Posts Tagged ‘ Halloween ’

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Canyon Land Park

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

3 years.

Dear Jack,

On the 2nd half of your monster truck road trip in the Toyota Tundra to celebrate your 3rd birthday, we stopped by an old abandoned amusement park, called Canyon Land Park, right outside my hometime in Fort Payne, AL. Here’s an old vintage postcard of the place in its prime:

In the likeness of the Dharma Initiative on Lost, this random amusement park thrived from around 1973 to circa 1983; until the place shut down. It even had a skylift that went over the canyon as well as a mini zoo featuring exotic animals!

Canyon Land Park has remained virtually untouched for 30 years.

The only exception I know of was exactly 20 years ago in October 1993, when my church’s youth group rented out the old (creepy) facility for a Halloween, for something called Hell House. (A Christian version of a spook house.)

One of the reasons I wanted to stop by the place is because exactly 40 years ago, Nonna and Papa (my parents) went on one of their first dates there.

It made sense to include what’s left of Canyon Land Park as part of this monster truck road trip, as it obviously had something to do with you and me even being here in the first place.

Turns out, there wasn’t a whole lot to see, as we parked the truck outside the rusted barb wire fence. I was able to make out what used to be a putt-putt golf course, but that was about it.

For all I know, there are black bears and wild hogs living in those old brick buildings that at one time brought in thousands of tourists. Maybe one day someone will purchase the land and make it the seemingly awesome and unique amusement park it once was.

I wish there would have been more to show you there, but at least the event served its purpose: to go off the beaten path in a “monster truck” and make an adventure of some things in life that most people don’t get to see every day.

We still had one more final stop on our monster truck road trip, though.

To be continued…





Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.

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Progress In Potty Training A Nearly 3 Year-Old Boy

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

2 year, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Yesterday afternoon as Mommy was upstairs working on laundry and as we were watching Disney’s Spooky Buddies, you announced to me:

“I go potty!”

That was my cue to jump up and chase you to the bathroom door, open it for you, and turn on the light.

From there, you did your business.

I always stand right outside the door, with it cracked, as to still give you some privacy but to also assess the situation.

This particular time, I was only half-way paying attention, I admit. I suppose I was slightly distracted about the thought of the “ghost puppy” in the movie we were in the middle of.

You so easily understood and didn’t question a “ghost puppy” that flew around like Casper. I did.

So for what happened next, I had to ask myself if I really had just seen what I thought I did:

After “going number one,” you lifted up the potty tray from your Elmo potty and held it in one hand, and with the other you lifted up the real potty lid and dumped your Elmo potty contents into it.

Then, you sat the Elmo potty tray back into the Elmo potty and flushed the real potty before running back into the living room to finish our movie.

I was stunned.

It’s a big enough deal to go potty, but to take care of all those other steps too… wow. I was probably most impressed by the fact you didn’t spill the Elmo potty tray.

On top of all that, it was probably the 5th successful time yesterday that you “went potty in the potty.” In fact, you had no accidents all day yesterday, even when we went out in public for a couple of hours.

Of course it all goes back to last weekend when your Nonna and Papa (my parents) were here.

After we all went out for some fun at the pumpkin patch, that evening Mommy and I went out on a date night (at a New Mexican restaurant and Old Navy). And Nonna and Papa helped out Mommy and I tremendously by using that time to proactively potty train you…

What was effective was having you only wear your “big boy/Thomas the Train” underwear. It worked. You did not want to get Thomas dirty.

I had heard that when it comes to potty training a boy, it’s harder than potty training a girl.

But, that it really just comes down to two things: that the boy is about three years old, and that the boy is not wearing diapers while potty training.

It’s working. I am so proud of you.





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Patience Is A Virtue… That You’re Still Working On

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Two weeks from today, you’ll turn 3 years old. Today Mommy picked up a few Hot Wheels pick-up trucks as party favors for your very small birthday party coming up; the theme is “Trucks.”

The intention was for you to receive one of these party favors yourself, at the time of your actual birthday party.


You convinced Mommy to let you “just hold” your favorite truck out of the bunch, a brown 1987 Toyota.

That’s right, you carried it, in the package, all day, out in public. We went to your school’s Halloween party today, with each member of our family having to hold your in-the-package pick-up truck at some point.

As you were receiving candy and prizes from your teachers along the way, there we were carrying around a packaged toy.

On the drive home tonight, you announced, “Somebody said I can open it.”

You’re unsure of exactly who it was, of course. Being that the only other two people in the car were Mommy and me, it really made the “somebody” a real mystery.

By the time we walked in the front door, Mommy left it up to me. The ridiculous compromise we settled on was that we would let you open your truck, but we had to keep the package in tact and “pretend” to open it in front of your birthday guests so it would seem like a surprise to you too.

Patience is a virtue… that you’re still working on. But hey, so am I. Honestly, who’s not still working on that one?

It’s so hard to hold back sometimes, even though the timing just isn’t right yet.

I know I’ve lived that lesson more times than I wish to count.

The good news for you is, I don’t see a lot of repercussions with you privately opening your own birthday party favor two weeks early.

No one ever has to know, especially since we managed to open the package without tearing it too badly.









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Setting Some Ground Rules For Halloween Candy, Or Not

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Thursday night for Halloween, Mommy and I will be taking you to the neighboorhood Fall Festival.

I think we are more excited than you are, as it seems you are confused by what will be taking place there.

The thought of everyone dressing up in costumes and getting free candy for no real good reason, well… yeah, I could see the confusion.

Something I just now thought of is how you won’t necessarily know how to mentally process the upcoming influx of candy.

Meanwhile, I won’t know how to mentally process the upcoming influx of candy, either.

As a parent who practices a strict plant-based lifestyle, the thought of you having access to all that petroleum-based food dye and high-fructose corn syrup is actually the scariest part of Halloween, for me.

With you a few weeks away from your 3rd birthday, you’re just now old enough to where I’m letting you “experiment” with candy.

This is the first Halloween where candy is actually part of the equation.

And I have no gameplan.

What I mean is, I’ve yet to draw the lines on what candy I don’t want you eating and how much of the approved candy I’m willing to let you keep.

I can’t just let you have as much of whatever you get, even though it’s completely free.

At this point, I suppose what it will come down to is Mommy and me actually getting back home and sorting through your spoils.

Hmm. Now I’m curious to see which candy I will and will not approve. I honestly don’t know.

I’m assuming every other parent has to figure this out, too: how to filter through the candy explosion yet not deprive their kid of the fun.

While I am curious to know how other parents handle this, I’m also sort of up for the surprise of seeing which candy (and how much of it) I will decide to allow.

So maybe I should revisit this question in a few days?





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It’s Lovely Weather For a HAYRIDE Together With You!

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

This is a picture of you on your very first hayride, at least that I’m aware of.

(You were obviously happy about it.)

The way I see it, going on a hayride is one of the most American things you can do in Autumn.

It starts getting too cold to enjoy being outside in October, so you show up to a farm (more marketably called a “pumpkin patch”) where enough other people want to have fun, despite it being too cold to be outside for an hour and a half compared to if they were simply in their own yard.

How it seems to go for most new experiences in your life, like the train ride at the zoo last weekend, you typically are quiet as you process what’s going on- to figure out whether or not you like it.

Typically, it’s not until at least the next day that you refer to the experience as a positive event.

But with the hayride, it was barely finished before you announced to Mommy and me, “I liked the hayride.”

After all, we got pulled by a tractor! That’s not something we get to do everyday.

Soon after, we made our way to the play area, where you had no trouble finding a toy tractor to reenact our adventure.

I was uncertain how you’d react to the Halloween decorations that were placed all along the ride, but you actually thought they were pretty cool- like the giant spider made out of hay.

So what are our plans for next weekend?

You guessed it. We’re headed back to the pumpkin patch to go on the hayride again.

I’m becoming more aware of the fact that I really get to have more fun with you these days. I’m especially looking forward to the holidays coming up for the rest of the year.

Now you are really starting to remember the activities and adventures we do together as a family.

That’s not to say you’re ready for Disney World, but I’d say you’re definitely approved for that 2nd visit to the pumpkin patch next weekend.




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