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… 


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. ❤️

Let’s make it better

Elle was texting a friend today so I asked to see what they were talking about (overprotective mama) and a text came up from her stepmom. I couldn’t help but read it with her and it really took me by surprise. Their entire conversation was about how Elle is so bored and isn’t enjoying her time here. 

I honestly couldn’t believe what I was reading… it broke my heart. We have tried so hard to create a happy home for Elle and make sure that she is having the best time with us. I didn’t realize she was feeling otherwise until today. 

What am I doing wrong? How can I make this better for her? Why is she asking to leave early? I was surprised, hurt and upset. The last thing a mother wants to hear is that you’re doing your best and it’s still not enough.

So tonight I wanted to spend some one on one time with Elle and talk to her about what we can do better. I took her to my H⚡️GH Fitness class (she helped me pick the playlist!), then to get ice cream and shopping for things for her bedroom. We talked about how she’s feeling- bored because we don’t allow a lot of screen time, frustrated with sharing my attention with her siblings, and still adjusting to living in a new home with different rules. I completely understand her perspective! I just wish that she would have felt comfortable discussing the issues with me so that I could try to fix them. 

So we set some expectations and responsibilities for our whole family and hopefully that will help! I just want her to have the best summer ever full of wonderful memories!!


When I met Matt, I was a single mom. Elle was only a year old and her dad wasn’t in the picture for the past 10 months.  I was entirely focused on becoming the best mom possible and I couldn’t imagine anyone else in our life. 

But I saw Matt for the very first time and everything changed. He was too good to be true, honestly. And he absolutely adored Elle. 

We had a few months that were so perfect and then our entire world was rocked. I was just beginning to navigate the court process, hiring an attorney who filed paperwork to establish custody of Elle. This set off a chain of events that led to the most stressful time of my life. I’m not ready to talk about the details, but it completely changed everything. 

I was forced to move back to South Carolina after establishing my independence with a full time job and apartment in Utah. Matt was finishing his undergrad there and I didn’t know how we were going to make it work. 

He had no idea how incredibly hard this situation would be when we met. He didn’t sign up for any of this. But he stayed. And he supported us. He loved me and my daughter unconditionally and we endured together.  

He became a dad when it would have been so much easier to walk away. He still held me together when everything was falling apart. We’ve always been a family, he wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Emotions + Eating

The sweetest surprise showed up at my door today… my grandpa with a box from @janjoupatisserie ❤ (you guys he lives 300 miles away!)

He is the most selfless, giving man with the biggest heart for helping others and I am so grateful for him!

I have so many tender memories of our family laughing together at different restaurants, my grandpa bringing home delicious desserts from his business trips, and going on special dates to restaurants that were way too fancy for my little self. These experiences made me feel so loved! 

But at some point, I began associating feelings of comfort and acceptance with eating. 

like that time we went to Europe and ate ALL THE FOOD.

There are two types of thinking: logical and subconscious. Our logical mind states the facts like “I am only going to eat chicken and broccoli”. Our subconscious mind feels and reacts to emotions like “I am feeling stressed so I need to eat my favorite foods” without understanding reason. 
I have an addictive personality and I’m beginning to understand why I struggle with emotional eating so much. My first round of Whole30 gave me perspective on how intense my cravings were when I was confronted with a stressful situation and felt so dependent on food… it was uncontrollable. 

I feel like I’ve tried every diet and nothing works. I can stick to it until I feel overwhelmed and then I HAVE to go out to eat and then I feel so guilty! I get right back on track for as long as possible until I feel stressed out again…. It’s an awful cycle of dependency. Food is the only thing that feels good in that moment. Wow! It was really hard to finally admit that. 

I’m only sharing because a few weeks ago I stumbled upon some information that led to a really powerful realization. And ever since then, I’ve been working with different emotional responses to dig deeper into something I’ve been struggling with my entire life! 

It’s been an amazing process..

I’m still learning so much but my entire perspective has changed. For me this isn’t about Whole30, or paleo, or macros…

It’s about overcoming emotional boundaries and creating a healthy relationship with food as a source of energy. 

This is just the beginning of my journey and I am so excited to share more with you as it unfolds. And I would love to share what I’ve learned with you if you feel prompted to know more! 

Mom Fail

It was one of those days where everything might have looked perfect on the outside and no one would have known about my mom fail moment.

But here’s what really happened…

I was feeling really awesome this morning for helping the kids create our summer bucket list… but that didn’t last long! 

I completely forgot that Clare had a dance performance tonight at the Cherry Festival and didn’t realize it until the very last minute. (2 hours before!) I thought we could make it but it was a total fail. We got there 5 minutes late and Clare was so upset. 

It wouldn’t have even been an issue if I hadn’t mentioned it, but she got all dressed up and ready to go and we barely missed it. I felt awful! 

Luckily the fair was awesome and they quickly forgot about the dance performance fiasco. It was such a fun night and the kids loved riding all the rides!

Going to the fair was something we had on our summer bucket list so we checked it off! 

I guess it’s a lesson learned because expectations and appearances can be so unrealistic and unattainable sometimes. No one would have known that I screwed up if I wasn’t willing to share my failure. Because nothing is exactly as it seems when filtered through the lens of social media. I have a hard time comparing myself to other moms that look like they have it all together. Because I know that my life will never be perfect! I’m just so grateful for the opportunity that I have to redeem myself whenever I get the chance… like bribing my kids with roller coasters and pizza. And here’s to hoping that they remember all the good times instead of the fails ❤

To The Stepmom,

To Michelle- the “stepmom”

It really is incredible that we were complete strangers a few years ago but now that our paths have crossed, we will always play a huge role in each other’s lives. We didn’t choose each other but here we are… raising a family together. 
So I have to be honest with you.

I hate that you share her last name and everyone probably assumes you are her only mom. She even resembles you sometimes.

The first time I heard her call you “mom” my heart shattered into pieces. I was so jealous. I couldn’t bear the thought of my daughter going to you for advice. I wanted to find a million reasons to hate you. 

But I can’t and I don’t. Not even a little. Because I see the way she looks at you. And I see the way you love her. I watch you put her first in your life as if she were your own. I know you fight for her, that we fight for her, for the same reasons. Because we both absolutely adore her. 

I’m thankful for everything you are, for your strength and dignity. I’m so grateful that you are an amazing role model for our daughter to look up to. You are selfless and patient and possess so many qualities that I admire. Sometimes I think you have more in common with Elle Kade than I do. And sometimes I still feel threatened by you. Because I know that there are things you can give her that I can’t. 

It’s taken me a long time to understand that it’s okay for me to feel insecure when I’m around you. Not because I don’t like you but because I look up to you and I see my flaws when I try to compare myself to you. 

I’m not perfect but neither are you. And that’s why she needs both of us. I’m so grateful that he chose you and that we are all in this together. 

I know I don’t tell enough how much I appreciate everything that you do. You are an amazing mother and an incredible person. And I want you to know that I truly couldn’t do this without you.

 Happy StepMother’s Day 💗

#this is Our Splendid Life

Whenever I meet someone new and they ask about my kids… I always this hesitate and wonder how much to say. They see Carter and Clare so I feel like I have to explain our situation or justify why Elle Kade isn’t with us… to complete strangers. They ask the question so innocently and I know they don’t expect my response, but I don’t know what else to say sometimes.

It’s so complicated. 

But it’s our story, it’s our LIFE. It’s taken me a long time to get over the stigma and judgment that follows whenever I say my daughter lives with her dad. 

It used to bother me when people assume they know what our situation is at first glance. But now I talk about it so openly that it just feels natural to share the details of our story. There is something so powerful about being genuine and transparent. 

The burden of silence is heavy to carry alone. The awkwardness of a situation is alleviated when the truth is spoken fearlessly. Walls are broken down when mothers unite on common ground. Link arms with me and share your truth. Use the hashtag #thisisoursplendidlife to become a part of this community. We NEED each other, no one has to fight their custody battle alone. ❤️ And if you’d like to participate in the Our Splendid Life weekly chat, message me for more info! 

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!