#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! 

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!

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.

image

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.

image

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 ❤️

image

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.

image

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.

image