100 Days

The way I figure it, give or take a little, there are 100 days of summer break this year.  It feels like this is our first "real" summer break, mainly because last year, Amber Joy still had therapists and was still going to a group learning center two mornings per week.  This is truly our first, no-schedule, anything is possible summer.  I have to be honest...I've been terrified.  Y'all...three years old is tough.  It's tough for the kid and it's tough for the parents.  And to top it off, my parents are out of town for the entire summer!  Let me just stop right here and say that I'm a very blessed girl to have my parents less than five minutes from our house.  We see them at least every other day and they are my sanity, providing free childcare for date nights, dinners from time to time, and even just a change of scenery when we've been at home looking at each other for far too long.  So when they announced that they would be heading off to live some dreams this summer, I was none too pleased.  I know that there are lots of people out there who don't have their families close by, and they've had to make do, but one of the main reasons we moved to the 'boro was because they were here.  I'm used to having them here and it's an adjustment...for all of us.

That being said, it's time for an attitude adjustment for this mama.  I'm an extrovert, but I have the heart of an introvert.  I think...a lot.  Way too much about too many different things.  I am guilty of comparing myself to Facebook moms who look like they have it all together and all figured out.  I don't even go on Pinterest because I look at all the cool ideas and think, "I should have come up with that.  Why don't I ever think of cool things like that?"  Social media is both a blessing and curse.  My husband reminded me last night of a simple truth that I still have trouble grasping after all these years: My intrinsic value is NOT based on anything I do or don't do.  OK, show of hands...how many of you moms go to bed at night thinking about all the wonderful things you accomplished that day and did well?  Yeah, I didn't think so.  More likely, most of us go to bed thinking about the moments we lost it, left a mess, didn't get _____ done, what we still have to do tomorrow, and we feel guilty because of it.  I don't think it's just me.

So, here's my summer blog.  I'm going to use the handy dandy "edit" feature and for each day of the 100 days of summer, I'm going to post something good. (maybe a few days at a time) It may be something we do together, something funny that happens, something I'm proud of, or maybe, just maybe, it will be based on who I am and who she is...not about something we DO.  Someone told me long ago that shame and guilt are two different things:  guilt is being sorry for something we do or don't do, but shame is being sorry for who we are.  I want to teach my daughter that she never EVER needs to feel sorry for who she is.  And this summer, we're going to celebrate that little person.  And her mama.

Day #1: Playing outside with Jack Everett, Sam, and Eli, our dear friends from Taiwan and enjoying time on the front porch with their mama and daddy

Day #2: Amber Joy jumped in a jump house for the first time!

Day #3: I watched Amber Joy and Justin sleeping on the way home from Mississippi.  Thankful.

Day #4: Time with family on Memorial Day.  Laughing together.  Rubbing lotion on mosquito bites.

Day #5: Remembering the gifts I can offer as a chaplain.  Recalling hospice stories.

Day #6: First time at the YMCA pool. Thinking how quickly she's changing...

Day #7: Staying home.  On purpose.  Trains, books, forts out of couch cushions, baths, dress-up, singing, dancing, chalk, swingset.

#8 Errands galore! First day at the Farmers Market.  Singing "How He Loves" and "10,000 Reasons" with my girl in the van on the way home.

#9 AJ spent lots of time with daddy today while I went to buy groceries and run more errands.  Good time with family this weekend as Uncle Matt and Aunt Liz were in town.

#10 Worship, connections with new people and the stories they have to tell, date night, sushi, and wishing we could just keep driving...thankful for our trustworthy and reliable babysitter, Haley.

#11 Gymnastics! This girl is so excited!  Mommy interviewed for a chaplain position at St. Thomas hospital.  Hoping to return (slowly) to the work of presence and ministry.  Thankful for what I've learned in the past 3.5 years.

#12  Reading.  Amber Joy has memorized several of the books we read to her and can now "read" them to us.  I love this.

#13  Tough, tough, tough day.  Enjoyed visiting with our friends the Bryants from Gallatin.  But sometimes, a girl gets fussy and her mama does too.  I'm learning a lot about unconditional love that the Father has for me, no matter how much I whine, fuss, fight, or freeze.  And oh my, does she love carousels!  Ended this day in the pool in the front yard...Justin said it was our "redneck pool party."  Our neighbor Liam got in too!

#14 And there's Titus!  Titus is the son of our friends, Rebecca and Andy who adopted him from China a little over a year ago!  We love our adoption family.  Rainy day, playing like brother and sister (love/hate), and a yummy lunch at none other than Mr. Chen's!  And then in the afternoon, rather than sitting in the house, we did this...puddles!  And the "being" part...mom was BEING more open and actually excited that daughter was having a BALL in the water ;-)

#15 and #16 Road trip. Amber Joy and I enjoyed some time swimming with our Taiwan family, then set out for my hometown for a quick overnight to visit family.  It's hard to see my grandparents aging.  I will always remember them as vibrant, funny, and the place I grew up as simple, slow, and inviting.  Thoughts from the time in Cleveland: wishing I could raise our daughter in the country and open air, how it felt to administer medicine to my Papaw because he couldn't hold the spoon without getting it all over himself, seeing so much that's changed (our family business, the church where I grew up--no longer there), sad that Amber Joy's childhood is so different from mine...but it's good.  Life is good.

#17  Adalyn.  The Miller clan is pretty spread out.  North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee.  Justin's sister is in FL and brother in CO.  So the closest proximity cousin is in the Atlanta area.  They surprised us by bringing their new addition to see us this weekend!  Meet Adalyn Grace.  She is sunshine to our family and we can't wait to see how our girls grow up together.  Good food was had, new friends were made at church, and there was some reconciliation...

#18  We laughed.  We went to gymnastics again.  We ran errands.  Somebody didn't take a nap.  *sigh* It's funny when you think mama says "daddy's poo poo" when I really said "daddy's suit."

#19 The movies.  Amber Joy will need to be a movie lover like her mama.  Not just movies, but movies in the theater, complete with popcorn.  She was too little to hold the seat down, so she sat in a booster seat while we watched "Charlotte's Web."  She made it through 1.5 hrs of the movie before we had to leave for her to go potty :)  She's pretty cool.

#20 I feel so honored to have been offered a position on the St. Thomas Healthcare Pastoral Care team.  I'll be working on-call and as needed which will allow me to still stay home with Amber Joy most of the time.  But today was part of that process that was NO FUN...the health assessment, TB skin test, and being fitted for a mask if I ever have to visit a patient who is on airborne precautions.  Barrel of fun today. Yep.  Grateful for good neighbors and friends who we have come to trust to take care of our peanut when mama has to be away for awhile!  Oh, and then we had Diary Day ;)

#21 I miss my sister.  That is all.

#22 I'm not in the best shape right now...sort of spiraling a bit when it comes to eating.  But I still love to exercise.  Spin class and sculpt have become my new favorites!  Oh, and there's Harper.  This little girl and Amber Joy absolutely LOVE each other!  She's her bestie from preschool and they've been able to play some this summer.

#23 Our Farmer's Market is the bomb.  They have lots of free samples (free is good), fresh eggs, honey, breads, veggies, and on Fridays...they have the Miller's Grocery food truck! AJ and I like to share a plate.  She is inquisitive, curious, friendly, and not afraid to try new things.  I like her.  She's also gotten into a phase where she likes to run around without clothes.  It's pretty darn cute.

#24 Knoxville.  We visited Justin's dad and step-mom in Knoxville this weekend.  Amber Joy got to play with her cousins, the kids of Justin's step-sister and husband.  Family is good.  And I am thankful when we are given reminders of how God can redeem even the toughest of circumstances.

#25 Fathers Day #4...in 2011, we had just found out about Amber Joy's existence, so I count that as Justin's first Fathers Day.  Justin is an amazing dad.  He is not stingy with hugs and kisses and one of my favorite things is that he asks Amber Joy some questions every night..."does daddy love you?  does mommy love you?  who else loves you?"  To which AJ responds, "Jesus."

#26 Road trip.  We finally got to make our return trip from Knoxville.  The starter had gone out on our minivan and we had to have it replaced.  Good Asian food in Crossville, good conversation with each other, and a content little girl, reading books to herself in the back seat.

#27 It's hot.  The temps have been in the 90's, so our playground time with Titus this morning was short lived.  Feeling thankful for our adoption friends!

#28 Cleaning house, buying groceries, and sushi with new friends.

#29 Moms Club lunch at our house!  I love, love, love having a house full of people.  It was wild and it took two days to put things back in order, but it was worth it.  Cheers to new friends.

#30 Swimming with Yvette and Jasmine (sister-in-law and niece).  Amber Joy's swimming is getting better by the day.  And a date night to go shopping for professional clothes!  I've been wearing yoga pants for 3.5 years.  It's time to have a reason to dress up again!

#31 Keri and Lauryn come to visit!  My oldest childhood friend, Keri, and her daughter Lauryn came up at the last minute.  I love unplanned visits!  And we said when we built this house that we wanted it used well by friends and family.  Keri is that friend where you pick up right where you left off as if no time has passed.

#32 Our new friend from church spent the afternoon with us.  We are enjoying our church family so much and pray that we are a blessing to others we meet there as well.

#33 and #34 Orientation with St. Thomas!  This week, we are transitioning to my new job.  I won't be working during the day typically, but this week, I'm away from Amber Joy quite a bit for orientation and training.  She's done great so far with the two girls keeping her from church.  God has reminded me that I have gifts and talents that are useful to others and I'm excited to have the chance to get back to a work environment without giving up my ability to stay home with our daughter.

#35 WOW!  I am so behind on updating the blog...honestly, that's how I wanted it.  For us to get so wrapped up in summer fun, that I wouldn't post daily, but just as I could.  Some day, Amber Joy will read all of this, and I hope that she is able to get a glimpse of what summer 2014 was like :)  Day #35 was one of those "I didn't put anything on the calendar that we did today so we probably just laid low and went to the YMCA" kind of days.  I love those.  No plans, no worries, nowhere to be...just me and my girl going to the YMCA for mommy to exercise, she plays, and then we meet back up later for some pool time.

#36  and #37  Melissa from our church has been keeping Amber Joy this week while I've been training for my job.  They've had so much fun!  They went to gymnastics, the farmers market, the Discovery Center, Wendy's, and had a ball!  I love watching and hearing about how Amber Joy interacts with other adults while we're not around.  She really is pure joy.

#38  Girls Night Out with some of my favorites from when we lived in Goodlettsville/Hendersonville.  Thankful for friendships that last.

#39  Celebrating my sister-in-law's birthday with our family.  Amber Joy laughed and laughed over the birthday card that played music!  This is the rhythm of families...birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, nothing-special-about-it days when we just get together because we can.

#40  Real Kids.  Once a month, Justin and I work in Amber Joy's class at church.  We have between 3 and 9 two and three year olds.  So grateful that we attend a church where adults want to invest in the kids and where Amber Joy loves going each week.

#41  Splash pad with Titus and Rebecca!  What a fun time!  We splashed and I was amazed how much Amber Joy relaxed compared to last year's attempt.  She's very anxious sometimes about things she doesn't quite understand or that may look scary.  I just try to comfort and tell her that I'm there and I won't let anything hurt her.  She had a ball!

#42 and #43 Mom and dad are home for a few days, so they got their Amber Joy time in.  I trained again on these days and they took her for lunch, played, and enjoyed spoiling her for a bit.  Oh, and did I mention my two new favorite classes at the YMCA?  Spin and sculpt!  Yep!  Love 'em!  Makes me feel pretty good when I walk out of spin drenched in sweat, but still breathing.  And then walk over to sculpt and start building muscle.  Yeah!

#44 Sushi, playgrounds, and frozen yogurt.  Enough said.

#45 Fourth of July!  Wow, I am grateful for my extended family.  My dad's sister's kids have always been like second siblings to me.  We are all very different from each other and lead different lives, but when we get together, we know how to have fun.  We went to Cleveland today and spent the day with two aunts, two uncles, three cousins, two of their wives, one of their kids, my parents, and a few more people thrown in for good measure!  We had a ball...and one of the best parts?  It was July 4 in southeastern Tennessee and the high temp was around 82.  Perfection.  It even ended up in a front yard pickup baseball game.  This is one for the memory books.

 #46  The celebration continued with Justin's family today.  Grilling.  Swimming.  Hanging out with family.  This.is.summer.  And today, my Dedaddy would have turned 90.  I miss him.  He died tragically 10 days before I turned 13.  I was his first grandchild and he spoiled me as such.  Sometimes, I think I remember his scent.  And those great big thick black rimmed glasses of his.  He was handsome.  One day, I may ask God why he didn't get to live to see my Amber Joy.  Oh how he would have loved her.

#47  Lazy Sunday afternoons.  Too much time for thinking.

#48  And gymnastics continues.  I think she likes it.  Swimming in the backyard plastic pool...a childhood staple.  And there's the artwork on the white paper covered kitchen table.

#49 and #50 Hot fun in the summertime!  Playdates with friends with pools are the best!  We love our Audrey!

#51 God's working on me.  Some new, big lessons that I'm not sure I want to learn.  On being a "good" mama, what's really important, and my selfishness with the gospel.

#52 Frozen movie day with mom's club, date night with my hubs, and working on the application for becoming a licensed local Nazarene minister.

So, for the first time in forever (hey, that's a Frozen song), here I am to try to complete this unbelievably ambitious blog post of our 100 days of summer!  Better late than never, right?

#53 (July 12) Zumbathon for Cystic Fibrosis!  My friend Amy's husband suffers from CF, so I decided to participate in their fourth annual Zumbathon.  I.love.Zumba.

#54 Sundays at Real Kids! Amber Joy has recently started saying that at church, her favorite thing is to dance with Hadley, one of her sweet friends.

#55 Several times this summer, we got to spend time with our Taiwan family.  We spent hours in the pool, just laughing and making memories.  This was one of those days.  We are blessed beyond belief with Leanna, Morgan, Tuck, Will, Nash, Reed, and so many others (and their sweet mamas!)

#56 Yes, that's my child with a sly smile and her feet in a public fountain.Teehee.

#57 Unfortunately, this summer brought some sadness too.  These are friends I hadn't seen in many years and we returned home to Cleveland to mourn the death of a high school buddy.  Hard times bring us together.

#58 And we went to the zoo with our new neighbor, Lillian, and her mama!  What a fantastic day with some great pics of my girl...thanks Miranda!

#59  No nap today, but we got to see Kiki and Kevin :)

#60, #61, #62, #63  Ordinary days.  These are my favorites.  We love the Discovery Center, long talks in the backyard, and oh yes, mud.

#64-#75 And just like that, it began.  My grandfather, Kenneth Harris, fell and suffered a traumatic brain injury.  Papaw was 92 years old and still lived at home with my grandmother.  We all gathered in Chattanooga and spent the next few days making hard decisions based on what he had told us in the past about his wishes should he be left in a state where he was unable to recover.  Over the next week, he was moved to hospice care and died peacefully on August 1.  I am thankful, oh so thankful, that our family bonded together during that week and that we were able to all share in his final days.  

#76 We enjoyed a fun day, getting back to our lives, by having a playdate with sweet Shay and his mama!  Shay was also born in Taiwan and he and Amber Joy love playing.

#77 She has a new obsession.  Pickles.

#78 Father's Day in Taiwan.  Here's how we celebrated.

#79 Amber Joy's first trip to the fair!  Among our favorites: Cotton candy and riding a REAL pony!

#80 We love Sundays at our church, Real Life Community Church of the Nazarene.
#81 Back at gymnastics! 

#82 Another favorite of our girl is zebras!  She saw this backpack in Wal-mart and had to have it for school!

#83 Mama found a swimming pool on clearance for $15.  Pretty good investment on this cooler-than-normal but beautiful afternoon.

#84 My 41st birthday!  Loved spending the day with my sweet family.

#85 A day at Lucky Ladd farm.  And another horse ride!

#86-#92 Then we had Vacation Bible School weekend at church!  CRAZY!  A drive to Hendersonville and Gallatin to see friends, corn on the cob, and a special gift!  I received a book in the mail from a lovely lady named Carissa...a strong, new voice in the adoption community.  I have so much respect for her and I am anxious to begin work on Amber Joy's lifebook.

#93 The second fair of the summer...this time, with Poppy.

#94-#98 Pensacola Beach!  Lovely time visiting Justin's sister, Liz, enjoying time with in-laws Jane and Doug, and sweet memories with our friends, David, Sherra, Jack Everett, Sam, and Eli Williams! 

#99-#103 I worked at St. Thomas one day after the beach, we loaded up on freshness at Farmer's Market, and had a visit from sweet Miss Adalyn and her parents.  And my goodness, look at that last picture full of precious girls.  That's Amber Joy's last Sunday in the 2-3 year old class at church.  She's movin' on up, ladies and gentlemen.

#104  The First day back to school.  Some days, I wondered if we would make it!  But we had a glorious summer full of friends, family, laughter, some tears, the unexpected, the mundane, and all in all, it was full of great memories. So in love with my people.

The End.


  1. So happy to see a post from you and new pictures of your sweet little one! Enjoy her....the days go slowly but the years fly!! Praying for you to have the best 100 days of summer ever!! :)

  2. I'm enjoying your adventures! Love love LOVE the puddle pic!!!

  3. Glad you posted again!! God is working on me as well....it's hard....stretching and growing and dying to self. So glad that we can believe his promises.Praying for you from across the miles!


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