Strong Willed

On Tuesday, Carter and Clare came with me to the gym (they play in the unsupervised kids club while I workout). As we were leaving, I was waiting to pay for a protein bar and the kids became impatient. Carter tried to get my attention and kicked me in the shin. I reprimanded him and told him that I was disappointed that he would choose to hurt me in order to get my attention and gave him the consequence of losing the privilege of going to get a toy from the Dollar Store with his allowance like we had planned. He got upset and yelled, but as we walked out the door he apologized and changed his attitude. (He still didn’t get the toy, by the way.) 

Apparently while this was going on, an older couple was walking out and witnessed the scene. Their reaction was to call the owner of the gym and complain about how I handled the situation indicating that I should have physically disciplined him. They even threatened to cancel their gym membership over the incident, so I received a call from the owner of the gym saying that I am no longer allowed to bring my children to the unsupervised kid’s area. 

I really didn’t want to make a big deal out of the issue but I can’t seem to get it off my mind. 

Honestly, I know better than anyone that my kids are HARD. I love them so much, but they are overwhelming sometimes. And a bystander might be offended by a naughty child testing their mother’s patience because it isn’t the way they chose to discipline their children.

But here’s the thing… I WANT for my children to be strong willed. I want for them to be persistent. I want to raise leaders who will command attention as adults. I hope that my children always demonstrate courage and strength. I don’t want to “whip them into shape” because I admire the qualities that they are learning to utilize! That doesn’t mean they don’t have consequences for their bad behavior. I just believe that having a meaningful conversation is much more effective than yelling or hitting. Isn’t that the sort of behavior we are supposed to be teaching them to avoid anyway?

I am encouraging my children to be respectful, but I don’t think that physical punishment leads to mutual respect. It destroys trust and will only cause contention and more harm than good. 

So this phone call made me question all of my parenting decisions. Am I doing something wrong? Should I change the way I discipline my children? 

I appreciate receiving advice and well-meaning suggestions because I know  that I am not a perfect parent. I make a lot of mistakes. But I’m trying my best to raise children who will contribute to a society that is completely different today than it was in the past. Our children are facing challenges that are unprecedented and they need to be equipped to handle the situations they encounter with specific qualities that we need to encourage! We have to teach them how and when it’s appropriate to be persistent instead of trying to eliminate that quality all together. 

And hopefully someday, I’ll look back and appreciate all of the hard days that shaped my little babies into amazing, wonderful humans. And maybe I’ll even be able to give some advice of my own ❤️

The best of both

This moment is so bittersweet. As I wait at the airport, I am looking forward to seeing Matt and my little ones but I already miss Elle Kade so much. 

My heart wishes that I could be in two places at once. 

I love the life we have created in Idaho and I fully support Matt in his career that has established our family. We knew the challenge ahead of us when Matt accepted an amazing job offer after law school and now he is pursuing his dream. I am so proud of him and I am so happy living in Idaho. 

I am so lucky to be able to visit Elle Kade anytime, I have an amazing support system that makes these trips possible! And I know that she can always fly to Idaho to see us over long school breaks.

But for just a split second as I sit here in between these two worlds, I wish there was a way to have the best of everything. To live wherever we want to live and have Elle Kade with us all the time. To be a “normal” family. 

I know it will never happen, and I really can’t complain… I just had the most amazing vacation in Florida where I was able to spend quality time with Elle Kade and now I can fly home and squeeze my family in just a few hours. 

So maybe that is what it means to have the best of both worlds ❤️

Fresh Fruit in February! ❤️🍓

I saw the most adorable little produce stand on the side of the road so I just had to stop! 

They had some fresh local produce that I couldn’t live without. It’s freezing cold and snowing back in Idaho so I couldn’t resist! 

I ended up buying tomatoes, avocados, squash, kale, and a whole flat of strawberries! (…and of course some boiled peanuts!)

After eating 3 bowls of strawberries, I realized there was no way I could eat all of them before my flight tomorrow but I really wanted to bring everything back to Idaho with me… so I found a way to dry out the strawberries!

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees 
  • Evenly slice strawberries
  • Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet without overlapping
  • Put them in the oven for 3-4 hours or until dried (this will depend on the thickness)

And eat a few more bowls while you are waiting…

And that’s it! The finished product was delicious but not very pretty so I didn’t take a picture. I just peeled them off the parchment and put them right into a plastic bag to go into my carry on.

Now if only I could find a way to bring this weather back too… 💛☀️

Ok I admit it…

I’ll be honest, I never thought I was an emotional eater until my first round of Whole30. 

I fully committed to the program even though I had a vacation planned during days 10-14. I planned and prepared so that I had compliant food to eat on the airplane and even went grocery shopping once I got to South Carolina. Everything went really well until something came up with visitation. It totally threw me into an emotional wreck and the first thing I wanted to was grab pizza- and I don’t even like pizza! 

I couldn’t believe how connected my cravings were to the stress I was dealing with in my life. I started to realize that my emotions were controlling the way I was eating, and that wasn’t fueling my body in a healthy way. 

Since then, I’ve become more aware of what I’m eating and more importantly WHY I’m eating it. Is it fueling my body with energy and nutrients, or is it fueling my emotional cravings and masking the deeper issue that I’m trying to avoid? 

I will admit that I still enjoy a treat meal, but I have to be so careful to plan it and not just fall for temptation when I’m stressed. 

Since I’ve been in Florida, I have really struggled with my nutrition. It’s so easy to make the excuse of “I’m on a vacation” to avoid confronting the real issue which is “I am feeling stress”. I’m learning to admit that there no excuse when it comes to emotional eating because there is always a healthier way to manage stress.

If you find yourself struggling sometimes like me, here are a few things that I do to help:

  • The first step is to be aware of when it’s happening. Recognize your eating habits that correlate to emotional triggers. 
  • Then, find a way to release your stress without turning to food- yoga, meditation, affirmations, or even just a deep calming breath will recenter your focus and remind you of your purpose. 
  • And finally, don’t feel guilty or punish yourself for making a mistake. That will only lead to further stress and more eating! Give yourself a break and promise yourself to be better the next time. 

And remember that working out consistently is so important! The benefits are more than just physical- the endorphins and seratonin released during a workout will help prevent those emotional cravings from even starting in the first place! When you don’t feel like working out is exactly when you need it the most, so make it a priority every single day. 

the good with the bad

I’ve been looking forward to this trip with Elle Kade for such a long time! I knew that she would only be able to stay with me for 3 days before going back to school but that I would do my best to maximize our time and make the most of such a short visit. We made a list of everything she wanted to do and spent the entire time checking things off! 

We had ice cream for breakfast and painted pottery at a studio in Hyde Park

We went roller skating and bought a new doll from the toy store

We spent hours playing at the beach

We went to the salon and got manicures and pedicures then had lunch at our favorite hibachi restaurant

We were intentional with our time and made the most of every moment!

Which made it so much harder to say goodbye last night. 

I had to drive 2 hours to drop her off and when we got in the car, she laid her head on my arm and said “why do we always have to say goodbye” … my heart shattered. She started to cry and I had to hold back tears because we both knew that this would be the last time we would spend together this trip. 

And then waking up this morning and realizing she was gone… that is always the hardest part. The very next day when her dirty clothes are still on the floor and her toothbrush is on the sink, the little traces of her linger but she is so far away. 

I can’t say that I always focus on the good, because in moments like this, how can I? This weekend was amazing, and we created so many special memories… but it always has to end. We always have to say goodbye and that will never change. 

But all it takes is for me to pause and allow myself the grace to feel true sadness, take a deep breath, and shift my mindset to remember that the good always outweighs the bad. The happiness is always greater than the sorrow, and every moment I spend with her is worth the days and weeks without. 

Isn’t that what life is all about- Having faith that there is always sunshine after rain. There is will always be a Hello after a Goodbye. 

We would never fully comprehend true happiness if we didn’t first experience challenges, failures, and loss. 

The most incredible triumph comes from choosing joy through our trials regardless of our situation. 

I Made The Choice

10 years ago (almost exactly) I found out I was pregnant. It was the end of my senior year of high school and I was terrified, alone, and immature. I still don’t really know how I made a decision that would impact the rest of my life when I couldn’t even decide what outfit I wanted to wear the next day. But it was a decision that completely turned my life around- for the best! 

When I found out I was pregnant, I was a rebellious teenager “going through a phase”. I didn’t understand the gravity of the bad decisions I was making and I really didn’t think anything bad would ever happen to me…That happened to everyone else. 

It was the ultimate wakeup call and I was no longer able to ignore my awful behavior. I needed to make a decision and I considered ALL options- 

– I had a close friend offer to take me to a place in Atlanta where I would just take a pill and everything would be gone. I’m so grateful for her support and the choice she gave me during a time when everyone else was giving me their personal opinions, she gave me an option.

-My parents very strongly encouraged me to get married and make it work with the baby’s dad. They helped him propose (I said no the first time) and they were extremely opposed to adoption. It was so hard for me to take advice from 2 people (who later got divorced and have their own struggles) that tried to force me into making a decision they thought was best. I know the situation must have been so hard for them too, and I know that they did their very best. 

-I went to a counseling center to talk to a stranger about options. I’m glad that I called and scheduled the appointment because this person was unbiased and was only there to help me logically consider all options. She had no agenda and we easily talked about things that I couldn’t talk to anyone else about. I walked out feeling encouraged by the possibility of adoption. I went home and looked online at adoptive parents and felt like I had made my decision- a logical decision. 

-During the first few months of my pregnancy, I began to change. I don’t really know how or why it happened, but I had this inner desire to make the best decision for my future and my child’s future and I knew that meant counseling with my Heavenly Father. I started going back to church, praying, and searching the scriptures for answers. One night, I had a very strong impression that led to my final decision. I would keep the baby. 

I made a personal decision that completely changed my life. The situation is, by far, the most difficult challenge I’ve ever had to face. But she is also the best thing that has ever happened to me. Choosing to be a mother at 19 was the greatest blessing in disguise and I am so grateful for the LIFE that we have. 

That being said- I have so much empathy and compassion for others facing a similar decision. 

If I could go back 10 years and have a conversation with 18 year old me, it would go like this- 

I just want you to know that there is someone else out there who knows what you are going through and understands how you are feeling. You are not alone but you ARE the only one who can make this decision- it’s not up to your parents or your friends or popular opinion- it’s up to YOU. Please do not make this decision lightly. You are given the responsibility to exercise your right to decide the best course of action- not just for yourself, but for another living, breathing human being now. Whether you like it or not, you are already a mother. You are learning to listen to maternal instincts and your emotional growth during this time will greatly surpass your physical growth (which I know feels like a lot!). Thinking about the future is overwhelming. There is no guarantee that one decision will be easier or better than another. Every choice has natural consequences but you have more power than you realize. No matter what decision you make, you have the CHOICE to be happy, to make the best of every situation, and to grow from this experience. The real choice you are making is so much bigger than you realize because it’s not just about whether or not you will raise a child… it’s about becoming the person you were always meant to be. 

Let’s talk fashion!

I am obsessed with finding a good deal. I love thrifting and digging through sale racks, it’s one of my favorite hobbies! 

So I wanted to start posting some affordable outfit inspiration on here! As much as I love seeing those perfect outfits on Instagram  and Pinterest, I just can’t relate to someone who wears an outfit that costs $3,000. Not to mention the fact that as a mom I rarely get dressed up but when I do, you can bet that shirt is going to have something spilled on it within the first 10 minutes 😂 (and it’s not even from my kids usually… 😩)

I’m all about a capsule wardrobe since I could easily wear the same outfit multiple times without anyone noticing because I really dress up that infrequently. It’s also so much easier to pick out an outfit when everything already matches! I stick to neutrals and basics with a few statement pieces to add variety. I also like to buy brand name, quality items that last forever (for a good deal of course!) because a good pair of leather boots and jeans that fit perfectly are wardrobe essentials and always make bargain pieces look more expensive 😉

I am so looking forward to sharing more affordable outfit inspiration with you, so be sure to check back soon! As for this look, you can find the details below ❤️ 

Outfit Details:

  • Booties: Steve Madden from Nordstrom Rack (Retail $120 Paid $25)
  • Distressed denim: Seven for All Manning from Fashion Shack (Retail $140 Paid $30)
  • Shirt: oldie but goodie from downeast basics- totally looks like a bodysuit but it’s not
  • Sweater: BP from Nordstrom Rack (Retail $48 Paid $8)
  • Handbag: Marc Jacobs from Nordstrom Rack (Retail $198 Paid $60)

The hardest decision

When Matt and I met, I was a single mom working full time and living in my grandparents basement in Utah. I had been legally separated from Elle Kade’s dad for a year and was just beginning the court process to finalize my divorce and determine a custody arrangement. 
After months of court hearings and failed mediation, we finally reached a compromise. Elle Kade would live with me full time and visitation would be every 3rd week until she began kindergarten and it would change to every other weekend and all summer. We included revisions to provide for the fact that we would be moving to Utah after Matt graduated from law school. 

Everything went as planned and Matt accepted a job in Utah. We were prepared to pay for plane tickets every month and fly her out based on the visitation agreement of one weekend of their choosing per month (which would include all holidays) and then all summer. It seemed so simple on paper. 

I had no idea how difficult it would really be. There was enough ambiguity in the paperwork to cause contention with every single visitation. We assumed that she would be allowed to fly alone based on universal flight policy, but her dad refused to let her. So I was forced to fly back and forth with her every single month, usually over a holiday weekend, leaving my 2 babes and husband home alone. Not to mention the added expense in which the plane tickets alone cost over $1000 monthly. 

On top of the inconvenience and expense, Elle Kade would miss school because of the fact that they strictly enforced the fact that she needed to be at their house by 6 pm on Friday- it was physically impossible to fly across the country after school to arrive in South Carolina by the time their visitation started so she was missing school in order for her to be there on time. Not to mention the fact that she had to fly back on Sunday night and adjust to a time difference before school the next day. 

The entire situation was unsustainable. I was overwhelmed and completely stressed out. We scheduled a phone conference with our attorney to go back to court and address the issues we were having. I knew it was necessary but I dreaded beginning the whole court process over again. 

I remember getting off the phone with our attorney and just crying. Matt and I had been praying for an answer and it just didn’t feel right. I told Matt that I felt really strongly that maybe the best thing would be to allow her to live with them for a while. That’s exactly what they wanted and she had been asking to live there as well. I couldn’t imagine actually making that decision, but it seemed like the only possible solution. 

Making the phone call to her stepmom to say that we had been considering the possibility of her living with them was the hardest phone call I’ve ever had to make. It was the one thing I said I would never ever do. 

Even though I had an incredibly strong prompting and deep feeling within my heart that I was making the right decision, it was so hard. My faith has always sustained me during times of doubt, but it was so incredibly difficult to ignore what the logical solution would be and follow the answer to my prayer.  But just because that answer wasn’t what I expected or wanted to hear doesn’t give me the right to deny it. And just because my prayer was answered doesn’t meant that all of my problems were solved.

One thing that I’ve intentionally changed is my perspective and how I communicate with Elle Kade. Instead of referring to who she “lives with” we talk about who she spends the school year with and who she spends the summer and breaks with. Just making that small change has reinforced the fact that she is so loved and our custody arrangement is as close to even as it will ever be. Our situation isn’t perfect but as long as Elle Kade is healthy, happy, and well adjusted then that’s enough for me ❤️

Journal 12.31.16

I had to give Elle Kade back today and I can’t even describe how much my heart aches. Saying goodbye this time was so hard. 

When I tucked her in last night, I looked at her sweet face and realized that I wouldn’t be able to kiss her goodnight again for weeks. I spent every second with her today trying to soak up the little details like way she brushes her hair, her huge smile when I let her order a large chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cone, the feeling of her little hand in mine as we walk in all of her favorite stores, the sound of her voice when she says “I’m so glad I chose you to be my mom”… I am so grateful for all of these moments, but they will never be enough. I always want just one more minute, one more hour, one more day. She leaves and my life is never the same without her. 

When we say goodbye, I fight back tears and quickly turn away so I don’t have to watch her get in the car and drive off. My heart couldn’t handle it today. I kept busy for the rest of the afternoon and evening, but when she called me tonight it took all of my strength not to cry when she said “I miss you already Mom”. I hung up the phone, went to bed and couldn’t bear it any longer. 

It’s been hours and I can’t fall asleep because she isn’t here. Her absence is so palpable and I feel like I can’t even breathe. There are no words to describe nights like tonight. 

I’m feeling so much guilt. I would do anything to live closer to her. I don’t want to have limited time with her. I want to see her everyday! I never want to say goodbye. 

But I have to be honest, I really do feel so incredibly grateful for every moment that I spend with Elle Kade. I truly appreciate the little things and I don’t take anything for granted when we are together. Sharing her with her other family has taught me such a valuable lesson- every moment matters. 

Right before she gets dropped off, I always take the time to tell her every single thing I admire and love about her. I want her last memory of our visit to be that I absolutely adore her! I tell her how proud I am to be her mom and how lucky I am that she chose me. I look into her deep brown eyes and hope that she understands how much I love her. 

I know that our situation is unconventional, but I also realize that so many families have special circumstances and there is no such thing as perfect. I chose to share this journal entry style post to give you a glimpse into my life and my perspective on being a blended family. I look forward to sharing more journal entries in the future and I’m so grateful for your love and support throughout the ups and downs that come with being a stepfamily! 


Planning Visitation

Last night we were shopping and Elle Kade picked out this cute planner! She had a really hard time saying goodbye as we left for the airport this morning and I suggested that we start to plan our next visit to make the transition a little easier. Now she has a calendar full of visits to look forward to!

Before Elle Kade started school, I made an interactive calendar so she could move the picture of her back and forth from the pictures of me and her dad. It worked really well when she was younger because it helped her to see exactly when she would be staying with each parent!

Now that she’s older, she’s able to really understand when her school breaks are and why we don’t get to see her for a while sometimes. It’s such a hard concept for young kids to understand, but it really helps for them to visualize a visitation schedule. 

Even if you don’t have set visitation, try to find a way for your little one to look forward to the next time you get to see them rather than focusing on saying goodbye. Shifting their perspective from sadness and uncertainty to anticipation and excitement will help them adjust to the transition much more effectively!