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Building a Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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a good day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My cute “momper” is from HERE.

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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.

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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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miller family video

I have been working on so many fun creative projects lately, but our family video has got to be my very favorite.  I can’t thank McKay from Legacy One Films enough for this gem!  I have had this idea for years, and he made it come to life in such a beautiful way.  This made our family pictures all the more sweet to capture us in this season.  I’ll be posting more beautiful pictures from this session with Ashley Flowers Photography next week! Basically, we have a dream team!  Can’t thank these talented creatives enough.

Miller Family Lifestyle Shoot – Fall 2016 from Legacy One Films on Vimeo.

McKay is offering $50 for my followers who book before December 15th!  I can’t recommend a family lifestyle video enough.  Check out legacyonefilms.com to book and mention Cass Miller! xo

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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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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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The Journey Continues…

I have been thinking about this blog and what it’s all about these days. This blog has sort of evolved and changed with me as a person, and that’s one of my favorite things about it.

This blog unintentionally started telling our story, my story. It has grown with me, worked hard with me, and let me expressively write in a therapy that would change my life and awareness.  In telling my story, I have been fortunate enough to have people write me and tell me their stories. Some people have shared the nicest things with me, they have shared their struggles with me, they have helped carry my burdens and prayed for me and my family, and I for theirs.  A lot have become dear dear friends of mine.  All of you reading along have kept me going all these years, sometimes through lack of creativity, direction, or writers block.  You have kept on and pushed me to keep on – whatever that has meant for the season.

So I want you to know that. As I’ve been writing, you’ve been writing me, and this community has loved me so well. You have loved me through good times and bad, you have been the source of love when I needed it the very most.  You have let me show you my realness, and you have loved me because of it.  You really can’t know how much it has meant to me, and has aided me in my life.

I want this to be a place we can share together. I’m always thinking how much I wish more of you knew each other. You all have become a priority for me, and as I write my story, i want to check in more with the real stuff. With the sometimes messy stuff. And come into a place free of judgement. Because I know you guys are the best there is. The salt of the earth. Raising your babies, wishing for babies, or missing your babies right along with me.

I have turned my comment section back on after about a year absence.  When I took them down, I hoped for a more personal connection with my readers, which I’ve gotten as you’ve contacted me personally – but now my hope has turned outward and I hope that by commenting and linking to yourself, or even just showing up in the comments, more of my readers will be blessed by YOUR sweet insight and engage in the comments as well.  This isn’t just the Cass Miller Show (as much as that has a nice ring to it. ;) ) It’s OUR space, that we have created and shaped.  And if you’ve been here for any amount of time, you have helped create this space.

Mostly I just want you to know that I hear you. And I appreciate you. Thank you.

You have blessed me on this writing journey, and we are going to journey on.

 

 photos from our recent journey to the seven magic mountains.

 

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Mr. Miller’s Splash Bash

This year Mr. Miller turned 32!  For a few years, I have had an idea for a 32 oz themed party for my soda-loving lover.  Also, rewind to his 30th birthday two years ago when our kitchen was stripped to the concrete, and our money was tied up in the remodel, so he did not get a proper 30th bash.  That has kept me up some nights.  A celebration-less birthday is not the kind of wife I am. ;)

This year I redeemed myself by throwing the most awesomely easy party ever.  A 32 oz splash bash!  I rented a local soda truck that pulled into my backyard, and there we drank and visited some of our favorite friends all evening long.  The Soda Pop Stop was so great to work with.  They even let me make my own little Mr. Miller-themed menu.  It was fantastic!  Our best Miller Manor party to date, I think.  Now I just can’t wait to turn 32 myself. ;)

After the party, we headed over to Springdale.  It’s our favorite little getaway.  This time we stayed at the Desert Pearl Inn and had the best time.  Seriously – probably the most fun we had all summer (and we had a ton of fun this summer).  We got a riverside room that walked out right down to the river, and the pool was around the other side of our room.  On Brady’s actual birthday, my dad and the Houstons came over to help us celebrate.  We had Oscar’s by the pool, and ate delicious dirt cups (Mr. Miller’s favorite dessert) on our back patio.

We headed home Monday morning with the fullest of hearts.  So happy to be celebrating the man I love turning another year older with our four children.  This is the life I always dreamed of having, and I’m so glad I can do it along side my Mr. Miller.

I hope you had the most amazing birthday, my darling.  You so deserve it.

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Major’s Blessing Day

In the LDS faith, when a new baby comes into the world, they are surrounded by the important men in their lives and given a name and a blessing, typically done by their father.  (Grae’s blessing, Stella’s blessing, Harlo’s blessing)  Mr. Miller gave Major one of the sweetest blessings I have ever heard, (and I’m not just saying that, several people at the blessing told me the same thing!) He spoke right from his heart with such love for our son.  He blessed him with happiness, strength, and faith all through his life.  It’s everything I would want our son to be blessed with.  I am so grateful for Brady as the father of my children.  They are the luckiest, and so am I.

Each of my baby’s blessing days has been such a sweet day for my mama heart.  It’s so wonderful to surround ourselves with family and friends and celebrate the newest little life in our family.  Blessings are typically done in church during Sacrament hour, but because we’re rather non-traditional, we have blessed each of our babies at home.  I love this tradition and I’m so glad we’ve stuck with it.  It’s so sweet and personal and sacred.

Major’s blessing was one of the best days of my life.  I am in a time in my life that the friends and family I keep around is so intentional.  We have been blessed with such a wonderful group of friends the last couple years and I feel so thankful for each of them.  I have prayed for these relationships in my life and having them surrounding us with love on these special days in our lives just touches my heart in the best way.  I feel like we have finally settled into a real tribe of people to walk this life with and that is such a great feeling.  These friendships are eternal.

A lot of thought and preparation went into Major’s blessing day to make it perfect.  I love making big and small days in our life extra special with celebrations.  I truly felt like a queen, celebrating my little prince!  His special day was perfect from start to finish.

A few deatils:

We (Mr. Miller) worked hard to get our backyard finished in time for Major’s blessing.  It was the best way to break it in and we loved enjoying our friends and family in a place we had worked and thoughtfully prepared just for gatherings like this.
Thanks to Pinterest and my sweet friend Heather for helping with some extra touches for his special day.

On the menu were roast beef sliders and a plethora of yummy dishes brought by friends.  I wanted his day to have a calm, down to earth feel like my blessing way had and it was just perfect.

The dress I bought to wear for Major’s blessing arrived but didn’t quite fit, and at the last minute I pulled this dress out of the back of my closet.  I wore it the day we got sealed in the temple and that significance made my heart happy all day.  So much better than what I had originally planned to wear.

Major’s blessing outfit came with special thought and preparation (my only son! It had to be perfect.) and was gifted to him by his Nana.  His sweet trousers were found HERE. His shoes HERE.
My dear friend Sara is the owner of 24 Seven Designs and made Major this custom blanket with his name on it.

Most of all, Major’s blessing day showed us how loved and blessed we truly are.  Thank you to all our friends and family for making this day even that much more special!  For the ones who gathered around us, or loved our family from afar.  Each of you bless our lives!

 

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summer adventures

My friend Emily said it best when she told me “The more kids we have, the more we feel the need to get away together.” I loved that, and feel the exact same way.

When adventure knocks on our door, we Millers try to never turn away.  When adventure doesn’t knock, we go out and look for it.  Just after our trip to California, we decided to head to Salt Lake.  One of the reasons we love where we live is that we are pretty close to everything, 6 hours to the beach, 4 hours to Salt Lake, a couple of hours from Vegas, a couple from the mountains.  It makes our wanderlusting very easy to achieve.  And to be honest – we love road trips.  I have learned this about myself over the years – I love the simpler things in life, and road tripping with my family just gets me right in the happy.

We have a summer bucket list going and we are trying to get everything knocked out before school starts.  The girls wanted to stay in a hotel at some point over the summer, and we decided this would be the time.  We usually visit family on our travels, so this was a special treat for the girls.  We stuffed our family of 6 into that hotel room (still pinching myself these are all my kids!) for the weekend and had a blast.  Farmers markets, shopping, pampering, park city, cousin time.. We enjoyed every last drop.

We stopped at the Beaver cheese factory on our way up and had ice cream on the lawn.  This was one of my favorite moments of the trip, and just now as I’m posting these, Stella said “Oh mom, that place was my favorite! Can we go there again soon?” If that isn’t a good reminder to stop and smell the roses more often, I don’t know what is. ;)

 I finally got to enjoy some Ruby Snap cookies! My goodness they were delicious! The lemon blueberry had to be my favorite.

 We made our way up to Park City market on Sunday and one of my sisters came up with her family.  We had so much fun, I love Park City and street markets are my kind of thing.

 

 

We adventured our way through Ikea to finalize our bathroom remodel plans and get some creative juices flowing.
Stella thinks she needs a sewing room now… and a sewing machine to start. ;)

On our way home, we drove through Provo and stopped at the new temple.  My goodness, it is so beautiful and quaint.  It has the neatest energy around the temple grounds.  We loved every bit of it.

 

 

 

 Summers with a minivan full of my own family will go down as my favorite favorite season of life.  I know good seasons are to come when this one ends, but I’ll hold this one close to my heart forever and ever and ever.

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happy birthday miller family

In June, Mr. Miller and I celebrated our 8th anniversary.  We didn’t have much going on that week, and didn’t have big plans for the special day.  So last minute (my favorite minute), I packed up the whoooole family in one day and arranged a little vacation for us.  I called Brady’s work and made sure his schedule was taken care of and our anniversary night, surprised him.  He was shocked at first, but quickly got excited.  I pulled it off!  We left early the next morning!

Our wedding anniversary always feels more like a birthday for our family, so it made sense to celebrate all together.  Each baby, we take a little trip to welcome them into the family, and this was Major’s.  It was such a sweet way to settle in together as a family of 6.  He was a perfect angel the whole trip.  We had so much fun.

We had friends in Oceanside the same time as us, so we hung out with them on the beach and just had the best time.  It was 5 days of doing whatever the heck we wanted – my favorite kind!  We hung with our best friends, we played with Auntie and Pat, we had a free day for me to help decorate my sister’s cute beach condo… On father’s day, we watched the NBA finals, ordered pizza, and snagged the sunset on the beach.  It was perfect.

Our trip was not short of a few hiccups – a 24 hour stomach bug went through each girl – but even with that craziness, we shifted and adjusted as needed and it made me realize that we are really doing it.  We are surviving – even thriving – with our very full family.  I’m so glad we still do these things, even though it’s more work.  It is more work, but it’s also so much more fun.  It’s worth it in every way.

Mr. Miller, thank you for being mine. Thank you for enjoying our children right along side me.  Thank you for loving me always always.  You are hands down, without a doubt, the best thing that happened to me.  I will never forget it.

 

 

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my blessing way

A few weeks before I gave birth, my dearest friends threw me a blessing way.

I am not a big shower person, and tossed out that idea early on, but what I could agree on is an evening full of yummy food, good vibes, and a lot of womanly energy (and no gifts).  That sounded like my kind of scene.

During this time, I was having a serious case of the ‘pregnancy blues’.  Honestly, it took a lot of effort to let my friends make a fuss over me and have the energy to even show up to my own party.  I had been in a tough place for a few months.

I slowly felt my perspective shift as the days came closer.  I felt grateful anyone would join me in celebrating this precious baby coming into the world.  My heart was overflowing that my friends would support me in the journey I was about to embark on, giving birth.  I got ready for my special evening and felt a little lighter than I had in months.

The evening could not have been more lovely.  Ashley had a flower crown made for me, and I felt like a queen.  Darling birth affirmations hung in the window that I could take home and use for positive vibes and encouragement.  It was casual pot-luck style (my favorite) and each friend of mine had brought something she knew I was loving in my pregnancy.  There were pasta factory breadsticks, poppyseed salad, chips and queso, hummus and pita bread, sliced pineapple, coconut cupcakes… all things I had craved over the course of my pregnancy.  These were ladies who loved me enough to pay attention and remember the things I liked to eat while pregnant.  Sisters, that is love.

My friend Heather is such a lovely host and had set up the night beautifully.  We loaded our plates and sat on quilts in her gorgeous backyard, and chatted and laughed and enjoyed the crisp spring air.  When it got a little chilly, we piled into Heather’s living room, getting nice and cozy on the couches.  Each friend was asked to bring a set of beads representing all their children.  As we sat around the room, they presented the beads to me handing over their strength and love and positive energy.  Each friend had such sweet messages.  They talked about how our paths originally crossed and how much our friendship had meant to them in their own lives and motherhood.  A good few friends I had met through their own births, which was so sweet to remember.  Some I had met through my blog and they spoke of how it had been an inspiration to them in their lives.  Others had been in my life a long time and we had walked into motherhood together and raised all of our babies along side each other.  They strung the beads together for me for a necklace that I could wear during labor reminding me of the bond we all share in motherhoods and the strength and positivity to move forward.  Each girl also made a bracelet to help her to think of me the next few weeks and during my delivery.  It was just the sweetest sentiment, and made me feel so special and loved, as well as my growing little baby.

With each word spoken, I felt God.  He was right here in this room, guarding my heart and sending me the most tender of mercies right when I needed it most.  I felt so beautifully and divinely connected to each of these sweet mamas in this room.  I felt so grateful for their friendship and companionship in this life and on this sometimes tough road of womanhood and motherhood.  I felt supported and surrounded by the purest love.  It was a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.  God knows me and what I need so deeply.  He uses the people in my life to show his blessings.  I love that.  I am so grateful.

The energy from my blessing way would carry me through my last weeks of pregnancy.  It changed the course of my heart in this chapter.  It was exactly what I needed, and I am forever grateful for the beautiful friends I have been so purposely blessed with.

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Christmas at Miller Manor 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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there is beauty all around

I don’t consider myself a vein person, but I do love pretty things.  I love a pretty dress, a bit of lipstick – it makes me feel pretty, even on the inside, and I love that.

I love to be surrounded by pretty things and over the past few years, I have made an effort to only bring things into my home that I love and make me feel that special way I love to feel.  I hadn’t even consciously thought about this really until a friend was unloading my dishes a while ago (the best kind of friend) and she said “you always have the cutest stuff.  Even your measuring cups are cute.” I didn’t think I was one of those people who always had cute stuff, but that quickly put a little pep in my step.

There was a time that I longed for my own house.  It was on the top of the list of things I wanted and it motivated my every financial decision.  I was surrounded by rentals for years upon years not being able to paint and design how I wanted to.  Sometimes it was suffocating because owning our own home was so far off the radar of where we were at the time.  I surrendered my control over the situation, but decided I needed to stop acting like a whiner and be grateful for what I did have.  Enjoy this part of our journey.  I couldn’t control what light fixtures had been picked out for the rental, or what shade they painted the walls (and ceiling and floor and baseboards and doors – beige… my least favorite) but I could control what dishes I bought, what curtains I hung, what throw pillows lay on the couch.  And I went from there.  Things that I no longer liked (like that brown living room rug.. bleh!) I replaced with something I did like.  Over time, I have come to love everything in my home.

Here are a few pieces of the Miller Manor that make me happy every day.

We had our bridal pictures in black frames on tables at our wedding.  We have added to that collection and used them in different ways at every house.  Here, they cover an entire wall – floor to ceiling – in my office.  I love how the pictures are old and new and tell the story of our family.  I stop here often and just admire them.  I don’t even mind straightening them out when Grae comes to adore the wall too (evidence below).

 My bright blue door smiles at me each morning as I walk to the kitchen.
My ‘M’ mantle – which happened by accident when my mom unpacked all my M’s and just set them somewhere.  I loved how they looked together and have kept them here since.  Some I’ve bought and most have been gifted to me.  I love them all!

 I love happy dishes! My latte bowls from anthro which we buy for various holidays through the year (I hope to have 100 some day!)
For dishes, if it comes in color, I buy it in color.  If it doesn’t come in color, I buy it in white.  The combo is perfectly me and makes me smile as I grab a breakfast bowl, or set plates out for dinner.

 I bought these awesome blue wire baskets at HomeGoods last year and didn’t think I’d use them for my kitchen, but one time I dumped a bag of potatoes in there (so I would know when they started getting yucky) and I’ve kept my fruit and veggies here since.  I have found that I grab for them much more than I used to in the fridge or in the cupboard.  Plus, I love the punch of natural color in my kitchen. (Also – we love avocados.)

 My sis-in-law gifted me a twin to their childhood cookie jar (story on instagram) and it makes my life happier – it does!
I also love fresh flowers on my table.

Right when I walk into my kitchen, I see my aprons hanging (with the girls aprons as well, which we all wear often), my bright chalkboard that usually has a happy quote, and my girl’s chore board that reminds us all to get our hands to work!
I wear an apron on my “home days” sort of as a uniform for my motherly duties.  I love one with pockets, and one that’s cute! (this one I’m putting on is from anthropologie)

One of my favorite church hymns is Love At Home, and I like my home to look like this song makes me feel:

There is beauty all around,
When there’s love at home;
There is joy in every sound,
When there’s love at home;
Peace and plenty here abide,
Smiling sweet on every side,
Time doth softly, sweetly glide,
When there’s love at home.

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