👩🌾 Emily Campbell. Joys and challenges of raising a family in rural America.
Emily Campbell is a product designer based out of Moab, Utah where she lives with her husband and three kids. She makes the money, he plays with the kids, and together they are having an adventure of a lifetime.
Hi, my name is Carlos will skate and you're listening to write that a show where awesome parents share their stories and teach us something you today. My guest on the show is Emily Campbell. Emily is an awesome designer who works remotely from Ma Buta, and she's also a mom of three kids. And by the way, in her family, she makes way more money than her husband, which may not be entirely traditional or where she lives. But that's what makes their family fun. And them so different people. We dive right in. I just want to say a quick thank you told the Lizard Fish show would not be possible without you. And also a huge thanks to my mom is always listening to the show. Mom, you're the best. And now let's dive right into the rocky red canyons of Utah. Here, a family has to say, Emily, welcome to the
show. Thank you. I'm glad to be here.
I'm really glad you're here. And you are the first mom on the podcast. You know, I know you and I get a sense of who you are, but for our listeners, let's quickly start with how and why you win from being a law student, the big city Thio being a raft guide and eventually a designer in a small town, kind of far away from everything.
Yeah, there is a little bit of yada, yada yada, and there was a law student, and I very quickly realized I didn't want to be a law student. Or, more precisely, I didn't want to be a lawyer. The experience of learning the law and exploring it is a lot different than actually applying it and being a lawyer. And I just didn't want to spend my life dog down in debt and paperwork. And so I commandeered my parents Tahoe Chevy Tahoe and moved to California, where I learned to be a river guide. I had done Cem Cem rafting for fun and actually trained to be a guide and was freelancing to pay. The bills ended up in Moab, Utah, where I still am, and this is where I met Jeff was on a river trip, so quite the ride it's been
you make it sound.
Actually, it felt more simple living in, you know, in retrospect, it was pretty interesting and complicated choice, but it's worked out pretty darn well. I'd say, quite frankly, been one of the best decisions I made.
Did you do a road trip along
It was so wonderful.
I was able to travel up to Montana and Idaho,
and I spent some time around Seattle.
I know you're in that area,
so I got to know your neck of the woods a little bit,
and I just took my time picking my way across the West,
and over the couple years I was doing that full time.
I traveled to Arizona and I traveled around Nevada,
The West is an incredible place.
And of course,
at that time I had no kids.
I had no spouse,
or really anyone that I needed Thio accommodate. And so it was just me and the road, and it was wonderful. I saw parts of this country that I would never have known existed prior to that experience, and it gave me a just grand appreciation for this area.
So why settle in Utah the end of the day?
That's a weighted question,
because Utah is not without its challenges.
It you know,
it wasn't an easy decision.
obviously I ended up here because of the river and just guiding and ultimately stayed because of our mutual attachment to the Colorado here,
And for anyone who doesn't know Moab,
it's a very small town.
the entire county is less than 20,000 people.
I live two hours from the nearest target or Wal Mart,
but we're also within a stone's throw of two national parks,
and we have millions of visitors from all around the world every year.
So you get this sort of small town but big city feel living here,
which is interesting,
and we're also very remote,
so you know, beyond being hours from a target. This is the last place that you can cross the Colorado River until Lake Powell, hundreds of miles downstream. So it's a very special place. It's beautiful and what I like about it here, and I'm sure we'll explore this as we talked about how the kids fit in. But you really, it's a different lifestyle. It's a little bit slower. It's a little bit more community based. It's stunned. We have access here to some of the most incredible views and geologic formations and human history that you just can't access or might not have the ability to see anywhere else. I mean, I can see the Milky Way every night from my driveway, which is just incredible.
And it's it's really nice to be able to raise kids here. You know, they go on field trips to places that other people make safe for years to visit. And that's that's something that is, uh is worth the challenges of living in a small town in Utah. It's it's different. I actually was born in New York City and spent the first half of my life in the suburbs just north of the city. So I've sort of seen both sides of the coin at this point, and you have lived in Denver and lived in Washington, D. C. So now I kind of have been joking that I've just been downsizing throughout my adult life. Um, you know, it's I mean, first of all,
any sort of small town comes with its own set of politics and social that its social dynamics. So there's challenges we face about being a newer family. The fact that I wasn't born here Jeff wasn't born here as the town has grown and as some of the challenges of being a tourism town such as the high cost of living have started to affect the local population. There's certainly some resentment towards people who aren't the old timers. So that's been hard. I think as far as the kids are concerned, there are so many new family's moving in every year that it doesn't affect them as much as it might. And so I'm grateful for it. Obviously, I'm grateful to live in the modern era so I can get things on two day prime because the lack of availability of any sort of retail is hard. But honestly, it's it's really not that bad. I mean, my taxes air like $1100 a year for a house on an acre of land, which is just a herd of, and even Denver had certainly Seattle.
So you know, it's it takes some adjustments. Personally, I wish there was a little bit more culture. I wish there was a little bit more in the way of music and art. Even though it's an artistic town, there's just things that you don't have access to that you would in a large city. But, you know, we get the kids over to Denver, we get him up to Salt Lake, we go to see the ballet. We go to see the theater. We visit the museum, so it just takes a little bit more work to get them access to that. I guess
so. Let's let's talk about this work, right, Because for me, if I want to take my kids anywhere, just jump in a car 20 minutes, two minutes to 12 minutes. Even if I you know, if I don't have to go too far and I'm somewhere, I'm doing something. What does it look like in more? Well, first of all, what's what's doing? Something with kids and mobile. And then how do you get there? Yeah,
so one of our favorite things to do is take our boats out on the river.
So we've got a couple different boats.
But recently we we've been using our sport boat.
So takes about an hour to get it ready and Philip the motor with gas.
And then we can just take it right down in town.
Put the boat in the water and an hour later we are at the confluence of the Colorado in Green River and the depths of Canyonlands National Park,
which actually for Mother's Day.
Last year we did that.
We went down River and hiked up to this waterfall that comes in from a major drainage and was able to visit this waterfall that almost never runs and spend some time there.
So that was really special.
I really like taking the kids on hikes and blocks.
They're just getting to the age where they can to stay in themselves long enough that you're not just carrying them.
And there's some really quirky stuff around here to like,
There's this a roadside attraction called Hole in the Wall out here last.
But it is literally a hole in the rock.
It is a cave that they have blasted out that people used to live in,
and they have some of the oddest animals that they've brought in from places all around the world. Like, um, there's this bull, but it's not quite a bullet samad African bull thing, and you can feed it food, and they've got ostriches and camels, and so that's kind of fun. So we take it up there, but just really random stuff. You know, everything from cool hikes to just the most random, quirky kind of Americana attractions that you just don't really find much anywhere. So way. Try to keep it interesting. I'll tell you.
One of our favorite things to do is to hop over the mountains over to Telluride, Colorado, which is also nice is we're just a few hours from some really amazing places. So we'll take the kids up to Telluride for the weekend or toe askmen or down to Durango, Colorado. And so that's really fun as well. We've We've got a lot of access to cool
things. I love how you call it. Hop on this for a couple hours, Isn't it, like a six a seven hour drive? No,
it's like two and 1/2 hours, but I'm not afraid of long distances anymore. I can put down some serious miles,
just just stunning differences, right between living in a metropolitan area and just living in peace and quiet.
It is. It's almost unfathomable, fathomable until you've experienced it. But now a six hour drive is like nothing. It's no big deal. You just pop in a book on tape, and we've been training the kids. You know, since they were a little too we when they were babies, we would take them on road trips to California where you'd put down 12 or 13 hours in a day. So, uh, so we've got some good practice in this family.
How old are your kids
right now? Noah is going to turn five in May, and Peter is going to turn three. Well, next month, I guess in April. So we are coming up on some big milestones. And then Zoe, of course, he's my step daughter just turned 14 last fall. So I've got two toddlers and a 14 year old you can imagine. It's a really fun household right
now. Yeah, it's such a drastic difference. And I don't think I've talked to a lot of parents yet who have that? Usually kids air close together, right? And you, uh, you get to see everything in between, and I guess, but roll back five years, though, is we would have been nine. So you you you've already seen a lot more than a lot of parents with young kids because you get to see the older kid and the younger kids.
one of the nice things about that.
there's There's two really nice things.
The first is that Zoe is such a help around the house,
and she has a unique relationship with her brothers that is almost parental,
but not quite.
It's more like mentor type that they just love her.
They worship her,
They listened to her,
and of course she adores them.
But they have a really nice thing as parents is.
We've seen what comes next.
So when we're in the middle of the four NATO with Noah,
it's you know,
you can kind of breathe deep and say It's gonna be better.
It's gonna get better and it's gonna get better soon. And then, of course, you know teenagers have their own challenges, but we're lucky in that She's a just incredible person and an incredible kid. So as faras, the the challenges people faced with kids that age, I think we've gotten off pretty good.
I just wantto touch base on a road trip card again. How do you prepare your kids for these road trips? Because I mean little ones sitting in the car seat. You know, it's not really exciting
mentally preparing ourselves,
to be honest,
because any time her in a car with three kids,
it's it's hard,
we always pack a lot of snacks.
I try and get some new toys from the dollar store or some new books for them to read that we pull out on the trip.
And that way they've got something novel to keep their attention,
and we do a lot of talking with them.
We try and engage them while we're traveling.
So if I'm looking out the window talking to them about what they're seeing,
asked them to share their experience,
which is helpful.
And I mean,
there are times where I want to pull my hair out, and definitely we have lost our nerves with them when they just won't stop talking and we're in Mile six and losing her mom. But just like anything with kids, if you're engaging them and you're trying to make it exciting and making it about them, it is actually I don't want to say easy, but it goes pretty well and you know, as a result, they get to go see some really cool things that they might not otherwise have access to. So we keep them focused on that as well. You know, I'll tell you, we don't have video players or DVDs in our car, and that's the conscious choice that we've made. So I think sometimes in rest respect it would be easier if we had them looking at screens. And don't think I haven't almost hit the purchase button on that. But we're trying to train them to look around,
to experience the discomfort, even, you know, to experience the world around them, to enjoy the road. And that's something that both Jeff and I got from our parents. And so we think it's really important. I mean, hopefully it turns out to be something they're very grateful
for. Can you see them? Well, obviously, Zoe does, but the five year old does you remember what happened two years ago?
I think he thinks he does.
I really I wish I could get inside of his head because I don't really know what he retains from day to day.
Sometimes still surprise me and he'll pull out some memory.
That leaves me wondering where on earth did that come from?
But then other times he can't remember something that happened that morning.
So I will say we were looking through some old pictures this weekend.
I was organizing my Dropbox and showing them some pictures from when each of them were babies.
And even though they didn't necessarily necessarily have memories of what we were looking at,
it was fun.
Just see their excitement of viewing their childhood And there,
And they were asking all these questions about themselves.
Did I cry a lot?
tell me about this experience.
And so that was really fun to watch them kind of relive their past,
which isn't very long at four years old, but it's still it was fun is really fun. Have you had that is You have you're watching your kids grow doesn't make you think about your early memories, because I've been trying to think about what is my earliest memory earliest road trip. And sometimes I'm surprising myself, and then I can't remember if it's because I actually recall that or it's just some story. So I don't know. Is that something you thought about is you watched your little people grow,
definitely because for me personally,
I do have some memories,
and I feel like they're in chunks.
I remember some memories when I was probably about three years old,
but the sounds of it based on what we did and where we went.
But they're not very specific.
There's some specifics,
but most of them are kind of an aggregate.
I remember having a good time in the place,
right or doing something,
but I really can't tell,
and I don't know if there's any studies at all that can prove it or not.
I can't tell how and when it shaped me as a person and for all you know,
when I was a three year old,
something we did when I was three.
when I was a seven year old, something we did is a three year old probably had an impact and changed me as a seven year old. But as a 30 year old, I don't remember that, so it's very interesting and I'm just personally, I tried to maximize the experiences and kind of hope for the best that this will provide most educational most inspiring opportunities, whether they're six months or three years with 13
years. I think hoping for the best is kind of the standard mode that I'm in as a parent. Okay, we're just We're going to try this and we're going to see if it works. And if it doesn't glibly learn from that experience, so that's that's funny. I can totally relate to that to that mindset.
So let's see you guys in a small town. Uh, unlike US city dwellers, you actually close to the nature, and you take it every opportunity to go there by the sounds of it, Um, what else is really exciting about being a small town?
First of all,
and just speaking to Zoey's experience,
she's in the eighth grade now,
and she's going to school with people that she has known since preschool.
So for her,
it's it's been because she's self aware of that fact.
It's helped her mature,
or at least deal with situations and more mature manner that,
if you have a sudden change every couple of years,
with many kids coming in and out and changing schools,
I don't know.
It's mean there's good size and there's bad sides to having that kind of change.
And I know she often wishes that she went to a bigger school or could reset her friends.
But at the same time,
it he'll help her deal with some of the challenges she's facing as a 14 year old.
Better that she could say, Hey, I know this person very well. I've known this person since they were a preschooler. I know that what they're doing isn't something I should take personally. It's just who they are. So I think that's that's beneficial. And it's only something we've recently started to appreciate. And I think it's just nice that in a small town, especially right this time of year in the winner, when you're surrounded by locals, you start to realize how many mentors and leaders and, um, just anyone that these kids can look up to, How many people in the community makeup that that community for them? And so I gave him.
My little boys will be at the store and they'll see adults that say no from some relationship of Jeff reminds, and that adult knows them and can say their name and talk to them and have a personal relationship with them, and I just I think it creates kids to feel more involved in their community who feel like they are seeing a bit more. It's interesting because Jeff grew up in a small town. Jeff grew up in Jackson Hole back in the eighties. The, uh, you know what? Mostly in the eighties, he was there. And so he's experienced that small town, and he's talked at large about adults who were mentors and leaders and influence them. Jeff had a really unique experience growing up. Jeff actually was on the U. S. Skating and he was a sponsored racer from about the time that he was eight years old.
He traveled internationally during the school year, so he was doing a lot of correspondence courses and so really has spent a lot of time with adults and not so much with kids his age, at least not in a school setting. So I think he's had a pretty unique experience there, and I mean, there's really cool things about that. He's got some fantastic stories, obviously being able to travel around the world, skiing and Italy, and you know, wherever else Switzerland's That's just such an incredible experience for somebody to have. But it's also when you're growing up just around. Adults are mostly around adults. It definitely shaped you as a person. So we're trying to find a balance with the boys. It's also challenging because there is a major age gap between me and Jeff.
He's about 16 years older than me, and so a lot of his friends were older. And of course, my friends tend to be closer to early 19 thirties. So the boys are exposed to, I guess you know, just all sorts of crowds, all sorts of people. And, uh, we just were hoping it's gonna work out. I guess. Just hold on, do the best you can and hope we're giving them the right experience is the right exposure. And yeah, to see how it goes. You know, hold holding on for dear Life is a lot of parenting,
I think. Yeah, I didn't realize it at all that well, you guys had a big age gap, and I guess your kids do a CZ Well, it's ah, it's pretty exciting. I mean, it's great for the kids to play with older kids because they can learn so much, and especially if you can also play with a wide range of adults. And they're all friendly able, not old friends. They know your kids so they can't really run away too far before someone don't finds them and says, Well, why aren't you home doing homework, right? That's that's not a terrible environment to grow
it's It's pretty greats.
And they do.
The boys have many big sisters in the community.
All of Zoey's friends who just love them and,
have enjoyed watching them grow up,
it's it's difference having an age gap in both relationships in both regards.
it's it's it's fun.
And I think, uh, it's well, yeah, I mean, there's like I said, there's there's challenges and but there's challenges in any situation. Some of the challenges are making sure that we do have enough friends with young kids so that the boys don't have to just deal with their preschool friends. That they actually have a community that we socialize with is a family. So that's been something we've had to be more aware of. And, um, you know, making sure that for Zoey's place that she doesn't feel too much responsibility to care for the kids, that she's still allowed to have a child because she does find herself in a position where she's helping out with them quite a bit. And sometimes it's us asking that of her.
Sometimes it's her volunteering, but we've had to be very deliberate about making sure that she gets a childhood, too. And she feels important, too, because, of course, you know when you're 14 years old, you may feel like a grown up, but you're still a kid and that time is bleeding. So we've been trying to make more of an effort there, and it's it's paid off. You know, we make sure that she gets special time, too.
What's a special time for a 14 year old? I'm just curious to see if you could go a little bit more into how you actually help is away. Be a child while she's got two young kids because I know that a lot off I've read some coming boards where actually adults when they grow up and it's totally positive by the way, when they grow up and they have kids of their own that I can see them say, Well, you know, I actually know how to take care of kids because when I was ah, like an older kid, I had young siblings. So I know about this crying and this and that and like my partners in trusting you on this and, um so it's in the way. It's awesome experience for her growing
I think that's a great point is when.
If she does choose to have kids of her owns,
then she now has this experience to fall back on,
because when I had my first head,
I was terrified.
I had no frame of reference,
and so it's a great experience for her.
It's also great birth control because I'm looking at this girl going.
There is no way that I want to have anything to do with this full time for a long time,
so that's positive.
We d'oh a lot of stuff with her that is focused around her interests.
Jeff spends a lot of time with her taking her on river trips.
it's just with her.
I try and find time to go shopping with her go have dinner.
I'm also very involved in her school. So I engage their teachers. I'm on some committees. We always try and make it to her school events. So, like Zoe ran for student body president this year and we went, we watched her speech, which I'm lucky because my job has the flexibility that allows us to jump out of the work day and go down and just let her know that she has an audience and that we care about her. And she was in the spelling bee, the local spelling bee, and we were able to attend that. So, you know, obviously when you're 14 your parents are pretty lame and you really wantto spend most of your free time with your friends and not with your parents. But we do try and make sure that she knows we're paying attention. And so,
um, it encourages her. It validates her. And really, she's just a great kid. She's just a great person. She takes a lot of initiative on her own, and so we want her to know that we're watching and that we know how awesome she is. And we know how hard she works, and I think that makes her feel very good.
That's a great point just to actually remind her about it. And as a parent, don't forget to tell her. In general, just tell your kids that they're awesome.
It's easy to feel frustrated,
Think about what we as adults,
often deal with,
whether it's imposter syndrome or feeling like we might be alienated or feeling on shirt,
sure about ourselves.
And we have so much more life experience to fall back on to say,
I'm inside of my head.
I need to pull up.
It's it's all gonna be okay and it when you're a teenager,
you just you don't have the experience to be able to reason with yourself to pull back and go.
Is this really something that's worth my time to flip out about or to worry about?
And so having people there who can remind her how great she is is helpful.
And I'll tell you,
I don't think that we are your typical parents and she knows that,
and I don't even just say that to give you credit. But Jeff and I, we draw the line pretty pretty firm with her. Like she knows we're not her friends. We are your parents, but we have a lot of pretty heavy conversations, and we've opened up some pretty heavy topics with her early, such as drinking and even sex and the stuff that she's gonna have to start to make personal decisions on soon. We've been having conversations with her for a couple of years, and the great thing about that is wind. She has questions, or when she hears things in school or she's uncertain. She knows she can come to us. And obviously the biggest fear for a parent is that a kid will put themselves in a situation where they could be harmed or harmed others and not feel like they have support. And eyes hope, anyway,
that she feels like she can talk to us if she gets in trouble, or if she is feeling like she doesn't have control of a situation that she can turn to us. And so I mean, fingers crossed, obviously. But I'm glad we've established that with her. How
do you even have awkward conversations? Other so awkward. But where do you start? Do you just kind of mentioned at a dinner table of Did you? Did you in their own juice? Yeah, let's talk about sex now.
that's exactly how I do it,
because it's impossible to ease into something like that.
You just you can't wait into the pool.
You just have to dive right in.
tell me about sex and it's almost like by making it more awkward,
it breaks the ice enough that she's willing to go there.
Where is when you're trying to have a conversation with a kid and you're kind of being uncomfortable and you're trying to get the conversation to go where you wanted to go and they're not really engaging.
It started to deal with that situation because they just they're not.
They're they're not present mentally.
They're off in their own world,
so we'll just jump in and start talking about it.
And that's I mean,
I'm sure she often wishes she wasn't at the dinner table when those conversations start,
but they've been pretty productive, and I've found and again this is just me taking a stab in the dark and hoping it works. But I have found that the war almost awkward. I'm willing to be his apparent to just make it so obvious that I am super lame and super sweet weird. And you know, it makes it easy for her to kind of separate the Emily who lives with her day today from the Emily who's having the heavy conversations. It's like it's almost as though I can when I'm trying to be her friend or come across that way. She tunes me out, but when I give her to that ability to kind of say, there goes my mom again she's almost more willing to go to to the deeper places. So it's kind of been funny to play with the dynamic and see how we need to change our conversation style to reach her. And somewhere we've been pretty successful, but it's it definitely takes constant adaptation.
But in a way, does she know that these conversations air is awkward for you is there
I don't think we left.
We let that on.
We try and pretend like we're totally cool with it.
it's not even that they are that awkward because at this point,
at 33 years old,
other than having more life experience and more maturity.
I don't feel all that different than I did when I was in my mid teens.
Like I still remember what it's like to be in that situation.
I remember all the social dynamics because,
the social dynamics really don't change that much between being a teenager and being at you know,
you still have the same caddy girls.
You still have the weird politics,
and so I just kind of put myself back into that place and talk to her like a person,
and it doesn't make me feel awkward anyway. It might make her feel awkward, but I I love it. I think it's great to be able to have this conversation, and I wish my parents had more of them with me, so I mean, that's the other thing is I'm trying to give her something I didn't have.
Is that what? Why didn't your parents have these conversations with
you? I don't know, did yours. I mean, I was sure my parents even knew where to start.
I don't know. I think I grew up with Internet and there was nothing secret on the Internet
I feel like when we were growing up, yes, we had access to the Internet, but our parents weren't totally clued into that yet. And so I obviously sauce for red stuff on the Internet that I didn't feel like I could talk to my parents about. But my parents never would have even thought to broach the subject with me in the first place.
Where is today, Right? So it's like you have superpowers. Could just find a ll this information and you didn't even know if your parents knew on.
And I can't say that's a good thing, though. I mean, I had there's so much stuff that I have had to relearn because I thought I had it figured out because of suddenly having access to all that information. So, you know, we've tried to get ahead of that with her and knowing that she's going to see this stuff, we want to make sure that she's getting the right information, or at least knows that there are other sources she can go to if she gets confused. But men parenting a child in the age of the Internet is so hard, and it's just gonna continue to change, and I sometimes feel so overwhelmed just trying to keep up with it.
You mean that as a parent, you can't really look into those things, so you know something is going on, but there's no way you can even exert control because it's completely out of your.
I don't know that I'm trying to exert control,
but you want to make sure,
like I wouldn't send Zoe out to go do something unless I knew where she was right?
And that doesn't mean that I need to be there next to her the whole time.
But I want to know where she is.
I want to know if the parents is around well on the Internet,
she's going places where I don't even know where she's hanging out.
And so it's hard to know what she's gonna find and what she's going to experience or what questions you might have.
And I'm sure my parents felt the same way when I was hanging in chat rooms at whatever age 12 13 years old,
and they didn't know what I was seeing our hearing or anything like that.
and it's constantly balances a parent,
especially if an older kid,
you want to know,
but you don't want to control.
You want them to be able to explore and discover and fail and learn. But you don't want them to get hurt. And you know that hurt could be really could be something dangerous. But it also could be heard in the sense of, you know, getting really false information or being confused by what they read or hear and not knowing where to go to get more answers. And so, gosh, it's a jungle to be able to support. But also, you know, let her be
free for me, having a three year old a couple months old. I've never thought about these things yet to come Before you know it. It's definitely definitely a strange world out there, and all right, let's change topic a little bit and talk about your marriage and how you gets parent while you were actually have a full time job. Are you busy all the time? And Jeff has a part time job where he's a rap guide, and sometimes he'd be gone for months on end. But then, when he's back, he's actually fully present at home and can do all sorts of things with the kids.
it works out well,
so I do have a full time job,
but I work remotely,
which means I'm home all the time and my schedule gives me a fair amount of flexibility.
So that helps.
It's definitely something we've had to talk about and even reckon with,
because I do think that sometimes he feels like where he feels the responsibility of being the dad,
the social pressure that the dad should be,
the one providing for the family.
And Jeff has a very good sense of self worth and a lot of confidence in himself and what he brings to the table into the kids,
so he's able to get around that.
But I do think he is aware a times that what he's doing isn't necessarily what he expected he'd be doing.
I'm actually surprised by how many people I know have a similar arrangement.
really thinking off the top of my head.
Some of my closest friends here have very similar situations at home where the mom works out of the house or in the house, and the dad is the primary caregiver, you know? I mean, there's all sorts of reasons that maybe in our case, it's just that my skills are a little bit more suited for the modern world and can make more money. And in other cases it's just opportunity. The mom happened to have an opportunity that came off, and so that's how it fell out. And I think it's really great that we live in a time where we're not paying as much attention to who should be working. But rather how do we make this work regardless of what our arrangement is? So, you know, in our house, we we try and spend a lot of time together on the weekends, we try to stay together,
the family doing things as a group. And certainly I need to make sure that Jeff has time to himself, and not just as far as being ableto catch up on rest and relaxation, but to make sure he has had a long engagement and has an opportunity to not just be surrounded by two year olds and four year old stuff. So that's something we need to be aware of and I don't know. We just kind of take it one day at a time. It's hard when he's gone. But theme, he's home. He's home all the time. So it's the kids, Really. They works out. It's, you know, it's hard.
I think the biggest problem that we face is just developing a consistent routine when he is gone, because routine is so important to young ones. And when Jeffs away from home for two weeks or three weeks. Actually, he just got back from a one month trip. He was in the Grand Canyon and, you know, it was a major adjustment Thio my schedule, but also to the kids scheduled that suddenly Dad wasn't there to get them up and take them to school and pick them up and attend to their needs. And so it created some stress. But I think it's worth it in the end, and it's fun because his job keeps us here. It gives us access to some really cool places, and I can't drive a Spartan boat, so I'm very glad he can on Guy try and just focus on the positive stuff
like that. Let's talk about the social pressure you mentioned one of the reasons why I started red. That is to highlight the fact that it's perfectly fine to be involved, Dad. In fact, that's awesome. It's also for the kids, all right, and it's kind of healthy for a relationship. If you can't be involved in and spend a lot of times with the kids when you can, do you feel like this? The pressure is amplified where you are or because more families are actually living in the same situation. It is in the way easier to deal with it. And is it self inflicted pressure like where you feel like the way this is not the way things should be? Or are people actually, you know, talking about like, Oh,
yeah, you would think in Utah there'd be more pressure and I think up near Salt Lake there certainly is. And I've even had conversations with some of my male friends and co workers who live up in the Salt Lake area, where they can't even fathom a situation where mom would work and dad would stay home. So, like when the actually is that guy's name. The guy from Google who wrote the essay about women and men and the biological differences
that you shall
not exactly. But that started a lot of conversations where in many respects came back to who should be in the home and doesn't just make more sense for men to work, which is just a awful first of all. But I don't think I think in their case it was due to a lot of this social structure, things that they just always have been taught. Here you have to be more flexible. You have to be more creative and how you structure your job or your work.
Because we have a tourism economy,
there's not that many full time stable jobs available Unless you're in government,
you have to be more creative in how you piece together your employment and your income as a family.
So unfortunately for a lot of families,
that means you have Mom and Dad's,
both working at least one if that multiple jobs.
So we're really quite lucky in that regard.
So you know,
the fact that Jeff is home with the kids is,
almost less of a burden in that sense is an opportunity,
if I didn't have my job working as a designer in the tech industry.
Then you know,
we would probably both either not afford to live here at all,
or we'd have to have multiple jobs,
probably in the service industry.
So even though it's hard having to do something that's a little different than how either of us were raised it, it's better for the kids. It's better for the family. And I think we just kind of hold to that. And so and really, you know, that's anything that has to do with the new economy or new technology. There's so many benefits to adopting that new way of doing things that it just kind of compensates for the things that are not as awesome all the time or that are a little strange. So I'll tell you something funny. That is a bit of the free range parenting thing in us, but I don't know how good it is in the long run, but the boys help Jeff make the coffee in the morning. That's their little routine, and at some point Noah asked Jeff to have a bean, a coffee bean and yeah, I guess Jeff just said Sure,
So now every morning our two year old in our four year old request, a bean. And so far we haven't seen any major issues like no one's running into walls or anything. I am sort of wondering what this platitudes, they're long run. Ah, I know not health, but attention span. But it's kind of fun. So that's that's what they love to do is to make coffee with Dad every morning. Wait, what do they do? Anything with the being? We've gone through that phase. It's the same thing. It's like Daddy,
can I have a beings like here's to being and she just puts it somewhere and keeps it there. And that's that's about it. Oh, no, They eat them. They each other. Yeah, actually grind and made the coffee bean. They eat the coffee bean, and they only ever ask for one. But they love it. Which, first of all, a two year old and a four year old enjoying coffee beans Raw is funny. This is a kid that I can't get to eat, you know,
whole wheat bread with jam. So the most palatable toddler food they refuse to eat, and my kids like coffee, beans and capers and pickled asparagus. That's that's something that both boys have found they really enjoy. Go figure. So such a pickled asparagus there. It's very good on chopped salads, it turns out, but apparently also, it's good on the side. If you're a toddler with picky habits, I can't explain it. I cannot explain what my kids enjoy eating, and it changes from day to day. So you try and make them.
You know, I go on on Pinterest and I look at some of these moms who are making lunches with five different wholesome foods, and they shape them like Disney characters and put them in a homemade custom bento box. And I'm like, Yeah, my kids are eating grapes and capers because that's the only thing I can get them to eat, and I will take it. I try not to judge myself as a parent, you know, like on a day to day basis is if the only thing I could get my kid to eat his popcorn, but at least they're consuming calories and going to the bathroom like normal. Sometimes you just have to accept it and move on. Actually, I'm curious. What's for kids? Health.
What is normal for the part of the earth where you live. I mean kids. Other kids, like, cracked up when sugar all the time. Or is sugar frowned upon it where you know, one of people consider normal, like, how did they eat in school? What goes into their lunch? You know, it's hard because we live in a rural town where I mean, it's It's uncomfortable thing to talk about, I think. But there's definitely dynamics of rural America that play out in reality that there are kids who just don't have parents who are very involved, and they eat nothing but sugar and soda.
And nobody seems to be worried about that. There's a lot of obesity in the kids here, but also we've got all these hippie parents, people who came here because they work for the National Park Service or they really wanted to climb. Or they just could afford to live here because of their job like us, where we, you know, despite the fact that sometimes, although his popcorn for the most part, we eat really wholesome foods, there's a lot of local farms. We try and minimize the sugar. Nobody drinks soda and we emphasize vegetables were possible, like my boys really like carrots and homemade homis, and that's cool. So,
yeah, it's I mean, rural America has got some serious issues right now and being a family living in the middle of it, you definitely it's more acute, you know, the problems are more up front. There is not the same type of crime and issue as you would have in a city. But there's a lot of families to deal with things like drugs of drug abuse and alcoholism, and it affects the kids. But I think what's really cool here is at least there's a There's a great support network like one thing that our community has is a youth garden project, and it was developed. I think it's part of the after school program, but it is a giant community garden that the kids can volunteer at a CZ Yungas kindergarten, and they help grow the vegetables and and farm and pick the vegetables and fruits, and they enjoy home cooked food while they're there, and you could bring some of the food home or participate in the C S.
A. So the kids are able to get their hands dirty and actually enjoy stuff they helped grow. So it emphasizes healthy living and, you know, in our household partners with the things already getting. And I hope that it helps the kids who don't have that same kind of support at home. But you know, it's it's hard and it's sad. And, uh, you know, you can only kind of focus on your own and do what you can to make it better for others were possible, I guess. What can you do? And sort of speaking of involved dads and maybe Dad's with a little bit more time, right?
Like I can imagine after a full day of work, you can't really spend a lot more time helping other kids. But maybe, you know, in the in the spirit time can Jeff go and volunteer somewhere like, Well, what exists out there? Yeah, you know, since I was little, Jeff and I have both tried to participate in the schools a lot, and obviously there's limits to what you can do as an outsider. But we do think it's important that all of these kids that we've seen growing up no, that there's people who support them and I mean, I'm not trying to paint this situation, This picture that,
like 80% of the kids here, don't have support of homes because there's so much community support and some really strong families. But for some of the kids who have a different situation, we just encourage them the same way we do. Zoe and the other kids we know we've have kids come over for dinner. Zoey's great. She really reaches out into the community and volunteers in different ways as well as a friend and actually in a volunteer capacity. I mean, I don't I don't I don't know that we do anything specific or anything different than the other adults here in town, but there's definitely a lot of community involvements, and, you know, it's it's nice for these kids growing up because they do see that there are people who care about them, even if it's not there, you know, direct whatever family members or so on.
I'll tell you, I I've coached Zoey's basketball team a few years ago, and I have never played basketball. I've never been a basketball coach, so it was definitely alerting experience for all of us and I had some girls on my team that I think didn't either didn't recognize how good they were or didn't trust themselves to be able to feel like they could achieve whatever it is they want to achieve, to be good at basketball. And I really focused on positivity with these girls. We made sure everybody had equal playing time, and by the end of the season, some of the most strong players were girls who were very shy and very reserved up front because they just didn't necessarily. And I'm not trying to give myself too much credit here. But just by focusing on positivity by focusing on everybody's ability that it didn't matter if you were the greatest, that you could be the best you could be. And I know that sounds cheesy, but it made a difference. And there was market improvement in these kids and the the difference between that and some of the other coaching styles like there were a couple of not so rad dads coaching some of the other teams and they would just yell at their players.
And if their teams lost, they refused to shake my hand afterwards, which what kind of a message. Does that send to these kids? And, you know, I don't know that I was a pest a basketball coach move has ever seen. But I'll tell you, every single one of my girls improved every single one of them smiles and greets me when they see me in the store, are out and about. And I know that it helped them build confidence in other ways. And that's really all you could do is just make sure that no matter how old they are, no matter what they're doing or what their strengths are, that these kids know that they are important, that they are capable and they are special in their own way. And,
you know, I really try and lead out with that, whether it's my own kids or just the kids I know. And forgive me if I'm pushing too much in this whole living job. You guys lived there in my opinion, for as long as I can remember, you know, So it's still strange that you feel like an outsider. Yeah, you know, we we talk about the families who have streets named after them is sort of the old timers you know, the Yeah, the ones who either grandpa came here is part of some old Mormon settlement or as part of the uranium boom and stuck around and sold off all of his land and made the family rich. You know, there's definitely those families. And then there's the families who Grandpa showed up and maybe didn't make it rich.
And there's even more resentment there. And it's not just unique to Moab again. You know, Jeff grew up in a small town, and he experienced it, too. So it's more of a small town thing than a Moab thing. It's hard you find ways to knit yourself into the community. I joined to the planning Commission this year. I'm a Mohave County or a Grand County planning commissioner. It's to try and be more involved in, to meet more people. I don't know it's you just kind of try and find your way, and luckily I think it's changing because the community is changing so much. My generation is feeling a lot of the stress that the families experiencing. But for the younger kids,
they're growing up with more diversity, but with a CE faras racial makeup. But also economic diversity that these kids aren't as concerned as worried about the family history of the person with the desk next to them. So hopefully, by the time they're a little bit older, it won't even be an issue. I hope where you can always move, you can't always move. It's we've thought about it. We've actually talked about moving internationally. We've looked at mostly the Baja peninsula of Mexico, like down, kind of down towards Cabo is a place we might live. And it's intriguing, you know? I mean given,
given the general politics and social dynamics of the United States right now, it's enticing to think about getting out or or going somewhere different, that I'm sure we would arrive in Mexico and be shocked by all the issues all over the world who all right, that would be That would be a big, a big, a drastic change of events. But we have talked about moving internationally. We've talked about actually I have a co worker. This is really cool. I have a co worker who sold his house, and he and his wife and his son moved into an RV about a year ago and they have been traveling. Gosh, they've been upto Washington. They saw the eclipse up outside of Seattle. They've been down in California. They're in Arizona right now.
They've been in Texas and they're just experiencing the world from this RV. And they only have one son and he's young. And because of his job, just like mine, he could do it. And, gosh, that sounds like a total pain in the ass. But at the same time, what a cool experience. So you know, families and work or changing so much right now, you really can do anything. I was just talking to another dad, so he's got two kids, and once they hit school,
life changed to the point where everything became on schedule. And now, if you're in public school, you can't even take your kids at a school without the school calling you and asking if everything is okay. You know, if you were being a responsible person, so we actually do way. We got in trouble with the school district a couple years ago because we had been traveling so much. And our problem was we forgot to get the excused absence. So, Jeff, But I had to go in and meet with the vice principal to make sure everything was okay at home. And lucky for us, it's, as it turned out, we had just gotten back from a trip to Death Valley and stayed in some Podunk little town.
Well, it turns out the vice principal was from that Podunk little town. So our call about making sure everything was okay at home turned into this really fun conversation about whatever whatever town this was, you know it. I mean, it's hard, but
you can make it work.
And there are morts,
more strict teachers and school districts out there,
but especially when they're young,
there is nothing that they are learning at school that they couldn't learn at home.
It's about time.
It's about having social interaction with your peers and that structure and discipline of school.
That's all important,
so much of their education is coming from the house in the home and the conversations we have at a school in the Richmond opportunities that we that we work on as a family,
that I am all for pulling them out of school.
I don't see any problem with that.
And so I mean,
I don't know what that's gonna look like,
So we going into high school? It's a little harder because there's definitely different expectations. But when she's in college, I don't see any reason why we wouldn't travel and take him out. Because Kush you just They're such little time in their lives to have those experiences, and I don't want them to to disappear. I don't I don't want to lose that opportunity. I'll tell you, you know, e think that's that's really just what it's all about is embracing the fact that there's flexibility in this world, that there's change and opportunity and whether you're talking about food or education or communication or travel or anything. What exists today and the opportunities for families and for kids, today's It's just going to continue to get, um, to be, you know,
a larger pool of opportunities, a larger pool of options, and we didn't have access to that as kids. So I just think it's so cool and I'm willing to embrace that is apparent that you know, uncertainty. Doing something that's a little different is okay and it's gonna set them up to deal with change and uncertainty in their lives and hopefully give them some really cool experiences in the meantime. So if that's what they get out of living in my house for 18 years, I will have considered it a success. Let me ask you a question, since I am the first rad mom on your on your podcast. So I am curious as a dad what your experience has been like, You know, having these kids show up in your world because I can tell you I had no way of knowing how much it would change me and the experience of obviously carrying my boys and giving birth to them and watching them grow. I always thought of parenting as this sort of foreign thing. And now that I'm a parent, it's weird because I'm still me.
I'm still dealing with all of the stuff you deal with as an individual, your uncertainty and personal anxiety and personal aspirations. And it's like I just happened to be existing alongside these little people who are part of my world that being a parent doesn't suddenly make you into this maternal figure where your whole life is your kids, but it definitely changes you in weird ways. And I don't know what's it like as a dad, you know? What's that experience been like for you? Oh, gosh, no one's ever asked me questions put you on the spot on your own show. I don't feel particularly changed because I don't think I've ever had a problem or a I fully expected to be a dead at some point. I didn't have to carry a kid for nine months in my belly, so that's Ah, that's something I can't relate to. It's ah, it's pretty impressive what women do.
And we did, though, do a home birth at the end of it all. That was that was fascinating. And, ah, that totally, I would say, a totally normal process that I think parents should at least consider doing if they're healthy and they're in a place where they're close to a hospital, and should anything go wrong, they can, you know, bail because it's such a just beautiful and normal process. Once, once you go through it and it's it's kind of magical and not in at all stressful, uh,
actually goes by really quick for you. Maybe. What? Jen said the same thing. That's, uh that's fair point, but yeah, for me. And, you know, our midwife for the first kid. Like she had this log about how things went by and it was a couple of hours. But for me, it was like, 20 minutes. This is like,
Oh, really? We're gonna have a kid. Great. Who here's a kid? Looks good. Um, there's definitely this part in the, you know, Jim, she loves to read, and she's basically ah, prepared us to have kids because she read up everything she could have read up, or at least up to the time you have a kid, and then both of us had the our daughter, and we're holding her like,
Oh, we have no idea what to do now. But, you know, we'll just we'll just go from there. I had this time where I spend a few months with our first daughter, just playing around, helping Jan kind of just doing Dad thing changing diapers, and I thought that was ah, fabulous. Um, say some people would probably look at me and say, Well, what are you doing? You know, we should go back to work.
And I was like, No, that allowed me to establish a bond with my daughter. I think better than I would have otherwise, uh, let me connect and kind of understand who she is. Ah, and I think that's because, like, there are a lot of studies on with nature and nurture whatever I think it least so far I can see that who she was when she was three months old. It's still the same persons now that she's three years old. Um, we can influence some things, but a lot of it starts from the very beginning. And I think being around early as a dad really enables me to to understand that and to be able to respond to it. So watching your instagram and some of the photos that you've shared,
I have like, uh, I don't know, total dad envy. That's the wrong way of putting it. Because But watching the photos you shared what? No, I didn't say that Jeff wasn't me. Uh, watching your instagram feed and seeing the photos that you share. It's been so cool to watch you have that relationship with your kids and I think It's so special and it's special to them. It's obviously special to you, and that's so important. And I it makes me sad that a lot of people are aged, didn't necessarily grow up with that. And certainly the generation of our parents didn't necessarily have that as faras.
Those intimate moments with Dad, those those experiences to form those bonds I was I was lucky that I did. I my dad was very involved in my life. And maybe that's influenced how I have looked at parenting, I don't know, but to see the the experiences that you've created for them, even if they don't remember it, even if those were things that they just look at in picture books, that's so special. And I think that's just really cool that you've taken time out of your life to form those bonds and to to create those experiences for them. And you look cost him in a backpack, man. I mean, come on. Oh, gosh.
I'm so glad we're over the phase. At least for the older run. Our seven months old is gonna go in the backpack soon. But so thanks to your listeners, all share so occasionally I'll just get a random selfie of you, like, out in the field in the middle of nowhere with a backpack and your girl in the back. And it's so cool. And it's so funny And, like, the fact that you so openly share that and you want to share that is just it's red, to be quite honest. Well, thanks. I only share. That was friends.
It's gotta My auto responded, right. Like, I know you want to get a hold of me right now, but we're doing it. I'll get back to you. Yeah, I've got a backpack. Honestly, that that was the heaviest back back on the market. And that, plus, like, a £30 baby. Uh, I probably messed her around for two small price depended,
right? Small price to pay. Yeah. So get a comfortable backpack. Next time was a lesson. Sponsors be aware. Hey, will put pitch awesome backpacks on his podcast. So I'm gonna use it for a year, then pictured, but yes, I will only on Lee honest reviews here. I'm not gonna do any pitches for something that doesn't work. Well, um, but,
you know, it was further that point. I see a lot of friends. I have friends of Cantor, both sides, friends who spent a lot of time with their kids and friends. We don't one thing I gotta say. I've talked to a lot of dads like Start up Dad's and who all said, Oh, you know, by the time your kids or five years old, they're gonna have all these things in school friends, blah, blah, blah, you're barely even going to see them.
And I thought, Well, if that's the case, like, why am I gonna worked really hard now and wait till they're older to hang out with them when they're older, when they don't want to be with me, as opposed to doing it the other way around? And I did have this time when I was working a lot and, like, barely got to see my family for, like, a year. I there's a time don't even remember what happened because I was so stressed and sleep deprived that I you know, whatever time I spent with them, I don't actually remember it. And I thought that Yeah,
no, that's That's like the constant problem of when you're supporting a family or, um you know, helping to support a family, and you have to make that trade off. That's challenging. And my heart goes out for people who don't have the same flexibility that I have, because even though I work full time and I work long hours, I am not beholden to my job so much that I can't duck out for a field trip. And so I think I am just so aware of the benefits that that brings me and my kids. And, you know, it's not even just about the amount of time. It's about the quality of time, because ultimately, only a small percentage of the time you spend with them is gonna be those really big and powerful moments,
you know, And the bigger issue is, how do you spend the time that you do have with them? Do you talk to them as people, as little people, you know? Do you honoree to their own personalities and get to know them and form that friendship in that relationship? One thing I think is funny about my kids is they're so different. First of all, even though they're they're different ages, they just have different personalities. So Peter has taken to calling himself Batman and he calls me back girl. So he'll just walk into the room and he'll be like, Hey, Batgirl, can I have some milk?
And, uh, you know, it's really cool because even though it seems small and I don't know if he's gonna remember it, it's something I will cling to that those small little moments are so special and Noah will come up to me and he'll just be like, You're my girl, Mom, you're my girl. Or just randomly come up to me and give me a hug or show me some cool project. He made it school, and those moments are fleeting but so important. And those those air what I hold to and I always you know, even if I'm having a busy night, even if I'm working until gosh nine or 10 at night, when they come in and they want to say something, I take my eyes off the screen and I give them full eye contact,
and I make sure that they feel hurt. And that way, you know, the fact that I'm in the office late at night doesn't create is bad of an impact. And that's important to remember that if you can give a lot of time, at least the time you give should be focused on that. Isn't there a song lyric like that? I don't know a song. It's gonna be a rap song because I don't think I can or should sing according to everyone in my way. But yeah, you know, it's so easy to just pick up your phone and look at it and very think the saddest thing is when you go in a playground, when you see kids playing and appearance just staring at their phones or ever that your parents staring at their phones and like nannies running around with kids, we've got so little time that, like I feel like every little bit of it should be used to the best and in back to your question, right?
I think it's important, and maybe with and what I really wanted to highlight about the Utah life and you're in Jeff and that you have to make an important what's priority to you and then really worked towards advancing bad goal and everyone around You may not understand you, right, and people are gonna say things and people go to encourage you to do something else. But it's just like if you want to go to New Zealand, go. If you want to get in the van Gogh in a van like it's your life, you gotta live it and you gotta maximize it. This experience and it's like your kids are gonna do all these cool road trips, right? You could have just stayed in town and watch TV, but instead you were putting effort into all of these things. I love the way you say that, because it's true. You can't give yourself up when you have kids. If you lose sight of yourself and you lose sight of what is important to you and what your ambitions are,
you're gonna have a hard time being a good parent. You're gonna have a hard time not feeling resentful or not feeling overwhelmed. And it's not easy. Either way you go. But by keeping the focus on our relationship on our own ambitions on the lifestyle that we want for ourselves and bringing our kids into that and finding space for them in that it's created a really good family dynamic, you know, there's there's moments of weakness is there's moments Where you running off to Tahiti? Just me and Jeff. You know, leaving the kids with Grandma sounds awesome. But the reality is they're just along for the ride with us, and we've been able to maintain that has got healthy balance. And I think it's created healthier kids and a healthier family knowing everything you know. Now, what are the top three things you want to tell people who are just about to have kids and I going to embark on this journey? Wow,
that's a big question. Um, so first is that get a really good grip on who you are because ultimately who you are and who you wanna be is going to define how you approach parenting, right? So you think just then that goes back to keeping that balance and keeping that sense of self and the focus on your relationship? Um, having kids isn't gonna change who you are necessarily, you know, So just know what's important to you and then find ways to incorporate your kids into that. I think I don't know, two and three. I mean, first will respect them. A CZ people right there. They're just little. They're just little people trying to figure it out.
This is That was a really hard lesson for me to learn at first because you're looking at these guys, these little dudes, and you want them to be able to think about things differently and you want them to understand. Whatever it is you're trying to say is you're trying to reason with them. And the more you focus on the fact that they're just little people in their own journey the I think better of a parent you're gonna be, the easier it is to deal with the hard times and the more I don't know, benefit or wisdom you'll create in the really good times. And I guess, having said one and two, number three would be Don't listen to anyone like to it do it your own way. Because no matter what blog's you read or Pinterest post to follow our ideas, you have for the future, nothing in the reality is gonna come close to it. You're just gonna have to navigate it on your own, and it's all gonna be fine. And don't worry about other people's experiences.
Create your own experience. Know what you want to get out of it, what you want to create for them and just do your thing, because it parenting is fun. It's hard, but it's so rewarding. And if you just focus on the journey, it's a blast. It's the most awesome thing I've done with my life. And I am so glad to have these little people on the road with me. Thank you for listening to this episode of Read that If you enjoyed it, please share with your friends. And, of course, if you want to discover more episodes subscribed to the show in your favorite podcasting up and you'll get notified when you episodes launch till next time.