Vacation days are here! Autumn in Texas has proved to be the absolute best time of year to enjoy day trips around Central Texas. The Waco Zoo, just a quick hour from Fort Hood, is a wonderful, condensed, well organized zoo, perfect for toddlers and strollers. The animals are plentiful and their enclosures are just the right size for keeping even the shy and sleepy close up for viewing. On this particular Monday, we were one of about 5 families touring the loop. The Gibbons' monkeys were mocking a five alarm firehouse at full tilt. Though covered with algae, the otters were back in their watery enclosure and the slide that goes through their habitat remained our favorite stop for play and pictures. The rare photo of me with our youngest son was masterfully composed by my husband who is loving my new digital technology.

Everything in Texas is BIG, so why should Halloween be any different? I was advised to prepare for 2,000 trick-or-treaters, and yes, at least that many were in the neighborhood. Perhaps it was the lure of our neighborhood being closed to traffic. Or maybe it was the fact that all of the houses are close together, everyone decorates as though it were Christmas, and EVERYONE participates. It was very "Pleasantville-esque", and beyond charming! I thought that I would lose my toddler in the masses, or lose him in the dark, or he would run too fast and trip on his costume, or freak out when he had to wait to eat the candy, or get scared by the crazy high school kids dressed in goth attire ("were they really in costume?" I wondered. Alas, none of that occurred. We headed out right at 6pm while the dusky evening sunset still lit our way. We met large groups of ghouls and goblins, but nothing overwhelming. My little trick-or-treater was loud and clear at every house, said please and thank-you like a champ, and smiled at all the sites all the while proclaiming "Oh, I got chocolate! That's my favorite! Oh look, those are gummies! Those are my favorite! Look at the M&M's! I LOVE M&M's..." The little Fire Fighter became a lazy "carry me" kiddo after only a couple houses but once bribed with a lollipop he was back on his feet and happy as a clam to circumnavigate the whole neighborhood. The evening was picture perfect!