Utah and Squatting and Halloween and being homeless


When we decided to move from Florida, we had high hopes that Dale would find a job quickly. Meanwhile while we waited for the inevitable, the kids and I opted to move in with my parents to save money while Dale invaded a friend's house looking for a job. We really didn't think this situation would last long, but we were wrong. We were living with my parents for a month with no end in sight. I'm not gonna lie, it was a hard month. It was stressful and embarrassing and hard and just weird. I was super grateful to my parents for helping us and putting up with us, but the days stretched on and nothing was working out on the job front. Meanwhile our money was quickly running out and we felt like we were stepping on toes. I was having a hard time being pregnant and doing the single mom thing for so long. I do not look back on this time fondly, though now I think I should have been a little more positive and grateful that my kids got to spend so much time with their grandparents.

Anyway, here are a few things we did while we were in Utah:

Visited my grandparents in Northern Utah. Viv was obsessed with picking the plants from their garden. She's been loving Daniel Tiger and wants to be a "vegetable taster" all the time. So now because of my grandpa's garden, she loves tomatoes, bell peppers, and peas.

We went to grandma and grandpa's farm and rode horses, played with the dogs and fed the cows. A lot.

Mo pooped in his bed, and that was super fun to clean up on my own.

We went up the mountain a few times to roast hot dogs, s'mores and fish at Kid's Pond.

Isn't she beautiful?! Caught her first fish and so proud!

One particularly hard weekend, Dale flew out to visit us. We really needed that time with him, so we headed up the mountain again to hang out.

Viv's cousin Austyn came to stay and have sleepovers with us for a few days. These girls were super cute together!

cuddled with my cute boy

Finally, towards the end of our stay as Halloween got closer, I was feeling really low and wasn't a very great mom. I decided to do something fun for Viv and put together a treasure hunt for her around the house. My pirate friend Black Beard had just returned from sailing on the deep blue sea, and he stopped by to hide treasure at our house (AKA I printed out clues and hid them around the house and Viv had to solve them to find the buried treasure...but for the record, Viv STILL asks about Black Beard and I have to tell her he's still sailing and will stop by when he's done sailing....ha!). Anyway, it was super cute.

We also went to a cute fall farm thing down in St. George with my mom. We saw animals, the Sanderson Sisters, lots of witches and pumpkins and tractors. It was really cute. I have more pictures somewhere but can't find them right now.

My mom also took my sibs and I to see Dracula, and it was so good and suuuuper creepy. And somehow Dracula himself was really hott and seductive? No wonder I've always been into vampires.

By the end of October, we made the decision to just move to California so our family could be together through the hard times. I don't know if it was our smartest decision, but at the time, we took the risk so that we could be together. What happened was another month of literally squatting in empty houses, living with gracious people and living out of our suitcases and a few boxes. It was another very hard month for us. Jobs still weren't moving, nothing good was happening. We were definitely out of money, we had no insurance, I was halfway done with my unexpected pregnancy and we still hadn't been to an appointment since Florida. We couldn't get Viv in school. We couldn't buy warm clothes for the kids. We hadn't packed enough clothes for such an extended stay, we didn't have anything to cook with so had to eat out a lot....it was crazy. BUT it was Halloween! Here are a few outtakes. This pumpkin patch outing was the first thing we did after we all were finally living back together. I remember it being a really happy day.


Carved pumpkins at the house we were squatting in at the time. Thank you Berry family! They had moved and sold their house, but it had to be empty for 30 days before new owners could move in. Our homeless timing was perfect, and they so graciously let us squat in their beautiful empty home for about 2 weeks.

The kids were so adorable for Halloween this year. Viv wanted to be a mermaid, so we crafted our family costumes around that. I made her a simple mermaid tail and some "mermaid boobs" as she called them. She loved getting her hair curled and putting pretty sparkly makeup and lipstick on. You can tell that she won't quite smile normally because lipstick just makes things different, you know?

Mo was a hit this year. EVERYONE was obsessed with his costume (which i literally bought two rainbow boas and hot glued them on a pair of red sweatpants and a red shirt). His costume was so easy but it was hilarious to watch him waddle around with feathers bouncing everywhere. he was SO FLUFFY AND PERFECT. When I first tried to put his costume on him, he was terrified of it -- literally shaking with terror when it came near him. After forcing it on him a few times (and probably giving him issues later in life), he ended up loving it. Especially after he realized it meant he got candy.

Dale and I were pirates, obviously, and our family ensemble was complete. Halloween was a much needed distraction for us this year, and it was really great.

Two birds of a feather, a parrot and Hedwig (Hazel)

We went trick or treating in the French's neighborhood with one of Viv's favorite friends (Tate- she loooves Tate). Mo loved this part and he was so cute about it. Afterwards, he would carry his heavy bucket around, refusing to let it go. We had to pry it out of his chubby little hands every night at bedtime and he would throw a huuuuge fit. SO CUTE.


ANYWAY. Back to less fun things:

I get really stressed thinking about this time in my life. I didn't feel like we had any answers, we were second guessing our decision to quit Florida in the first place, we didn't see things working out for a while. We didn't know what we were going to do. Being jobless, homeless, pregnant....it was a terrible combination, and we only did it for a few months, but those few months were some of the hardest I can remember. Luckily we have some wonderful friends and support in California and they helped us so much during this hard time in our life.

After months of stress, living in a ward member's just-sold house that they had moved out of (and it was going to be empty for a month, so we were literally squatters) , then living in a ward member's house while they were out of the country for two weeks and then moved again to another member's house for a few weeks (all told, we lived in 5 different places/houses after leaving Florida. It was insane. And not fun.), By a stroke of luck, we happened upon a house in our favorite ward's boundaries that was big enough for us and in our budget -- it was perfect (even though houses in our budget and big enough were few and far between) and we got it. We got it even though we still didn't have a job. We took ANOTHER big risk. and then, mercy of all mercies, Dale landed a job that he wanted, right before Thanksgiving, starting mid-December. We were relieved and so happy, though stressed because we still wouldn't be getting a paycheck until January.

But now, I'm writing this a year later, and it all worked out. It's a pretty dark time looking back, but also really wonderful because a lot of tender mercies happened, we received so much service and help and love. We really were very blessed for things to work out the way they did. Looking back, it's easy to see the Lord's hand in all of it. I am grateful for our trials. And I am grateful for them to be behind us for now.


  1. Elyse!! This link popped up on my Google page today and I felt like crying reading it because I would be a complete mess in that situation. I still just can't believe everything you went through last year and how beautifully things have worked out!! Way to go trusting in the Lord when a lot of people would have been too afraid to make the jump.



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