Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

5 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Dear Jack,

Mommy and I couldn’t take our Kindergartner son to San Diego without taking him to Legoland, could we?

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Grandma helped us out by staying in our hotel room with your baby sister, while Mommy and I spent half the day with you, at what had to be for you the boy equivalent of Disney Land.

Seriously, I could see that it was a nearly 6 year-old boy’s dream come true. Undeniably, Mommy and I loved it too!

We started out by going a ride that took us through the Lego versions of popular traditional fairy tales. It’s so cool to see everything made out of Legos.

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I didn’t realize there would be so many rides there, but that’s mainly what we did. We went on a roller coaster, a train ride, a boat ride, a laser tag ride, and a Lego version of the tea cup ride at Disney Land.

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Mommy and I also let you play a carnival game, as you always love try to win a prize. Granted, we only let you play the games where “everyone wins a prize.” You were very proud of the dragon you won.

You were mesmerized by the miniature version of the world. They even had a Lego layout of all the Star Wars movie.

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I loved the giant Chewbacca, as well.

We finished up our visit to Legoland with the build-a-boat exhibit. You and I built a Lego boat, then got to race it down the chute alongside other kids’ Lego boats.

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I am confident that our trip to Legoland will be something you never forget.

Dear Holly: Everyone Loves to Hold You (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) Dear Holly: Everyone Loves to Hold You (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Mommy let you buy a $4 Pixel set to work on during the drive back to our hotel. It was funny because Mommy and I sat up front together, while you worked intensively in your own work station in the 3rd row seat in the very back of the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander we drove.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Needless to say, you finished the Lego set by the time we made it back to your sister and Grandma.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

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Dear Jack: Your 1st Day of Pre-K at Rainbow Child Care Center

4 years, 9 months.

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Dear Jack,

Last week while our family was on vacation in California, your preschool Rainbow Child Care Center opened its new Pre-K classroom.

So this Tuesday was your first day of Pre-K. I put together this little 90 second video from that morning as I dropped you off.

As you can see from the video, we have a 2015 Toyota Avalon this week which I am reviewing, so I decided to include it in the video. After all, the fancy car ride there was a big part of your 1st day of Pre-K.

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I mentioned a few weeks ago that I don’t feel that you’re growing up way too fast. Instead, I feel you’re growing up at the right speed.

It makes sense it my head that you’re nearly 5 years old and are just a year away from staring Kindergarten. And I think you feel the same way. You seem proud to be big boy.

Speaking of your new Pre-K classroom, here’s the video you and I made together a few weeks about it:

When we came back from California this week and checked the mail, you had received your prize money from winning 2nd place in the Williamson County Fair Lego Competition.

Dear Jack: You Won 2nd Place in the County Lego Competition!

Mommy took you to go spend your $20 earnings. You purchased a $15 toy: the Hot Wheels Snap Rides Truck and Trailer.

It’s something you’ve been talking about for weeks. You love getting to build your own vehicles.

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This whole time I thought you would end up spending your prize money on more Legos, but it also makes sense that you’d buy cars you can build as well.

As we get settled back in from vacation this week, I’ll be working on several more videos and pictures from California.

We had a lot of fun! I can’t wait to share!

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: You Won 2nd Place in the Williamson County Lego Competition!

4 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack: You Won 2nd Place in the County Lego Competition!

Mommy and I are so proud of you! You had been confidently telling us, “Mommy… Daddy… I’m going to win.”

You were right.

Dear Jack: You Won 2nd Place in the County Lego Competition!

This past weekend as soon as we got in the doors of the Williamson County Fair, we headed straight over to the Lego tables to see how your entry did in the competition.

Right away, I blurted out to you and Mommy, “Jack, you won 2nd place!”

That means out of all the 4 to 8 year-olds in Williamson County who entered the competition, the judges thought your entry was the 2nd best. Seriously, that’s a huge deal!

I love the fact that you competed with kids who were nearly twice your age and still won.

One of the main things the judges were looking for was originality. I can solemnly testify the 3 “space vehicles” you created were completely your own.

Mommy and I had no part in helping you at all.

Building Legos is what you do. You’re constantly building new creations every day; only to tear them apart and come up with new ones by the end of the week.

I’ve actually seen you make more complicated Lego inventions than the ones you entered. The winning entry just happened to be the collection of the ones you made that particular week.

Mommy and I have been saying it for a while now… and your teacher Ms. Aimee has been saying it too…

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“We have a future engineer on our hands. What else would Jack possibly be?”

You love to make your own Lego inventions- and they always have to be symmetrical. No one taught you that stipulation, but it’s an unbreakable law in your code to building Legos.

With all that being said, you’re just as talented at building actual Lego sets with instructions. You recently spent some of your own money on a new set that was targeted for ages 8 to 14.

I barely helped you at all. Actually, I was relieved you pretty much took care of building it because I might have gotten too frustrated to finish it.

You and I made an unboxing video for the set: Legend of Chima: Eris’ Fire Eagle Flyer.

Your 2nd place Lego award is your first ever real award! Mommy and I just couldn’t be prouder of you!

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Oh yeah, and while we were at the fair, you also won your very first game prize. You popped balloons with darts and got to pick out an animal: You named her Libby the Lizard.

You’re a natural!

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We also had a lot of fun this week because we celebrated Mommy’s 34th birthday at Whole Foods, with vegan pizza and cake!

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And you even drew these really cool pictures for her!

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: You’re Not Growing Up Way Too Fast

4 years, 8 months.

The Reason You’re Not Growing Up Too Fast

Dear Jack,

I’ve never felt that you are growing up too quickly. I think you’re growing up at exactly the right speed.

The metronome in my head works just fine as it measures at what rate you should graduate across the sliding scale of baby to boy.

Maybe a good reason I feel this way is that I’ve written at least one blog post and/or letter to or about you since before you were born. That’s more than 5 years now!

There are now hundreds of stories and pictures of your life story that I have preserved in time. (And they all can be retrieved by clicking on the Blog Archives tab on the left side of the screen.)

So maybe I am the exception to the rule of feeling my kid is growing up too fast. I never find myself missing any younger version of you. I have warm nostalgic thoughts about those days, but I don’t miss them.

Because I so appreciate who you are now.

You’re perfect. You’re exactly everything I could possibly hope for in a son.

You are a beautiful, intelligent, and creative young boy.

It is a gift each day that I get to see who you are becoming.

Maybe I’m being too pragmatic here, but if I really wanted to relive the “baby days”, I should focus getting you a brother or sister…

That seems like the best way to relive that time period, but at the same time be able to appreciate the nearly 5 year-old boy you are.

But no, you’re not growing up too quickly for me.

You’re my genius son who just entered his Lego creations into the upcoming county fair. But you’re also down-to-Earth enough that you fully appreciated the “pooping moose” key chain I brought back from Grand Rapids this week as a souvenir.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

4 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

Dear Jack,

This year for Christmas, it worked out for our family to spend about 5 days at my parents’ house in Fort Payne, Alabama.

So last Tuesday after I got off work, and after you and Mommy had visited both Primrose and Rainbow daycare facilities as we decide which one to transfer you to once we move into our new house in a month (our closing date is exactly a month from today), we loaded up the 2014 Lexus LX 570 and made our way across the Tennessee state line.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

After we settled in that night (December 23rd), I noticed something:

The Christmas tree’s ornaments serve as a 1980s time capsule.

Those ornaments mainly consist of decorations collected during my childhood.

There are crocheted ornaments clearly displaying the year “1987” on them. There is also an array of ornaments I made in school and church, from 1987 to 1991.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

In fact, the one from 1987, where I am sitting on (a very lousy looking) Santa, features me wearing a McDonald’s sweat suit.

The irony is very present; never knowing back then that I would eventually become a vegan, nor would I have been able really understand what that word even meant back then.

I also noticed a 25 year-old egg shell ornament. Back in 3rd grade, for Christmas 1989, I had made an ornament in Mrs. Lawrence’s class, where we all brought in an egg, poked it with a needle to drain it, then covered it in sparkles, a sticker, and some glue.

Somewhat miraculously, than 25 year-old egg has never cracked or shattered!

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

I also laughed when I saw the Star of David made out of tongue depressors. It helps explain why I always sort of assumed we were Jewish.

And don’t forget the bubble lights! It’s amazing those things still work…

The next morning on Christmas Eve (December 24th), your cousin Calla came over and the two of you both got to open one present early.

She got a Play-Doh factory and you got a really cool Lego set that was a tree house; which contained a Lego treasure map and a pizza!

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

It’s a bit of a blur, but at some point while your Uncle Andrew helped you build the new Lego set, I ended up wearing the top part of a broken sombrero that I think my Great-aunt Jennie had bought for me as a souvenir while visiting Mexico, where her parents were born.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

You were pleasantly surprised when you discovered a Brother Bear figurine of the Berentstain Bears (from a McDonald’s Happy Meal); being that you had just watched on the DVD on the drive there in the car, on the Lexus LX’s built-in system.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

So I guess it’s safe to say in addition to the Christmas tree’s ornaments serving as a 1980’s time capsule, my overflowing collection of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys helped add to that undeniable sense of nostalgia at your Nonna and Papa’s house.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

Just check out that ice cream cone that transforms into a robot!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

Dear Jack: The Lego Hospital You Built At Your School

4 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: The Lego Hospital You Built At Your School

Dear Jack,

Yesterday when I walked in your classroom at KinderCare to pick you up, I noticed that a couple of your friends were helping you build the largest Lego project I’ve ever seen you do.

You showed me how the huge hospital only had one chair for the patients to sit on. I saw a Lego man leaned back; while a line of a dozen or so homemade Lego men (4 small blocks in a T-shape to represent a person) waited in line for the chair.

Another actual Lego man was hanging from the roof, though I’m not sure why.

It appeared as if you were the foreman of the construction project, as your friends Xavier, Jacob, and Joshua assisted you.

Turns out, that was the case.

When I dropped you off this morning, your school director Mrs. Tonya explained there was a slight disruption right before we walked in.

Apparently, one of your friends who was not part of your construction project tried to take a Lego piece off of it:

“No! That’s Jack’s! You can’t touch it! He’s still working on it!” your friend Joshua explained to other student; as Mrs. Tonya explained it to me.

It’s pretty cool to see you in this role of project manager among your friends. From what I’ve seen when I pick you up each day, you’re never the kid who is highly vocal; leading others in that way.

Instead, what I am seeing is you leading your friends through ideas and activities. I like that.

Anytime you receive a new Lego set, we build it together; only for you to take it apart a few hours later, using its unique parts to combine with other unique parts of other sets.

You love the wrecking ball you received with one of your birthday gifts from last months.

The way I feel, all these countless hours playing Legos at home are yielding the results in your play time at school.

I will gladly take pride in seeing you as a creative innovator.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

4 years.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

Dear Jack,

These days, it’s apparently become the standard not to open your presents at birthday parties; especially if it’s in a rented facility and especially in a bigger city.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

I figure part of it is a time restraint issue for the 2 hour time limit… and then perhaps part of it is a new cultural take on it; that it’s somehow rude or showy for your child to open his presents in front of all the other kids and their parents.

So naturally, I assumed that’s how we were supposed to do it too, at your 4th birthday party last weekend– to refrain from opening gifts during the party; this was your first birthday party you’ve had that hasn’t taken place at our house.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

However, around the middle of your party, some of your friends began asking when you would be opening their gift.

Having eaten the cake and snacks 45 minutes into the 2 hour time slot, it still allowed for plenty of time before and after the food, so that there was still a solid 20 minutes remaining for opening gifts.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

So… even if it may have been breaking the rules or social taboo or something, Mommy and I let you open your gifts in front of your friends!

And I am so glad we did! I am so glad it worked out that way.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

I was sort of sitting in the middle of all your friends as I was taking pictures and I saw the look of excitement as each of them gradually realized that their gift was in your hands and about to be opened.

Some friends even stood right next to you or behind you to get the equivalent of a backstage pass.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

Granted, there were only about a dozen kids there, so it didn’t take all that long; maybe 15 minutes to open all the presents. And of course you helped hand out the party favor bags with the crayon Lego men we made.

I am now convinced: Opening the presents at the party is the way to go! The party attendees demanded it and were happy to see it happen.

Not to mention, you were happy to oblige!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party