Dear Jack: You Were Literally Smashing Pumpkins

7 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

One of my favorite bands in junior high and high school was Smashing Pumpkins. In fact, their 1993 album Siamese Dream remains one of my favorites of all time.

But all that was lost on you when you asked last Saturday, “Daddy, will you go outside with me so I can go smash the pumpkins?”

The light rain definitely didn’t stop you.

You began by taking your miniature hammer that you got with one of your crafts from Home Depot and started smashing the first rotting jack o’lantern left over from Halloween.

The task proved to be more difficult than either of us thought:

Your hammer basically just bounced off the pumpkin, for the most part.

Then you had another fun idea, “Daddy, can I roll the other pumpkin down the hill and see what happens?

What surprised us both is that after a few rolls, that pumpkin split in half.

It’s official:

The hill was mightier than the hammer.




Dear Jack: Carving the Halloween Jack-o’-lantern for the Thanksgiving/Hike at DeSoto Falls with Uncle Joe and Aunt Rebecca

7 years.

Dear Jack,

After having ventured to Gentry’s Farm to get our family’s pumpkin to carve for Halloween, we just didn’t get around to actually carving it in time. So we took it to Nonna and Papa’s nearly a month after Halloween… for the wrong holiday.

Papa then built a bonfire in the backyard to extend the feeling of pumpkin carving season.

Since your Uncle Joe and Aunt Rebecca were visiting from Pensacola, we also spent part of Thanksgiving break to introduce them to DeSoto Falls; not that far from where I grew up.

I’m fortunate to be from such a cool outdoorsy town (Fort Payne, Alabama), as it is not the average hometown to spend the holidays in. I was very proud to be able to entertain your aunt and uncle by showing them the giant waterfall up on the mountain.

It’s especially neat because we were able to get pretty close to the water, but kept from certain danger thanks to some guard rails.

While we were enjoying the views, we looked up and saw a few drones flying above us. I imagine it must be an awesome place to fly one around; as long as it doesn’t get caught in the rapids.

I have to assume in a just a few years, you’ll be asking for a drone for your birthday or Christmas, as compared to just Pokemon cards like you are currently obsessed with.

Turns out, your Uncle Joe and Aunt Rebecca enjoyed their Thanksgiving visit so much, they decided to drive back up from Florida again for Christmas- and this time they are bringing their teenage daughter who you enjoyed spending time with at Uncle Jake’s wedding in San Diego last year.

Whatever we all end up doing during our 5 days in Alabama for Christmas, I know we’re all going to have a great time!



Our Morning of Americana at Gentry’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch (Featuring the 2017 Lexus IS 350)

This story takes place in Tennessee, but really, it could have happened nearly anywhere across America: Maybe the Midwest, or easily in northern California, where my wife is from.

I simply define this as a Morning of Americana; built of nostalgic ideals regarding what it means to be a proud American during the fall season.

All the elements are here: A hay ride pulled by a tractor, a corn maze, farm animals…

And of course, pumpkins!

I feel, to some degree, the fall itself is like a patriotic holiday season; as we celebrate and appreciate the splendor and even novelty of autumn. It’s a time when we are able to take moments to remind ourselves that we live in a great country, and that life itself is truly beautiful and mysterious thing.

(Can you tell that the fall is my favorite season? Sorry I had to get so poetic there more a minute.)

Our family was able to experience a good old fashioned pumpkin patch, in a much more elaborate version than the one that Charlie Brown visited.

My family of four, along with hundreds of other families last Saturday morning, as well as my sister and her family who were in town visiting from Alabama, visited Gentry’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch in Franklin, Tennessee.

So we parked the wondrous 2017 Lexus IS 350 in the dusty grass field which served as a parking lot, and made our way to the festivities.

It was especially rewarding for me as a parent, to see my 1 and a half year-old daughter react to the local, classic, Americana version of Disney World.

We started out by going on the hay ride, which took us through the pastures of the farm. My daughter was laughing with joy, which happens to be her middle name, as she pointed at all the animals in the not-so-far-away distance.

Unsurprisingly then, she was truly intrigued afterwards, when we got to see the farm animals up close. My daughter’s vocabulary is still pretty much limited to family members’ names, as well as her interpretation of what sounds animals make.

The goat must have seemed like a mythical creature to her, as she responded to him in her language: “A-bluh-ah, a-bluh-ah, a-bluh-ah!”

However, she was quite skeptical when it came time to visit the chickens; especially when one poked its head through the fence to look for food in the grass. My daughter had a “Hold me, Daddy!” moment.

As for my almost 7-year old son, he assumed the role of being a tour guide and assistant to his cousins, while wearing a suitably themed Superman t-shirt.

For our family, the fall season just isn’t complete until we have visited the pumpkin patch. Oh, that reminds me, now my son and I need to actually carve that big pumpkin he picked out, which is currently sitting on my front porach. Looks like we’ve got some work to do.

This, to me, is what it feels like to be American.

Our Family’s 2017 “Pumpkin Spice” Lexus IS 350 for This Week

Autumn is here- and everyone knows it’s the best season of the year. The welcomed change in weather and accompanying outdoor activities are undoubtedly enhanced by making everything “pumpkin spice.” Because when anything is pumpkin spice, it is understood it is automatically better.

And if that’s the case, then our family’s mode of transportation this week has definitely been pumpkin spiced.  (Is that an official verb now? If not, I’m helping to legitimize it as one.)

Our family gets to drive a 2017 Lexus IS 350 this week; as we tackle some fun fall activities.

This weekend, my sister and her family will be driving up from Alabama to visit. We will all be heading to Gentry’s Farm & Pumpkin Patch, where there will be plenty of great activities for the total of 4 kids; including a hay ride and a corn maze.

Afterwards, we will be making our way to our son’s soccer game. This will make my sister’s family’s first time to be able to see him play.

The day I brought home the Lexus IS 350, the kids loved checking it out in the driveway. My wife exclaimed, “Whoa! This is a really sporty car!” My son declared, “I love it when your cars have windows in the ceiling!” As for our daughter, she was convinced she was actually driving; especially when she successfully turned on the hazard lights.

After the big reveal of the Lexus IS 350 to my family, it was time to take my son to soccer practice. While it almost felt wrong to take just a nice and shiny luxury car to a dusty soccer field, I reminded myself: Live this up- make the most of your pumpkin spice ride while you have it this week.

There is no doubt we will be making the most of my sister’s family’s visit to Spring Hill, Tennessee.

And during it all, my family of 4 will be able to travel in luxury, with our Lexus IS 350. I have noticed that with every vehicle we get to model here on my blog, my wife’s favorite feature is always the heated seats; and now just in time for the slight chill of autumn.

I suppose it goes without saying, I think there’s a pretty good chance that one of the upcoming activities in the Lexus IS 350 will be going out somewhere nice for coffee…

Pumpkin Spice, of course!

Dear Jack: Our Family Went to Walden Farm Pumpkin Patch

5 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: Our Family Went to Walden Farm Pumpkin Patch

Dear Jack,

This past Saturday made the 3rd year Mommy and I have taken you to Walden Farm to pick out some pumpkins and to enjoy all the related festivities. Of course, it made the 1st time for your sister.

Dear Jack: Our Family Went to Walden Farm Pumpkin Patch

Though we dressed for fall weather, it actually felt more like summer. Had we known, we would have all worn shorts.

We started out by going on the hay ride. You always love to find all the hidden objects out in the field.

Dear Jack: Our Family Went to Walden Farm Pumpkin Patch w2 w3 w4

It was funny because just earlier that morning I was telling Mommy how I would like to take you to a “scary house” at some point. Fortunately, they had one there at Walden Farms.

Dear Jack: Our Family Went to Walden Farm Pumpkin Patch

For 5 Walden Bucks, you and I got to access the playground area which included a scary house that was appropriate for you. At your age, I would have been too afraid to even enter. Not you though- you went through it twice. You thought it was really cool.

Dear Jack: Our Family Went to Walden Farm Pumpkin Patch w7 w8 w10

You also got to go on the cool tube slide on the hill. Plus, you climbed the haystack mountain.

This also made the first time you rode the tractor train by yourself.

Dear Jack: Our Family Went to Walden Farm Pumpkin Patch

I love how our visit this year was different than the others- because now, you are old enough to do the big boy stuff.

Before this year, you liked to hang out at the toddler table, playing with the toy trucks and bulldozers in the sand.

But this time, you just enjoyed exploring the parts of Walden Farm that you never had before.

Dear Jack: Our Family Went to Walden Farm Pumpkin Patch

Meanwhile, your sister Holly had a much more relaxed experience; enough so that she was asleep for part of it.

We had a wonderful time as a family. Maybe next year your sister can join you in the train.



Dear Jack: Our Family Went to Walden Farm Pumpkin Patch

Dear Jack: Our First Time to Carve Pumpkins Together

4 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: Our First Time to Carve Pumpkins

Dear Jack,

At the age of 34, I have finally carved a pumpkin for the first time. It’s just something I had never gotten around to until now. Of course, I needed your help.

I had you draw on the faces of the pumpkins with a marker (practicing on a sheet of paper first), then I carved them with a knife, after gutting the pumpkin. These are of course the pumpkins you picked at Gentry’s Farm last weekend.

Dear Jack: Our First Time to Carve Pumpkins

You and I set up shop in the driveway, sitting at your Thomas the Train table.

I think we did a pretty good job for our first time carving pumpkins.

It brought so much more meaning to the act of going to pick out own pumpkins when we ourselves were the ones to “make them come to life.”

Now that I know how to carve pumpkins, I’m almost eager to do more of them. Since it’s just a once a year event, it’s not something we’ll have a lot of constant experience doing.

But maybe we should. Maybe we should regularly carve pumpkins together. I think we make a great team.

Dear Jack: Our First Time to Carve Pumpkins

After all, you are a very crafty boy.

When I was doing the dishes on Sunday, I grabbed a Fiji bottle of water that was next to all the other dirty dishes. As I grabbed it to remove the lid to wash it, I realized there were several google eyes floating around, looking back at me.

The funny thing is, I didn’t even question it. I just set it aside; assuming it was just some random project you came up with when you were hanging out with me.

Dear Jack: Our First Time to Carve Pumpkins

I know that often while Mommy is cooking, you set up your work station at the kitchen table and throw stuff together in a sort of artistic science experiment.

So whether you’re designing pumpkin faces, or making eyeball-filled water bottles, you’re using your talents and having fun in the process.



Dear Jack: Our First Time to Carve Pumpkins

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

4 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

Dear Jack,

Last week at school your teacher apparently had read your class a book that talked about a corn maze. So Friday morning as I was helping you brush your teeth, you requested we go to one as a family.

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

The closest “pumpkin patch” that had a corn maze was Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN. So Saturday morning we headed that way.

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

At Gentry’s Farm, the pumpkin patch is basically right across from the parking lot, so as soon as we arrived, you found the very best pair of pumpkins out there.

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

Amazingly, they were only $3 each. We also let you pick out an all-white “ghost” pumpkin as well, from the $1 bin.

From there, we hopped on the hay ride and checked out the farm. We got to see some very young calves with their mommies.

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

Afterwards, you played on some of the playground a little bit before we finally visited the main attraction, in your mind at least.

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

Before entering the corn maze, we studied the map first. We saw there were two openings into the maze; both serving as either an entrance or an exit, depending on which one you started with.

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

We were about halfway through the maze when I figured out the trick:

“Jack, just follow the line of people coming towards us; as they should go where we just came from as well.”

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

You enjoyed your first corn maze. Plus, we saw a lot of people we knew there.

I’m glad you decided you wanted to go. Lots of good memories were created there for our family.

It’s the happening place to be right now in the Nashville area, for families looking to participate in the token American traditions for the fall season:

Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN

Picking pumpkins, going on a hayride, and walking through a corn maze.

We also had a lot of fun actually carving the pumpkins, too. But I’ll save that for another letter to you.



Dear Jack: Our Family’s Visit to Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, TN