Monday, September 26, 2011

Best Birthday Ever

Around here we tend to stretch out our birthday celebrations for a while. Usually our partying is finished within a week of the special day. This year, we finished celebrating Brent's birthday on September 17. For his present this year, the grands and greats pitched in with me and the boys to get Brent tickets to a home game at Georgia Tech. With our funds pooled, we were able to get incredibly good seats. Brent was very excited when he opened them, but Andrew was even more excited than Brent. We had decided that five is a great age to experience your first college football game, so there were three tickets in the envelope in July.

As the game got closer and closer, Brent was giving me hourly updates on the weather prediction for gameday. The morning of the game, Gigi and Papack came to stay with Coleman and Jonathan. We were loaded and pulling out of the driveway by 8:30. It was cool and cloudy, but we had perfect football weather by the time we got to the stadium. We surprised Andrew with a train ride downtown. We took MARTA to North Avenue and walked the rest of the way to campus. Here's a picture of a very surprised Andrew and a very excited Brent.

We got to campus and walked by Cloudman dorm, where Brent lived his Freshman year.

Cloudman is right behind the stadium, so it was a very short walk over to the ticket window area. This is where lots of pregame activity usually goes on. There are vendors set up on both sides of the street, lots of balloons, and general fun and excitement. When we walked up, we noticed the band was standing in a V formation leading to the doors of the stadium right under this huge Buzz.

Then we noticed some of the team in their jerseys milling around near the doors.

Then we noticed there were fans making a tunnel across the street. The band wasn't playing, so we didn't know what was going on.

However, we began to sense that something or someone big was coming, so we found a spot in the line for Andrew to stand so he could get a better view of whatever it was going to be. Suddenly the crowd started to get excited and we started hearing the drum line. Then the band started playing the fight song. Then the Ramblin' Wreck came driving by. Then the whole team and Paul Johnson walked by! We could not believe our good fortune! It was two hours before kickoff and the team was walking by giving high fives to anyone with their hands out. Andrew slapped a couple of hands, but was a little shy, so he didn't shake the Coach's hand. I couldn't get a picture of Andrew and the players and explain to him what was going on all at the same time, so here are the shots I did get.

Brent and I were just about flabbergasted! We could not believe what we had just seen! In all our years of going to games in college and after we were married, we had never been there for this pregame event. And here was Andrew at his first game ever, high fiving the players! After the team went inside the stadium, the xylophones put on a concert.

After all that fun, we walked around campus a while. If it looks like Brent's feet are on the ground, I assure you that is an optical illusion. I am quite certain he floated around campus the entire day.

We were really hoping Andrew would get to see Buzz up close, but hadn't mentioned it as a possibility to him. As we were walking up the hill, Buzz came riding down toward the stadium in his golf cart. Andrew got a personal wave, and I caught it on film! Well, I guess it wasn't actually film, but I got a picture of it. We were so excited he got to see Buzz up close!

Just before we ate lunch, we saw Buzz again, and this time Andrew was able to get a picture with America's Favorite Mascot! Once again, Brent and I were shaking our heads in disbelief. In all our years of games, we had never been this close to Buzz, and here Andrew is at his first game with all these awesome experiences in one day! I think we have a mighty high standard to come up to for our future games.

Andrew got to choose a cap from a street vendor and we ate lunch on the stairs by the stadium. Here is the evidence that I did attend the event.

After lunch we walked over to our gate to meet a dear friend and head in for the game. On the way, we grabbed a pic with the Tech Tower.

Here they are in our seats. We were on Row 6, between the 20 and 30 yard lines, on the home side. A far cry from where we used to sit at the games!

The band pregame show was great and brought back lots of memories.

Andrew really surprised us with how interested he was in the game. Having our seats so close to the field helped I'm sure. He stood and clapped for touchdowns with us, and by the end of the game, he was watching and standing without us telling him to. Of course, that day he had a lot of practice recognizing a touchdown! At one point, the punt returners were lined up right in front of us, so Brent was "encouraging" them to be sure and catch the ball. Andrew chimed in with, "Catch it my man!" and we cracked up.

If there was a way for his first gameday experience to be improved, I have no idea what it was. We rode the train back to our car, and drove home. After about five minutes in the car, this is what we saw in the backseat.

Andrew never falls asleep in the car anymore, so this was a sure sign that a good time had been had. Brent has declared this one of his best birthday presents ever, so I feel sure it will be repeated. Coleman will get to go next year, and he is already about to bust with excitement. It was just a great day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jonathan's Water Day

Jonathan's class had their Water Day back in August. The parents were invited to come and watch/help. When I got there, Jonathan and his friends were already dressed and ready to go! The teachers had set up some fun play areas under the porch, and everyone had a good time. Here are the pictures.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Growing Up

For Andrew's preschool graduation, we gave him a new bike. A big bike without training wheels. He was very excited to learn to ride and balance on his own. This summer, over about three different evenings, he figured it out! It was overall an enjoyable experience for us all, with very little frustration and no major crashes. Here are some pictures from his first night practicing and a video of him in action.

Heading to the end of the drive to start the process.

Check out that grin!

And here's a very short video of him that first night.

And here's a video of our dare devil yahoo on his inherited bike. Be sure to listen for him to yell, "Incoming!" as he approaches the driveway.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Field Trip - McWane Center

Before we left Birmingham on Labor Day, we got in a fun field trip. I had hopes of seeing the Birmingham Zoo, but Tropical Storm Lee decided on the McWane Center for us. It was pouring rain that day, so we were very happy to have an indoor Plan B. The McWane Center opened while we were in Tuscaloosa, and I had taken some second graders there the year it opened, 1998 I think. It has changed a lot, and the boys had tons of fun exploring the science exhibits.

The first floor is mostly physics experiments. Here are the boys getting some hands on time with pulleys.

This was an optical illusion room. The boys are in the far end of the room and looking at a monitor on the wall. The way the room was built and painted, it looked as though they were as tall as a six foot tall man at the other end of the room.

A little funny about the principle of chaos. Yes, I would have to agree with this theorem. In case you can't see it, it says, "No matter how hard you try, you can never get through a day without chaos."

They had a little people play area. Jonathan loved the water table. I was very glad when Brent noticed the aprons on the wall behind him.

Upstairs, there were exhibits on dinosaurs.

We had studied fossils the week before, so Andrew and Coleman had lots of fun being archaeologists and discovering the fossils. Jonathan had lots of fun too.

There were other neat things to play with too. The following pics were made at a station where you can put your hand or face into some plastic pegs and then your image appears on the other side. Here's Andrew.

I love Coleman's!

And this is Jonathan's first attempt. Brent was holding him and tried to get him to put his face into the pegs. You can see he resisted a bit.

A little later we got a better shot of Jon Jon.

There was also a huge weather center. Andrew got to do the weather forecast and see himself on the monitor. He did a great job, and talked just like a meteorologist would.

And here are Coleman and Jonathan checking out a model tornado. Hopefully, this is the closest they will ever come to one!

The last area we explored had to do with exercise and nutrition. There was a big maze we wandered through and then Andrew and Coleman got to do this!

We ate lunch in the food court. Our big weekend of fun wore Jonathan out. He laid back in his stroller to eat his pizza. He couldn't even smile for a picture. Just sat there and ate. He was asleep almost before we were out of the parking deck.

It was such a great day. We headed out for a very rainy drive home with some very tired boys. We cannot wait to get back to Birmingham!