I’m moving to a new website!

by Lesley on September 1, 2015 · 0 comments

in uncategorized

Hello faithful friends and readers!

It’s with great excitement that I’m making a change to my blogging home. From here moving forward I’ll be writing at www.lesleym.com

This site will stay live for awhile, reminding you to head over to a cleaner and prettier site, for more stories, photos, encouragement and conversation. There’s a few new posts up on the new site, so be sure to visit TODAY!

Love,

Lesley

 

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View More: http://ethreeit.pass.us/cutecouplesmiller

My engagement ring has been making a strange rattling sound for a few months so I stopped into a jewelry store yesterday on the way to the beach. The kids and I were lathered in sunscreen and they rubbed their greasy fingers all over the glass display cases while I explained my concerns to the owner. “I think it’s loose,” I say in one breath, while lecturing the kids in my next. “Use your eyes, not your hands.”  

I’d been meaning to do this boring errand for weeks, but taking two kids into a jewelry store is fairly high up on my List of Things I Would Rather Not Do, Ever.

The owner examines the ring while I play defense with the kids. After a few minutes he hands it back.

“You know there’s a chip in one of the stone’s corners, right?” he says. I nod. The chip, an accident, isn’t noticeable to the naked eye but it’s causing one of the prongs not to hold as well. “Do you remember how it happened?” he asks with some surprise and curiosity. Diamonds are known to be extremely strong stones, after all. “Maybe you knocked it against a kitchen counter or another hard surface?” he suggests.

I smile with amusement. I’m in a season of life where I’m using my hands a lot. There is cooking and cleaning and scrubbing and moving and lifting and pushing carts and all sorts of other little tasks to keep a family alive. So when he asks if I can remember such an incident, I can’t help but wonder, which one?

The jeweler adjusts the prong and quickly cleans the ring before sending us on our way. It shines confidently in the morning light and I remember when I admired it for the first time.

It’s been almost 11 years since my sweet man slipped the stone on my finger in front of hundreds of gawking holiday tourists in Rockefeller Center. I was so excited—shocked, really—that I didn’t take a close look until a few hours later. I remember staring at its brilliance while the waiter at a fancy restaurant in the West Village poured champagne. (“Are they old enough to drink?” he was probably thinking.)

We hadn’t gone ring shopping together, so my engagement ring was the first and only one I tried on. I let it catch the chandelier’s light and scatter brilliance over the restaurant while Jonathan explained how he chose just the right one. Clarity and cut and size all meant nothing to me, but for a man who’d just maxed out his credit card, they meant a lot. He talked carats and letters, lengths and widths. Later that night I’d wake up from a deep sleep and reach for my left hand, making sure this valuable symbol of his affection wasn’t just a dream. I even went into the bathroom, turning on the light for a peak at it’s beauty before falling back asleep.

Today is our ten year wedding anniversary. That engagement ring still sits on my left hand, as brilliant to the eye as when I first received it, but as the jeweler reminded me yesterday it’s no longer in perfect form. When I first learned of the diamond’s chip a few years ago I was sad about the news. Even though the diamond still looks the same, I didn’t like knowing it is probably less valuable now.

And yet as I reflect back on the last ten years, there is something about the diamond’s chip that feels like an honest reflection of the union between husband and wife.

On our wedding day, our marriage didn’t yet carry a single flaw. The day was a grand affair on the water with passed appetizers, a big tiered cake, and one of those candy stations because I had to have a candy station. My dad found a party-till-the-late-hours cover band, and my mom made sure all the napkins matched with the invitations, and other such details I’d overlook. The day itself was glittery, and expensive, and flawless…just like my ring.

And then, as marriage should go and did go, we jumped into real life. The everyday. The confusion about our dreams and how to chase them. The waiting for acceptance letters. The we-have-no-money moments. The law school loans. The job losses. The job acceptances! The graduation. The offer, the escrow, the remodel. The positive pregnancy tests. The terrible CT scan. The surgeries. Moving. Moving again, and again, and again. The holidays with friends, the vacations with family. The infant who won’t stop crying. The wife who barely showered for awhile. The husband without eyebrows. The constantly smelly sink and the never ending pile of laundry, and the mostly funny debates about which butter to buy, and why is football on the television again, and do you really have to fart under the sheets?

Ten years later, I know the beautifully hard work of marriage. Many days, most days, my lovely ring is caked with with soap scum and diaper ointment and play dough. Underneath it all is a little crack that doesn’t signify a marriage falling apart, but holding strong despite the circumstances of normal, give-and-take life.  It’d be easy to feel disappointed that something that once seemed perfect is no longer so, but that chip was earned. It’s a mark of all that’s right, not all that’s wrong. Unlike a wedding or a ring, a healthy and happy marriage isn’t something that can be bought. It’s a constant work in progress. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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puako, hawaii

It’s the Monday after our week-long, kids-free vacation. Real life and responsibilities loom a bit larger today, as my salty swim suits still dry out in the bathtub. We returned on Saturday after a week on the Big Island, where we stayed at my aunt and uncle’s beach house. (Lynn and Bill, you are so generous! Thank you!)

It was four years since Jonathan and I’d been away for a whole week without our kids, and it felt just as amazing as we’d hoped. I anticipated that Hawaii would be restful—and it was—but I didn’t realize just how much fun we’d have being goofy and carefree. We played hard all week…snorkeling and paddle boarding most days, hiking, swimming with huge manta rays, laughing a ton, and making the sunset our biggest priority each night. I didn’t fill a single sippy cup, and my biggest responsibility each day was deciding between a Pina Colada or a Beergarita. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times)— I chose both.

We appreciated every second of our trip, knowing that time away happens far less than we’d like, and realizing that our parents both made a lot of sacrifices so we could leave our kids behind. (Thanks Mom/Dad/Steve and Marlene!)

What’s funny is that before we left I started feeling so bad that our poor young, vulnerable children would be miserable without us for a week, and weren’t we terrible parents for abandoning them right after moving? Let’s just say they were spoiled rotten all week, and supposedly didn’t ask about us once. I called on our last night to say hi, particularly missing them, and Anna said, “Mom, I’m busy watching Curious George right now.” Alrighty then…I guess I’ll head back to the beach.

Here are a few things I enjoyed while on vacation, that maybe you’ll enjoy too. It’s Monday, after all, and Mondays can be rough.

I purchased these Oh Joy bandaids in Kona after scraping my fingers and ankles on coral. I can officially say, I now understand my kids’ fascination with bandaids. They’re so cute, I just want to wear them for no reason!

I kept seeing these jewel tattoos in various magazines and blogs and had a big crush on them. They look so pretty on tan skin so a beach vacation seemed an appropriate time for a try. I must say, I loved wearing them even more than I thought I would. Also, (shhhh) they are on clearance at Target! (I just bought another package to wear to a wedding this fall.) FYI, Target has free shipping on all items this week. $5.25, people.

Our daily vacation happy hours consisted of  this popcorn + poke + pina coladas + paddle boarding. Simple. Easy. So good. Have you heard of hurricane popcorn before? Dana introduced us to this stuff and it’s much, much cheaper in Hawaii so we enjoyed it while we had the chance. (We also brought home a Costco box of it for future at-home date nights.)

I devoured Big Little Lies and finished Go Set a Watchman. Big Little Lies is a page turner—highly recommend—while the second one is a slower reader, but (in my opinion) a must-read for those who like Mockingbird. Don’t buy all the “Atticus is a racist and you’ll hate it” rhetoric. The story, and the character’s thoughts and feelings about race, are so much more complex than average book reviewers are reporting.

Coconut strips. Oh my. Why had I never bought these at Trader Joe’s until now?

This pink lipstick is so on fleek, you guys. (Apparently, “on fleek” is a trendy phrase to use these days? This is what I’m told.) Jenny gave me this little tube of Sugar lip treatment, and it smells so good and feels so good. The Sephora sales person says “fresh” is a good color for blondes . I never wear color on my lips but this got worn to dinner every night on vacation. Smooch!

What have you been reading, listening to, and buying these days? 

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“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say —is there a right thing to say?—but I call her back from a gas station in Oregon and the tears come flooding out when she answers. This little fleeting baby, tinier than any fruit or nut, has the power to crush us both. I am considering the could-have-beens, and mourning the moments we won’t have. I wanted this baby so badly for her. I wanted her baby so badly for me.

That night, curled up on her brown leather couches with toddler board books scattered at our feet, we cry together. She makes me promise not to feel guilty, and I make her promise to tell me if I say anything insensitive. As we navigate new territory in our friendship, I wonder how this night will be marked. Is this when we draw closer or farther from one another?”

—from when your friend miscarries and you don’t, my own submission to Coffee + Crumbs this month

“Our schools do amazing things with our children. And they are, in a way, teaching moral standards when they ask students to treat one another humanely and to do their schoolwork with academic integrity. But at the same time, the curriculum sets our children up for doublethink. They are told that there are no moral facts in one breath even as the next tells them how they ought to behave.” from Why our children don’t think there are moral facts in the New York Times

“For a show that encourages 14-person dates and the temporary negotiation of a lifestyle that could be best described as G-rated swinging, the whole shebang is awfully precious when it comes to the fact that sometimes, some of these people have sex with each other.” —Sex and the Single Churl: Another Bachelorette Finale Gets Weird from NPR

“Choose, instead, to read it as the story of a hero we’ve known since her childhood, a fellow sojourner learning what it means to swipe away the tin gods of her youth and to find a voice brave enough to speak up for equality and courageous enough to keep loving those who disagree. If ever there was one I’d want next to me on this wobbly path, it surely would be Miss Jean Louise Finch.” from Why you should still read “Go Set a Watchman

“Briggs said the nursing home residents did a “complete transformation in the presence of the children.” She told ABC, “moments before the kids came in, sometimes the people seemed half alive, sometimes asleep. It was a depressing scene. As soon as the kids walked in for art or music or making sandwiches for the homeless or whatever the project that day was, the residents came alive.” —This is what happens when you put a preschool in a nursing home (BRILLIANT, right?)

“We decided to re-create our own swimsuit photo shoot on the beach in Malibu. We each chose a model and then tried to re-create her pose. We think it’s very important for women of all different shapes, sizes, and colors to rock these bathing suits and give an accurate depiction of what a beach body really is. So that’s what we did.” —We tried on Victoria’s Secret Bathing Suits and This is What Happened

Happy (almost) weekend! We are madly packing today for a week long vacation to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, without our kids! I can hardly believe it. Talk to you when I get back.

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Formerly known as Magnolia Lane

by Lesley on July 24, 2015 · 3 comments

in growing up

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We’re moving again this weekend. Did I tell you already? I’m not sure I have—partially out of denial and partially because I didn’t really feel like talking about it—but now that I’m in the thick of packing I will do anything to avoid responsibility. Packing. Ugh. I very much dislike packing, especially when it’s not my idea.

We knew from the beginning that our current house wasn’t a particularly stable choice, and yet, when one lives in a town like Santa Barbara (where vacancy rates are currently less than 1%) you take what you can get. In fact, we rented the house without ever walking through the interior because it was the  only choice which made it the best choice. When we signed the lease our landlord casually mentioned the house would be sold when his father passed away. “I’m not telling you this to concern you, but I do think it’s only fair to mention. You’re a young family, after all, and moving is a hassle.” But we loved the neighborhood, the cul-de-sac, the mountain views and the backyard and figured that God would provide something different when and if we needed it. We settled fully into this house, hanging curtains and putting lots and lots (and LOTS) of nails in the walls, while ignoring the ugly carpet, 1956 kitchen and popcorn ceiling.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, people die and houses get sold. So we’re moving on again. This change is inconvenient more than anything else— something that happens all the time to lots of people—but I’m experiencing a surprising sadness as the boxes get packed. We’ve only lived here for 16 months but it’s been such a good 16 months. 

Our family left Sacramento in somewhat of a whirlwind, during a season that felt unpredictable and exhausting, and God gave us a peaceful street to call home. This quiet little house, where foggy mountains and big black crows welcome us each morning, and chirping crickets sing us to sleep, felt like a respite for me. We spent many afternoons barefoot in the backyard, picking avocados and bouncing on the trampoline, or meeting “the neighbor boys” for scooter races in the street. Our yellow swing found a perfect home in the huge front yard magnolia tree, and we nestled a little playhouse under the orange tree for Anna. Jonathan and I talked about how maybe someday we could buy this house and give it the proper kitchen it deserved, and send our kids to school with their neighborhood friends—kind people who’ve embraced us with open hearts and passed along many a generous hand-me-down.

But we’re moving on, to a new house on a new street in a neighboring town. After a lot of unnecessary worrying, God provided a perfect place for our family just as He always has before. I’m excited about our community swimming pool and several great families who live nearby.  I can’t wait to have my own walk-in closet and a proper, working oven. But I’m sad too. I’m going to really miss our yard and our neighbors and Saturday morning walks to Jeannine’s and Spudnuts. And I’m going to miss the quiet peacefulness, and a home that felt like our own little sanctuary amidst a busy world. Our new rental is a condo, and our master bedroom window looks into a construction zone and the huge UCSB dormitories. Crickets are being replaced with cranes. This change may take some getting used to.

And yet, I’ve done this enough times to know that when I let God lead, He always surprises me. In the past I used to say things like, “I would never move there or I would never take that job,” and God always seemed to always respond with “Oh really?” Over the last few years my prayers have shifted a a lot. Now, in time of transition I pray, “God, we will go wherever you want. We are open to anything. We are up for adventure. We are up for settling down. You know how many rooms we need or don’t need. You know what’s best for our family. Let our vision match your vision.”

Onward! It’s time to see what’s next. I know it’s going to be good.

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