainly entertaining things to look at too!  They had a waterfall with a water wheel, and a bridge going over the little river to a cafe.  Elias' favorite part was the koi in the fish pond, though!  He stared at them for a LONG time!
Admiring the fishies
 Then we got on the plane and he loved absolutely every minute.  So proud of my high-flier!
He of course brought along his trusty companions, Mrs. B and Buster, whose presence kept him at ease the whole time.
He was excited when the flight attendant gave him a pair of wings to wear!  He wore them the whole time and wouldn't take them off until we got to Aunt Jessica's house!
Playing with trains on the tray table was a favorite activity while flying.  The only problem came when we started our descent and had to put all tray tables in a locked and upright position!
Daddy had sent along his iPod Touch for entertainment purposes while traveling, and Elias was glad for that!  I wasn't sure how he'd do since he had never worn headphones before, but he didn't flinch at all.  I guess he'd do whatever it takes to watch a little Thomas...
Our plane was small enough that we were the only two seats on our side of the aisle, and that was great because I could put him at the window and then keep him corralled!  He wasn't wild, though, and was content to just play in his seat the whole time.  He loved looking out the window, especially during takeoff and landing, and it was neat for me to see it through his new eyes too!  So thankful for the opportunity to do this with him and make the trip to visit family.