a word from the mother

I am finding myself in a whole new season lately.
I have FOUR children, a whole family all of my own.  My dreams came true, and it’s surreal to be living it.
I have passed many of the infant/baby stages with no real promise of more coming our way, so that is also really different for us.

Major, my baby, is gaining serious momentum toward full-blown toddler hood.
I don’t think it’s any secret that having a boy changed my heart (some may say it grew 3 sizes that day), but mercy me, I see very clearly why God sent me 3 little girls ahead of him.
This boy of mine is busy, busy, busy, busy.  I am turning around to clean one mess up, and he’s on the top shelf of something else.  I get him down and he’s running off to find the next bit of mischief he can find.  He is into my cupboards, drawers, pantry, baskets, bathrooms, any pile of anything.  I am on my toes and busy literally chasing him most of the day, besides his glorious glorious nap time – bless my heart.
He snuggles me, he adores me, he lights up when I walk into a room.  He will hang on the couch with me forever, never fights me (except when I’m changing his diaper!), and keeps me and his sisters swooning our days away.  I get it, guys.  Baby men.. nothing quite like ’em. He is talking more all the time, and is 100% boy in every single way.  His pudgy little feet stomp around, constantly snacking on something, car in one hand, ball in the other.  He loves me to sing to him and sings along with me to ‘twinkle-twinkle’, ‘you are my sunshine’, and giggles when I begin his night time lullabye.
Even if he does refuse to stay my forever-infant, I am still just as head over heels in love with that son of mine.

HOWEVER, don’t let that get you mistaken.  My girls are the girls of my dreams.

Harlo is just effortlessly cool (I felt her distinctly pass me up at age 8), she is stunningly beautiful and doesn’t even realize it.  She is tender and kind and gentle and good.  She is getting so mature and I’m loving this new layer to our relationship.  We often stay up way too late chatting in her bed, she’s my right hand planner, and she’s in charge of all the organization in our home and doesn’t get annoyed with me yet.  I love her! Harlo is also made up exactly like her father, and (almost) nothing  like me, so she keeps me busy working on how I communicate with her, paying close attention to whether she gets enough love from me, worrying over our relationship because of our differences, and appreciating so much how much she’s opened my soul and changed me, and how I look at people, forever and ever amen.
Because of our differences though, we find this deep understanding with one another.  I can clearly see when she’s at her limit, and she can see when I’m at mine.  We have a certain respect for one another, and we help calm each other rather than rise tension with one another.   We seem to balance each other.  She more than anyone else I can see the reason she came to my life.  Because she is the only one who could have changed everything for me, and keeps changing everything for me.  My love for this girl runs deep.

Stella is just the funnest.  Picture a skipping, twirling, giggling dress-wearing, baby doll-loving 7 year old, and you’ve got Stella.  Stella is the best server in the family.  She is always getting drinks or snacks for someone, assisting Harlo with this, or helping Grae with that.  She’ll keep Major entertained while I cook, and thinks up games for everyone to play.  We all often say “Stella’s the best!” because she’s always leveling up the love around here.  Stella marches to the beat of her own drum and is completely not bothered by what anyone else thinks – exactly what I adore in her father, I love this about her.  I find myself praying for protection over this about her.  I hope she always marches on and never bends to the pressure of the world.
Stella, like me in so so so many ways, is also like me in the sassy-mouthed, loud-mouthed, no-hard-time-expressing-her-feelings kind of way.  Because of this, she’s always the first one to stick up for one of her siblings against me, the one I’m reminding most to watch her mouth, and reigning her in from emotion-overload.  I cringe at myself inside when I have to get after Stella because I can feel the internal smirk of my parents.  Oh mercy.  When they said “I hope you get a daughter just like you!” (in both good and mad ways) I surely did in my Stella. :D It’s because of this though, that I don’t worry about our relationship (aside from her teen years! Bless.).  We speak the same love language and sort through things the same way.  I know this will be such a blessing for a life-long relationship, especially in her adult years.

Grae.. Oh man, what can be summed up about that girl?  She is finally moving on from ferocious toddler moodiness that started around age 1 and we’re hoping now that 4 is around the corner, we’re seeing the end of it.  She is communicating so well and beginning to understand how to cope through her rather complex emotions. :D The very unexpected surprise of Grae is how much of a lovey girl she is.  She is very affectionate, so snuggly, always telling me she loves me, or Major, or anyone else, out of the blue.  That girl can take you from 0-60 and back in absolutely no time.  With my older two I was like “They’re darling, but in order for them to develop properly, we mustn’t give in to every whim..” with Grae I’m like “So sue me, I give in to every single whim.”
Grae has me wearing out the pages of “the strong-willed child” in The Child Whisperer, and boy does that fit her to a T.  One tip that has been so helpful in that book has been to read “Let them do what they want to do with your set boundaries, because they’ll likely find a way to do it anyway.” Switching that idea in my head has made a world of peace between Gigi and I.  She is an excellent little artist at her age, and now I see those years with the sharpies all over my (damn) house were just her inner creativity yearning to come out!
Grae girl is a total tom-boy.  Obviously this is not anything she picked up at home with me and her two very girly sisters.  She just likes what she likes, and what she does like is blue and green and cars and reptiles and superheros.  She looks like a real-live tinkerbell and is usually dressed in a gecko costume. Ha!  She is the best thing on the planet.  Seriously.

My life is completely full as a mother and wife, and I’ve had to be intentional about shaving a bit of time for me and my passions.  That is soooo okay with me though.  These are the years.  The full and fleeting family years.  Even though it can sometimes feel consuming and overwhelming, these are the years I’ve dreamed of, and I am going to soak them in every last drop.

Some things that are necessary for my sanity:

monthly cleaning lady, writing (making a priority after months of slacking), weekly date nights, church on Sundays to refill my cup, late night chats with friends after kids are in bed, boundaries from the world and outside pressures, Maskcara makeup, and my happy planner.


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lunchtime chats and priorities

Yesterday Mr. Miller took me to lunch, along with my younger, handsome boyfriend, Major, which was really nice.  I love that my two guys get along so well. ;)

While Major Miller was enjoying the novelty of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on an electronic device so his parents could get a moments peace, Mr. Miller and I discussed a few things.

We talked about how our family is our priority, our business.  We don’t need to busy our time with anything that takes away from our family unit (and i’m not talking about alone time or couple alone time here – both of which are essential to our family.) I’m talking about anything that might ruffle our feathers, or busy our time that isn’t necessary for our family to thrive.

I have had relationships, hobbies, and even jobs that have busied my time, consumed my thoughts, and taken my energy unnecesarily.  I work hard to keep my life now quite simple and free from unnecessary distraction.

I have relationships now that support me in my role as a mother and woman, not drag energy away from me.

More importantly, I have a husband who supports me in my role as a mother and a woman and for that, I feel very lucky and blessed.

I heard last weekend at a baptism that “life with a family can be paradise on earth.”  When we as husband and wife place our family above the world (ie: follow God’s plan for our lives), amazing things happen.

It’s really quite simple.

Thanks for the chat, hon.  I needed that reminder.

{photo by the lovely Ashley Flowers Photography}

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five things.

  1. I’m a gallery wall-a-holic.  Is this okay? I have so many walls in this house and all I can think of putting on each of them is a speckling of frames and decor.  I’ve been browsing pinterest left and right for home ideas.  I have a ways to go to get this house settled in!
  2. I have been a busy worker bee planning a maskcara training event for my team.  With help from my amazing gals, we pulled off a great event this weekend.  Now I want to take a nice long nap!
  3. Auntie has been in town, which means I have an extra mom working alongside me at home.  Gonna hate saying goodbye today!
  4. Major growls when he’s frustrated or wants something.. like my own real life wild animal (aka dream come true).
  5. After a long busy week and weekend, on Sunday we took a lazy day and when Major woke up from his nap, we all hopped in the car with some snacks and found ourselves exploring Zion National Park. We drove the winding roads up the mountain until we found snow, drove through the tunnels, and ended with family dinner at Oscars before we headed back home.  I always say those last minute trips are the best memories.  I love having FUN with my family and finding things we all enjoy!

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settling in | staircase gallery wall

Motivation comes in waves here at the Miller Manor.  We have moved from phase 1, unpacking all the things, to phase 2, finding a place for the rest of the things.  And my seven hundred frames from over the years are no exception.

I feel like I have dreamed of having my own family staircase gallery wall for.. oh, as long as I can remember living.  There is just something so CLASSIC and FAMILIAR and COZY about a staircase gallery wall in a home with years of photographs displayed.  If there was one single thing I bought this house for, the dream of having my staircase gallery wall come to life, was one of them.

So this Saturday (after X amount of months the frames have been stacked up on the landing, might I add), I got to work and made a happy little wall for my family (eh-hem, me) to admire each time they walk up the stairs (1200 times a day.. again, me).

Over the last couple weeks I’ve been in a little bit of a funk with all the change settling in and that weird type of homesickness you get after a move.  Anyone know what I’m talking about?  Just that home sick feeling of knowing where everything is, not feeling new, just feeling at HOME.  Making this place feel a little more like “our home” sincerely helped my heart feel happier.  A few hours of my Saturday, zero dollars (except for the too-expensive 3M strips, thanks s’much Mr. Miller), and my heart feels a whole lot lighter.  Proving my theory that small things like this can, in fact, make you HAPPIER.  Life hack right there.  Invest in the beauty around you.

I love my home to tell our story.  That’s what “home” feels like for me.  These frames have been collected over the years.  Some found at yard sales with pictures of my first babies placed on the walls in some of our first homes.  They have moved with us, and been added to, and changed shape a bit in each house. But in each of our homes, we have found space for them, and as the years go by, each frame is more treasured.

Of course, we’ll be updating some and switching out some obvious prints but it is making me happy today, even unfinished, and I wanted to share it!

Like all my projects, I just used my pinterest boards to gain some inspiration, laid all my frames out on the floor to mess around with shape, took a photo to refer back to, and placed them one by one.

Some I used basic nails for (my favorite, easiest way) and on others I used 3M strips.. which I have a love/hate relationship with! I had to pull a couple off and redo them, but mostly I got it right just by eye-balling it.  I’LL HAVE THE JURY KNOW I hung this wall by myself without any help, *cough! Mr. Miller* Just in case we need the documentation for future reference. ;)

Feeling pretty darn happy with my handy-work!


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