Friday, January 31, 2014

An Ode to Bryan: Happy Birthday!

Dear Bryan,

As you may recall, every couple of  years or so I like to write you a letter telling you why you are wonderful so that you know I still like you. The only difference is this year, I have a blog ;-).

I figure your birthday is a particularly appropriate time for the next installment, especially this one, since this year we will have been together FIVE YEARS. Wow. I don't know that I've ever stuck with anything for five years voluntarily, except maybe college.

So that being said, let me get right down to business...

I love you because you don't let yourself get worked up over the kind of stuff some of us (cough, cough) get worked up over, like politics, religion, and difficult people. Though I know you get irritated, you don't lose your sh*t (pardon my punctuation) - you don't let it steal your peace. I cannot tell you how much I admire you for that and wish I were more like you in that way. You can usually manage to talk me down at least a little when I start to lose it over one of these things, which I greatly appreciate!

I also think you are awesome for carrying this mindset over into your work. As you once pointed out to me, people generally don't ask to see the manager because they are happy. As a manager, your job largely consists of dealing with unhappy, angry, rude, condescending, demanding, even violent people. And you have to smile and be Johnny Flipping Sunshine through it all, explaining to the millionth person why they should ALWAYS PURCHASE APPLE CARE and apologizing for things that aren't your fault.

I. have. no. idea. how. you. do. it. 

  (See? Johnny Flipping Sunshine.)

Literally. It takes so much strength and self-control to wake up and be you every day. To me, you are so brave.

Then you come home after being on your feet all day and serve Sophie and I when I'm sure all you want to do is dump your pent-up frustrations from work. You make it a point to take on the particularly unpleasant tasks that you know I hate doing, like cleaning the bathroom and changing diapers, as well as some fun/creative ones that just make my life more awesome in general.

(Remember the time you re-painted and re-upholstered all the dining room chairs while I was out of town? Awesome.)

(And the time you surprised me by stringing white Christmas lights behind the headboard just like I told you I'd always dreamed of?)

When we first brought Sophie home and I was struggling with postpartum depression, you did every diaper change for at least the first week. I remember being afraid that she would bond more with you than with me, which was probably a very real possibility! Luckily we pulled through that dark time because you were there to do all the chores, run all the errands, and, on a few crucial nights, take on all the feedings for 8 hours straight so that I could rest. I felt your love for both your girls so palpably through that whole ordeal. You take such good care of us.

Can I talk for a minute about what an amazing father you are? I've trolled a lot of "mommy forums", blogs, and Facebook posts, and believe you me (and I almost hesitate to tell you this), you are the pick of the litter where dads are concerned. You are so involved in every aspect of parenting. For you, there are very few things that only a mom is supposed to do. It's so obvious that you love being a father. Watching you and Sophie interact brings me some of my best happiness.

I remember this Facebook app that would ask you to compare random friends; stuff like, "Who is funnier, John Smith or Jane Brown?" This one time, it asked me, "Who would be a better father, (insert name of person I was currently dating) or (insert random other guy friend)?" And I was uncomfortably startled to realize, that I genuinely believed that random-other-guy-friend, whom I'd literally met twice, would make a better father. I never forgot that, because I realized in that moment how important it was to me to believe in my heart that NO ONE in the world would make a better father than the man I married. One of the first things I thought to myself when I first met you was that I'd never met anyone I thought would make a better father. That's the truth, and it hasn't changed.

Did I mention that you are embarrassingly good looking? Like, seriously, you should probably be ashamed of yourself. 

I have a bunch of other notes scribbled down about a dozen other things that I could say about you, (you make me feel beautiful, you are so wise, you pick your battles, you make me laugh...) but I don't want to cheapen what I've already said by making this a million scrolls long.

Let me just end by saying that, as corny as it sounds, the main thing I love about you would probably have to be that "certain something" that cannot be described. I have no idea what it is, but it makes me absolutely sure of one thing:

I could not do this with anyone else. 



Nor would I ever want to.

Whatever "it" is, it made me IM my good friend Becca the morning after we met with, "I met the man I'm going to marry. Don't tell anyone I said that though."

(Remember the night we met? Awesome.)

I can't wait to have a million more babies with you, then retire so we can travel the world together without them ;-).

Happy Birthday, love.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kiddie Games & Mommy Guilt

I have a terrible confession to make…

I kinda hate playing with my kid.

Doesn't that just sound awful? But it's true! I can't stand it! I try, I really do. Every now and then I'll realize that I haven't played with her recently and feel guilty about it. Cuz sometimes I feel like she needs help, ya know? Like, I think she forgets that certain toys are there, even though they are literally RIGHT THERE. Or that she forgets HOW to play with them. I feel that in order to be a good mom, I need to remind her of these things, because as I am so often reminded myself, play is her work, right? I need to help her grow and develop!

So I'll amble on over to her little play corner where she's sort of paused and is gazing blankly at the same toy she's been playing with for roughly three or four days now, and attempt to shake things up.

This is going to be fun! We are going to bond and make memories and it is going to be freaking magical!

This is when my first stumbling block presents itself. Not having been 14 months old for almost 28 years now, I stare into her toy bin and find that I can't think of anything to do with these things. How many times can you stack and unstack that ring-stacker-thingy? What exactly is the function of a stuffed Nemo fish? How many phone calls can you make on one of those old school Fisher Price phones with the googley eyes before it gets old?

Turns out, she could do these things over and over and over and over. Me, on the other hand… not so much. Not at all. After just a few repetitions, I am SO. OVER. playtime.

It's not just that that I find it mind-numbingly dull, which I do. But I cannot, for the life of me, see how alternating dropping the square peg into the square hole and the round peg into the round one forty-seven times in a row is actually teaching her anything. My brain knows she is learning, but I can't get myself to feel like she is, and so this overwhelming feeling of purposelessness hops on top of my boredom, and the combined weight is something I can stand for about five minutes before I want to run.

I thank God every day that Baby #2 is en route to relieve me of playtime duty.

I realize this is incredibly selfish, and I feel like I need to try to redeem myself by clarifying that I love talking to her and reading to her and spending time with her in general. I enjoy her company more than pretty much anyone else's. It isn't her I can't stand, it's the kiddie games. So maybe it's just that I'm more of a books person than a games person? That's how I was as a kid.

Still, is this terrible? Weird? Does anyone out there have any idea what I'm talking about??

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Christmas in Photos

Well, I think I actually accomplished it this year. By starting early and ending late, I actually managed to cram so much of Christmas into the past two months that I am officially OVER CHRISTMAS. There. I said it. But this is actually a very good thing, because it means my Christmas tank got filled to the brim, which hasn't happened in many years. And while I've come to accept the fact that Christmas will never hold the same magic and wonder that it did when I was a kid, that's OK. Having one of my own brought a little bit of that magic back this year, and I can only hope that each new addition to our family will come with just a little bit more. 

So without further ado, I give you, Christmas in photos...

(Heading to the Leesburg Christmas parade with Dalgettys)

(Stocking up on salt before the big storm)

(First time in the snow!)

(Santa came to the POP Christmas party!)

(Bryan's fan came in town the weekend before Christmas to celebrate...)

(… and brought some awesome gifts!)
(Christmas Eve: "The Night Before Christmas", "Home Alone", and takeout Thai)

(Christmas morning: Baking Grandmom McNichol's famous Cornflake Cookies and watching "A Christmas Story")

(Christmas afternoon/evening at the McNichol house)

(My favorite gifts this year: Adorable slouchy hat that Bryan surprised me with and the ankle boots I wanted sooooo badly!)

(Annual "Day After" celebration with the extended McNichol family in Philly)

("This guy is everywhere…!")

(These have been in the family for years and years. SO. COOL.)

(Cousins' White Elephant exchange)

Happy close of the holiday season from our family to yours!