Q&A with Elle Kade: RECAP

If you missed our Live Facebook chat yesterday, here is a quick recap of some of the things we talked about! 


Q: Why did you decide to live with your dad? And why did you decide to let her make that decision?

EK- I really missed them a lot but it’s kind of hard because now I miss my mom. But I like getting to spend the summer at her house and we have a lot of fun! I’m excited to see our new puppy Scout!

Ash- When Elle Kade lived with us, our visitation required that she visit her dad one weekend a month. Her other family chose the dates and we had to comply. They wouldn’t let her fly by herself, they wanted her to be at their house by 6pm on Friday but still go to school that day… It was a really difficult situation. At some point, Elle Kade started to ask about living with her dad and I honestly wouldn’t even consider that as an option. We were in the process of filing paperwork with our attorney to change visitation, but I had a very strong prompting that I should let Elle Kade live with her dad. It didn’t make any sense logically, but I knew in my heart that it was the right thing for our family at the time. 


Q: Has being away from your daughter changed your relationship?

Ash- We’re still really close, probably closer but in a different way. I’m not so focused on homework and being the disciplinarian as much anymore. I’m able to spend more quality time with her and really enjoy our time together intentionally.


Q: How does living so far away from each other affect your visitation?

EK- usually if it’s a short break, she gets to come out and visit me. But like for Christmas I get to fly to Idaho by myself. Sometimes I like it because they give me snacks. But sometimes it’s hard because the weather is bad and the flights get delayed.

Ash- it’s definitely a challenge. It’s easier now that we can choose our own visitation dates and plan around our schedule, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. I try to see her every 4-6 weeks but even that feels like such a long time. If she flies as an unaccompanied minor, she’s only allowed on certain flights on specific airlines and there’s a $300 fee on top of the ticket so it’s not really an option to fly her out for just a 3 day weekend. In that situation, I try to fly out and see her but a lot of planning and effort goes into each trip- I have to find a babysitter for Carter and Clare, which usually means driving down to Utah, I have to coordinate with my Dad who (fortunately!) lives in Tampa which is 3 hours north of Elle Kade, and I always have to work around her school schedule. It can get pretty stressful, but it’s always worth it!


Chatting with everyone was such a great experience and I’m so excited to post more videos again soon!

Journal: 4/16/17


Every time I leave my 2 littlest babes to see Elle Kade my heart hurts. This time was especially hard knowing that it would be over Easter and our family would be miles and miles apart. Carter and Clare definitely sensed my feelings as I hugged them goodbye and they both begged to come with me. 💔

Nothing will replace these missing memories for our family, but I have to make the best of our situation and I really do feel so grateful for every opportunity that I have to see Elle Kade- even if it’s not the perfect timing. 

It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. ❤️

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 ❤️

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. 

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! 

Xoxo

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!

When “good” doesn’t feel like enough

Feelings of failure… 


This topic has been on my mind a lot lately because I feel like I am failing at everything. But I’m here to tell you that those feelings of failure serve a purpose and that failure is not final.

If we aren’t failing, then we aren’t trying.

Recently, I’ve accepted many challenging and new opportunities that pushed me so far out of my comfort zone. It would have been easy to say no but we are guaranteed to fail if we never even try. 

I believe that everything happens for a reason, so I’m not trying to defy what is meant to be.

But what happens when something that you work hard for, put passion and energy into, that aligns with your goals doesn’t work out? It isn’t always easy to say “well it just wasn’t meant to be”. 

It’s ok to say “This FREAKING sucks”.  It is ok to be frustrated and disappointed. 

Maybe you searched for hours on Pinterest for your daughter’s birthday party, spent late nights and a lot of money making it happen, and everything turned out to be a complete disaster. Are you supposed to just brush it off? Or is it ok to acknowledge the fact that you failed and now you feel the repercussions of that. 

Maybe you apply for a job that seems perfect, you nail the interview, get a call back, but something falls through and you don’t actually get the job. Are you just supposed to brush that off and pretend to be good with it?

I’m pretty sure that we aren’t actually human unless we fail at something. There are small failures and there are BIG failures and life is full of both.


This is so hard for me to say, but I’m here to tell you that I am a complete failure. There are things that I am not very good at. Admitting that, out loud, to the world is not easy. It’s vulnerable and scary, but I want you to know that perfection is not realistic. And the people who make things look perfect are probably the ones who are failing the most. I know that because I used to be that girl. The one that was good at everything.

When I was a little girl, I really wanted to play softball. When I mentioned it to my mom, she had her doubts because I was a girly girl, but she signed me up anyway. The first day on the field, I was a natural. I loved the game and I was really good at it. It was easy and I didn’t have to try hard to make any All Star teams or win state championships. I continued to play softball throughout middle school and I made the high school softball team in 9th grade. I was taking pitching lessons, going to practice, doing well in all of the games… but I wasn’t even trying. Eventually I just quit. I had the potential to be offered a college scholarship for softball but I never even gave myself the chance because I decided that I didn’t want to put the time or effort into showing up at practice or games anymore. I didn’t value the opportunity because I took my talent for granted. 

Our experiences shape our perspective, and maybe the fact that I never let myself fail is the reason why I am struggling so much right now. 

 And maybe that’s the point. We cannot grow within our comfort zone. We cannot succeed unless we try. We can’t truly appreciate our success if we don’t earn it. 

So for those of you reading this, thinking about something in your life that you really want to try… I say GO FOR IT! Maybe you will put your heart and soul into it, only to be completely crushed. Or maybe you will exceed your expectations and soar!  How will you ever know what the outcome will be if you don’t ever begin?


As you take time to reflect on your choices this year and set resolutions for 2017, give yourself the opportunity to fail! Set goals so high that you know you will not achieve all of them. Give yourself grace for making the effort and don’t let any of your failures become final.

 God has a plan for you that is so much bigger than you can imagine, but He cannot bless our lives if we aren’t prepared to multiply our talents. 

The parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 indicates that we will be blessed if we invest the gifts we are given, but it never reveals how many times those servants failed. I have to assume that it happened, because great rewards aren’t received without great risk. The only servant who was reprimanded was the one who didn’t even try. 

As I study that parable and seek to understand God’s will, I realize that our Savior’s infinite Atonement is the guarantee that we will never truly fail at anything. The difference between success and failure will always be accounted for. I am so grateful for the opportunity to fail and for a loving Father in Heaven who has given us a Savior to atone (compensate) for our shortcomings. With that knowledge, why do we still fear failure? Instead, let’s embrace it and try to fail again 💗

A Weekend in Oregon

We decided to take a quick weekend getaway and head to Oregon! The drive to Portland is about 6 hours so we spent most of the day Friday driving. 

We arrived around 4 and checked into our hotel which was just south of downtown. 

Dinner on Friday night was at the Laurelwood Public House. We chose to go there because they have a special kids area where Carter and Clare could play while we enjoyed a “date night”.  And it was amazing! The kids had a blast and the food was great. 

As we were walking out, a mom with a baby stopped us and said that she was watching us talk and eat and she was thinking how we must be newly married but then our kids ran over! She was so nice and it was so genuine for her to take the time to share that with us! 

After dinner I ran into the grocery store to buy some snacks and the man in line in front of me started small talk and told me that he was going foraging for mushrooms tomorrow! Isn’t that great? And the cashier was so friendly, it seems like everyone in Portland is genuinely caring and authentic!

Saturday morning we had to get up bright and early so that I could attend a HIGH fitness certification (which took up most of the day). 


While I was busy, Matt took the kids to the Portland Science Center. They had so much fun! We have a membership with the Discovery Center in Idaho and the pass allowed them to get in for free (huge perk!). For lunch, they went to the Tin Shed Garden and Blue Star donuts and raved about both. 


Saturday night we went to VooDoo Donuts and Pine State Biscuits. I haven’t been able to find good fried chicken since I left the south but this place did not disappoint! I ordered “The Chatfield” which was topped with apple butter and Matt had their most popular “The Reggie”. Anywhere that serves Cheerwine is just fine by me! And I actually don’t like donuts so I didn’t have any, but the kids loved their VooDoo dolls and Matt had the maple bacon which he really enjoyed. Not sure it was worth the wait, but how can you go to Portland and not go, right?

While we were at VooDoo, the couple in line in front of us started telling us about all the different flavors and which ones were the best. We let the kids play pin ball and ride an elephant ride which made everyone in line laugh! Honestly, the best part of our trip was meeting all of these fun, friendly people! 

Sunday morning we woke up and headed to the coast. We knew it would have to be quick but we didn’t want to miss the opportunity while we were so close! First stop was a little town called Astoria. We had lunch from a little boat called The Bowpicker and they only serve fish and chips. Luckily we got there right when they opened so we missed the line, but it was amazing and definitely would have been worth the wait! Carter (our picky eater) even loved it!! 


We didn’t really know what to expect in Astoria and didnt realize there wasn’t a real beach there, so we walked around for a bit then drove to Sunset Beach. Beach access was so convenient and it wasn’t crowded at all. The kids played and the weather was a little misty and chilly but we hardly noticed. 

Clare was playing in the ocean, letting the waves chase her when one knocked her over and she got soaking wet! Even after that she enjoyed playing in the sand on the shore. Eventually Carter fell in too and everyone was really wet and sandy by the time we headed back to the car. 

On our way home we stopped by Multnomah Falls since it was on our way and right off the freeway. The kids had fallen asleep for a nap but we could see it from the car and it was breathtaking! Hopefully we’ll have time to take a hike up next trip. 

We had such an amazing weekend and we loved exploring Oregon! It was such a short drive so I’m sure we’ll go again soon!