Sunday, October 23, 2016

not dead

I think I've mentioned a few thousand times before that I hate not posting on the regular. Yes, even missing a week gives me a case of the violent shakes. Detachment? No - I've never heard of it and I'm not interested in living my best life with intentionality. Give me Internet or give me e-death on a padded platter. JK...ish. ;) 

Way back in 2009 I started blogging, back when every newly married couple felt the need for an online journal. I think blogging has kind of taken a backseat to other social media platforms, but I've kept it up for the past seven years and just sent all my posts (minus this years...those I'll do in December) to be turned into six books and I am SO proud of myself for preserving snippets of our family history and as I go back and read the posts, my heart swells with gratitude for the life we've been given. Our life is not exciting enough to probably merit documentation day, after day, after day in painful detail (ha!), but I believe that all the mundane, messy, seemingly insignificant hours, there is really so much that we want to remember and never forget. Truthfully that's why I hate when I get behind here. 

And speaking the mundane, messy and insignificant moments, here's one for you.

The polite and thoughtful thing to do would be to just breeze right over the little stomach bug/cough cold combo/pink eye epidemic that rocked our world the past few weeks but...I can't. I knew that with school starting the germs would get us at anytime and I'd been waiting for it to hit us and when it did it was actually brutal but mercifully swift (well not the pink eye) and since it worked it's way up directly from youngest to oldest Jake and I (youngest spouse first!) were last to be hit. 

At one point one child was sick with no appropriate receptacle to be found anywhere around us and so I asked someone else to run and grab a bowl. They came proudly bounding back with a colander. 

 God has a great sense of humor. A great sense of humor indeed.

On to better things!

The weather! (I said better, not more important. ;)) We're on the tail end of monsoon season and their accompanying dust storms which means the heat is breaking and my deodorant consumption is declining.  It's been super windy and what Rhett describes as, "wonderful weather" because he's a winter lover and hates to be hot - the apple fell far from the tree there. 

There is a direct correlation between how hard the wind blows and how much the boys wild side comes out. 

There is also a direct correlation between the gusts of wind and how perturbed Ben gets when his ears blow around. 

And the sunsets lately are UNreal. Jake usually is not on board with taking pictures of the following: food, nature, clouds, and zoo animals but even this sunset could not stop the stingy photographer from whipping our his cellular device. 

Anyway, no one has ever used the words "early bird" and "Julia Miller" in the same sentence so these sunrise pics are basically priceless. 

In my life before the boys I was an avid mountain biker and for the first time in forever, I'm not pregnant and it's not a ungodly temperature outside. 

I'm sure you were jonesing to see a mountain side selfie complete with helmet head AND lazy 5:30AM eyes and I always aim to please.

And um, it was/is awesome to be back out. If you had told me pre-kids or maybe even shortly after Rhett was born that I would enjoy a a predawn workout as much as I did - I might've believed you, I guess. But I don't think I would've fully grasped what a rare luxury it is to see the sun come up NOT because a child was overeager to great the day.

The boy's temperaments and Beck's nap graciously combined forces with the food truck gods to set up fun camp at the library near our house on Friday night(s). So we grabbed our biggest and greasiest appetites and walked down to rub shoulders with/gawk at all the cool cats from our hood.

We've learned that the boy's are only a smidgen more open minded to festive things to eat so we typically feed them ahead of time and let them get their favorite food truck treat, overly expensive cotton candy. Rad's love food. The deep fried Twinkie is mine.

There is a great family vide at the food festival. One food trucker even brought out big cups of ice water for the kids which they thought was THEE coolest, plus there were free bubble guns so that only added to the fun-o-rama.

Proof that we keep those childhood standards low, fellow parents. Niiiiiice and LOW.

More proof?

A one time dip into a bucket has turned into Beck's favorite afternoon delight. 

Letting the boys "wash" the van is an activity that I fully support because it keeps them entertained for well over 27 minutes, but Jake doesn't always agree. Getting sprayed by the hose usually dampens (ha ha ha) his mood. 

"Please make sure I'm not in the shot." 
"Delete that picture you just took." 
"Crop my face out." 

Sorry Jake-ster. The blog loves you. ;)

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Monday, October 3, 2016

look at us now: family pictures

My sweet photographer friend Nicole has the patience of an army of saints and took well over a million photos (only a slight exaggeration) of the Miller clan a few weekends ago and here were the results of her sweat and toil. :) (You can see the full album HERE if you have nothing more pressing to do today. Big big winks.)

Rhett and Rad and their twin temperaments. We have a dozen photos here, but Beck kept bolting so we moved shoot locations...

It pleased the runner. 

Not really.

Rad had a 48 picture limit. We pushed him though.

And he pushed back. So did Rhett who views himself as the chief regulator of rules slash artistic director.

All you families with the cutest candids and smiley snaps, how do you DO it? We are missing a key ingredient here.

And then us importants showed the crazies how it's done.



Double boom. 

Kidding. Nicole made is look extra fancy.

And! Miracle of miracles....this one isn't terrible.

And by not terrible I mean ABSOLUTELY my favorite picture ever!! I mean come on...everyone smiling?? The secret to this mega watt smile snap? Rad tooted riiiiight before Nicole clicked. Yep.

And speaking of Rad, I don't play favorites with the turkeys but man some pictures of him are just melting my heart.

But who am I kidding, so are these of Rhett and Beck. Goobers all of them. The best goobers ever in my totally non-biased opinion. 

And what kind of pet owners would we be if we didn't include handsome Ben? It's totally normal. Ish.

He'll be a year old in a few weeks and you better believe we'll have a little p.a.r.t.y. for the ball of fluff.  

Godspeed to all you family photographers out there in the wild. I hope you go buy yourself a monstrosity of a trophy after every shoot and have a massive trophy room to enjoy while you heavily edit cantankerous two year olds and protesting babies.

You totally deserve all the respect and applause.

PS. Nicole also did our last family pictures (HERE) when Rad was younger then Beck is now. So cliche, but freaking WHERE DID THE TIME GO? Sob. And a maybe a slight sigh of relief if I'm being honest. We have loved and thrived/survived these stages but we know there is so much to look forward too. :)

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tuesdays and Thursdays with Beck

Beck might act like he wants to be one of the big kids and drag a backpack as big as he is around, but he loves coming home from our after drop off walk/run around the hood to a whole house full or possibilities. All of Rad's stuffed animals! ALL of Rhett's drawers loaded with trinkets/crap to peruse! Mom's lap ALL to himself while his furry brother takes his morning nap!

^^^An errands run made me erroneously think that tossing my aaalllmost empty tube of concealer would appease the grumpy toddler. Turns out almost empty means quite a bit of damage can still be done when you're Beck.     

The goodest life.

Or as Beck would say, "dee" or maybe, "bah" or if he's feeling generous, "ma"

Syllables rule, words drool.

And if we're up for an adventure we might go hang out in the front yard and wave at passing cars.

Here Beck is saying one of his favorite monosyllabics, "cheeeeeee"

He's going through the "most exasperating but most endearing" child phase - also known as, "being 18 months old" but he's also so happy to just puppy dog around and say 3-4 grunt/word phrases that I do not understand, but pretend that I do.

A few of his favorite time passers when his brothers are away:

+ The carwash...he is obsessed and simultaneously hyperventilates and lights up like a little bulb every time he sees the entry.

+ Pushing his umbrella stroller around the house on his tippy toes veryyyyyyyy fast....very funny.

+ When he's not pushing the stroller around the house, he is equally thrilled to be on the receiving end and loves long walks around the neighborhood. And to get the mail. I let him hold the junk mail and he feels all kinds of adult-ish.

+ Backing up his diapered bottom to sit squarely on Ben (usually who is deep asleep) and the proceed to kiss and cherish Ben to death. Ben is usually unfazed.

+ Maybe Ben is unfazed by Beck's grandiose gestures of affection because he knows if he tolerates it long enough, Beck will sneak feed him toothpaste right from the tube. You'd think the 31 year old mother would learn where to hide the toothpaste so that the 18 month old doesn't find it but...he does...every time.

+ Has been borderline obsessed with hunting down leaves and sticks in our yard (rain or shine) lately.

+ Confess that he has a great unadulterated love of throwing all things sacred into the garbage can. The remote, shoes, mom's sport's bras, the nail clippers, toys, bottles of salad dressing etc. Me thinks the apple doesn't fall from the tree, I also love to declutter and toss stuff, but it's too soon to tell.

+ Sir Beck would also like to confess that his new favorite trick is to insist (non-verbal grunt style) on wearing Rad's clothes and only Rad's clothes from head to toe even if it means slowly d-r-o-w-n-i-n-g his thunders in his brother's shorts because he knows he'll freak. He learned from the best: his nemesbrother.

+ He has also picked up (or seems to) that Jake and I are somewhat concerned about his lack of a vocabulary and we frequently prompt him to say simple words like, "yes"  "no" "mama" "dada"...the toddler essentials. He is usually unamused and responds with side eye and blowing a raspberry. But! If he's feeling generous and succeeds with repeating the prompt he claps for himself and awards himself a high-pitched giggle -scream.

^^^ He's going through his mullet phase. I can't figure out how/when to cut all the wisps. I'm half tempted to shave it all off but then Jake brings up a valid point that it might take another 18 months for any hair to grow back. fell asleep?
You don't like hearing about other people's baby's tricks? ;)

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Friday, September 16, 2016

the lemonade stand

I've tried lots of kid-fun activities (I see you, Pinterest) that always look so great but usually don't either a. hold the boy's interest for enough time to make it worth it or b. never end up happening because my ambitious goals to launch myself to mother of the century fall victim to reality.

But the truth is that all the boys need is love and something to DO.

So last Saturday, Rhett, Rad and their friends Everett and Breckie experienced that rite of passage in childhood by doing a lemonade stand.

The little entrepreneurs. They had big dreams of all the childhood luxuries they would buy with the 8,371 monies (Rhett's estimation) they earned until philanthropic mom made signs that said FREE. Although I'm sure our prime retail location, streamlined lemonade making (Crystal light packets and water bottles. Styrofoam cups...ain't nobody want to deal with that) and our awesome treat selection (bags of chips, rice crispy treats and Dum Dums) would have brought in the big bucks, I didn't really want to deal with making change etc. Plus this was a great opportunity to teach them about service, kindness, yada yada.

We set up shop and I FB'd and texted anyone in our neighborhood who might want to take time out of their weekend to hit us up and low and behold after about 15 minutes of quite and Rhett frantically waving down slash chasing cars that passed us by, the masses descended on us. We even had four random Good Samaritans drive by and stop to get refreshments. Bless these Good Samaritans hearts, they we're quite literally mobbed by all the kids who were offering all their wares. One fine gentleman had a rice crispy treat hail Mary'd into his truck by a very eager child. The kids, both those running the stand and those coming for food and beverage (well that's kind of a blurry line since the entrepreneurs where very liberal with helping themselves to their products), had a GREAT time (truly!) and the whole event lasted about two hours. Which was an hour and fifty minutes more than I anticipated.    

^^^The very early stages of the lemonade mixer. Ben became the involuntary mascot, but he wasn't complaining. Even though everyone thought he was a girl. Fluffy white dog problems.

The folks and friends in our neighborhood are nothing short of the kindest crowd. They were beyond supportive, and with their help it was a great morning.

And the best part, for this serial photographer at least, was discovering this gem when I zoomed in on a pic from the day.

I so appreciate your optimism + rosy outlook on life boys. So appreciate it. 

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

rhett and rad chat: religious edition

Usually these posts are a popurri of random thoughts (verbal outbursts) from the boys, but this time I'm tailoring it more to some of their religious musings as of late...proving that we are doing a very fine job raising good and Godly children.

After Rad offered me a bite of his dinner, but I declined because we hadn't blessed the food yet:

Rad: Why you don't want my food?
Julia: Wellll... (terrible explanation ensues)
Rad: (leans in and whispers) "Welllll, I won't tell Jesus if you have just one bite."

Looking through some old baby pictures:

Rhett: When I was in born, everyone said I looked just like baby Jesus right?

During a Family Home Evening lesson:

Jake:... and then God said
Rad: wait wait wait WAIT who is God?!

Standing up from this chalk drawing:

Rhett: Hey...I look like Jesus when he died...but happier.

In a moment of angry, volatile, disagreement:

Rad: RHETT!!!
Rad: You are badder than SATAN!!!

When I said no:

Rhett: Can I have karate lessons, some roller blades and go to Chick-fil-a?
Julia: No.
Rhett: Fine. (walks away and shrugs) I'll just go ask Jesus.

He seems to be Jesus's spokesperson:

Julia: (coming into the kitchen riiiight after waking up) Hey boys.
Boys: Hi mom.
Rhett: Nice Jesus hair mom.
Rhett: I bet He like's that you're trying to be like Him.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016


(Last) Sunday was Jake's big 31st hurrah! (read: birthday) and he (along with many, many others born that fine day - I'm sure) deserves to be recognized on his big day. Or at least as close to his birthday as his wife can pull it together on the interwebs. 

Not that I'm ever not around here, but I'm going to be honest and admit that I have become a terrible (terrible!!) last minuter when it comes to birthdays and holidays. Terrible. I can hide behind the, "oh, the kids!" for a few more special life events, but I really have to get my act together.

I also should making document special life events a priority because the only (cringe) picture I got of Jake's special day is the one gracing your screen. High quality documentation right there. But! The lack of pictures makes me think that bullet points are totally appropriate and I love pounding out a bullet point post. 

+ Jake is a fantastic hand's on dad, but my subconscious wife-alarm thought that he would probably love spending most of the day (on Saturday even though Sunday was officially the big day) without the out crazy angels. 

+ So I got a morning babysitter for a brunch (so much fancy!) and a little strollin around the area. Gotta let all that syrup settle. 

+ We came home and I grabbed the wolf pack and took them to get Jake's birthday presents (last minute McGee over here) and gave the birthday boy several hours of alone time. It took several hours because Rad kept sneaking toys into the cart to "give" to Jake. We are raising such generous boys.

+ When we got back and after a mega hasty wrap job, per Rhett's request, we played the hot-cold game to make Jake work for his very exciting birthday gifts of three work shirts and some kettle bells. Bless Jake's heart, he was genuinely excited about his paltry gifts.   

+ Up next on the birthday docket was leaving the kids with another sitter (we have the best babysitters...we owe them way more than we pay them, they are fantastic) and left the Tyrell and Jake #2 to eat copious amounts of chips and salsa at a local Mexican restaurant. Jake offered for he and I to share the nachos and queso which was a HUGE indication that he is growing up because he never wants to share food with me. So I always have to sneak it when I want to sample his meal. This was progress. 

+ Post chip consumption we went to watch the Jason Bourne movie and when we got home the boys were in bed. Always the best way to end a date night.

Despite the lack of stellar birthday gifting Jake said he loved the date time. 

Jake: That was a GREAT birthday
Julia: Well that make me really happy.
Jake: (ballading to the tune of It Must Have Been Love) But it's OVER NAW

So happy birthday Mr 31! Welcome to the big leagues. Thank you for being the most outstanding husband to your crazy wife, the best dad to the craziest kids, and so devoted to trying to make everyone happy all while never even missing a beat. We are the luckiest clan in all of the land to have you as our head honcho. 

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

first weeks of school

Rad cracks me up on the daily (over the weekend at Costco: " hey why dey say you have your hands full?! You just pushing the cart mom!") and I'm constantly surprised by the mature side of Rhett when I find him entertaining Beck or reading a book to Rad. They cause me to stress eat a lot of semi-sweets but they're good little eggs to have around most of the time. However! I have to admit that after I drop them off at 1st grade and preschool I may just dance-walk away to the tune of freedom even with Beck still sitting in the car seat.

God bless glorified and highly educational daycare. I really couldn't do it without you.

Behold the newest first graders among the thousands that flooded their respective schools this month. Everett and Rhett have different teachers this year but still manage to spend all other waking hours of the day together. The picture on the left is from last year, the evening before Kindergarten and the one on the right from right before this school year...all of those middle of the night growing pains paid off.

The third week of school Rhett was the star student and got share exciting tidbits about himself with the class. I love this tradition, I'm sure teachers hear some of the most delightful lines from the youngsters. (Like the email I got from his teacher last year mentioning that Rhett had asked her why dad calls mom babe when mom doesn't wear diapers...) Because you know that nothing is more more interesting to a six year old then themselves. Nothing.

Because Rhett has never lacked for confidence (I hope to be more like him when I grow up) he was so exited share his poster and talents each day.

For my memory bank, from Rhett's star student week:

Favorite place to go: Sea World and the beach
Favorite animal: Mountain Lion
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite thing to do: Go to Chick fil a with my friends Everett and Breckie and practice my tricks
When I grow up I want to be: A solider
If I had one wish, I would wish for: A robot monkey
And the talent shared: His ninja moves. Obviously.

And let's talk about preschool! I didn't really do a great job prepping him for the big day, it was more of a wake up and "yay it's time for preschool!!" But the milestone day arrived and it was miles better than expected once Rad understood he got to take Rhett's old R2D2 backpack with him... because we all know how Rad feels about anything that can further enable his hoarding (treasure) habit. When prepping his backpack one morning I found it stuffed full of all of his collection of bouncy balls, Rhett's dirty socks and part of my chapstick collection. The most prepared preschooler award goes to Rad Aaron Miller.

He hearts preschool to the max. I half expected the stereotypical knee clinging/sobbing/dramatic goodbye from him, but nope he's good to jump out the van and run in solo, so next time I think I'll just stay in bed because clearly he is ready for his first cubicle in the workforce. When asked, his favorite part of preschool is "me!" (himself) and so long as he loves going we'll indulge his little narcissistic heart.

Beck is king of the castle for about 10 hours of the week as spends a good part of that time carrying a glorified backpack/tote around while waving. He also really likes to put random treasures in his bag (monkey see, monkey do) and when we're missing the lint roller, there's a good chance that it's in the bag. He's starting to talk monosyllabic shouts and now that Rhett's gone all day, I can see the beginnings of a beautiful friendship forming between him and Rad. No, that's a stretch - Rad still barely acknowledges Beck's existence, but I know they'll buddy up. At least, that's my hope.

So now that I have just Beck at home all day, every day I am feeling p-r-e-t-t-y footloose and fancy-free. And more importantly the boys are learning, thriving and are beyond thrilled with the mini art show of their projects that are on our fridge. Winning for everyone.

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