wednesday afternoon

3:42pm
Kiss my girls off the bus.
Rush to change their clothes for cheer camp.
Kiss them off to carpool.
Get Grae up from her nap, change.
Feed Major, change.
Makeup for me.
Toss some cookies in the oven.
Get Grae a snack.
Kiss girls home.
Get changed for date night.
Chat with babysitter.
Toss some cookies on a plate, rush off to teacher conferences.
Rush home for date night.
Nurse Major, change.
Chat with Harlo about 2nd grade.
Kiss girls goodbye.
Smooch Mr. Miller.
I’m all his for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Eat dinner, chat like grownups.
Browse Target, get diapers, two outfits for our growing growing boy.
Toss in some treats for the girls lunches tomorrow.
Rush home.
Feed Major, change.
Snuggle him to sleep.
Grae’s fussing, rock her.
Heart melting over her sweetness.
Kiss girls goodnight.
Settle into sweats. Aaaah…
Major’s asleep, check.
Grae’s quieted down, check.
Harlo’s teacher conference went well, check.
Did I chat with Stella today?
Get up, climb in Stella’s bed.
“Hi Stel.” “Hi mom.” we whisper.
Her arms wrap around my neck and I pull her over close.
Nose-to-nose, off she dozes.
Climb back in my own bed.
Mr. Miller comes to join me.
9:32pm

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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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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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