Elijah Perman, 5, has been obsessed with the 2009 animated movie Up for about at long as he’s been alive. So when his photographer mother, Rachel Perman, was looking for a special way to celebrate Elijah turning 5, it was a no-brainer.
“I chose to do magical shoots for my kids birthdays this year as all three of my kids share the same birthday week,” Rachel, 32, tells PEOPLE. “Elijah is very particular. He is borderline addicted to Up and has been for several years. It’s the only thing he draws and colors — the house with balloons — the only books he wants to get at the library, and the only toy he wanted when we were in Walt Disney World last year.”
In a dream come true for the little boy, he dressed as the beloved explorer Russell — hat, badges, and all — and held a bunch of balloons tied to a tiny toy house in a series of photos. His great-grandparents, Richard, 90, and Caroline Bain, 89, got in on the fun, with Richard dressing as Carl Fredricksen and Caroline made-up as Carl’s beloved late wife, Ellie.
“He was so excited and giggled,” Rachel says Elijah during the shoot. “He loves the photos!”
The images show the trio in costume, holding hands in the grass. Other shots show Elijah sporting a wide smile as he interacts with his great grandpa. Rachel says the Bains were more than happy to join, even though they’ve never seen the popular movie.
“They were thrilled to participate and loved that I asked them,” Rachel tells PEOPLE. “Grandpa even went to the thrift store to get the jacket and hose. He said, ‘I noticed in a photo Carl had a hose over his shoulder.’ “
Rachel shared the photos on her Rachel Perman Photography Facebook page, where the post has been shared more than 500 times. She says she never expected the photos to get so much attention — she simply wanted to do something special for her children for their birthdays.
The mom of three was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, right after the birth of Elijah and his twin sister Emilee. Her oldest child, 10-year-old Mikayla, was just 5 at the time.
“I hated not knowing if I would get the same time with [the twins] that I got with her,” she says. “So for their 5th birthday I wanted to celebrate the things they love with photos! It’s a celebration for me and them!”
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Elijah wasn’t the only one on cloud nine that day. Emilee, who “loves all things girly and princess,” posed on a white horse dressed as a unicorn, with a fake horn attached to its head. Rachel says the twins are excited to see what she has planned for their big sister.
“It’s been fun to see how many people are touched by it,” Rachel says of the photos. “I keep telling the kids, ‘You are good at bringing happiness to us, now you are making the nation happy too!’ “