Exactly 10 Years after Our First Date

Exactly 10 Years after Our First Date

On February 5, 2007, the 25 year-old version of me was successful in finally escaping “the friend zone” with a girl who I had known exactly 4 months; a 25 year-old girl from California who I had met while waiting in line to be an extra for a taping of CMT’s Crossroads.

It was a week before Valentine’s Day, which I kept in mind. Meanwhile, she wasn’t aware that the John Mayer concert a couple hours away in Huntsville, Alabama wasn’t actually a “just as friends” thing. I was sneakily being very deliberate in my specific plan to get her to see me as more than just “the nice guy” she had been hanging out with at Starbucks most Sunday nights.

I knew that a road trip could provide an environment for her to see me in a different way than before. Knowing that we’d need to eat dinner but wouldn’t have time to since we both were leaving straight from work, I had used my lunch break to pick up some sub sandwiches for us Lenny’s. I also made sure to grab some Twizzlers, as I had remembered her saying she liked them.

Once we arrived in the parking garage next to the concert arena, I presented her with our dinner; while playing the Counting Crows through the stereo of my Honda Element; the car I still drive today.

The date went exactly as I had planned. And by the time we got back to Nashville, sometime after midnight, I asked her a very strategic question:

“Next week is Valentine’s Day, and I would be honored to take you out. Would you like to go out with me for Valentine’s Day?”

That was exactly a 10 years ago today. And we’ve been together ever since.

So glad I got out of the friend zone.

Though I guess you could say that being together and in love with a person for a decade, and being married 8 and a half of those years, and having 2 kids together… it sort of makes you best friends by default.

Dear Jack: Will You and Your Sister Both Adopt the Only Child Mentality?

6 years, 1 months.

Dear Jack: Will You and Your Sister Both Adopt the Only Child Mentality?

Dear Jack,

Back in college, I was really into this book called The Birth Order Connection. It explains the theory of how our personalities are ultimately guided by what order we were born in the family.

It describes how an “only child” is different than a first-born child; but if a first-born child is at least 6 years-old when the 2nd sibling is born, both children ultimately become more like only children because those earlier formative years are not shared with another sibling of the same age.

When I Googled “traits of an only child” just now, here’s the first thing that came up:

“Only children, being firstborn themselves, tend to exhibit traits more similar to those of other firstborn children. However, only children seem to have better self-esteem and are higher achievers than children who have siblings (Brophy, 1989, p. 54).”

When your sister was born, you were about 5 and a half years-old; to be exact, 7 months shy of that 6 year-old mark. So really, you’re borderline on whether you will adopt a first born (older brother) mentality as opposed to an only child mentality.

And then same can be said for your sister, as long as no more siblings are born within the next 5 years. In theory, she may never really develop the mentality of “younger sister”. Instead, the two of you could easily both end up having that ultra-independent personality of an only child.

After all, the two of you will never really have to share your toys with each other. The two of you get to live next to each other, but always in different stages of childhood development.

Earlier this week on the drive to school, I told you, “Jack, when Holly’s your age now, you’ll be 11 years-old; you’ll be finishing up 5th grade when your sister turns 6; the age you are now.”

You laughed at the thought of it.

But that’s the reality. You are her older brother and she is your younger sister, but really the two of you may end up technically more like only children.

Love,
Daddy

Dear Holly: You are Pulling Yourself Up on Furniture/Puppy Mode

8 months.

Dear Holly: You are Pulling Yourself Up on Furniture/Puppy Mode

Dear Holly,

You are officially in puppy mode. That’s right- with your newfound curiosity now that you’ve learned to crawl, having you around the house is like having a cute little puppy among us.

I’ll be on the floor, playing with you, and then you’ll suddenly start crawling to the kitchen to follow Mommy around as she prepares dinner. You often just like to hang out near her feet…. like a puppy. I always warn her you’re there so she doesn’t step on you.

But right now your favorite thing to do is to crawl over to something you can use to pull yourself up on. You are always so proud of yourself once you are standing up. I can tell that you instinctively know what a big accomplishment it is!

It’s exciting to see how you’re just naturally wired to tackle whatever the next physical challenge is. It’s not like I’m reading articles online to help prepare you for the upcoming stage.

Instead, you just go ahead and get started on it; like it’s no big deal. I love your initiative!

Dear Holly: You are Pulling Yourself Up on Furniture/Puppy Mode

You only recently learned to crawl. It didn’t take long at all before you decided you were capable of more. Now here we are on the pulling up stage, which will lead to the standing up stage, and then the walking stage.

No, I’m not rushing you along in the process of growing up. But… I do admit, I’m looking forward to you turning 1 year old in April. By then, I predict you’ll reach a comfortable balance of increased physical mobility and a dependence more on solid foods (which means we get to save all that money we’ve been spending on formula- not to mention, having to clean all those bottles!), but you’ll still be in baby mode.

Or puppy mode…

Love, Daddy

Dear Holly: Your 1st Christmas (A Very Warm One)

8 months.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Christmas (A Very Warm One)

Dear Holly,

With all the Christmas music I’ve been hearing for the past month, I realized just how Christmas-themed your name is. It’s hard to find a song without either the word “holly” or “joy” in it. I suppose it will always be too tempting for Mommy and me to say “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” on our Christmas cards.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Christmas (A Very Warm One)

However, it would be difficult to fit your brother into that theme, as Jack has more of a natural Halloween theme.

Your brother’s first Christmas, 6 years ago, was filled with snow. However, yours was sunny and in the lower 70’s. And obviously you were more aware of what was going on for your first Christmas, as you turned 8 months old on Christmas Eve; whereas your brother was only a month old on his first Christmas.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Christmas (A Very Warm One)

Therefore, you weren’t simply a newborn baby who was completely unaware of the glory of Christmas. Instead, you were a very aware little girl who learned to crawl just in time for extra fun!

While your brother obviously helped you unwrap your gifts, and took pride in doing so, you undeniably loved being able to savor the surprise of each new gift box that was placed in front of you.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Christmas (A Very Warm One) h6

The main gift Mommy and I bought you is a ball pit just big enough for you for play in. We also got you a picnic play set as well.

You loved all your gifts. I’m really looking forward to helping you play with them; especially as Mommy prepares dinner each evening while my role is to entertain you.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Christmas (A Very Warm One)

I know that you can be just as easily occupied by playing with a Rubbermaid container on the kitchen floor. I realize and admit that so much of the fun of giving an 8 month-old little girl an array of age-appropriate toys for Christmas is getting to see your cute reactions to them.

But I’m okay with that.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your 1st Christmas (A Very Warm One)

Dear Jack: I Think You’re More Intrigued by The Elf on the Shelf than You are Santa

6 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: I Think You’re More Intrigued by The Elf on the Shelf than You are Santa

Dear Jack,

Sure, you completely appreciated the enormous Lego set you’ve been wanting for months. That was actually your main gift from Mommy and me. Granted, it took you less than half a day to complete it; despite it being designed for 8 years and up. Yet still, it served its role in your Christmas gift line-up.

Dear Jack: I Think You’re More Intrigued by The Elf on the Shelf than You are Santa

But of all the gifts you received for Christmas, the one that produced the most excited reaction from you was the one you asked Santa for: a stuffed animal of Rudolph. What’s funny is, I happen to know that toy cost only $20, which is much less than any other toy you received this year.

Dear Jack: I Think You’re More Intrigued by The Elf on the Shelf than You are Santa

Last week I reminded you of the importance of always also telling me and Mommy what you tell Santa you want for Christmas.  Fortunately, even with just a few days’ notice prior to Christmas, Rudolph showed up under the tree.

Dear Jack: I Think You’re More Intrigued by The Elf on the Shelf than You are Santa

But while Santa is definitely an exciting part of Christmas for you, perhaps it is actually The Elf on the Shelf who you find even more interesting.

Ever faithfully, that elf was sure to show up somewhere new in your bedroom each morning you woke up, for the weeks leading up to Christmas.

I picked up on the fact that you and your friends from school began trading stories: “Really? Well my elf…”

Coincidentally, your Elf on the Shelf began getting into even more trouble for the days following; your personal favorite being a zip-line made out of toilet paper.

Dear Jack: I Think You’re More Intrigued by The Elf on the Shelf than You are Santa j5

It may appear I have quite purposely kept up with the details of both Santa and The Elf on the Shelf this year. I know one day you’ll be able to appreciate my interest in these magical aspects of Christmas.

Dear Jack: I Think You’re More Intrigued by The Elf on the Shelf than You are Santa

But in the meantime, I’ll still secretly take credit for the excitement that both Santa and the Elf on the Shelf brought you this year in Christmas anticipation.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: I Think You’re More Intrigued by The Elf on the Shelf than You are Santa

Dear Holly: A Weekend of Crawling, Pink Eye, and Getting Your Picture Taken with Santa

7 months.

Dear Holly: A Weekend of Crawling, Pink Eye, and Getting Your Picture Taken with Santa

Dear Holly,

Though we didn’t take you outside to see it yourself, it has now officially snowed for the first time since you’ve been born. However, I did take your brother out for a few frigid minutes so he could play.

Actually, he helped me out by carrying some of your dirty diapers to the garbage, on his Spiderman skateboard.

It obviously wasn’t a good idea to take you outside in the cold, as you were in the middle of your introduction to pink eye.

Dear Holly: A Weekend of Crawling, Pink Eye, and Getting Your Picture Taken with Santa

However, that didn’t stop you from taking advantage of every moment to practice you newly acquired skill of crawling on the floor; something you conveniently learned just in time to show Nonna and Papa for Christmas.

You also had a lot of fun getting all dressed up to go get your picture made with Santa. Even at your young age, it is apparent to me you are totally enjoying being introduced to Christmas traditions.

With your big brother right next to you on Santa’s lap, you weren’t afraid at all of Santa, his elves, and all the bright lights. While you didn’t have a clue what was actually going on, you had a good time anyway.

Dear Holly: A Weekend of Crawling, Pink Eye, and Getting Your Picture Taken with Santa

I even got to see you open your first Christmas gift this week; one of your aunts sent you and your brother Jack some gifts. I loved being able to see you begin to tear the princess-themed wrapping paper off; with a little help from your brother.

We are now just a few days away from Christmas. As an adult, I am at least just as excited as you and your brother about Christmas. I am so excited about seeing your reaction to you opening your gifts, and inevitably, playing in all the wrapper paper afterwards.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: A Weekend of Crawling, Pink Eye, and Getting Your Picture Taken with Santa

Dear Holly: Your 1st Time to the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

7 months.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Time at the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

Dear Holly,

One of the many things I love about you is how sincerely excited and open-minded to whatever new thing Mommy and I place in front of you. It was obvious you could sense the excitement as we packed you up for the hour-long drive from Spring Hill to Nashville, to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Time to the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

I was always fascinated by the idea of a person being shot out of a canon at a circus. As of today, I finally got to see it happen myself. Leading up the circus this week, your brother Jack was so excited about the canon that he drew a picture at school to celebrate.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Time to the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

Yes- we really got to see a person shot out of a canon, across the area. And actually, it was a lady!

Dear Holly: Your 1st Time to the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

While our family thoroughly enjoyed the circus last year (while Mommy was pregnant with you), I undoubtedly appreciated the show even more this time around. It such an eclectic and old-world feel.

To say you were fascinated by it all would probably be an understatement.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Time to the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

Granted, your brother was just as intrigued. It is a very unusual event to see people doing the things these amazing performers are able to do.  They truly are talented.

To say you were fascinated by it all would probably be an understatement. h9

During intermission, our family was lucky enough to have one of the clowns come up to our row and talk to us. You loved meeting her! I think if it were up to you, you would have liked for her to hold you for the rest of the show.

To say you were fascinated by it all would probably be an understatement.

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Your brother decided he wanted to sit in Mommy’s lap for the 2nd half of the show, so that meant you sat on my lap. You bounced in awe and wonder the whole time!

To say you were fascinated by it all would probably be an understatement.

At 7 months old, I don’t know that you’ll remember anything you saw at the circus today, but I know I definitely look forward to taking you back next year.

Love,

Daddy

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