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.


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.

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.


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!


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!

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.


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.


Month 1.

A month ago today my life changed forever. Can you believe it? A month ago today, I knelt across the altar from my love, and we covenanted to love each other through this life and eternity. And just like a week, a month has changed my perspective immensely. I’ve learned so much more in these past few weeks than I thought I would, and it’s only fitting that I document it.

  • Real life hits you FAST. The Monday after our honeymoon, Tanner started work, which meant getting up at 5 in the morning and coming home at 4 pm, completely exhausted. The first week and a half of living like that was rough, to say the least. The rest of the family works as well, so I spent my days alone in the house, feeling useless. Fortunately, I got a job as a hostess at a restaurant, which is great, but I work from 4 pm to 9 pm, so Tanner and I really only see each other in the morning, during lunch sometimes, and the evening when both of us are tired from work. I also picked up another job, babysitting for some sweet little girls. The extra income is nice, especially since we’re SO broke, but more often than not I find myself daydreaming about our honeymoon, and wishing we could be independently wealthy so we could spend our days traveling the world, not having a care in the world, and spending all our time together. But this is our reality right now, and I am so grateful both of us are employed, so I’m not going to complain too much. ;^)
  • Communication is so, so, SO important. I’ve always thought the two of us had fantastic communication, but we are far from perfect. If I’ve learned anything this past month, it’s that Tanner is not a mind reader, and neither am I. We’ve gotten into several disagreements where the root of the problem was failure to communicate. My feelings got hurt because I didn’t express my desires, and he got frustrated because he didn’t express his. In the end, we were able to have a really good discussion about the problem, and we have been so much happier for it, but the issue could have been resolved weeks ago if one of us had swallowed our pride and just talked it out. I just hope I remember that advice later on down the road.
  • Sleeping together is still a bit of a challenge (I can be a ridiculously light sleeper), but I’m pretty sure I prefer that to sleeping alone. I can’t sleep unless I’m touching him, and I live for our late night cuddles. It just feels so comforting holding each other until we fall asleep, and even though waking up at 5 every morning sucks, it means holding each other in the early hours of the morning, which I am always in favor of. I love that boy, bedhead and morning breath included. 
  • Living with parents is hard. I’m just going to come out and say it. But lest you think I am an ungrateful, spiteful human, let me explain. It’s hard because even though I’m his wife, I’m not really a wife right now. Does that make sense? We aren’t in our own space, so I can’t do a lot of things a normal housewife would. Keep in mind that these are things I WANT to do- I’m not some suppressed, languishing feminist who needs to break out of the mold. No, I very much want to be a housewife, and not fulfilling that role is throwing off my groove. I do love getting to know his wonderful family, though, and living rent-free while we get on our feet is a HUGE blessing. But it’s still tough to not have my own space. It’s tough to have to wear actual pants around the house, too. Hopefully soon we will have our own space, though, and I won’t have to wear pants! And I will be able to decorate everything, and take care of my husband fully and completely. I am so excited for that.
  • Post-marriage weight gain is real, y’all. It’s real, and it’s terrible. My eating habits have changed right along with my last name, and I have paid for it. I’ve even started eating sugar again, which has been simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing that has happened. The fact of the matter is sugar just tastes so dang GOOD, and it’s easier than you would think to fall into that trap again. Even after almost 5 years of not eating it, my body got used to the sugar really quick, and now I’m having to take a step back and regroup. I hate that I allowed myself to do that! Not eating sugar was a piece of who I was as a person, however small and inconsequential it may seem. Losing a part of my identity hurt, and I’ve been struggling to get back on the horse and be strong again. Loving my body has also been so difficult. Before I got engaged and the stress (and sugar) did a number on my body, I was the slimmest I had ever been. I was finally in a place where I felt good about myself most of the time. I was eating right, I was active, and I felt so awesome! Now, I have grown not one, but four pant sizes since February, and it’s been harder than ever to love myself because of it. I know how important it is to love the skin you’re in, but it gets so difficult when you just… Can’t. I think I’ll make a separate post about this, because it’s been weighing so heavily on my mind. No pun intended. 
  • This month, I have learned a lot about caring and being taken care of. Each night when I get home from work, my sweet Tanner has had dinner ready for me. And even though it’s a normal thing at this point, I’m still so touched by that sweet gesture every time. Having someone take care of you is the best feeling, and I couldn’t be luckier to have someone like him caring for me. He treats me like an absolute queen, and I am consistently amazed by the love he continues to show for me. I’ve tried to step up to the plate and take care of him as well as he takes care of me, but it’s hard to top. He really is so fantastic. I’m so blessed. We both have a long way to go, however. We’re both stubborn human beings, and that often means refusing help. Which is like running headfirst into a brick wall, it’s so frustrating. Sometimes I just want to scream, “LET ME HELP YOU!!”, but then I remember that he is his own person, and I can’t force him to do anything. And sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is be patient, which poor Tanner has to be more often than not, because I am not the easiest person to deal with, to say the least. But I’m trying to be better at accepting the help that he gives, and I’m trying to remember that he’s taking care of me because he WANTS to, not because he is being told to. It’s pretty great being loved by him.
Well, this month has been great, and I can’t wait to see what we’ll have learned in a year from now! I really hit the jackpot when it comes to spouses.
Let’s try for another month!
*photo credit courtesy of Lexi Carling Photography

Let’s talk wedding photography.

Apparently all I’m going to blog about for the foreseeable future is marriage. (not that I’m complaining, just giving a heads up for all the people out there who think love is gross.)

Let’s be real here. One of my favorite things about people getting married- aside from committing your life to the person you love most, of course- is the pictures! I love looking at the pure emotion and love being portrayed in those precious snapshots. It’s just so honest and sweet and sincere! I look at wedding pictures more often than I’d care to admit, and now that I have my own…. I think it’s safe to say they will be EVERYWHERE. ;^)

Looking through my pictures, I realize just how special certain shots are to me, and how grateful I am that they were taken. I also have a few pictures that I wish were taken, and I will forever kick myself for not making absolutely sure they were taken in some capacity. So, since I am obviously a) a marriage expert, and b) a professional photographer, I will now condense my wisdom into a List Of Pictures I Highly Suggest Taking. Cool?

  1. The first look. 
I’ll admit, I was skeptical of this one. I am not a huge fan of cliches, and I kind of feel like taking a first look picture is kind of cliche at this point, because everyone takes them nowadays, it seems. I wasn’t planning on taking them at all; in fact, I was planning on having a very private ‘first look’, with just Tanner and I. No photographers, no weeping family members, nothing. Just the two of us. And while I still think that would have been a good idea, I’m still so glad we took first look photos. Because even though ours will never make it onto Pinterest with how perfect we are, and Buzzfeed will never put us on a list of “most emotional first look photos,” the pictures are still so sweet. Please don’t have sky-high expectations for your first look though. 
No, no, NO. DON’T force your emotionally charged demands on your man, okay? You want his reaction to be absolutely genuine, and if he doesn’t cry, he doesn’t cry. I personally wouldn’t have really wanted Tanner to cry, because then I would have cried, and our wedding pictures would be all red-eyed and snotty. No thanks. So just remember: your first look pictures might not look like this:
And your husband might not fall to his feet in a dead faint because of how gorgeous you are. That just won’t happen. But you will get his honest reaction,

and you will be happier with your first look than you ever thought possible. (look at his smile! Better than anything I could find on Pinterest.)
      2. Posing.
I think posed wedding pictures look so pretty- most of the time. A serious face can really make a picture go from cute to downright classy really quickly. In my head, I always pictured a good amount of serious pictures, because as I said, they’re just so darn classy! But eventually I decided that our personalities just didn’t quite match what serious pictures portray. Serious pictures have always implied maturity, poise, and… Wisdom? I don’t know where I’m going with this, but the point is, it’s just not me, and it’s not Tanner. We’re goofy! We’re not all that mature! We just don’t exude the serious vibe, and that’s okay. I’ve learned not only to embrace it, but to run with it. It’s us, and that’s awesome. 
I guess what I’m trying to say here, is that posed pictures look so good, but oftentimes the ones that aren’t posed are the ones that are the most genuine. The ones where we are clearly teasing each other or laughing are my favorites, because it’s just so US!

      3. Get the details.
You know what I’m talking about, right? Get a close up of the groom’s look,
Your bouquet,
Your hairpiece,
And so on and so on. It might not seem like a big deal, but the details are important, too!
      4. Aerial shots. 
You guys. You guys. These pictures are so gorgeous! They are at a flattering angle, they really show off your dress, and they’re just so, so pretty. I got the idea from the wedding pictures of one of my friends from high school. They were so gorgeous and original, I knew I needed to get some shots like that. And boy, am I glad I did.

SO PRETTY, right?
      5. Remember what’s important (don’t focus on the negative)
I’ve always struggled with my weight. It’s been a constant battle for me to see myself as beautiful, especially when I’m physically not where I want to be. And my initial reaction when I saw these pictures was sadness. Did I really look that huge in my dress? Am I really that fat? After obsessing over it for a while, I had a reality check. No, I am not super slender. I do not have a flat, perfect stomach that photographs well. I have somewhat of a double chin. I have a ways to go physically, but you know what? I’m BEAUTIFUL. My dress was lovely, I felt good in it, and above all, I married my best friend. And that’s what these pictures are about- the love we share. Not my size, not my arms, none of that. It’s about US. Once I got past that, I was able to truly enjoy these pictures. Am I tiny and perfect? No. Far from it. But this body is mine, and I need to love it regardless of my size. Plus, my husband loves it, which is also a bonus. ;^)
      6. Temple pictures.
I haven’t gotten these back yet, but I already have some regrets and pointers. The day we got married was a beautiful day- especially for it being the end of May in Arizona. The temperature never even went into the high eighties! It really was the most perfect day to get married. However, the sun was still shining, my dress was made of heavy fabric + wasn’t very flowy, and there were small children everywhere. As a result, it felt hot, uncomfortable, and it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences. So we hurried through the pictures and only got group shots. While that’s great and all, I HATE that we only got group pictures. I hate it! I wish we had just stuck it out and took our time getting pictures, because we are missing some pictures I really wish I had gotten. We never got pictures with our bridesmaids/groomsmen, we never got pictures with our siblings, we never got pictures with our parents OR grandparents… We missed out on a lot. And I wish more than anything we had gotten those pictures. I didn’t even get a picture with my own mother! That is messed. Up. And I’m going to stop talking about it right now before I get all emotional (thank you, PMS!).
In short, make a list of the pictures you need, and give them to the photographer. You won’t regret standing in the sun for just a few extra minutes when you can look back and see the family pictures you have.
      7. The most important picture.
I think it’s vital that you get a picture of your favorite butt, personally.

To my previous love interests.

A few nights ago, Tanner and I *finally* opened our wedding presents. Naturally, a bunch of cards were in the mix. As we went through the gifts and cards, I was struck by the amount of love being poured out to us through the kind words being said in the little cards we received.

The evening was a good one, and as things began winding down and the last few gifts were opened, I noticed an envelope addressed specifically to me. I took it out of the pile quietly, and read it to myself. It was from a young man I had had a crush on all throughout my high school years, and rather than wishing me and my new husband congratulations on our marriage, it was an apology letter. It expressed regret for any amorous advances made towards me, and any subsequent confusion it may have caused.

As I thought about the strange note, my first reaction was to laugh. Obviously I had moved on! Did he think that, perhaps, my Tanner was an extreme form of a rebound? Did he think I was emotionally scarred by holding hands with him occasionally over the course of 4 years? Why did he feel the need to bring it up over a year later, at my wedding? 

I don’t know that I’ll ever get answers to these questions, but now I don’t think it’s as funny as I did initially. Rather, I feel sad for him and that he feels those years were a waste of time. Had I the opportunity to go back to high school and change anything, I wouldn’t. Because those years were difficult at times, but wonderful nonetheless. Do you know why they were so wonderful? Because of him, and other boys that came into my life at one point or another and gave me a little taste of just how awesome romance can be.

Perhaps it’s just because I have always been a tad (read: very) boy-crazy, but I honestly think that having crushes and having those experiences have made me into a better person! I don’t regret anything I’ve done; instead, I’m grateful for the small romantic interludes I had every so often.

And so, I would like to write a little letter in response to that note- but rather than target that specific boy, I’m going to address this letter to all of my previous love interests over the years, because they really shaped who I am and influenced my choice of a husband.

Dear past crushes,

I would like to say, first and foremost, thank you.

Thank you for helping me grow into the woman that I am today. Couldn’t have done it without you!

Thank you for being brave enough to hold my hand the first time. It may seem small and inconsequential now, but at the time it made my heart pound, and I couldn’t sleep because of how happy it made me. Thank you for teaching me to appreciate even the simplest forms of physical affection, and to enjoy the feeling of someone’s hand in mine. It’s still one of the most comforting feelings, and you made me realize the beauty and security that holding hands fosters.

Thank you for the little notes and treats you gave me for my birthday, Valentine’s Day, and for no reason. I still have all of those sweet little treasures, and when I was younger I had a few of your letters almost memorized from reading them so much. Thank you for teaching me to enjoy the small, handmade gifts. They mean the most, and are so sincere. Please never stop writing notes to your future wife. She will appreciate them more than you know, and keep them for years to come.

Thank you for being so entertaining to talk to, because it taught me the importance of being able to talk to my future spouse, and the importance of being able to have deep, meaningful talks one moment, and silly, pointless banter the next. Communication is so important, and you helped me realize that.

Thank you for allowing me to imagine a future with you. Granted, you never knew it because I never talked about it to you, but I loved dreaming about our potential future together. I would imagine our story, how it would be different from everyone else’s, and how romantic it would be to tell our children how we met, holding hands and smiling as the old feelings came rushing back alongside those precious memories. I loved picturing the two of us growing old together, surrounded by grandchildren. I loved secretly trying out your last name (every girl does this, I’m not crazy), and quietly saying it out loud to see how it sounded.

Thank you for being so kind and caring with my little brothers, because it made me realize that having a man who was good with kids was a non-negotiable item on my mental checklist of marriageable qualities. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy watching a guy play with little kids? Yum.

Thank you for being my best friend, and doing random, crazy things with me. I knew that I would want to marry someone like that someday- someone I could laugh with, cry with, and go on completely random adventures with. Thank you for being the kind of person I could tell anything to, and thank you for never judging me for my feelings.

Thank you for breaking my heart, and for letting me experience the feeling of emptiness. As hard as it was, it built me up into a stronger person, and allowed me to appreciate the power of loving myself. It taught me to be independent, and showed me that my happiness did not rely on the approval of male counterparts.

Thank you for being a jerk. Thank you for texting other girls while you were on a date with me, and thank you for making me feel stupid by acting like my superior constantly. Thank you for being inconsiderate, because without your sour example, I wouldn’t have decided that I was worth someone’s full attention. I was worth being treated as an equal, and I was worth someone who would be KIND to me. Thank you for reminding me that settling never makes anyone happy.

Thank you for all the lessons you unknowingly taught me through the years. Without you, I would never have found someone who had all the qualities I both wanted and needed in a man. I don’t regret any of the experiences I’ve had over the years, because if I hadn’t had them, I wouldn’t appreciate Tanner for the true gem he is.

So never apologize for your past feelings. Even if we didn’t end up together, we had a good time, and we both learned a lot. I hope that you don’t feel bad for any feelings you had towards me, because I don’t regret having liked you. I am excited for the future you have ahead of you, and I pray that the woman you eventually make your wife will appreciate the man you have become because of those experiences.

Best of luck,


Week 1.

Holy cow, guys! I’ve been married for a full week now! Typing that I realize that it’s nothing compared to the grand scheme of things- our marriage is just a baby! We haven’t gone through any struggles or hard times yet! So what am I doing celebrating a week (and two days) of marriage?

Well, like all big changes in life, it’s brought so many growing experiences, and I feel like I should document them in some capacity. This is my new life, and I love recording the important changes here. So without further ado, I will now write down some things I’ve learned in my whopping 9 days of marriage.

  • The morning I got married, I expected to feel a considerable change in the way I felt- a sort of shift in the universe, so to speak. But I was surprised at how natural it all felt! Walking out of the temple, facing all my loved ones as a Rhineheart rather than a Whetten felt so peaceful! I hadn’t lost any of my family ties, or the special bonds I have with my siblings. I had gained something so much more! I now have the opportunity to grow closer to my parents, as our family dynamic has changed considerably. In addition to that, however, I have a whole NEW family I get to meet, and love, and learn with. It’s the neatest feeling knowing I really am a part of this wonderful family- both sides. I don’t know how or why I was blessed with such fantastic in-laws, but I thank my Heavenly Father for them often. I really do have the best of the best.
  • Throughout our engagement, it was like we were fighting an invisible battle with the adversary. We could hardly go a week without arguing over something stupid, accidentally hurting someone’s feelings, and vice versa. I cried over everything it seems, and more than once I questioned whether I was making the right decision in sealing myself to a man I had only known since October. Countless times over the past three months I would feel completely and totally worthless. Yes, I was engaged to someone I loved more than life itself, but why on earth would he actually choose me? I would sit and pick through all my individual flaws and shortcomings until I felt like the stupidest, ugliest, fool of a girl. And try as I might, I couldn’t shake the feelings of utter nothingness. Looking back, I know that those feelings were not mine. I know that Satan was trying his absolute hardest to deprive me of the blessings of a temple marriage, and the knowledge that we won out against someone so dead-set on separating us is the most victorious feeling! Ever since we walked out of the temple, I have felt positively on top of the world. I haven’t struggled with my self image hardly at all since that beautiful day. It’s almost like God has been rewarding us for making it to the temple by letting us feel so great about ourselves and each other.
  • Going off of my previous bulletpoint, I have never felt more beautiful nor comfortable with myself as I have since I got married. Part of that is, I’m sure, because Satan can’t convince me I’m not worthy of the temple, but another, larger part of it is because my husband has seen ME. All of me. Not just my face, not just the outline of myself through clothing. He has seen the full and complete me, without anything covering or hiding the parts of my body I choose to keep hidden from the rest of the world. And despite seeing the thighs that are just a little bit jigglier than I would like them to be, despite having seen and touched the stomach that’s bigger than I wish it was… Despite all of that, he still thinks I am the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. And rather than feeling shy or ashamed of my flaws, I have learned to embrace them. Because they make me who I am, and who I am is perfect for my husband. And I am finally okay with myself because of it. 
  • All growing up, I hated sleeping in the same bed as someone else. HATED it. I would rather have slept on the floor than share a mattress with anyone- regardless of if I was related to them or not. Granted, it has taken some getting used to, and some figuring out (Tanner tends to punch me in the head in his sleep if he’s not on the right side of the bed), but now I don’t want to sleep alone! Being close to him all night is one of the most peaceful feelings. Mornings are also now more bearable, because when he wakes up he pulls me close to him, and that’s just the tops. Plus… That boy is a space heater, and my toes get super cold at night. Win-win! ;^)
  • Speaking of doing things alone… How did I ever shower alone?! (too real? Haha) It’s just nice to have someone to talk to while you’re sudsing up, you know? And, let’s be real honest here for a second: who really gets their whole back cleaned every time they shower? Who can even reach back there? Spouses are a convenient fix for that age-old problem… And showering together saves water- I think. Ha!
  • Even though it’s only been a matter of days, I already have sensed a change in how I feel about my Tanner. I have loved him throughout this whole process, but since we’ve been married it’s become a much deeper feeling. Since I have been with him day in and day out for a week now, we’ve gotten to know each other a LOT better. I know a lot more of his little quirks and funny habits, and they’ve only made him more dear to me. I know, I know, I’ll probably get super annoyed with them at some point, but for now it has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had, getting to know this unique and wonderful human being. Before we were married, we didn’t get to see each other at our most comfortable state of being- not that we were constantly putting on a show around each other, but there are just certain things that don’t happen while you are dating/engaged. But now we know. I know how much he hates wearing shoes, and he knows how much concentration it takes me to get my eyeliner just exactly right. Little things like that have been so much fun to discover, and I am looking forward to learning even more about each other. 
  • Even on our honeymoon, we couldn’t escape some of the realities of life. The first night in California, Tanner felt sick all night. Then two days later I hurt my leg so badly I could hardly walk. We also took turns throughout the week feeling sick at one point or another, because we were VERY adventurous with our meals. Glamorous? No. Picture-perfect? Definitely not. But I wouldn’t change those experiences for anything. I love taking care of my love, and having him take care of me has been so comforting as well. Real life can and will suck, but knowing we have each other, and we’re both willing to do whatever it takes to make the other feel better, is such a blessing. I really scored with this guy.
  • The biggest learning curve of all, however, has been sex. I know it can be awkward to talk about (which it absolutely should NOT be), but I am going to try to have an open and honest dialogue about it on the blog. No, I am not going to go into detail, nor am I going to tell stories, but I strongly feel that healthy sex within marriage should be discussed, and encouraged! Stepping off my soapbox, this aspect of our relationship has been one of the most challenging and rewarding parts to develop. The whole process is a big learning experience, as we learn how to physically express our love and affection for each other. It’s far from the standards of sex that Hollywood has projected all over the media, but it’s unique, and it is a wonderful thing. Challenging at times, but it has been a beautiful way that my husband and I have been able to get closer to one another. Waiting for this powerful expression of love has been so worth it. At times it felt like we couldn’t possibly wait another day, but knowing we waited to share this together has been a reward in and of itself. I’m excited to keep learning and growing this part of our relationship!
And so there you have it. My discoveries and feelings of this whole marriage business so far. 
I honestly cannot believe how blessed I am to have married such a great person. We are far from perfect, but we refuse to give up on each other, and I look forward to how much we will have grown a month, and a year, and a decade from now. 
One week down, eternity to go.