stella’s american girl birthday

On August 3rd, my sweet, sunny, lively little Stella turned six years old!

Months and months ago (even before Christmas) Stella knew she wanted to spend her birthday at the American Girl store.  She has become more obsessed with American Girls as the days have ticked by.  We talked about how going to the American Girl store was a big deal, and very expensive.  She then opted to forgo a birthday party, any other birthday presents, “don’t get me presents! Just send money that I can spend at the American Girl store!”, she told us.

Luckily, Stella’s birthday lands in the summer and working our summer travels around her birthday wasn’t too hard.  We knew we wanted to get to Santa Monica at some point with the family this summer, so we hopped on board for the American Girl store birthday!

Stella researched every single detail of the American Girl store.  She knows about all the girls, all the collections, each and every outfit and option.  She knows which stores are where, and what they offer.  In all her spare time, she spends it on the American Girl website or on various American Girl youtube channels.  Stella is SERIOUS about American Girls, and I have to admit, as the days drew nearer I found myself getting butterflies of excitement as well.  Both for her, and for the little girl in myself who would have LOVED an American Girl store visit at her age.

One thing I have to note is how easy it was to manage Stella’s expectations.  I would tell her we probably wouldn’t have enough money for a certain thing, or discuss what our budget would be, and she was just as happy altering her plans to fit within that frame.  She even planned out exactly what Harlo would do (bring my old American Girl doll to the store, so she wouldn’t be empty handed).  She was just so gracious, so sweet, and so grateful for anything we would allow.  I love that about Stella and never ever want to forget how sweet she was in planning this birthday.

We also had a lot of comments about Harlo before our trip.  “Will that be hard for her not to get a doll too?” they’d ask, and other questions of the like.  But I have to say that my girls do really well at celebrating each other.  Harlo was so excited for Stella’s birthday, for her.  I don’t think she complained one time about not being able to get a new doll, or this or that.  We did give her a little summer allowance for helping so much during the summer that she spent on a sweet little outfit, and that was plenty.  She was such a gracious big sister on this trip, and I know it made the day even that much more special for Stella getting to share it with Harlo.  Man, I love these girls.

Needless to say, when the day finally came (we made sure to be there ON her birthday), we were all dying of anticipation and excitement! (Even Mr. Miller caught the American Girl fever!)

Shortly into our visit, Auntie showed up to surprise Stella at the American Girl store.  I can’t tell you how precious Stella was for that surprise.  She shrieked “Auntie!” and almost got a little emotional.  Auntie and I both will never forget it.


We had so much fun at the American Doll store.. Stella made out pretty well with grandparents sending her with money so she was able to buy a doll, and a couple accessories as well as get “Bella’s” ears pierced.
I planned ahead a bit and scheduled a personal shopper for Stella (the store offers them for free!) and that was a really special touch.  They took us back to a big pink room and let us set our stuff there and gave us a tour of the whole facility and told us a lot of interesting information.  Stella ate it right up.  It was just the amount of VIP status that girl can appreciate! ;)

After the American Girl store, we decided to head over to Santa Monica Pier to spend the rest of the day, which was even more fun to have Auntie tagging along with us for the day.

The girls opted not to ride any rides (Did you know I’m deathly afraid of farris wheels?), but Mr. Miller showed them around the arcade like the old pro he is.  We had ice cream and took it all in.
After the pier, we spent the rest of the day shopping and eating on the 3rd street Promenade.

The kids were mesmerized by the street acts.  For a Wednesday, I was so surprised and excited to see them out there.  We watched and watched the different dancers and performers.  Our favorite though was a magic show!

Mr. Miller and I came to Santa Monica on our babymoon in March, and we knew our girls would love it.  It was SO fun for us to bring them along.  I was so in love with Brady on that trip, carrying around our 4th baby in my big round belly.. and to enjoy the city with him again – this time with all four of our babes with us just seemed like a dream come true.  I fought the happy tears back all day.

Stella’s birthday was everything we hoped it would be and so much more.  She hasn’t stopped talking about it since.  As we drove home that night she took a big sigh and said “Wow.  Today was the best day ever.”

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last hoorah of summer

The week before school started, we loaded up our minivan for the umpteenth time to head on one last adventure of summer.

I have to admit I was dragging my feet about this trip because we had already been gone SOOO much of summer, and making another treturous drive through the hot dessert didn’t sound that appealing… but we had a birthday girl with big plans, and so I pressed on.

We ended up having such a great time.  The babies did well on the car rides (thank heavens!), the big girls got along so well the whole trip.  We stayed near Manhattan beach, which we hadn’t been to before, and traveled around different parts of LA while we were there.  (We usually stay further south, so this was new and exciting for us!) We showed the girls Santa Monica, downtown LA, and did so many fun fun things.  But on one certain morning, we headed out to grab some bagels and decided to stop by the beach.  Half of us were suited for the hotel pool, and the other half was still in PJ’s of some sort (me, Grae and Maj), but we decided to walk across the sand and let the water tickle our toes anyway.  It was probably my favorite moment of the trip.

In this moment, Brady looked at me like this and my stomach flipped.  This is the life we have always wanted, that we created together.  Our minivan full of our own children, experiencing and more importantly enjoying life together.  That’s what these trips are all about for us.  They are our love language as a family, and certainly in our marriage.  I love all my little darlings cozied up at home, but something about changing our scenery sheds new light (in this case, beach-y sunlight) on all sorts of blessings that may had gone unnoticed otherwise.  I love this season we’re in and I’m so proud we’re here.


Grae’s wild bedhead at the beach just about did me in.

I love this family of mine fiercely, and I hope they never ever forget it.

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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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Monthly Major | THREE

 

My precious Major.
This few months of mothering this sweet little charmer have been some of the best of my life.
His dimpled toothless grin, and his dimpled little paws.  His chubby little arms and legs.  His big brown eyes.
I am just absolutely smitten.
When people ask me how having a boy is different, I tell them that I don’t love him any more than I do my girls, but HE loves ME more than any of them have.  Ha!
That mama/son love is so so real.
Major has the sweetest demeanor.  He is so calm and happy.
He seems to know who the best people are, too.  My bestie Aunt Haley came to visit, and he sure loved her. ♥
This little hunk is growing faster than all of his sisters combined, I feel like.
He was 13 lbs at 2 months.  I need to weigh him again, I’m sure he’s over 15 by now.  He’ll be catching up to his tiny big sister any day.
He is so tall that sometimes he can’t straighten his legs all the way in footed pajamas that are his size.
He is just solid, and squishy and so so delicious.
He’s in his 3-6 month clothes now and I just bumped him to size 3 diapers this week.
Maj eats like a champ, never going more than 2 hours between feedings during the day.
I feel like my milk has kept up well this round, and obviously he’s getting plenty when he’s growing like he is.
He has taken a bottle twice now with pumped milk with no issues.
I can’t even think about Cafe Rio without giving him a gassy upset tummy.
All my kids have struggled with Cafe Rio, but he seems the most sensitive – I can’t have ANYTHING there besides the Fideo which only comes Friday.
My family is missing Cafe Rio preettttty bad. The good news is, I feel like I cook a lot more when I can’t eat Rio. ;)
He has definitely turned into a little drooly bear. (note in pics above!)
He pretty much has to wear a bib daily, or the front of his shirt is totally soaked.
I have to say, dressing a baby boy has been pretty fun.  I think I’m getting the hang of things. Definitely less options shopping than girls though!
I think because I’ve had girls, I feel like he’s not fully dressed without something on his head. ha!
From his first day earthside, he has been a good night sleeper.
He goes to bed at a decent time (usually whining for his bed by 9pm) and wakes at about 4am to nurse, usually back to sleep until 8.
Remember how my last baby would never take a bottle and didn’t sleep for 14 whole months? This is like a whole new world.
This sweet mama’s boy is pretty much totally content as long as he can see my face.  I can’t walk into another room, but if I set his bouncer near me, he’ll be dazzled for hours.
He takes a binky pretty well, but I think he’ll be another finger sucker.  He’s always chowing on his hands.  Not sure if it will be the thumb, or Stella’s same suckies – it switches, but I’m pretty much dying over it.
He smiles and giggles more and more all the time.  I get the most smiles, but his sisters get the most giggles – hands down.
This boy loooooves his sisters.  They dote over him left and right.
A few weeks ago Harlo said “Mom, I don’t think he knows which one of us is his mom!” ha! She’s probably right.
I love when he’s fussy or crying, one of the big girls will go pick him up and he’ll calm right down.
My sweet helpers!  We’ll be hurting when they go back to school this week.
He’s just getting into the attack-my-face stage of babyhood which makes my heart nearly explode.
When he gets excited, he sticks his bottom jaw out when he grins and tries to eat me.
He has done SO well in the car in all this traveling we’ve done this summer.
He only really cried when he was tired, and if I reached back and hold his hand, or if I climbed into the backseat, he’d usually fall right to sleep.
Dream baby, guys.  He’s seriously the nicest.
I’m not quite sure who he looks like the most, but he’s definitely one of my only babies I’ve seen myself in a time or two… but sometimes he’ll be laying by Brady and he’s just a mini Mr. Miller in every way.
Major reminds me so much of Brady.  He’s calm and mellow and sweet just like his dad, only ornery when he hasn’t had enough sleep.
I feel like such a lucky lady to have two men to love like I do.
I love this baby boy of mine fiercely.

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