December 31, 2013

Top 10 of 2013

I feel ashamed.  I really do.  I usually do our annual Top 10 of the previous year on New Year's Eve (once I think I did it on New Year's Day, but dated it so that it at least looked like New Year's Eve*...).  This year we are almost 2 weeks into the new year and no Top 10 post.  I almost decided not to do it at all.  I just couldn't find the time to go through every post, and write down my favorites, and cut out all but 10, and then rate them in the order of my favorite.  But I found myself with some "free" time tonight (read: I was tired and I didn't want to clean or exercise), so I decided to do the Top 10 post, but do it differently.  This year it isn't MY personal Top 10, it is the Top 10 posts based on how many times they were viewed.

That's right.  Blogger tells me how often you** click on and read each post. 

So here are the Top 10 most viewed posts of 2013 (click on the underlined, highlighted portion to go to each post):

10.  The Greatest Show on Earth - Our trip to the Big Top with Poppy, Nana, & the Beauties.
9. Another Week of Thankfulness - The most recent of the bunch and part of our 30 Days of Thankfulness.  Some of my favorite memories of the year!
8. April Snapshot - I love the snapshots too!  And you've gotta love a post that ends with both of them crying...
7. April Showers - A kind of random assortment of activities and interesting things that kept us busy during a very rainy April.
6. Cousin Sleepover - Truly one of my favorite weekends of the year.  I had so much fun with these 4 kiddos!
5. Bits of Tid: Preschool Edition - I love this one too.  Especially the videos of them reading.  They've been making even more books lately, and it is so much fun.  Is anyone else obsessed with how amazing it is to watch a child learn to read?!
4. Where Have We Been? - This should probably be the title of all my recent posts *hangs head in shame*  Now that Lucas doesn't have his class, we haven't been staying in-town each week.  I sort of miss our afternoon adventures!
3. The Mama & The Slipper: A Story of Love & Temporary Insanity - Ah, the lengths a mother will go to (and the temporary insanity that it my cause) to make their children's dreams a reality!  Funny story, I was in the preschool to take pictures and discovered that Allie wasn't wearing her slippers anymore!  Apparently, they are allowed to just wear their socks, and she liked skipping the step of putting the slippers on, so she just went without.  After all that work...
2.  Camping - This was definitely at the top of our list too.  Allie and Ryan started reminiscing in the van just a few days ago about our camping trip.  Allie told me all of the details of the "Bear Hunt," and Ryan talked about going fishing (and not catching any fish...wah, wah).  And I love, love, love the video of Allie singing her "Bike Ride" song.  True story - we went a lot more bike rides, and she sang the song at some point on almost every single one!
1. The Lake House - Truthfully, I'm not sure what happened here.  a normal post gets between 13-20 views.  The high posts were in the 50-60 range.  A few posts got near the 100 view range because I posted the link on facebook.  But this post got 453 views.  Over 300 more than the #2 post.  I can't help but wonder if something went wrong here (or if we somehow ended up in the top of the google search results for bee allergies...or something worse...).  Honestly, we look back on this week as one of the most traumatic of the year.  But there were so many blessings.  Finding out that Allie was allergic to bees when we were there to take action and had lots of Benadryl on hand.  Having friends in the medical profession who answer their texts right away - and amazing technology that lets the confidently diagnose from miles, and hours, away.  A fun night together at a hotel (not something we do often).  School shopping with the kiddos to kill time (they got to pick out the clothes - and those pieces are still their favorites!)  A wonderful time at the end of the week with Uncle Duck & Aunt Debbie.  A wonderful reminder for the year to come that in the midst of life's most stressful moments, there are still some amazing silver linings!

Finally, to keep up with the (newer) tradition of including some photos (and to try to atone for taking SO long to get up the Top 10 post), here are some photos of the twins on New Year's Eve.
 Lucas bought a New Year's Eve party kit at a garage sale this past summer for $0.50.  I thought it was a silly purchase at the time, but when he pulled it out and I saw the hats, cups, plates, napkins, beaded necklaces, and party blowers all still in plastic wrapping I agreed it was a great idea!
The kids loved the party blowers, but they had to stop with them once the cousins arrived because the youngest Beauty was already sleeping.
The "older" cousins got a special movie night in the twins' room - complete with a special cozy spot to snuggle in and special snacks!  The hope was that they would fall asleep watching the movie.  They didn't.  While they did not get to stay up to ring in the new year, they did get to stay up much closer than I would have normally allowed.  The perks of a cousin sleepover!
My favorite thing about this post is that I look back and really see how amazing the past year has been.  It makes me excited for a new year full of new experiences, adventures, and memories.  Here's to an amazing 2014!

* I'm totally going to date this post so that it looks like it was posted on December 31st too!  My OCD  just can't allow me to have this post in a NEW YEAR when it has been the closing post of every other year...

**It doesn't tell me how often you personally click on each post...just how many times someone somewhere has clicked on each post.  No worries.  I'm not spying and/or keeping track!

December 30, 2013

A Miller Christmas Carol

Oops.  Somehow I missed documenting all of Christmas.  It was a busy December...So, here it is in short form with Christmas Carol Titles:

"See Amid the Winter's Snow"
We drove 2 hours to see live reindeer and all Allie wanted to do was make snow angels (we didn't have any snow near us yet)
"The Friendly Beasts"
Everyone got a chance to pet "Prancer."
"5 Little Christmas Trees"
The twins School program.  Ignore the crazy eyes.  Taking pictures from far away and needing the flash means really strange red-eye corrections...
 "Les Anges dans nos campagnes"
Since their school director is Canadian, several of the songs were in french.
"Jolly Old Saint Nicholas"

 "Christmas Train"

 "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
Waiting for the Puppet Show.
 As usual, not sure about the (friendly) in the puppet show.
"Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer"
The church Christmas Program "Christmas Around the World."
 "Oh Christmas Tree"
Ryan essentially sang a solo.
 "Santa Lucia"
Following the lead of the older girls, Allie sang so quietly no one could hear.
 "Joy to the World!"
I love my little carolers!
"It's Christmas Day"
 "Christmas Present"
 "We Three Kings"
Or 2 Super Heroes and a Princess...

"Silent Night"
While the adults finished dinner, the twins snuggled on the couch with their new Curious George book and read together for longer than we all expected!
Our Christmas was wonderful.  Full of more stories and adventures than I could even recount (like the night when we housed 13 people and 1 dog due to an ice storm that knocked out the power at Lucas' brother's).  One of the best I can remember.  We hope yours were all the same, and here's to a few more posts in the new Year!

December 08, 2013

Clearing the Card

The memory card, that is.  As promised, here are some of the pictures from our Thanksgiving and Post-Thanksgiving Adventures
Ryan making the Apple Pie.  He did most of the work for the apple pie filling (and some of the crust).
(Watching Curious George while the grown up watch football/cook).
Getting our tree.
The wagon ride out to the lot with the trees we wanted...which ended up being far from the lot with the trees we wanted...but Ryan's favorite part nonetheless.
Allie found this stick and called it her "reindeer costume." I was unable to get a picture the rest of the day without her holding that in front of her face.
Not wanting to squash their eagerness to help, I sorted all of the breakable ornaments out and let them decorate with the rest.  Completely squashing my natural inclination to control (and thereby squash their eagerness), I let them decorate as they wanted with minimal input.

They even got to use the step stool so they could reach more of the tree (since, thankfully, the majority of our ornaments are relatively unbreakable).

And a few outtakes from our attempt at a classic "Picture in Front of the Tree"
The "Don't-Mess-With-Our-Tree" look.  Serious and Menacing.
"The Stinker"
Note: He is not doing what it might look like in this picture.  He was sort of dancing around, and she was making pretend mustaches with her finger...and then we ended  up with this gem where he lifted his leg while her finger was still up by her nose...
December came on fast and furious.  We've been doing our best to pare down and say no to anything that causes undue stress...but we've still been crazy busy.  I will certainly do my best to post, but first I have to remember to take my camera with me (which I haven't done for any of our December adventures yet...)!

December 01, 2013

From Thanks...

And with a's all over.  How could the month have gone that quickly?
We left our month of Thankfulness with a little hesitation.  Of course, the month that is to come is one of our favorite of the entire year.  But we all seemed to enjoy documenting our gratitude.  I'm thinking Thanksgiving in June might need to become a real thing...
Twinner photography.
Allie trying to capture the moving bus.
Ryan captures the front of a pickup.
November 22:
Ryan: Mommy. Seriously, for all of the kisses I gave him every time he said me, and for as much as he claims to hate kisses, one would think he might have stopped saying me.  But he didn't.  Love that boy.
Allie: Ryan.  Apparently, she loves him too :)
Me: Productivity.  Not only was the holiday officially a week away, but the next day we were having this big fundraising carnival/festival for the twins preschool.  And since our church has one, and I have lots of experience, I volunteered to help...more than I anticipated actually.  I had a lot of things to cross off my list, and (with a lot of help from Lucas who kept the kiddos occupied) I was able to finish them all!
Allie is taken with a grouping...
 ...while this one captures Ryan's attention.
November 23:
Ryan: My Treats.  The prize bags at the Preschool Festival were awesome.  Filled with lots of treats - both candy and some cool little toys!  My kiddos were thrilled for sure.
Allie: Ryan.  She's consistent.
Me: An Awesome Fall Festival.  The girl who organized it was amazing and organized and things went so smoothly.  Lots of people came.  Everyone had fun.  Setup and cleanup were a breeze.  And we raised more money than we had hoped!  Way more!  More than double what we were hoping to raise!
My picture of them taking a picture.  It shouldn't come as a surprise that they love taking pictures of each other taking pictures...
November 24:
Ryan: Mommy.  I was beat out by treats the night before, but apparently they only hold their appeal for so long :)
Allie: Mickey Gummies.  These are their gummy vitamins.  They had just finished a jar of Monsters U Gummy Vitamins, and picked out new Mickey Mouse gummies.  Opening a new jar of gummies is very exciting.
Me: Worship Service.  I lead the Children's Church program at our church.  It only happens every other week because otherwise I would never get to be in the worship service.  With the twins being sick the last Sunday I was supposed to have "off," and us adding an impromptu CC the time before that I was supposed to be "off," it had been a while since I had been able to be in church for the entire service.  I love getting to sing all of the songs, hear the sermon, and be part of the special time of welcoming new members!  I LOVE doing the Children's Ministry, but sometimes it feels good to be part of the grown up worship service!
The pictures they captured while I was taking their picture...
November 25:
Ryan: Mommy.  On this night he told me that he would be thankful for me every night for the rest of the month.  Aw.
Allie: Racey & Mickey Mouse.  Our fish.  The twins have been trying to teach them "tricks."  They are convinced their fish listen.  I think the fish just tend to do the same thing when they think they are going to be fed...which is any time someone comes near their tank...
Me: Baking.  Now, a smart person would use their last full day before company arrives to clean...I chose to use it making a gigantic mess.  I was a bread baking fiend and pumped 11 loaves out (some to give to the teachers at the preschool, some to freeze for later).  In my defense, at the time I was making the bread I didn't know for sure that company was arriving the next day...but even if it had I would have probably still done the same thing!
They were obsessed with pictures of the inside of mailboxes (the part for the papers, I did not let them open the neighbors' actual mailboxes!)
Once I saw these pictures large and on our screen, I was completely freaked out by the giant nest in the back corner.  I'm thankful it was cold enough that we didn't disturb any stinging creatures!
November 26:
Ryan: Nana & Poppy.  Nana & Poppy arrived today.
Allie:  Nana & Poppy.  We were all very excited.
Me: Nana & Poppy.  They weren't sure until that very morning that they were going to make it down that day, but it ended up working out!  They came down early so they could catch the twins' swim lessons.  It was fun to have the "surprise" extra day with them!
Allie was obsessed with getting parts of signs.
November 27:
Ryan: Pie I Made.  I'm glad he is proud of his accomplishments.  And he did do the majority of the work for the apple pie we made for the next day.   But has anyone else noticed that I lost my place?
Allie: Nana & Poppy.  Another great day with the grandparents!
Me: Fun & Productive Day.  We went shopping and picked up some Christmas gifts.  We went shopping and picked up some much needed items to fix some things in our house.  We went to the library and returned our (soon to be overdue) books and picked up the books we needed to round out our Book Advent Calendar.  We cooked up a storm and put together all of the main dishes for the next day so that all I needed to do was pop them into the oven when the time came.  And we played games and enjoyed some fun time with Nana & Poppy.  Such a good day!
Ryan was focused on the construction site and all ofthe vehicles!
November 28:
Ryan: Thanksgiving.  He loved it all - the family visiting, the fun playing with cousins, the Curious George movie we got from the library for the cousins to watch when the grown ups were all busy, the food, the desserts...EVERYTHING.
Allie: Thankful Tree.  She loves our fun activity to record our thankfuls, and seemed to really get that it all centered around the holiday.  It was so fun that it really all tied together for her this year!
Me: Time with family.  My brother, his wife, and a friend of their from Spain stopped in for a bit.  Nana & Poppy were there, of course.  And Lucas' brother, his wife, and their 2 girls came for the day.  I enjoyed the time with all of them.  I loved hanging out and watching football.  I loved catching up on each other's lives.  I loved cooking - for them and with them.  I loved hearing the kids laugh together (and even scream together - as long as they were screams of delight).  I loved it all.  By 6:30, everyone was gone and I walked through my empty, clean house and thought, "It went to fast."  It never feels like enough time...I wonder if it ever will...
Allie trying to get a picture of nature.
November 29:
Ryan: Tractor Ride.  We went to pick out our Christmas tree and the farm where we go takes you out to the field to get your tree in a wagon pulled by a tractor.  This was Ryan's favorite part.  Unfortunately, they took us to the wrong place and where we wanted to be was so close to the main building that we didn't get to ride it back.  Thankfully, we didn't realize it in the beginning and got the ride at all!
Allie: Cinderella.  My theory is that she was trying to think of something and turned to see the Cinderella magnet on the fridge.  Perhaps it is her Cinderella doll that she sometimes sleeps with at night.  Regardless, she loves Cinderella. 
Me: Tree Trimming.  I think this might have been the least stressful tree year ever.  I'm not sure what made the difference.  We got the tree and set it up.  I strung the lights and it went quickly.  Then I let the twins hang up all the ornaments that weren't breakable.  I even let them use the step stool so they could cover more of the tree.  I only decorated the top 1/3 of the tree (with the breakable ornaments).  Maybe that's why.  Then, even though it was already bedtime, we put on our fireplace dvd (it makes me SO sad that the twins will never remember when we lived in the house that had a REAL fireplace) and made hot chocolate (with lots of yummy add-ins because we had marshmallows and whip cream left over from Thanksgiving and candy canes that were from Nana).  We drank our hot chocolate in front of the "fire" with only our tree lights lighting the room.  The perfect start to the Christmas season!
 November 30:
Ryan: Mommy & Daddy.  Aw.
Allie: My Family.  Another Aw!
Me: Ryan & Allie.  I don't know if it was because we were charting the month through our thankfuls, or if it was because the holidays are upon us, or if it was because of our busy schedule, but the month flew by.  Faster than believable.  And I found myself thinking, "It's gone.  An entire month gone."  Those moments when I become so aware of how quickly time is passing are so bittersweet.  They remind me to stop.  To savor.  To really enjoy every moment.  But they remind me that so many moments are gone, and the rest will go by more quickly than I want.  I am so thankful for Ryan and Allie.  For all of the joy, laughter, adventure, and love they bring to every day.  Being their mommy is amazing, and I am thankful for every single moment.

And thus ends our month of Thankfulness.  Hopefully, our attitude of gratitude will extend far into the month of December.
Note: I do have pictures of many of the events and adventures mentioned above, but, due to our busy schedule of late, they are still in my camera.  So I will post them later.  And more of Allie's pictures are featured than Ryan's because Ryan - thinking he was "sending" pictures to all of his friends, deleted most of the pictures he took...