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the not-so-fitness post | healing my body image

I have shared a little bit about starting up Kayla Itsiness’ workout program.  I have gotten a lot of questions and I thought this would be the best place to share a bit about my experience.

I have been reluctant to put anything out there, because I am NOT a fitness queen.. but then I think that the “non fitness” type people are exactly the people I’d like to hear from with what they do to stay fit and healthy, so I’m going to share my story so far, instead of when I’m “on top” of it.  So take note that I myself am in the very beginning stages.

Before I post about my workouts, getting in shape, and the ever sought-after “how did I lose the baby weight?!” questions, I feel strong importance to tell you the whole story, and my story with body image begins before my fitness journey does.

I grew up having a lot of body-shaming talk around me, which probably had a lot to do with my poor body image all throughout my childhood and teen years.  I HATED my body, I was in a constant need to escape it.  I treated myself poorly, allowed others to treat me poorly, and I didn’t take care of my health what-so-ever.  As a teenager, I lived with my bachelor of a dad, so my idea of a “home cooked” meal was a can of Nally’s chili, or a frozen dinner warmed in the microwave… the only idea of “eating healthy” I knew of was crash-dieting, which I tried often, which looked more like harsh starvation of my body, and frustration when I didn’t look like Nicole Richie after my painful efforts.

Then, after years of sinking so deep into a darkness of not understanding my worth, and some devastating personal challenges, something miraculous happened when I got pregnant with my first baby.  I carried that baby to full-term, and without ever having done so before, successfully pushed her out of my body.  I did it! I gave birth to the most perfect baby girl.  Something happened to me as I sat in my living room rocking chair, that first time my milk came in – the milk that would sustain this angel baby girl of mine that my body just fully prepared for earthly life – I had a crashing wave of gratitude come over me for the healthy body I had, that I had treated so poorly, but had given me my life’s greatest joy anyway.  This is when I started viewing my body more as my friend rather than an inconvenient part of myself.

As Harlo grew, I wanted only what was best for her growing body.  I researched her nutrition diligently – how to make the healthiest possible baby food to feed her perfect little body.  One day as I was cooking for her, contentment filled my heart over nourishing her so well.  A whisper of a thought came to my mind, “Your body is just as perfect as hers, shouldn’t you be treating yours the same way?”  And that thought changed me.

I taught myself to cook.  I cut out preservatives and ate only real, from-scratch, fresh food.  I practiced gratitude for my body, and not only stopped talking negatively about my body (I strongly don’t want my children growing up in that environment), but I also stopped thinking negatively about my body.  When a negative thought came in, I would quickly catch it, and respond with a positive truth.  Rather than “I wish my thighs were skinnier.” I would replace it with, “I am so glad I have strong, capable legs that can chase after my little girls!”  At first I corrected myself a lot, and then after some time I didn’t have to correct my thinking as much, and even more time, not hardly ever.  A positive body image truly is something that can be learned, or perhaps it’s a bad body image that can be healed.  I am living proof.

After I had delivered Harlo and began my pregnancy with Stella, I knew my body could do this work.  I opted to deliver her naturally at home, because I knew my body was capable – and it was.  When my labor with Grae stalled, I knew my body could do this.  I trusted it fully, and again, it delivered.  The end of my pregnancy with Major, when my body had been stretched more than ever before, when I was at the end of labor pushing out the toughest baby I’d ever had to push out – I knew my body could do this.  Even during my miscarriage, when the doctors recommended a D&C and I opted out because I KNEW my body could do this.

As the years have gone on through my adult life, I have seen my body’s capabilities.  I have given birth on my bedroom floor THREE times, I have labored and stretched and been stronger than I would have ever imagined I could be.  I have withstood five sickening first trimesters, carried four babies to full term, my small frame feeling like it was busting at the seems, but still it pushed on cooking those babies well past “full term”.  As I suffered a miscarriage, I waited patiently while my body worked hard to hold onto the pregnancy it had created, even though the life inside of it hadn’t made it.  After that painful loss, I gifted my body with diligent yoga to help heal my mind, spirit, and my ever-capable body.  It was during that therapeutic yoga practice that I learned that my body was much more “athletic” than I had ever given it credit for, and how good I felt when I took care of it.

So you could say my body and I have been through a lot together, and it stands as the only thing that has stuck with me through every single life experience I’ve ever had.  This body of mine isn’t like my best friend, it is my best friend, and it’s a friend I care deeply for.  So after my body and I delivered this last baby, skin sagging, extra weight, muscles literally stretched to separation, 2 ribs permanently misplaced, and one tailbone that will never be the same from it’s time on the battlefield, it was an easy decision to take good care of the body that has taken such good care of me and my family.

And this is where my fitness story begins.

Suit : Target
Blanket : Wander Series
Photo : Sugar Rush Photo

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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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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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Major Monthly – TEN

Major is just as sweet as they come.
Truly a little angel boy.
He is calm, mellow, completely laid back.
Wow, we really needed one like that in this family. ;)
He was nearly 22 lbs at his 9 month appointment, putting him just 2 lbs behind his big sister.
This boy is a little tank.  He is rolly and squishy and ever so delishy.
He has 6 teeth, and is working on 7 & 8 as we speak.  Poor guy got all 6 in the matter of about 2 weeks!
He loves to grind his top with his bottom and it sends a shiver down my soul every single time.
He is happy and goofy and always on the go.
He army crawls faster than anything you’ve ever seen.  A couple months ago we were at a friend’s who had been in the army.  They were so impressed with his form and speed. ha!
He can now crawl with his belly off the ground, but when he’s being quick he’ll resort to the army crawl, or “the slither” as I have named it.
I always love this age so much, their little personalities really start to blossom at this age.
Maj has turned into a little goof ball.  He loves anything silly.
He plays peek-a-boo with anything he can.
He waves on demand, melting the hearts of all the women in his life (sisters).
He says mama, dada, stella, hi, bye, uh-oh, mmmm, yeah, boo, baba.
He has started to mimick anything we do, and will try to say words we tell him to.
He is the latest of my early talkers, but it just fits right along with his laid back demeanor.
He growls and woofs like a little puppy.  He reminds me of a puppy in so many ways, we often call him “Pup”.
The other day I came around the kitchen island and he was right there and right when he saw me, he said “raw!” Definitely learned that from his sisters. ;)
He loves the school bus and waving his sisters off and home from school.
Major definitely loves his mama in a special way, but he honestly is a fan of our whole crew.
He plays with Grae, and pesters her like the little brother he is.
He takes to Harlo just like his second mama, and Stella is his favorite source of entertainment.
One thing that has been so fun for me to see, is the brother-sister dynamic come to life.  I have no brothers, so this is a very first for me.
I always say that Major is the little house boyfriend, and it’s so true.  He has us ladies completely smitten.  He can do no wrong (yet).
I can tell he and Brady have their own little guy-bond and my heart just about bursts right in two when I see them together.
My boys.  My goodness I’m glad we have a son.
Major is officially done nursing, as of 9 months.
Of course, that milestone has been a little bittersweet.
I wanted to chat about it more for my record so..
Struggling with milk supply is the name of the game for me.  I fight back hard, and have been able to make nursing work, which has been so wonderful.  Major is such an eater – he eats WAY more than my girls did.  When we started feeding him baby food, I realized this especially.  He was nursing non stop all day, and never seeming satisfied.  His sleeping at night was getting worse and worse.  He was up every two hours to eat, for sure.  I was making myself crazy taking supplements, counting calories (making sure I was getting enough), drinking water by the gallon and living on no sleep, I felt like my milk battle was winning me, not me winning it.
I also can’t pump after the first bit, because my milk wont let down with a pump.  This is all stuff I dealt with with my others too, but I still just pressed on.  Then when Major was about 7 months, I had a photo shoot take me away for longer than 2 hours, and as a desperate attempt, I had Brady go pick up a small can of formula at the store and see if he’d take it.  He gulped down a 6 ounce bottle then took a 3.5 hour nap.
And not that this was THE answer, and not that I couldn’t have still pushed on with nursing exclusively.. but I felt my heart change – how prayers are often answered for me.  I had been drowning and I couldn’t think of anything I could move from my plate to stay afloat, and on that day, I saw something that I could move off my plate.  I could have kept fighting, but I didn’t have to.  And it’s a lesson I hadn’t learned yet in mothering, and I’m grateful for.  We didn’t rush into anything, I kept nursing – and on days I felt nursing wasn’t enough, I’d feed him a bottle.  Then I started feeding him a bottle before bed, and that made all the difference in his sleeping.  We gradually, very slowly moved from nursing to bottles full time.  And instead of feeling terribly sad, or like defeat, I felt happier, and I could tell Major was happier.  I felt like I had done what was right for us, not what was right for me, or what I wanted to do the most, but what was right for us.  And that felt so good.
Major is happily taking 2-3 8 oz. bottles a day, sleeping through the night, and finally napping reguarly too.  It has also been such a sweet tender mercy to me because my oldest baby was a bottle-baby as well, and it’s brought back so many sweet memories from her babyhood.  It’s another testiment to there being a million ways to be a good mother, and no one way.  As a mama of four babies now, I haven’t found two that are exactly alike.  I have had to be four different mothers to my four different children.  And somehow, I am doing it, by the Grace (and loads of help) of God.
And that is the story of how Major went from a nursing baby, to a bottle-fed baby.  The end.
Major is truly the easiest.  We have schlepped that baby around on road trips, various adventures, camping, hotels, pack-n-plays in different places.  He sometimes has to take a carpool ride rather than take a nap, or not get to bed as early as he’d like because we’re still not through with dinner.  He is so go with the flow, and I am forever forever grateful he’s in our family.
Our happy little caboose.  What a dream.
He has shown me a whole new flavor of love.
I feel like the luckiest to get to be his mama.

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twenty-eight

On Monday, I celebrated turning twenty-eight years old!

I love my birthday, and the older my kids get, the more I love it.  My girls always try to make everything extra special for me, and my heart just bursts at their love and thoughtfulness.  I woke up to breakfast in bed, a family chorus singing happy birthday, hand-picked and hand-made gifts from the girls, and a birthday surprise trip from Brady to visit our besties in Dallas.  I thought my heart would explode from all the love.  After that, Mr. Miller whisked me off to the spa for a little time to relax and unplug.  I will definitely be making that a birthday tradition. ;)

As I had some time to think, I reflected on my twenties.  Brady and I laughed remembering how when we were engaged, we decided that 28 would be a great age to start having kids.  We wanted to travel and work a while before we “settled down”.  The plans we made for ourselves always make us laugh because they pale in comparison to what the plan was for us.  At 28, mama of four beautiful children, and a husband who I love even more than the day I married him, I am so not bummed about how my life has turned out.  It’s been such a great ride.

In my twenties, as I came into motherhood, I was really pushed to come into myself.  Motherhood settled on me instantly and easily, but getting comfortable in my own skin is something I really worked on.  I’ve spent hours in therapy, read countless helpful books, and changed my thought process and decision making to better my relationship with myself, and in turn, my relationship with others.  I know this is a life work, and one I am committed to.  Working on myself, loving myself, building a relationship with God, and my family.  At 28, I am in the happiest place of my life this far.

For my birthday I had a little spa and lunch time with my Mr. Miller, followed by a quiet family dinner at my favorite place (Mad Pita).  We have stretched my birthday celebrations out a bit, because the stomach flu went through our entire family last week and no one was really feeling up for cake on my actual birthday.  No problem for me though, any excuse to milk extra days from my birthday, I’ll take! ;)  We are headed on a quick birthday trip this weekend and I’m feeling all sorts of loved as this week ticks by.  I have the best friends and family and I am so grateful to be part of such a fantastic tribe.

 

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9 months in, 9 months out

My sweet Major has officially been in my arms as long as he was in my belly.
I remember when this original picture was taken, on my due date, 9 months ago.
My tail bone was sore, my ribs were wrecked, my stomach was stretched so far.
I told Brady that night, “I wonder if this is your big strapping son in here and that’s why I’m so uncomfortable.” (it was)
I remember so clearly the feelings of anticipation as I was about to give birth and see what that sweet little bundle would be – boy or girl.
I had visions of what our family dynamic would look like, and change, and all the bittersweet-ness that comes in those last days of pregnancy.
But nothing at all could have prepared me for the love that was headed our way.
These 9 months have been some of my very happiest.
Major brought contentment to our family.
And maybe he wont be the last, and maybe he will.
One thing is for sure though, he’d be a great note to end on.

So very glad that big ol’ belly brought me my sweet little honey man.
Worth every single popped-out rib, ten fold!

 

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Grae Tidbits


Grae has got to be one of the most entertaining kids I’ve ever met.
She is such a fun combination of cute + spice + personality + humor.
When people spend any time with her, they ask me how I even handle my life, and I tell them I have no idea.  She’s too dang much!
She is smart as a whip!
She can count to 16 without getting mixed up, sometimes she makes it to 20.  She memorizes words to songs like I’ve never seen.
She can outsmart the best of us around here.
She is still a teensy thing at 24 lbs, just a tad bigger than her baby brother.
She has taken well to the family skill of negotiation/manipulation.
The other day she was playing a little rough and I said “Okay no more, that’s not funny.” and she shrugs with “It’s a little bit funny.” :/
Her facial expressions are just the icing on the cake.  Everything she says is with so much expression.
She literally kills people everywhere we go.
A couple weeks ago we had a heart check-up for her, the doctors and nurses on the floor kept coming into say hi because they heard the cutest little girl was on the floor.  While we were waiting in a waiting room, they were doing construction out our window.  Grae was excitedly watching the men on all equipment, and especially the welders.  After a couple minutes, she had gotten the attention of nearly the whole crew from the window and they were waving to her, making sparks with their welding machines for her, etc.  Ha! I couldn’t make this stuff up.  She of course, was just eating up all the attention.  Waving, squealing, jumping up and down.  I tell you, the girl is a show-stopper.
Her heart visit went really well! Her valve has shown improvement, which means we don’t have to see them again until she’s doubled in size, so about 5 years.  We were thrilled about this!
One thing I love about being the mama of multiple kids is that the first time around, toddlerhood completely stressed me out.  The second time, I white knuckled my way through knowing it would end, the third time around I can (mostly) sit back and laugh and eat up the funny things this stage brings.
Grae has by-far been my most demanding? Button-pushing? Can’t-take-my-eye-off-her type of kid, but somehow it doesn’t ruffle my feathers as much as I would think. ha!
Grae is sure a sucker for her daddy, and my goodness, he is a sucker for her right back.
Those two are so in love.
Grae always likes to be where the excitement is happening.  She is NOT one to go off and play by herself and keep herself entertained.  She is at my side 24/7 asking for this or that, has a patience scale of about 0%, and panics if a door is between us.  She has ALWAYS been this way, and as much as it drains me by the end of the day, I sure love her for it.
I never have to worry about her getting enough attention, because she demands it. ;)
Her coloring all over everything streak has seemed to mellow, although I am nervous even typing it out that it will soon return.
She has taken such a liking to Major these past few months.  She is so funny with him, and is really such a great big sister… different than my other girls, but great in her own way.
She knows the difference between boys/girls, but her pronouns are still a little mixed up.  She is constantly telling me to “get her!” or “She’s getting me!” about Major.  I’m so bad and just keep the bit up because I think it’s too funny.  “Major is gonna fall! Get her!” she’ll tell me. :D
Most days she wont answer to anything other than “peppa pig” and I must answer to “mommy pig” and we all must call Major “george pig”. She is very strict about this arrangement. :P
I’m sure there are plenty of people in the world who think Major’s name is George, because she usually introduces him as “My little brother, George.”
So yes, the Peppa obsession is still going strong.
Because she watches so much Peppa, I’ll find her using words like “postman” for mailman and “parcel” for package. ha!
Everything is also “right now” or “for a minute”.
“I don’t want to do that right now, I want to play for a minute.” “I want to play right now, I’ll go in a minute.”  “Right now” and “in/for a minute” are her only gauges of time.”
I have yet to meet anyone as persistent and determined as my Grae Girl.  She has a gift!  Sure it can get frustrating for me now, but I know those traits will serve her in this life.
She keeps us all on our toes, keeps us all rolling with laughter, and keeps our world so very colorful.
I am thankful every single day she’s mine.  I don’t know how I got so lucky.

My sweet Gigi, you own my heart.

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Harlo’s baptism day

This weekend was a sweet one for our family as we celebrated Harlo’s baptism.

As Christians, we believe we are trying to follow Jesus Christ’s example.  It has been important to me to allow my children room to develop their own relationship with God.  I didn’t have a relationship with God until I was an adult, so I’m not exactly sure what that is supposed to look like for kids, but what I have found is that these children of mine are more of an example to me than I am to them.  Like praying when they need help with something, leaning into faith when they don’t have another answer, having forgiving hearts, loving unconditionally – like Jesus taught.  In areas that I over-think, my girls easily cling to truth.  Turning 8 in our church is special, because we believe it’s the time these children can clearly understand right from wrong, they can start to understand how the holy spirit guides us, they can see goodness and truth.  So a baptism at this age just feels so fitting.  It has been so sweet for me to watch Harlo mature in this way, and I am so excited for what is in store for this precious girl of mine.

For Mr. Miller to be able to baptize our girl was such a special milestone for us.  Harlo is our constant reminder of how far we’ve come in this life, and she was the perfect strong soul to push us to be better, do better, love better.  We truly are eternally grateful she came to us.

With each and every milestone that passes, I can see so clearly why Harlo was sent here first, as the head of our children.  She was naturally born with the unique gifts she would need for this role in our family.  I loved watching her younger siblings so eager and excited to watch her.  Grae and Stella have been talking about their own baptisms and how they too want to be baptized just like Harlo.  Harlo has been excitedly telling them all the inside details, how she feels, and how excited she is to see them be baptized some day, too.  As their mother, there is nothing better in the whole world than seeing them love and support each other in their own little ways.

At the end of the night, as I tucked the girls in for bed, I asked Harlo, “What was your favorite part of the day?” (between wearing a fancy dress, having a baptism, a special after-party with her favorite things, and being the guest of honor) she sighed and said, “Just being baptized.” and Stella chimed right in, “That was my favorite part too, Harlo.”

Bless their little hearts.

 

♥ ♥ ♥

(photos: cher houston photography)

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twenty one pounds

Mr. Major Miller had his 9 month well check recently.

He was 21 lbs, that strapping son of mine.
Though my heart is full of pride for this quickly growing man-cub, my heart stings the bigger he gets.
It seems he is growing faster than the rest of my babies have, and they sped by too quickly, too.
So I will hold him in my arms just a little longer.
Take 1,340 pictures of him a day in an effort to freeze time in my memory.
I want to remember him just exactly like this,

Milk mustache, draped in my arms, dimpled fingers, chubby feet.  Being rocked in his quiet, calm nursery.

Man, I love having a baby.

 

 

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in my skin

Recently I had a sweet friend pay me a compliment.  She told me that she felt comfortable in her own skin around me, because I seemed to feel comfortable in my own skin.

There was a time that I wasn’t this way at all, there was a time I couldn’t stand my own skin.  I was riddled with insecurity, full of shame, and tried so hard to cover it all up with a pretty smile and perfect exterior.  That was a tough place to be.  But the thing that struck me the most, is even though I remember that time and feeling so well, I’m not sure when I grew past it.  But I did.  And it’s true: As I have learned to love myself better, I have learned to love other people better, too.

Sometime over the last ten years of adulthood, I have grown into myself.  I have settled into myself as a mother, and that has helped me settle into myself as a woman.  I appreciate myself.  I love myself.  I love the life I’ve made, and I’m so proud of myself for it, because even I had doubted me.  And I don’t say this in a boastful way, because I’m not boastful.  But I have been on this ride of life with myself and it hasn’t always been easy.  I have steered myself out of some tough times, and I have made the best of each decision I’ve made.  My life is very different now that it was those years ago, and I’m happy for me for that.

I have learned that it’s okay for my opinions to change from time to time, that it’s a sign of growth.  I know better now that I don’t want to be ignorant, or intolerant of something I can’t understand, because one day I just might understand it.  I can choose compassion over judgement when I can’t relate.  I can look at my own different hardships when I see someone else’s.  I can choose to love people over opinions.  

I’ve learned that it’s okay to be where I’m at spiritually.  Because it’s really not about the destination to get to a wonderful place with God, it’s about being in a relationship with God, and learning and growing along him each day.  Some days that looks good and peaceful, other days that looks resentful and weary, but each day brings with it learning, and a new day does dawn.

I have seen and felt the capabilities of my body.  I have seen it run, and dance, and serve, and carry, and mourn, and labor, and give, and grow, and shrink, and grow, and shrink, and soften, and age, and feel.  This body amazes me.  This body is healthy, and strong, and capable and I am so grateful.

I am glad I have been able to experience the woman in me being as loved as I have.  I have seen myself grow, and open up, and become as I have been safely and deeply loved by the man I love.  It has been astounding to me what that love has done for my life.  I don’t take it for granted.

I have learned that I am in charge of my own happiness.  I am in charge of pushing past hard times, making changes that are necessary, prioritizing myself and my own well being.  I have seen in difficult times that happiness is a choice, even when it seems just out of reach.  If you start walking toward happiness, you will find it.  I have prioritized happiness in my life, and that has proven to be a really great choice.

I don’t by any means have it all figured out, but I’ve lived a lot of life in my nearly 28 years, and I am grateful for the journey.  Because from where I’m standing now, I can love people in a much better way.  I can feel comfortable in my own skin, and love them just as they are, in their own skin.

 

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Happy New Year 2017

New Years came with such a happy heart for me this year.  Last year at this time, we were in the middle of a tough time with some close relationships in our lives really struggling.  I walked into 2016 with a sore heart and discouraged spirit.  There was a lot of uncertainty in 2016 and I knew I had a lot of work to do. Of course, expecting our fourth baby, I knew 2016 would also bring such blessings.  So we pressed on.  My word for 2016 was “more”, and my goodness that was the perfect word for me this year.  More babies, more love, more time with friends, more self love and acceptance, more God, more happy, more travel, more Mr. Miller.  That is exactly what I got this year.

2016 was a year that I know was so necessary for my own personal growth.  I was brought to some despair, but more importantly through despair.  I had a real trial in faith last year, but as I was willing to let God take care of it, He did.  I saw Him work hard in my life like I hadn’t before.  That trial really was a blessing because I feel my faith is much stronger now.

2016 was a year that my marriage became more solid.  I had to lean on my husband this year, and he never failed me.  I knew he was a good husband, but I didn’t know the depths of his faithfulness like I learned this year.  He is such a great partner for me.  He was able to gently call me out when it was necessary, extend such unconditional love to me when I needed it most, pick up and take care of things when I couldn’t, and celebrate along side of me at all the goodness.  We saw the highest of highs, and experienced some pretty low lows and we are stronger, and deeper rooted because of it.  We really grew, and grew together this year and I think that’s the trick for a strong marriage, growing individually as well as growing together.

My children blossomed in 2016, our family dynamic was blessed beyond measure with the welcoming of our boy.  We learned better the type of family we want to have, and that we are raising.  I was so proud of us this year, all of us.  We have never let the number of kids we have hold us back, and it felt so good to have such a year of fun times and travel and adventure with our FOUR children.  We had the best year together.  My biggest accomplishment and my greatest blessing is being the mother in this wonderful family.  I am so grateful.

Our friends became our family this year.  They rallied with us, loved us, encouraged us and set the tone for such a wonderful year.  This year was the year of our tribe.  I truly feel like we have found it.  It took us a while, and it’s even better than I imagined.  The friendships we have in our life are friendships of a life time.  I can’t thank them enough for loving us like they did this year. Whether it was a shoulder to cry on, a celebration to join in on, a late night conversation, our friends delivered.  They helped me grow as a wife, a mother, a woman.  I know God brought me these people specifically, and what a blessing they have each been to my life.  We are thrilled to be doing life with them.

It only made sense to have a couple of our bests over to ring in the new year.  We filled up the Miller Manor!  We ate yummy food, played Just Dance until we laughed so hard we cried, and talked and laughed until our kids were melting down.  We cheers’d to the new year (east coast time) and called it a very successful night.  And year.

2016, you were a growing year.  I am grateful you’re over, and grateful you came.  I am starting 2017 a better woman in so many ways.

 

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Christmas 2016

Christmas was so good to us this year.  I just know that having four little children in our home will go down as our very favorite Christmas memories.

One thing I was so surprised by this year was how fun it was to see little boy things under our tree!  This whole boy world is just so so new to me.  I’ve never in my life lived with a little boy until now, so each new detail is just so new and wonderful.  My heart was bursting at the little toy trains, wooden cars, non-pink fabrics… it was almost too much for me to handle.  Maj didn’t even know what to do with himself Christmas morning.  I think his favorite gift was a new “boo” (what we call favorite blankets around here).  He has gotten pretty attached to one of the girls pink blankets with silk trim around the edge, so Santa brought him a grey one so he can be seen in public with it. ;) He has taken right to it!  I have the blanketest kids, I swear!

This was the first year our big girls got different things from each other, and I worried a bit about jealousies creeping up, but of course I worried for no reason.  They were thrilled for each other and have been so gracious about their Christmas gifts.  My mama heart has been overflowing with love all week long.  The magic is still very much alive for our sweet girls, and I am milking every last drop.

Grae.. my goodness.  Our very own little “Cindy Lou Hoo who was not more than two”.  Mr. Miller and I have decided that there is nothing as magical as having a two year old at Christmas time.  For the weeks leading up to Christmas when we’d ask Grae what she wanted from Santa Clause, she would say “A present!” and when I’d push further and ask what kind of present, all she wanted was “Madam Gazelle” which is Peppa Pig’s school teacher.  OF COURSE, Santa delivered.  At the Christmas Eve party, she could hardly wait for her turn to sit on Santa’s lap.  She followed him around with the biggest grin she could muster.  Mr. Miller and I were absolutely dying over her adoreableness.  It was so fun waking her up Christmas morning to tell her that Santa Clause had come.  Each morning since, she asks “Mama, did Santa Clause come back?!” Oh we love that little girl.

Mr. Miller and I agreed that this was probably our favorite Christmas to date.  We really have grown into our roles as mom and dad, and so enjoyed having FOUR children to celebrate with this year.  We really enjoyed this holiday season, and my heart was really full ending the year this way.

 Mostly I’m just so grateful to be the mom of this family.

 

 

 

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Harlo Tidbits

It’s true.
My baby girl turned eight years old.  EIGHT.
What a milestone.
Harlo is probably the most interesting person I’ve ever met.
She is so complex.  She has the most beautiful soul.
Harlo’s favorite color is purple.
Her favorite food is refried beans or oatmeal (has been since she was 9 months old!)
Her favorite past time is definitely spent on the computer playing Roblox or Minecraft.
She’s got a real knack for all things computers/electronics.
Makes me laugh because she’s so her dad’s brain.  They just come wired that way.
She’s like her dad in so so many ways.  My relationship with her mirrors a lot of my marriage.
I understand Brady more since mothering Harlo, and I understand Harlo more being married to Brady.
They are such deep thinkers, sensitive hearts, incredibly intelligent, and both rely on sleep and downtime.
You don’t want to run into a sleep-deprived Brady OR Harlo.
Mothering Harlo has been such an incredible experience for me.
She has tamed me, and broken me in the best way.
I am more gentle, more understanding, more confident, more stable.
I have had to be these things for her, and I wasn’t these before.
Harlo has always been more of an introvert.
She loves to be home, in a nightgown, doing whatever.
It’s hard for me to get her to step outside her comfort zone – but Stella pulls that side out of her effortlessly.
Harlo has such a deep feeling heart, and I love this so much about her.
She just feels so deeply – for herself and for others.
Injustice really bothers her, and I know this is part of her purpose here on earth.
She is such a good girl, I only ever hear good things from her teacher.
She is very on task, minding the rules is of utmost importance to her, she stresses if she doesn’t get her homework done.
She has really really loved second grade, and because of that, I have really loved her in second grade.
She has the perfect teacher for her, truly.
Harlo lights up when she talks about her teacher, she genuinely loves her and it’s hard for Harlo to let people in that way.
I’m so glad she’s been able to open up in school this year – that’s been a struggle for us in years past.
This year she got to have a friend party and I let her choose each detail.  I loved what she came up with.
She wanted a minecraft cake, a party to play lazer tag and arcade games, a cute outfit and an american girl doll.
Just such a great mix in that girl, it’s so awesome.
I have loved how her personality and interests have developed.  I admire her surety so much.  It’s not something that comes as easy for me.
Harlo is so naturally good with setting boundaries.  It amazes me that something I am just now starting to grasp in my late twenties, she is so so good at at 8 years old.
I hope she doesn’t lose this about her. (Even though her digging in her heels is HARD for me at times.)
It’s not hard for her to tell me when she doesn’t want to do something, or what she doesn’t like, even when she knows it’s what I want her to do.
That is something that is SO hard for me (telling people what they don’t want to hear), and I look to her as an example.
One time when I was especially frustrated with her about something, Brady gently reminded me that we don’t want to push her too hard to be something/someone she’s not.. that I needed to bend, not force her to.  I loved that he said that, and it has really helped me.
I’ve really learned not to push her to be a certain way, and that surrender on my part has really blessed our relationship.
I always say that Harlo was sent to be strong enough to break me into what God needs me to be.  It’s not the other way around.
Harlo has such a sweet sense of humor, and just such a sweetness about her in general.
She really appreciates beauty in this world, and relishes in the fanciness of life.
I love adding special touches wherever I can, and Harlo eats it up.
Her birthday morning set-up has become such an important tradition to her.  So funny, because when I started it, I didn’t really think much about it, but now she’ll remind me “You have something special planned for me to wake up to, right mom?”
She can’t know how much it means to me when she remembers these things, it reminds me that I am her mother, that I am creating a childhood for her that has touches of magic, and that’s exactly exactly my hope.

(I made that banner for Harlo’s first birthday!)

It has been my pleasure watching her grow up into who she is, and even though this new age comes with a sting, I am so excited to see what this life has in store for her.  I know it’s going to be good.
I am so grateful for her.  For her strong spirit, for her gentle heart, for her zest for the things she likes and dislikes.
I hope hope hope that my appreciation for her will stand out from my difficulties in navigating life with her. (I am learning, my sweet girl! Thank you for being patient with me!)
I hope that she knows how much I appreciate her, how I feel like she saved me, how much I needed HER, in all the ways she is.

 Happy birthday, my darling angel.
You brought such purpose to my life.
I am better because of you.
I love you more than you could possibly understand, but one day I really hope you will.

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