Dear Jack: Your Homemade Ladybug Boat and Its Tragic Voyage Out to Sea

8 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

Our friends Mohamad and Lena got you a really cool craft box for your birthday. It has provided the ideal outlet for all your creativity when you’re trapped inside the house on a bitterly cold December.

Your ultimate creation so far has been your boat, equipped with a special tether so you wouldn’t lose it.

I told you I’d take you to the creek in the next neighborhood over, once you were ready to try it out on the water.

So last Sunday, the weather was warm enough for us to outside for a little while. You happened to catch a ladybug, which you placed in a plastic capsule that had served as the container for a 50 cent toy you bought from the machine at Kroger.

You named the boat Ladybug Boat.

The ladybug served as the fearless captain. That bug had to be fearless, because…

Even with the tether, you ended up losing a grip of the boat as you hung it over the tunnel to drop it in the water.

That brave little ladybug, along with the boat itself, entered that tunnel never to come out the other side across the street.

It’s as if they entered a whole other dimension. That’s the best case scenario, at least.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek)

6 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek)

Dear Jack,

No monster truck or motorcross shows for February, but with this winter being so mild, we definitely took advantage of being able to trek through the waterways of Spring Hill, Tennessee. That’s how we stayed in touch with our masculine side, despite living in a house with two girly girls.

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek) c5

Our multiple trips over the month of February to McCutcheon Creek led to adventure, as expected.They also led to finding treasures, perhaps a little unexpected…

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek) m6

Your Spiderman boots are must when we are sneaking through McCutcheon Creek, which snakes through the middle of Spring Hill; including Harvey Park, which also has a playground.

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek) c3

At one point we had to construct a bridge from an abandoned piece of sheet metal we found nearby. It was the only practical way to us to cross the deeper part of water.

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek) c8

Shortly afterwards, we found an old pair of wire cutters sticking out of the dirt. You swiftly adopted them as your own, as you joyfully began clipping the briers in our path.

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek) c9

I could tell you felt so proud to be entrusted with such a powerful (and potentially dangerous) tool. It was so the opposite of the caution you have to use back at the house with your baby sister.

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek) m3

The weekend before that, you had found a wooden stake, which you officially become your sword. I didn’t realize how useful a wooden sword can be while exploring the waterways of Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek) t4

One of our favorite places to go is a tunnel underneath the road, which allows McCutcheon Creek to flow underneath. Maybe we could call it our man cave.

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek) t3

You continually demonstrate your bravery in our adventures.

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek)

Perhaps the most impressive thing I saw you do was when you climbed up, and then back down, the 7th foot cliff; alongside the creek. It’s hard enough for me to do it, but you do it with ease.

Of course, in between your bouts with treachery and bravery, you would ask, “Hey Daddy, can we go back to the playground?

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek) p2

On the surface, it might appear the playground served as a place for leisure.

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek) p4

But I know better- you simply used the playground as your training facility to build your strength and endurance for our next expedition.

Dear Jack: Our Water Treks of Manliness in February 2017 (Harvey Park/McCutcheon Creek)

Good times.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

5 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

Dear Jack,

This past weekend was likely your final weekend as an only child. I recognize the significance of that and so I wanted to make sure we got out and made it exciting.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

On Saturday, our family met up with your friends Madison and Avery (and their families) at the park. You have known them both since you were around 1 year old.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

We didn’t realize it, but there were some vendors there including K-Love radio station. They had a man in a bucket in a crane truck who threw a foam ball to all the kids below. You loved it!

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

That afternoon, we dropped Mommy off at the house to do some further “nesting,” while we went back to explore some more of McCutcheon Creek, where we left off from the week before.

In order to cross the water, we had to “build a bridge.” I found an old piece on sheet metal nearby, so I tossed it across the water and it landed on a rock; giving just enough length for you to get to the shore.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

Whereas the theme of our McCutcheon Creek expedition the week before was mud, this time it was trees. We were trekking through an area of the creek where the trees served as a canopy over us. Some of the branches were so low that we had to cross over and under them.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

At one point I abruptly announced to you, “Stop! Do you hear that?” We immediately heard a swarm of bees, but didn’t see them. I wanted to make sure we weren’t standing on some kind of underground bee colony.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

Fortunately, we weren’t. However, we were standing right underneath them: The tree we were standing next to was rotted out, with the bees having their home at the top of the tree!

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

We turned around and escaped without any bee stings. It’s always an adventure when you and I go exploring the creek!

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

And once Papa gets here when your sister is born, I have a feeling we will go explore more of McCutcheon Creek with him too. Even more fun!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

Dear Jack: The Quicksand (Mud) at McCutcheon Creek

5 years, 4 months.

The Quicksand (Mud) at McCutcheon Creek

Dear Jack,

This past weekend for our tradition of being dangerous but not getting hurt, we decided to explore the McCutcheon Creek at Jerry Erwin Park.

The Quicksand (Mud) at McCutcheon Creek

The Quicksand (Mud) at McCutcheon Creek

I insisted that you jump across every possible crevice with water flowing under it, as you have quickly proven you have a remarkable ability to hurdle spaces you shouldn’t physically be capable of.

The Quicksand (Mud) at McCutcheon Creek

The Quicksand (Mud) at McCutcheon Creek

Of course, I made sure you wore your Spiderman rain boots, to be better equipped to walk across the water.

The Quicksand (Mud) at McCutcheon Creek

While that was a decent amount of fun on Saturday, we decided to venture out again on Sunday for an afternoon of mud.

The Quicksand (Mud) at McCutcheon Creek

After driving through that big puddle again, we made our way to the field behind Lowe’s, which features the same creek from the park the day before: McCutcheon Creek.

At first, I wasn’t so sure our surroundings would be that unique. That is, until you asked me if you could go down to the water:

You got stuck in the mud on the way there. It was like the mud was pulling you in as you attempted to step out into the nearby water.

I explained to you that’s how quicksand works. As you can see from these pictures, you at some point fell down in it and became what I call a “soggy bottom boy”.

The Quicksand (Mud) at McCutcheon Creek

It became obvious to me that we will need to be returning this coming weekend to better explore that muddy, swampy part of McCutcheon Creek.

Granted, for all we know, your new baby sister could be born this weekend, which would delay our plans.

But we definitely need to return as soon as possible. That’s because I need to let you get much muddier this next time.

I can help ensure we can be dangerous without getting hurt, but I’m not sure we can get thta muddy without it leaving some stains.

Love,

Daddy

The Quicksand (Mud) at McCutcheon Creek

Dear Jack: Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

4 years, 4 months.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Dear Jack,

Our Easter tradition every year since you have been born has been to take you to the big egg hunt that Nonna and Papa’s church has at someone’s (very large) house.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

I gave you several coaching sessions before the hunt; sharing with you the effective strategy of immediately running to the far corner of the field, where no one else bothers to go. I also reminded you not to stop to open the eggs; just to throw as many as you could into your basket, then worry about opening them after the hunt is over.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Without surprise, you easily obtained more eggs than the other kids by doing so. While you are still not quite inspired to kick the soccer ball during your games, egg hunting is a sport you can get excited about!

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

What’s funny is that you’ve yet to really look through the eggs, even now. You were happiest about bringing home some of my old stuffed animals from when I was your age; not what was inside the eggs.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Later on, we all went to Hawkins Spring Park there in Fort Payne, Alabama; my hometown. Where I grew up, there were several parks around our house, yet I never really went to this one.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Had I known about it back when I was 4, this might have been my favorite park; especially since a giant creek runs through it.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Of course, I didn’t let you and your cousin Calla have all the fun on the playground. They happened to have an adult playground where grown men like me and your Uncle Andrew could test our agility and strength. We were victorious… mostly.

p6

Oh, and we rescued an old abandoned tire from the creek. We helped the environment!

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

A common question I have been getting this week is, “Did you have a good Easter?”

I did. We all did. We have nothing but good, fun, quality time as a family… while visiting family.

Love,

Daddy

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

It Was All Just a Dream: Tiny Niece at Volleyball Creek

Most nights, I have a few different dreams. But usually there’s only one I can remember the next day, if any. It would be a shame to let these dreams remain entertainment for only one person.


I ended up at a lodge up on a hill where a party was going on. At the top of the hill there was an underground creek that was exposed for about five feet. In the likeness of those things at bowling alleys that shoot the ball back after it hits the pins, I was able to put items in the exposed part of the creek, then I could run down to the bottom of the hill where there was another opening of the underground creek.

From that point, I could pick up the item I sent through from the top of the hill. Like a laundry shoot. But underwater.

At the party, I saw my friend Sarah whom I haven’t seen in a while. She had brought her 9 year-old niece. Her niece was like Tiny Tim in the fact she was only about 18 inches tall, but not a “little person” or dwarf. Just a tiny person.

I got my hands on a volleyball that had a built-in trap door in which I could hide items inside. When my friend Sarah wasn’t looking, I put her niece inside the volleyball and dropped it into the creek at the top of the hill.

A few minutes later, the volleyball popped up at the other end of the creek. Sarah’s niece managed to let her self out of the volleyball and the creek, getting soaked in the process.

She marched back up to the top of the hill and looked at me with such sad eyes. I felt horrible. Somehow what I thought was a funny prank was instead a cruel joke. Then I realized that it was not my friend Sarah’s niece, but instead my own niece.

End of dream.

If I remember a dream, I tend not to ever forget it. There are dreams I clearly remember from my childhood. I have a feeling I will always relate this dream to my niece every time I see her. Hopefully, my guilt won’t follow me forever on this one.

Something that is new in my life is that I recently bought some incense at an Indian store next to my new favorite Indian restaurant. I don’t burn it. I just keep it by the bed for its aromatherapy factor. That could be the cause of my recent particularly strange dreams.

Follow-up Questions:

1) Why would any company manufacture a volleyball with a built-in door leading to a hidden compartment?
2) Why was my niece so tiny in the dream? And why did she start out as Sarah’s niece but then later I realized she was my niece?
3) Why was I so mean to her?