Loo.

First selfie

The past few days have been so hard on us, as we lost our sweet little dog, Loo.

It started with a smaller than usual appetite, followed by some pretty nasty constipation. I researched everything I could to try to help his tummy, from switching to wet food to giving him pumpkin puree, but nothing helped. Soon he stopped dancing around in his crazy, uncoordinated way. Shortly after, he stopped barking when we came home. He lost his zest for life, and all the while, his appetite steadily decreased along with his weight. He just wasn’t the same.

Sunday, Loo refused to eat anything- not even peanut butter or cheese, his two favorites. I had called a vet on Saturday, hoping to get him in on Monday, but it was clear that we were dealing with something far more serious.

We called this his “cinnamon roll”

We took him to the emergency room right after church, where we learned the horrifying news- our little man’s kidneys were failing him. They were unsure whether he had a bacterial infection, disease, or cancer, but one thing was sure: if they didn’t hospitalize him ASAP, the outcome was grim. Quite honestly, even if we decided to put him in the hospital, there was no guarantee that he would ever recover fully, if at all. Loo was done dancing, regardless of if we treated him or not.

Tanner and I made the difficult decision to say goodbye, and decided that I would stay home with Loo on Monday, for his last day on Earth. I invited everyone to come say goodbye- a dog this sweet deserved as much love as possible. He, too, still had so much love to give. So many people came to say goodbye. So many people came and held him while he snuggled quietly in their lap. It might seem weird to have wanted people to come over to say goodbye to a dog- especially one that many hadn’t ever met before- but it felt right, and I was not emotionally in a place where I felt okay being alone for an extended period of time. There were so many tears, but even more cuddles.

Tanner was given the go-ahead from work to head home early, and we were able to sit together for about an hour, holding Loo, praying, and crying. I wanted so badly to be able to tell Loo I was ready to let go, and that he didn’t need to hold on anymore, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

These smiles were a bit forced.

I am very good at going into denial, and throughout the day I kept telling myself that this didn’t have to happen. He didn’t have to die. He would get better… Right?

I had to remind myself that his poor kidneys begged to differ, and there was nothing we could do to guarantee his recovery. Letting him go was the best option for him… Even if it was the worst option for me.

He steadily got worse throughout the day until he would go several seconds between breaths, and we knew that we absolutely had to put him out of his misery.

We went to the vet, and at 4:06 PM, Loo drifted off to heaven, after one final family prayer. Our kind, caring vet gently took him to the other room to take his little paw prints, and Tanner and I held onto each other and wept. I felt like my body was collapsing into itself, the pain hit so hard. I’m never going to see that little booger again. At least, not on this earth.

My boys.

One of the reasons why letting him go was so hard, is I have so many doubts. Will I see him again after this life? Everyone I know says we will, but how do they know? The thought of never seeing him again hurts, it hurts so much. It’s a kind of pain that only people who have lost a dear, loved pet can understand. We were not sealed to Loo. In the next life, he’s not going to be ours. Will he even WANT to see me again? I tried, but I know I was not the perfect “mom”. I made mistakes. I didn’t love him as unconditionally as I should have- he was a stubborn little thing whose strength was NOT obedience, which was frustrating.

I feel like I should have been so much better. I wish I could have spent all day, every day with him. I wish we had known he was sick sooner, so I could have cherished the time we had together more. I wish I had cuddled him more. I wish I had let him sleep with me. I wish, I wish, I wish. I’ve been praying harder than ever that someway, somehow, Loo can forgive me of my shortcomings. I hope he knows that even though he had a tendency to sometimes be annoying, I loved him deeply and am so lucky he chose Tanner and I that day back in September.

Silly pup.

Perhaps it seems silly to be so completely grief-stricken over such a tiny little dog, but he was the first animal who was truly mine and Tanner’s. (I mean, yeah, we have our betta fish Toby, but dogs are a LITTLE different.) He was our baby. He went on so many adventures with us. I wanted to watch him snuggle up to our (human) babies. I wanted him to be in our family pictures.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. At least, if it were up to me, which it never was.

Grieving is so strange. I have never felt so many conflicting emotions before. At least with our family I have full confidence that our separation will be temporary- it’ll feel long, yes, but we are sealed together and cannot be ever TRULY separated. But with pets… I just don’t know. Within the past 48 hours I’ve gone from hopeful to being in complete denial, to utter despair, to anger, and back again. I don’t want to be left alone, but I don’t want to see anyone. I know it was the right thing to do, but I worry that we took him too soon.

The last picture I took of him. I think
he knew it was time to go.

Eventually I will be okay, but right now, I am not- and that fact needs to be okay too. I don’t WANT to be strong. I do not want to try to swallow my pain and put on a brave face. I want to feel this grief. I want to explore these complex emotions and familiarize myself with them. I want to curl up in my sadness and let it wash over me until I feel that I can move on.

I believe that that is an important thing. Grief should not be swallowed. It shouldn’t be ignored, or made to seem as though it’s not as big a deal as it really, truly is. Pain is unpleasant, but we can learn so much from it. So I intend to take my time to heal, to feel better, and to move forward at my own pace, in my own time, in my own way.

Some of that healing may come in the form of a new dog. I need to remember that we are NOT replacing Loo- because a dog like that cannot EVER be replaced. But I need a dog to fill the emptiness that has overtaken this house. It feels like a cave without Loo’s jingling collar and clicking nails. So while we may adopt a new friend sooner rather than later, it’s not because they are a “rebound”. There is a place in our family that can only be filled with furry paws and a wet nose, and we need that.

Friends, losing a pet hurts. I know that now. I am so sorry for anything I may have ever done to minimize your suffering. I stand with you. I feel your hurt, and understand it. Even if your sweet, furry (or feathered!) friend didn’t pass, but was given up, it stings. Come over and we will talk it out. I can’t promise I won’t cry, but I can promise that it will feel good to talk about it with someone who understands. Call me. ♥

-Haeley

I hope to see you again someday, sweetheart.

Our Engagement Story.

Today is our one year anniversary of when we got engaged-on my roommate’s birthday, no less. I’m only *slightly* sorry I kinda stole her thunder that year…. I love you, Grettel!

Anyway, I know it’s a little out of the order I’ve had for writing down our story (does anyone even care that I’m writing it?), but dudes. It’s our anniversary, and I HAVE to celebrate/commemorate somehow.

Let’s get one thing out in the open: my engagement was not a romantic affair. There were no flowers, no soft music, no flash mobs, no elaborate speeches. I did get a spider though, and you’ll hear about that in a minute. All in all, it wasn’t the proposal that dreams are made of, that much is true. But I think the more important thing is the fact that I actually got engaged (and later, married), and the mechanics of it all don’t matter half as much in the grand scheme of things.

Okay, let’s actually start the story.

Once we decided that we were going to get married, we started planning on getting married in December. That way, we would have all year to save money and prepare as much as we could, and we rationalized that family is usually in town during December, so it would be easier to get them to spare a day for us. Tanner discussed it with his mother, who promptly told him that December was actually NOT a great idea, because Christmastime is the most wonderful stressful time of the year, and it would be more difficult to organize everything, get married, go on a honeymoon, and still enjoy Christmas. (Bless you, Terra. Bless. You.) Also, let’s be real. With Christmas so close, we probably wouldn’t get as many presents. (I know, I know, selfish, but presents are so helpful to newlyweds!!) We talked it over, and decided to plan for sometime around May.

So with the date officially unofficially set, and seeing as it was the middle of February, Tanner needed to pop the question SOON. When the question of rings came up, Tanner’s mother remembered that she had a ring from her grandmother, Tanner’s great grandmother. Again, we talked about it and decided that that ring would work out perfectly. I’ve always had a love for vintage things, this ring was a precious family heirloom, and it wouldn’t cost poor Tanner an arm, a leg, and our firstborn child.

The second week of February, I left for St. George, Utah to attend a theatre festival for a week. Originally, Tanner and I had planned to go to his grandmother’s boat over the weekend to hang out with his family and have a nice weekend away. Unfortunately, the St. George trip made that impossible, so I went to Utah and Tanner went to the lake. On my way home from St. George, Tanner and I were texting and he asked if I wanted to go to the lake the next weekend, because apparently his grandmother had some ‘stuff’ she had to do there. Later I learned that she really DID have things she needed to do, but I thought this was just a cover for his real intentions. I just knew I was getting engaged next weekend, and shared the news with everyone in the car.

Fast-forwarding to the next weekend, we made our way to Roosevelt Lake to meet up with his family. I was able to meet his grandma, and we had a lovely evening on the dock. While we were there, his mom got up and asked Tanner to come with her. We both got up to go, but she clarified that she just needed Tanner. I immediately got butterflies. She’s going to give Tanner the ring!!!!!!!!!!! I thought to myself. I tried not to look at the boat, but I couldn’t help myself. I took a quick peek just as I saw Tanner’s mom hand over a tiny white box. Now I knew without a doubt that I was getting engaged soon. We spent the rest of the evening together, and I pretended not to know about what had just happened.

The next morning, I got up and saw Tanner. He pulled me aside to tell me that, yes, he had the ring, and even though he wasn’t going to propose just yet, his mom felt I needed to see the ring in person to decide whether I wanted it or not. Tanner said he was going to go get it, and disappeared in the back room of the boat for about ten minutes. My heart was racing, my palms were sweating, and I was SO IMPATIENT WHY WASN’T HE SHOWING ME MY RING YET?!?!?!?!?!
He came back a few minutes later, and said he was in the bathroom. He avoided all my questions about the ring, and eventually I gave up. I would be seeing it soon anyway.

We went out to the dock, where his family was sitting. We joined them, and immediately he and his mom started texting. I felt super uncomfortable because I was worried that Tanner was telling his mom that I had been asking about the ring, and I wondered if I shouldn’t have done that. I looked back and forth between the two, watching his mother’s facial expression get more and more incredulous. Oh, great, I wasn’t supposed to ask about the ring. She hates me, I know it. What have I done? Ugh ugh ugh she’s not even officially my mother in law, and I’ve already screwed up. While I panicked over my apparent stupidity and impatience, Tanner got up and went to the boat without me. Tanner’s mother, grandmother, and I sat in silence until his mom asked if I wanted to go on a paddleboat ride with Tanner. I said that it would be fun, while secretly worrying that she was just trying to get rid of my face so she could enjoy the lake in peace for a bit. Tanner returned, and his mom announced that the two of us were going to go on a paddleboat ride. Tanner agreed, we got into the boat, and his mom snapped a picture of us.

Low quality because this is a picture of a picture
 from a picture on a phone. Figure that one out, dudes.

We paddled out in silence until I was sure we were out of earshot, and then I asked Tanner what was wrong. He’d been acting really weird all of a sudden, and I was worried I had offended his mom somehow, and I just. Needed. Answers.

“Nothing’s wrong,” he said in a voice that CLEARLY INDICATED THAT SOMETHING WAS WRONG.
“….Are you sure, cuz it sure seems like something’s wrong,” I said. “Also, is your mom okay? I’m worried I might have offended her somehow. Why were you guys texting each other?”
“No, you haven’t offended her, it’s just…. Okay. My mom wants me to propose to you today. Like, right now.”

Oh. Oh. Oh my sweet goodness, I am about to be Betrothed. My stomach did somersaults while I tried to maintain my composure. We talked about the pros and cons involving getting engaged in the next few minutes, the major issue being that he hadn’t asked my dad for permission. He wanted to ask him in person, especially since he’d only met him just once before and didn’t want to spoil my dad’s opinion of him. But on the other hand, we were practically engaged already, and it seemed silly to waste any more time.

During this time, I had been staring straight ahead and paddling as hard as I could, but I decided we should focus on each other and the conversation we were having. I stopped paddling, and looked over at Tanner just as a HUGE SPIDER
CRAWLED
DOWN
HIS
FACE. Now, I pride myself on not being afraid of spiders, but this was an exception. There was a huge spider on my beloved’s FACE. HIS FACE, PEOPLE. What if it bit him? What if it was radioactive? I can’t handle the responsibility of being Spiderman’s wife!

So I did the only responsible thing left to do, and screamed repeatedly. Tanner casually swiped the spider off his face and INTO MY SIDE OF THE BOAT. I continued screaming, and Tanner stomped the spider to death. He then tried to continue the conversation as if he wasn’t in mortal danger mere seconds ago. I, on the other hand, was still quite rattled, so I hyperventilated and mumbled such nonsense as, “such a… Big spider,” and “ohmygosh on your FACE.” Tanner eventually got tired of me reacting like a normal person and asked me to calm down. I took some deep breaths and eventually returned to normal.

We still hadn’t decided whether or not he should propose right then, but we DID decide that I should at least see the ring. Tanner pulled it out of his pocket, and I opened the box. Inside was a dainty white gold ring with a round, blue stone adorning the top. It shone beautifully in the sunlight, and made a star pattern appear on the stone. It was beautiful. I tried it on, admired it for a moment, and slid it off my finger. I awkwardly handed it back to Tanner, who held it in his hands, sighed, and said: “will you marry me?”
I shrugged, and said “Sure!”

Let’s take a brief moment to realize I had just shrugged off MY OWN PROPOSAL. AND THEN SAID ‘SURE’ LIKE SOME IDIOT. In my defense, however, ever since we had decided to get married, we would joke around and say stuff like: “hey, wanna get married sometime?” and then the other would say something like: “yeah, I guess. I’m not doing anything right now, anyway.” We never took these seriously. They were never real proposals, so I just assumed that this was the same thing! I was expecting something a little more elaborate, so the fact that Tanner had actually proposed went right over my head. Until I saw his face and realized he was serious. Then I quickly said, “I mean, YES! Yes, of course!!!” He put the ring back on my finger and we kissed.

Then we realized he hadn’t asked my father. Crap.
Tanner dialed his number, and as he stumbled over his words (he was a nervous wreck and it was the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen), I admired my beautiful new ring, snapped some pictures, and tried to process the fact that I was FINALLY going to get married.

Okay, I realize that saying FINALLY is a little dumb, considering the fact that A) I had just barely turned 19 a few weeks ago, and B) we’d been dating for only 5 weeks. But I’ve been wanting to get married since I was 12, so it felt like a long time to me. Cut me some slack.

My dad gave Tanner his blessing, and when Tanner told me, the tears came. This was really happening! We decided to hold off on calling everyone for a little bit, and began paddling back out.

Apparently, I’m just not allowed to have a nice moment ever, because this was the moment that my bladder decided it needed some attention too. So we paddled as fast as we could back to the docks, where Tanner’s mom was waiting for us. She looked at us expectantly as I jumped out of the boat and ran for the bathroom. I also had no idea what to say to everyone (I’m guessing that shouting “I’m ENGAGED, b*tches! wouldn’t have gone over well), and wanted a moment to myself to collect my thoughts, so it was the perfect crime. As soon as I walked out of the bathroom though, I was ambushed by my fiance (fiance. Not boyfriend anymore! Holy cow!), and we *officially* announced to everyone the happy news.

We went on a celebratory boat ride, where I finally called my parents.

 I called my mom first, but she didn’t answer, so I tried my dad. He answered, and we reveled in the craziness of it all. Before he hung up, though, he said that he wanted to tell my mom the good news.

Oh dear.

My mom called me back just minutes after I got off the phone with my dad, and I had to figure out a backup plan, fast. So I tried to casually ask her if we could stop by later that afternoon, and she said of course. The whole time I was talking to her, my new family looked at me like I was going crazy. What the heck was wrong with me, not telling her I had just gotten ENGAGED? After I got off the phone with her, I explained the situation, and they forgave me.

The rest of the day went by in a blur, as phone calls were made, a date was set, and preparations were begun. I was engaged to the boy I loved most, and we were completely unprepared for the next hectic 90 days.

~Haeley

2015….

A year ago tonight I sat upstairs at my parents house, cuddling the dog so she wouldn’t be afraid of the fireworks. A year ago today I was texting Tanner as it got closer and closer to midnight. He actually wanted to come over and spend the holiday with me, but we decided against it. At that point we were just friends, and I had no idea that in about a week’s time we would share our first kiss. I had no idea that almost two months later, I would be engaged. I had no idea that by midnight of 2015, I would be sitting in my apartment next to my husband, with our dog snuggled up by our feet.

2015 was quite the year. One of my favorite things to do when the time comes is to look back on the past year and see how different everything has become. This year, however, was especially crazy. So many things have happened in such a short time that it doesn’t seem possible for it all to have happened in a year! And yet, somehow, it all did. And we miraculously survived it all, too!

I honestly can’t believe how extremely blessed I have been this year. I married my sweetheart, gained an absolutely incredible new family, and have grown in so many ways. I think that the person I was at the beginning of the year would be proud of who I am now, and that’s comforting. I don’t feel that this year was a year of digression for me. It was a year of fantastic progress! I have become so much more independent! I have learned what it means to put someone else’s needs ahead of mine, and I have learned just how enjoyable it is to take care of someone. I really believe I was born to be a wife and (someday) a mother. Tanner has brought out a strength in me I didn’t know I had, and he has helped me grow and become someone I needed to be. I hope I have had the same effect on him.

This year also brought along difficult challenges. Learning to live with someone so completely different from you takes a lot of compromising and giving when you don’t really want to. I never realized how selfish I was until I got married, which is rough. I’ve cried more this year than I have in many years past. I’ve had to learn that sometimes you’re wrong, and you need to accept it. And I’ve also learned that sometimes you need to realize that neither of you will win, and the sooner you kiss and make up, the better. I’ve discovered that you can’t be passive about something important to you- even though you’re married now, you still need to stick up for yourself. You are still important.

All in all, 2015 was kind of a mess. But it was such a beautiful one.

-Haeley

Part 5: Winter Formal

*I totally suck at writing our story, but I’m going to try to be more diligent about it.*

Ever the gentleman, Tanner did not want to have asked me to a dance solely through text message. So  he carefully and cleverly crafted the perfect invitation over the course of the next few days.

Tanner kidnapped me one night, and we drove around for a little bit, listening to the Winter Formal playlist he painstakingly put together. Then we pulled into the park, where we danced in the glow of his headlights. He gave me a rose with a note tied to it (it said “I wanted to give this flower something beautiful to look at” ((I melted. He’s the sweetest)), in addition to a thumb drive which housed an official cuddle buddy application (which was HILARIOUS). We danced until it started raining, and then went to our respective homes. And so it was set. I had a date to Winter Formal, and I was determined to have fun!

Until the week of Winter Formal came around, and I began to feel uneasy about my friendship with him. He had told me he liked me, and didn’t expect his feelings to be reciprocated, and he made sure I knew he would respect my decision in regards to who I liked. Still, he was very open about how much he liked me, and flirted with me constantly. I began worrying that he was reading too much into our friendship, and that even though he knew I liked someone else, he was still trying. 


While I loved the attention (don’t hate me, who doesn’t love attention?), I didn’t want to lead him on. I told myself I didn’t want to make things awkward, however, so of course I made things really awkward. Because that is how I roll. 

I started unconsciously leaning away from him when we sat together at devotional, and I stopped texting him back as often as I had been previously. Because the most graceful way to let someone know you’re not interested is to completely ignore them. Right?

Unfortunately, I wasn’t as smooth about distancing myself from him as I thought I was, and Tanner caught on. 

The day before Winter Formal, he messaged me on Facebook. We made small talk for a little bit, but eventually things took a turn for the heavy. We talked about how I liked someone else, and Tanner told me that all he wanted was for me to be happy, and if that meant me dating someone else, then he would be okay with it. He said that as long as being friend-zoned meant we could still be friends, then he would love to remain so. We agreed to meet at the institute building to attend a YSA event together-just as friends. 

After I put down my phone, I cried. I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe. This was my best friend- the person I spent the most time with, and I had just broken his heart. Even though our entire conversation was through Facebook, I could just picture him shrugging it all off, trying to seem sincere and like he really was happy that it looked like I might date someone else. I knew that that wasn’t the case, however. I knew that he was hurt, no matter what he said. He said this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened, and he was sure it wouldn’t be the last.

I hated that. I hated that girls had done that to someone as wonderful as him in the past, I hated that I had just done that to him, and I hated the thought of anyone else doing that to him in the future. 

The worst part was imagining him with someone else. That made me feel sick. He was MY best friend! I didn’t want some stupid girl getting in between us! As I thought about it more, I realized I was being ridiculous. I didn’t own him, I wasn’t romantically interested… Right? Plus, it was absurd to not want him to have a girlfriend, especially since he had just told me he hoped I ended up with who I wanted. I was being selfish.

I walked into the Institute building and immediately found Tanner. We awkwardly sat at the same table, chatting and pretending I hadn’t just ripped his heart out. Eventually, we decided that the Institute event was boring, one thing led to another, and we ended up leaving early to walk around Wal-Mart. The evening ended with us as friendly as before that terrible conversation. We even held hands, which confused us both to no end. I had literally JUST friend zoned him. What the heck was I doing?! His hands were just so warm and comforting. 

I know. I hate me too.

At the end of the night, he dropped me off and we agreed to meet the next morning for our day date before Winter Formal.

The next morning, Tanner picked me up and we drove around aimlessly for a while before deciding to watch a movie. The problem was, my roommates were doing something at my apartment, and his dorm was less than ideal, so we eventually sat in the Institute parking lot in his car, and watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. We got frozen yogurt afterwards, then Tanner dropped me off so he could go to a choir rehearsal. 

That evening, I got ready as carefully as I could, and to be honest, I was looking hot. I snapped a few selfies (for posterity, duh), and waited for my date to arrive. My roommates were getting ready to go too, and in the midst of the excitement, Tanner knocked on the door. My roommates sprang into action, locking the door and telling me to hide so I could do a “big reveal”, but that’s not my speed, so I fought through the small crowd of shrieking girls, and flung open the door to reveal a flustered Tanner. I brought him in amid more shrieking, and my roommates insisted on taking pictures. I deleted most of them because they were super blurry, but I kept this one:

We walked across the street to the dance, and Tanner told me I looked absolutely beautiful. Once there, we discovered that the dance didn’t start for at least another hour, so we did what we always did when boredom struck- we went to Walmart.

It also helped that I told him I’d been craving blueberry muffins, so I got some of those too. ;^)

Finally, we headed to the dance where the party was starting in earnest. Tanner was the perfect dance partner, and we danced to the slow songs, rocked out to the fast songs, and sat on the sidelines during the stupid songs. I loved it. We were sitting at a table talking when one of my favorite slow songs came on. I hopped up and dragged Tanner on to the dance floor, where we danced underneath a lantern. I swear this moment could have come straight out of a movie, the way he held me close and looked at me like I was the most beautiful person he had ever seen. I didn’t want the song to end, and when it did, we sat down and I realized I had some SERIOUS butterflies goin’ on. 

This is the song we danced to. It still gives me butterflies.


We danced the rest of the evening until the DJ announced the last song, and at the end, he reminded us that it was a full moon…. Meaning that if you kissed someone at midnight, under the clock tower, the two of you would become True Gila Monsters. A prestigious title, indeed. I toyed with the idea of kissing Tanner. and the thought gave me a serious case of nervous giggles. Tanner proceeded to bug me about it, trying to get me to talk, but I refused to say anything, because I wasn’t sure if I was absolutely positive that I wanted to kiss him. I like to be sure about these things, especially since Tanner’s heart was on the line, and I did not want to hurt him again. 

And so the evening passed, and I didn’t kiss him. But as he dropped me off and we were hugging goodbye, I held him extra close. But at the last moment, I chickened out. I just had to be positive.

It was super hard to sleep that night, because I kept thinking about that dance, and how close we were to kissing.

~Haeley

We moved!

Oh my goodness, friends, I have missed you. 

Unless you are completely disconnected from all my other forms of social media, then it might surprise you to learn that as of October 16, 2015, Tanner and I are independent adults with our own apartment!
And up until a week ago, we had no internet- ie, no way to blog. :^( and that’s so sad, because I’ve wanted so badly to keep you all updated on what’s been going on lately. So without further ado, I will now word vomit all over this page. Be prepared for multiple posts.
If I’ve learned anything through the exhausting process that is apartment hunting, it is the importance of trusting in the Lord and being patient with His plan for you. There were so many nights that I just cried and cried because I felt like nothing was ever going to come of my efforts to move us, and we wouldn’t be able to move out and learn how to be our own little family. But eventually I came to the realization that this issue was bigger than me, and I needed to put my trust in the Lord. And so I started praying for guidance, and things began to click.
One weekend while we were in Mesa looking at apartments, I was talking to my mom when she suggested I reach out to one of my friends who had lived in a nice complex with her husband when they were first married. I hadn’t thought of that, so I shot her a text right away. She responded quickly and gave me a bunch of options they had looked at, in addition to the apartment they eventually decided on. I logged on to the websites, and found that only one of the complexes had any vacancies- the same apartment complex my friend and her husband lived in! Luckily, I had been to their apartment numerous times, so I knew what it looked like and what it offered.
So, like any highly impulsive person would do, I sent an inquiry before talking to Tanner about it. I had been trying so hard to find us something, and this just felt so right, that I couldn’t wait. And I didn’t.
The staff responded quickly, and we sent in an application even quicker. Things were finally happening! We would get this apartment, I was sure of it. 
Our application passed, and we were then ready for the next steps- placing a holding deposit, which we sent in post haste. The leasing agent called us a few days later and informed us that they could hold the apartment for about a week, in which time we had to find jobs in the city, or we wouldn’t be approved to move in. Turns out you need to be gainfully employed before moving in somewhere- who knew? 
We figured it wouldn’t be a problem. We’d been filling out job applications like it was, well, our job. We had to hear back from someone soon! I set up an account on Care.com in order to apply for nannying positions. I got a few requests, and set up some interviews. Things were falling into place! 
Or so it seemed. 
On our way home from another weekend in Mesa, after some interviews, I found out that neither of us were hired for any of the positions we applied for. To make matters worse, the leasing office called us and informed us that our week was up, and unless we had proof of employment right then, our only hope of getting into the apartment would be to find a cosigner. We had three days.
We contacted our family, to no avail. Nobody could afford the risk that came with being a cosigner, and frankly, I didn’t blame them one bit. I didn’t want a cosigner anyway, yet I still felt disappointed. Everything seemed so promising! Why couldn’t one thing work out for us? Just one?
I tried not to let it bother me, but when we had to call the complex and let them know that we couldn’t lease from them, I was shattered. I had tried so hard! I just wanted to find a home for me, my sweet husband, and our pets.
That Sunday, a fast Sunday, we were sitting in the foyer of the church building, discussing what our next course of action would be. One of the ladies in Relief Society walked by, and stopped to ask if I had put my information in the Relief Society directory. I answered that no, I hadn’t, and we were in fact planning to move soon. Her face lit up, and she asked if we had found a place to live yet. We said we were still looking, and she wrote down her phone number and gave it to me. She had just decided to rent out her little house in Mesa, and hadn’t quite figured out all the logistics, but told us to contact her and we would figure it out.
This seemed like an answer to our prayers! Not only would we get a place to live, we could potentially live in a HOUSE, rather than an apartment! We daydreamed about all the possibilities ahead of us, and excitedly told our family about the prospect of starting our lives together in a house. 
The next morning, we found out that both of us got the jobs we had applied for, and it didn’t seem like life could get any better. Then we called the lady we could possibly rent from, and found out that rent there was far out of our price range. 
I felt completely deflated. Was Mesa simply not in the cards for us? Were we supposed to stay in Cottonwood, a town that had next to no opportunities for newlyweds? 
As I sat upstairs, trying not to completely lose it, Tanner came in. 
“We should call the apartment complex again. They probably still have the slot open for us, and we can move in next week.”
“I doubt it. I checked the website this morning, and the earliest availability is in late November. We can’t wait that long, we should just give up.”
“Well, let me at least check. Give me their phone number and I’ll call.” I reluctantly gave him the number to the apartments, and he called.
When he hung up, he informed me that we had called just in time! There was a slot still open, and they could even reapply our holding deposit! We finally, finally set a moving date and we began preparations.
We moved on October 16th, and life has been so wonderful. Sure, we’ve had ups and downs, and we’re still figuring out this whole “responsibility” thing, but being married has become even more enjoyable now that we can focus exclusively on each other. I don’t mean to say that living with my in-laws was detrimental to our marriage, but it was difficult at times to try to adjust to being married while at the same time adjusting to a new side of the family. It’s so nice to be able to watch our apartment progress from rooms full of boxes to our first home. 
Saturday mornings have become my favorite part of the week, as Tanner and I get to spend time with just each other, waking up late, snuggling our dog, and making breakfast, and staying in our underwear for as long as we please. ;^)
I truly cannot believe how blessed we are. I read a quote while we were in the thick of apartment hunting, that read: “If a door closes, open it back up. It’s a door. That’s how they work.” That’s what kept me going through all the rejection, and disappointment. I’ve learned to rely more heavily on the Lord, but I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s okay to be stubborn. I am so lucky to be living this crazy life alongside my best friend. It’s messy, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
~Haeley

Meet Loo!

Relatively early on in our courtship, Tanner discovered that he was, in fact, dating a crazy dog lady. Dogs are my absolute favorite animals, and it’s been that way for years. From a young age I would only read books about dogs, I drew dogs, and when I discovered the Internet, I spent my time searching “funny dog pictures” on Google. So it was only a matter of time before I had a dog of my own, really.

In the interest of transparency in our relationship, I made sure Tanner knew what he was getting into, in terms of my insatiable dog hunger, and in his infinite kindness, he promised that we would get a dog before our first anniversary.

Every so often, I would bring up his promise, and he told me he would deliver. One Saturday, we decided to look at the Cottonwood Humane Society to see if our first dog was waiting for us there. While there were several sweet dogs, there were none that were small enough to belong in an apartment. And so we decided to try the Sedona Humane Society to see if we would have any luck there. The Humane Society in Sedona was extremely nice, and the dogs seemed to be very well taken care of. As we reached the last cage, we saw the profile for a tiny black terrier named Bruce Wayne. He was at an adoption event about 20 minutes away, however, so we didn’t meet him there. Of course, with his size and his name (my husband is the biggest Batman fan I’ve ever met), he seemed perfect for us. So once again, we hopped into the car and drove off as fast as we could to the adoption event.

Once there, we discovered that Bruce Wayne had found his forever home, but there were still a good number of dogs to adopt. We were eventually convinced to adopt a sweet young dog named Homer. He had been abused before being rescued, and was missing some toes. He was quite a bit larger than we were hoping for, but we decided that it would be okay. We would find a place for him.

Homer

We spent the rest of the day trying our best to bond with him, but it was hard. All he wanted to do was stay outside, tucked in a corner of the backyard. We decided to sleep on it and try again in the morning. I was determined to make this work. I wanted nothing more than to give this poor dog the home he needed.

The next day I left for Mesa to attend my friend Kaitlyn’s farewell. Tanner stayed behind with Homer, to try to break through with him and get him to be comfortable with us. Halfway through the day though, Tanner called me and said that Homer was absolutely terrified of him and his dad. They had tried everything to get him to be comfortable, but he remained outside, scared and timid. After talking it over, we decided the best thing to do would be to give him back to the shelter. I was heartbroken. I felt like I had failed somehow. I felt like we would never be responsible dog owners, and that this poor dog would be homeless forever.

Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that Homer needed something different. If we were moving into a house with a big backyard and had more time to spend working with him, he would have been a great pet. But the fact of the matter is we are not in a position to have a bigger dog right now. And that’s okay.

Tanner was determined to find me a dog, however, and kept up the search. One day, he stumbled upon a website called Pet Finder, and we had fun searching dogs we felt could fit in with our little family of two. We made a list and narrowed it down to two: a senior shih tzu named Minks, and a chihuahua/mini pinscher mix named Cheekie.

Minks. Doesn’t he look like the happiest ball of fluff?!

And Cheekie, also called “The Professor”. Check out the eyebrows!

They were both sweet looking dogs, and we emailed their respective shelters. We heard back from the shelter with Cheekie almost immediately, and learned that he was still available. He would even be at an upcoming adoption event in Sedona in just a matter of weeks! We decided to go for it.

So last Saturday we went to meet little Cheekie in Sedona, at the PetsMart. It was a HUGE adoption event, with various humane societies and pet rescue centers uniting to try to adopt animals ranging from tarantulas to kittens to snakes, and, of course, dogs. We actually passed Homer out front, which was a bit awkward especially since the members of the Sedona Humane Society recognized us, but I tried not to let it bother me. We did what we thought was best, and now we were going to adopt another dog in need.

The rescue center that housed Cheekie was running late, so we took some time to look around at all the adoption options. Shortly before we were going to leave, the rescue center finally arrived, and we got to meet Cheekie. He was surrounded by other dogs, all yipping and barking. There were TONS of little chihuahas running around, in addition to a very fluffy dog who looked softer than any of his companions. Roberta, the lady in charge of the rescue center, picked him up and offered him to me so I could hold him. The minute this little dog was in my arms, he melted into me. He was softer than a rabbit! Roberta explained that this was Vinnie, a one eyed, toothless little sweetheart who loved cuddles. We told her we were also looking at Cheekie as a potential pet, and she ushered us into a room where we had the opportunity to “meet and greet” the pups.

Cheekie wanted nothing to do with us, but Vinnie stayed close by, gladly accepting the soft treats we offered. After a little deliberation, we decided that Vinnie was the one for us, and we adopted him.

It’s been almost a week, and we couldn’t be happier with our choice. Since then, we’ve renamed him Loo, and it fits him perfectly. He is the happiest, snuggliest dog I have ever met. He loves us and we love him!

A lot of people initially think he just winks a lot, but nope! There’s only one eye in there. When he was rescued, his right eye was ruptured and badly infected, in addition to teeth so rotten they all had to be removed. That was only a few months ago, and he is living proof that what doesn’t kill you really DOES make you stronger. These setbacks haven’t slowed him down a bit! His balance can be a little bit wonky sometimes, but that’s to be expected.

This little guy is half cat, I swear. He’s unbelievably soft, and naps are his favorite thing, second only to belly rubs. He sleeps in his own bed through the night, and doesn’t wake up until we wake him up. It’s a pretty nice arrangement.

“this belly ain’t gonna rub itself, Mom.”

We’re in the process of trying to fatten him up a bit, because he is the boniest little guy. He’s barely five pounds!

We gave him a bath a few days ago, and while he didn’t put up much of a fight, I’m sure he would prefer us to never, ever stick him in a tub again. Sorry buddy, but cleanliness comes first.

I took him to the vet on Monday, and everyone at the office loved him immediately. Frankly, I don’t blame them! He’s a pretty cute pup. The vet suggested we put him on a canned food diet to help him bulk up and to make eating easier for our toothless wonder. Loo is a BIG fan of canned food, and ate it all up very enthusiastically.

Unfortunately for him (and us), it upset his tummy, and we’ve been dealing with gas and diarrhea something fierce (that dog can CLEAR. A. ROOM, lemme tell ya). Fortunately for him (and us!), I’ve got a Pinterest board dedicated to dogs, and I pinned several upset stomach remedies. The recipe from Everyday Roots is my favorite so far. I made Loo some mish mash with plain yogurt, rice, pureed pumpkin, and boiled chicken. We made sure to chop up the chicken into tiny pieces for him to eat easily, but it was a hit!

….It might help that I had him fast yesterday to help ‘reset’ his system, but we’ve had no issues with gas nor diarrhea since then, so I’d say this was a success!

I barely got this shot in time. He dug right in and
didn’t come up for air until the bowl was clean!
 Poor hungry puppy.

And just in case you’re wondering, the mish mash doesn’t taste too bad! Yeah, I tasted some. Don’t pretend you weren’t curious too. Not something I would eat on the reg, but Loo enjoyed it! ;^)

Having a dog has actually done so much for our marriage. I didn’t think it would change too much, but it’s really pulled us together in a way that nothing has before. We’re both focusing on another living thing, and we have become a team because of it. We look out for each other all the time, but having another member of the family to love and care for together has been such a fantastic learning experience. Since Loo is not able to take care of himself fully, we’ve bonded over sharing the job of making sure he’s taken care of and given the love and attention he needs. And can I just say how fulfilling it is to watch Tanner be a “dad” to our little dog? He’s the bee’s knees, I’m telling you. I’m so lucky I married a man who cares about animals as much as I do. Loo adores him, and loves nothing more than to cuddle up to him when we’re relaxing. I know that having a dog can never come close to having a baby, but if this is any indication, Tanner is going to be an absolutely outstanding father. I wouldn’t want anyone else loving and taking care of my babies- fur or otherwise.

Having a dog has really made so many improvements in my life. I can’t wait to see how our little Loo will bless our life years down the road!

~Haeley

ps- if you are interested in adopting any of the sweet dogs that we considered, I would highly recommend it! Knowing you adopted a dog in need is such a satisfying feeling. Save a life and make your life better all in one fell swoop!

Click here to view information about Homer. Help him find a forever home! He needs it.

Click here to go to the Chiquita Chihuahua Rescue website. This is the rescue that we got Loo from! They are a fantastic center. Check them out!

Click here to see Minks. He seems like such a sweet old soul!

On existing.

Throughout Tanner’s and my engagement, one of our biggest worries was where we would live over the summer. We planned on returning to EAC in the fall, but didn’t want to stay during the summer because the job options were slim, and the friends to socialize with would be slimmer. We had some potential job openings in Mesa, but the cost of rent for three months was higher than it was worth.

And so, after a lot of discussion, we made the decision to move to Cottonwood for the summer with his parents, in order to work there, and save as much as we could so that when we returned to Thatcher, we would have some money saved up and we could begin our life as a married couple there. 
About halfway through the summer, we decided to extend our stay in Cottonwood, because I had a job, and Tanner would have a job that would pay a little bit more than his current job was, and we decided to search for an apartment there. Our rationalization was that Thatcher didn’t really have that many options for us, and we would have a tougher time finding jobs in a small town overrun by college students applying for the same jobs we were. Plus there was a small college here that we could attend, so there really was no reason to go back.
At first, it seemed like a solid plan. But then I began getting depressed. My whole life had been conveniently shuffled into a routine of waking up, staying home alone until it came time to go to work, driving the 30+ minutes to Sedona, working until 8:30 pm or later, and driving home in the dark to a husband who was exhausted from working all day. I would eat dinner quickly, and then we would collapse into bed, almost too tired to even speak to each other. Rinse and repeat. 
I hate how accurate this is.
Now, I’m a very social person. Being with friends and family is what I live for! But I was hardly interacting with anyone aside from occasionally having some free time with my in laws or going on dates with Tanner. I had absolutely no friends here. It’s not for lack of trying, however, I can assure you. But our ward is full of elderly people, and while I adore their spunk and kindness, I just don’t think it’s feasible to try to have a game night with a bunch of people 75+ years old. And my job doesn’t really allow for bonding with my coworkers, as I stay in the front and seat people while the servers bustle around serving them. The closest friend I have is my manager, who sometimes comes to the front to talk to me. 
Let me say that again:
The closest friend I have, outside the family I am currently living with, is. My. Manager. 
The guy who is paying me to work for him. He’s the person I consider my friend. 
Does that seem sad to anybody else, or is that just me? 
I’m absolutely not trying to say that I don’t dearly love my family, nor do I want to spend less time with them, but friends are such an important part of life, too! There’s no sense in denying that, and for the past three months, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing to myself.
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about being introverted vs. being exroverted, introverted meaning a quieter person who is easily drained by social interaction. It doesn’t mean that they never socialize, or hate having friends, it merely means that they don’t rely on other people to keep them going. They are usually seen as quiet geniuses, choosing not to be with other people constantly because they would much rather read a book, or ponder the intricate workings of the universe. 
Extroverts, however, are more social, and thrive on being involved with people and activities. This also does not mean they never want to be alone, but it does mean that socializing energizes and revitalizes them. Because of this, extroverts are often seen as flighty, or people who only care about attending their next party.
Case in point: when I looked up the word “introvert”, really deep, thoughtful quotes popped up. When I searched for extrovert….. I got partying weirdos. There’s a bit of misrepresentation here. 
I am an extrovert. I love people! I love having friends, and getting out of the house makes me feel so good!
However, these past few months I haven’t had much opportunity to do those things, because there’s not really anyone my age here. Neither of us are enrolled in classes (something I continually kick myself for), so we’re not meeting people that way. And on top of being in a ward that primarily houses the retired, we were recently called into nursery, so I see even less people there. I’ve tried time and again to convince myself that I’m just being selfish, and I should appreciate the blessing of being employed, and being married. After all, I’m married to my best friend! Why would I need or even want to be with anyone else now that I’m married? I’m just being stupid. It’s a good thing that we both have jobs; I’m just depressed because we don’t have a place of our own yet. Yes, that MUST be the case! Life will magically get better once we live in our own apartment, where we can continue working and going to a church full of older people that can’t really attend a game night outside of their retirement community. And we’ll eventually go to school! Maybe! But everything will get better once we have our own apartment. 
Friends, I fully convinced myself of this. I had decided that I would be content living in a place that is essentially a dead end for newlyweds because we had jobs. I was denying myself the luxury of having friends in favor of having a job. 
Rather than realize how depressed I had gotten, I was bound and determined to merely exist, rather than live life to the fullest while we’re still young. 
I tend to forget just how very young I am- I’m not even 20 years old yet! Why on earth would I think it was a good idea to settle down in a town that has literally nothing to offer us, other than jobs? Don’t get me wrong, having a job is so, so, important, and I’m not trying to dismiss that. But the thing is, we just have JOBS, not a CAREER. We can find a job pretty much anywhere! We still need to work towards a career, and we shouldn’t be putting that on hold just because we have a job. I sure don’t want to be a seating hostess the rest of my life- no way! So what am I doing sitting here, not pursuing my dreams, because I have a job that I hate? 
Mesa has so many actual opportunities. We can find jobs, there are HUNDREDS of apartment complexes to choose from, and there are so many college programs there. Not to mention, friends! Actual friends!
I realize now that being an extrovert is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not anything I should try to cover up or suppress. I need to accept myself fully, and that means taking my life by the reins and doing something about my situation. Yes, moving will be hard, and yes, it’ll be scary starting on square one again, but I am going to do it with my best friend by my side, in addition to my other friends, who will love and support us, and come to a game night where they don’t have to bring an oxygen tank. 
Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you have to give up some of your most basic needs and pretend you’re okay. To quote from the movie Princess Diaries: Royal Engagement: “being married is about being yourself, only with someone else.” 
Oh, Helen Thermopolis. So weird, so wise.
I thought it was kind of a funny statement at first, but there is a lot of truth to it! I got married not because I wanted to hide away certain aspects of my personality in order to be a housewife; I got married because I found someone I can be 100% myself around. And being 100% real means acknowledging that sometimes it’s okay to do something scary, because it will benefit your family, but it will also help you live your best life. 
And I fully intend on living my best life. After all….. Happy wife, happy life, right? ;^)
I kid, I kid. But I’m excited to move to a place where we are going to have options, schooling, and friends! Oh, I am SO excited to have friends again. And I am so excited to be LIVING, not just existing. 
Mesa, watch out. The Rhinehearts are coming for you!!
~Haeley

(ps- I’m every bit as disgusted as you are by my excessive use of stock photos. But I needed something to break up the monotony of my words. Bear with me here.)

A year.

365 days ago yesterday began the most eventful year of my life. I figured it would be, but I had no idea just HOW eventful it would be.
Isn’t it interesting just how much can change in just one year? Looking back and remembering is so crazy. This year not only taught me many things about the world, and the people around me, it taught me a lot about myself.

The day I moved in and was truly on my own was surreal. Walking into my apartment for the first time with my parents by my side and a host of boxes in the car gave me butterflies something fierce. This was it. In only a matter of hours, my parents would leave me on my own, and I would begin life as an adult. Was I ready? Could I do this? I guess I would find out soon enough. We had a good day together, organizing my things, trying to enjoy each moment we had together.

Then it was time for my parents to go. It was a bittersweet moment, watching them drive away. Granted, they would be back in just a few days for my class registration, but it still felt kind of scary. After they came on Wednesday, I had no idea when I would see them again.

However, as scary as it was, I was so excited. I was on my own! My life was beginning in earnest! There was no telling what would happen now.

Over the next few months, I grew in so many ways. Before I moved, I was worried that eventually I would stop going to church, because the decision was 100% mine. But I never willingly missed a Sunday! And I really enjoyed my ward. There were some genuinely good people there. It was comforting to know that my faith was strong enough to carry me through independent life, and it made me feel good knowing that I really did have my own testimony, and I wasn’t blindly following my parent’s beliefs.

I learned that being alone doesn’t have to be a lonely experience. I spent a lot of time on my own, since I didn’t have too many friends in Thatcher. At first, I was a bit sad about not being as much of a social butterfly, but in time I came to accept that sometimes it’s okay to be friends with just yourself. I took so many walks and bike rides in that pretty little town. I loved exploring by myself, and I found so many beautiful places that I never would have, had I stayed home feeling sorry for myself. I think everyone should take advantage of where they live. There’s beauty everywhere, if you look hard enough! Take some time to yourself, and enjoy who you are when nobody’s around.

Among learning how fabulous I look with purple hair, and how performing arts might not be for me after all, I learned something even more important: give everyone a fair chance when it comes to dating.

Not saying that you should keep dating someone you know is wrong for you, or putting up with unsavory behavior because you don’t know that you’ll find anyone better, of course. But give people a chance. I dated around a lot in the months before Tanner. I dated people I was not interested in, but I went anyway because people can surprise you sometimes! I went on many a date where I hardly knew the boy, and at the end of the night, I had made myself a friend. Heck, I wasn’t really all that interested in Tanner when we went on our first date! But I gave him a chance, and I’ve never regretted it.

Dating is so much fun! Don’t be afraid of asking someone out, or going out with someone you don’t know super well. Use your best judgement, of course, and don’t go out with someone you’re pretty sure could kill you in your sleep. ;^)

Who would have ever thought that on the one year anniversary of my moving out, I would be going on my third month of marriage? I’m so glad I was able to attend EAC. It taught me so much about life, about love, and about who I am. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving me the opportunities He did, and although I miss Thatcher something fierce, I got a pretty cool keepsake out of the deal, don’t you think? ;^)

What a wonderful, stressful, scary, crazy, awesome year it’s been. Who knows what will happen in the next year? Only time will tell….

~Haeley

Dear me.

Dear me,

Let’s talk for a minute, Haeley-to-Haeley. Cool?
I promise I’m not mad at you, so don’t freak out. I just need to remind you of a few things.

I need you to take a step back and appreciate your life for the crazy, wonderful, mess that it is right now. I need you to remember that these days won’t last forever, and you’ll eventually look back on them with incredible fondness.

No, you’re not dying, divorcing, or anything traumatic. It’s just…

You’re not pregnant.
And that’s okay. The two of you aren’t trying to have a baby yet, anyway. Still, your baby hunger is real, and boy is it persistent. Each month is a mixture of emotions for you as you simultaneously hope your period doesn’t show up, while at the same time worrying that it won’t. It’s a strange state of being, isn’t it? What would it be like to wake up one morning and not be doubled over with cramps? What would it be like to be a few days late and secretly hope that your period just wasn’t going to come? What would it be like to watch those two pink lines show up on a pregnancy test, confirming what you were hoping and praying for?

I’ll tell you what it would be like- or, at least, what I imagine what it would be like. It would be amazing. It would be the biggest rush of emotions, knowing that there was a life growing inside of you, and that in a few months, you and your husband would be parents. It would be so exciting, while at the same time being scary and daunting.
I have no doubt that it would be worth it, either. Having a baby to love and care for is the dream, after all!

But it’s not the dream right now. And what you need to understand, sweet girl, is that it’s okay! Please remember that although you may feel older than you are, you’re still only 19. You are still in your teens, Haeley! You’re still a baby! Having a baby will be wonderful, and beautiful, and scary, and the most wonderful thing is you are still so young. You can wait a few years, I promise. You’re okay. Your biological clock isn’t ticking quite yet. ;^)

For now, I want you to enjoy this part of life. You only get to be a newlywed once, you know. So take advantage of it! Go dancing with your husband, and feel free to forget what song is playing because you’re too busy kissing him to pay attention. Enjoy how excited you get when you come home from work and he’s there, waiting for you and only you. Cuddle up to him each night and hold him as close to you as possible, because this time is limited. You have the rest of your life to be a mom, but you only have right now to have it be just the two of you.

So go ahead, live your life to the very fullest. Feel free to be as passionate as you want to, in whatever you’re doing. The two of you are so, so young, so go out and LIVE while you can! Take a random trip to a city you’ve never heard of. Stay up all night watching movies without worrying about waking up the baby. Go on dates as often as you want to without worrying about a babysitter. Make sure your siblings are annoyed by your constant cuddling and general lovey-dovey talk.

Haeley, you’ve wanted a relationship like this since you were 12. Do you know how lucky you are? Start appreciating the lovely little family you have right now, and know that in the Lord’s time your children will come to you. But don’t worry about it right at this moment, please. Enjoy being a newlywed while you can, and love that sweet husband of yours with every last ounce of yourself.

Because someday, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night, because the little creature the two of you created needs you. And someday you will have to find a babysitter in order to spend a little alone time with the boy who still gives you butterflies when he holds your hand.

Someday, you will be utterly drained and exhausted, but more full of love than you ever thought. Someday, you will have a beautiful little child running through the sprinklers, giggling and squealing, and you will marvel at just how you lived without them. And throughout the years, you will watch that child grow up into their own person, and eventually they will find their own spouse, and you’ll remember this time again, when it was just your husband and you, and you’ll hope your children are even half as happy as you are.

These years are coming, Haeley. They are. And they will be the best years of your life, but those years have already begun. Look into Tanner’s eyes and know that all you need is in front of you. He is so wonderful to you. sweetheart. You couldn’t have done better.

Remember that.

Love, me.

~Haeley

Not a fairytale.

Last week was full of new experiences. Last week was the first time in our married life that Tanner and I have spent any time apart, other than when we are at work. I had the opportunity to babysit for a family in my parent’s ward for a week, and I also was able to attend the sealing of one of my dearest friends to her sweetheart. It was the first time I’ve attended the temple since my own sealing!

Becoming, for all intents and purposes, a single mother of four for a week offered some killer perspective on motherhood for me. The first few days were rough, figuring out the kid’s personalities, their schedule, and how to communicate effectively were really hard, but eventually I figured it out and was able to hit a groove. I also got really acquainted with sleeping as lightly as possible, in case any of the kids needed me during the night. I had a few (very) early mornings, which were hard on me and my sanity, and I learned that even taking a 2 minute bathroom break is a bad idea, because that’s when little fingers get slammed in a door by older siblings.

Being on my own with four littles all week, I gained a huge respect for single mothers. They are superheroes. Basically all mothers are superheroes, because kid-wrangling is HARD STUFF! A few times my sisters came to help me out, and lemme tell you, they were a Godsend. Even if they just played with some of the kids, it was wonderful to not have all that pressure on just me. I’m so, so blessed to be able to have a husband who will become a fantastic father someday. I know he will be indispensable when the time comes! Granted, I’m sure it gets a tiny bit easier when you’re the one who’s had them around from conception, so you’ve had time to get used to the idea of motherhood, and you’ve been with the child since birth, so you know all their little nuances and quirks, and you love them more than life itself, but if I learned anything this week, it’s that I am NOT ready to be a mom yet. I’m going to enjoy taking care of just the two of us for a while before we bless the world with another Rhineheart. ;^)

I know that we’re still newlyweds, and we’re clingy, sentimental, love birds who just can’t keep their hands off of one another, but good HEAVENS being away from Tanner was hard on me. Half of the reason I slept so terribly all week was because I had no one to cuddle up to! How strange it is to me that for the past 19 years of my life I’ve not wanted to share the bed with ANYONE, but now that I’m married I can’t stand the idea of NOT sharing the bed! I love having him there beside me. His presence calms and relaxes me, and I didn’t get to enjoy that for a week!

Being apart helped me appreciate him more, and it made me realize how much I really need him. Especially when we become parents. There were times this past week where I had been woken up before the sun, and aside from being completely exhausted I was covered in drool, tears, boogers, food, and myriad other substances that I did not even want to think about. I had been pinched, sassed, and ignored the whole day, and all I wanted to do was curl up next to Tanner and try not to cry my eyes out. But he wasn’t there, so I just had to soldier on all by myself. I think this is just one of the many reasons why families are so vital. I know I wouldn’t be able to function by myself! I need my husband! And, eventually, our kids will need BOTH of their parents. Again, I’m so lucky I’ve got that guy.

Towards the end of the week, I went to my friend Annie’s sealing. I got one of my sisters to watch the kids so I could be a part of that special day, and I am so grateful I was able to go. Walking through the doors of the temple I was immediately overwhelmed by a sense of peace. I saw Annie’s parents in the lobby, and I couldn’t help but be positively giddy for their family. Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me, but nothing makes me happier than weddings. Knowing that two people have found the person they know they can’t live without is so beautiful! Now that I’m married, however, that feeling of joy is increased tenfold, because I know how great marriage is!

Before the ceremony, I saw my old elementary school teacher, and sat by her. It was so great to be able to see her! Every time I’ve been able to reconnect with that sweet woman, my day is made better.

When the time came to enter the sealing room, I felt the Spirit so strongly. These two were going to be making such a powerful covenant today, and I had the privilege to witness it! What was even more exciting is that they were sealed in the very same room Tanner and I were sealed in, just over a month before. As I sat through the ceremony, I thought about what a blessing it was to be able to be here for this ordinance. I remember, throughout all our elementary years, Annie and I dreamed about this day. We played “house” in the sandbox countless times, pretending we were wives and mothers with adoring husbands. As we got a little bit older, we would daydream about boys and what it would feel like to kiss one someday. We planned our weddings, talked about crushes, and discussed what our plans were when we became mommies someday in the distant future.

As the years passed, and we graduated from elementary school, we kind of lost contact. But I thought back to our growing up years often, and thought about the time we would both be married someday. Every now and then we would talk, and I still felt that comfortable friendship we had developed so long ago. We were finally able to discuss what it actually felt like to kiss, and, yes, it was every bit as awesome as we hoped it would be.

Then we each got engaged to our sweethearts within weeks of each other, and it got even more exciting. Our dreams were finally coming true! We would really start living the fairytale life we had hoped for all our lives!

Well, real life is far from being a fairytale. Marriage is wonderful, and living life with my best friend is the biggest blessing I’ve received, but it is also hard. We’ve had to make sacrifices, and have had to compromise, and have had to come to terms with the fact that life just doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to, despite your best efforts. We’re never going to ride into the sunset on a white horse, never to worry again. We’re never going to magically solve our problems at the drop of a hat, and we’re never going to have little woodland animals clean our house- which is actually a big bummer.

Right now, the reality is that being married is tough. Each of us has a job (which is SUCH a good thing, don’t get me wrong), but the hours conflict terribly. Tanner gets up super early and is still working when I have to leave for the evening shift at my job. We hardly see each other except for weekends, and even then I often have to work. If I were a Disney princess, we wouldn’t have this problem.

We are also struggling to find a place of our own to make a home. Apartment hunting is tedious, applications can be expensive, and finding a place that isn’t falling apart or in a scary neighborhood is not a walk in the park, to say the least. Craving independence and having to be patient is not ideal, and if Tanner was a dashingly handsome young pirate, sailing the seven seas and racking up a fortune in jewels and doubloons, we wouldn’t have to worry about how we would pay for rent AND car insurance and still manage to have enough for groceries.

Real life isn’t a fairytale. In real life, prince charming snores, and the princess has really bad morning breath, in addition to an expanding waistline and hairy legs. In real life, we don’t get to be independently wealthy. We have to work for every single penny we make, and even then it’s hard to scrape by. In real life, sometimes your relationship simply isn’t as passionate as it used to be, because now the two of you have so many responsibilities it’s all you can do to kiss your spouse goodnight before falling asleep and repeating everything the next day. Real life has a lot more arguments, diapers, sleepless nights, bills, and heartache.

Real life is not, and never really will be, a fairytale.

But I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. Fairytales don’t have the late-night belly laughs. Fairytales don’t have the spontaneous ‘dates’ that consist of filling the car’s tank and grabbing some ice cream. Disney princesses will never dance in the canned food aisle with their prince because their song came on over the radio. They will never search Yelp for a new restaurant and find a new favorite place to get pizza on a lazy afternoon. Fairytales will never tell you how exciting it will be when you and your husband get your first pet together, nor will they ever tell you how fun it is to dream about your future home with your lover. And fairytales can’t even eclipse the wonder and joy that will fill your heart as your family grows over the years. Why would I want anything less than real life and all the joy it brings?

This past week was one life lesson after another, and even though they weren’t always the most exciting, they taught me so much. Being able to go from an established family to the temple and see the beginning of a brand-new family was beautiful, and I’m so, so glad I was present for it. It’s so comforting to know that we had so many opportunities for our lives to change to the point where the temple wasn’t an option or a goal, but we stayed true to our standards, and now we will be blessed for it. I hope that Annie and her sweet husband have a beautiful life and a celestial marriage, and I hope they are able to enjoy everything that life has to offer.

I think I’ll take a happy life and marriage over a fairytale ending any day.

~Haeley