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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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living with intention | when enough is enough

I am entering a season of serious intentional living.

I have found that intentional living sometimes comes in waves.  I get in the ebb of life’s grooves, and have to redirect myself to the flow.

I am coming out of a growing season, where I was looking outward at what was ahead in our lives as we made choices and navigated some difficult situations.  The answer to my prayers in this season though, was to instead look inward to determine our future.  It was not the opportunities that may or may not lay ahead for our family that was the answer to this certain question, but rather the contentment that was already enveloping us in this current season.

For the first time in our lives, we aren’t chasing the next dream.  We are living the dream we chased and caught.  I don’t mean that we aren’t dreaming anymore, or that we “have arrived”, but specifically, we worked long and hard for years upon years to purchase the house we currently live in.  We are now presented with a good amount of equity that would secure us a larger home, a home we could comfortably “grow into”, a home that could possibly be our “forever home”.  Yet, this particular opportunity of moving from our beloved little cottage came rather quickly for my liking.  We are always willing to do what is best for our family, but as we looked seriously into that, we realized that a bigger “more comfortable” home was just simply not what was best.  Or perhaps a more clear way to phrase it, is that a bigger home would not be “better”.

This answer became clear to us each day as we contemplated selling our beloved cottage – our three bedroom house surrounding now six people.  It became clear in the way we felt as we pulled into our driveway, admiring the jasmine we planted crawling up our columns.  The happy welcome our blue front door presents – the door I painted with a 6 week old baby Grae strapped to my body.  It became clear in the way we feel when our family crowds around the island for breakfast as we read scripture, discuss important family matters, or giggle as I dance around Mr. Miller, making him blush.  It became clear in the way we feel with all three of our girls snuggled into bed for the night – in their shared bedroom, as our precious son sleeps soundly in the room right next door.  It became clear in the way we perfectly fill up our living room – a spot that seems just exactly the right size for our family of six.  It became clear in the perfectness of me making dinner, babies coloring and snacking on the counter right beside me, and the sound of the big girls practicing piano filling our entire home.

We live in a little cottage – a little cottage we have worked hard on making our very own.  A little cottage that has our stamp in every single corner.  This little cottage may someday feel too small for  us, but happily, today is not that day.  And we don’t have to move into a bigger home because we can, or because that’s “what you do”, or because it’s expected to keep growing materialistically.

I think there is something to be said for chasing after a dream to accomplishment, but there is also something to be said when recognizing that enough really is enough for now.

It became apparent that happiness may await us in the next chapter of our lives, but one thing we know for sure, is that happiness is right here where we are already.  And for now, that is exactly enough. 

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Major Turns One | Birthday Fiesta

This year was officially the fastest year of my entire life.  The one year mark didn’t sneak up on me as much as it sped right to me like a semi on the freeway.  I couldn’t jump out of it’s way, and it was coming whether I wanted it to or not.

I love one year olds, but I also love 11,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2, & 1 month olds.  I love every single drop of that first year of babyhood and it’s so bittersweet seeing my own little baby turn one.  I just want moooore time, is that so much to ask?  Just like double – or triple the time?  Anyway, his first birthday came and just like the rest of his life here with us, it was absolutely perfect.

 Major smashing his cake was maybe the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.  He was HAMMING it up for all to enjoy.  We haven’t stopped talking about what a little charmer he is.

 We are in love with this boy like we never knew was possible.  After a year, we have found that being the baby of the family AND the only boy is a pretty sweet place to land in life.

 p.s.
Easiest party in the world to throw is a fiesta!
Double easy if your party is in the remote vicinity of Cinco De Mayo!
We may be having birthday fiestas as a new tradition. :D

p.p.s
Upon requesting for Mr. Miller to wear “anything colorful or that you’d wear in Mexico.” He came out wearing this shirt that was a hand-me-down Tommy Bahama shirt with a PEP IN HIS STEP. (Much to my dismay, and not-so-subtle suggestions to change several times.)
You may not know this about Mr. Miller, but he can’t wait to be an old man.
Tommy Bahama shirts, beige Cadillacs, and early bird buffet specials are what I have to look forward to with this husband of mine.
Hopefully I can hold him off at least until he turns 35. ;)

 

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Easter weekend 2017

We doubled up on holidays this weekend celebrating our sweet Major’s birthday along with Easter, my favorite Holiday.  It was hectic and lovely and filled to the very brim with goodness and love. (I’ll post about Major’s birthday in another post)

On Saturday, we walked to the Art’s Festival which is my very favorite weekend in St. George.  Easter is wonderful everywhere, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s the best spent in our little Southern Utah town.  I have gone EVER single year my whole life and I love bringing my own children now.  I also love living downtown this time of year (and every other time of year, too, actually).  There’s just a happy bustling down the streets, trees blossoming into Spring, flowers blooming all over the colorful houses.  I love it down here and think I maybe never want to leave.

After the arts festival, our church ward had their annual Easter Egg hunt at the park.  Of course it was a hit:

After that, MY cousins were in town and they stopped by the Miller Manor for dinner Saturday night.  I was having too much fun to snap any pics, but I super loved having my cousins and aunt and uncle over for dinner.  It made me feel like a kid and a grown-up all at once, which is a pretty neat feeling.

******************

Easter Sunday, my honey spoke in another ward, so me and the little Millies (sans Stella who had woken up with strep!) headed to support our main guy.  Mr. Miller is a fantastic speaker in church, and with his new church calling in the high council, he is able to speak a whole lot!  I think it’s a perfect fit.

My Mr. Miller gave the neatest talk about that first Easter.  My favorite part of his talk is when he spoke about Mary and her broken mother heart, seeing her baby on the cross like that.  Jesus did the hardest thing anyone will do, but I think Mary had to do a big part of that too.  As I sat with my own precious baby son on my lap, my heart broke for Mary – someone I have grown to understand and deeply love since becoming a mother.  I love that my husband paid tribute to this sacred moment, and it’s been on my mind ever since.  The atonement and resurrection are so vast that most of the time I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it all, but when I can spend time pondering little aspects of it, I gain a testimony of the little pieces, and they weave together a testimony of hope, faith, truth, and love for my Savior and what He did for us.  

It’s amazing that the lives we enjoy today, the forgiveness we rely on, the happiness and hope we can feel is because of that sacred day when Jesus conquered death.  I have spent the last ten years of my Christianity learning to grasp this, and I’ve no where near mastered the enormity of this concept, but I’m learning, and I am awe-struck over the love our Heavenly Father has for us.

Easter is my very favorite holiday.  It’s one of simplicity and love and beauty, and I love it just as much now (more so, actually) as I did as a little girl.  Each Easter, as I line up my darling babies to photograph them in their Easter ensembles I am overcome with gratefulness.  Grateful that my life took such a wonderful turn back there somwhere, and that by turning my heart to Jesus Christ, I have created this beautiful life.  It never ceases to amaze me.  This year I had a bench full of MY own children, and nothing could make me happier.

Of course, Jesus isn’t the only man we were feeling extra grateful for this Easter.  Celebrating my only son’s first birthday on this special day felt a little like magic.  In his dapper little Easter outfit, my heart nearly burst right open.  I sure love my little prince!

As I mentioned, sweet Stella woke up in the night with a hot fever and felt miserable all day on Easter. (She was also sick for Valentines – what luck!) I brought her to the doctor Monday morning and she has strep!  Poor sister.  We had to skip on the cousin Easter-egg hunt at Nana and Papa’s house and my girls were SO bummed.  But you better believe Nana and Papa brought that Easter Egg hunt to them on Monday so they didn’t have to entirely miss out.  (Thank you Grandma for braving the sickness and letting us come to your house on Easter!  You saved the day!)

 It takes a village to raise a happy family, and I am so grateful for ours.  This Easter weekend was one of my very, very favorites.

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better than you think

I am working on respecting my own personal boundaries.  This has been so hard for me to learn.  I’m really good at respecting other’s boundaries, but when it comes to myself I will say “yes” to everything, wear myself completely out, just to please those around me.  This is not healthy for me, my family, or my relationships.  I have learned that lesson the hard way this past year.

This week I’ve had to let a couple people down by saying “I can’t do that.  I do not have the time/resources/energy/priority available to assist with that.”  It’s hard for me to disappoint people.  It’s REALLY hard for me to disappoint people – especially people I love.

But here are a couple of people I did not let down this week….

 And they (along with their sisters and dad) are worth all the “no”s I’ll have to build up the courage to say.

I am feeling a bit anxious (#recoveringpeoplepleaser), but peaceful about the boundaries I’ve put in place this week.  I never want saying “yes” to something that’s not important to turn into saying “no” to something that is important.

I needed this reminder this week:

“Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You are doing better than you think you are.” – Jeffrey R. Holland

See full talk HERE.

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oh hey monday!

Back to another week at Miller Manor.

Mondays are something I’ve actually (dare I say it?) come to love.  I love the freshness of Mondays – fridge is stocked, dinners are planned, washing machine humming all day.

After being gone for over half of March, my house is in an “overdue” state.  I am trying trying to get back on top of it – but as you know about me – housework isn’t my strong suit… it’s something I have to work HARD at to learn and maintain.  Wish me luck!  I am slipping on my apron (because I work better in a uniform – also, pockets), checking off my cleaning list (I’m looking at you, kitchen clutter!) and listening to my favorite book Heaven Is Here today while I clean –  nothing gives me a boost of self-confidence and faith more than that book.

(Major’s cute bottle is from Twistshake, get 20% off with cassmiller20 today!)

Also – thank you for all your writing suggestions last week! It helped so much, and has inspired a new project I’d like to work on for the blog.  I’m still brainstorming on that bit, but I loved hearing all the things you’d like to hear more of from me and I want to be able to share more of those things on a regular basis.  I’ve got a list of each suggestion and I’ll be checking them off one by one! Stay tuned.  If you missed it and would like to me to write about something, comment here and I’ll add it to the list! xoxo

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from my kitchen office nook

Sometimes when I am in a rut (emotionally), I like to think of a time when I was completely happy and try to align my life now in the same way to bring the happiness about again.  This might mean a trip (I always find clarity at the ocean!), or a place of spiritual peace (like the temple), or even as quirky as recreating some old outfits.

I have been thinking of the time when I was a young mama to two little babies – a year and a half old Harlo, and a newborn baby Stella.  At that point, it was the happiest I had ever been in my whole life.  I was so fulfilled, so creative.  I learned to cook in that time.  I would pull recipes from Rachel Ray up on my computer in the kitchen and follow each step closely until my food started resembling some of the pictures.  I would craft at my little kitchen desk to make my girls bows and headbands, and embellish plain onesies, upcycle old clothes and fabrics.  I would write as quickly as thoughts came to my head about the season of life I was in.  I didn’t want a single detail about my girls and my early journey with motherhood to go undocumented.  I would take pictures, then sit for hours studying photoshop, composition, exposure to try to push myself to learn a new art form.  I would plunk Harlo in her high chair with some organic fruit, and organic whole-grain crackers just beside me, turn on Stella’s baby monitor and chug away at my little blog.

Some of the best days of my whole entire life.

Lately I have found myself in a bit of a creative rut.  I asked Mr. Miller to move my computer from our shared office to a little nook in the kitchen, just like I had when my girls were babies.  Just like I had in the early days of this blog.

 Sometimes we don’t need a complete overhaul.  Sometimes we just need a little tweak in the things we’re doing to get the flow moving again.

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Get Out There, Gorgeous!

I have taken some much needed time off to regroup and recharge for the new year.  I’ve got some cool things planned for this year and I am so excited about this little blog of mine.  I really love this space and all of you who come to visit me here!

If you follow me on instagram, you know that I recently became an official Maskcara independent artist.  I am so thrilled to finally announce this!  I have been working on this for quite some time now.

If you’ve followed along for a long time, you also know that I’ve been with this company from the very beginning, using and loving their products and their mission.  I have chatted about them here, and have been helping you ladies figure out how to HAC via email and messages for years.  You have asked and asked for more videos, more info, more tutorials and I have been working hard to make that possible.  So it’s finally here!  I will be sharing video tutorials, answering questions, and building up a team of all of you who love it and want to share as well (because I know you already do!)

You can also now order online directly from me so I can help you and make sure you’re getting the support you need.  I’m SO excited about this – I know it’s going to be great.


(little known fact – this video was shot when I was 5 weeks pregnant with baby Maj!)

To shop, or to get info about joining our team, click HERE.
or simply visit maskcarabeauty.com/cassmiller

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today

This morning I woke up (mostly) rested.

My children were happily smooched off to school.

My husband was happily smooched off to work.

My babies have done 294 darling things.

The grocery shopping is done.

Some house chores will be performed with Christmas Music in the air.

There will be snuggling on the couch this afternoon (just as I finish this post!).

The darling neighbor girl will come for dinner.

The big girls and I will watch a Christmas movie before bed.

Just a very regular happy day that I didn’t want to forget.

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growing pains

This weekend has been a busy one for our little Miller Manor.  Since Major was born, we have been trying to figure out the best bedroom arrangement to fit four kids in a three bedroom house.  Our house is a little cottage and I love it.  It’s small and cozy and makes me think outside the box sometimes, and I appreciate that challenge in a home.  I believe in siblings sharing bedrooms and I’m glad my babies have that sweet opportunity.

We have had Mr. Major in our room in a little corner nursery for his whole life, but we aren’t getting a lot of sleep anymore and it was time to switch things up.  After laying out all of our options, we ultimately decided that Grae (now that she’s done napping.. WHAAAA!) could bunk up with the girls for a while until we get Maj on a better sleeping schedule.  So Sunday after church (and alllll day long on Monday) my motherly duties included cleaning up, organizing, arranging, and nesting new little nooks for my precious ones.

bunk beds HERE.

I pretty much wanted to cry the whole day cleaning out drawers and packing away clothes that were too small, moving Grae out of the baby nursery that I painted the day before I had her – which seems like yesterday!  Moving Major out of my room, because my teensy newborn isn’t one anymore.  He is a big huge (almost) 7 month old who scoots around my house and says “dada”!  Time is moving at such a fast pace, and my heart aches as it realizes the quickly passing time.

I also know that each new year brings it’s own magic and blessings and happiness.  As our angels cozied up that night, fresh excitement, snuggled into their beds, I realized that the time is passing and my babies wont be babies forever.. but that they have each other forever.   These changes and new memories are making their childhood together and I’m so grateful.  They are happy kids, we are a happy family, and honestly we can’t ask for a whole lot more than that, can we?

Today Mr. Miller and I are divided on who we are voting for, and that’s okay.  Because no matter who we vote for, we will come home and love our family together.  

“The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes.” -Harold B. Lee

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better tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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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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snippets of our happy place

One quiet Friday afternoon, my house was (mostly) tidy, my babies were sleeping and the house was quiet.  I love afternoons like this that sneak into a busy week and feel calm and effortless.  They are like oxygen to a busy mother.  I walked around the house – touches of my nestings in every single nook.  My house wasn’t in perfect condition, but I snapped a few pictures anyway.  This lived-in home is a happy one for my family.  I love the feeling of walking through my door to be greeted by it’s bright colors, stories, and evidence of life all around it.

I am such an advocate for creating a happy space in your home.  Whether you live in a student’s apartment, or the dream house you built last year… you deserve to be so happy in your own home.  Hang some things on the wall, add in touches you love in accessories, invest time in nesting your space.  You will be surprised by how much of a difference it makes.

I sure love our happy little home.

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home days


Last week a sinus infection caused havoc on my busy week, and just when I heard myself think “THIS IS THE WEEK I GET SICK? OF COURSE IT IS!” I realize that this indeed is the week I needed to get sick.  Mr. Miller is short handed at work and therefore very busy, I was hosting bookclub, we were getting ready to go camping for the weekend, I had two lunch dates planned, two appointments scheduled, one dinner for a friend I committed to, and all the other usual stuff like homework, piano, getting to school on time, bedtime routines, and the like.  I am a mother of four young children.  I really have no business filling up my weeks so much.  I learned that lesson the hard way this past week and it has really made me think.

On Tuesday night, as we were setting up Major’s new yellow crib in our room, I felt my face getting sore.  I tidied up and willed sickness away the best I could.  I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like my head would break open any minute.  Wednesday I spent as much time in bed as possible (which was probably accumulatively 2 hours, because again, I am the mother of four young children.)  We had a busy evening that I powered through with Tylenol and still had big plans to host my book club dinner here the following evening.  The next morning, I still felt terrible and realized that something had to give.  I tossed my grocery list out the window, texted the girls to meet me at a restaurant that night, and freed up my daily list of to-do’s.  One thing I’ve learned is that no one will take care of mama, so mama needs to take care of mama.

When I start feeling out of control, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, etc. I think about the time in my life that I was the happiest.  That thought always lands me smack in the middle of raising my first set of babies, in our old house in a quiet neighborhood we could hardly afford a rental in. Mr. Miller worked so hard to grow his business in those years, and we weren’t to the comfortable years yet.  We had so little extra money… and I mean we had NO extra money.  That was frustrating at the time, but my goodness, it taught me my life’s most valuable lesson.  Simplicity.  I wasn’t running through Target in those days, or going out to lunch and dinner for convenience.  I was at home with my babies, packing picnics, playing outside, learning to cook dinner, taking pictures… anything I could fill our days up with that was free and fun and fulfilling.  I dreamed in those days of the days I’m living now.  Owning my own home, having pretty dresses in the closet, being able to afford furniture and things for my home that I love.  But those days taught me that happiness doesn’t come from material things – not at all.  Happiness comes from a place inside that’s stripped down of all the other “things” in life.  I think about those days so often and try to mimic them in my now busier, fuller life.

The thing about my life is that I am a new 4th time mama, I am right in the throws of learning how to do life with 5 people I’m responsible for.  What I did 4 months ago, may not be working for me anymore.  I’m constantly looking to others for guidance and praying for direction.  And it does come.

Last year, I had the inspired idea to start scheduling free days.  Days at home with nothing else to do outside my own walls.  I didn’t have to do that with two kids, but with three, it was necessary.  I took two days that were “home days” and I didn’t schedule errands, or doctors appointments, or playdates, or lunches or anything else on those days.  I really loved my home days.  They gave me life.  As the summer unfolded, and so did our routine, I am realizing now I need to get more in the swing of things with my home days.  Last week was too busy, and by knocking me out with a sinus infection, I think God is just trying to nudge me to remind me that being the busiest mom isn’t going to matter in this life.  The real message is hiding within being the simplest mom.

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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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