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!

A Perfect Fall Picnic

Summer heat is giving way to crisp fall air and there is no better time to have a picnic!  


Italian salami, Mediterranean cheese, freshly baked olive loaf, grapes on the vine, honey crisp apples and sparkling water complete the spread.

We went on a picnic for one of our very first dates and it’s a memory that I will never forget. We were young and in love and always looking to find ways to spend every moment together! Here we are 7 years later, and I am still completely smitten.

“We’ll look back someday

 at this moment that we’re in 

and I’ll look at you and say, 

I thought I loved you then”

 

Chambray Top: J. Crew

Embroidered skirt: Anthropologie

Wedges: Prada

Photography by Sophia Nolan


Rain Boots and Memories

Today was hard.

Clare wanted to wear Elle Kade’s rain boots. Just seeing her in them reminded me of the last time Elle Kade wore them… back when she was living with us. It was a rainy day and I took the kids outside to jump in puddles. I cherish the memory and can still hear the little squeals and giggles that ensued.

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Today was another rainy day but Elle Kade isn’t here to enjoy it with us. I get snapchats from her stepmom of her dancing in the rain in Florida and I’m so happy that she’s happy, but those 2,000 miles are too far some days. She wakes up, gets dressed, goes to school, comes home, does her homework, plays outside, eats dinner, and goes to bed… Every single day. Without me. The thought of not being there to kiss her goodnight or help her with her homework or pack her lunch breaks my heart. I told myself this would be temporary. That she would change her mind after one school year. I wasn’t prepared to let her go again.

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Some days, I feel so guilty for having a normal life- for creating a routine that doesn’t include her. My coping mechanism is to ignore. I wake up and fill my day with distractions so I forget. And then… on days like today, I remember. I remember so vividly, it’s almost unbearable.

I pray for strength. To have faith and trust that everything happens for a reason. To know that there is a plan greater than anything I can comprehend and someday this will all make sense. I pray for my daughter that she will eventually understand that despite my flaws, I tried my best.

To those of you struggling to keep up with everyday life, who face challenges great and small every single day, who pray for guidance and forgiveness for our shortcomings of today and go to bed with a renewed sense of hope for a better day tomorrow. To YOU- I want to say- You are doing your best. Don’t feel guilty for giving your kids cereal for breakfast because the dishes weren’t clean. Don’t beat yourself up because you turned the TV on so you could get the laundry done. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, because you never know what battles others are facing behind closed doors. And just remember that whatever you do will be enough because  TRYING COUNTS ❤️

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Back to the Beginning

This has been on my heart for a long time now, and I have been intimidated and honestly terrified to start talking about this… But I have such a strong conviction that my story is valuable and could somehow in some way help someone. I hesitate to post anything out of fear of judgment, fear that it could be used against me, fear of transparency. At this point, I just feel so strongly that I need to say something. To speak out and shed light on a situation that is so common but still so taboo.

And this is MY story to tell from my point of view in my own words. That being said, I believe that there are 3 sides of every story- mine, yours, and the truth that lies somewhere in the middle. Everyone has a different perspective and I understand that my point of view will be different than his. But I have been consistent in keeping my integrity throughout this entire situation- I have tried so hard to be completely honest for the sake of knowing that I have to live with myself when all is said and done and I take complete responsibility for my actions.

My purpose in writing this is not to make anyone else look bad, but I will not make excuses or hide any of the facts. I am going to share my story, exactly how it happened from my perspective, in hopes that someone who is going through a similar situation might find hope and inspiration.

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I was so young when I became a mother. It completely changed my life and I am so grateful for that opportunity and blessing. But when I first saw that positive pregnancy test my world turned upside down. I felt completely inadequate and so confused. I wasn’t married at the time and there were so many decisions to make.

I seriously considered adoption, the possibility of being a single mom, and trying to make things work as a family. I have to be honest and say that I still don’t think there is one right answer. Every situation is different and I know that my decision was exactly what I needed to do at the time. I believe that everything happens for a reason and because of that, I have never doubted my decision. The path of motherhood is HARD regardless of what type of situation you are in.

{If you are pregnant and struggling with how to decide between so many options, email me and I can share my perspective with you.}

After months of prayer and consideration, I decided to get married. There were many factors that contributed to my decision and the pressure to do the right thing was overwhelming.

On my wedding day, I stood waiting to walk down the aisle with so many doubts. I turned to my best friend and said that I didn’t want to do this. But I put one foot in front of the other until it was too late and my decision was made.

The next few months passed quickly and before I knew it, I was having a baby! The moment I laid eyes on my darling daughter my mindset completely changed. 9 months ago I was a self-centered, materialistic, immature girl who became a loving, overly cautious,  first time mother. And with that realization I began focusing completely on my daughter and being the best mother possible. It didn’t really matter if I had a good relationship with her dad or not. I was comfortable and complacent.

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Make it a Habit

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If you could do one thing to create a more positive, impactful, purposeful day… Would you do it?

Studies show that waking up early is directly correlated with a successful day. According to Forbes.com early risers are more proactive, anticipate problems, are better planners, and are more optimistic! Now those are some qualities I would like to take advantage of.

My journey as an early riser began a few months ago when I decided to work from home. I didn’t want my business to impact the quality time I was spending with my children, so I created a routine that allowed me to accomplish all the necessary tasks before they woke up every morning.

And what I discovered in the process was life changing! On the days that I woke up early I was more patient, slow to anger, had MORE energy, and felt so much happier overall.

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Creating a morning routine was critical in the process of learning to wake up earlier. After reading The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, I adopted a few of his S.A.V.E.R.S. to incorporate into my morning ritual.

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Each morning I take the opportunity to go for a quick jog. (Disclaimer: I hate to run!) I’ve discovered that I actually love to be outside before the sun comes up and the world is still asleep so I just happen to run/jog/walk or whatever you want to call it at the same time. Sometimes in silence, sometimes with a good audiobook, and sometimes I turn up whatever music I’m in the mood for! The point is to find a way to silence your thoughts and enjoy the fresh air (the peace and quiet) before the chaos of the day begins.

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Affirmations have such a positive impact on our energy. By creating a pattern of uplifting and encouraging thoughts, we have a natural tendency to believe what we are saying. If you have self doubt or worry, make a list of affirmations to repeat every morning and before long, you will notice a difference in how you think and act!

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As soon as you wake up, drink a large glass of ice water. It will help awaken your senses and also jump start your metabolism! Fuel your body with whole foods and always start your day out with a good breakfast. It doesn’t have to be complicated… Try making overnight oats or have some hard boiled eggs and fruit ready to go so you don’t have to overthink what you’re going to eat first thing in the morning.

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I’ve always loved to read, but learning to incorporate at least 30 minutes of personal development was something that totally changed my day. Instead of diving into fiction where I could lose myself for hours (not always a good thing!) I reach for a self improvement book and take notes as I strive to implement the practices I learn from each author. Not only do I get a daily reminder of habits I’m striving to develop, but reading establishes a pattern of higher education which we should all have a goal of attaining!

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Exercise!! I mentioned going on a quick walk earlier which is a great way to start. But I’ve found that incorporating weights and high intensity interval training not only helps boost my mood, but has also helped me lose and keep off the baby weight I had gained with 3 pregnancies. I ENJOY working out from home and look forward to pressing play every morning!

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Change doesn’t just happen. You have to challenge yourself and push past your comfort zone to really see what you are capable of. And creating habits like waking up early might begin as a struggle, but someday you will see how far you’ve come. And that’s what life is all about- making progress!

 

This is the Hardest Part

This is the hardest part.

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Sitting with my sweet girl before she boards the plane and leaves for the school year- it breaks my heart. And once she walks through the gate, I have to watch and wait as she sits right there- so close- before the plane takes off.

And then she’s gone.

I walk back to the car alone, her radio station is still playing. Her water bottle from breakfast is still in my cup holder. The little traces of her linger and I don’t want to wash her clothes and put them away until next time.

I pick Carter and Clare up and we go to lunch. I feel like something is missing, and it is. She is always in the back of my mind.

Carter and Clare still ask about her, he slips up and calls me Elle Kade on accident. They don’t understand the concept of time and how long it will be until they will see her again.

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I take the kids to lunch and Carter chooses pizza. I don’t even bother ordering a salad and choose to eat my feelings instead. Is that justified? No. Do I feel better now? No.

So we go thrift shopping to distract. We spend hours wandering the stores and I only end up buying books (tons of books) for the kids and a few to mail Elle Kade. Retail Therapy.

It’s bedtime now and I’ve tucked my babies in and kissed them good night, all but one. That void is so real right now, and I just lay on her bed as I write this trying to connect with her somehow. She was here just a few hours ago. And I don’t know when I’ll see her again.

It gets easier. Some days are better than others, not every day is like today. I still get to see her beautiful face when we FaceTime and I can call her tomorrow. I am so grateful for the time that she spent with us this summer, and I am already looking forward to the next time I get to visit her. Until then, this is the hardest part.

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Full Circle

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You know when you have those moments when everything comes full circle and you start to see the bigger picture? You almost have to catch your breath and you have goosebumps because you realize that your divine potential is greater than anything you could have imagined for yourself?

As I was washing the dishes today, I had one of those moments. And when I think about everything that I had to go through, all of the challenges and struggles that placed me exactly where I stand today, I am reminded that everything happens for a reason.
If you could rewind for a minute and see what my life was like in my darkest times- during a custody battle that lasted for years, while I struggled to find peace as a new mom, all of the moments when I felt burdened with more than I could bear… All of those trials made me stronger.

And all along, that strength was always there. It needed to be refined and molded into something recognizable, but I can see it now. I know that I am capable of doing hard things. I know that I can lift others and share my story so those situations might not be so hard for someone else. I can comfort and empathize with other mamas who have heavy hearts.
And none of that would have been possible without the mental, physical, and emotional transformation that has happened since I became a coach.

Everything is so interconnected… If we are struggling with something emotional, it manifests itself physically and mentally. Finding a way to overcome one area will inevitably begin the overall healing process. Until eventually we look back and realize that everything fell into place exactly how it should.

People enter our lives, opportunities present themselves, daily reminders appear and we just have to learn to wait for them, watch for them, and act on them when the time is right.
So take a moment to reflect tonight on where you are in your journey and visualize where you want to go. Wherever you are is exactly where you are supposed to be in this moment, but you are capable of so much more than settling for limiting beliefs. You are capable of changing your life, you just have to be willing to do whatever it takes to become the person you are meant to be