Monday, June 22, 2009

Train Fanatic times infinity

Ok, Tornado Boy is the epitome of a train fanatic. He pretty much eats, breathes, sleeps trains. We are WAY past the Thomas train stage....he now is into the electric HO and O scale trains and of course riding the real things. We hit one of his major to do items while we were in Washington, DC - we rode the only high-speed train in the US - the Acela...his next item is to fly to Chicago and ride the Empire Builder all the way to Seattle. He has actually learned a History lesson concerning the Empire Builder and the man who "built" the route - James J. Hill...pretty cool stuff....anyways...back to trains.

We were very much buried under trains here at home....he is the proud owner of an O and HO scale train along with miles of Geo-Track set ups, a new Lego train set up and a Playmobile train set up. These things pretty much take up the entire floor...or should I say house!!! So, tornado boy came up with the idea of selling off all of his old Thomas Train collection (he had a HUGE amount of items) and old toys he doesn't use in order to raise money to redo his playroom and build an elevated track system for his HO scale train. Quite a mature plan for a 6 year old! Who would have thought that Thomas train items would sell like hot cakes and lo and behold, we raised more than enough money to paint, put furniture and build the track layout. Tornado Boy had everything "mapped out" in what order things needed to be accomplished.....

Step 1: Paint.....he picked the colors after switching between blue and orange and then back to blue again (THANK YOU- just couldn't imagine day-glo orange painted on all 4 walls) and painting one wall with magnetic paint so he can hang up his works of art on the wall with no more pin marks. His beloved Polar Express poster and CSX transportation map finally have a spot.

His other beloved map - railroads of the continental united states is TOO huge for the room and will stay in his bedroom.
Step 2: get furniture including his own large desk for current work and art projects
Step 3: build track supports and track along the top of the ceiling to elevate his HO scale trains. This was interesting since my husband and I are the most "UN-builder-like" people in the world....but we pulled it off with everything actually being level!!

We are only missing new wood floors (hopefully will go in within the next year or so- VERY yucky old carpet is just blech!). I also want to paint some mural items along the track line over time - mountains, buildings, there is scenary along the track line. Tornado Boy has it in his head for future train plans for his O scale cut a hole in the wall to run the track from his playroom through into his bathroom and then cut another hole in the wall through to his bedroom and run the train through and then around the top of his bedroom walls. This is do-able but the thought of punching holes in the walls is a wee bit intimidating to us...but it would mean NO more tripping on trains on the floor!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First Airplane Flight - to DC

I haven't had a chance to post in what seems like forever! We all got a really nasty cold and then our family vacation came up and finally things have slowed down a little bit so I can get back to blogging!!! Tornado Boy LOVED Washington, DC! It was his first airplane flight and this was such a GIANT step for him! With all of his Sensory issues, we were so proud of how he handled the whole flight and he really enjoyed it! Of course Manny the Manatee had to ride with us on the plane!

Eating could be interesting sometime but he was a real trooper and we found several places where he was able to eat and even try some new things. He even got to eat at an icon in DC - a place called Ben's Chili Bowl.

We hit just about everything you could possibly hit in a week and had so much fun! I will say, anyone heading to DC, bring comfortable shoes! Tornado Boy had so many awesome experiences that there were too many to list. I will tell you one thing...he has to be the only 6 year old that had the Washington, DC Metro map memorized in less than 2 days. Strangers would mumble to themselves on the metro about how they didn't know how to get to so-and-so and Tornado boy would pipe up and give exact, detailed directions while they listened on with jaws dropped.

I will have to say the top highlight of the trip for him is the surprise we gave him. He is a train fanatic and is in love with the Acela High Speed train...he even has an HO version of the train at home. We went to Union Station and surprised him with a trip to Baltimore and back on the Acela. He was in HEAVEN. The price was absoltuely ridiculous for 30 minutes one way and 30 back and he was the ONLY child on both trips but he loved every second of it. He brought the GPS onboard and clocked the train going 127 mph. I laugh again, how many kids want to bring a GPS onboard any vehicle in order to clock the speed? So he can officially say that he rode the only high speed train in the United States. His next trip he wants to take is the Empire Builder route from Chicago to Seattle.

He really enjoyed the Postal Musuem and got a kick out of seeing statues of Ownie the dog...he is the official mascot of the postal service way back when and would hope board trains and planes and travel the world with the US mail. Tornado Boy learned about Ownie through one of his All About Trains videos he used to watch so he was excited to see Ownie.

We also took a ride down the C&O Canal in an old boat much like they did in the
1870's. It was super cool seeing how the locks worked on the canal and being pulled my mules was kind of neat!

Of course we had to go see the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History.

Both were super crowded and I was so proud of Tornado boy enduring the noise level. About half way through the Museum of Natural History, he asked for his special headphones to help block out the sounds echoing off the walls of the museum. He really enjoyed seeing all of the animals at the Natural History museum.

We visited all of the monuments and he filled up his entire National Park's Passport book for the DC area.

We REALLY enjoyed visiting Rock Creek Park where he worked for several hours and earned another Junior Ranger pin and badge. He completed the whole Junior Ranger workbook and collected a bag of trash and was SO proud when the ranger pledged him in. This is his third Junior Ranger Patch that he has earned and he worked SO hard.

The park was beautiful and it was hard to believe that something so serene and calm was in the midst of a bustling place like DC!

Of course we can't forget our visit to the National Zoo! We picked a great day to go was rainy and hardly anyone was there...we came prepared with our umbrellas and it was great.

The Pandas were so special!!!

We were super sad to leave but it is always nice to come home! We said that he is ready now for a trip to see Mimi and Papa WAY over in New Zealand....our next family adventure :-)