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.

{RECIPE}

•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. 

Shift

And just like that… she’s gone.


 I know it’s coming. Every time. But how can I prepare myself for the heartbreak? It doesn’t get easier. I’m a whole mess of emotions right now and I can’t think about it. 

When I’m faced with conflict, my instinctive reaction is to avoid and ignore it. I distract myself and turn away from whatever is causing the anxiety.

I fall back into addictive patterns that mask my limiting beliefs. My emotional response is to go eat and shop. But I’m learning that those habits do not serve me nor do they make anything better, they just numb the feeling or make things worse. 

I’m learning to take gradual steps through the healing process to release old wounds that resurface during stressful situations. I’m taking time to meditate and focus on gratitude. I’m giving myself the opportunity to witness my subconscious blockers and recondition my habits into positive behaviors. 


There is nothing more powerful than a mindset shift. Experiencing peace during a time of trial is completely possible. 

I’m embracing my feelings of sadness, guilt, and stress and experiencing a change of heart through meditation and emotional freedom techniques. There is such a powerful connection between our physical and emotional wellbeing. 

I’ve felt so inspired to share my journey with you and hope to post more details soon! ❤️ Until then, I want to leave with you this quote that spoke to my heart today… 

Everything


I was sitting next to Matt yesterday in the church where we met and had an amazing full circle moment. 

I remember being in that exact room by myself as a struggling single mom watching other families, knowing I would never have that. I felt so hopeless and alone. 

My reality right now is something I never dreamed I would have… but here I am sitting with my beautiful family. ❤️

It’s been a long, difficult journey through trials and challenges, but we have each other and that is everything.

Summer with Siblings

One big adjustment for our family when Elle Kade is here is the relationship between her and her siblings. 


They absolutely adore (and sometimes smother) her! It’s been a source of happiness and contention which has been really hard for us to balance. 

I feel really challenged because I want for them to have so much fun together, but I don’t want to force their relationship. Some days are better than others, and today has been rough. 

Elle Kade wants to spend time alone in her room with her phone, and Carter and Clare want to play together in our playroom. They don’t understand the concept of privacy and she doesn’t know how to react to their attention. 

There’s only a 4 year age gap between Elle and Carter because when Matt and I got married, we decided to start our own family right away so there wouldn’t be a separation between “mine and ours”. 

But we are realizing that just because there isn’t a big age gap doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t differences in maturity.


One reason she finds it hard to adjust is that I usually visit her in Florida where we only spend one on one time together. She gets 100% of my attention and we have so much fun without many distractions or responsibilities. 

Another factor is that she has one stepbrother (who is 13 months older) at her dad’s house so her role is completely different than it is at our house with little kids running around.


We are finding it hard to adjust for such a short amount of time, which is something we really struggled with when she lived with us and visited her dad every month. It’s difficult to establish routine and stability when there isn’t consistency. And trying to find balance between normal, everyday life and fun summer activities is something we are still working on! 


Our summer bucket list has been a great tool to provide creative ideas to spend time together as a family while letting the kids earn their activities. It’s been a great distraction from the boredom that comes from being at home all day, and it allows us to create memories from this summer! 

We are also implementing a morning routine for the days we are spending mostly at home which sets the intention for our entire day. 

We’ve created boundaries for the little ones to help them understand when and why Elle has alone time. Elle is also beginning to understand why Carter and Clare are spending so much time with her and she’s navigating her reactions based on love and understanding (with a few reminders here and there).

And hopefully we are doing enough to encourage them to remember all of the good times and not so much of the bad. ❤️