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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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Thanksgiving Day 2016

First you should know that Thanksgiving and Easter are my favorite holidays.  They are both #1 because it’s impossible for me to choose which I love more.  But Thanksgiving, folks.  My goodness, I love this holiday.

Like most families, we switch off every other year.. so one year we go with Mr. Miller’s family to the cabin for Thanksgiving, and on my year, I cook at home and host my own Thanksgiving.  We have had this arrangement since we were married, so this was my fourth time cooking the  traditional feast.  For Thanksgiving hosting, I’d say 4th time’s the charm.  I had zero calls to my mom, and I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed my day from start to finish without feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.

My sister came with her crew from California, my dad was here and my family of six.  We hung out and cooked and snacked all day together, listening to good music and having great conversation.  Because half of our guests were vegan, I saved myself some work by just cooking a turkey breast in stead of a full turkey.  This has been my little trick when we don’t have a ton of turkey eaters.  I just toss it in the crockpot with a half cup of orange juice, a can of cranberry sauce, and a packet of lipton onion soup mix and it’s the most deliciously moist turkey you’ll ever taste.  I made my family’s favorite sweet potato casserole with a pecan crumble on top, my favorite green bean casserole (add a little Worcestershire and rosemary to make it pop!), Grandma Jorgensen’s stuffing recipe, of course Harlo’s favorite mashed potatoes (cream cheese is the secret ingredient there), and some fresh white rolls.  My sister made hors d’oeuvres which included the most delicious veggie dip that I could’t get enough of (I’ll get the recipe!), roasted brussel sprouts, and our family’s traditional cheesecake.  It was a “feast fit for a king” as Mr. Miller would say.

Because we Miller ladies love some decor; I put up an easy chalkboard banner from Target which I also made the place settings with, along with some festive pinwheels I’ve used for every holiday one way or another.  I had some green garland from Major’s blessing that I knew would come in handy for more events.  We busted out my pretty white dishes that I have collected over the years, as well as mason jar mugs.  The buffalo check napkins were a recent score from the target $3 bins.  Our table cloth was handmade by a dear family friend who recently passed, and some craft paper laid over top brought it all together.  It was festive and simple – just the way I like it.

We truly had the happiest holiday and I am feeling so very thankful.  As I laid in bed that night, I recounted all the other years I’ve cooked and how our family has grown in size and in love.  My heart was filled to the tippy top as I counted each of my blessings that night.  I’m so glad this life is mine.

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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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A few weeks ago, Mr. Miller and I brought home our very first camp trailer!  We are so excited to get it all fixed up and ready to take out on the road.  We have been chatting about this idea for a few years, and it’s so fun to see it finally taking off.  We bought one with good bones that just needed some cosmetic updates to make it feel like our little house on wheels!  I can’t wait to show you what we do with it, and I’m even more excited to see how it fits into our family lifestyle.  I am currently flipping through pinterest getting all sorts of ideas. (You know how I love pinterest!) Here are some I’m loving:


 via my friend Tisse’s awesome 5 day RV reno!


Follow me on pinterest to always know what I’m working on at the Miller Manor, what style I’m loving, or how I’m painting my nails this week. :D

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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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back to school feast

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

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

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

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

We are ready for another great year!


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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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Life At The Miller Manor

I haven’t found a groove to write as much as I’d like since having major. There is always someone to help, a mouth to feed, a list to make, a chore to do.  In the quiet moments I do get to myself, I feel like I’m saying the same thing over and over again. I can’t believe this is my life. I’m so happy. My heart is so full with the work that keeps me so busy.

I am currently writing from my back porch. Mr Miller has been working day and night in his free time on our backyard. When we bought this house we had big dreams for it. And two years later, those dreams are really starting to take shape.

A few months ago we put our house on the market, willing to chase an opportunity. But as our baby was nearing arrival, we decided to take it off the market. Once we had a minute to think, we agreed we felt this season was being rushed, and that we weren’t quite ready to quit our little dream here. We wanted to see our vision come to life and enjoy our little home a lot longer.  Having our house on the market those few weeks gave us a fresh new perspective. Since then, each project we cross off our list feels a little more intentional and sweet.

Right now I’m sitting under our covered patio, nursing Major while the cool mist blows down on us. Just last year this area was a pile of dirt. Grae is playing in the playhouse that was just a twinkle in our eye last year. Harlo is practicing handstands on the tramp Mr Miller dug the hole for last summer. Mr Miller and Stella are harvesting the radishes they planted a few weeks ago. It smells like fresh cut grass and summertime.

This life is one we’ve built together, and I can see touches of that everywhere I look. One day I’m sure we’ll live in a bigger home, with a wrap around porch like we’ve always dreamed, but for now we are completely content right where we are.  In life we have had to learn to grow and chase dreams, and recently we’ve learned when it’s time to say “nope. We’re good.” And thats okay too.

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adjusting to four

I still can’t quite believe I have four children.  I have four children.  It even feels surreal to write.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted lots of babies and now I feel like I have them.

I will say that I do recognize a bit more fullness to our lives.  I have quickly remembered to embrace the not-so-much sleep stage.  Realizing that you never ever do get “caught up” after a sleepless night.  And I have sat down some evenings and realized I have not had a single second of my day when someone was not talking to me or touching me, and I feel quite overstimulated.

My transition to four has been much more graceful than my transition to three.  I think I have learned to embrace this chaos – because it’s chaos that I love so much.  It is overwhelming at times, yes, but it’s also the sound and sight and feeling of blessings all around.  Healthy kids who go to school, hilarious toddlers that burst your heart on the daily, a fully-functioning home stuffed with all your favorite people.  It’s such a good life, even though and because it it stocked so fully.

As my fourth newborn stage is quickly passing by, I know that these seasons are short – so short.  I know that I will be in a completely different chapter all too soon.  I have the excitement of a first time mom over my new baby, and the wisdom of a fourth time mom where I can worry so much less, and trust myself so much more.  Being a fourth time mama is a pretty sweet gig.  My days are full – Yesterday I went to kindergarten graduation, did laundry, changed 8 diapers (on two different bums), laughed with my big girls until we cried (over snapchat filters), fed everyone supper, took all the kids to Target to cash in some allowance money.  Ended the day laying on the grass, watched countless tricks on the trampoline, tended to two stomach aches, kissed 4 heads to bed, and nursed in between every last drop.

This is my favorite kind of busy.


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Christmas at Miller Manor – The Tree

Excuse my absence last week, I have been having some computer issues that took some time to work out.  I should be back up and running now! I’m a little behind on some scheduled posts, so check back next week for some fun new stuff coming up!

As we start moving into the holidays, I’ll be sharing bits of what we do around here.  This weekend was the tree!

I have never decorated for Christmas before  Thanksgiving, but I think I’m converted.  It feel so cozy in our home and it’s made me even more excited for Thanksgiving this year.  I’m 100% sold on squishing these holidays together.

Our tree has never really had any rhyme or reason and I wanted to teach myself how to REALLY decorate a Christmas tree this year, but I still wanted it to feel like a family tree with all the ornaments my girls loved.  Every year, we let the girls each pick a new ornament for the tree and I want that tradition to go on forever! I love the memories they hold.

Today I’m sharing my tips for a family friendly tree, with a more uniform look.


Step One – Ribbon: One thing that was a game changer this year was RIBBON.  All the professional trees seemed to have that in common, so off to Michael’s I went.  Their ribbon and Christmas decor was 40% off over the weekend, so the ribbon cost me just a few dollars a piece. (I used about 15 yards of each) I can’t believe how big of a difference it made! I used a solid red in about 2 inch thick, and a 3.5 inch thick red and white striped.  I figured that color pallet wouldn’t be overwhelming and I could still add in the random colored ornaments without any issue.  (I used the tips for stringing ribbon from HERE. It was super helpful.)

*Another thing I did was string bigger bulb lights over our already pre-lit tree.  I love how the different size bulbs just sparkle at night.  I just threw one strand on and sort of zig-zagged it up the top when I did the ribbon.

(I did need the ribbon to be placed correctly, but I let the girls help by following me holding the ribbon and the other girl would loop a branch around it to hold it into place where I told her to. They were happy to help and even happier with how pretty it looked!)

Step Two – Large Ornaments: Playing with size and texture is an important part of tree decorating, so I added in my bigger ornaments and textured ornaments next.  I got my cute snowflake ornaments at Tai Pan a few years ago, but I saw several oversized snowflake options at Walmart and Dollar Tree! I think they make a big difference than just having standard bulbs.  I got a few over sized bulb ornaments in gold and silver at Walmart.  Once I got the bigger ornaments in place, it really started coming together.

*To add more sparkle, I strung a few of these garlands ($4 from Target) and love the way they look.

Step Three – Let The Kids: With the ribbon and larger ornaments in place, my tree already looked pretty good.  I wanted the kids to be able to hang their favorite ornaments with little input from me, so I let them go wild.  They loved that part, and I love the personality and color it adds to the tree.  It would have been too uniform without it.  I even love the imperfectly strung garlands Harlo added.  :)

 Step Four – Finishing Touches: The tree was missing a little something at the end, and I knew it needed some statement.  I picked up the big lolly-pops at Tai pan and they really pulled everything together.  It looked a little too chaotic before.  Once I got those in, the star at the top of the tree was looking a little sad, so I made a big bow with some leftover ribbon and added it behind our star.  It’s exactly what was missing.

Our girls were very happy that our little Christmas elves, Mimi and Donny, showed up the next morning.  That is always an exciting day at the Miller Manor!

I am still working with our mantle for the holidays, but I’m loving the tree so far!  I hope that helps someone with a Christmas tree obsession like mine this year. :D

It’s the HAP-HAPIEST time of the year! 

Be sure to follow us along on instagram this holiday season!

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moments like these

The other night, I made our favorite easy week-day meal, pita pizzas.  The girls make their own and everyone is thrilled with the outcome each time.

After the 5 minutes it took to cook the pizzas, we were sitting around our table eating as a family.

We talked and ate and ate and talked.

When we had finished eating, the girls scurried outside along with the baby to play in the backyard.  The backyard that we worked so hard on this summer for them to enjoy just like this.  They did cartwheels on the soft grass, jumped on the trampoline taking turns doing tricks, and visiting the backyard bungalow (which has still yet to be painted).

I sat at the table, picking at the girls left overs, hearing giggling and muffled conversation coming from the backyard.  I looked around the kitchen, Mr. Miller starting to pick up the mess of our kitchen island where we were gathered around preparing our meal just 30 minutes before.

I felt the blessings wash over me thick and heavy.  The warmth of our life took my breath away in that moment.

These are the moments we can’t explain as mothers.  These are the moments that make the hard work all worth it.  These are the moments that thread together a warm, beautiful, and fulfilling life.

Just these small, very normal moments.

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back to school feast 2015

Today was spent preparing for our annual back to school feast.  I first saw the idea for the back to school feast on Nie Nie’s blog when Harlo was just a wee baby.  I made a mental note that one day I would surely do it with my own family and we have, every school year.  It is such a special day for us.  I want my girls to feel loved and supported and special as they start their school year.  We set a theme for the year that we focus on, and I have found that it gives the year purpose and meaning and direction – for all of us, not just the girls.  This year’s theme was prayerfully considered as “Listen and Obey”.  Simple and important.  It’s something we can all benefit from and I look forward to focusing around this theme for this next year.

We enjoyed dinner in our new backyard, on our cute new picnic table, making my little dreams come true!  On the menu this year was this grilled salmon recommended to me by my sweet friend Liz (thanks Liz!), with a lemon and dill rice.  Grilled asparagus and fresh from the oven warm, white rolls.  With sparkling grape juice for our toast!  It was delicious!

My precious girls.  I knew they needed each other in this life and brought Stella into the world just 19 short months after Harlo was born. (Speaking of “Listen and Obey”..)  This has proven to be such a sweet and sincere blessing in all of our lives.  They are best friends, little soul mates, and most importantly sisters.  My heart is at ease sending them together to school this year.  I will miss them terribly in my home all day – especially Harlo who starts full-day first grade (ouch).  But I feel just a bit more calm knowing they’ll be holding hands on the playground and helping each other to their classes.  I am so so grateful they have each other.

(Did you notice Harlo is missing a front tooth? Such a great way to start first grade!)

For dessert, I whipped up a special treat.  Fresh peaches from Papa’s trees and vanilla ice cream blended together with a vanilla wafer garnish.
Oh so yummy and summery.
We enjoyed it under a spontaneous rainbow right over head.

I love celebrating this life with my family and making days special for my children.  I am so in love with motherhood and all that it entails.  Today I cried tears of sadness and happiness all throughout the day, and I am grateful to feel those blessings of love in motherhood.  It’s so deep and pure and overwhelming the love I have for my own sweet children.  I love them dearly and I know that love blesses them their whole life long.

We finished the evening by my Mr. Miller giving each school girl a father’s blessing to help guide them through this next school year.  Have I mentioned how I love being the mother to this family?  Because I do.

Happy school year!

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project: miller’s backyard

I am a dreamer.  I am also a creative.  I am also a woman of faith.  So, when I walked through our current home for the first time just 16 months ago, I really saw a vision for this space.  And when our families walked through it with puzzled looks and lots of question, I wanted to smack them and say, “yeah, but think of how amazing it WILL BE.”  I couldn’t see what they were seeing, and they couldn’t see what I was seeing.  All good things.

Immediately after we moved in, I started painting walls which went something like this : day one, move in. day two, paint nursery. day three, give birth.  It was a magical time! Fast forward 5 months (with no dishwasher or garbage disposal and a semi-functional kitchen – oh! and a newborn! – but who’s counting?) and we underwent our first HUGE remodeling process, when we tackled the kitchen.  The kitchen was so rewarding and it started making our families nod saying “oooookay… I get it now.”

One of the things I loved about our house was it had a HUGE backyard. (huge for where we live… maybe not like Texas or something…) The only thing was, that maybe (definitely) I underestimated in my dreamy state, was exactly HOW MUCH work it needed….

We tried to start this project last year, but for one reason or another, it got delayed and we pushed it back to this year.  That was a blessing in disguise because we were able to live here for a year and really decide how we wanted to use this space.  I thought long and hard about the features we wanted in the backyard and how we would use it for our family.  As it comes together piece by piece, I can foresee so many good memories coming in this sweet space of ours.

Firs step was fixing all the spotty concrete.  This was by far the biggest task, and since we have a huge space, and a lot of concrete, it was very pricey! (Think: as much as our entire kitchen remodel. Yikes!)  But we decided to bite the bullet and have it all done right instead of just patching it up here and there, and boy am I grateful!  The concrete looks amazing and really changes everything about our backyard! Even though the little shed was charming, we tore her down and continued our driveway back so we could park two cars back there, and poured a huge patio away from our house to the existing patio, which we squared off from the awkward shape it used to be. (I have tried tried tried to figure out what they were thinking when they poured the original slab, but I just cannot.)

Just the concrete transformed our entire backyard to a much more usable space – not to mention added value to our property.  That’s the fun part about remodeling, seeing all the added value.

Next, we gutted the entire backyard, there was a small retaining wall that cut the yard exactly in half, and we leveled it from an odd step-up to the back of the property.  We also dug our in-ground trampoline, and added a completely new sprinkler system from the original 1960’s single sprinkler. ;) We also relocated our garden from the dead center of our yard, to a large garden box running along the back wall.  I was surprised by how much could still fit back there without taking up precious square footage.

Yesterday, our sod and gravel came and here it was it looks like right now:

 Although we have a ways to go, we have made some serious progress on this space.


Mr. Miller built us a sweet little firepit (seen across the lawn there) that I plan to eat many-a-s’mores this summer.  Next we will be building a shed next to the driveway to store all of our bikes and things that are scattered about right now, as well as make my dream come true with a chicken coop.  We also will have some sort of play structure next to the trampoline and hopefully have some furniture to enjoy that awesome back patio of ours!  We actually have an endless list of things we hope to do back here, but those are a few for starters.


Right now, I am just enjoying watching some of those dreams of mine become reality…

 Life is sweet here at the Miller Manor.

*special thanks to all the hard working men who made this happen!*
Randy A. Frei Construction for concrete
Lanny with Modern Outdoor Design (such a dream to work with!)

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