Harlo

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Catch us Outside

If you follow us along on instagram (which I KNOW you do – right?!), you know that the Miller Manor welcomed a swing set to the backyard collection this past weekend.

I had dreamed of a swing set in our backyard since we moved in – our last rental house had one, and I loved looking out my kitchen window out back to see my kids playing on the swings.  The swings were my favorite as a young girl, and I always envied the friends I had with swings in their yards.

Swing sets can be pretttty pricey, and with all the work and projects we always have going on at this house, I didn’t want to fork out a few thousand dollars on a nice one.  So, I put the word out and kept my eye out for one that would suit our needs. (and pinned a bunch of DIY versions on my backyard board on pinterest!)

But on one fateful Friday night, the stars aligned with my mom found the PERFECT SWING SET on the local yard sale page.  I made an offer, they accepted, and we picked it up the next morning.

It’s an old schoolhouse swing set and it couldn’t be more perfect for us and our space.  We can swing as high as we want – and we do for the majority of our day!  (The best part of having your own swing set is being able to swing in your skivvies… just ask Grae.)

And just like that, this second-(or-third-or-fourth)-hand swing set became a staple part of the life we’re living here at the Miller Manor.

It really is the most SIMPLE things, y’all! ♥

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Honest Abe

This year, Harlo got the “Honest Abe” award at school.

This did not surprise me one bit.  Did I ever tell you about that time I walked in to wake the girls up from school, but they were already awake and looked like a deer in the headlights?  I asked calmly, “Are you guys eating candy?” and Harlo immediately burst into tears, admitting that she had given her sisters candy.  I could hardly console her through my giggles.

Or the time I took the baby to the doctor, and she text me from home saying “I’m sorry mom but… I made a bad choice.  I used your makeup.  I know it was wrong and I am sorry.”  Precious girl couldn’t even wait the 5 minutes until I was home to break the news.

Harlo is the epitome of “painfully honest”.  I love this about her so much – she has the purest little soul.  I can always count on her for getting a straight story – even when she must tattle on herself to give it to me.

I’m sure lucky to have this little “honest abe”. <3

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Last Day!

Today is the girls’ last day of first and second grade!

At Harlo’s end of year program, as she beamed at me from the front row, standing up to accept her achievement award, I couldn’t keep the tears from falling.  She is such a good girl.  I am so grateful for her, and for the great example she is to the others.  She is truly golden.  The whole program melted my heart, and made it well worth the sore arm I had from lugging around my 30 lb baby for an hour (stroller wasn’t in the back of my car like I had thought!)… let’s not even talk about the wandering, fit-throwing threenager I was dealing with, too. Yikes!  I’m sure I looked like a real hot mess there without my husband to help, but alas, my heart was just as full as my hands.

It has been a fantastic year for both of our girls.  We are feeling all the bittersweet feelings as this year comes to a close.  I for one, love summer and having all my children at home during the days.  I feel like I can finally breathe!  But they have both had such good teachers, and we will miss them dearly!  Harlo has been dreading the last day for weeks now.  She has loved every single day of second grade and being in Mrs. Scott’s class.  For Harlo especially, we have seen her blossom this year.  It is amazing to me how impactful these teachers can be.

Stella also has made the sweetest connection with her teacher, Mrs. Boshard.  She especially loves Mrs. Boshard’s hair and is always asking me if I can curl her bangs the way Mrs. Boshard does. ha! I love that girl so much.  Each time I see Mrs. B, she is always telling me how much she adores having  Stella in her class.  As a mama, there is just really not much more you can hope for with kids in school.  Sending them off for hours of their precious days with teachers that love them as their own.  We have had that with Mrs. B and I am so grateful!  We feel like we hit the teacher lottery this year, and I’m hoping next year can live up!

 

 

Happy LAST DAY to my precious big girls.  Tomorrow you are ALL MINE for the summer and I couldn’t be happier!! :D

 

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Harlo’s baptism day

This weekend was a sweet one for our family as we celebrated Harlo’s baptism.

As Christians, we believe we are trying to follow Jesus Christ’s example.  It has been important to me to allow my children room to develop their own relationship with God.  I didn’t have a relationship with God until I was an adult, so I’m not exactly sure what that is supposed to look like for kids, but what I have found is that these children of mine are more of an example to me than I am to them.  Like praying when they need help with something, leaning into faith when they don’t have another answer, having forgiving hearts, loving unconditionally – like Jesus taught.  In areas that I over-think, my girls easily cling to truth.  Turning 8 in our church is special, because we believe it’s the time these children can clearly understand right from wrong, they can start to understand how the holy spirit guides us, they can see goodness and truth.  So a baptism at this age just feels so fitting.  It has been so sweet for me to watch Harlo mature in this way, and I am so excited for what is in store for this precious girl of mine.

For Mr. Miller to be able to baptize our girl was such a special milestone for us.  Harlo is our constant reminder of how far we’ve come in this life, and she was the perfect strong soul to push us to be better, do better, love better.  We truly are eternally grateful she came to us.

With each and every milestone that passes, I can see so clearly why Harlo was sent here first, as the head of our children.  She was naturally born with the unique gifts she would need for this role in our family.  I loved watching her younger siblings so eager and excited to watch her.  Grae and Stella have been talking about their own baptisms and how they too want to be baptized just like Harlo.  Harlo has been excitedly telling them all the inside details, how she feels, and how excited she is to see them be baptized some day, too.  As their mother, there is nothing better in the whole world than seeing them love and support each other in their own little ways.

At the end of the night, as I tucked the girls in for bed, I asked Harlo, “What was your favorite part of the day?” (between wearing a fancy dress, having a baptism, a special after-party with her favorite things, and being the guest of honor) she sighed and said, “Just being baptized.” and Stella chimed right in, “That was my favorite part too, Harlo.”

Bless their little hearts.

 

♥ ♥ ♥

(photos: cher houston photography)

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To my girls

What will I say to my girls?

This is a question I have been asking myself over the last week as our country goes through a confusing transition.  There have been issues brought to light for me that I haven’t seen before, and I think it’s important to clarify some things.  So, to my sweet girls:

I realize that now more than ever, I must show you how I value myself as a woman.  Even (and especially) when the world doesn’t value me the same way.  I will teach you that the standard of respect I expect is far far more than the standard this country, and this world has set.  I will show you how I expect to be treated by my husband, my equal partner, and I’m grateful that he is able to show you that he values me and my worth over anything else in this world.  I will also show you that I do not feel “less than” in my marriage, in my position in our family, in my life.  Ever.  I am the lucky one, my precious girls.  You’ll see.

I will show you the value I place on motherhood.  That I believe with every ounce of my being that the greatest work I will ever, ever do is my work as a mother.  That choosing motherhood is not the lesser choice – ever.  That the value of what I do is not based on a dollar sign.  That at the end of the day (listen closely), it’s an overflowing heart that matters, not an overflowing bank account.  As I show you my love for motherhood and the purpose I feel in the everyday tasks, I will also show you that I am still a girl inside here, with big dreams.  I will follow them.  I will stumble sometimes, I will succeed sometimes, I will be shocked and surprised and frustrated and thrilled at times, and I will roll with those punches, my daughters, because life is as colorful as it is wonderful and I will not be afraid to feel all the feelings as I do what I love.  I will lead you to follow your dreams, to chase after that pull in your hearts, no matter what it is. Did you hear that, my girls?  NO MATTER WHAT IT IS.  You do not have to love all the same things I love, you do not have to feel the same things I feel.  That is the trick, sisters.  To chase after that thing that pulls you, that thing inside that God created that is only yours.  That is your purpose, and if you can still feel that, you are doing it right.

I will lead by love, and that does not exclude loving myself.  I will prioritize myself.  I will honor my body, my values, my talents, my mind.  I will take care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  No one will do that for me, my sweeties.  We must figure out how to do that ourselves.  “Life loves the liver of it”, my darlings, have you heard that?  I will live and I will love and I will serve and I will be happy.  The world is very confused about what it means to be happy, but I’m not.  It is possible, and I will show you each day as I make that choice, so you know.  Most of all, my precious girls, I will follow God – and I don’t mean that “mystical being” there are so many questions and arguments about – I mean the real God, The One who created us, The One who has an infinite amount of time for our thoughts, worries, needs.  The One who knows our hearts and fears and hopes.  The One who will walk us through every single trial and make us better for it.  If you never lose sight of God, my darling daughters, you will be okay.  Actually, so much more than okay.

I am not whatever the world wants me to be.  It’s important that you know that, my sweet girls.  Neither are you.  That’s not the way you came, and that’s not what you’re supposed to be.  So do the hard thing, ask the tough questions, stand up for what you believe in, trust yourself.  I trust you.  I am on your side, always.  Did you hear me?  That part is important.  I am on your side today, tomorrow, and every single day after that, too.

Be confident, my lovies.  You are already greater than you could ever know.  Don’t you forget that.

xoxo,

Mama ♥

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family pictures 2016

This will be the first year with our family of six on our holiday cards, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get sick of seeing my whole (big) family squished into one frame.  Going through these, I was so amazed that we have built this life together, that we have created all these wonderful people together.  We are all doing life together, and loving, and learning, and living.  There is no greater blessing in this world than family, and I am eternally grateful for mine.

 

Thank you always to Ashley Flowers Photography
See our family video HERE.

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Life + Style

It’s been a while since I have posted in my life and style series, and I have had a serious case of the post-partum frumps, so I will be making the extra effort to take care of myself, and touch base with myself once a week in this series!

Life :

We are feeling the slowness of fall wrap around us like a big cozy blanket.  I am a summer girl, so saying goodbye to summer is a bit bittersweet, but I do love these cozier days at home with my little ones.  I have gotten used to our new routine with school, homework, piano, chores.  I was dreading the girls going to school full day, but I seem to have found a rhythm to our day that works for us, and I have really enjoyed the mornings with my two littlest ones.

The weather has been so beautiful and I have been taking the babies for a long walk in the morning.  Major sleeps in the stroller, Grae is content and still for the first only time of the day, I listen to uplifting books or scriptures as I walk, and take in the beauty all around.  I have really grown fond of these morning walks.  They set my intention for the day and give my brain time to reset.

In the afternoons, when the babies wake from naps, we take to the porch and wait for the bus.  This is the happiest time of my whole day.  I love seeing my children miss each other and be reunited happily day after day.  We chat for a bit on the porch, then come in and as I start readying the kitchen for dinner prep, the girls do their homework, chores (tidy their room and living room), and practice piano.  After that, their time is free to play and rest to their little hearts content (ie: screen privilages…;) ).

We have crossed off the last bit of our summer bucket list, and will be creating a new holidays bucket list for the upcoming season.  First thing was dressing up our porch with pumpkins and mums.  We were lucky to have my best girl Ashley Flowers join us to snap a few pictures as we prepare for a new season.  When I see these pictures of myself out and about with my four little ones, teaching them to embrace the new season and to stop and smell the roses (or mums in this case), I feel such a sense of pride.  I never knew I would be capable of being a mom to four, but here I am.  Life is full and happy.

Style :

I get lots of questions of where we shop, so I’m trying something new to make it easier to shop our looks (or similar) when I post.  Let me know if you find it helpful!

My cute top is local from Scout & Cloth, the girls dresses aren’t new, but I’ve linked similar below…
Shop Similar –


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better tomorrow

Our week got a rocky start with Grae catching the bug that has been swirling around over the weekend.  In usual Grae fashion, it got her a bit worse than it did the others, poor sis.  Instead of spending the day grocery shopping, doing laundry, and preparing for my week… I spent the day switching off holding two whiney babies, snuggling on the couch, and cleaning out throw-up bowls on repeat.  

By dinner time (that was brought in by a sweet neighbor – thanks Andi!), I was feeling low on patience, high on stress, and ready to escape.  This was coming after a long, draining weekend and I felt like waving my white flag in the realest way.  I got a little snippy with my kids as their endless requests came pouring in for the evening and felt immediate regret for letting my stress get the better of me.

As the evening settled down, and the kids got tucked into bed.. I crept back into Harlo and Stella’s room to apologize for my behavior.  “I’m sorry, sisters.  I wasn’t ever mad at you.. I was just feeling stressed and ornery today.” Harlo reassured me, “It’s okay mom.  I’m not mad at you.  You can do better tomorrow.”  (A line I have told her on her own tough days.)

I got thinking about that little piece of advice, and it’s true.  I can do better tomorrow, and how wonderful that gift is.

I may not have it all together today, but I can surely do better tomorrow.

 

 

 

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utah, nature journaling, and adventures

We Millers can’t stay still for too long.  On our weekends home, we still like to come up with little adventures.  Road tripping is our family’s favorite thing to do, so a few Saturdays ago, we took a little road trip up to Enterprise Utah to take in the beautiful changing of seasons in one of Utah’s most beautiful areas.

We stopped to pick up some corn from a road-side stand and then stopped again for a little nature journaling.  We broke out into a little family shoot as the girls played and took pictures.  They are getting more interested in my big camera and their little hands are now big enough to reach the buttons.  This has been so fun for us to enjoy together.  These pictures were mostly taken by my sweet big girls, and because of that, may be some of my favorites.

One of the girls snapped this pic of Mr. Miller and I think it might be my favorite photo of him ever taken.  This is the man I love, adventuring with his family, mini van overflowing (literally) with children, happy eyes and full of love.

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some thoughts on family

Last week I was out of town for a womens retreat (I hope to chat more about later).  I was amazed by how much organizing needed to be done for me to be gone for 2.5 days (and I even took the baby).

This week Mr. Miller is out of town for a men’s retreat (deer hunt).  I was amazed by how little organizing needed to be done for him to be gone for 2.5 days (and he didn’t take the baby).

Ha! I kid….

My girls of course missed me terribly while I was gone, and I missed them.  They are already missing their daddy this week as well.  Last night I was telling them how lucky they were that this isn’t their normal.  I told them when I was about their age and my parents were divorced and I spent each week back and forth between two homes.  It was a chaotic time and a lifestyle so so so many kids live.  Life holds no promises, but I want my girls to know how important Mr. Miller and I believe marriage is, and how we work hard to keep our family together.  This means date nights are prioritized, trips away are necessary sometimes, therapy to work through things we need assistance with, and above all, God at the head of our lives.  We talked about how family is part of God’s plan and he helps us and blesses us as we look to him for guidance.

We do work hard for our family, but I also feel really lucky to have found someone who I love deeply and who loves me back, and that we see the important stuff the same way.  I know first hand that it doesn’t always look like that, and I have all the compassion in my heart for families who face those very real struggles in today’s world.  In my own experience, coming from a broken family has given me such perspective of the importance of family and I hope to spread that important message to my children.. and to anyone else who will listen.  I hope I am living that example.

Family, and especially being a mom, is the very very best.  After we had that chat, I put the babies to bed and let the big girls stay up and taught them the indulgences of girls nights.  We wrote “no boys allowed” on the chalkboard, made ourselves oatmeal + honey face masks, painted our toes and watched an episode of Liv and Maddy before we piled into my bed (an hour past bedtime!!) and snuggled ourselves to sleep.

This life we’ve made is sure a happy one.

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deep feelers

I am a deep feeling person.  I have birthed some very, deep feeling people.

Being a deep feeling person is a blessing, and it can feel like a curse sometimes, too.  I am easily able to feel deeply for other people because of this gift, and I think this helped me in not becoming a bully in school… and I see this is also a tool that is helping my own children not be the bully in school.  We genuinely do not want people to feel bad.  When people feel bad, we feel bad.  We deep feelers can also fall in love, and love people very easily and quickly.  It is so good to be loved by deep feelers, and it is so good to love as a deep feeler.  There is lots of  happy with deep feelers, lots of over-excitement (which is probably my best trait in life – if you need someone to get excited for you, I am usually going to be your girl).  Lots of joy and lots of hope.  But there is also lots of sad, lots of hurt feelings, lots of mixed emotions, and plenty of being misunderstood in this world that would like you to just not feel.

Raising my own little deep feelers has taught me so much about being more gentle in this life.  Being more gentle with people, and especially being more gentle with myself.  As my first deep feeling baby grew up, I realized that she and I were just alike – there was nothing wrong with me at all, which I had previously suspected, due to the world’s standards.  I simply came this way, just like she did.  I learned to embrace my deep-feelingness, along with hers.

We are not “dramatic” or “overly emotional” or “too sensitive”, we are just feeling… all the way down to our hearts.  All day, every day.

By far, the hardest thing I’ll do as a deep feeling mother, is send my deep feeling child out into the world.

Please be gentle with them, I’ll plead with the universe.
Please don’t let them be teased by other kids at school.
Please don’t let them be too harshly disciplined by their teachers.
Please don’t let any unkind words damage their free little spirits.
Please don’t lead them to toxic friendships, relationships, people who will misunderstand their deep feelingness.
Please protect their relationship with themselves.
Please help them to embrace their deep feelingness for the blessing that it is.
Please let them love – freely, and wholly, and without fear.
Please let them embrace the world’s pain, and learn from it.
Please lead them to the ones who need to be loved.
Please help them find ways to help this world.
Please embrace them, 
I’ll say to the universe.
Don’t make them feel like they’re broken.
They are NOT broken.

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so we bake

When I was pregnant and sick and aching (like pregnancy looks for me), I hated the most just not feeling up to being the kind of mom I normally am – and want to be.  It makes me feel like a good mama when I have something yummy being made in my kitchen with happy little girls surrounding me.  Months went by without me baking or cooking with my kids, or doing anything fun with them.  When I got down on myself, I would try to remember a time that I was better, and look forward to a time when I would do those things again.

Since Major was born, and I am feeling about 200% better, I’ll write little notes to myself in my planner to remind me to be a good mama and enjoy my kids. “Bake with the girls today,” or “have a treat ready for after school snacks” or “be a fun mom”.  It feels so good to feel alive again, and I want to take advantage of that.

On this day, baking cookies with my girls, I felt healing my heart needed from all those months of being sick in bed or lounging on the couch.  We weathered the storm, and sunnier days did come.

If you are in a stormy season, I hope you will be easy on yourself and wait for the sun to come again – because I promise you, it will.

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back to school feast

The Monday before school starts, we dedicate our weekly family night to the Back to School Feast.  It’s one of my favorite traditions that roots us in such deep meaning and intention for our year, and I encourage everyone to do some version of it.

Our theme this year came to me after some serious prayerful consideration.  Each family theme has been just perfect for our year, and I knew I needed that inspiration especially for this year.  After a chat with the bishop, a few conversations between Brady and I, and lots of prayer I kept getting back to “Be Steadfast in Christ” as our family theme for the year.  When I looked up the scripture, 2 Nephi 31:20 – “Press Forward with a steadfastness in Christ” jumped right out at me, and I knew it’s the theme our family needed (and I needed) to focus on this year.

My favorite thing about the family theme is that we really do focus on it each year.  In the last week, we have already had a handful of conversations about what it means to be Steadfast in Christ.  We looked up the word Steadfast, which reads “firm and unwaivering”.  Pressing forward with an unwavering faith in Jesus and God, I told the girls.  We have already been finding many examples of being “Steadfast in Christ”.  It’s been a sweet way for my family to learn God’s will for each of us, and I think it has blessed the girls watching Brady and I use our family themes in our own lives as well.  I know it has blessed mine sharing this with my family.

This year, I took requests from the family on what to eat.. our menu consisted of our family’s favorite meatloaf, mashed potatoes from scratch, fresh baked white rolls, and sautéed brussel sprouts.  We finished it off with a simple vanilla pudding with sprinkles for dessert (because mama can’t cook like that AND bake in the same day!).  We got out our fanciest dishes, and the girls were adorned with flower crowns for their special evening.  We ate and talked and laughed and then took our party (and our pudding) out back to enjoy one of the last evenings of summer.  Man, I love being the mama of this crew.

We are ready for another great year!

 

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last hoorah of summer

The week before school started, we loaded up our minivan for the umpteenth time to head on one last adventure of summer.

I have to admit I was dragging my feet about this trip because we had already been gone SOOO much of summer, and making another treturous drive through the hot dessert didn’t sound that appealing… but we had a birthday girl with big plans, and so I pressed on.

We ended up having such a great time.  The babies did well on the car rides (thank heavens!), the big girls got along so well the whole trip.  We stayed near Manhattan beach, which we hadn’t been to before, and traveled around different parts of LA while we were there.  (We usually stay further south, so this was new and exciting for us!) We showed the girls Santa Monica, downtown LA, and did so many fun fun things.  But on one certain morning, we headed out to grab some bagels and decided to stop by the beach.  Half of us were suited for the hotel pool, and the other half was still in PJ’s of some sort (me, Grae and Maj), but we decided to walk across the sand and let the water tickle our toes anyway.  It was probably my favorite moment of the trip.

In this moment, Brady looked at me like this and my stomach flipped.  This is the life we have always wanted, that we created together.  Our minivan full of our own children, experiencing and more importantly enjoying life together.  That’s what these trips are all about for us.  They are our love language as a family, and certainly in our marriage.  I love all my little darlings cozied up at home, but something about changing our scenery sheds new light (in this case, beach-y sunlight) on all sorts of blessings that may had gone unnoticed otherwise.  I love this season we’re in and I’m so proud we’re here.


Grae’s wild bedhead at the beach just about did me in.

I love this family of mine fiercely, and I hope they never ever forget it.

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what’s in a name?

Since we had Major, I have had lots of questions about where my children got their names.  They all have pretty unique names and each of them has a different story, so I wanted to get them all down today.

Harlo Elle :
Harlo was my only total total surprise baby.  I mean, complete and utter shocker.  For most of my teen years, I struggled with some medical issues that had to do with my uterus and ovaries.  I had a very large benign tumor in my right ovary and at one point had to have my entire ovary and right Fallopian tube removed.  A couple years after that, I started having symptoms of endometriosis.  This went on for years of switching medications around, and trying all sorts of things to figure my stuff out.  SO, on that fateful day in May that I realized I was late for my period, I actually wasn’t too worried about it.  I had surgery scheduled for a Laparoscopy the following month.  But I tested anyway just to “be sure”. ;)  That was also the year I found God in my life and was really trying to live my life according to HIS plan and not mine.  I was in the very beginning stages of faith and felt a little like I was walking blindly sometimes.

The minute that second line on the test turned blue, I felt time almost pause for a minute.  I had a feeling come over me.  It quickly and calmly reassured me that everything was going to be fine, that this was all part of the plan.  That I would deliver a daughter and I would name her Harlo.  It was so real and so specific and just as soon as it came, it went away.  — And then I had time to freak out that I was pregnant. ;) I thought a lot about that in the following weeks.  Had I imagined it?  It was almost like a dream.  But when we found out our baby was indeed a girl, I knew it was all real.

We had a few other names on our list, and not a lot of people were crazy about “Harlo” being an option (her dad being one of them), but I kept that one close to my heart.  When I delivered that beautiful baby girl, I opened my mouth to talk to her and the name Harlo nearly fell out.  She absolutely was Harlo, there was no denying it.  “She has to be Harlo, Babe.” I said to Brady and he smiled and nodded.  He totally agreed.  As the years went by, we knew that Harlo was always meant to be her name, and I have realized that my revelation was nothing short of that.  Divine revelation.  It was all part of the plan.  Everything was fine.  The miracle girl that was sent here to change my life was always, Harlo.

Harlo’s middle name comes from the common initial of the three most important men in her life, her Dad and both of her grandfathers, “L”.  Harlo Elle.

Stella Johan:

Stella girl was our easiest to name.  Stella had been a name I loved when we had Harlo… it was just the icing on the cake to know it came from Brady’s great-grandma, who was a wonderful, fun woman, we are told.  When I was first pregnant with Stella, I was so so so certain she was a boy.  We hadn’t even thought much about girl names.  At our ultrasound, when the tech announced “looks pretty girly!” my jaw about hit the floor.  I was so so surprised, and SO SO excited.  We got back to our room and Brady and I just looked at each other and smiled.  Another girl!  “Stella?” I half-way giggled, “Yep.” he said.  And that was that.

When Stella was due to arrive, Mr. Miller and I were just celebrating our second wedding anniversary.  Two babies in less than two years – our first years together were a complete whirlwind.  But something special happened during my pregnancy with Stella.  My relationship with Brady solidified.  I went from feeling like his new bride, to his wife.  We were doing this totally together, we were making decisions now for our family and not just for ourselves.  I felt that Stella was coming into our life for a great purpose, the first being to bind us all together.  I wanted her name to reflect that.

My great-grandparents were The Johans.  I had always felt a special connection to that side of the family and their stories.  They were wonderfully talented people who did great things with their lives.  I asked Brady one morning, “how about Stella Johan?  After your great-grandma and my great-grandma.” and he agreed it felt just right.

During Stella’s birth, I really felt the help of Heaven guiding her into this world and I knew that our great-grandmas were right there with her.  Stella’s birth really changed everything for me as a woman, and gave our new little family the foundation it needed.  I knew from the minute I met her, she would be a special, strong woman herself.  Stella Johan was the perfect fit.

Grae Golden:

I was in a pretty raw place in life when I met a special man named Grey.  My family was being sealed in the LDS temple that day.  I had just suffered a miscarriage and had found myself surprisingly heartbroken.  In those weeks, I had had to lean into faith more than ever in my life.  In those weeks I had a lot of fears and sorrows and uncertainties that I poured out of my heart in prayer.  As I sat in the temple that morning for the first time, I felt a peace in my heart I hadn’t felt in a while.  A feeling came over me that we would be getting another daughter soon.

When Grey walked into the room, we had a second to chat for a while about our family.  Without having to ask him, he answered questions I had been having.  He said things that spoke directly to my heart.  Things that were specific to the prayers I needed answers to.  I knew God was listening and making sure I got my answers.  I was so grateful for Grey and for this gift that he gave me with his words.  It was a sweet moment of grace extended to me that I’ll never forget.

Three months later, on the eve of her Daddy’s birthday, I found out I was pregnant again.  I knew this was my girl, the one I had been promised.  I knew that this was her time.  I thought for a long while of how good God had been to me, and how grateful I was that my faith had grown in this way.  “How about Grae for a girl?” I asked Brady later that night.  It felt right in my heart.  To me, her name will always represent that sweet day in the temple and my faith in a loving Father who hears and listens to our prayers.

Golden is a family name my mother wanted to name me, which I loved.  They also say that having a baby after a loss is your “rainbow” baby, representing the rainbow after the storm.  Finally getting Grae felt exactly like finding our little pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.  And so she was, Grae Golden.

Major Harris:

Years ago, I had heard the name Major and loved it, but assumed Brady wouldn’t (he always takes a little lot more coaxing on names).  One night, 6-7 years ago, while we were out on a date I asked Brady “What about the name Major for a boy?” and Brady quickly exclaimed, “I love it.  Major Miller? That’s awesome.” It was the FIRST name we had ever both liked right from the get-go… now all we needed was a boy.

During this last pregnancy, we talked seriously about our boy/girl options.  We didn’t know for sure what to use for a middle name for Major, and had just decided we wouldn’t do one.  Brady’s first and middle names just didn’t flow quite right, and nothing else seemed to either.  Major Miller was such a strong name, we decided it could just be left alone…. Until one morning I woke up knowing I had to name our baby after Grandma or Grandpa Harris.

Brady’s mom (Nana around here) was a Harris.  I have often teased that the best part of being married to Mr. Miller is being a part of his family.  The Harris’s have this special way about them.  Each one of them is unconditional and warm.  They serve from their hearts.  They love deeply and treat everyone who comes around like family.  Each one is just as wonderful as the last – and there are a lot of them.  Grandma and Grandpa raised their 7 children right, and they have each gone on to raise a wonderful posterity.  I love these people, and love that their blood runs through my children.  When I talk to my girls about being loving or serving others, I always mention the Harris side of our family.  Grandma and Grandpa Harris are the grandparents I never had growing up, and always longed for.  Being a part of their family has blessed my life in a million ways.

When we delivered our surprise baby boy, the first thing Harlo said when she saw him was “Mom, he looks like a Major.” and he did.  He was tall, dark and handsome just as I imagined a Major to be, but I knew he had that something special.  He had that gentle and loving nature about him (and gorgeous dark eyes), and that was all Harris.  Major Harris Miller?  It was perfect.

(thank you Ashley Flowers Photography for these sweet pictures!)

Do you have stories about how your kids got their names?  I’d love to hear it in the comments!

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