Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Our Big Giant Pennsylvania Vacation!

We are home from our trip to Pennsylvania and there are really not enough words to describe what a great trip we had and how wonderful Colin was. It is overwhelming to think about putting our week into a single post, but I want to get all the details down so that we remember everything about it. I am going to write about every detail so that I can look back on it down the road and read all about the first big trip that we took as a family.

Our flight departed on Tuesday morning at 9:40 and we got absolutely everything packed into the car before waking Colin up at the last minute. Things started out amazingly well! We parked in a remote lot and took the bus to the terminal, which Colin thought was awesome. The other folks on our bus asked Colin where he was going and he happily informed them that he was "going to see my Aunt Victoria". :-) He talked the whole way to the terminal about the buses and airplanes and was jumping out of his skin with excitement. When we were packing the night before, Jer told Colin that he would have his own suitcase to carry on the plane. I packed the tiny little roller suitcase with some books, DVD player, his blanket and stuffed animals (Sam the bunny and Bear Bear to be exact). Upon our arrival at the airport, Colin insisted that he roll his suitcase himself. It ended up being one of my favorite memories of the trip; Colin confidently striding through the terminal while rolling his carry on. It was utterly adorable.

Colin breezed through security and we all shared McDonald's for breakfast in the terminal before boarding our flight. When they called for us to board the plane, Colin rolled his own bag and walked right up and handed the attendant his boarding pass. I almost melted from the cuteness of it. He just seemed to innately know exactly what to do and had no problem at all with the whole process. He strode right down and boarded the plane like he had done it a million times. I was so proud of him that I could barely see straight! Jer had found the co-pilot and told him that it was Colin's first flight, so he announced it on the intercom. The whole process was going flawlessly. We taxied out and were next for take-off when the pilot informed us that due to weather in Newark, we would be holding on the runway for an hour. I almost had a stroke. Things were going so well! How could this be happening to me?! Colin watched movies, ate snacks and played with his toys while I sat sweating nervously in my seat waiting for him to realize that he was stuck and freak out. Luckily, the little man hung in there and managed to wait patiently. We took off after the hour and our 3 hour flight was now 4 hours plus. I had tons of new toys stashed in my bag and we pulled them out at various times while watching his movies. The whole flight went so smoothly until the very end, when we started the descent and his ears popped. That upset him in a huge way and he went into hysterics while holding his ears. He promptly fell asleep in my arms while crying, which resulted in one of only two naps that he took during the whole trip. ;-) He was soooo good and I was bursting with joy when we landed. We made it!! As we waited at the baggage claim, an older woman sought us out in the crowd to tell us how wonderful Colin was. She went on and on about the other children on the flight who had been running around "like a bunch of wild indians" and how Colin was "the most well behaved and charming little boy". I wanted to hug her neck and tell her that I had been paralyzed with fear that Colin was going to fall into the wild indian category, but instead I just told her thank you. :-)

When we arrived in Newark, it was 55 degrees and pouring rain, which was not exactly what we had in mind. Jer's dad and stepmother picked us up and drove us to their house in Pennsylvania, which was about an hour away. Once we got home, Colin went berserk with all the goodies waiting for him. Nana and Papa (as he calls Jer's parents) had purchased an entire camping scene for him, including his very own real tent that his Aunt Amanda bought. Jer's sisters, Amanda and Victoria were still working and would not be over until the following day, but they had left their gift laid out for him, too. He is now the proud owner of his own tent, army bag, sleeping bag and pillow, canteen, mess kit, flashlight, and safety kit. Victoria bought him his first scooter, which he promptly jumped on and knew exactly how to use. I have no clue where he learned that, but he was good! We then ordered dinner from Crossroads Pizza, one of Jer's childhood favorites, and had cheese steaks, pierogies and pizza. It was a perfect night!

The second day of our trip started with a trip to the fire station. Jer's dad has been a volunteer for decades now and is still a non-active member. He was able to walk us right in the bay and Colin got to play on several firetrucks and ambulances. You have never seen a kid so excited! It was like a dream come true for him. The fire chief was there and Colin got to chat with him, too. He was in and out of all the trucks and almost refused to leave. Jer said that it was one of his favorite memories from childhood to play in that exact fire station with his dad and here was Colin, doing the same thing. It was so sweet.

After the fire station, we headed over to Pop Pop Toot's house. Pop Pop Toot is Jer's grandfather and he is 97 years old. He still lives in his same house, takes care of himself, drives his own car and basically is amazing. I absolutely adore him. My own grandparents have been long passed away and I really attached myself to Roger when Jer and I were dating. He has always treated me just like his own granddaughter and never fails to send me birthday cards. He is so loving and has always doted on me and I just love him so much. It overwhelmed me to see Colin with him for the very first time. I took too many pictures to count and video, too. The family calls him "Toot" because of his love of trains...his whole basement is a giant collection of train models. These are not toys, but real replicas of trains and most of them have already been donated to the local museum. He still has a ton of stuff in his basement and just as I imagined, Colin was in love. He touched and checked out everything he could get his hands on and just adored Pop Pop Toot. I can't believe that Colin will have pictures of four generations to look back on...it just warms my heart. Pop Pop also pointed out that Jeremy was his first grandson and Colin is his first great grandson! How wonderful is that?!?! Tonight, Colin looked up at me out of the blue and said, "Mommy, I think Pop Pop Toot needs a kitty. Can we please take a kitty to him and then stay and play trains?" I thought it was the sweetest thing ever. We all love Toot! :-)
That night we all stayed home and Jer and I made tacos for the family (had to bring a little Texas!). His sisters Amanda and Victoria, as well as Victoria's boyfriend Josh, arrived and we all stayed up late looking at old pictures and laughing. I had the luxury of finding out that Jer and his friend used to go door to door in the neighborhood offering to break dance for people. He made his cousins carry his boom box and cardboard box to dance on. I almost passed out from laughing so hard. ;-) Thursday morning the whole family got up early and headed over to the Crayola Factory in Easton. We all had the most wonderful time chasing Colin around the place...we got to color on big glass walls with markers, write with neon lights, write on sidewalks with chalk, do different paint projects, play with melted crayon wax and then play with their modeling clay. Colin was in heaven and ran to each and every activity with bells on! We wore ourselves out and then headed over to a diner for lunch, which was a blast. I was craving good diner food (something that we don't have in Texas) and Colin had never been. He asked for spaghetti and boy did he get it! He was overjoyed and putting on quite the show for the table. He also made up special "songs" with his aunts and was cracking them up while we ate. Once we got home, we busted out our new 3D sidewalk chalk from Crayola and made lovely drawings all over the driveway. Colin played mercilessly with Amanda's puppy Sophie, who he immediately began calling "Snophie", and Victoria's dog Wally. That night we lit a big fire in the backyard fire pit and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. Once we got Colin to sleep, we sat in front of the fire drinking wine and talking while the flames died...it was one of those beautiful moments that I will always remember. Here are some assorted pictures from a fantastic day

On Friday, we went to pick up Jer's Mom Mom for playtime and lunch with Colin. She is another amazing person that I am lucky enough to know because of Jeremy. I can't believe that Colin got to meet his great grandfather AND great grandmother during this trip! She also amazes me at how quickly and totally she welcomed me into her family and how she never forgets little things like our birthdays. She sends Colin a card for almost every holiday. She had a little bag of goodies all set up for Colin and he loved it! We took her to a bounce place for Colin to run off some energy and he asked me today if we could "go back and bounce with great mom mom". It breaks my heart that we can't live closer to everyone at the same time!

On Friday night, Nana and Papa hosted a big party at their house for all of the extended family and a handful of our closest friends. We prepped all day for it and Colin even took a nap in preparation for the festivities! We had all kinds of delicious food and family and friends were everywhere! My very best friend from PA, April, came with her husband and precious baby girl Lena. Colin, of course, adored her. :-) Nick and his wife Jeannie and Chris K. came over, too. This on top of all the aunts, uncles and cousins made for a fun filled night. Jer got out the "big bang cannons" which are a favorite memory of childhood for him and his sisters. They make a very loud bang when fired and I thought that Colin would surely start to cry over the noise. Not so much! He jumped right down and started helping his dad fire them!! Like father, like son. ;-) It was a perfect night and the best big ending for our special trip. It seemed like it was all over so fast! These are a few pictures from that night...this first one is Jer's favorite. Colin is riding "Uncle Chrissy's" bike and he was too excited for words over it. He better not get used to it! ;-)

Working on the big bang cannons!

Glenn, Lena, April and Chalna

Colin loves Lena!

Saturday morning was tough because the time to go was looming ahead of us and none of us wanted to leave! We all went to breakfast together at a local diner and I feasted on just about everything on the menu. It should be noted that I need to diet after this trip! I really miss diners...it is such a delicious and cheap way to eat good home cooking at any hour of the day. Colin spent the whole breakfast running around to all the family members and having fun. Afterwards, we stopped at the dollar store so that I could restock the prizes for the plane ride home. We headed home and started packing up while Colin played with everyone on the back porch. We loaded up and Jer's parents drove us back to Newark for our flight home. Colin hugged everyone goodbye and immediately began chanting in the car that he wanted to go back. It broke all of our hearts a little. We made the goodbye at the airport as short as possible and we all felt heavy hearted as we checked in for our flight. Colin's spirits were raised when he got to carry his suitcase again. :-) We went to the food court and Colin picked out chinese food for lunch. He was so perfect; he picked out our table, carefully parked his suitcase beside his chair and sat nicely while we all ate and talked about our favorite parts of the trip. Colin said his favorite part was "all the doggies". We went through security and then spent over an hour watching Colin inspect all the rows of seats while eating grapes and playing with left over modeling clay from Crayola. Soon it was time to board and Colin took his boarding pass and walked ahead of us to check in, suitcase in hand as usual. You would swear this child was a world traveler. It was crazy! The flight home was incredibly smooth; the weather cooperated and we actually landed 20 minutes ahead of schedule in Dallas. Colin played and watched movies throughout the flight and never made noise or left his seat Granted, I kept him heavily occupied the whole time. Thank GOD for all those toys and the DVD. There is no way on earth we could have flown without them! I broke out a bag of gummy bears when we were about to descend, which worked wonders. There were no tears at all. Colin even informed us calmly when his ears popped and then when they popped back into place. We landed and began gathering our things while the woman behind us tapped me on the shoulder to tell me how wonderful Colin was. I was grinning ear to ear at this point...compliments on both flights! I had been so worried, but my son behaved like a prince. Whew!! Finally for the best ending ever...as we walked out of the airplane, the captain was standing at the cockpit door watching everyone deboard. Colin was walking ahead of me and Jer and he stopped at the cockpit door and said in his precious little voice, "Thank you for flying us home!". I almost melted on the floor where I stood. I did not tell him to say it, or even mention something remotely like that to him. He came up with it all on his own. All I could think about while we got our baggage and headed home was what a truly wonderful son, husband and family I have. The whole trip was amazing and I could not ask for a better memory for Colin's first big trip.

All smiles in Newark and ready to come home.

Waiting on our luggage...home safe and sound!

THE END! :-)

Monday, May 24, 2010

First Plane Ride!

Here is another little video, this one of Colin on the plane. My favorite part is the end...listen to his answer when I ask how old he is. Hysterical! :-)

My big post about the trip is on the way...it is just taking me forever to write!

Colin, The Travel King

Here is the first little video snippet from our trip...this is Colin walking down the ramp to board the plane. Please note that he is carrying his own suitcase (he refused to let me near it) and walking like he owns the place. He was totally at ease, like he had done this a thousand times. I thought it was hysterical and had to get it on video.
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