The strangest love letters you ever read

by Lesley on August 14, 2014 · 3 comments

in marriage

Laughing on beach

A few weeks ago Jonathan’s parents handed over the last of his childhood things which had been hiding in their garage since we married. Several years ago my parents made a similar delivery and I remember receiving the boxes with about 30% hope (I WONDER WHAT I MIGHT FIND?!?) and 70% terror (When am I going to find time to sort through all of this, and where am I going to store this junk in my tiny house?!)

At a quick glance, his boxes were similar to mine. They were filled with things you’d expect from childhood: school book reports and college blue books, way too many photo negatives concert ticket stubs, and baseball cards.

And then I noticed love letters. Lots and lots and lots of love letters penned from China and England, Prague and Paris. From me to him. A time capsule of our dating days we didn’t know existed.

There was a letter in a bottle, and letters on various hotel stationary, and postcards and three ring binder paper scraps and ones with drawings and hearts and lipstick prints. He’d saved them all, just like I saved his.

Later that night we put the kids to sleep and then sat down next to our backyard fire pit. A “date night in,” we called it. I pulled over the box of his old stuff and we each rifled through the papers and cards and random things he’d thought worthy of saving.

I spent awhile reading through my words to him, many of which were written during the long months of travel apart, and I was immediately struck by the intentionality and encouragement I’d poured into those letters. They were handwritten and lengthy, filled with all the reasons I cared about him. You are kind. You are persistent. You are a hard worker. You love Jesus. You put me before yourself. You are thoughtful. You are funny. 

But nowhere in all those love letters did I write, I love you. 

(Wait? Huh?)

During this stage in our dating life, despite having been together for almost two years, we hadn’t said the butterfly inducing phrase most people throw out a few months into their dating relationship.  I’d said the L word to previous boyfriends, and I’d regretted saying so. Love, to me, meant a commitment. Love doesn’t come and go. Love stays around when things get hard and sicknesses come and jobs are lost. I couldn’t tell another man that I loved him until I knew he was the one.

I think, at the time, some of our friends maybe thought we were strange for not saying I love you. And it is a little bit crazy and different. But you know, my friend Tammy said something recently that really resonated with me. She said, essentially, to really feel secure in a relationship you have to feel both loved and known.

When I re-read those letters (and the letters he wrote back to me) I realized we may not have been saying “I love you” but we were building a beautiful foundation for our marriage that we continue to benefit from all these years later.

Those letters said more than I love you. They said I know your heart. I know what will make you laugh. I know what hard things you’re going through. I know you are lonely right now. I know your good traits and I will remind you of them even when you doubt yourself. 

Today we’ve been married nine years, and it’s been the best nine years of my life. These days we say I LOVE YOU all the time, every day. We say I KNOW YOU all the time, too.

You are tired. Please sleep in.

You are stressed out. Let me  do the laundry.

You need time with friends. Go play basketball.

You look worried right now. Can I pray for you?

You always work so hard for our family. Thank you.

So often in our relationships we start going through the motions. Re-reading our old letters reminded me that to feel love, and to show love, we have to be intentional in knowing another person, and speaking encouragement and truth into their hearts.

Jonathan, on our anniversary today, I want to thank you for knowing me and reminding me that I am worthy of love.

And for all the times I didn’t say so… I love you. 

{photo taken at our rehearsal dinner, Irvine Cove, 2005}

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IMG_1270

I consider myself a fairly neat and tidy person. Some (my husband) might even say I’m a clean freak. I like order and I live for organization pin boards showcasing all glass container pantries or color coordinated craft closets.

But little people, though small and seemingly weak, have magical super powers when it comes to their ability to turn a warm and welcoming home into a small war zone.

When it comes to organizing our small house, and the growing number of kids’ clothes and toys, I’m constantly working hard to find solutions. In general, I’m careful to not buy too many toys and if we do purchase new things we’ll try to get outdoor toys rather than indoor toys since they can be hidden in our yard or garage. (Plus–fresh air is good for kids and we live in mild climate, so why not?) Inside the house, all our toys with lots of pieces are kept on high shelves and they have to be “checked-out” one at a time. Anna’s plastic eyesore of a play kitchen with a million parts? It’s in her closet for easy access but it can also hidden away when not in use. Our living room has a few chic baskets and boxes hidden behind our furniture which hold toys. At night after the kids go to bed, I pick up any and all remaining toys, light a candle, take a deep long breath, (perhaps grab a glass of wine!) and pretend no children live here.

But there’s one thing I rarely do, and I’m going to challenge you to do the same.

Don’t clean your windows. 

When Anna started walking her little fingerprints appeared everywhere. Our backyard french doors were covered in prints, as was our new stainless steel refrigerator. The front window, which looked out on the street, was by far the worst. Every morning and evening she banged on that window to say goodbye to Daddy on his way to work, and when he returned I would hold her up for waves and hellos. Her lips, tongue, and peanut butter coated fingers left love trails I couldn’t keep up with.

One weekend after I took Anna to see my parents–Granna and Grand-dude as they’re so lovingly referred to around here–my mom called to debrief our time together. She said something like, “I looked out our back window today and noticed Anna’s little fingerprints are still there. They made me smile and I didn’t have the heart to wipe them away. Those are things you appreciate now as grandparents.”

If there is anyone who likes a clean house and some resemblance of order more than I do, it’s my mom. And I love this about her. But I also love that she gave me a beautiful reminder to slow down and appreciate the chaotic mess of toddlerhood. These days, their little fingers seem to be all over everywhere and everything. They leave trails of Cheerios and water puddles all over the bathroom, and trains strewn across the living room. There is sand ALL OVER my car and dollhouse pieces in my bed and if I step on one more raisin with my bare feet… well… you know.

And yet someday their fingerprints and their puddles and their raisins won’t be around anymore. I won’t find all her Thomas trains “puffing” along the window’s edge. Instead, Jonathan and I will settle for quick e-mails and text messages, and dinners here and there. These messy kiddos won’t always be messy kiddos. Their time in our house, dirtying our furniture, is temporary. 

So while I can’t handle my living room looking like a war zone at all times–who can, am I right?– I resist the urge to Windex their fingerprints off my slider door and living room windows. At night when I sit down and kick my feet up, their fingerprints help me remember that children live here and it’s a really, really wonderful thing.

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Happy 3rd Birthday, Sweet Anna

by Lesley on July 19, 2014 · 6 comments

in Anna

Happy 3rd Birthday, Sweet Anna from Lesley Miller on Vimeo.

Two has not been terrible at our house. In fact, as I lay down next to Anna last night, in the final hours of her second year, I thanked God for the little girl blossoming in front of our eyes. She is inquisitive and obedient, affectionate and silly, smiley and giggly with those she trusts, and a nonstop chatterbox. How we love watching her passions and interests develop. These days she loves: Thomas the Train, taking her vitamins, washing her hands and going potty, Fancy Nancy, the stars and moon, picking avocados, washing the dishes, her “Jesus” (worship) CD,  donut holes, raisins, french fries and applesauce, helping Mommy bake, being chased, playing with sand, swings, pushing buttons, playing dress-up, and driving toy cars.

Some of our favorite things she says, on the regular:

“Here me are!!” (“Here I am!”) “I’m making messes!” “I do it alllll byyyy myyyyyself.” “I need a snack.” “I wanna watch TV.” “Higher, Mommy, Higher!” (On the swings) “We love you, Little Man.” “Maybe tomorrow we go to the beach after my nap, maybe?” “Whatchyou and Mommy talkin’ about?” “Mommy, that works wonderful!” (Said about the new outfit I was trying on from Stitch Fix! ha!)

Yesterday we celebrated Anna by giving her a “new” playhouse for the backyard which we plan to fix-up over the upcoming months. We ate aebleskivers for breakfast, visited the firetruck at our neighborhood fire station, went to Chick-fil-a for lunch, played with some new toys, ate frozen pizza for dinner–a favorite–read a few new books, and let her fall asleep in her new tutu from Auntie Allison.

Sweet Anna, you are so loved and we thank God for your beautiful life.

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crib shoe

I was really blown away by the response to my post last week about there not being a one-sized fits all method for raising kids. You guys, that post has been floating around in my head for MONTHS but I knew I wanted to say it well, and write it right, and offer encouragement to anyone feeling alone. Based on the huge number of likes on Facebook, I think it resonated with a few of you. Thank you for saying so and making me feel less alone.

I wish I had the energy and time to write posts like that all the time. Unfortunately, today, I have about 15 minutes before Owen wakes up and my blogging time is done for the day. And so, I bring you, a quick list of gift ideas for second babies.

When Owen was born I decided not to register again for baby items. I’d registered for my wedding, and registered for Anna’s birth, and I felt uncomfortable registering again for another baby. I don’t know what the etiquette is on this but it just didn’t feel right for us. We were blessed with very generous and unique gifts after he was born. A lot of people gave us items that I’d never have thought to purchase!

Here are a few gift ideas for second babies:

1. Carter’s Footie Pajamas : I like having lots of pajamas on hand for my kids. They grow so fast in the first year, and they spit-up and poop like nobodies business. In my opinion, there is no such thing as too many pajamas. Get the zip-up kind for faster diaper changes and don’t be afraid to gift these in larger sizes.

Which brings me to my next point…

2. Bigger sized clothing : Everyone loves buying newborn outfits, but a lot of babies outgrow the newborn size quickly. And until kids are between 3-6 months old, they live in onesies and pajamas. If you’re going to spend money on an adorable outfit, buy them in 6-12 month sizes, or even 12 months and up, and think about the appropriate season too. This is especially important for a mom who is having a different gender baby than her first, or who is having a baby born in the opposite season.

3. Burp cloths : I feel about burp cloths the way I feel about pajamas…which is…there is no such thing as too many! My favorite kind are the aden + anais muslin burpy bib because they’re so soft and can also be used to catch drool during the teething months. (I also love all the homemade options on Etsy!) This is a particularly good option to buy for the mom who is having a different gender than her first.

4. The Robeez crib shoe : Perfect for the crawler/early walker stage because these shoes actually stay on kids’ feet. My children were gifted adorable baby shoes but barely wore them because they rarely stay on their little feet. If you’re going to buy shoes, get Robeez or something similar. I promise the person you’re buying for will love this gift.

5. A unique winter hat : This is one of my favorite things to buy a new baby. I’m partial to all the sweet animal options on Etsy. This elephant is a favorite because the gray would match with almost anything.

6. Monogrammed bath towels: We have these Pottery Barn towels, but all of their animal option are also so stink’ cute.  Baby #2 might wear a lot of hand-me-downs, but he/she shouldn’t have to share a bath towel!

7. Gift for mama : There is nothing sweeter than a pedicure gift certificate or a new robe for the hospital. My friend Sharon bought me a small Serena and Lily clutch to hold my wallet and phone so that I could easily transfer all my personal items between diaper bag and purse. Thoughtful and practical!

8. Money towards a double stroller : Because mommies needs to get out of the house, and double strollers are pricey!

Still need a few more ideas? Unique artwork for the nursery / HALO sleepsacksTrumpette socks

What’s your favorite gift to buy new babies?

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Baby Birthday Boy

by Lesley on July 13, 2014 · 7 comments

in owen

Today is our sweet boy’s birthday. One full year since he entered our world and changed our family for the better. One full year of cuddles. One full year of snuggles. One full year of love and laughter and learning to be his mama.  Today is a special day because he made it, and we made it, and we celebrate the little boy he is becoming while mourning the last days of his babyhood.

One of my favorite things to do for my kids’ birthdays is to make them a short slideshow documenting their year. Hopefully JJ Heller keeps coming out with new albums because I’ve used her songs for Anna’s first and second year movies, and you’ll hear her singing in Owen’s first year show. (Watch until the end and you’ll get a quick peak at the party we had for him yesterday! I’ll post a few more pictures tomorrow.)

Owen’s First Year from Lesley Miller on Vimeo.

 

Owen in numbers

Number of pounds at birth: 9.5

Number of pounds at one year: 24

Number of times he fell out of his high chair this year: 1

Number of teeth: 6

Number of haircuts in the first year of life: 5

Number of airplane flights: 5

Number of homes he’s lived in: 2

Number of colds: TOO MANY TO COUNT, THANK YOU SISSY

Number of minutes in his newborn sleep cycle: 28

Number of smiles per day: 75+

Number of times he’s picked up per day: does he ever get put down?

Number of stairs he fell down at his grandparents’ house: 8

Number of words: 2 (Dada, Mama)

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