Dear Jack: You Love Helping Nonna Clear the Backyard

8  years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Nonna and Papa have lived in their house for exactly 24 years, as of this month. I was just starting high school when we moved in.

But there are parts of that 2 acre lot that are just now being developed; largely inspired by the industrial grade playground that Papa has starting installing.

You have quickly assigned yourself the responsibility of helping to clear part of the land right beyond the playground; using a hatchet and helping maintaining the fire from the cleared brush.

What you don’t realize is that this is ultimately free child labor…

But to you, it’s nothing but fun and adventure!

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: Your Brand-New Industrial Grade Playground Swing

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Having a Papa who works at a playground equipment factory means that you when visit your grandparents’ house in Alabama, you have access to a backyard playground that is above and beyond the norm.

Last weekend, the debut of your brand-new industrial grade swing was revealed.

You loved it so much, you just didn’t want to stop swinging in it.

At one point, you swung in it for a solid hour and a half before Mommy said it was time to go in for dinner.

You have the Cadillac of all playground swings for a 3 year-old girl!

Love,

Daddy

Our Family Visited the “Down On The Farm” Pumpkin Patch in Rainsville, Alabama

The very next day after our family Jeep drive to Noccalula Falls for our son’s Fall Break, we took an even shorter drive from Fort Payne, Alabama; to the neighboring town of Rainsville to check out their “Down On The Farm” pumpkin patch.

While we indeed go to a pumpkin patch every fall as a family, there’s a chance this might have been our kids’ favorite.

I think this had a lot to do with how the whole place was pretty much one big fall-themed playground.

The highlight would certainly have to be what my kids referred to as the “corn swimming pool”. They enjoyed taking turns going down the slide… into a pool of corn. It was also fun to get buried in the cool pool, as well; similar to getting buried in the sand at the beach.

So check out these pictures of the fun our family had if you are considering visiting “Down On The Farm”. I have a feeling your family will have a great time too!

Jeep Family Road Trip Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, AL: Train Ride, Petting Zoo, and Nature Hike

I grew up on Lookout Mountain in Fort Payne, Alabama; which happens to be the midway point between Chattanooga and Gadsden- less than an hour from both cities.

A month ago, my wife and I took a scenic drive all the way down the mountain to downtown Chattanooga. But this past weekend for our son’s Fall Break, we simply drove in the other direction, which led to Gadsden -home of Noccalula Falls.

Despite visiting the place throughout my own childhood, somehow I had yet to take my own family there. I suppose our new Jeep serves as constant motivation to discover (or rediscover) nearby hidden gems!

Children ages 3 and under are free admission, so we only paid a total of $16 to enter the park. That granted us access to the petting zoo, the train ride around the park, and the trails that go down to the bottom of Noccalula Falls.

It was a great way to spend an Autumn morning…

So if you are looking for a fun affordable family road trip, I highly suggest Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Alabama!

Leading My Son and His Friends on a Scavenger Hunt Hike through the Creek, in Search of “Toxic Rocks” to Defeat the Villain, Red Rover

Last month my 3rd grader son and I left from the Cub Scout orientation meeting broken-hearted. I myself was in Cub Scouts for 4 years back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was a major part of my childhood.

But it’s not set up the same way anymore. At the meeting, the adults were ultimately informed that if we wanted our sons to be in Scouts, we would be volunteering to be the actual leaders.

In a household where both parents work full-time, I knew that it would be unwise to commit so much of my time to what would ultimately be a part-time job that would indirectly pay other people’s salaries, in the likeness of a multilevel marketing pyramid scheme.

So I decided to start my own group; for all the boys whose parents couldn’t commit to the actual organization.

I set up a “scavenger hunt hike” at a nearby park with a creek. Once all the boys arrived, along with a few younger sisters, a villain who called himself Red Rover popped out of the bushes.

He explained that his great-grandfather originally own the land, but instead of being able to inherit the land, it was given to the city as a public park.

Therefore, Red Rover hid 8 “toxic rocks” along the creek, which would dry up all the water if the boys couldn’t find them all within the following hour.

Here’s a video of that event:

As I expected, all 8 toxic rocks were found within the hour. Therefore, Red Rover returned from the bushes, in an attempt to take them back from me.

This led to a low-budget Marvel style fist fight between Red Rover and me.

Here’s the video for that part:

The boys (and their sisters) enjoyed playing on the park afterwards, as my wife had brought some snacks for the kids to enjoy as well.

And some might call this a major coincidence, but my friend Ben showed up after the scavenger hunt hike rough-house with the boys.

It was a plan that came together!

Now that the launch went well, I am excited to plan the next event…

Dear Holly: It’s Always Dress-Up Time!

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Whether it’s borrowing your brother’s superhero gear or dressing up as Peppa Pig, thanks to the accessories that came with your kitchen set last Christmas… you love to dress up!

At your school when I pick you up in the afternoons, I love to sneak up on you, as I see you playing in the Snow White dress from their dress-up wardrobe.

So now I’m starting to wonder, is Halloween really going to be that big of a deal to you here in a few weeks? It’s already as if everyday is Halloween!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Found a Way Around My Rules About Coming Downstairs Too Early in the Morning

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Our system has been working pretty well since I initiated it earlier in the summer:

You can’t come downstairs in the mornings when you wake up, until the old cell phone alarm goes off first.

This structure has successfully got you out of the habit of waking up at 5:08 AM; before anyone else.

But I do think it’s funny what you did one day this past week…

I had just gotten out of the shower, about to make my breakfast smoothie, when I heard your brother shout, “Holly! Quit being a creepy doll!”

Apparently, you woke up earlier than you knew you were supposed to that morning, and decided to camp out on the very bottom stair- so that you technically were not downstairs.

That is quite clever. As your brother, you accidentally scared him, as he was not expecting to see a little girl facing up at him as he made his way downstairs as it was still dark outside.

I like that is hilarious!

Love,

Daddy