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basket beds

There is a Miller Manor favorite that magically appears every single laundry day.

Basket Beds.

As I fold and empty laundry baskets that lay unoccupied on the floor of the living room, my little Millies find their way into them making up cozy little beds.  Each of the Millies have their own “mama boo’s” now.  (Mama boo’s are the cozy fleece blankets I love to snuggle under on the couch at any given time.  Except it’s hard for me now to find my “mama boos” since they are usually being snuggled with else-where by one of my little Millies… I finally got wise and got them their own “mama boo’s” to sleep with so mine could be freed up!)

Anyway, they place a couch pillow and a mama boo in the empty laundry basket and there they stay all cozy for hours.  The girls spent the whole afternoon cozied up in their basket beds yesterday and now as I sit writing this, Stella is cozied up in a basket bed right behind me.

It really is the simplest of things that brings joy and hours of entertainment.

 

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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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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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Harlo is 7

On December 18th, my sweet little 6 lb 14 oz baby girl, born on a snowy day after 26 long hours of labor, delivered sunny-side up with her eyes wide, taking the world in (and a big goose egg on her forehead, might I add), who was laid carefully on my chest to change the course of my life forever and ever, turned 7 years old.  Seven years old.  

For her birthday, we just had a fun-filled day (or two, or three – in true Miller Style).  Harlo wanted pancakes for her birthday in the shape of a 7.  Not too hard! We had our traditional birthday breakfast of pancakes with sprinkles, scrambled eggs and bacon – all the birthday girl’s requests.  She also opened up her new birthday outfit before we shuttled them off to school.  Her birthday fell on the last day before school break, and on an assembly day which was super fun.  She had also been picked as the classroom leader that month that gets to participate in the pep rally.  She was over the moon about all of that.  

I picked her up early from school to take her wherever she wanted to go for lunch, to which she chose McDonalds.  We let her open up her Zoomer Kitty which is the only thing she had asked for and she was so thrilled, she didn’t want to do anything the rest of the afternoon but play with it!  Grandma picked her up for a Target date and they arrived home just in time for dinner at her very favorite place – Durangos.  Durangos has been Harlo’s favorite restaurant since I can remember. I think we’ve eaten there every single birthday of hers.  She loves it!  We ate with some of her favorite people and ended the night with some DQ ice cream cake, per the birthday girl’s requests.  Easy birthday girl, I tell you what.  

On Saturday, we took a date with a friend to the movies and saw The Good Dinosaur.  We all loved it!  The timid dinosaur Arlo reminded me so much of my timid little Harlo.  And we all had a good giggle when I said that Spot (the little caveman) reminded me of Grae.  The movie was so sweet that my precious little Stella was moved to tears a few times during the movie.  So so darling.

We sure had a fun time celebrating our special girl! I can’t believe I’ve been a mama for seven years.  My only only complaint is that it’s just going by way too fast.  I’m already over half way to the teen years! How did that happen??  I swear last year she was turning two:

 

For her birthday, I interviewed Harlo for the blog.  Her words are exactly as she spoke them, in bold. :)

What is your name? Harlo Elle Miller

How old are you? Seven!

What do you want to be when you grow up? Everything!

Give me a few examples… A doctor, work at a restuarant, be an actor.

What about a mom? Um yeah, a mom.

What is your favorite food? Refried beans

Who do you love to spend time with? Hudson

Who else? You and dad and Grae and Stella and Edie. (our cat that ran away)

What are you really good at? Doing tumbling and gymnastics, even though I don’t do gymnastics.

What makes you laugh? Stella!

What is your favorite time of the day? Breakfast.

What are you afraid of? Rattle snakes and poisonous spiders.  And snakes, too.  And clowns.  And bad guys scare me kind of, too.

Who is your best friend? Stella, Grae, and my friend Madison and my other friends from school. I’m friends with everybody who I know.

What do you like to do with your family? Go on dates with you and dad.

That was fun huh? What was your favorite part of our date? Getting ice cream!

What do you love to learn about? Learning new games like minecraft, I really like Minecraft.

Where do you like to go? Swimming with my family.

What is your favorite book? Little House in the Big Woods, and In The Land of the Big Red Apple.

Who is your favorite babysitter? (she asked me to ask this) Ellie!

What is your favorite thing to do? Play with my cousins.

I love you so much Harlo, do you know that? Yeah.

Do you know that you’re the best thing that happened to my life?  Yes.

Thanks for doing this interview for my blog! You’re welcome. Can I do another one tomorrow about my future? 

We’ll see.

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Christmas at Miller Manor 2015

We are back from our vacation!  We decided the spend the week after Christmas at the beach for my dad’s birthday and for a little breather to end the year.  December has been a brutally stressful month for us and we needed a breath of fresh (salty) air.  It really was just what the doctor ordered.  So please bare with me while I play a little catch-up on posts!

Christmas at the Miller Manor was so sweet.  That’s truly the first word that comes to my mind, sweet.  We have had such a stressful month and I was feeling ultra depressed on Christmas Eve.  The guilt of not doing everything I had wanted to do was getting to me and I had really just felt like I had failed the month.  I pulled through our Christmas Eve Dinner and my spirits started to lift a bit.  We did our traditional Christmas Eve pajamas, made hot cocoa and went for a Christmas Light Tour around the town to see some of our favorite houses.  We got home and got the kids to bed.  Christmas Eve night is one of my very very favorite nights in the whole year.  I love working alongside Mr. Miller as we create the magic for our little girls to enjoy the next morning.  What a tender mercy it was to me this night!  Brady worked on putting things together, while I wrapped the rest of the gifts that needed to be wrapped and setting up little displays.  We excitedly talked about what the morning would hold, and he gave me sweet, encouraging words about my mothering to help me feel better.  It was a night I hope I’ll always remember.  We worked diligently until about 1:30am, then we crawled into bed and hoped sleep would find us from our excitement.  

By 8:00, we couldn’t wait any longer and we woke the girls up! They were so precious in their reactions.  They oooh’d and awww’d over every little detail, they showed excitement for each other and for us as we opened each new gift.

I always worry right before Christmas that the 4 gifts won’t feel like enough, but every single year I have my worries put at ease.  You would have thought we had Disneyland set up in our living room by the excitement level. :)

My favorite gifts under the tree were these the girls wrapped.

We sat on the living room floor playing with our Christmas loot until it was time to go to Grandma and Grandpa Harris’s house for Christmas Brunch.  Brady’s grandparents are the best people in the world and host a brunch for all the family who can make it on Christmas morning.  It has quickly become one of my favorite traditions.

We ate a delicious breakfast and then gathered around the living room and talked about our Savior and the day of his birth, then we took turns talking about our favorite Christmases.  Mine of course was when I had delivered my first newborn baby just a week before Christmas.  I nursed my precious baby by the fire near our Christmas tree with literally nothing under it and felt like the richest woman in the world.  I got just a small taste of what Mary might have felt like that first Christmas, and my heart nearly burst with gratitude for that sacred day she brought forth the life that would save us all.  Christmas has had such a special meaning to me ever since that Christmas 7 years ago.

We got home from Christmas Brunch just in time for naps!  I laid down after I put Grae to bed and Mr. Miller followed, snuggling in beside me.  The girls were curled up on the couch with their new dolls and fresh new chapter books.  We woke up three hours later to a silent house.  A true Christmas miracle.  I went to check on my girls, Grae just stirring from her nap, and Harlo and Stella still buried in their books, Junie B. Jones and Fancy Nancy.  My heart was so full.

As we crawled into bed Christmas night, we recounted how sweet our girls had been.  Here we had somehow skipped over new tablets and iphones and other expensive gadgets, and our dear girls were just as thrilled with new books, cloth dolls, and a new scooter to ride outside in the yard.  “We did good.” I said to Brady as I snuggled in to sleep.  He smiled and nodded before we drifted off to sleep.

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birthday dates

Mr. Miller and I go out on a date together each week.  It’s one of my favorite things we do together.  Since Harlo’s birthday is coming up this week (tomorrow!), we had her accompany us on our weekly date night this week.  She looked forward to it for day (and so did I).  We left the littler girls with our usual babysitter and off we went.

Harlo picked the restaurant, but made us promise before-hand that we wouldn’t tell them it was her birthday. “When they sing to me, it makes me embarrassed.” she said.  (I have been known to say the exact same thing.) We swore, and she chose Buffalo Wild Wings.

We let her choose WHATEVER she wanted on the menu.  She chose a huckleberry lemonade, and mini corndogs, and some chips on the side.  She played on the tablet for a bit, and then she asked me if I had ever cut my head open, which I said “yep, twice that I remember.” and she insisted on the details.  Then she asked Brady about the time he broke his arm being pushed off a banana chair and we all had a good giggle.  We asked her if she liked being the oldest in our family, and what it was like.  She says she loves being the first born “Because I’m the boss mostly, and because I’m older than Stella.  I love being older than Stella.” (Stella would have definitely scoffed at that if she’d have been there.) She asked us about being the youngest in our families and what it was like.  She liked that my oldest sister was the one to help me after I had split my head open one time when my mom wasn’t home, and hoped she would be able to have those opportunities with her younger sibs. (Although I hope head-splitting is one thing she wont have to assist with!)

After that, we took a stroll through Target and then ended our date with candy cane shakes.  She kept saying “Mom, do you guys always do this on date nights?  I love dates!”

It was such a good night, with our precious first born.  Seems like yesterday we were driving to the hospital in an unexpected snowstorm, anxious for her arrival.  This precious girl was sent here to teach me so much.  She has taught me how to be a mother, how to be gentle, and kind, and loving.  She has taught me to be confident in myself and the decisions I make.  She has taught me that it’s okay to be who I am.  I am eternally grateful that she was up for the job.  She changed my life for the better in every single way, and continues to bless me every single day.  I am so grateful to have been able to spend that time with her last night.  A new tradition I’ll look forward to each year.

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Christmas at Miller Manor – The Tree

Excuse my absence last week, I have been having some computer issues that took some time to work out.  I should be back up and running now! I’m a little behind on some scheduled posts, so check back next week for some fun new stuff coming up!

As we start moving into the holidays, I’ll be sharing bits of what we do around here.  This weekend was the tree!

I have never decorated for Christmas before  Thanksgiving, but I think I’m converted.  It feel so cozy in our home and it’s made me even more excited for Thanksgiving this year.  I’m 100% sold on squishing these holidays together.

Our tree has never really had any rhyme or reason and I wanted to teach myself how to REALLY decorate a Christmas tree this year, but I still wanted it to feel like a family tree with all the ornaments my girls loved.  Every year, we let the girls each pick a new ornament for the tree and I want that tradition to go on forever! I love the memories they hold.

Today I’m sharing my tips for a family friendly tree, with a more uniform look.

 

Step One – Ribbon: One thing that was a game changer this year was RIBBON.  All the professional trees seemed to have that in common, so off to Michael’s I went.  Their ribbon and Christmas decor was 40% off over the weekend, so the ribbon cost me just a few dollars a piece. (I used about 15 yards of each) I can’t believe how big of a difference it made! I used a solid red in about 2 inch thick, and a 3.5 inch thick red and white striped.  I figured that color pallet wouldn’t be overwhelming and I could still add in the random colored ornaments without any issue.  (I used the tips for stringing ribbon from HERE. It was super helpful.)

*Another thing I did was string bigger bulb lights over our already pre-lit tree.  I love how the different size bulbs just sparkle at night.  I just threw one strand on and sort of zig-zagged it up the top when I did the ribbon.

(I did need the ribbon to be placed correctly, but I let the girls help by following me holding the ribbon and the other girl would loop a branch around it to hold it into place where I told her to. They were happy to help and even happier with how pretty it looked!)

Step Two – Large Ornaments: Playing with size and texture is an important part of tree decorating, so I added in my bigger ornaments and textured ornaments next.  I got my cute snowflake ornaments at Tai Pan a few years ago, but I saw several oversized snowflake options at Walmart and Dollar Tree! I think they make a big difference than just having standard bulbs.  I got a few over sized bulb ornaments in gold and silver at Walmart.  Once I got the bigger ornaments in place, it really started coming together.

*To add more sparkle, I strung a few of these garlands ($4 from Target) and love the way they look.

Step Three – Let The Kids: With the ribbon and larger ornaments in place, my tree already looked pretty good.  I wanted the kids to be able to hang their favorite ornaments with little input from me, so I let them go wild.  They loved that part, and I love the personality and color it adds to the tree.  It would have been too uniform without it.  I even love the imperfectly strung garlands Harlo added.  :)

 Step Four – Finishing Touches: The tree was missing a little something at the end, and I knew it needed some statement.  I picked up the big lolly-pops at Tai pan and they really pulled everything together.  It looked a little too chaotic before.  Once I got those in, the star at the top of the tree was looking a little sad, so I made a big bow with some leftover ribbon and added it behind our star.  It’s exactly what was missing.

Our girls were very happy that our little Christmas elves, Mimi and Donny, showed up the next morning.  That is always an exciting day at the Miller Manor!

I am still working with our mantle for the holidays, but I’m loving the tree so far!  I hope that helps someone with a Christmas tree obsession like mine this year. :D

It’s the HAP-HAPIEST time of the year! 

Be sure to follow us along on instagram this holiday season!

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gentleness

Today the oldest Miller ladies ran out of the house to catch the bus and forgot their coats behind them.  I realized just as the bus drove away.  I am sort of neurotic about wearing coats (thanks for that, Dad!), so I put on my pants and a sweater and headed to the school to drop them off.

Stella is goofy and was making kids laugh when I got there.  She was excited and surprised to see me. “How did you get here so fast?!” she wondered, “I’m freezing! I’m glad you brought my coat!” Harlo was admiring the icicles that had formed on the grass in the field by herself.  When she noticed me, she said “Mom! There is ice on the grass! Some of the blades are stuck together!” This is just the kind of thing she’d be stoked about.  I love these little girls of mine.

We chatted about their friends and they pointed certain people out to me.  I loved seeing the girls in this element.  It reminds me that they’re growing up and becoming so independent.  And even though that stings the mama heart, I’m so happy and proud.

I stood on the playground, not being able to tear myself away from their little world.  I felt worry bubble up of the busy world around them that I can’t control.  Mean kids, rough play, hurt feelings.  These precious girls of mine have taught me to be gentle and loving because that’s how they are, and I wish I could help teach the rest of the world to be gentle and loving with them.  I quietly said a silent prayer for just that.  Please please let the world be gentle with them.

Please let the world be gentle with all of us, and help us to be gentle with each other.  Help us to remember that we are precious sisters and brothers in this world.  Help us to love each other better.

The bell rang and they scurried off yelling “I love you mom! Bye!” and I yelled back “I love you too!” and I felt glad that even when the world fails them, they’ll always have my gentle love here at home. And that is something.

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halloweekend 2015

Is Halloween my favorite holiday? I don’t think so, but it’s coming in close.  Halloween is so fun when you have a brood of little girls around.  This year the girls were very decisive about their costumes and didn’t change their minds.  All three girls were characters from their favorite movies which I loved.

Harlo was cinderella (“from the new cinderella movie… not the old one,” she would say)

Stella was Young Maleficent (costume handmade by yours truly)
Grae was Elmo 

 I threw together last minute costumes for me and Mr. Miller – a deer and hunter.
It was a hit! :)

Harlo told me when we got home “Mom, you looked soooooo cute today!”
Wish I could dress up as a woodland animal more often. ;)

 Another Halloween down for the books!

 Now to get ready for Thanksgiving.. which IS my favorite Holiday. :D

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moments like these

The other night, I made our favorite easy week-day meal, pita pizzas.  The girls make their own and everyone is thrilled with the outcome each time.

After the 5 minutes it took to cook the pizzas, we were sitting around our table eating as a family.

We talked and ate and ate and talked.

When we had finished eating, the girls scurried outside along with the baby to play in the backyard.  The backyard that we worked so hard on this summer for them to enjoy just like this.  They did cartwheels on the soft grass, jumped on the trampoline taking turns doing tricks, and visiting the backyard bungalow (which has still yet to be painted).

I sat at the table, picking at the girls left overs, hearing giggling and muffled conversation coming from the backyard.  I looked around the kitchen, Mr. Miller starting to pick up the mess of our kitchen island where we were gathered around preparing our meal just 30 minutes before.

I felt the blessings wash over me thick and heavy.  The warmth of our life took my breath away in that moment.

These are the moments we can’t explain as mothers.  These are the moments that make the hard work all worth it.  These are the moments that thread together a warm, beautiful, and fulfilling life.

Just these small, very normal moments.

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tidbits


 
These pictures say so much about my girls and their personalities and dynamics.  They slay me!

HARLO

Harlo continues to be one of the best big sisters I’ve ever seen.
She is especially helpful with Grae, and Grae absolutely adores her!
This has been such a special relationship to watch unfold.
She gets a little spicy with Stella though, recently.  Some days they play together with not a single problem and some days they wake up at each other’s throats.  I can always tell how the day is going to go by breakfast.
Harlo loves helping around the house.  Making dinner, baking cookies, folding laundry, organizing closets.  That is right up her alley!
She knows how to straighten up well.  She can look at things that need to be done and do them.
I know this quality will serve her well in this life!
She will do pretty much anything for ice cream… and ipad time.
She has grown up so much.  The TV shows she likes to watch now are more the pre-teen type like Good Luck Charlie and Liv and Maddie, as opposed to the cartoons on Disney Jr. (but she’ll still watch them on occasion).
She is swimming like a little pro! Although, when I ask her if she wants to go swimming now she’ll say “no, I already know how.” ha!
Harlo is reading like a mad woman!  She can officially pick up any book off the shelf and read it to her sisters.  She’ll sometimes get stuck on a word or two, but that’s it.
She has broken out of her little shell quite a bit from when she was younger, but she is still very much my most reserved of the group.
She has started recognizing the label “shy” and will now sometimes use it when I remind her to use her manners, “Mom, I’m just shy.”
I quite dislike that label, and very much dislike it as an excuse to not use manners.  I tell Harlo she needs to smile and say hello when she is greeted, and answer questions when she is asked (what’s your name? What grade are you in?).  I tell her we’re all a little uncomfortable to meet new people, but that doesn’t mean we can be rude.  I have started urging her just recently and it’s made a big difference.  (I think at 6, she can see the logic – I wouldn’t be requesting this from her at 3.)
She loves discussing ideas with me, whether it’s how she wants to redecorate her room, helping plan for Stella’s birthday, what we should do for summer.. she could talk to me all day.
I love it!
She is getting so mature.  From the things she likes, the things she does, the things she’s interested in.  I just see her blossoming into a little lady.
If I ever get after her about something she’s doing wrong, she’ll say “okay mom, I didn’t know.” simple as that.  We’ve come a looooong way in the disciplining department.
She is working on riding a bike with two wheels.  We took the pedals off the bikes so they could learn their balance and she does super well.  Now we’re working on the pedaling part.
I have seen Harlo grow so much this year.  She is truly a little lady.  She understands things more, and asks deeper questions.  I know she is going to be such a special friendship throughout my life.
Harlo is a little home body.  She almost always would rather stay home than go somewhere.  She almost always would rather stay inside than go out. (completely opposite from Stella)
She has been asked to give the prayer, scripture, theme several times at church and she usually won’t do it when the time comes.  Stella readily accepts the responsibility for her (enabling much? ha!).  A few weeks ago though, she was asked to say the theme (which she has wanted to do for a while) and asked me if I would please not come into primary while she does it.  Broke my heart a little bit, but I agreed to her fair terms.  I got the report later from the girls that she did it!  Sad I wasn’t there to see it, but I totally understand. (In fact, that sounds like me – not nervous in front of strangers, but choke in front of close friends or family.) I was so proud of my girl!
Harlo is going into first grade and she is so thrilled! I can’t even imagine what I will do with her gone for a full school day, even the thought makes me choke up, but it’s been so fun watching her excitement grow.
She is nervous about using the bathrooms at school – she hates the sound of the flushing toilet! I am trying my best to get her ready for that.  Poor girl! ha (again, just like me at that age!)
We had a rough time with school last year, and I am so anxious about starting over another year.  I have been pray-pray-praying that this year is a little smoother than the last.
We have found out that a few of her friends will be in her class though, so that is good news!
Mostly I am just so awe-struck by Harlo.  She is so gracious and calm.  She has endless patience for her sisters, she is almost always willing to help, she is so well behaved.
She makes my life easier, happier, more fulfilled every single day just by being her.
She is my little angel.

STELLA

Stella is the sunshine in our home.
She is almost ALWAYS in a good mood.
If she’s ever unhappy, it lasts about 20 seconds.
Last week she was unusually whiney and complaining.  I hadn’t ever seen her act that way before in her whole life.  Later that night, she started running a fever.
Cute little thing is never ornery and if she is, something is wrong.
Although she’s usually always in a goood mood, she is by far my most drama.
She always has a big long dramatic story to tell me about something that happened.
I just have to say “okay, play nice.” and she’s skipping off into the sunset.
Stella is so spiritual.  She is always telling me about Jesus and God and asking questions about them, or heaven, or the holy ghost, etc.
She has deep rooted faith and I have no idea where it came from, but what an example she is to our family – me especially.
She loves church and learning more about Jesus, she loves saying prayers and will often tell me when she said a prayer silently and it was answered.
Such a precious soul she is.
She also loves Grae – probably too much.
We have to tell her often not to hug too hard, or try to pick Grae up when she’s playing, or that one kiss is plenty.
Grae gets smothered by Stella most of the day. Ha.
Stella is a L-O-V-E-R through and through.
She still goes through phases coming into my room at night.
She is the hardest to put to bed – bar none.
She’ll come out to tell me she’s thirsty, or for one more bedtime kiss, or to tell me she loves me, or she’s scared, or she thought she heard something, or she remembered she needed to tell me something….
The list goes on.
I have been giving rewards for getting in bed and staying there til morning.
It’s only happened one time, but I think the incentive is working.  Bedtime has gotten easier.
On Sunday, my mom sang a solo at our church.  Stella was specifically moved by it.  Later that day she told me, “Mom, Grandma has a wonderful voice, right?  I loved hearing her sing at church.  It sounded like someone on TV!”
Sweetest little thing.
Stella is always telling us how cute we are, how pretty we look, how good we are at this or that.
Stella is our little anchor to positivity.  She is just happy about life and all that’s around her.  She is such an example to every one of us.
We recently went and saw the movie Inside Out (which was so cute) and I told her when we left she reminded me of Joy (a character that plays the emotion of Joy/happiness).
That is Stella.  Our little light.  Always happy and always keeping the mood light.
We are so lucky to have her.

GRAE

Our little golden girl is 15 months old!
Where has the time gone?
Grae has definitely grown into the one year old attitude.  She is a little spice girl!
She is constantly looking for food.  For a good couple months, she would sign “more” while saying “cracker!” Especially if she saw Grandma who she knows always has a snack handy.
The last week or so, I think she’s slowed down a bit.  She must have been going through a growth spurt.
A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking how she was probably my latest talker.  My other girls were talking quite a bit at this age.  I swear, the next week her little vocabulary just exploded.
She can say mama, dada, harlo, stella, grandma, grandpa, papa, nana, auntie, kitten, up!, more, thank you, no, drink, okay, night-night, hi! and buh-bye.
She will also try to imitate any word you ask her to say.  This is new just this week.
I swear on Saturday morning, I woke up to a toddler where my baby used to be.
She is standing and THIS close to taking steps.
She’ll walk around if she pushes something or if she’s holding hands… reminds me of someone else I know.
Her new thing is when she doesn’t like something, she’ll say “owwww!” like she’s being hurt.
At church on Sunday Brady was speaking and she saw him up on the pulpit. She immediately started screaming for him, so when I went to sit her back down to tell her to “shh, shh, shh” she started yelping “owww! OWWWWW!” making it look like I was pinching her or something. Oh dear!
Yesterday at the grocery store, anytime I would roll past something she wanted me to stop at, she would say “owww! owww! owww!” I had to keep saying “That’s not what oww means!” so people wouldn’t think I was hurting my one year old asking for something.  Sheesh!
She has somehow become the easiest to put to bed and naps.
She is still transitioning between 1 and two naps.  Some days one, some days two.
She quit nursing just past her 14 month birthday.
Since she quit nursing, she is finally sleeping through the night consistently.
A quick note about her quitting nursing: I got PPD really bad after Stella quit nursing.  I have been worried about it this time and found myself praying and praying that I would feel ready when it was time for her to wean.  After one specific heart felt prayer of worry, I woke up the next day to Grae biting me.  Hard.  The next feeding the same, and the one after that too.  Grae would get more upset than I would after she bit me.  She gets her feelings hurt if I yelp or even flinch in pain.  All day long, I kept trying and she kept biting followed by a 10 minute long tantrum.  By night time, she was refusing to nurse at all (and I must admit I was quite timid to even offer).  The next day, she refused to nurse and then only every once in a while would she latch if I offered in the middle of the night.  Pretty soon, two weeks had gone by since we nursed and I felt us slowly moving into a new normal and a new phase.
I am feeling fine with it, and I know, I know, I know it was an answer to my prayer.  A very odd answer, but an answer none the less.  Biting saves the day (and my breaking heart)!
She just got two molars through and is working now on another two.  This will make TWELVE teeth.  My earliest teether by far.
She has fallen hard for her Daddy.  I have said it before, but watching little girls and their dads is probably the greatest gift on the earth.  They are so in love with him, they look at him in a way they don’t look at anyone else.  It melts me into a puddle.
Grae girl has been such a necessary addition to our family.  I am so grateful she is ours, she was worth every bit of the wait and more!
We love our sweet Golden girl!

 

 

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Monday Evenings

Monday at the Miller Manor is family night.

Sometimes we cook dinner and bake a goodie and talk about life and love and family.  Sometimes we take an adventure to the food truck round up that happens in our ‘hood.  It doesn’t really matter what we do, as long as we’re together.  That’s the point of family night around here.

As our children get older, and our schedule gets busier, we place more importance on keeping this a family night.  Monday night is one of my very favorite nights of the week!

This Monday evening, we took the girls to eat at one of our favorite mexican restaurants (just wasn’t working out in the cooking department today!).  After that, we went to Home Depot to pick up some flowers to adorn our front porch with.  Mr. Miller  let me pick a big pot (I chose a whiskey barrel – I love the look!) and we each chose our favorite flower.  Harlo chose some bright fuchsia flowers that are supposed to attract butterflies.  Stella chose dainty, flowing pink flowers.  Brady chose some that look almost like feathers that have beautiful bright colors.  I chose marigolds because I love how happy and warm they feel.  We helped Grae choose some flowers too – we found these tiny little blossoms that together make these round, happy looking flowers.  They were perfect.

We got home and got to planting.  We ooh’d and aww’d over each other’s choices and pointed out how each flower is so unique and different with it’s own smell and beauty and purpose.  One-by-one we planted them into our barrel until they made a beautiful bouquet in our new pot.  We talked about how each flower is beautiful, and when planted together, firm in the soil, they are even more lovely – just like our family.

 

Grae graciously tested all of the soil for proper nutrition.  She gave her stamp of approval!

Chocolatey, ice creamy smiles showing off their picks (Grae physically assalting her purchase).

One thing I love about Stella – she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty!!  Atta girl, Stel!

(no flower is safe in Grae’s path…)

Hey Mr. Miller! Cute bum, where you from? ;)

This morning, my porch looks a whole lot happier!  Happy Spring!

 A successful family night, indeed!

(more on family home evening HERE)

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Harlo turned six

My sweet Harlo turned six years old last month.  Harlo is my oldest, the one who made me a mama.  Each year that rolls by (and most days in between), I am reminded at what a powerful gift she has been in my life.  She came into my life so unexpectedly and in the perfect time.  She drastically changed the course of my life, and in the most sincere and beautiful way.  I know that there is no mistake in when she came, and that she was the spirit sent to me strong enough for the job.  She has taught me more about everything in the six years (and 9 months) she’s been on this earth as my very own child and I am grateful, oh so grateful to my Creator for knowing what I needed just at the right time.  I pray sincerely that I can be as big of a gift to her life as she has been to mine.

For Harlo’s birthday this year, she has been planning the details for months. She has had her own little note in my day planner and some nights, we jot down some ideas on it.  She is a great little party planner and this year I let her do whatever she wanted.  She chose the theme, the decor, the attendees, and the food.  The day just screamed Harlo and it was so magical for me to watch her little ideas come to fruition.  The day was perfect, just as she had planned.

We woke up to birthday presents and a 6 balloon (which has become a family tradition.  Birthday traditions are my faaaavorite kind.) We ate blueberry pancakes adorned with the birthday tiaras we had purchased for the big day.  She got on her new (Elsa inspired) birthday dress and we did the finishing touches on the birthday decorations we had been working on the weeks before (snowflakes everywhere).

After that, the birthday girl went off on a special lunch date with Grammy to her favorite place (Durangos) while me and Stella hung the party decor.  She arrived to her own little ice castle in time for the party to start.  We had “ice cubes” (rice krispy treats with blue food coloring) and “snow balls” (large marshmallows) and “snowmen snacks” (carrots, pretzels, olives dipped in ranch) and “olaf cheeses” (string cheese colored like olaf).  We also had “Frozen cake” (ice cream cake with the birthday girl’s picture).  A pinata was also at the top of her list of things to do for the party, so we got an awesome ice cream cone pinata that worked with our theme.  I loved that it was Frozen inspired, without being Elsa & Anna palooza.  My girl’s got taste, I tell you what.

We had just a small handful of her closest friends over.  They were ice queens and kings and ate all the candy and marshmallows they wanted (sorry moms!).  We finished up our day with a family dinner (+ Harlo’s best boyfriend, Hudson) at her second favorite place, Chili’s.

As we tucked them into bed that night, Harlo told me that the day had been perfect, “My favorite birthday ever.” she said.  My heart could have just burst.  I love this little girl of mine so much.

Happiest birthday to my very own Angel.  Your presence has blessed me beyond my imagination.  You are the kindest, most tender hearted human I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  The way you move through life with such grace and beauty inspires me more than I can say.  I am so grateful for your help and support and for your strength to help lead your siblings.  You are a wonderful example, both to them and to Daddy and me.  You are constantly teaching me that life doesn’t always have to be one certain way.  That life can be what you make of it, and you can choose to make a beautiful life.  You were my choice to create a beautiful life, Harlo.  I will spend the rest of my life loving you in the best possible way I know how.
I am so proud of you and so happy to call you mine.  I love you, my sweet angel girl.
xoxo
Mama

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fun with matilda jane

This week the girls had a fun opportunity to model for Matilda Jane’s latest release.  I’ve always loved matilda jane’s style, but it’s never something I have shopped for.  I was excited for the shoot, but even more excited when I saw how cute and nice the clothes were.  All the fabrics are so soft and dreamy, the colors are so vibrant, the details are even more than I could have imagined.  They are so darling!  I am hosting a local Matilda Jane party tonight so you can come and see for yourself, but if you aren’t local and would still like in on the fun, you can shop HERE and email your wishlist to errinandrus@matildajaneclothing.com with “Cass Miller” as the “jane”.  If you are local and would like to come to my trunk show, please email me for an address! :) cassmillerphoto at gmail dot com.

This night, the girls were absolutely killing it!  They were so sweet and listening so well to the wonderful ashley flowers who shot it.  We lucked out with some good moods, even from Baby Gigi.  These girls of mine.. I tell you what!

Thanks to Matilda Jane Clothing for this fun shoot!  My girls had a blast!

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