Meet EIM Contributor, Deanna McKellip!


Hey! My name is Deanna (D-Nuh) McKellip. I am a divorced and remarried wife of one, mother to four, and fur parent to five cats and a dog.

In 2015 I found myself in quite a predicament. I was married, living in a town of approximately 1800 people, 178 miles away from the nearest emergency room. After over half a year of exploring why my son was struggling in school, I finally located a doctor that could do testing to see if there was a reason and show us how we could assist him further.

After weeks of testing, we had the answer; my son has dyslexia.

At the time, I lived in a tiny rural community in Nevada. It had one school and no resources. When approached with his neurodivergence, the school made it clear that they did not have the faculty or funding to provide any assistance. I decided right then that I couldn’t stand for it. My role as a mother was to ensure they had everything needed to succeed in life, and it obviously wouldn’t happen there.

I spent the next few months hurling my resume to every town with my requirements to move. I was leaving Nevada (which at the time was the state rated 50th in education); the town I moved to had to have at least 75k people and I had to make $18 an hour. After over 75 applications and two failed interviews, I had a promising phone interview in a town called Idaho Falls. Once they requested that I interview a second time I decided to take a trip there.

You see, I’d never stepped foot in the town before. I brought the kids and we did what everyone visiting would do. I looked for the best local foods, places to stay, and things to do. We stayed at the Quality Inn and Suites, with a balcony with a view of the river. We had dinner at the SnakeBite and took pictures of the kids on the giant skateboard right outside. We had breakfast at Dixie’s Diner and loved the atmosphere. Then we spent a few hours driving around town getting to know the feel of the town and what we were potentially getting ourselves into. I’ll admit, the town was beautiful, the people were so friendly and answered all of our questions, and I only had one panic attack because of the traffic.

As you’ve probably guessed, I got the job and moved us to Idaho Falls. Well, Ammon to be exact.

We were in a small three-bedroom townhome getting settled in a new state, where we didn’t know anyone, while going through a divorce. To say that I experienced some of my hardest nights in Ammon would be an understatement. My children were in therapy to deal with the two massive life changes happening simultaneously and I was figuring out how to be single-parent, a state away from their father, with no friends or family locally.

Needless to say, if this community wasn’t as kind, thoughtful, welcoming, and inviting as it was, I wouldn’t have made it. But, obviously, because I am typing these words on a keyboard with non-ghost hands, I did. Thank God.

After a few years, my children grew not only accustomed to the larger town but they began making friends and taking part in all of the activities available. My son tried basketball, baseball, and finally hockey, which is the love of his life. He has had an active IEP since our arrival and I couldn’t thank all of the amazing teachers and aids that have made his school career tolerable on all of our fingers and toes.

My oldest took to band as we knew she would, and not only participated in everyone she could, but she ended up being drum major for her HS band… TWICE! She was awarded scholarships and is currently going to ISU to become a music teacher. They both have claimed Idaho Falls as their home, as have I.

While parenting through this, I had a life-altering experience as well. The divorce was finalized. I then found my soulmate, who gave me my oldest and youngest boy.

In 2018 we opened our first business, McKelmanns. We are currently the leading distributor of used wine barrels and also make furniture out of them. This year we took our biggest leap yet and bought Teton Cleaners! We provide wash and fold services, pressing, as well as dry cleaning for the Idaho Falls areas. My husband has been able to quit his job and only works for our companies. Living the American dream!

I bought a house and we decided to bring our family together. Blending four children and two divorced individuals was trying, but so incredibly worth it. There were lots of fights, therapy, and parenting classes but after years, it’s like we were together forever. The middle, teen boys are the best of friends. And all four of them get along so well.

Phew, that just all came out there, a little long-winded but hey, that’s pretty much me in a nutshell.

Now, why have I decided to share too much with you? Well, it’s because, when I moved here and was completely alone, I was desperate for a connection and community. In 2018 when East Idaho Mom Blog came out, I found myself venturing out to explore new opportunities in town and meeting new people. I was no longer in a town of strangers, not knowing what to do and where was safe. I made a home. And if I can help ONE mom out there know she’s not alone, there is at least one person here for her to connect with, all my over-sharing will be worth it.

I’ve got to sign off. Dinner is in the oven and this year’s first hockey practice is tonight and he’s already pestering me about not being late.