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. ❤️

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 💗

The best of both

This moment is so bittersweet. As I wait at the airport, I am looking forward to seeing Matt and my little ones but I already miss Elle Kade so much. 


My heart wishes that I could be in two places at once. 

I love the life we have created in Idaho and I fully support Matt in his career that has established our family. We knew the challenge ahead of us when Matt accepted an amazing job offer after law school and now he is pursuing his dream. I am so proud of him and I am so happy living in Idaho. 


I am so lucky to be able to visit Elle Kade anytime, I have an amazing support system that makes these trips possible! And I know that she can always fly to Idaho to see us over long school breaks.


But for just a split second as I sit here in between these two worlds, I wish there was a way to have the best of everything. To live wherever we want to live and have Elle Kade with us all the time. To be a “normal” family. 

I know it will never happen, and I really can’t complain… I just had the most amazing vacation in Florida where I was able to spend quality time with Elle Kade and now I can fly home and squeeze my family in just a few hours. 

So maybe that is what it means to have the best of both worlds ❤️

the good with the bad

I’ve been looking forward to this trip with Elle Kade for such a long time! I knew that she would only be able to stay with me for 3 days before going back to school but that I would do my best to maximize our time and make the most of such a short visit. We made a list of everything she wanted to do and spent the entire time checking things off! 

We had ice cream for breakfast and painted pottery at a studio in Hyde Park


We went roller skating and bought a new doll from the toy store


We spent hours playing at the beach


We went to the salon and got manicures and pedicures then had lunch at our favorite hibachi restaurant


We were intentional with our time and made the most of every moment!

Which made it so much harder to say goodbye last night. 

I had to drive 2 hours to drop her off and when we got in the car, she laid her head on my arm and said “why do we always have to say goodbye” … my heart shattered. She started to cry and I had to hold back tears because we both knew that this would be the last time we would spend together this trip. 


And then waking up this morning and realizing she was gone… that is always the hardest part. The very next day when her dirty clothes are still on the floor and her toothbrush is on the sink, the little traces of her linger but she is so far away. 

I can’t say that I always focus on the good, because in moments like this, how can I? This weekend was amazing, and we created so many special memories… but it always has to end. We always have to say goodbye and that will never change. 

But all it takes is for me to pause and allow myself the grace to feel true sadness, take a deep breath, and shift my mindset to remember that the good always outweighs the bad. The happiness is always greater than the sorrow, and every moment I spend with her is worth the days and weeks without. 

Isn’t that what life is all about- Having faith that there is always sunshine after rain. There is will always be a Hello after a Goodbye. 

We would never fully comprehend true happiness if we didn’t first experience challenges, failures, and loss. 

The most incredible triumph comes from choosing joy through our trials regardless of our situation. 

The hardest decision


When Matt and I met, I was a single mom working full time and living in my grandparents basement in Utah. I had been legally separated from Elle Kade’s dad for a year and was just beginning the court process to finalize my divorce and determine a custody arrangement. 
After months of court hearings and failed mediation, we finally reached a compromise. Elle Kade would live with me full time and visitation would be every 3rd week until she began kindergarten and it would change to every other weekend and all summer. We included revisions to provide for the fact that we would be moving to Utah after Matt graduated from law school. 


Everything went as planned and Matt accepted a job in Utah. We were prepared to pay for plane tickets every month and fly her out based on the visitation agreement of one weekend of their choosing per month (which would include all holidays) and then all summer. It seemed so simple on paper. 

I had no idea how difficult it would really be. There was enough ambiguity in the paperwork to cause contention with every single visitation. We assumed that she would be allowed to fly alone based on universal flight policy, but her dad refused to let her. So I was forced to fly back and forth with her every single month, usually over a holiday weekend, leaving my 2 babes and husband home alone. Not to mention the added expense in which the plane tickets alone cost over $1000 monthly. 

On top of the inconvenience and expense, Elle Kade would miss school because of the fact that they strictly enforced the fact that she needed to be at their house by 6 pm on Friday- it was physically impossible to fly across the country after school to arrive in South Carolina by the time their visitation started so she was missing school in order for her to be there on time. Not to mention the fact that she had to fly back on Sunday night and adjust to a time difference before school the next day. 


The entire situation was unsustainable. I was overwhelmed and completely stressed out. We scheduled a phone conference with our attorney to go back to court and address the issues we were having. I knew it was necessary but I dreaded beginning the whole court process over again. 

I remember getting off the phone with our attorney and just crying. Matt and I had been praying for an answer and it just didn’t feel right. I told Matt that I felt really strongly that maybe the best thing would be to allow her to live with them for a while. That’s exactly what they wanted and she had been asking to live there as well. I couldn’t imagine actually making that decision, but it seemed like the only possible solution. 

Making the phone call to her stepmom to say that we had been considering the possibility of her living with them was the hardest phone call I’ve ever had to make. It was the one thing I said I would never ever do. 

Even though I had an incredibly strong prompting and deep feeling within my heart that I was making the right decision, it was so hard. My faith has always sustained me during times of doubt, but it was so incredibly difficult to ignore what the logical solution would be and follow the answer to my prayer.  But just because that answer wasn’t what I expected or wanted to hear doesn’t give me the right to deny it. And just because my prayer was answered doesn’t meant that all of my problems were solved.


One thing that I’ve intentionally changed is my perspective and how I communicate with Elle Kade. Instead of referring to who she “lives with” we talk about who she spends the school year with and who she spends the summer and breaks with. Just making that small change has reinforced the fact that she is so loved and our custody arrangement is as close to even as it will ever be. Our situation isn’t perfect but as long as Elle Kade is healthy, happy, and well adjusted then that’s enough for me ❤️