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Grae is FOUR

Our sweet baby girl, (who would remind us she is NOT A BABY), turned four on March 26, 2018.
It seems as if time has doubled in speed since the day we welcomed our little Grae Golden.
She came into the world stubborn and ferocious, tiny as a pint, but larger than life in spirit.
Shortly after she was born and named, we noticed the repetition initial G.G.  We thought that was the perfect nickname for our teeny lady, and “Gigi” stuck.
Not a dull day has gone by in the Miller Manor since that fateful spring day she was born.
Grae tends to get the most attention in our family…. because she demands it the most.
Grae has stretched and grown my soul like nothing else.
Because of Grae I am more patient, less judgemental, more loving and tender, and definitely less tightly wound.
I can hold my side of any argument, but I have surely met my match in Grae Golden Miller.
Grae’s favorite things are: green, geckos, pj masks, super heroes, monster trucks, monsters, and small toy figures (which she calls “figguhs”).
Her favorite foods are soy-yogurt, oatmeal, quesadillas, chipotle, mac&pony (macaroni), ramen noodles at Grandi’s, and veggie straws.
She is a fan of ICED beverages – whether it’s water or apple juice or lemonade, she likes that sucker filled with ice and refuses to drink a sip if the ice has melted.
Sometimes she wakes me up at 2 or 3 in the morning to get her more ICE. :/
Grae climbs into my bed most nights, wraps her little arms around my neck and sleeps soundly until late morning.  She wakes up with ferocious bedhead, demanding breakfast just as sure as the sun rises.  From that moment on, we are on Grae’s time, man.
If Grae could spend her entire day making art, and she does mostly, she would be the happiest girl.
She is meticulous about coloring.  She switches hands back and forth and is neatly ambidextrous.
She is the master of “I spy with my little eye”.
Grae is the most dazzling big sister to her little “Maj-uh.”
Major only ever wants to be where ‘Gigi’ is, doing what Gigi is doing, sitting next to where Gigi is sitting.
She sweetly pats his head, or strokes his back here and there.  Sometimes offering him a reassuring “Oh, good boy, Maj.” or a “yeah Maj! You like that?”.
Grae has been a surprisingly sweet big sister to that baby boy.
Grae made up her mind that when she turned four, there would be no more screaming and crying for things.
For weeks leading up to turning four, she would tell me when she was four she wouldn’t scream or cry because she would be a big girl.
Not exactly sure where she got this in her head, but it stuck.  Now that she’s four, I will gladly report she has made an effort to throw less fits. :D
She often reminds me of Daniel Tiger’s songs like “When you’re feeling frustrated – take a deep breath – and ask for help!” Although when I remind her of the songs when the roles are reversed, they don’t have quite as calming of an effect. ;)
My sweet Gigi has tried hard to wrap her head around the news of our dear “Auntie G” passing.  She has tried to offer me words of encouragement and often reminds me that Auntie G is our angel.  (She was also bothered we didn’t see Auntie G’s “wings” at her viewing… she is an angel now, afterall!)
It has bothered her how upset my mom has been and she’s hardly let Gram out of her sight. She never let go of her hand through the entire service, and she’s asked to call gram every morning since.  She is such a bundle of light, I know she will help our family heal.  Of course, her heart isn’t weighed down by the sadness us adults feel, so at times she has seemed insensitive and even inappropriate, we know her intent is always in the right place, bless our hearts. ;)
Gigi is also quite famous for her one-liners.
Recently on a family trailor trip, she instructed me to shut the door to the bathroom with, “I don’t need an audience!”
Another time last week as I was talking to her, she disgustingly looked at me and said “That doesn’t even make sense!”
We often talk about all the spicy things Grae does because mercy, she does.. But Grae is also just as sweet and loving as she is spunky.  She is always offering a snuggle or love to someone, telling me she loves me hundreds of times a day, being tender with Major, and especially her dog Finn.  (Grae is a little dog whisperer!)
So all in all, life with Grae is a wonderful wild ride, and we’re so lucky we’re the ones that get to be enjoying it.
Grae Golden Miller, you sure own us.
Our life is infinitely better with you in it.
I’m so glad you are four, my darling girl.

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under control

Today I woke up early enough to greet my kids up to get ready for school.  I let Mr. Miller sleep in as he has let me do so so many days these past couple of weeks.
The babies slept in with their dad, and I took the girls to school, sipped on my morning drink, and listened to my  audio book.
Not unlike I do every single morning.
But these mornings have been filled with immense grief, reflection, prayer, hope, and sadness these past couple weeks.
I am reminded again that God has us, He holds us in his tender care.
Everything is under control” my book reminds, a tender mercy from heaven.
After Mr. Miller reluctantly leaves for work, I get my hands busy tidying my house.
Boy does it need it’s normal,  functioning mother to run it.
It feels good to bless my family by getting my hands busy.
My heart is full of love and sadness, but the love helps hold the weight of grief from crashing down.
The grief rolls in in waves, in the little details and memories that come in so easily, and crash down so hard.
Everything is under control, I’m reminded.
I rock my baby extra long, just like I have been doing these past weeks.
My heart is healed by each session of singing lullabies together, snuggling, laughing, tickling, touching.
In the afternoon, Grae makes art while I plan out some outside landscape.
The spring air rolls in through the windows, the hope of summer tickling our noses.
Light fills the house, love swells, and the weight lessens.
Everything is under control.

 

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Family Vacation | Casa Beleza, San Clemente, CA

Vacationing in Southern California this year? If you have been around here for a while, you know that we travel to southern California a lot.  We just got back from a little pre-spring vacation.  After moving over the holidays, we needed some time to run away and forget the world for a week, and that’s exactly what we did!

We have done some digging to try to find some of the best family-friendly places on the southern California coast, and my goodness, we found a good one on our last trip.  We stayed in San Clemente, CA at the gorgeous Casa Beleza. This has been our family’s favorite place we’ve stayed.  So if you have a trip to Southern California with your family this year, here is what-in-the-world vacation with our family of 6 looks like!

We have a strong motto that the vacation starts as soon as we pull out of the driveway.  This reminder (as many times as you need it) will make the drive with children much more enjoyable.  We are not racing to our vacation, as we are already on it.  So we loosen up, and eat treats and snacks and pull out movies a plenty.  And we stop.  A lot.  Whenever necessary.. We might stop for a snack in Vegas then again in Primm to go potty.. again.  You can either love or hate this process, so you decide.  But because car-travel makes up a LOT of time on vacation, I recommend learning to love it!  Prepare with music, audiobooks, ear plugs.. hey, whatever you need.  But making the car as enjoyable as possible will require lowering your stress levels a bit. That’s just my pro-tip.

We pulled in to San Clemente by late afternoon to our lovely beach house and I thought I was in a dream.  Cutest street, surrounded by the best food and cutest shops, and it was so darling inside.  We stayed in the two-bedroom unit upstairs and our friends stayed in the unit downstairs.  This was SO fun to be so close, and have our own space for putting babies down, etc.  We hope to make this a yearly tradition with a group of us.  We rarely had to leave the house (except to walk down to the beach, or brunch, or dinner..), and we hardly wanted to.

(our gorgeously designed condo, Casa Beleza – booking info HERE)

Our kids loved the DOUBLE set of double bunk beds.  The layout and use of space was so efficient! We loved putting the kids to bed, then taking to the deck every night.  I could seriously get used to that kind of livin’. ;) 

Taking the train to another city for a day is always a favorite with the kids.  We love going down to Old Town San Diego and eating yummy mexican food and visiting the little Mexican shops for treasures.

But mostly we just hung out at the house or at the beach nearby.  That’s always our favorite thing to do anyway. ;)

We did sneak in a Disney day, too! Of course I’ll keep that overload of photos to another post.  We loved being close enough to drive to Disney just for one day, and keeping the rest of the days relaxed and go with the flow.  We also ate at so many YUMMY places in San Clemente, thanks to the help of our sweet instagram followers. :D

Ali and Marriott who own Casa Beleza really went above and beyond to make sure our stay was amazing, took all the guess work out of what to do with kids, and made us feel so welcome with their gorgeous family-friendly condo.  The closets were stocked with pack-n-plays and games and books, so we were completely set up.  These little details go such a long way when you’re on a vacation with little kids.  We will be back every year!

If you book a stay with Casa Beleza, they’re offering my followers a discounted rate when you mention CASS MILLER. ♥

Can’t wait to make it back.  Where is your family’s favorite place to run away to together?

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weekend projects | carving out a family office

Today I’m sharing our family office space (progress)!

We always seem to have  weekend project going on over here when we are home for the weekends.  Sometimes that project is laundry, other times that project is DIY built ins, other weekends it’s cleaning up the yard.  Owning a home sure is a lifestyle.  It is weird to live in a newer house (newer than 85 years old) and not have much we HAVE to renovate, but we have a lot to work to do settling in and making this house perfect for us.  Over spring break week we finally unpacked the last of the boxes from our move (cough.. 3 months later) and got our office space carved out.

When we bought this house, it had this big room open to the formal living space, likely used for a formal dining.. but since we don’t use either of those things in a house, we decided to make it a nice family office/work space/studio.  I had dreamed of a family office space when we bought the house.  Finally figuring out this big open, rectangle room and using it well for our family is so exciting! We’ve just had it set up this way for a couple of days and already it’s been used non-stop.

(showing progress pics today.. crisp morning bedhead and jammies and all. )

One of our first DIY projects here at the house were those floating shelves/desk.  They were relatively easy to do and they totally transformed the room.  We used this tutorial, which was such an easy way to do floating shelves!! I also ordered that cute green couch the first week we moved in.  Everything else we had scattered throughout our old house.

We are used to living in smaller quarters and getting as much use out of our space as we can.  This house is roomier, but not a whole lot more square footage than our last. With this space being about half of our entire downstairs, I wanted it to work well for my family, and get some good use.

Mr. Miller and I both work from home a lot, so having an office with enough space for the two of us is imperative.  And what happens when both parents work from home?  The children love working from home right along with us.  I don’t know about yours, but my children are just basically always at my feet, always with me no matter what I’m doing in the house.  With that in mind, I knew I wanted to set up a place for them to work too.  My girls are always crafting, Grae is always coloring,  and they always want to do so right where I am, so why not carve them out some space right here close (but not too close) to mama.

 

I am still working on my side of the office to create a good little command center.  A place to keep track of our family schedule and the girls school papers, my daily checklists, sort mail, and of course have space for my daily doses of the girls’ precious artwork I can display… I’ve been pinning lots of inspiration, but now I’ve got to think of how to make one that works for us specifically that I can actually use!  Organization isn’t my strong suit, but once I get a system in place, I can keep it rolling.

Finally unpacking my books is making my heart happy. A rainbow book stack has been a dream since #pinterest.

I have already rearranged this room already at least 5 times since we moved in.  But finally moving that table in here for the kids, and the dresser to hold all our art supplies made this room make sense for everyone.  Part of my process is just tweaking and tweaking until it works.  And it’s even pretty enough to still have people come in and sit and use it for extra entertaining as well! :D

How’s that for getting some use out of those formal rooms in your house that don’t get enough use? What do you use that space for in your home?

 

You can always see which projects I’m planning on Pinterest, follow me HERE.

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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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twenty-nine

This week I turned twenty-nine!
I have been blogging about birthdays since my 20th!
This has been a fun birthday to come up on.  Like any birthday, I’m in a place of reflection, and my twenties have just been the best decade of my whole entire life.
My twenties and motherhood journey started at the same time, and I am grateful to be living a life full of so much happiness at this age.
I don’t regret a day of choices Mr. Miller and I have made together this decade of my life, the life we’ve built.
On my birthday, I woke up to presents delivered to bed and a kitchen with my own hand-made “celebrate” sign hung over the kitchen table.
I had the sweetest, regular Tuesday of a birthday.  We didn’t plan too much, but I had people I love stop by the house all day and endless calls and texts to help me feel loved and special.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so loved on a birthday.  One thing is for sure, that after 29  years on this earth, I have sure found some wonderful people. ♥

Each year I like to break down my daily schedule as a glimpse into what my day-to-day is like at that certain age.  Here is my life at TWENTY-NINE:

My life now is full and busy.
The years I worked hard for (birthing babies) have paid off to a house full of my own growing children.
I love the way my life looks.
Each morning I wake up around 7-7:30.. always trying to beat my kids to the punch, inching earlier and earlier, but at 29 I am still not a morning person.
I climb out of a bed with 1 husband, 1 dog, and 1-2 children in it.
I change into my workout clothes (this is the only chance I’ll get… if I put on comfy clothes or regular clothes it’s over!)
I head down to the kitchen to make my morning drinks and start a big pot of oatmeal for my family.  Even though the morning came too early as always, I love making this pot of oatmeal.  I love everything it represents.  We’re currently at 3 heaping cups of oats which makes a giant bowl that will get scraped clean every time.
Mr. Miller works alongside me making the girls lunches for the day as they chat and chat and chat our ears off. (Always so many words after not enough hours of sleep.. not my finest.)
The girls eat, get dressed, and meet me in my bathroom to get their hair done.
Harlo prefers me to do hers, Stella prefers to do her own, but I tell her she has to let me do it sometimes so I know I’m still needed in her life. ;)
Of course sometimes this is pleasant, and sometimes I’m screeching and hollering for everyone to hurry up and I can’t believe we’re late AGAIN, and why am I THE ONLY ONE WHO CARES IF WE’RE LATE FOR SCHOOL… The former is always the goal, though.  When the latter happens, I always make it a point to apologize before they’re off to their days at school.  We reassure each other in the care that we’re doing our best and that’s what really matters.  And we always listen to the best girl-music you can sing loud to on the way to school. (The Greatest Showman soundtrack, Katy Perry, and Rihanna are current faves)
I get home and get the littlest ones settled for a few minutes with a snack and drink and play and squeeze in a BBG workout.  It starts nice and relaxing and ends with Major climbing on top of me and Grae asking me for snacks 12 times.  If it’s  not too cold, we’ll load up the stroller and take a long walk through our neighborhood.
After that I’m down to my office to check over my work day and get a few things taken care of before it’s time to think about lunch.
Honestly, right now this looks like me taking a business call and getting interrupted by crying kids and avoiding loud noises, trying to make a few sentences of an email before someone needs me, and working on those blog posts that have been sitting in draft for way too long now.
Eventually I give up, and serve my littles lunch.
Mr. Miller comes home for lunch most days to give me some adult conversation and a kiss to get me through the next few hours of the busy day at home.
My favorite time of the day remains rocking my baby down for a nap.  I have been doing this sweet, blessed chore for 9 years and 2 months now and I can’t even think about it ending.  This little ‘chore’ gives me so much life.  It’s a pause in the day that i can pour out my heart in gratitude and take a moment to soak in my blessings.
Major Miller likes his three songs (his lullaby, twinkle-twinkle, and you are my sunshine), all of which he sings along to between snuggles and drinking his baba.
He loves his bed and snuggles in for a long winter’s nap every day.
I must use these quiet hours wisely, or I’ll pay for it later. (Looking at you, This Is Us marathon day)
I switch laundry loads, run the dyson over my floors downstairs.  Pick up toys from the living room.. just a big sweep.  On my besssst days, I get dinner figured out.
Before I’ve reached the end of my to-do list, Major is awake and it’s time to pick up my big girls.
They rode the bus at our last house, and I loved waving them off the school bus each day from the porch, but it’s also been fun to go down and pick them up at school, see them walking with friends and getting to say hi to their school friends everyday, too.  Not better or worse, just different. I have to remind myself. :)
The girls have so much to talk about after school, so we usually continue our chat all the way home and into our after-school chores.  We play loud music, do a pickup and start homework and dinner.
As much as I love to cook, we seem to be on the go with obligations here or a date night there, or a school thing there.  If I get 1-2 nights a week in we call it a success.
Favorite dinners from my family right now include: chicken curry, my famous sweet chili and rolls, chicken almond pasta, meatloaf, and any kind of taco night.
Sometimes the girls run off to play with neighbor kids (fun perk of living in our new ‘hood.) and the littlest ones scamper off with our dog Finn into the backyard, and all at once dinner is about ready, the kids are all coming in, and Mr. Miller is just pulling up.
My favorite nights are our nights home with nothing going on outside our little hive.
We eat dinner and sprawl out and catch up and pick up again before getting ready for bed.
Once we round the troops, the downstairs shuts down and we’re all upstairs in our bedrooms (I love our floor plan for making  me still feel like I live in a cozy little home with all the living downstairs and all the bedrooms upstairs).
I rock my baby again for the night while Mr. Miller rounds up the ladies and gets them reading.
The big girls read to Grae on the bottom bunk, and then they get to listen to music – their own lullabies organized to a “bedtime” folder on my spotify account.
We take turns laying and snuggling each one (and fulfilling endless requests of ice water retrieval, forgotten tooth brushing, etc.) before it’s lights out for everyone.
It’s so helpful to have the older girls lead by example, because I remember when bedtime wasn’t so easy when they were the babies age!
After the kids are settled in, I usually finish up my work for the day in my big bathtub (perk to the new house that I promised myself in my old house not to take for granted!), Mr. Miller finishes his work up in the office and we meet up in bed sometime to watch shows and hang-out and chat before we’re forcing ourselves to get some sleep, always too late.
We turn lamps and TVs and phones off, hold hands and again I can pour my heart in gratitude for the very full life of very many blessings I am living each day.
I slip off to sleep with a dog I love and a husband I love at my sides.
I am living a real good life, the life of my dreams, in fact! ♥

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messy beautiful life

When I get quiet on this space, it is usually always because I am dealing with some real life stuff.  I don’t mean to not write in these times, but for me, I have to process internally before I’m ready to process externally.  Both of which are necessary parts of my growth  .

I am someone who has a natural gift to be happy and optimistic about most things.  I understood it was a unique gift I had when I realized my sweet bubbly, bouncing Stella had it, too.  I am easily excited and a total romantic.  I can usually find something charming and swoon-worthy just about anywhere.  I get giddy over nothing, and the things that normal people get excited for, I nearly hyperventilate.  This is my voice.  It’s part of what makes me, me. 

I am also someone who has fought a life long battle with depression, off and on.  That is a really quirky side of my personality compared to my usual bouncing self, but I have come to really just adore quirky people, and loving this part of myself is hard, but I am really trying to do it anyway.

I think it’s also strange to talk about depression, because you would rather that just go away.  Depression doesn’t own my joy, so where I choose to be happy, my depression can’t reach.  These pages I have written here have been the happy moments I have wanted to keep in my mind forever.  But I also know how important it is for us to share our hearts, especially those tender parts, to heal ourselves and help heal the world around us.

Depression for me picks and chooses it’s years or months to invade, and I have learned how to fight this internal battle in different seasons in different ways.  I have also learned that love is the greatest healer, and nothing heals me quite like loving myself does.

Having a healthy relationship with myself, loving who I am as a person, accepting the way my body looks and my life looks, doesn’t just mean I just do all the time.  It means I have to consciously each day to choose that, over the alternative.  Which is giving into the idea that I’m not doing enough, that I need to be different, or look different, whatever the case may be.  Some days I feel on top of things and it’s easy to love me, other days I fight with myself and have to choose to love me.  This is a journey I’ll likely always be on as a woman, and I’m grateful the years ahead (I hear) come with more self-acceptance and less care of pettiness, especially as we continue to practice self-love.

I live with four young children who sometimes, actually all times, demand and ask of me way more than they give back.  My husband is also living a life keeping his head above water just like me, and our lives definitely pull us away from each other more than we would like sometimes.  I can’t always rely on my “love tank” being filled from them, and when I can extend grace and love to myself, I am less needy of attention from them.  I can also give more when my tank is full.

Loving myself is a daily practice of prayer.  Each day I walk through the areas of my head and heart with God and ask for guidance, comfort, love, patience, direction in whichever areas are weighing on me.  This is the first thing I started doing as I began to build a relationship with God, and it’s the single most thing that has changed my life the most. I am grateful to know that there is this source of Love I can tap into when I’m feeling low, and the good  Lord knows I can feel low on love from time to time.  I can imagine every mother can feel drained of love and patience now and again.

I choose happy every day, I really try even when it seems so impossible.  As someone who fights depression and anxiety, I fight the feelings of restlessness, hopelessness, never-enough-ness, discontent, grief, sadness, past trauma, work through the healing of old wounds.  This is not work for the weak, this is work for the warrior.

I may not be showing up everyday in social media or even here on the blog, but you can bet I’ll be working hard to show up every day in my actual real life.  The life only I can live, the children only I can mother, the husband I get to wife, the struggles I’ve been conditioned to walk through.  This is me.

Every evening, low on patience, messy kitchen, dinner on the stove, and a baby or two wanting up in my arms.  It is the beautiful chaos that to me, creates the most beautiful life.  The pain, the joy, and every last emotion in between.  It’s all just color, and color is beautiful.

Writing this close to my heart feels vulnerable and scary at times, but I think what we don’t share hurts us more than what we do.  We are better together, and I’m so glad you’re showing up for me here and living life along side me.

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Harlo is NINE


On December 18, 2017, my precious oldest turned nine years old.
Harlo has blossomed into such a beautiful young girl.
She is sweet and caring, so very thoughtful.
She is always reminding me to grab a coat for Major, or a snack cup for Grae, or asking for my help to do something nice for someone.
She is so responsible, I almost feel guilty I’m her mom. :P I am flighty and scattered, always trying to be more scheduled and organized.  Harlo isn’t this way at all, and I’m so grateful for her help.
A couple of months ago, my mother-in-law showed up to my door with a magnetic fridge calendar.  When I looked puzzled, she explained to me that Harlo had seen one out with her and mentioned that I needed one. ha!  I  hadn’t thought of it, but now that she mentioned it, I did probably need one, thanks sa much. ;)
She is always reminding me about random dangers or choking hazards or age-appropriate things the babies should or shouldn’t be doing.
I do tell her I have things under control, but I’ve also learned it’s her way of showing love.
She is so good at caring for others.
Harlo has wanted to be a teacher since she started preschool – she has held strong to this, and this year has especially loved playing school with her little sibs.
Right now she has a whole setup in the kitchen.  They will all sit for hours at the kitchen table, listening intently and doing the work she’s assigned them. :)
She is currently teaching Grae all her letters, and is such a sweet little teacher – always encouraging, and always thinking of creative ways to teach.
She will be such a good teacher!  I think it is the perfect job for her.  Not to mention I know she’ll be a great little mama someday.
Harlo girl is wired so much like her daddy.  In so many ways.
She will do just about anything for some computer privilages.
She is a master at her favorite computer games and it makes her quite popular among the young boys at school.  She often has minecraft or roblox dates over the phone with some of our cute boy-friends.
She can’t wait until she can work at Lifeguard Computers and is starting to learn a bit about the family business. :)
She is a home body that loves to travel.  She would rather be home more than anything… except for a good roadtrip.  I think she gets that from me. :)
She also loves design and has an eye for making things beautiful – another thing I’ll gladly take credit for.
As she grows, I love seeing my influence as a mother in her.  It’s been such a sweet blessing to my life.
She plays piano beautifully, and has grown into this coordinated young lady.
She is excited to start dance again this January.  She tried gymnastics last year and realized dance is more her “thing”.
Harlo is an especially good student.  She loves third grade and especially adores her teacher.  I’m so glad she got a great teacher again this year.  It makes all the difference!
This has been our first year with some unkind friends at school this year – it’s been so hard seeing my tender hearted girl come home with hurt feelings, but I must say she’s handled herself so beautifully this year balancing some tricky relationships.  We have talked often about choosing right and treating people kind, even when they’re struggling to do the same.  Mostly she’s been nervous about getting tied into trouble, or her teacher thinking she’s not a nice girl, but of course that hasn’t been the case.  After a few months of sticky situations, things are really looking up at school.  She does have some really sweet friends this year, and I think that has helped so much!
Harlo is definitely an introvert – she will think 300 thoughts before one of them come out of her mouth (not like me in the LEAST).  But one thing I love, is at the end of the day, after she’s taken the world in, she will open up when she feels comfortable and will chat and chat and chat about all the things.  In this moment, I’m so grateful to be her mother, and the one who gets to hear all about her beautiful mind and kind heart.
Harlo is funny, and smart, and creative.  She tends to be good at whatever she tries.
She is the best sister and has such a sweet spot for her younger siblings.
She especially hates when any of them get in trouble, and usually the only time she sasses me is in defense of one of them, bless her heart.
Her favorite job each week is dressing Major for church, and then she just dies over him the entire day in his dapper little gentleman’s outfit.
We had our first week in our new ward, and Harlo fit right in.  She made some friends right off the bat, some who live just up the street, and she really enjoyed activity days this week.
This move has proved to be the most positive for my Harlo girl, I think.  She is just a happy, happy girl and she’s been so excited about our new house and neighborhood, it’s helped me be excited when I’m feeling a bit homesick.
I’m so grateful for her sweet guiding light in our home.
She is an example to us all, and I have loved every minute of watching her grow up.
Even though my heart stings at the thought of her being HALF WAY to 18, it’s so fun watching her grow into the person she’s becoming.
My life changed dramatically when Harlo was born, and each year on her birthday I celebrate in my heart another year of living the good life because of this angel.
Because of Harlo, my testimony in a loving God who knows what and when we need things is so firm, so steady.  She is my proof.
Harlo Elle, I couldn’t be more excited about being your mom.  Today and always, my darling girl.
You are good, and kind, and wonderful.
Being your mother is my life’s greatest blessing.
Enjoy every minute of being NINE, my sweet girl.
Love you forever and ever.
-Mama

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Happy New Year!

We are starting a fresh new year, in a fresh new (to us) house, with fresh new opportunity at our fingertips.  It feels like a great way to be starting a new year.

I am a lover of goals, fresh starts, and clean canvases.

Some things we’re working on over in this neck of the woods:

Coming from a place of authenticity in all aspects of my life – motherhood, work, relationships.  In my late twenties I am learning to finally rely on my own instinct, and trust my own opinion.  Be okay with things the way I like them, even if no one else does.  My own voice, style, path.  Be myself completely and fully, coming from a place of love, and not letting insecurity drag any energy from that space.

Connecting more with each of my children in the way they best connect and feel loved.  This looks different for all of them, and I hope to pay attention, especially as they grow, in the ways they want to connect with me.  Harlo likes chatting late at night, Stella enjoys getting out and about with me, Grae loves my complete undivided attention, and Major loves extended rocks in the rocking chair before bed while I sing him his favorite songs, or a good wrestling sesh.  I hope to love my children in the ways they receive love.  Always!

One thing that 2017 presented me with as a new challenge is not having time for ME, my work, my passions.  This past year motherhood consumed more of me than ever before.  I have always been a worker-bee.  I hit the ground running when I got my first job at 14, and balanced two to three jobs and a side hustle or two constantly as a teen and young adult.  Working was the first thing I was good at, and motherhood was the second.  I’ve had a balance of the two for all these years, and this past year it seemed to come crashing down.  I had to hand over one for the other a lot, and that stressed me out.  I mean, I spent maaaany nights crying myself to sleep while wrestling with God about what I should be doing with my life.  I also learned, that that is my process…  I hold onto every last ounce of my control before I have a meltdown and let go and let God, which I hope to be better and more gracious about walking forward.  Sometime in the year though, I realized that this season was passing and wouldn’t last forever. There have been years of motherhood I’ve been stay-at-home 100% and others I’ve worked mostly from home full-time.  This year needed me home a lot, and I’m grateful for the time, and for the simplicity it created for my life.  I needed to learn that my worth is not equal to my productivity or how hard or much I work, and it’s okay to have those years of simplicity and service that motherhood so readily provides.  Always always learning in this motherhood journey!

I’ve also been learning a lot about what gives me energy, and what drains me of energy.  This has been such valuable information, and this year I hope to do more of what is LIFE GIVING to me, and be aware of what is draining me.  Improving myself and evolving all the time.

I am walking into this year with less things I want to focus on, but focus MORE on just those things. 

New house, new year, but the same ol’ blossoming me.

Happy New Year!

♥ the mama

 

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Our New Miller Manor

I have been doing a lot of clearing my schedule, and nesting our house.  At first I was thinking how chaotic it would be trying to move and be in a bare, new house for Christmas, but I am finding that it has been such a blessing.  Right now my entire focus is on our home, how we’re going to live best here, and getting settled.  It has been such a sweet thing to focus on for the holiday.  We have set our expectations so much lower this Christmas, and have already spent more nights cozied up by our fire after a long day’s work than we probably would have otherwise.  It’s been a sweet little start to our life here.

Many have asked where we have moved, and we really didn’t go far.  We just nestled into a quieter neighborhood, closer to our girls school.  It’s just a 5 minute drive from our old neighborhood, but we’re figuring out a new little pocket of town.  I still feel homesick for our little nook we had grown to love and live those 6 years as a young family, but we find reasons to visit often.

Mostly, our days right now look like nesting little corners of our house, unpacking endless amounts of boxes, and twirling around in natural light giggling that we get to live here. We all especially love the staircase – Harlo can’t wait to go to prom down our stairs, Major finds endless travel on them, and I can’t wait to get busy on a stairway gallery wall I’ve always dreamed of.  Life is pretty sweet here, even at our new Miller Manor.

xo

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a heart of thanks

We had a very different, and very lovely Thanksgiving this year.  Our families were traveling, and since we were only in our home for a few days, we decided to sit this holiday out and spend it together in our new home.  I wrote this on  Thanksgiving morning:

“As I am writing, it is Thanksgiving morning.  I just love Thanksgiving.  I woke up early and walked down to my brand new kitchen in my brand new home.  I prepared my turkey(breast) and arranged my dishes.  I turned Christmas Music on and opened up my back door to let in the crisp morning air.  As my children gobbled up some yogurt, a hot air balloon flew just exactly over our backyard.  It all seems almost too perfect.

This year I am feeling so particularly grateful and full of thanks.  I am still in awe and wonder about the way my life has unfolded with my beautiful family I have been blessed with.  It feels so sweet to be newly nestled into the home my children will grow up in.  We are here!  This stage of life has arrived, and it’s so sweet it puts a lump in my throat.

We have been on the receiving end of so much loving service, and I feel unworthy of such blessings.  For us to be sitting in this house came after such an army of people offering us their time, skills, willingness to help us with so much.  I am just feeling especially loved and grateful for all the angels I have surrounding me.  I know that God uses us to bless each other, and I have felt so much of that in recent weeks.

I can’t wait to get my hands to work serving and giving back this holiday season, and today I am starting by making my family a home cooked meal in our new home!”

Of course we missed family, and our usual thanksgiving tradition of spending it at the family cabin with the Millers this year, but I must say that cooking 6 dishes alongside my two older girls in our newly unpacked kitchen had to make the list of my favorite Thankgivings to date.  I looooove everything about Thanksgiving.  The weather in St. George, the low-key vibe of the holiday, the cooking all day, the snacking all night.  It’s just the best.

This year it was 75 degrees outside, so naturally we opted to eat on our outdoor picnic table.  After dinner, we went and walked through our empty downtown cottage together as a family.  It was a sweet way to end the day.  We spent the rest of the holiday weekend getting settled into our new house.  I think we’ll be “settling” for quite some time here, but it just feel so good to be here at HOME.

Definitely a year to remember.

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Leaning into Faith

For a couple of months, Mr. Miller and I have felt a bit… restless.  I can’t explain it in any other way, just that there was a building up to a breaking point of sorts.  We started wondering if we were really doing what we were called to do here, and prayed for  God’s help in showing us.  Areas of our home life, work life, family life started shifting and we wondered what changes we needed to make that would be right FOR US.  So on one particularly tough Sunday, we prayed diligently, pleading with God to guide us to our next step, open to whatever that might be.

The next morning, a dear friend of ours approached us about buying our house.  Even though this was no where on our radar at the moment, we couldn’t help but feel how “coincidental” the timing was, and so we felt we at least had to hear the guy out, and explore our options.  As we stepped forward in faith, even though I really didn’t want to sell my house, I started seeing how wonderful of an opportunity this would be for my family.  The painful thoughts of leaving this dream home of mine faded with the peace and excitement of this opportunity.  I have come to know that God is the only way to feel peaceful, and where there is peace, there too, is God.  In the last decade of actively pursuing a relationship with God, I have let those same peaceful feelings guide me, and so I recognized that easily in this situation.

It is important for me to point out that God didn’t reveal what the whole plan was when this initial prompting of taking this opportunity happened.  This is where our faith really carried us.  We knew, and had faith, that if God provided us an opportunity as an answer to our prayers, He would lead the way.  So we continued in faith, even though we weren’t exactly sure where we would go once we moved from here.  We explored all of our options and kept moving forward until God would reveal to us our next step, having faith that He would.

In my own spiritual journey, a weakness I have is letting go of my own control.  God has to remind me of this ALL THE TIME, “I promise, I’ve got this Cass.  Go ahead and let go.” He whispers to my soul, and through white knuckles I try to ease my grip.  After years of practicing, I had the ultimate test when the day would come where I would have to sign the sellers contract on my sweet little cottage before knowing AT ALL where we were heading next.

We had seen multiple rentals, all of which fell through for one reason or another, we had friends offer us to stay at their homes, but with such an uncertain timeline that seemed hard to commit to… We had even reached the resolve that if worse came to worse, we would take this show on the road and live in our little trailer and travel for a few months until we sorted this all out.  I felt anxious and wrung up over every last option. (I also learned how DOWN I was for God’s plan, as I would have been willing to do any of these things had they felt right.)

So, on the last night it was possible, I signed the contract, making our sale official.  With not a single hint of what we would do next.  I pleaded with God what felt like that entire night, and felt a strong impression that help was on the way.  THE NEXT MORNING, my husband called from work asking if I could be ready in 20 minutes to go see the house I had coveted on the MLS site (knowing full-well I couldn’t buy it – we had planned to not even start with the home buying process until we could file our taxes which wouldn’t be for a few months, at least..  We had to be out of our home in 28 days.)  Brady told me he’d explain, and to get the kids ready.  Turns out, that morning’s meeting landed him with just the right person who would be connected to a real estate agent and a mortgage broker who worked mostly with business owners like us.  A call or two later, we were meeting the real estate agent at the dream house, and by that afternoon, we placed our offer.  Is your head spinning?  Let me say it again, that afternoon, we were placing an offer to buy the home I didn’t dare dream we could buy.  It was a spiritual trip to say the least.

Because the home buying process is never ever easy, I can’t say this process has been a breeze, or without it’s hiccups… but I can say that we have been guided every single step, and we have been 100% fine with whatever God had in mind for us – even if that meant facing our own disappointment for a time.  Of course, our God is one of grace and mercy.  Our suffering has been washed over with His peace time and time again when we’ve come up against trials in this process.

As I am writing, we are a couple of days away from closing on both homes, and we are still having to lean into faith over fear every single day.  There is still a chance things could fall through, and there is still a chance we’ll see another miracle in our lives come to completion.  I have faith in the latter, of course.

I will tell you that I don’t think I’ve ever had a time that was so apparent that God was working in our lives.  I mean, truly I would have never imagined this would be possible, and I hadn’t even dared dream beyond our home.  But God nudged me in the gentle, reassuring way only He does, and I am watching the next chapter of our lives unfold right before my very eyes.  How grateful I am to that hard time in my life ten years ago that lead me to God, that lead me to changing my life for His will that day and every day forward.  After ten years, I am still not over the miracles God has performed in my life and continues to perform in our lives. <3

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gather here with grateful hearts

As you can imagine, life here has been bustling.

It is a stressful process of selling and buying, and we feel those growing pains for sure, but we are also so grateful to have this particular set of stressful happenings. ;)

Moving is often bittersweet, but I don’t think I’ve ever in my life experienced such deep meaning to the word.  On my walk yesterday, as I planted my heart in gratitude, I could hardly hold tears back as I expressed my gratitude for this sweet neighborhood I live.  It’s beauty, the stories and history it holds.  The wonderful people, businesses, happenings, and charm.  I am so lucky to have been able to walk these streets as my own each day, taking in each season in richness.  I have a feeling that my walks around these streets will be one of the things I’ll miss the most.

This neighborhood will be heartbreaking to leave, and our dear house, nearly impossible.  Our children doubled in number in this house, my last babies birthed right here under our roof.  We went around the dinner table last Sunday, perhaps our last Sunday dinner here at the house, and took turns telling some of our favorite memories.  We could hardly narrow the best days down, although we agreed that the births of our sweet babies were unanimously on the tippy top.  Birthdays, baby blessings, holidays, home school, first days, last days, hard days turned good days, and all the days in between have been overall happy here.  My favorite season of life to date, how about that?

A few weeks ago, before we knew any of this, we had an opportunity to be shot in our home by the always lovely Janae Allred, who shot our video for Maskcara a couple years ago.  I couldn’t have known at the time how much it would mean for us to have this regular Saturday at home documented for us to always treasure.  What a blessing this will be!

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