Sunday, March 29, 2009

Week in Review

It's been a busy week here at the House of Miller. And, although the running joke is that Anne & Eric could just post pics of Gwen and everyone would be happy, they are about to swamp you with serious information that they find SO important about their daily lives that they HAD to share. We're talking earth-shattering here people. Read: glance at pictures and disregard all text information.

Eric: " Parents don't care about anything else......they just want Squeaky pictures."
Wednesday morning found the weekly assembly of CUPS (Coffee Under the Pretense of School) at the house. Angus and Alli were our special guests and make sure all of Gwen's toys were age appropriate. You will note that Angus is happily packing something large and metal over his shoulder. This is not considered one of Gwen's playthings but an extra part off the woodstove that he found spectacular and very manly. You can read Traci's account of the events here.

Nicole D. and Anne left with Miss Gwennie early on Thursday for a grocery shopping/see what's left of downtown field trip in Miles City. As you can see from the pic, they are busy knocking down what remains of the Cellar building since losing someone on a sidewalk to falling bricks doesn't exactly encourage tourism. Actually, everyone in the car was rather appalled at the mess in person. Miller House works hard to support the local grocery, Ryan's, in Jordan. However, we do buy some items in Miles to be more cost-effective. Anne is trying to turn over a new leaf (again) with better meal planning. Menu items include: Red Spice Steak Fajitas, Sausage and Zuchini Rice, Pepper Onion Mushroom Stirfry, Chili, Pizza/Calzones, Califlower-Feta Pasta Bake, Lamb Chops with Spinach Rice Pilaf, Enchiladas, Nan's Tortellini Soup and, finally, homemade mushroom soup. So far, the new Zuchini thingy has been served (strange texture, Eric loved it while Anne nearly threw up) and enchildas last night with John and Marissa (a staple diet here). It appears that there is now enough food pending any natural disaster. You should all really worry if we start hoarding toilet paper and building an underground bunker. Colin G, if you are reading this, we recommend showing up on either Lamb Chop or Calzone day.

The remainder of the week included a 6:30 am trip to Circle to pick up the Garfield County 4H's fruit order. Our kids were very effective at this new fundraiser, as the two pallets of mixed fruit boxes showed. Anne, Eric and Pohney sorted through the orders and got things organized while Gwen looked on from the warm pickup pulled in next to them. By the end, everyone was feeling a little more like mixed nuts than fruit. As evidenced in the photo, it was very cold and fingers barely worked. But the fruit boxes looked pretty darned neat with all of their colorful packaging. Then lunch was eaten at the Cafe and Gwen discovered that she loved the clam chowder served by her pappa. It began as a joke, then quickly became lunch - with onlookers laughing delirously at the 6month old's insane appetite.

The Millers are still social animals and Gwen is trying to learn pinocle, although usually she eat tries to eat the cards or gives up and sucks her thumb (which is fine, because her mother also does that when she is losing). So, the Downs and O'Connor families provided several opportunities during the evenings to test the baby's skills and let her parents pretend, for a second, that they are royal cardsharks. Which they are not. :) In her spare time, Gwen is also learning to play with more toys while sitting up. She occasionally falls over, but the majority of the time she is able to sit for 5-10 minutes at a time before deciding she needs to change positions.
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Monday, March 23, 2009

More photos of Miles

Melanie Frame, a photographer that recently moved to the area, has posted many more pictures on her website.

Downtown Miles City is on Fire!

Hey folks. Apparently, the state of Montana is on a royal streak of downtown fires. After Bozeman lost an entire block as well as Whitehall in the past 2 weeks, we sadly announce that today an entire block of Miles City's downtown is burning as we type. Since so many of us out here are busily checking the latest news, here are links:

Miles City Forum (notes, pictures, video)

Miles City Star Newspaper (no coverage yet; they are a little occupied since it is right across the st)
Billings Gazette
Dave's Flickr Site
Pickles Flickr Site
View of block pre-fire

This is the block that housed The Celler Bar & Casino, Good Things, The Copper Thimble, Stockhill Jewelers, Family Floral, Big Sky Drug, Burlap & Lace and numerous upstairs apartments. For those of you not familiar with the area, "Miles" is our closest large-scale shopping destination just under 100 miles from the house. Anne frequently supported her quilting habit at Thimble as well as bought clothes at Burlap & Lace, our family shopped for Christmas presents at Good Things, and did business with Stockhill Jewelers. It is rumored that Big Sky Drug is still standing and not currently engulfed - more as we get the info. We are headed to Miles City later this week and will get some photos. Various fire departments from as far away as Glendive have been called to the scene, including calls to our Jordan's City Volunteer Dept. As far as we know, Eric is not planning to go at this point (read: mothers and relatives don't panic!) but they are fighting wind gusts of up to 38 mph. Not an easy job!

In any case, send good thoughts in the direction of Eastern Montana!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gwen's Life in Action

If you look at the last episode as 'War and Peace', then this is the equivalent of Dr. Seuss! Here are a few pictures from the daily life of Gwen. She loves her foods! It is believed that these were peas that you see here (hey, it all looks the same on the face, right?). Gwen loves her newly upgraded bathtub, where she has learned that she can kick her feet and splash frantically. Notice the soapy bubbles? She still is going down for a nap twice a day. As you can see, there isn't always a ton of sleeping going on in that bedroom of hers. Daughter-child has slept in her own room for the last 3 nights!!!!!!! Admittedly, the parents are still losing a tad bit of sleep from waking up and checking on her....and not because she is crying. Oh no, she is SLEEPING and NOW we are paranoid of all the quiet. Figures.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In True Journalistic Style........."Working from Home"

Considering that Anne was nearly married to "Elements of Style" and the many intricacies of Pagemaker graphic design software from about 8th grade on, you could definitely say that she values the written word and it's presentation. She also values asking people random questions (heck, she's even been paid to do it!) However, it appears the tables have been turned after signing on to Jen's offer of interview questions. The rule? Read through the questions sent via email and then post their answers to the blog. It should be mentioned here that Anne's interviewer met her on the first day of kindergarten, so there was a lot of potential for asking things like: "When you slept over at my sister Amy and I's house, wasn't that the first time you had ever stayed in town?" To which Anne would reply, " Yes, and I just couldn't understand how anyone could sleep through such traffic noise and lights and people going in and out of their houses. That's why I asked your very amused Mom to let me play the piano, since sleeping was impossible. What can I say...I was a strange little kid." Fortunately, Jen let Anne off fairly easily this time (although this is certainly NOT an invite for different questions). Therefore, without further ado - here is the first part of five questions in no particular order:

JEN: "What's the biggest benefit from working at home? What's the biggest challenge?"

ANNE: -Pulling laundry out of the dryer- "The biggest benefit from working at home is definitely being with Gwen throughout the day. It allows me the unique position of earning additional income and having a career, while at the same time giving Gwen time with a parent and not having to worry about childcare. Just a office line is ringing. -Answers brief call regarding a producer lobbying event in DC next month-

"Okay, I'm back. Sorry about that! The thing is, I always felt strongly that there must be a way to have both a satisfying life in the business world, as well as being the best mom possible. I grew up on a ranch where both parents were accesible and the family spent a lot of time together, even if it was just a day trip into the Blues Mountains or for a picnic at home. The working life and home life seemed to just merge, like it does for many farm families."

"I think many people view those of us that work from home with jealously, assuming that calls are made, meetings arranged and paperwork filed all from the comfort of one's jammies. That couldn't be further from the truth. I've found that to be a successful thinker (and doer), you have to dress the part. If you wouldn't be caught dead in your PJs at the "real" office, then you'd better not do it at home. It sounds silly, but I just think and speak better when I feel semi-professional. The other part is to always have some sort of project going that keeps you fully interested. In an office of one, there can definitely be mundane tasks. But there is no 'official dress code, no 'offical' schedule of hours (other than my 20 per wk), and nothing forbiding me from catching up the laundry while waiting for a call. However, its much easier to stay motivated when you set a schedule of tasks for yourself and keep up progress. Aside from Miss Gwen's needs that aren't scheduled..hang on another sec, while I change the baby...." -Heads into back room, where her Highness receives a full change of clothes-

"Overall, the home office is extremely rewarding because you can work independently. I also think better at various times during the day, so it is totally possible for me to do household things mid-morning and then work on press releases or financials in the afternoon, with a hot cup of tea and some good music. Gwen can sit and play on her blanket right next to me. It is these moments that I wouldn't trade for the world. I also have the amazing freedom of working on various projects, both here in the home/shop area and in other places too. CUPS would not happen if I had a set schedule, nor could I coach 4H Shooting Sports, quilt with a close friend or do such a wide variety of social things that keep me well-adjusted and sane!"

"I also get to have two different lives. Part of that is trying to have the split personality of a working mom, and part of it has to do with our geographic location in general. Jordan is one of the most remote locations in the Lower 48. People here usually see me in jeans and a button-up shirt or sweashirt. This is 'Relaxed Anne' and it's nice to not have to don a suit to go to the bank. The majority of the local population would flip if they saw me wearing something more dressy than cowboy boots. I like that aspect, because a vast majority of these people are friends and I'm more known here as Anne Miller, The County Agent's Wife than anything else."

"But, when I travel throughout the state and US for meetings, I usually am wearing a skirt, dress or suit and always have heels and nylons. It's basically 'Working Anne's' unform and I can't imagine showing up for a board meeting or at a national meeting in jeans. In fact, I even get self-conscious when checking into a high-end business hotel and I have flown over in jeans that day. Usually, I go change before going back down to the restaurant for lunch. It can be hard at times because the folks that see 'Anne Relaxed' can't quite imagine 'Anne Formal' and visa versa. But at the same time, it's like having this crazy secret life in which I can fit both aspects of my personality into one place. Out helping sort someones heifers one day and into a suit the next "

"Since I'm one of the youngest State Execs in the country (if not THE youngest), when I am at meetings, I'm still trying to prove myself and surpass the myth that a mom that works from home and is also under the age of 30 isn't truly serious about her career. Fortunately, there are several of us doing the same thing that I do from home and we have the full support of the national offices. But it's amazing sometimes at the sudden change in some people when you tell them you have a home office and especially when you tell them your daughter is under the age of one. I can happily say that I have never had a producer do this in a negative fashion, nor anyone on staff that I work with directly. But it does happen when talking to suppliers, hotels and other businesses. One chirp in the background from Gwen and suddenly my call is not so important, my question is not so burning and surely, I can't be serious about having that particular guest speaker appear at my next meeting. It's very frustrating and I make a lot of calls from a coat closet!"

"That said, I would be completely unable to do what I do without the complete and utter support of a husband. He is the one urging me to keep going whenever I bog down and who tells me that he can make it work, when I worry about having to be gone. Our friends have also gone above and beyond to help us with babysitting in these situations. Eric and I both have jobs that can begin with a 6am phone call or involve us off and doing our duties over a weekend. But we also have jobs that allow the flexibility of heading to visit family or going for an afternoon outing when need be too. Okay, its about lunchtime, are you hungry?" -Gets sandwiches ready and baby food for Gwen-

I think by far the biggest challenge is that, technically speaking, with a home office you are always at work. Even when I am headed to bed and walk by the fax machine, its hard not to pick up and read the memo sent that afternoon. And when the phone rings, and you are playing cards late one night with friends, its hard to just ignore the call. I'm getting better at it but I feel a partial responsibility in being available to people since they have allowed me this setup with so many overall benefits to my family life. Quite the Catch 22, isn't it? Without the work, we couldn't pull off the family life, but without the family life what is the point of all the work? All in all, it is definitely worth it!

Friday, March 13, 2009

More Gwen Cams (Especially for the Grandmothers and Relatives Cutting Trees in WA (Good Luck Out There))!

Gwen is now on a steady three square-meal diet of everything from squash and pears to green beans, peas and carrots. She is also still getting formula as well. Anne's Aunt Cindy, when asked by her niece when in the world she would ever grow to like peas, once told her that she would when she grew up. Anne still is spending her time waiting to become a grownup and Eric is much in the same fashion concerning the vegetable. Ergo, we thought we'd better start someone off early, considering the genetics! :)

Our mobile monkey is also getting better at controlling her movements. We suspect the kitchen island's assortment of dishes and other items won't be safe for long!

Future Foodie

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Call for Photos of Jordan Family

This weekend, our Garfield County Sheriff Frank Edwards and his wife Rose lost their house at the ranch to a fire. This couple and their kids have been incredibly active in the community and are also running the Hilltop Cafe in town. The family lost everything out there, including all family memorabilia and photographs. While they do have a house in Jordan that is used part-time, this is a devastating event.

Therefore, we ask all readers local to the area a big favor! If you have any pictures or historic documents relating to the family (and are willing to let them be scanned), please drop them off to our house in person, Eric's Extension Office, or the Jordan Tribune. Anne and Mary will be scanning them and preparing a new album for the family. We ask that you clearly label the individuals in the picture and also clearly indicate your household, so that they may be returned in a timely manner.

Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers (even if you don't hale from Garfield County)!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

And the winner is...................

Okay people, we fell down on our duties. Several readers frantically watched the countdown clock on Lurker Coffee run to zero and waited....and waited....and waited. Alas, at midnight last evening, we Millers were asleep, letting any and all last minute Lurkers to sign their Hancocks for us. So we are proud to announce Dana Phipps as the Official Winner of the Lurker Award for February. Stay tuned, because we will be offering TEA from Montana Tea and Spice Co as the March prize with a twist: ANY and ALL commenters are eligible to sign or RESIGN the guestbook for the month. It broke our little hearts to sort several names out of this am's drawing because they had commented before the Award went up. Therefore, for the sake of simplicity and keeping our current friends, sign away. (Mrs. K. J. , we expect to see you since we are changing beverages for your sake ;) )!

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