Saturday, December 31, 2016

In Sum

There is no doubt 2016 has been an absolutely amazing year -- the ENTIRE year was truly blessed, wonderful and amazing.

January 1st, early in the morning, our twins were born, (making our, then one-year-old a big sister) and everything has been craziness, chaos, cuddles, and giggles ever since.

If asked to use one sentence to summarize this past year -- despite all the tremendous blessings... I'm pretty sure this is the sentence I would choose:

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Christmas Before...

If you read my blog with any regularity, you are very clear on the fact that I am a University of Michigan football fan.

Two years ago, the University of Michigan football community received some very sad news when Lloyd Carr's grandson, Chad Carr was diagnosed with an inoperable form of child brain cancer.  The family had Michigan football ties for generations -- paternal grandfather, Lloyd Carr, but his maternal grandfather had University of Michigan football ties.  If I'm not mistaken, his parents met while students at UofM... they couple still lives in Ann Arbor, and the couple had three boys the youngest of whom was Chad.

Chad was diagnosed with this brain cancer and the family fought the cancer -- not only fought the cancer but created an organization, a movement, a hashtag -- #chadtough.  The entire Michigan community and people around the world were pulling for Chad, and supporting ChadTough.

Chad died about fifteen months after the cancer diagnosis -- just before Christmas last year.

I still follow his mother's ChadTough posts on facebook (because the ChadTough organization is still going strong raising money, awareness, and research for child cancer).  She mentioned that it was a quiet Christmas, and they did not send out Christmas cards this year, so she shared their Christmas pictures from the last five years and they tell such a story:






 You can see the happy, carefree family they were in 2012 and 2013.  
Then, 2014, just a few months after Chad's diagnosis, when they are fighting as a family, and the older brother is wearing a ChadTough shirt.  They are optimistic and getting through this together.  
Then, 2015, they actually celebrated Christmas early because Chad did not make it to Christmas.  What a toll Cancer has taken on their sweet little boy.
Then, Christmas 2016 when life goes on, even when sometimes you don't want it to.  I feel for those brothers because they are kids... but they are not kids anymore.  They are still living their childhood, but their childhood completely changed with the illness and death of their brother... but I digress.

These pictures absolutely touched my heart when their mother shared them a few days ago, but what surprised me most was the picture I was most drawn toward -- 2013.

This is their picture before.  This is their picture before the fight, before the death, before the cancer... before.  This was the Christmas before they were in the fight of their lives.  This was the Christmas before their world was rocked and turned upside down.  This was the Christmas when (probably) their biggest burden was juggling relatives and in-laws and making sure their was enough turkey to feed everyone.  This is the Christmas they will look back on for years and wish they could go back to such trivial concerns. 

Why will I line my little ones up in front of the Christmas tree every single year to take the same picture of them smiling?  Well, for one, it is a fun way to document their growth.  But the truth is, we never know if and when it will be our Christmas before... Our Christmas before something changes.

I'd like to think tragedy will never touch our family, and maybe it won't.  Maybe we will live beautifully ordinary lives where everyone we love will die at a ripe old age, ready to go to Heaven, sleeping soundly in their bed... but we don't know.
We don't know if and when it will be our Christmas before...

So, I line my beautiful, tired, sickly babies in front of the tree -- not even our tree because we're accidentally still at my in-laws house, and I take a picture of them:

And we pile all the cousins together looking adorable and jumbled and squirmy:

And we even occasionally try to take a really nice picture because we are freezing a moment in time.  A moment when times are joyful, and babies are plentiful, and laughter resounds.  And we never know when will be the Christmas before.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Plans

I had such plans for this Christmas.  Such plans.  I had wonderful, simple, yet very specific plans for this Christmas.  Oh, the plans.

We were going to get out of school on Friday December 16th and head to St. Louis.  We have longer than two weeks off from work this year because of how Christmas falls, so we planned to take a nice five days and fly to St. Louis to see Hubby's family (and all the nieces and nephews) for a Christmas celebration before Christmas.

Then, we were going to fly back to Colorado on Thursday December 22 early in the morning.  We would then have all day Thursday to get back to Rifle.  Then all day Friday and Saturday (Christmas Adam and Christmas Eve) to prepare for a family Christmas on Sunday.

We would attend church together as a family Christmas Eve, all dressed up in our special Christmas outfits.  We were going to be the Advent family at church that night and read the Bible passage, light the Advent wreath, and say the prayer.  We were going to take a family picture in the front of the Christmas tree... like the one we took last year when I was a million (well, 35) weeks pregnancy with the twins.  Then we were all going to go to sleep in our own home and hope that Santa would come.

We were going to gather at the top of the stairs at our Rifle home Christmas morning and run downs the stairs together to see if Santa arrived.  We were going to take our time as a little family of five and open presents from Santa, and each other, and from our family across the country.  We were going to cook a turkey and mashed potatoes, and green beans, and eat them on paper plates because it means less dishes for me on the Holiday.

Then, we were going to have a whole nother week to just spend as a family in Colorado and reconnect before we jump into a new year, and having two one-year-old toddlers, and a three-year-old toddler.  We were going to take the kids swimming at a nearby rec center.  We were going to plan a day when the baby-sitters would have our kids and Hubby and I would have a date.  We were going to build snowmen with the Christmas snow.  We were going to watch football, and nap when the kids nap, and take a little break from our diet, and just plug in as a family for some quality time just the five of us.

Oh... my plans.

Where do I even start on how these plans did not come about?

I guess I'll start with the fact I'm writing this blog post from St. Louis -- so we clearly did not make it back to Rifle on Thursday, December 22nd.  Everything above that I wrote that we would do in Rifle from the 22nd on has not happened.  The Christmas Eve service, the gathering at the top of the stairs, the naps, the turkey, the date, the rec center, the plugging in for quality time just the five of us... NADA.

What has happened is that not only did we find ourselves needing to buy a vehicle unexpectedly, so we decided we would have better buying options in St. Louis than in Rifle... but all of our children (and I) got sick in multiple ways right before, on, and after Christmas.  So, while being in St. Louis for Christmas would have made a lovely Plan B because of all the family we have here... we were put under quarantine, and kindly discouraged from participating in any family activities (and church services) on December 23rd, 24th, 25th, and 26th.  We might as well have been in Colorado for as much family as we were allowed to see.

Oh... my plans.

Now, Santa did find us in St. Louis and fill our stockings with a few treats.  And our Christmas dinner consisted of delicious chicken noodle soup and corn bread that Aunt Becky made for the sick-oes.

We still will do a Christmas morning of some sort out in Rifle because we still have a lot of lovely gifts from extended family waiting for us there... and a beautiful tree waiting to be enjoyed.  I'm not sure when we will get back there, but I will be the first to admit, there are many worse places we could be around Christmas.  I do wish my children were feeling better, but we are together, we are with Chris' parents (merrily sharing our germs with them), and, as always, we are warm, safe, and fed.  A Christmas not at all according to my plans, but incredibly blessed nonetheless.

Finally, after days of fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, pink eye, coughing, and sniffles (that's right, we ran the spectrum), I was very happy to get this picture of my little ones in pajamas in front of the tree.  It wasn't on Christmas morning, they're not all in Christmas pajamas, and its not our beautiful tree in Rifle, but it is from our Christmas 2016 foiled plans, sick babies and all.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Greetings

Christmas Greetings to you and your family from our Crazy Mountain Miller Crew.

Our Christmas Letter 2016:

What a crazy start to the year we had this year as Chris insisted on driving me to the hospital in the wee hours of January 1st, New Years Day morning.  It’s a good thing he did so, because our twins were born a few short hours later – Howard at 8:41am, and Caroline at 8:45am.  They were the first babies born in our county in 2016, and were even featured in the local newspaper.
After that very eventful start to the year, we have pretty much been in a crazy place ever since then.  When I think back on this year, I’m surprised at how much of it I don’t remember given that I’m pretty sure I’ve been awake for most of it.
Our rambunctious Tracey Ann is almost three and loves being a big sister.  She keeps Howard and Caroline in check and is very quick to inform Mama of any mischief “Howlard” and “Airoline” are doing.  She is such a little chatterbox and likes to pretend she is a doctor or a cook.  She has been attending a Montessori toddler program a few mornings a week for almost a year and is thriving.
Our little Caroline Christine is such a sweetheart.  She is very social and loves new people.  She adores her brother and sister, and our animals, Lexie and Lloyd.  She has so much fun keeping up with Howard and Caroline, and can walk around pushing toys.  She also loves to laugh.
As our only boy, Howard James, has his hands full with his two sisters.  He makes it his goal to try to keep up with Tracey, try to look out for Caroline, and keep a skeptical eye on any new person in our midst.  He climbs on everything possible, and loves to explore -- cupboards, drawers, boxes, rooms and more.
We wish you, our dear friends a very Merry Christmas a joyful holiday season.  Truly, this is such a special and miraculous time of year.  Christmas joy and traditions have been so much fun the past few years with our daughter, Tracey, and this year, the laughter and smiles and chaos is multiplied with eleven-month-olds, Howard and Caroline joining in the fun.
We have been so blessed this year to watch our three healthy children grow and learn together and become happy close siblings.  As we thank God for our beautiful children, we are so very thankful that God sent His own son to earth as a baby to be our savior through His death on the cross.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Joy To The World

A few weeks ago, our Pastor preached a message at church which included some information about the Christmas Carole, Joy To The World.  I love this Christmas Carol and look forward to singing it at church each year.

Apparently, this hymn was not written for Jesus' birth, but is actually written about Jesus' second coming.

I will now have a very different heart when I sing this song... and really I'll feel like I can sing it year round.  Take a look at the lyrics, now with the idea of Jesus' return to Earth, for His Eternal Kingdom in the future:

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Joy To The World...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Professional Family Pictures - St. Louis

While all of the kids and grandkids were in St. Louis, my mother-in-law took the opportunity to get a professional photographer to come take family pictures.

It was a funny experience trying to get eight adults, three toddlers, and four infants to look nice, happy, and organized.

Here are some of my favorite pictures:

... and...

they're done. 


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

One Word

USING ONLY ONE WORD! It's harder than you think!

 1. Where is your cell phone?  Nearby

2. Your hair?  Straight

3. Your dad?  Great

4. Your feet?  Stocking

5. Your favorite food?  Yum!

6. Your dream last night?  Deep

7. Your favorite drink?  Water

8. Fear?  Bummer

9. Your mother?  Amazing

10. Your career?  Motherhood

11. Your vehicle?  Reliable

12. Your home away from home?  No

13. Where were you last night?  Family

14. Something that you aren't?  Rested

 15. Muffins?  Sure

 16. Wish list item?  Financial

17. Where you grew up?  Innocence

18. Last thing you did?  Kissed

19. What are you wearing now?  Comfy

20. Your TV?  Off

21. Your pet?  Home

22. Friends?  Far

23. Your life?  Lovely

25. Missing someone?  Always

Sunday, December 18, 2016

So Different

Yesterday did not go according to plan.

The plan was to sleep in a hotel near the Denver Airport, get up at 3:30am, catch a shuttle to the airport at 5:00am, and take a plane to St. Louis at 7:55am.

We spend the night at a hotel near DIA... although not much sleeping occurred.  Hubby and I got up at 3:30am, and by 4:00am we realized that our flight to St. Louis had been cancelled due to inclement weather in Denver, and all throughout the Midwest.

Hubby could not get through the Southwest phone line, so he went to the airport to talk to someone in person to try to get us on another flight while I stayed at the hotel, with our (finally) sleeping children.

Hubby said he has never seen a crowd and chaos at an airport like he saw at DIA that morning.  There would be no talking to anyone in person unless he was willing to spend hours in line behind hundreds of people.

He came back to the hotel and towed a few people out of snow banks on the drive.  In doing so, the 4-Wheel drive went out on his car, and he ended up snowed in trying to pull back in the hotel parking lot.

I was all ready to scrap the trip to St. Louis (it really was a MISERABLE night in the hotel) and head back to Rifle but without a working truck, we weren't going anywhere -- literally.  We couldn't go back to Rifle, we couldn't even have a fun day in Denver.

So, Hubby booked us on a flight for early Sunday morning, and we hunkered down at the hotel ALL DAY.

Now, I will admit that there are many worse places we could have had to spend the day stranded with our three children... but Hubby and I were both exhausted, and it was definitely not all fun and games at the hotel.  We got through, and everyone felt better after an nap and after ordering some food... but I couldn't help but imagine how different the day might have been if Hubby and I had been stranded in a hotel together WITHOUT our three wonderful children.

If Hubby and I had found ourselves stranded for 36 hours in a hotel together with literally no where to go we would have done the following:
  • SLEPT!  Oh, we would have slept and slept and slept!  We probably would have slept through breakfast... and then we would have taken a nap in the afternoon as well.  And, we would have gone to bed incredibly early because of our early flight the next day.  Oh, the sleep we would have gotten!
  • Read!  I would have read a Christmas book and a magazine that I have brought with me different places throughout December and have not been able to crack open yet.
  • Swam!  Hubby and I would have swam together... just the two of us without babies, and floaties, and children getting cold.
  • Movies and Television!  We would have vegged out just the two of us, and watched the movies that we like on Netflix (instead of Mickey Mouse and Masha & Bear), and watched the television we like (instead of Cartoons).
Of course, we love our children and are happy to have them with us... but someday maybe Hubby and I will be stranded in a hotel together without any dependents (with our children safely in the care of someone we trust) and we will definitely appreciate that forced R&R in a new way if and when it ever occurs.
Please keep us covered in prayer for safe and smooth travel today.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Beep Beep

I don't go to the grocery store very often, and I go even less often with all of our children.  But, with the Christmas rush this week of getting presents put together for teachers and colleagues, I wound up at the store a few times with our whole crew.

Apparently, I need to get used to driving the oversized carts at the store from now on:


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pretty Funny

This video made me laugh pretty hard... if men breastfed:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Not Our Christmas Card

These pictures are not featured in our Christmas card this year... but they sure are cute:


Sunday, December 11, 2016


Howard and Caroline can play peek-a-boo on their own these days...