December 24, 2014

'Twas the Night before Christmas at the Miller's

'Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the house
The germs were multiplying,
faster than we could douse;
Though the flu mist was given
to the children with care,
In hopes of healthy holidays
 we never had a pray'r;
The children were propped up
all snug in recliners,
In hopes the position
would help them breath finer;
Lucas in his Hillsdale shirt,
 I in sweatpants from gap
Had just settled down
for the briefest of nap,
When out of the monitor
there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed
to see what was the matter.
Away to the twins room
I flew like a flash,
To find both the twinners
beginning to thrash.
The Christmas lights shining
on the humidifier mist
Gave a luster to the
feverish heads that I kissed,
When what to my worried
ear should I hear
But them coughing a cough
sounding very severe,
With a mother's intuition
so ready and quick,
I knew in a moment
how to tend to the sick.
More rapid than eagles
to the medicine cabinet I came,
to gather my remedies,
I know them by name:
Now Delsym! Now Hyland's!
Now Ibuprofen!  Now Zarbee's!
On Vapo Rub!  On Tylenol!
On Halls and Honey!
To the aid of the Twinners!
To their aid with my haul!
To dash away symptoms!  
Dash away one and all!
As dry  leaves that in
the wild wind fly,
I stumbled, hit an obstacle,
and stubbed my toe with a cry;
Yet to the twins room
with great speed I flew,
With arms full of remedies,
for my babies two.
And then, in a twinkling,
I measured each dose
rubbing on soothing vapor
and wiping away all things gross.
As I drew back my head,
and was turning around,
I heard one more cough,
and turned back at the sound.
They were in Christmas jammies,
with cute penguin feet,
the humid air caused their hair
to curl up tight and neat;
their favorite stuffed toys
were snuggled under their chins,
and they looked like 
the most angelic twins.
Yet signs of fevers
were making me wary!
Their cheeks were like roses,
flushed bright as a cherry!
Their droll little mouths
drawn up like a bow,
revealing baby teeth (and 2 grown up)
as white as the snow;
the stem of thermometer
placed gently 'neath tongue,
validated my fear of fevers
when brightly it rung.
I put wet washcloths on forehead,
and VapoRub on belly,
which made them scream with hate
for mentholated jelly.
I soothed them to sleep,
set glasses of water on a near shelf,
and smiled as I left them,
quite proud of myself;
A wink of my eye
and a twist of my head;
Soon sleeping on the couch
my new Christmas Eve bed.
Awakened many times
I went straight to my work,
calming coughs, soothing symptoms,
not a thing would I shirk,
even spraying saline mist
inside of their nose,
which made them scream,
and washed out things that were gross;
Then sprang back to the couch,
to sleep a small mite,
until coughs called me back
through the un-silent night.
But it was worth it when they called,
whenever I walked out of sight,
"I can't wait for Christmas, Mommy!
I love you! Night, night!"

In case you hadn't guessed, Influenza has taken over our house (despite our best efforts at prevention!).  Even worse, we've given the germs as our gift to the family who came to celebrate in our home (causing them to leave early and us to cancel our plans to visit all far away family...not only are we sorry for the unfortunate gift, we are sorry for the loss of time...).  Not our best Christmas ever, but still with plenty of moments that lived up to the anticipation.

Merry Christmas to all!

November 22, 2014

Our Month of Thankfulness: Week 3

The third week of November was our first week with all of us healthy.  You may notice the thankful list seems especially long (as does this post).  I think all of us feeling better had a lot to do with that!

This week, our favorite toy store was having a special Princess Day.  We needed to do some Christmas shopping anyway, so we decided to go.  We made the mistake of mentioning it to the kids a couple days before (not really thinking of it as the completely monumental event that it was), and they could talk of nothing else for days.  Allie was constantly asking if it was princess day yet.
Before we left.  It has been cold here, so they wrapped up in matching scarves.  Allie's is to keep her warm, Ryan's is to represent the fire he breathes!
 See, part of the event was meeting Elsa & Anna.  Lucas and I mentioned it offhand - never even thinking that our children were confident they were meeting the REAL Elsa & Anna.  Had we spent even a second thinking about it from their point of view, we would not have talked about it so casually!   They were balls of excitement from the moment they woke up.  As you can probably tell from the pictures!  They were dressed and ready to go an hour early.  Since it was princess day, but Ryan did NOT want to dress up as a princess, he decided to be a dragon...because every princess needs a dragon.  It made me think of Fairy Tale Day at the Toy Store a while back...which also made us miss the Beauties - who would have totally met us at this event and loved it!
When we got to the store, we had to park in a neighboring parking lot and there was a line to get inside.  It was completely overwhelming.  It also turned out that the princesses there were young teenagers (I think potentially relatives of staff members).  The girls did a fantastic job, but they also seemed a bit overwhelmed and didn't quite sell it.  Allie confided to me in the bathroom later that she knew they weren't the real Elsa & Anna...and then whispered that the girl dressed as Elsa didn't even have any frozen powers.  They still carried celebrity status, however, and the kids enjoyed the opportunities to get their pictures with them.  I would call the day a success!
We are THANKFUL for:
Allie & Anna
  - Bumby (Bumble's nickname)
- Daddy's Pancakes (we did this family meeting on Saturday morning just after eating Daddy's pancakes for breakfast - he makes gluten free ones for me!)
- My Brother (Allie's)
- Daddy
- Coffee (Lucas' thankful...for how it changes me...for the better!)
- Allie (Ryan's)
Allie & Elsa
- tv/video games (I will confess that this is my least favorite thankful.  They have become obsessed lately with Lucas' Nintendo - specifically Mario and the Ninja Turtles games - and Mario Kart on the Wii.  I have to ration their time - through tv tokens they earn - and we have some battles throughout the week...specifically when Ryan tells me he has nothing to do if I don't let him play.  What?!  But there are moments we have a lot of fun together with it.  So I can be thankful for those...)
- Fun game nights (This week we played games together a lot - with a marathon game night on Friday where we played 3 different board games.  So.  Much.  Fun!).
Ryan with Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey - the first time we saw him, Ryan kind of wanted to talk to him, but chickened out at the last minute and we ducked down another aisle.  The second time he told Ryan his costume was awesome and asked for a high five - which Ryan shyly gave.  Finally, Ryan mentioned he wanted a picture with him, and we caught up with him again.  Shy but determined.  I love this little guy!
- Our Family
- Daddy's hard work (We got snow over the past week - which, combined with the salt, made my job so much more difficult...and physical...and exhausting.  I mopped so much, and even spent some time scrubbing floors on my hands and knees!  Now, we needed to clean at home to get ready for Thanksgiving guests, but it was the last thing I wanted to do when I got home.  Lucas' did the lion's share, and I was so thankful!)
They had a princess parade where Mickey and the princess all went around the perimeter of the store and any princesses in the crowd could join them.  Allie did - and loved it!  We offered to let Ryan, but he said no...and then told me later he wished he had gone...but he did get to sit on my shoulders and watch the parade from above the crowd.
- Nutra Rinse (I realize this makes no sense to most people, but this is the mop rinse aid that we use when the floors are covered with salt.  Granted, I didn't know about it for the first couple of bad days, and I was at my wits end mopping and re-mopping to try to get the floors to look nice!  Then I asked the other custodians - who are so used to just switching with the seasons without thinking that they forgot I wouldn't know - and it made a HUGE difference.  I have never been so thankful for a specific cleaning solution before!)
 - God
- The whole world (In case we accidentally forget something important...)
They also were demo-ing their educational toys, and the boy showing of these invited Ryan to get inside.  He wouldn't without Allie, so here are the both of them getting ready to race to see who gets out first!
- Evan (He's come up twice now, so you might be wondering who he is.  He is one of their classmates, and has become a best friend.  Apparently, he and Ryan have decided they are brothers and he is going to marry Allie someday!)
- My house (the colder it gets outside, and the cleaner it gets inside, the more thankful we are for the home we love!)
The whole gang (Minus Mulan).  Ryan, Anna, Olaf, Merida, Elsa, and Allie (who is just a teensy bit excited if you couldn't tell...).
At our family meeting, we talked about ways we can show our gratitude all the time - especially in the  next few days as we approach Thanksgiving.  I'm hopeful that we will be filled with an attitude of gratitude and excited to see in what ways it may come out in my children!

November 14, 2014

Our Month of Thankfulness: Week 2

Somehow, the only pictures I took recently were on my phone (and some of these pictures were taken after the second week of November).  I guess I'm thankful for phones that take pictures so that I always have a camera with me...even if it doesn't take pictures that are that great!

I was sick for a good chunk of this week, so we didn't do all that much.  In fact, I pretty much just went to work, and did the bare necessities at home, and slept.  You'll see that reflected in our thankfuls.
On Mondays, one of their friends from school comes over.  We decided to try out a new park.  This awesome jeep was at the park, and the kids wanted their picture on the top! 
 - Healthy Mommy!
 - Friends at school (Especially Evan)
- My brother (Allie's thankful)
 - My sister (Ryan's thankful)
- Time with Allie & Ryan (Lucas and the kids had lots of time to hang out while I was sick - the one upside).
- My Family
- Warm, cozy house (It has been cold here, y'all)
- God & His creation (This one was the kids, but it made me so happy)
Then Allie wanted her picture alone at the top.
Another thing for which I am thankful is having a job that allows me to capture things like this:
The kindergarten teacher called me in one morning.  Allie has been really loving the magna tiles when they have indoor playtime.  On this particular day, she spent the whole playtime building a boat.  The teacher kept it intact for me to see, and then encouraged me to get my phone to take a picture.  She even let me take one with Allie once she got back to class.  The teacher said, "I think it looks a lot like a freighter."  She was shocked when I told her that it probably was since Poppy sailed on them for many years.  The teacher thought that made it even more cool!  I can't tell you how much I love getting to be a part of these little moments firsthand!
The month is speeding by.  I can't believe half of it is gone already!  It will be Thanksgiving before we know it...

November 07, 2014

A Month of Thankfulness: The First Week

November snuck up on me.  In fact, mentally, I think I'm still in September.  So, I will confess, I did not get my act together to do our usual Thankful Tree.  Wah, wah.  But I cannot let my month of Thankfulness pass by.  It is one of my favorite times of the year!

Recently, I read a book called The Secrets of Happy Families*.  I loved it.  I made Lucas read it.  He agreed that there were some great ideas.  One of our favorite ideas was a weekly family meeting - which we started this fall.  I could spend paragraphs telling you how much we love family meeting and all of the wonderful things that have come out of family meetings that have changed our family for the better.  But that isn't what this is about.  This is about how we added time in our November family meetings to share (and write down to be displayed in the dining room) the things for which we are thankful from the previous week.  There is no limit.  Everyone has to say at least one.  It has been a great way to end our time.
Attempting to get a picture with my children to send to the donors of my college scholarship who also donated money to the twins' school - enough that the Lower School is named after the donors - to thank them for the generosity.
 Here - along with pictures taken from the first week of November - are all of the things for which our family is thankful from our first week.
Sometimes no one is looking...
 We are thankful for:
Mommy & Daddy
Allie & Ryan
That we are a forgiving family (many of the items covered in our family meeting regarded or required forgiveness)
The Bowsers
Art Supplies
My Family
Church Family
My Job
Game Night & Brownie Sundaes (we always end family meeting time by playing a game together...we try to also have some sort of special treat - this night that treat was brownie sundaes).
Sometimes Mommy is the only one who isn't looking...
 Can I add that I'm thankful for family meetings?  I'm thankful for the time we spend laughing together and problem solving together and playing together.
Finally, a keeper.
We might not be taking a daily account of our blessings for which we are thankful, but hopefully our weekly list will still help us practice having an attitude of gratitude.
* I should mention that I was in no way asked to or paid for recommending or endorsing this book in any way.  I just really liked it and have found it to be beneficial for our family, so I thought I would share!

October 31, 2014


Once again, deciding on costumes for Halloween was a challenge...

Actually, the first thing Allie said she wanted to be was a pink, sparkly princess, and the first thing Ryan said he wanted to be was Spider Man, but the costumes they wanted were crazy expensive - especially considering they had changed their minds within days of deciding on those costumes!  We went through a plethora of ideas - a ladybug and a ghost, a fairy and a dragon, Mario and Princess Peach, Wild Kratts.  So many costume ideas.  I finally suggested that if they picked a costume out of our existing costume box, we could put the money I set aside toward Christmas...and more Christmas presents.  It was a pretty immediate decision to be Iron Man and Cinderella (which we already owned).

But then we went shopping for canned goods (for the aforementioned competition).  We walked into the grocery store, and immediately saw their Halloween costumes!  On sale for 40% off!  And there just happened to be a sparkly, pink princess dress and a Spider Man in their size!  $10 per costume seemed like a bargain to get the costume of their dreams!
The lesson I learned was: Always stick with their FIRST costume suggestion!
It seems to always be the one we come back to in the end.  I could save myself so much time and energy!
For a fun special treat, Nana was able to join us for Halloween this year!  We went to her house a couple years back, but this is the first time it worked for her to travel to be with grandkids (gotta love a weekend Halloween).  I don't know if the kids were more excited about getting candy, or showing off their costumes to Nana.  Halloween should totally be added to the list of holidays that should be shared with family.
Halloween day ended up being the worst weather we've had yet - freezing rain and snow showers, biting cold wind, frigid temperatures.  I told them they were going to be "Nordic" Spider Man and princess.  Instead of going house to house, or waiting in line for the trunk or treat, we decided to go to the local college campus where they were having trick or treating in the dorms!  We knew that trick or treating at the rooms of college students wouldn't be the traditional experience, but we also knew that we could minimize our time outside and spend some significant chunks of time actually trick or treating indoors - so we tried it.  It.  Was.  Awesome.  The college students dressed up (which the kids LOVED) - many of them as princesses or super heroes (which they loved even more!).  The time indoors was exactly the solace from the storm we hoped.  And it turns out that college students buy good candy - like the really good stuff - and they are very generous.  Also, Lucas and I got to take them to our old dorms - ah, the memories!
Trick or treating at  my old room!!!
All in all, we had a Halloween that fulfilled all their hopes and dreams.
Save me, Spider Man!
Now on to Thanksgiving!

October 27, 2014


I'm not sure how it happened.  Perhaps not having a computer on which I can immediately download, view, edit, and enjoy pictures leads to me taking fewer pictures?  All I know is that October is...empty...In fact, I didn't take a single picture (not even on my phone!) until the last weekend.  What?!

I planned to take some family pictures for a friend, and Lucas and the kids tagged along.  They helped me pick some spots and get my lighting adjusted ahead of time.
I love catching them when they aren't look - Allie lounging in the leaves.
 I needed a posed picture, and Daddy jumped in to help  I kind of love the (relatively candid) result.
Then, of course, Ryan want a posed picture with Daddy and the football.  I love how perfectly posed Ryan is...and Lucas has no clue what is going on!
 Finally, a snapshot - from the top of the hill - of my favorite people playing football below.
The day before was a casual dress day at school.  The kids can wear absolutely anything (well...nothing revealing or inappropriate, but my kids don't have anything like that in their wardrobe, so there isn't any worry).  Their choice (without hesitation) - Husker gear!  The 7th grade teacher is also from Nebraska (which means he is also a Husker fan).  When he sees the kids he says, "Go Big Red!" and, as Ryan said, "We like that!"  Another one of the great influences that make me so happy with our school of choice!
So, since U of M was playing MI State on Saturday, we all dressed in our Michigan gear.  We also replaced our US flag for the first time with a very special Michigan flag.  Recently, we lost one of our newly graduated youth group members in a tragic accident.  His mom, a State fan, gifted his beloved Michigan flag to us earlier in the week.  We raised the flag in honor and memory of him.
 Of course, all of this fun was immediately followed by the twins getting sick.  It was short-lived, but the kiddos and I spent what was supposed to be an exceptionally busy Sunday at home resting and getting better.  Even though the twins almost never take naps anymore, I insisted they lay down.  They asked if they could snuggle together, and I agreed (anything to force a few minutes of rest!).  A little while later, I realized that it had been completely silent in their room for a long time.  I went in to check and found them like this...

The last week was full of competitions at their school.  One being a canned food drive for a local food bank - the 2 classes with the most canned goods winning a casual day (no uniform) or an ice cream party.  The other being a fundraiser competition where classes were competing to sell the most (also to win a casual day).  This competition had a daily update of class standings, and an opportunity for the kindergarten class (1/3 the size of the other classes) to win!  We sold our hearts out, and made it to 1st place just before the final weekend!
In the end, kindergarten not only won the fundraiser competition (woohoo!), but they came in second for the canned food drive competition (which happened, I think, because the kids had no clue they were 2 competitions and kept going home saying, "We are in second place, we need more canned food!"  The kindergarten class kept coming in with BAGS of canned goods!).  Considering that no one in the school can remember the kindergarten ever winning (the poor teacher!), this was a HUGE upset.  Gotta love a good underdog story :)

Since I can, I've decided to divide October into 2 posts!  We'll let Halloween have its moment to shine.

September 30, 2014


Apparently, I'm going to pretty much stick with that whole "one post a month" thing.  Maybe I'll get a little better.  Not having a computer makes a huge difference in my time online though.  As in, almost never.  In fact, most weeks I get on once or twice to check my e-mail...and that is it.  It is nice, but also difficult to stay in touch in an online world!

Once again, our church had their annual carnival.  Once again, drenching Daddy was the twins' favorite thing.  They both got him.  In fact, watch the video the local newspaper took of Ryan soaking him here!

 There were other activities, of course
 Just like at camping, Allie took part in the greatest bonding activity in the world of girls - doing each other's hair (in this case, spraying in streaks of the same color temporary hair spray).
 In the meantime, Ryan and the guys did some simulated fire truck driving.
 Lucas and I attended the annual Charity Ball hosted by the collegiate music honorary of which I was a member and of which now I am an advisor.  And somehow, our babysitter managed to take a picture of the two of us that I don't hate (I try to post pictures of myself on occasion...but I never love them.  But this one is ok...)!
The kids look forward all year to the County Fair.
A picture for Nebraska Grandpa!
This year we spent the least amount of time at the fair, but the longest amount of time ever riding the rides...I guess we know what is important!

Did I mention Papa & Gigi were here?  They came in for the week in order to be here for Grandparents' Day at school.  
Nana & Poppy also joined us for Grandparents' Day at the school.
(Photo credit goes to Nana.  I didn't take any pictures since I was actually working the event!)
While they were here, we took the opportunity to get a picture of our divided family.
Sometimes we might fight
(although not well...look at their faces!  We couldn't even pretend to be angry at each other!)
But we always love each other.
And that was our September!