Monday, May 27, 2013

Up to Atlanta

We took our first family trip up to Atlanta today.  We have really wanted to visit the Georgia Aquarium, but knowing that it was Memorial Day, we decided we didn't want to deal with the crowds.  Instead we opted for the World of Coca Cola, hoping it wouldn't be too crowded.

Aaron has a thing for polar bears.  He sleeps with his "po bear" every night.  I wasn't sure what he'd think about the Coca Cola polar bear, seeing as he was a little terrified of the Chick-fil-A cow just last week, but he marched right up to this polar bear and snuggled up to him.  As we were leaving, he said, "Hey, Po Bear didn't give me a kiss."  The polar bear bent down and "kissed" him.  Then we could go.

I had to show Eli this display about recycling Coke bottles because he's obsessed with all things recycling.  You should see the insane amount of trash in my garage waiting to be driven to the recycling center.  Eli won't let me throw away anything that can be recycled, and of course we don't have curbside pick up here.

By the time we were done, it was after two, and these boys were tired and had not eaten lunch.  Yikes.  I wanted a picture, but after about 12 attempts, it was clear that wasn't going to happen without some food in their bellies.  Clayton's holding up his "free" Coke from the tour.  He is so excited about having a Coke.  It's an almost nonexistent treat around here.  It's in the fridge now.  Maybe tomorrow.

Baja Fresh was just across the street, and as much as I would have liked to find something more local, these boys were beat, and I was pretty excited to have a taste of home.  Baja was one of our regulars in Nevada and California.  Who knew they'd have one in Atlanta?

After lunch, we changed the boys into their swimsuits and headed to Centennial Olympic Park.  The park is beautiful, right in the middle of downtown, and I knew the Fountain of Rings would be a fun place for the boys to get a little wet.  

We arrived just in time to see one of the water shows, along with the rest of Atlanta.

The boys watching the fountain show, waiting to play.

It was big and crowded, every mama's nightmare.  Ryan and I decided on the divide and conquer approach.  I kept my eyes on Clayton and Aaron.  Ryan kept his eyes on Eli and my purse.  He's a winner, that one.

I know I talk about so many changes in Clayton over the past couple years, but here I go again.  Clayton hasn't really played in fountains like this for the last two summers.  The cold water really bothered his joints.  He would usually just lay on a beach towel or relax in the stroller while the other kids played.  Now he can't get enough.  He loves to play in water now.

Aaron liked the fountain, but there were a lot of people, and after a few minutes he needed a Gatorade break.  It made my child tracking immensely easier.

My sweet Eli.  He's a case.

Aaron decided to dance a jig.  Not sure where that came from.


Overall, we had a great day in Atlanta.  We can't wait to go back and visit the aquarium, preferably on a non-holiday weekday.  There are a few other things I know we'll enjoy as well.  One of the perks of military life is getting to see new places.  It's always most fun in the beginning, when every place is new.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chef Eli

Eli loves to assist me in the kitchen.  He always wants to be on his stool next to me while I'm cooking.  Then he'll inform us all that he's a good "cooker."  Here he's learning to make grilled cheese.

He helped spread the butter, put the cheese on, stack them, and flip them.

Trying them out.  Not bad.

The true taste test from Aaron.  Hmm?

Aaron approves.  One thumb up.

PS  Shh!  I only comb the boys' hair on days we're leaving the house.  It's one of the benefits of only having boys.

This One is for Nan

Nan sent Eli this puzzle set for Easter.  A few weeks back, he was desperate for a school assignment, as usual, so I got these out.  He matched all the upper and lower case letters together, but I did have to help him with the pictures.  Then he put them all together by himself.  He was so proud, he wanted a picture to show Nan.

It's amazing what different personalities my kids have.  It's no secret that Clayton isn't exactly what I would call a motivated student.  That's putting it nicely.  I have to spend a lot of time coaching him along in school.  Then there's Eli who's so desperate to be in school and learn everything right along with Clayton.  He's not quite able to keep up with big brother, but he wants to learn so badly.  It takes a lot of time and energy on my part to keep him occupied with preschool type activities while I work with Clayton.  It won't be long before he's ready to sound out words, and then look out.  This boy will want to know it all.  There will be no holding him back.

Tybee Island

The boys started playing t-ball pretty much as soon as we were settled here, so we haven't had much time to get out and tour around the area.  We had a rained out game several weeks back, and even though the weather was wet, we decided to load up and check out Tybee Island, about three hours from here.  There is a historic lighthouse on the island, and Clayton and I had been reading The Light at Tern Rock for school, so we wanted to check out a real lighthouse.  They don't have those in Oklahoma.

Tybee Island Light Station

Dad and Aaron on their way up.  This backpack carrier had the staff on high alert.  I guess we fit the terrorist profile.  Luckily, they finally let us take it up the stairs.  There's no way Aaron could have made it to the top.  He's only two years old.

Eli and Clayton on their way up.

Ryan and his boys.

Clayton climbed all 178 stairs up and down without assistance.  That's a huge accomplishment for the boy who was riding in a stroller everywhere last summer.  We really have his arthritis under control these days, and he's building his strength more and more each day.

A rare family picture.

The boys on their way down to the beach.

It was cold and wet, but they were able to do a little exploring.

A view of the lighthouse from the beach.

After our short tour of Tybee Island, we drove into Savannah.  It was pouring down rain, so we just drove around the city and saw what we could see in the van.  It was so cute, and we look forward to visiting again on a day with better weather.

Nature, Part II

In addition to our butterflies, we've been watching this nest outside our front door.  I'll admit, I wasn't thrilled that a bird had taken up residence over my front porch, but it hasn't been too messy yet, and we've seen two sets of baby birds hatch since we've moved in.  We thought the last set of baby birds had moved on well enough to take the nest down a few days ago.  When Ryan climbed up to investigate, here's what he found.

I see four babies.  They thought I was there to feed them.  Every time I'd click my tongue, they'd pop their little open mouths up at me.

Then I noticed the mama bird sitting on the edge of my neighbor's roof, keeping her eye on me.

She wouldn't come back to the nest until I'd been inside for a few minutes, but I did get this shot, very quietly, once she returned.

I know they're just birds, but there's something about watching the miracle of life that makes me appreciate how great God's creation really is.

Spring Time Nature Studies

I've always heard about those insect kits you can order and watch caterpillars change to butterflies, but I've never had any desire to do this with my kids.  I'm just not an animal person, and insects fall under that umbrella.  Our kindergarten science curriculum came with a reader about butterflies and caterpillars, and it recommended ordering one of these kits to observe the life cycle of butterflies.  I was on the fence about it until one of my friends ended up with two sets of caterpillars and offered us one.  It actually turned out to be really fun.  I wish I was more dedicated to photographing this kind of stuff, but at least I got some shots of the butterflies as we released them.  We released them into our screened in patio first so we could observe them a little.  The we opened the door, and they eventually made their way out into the world.

And, after taking these pictures, I've realized just how dirty my patio really is.  I'll just add that to the to do list.

Memorial Day

Today our family, along with about 300 other volunteers, had the privilege of helping to place American flags on each headstone at Andersonville National Cemetery.  It was a beautiful day, and the flags looked amazing at the cemetery.  The boys love American flags and had a great time hanging out with Ryan's Uncle Mike and their cousins, Lee and Bill.  We'll definitely head back down there to go through the POW museum and learn a little more about Civil War history in this area.