She’s still so close

I don’t know what to do now. I’ve been holding back tears all day because I knew what was coming.

She’s gone.

The first few days are the hardest. It still feels like she’s here. Her dirty clothes are fresh and her toothbrush is still out. Her dunkin donuts bag is on the counter and I’m still wearing the shirt she hugged when we said goodbye. She’s still so close.

But somehow it happens, every single time. Life begins to feel normal again without her. Our trip becomes a memory and I’ll go back to counting the days until I see her again. The process is unforgiving and I wish there was another way.

This part of my heart will always be vulnerable. But even the hardest moments without her will always be worth it because I choose her no matter what.

just to see her smile

Every decision that I have ever made all comes back to one question: what will make her the happiest?

It isn’t always easy to set aside my personal feelings during our custody situation, but I have to remember that this is all about her.

In a co-parenting relationship, the priority has to be what’s best for your children. Even when it’s not fair, especially when it’s not exactly what you want.

I have to be ok with that. And seeing that big smile on her face makes everything all right.

Creating Boundaries During Visitation: OUR TOP 5 TIPS

One of the hardest things about letting her live with her other family is the lack of influence I feel that I have on her life.

She is learning, growing, developing habits, and cultivating her unique personality without me.

She lives with a different set of rules and standards at their house and we don’t co-parent very well on a lot of those issues. (We honestly don’t co-parent very well at all.)

She is learning to make decisions that will impact her life and I want to be there to help guide her.

It’s hard to reinforce positive behaviors when I only have her for such a short amount of time.

When we are together, I notice so many little reminders that she’s not all mine. What she chooses to wear, the music she likes to listen to, the coffee she wants to drink… I have such a hard time allowing her to express her personality within temporary boundaries that don’t exist when I’m gone.

But I’ve learned the importance of consistent behavior and I wanted to share how we make it work!

Here are our Top 5 Tips for Creating Boundaries During Visitation:

1. Set non-negotiable expectations: establish a set of rules and consequences/rewards for their actions.

2. Choose your battles wisely and don’t sweat the small stuff: allow them to have enough freedom to make their own decisions on small matters. Let them gain your trust and gradually give them more responsibility.

3. Remember that children are impressionable so lead by example: make sure to be the parent you want them to look up to!

4. Explain why the rule is important: all of our choices have consequences and they will learn much quicker when they understand the reason each rule exists.

5. Enforce their positive and negative behavior consistently: when children know what to expect, they are much more likely to comply with an expectation willingly. Set that standard and stick to it!

today is her birthday

Today is her birthday, and I don’t know what I’m going to do without her.

10 years ago, I never would have imagined this is what our life would look like when I first held her in my arms.

When I looked into her big brown eyes, I promised myself that I would do anything and everything that I possibly could for her.

And that included trying to make a “destined to fail” marriage with her dad work. I remember thinking to myself that if I could just be happy with her, nothing else would matter.

But even that didn’t last forever. He left and that began the most difficult challenge I’ve ever faced.

Because when you love someone so much you would do anything for them, you have to make sacrifices.

The entire time I was fighting for custody, my only goal was for her to live with me. I couldn’t imagine life any other way.

So when she decided to live with her dad, I refused. For a really long time. Until I realized that I needed to keep my promise that I would do ANYTHING for her.

She was struggling… we were struggling… with our custody arrangement. There was no possible way for us to continue the way it was going. The stress and demand was too high and its impact was far-reaching.

And now I’m living in this life that I have done everything to avoid. A life without her smiling face every day. It was always my worst case scenario.

Some people say “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” but that was never true for me. From the moment she entered my life, I’ve always known how incredibly lucky I was to have her.

She is everything. She’s passionate and creative. She is the most giving little girl and always wants to make everyone happy.

She makes our world a better place and even though she’s not in our home, she is always in our heart.

5 Ingredient Granola Bars

These granola bars are so easy to make and they are a kid friendly favorite around here!

I usually keep a few packed in my bag for a quick healthy snack on the go!

You can modify the recipe to include flax seeds, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, or whatever you have on hand.

Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup peanut (or almond) butter

1/4 cup honey

1 Tbsp vanilla

Handful of chocolate chips or other mix-in (we use the milk chocolate from Guittard)

Mix ingredients until blended. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Flatten the mixture across (The recipe will only cover halfway).

You want them to be pretty thick so they don’t fall apart. Fold the parchment paper in half and pack the mixture in.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut into 12 bars.

This Season

And just like that, all of our beautiful golden leaves have fallen to the ground.

The view of this tree from our window was one of my favorite things and I wanted to hang on to this fall weather just a little longer.

I was so disappointed to look out and see the empty branches, until I walked outside and shifted my perspective to see how beautiful the leaves now are on the ground! And I’m looking forward to the first snowfall which will cover the branches in beauty all over again.

And it reminded me so much of this season in motherhood…

I’ve loved every minute of being in this young mom stage with babies in strollers and snuggles to fall asleep at night, but our children are gaining more independence and shedding the need for constant care.

And I’m clinging on to the last signs of babyhood for just a little bit longer because it’s been a wonderful experience.

But watching Clare walk into her classroom this week made me realize that I’m ready to embrace the next stage of life- raising independent little children and watching them enter the real world.

And I’m grateful for the reminder from Mother Nature that every time and season is beautiful and amazing in its own unique way. We have so much to look forward to 💛

Healthy Crockpot Chili

There’s nothing better than coming home to a warm crockpot meal after a crisp fall day. 🍂💛🥘

This recipe is so quick and easy! Prep time is less than 5 minutes and it’s ready to eat as soon as it’s heated through which can be sped up on the stovetop or it can simmer all day in the crockpot.

It’s healthy and it’s full of flavor! My kids even love it because we use mild Rotel so it’s not spicy at all.


•Brown 1lb. ground turkey. Season with 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, and add one chopped onion.

•Add to the crockpot: ground turkey and onion, 1 can corn, 1 can black beans, 1 can black eyed peas (or kidney beans), 1 can diced green chilies, 1 can rotel, 1 large can tomato sauce, 1 can stewed tomatoes.

•Simmer on low for 4-6 hours or until heated through. Makes 10 servings

[MACROS: 13c/4f/11p]

share goodness.

We have been the recipients of so much goodness lately and my heart is feeling so full of gratitude. 

This world is so full of kindness and generosity! When we focus our attention on abundance, our lives are impacted daily with positivity in all forms.

This month I have chosen to accept a daily challenge to serve others. 

Whenever I feel stressed or burdened, I know that the best way to find peace again is to focus on helping others and forget about myself. 

Our sweet neighbor gave us some zucchini from his garden (see what I mean?! People are so generous ❤️) And so today I baked zucchini bread, muffins, and brownies to deliver to some friends and neighbors. 

It’s a small and simple gesture, but I am lucky to have wonderful friends and neighbors to send a little happiness their way. 

thoughts on our family vacation (without our whole family)

Just trying to keep it all together right now. This trip has been about throwing that smile on and making magic happen for my little babes. Creating beautiful moments for them no matter what. Knowing that my attitude will directly impact how they perceive these memories and intentionally choosing JOY. 

Even when it’s hard. (when I have to hide behind my sunglasses because all I can think about is how much Elle Kade would have loved this trip). (and calling to hear her voice because I can’t be there to hug her after her first day of school). So hard. 

It’s overwhelming to balance those emotions. I feel as much love, gratitude and happiness for this experience as I do guilt, stress, and sadness.  

But this trip isn’t about me. It’s about spending time with family and having an amazing vacation with Carter and Clare. 

We always have a choice. Perspective is so powerful. The negative thoughts will always be there but how long will you allow yourself to focus on them? Acknowledge their presence and remember that they do not serve you. Find a way that works for you to shift your mindset to gratitude and joy. Become so determined to radiate positivity and love no matter what.