You're not my 'second husband'—you're my rock, my one and only

You noticed me when another man looked right through me. You wanted to be close to me when another man couldn't get far enough away. You made me whole again when another man left me broken.

You're not my 'second husband'—you're my rock, my one and only

[Editor's note: This story is a letter from a woman to her husband. While this is one example of one type of relationship, we understand, appreciate and celebrate that relationships come in all forms and configurations.]

Dear husband,

There are things about my first marriage you already know like how I had a miscarriage early on and how the weight of that loss was the final blow to an already shaky house of cards.

But there are some things I never told you, like how living with an emotionally detached person makes you feel alone most of the time as if you're simply coexisting with someone who harbors a million dark secrets.

Or that despite the troubles we had, I still loved his family. The day our divorce was final felt extremely devastating, as if these kind and wonderful people were all killed in the same car crash. The sadness of missing them made it hard to breathe.

You know the story of how I moved back in with my parents for a year after that, leaving my stuff in accessible milk crates on the floor as a constant reminder that this too shall pass. I was literally living out of a suitcase, sleeping on a cramped daybed, and binge-watching Platinum Weddings (oh, how I tortured myself!).

But did you know that even though my life was a mess, I had a good feeling I'd meet someone like you?

I had enough sense to know my situation was temporary, and instead of focusing on the sadness, I chose to focus on a goal. I worked hard and saved my money to buy a condo in the apartment complex where—as fate would have it—you also lived.

No more boxes and empty closets. Hello, new life.

When we met, you were holding a Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee and wearing shorts in the dead of winter. You were friendly and seemed nice. Bonus: you were exactly my type—tall and blond with clear blue eyes and a quiet inner strength. We became fast friends, and I soon realized that you were smart enough to fix anything or solve any problem (if you thought about it long enough).

You were the exact opposite of him—and that's what attracted me most to you.

We spent every day together and fell in love faster than either of us expected. I moved in with you a few months later—lugging my belongings down a short walkway to your place so I could rent out my furnished condo. Once I settled in, we rescued a dog named Harvey who unbeknownst to us, had a heart full of worms and would only be in our care for a total of 48 hours.

Desperate to save Harvey, you drove our dog three hours away to an animal hospital at UPenn for an emergency surgery that didn't work. You cried into the phone when you told me the news, distraught over the death of a creature we hardly knew.

At that moment I thought, imagine the kind of father he'd be.

Fast-forward to eight years of marriage and two kids (oh, and two hamsters, two bettas and an aquarium full of fish) later, and here we are. Sure, we have our arguments and bicker when schedules are packed and the budget is tight. And we've had our share of heartbreak from a miscarriage to a job loss to moving three times before FINALLY buying a house in a town we both love.

But through it all, we have a warm home full of contagious kid laughter, and we've built a foundation that's unwavering. We put our children first most—if not all—of the time. And during this season of life, we're both totally okay with that choice.

I don't think of you as husband #2 because there's nothing secondary or trivial or insignificant about you. You're my one and only. My rock.

You're the man I go to when I need advice or a quick reality check. You're the guy who makes it home for family dinner every single night, the dad who coaches soccer and does fun science experiments with dry ice on the back porch. You're consistent and present and completely capable.

My first marriage was a chance for me to learn that you can't force anyone to do anything they don't want to do. No matter how hard I tried to convince my ex-husband that having a baby was a good idea, it was never going to happen for us.

I am now the mother of two amazing humans who wouldn't be in this world if I didn't do something as incredibly hard as leave a failing marriage. I found the courage to walk away—with no promise that I'd ever fall in love again or have the family I so desperately wanted.

It was a pure leap of faith.

And there you were to catch me, this girl who wasn't quite herself at the time and most definitely should not have been dating but also wanted to spend every minute with you. Our first dates turned into deep conversations that turned into lifelong commitments—all leading to the culmination of the beautiful life we have today.

So, thank you. Thank you for always supporting me. Thank you for creating this family with me. Thank you for being my compass when I start to worry about everything. Thank you for keeping me balanced when life comes unhinged.

You noticed me when another man looked right through me. You wanted to be close to me when another man couldn't get far enough away. You made me whole again when another man left me broken.

And for all of this, I am forever grateful.


Your wife

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Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


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Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


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