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!

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!!

(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.)


I have never been the skinny girl.
I will never be able to talk about when I was a tiny, slender little teenager, who never knew just how skinny she really was, because the reality is this: I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. Granted, I’ve never been over 200 pounds, nor have I accrued major health problems due to my weight. Nevertheless, I have struggled. It’s hard to be a chubby girl surrounded by “perfect” figures everywhere you look- magazines, TV, and the girl sitting next to you in your 9th grade English class.

I haven’t always hated being bigger, however. In elementary school, I started a secret club for the “fat girls” in our class- a club that lasted for about ten minutes until we were discovered and had to put a stop to it, for fear that someone might feel left out. We didn’t start the club because we wanted to hate on skinny girls- it was just a group where everyone felt alike. We all knew what it was like to be a chubby girl in elementary (oh, the struggle!), and it felt good to have comrades.

In 7th grade, I had gotten bigger, but it didn’t bother me too much. I told myself that the uniform pants that didn’t fit and took me ten minutes to wrestle on around my girth made my butt look good, and it didn’t matter that I was overflowing around my waistband; my peers wouldn’t notice.

Hopefully they didn’t notice my
unibrow, either,

By 8th grade, I had officially reached the point where my bellybutton was visible through my shirts, because my stomach stuck out that much.
I didn’t necessarily care, though. I was still curvy, meaning that even though I had to carefully maneuver myself in between the desks at school so I wouldn’t knock something over with my large hips, it was okay. Those child-birthing hips were dang fine!

Eventually, I realized something. I was wearing a size XL while others my age could still fit into children’s sizes! I was a size 16 when most of my friends hadn’t even cracked a size 8 yet. All of a sudden, I couldn’t stand myself. I needed a way out. I just wasn’t sure how I would find one.

9th grade came around, and I finally decided to make a change. I made a goal that I would stop eating sugar completely. I had done some research, and I knew how bad it was for your body. I hoped I would lose some weight by doing that, but  mainly wanted to see if I could go a whole year without consuming any sugar.
It was hard. It was so hard to say no to the things that I loved and craved, but I was stubborn. I WOULD make it a year without eating sugar. At first, a lot of people teased me about my choice, and tried to convince me to sneak an Oreo here, or taste a brownie there. But I stood firm. I was determined.

And eventually, the most amazing thing happened! I began to lose the weight I had packed on throughout the years. I watched my pant size go from a 16, to a 14, to a 12, and, finally, a 10. A 10!! I was one size away from being in the single digits! I no longer had to buy shirts that were extra large, or even large. I was a solid medium.
As it came time to go to college, I began to panic. I could NOT gain the freshman 15. I just couldn’t. I hadn’t worked so hard for years to let it all go to waste because I was living on my own. So I made my mind up to be the healthiest I could be, and for the majority of the year I achieved just that. I was smaller than I had ever been, and I felt better about myself than I did in years- I could even fit into an 8 in some clothing brands!

I finally, FINALLY felt good enough about myself to want to highlight some of my best features, so I did. I had a little bit of a pooch around my tummy, but when I lied down, it would disappear and my stomach would be flat- something that was a new sensation for me. I watched with delight as my face slimmed down to reveal cheekbones to rival Kim Kardashian’s (in my mind at least), my thighs shrunk down from all the bike riding I was doing, and I was just… Happy. I wasn’t skinny, but I was finally in a place where I felt beautiful most of the time.

Then I started going out with Tanner, and we started eating out at restaurants more often, and my bike wasn’t used nearly as much as I was more often found in the front seat of his car. One thing led to another, and I started eating sugar after more than 4 years of abstaining. I didn’t notice any major changes until one day, after struggling to button my favorite pair of capris, they ripped apart on my thighs. In a big way.

From there it just got worse. I barely fit any of the clothes I had bought in Thatcher, and one by one I watched my jeans rip and tear as my waistline grew. For the record, I don’t blame Tanner for any of this. Weight gain is a common thing when you start going out with someone, because your eating habits change to accommodate visits to restaurants, and your significant other’s personal preferences. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s natural. But it still is difficult to accept.

I have watched myself grow from a 10 to a 14 in just a few months. It’s like I’m trapped in a balloon, but the balloon is me. I can’t even look in a mirror anymore. It hurts too much. When I lay down at night, there is a bulge where there used to be a flat stomach and hip bones. A lot of my shirts are difficult to take off because they get stuck around my fat arms. I hate wearing jeans more than anything, because they just don’t fit me. The jeans that I bought in a size 13 are now giving me a muffin top, and they cut off my breathing. So I wear mostly yoga pants, or skirts, because they’re stretchy and they don’t make me look like a busted can of biscuits. I’m not wearing yoga pants because I’m lazy, nor do I want to strike lust into the hearts of men. I wear them because they are more  forgiving than my jeans, and I feel like I can hide the fact that I’ve gotten fat when I’m wearing them. So, for anyone who’s personally offended or disgusted by yoga pants, chill, okay? Sometimes they’re a security blanket, because they fit when nothing else does.

Do you have any idea how painful it is to watch the body I worked so hard for disappear? I have a double chin again. I hate getting dressed in the morning, because I have to figure out what is going to fit me today, all the while praying I can button up my pants. It. Hurts. So. Much.

One of the worst parts about being unhappy with your appearance, is you’re basically not allowed to talk about it. In today’s society of body positivity, you MUST love yourself
Feeling fat isn’t a thing anymore! You’re beautiful just the way you are! Curves are beautiful! Just embrace it! LOVE ALL YOUR FLAWS. NEVER CHANGE.
It feels like I’ve been muzzled. Every time I’ve brought up my dissatisfaction with myself, I am immediately silenced.
“You’re not fat, you’re beautiful! Stop thinking like that. Don’t say things like that again.”
Why is it okay to discuss our fears and worries until it comes to our waistline? Why do I have to unconditionally accept the fact that I’m getting bigger? Why, for heaven’s sake, can I not talk to anyone about the pain I am feeling? Telling me to stop feeling that way just shows that you’re uncomfortable talking about this issue and it would be better for everyone if I could just stop.

Sometimes, I need someone to listen to me. I need someone to understand how I’m feeling, and rather than dismissing it with, “but you’re beautiful!” offer some support. Remind me that I can do this. I lost all the weight once, and I can do it again. I don’t want to be alone, and I especially don’t want to be quiet about it.
I think that it’s okay to not be completely satisfied with your appearance. How am I ever going to change anything if I just sit and accept the fact that everything I worked for is gone? How will I better myself as a person if I just decide that I don’t need to keep trying; as long as I’m “happy”?

It is okay to want to change. And it’s okay to be sad about this. I don’t hate myself as a person, I just know that I shouldn’t have become lax about the goals I had in mind. Emotions, good AND bad, are an important part of the human experience. It’s okay to be sad about the inches I’ve added on.

That will make the disappearance of said inches all the happier.


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….


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,