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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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Stella Tidbits

Since I have so many kids now, it’s hard to get each of them in one tidbits post.  Now i’ll be taking turns spotlighting each one, hopefully once a week.

Stella has always been our Sunshine Girl.
She truly feels like the sunshine to our family – consistently bright, happy, and loving.
No matter what is going on in our lives, we can count on Stella to bring happiness to our day.
Stella is always thinking of others, truly.
At any given time, you can find her crafting up something for her teacher, friend, or family member.
She is constantly offering to do something for someone without being asked.
She is always the one Grae goes to for anything because she knows Stella will say yes.  Grabbing a snack, playing another round of hide-and-seek, turning on a show.
I really needed one like Stella.
Stella gives the most and asks for the least.
Which means I stay up at night wondering if she’s been given enough.
A couple months ago, Stella forgot her lunch at home and when I dropped her off I told her I’d bring it back to her.  And then I forgot.  So at about 2pm, lunch had well passed and I felt sick in my stomach thinking of her at school, expecting me any minute, and I hadn’t come.  I begged Brady to come home from work to sit with the babies so I could go make it up to her and check her out early.
When I got there, she wasn’t the least bothered – in fact she was elated to tell me she got to eat school lunch for the first time and “IT WAS AMAZING!”  I asked if she wanted to come with me to get a treat and she shrugged and said “sure.”  When we got in the car I told her she could pick ANY PLACE in the whole city to get a treat, and she thought for about 2 seconds and then said “A gas station.”  Sure thing.  We went to the gas station around the corner (after I asked several times if she was absolutely SURE that was the place she wanted to go – it was) she got herself a drink and picked a treat, and then she said “Mom, I’ll just get a drink so I can get a treat for Harlo.” (cue the heart burst and the fighting back tears).  I told her she could pick something for herself AND something for Harlo, and she quickly picked  Harlo’s favorite candy out – she knew just the thing!  On our way back to the school to pick up Harlo, Stella said “Mom, this was the best day I ever had.”
I tell this story because it is just SO Stella.  Easy going, grateful, thoughtful, and the sweetest soul you could ever imagine.
If she’s ever been mad at anyone it’s only lasted 5 seconds.
On the rare occasion we need to get after her, it’s tough because she’s so easy going, she really doesn’t mind being grounded from the ipad, tv, etc.  She’d be just as happy to curl up with a book and snuggle in on the couch.
She continues to soar in school.  Her last SEP, her teacher just sung her praises and got a little teary over how much she enjoys her in class.
The only thing Stella requires is snuggles.  Snuggling is this girl’s love language.  She will take it from whoever is willing to dish it out.
Stella has a special place in so many hearts, but especially her Papa Guitar’s.
Stella has such a sweet connection with my dad – they are total pals.  Stella asks often if Papa will pick her up and they go about the town on his errands, they stop by the park and he’ll push her in the swing for hours.   They’ll go on hikes, and to the pet store.  My dad adores this time with her, and says it’s just like having me back as a kid.  My heart bursts thinking of them out and about doing the same stuff my dad and I always did together.
Last week she came home from school and said “mom, I talked to my teacher today about Papa coming to play to my class.” She had arranged the whole thing. (my dad goes to her class to play Christmas songs for the kids each year – just like he did for mine).
Stella loves in the largest capacity and each of us who receive it are so so lucky.
Her favorite past time right now is browsing Target online looking for gifts for her siblings.  My goodness!  I couldn’t make this stuff up.
My family says she’s just like me, like I was at her age, and I love hearing that.
She is a treasure to us, and I am grateful every day for her place in our family.
We needed her like the earth needs the sun.

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To my girls

What will I say to my girls?

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxo,

Mama ♥

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family pictures 2016

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

 

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

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Life + Style

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

Life :

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

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

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

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

Style :

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

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


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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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back to school feast

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

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

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

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

We are ready for another great year!

 

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stella’s american girl birthday

On August 3rd, my sweet, sunny, lively little Stella turned six years old!

Months and months ago (even before Christmas) Stella knew she wanted to spend her birthday at the American Girl store.  She has become more obsessed with American Girls as the days have ticked by.  We talked about how going to the American Girl store was a big deal, and very expensive.  She then opted to forgo a birthday party, any other birthday presents, “don’t get me presents! Just send money that I can spend at the American Girl store!”, she told us.

Luckily, Stella’s birthday lands in the summer and working our summer travels around her birthday wasn’t too hard.  We knew we wanted to get to Santa Monica at some point with the family this summer, so we hopped on board for the American Girl store birthday!

Stella researched every single detail of the American Girl store.  She knows about all the girls, all the collections, each and every outfit and option.  She knows which stores are where, and what they offer.  In all her spare time, she spends it on the American Girl website or on various American Girl youtube channels.  Stella is SERIOUS about American Girls, and I have to admit, as the days drew nearer I found myself getting butterflies of excitement as well.  Both for her, and for the little girl in myself who would have LOVED an American Girl store visit at her age.

One thing I have to note is how easy it was to manage Stella’s expectations.  I would tell her we probably wouldn’t have enough money for a certain thing, or discuss what our budget would be, and she was just as happy altering her plans to fit within that frame.  She even planned out exactly what Harlo would do (bring my old American Girl doll to the store, so she wouldn’t be empty handed).  She was just so gracious, so sweet, and so grateful for anything we would allow.  I love that about Stella and never ever want to forget how sweet she was in planning this birthday.

We also had a lot of comments about Harlo before our trip.  “Will that be hard for her not to get a doll too?” they’d ask, and other questions of the like.  But I have to say that my girls do really well at celebrating each other.  Harlo was so excited for Stella’s birthday, for her.  I don’t think she complained one time about not being able to get a new doll, or this or that.  We did give her a little summer allowance for helping so much during the summer that she spent on a sweet little outfit, and that was plenty.  She was such a gracious big sister on this trip, and I know it made the day even that much more special for Stella getting to share it with Harlo.  Man, I love these girls.

Needless to say, when the day finally came (we made sure to be there ON her birthday), we were all dying of anticipation and excitement! (Even Mr. Miller caught the American Girl fever!)

Shortly into our visit, Auntie showed up to surprise Stella at the American Girl store.  I can’t tell you how precious Stella was for that surprise.  She shrieked “Auntie!” and almost got a little emotional.  Auntie and I both will never forget it.


We had so much fun at the American Doll store.. Stella made out pretty well with grandparents sending her with money so she was able to buy a doll, and a couple accessories as well as get “Bella’s” ears pierced.
I planned ahead a bit and scheduled a personal shopper for Stella (the store offers them for free!) and that was a really special touch.  They took us back to a big pink room and let us set our stuff there and gave us a tour of the whole facility and told us a lot of interesting information.  Stella ate it right up.  It was just the amount of VIP status that girl can appreciate! ;)

After the American Girl store, we decided to head over to Santa Monica Pier to spend the rest of the day, which was even more fun to have Auntie tagging along with us for the day.

The girls opted not to ride any rides (Did you know I’m deathly afraid of farris wheels?), but Mr. Miller showed them around the arcade like the old pro he is.  We had ice cream and took it all in.
After the pier, we spent the rest of the day shopping and eating on the 3rd street Promenade.

The kids were mesmerized by the street acts.  For a Wednesday, I was so surprised and excited to see them out there.  We watched and watched the different dancers and performers.  Our favorite though was a magic show!

Mr. Miller and I came to Santa Monica on our babymoon in March, and we knew our girls would love it.  It was SO fun for us to bring them along.  I was so in love with Brady on that trip, carrying around our 4th baby in my big round belly.. and to enjoy the city with him again – this time with all four of our babes with us just seemed like a dream come true.  I fought the happy tears back all day.

Stella’s birthday was everything we hoped it would be and so much more.  She hasn’t stopped talking about it since.  As we drove home that night she took a big sigh and said “Wow.  Today was the best day ever.”

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last hoorah of summer

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

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

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

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


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

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

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what’s in a name?

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

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

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

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

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

Stella Johan:

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

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

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

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

Grae Golden:

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

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

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

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

Major Harris:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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soccer mom

On Saturday my girls finished their last soccer game of their first season.  Mr. Miller, being the volunteer he is, coached Stella’s team this year.  Harlo had such a great coach for her team.  We loved watching our girls grow, stepping outside their comfort zone, and learning something new.

Even though it has been crazy busy at times, I have really loved entering into this new season.  These are the days you dream about before you become a parent.  It seems almost surreal for me that I have kids going to school during the week, playing soccer on the weekends, doing homework in the evenings, carpooling to practices, etc.  It’s a season I looked forward to as a new mom, and one that I hope I can always enjoy despite the crazy schedule to maintain.  THAT BEING SAID, having a new baby smack in the middle of our first soccer season… I wasn’t too sad to see it come to an end. ;)

I missed their last two games with a newborn in tow, and a sick toddler this Saturday, but my little warrior girls did great and brought their medals home proudly!  I’m so so grateful to the family and friends who went to the girls games, especially when I couldn’t be there.  I have surely learned by now that it does take a village, and we’re lucky to have a great one.

Until next season!

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tidbits

HARLO

Harlo being 7 years old now just blows my mind.  We are half way to 14, and 1/3 of the way to 21.  I mean…
No one could have possibly prepared me for how fast it would go by.
My dad sits on my couch and tells me the same thing, “It was like yesterday this was you and your sisters.”
Talk about heart break.
But the tender mercy God put in with His quickly passing time is making sure each and every stage comes with it’s own sense of magic and fulfillment.
I love having a 7 year old.  Just as I loved having a 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 year old.
Harlo is becoming so mature and aware of things.
Her questions and interests are much more complex.
Her body is lengthening out with these long legs and arms that are so strong and capable and coordinated.
She can help me with things – all things.
She can get her toddler sister out of her crib with ease.  She can even get her and feed her breakfast in a pinch.
She can watch over the littler girls while they play and alert me if anything is going awry.
She can clean her room, by herself, and do a great job.
She can get herself mostly ready for school in the morning.
Of course, the majority of these things I still insist on helping her with, but she can do it herself.  She really really can.
I meet her at the bus every day after school.  We jump up and down, scream, and wave “Harlo is here! Harlo is here!” with every bit of excitement we can muster.
When Harlo is home for the day, our home feels whole again.
Last week she asked me when she’ll be able to just come off the bus and walk home by herself because “I can mom.  I really could do that! It’s not far.” and I told her “I know you can, but that it is my right as a mother to greet my child off the bus and there will be so much time to do things by yourself later.  Please let me hold onto these things a little while longer, okay?” and she sweetly nodded like she understood just what I was feeling.
Harlo loves minecraft.  This makes her really popular among little 7 year old boys.
She can also school anyone with her minecraft creations.  For fun, Brady got into minecraft to take a peek at their “world”.  He couldn’t believe all the stuff she had created.  Houses and farms and fully functioning roller coasters and sky houses… Girl has her dad’s brain, through and through.  Brady and Harlo are wired just EXACTLY alike.
She will also sit on an electronic device alllll daaaaaay looooong if I let her.  We have to keep a close eye on that.
She is definitely a little book worm.  She has recently started reading chapter books.  She has been reading some Laura Ingalls that we had around, but we got her some Junie B. Jones for Christmas and she’s been loving those (and flying through them).  Reading has opened up a whole world to this little girl.  It’s been so fun to watch.
Harlo loves school.  Loooooves school.  Hates to miss it and can’t wait to go back after breaks.
She doesn’t mind math, but writing is her favorite. (She’s got a little of me in her too, I guess!)
She is my home body girl.  Would usually always rather be at home than anywhere else.  Oh I love her.
She has such a funny, quirky little sense of humor.
She has gotten way less picky about food and is finally starting to realize it doesn’t have to be your favorite thing to just have a few bites.  Hallelujah!
Harlo is just a sweet little angel.  She really is.  She has taught me so much about gentleness, and I really needed that.
I just love her so so so much.

STELLA

Oh Stelly.
Where do I even begin?
Stella is probably the funnest kid you’ll ever meet.
She is 100% FULL OF IT.
She says more funny things in one day than I could possibly keep track of.
Stella is always willing to help.  I can ask her to do anything, and she’ll skip off to do it happily.
She is the second person Grae goes to when she needs anything, because she knows Stella will get it for her.
When it comes to cleaning their room, Harlo is really good about seeing what needs to be done and doing it.  Stella gets overwhelmed by things, but does really well with direction so I have started having Harlo tell Stella what she can do (pick up the dirty clothes off the floor, put the dress ups away..).  So far that is working and keeping Harlo from cleaning the entire room while Stella whines she’s tired or bored on the bed. Ha! (If you knew me and my sister Ali growing up, you know this is EXACTLY how we were.) I am raising us as sisters.
Stella is such a sensitive little thing.  Not a lot gets her down from her happy-go-lucky self, but recently we have found that she is quite emotional and sentimental.
I mentioned how she had cried during The Good Dinosaur which I thought was so sweet, and last week for family movie night we watched Father of the Bride (I’m trying to introduce my girls to some of my old favorites.) and during the last scene, Stella got all teary.  Oh my gosh, that precious girl!
She also can’t let anyone cry alone.  If Harlo gets hurt or in trouble, Stella is surely to to shed a tear for her as well.
On the flip side, if she does have a minute of moodiness or throws a little fit, you better believe in 2 minutes she is completely over it and back to herself.
I love this so much about Stella and try to be more like this myself every day!
Stella is currently obsessed with dolls.  And she is such a good little mama.
She changes her doll (Mayla’s) clothes every day, gets her ready for bed, feeds her, loves her, plays with her, puts her to bed at a decent hour.
I love that she’s like that, because I was just the same at her age.
I know she is going to be so excited when the new baby gets here (we all are) but Stella is going to be a great little helper/mama to this sweet baby.
She is also absolutely certain we’re having another girl.  (Harlo thinks we’re having a boy.)
But I’m absolutely certain that no matter what this baby is, Stella will love it with her whole entire heart. ♥
Stella continues to be a great little kindergartner.
She is one of the best readers and testers in her class.  We had gone back and forth a bit on if we should put Stella in this year or wait since she has a late birthday.  At our last SEP, her teacher said we had definitely made the right decision for this girl.  She said she usually always recommends waiting, but Stella was definitely ready on all levels.
Definitely good to hear!
Stella is always down to have a good time.  She loves it when we’re on the go and doing ANYTHING.
Last week Papa Guitar’s (my dad) stopped by to see if the girls wanted to go on a hike.  Harlo didn’t, she had just gotten home from school and was “too tired” so I figured Stella wouldn’t want to either.  Nope! She piped up immediately “well I do!” and ran for her shoes.  They had a great time and she was glad she went.  When she got home she said “Harlo you should have come, Papa Guitars was so hilarious!”
My dad loves taking her and says it’s just like jumping back in time with me.  I love hearing that. :)
During Stella’s blessing, Brady blessed her that she would let her little light shine always, and I must say, she does just that.

GRAE

Oh mercy, Grae has gotten so full of personality lately.
You really could just eat her right up.
She runs this prancey run everywhere she goes.  EVERYWHERE she goes.
She sings and hums all day every day.  At church during the songs, she is just singing right along – loud and proud!
She says “mom” at least 12,000 times a day.
I tease that it’s her nervous tick.  It’s never just once either to get my attention, it’s always “mom-mom, mom, mama, mom?”  (exactly like this)
She is still absolutely attached to me, but I feel like she’s getting just a LITTLE bit better.
She still gets unbelievably anxious if she can’t see me for one second.  She hates if a closed door is between us (privacy? what’s that?).
Last week I was cleaning the kitchen while she played at my feet.  I walked around my island to wipe down the side of it, and bent out of her view for maybe .5 seconds and she immediately was struck with panic “mom-mom! Are you?!” I mean, she would have absolutely seen me walk out of the room, she was RIGHT by me.
She also hates if I close my eyes for any reason.  If we’re sitting on the couch and I want to “rest my eyes” (which I always want to do because I’m 7 months pregnant) she will panic “mom-mom, mama, mom?” until I open, or she tries to pry them open herself with her little fingers.
Needless to say, mama can’t get a SECOND to herself through the day.  More days than not, by the time Brady gets home for dinner I am quite fried. (But I still miss her every night after she’s gone to bed…)
Even though she is still a stage 5 clinger, she has gotten SO so so much fun to be around all the time, so I don’t even mind.
Her little vocabulary is just exploding.  She asks “why?” about every. single. thing.
Yesterday at Target she kept dropping something so when I gave it to her I told her “no more, or you wont get it back.” and she said “Why mom? Are you kidding me?” :|
She has also started a few weeks ago saying “are you talking to me?” when you tell her not to do something.
She is a spunky thing, I tell you what!
She loves pushing the buttons on the alarm before bed, but she calls them “Tuppins”.
She loves Curious George right now and calls it Monkey Show, but pronounces it “Gumpy show”.
She loves all “gumpys” (monkeys).
I am just seriously happy she’s taken a break from watching Caillou.
Every night when I rock her to bed she makes me tell her all the people who love her, starting with Daddy and working our way down.. We say “Daddy loves you, mommy loves you, Harlo loves you…” and so on.  But she’ll tell me who she wants to hear and asks “auntie luh you?” “yes, Auntie loves you.” “Willow luh you?” “yeah, Willow loves you too.” This little nightly routine just makes my heart burst.
She still will have next to nothing to do with church nursery.  She did make it through about a half hour last week before she started crying and then just hammed it up for me and Brady in young men/young womens afterwords.
Home girl owns us.
Right when she opens her eyes in the morning, she asks for “brepast?” and when we make it to the kitchen she says “Ogurt?”
She loves bananas and crackers and cheese.  She’d live on that.
She’s in size 4 diapers now and has finally outgrown her 9 month clothing.  12-18 months fits her with plenty of room to grow.
People ask all the time how old she is when she’s walking and talking the way she is.  She looks like she’s barely a year old, and they’re shocked when I say she’ll be two soon.
Of course, if they hang out long enough, they’re not at all surprised to hear she’s almost 2 because she sure acts like a 2 year old. :D
As busy and sassy and spunky and attached she is, I wouldn’t trade this girl for the world.  I absolutely enjoy every last ounce of her.
As happy as she is to have me, I am double as happy to have her!

 

 

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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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