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building our tribe

Last week, for the fourth of July, we had our second annual holiday bash at the Miller Manor.

I had posted about the night on instagram, and someone messaged me and told me how she envied the group of friends I had, and how lucky I was to be raising my children alongside my best friends.

This touched my heart, and I’ll tell you why.  Because I had a season in early motherhood with little to no friends in the same season I was in.  I felt loneliness and craved something more.  I felt an answer to my prayer was to be patient, focus on my family and not worry about friendships – they would make their way into my life later.  And they did.

A couple years later, by divine placement, I had some precious friends in my life.  These women were strong, and wonderful, and real, and loving wives and mothers and friends.  The only problem was, most of them didn’t know each other.  In this season I had a strong impression that I was to bring this group of women together.  So I started a book club.  I invited a few friends, they invited a few friends, and before we knew it we had a big ol’ group of awesome ladies discussing books and life and all that entailed.  Best friendships formed, we learned from each other, grew with each other, showed up for each other, and felt our loads lighten by the friendships we had formed.

This very inspired idea of bringing this group together may be one of my most treasured blessings in life.  I genuinely have the greatest group of women surrounding me.  REAL women.  Women who aren’t interested in gossip, and materialistic accomplishments, but that are coming and putting it all out there, and accepting every one else doing the same.  These types of friendships are rare, I know this from experience, and I am so grateful to have these women in my corner for life.

Upon our purchase of the Miller Manor, one of the main things for me was to have a place for our tribe to gather.  We kept this in mind with every renovation we did.  We don’t have a ton of space in our 1900 sqauare foot home, but we have created places for our community to come in and feel loved.

The 4th of July is just a reminder of all we have built with this community.  I love that my yard is big enough to hold alllll our kids, and that our families continue to grow.  I love that our kids are raised more like cousins, and that through our friendships have become a sisterhood unlike anything else.  Each of us have built this community up, and I am forever grateful. (only the friends in town on the 4th pictured — but you know who I’m talking about even if you weren’t here!)

Are you in a season of loneliness?  Perhaps your tribe is just on the other side of inviting a friend or two over for a BBQ, organizing a book club with a few women you think would hit it off, arranging a weekly playdate with other moms, whatever you like to do.  Sometimes it’s just about gathering up your people with food and love to fill your soul.

In my experience, my willingness to invite and host has given back to my family 100 times.  Who can  you love into your tribe?  Who can you cook a meal for?  Who can you invite to a park and pick up pizza on the way?  Build up a community you love being a part of.  I promise it will be worth it.

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my baby boyfriend – a love story

Major Miller,

You are sure winning my heart over these days with your big brown eyes, creamy tanned skin, and juicy red lips.  I especially love the way you say “yeah” to every question.  That’s why I ask you all the time “Major, do you love your mama?” and when you say “yeah” it sends my heart soaring.

(You’re even cute with a crusty nose #molars)

You are a mama’s boy, and I have never been happier about anything.

You are happiest up in my arms – all 28 lbs of you.

If I sit down, you make a mad dash over to me and lay on me, smooch me, stroke my hair…

You are the best boyfriend I’ve ever had (besides daddy).

You are handsome, and sweet, and snugly.

 

 What more could a girl ask for??

 

 

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Mr. Miller – an interview

With the recent Father’s day, I thought it would be fun to interview Mr. Miller about fatherhood:

Me: Mr. Miller, you have four kids at the tender age of 32.  How does that make you feel?

Mr. Miller: Blessed.

Me: What would you say is the best part about being a father?

Mr. Miller: When I get home from work and my kids come screaming “daddy!” to the front door.

Me: Yeah, that really is the best.  Do you think you’re the favorite parent?

Mr. Miller: …. (laughs uncomfortably) Yes.

Me: That’s okay, someone has to be. (rolls eyes) *cough* I think Major loves me the most *cough* What advice would you give a new dad?

Mr. Miller: Be supportive of your wife. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Be patient.

Me: Those are good, Mill.  Especially the “be supportive of your wife part”.  You’re good at that one.  Did you always hope to have a house full of children?

Mr. Miller: Yes.

Me: You did? Do you want one more?

Mr. Miller: Mill, come on!

Me: Okay, okay.  I think you’re good dad.  The best, in fact.

Mr. Miller: Thanks!

Me: You take your kids to church each Sunday, why do you think that’s important?

Mr. Miller: Because it’s essential in raising spiritually strong children – I want them to know God and recognize their blessings.  Without the power of God in their lives, life is much more difficult.

Me: Well said, honey!  Well said.  One thing you’ve always supported is me staying at home with our children.  Can you explain why that’s important to you?

Mr. Miller: I just think it’s important that my children learn from their mother, and learn from love.  I mean, if someone is going to raise my children day in and day out – who better than their own mother when that’s possible?

Me: Right!  I get that.  I’d even have another if you wanted one. ;)

Mr. Miller: I’m super uncomfortable.  Let’s move to the next question.

Me: Okay, deal.  What is the most important thing to teach your kids?

Mr. Miller: Probably how to be nice, how to start a fire with sticks and no matches…

Me:  Mr. Miller, you’re such a funny guy. :P Did you have a good father’s day?

Mr. Miller: Yes.  Very good!

Me: Well good.  We think you are the very best.  I love you, honey!

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happy camper

Last week I had the opportunity to join the teenaged (and pre-teen) girls of my church for “girls camp”.

I wasn’t raised in our church, and so this was my very first time at girls camp!  I must admit, I was quite nervous and contemplated every excuse I had to get out of it, but I turned my heart to prayer about girls camp, and felt strongly impressed to go.  The stars aligned with awesome volunteers to help watch my children (I owe you, Cher and Grandi!) along with Mr. Miller, and on Tuesday morning I was on my way for 48 hours of camp.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect – and when you look at me the term “roughing it” may not come to mind – but all my dearest friends assured me that girls camp is the absolute best, and so I leaned into faith, slapped a smile on my face and went.  My goodness, they were right.

We slept in tents, cooked over an open fire, played endless amounts of games, I smuggled in diet coke (ha), and learned a plethora of wonderfully corny camp songs.  We want on walks all over the gorgeous pine valley mountain, and cried tears of gratitude, love, and truthfulness.  I got to know my sweet young women like I hadn’t before, and got to bond with the leaders, too.  I came home with such a full heart.

It was so wonderful to get home to my Mr. Miller.  While I was gone, I had missed our 9 year wedding anniversary!  So we celebrated over the weekend.  My girls couldn’t wait to hear all about camp and are looking forward to when they can go.  (when they turn 12! I hope I’ll still be a leader then!)

I feel like youth church camp is a right of passage that I had missed, and I’m grateful to have been able to experience it now at 28 years old!  Looking forward to next year (although I’m glad to have a year between “roughing it”). ;)

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to market to market

Last weekend, after visiting Great-Grandma & Grandpa Harris, we took a stroll through our favorite little town – Mr. Miller’s home town – the town his ancestors settled.  We have been talking about our ancestors a lot lately while we’ve been reading the Little House series, so it was fun to give them a visual of what our ancestors achieved here.  We went to the famous Frei’s market and enjoyed a quiet Saturday afternoon.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get over how much I love having a family of my own.  Four gorgeous children, and a husband I adore, who loves our children, me, and God fiercely.  Sometimes the overwhelming blessings I have show up in the most simple and mundane of times.  Just like on this warm, sunny Saturday at the market.

 Not sure what I did to get so lucky.

(girls darling dresses handmade by Melon Monkeys)

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Catch us Outside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Building a Life

“She shaped her own world exactly to her liking when nobody was looking.”
– Author Unknown

A profound truth hit me when my oldest baby girl was just a few months old.  We had just moved into a cute little rental house, we didn’t have a lot of anything at the time, but happiness and contentment seemed to fill every room.

After a whirlwind romance, and an unexpected pregnancy, life had moved quickly for me in the last year and a half.  In fact, right before I met Mr. Miller, I was walking out of the darkest 4-year season of my life.

The light my life radiated now was a blinding contrast from that of the season I had recently left behind.  Only a couple of good choices had landed me here.  To take a chance on love, to say YES, to jump in with both feet into something that felt to be right in my heart.  On that one afternoon, as I swayed my baby to sleep in my kitchen, I realized that life truly can be whatever you make of it. 

From that day on, I have delved deep into the details of my life, filling them with things that make me happy.  I learned that following spiritual promptings is always a good idea, no matter how wild they may seem.  I learned that any amount of beauty can fill up a space, and make my heart happier.  I learned that a shortage of money only meant an abundance of creativity – and that often where you find simplicity, there too you will find happiness.  There was simply no excuse to not create a happy life.  And that’s exactly what I planned -and still plan- to do.

If I could share the one secret to a happy life, it would be this.  I’m so thankful that the Lord brought this knowledge to my life, and that I have a partner who trusts the inspiration I receive for our home and family.

Mr. Miller said to me recently as we drove home from our weekend trip to our trailer on the mountain, “Most of the inspiration for our family comes to you, I’m just here to help make your vision come to life.” and my heart filled right to the tippy top – because I know that the Lord is guiding us, and me as a mother to this family.  He knows my deepest desire to create a good, happy, beautiful life for my family and He is so faithful.  Always there helping guide me.  As the years tick by, we are doing just what we set out to do. Our life doesn’t come without the stresses and obligations everyone’s life has – but we chase after that light, we chase after the things that will make us happy – big or small.  We have come to learn the things that bring forth the fruit of a good life, and we go for those things.

“We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” – LDS Article of Faith 13 (my favorite AOF)

 

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friday wrap up

Friday:

12:24 : Stella writes her teacher a letter, “You are the best teacher EVER! Stay cool this summer.” (we love you, Mrs. Boshard!)

12:31 : I think of the lucky teacher who gets her next year (we’re ready for you, Mrs. Bastian!).

2:49 : The Miller ladies (me included) enjoy a cold popsicle on our 100 degree back porch (the misters were a nice touch, Mr. Miller).

3:17 : Stella dubs Grae “Sassy Frances”

That sounds about right to me!

5:05 : Offer of a SECOND date night this week comes in

5:06 : Decide to GO FOR IT after the day week I’ve had.

6:14 : Mr. Miller whisks me away to my favorite quiet country.

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Mom School

A few years ago, I found myself heavily researching home school.  We even home schooled for a short time, and I genuinely loved every second of it.  We made some sweet memories in our home schooling endeavor, and I found that it changed a whole lot about the way I mothered my children.  It was the mothering style that had drawn me into the home schooling lifestyle.

I often think of ways that we can incorporate home school into our daily lives – because that really is what home school is about.  It’s a shift in a lifestyle that is simple and lovely, full of imagination and learning in a big, beautiful world.  At least this is what I found in each home schooling family I researched.

As the summer drew closer, I realized I was going to have to get a bit more structured to entertain all the ages of my children each day, and that’s when the light bulb went off.  Summer would be the perfect time for me to incorporate those principles I found to love so much in home schooling homes.  It was the weight, and organization into subjects that didn’t pull to me as much, but with summer school, I can fill in the gaps wherever I choose.

I pulled out my old home schooling schedules and notes and pulled from that a summer schedule that will suit us.  This may be tweaked a bit here and there to establish what best fits, but here is what our schedule is like so far:

8am Breakfast and scriptures (I’ve been surprised by how well my older girls are reading along and understanding the scriptures!)
8:30 Light reading (poems), bible verses (Harlo had the great idea to try to memorize an article of faith each week)
9:00 Journaling (I’ll be setting writing prompts for the girls to journal each day)
9:30 Piano (we use a kitchen timer and set practice goals each week)
10:00 Life Skill (house chores first, followed by things like learning laundry, baking, meal prepping, grocery shopping.. whatever else we might be doing that day)
We will break for some exercise, lunch, and some play time, and then resume with reading in the afternoons.

I am hoping to establish a little book club with my older girls over the summer.  Perhaps we can each read the same book, or read one book together, and discuss it each week.  The girls are on similar reading levels now and both into chapter books.  We are loosely following Charlotte Mason’s reading list.  I love the Charlotte Mason method and have been so inspired by her teachings and have tried hard to incorporate her lifestyle methods into our home.  This will give us that little boost we needed. :)

I sit the littlest ones at the table with us to listen to our reading and discussions each morning, Grae has her own summer journal for doodling, practicing her shapes, name, etc.  They eat and play right along with us at the table as we discuss.

When Major naps, we’ll do our reading time and Grae can enjoy that as well.  This is also when we’ll do crafts or an activity that requires no one-year-olds ;).  The perk about “mom school” is that its really no pressure.  Anything is good enough.  The goal is to occupy my children’s day with wholesome structure, learning, and lots of time together.  Anything we want to learn about this summer, I’ll add  it to our “mom school” list.

The rest of our days will be filled with exploring and playing and looking for opportunities to learn wherever we are.  – And even if some days land us in front of screens, at least we did something with our days, dang it!

What things are you doing with your kids this summer?  I’d love some more ideas!

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from the mountain

I am blogging from the mountain today.

Life (and rules) slow waaaaay down at the mountain.

Exhibit A:

Admiring a strawberry-filled sink that my children will devour today alone if I let them.

Exhibit B:

Doing hair is an activity, not a means to something else.

Exhibit C:

The only question you’re asked is

“How

do

you

like

your

hot dog?”

Harlo likes hers with “mustard and ketchup on the side.”

Grae likes hers with “yellow ketchup” (mustard) only. (not confusing or anything)

Stella likes hers with “extra extra mustard, and a line of ketchup.”

 

I like my hot dog to be an organic chicken-dog, served with dijon mustard and coleslaw, thanks for asking.

See why we like it here so much?

 

 

 

Follow our #millermanormini adventures on instagram!

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a good day

I should have known yesterday was going to be a good day when I woke up to this:

As fore-mentioned, the eldest of our Millies graduated first and second grade yesterday – nothing brings nostalgia quite like the last day of school – or more so, the first day of summer break.  Was there any better feeling as a kid?  I think not.  So I invited a few of their pals over, bought two big bags of popsicles, attached the sprinkler to the hose and we had ourselves a grand ol’ first day of summer bash.

I swear – the simplest of things can make the best memories and I hope I’m helping to create those kinds of memories for my children.

After all our friends went home, it was just about time for Mr. Miller to whisk me away on our date.  It’s a charmed life, I tell you what.

We drove to the DI to unload all the “spring cleaning” I’ve been doing this week,  ran a couple errands, and ate my favorite Mad Pita.  I don’t really care what we do, as long as I’m with Mr. Miller and have his undivided attention to talk about things – like my romper I wore yesterday on date night.  “It’s cute, it just looks like something Grae has in her drawer.” I’ll take that as a compliment! Thankssamuch.

I have some ideas up my sleeve for Summer for my little Millies that I’ll be sharing more about next week… On Monday for family home evening we will make our annual Miller Summer Bucketlist and I can’t wait for the adventures this year is sure to bring!

Adventure or no adventure, I’m just glad to have all my loves all to myself for a while.

My cute “momper” is from HERE.

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Last Day!

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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mothers day 2017

Mother’s day has quickly become my favorite holiday.  I don’t even care.  Those haters who are like “but mothers day is a commercialized holiday – we should be appreciating out mothers everyday..” yeah, well we aren’t.  So we need a designated day in the yearly calendar to be made breakfast, drown in homemade gifts, and be told in writing how loved and wonderful we are.  But to each their own here!  You do you, and I’ll be over here eating sub-par breakfast and crying over my girls fill-in-the-blank cards that say things like “If my mom had more time she would: twirl around in her fancy dresses.” (You get me, Stella.)

In all seriousness though, I tease a lot about gifts and Mr. Miller stepping things up – but this year looked a lot like every single other Sunday.  Running late to church trying to get my girls hair done, shoes found, snack bags packed.  Walking a fussy baby through the halls of church, teaching my young women’s class, hurrying home to feed hungry bellies, rocking the baby to sleep, tidying up the house for the dinner we were hosting, and hitting my bed that night full-hearted, and exhausted.

Mother’s day was not, and never is, a day-off for me.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  This work I’m doing is work I wondered if I’d ever be able to do.  It doesn’t always seem magical in the moments, but as I have time to process it all and think about it, I see the everyday miracles of my life in every little moment raising these babies of mine.

I love Mother’s Day for what it represents to me; that I am a mother.  That my heart’s utmost wishes came true in the form of four darling children.

  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Harlo, Stella, Grae, and Major,

I love being your mother EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Don’t you ever forget it.

(P.S. Mr. Miller did get wise and ordered from my handy email.  I hope you had as much luck!)

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Because every family needs a dog

This week has been an exciting one here at the Miller Manor.  You see, Mr. Miller and I both grew up with dogs and firmly believe that no family is quite complete without a family dog.  And this past weekend, we brought our very own family dog home.

You can’t imagine how much time we took thinking and researching, preparing our home and our lives to be ready for this step – it feels like a big one!

I found our sweet guy looking online for dogs up for adoption.  When I clicked on his photo, I felt something special.  I showed Mr. Miller and he agreed, “yep. That’s our dog.”  He’s a 16 month old Llewellin Setter (I grew up with Irish setters!), he was still available, just waiting for the right family to love him well.  I assured them we were the right family, and two days later, he was on his way to our home.

He took about zero time to warm up to us completely.  He laid on the floor that night while I rocked Major, snuggled in with the girls while we read books, and slept on the side of my bed all night and hasn’t left my side since.  To say we are completely in love is an understatement.  It feels like he’s been ours all along.

As I went to pick up our new family pal, Mr. Miller worked hard finishing the backyard fence he built with his own two hands.  (Mr. Miller is not the romantic one in our relationship, but that romantic gesture of building a fence for our family was not lost on me – all the heart eyes over here!) As we sat on the back porch that night, it felt a whole lot like living our dream.  A cute little house, four kids, and a dog to run around the yard.

I am living my most favorite chapter yet – the dog is just the cherry on top!

Welcome to our family, Finn! ♥

 

 

 

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major and his mama

There is a boy who I am spending quite a lot of time with these days.

As I scrolled through my photo albums from the weekend, I found various pictures the girls have taken of me over the last few days – all of which this handsome honey is in my arms.  (You could say we like hanging out together.)

Friday dinner making:

Saturday porch sitting:

Sunday after-churching:

Then this picture popped up from “This time last year”.  Remember when we looked like this together? :

I told Mr. Miller that maybe that last pregnancy wasn’t as hard as I thought it was?  He assured me, it was.

Maybe it was.

But it was sure worth it.

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