settling in | staircase gallery wall

Motivation comes in waves here at the Miller Manor.  We have moved from phase 1, unpacking all the things, to phase 2, finding a place for the rest of the things.  And my seven hundred frames from over the years are no exception.

I feel like I have dreamed of having my own family staircase gallery wall for.. oh, as long as I can remember living.  There is just something so CLASSIC and FAMILIAR and COZY about a staircase gallery wall in a home with years of photographs displayed.  If there was one single thing I bought this house for, the dream of having my staircase gallery wall come to life, was one of them.

So this Saturday (after X amount of months the frames have been stacked up on the landing, might I add), I got to work and made a happy little wall for my family (eh-hem, me) to admire each time they walk up the stairs (1200 times a day.. again, me).

Over the last couple weeks I’ve been in a little bit of a funk with all the change settling in and that weird type of homesickness you get after a move.  Anyone know what I’m talking about?  Just that home sick feeling of knowing where everything is, not feeling new, just feeling at HOME.  Making this place feel a little more like “our home” sincerely helped my heart feel happier.  A few hours of my Saturday, zero dollars (except for the too-expensive 3M strips, thanks s’much Mr. Miller), and my heart feels a whole lot lighter.  Proving my theory that small things like this can, in fact, make you HAPPIER.  Life hack right there.  Invest in the beauty around you.

I love my home to tell our story.  That’s what “home” feels like for me.  These frames have been collected over the years.  Some found at yard sales with pictures of my first babies placed on the walls in some of our first homes.  They have moved with us, and been added to, and changed shape a bit in each house. But in each of our homes, we have found space for them, and as the years go by, each frame is more treasured.

Of course, we’ll be updating some and switching out some obvious prints but it is making me happy today, even unfinished, and I wanted to share it!

Like all my projects, I just used my pinterest boards to gain some inspiration, laid all my frames out on the floor to mess around with shape, took a photo to refer back to, and placed them one by one.

Some I used basic nails for (my favorite, easiest way) and on others I used 3M strips.. which I have a love/hate relationship with! I had to pull a couple off and redo them, but mostly I got it right just by eye-balling it.  I’LL HAVE THE JURY KNOW I hung this wall by myself without any help, *cough! Mr. Miller* Just in case we need the documentation for future reference. ;)

Feeling pretty darn happy with my handy-work!


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This week I turned twenty-nine!
I have been blogging about birthdays since my 20th!
This has been a fun birthday to come up on.  Like any birthday, I’m in a place of reflection, and my twenties have just been the best decade of my whole entire life.
My twenties and motherhood journey started at the same time, and I am grateful to be living a life full of so much happiness at this age.
I don’t regret a day of choices Mr. Miller and I have made together this decade of my life, the life we’ve built.
On my birthday, I woke up to presents delivered to bed and a kitchen with my own hand-made “celebrate” sign hung over the kitchen table.
I had the sweetest, regular Tuesday of a birthday.  We didn’t plan too much, but I had people I love stop by the house all day and endless calls and texts to help me feel loved and special.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so loved on a birthday.  One thing is for sure, that after 29  years on this earth, I have sure found some wonderful people. ♥

Each year I like to break down my daily schedule as a glimpse into what my day-to-day is like at that certain age.  Here is my life at TWENTY-NINE:

My life now is full and busy.
The years I worked hard for (birthing babies) have paid off to a house full of my own growing children.
I love the way my life looks.
Each morning I wake up around 7-7:30.. always trying to beat my kids to the punch, inching earlier and earlier, but at 29 I am still not a morning person.
I climb out of a bed with 1 husband, 1 dog, and 1-2 children in it.
I change into my workout clothes (this is the only chance I’ll get… if I put on comfy clothes or regular clothes it’s over!)
I head down to the kitchen to make my morning drinks and start a big pot of oatmeal for my family.  Even though the morning came too early as always, I love making this pot of oatmeal.  I love everything it represents.  We’re currently at 3 heaping cups of oats which makes a giant bowl that will get scraped clean every time.
Mr. Miller works alongside me making the girls lunches for the day as they chat and chat and chat our ears off. (Always so many words after not enough hours of sleep.. not my finest.)
The girls eat, get dressed, and meet me in my bathroom to get their hair done.
Harlo prefers me to do hers, Stella prefers to do her own, but I tell her she has to let me do it sometimes so I know I’m still needed in her life. ;)
Of course sometimes this is pleasant, and sometimes I’m screeching and hollering for everyone to hurry up and I can’t believe we’re late AGAIN, and why am I THE ONLY ONE WHO CARES IF WE’RE LATE FOR SCHOOL… The former is always the goal, though.  When the latter happens, I always make it a point to apologize before they’re off to their days at school.  We reassure each other in the care that we’re doing our best and that’s what really matters.  And we always listen to the best girl-music you can sing loud to on the way to school. (The Greatest Showman soundtrack, Katy Perry, and Rihanna are current faves)
I get home and get the littlest ones settled for a few minutes with a snack and drink and play and squeeze in a BBG workout.  It starts nice and relaxing and ends with Major climbing on top of me and Grae asking me for snacks 12 times.  If it’s  not too cold, we’ll load up the stroller and take a long walk through our neighborhood.
After that I’m down to my office to check over my work day and get a few things taken care of before it’s time to think about lunch.
Honestly, right now this looks like me taking a business call and getting interrupted by crying kids and avoiding loud noises, trying to make a few sentences of an email before someone needs me, and working on those blog posts that have been sitting in draft for way too long now.
Eventually I give up, and serve my littles lunch.
Mr. Miller comes home for lunch most days to give me some adult conversation and a kiss to get me through the next few hours of the busy day at home.
My favorite time of the day remains rocking my baby down for a nap.  I have been doing this sweet, blessed chore for 9 years and 2 months now and I can’t even think about it ending.  This little ‘chore’ gives me so much life.  It’s a pause in the day that i can pour out my heart in gratitude and take a moment to soak in my blessings.
Major Miller likes his three songs (his lullaby, twinkle-twinkle, and you are my sunshine), all of which he sings along to between snuggles and drinking his baba.
He loves his bed and snuggles in for a long winter’s nap every day.
I must use these quiet hours wisely, or I’ll pay for it later. (Looking at you, This Is Us marathon day)
I switch laundry loads, run the dyson over my floors downstairs.  Pick up toys from the living room.. just a big sweep.  On my besssst days, I get dinner figured out.
Before I’ve reached the end of my to-do list, Major is awake and it’s time to pick up my big girls.
They rode the bus at our last house, and I loved waving them off the school bus each day from the porch, but it’s also been fun to go down and pick them up at school, see them walking with friends and getting to say hi to their school friends everyday, too.  Not better or worse, just different. I have to remind myself. :)
The girls have so much to talk about after school, so we usually continue our chat all the way home and into our after-school chores.  We play loud music, do a pickup and start homework and dinner.
As much as I love to cook, we seem to be on the go with obligations here or a date night there, or a school thing there.  If I get 1-2 nights a week in we call it a success.
Favorite dinners from my family right now include: chicken curry, my famous sweet chili and rolls, chicken almond pasta, meatloaf, and any kind of taco night.
Sometimes the girls run off to play with neighbor kids (fun perk of living in our new ‘hood.) and the littlest ones scamper off with our dog Finn into the backyard, and all at once dinner is about ready, the kids are all coming in, and Mr. Miller is just pulling up.
My favorite nights are our nights home with nothing going on outside our little hive.
We eat dinner and sprawl out and catch up and pick up again before getting ready for bed.
Once we round the troops, the downstairs shuts down and we’re all upstairs in our bedrooms (I love our floor plan for making  me still feel like I live in a cozy little home with all the living downstairs and all the bedrooms upstairs).
I rock my baby again for the night while Mr. Miller rounds up the ladies and gets them reading.
The big girls read to Grae on the bottom bunk, and then they get to listen to music – their own lullabies organized to a “bedtime” folder on my spotify account.
We take turns laying and snuggling each one (and fulfilling endless requests of ice water retrieval, forgotten tooth brushing, etc.) before it’s lights out for everyone.
It’s so helpful to have the older girls lead by example, because I remember when bedtime wasn’t so easy when they were the babies age!
After the kids are settled in, I usually finish up my work for the day in my big bathtub (perk to the new house that I promised myself in my old house not to take for granted!), Mr. Miller finishes his work up in the office and we meet up in bed sometime to watch shows and hang-out and chat before we’re forcing ourselves to get some sleep, always too late.
We turn lamps and TVs and phones off, hold hands and again I can pour my heart in gratitude for the very full life of very many blessings I am living each day.
I slip off to sleep with a dog I love and a husband I love at my sides.
I am living a real good life, the life of my dreams, in fact! ♥

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messy beautiful life

When I get quiet on this space, it is usually always because I am dealing with some real life stuff.  I don’t mean to not write in these times, but for me, I have to process internally before I’m ready to process externally.  Both of which are necessary parts of my growth  .

I am someone who has a natural gift to be happy and optimistic about most things.  I understood it was a unique gift I had when I realized my sweet bubbly, bouncing Stella had it, too.  I am easily excited and a total romantic.  I can usually find something charming and swoon-worthy just about anywhere.  I get giddy over nothing, and the things that normal people get excited for, I nearly hyperventilate.  This is my voice.  It’s part of what makes me, me. 

I am also someone who has fought a life long battle with depression, off and on.  That is a really quirky side of my personality compared to my usual bouncing self, but I have come to really just adore quirky people, and loving this part of myself is hard, but I am really trying to do it anyway.

I think it’s also strange to talk about depression, because you would rather that just go away.  Depression doesn’t own my joy, so where I choose to be happy, my depression can’t reach.  These pages I have written here have been the happy moments I have wanted to keep in my mind forever.  But I also know how important it is for us to share our hearts, especially those tender parts, to heal ourselves and help heal the world around us.

Depression for me picks and chooses it’s years or months to invade, and I have learned how to fight this internal battle in different seasons in different ways.  I have also learned that love is the greatest healer, and nothing heals me quite like loving myself does.

Having a healthy relationship with myself, loving who I am as a person, accepting the way my body looks and my life looks, doesn’t just mean I just do all the time.  It means I have to consciously each day to choose that, over the alternative.  Which is giving into the idea that I’m not doing enough, that I need to be different, or look different, whatever the case may be.  Some days I feel on top of things and it’s easy to love me, other days I fight with myself and have to choose to love me.  This is a journey I’ll likely always be on as a woman, and I’m grateful the years ahead (I hear) come with more self-acceptance and less care of pettiness, especially as we continue to practice self-love.

I live with four young children who sometimes, actually all times, demand and ask of me way more than they give back.  My husband is also living a life keeping his head above water just like me, and our lives definitely pull us away from each other more than we would like sometimes.  I can’t always rely on my “love tank” being filled from them, and when I can extend grace and love to myself, I am less needy of attention from them.  I can also give more when my tank is full.

Loving myself is a daily practice of prayer.  Each day I walk through the areas of my head and heart with God and ask for guidance, comfort, love, patience, direction in whichever areas are weighing on me.  This is the first thing I started doing as I began to build a relationship with God, and it’s the single most thing that has changed my life the most. I am grateful to know that there is this source of Love I can tap into when I’m feeling low, and the good  Lord knows I can feel low on love from time to time.  I can imagine every mother can feel drained of love and patience now and again.

I choose happy every day, I really try even when it seems so impossible.  As someone who fights depression and anxiety, I fight the feelings of restlessness, hopelessness, never-enough-ness, discontent, grief, sadness, past trauma, work through the healing of old wounds.  This is not work for the weak, this is work for the warrior.

I may not be showing up everyday in social media or even here on the blog, but you can bet I’ll be working hard to show up every day in my actual real life.  The life only I can live, the children only I can mother, the husband I get to wife, the struggles I’ve been conditioned to walk through.  This is me.

Every evening, low on patience, messy kitchen, dinner on the stove, and a baby or two wanting up in my arms.  It is the beautiful chaos that to me, creates the most beautiful life.  The pain, the joy, and every last emotion in between.  It’s all just color, and color is beautiful.

Writing this close to my heart feels vulnerable and scary at times, but I think what we don’t share hurts us more than what we do.  We are better together, and I’m so glad you’re showing up for me here and living life along side me.

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Harlo is NINE

On December 18, 2017, my precious oldest turned nine years old.
Harlo has blossomed into such a beautiful young girl.
She is sweet and caring, so very thoughtful.
She is always reminding me to grab a coat for Major, or a snack cup for Grae, or asking for my help to do something nice for someone.
She is so responsible, I almost feel guilty I’m her mom. :P I am flighty and scattered, always trying to be more scheduled and organized.  Harlo isn’t this way at all, and I’m so grateful for her help.
A couple of months ago, my mother-in-law showed up to my door with a magnetic fridge calendar.  When I looked puzzled, she explained to me that Harlo had seen one out with her and mentioned that I needed one. ha!  I  hadn’t thought of it, but now that she mentioned it, I did probably need one, thanks sa much. ;)
She is always reminding me about random dangers or choking hazards or age-appropriate things the babies should or shouldn’t be doing.
I do tell her I have things under control, but I’ve also learned it’s her way of showing love.
She is so good at caring for others.
Harlo has wanted to be a teacher since she started preschool – she has held strong to this, and this year has especially loved playing school with her little sibs.
Right now she has a whole setup in the kitchen.  They will all sit for hours at the kitchen table, listening intently and doing the work she’s assigned them. :)
She is currently teaching Grae all her letters, and is such a sweet little teacher – always encouraging, and always thinking of creative ways to teach.
She will be such a good teacher!  I think it is the perfect job for her.  Not to mention I know she’ll be a great little mama someday.
Harlo girl is wired so much like her daddy.  In so many ways.
She will do just about anything for some computer privilages.
She is a master at her favorite computer games and it makes her quite popular among the young boys at school.  She often has minecraft or roblox dates over the phone with some of our cute boy-friends.
She can’t wait until she can work at Lifeguard Computers and is starting to learn a bit about the family business. :)
She is a home body that loves to travel.  She would rather be home more than anything… except for a good roadtrip.  I think she gets that from me. :)
She also loves design and has an eye for making things beautiful – another thing I’ll gladly take credit for.
As she grows, I love seeing my influence as a mother in her.  It’s been such a sweet blessing to my life.
She plays piano beautifully, and has grown into this coordinated young lady.
She is excited to start dance again this January.  She tried gymnastics last year and realized dance is more her “thing”.
Harlo is an especially good student.  She loves third grade and especially adores her teacher.  I’m so glad she got a great teacher again this year.  It makes all the difference!
This has been our first year with some unkind friends at school this year – it’s been so hard seeing my tender hearted girl come home with hurt feelings, but I must say she’s handled herself so beautifully this year balancing some tricky relationships.  We have talked often about choosing right and treating people kind, even when they’re struggling to do the same.  Mostly she’s been nervous about getting tied into trouble, or her teacher thinking she’s not a nice girl, but of course that hasn’t been the case.  After a few months of sticky situations, things are really looking up at school.  She does have some really sweet friends this year, and I think that has helped so much!
Harlo is definitely an introvert – she will think 300 thoughts before one of them come out of her mouth (not like me in the LEAST).  But one thing I love, is at the end of the day, after she’s taken the world in, she will open up when she feels comfortable and will chat and chat and chat about all the things.  In this moment, I’m so grateful to be her mother, and the one who gets to hear all about her beautiful mind and kind heart.
Harlo is funny, and smart, and creative.  She tends to be good at whatever she tries.
She is the best sister and has such a sweet spot for her younger siblings.
She especially hates when any of them get in trouble, and usually the only time she sasses me is in defense of one of them, bless her heart.
Her favorite job each week is dressing Major for church, and then she just dies over him the entire day in his dapper little gentleman’s outfit.
We had our first week in our new ward, and Harlo fit right in.  She made some friends right off the bat, some who live just up the street, and she really enjoyed activity days this week.
This move has proved to be the most positive for my Harlo girl, I think.  She is just a happy, happy girl and she’s been so excited about our new house and neighborhood, it’s helped me be excited when I’m feeling a bit homesick.
I’m so grateful for her sweet guiding light in our home.
She is an example to us all, and I have loved every minute of watching her grow up.
Even though my heart stings at the thought of her being HALF WAY to 18, it’s so fun watching her grow into the person she’s becoming.
My life changed dramatically when Harlo was born, and each year on her birthday I celebrate in my heart another year of living the good life because of this angel.
Because of Harlo, my testimony in a loving God who knows what and when we need things is so firm, so steady.  She is my proof.
Harlo Elle, I couldn’t be more excited about being your mom.  Today and always, my darling girl.
You are good, and kind, and wonderful.
Being your mother is my life’s greatest blessing.
Enjoy every minute of being NINE, my sweet girl.
Love you forever and ever.

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