Tag Archives: Letters

Dear Ashley

Birthdays are special.  It’s like a bookmark, with each year signifying the end to a splendid chapter.  I am sure this last year had many highs and lows.  Like the time you took Emily for me when I went into labor with Andrew.  Or when you took all the exquisite photos of our family.  I am sure there are other more distant memories that you can recall better than I.

It’s funny how we spent so much of our teenage years fighting.  Your iron will against mine.  A clash of Titans.  Physically, you won much more of the fights, but emotionally, I’d say I did some damage.  I’m sorry for that.  I am grateful that we have moved past that adolescent nonsense and turned our relationship into something much better–a sister relationship.  We still exchange silly banter but our fights have diminished, our iron melted down.  We have our differences, of course, yet we see past those.  Recognizing how much we need each other.

I felt it more poignantly after I miscarried.  You called and it meant the world to me.  Knowing that I had a sister who cared and would listen.  Thank you.

I wish you the best on this birthday.  Enjoy the cabin and the fishing.  Above all, remember that I am here, forever, as your sister.

Love,

Amber

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To My Eldest:

When you emerged into this world,  your curiosity was unquenchable.   That first night, you stayed up with your dad,  learning about your new world.  Your bright eyes–big even then–stared at everything with wonder and amazement.  With your first breath, you stole my heart.

That curiosity has remained part of your personality.  You learned to sit up, crawl, and walk around on furniture early because it enabled you to explore further and deeper.  Though your adventurous spirit often led to calls to the Poison Control or the doctor,  I was ecstatic to have such an interested student of life.

This day marks your second year in this world.  Thinking about that makes me gasp with how remarkably fast everything went.  I am not sad to see you grow up because I thoroughly enjoyed your infancy.   Your ready smile and brilliant, blue eyes kept me joyful and captivated.  You taught–continue to teach–me how to be a mother.   Even when your brother came so soon after your own year birthday, you remained the happy little girl you have always been.

As you are learning to communicate better,  I am discovering another component of your personality: compassion.  When I am frustrated or in pain, you immediately recognize that something is wrong and quickly quip, “Are you okay?” while pausing in whatever endeavor you were pursuing.  This question always gives me chills, even when I respond, honestly, “No, I’m not.”  This coupled with watching you interact with your younger brother has given me brief glimpses of the woman you will become one day.  I hope that you cherish that bond between your brother and yourself.

Dearest Emily, you have been patient with me during my evolution these past two years.  I am constantly grateful for your everlasting love.  You and your brother are my greatest treasures.

Love,

Your Mother

I emerged for a few days only to leave again.  Fear not,  I will be back very soon!  Have a wonderful (early) weekend!

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Dear Dad,

Yesterday, while walking through the grocery store, I heard our song.  The song you sang at my wedding reception.

The unbidden tears clouded my eyes as I remembered your voice, so full of emotion, singing the words–

But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she’d find you someday
But it still hard to give her away
I loved her first

Memories started flowing.

I remembered when I left home for school.  My youth leaders had made a cd celebrating my youth.  We watched it together and cried.  You never were afraid to cry during sentimental moments.

I remembered running errands with you while living in Idaho.  It was our one chance to really talk. You listened as I expressed concerns.  You showed me that my ideas were important.

I remembered holding your hand–and laughing–when you accompanied me on field trips during elementary school.  You were the cool Dad that everyone wanted to be with.  I felt so special.

I remembered how excited you were when each of my siblings were born.  I observed as you tenderly held them for the first time and knew I wanted a husband who did just that.  I knew your love increased with each additional child.

I remembered how you taught me important lessons on sacrifice, compassion, and charity as you faithfully home taught your assigned families, served in your various callings, and worked hard to support our large family.

Your tears on my wedding day were bittersweet.  I had chosen an honorable man whom you respected, but I was leaving home.  For good.

But,  Dad,  you taught me well.   Those values you pushed so hard on me, stuck.  I believe I became the woman you hoped I would become.

Thank you, Dad, for believing in me.  I know this message is overdue, but happy belated birthday and happy Father’s Day.

Love,

Your daughter

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Dear 23-Year-Old Self,

Yes, I am finally back online.  It will take me forever to get caught up but so life goes.  While disconnected, I was thinking about this blog and realized I did not write myself a birthday letter; thus, this post’s inception.

Remember those goals you wrote when you were 12?  The sheet was short and simple–something like this (in no particular order).

  • Marry a worthy returned missionary in the temple.
  • Graduate from college.
  • Become a mom.

The goal you hoped most to achieve was motherhood.  You had no idea when that would come to pass and marriage seemed like a fleeting fancy, something that happened to those who were beautiful and witty, characteristics you (falsely) believed you lacked.

Yet, here you are at 23.  You have achieved those goals.  You are a college graduate–the first in your immediate family. You have married an incredible man who is everything you hoped he would be and more.  You have two beautiful children that bring unsolicited smiles frequently.

Motherhood was harder than you expected.  With school, you knew what was needed to receive that “A.”  With parenting, there is no syllabus with its accompanying assignment sheet.  You can’t check Blackboard for your grades.  There is no professor to explain difficult concepts.  So, the next time you envision that imaginary audience who groans and shakes their heads at your mistakes, remember that there is no imaginary audience.  When you make a mistake, it is okay.  Grow from your mistakes, don’t dwell on them.  When you do have a question, ask your friends.  You are surrounded by experienced parents who would not think you are a failure for asking.

Please forsake those insecurities that tie you down.  You are not the awkward teenager who once lived in her older sister’s shadow.  You are beautiful, vivacious, and benevolent.  You have a husband who would slay dragons for you.  You have a daughter and son who instantly forgive your shortcomings.  You have accomplished all the goals you once set for yourself.

People do not look down on you because of your choice to become a stay-at-home mom.  Stop using your education as a snobby reminder that you could have done more with your life.  This is your dream!  Even if someone thinks less of you, it is your choice to believe it or ignore it.   Instead of “if onlys” become the best mom you can possibly be.

Replace your doubt with trust.  You know what is best for you and your family.

Above all, trust your husband.  Trust your friends.  Trust your parents.  Trust your Savior.  Embrace forgiveness–of others and of self.  Hold fast to the truth that has constantly guided you.

Love always,

Me

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The Whole Crew

As I’m sure you have all noticed,  I write birthday letters to each of my siblings.   I do this to help keep the connection between and them alive.  After the last birthday letterKelly asked for more information about my family.  Kelly, consider this your answer.

I have 9 siblings, 5 sisters and 4 brothers.  I am the second child.  Yes, we all came from the same mother and father.  To satisfy any curiosity you might have,  here’s what my family looks like.

Steve & Kim (Mom & Dad)

These are the leaders of our clan–Steve and Kim.  My dad is busy with work and my mom is busy keeping track of all their children.

The First Born: Ashley

Ashley is a buyer for HerTern, a boutique based out of Alaska.  She is gorgeous, successful, and everything I could have hoped for in an older sister.  She explores her photography and baking talents at her blog–Just {Ash}.

Raul, Brody, & Autumn

I have referred to Autumn a few times for the ultimate sacrifice she made a couple years ago.  She is now happily married to Raul and completely smitten with her son, Brody (who has Down’s Syndrome).

Austin

Austin will be leaving to serve a 2-year mission to Peru in a couple of weeks.  He practically saved my sanity while I was pregnant with Andrew.  I will greatly miss him.

Aaron

Aaron is busy breaking girls’ hearts.  He is an incredible athlete who has had to leave sports due to injuries.  He is a big goof ball.

Katelynn

Katelynn dreams of becoming a paramedic.  She brings balance to our family with her witty sense of humor and kind heart.

Alden

Alden is a strong boy.  His battle with Asperger syndrome often leaves him feeling confused and out of control.  His heart, though, remains untouched.  He is extremely compassionate–often the only sibling that can comfort a crying niece or nephew.

Abby

Abby is a happy, sweet, angelic little girl.  She enjoys snuggling and playing with her little friends.  She has a special place in Ben’s heart.

Kaden

Kaden is the miracle baby.  As you can see, he has grown to be a handsome little boy.  He is adventurous, smart, and loving.

Alivia

Alivia was also a premature arrival, slipping into our family when we least expected it.   Yet,  she has made a name for herself as Queen Alivia.  She is completely a Daddy’s girl.

There you have it–my family.  If you have any questions you’d like to ask about my siblings, my parents, or growing up in a large family, ask away.  I will do my best to provide well thought out answers.

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A Birthday Letter for Two

Katelynn and Alivia:

It seems nearly impossible that out of the 365  days of the year, God chose both of you to be born on the same day.   To honor the both of you,  your letters will be posted on two successive days.  Starting with Katelynn (she is, after all, the oldest) today.

Dearest Katelynn,

While looking for a picture of you, I came across this one.  I sat and stared for a while.  No, not at my cute little guy, but at you.  At how beautiful you have become.  I think back to when you were born.  You were a delight from the beginning.  I think God blessed Mother with you because Aaron was so exhausting.  He sent you to bring balance back into the family.  You did and still do.

I’ve never told you this, but I felt a lot of guilt about your baby years.  I felt I should have held you more, played with you more, and paid you  more attention.  I was sure that my selfishness had ruined our relationship forever.  This idea held me back from basking in your delightful spirit for many years.  I didn’t think I was worthy enough.

I know it must be hard, smashed by 2 older brothers and 3 older sisters, but you have learned to hold your ground.   Your voice is often the reasonable one amidst the torrents of nasty remarks.  Your slick sense of humor can ease tense moments.  Your calm demeanor helps us all to be more patient.

You might be younger than me, but I look up to you.  Your courage in all situations stuns me.  Your desire to do what’s right no matter what makes me shiver.  Your valiance.  Your strength.

You are a strong young woman.

I have no doubt the Devil shudders when he sees you.  May that always be the case.

With admiration and love,

Amber

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To My Little (Big) Brother Austin:

Once upon a time,  I prayed and asked God how I could juggle pregnancy and a 6-month old baby.  He answered me by sending you.

I would sit in my rocking chair, holding my little baby, a bowl within reach, and rock and rock–seeking some relief from the constant nausea.  You would feed and diaper the Queen,  clean the dishes,  and wash the laundry.

When I was feeling blue from the constant sickness,  you’d put on my favorite movies.   I smiled when I saw how much you enjoyed Sense and Sensibility. You fell in love with Elinor Dashwood and cheered on her romance with Mr. Edward Ferrars.

Those mornings when I cried because of the constant vomiting,  you would send me off to bed with a promise that you would take care of the Queen.

You and Mr. B got along swimmingly.   You kept his mind away from his crazy, sick wife and helped him relax.  You watched the Queen so he could take me somewhere to eat.  The companionship of another male was exactly what Mr. B needed to handle a very tough semester.

I can’t forget how you helped me see the humor in my sickness–laughing over my new “diet,”  and reminding me that it was worth it.

The time came for you to leave.  I’m sure feelings had been hurt,  as they are apt to be in a small space with three adults,  but you have remained a favorite of the Queens and an excellent friend to Mr. B.

And now you are turning 19.  You will be leaving for your mission to Peru soonly.  I will miss you.

It is strange to think of you,  my 6 foot brother, as my little brother.  But you are and will always remain so.

Happy Birthday little (big) brother!

Love,

Amber

If you have time, will you leave some birthday wishes to my sweet brother?  He will be reading them!

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