Sunday, December 30, 2012

learning our lesson

Here we are - sitting so close to a new year.

All the newness so full of inspiration.

I will be honest.  I'm so ready.  I'm ready to say farewell to a year that took me for a wild ride.

This last Christmas reminded me a bit of last Christmas. Car repairs right before the holidays, intense illness clustered at the same time, and a DIY home project that we should have waited to do til another long weekend came along.

I could sit here and lie and talk about the roar of the fire on Christmas morning but truth be told, I drank 3 cups of coffee on Christmas morning to just make it through after being up all night long with Simon who caught RSV a few days before the holiday.

Life has just been....hard.

I've been reluctant to share much as I know so many people will just tell me 'It will all get better...or God is in control..."

and those are both very TRUE!

But still...there is beauty and success gained when we are just honest about the inevitable hard points in life.  I'm not on earth to pretend life is a party - even though I really really like to party. ;-) It's been tough - shed a TON of tears, felt SO alone, tackled more on my own than ever and we made it through.  Joel and I are still here, our kids are alive and our baby grew.  I'm pretty happy about that and that is where I leave you, 2012.

2013 - I'm trying to be realistic.  I want to be healthy.  I want to eat so that my body works at its best and any illnesses that try to come its way are met with fierce immunity.  I want to know my husband better, how to serve him, love him and be even more true to him.  I long to be a Mother who is kind and compassionate and doesn't expect performers out of young boys...simply boys out of boys. I want to connect to a body of people who love God, His people and serve without judgement.  I want to better my skillset as both a makeup artist and amateur chef to my family.  I want to write more, listen more, hug more, kiss more, and rest more.

I give myself grace on the areas I will fall short but ultimately, I'm thrilled for a new beginning and wishing you all the same.

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

good & kind

With Christmas approaching so close, I am like many of you - hurried and quickly trying to finish prep for holiday gatherings and baking.

This year is so different, though, when I think to those parents who have recently experienced such deep pain.  The loss of a child, from what I hear, is one of the most difficult emotional traumas in this life.

A little bit of my joy is replaced with grief over these sweet smiles that they will sorely miss on Christmas morning and every morning thereafter.

Like so many of the horrible things that happen in life, when you hear of them....and continue to hear of them for years to come, you never forget where you were when 'it' happened.  The Columbine shooting, 9/11, Chardon's shooting, etc.

This last tragic event took place last Friday.  The horror of that day will never be minimized.  However, something else good and beautiful and kind took place that day as well.   A dear friend of our family gave birth to twins...twins that biologically belong to another family.  This friend had been, for so many years, desiring to give this gift.  Her love of her own 4 children and her enjoyment with all things that pregnancy brings made her such a lovely candidate for this process.

I'd been keeping up with her facebook posts as the baby's progressed - I always thought, "Wow, I love how she's loving and caring for these little ones even though they aren't hers...."  What a gift, what a kind and precious act of kindness to change the course of a family's life by offering her body and strength and time.  After several years of my own struggle with infertility....I remember the thought coming to me, 'What if I needed someone else to do this for me?"  I am so happy for this couple, whose babies they have been dreaming of are real and perfect and their own.

Just want to acknowledge that those twins (both of which are perfect and bigger
than my first two sons-HUGE for twins!) are an example of the purity and innocence still left in this world.  Kindness is so unexpected....and yet when you shed it on others, YOU are the one who is blessed.  It's a guarantee.  I plan to use these current events to spark up conversation in our home on how to be the change - as it always starts with the family.

May you all be blessed this holiday season - filled with love for one another - choosing to be slow to speak and slow to become angry - understanding how much more blessed it is to give than it is to receive.

Lord - please continue to wrap your arms around those aching Mommy's and Daddy's....sisters and brothers...Grandpas and Grandma' they mourn.  Give them beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for their mourning.

Merry Christmas!

Joel & Jess + boys

Friday, November 23, 2012

My thankful list

A roof over my head
3 sons who are healthy and happy
Legs that can carry me as I walk, skip, dance and run
A smile that can soften the heart of a stranger
A husband that works hard
A husband who is faithful
A husband who is a remarkable father
An eldest son who incredibly intuitive
A middle son who is full of light and has a voice sweeter than sugar
A baby son whose smile changes my perspective almost constantly
A mother and father who are still married to one another
A grandmother who is still with me and helped raise me and create me
Friends who understand me and who I can understand
A job I love to do 
Health Health Health
A love for culinary arts that pairs nicely with my husband's love for eating
Cousins, Bro/Sis inlaws, friends that are more like sisters
My bed and the guy I get to wake up next to in it
Love, Kindness, Gentleness, Compassion

Regardless of Thanksgiving being yesterday,  I really needed to write it out.  To remind.  To remember. God's good.  His love is deep.  His joy is rich.  Grateful to be smack dab in the midst of it.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

the sweetest song

If you've been following along the Miller family journey of intensity these days, I'm happy to report everyone is healthy, happy and even kind of having a blast!

Life is still nuts.  Sleep is still scarce but we're coming into some normalcy as to be expected at or around 6months post partum.

A little moment happened in the car I've been meaning to write about.  I mean kids say cute things all the time and I could honestly write EVERY day about that.

But....this was altogether sweet and beyond what I expected out of my eldest, Jude.

We were coming home from the gym.  I have been really faithful with working out and my kids have been having fun in the child playroom area.  It's helped de-stress me a ton.

Anyway, on our 10 minute ride home, the baby fussed.  He wasn't full out sobbing but was just 'done' being in his car seat.  I tried consoling him and even making those funny noises Moms make that usually pull out a smile from a baby.  Nothing worked.

Joel called, could barely hear him over the baby's fussing and whimpering.  All of a sudden, he stopped crying.  I stopped to listen and peeked through the rear view mirror to see my Jude putting his face near Simon's (something I do all the time to calm him) and singing this:

"Hush little baby don't say a word....
Jude's gonna buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mocking bird won't sing.
Jude's gonna buy you a star wars ring."

He sang just these lyrics over and over....and calmed sweet Simon to sleep.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

gentle words

Yesterday, I was all too eager to leave once Joel got home from work.

Not just this blasted rain and hurricane situation but my kids are sick....again.  I'm so over it.

This time isn't as bad and we're all sleeping well -  just want us all healthy at the same time for longer than a week.

I started day dreaming about leaving the house at 4pm.....finally, 6:30pm came - Joel had eaten and was playing with Simon.  I left....drove thru Starbucks for a decaf version of my normal morning drink...enjoyed a slooooow drive to the grocery store and made my way in, each sip helping change my perspective.

I got my fruit/veggies, dips and chips.....frozen and fresh.  Stood in line and I noticed something that hurt my heart.  A mother and her 8 or 9 yr old son....she spoke to him in a tone I would imagine speaking to an enemy...not a child.  She scolded him for dropping the sour cream when he was holding most of their goods in his small arms.  Once she checked out, she realized she forgot caramel apples and sent him to fetch them and berated him for getting the wrong ones.  I saw his face...his sad face....obviously so used to being treated so harshly and for no good reason.  He was a good boy.  You could see it in his big brown eyes.  When I looked over to him, he put his eyes down....I felt sad for what she was doing to his confidence as a a boy....and later on as a man.

I put my groceries in the car and sat in the drivers seat with head in my hands and cried for him.  I cried for her.  I cried for the heartbreak that surrounds our children all over....parents are stressed, kids are demanding and there are so few people willing to share life enough to model it.  I thought of my boys....when I have yelled too much, been too impatient with them and instead of using a tense moment to teach, I show them anger.  I prayed to be better, to learn from this exchange and also to be willing to share this story around.

I mean, we all do it.  We lose our cool.  That Mom could have been coming from such a difficult place herself....

I guess what we CAN do is be genuine....stop pretending to be parents of the year....and just be honest.  Sometimes I do crafts with my kids and feel like I'm the best Mom ever....sometimes I order georgio's pizza (not organic btw) and let my kids watch too much TV.  Nothing ever changes or improves without honesty.

I got home to a caring husband who put the groceries away and lit us a fire....amazing how your home looks different when you get a chance to leave.  I made the decision to love this life, regardless of how hard it can be, and be grateful for what I have and for the unconditional love I'm surrounded by....and to try my best to gently show that to my men at home and everyone I come into contact with.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

in my little heart.....


What is it with me during the years I deliver a baby?  I get SO much more into the holidays....probably due to it being the baby's first....

This year, it's bittersweet.  It's Simon's first Christmas.  BUT - Simon is our last baby.  So, this will be the last time we give a baby their first Christmas. (tearyeyedalittlebit)

I think that might be what this is all about....celebrating, loving, and introducing him to such a wonderful time of year.

Are you getting excited yet?  (No? You think I'm crazy....that's OK...lots of people do!)

Here's where my mind has been wandering to:

A nice full Christmas tree freshly cut from our favorite tree farm....
Hot cocoa with my boys in our pajama's
Cookie decorating and passing those cookies to our neighbors
Gift buying/making/designing
I am guilty of sometimes being more proud of the packaging than what's inside....

Still not motivated to put some Judy Garland Christmas Radio on?

Here's some Christmas eye candy then....xoxo.

thanks Pinterest for the images

Friday, October 26, 2012

taking notice

Oh man I hope you find each post special as they seem to be more few and far between - a true tale of adding a 3rd child....

Been so consumed lately with my youngest two.  My sweet Simon is distractingly cute.  I could lie him down and dust furniture but sometimes I don't.  I lie next to him and kiss his neck, tickle his toes and just enjoy this last baby being a 5 month old....worth it.

I am also consumed with the ups and downs of my wild nearly 3 yr minute we are intensely snuggling and the next, I'm trying to help him learn not to whine and 'talk like a big boy' and honestly, he is just my intense one at the moment.  All 3 boys will share a turn being the intense one.  Lucky it seems to be just one at a time.

Last night, I took notice of the 7yr old growing up before me.  He went on and on about sharks, their habitats, and how they hunt their prey.  I learned from Jude all about lightning amongst other elements....and he taught me all about nouns, adjectives and verbs.  His mind is learning at remarkable speed and I'm so thankful that he enjoys it all.

I sat down with him to do homework last night - took notice of his handwriting (something that was atrocious last year and early part of this school year) and said, 'JUDE! Your handwriting is wonderful!"

His eyes lit up - I noticed.  I took a minute to see he had placed effort in an area he was weak in.  Gosh, I'm so thankful I did.  As I watched him finish his math homework, I stared at him.  I noticed his beautiful little face and ridiculous eye lashes....his hands that were looking stronger and more manly and even how he purses his lips when he's concentrating.  My eldest child inspired me last try harder, to work on things that I'm not great at and just to enjoy the process like a child.

So grateful God gave us Jude.  I told him that and his response was, "Mommy I'm glad God gave me our family and we're going to be together forever..." 

Nothing a Mother could desire to hear more than that.

Happy Friday All.  Take a minute to notice your children, their effort, their progress....and then TELL them you notice.  We're not just growing kids....we're feeding their esteem, developing their self-worth and showing them they are ENOUGH just the way they are.  What a completely ridiculous honor it is to do just that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

catching up

A HUGE thanks to all of you who wrote, responded, liked or called after the last post.

We made it through the week and all are healthy now.  I truly felt such a release after writing my honest story out...and your words/prayers/kindness was just the icing on the cake.

Thank you.

We are ALL catching up these days.

On sleep
Si is catching up on weight
On housework
On homework
On bills
On our budget
On laundry

One thing I finally did was sort through our photos from Hocking Hills - a mini vacation that was really the sweet spot in a tough season.  The combination of a train ride, darling cabin, cute and excited boys who loved every moment, and a husband who cared to make such wonderful memories with his sons and wife gave us something we hope to recreate again and again for years to come.

Here are some photos of our trip and where we stayed - would highly recommend to anyone wanting a cost-effective vacation while not 'feeling like it' at all.  I prefer going to see the natural beauty around me than standing in line for some man-made, expensive activity any day.  In HH, there is tons of beauty and it's truly awe inspiring. Take a look!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

truth of the matter

I am definitely one of those people who tends to post positive things.

Maybe because I don't like hearing about negative stuff so I assume no one wants to hear my junk either.

Truth is that while there are a million of tasks calling out to me right now, I simply must sit and write.  My sick little Simon - who has been fighting a fever and tummy virus is actually sleeping right now.  My oldest is playing with a friend and Leland is napping at the sitter.

What do I have to say?

Life is so hard right now.  I'm so thankful and so full of joy for what I have but the truth of it is, I feel like I can't enjoy it because I'm a fire fighter right now....putting one fire out after the next.  I've been to the Pediatrician 6x in the last 8 weeks.  (Well checks, weight checks, and sick kid checks)  We've had colds, flus and croup in the last month too.  We squeezed in a mini vacation and I'm just DYING to share those photos....but they are waiting for life to get back on track too.

I know this season will pass.  I know one day I'll look back and wish to hold that feverish boy once again and feel his grip on my hair.

I'm trying to enjoy the moment but it's so hard when you sleep rarely....see friends only here and there...and have so many other balls to juggle.

I will be truthful: I've dropped a bunch of those balls.  Like a ton.  There are emails I have yet to respond to....people I need to call....a sweet Grandma I want to visit without giving her a flu bug....right now, I'd just love to float above the water without the fear that I'm about to drown.

As I write this, I know in my heart that this season will be over - it just can't stay forever.  It just can't.

I'm SO blessed - my husband is my partner and has offered such grace to me in this time.  My kids forgive me everytime I apologize for a grumpy moment and their hugs heal my tired heart.  My sweet baby tries to smile amidst his tummy pain and I must just take a moment to thank God for these men.  These men....they are my everything.

If you read this, will you do me a favor?  Will you just say a little prayer? Pray for calm and for health and for rest.

Thanks for listening....and for being the friends you are.


Monday, September 10, 2012

a Simon update!

Well, his swallow study confirmed that he swallows and appears to digest beautifully!  Everything went in and out of the right places.

It was traumatizing to watch them redraw blood but we got it - aside from his screams - we got it.  In one week, we should know more from today's blood draw and set up a follow up appointment with his Pediatric GI specialist.

Aside from that, we're continuing to feed him and try not to let him graze (He's metabolizing too quick that way) so getting him to take larger amounts at a time is the key.

We will keep you posted on anything further - cannot thank you ENOUGH for your prayers!

So sorry I cannot respond to every post/call/text - loaded up on kid life/housework & doing makeup every single weekend!  Please do not be offended if I do not call you back right away....a private message via FB is the BEST way to get a hold of me!

Thanks loves!

All our love,

J&J +3 crazy monkey boys

Monday, August 27, 2012


Joel and I have been craving downtime.

Not sure if it's the wedding season, intense time with adding a new baby, lack of sleep, etc.

I have been enjoying our early Saturday morning times...breakfast made and cleaned up, still sipping our coffee and getting cozy in a book or magazine.  Lately, I've noticed Leland's desire to play music with Joel on a regular basis.  Sometimes Joel will play piano while Lee plays his toy guitar....other times Leland will listen to Joel and quietly enjoy...and sometimes they play simultaneously.  It's becoming a part of our weekend I try not to miss.

We're literally watching our son's gifts and interests flourish before our's so completely evident the love this child will have for music and singing.

I could keep writing on and on but watch this - look how sweet his attention is toward his Dad.  *cherishing* *relishing* *savoring*

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

never alone

Been reminded as of late how vital human vulnerability is.

When one person shares openly and regardless of what the other might have to respond with.  It's scary and risky and so worth it.

When Jude was a newborn, we were filled with fear and newness and fear and intense love but also fear.  I told no one.  I wanted no one to know I was falling and falling into a deep sad place.

This post partum season has truly taken me by surprise....with such an easy start followed by days of frustration, tears and confusion.  Why won't my baby grow?

I found myself lying to strangers about his age just to avoid the 'Really, he's that old....gee he's tiny!' response I kept getting.  What was worse was when women would call their friends over, 'Come see how tiny this baby is....he's already 10 weeks...look how small!'  *heartbreaking*

While this post is not to describe how ignorant humans can be, it just must be said.  People are sometimes the absolute worst.

Still, what redeems it all are those moments when a friend tells you about her experience, holds your hand, whispers a prayer over your baby or simply offers to go to your next appointment with you.  Also, when a parent offers to be with your other child while you attend a vital appointment that would otherwise be massively distracting.  I am simply overcome. With all this love.

My baby will be fine.  They are running tests on his blood, doing a swallow study and a possible sweat test but all the while the doctor keeps telling us what my OB told me all along....'Your boy is busy!'  Too busy to eat and too busy to hold onto those calories.

The upside is he has continuously gained now for a straight 4 weeks....good news!  So, we're just pouring out our love, making him laugh and feeding him like its our job because it IS our job, a very very full time job.

Thankful for a husband who is by my side and for family and friends who have encouraged, prayed, taken my older kids, etc.  It's such an easy thing to want to hide in what seems like our failures....but not as easy as it is to walk through hard stuff knowing you have friends pulling you along, delivering a meal or dessert....heart is so full and our love is so rich for each of you.

Thank you!


Jess & Baby Simon
Here's my little 'failing to thrive' baby...haha!  hardly!

Monday, August 6, 2012


this Mommy thing is so hard.

Yet so completely gratifying and beautiful.  I feel the sway between those two adjectives on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

On one hand, I'm so enjoying this newborn stage with the cooing, sweet cuddles and hugs from big brothers that are never lacking.  On the other, I have struggled with letting go...truly surrendering some of what I thought it would be like to welcome a third into our family.

I guess the best advice every Mom should hear (regardless of how many children she has) is that no matter how good at the Mothering you get...there will be a new challenge with each you will need help with, one you will google about, and one that will keep you up at night hoping you made the right choice in its solution.

In a way, so much of mothering is simply defined as hope.  Hope that your child knows that your every move is bathed in love, prayed over in wisdom & made with the counsel of others.  Perhaps our choices are wrong or perhaps on graduation day, it will not have even mattered much.

In the end, no one really knows how much you wish, hope and worry as a parent until you become responsible for another life.

This season has brought intense laughter & tears...I've been both on the happy end and a deeply sad end....but I've appreciated coming back to the realization that this time is a season and to try and remember it that way.  I loved this blog post by a friend - her words filled my own heart with grace....grace on myself.

Ironically, Joel's birthday gift to me of 31 love letters in 31 days....has been a breath of fresh air that I've been able to hold onto.  I feel like it makes me want to speak loving words to others all the more often....knowing the power those words really do have.

xoxo...happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Had a birthday yesterday - it was funny.

Busy and filled with fun and some just normal things.  Amazing at how birthdays with little ones around end up seeming like normal life....but it was good.

After a challenging 3 weeks with Simon and low weight gain, he blew us away with a 5oz gain over the weekend.  That was one of the best parts of my birthday - seeing hardwork pay off in my sons little double chin.

Also - my husband rocked my sox by giving me 31 love letters over the next 31 days - 2 are written so far and have filled me up with life.   I've always told Joel...."I don't care what the gift is as long as you never forget the card...."  I love that he took it a step further and decided to focus in on words of love above all else.

I was also blessed with an ice cream maker....gorgeous water pitcher and some lovelies from Crate & Barrel....such a sucker for housewares.

Otherwise, I'm just thankful to be healthy, cared for & to have 3 healthy boys.  (I miss you Jude - love that you are with your cousins....thank you for calling me last night!  My heart swelled to hear your voice.)

Thanks for all the wishes & love...always feels so good to start a new year.  Here we go 31!
from sweet Jude while he's away with his cousins for the week.  xoxo!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

almost forgot how to blog

It's been a while.


These last 3 weeks have wiped me out.  I've been interrupted twice already in this post and I'm on word #: 26

I must laugh and laugh and laugh.

I've had to reach out of my 'don't want to ask for help' mentality I grew up with....and simply say, 'Hey, help! This is hard!'

Jude is doing amazing - going to Art camp this week and KILLING it!  SO proud.  He's amazing at putting on Leland's shoes and even dressing him too.  He can put everyone's seatbelts on and can make a mean PB sandwich.  Proud of this biggest brother as we've pushed him to a new limit and he's shocking us with how well he's doing despite the lack of attention he's probably personally receiving.

Leland is intense.
Challenging my needs right now almost as they come.  He's into things and his 18-month mischievous side is BACK!  It was cuter back then but we are also enjoying his comedy hour and performances on a daily basis.  He keeps grabbing instruments and playing songs for Simon or spontaneously breaking out in 'Happy Birthday'....and then when I need it most he will come up to me and say, 'Mommy, you're my girl and I'm your guy."  and then I melt into a pile of nothingness.

Simon - adorable as ever!  He's had some challenge with weight-gain.  Facts are this: He would rather sleep than eat. (Can't blame him, I feel the same way) but I have to consistently wake him up (yes even in the middle of the night) to make sure we're getting a minimum of 10 feedings.  This is my last one so we are nursing NO.MATTER.WHAT!  I love the time with him though....just want to see those rolls start coming fast and furious.

Joel's been by my side....through the moody times...tries to take Simon for me when he can but it's hard to compete with 'Mommy' when she's right in the same room and can be smelled from a house away.  Not gonna lie, I'm loving that part of it too.

All in all.  We are OK.  We are hanging in there.  We bit off more than we could chew on a social level early on in my recovery which led to stress that was unneeded.  Take this advice to all of you having babies soon: NEVER EVER host people in your home right after giving birth.....

It defeats bonding altogether.  I'm done on that topic.

So there you have it - to those friends who have been calling to encourage or texting or simply just 'liking' an instagram pic or two or playing Words with Friends....THANK YOU!  It makes me feel a little like I'm hanging out with friends all day.  All my love....

my partner in life....without him, I'd freak out

Thursday, June 28, 2012

1 month in....

this gorgeous boy joined us a month ago. 

I'd be lying if I said it's been an easy transition but gosh, we've had fun...enjoyed watching each child transition and adjust.  I'm head over heels for this baby and with every purse of his lips, it's like he's luring me closer and closer to him.  For the most part, the nights have been easy and I've really enjoyed nursing him and making that time our own. 

With Simon most certainly our last child, it puts a different spin on everything.  I keep looking at all these newborn clothes/diapers that he's already grown out of and how it's time....time to get rid of them.  I won't need them again.  It's bitter and sweet and beautiful and sad. 

I am choosing to stick to the positive and enjoy the moment.  With the first baby, I remember wishing the 'next' stage would come and with the 2nd, I did a little less of that.  With Simon, I'm enjoying it.  Best I can with two others being needy and intense at times. 

Trying to be the Mom that positively reinforces instead of the frustrated and tired Mom that just yells a lot.  I have apologized to my sons more than once since Simon's birth and have asked them for their forgiveness and grace as sometimes Mommy's tiredness is overwhelming.  I am amazed at their ability to forgive and say, 'We love you still Mommy, it's OK!" and then go about their merry way. 

I am looking forward to learning and growing with these three lads....

Thanks for reading and praying and loving us....all 5 of us! 

We <3 you back!