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!!

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!

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. ❤️

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. 

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!