Well, it's been over a year since I last posted anything on here. I'd say this blog is mostly dead. But according to The Princess Bride, there's still hope.

So what sorts of pleasant and not-so-pleasant surprises did 2015 bring? Well, starts start with the bad news and move on to the good news.

June brought a pretty awful car accident that totaled our Crown Victoria. I was driving a friend's minivan, following Mr. H-B and Maya home. We were at a complete stop at a stoplight behind another car when I was rear-ended by a girl driving "at least 60mph and texting" (according to the officer at the scene). She totaled her own car, the van I was driving, our car, and the pickup truck in front of Mr. H-B.

This is just missing a photo of the truck in front of our blue car.
We were lucky to walk away with minimal bruising and aches and pains. Maya, who I used to have to drag out of the car, is now terrified to go for rides; she even has her own prescription for Xanax. Mr. H-B and I bought another Crown Victoria, this time white, since our car was only totaled out because of its age.

In October we had another miscarriage, our sixth. It was unexpected, but still difficult to handle. We have mostly come to terms with where we are in the process of having children, but there are still moments that tug at my heart strings.

On my birthday in November, we made the painful decision to put Greta to sleep. She developed a very large spindle cell tumor on her right hind leg. She managed with it for several years, but her skin couldn't contain the tumor anymore and split open. The vet and I were both concerned about infection and we decided that putting her down while she was still a happy girl was the best thing we could do for her. Her last day she was very tired, but filled with yummy treats, so it was clear it was her time. I miss her Andy Rooney eyebrows and huge brown eyes almost every day. We are both so thankful to have adopted Maya three years ago; I would be lost without her.

Ready to say goodbye

Now, on to some happier news.

I won two research grants during my first year on the tenure track. I spent most of my summer collecting data to fulfill part of the research agreement. My colleague and I presented our grant plan at a conference in Chicago in January and will be reporting on our progress in Boston this coming January. (Seriously, folks, is there anything wrong with Miami in January?)

Mr. H-B is still holding on to a great job in a somewhat scary East Texas job market. He loves the people he works with, but the Houston-area traffic not so much. Luckily he still has his Super Duty pickup and doesn't mind sitting in it for more than an hour every day.

Our ward recently split, which released me from my calling as Young Women president. I served for just eight months, but learned about 20 years worth of stuff. I went to camp, sewed trek dresses, helped plan a killer Wizard of Oz-themed Young Women in Excellence night, and received hundreds of hugs, wiped thousands of tears, and felt my heart grow about a million times. I came to love the girls and my board (counselors, secretary, advisors, and camp director) more than I could have ever possibly imagined. I feel like I got a small taste of motherhood as I served these incredible young women. I don't know what callings our new ward holds, but I'm excited for the future.

As I look forward to 2016, I don't know what to expect. This year held more heartache and more joy than I could have dreamed. I think I just want to go with the flow. Maybe?


Give Thanks

This year we have so much to be grateful for:
  • We have each other
  • We have our faith
  • We have started to find our place in our adopted Texas home
  • We have a comfortable house
  • We have great air conditioning and cozy heat
  • We have cars that run
  • We have jobs that we love
  • We have money to buy food, pay our bills, and to indulge just a little bit
  • We have dogs that love us and who give us the opportunity to do at least a little nurturing
In a world that's so full of violence, hate, heartache, and disappointment, it is so nice to carve out a little oasis of gratitude and happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Six Years

Six years ago tonight, my family was meeting Mr. H-B's family for the first time. We had dinner at O'Charley's and my brother-in-law promised not to do anything to our car after our wedding reception.

Six years ago tomorrow morning, we drove to Louisville, Kentucky, where we would be married for time and eternity. We laughed and laughed and laughed that one of the questions we answered when applying for our marriage license was, "Are you related to your fiance? If so, how?" Oh, Kentucky...

Six years ago tomorrow evening, we both answered "Yes" to the most important question we would ever answer. We promised to stay together through the best and the worst of things in front of God, our families, and a few very close friends.

We have spent a lot of the last six years looking at each other like this - one of us sick, sad, or in pain. We have lost three grandparents and a number of important friends who have shaped who we are. We have lost the promise of five babies. We have struggled through a dissertation and two grueling job searches. It has not been easy, and I have wondered (perhaps too often), if it is worth it to suffer through so much together. But in the end, I am so grateful to have this man by my side. Sure, we have grieved a lot, but there have also been a lot of really, sublimely happy moments. I love him and I'm so glad he took a chance, against the advice of a lot of people, and just went for it.

Happy 6! I hope we have 60 more.


Moving Stats

1000 miles
26 feet of moving truck
18 feet of car carrier
15 Dramamine
12 tanks of gas
6 stops
1 overnight stay

We arrived safe and sound.

12 days of relentless unpacking
10+ trips to Target
6 trips to Home Depot
4 hours of picture-hanging
2 happy pooches (not pictured)
1 beautiful willow tree

We're happy to be here, Greta didn't puke AT ALL, and we're recovering from a late spring case of cold/bronchitis. Delightful.

I'm easing my way into my new job and we're settling in to our new Texas life (mostly by trying every flavor of Bluebell ice cream that exists). We made a trip to visit my brother and his wife and their four beautiful kids.

I think we're gonna like it here.


Because of Him

This video has made its way around the internet and I finally took a moment to watch it this morning. It is beautiful. I believe that He can ease our burdens, no matter what they are.


It's Ruff Being a Dog

Greta desperately needed a haircut a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes when your dog has long hair, it becomes necessary to remove dingleberries with a pair of scissors that you then promptly sterilize. Greta was also panting basically non-stop, a sure sign that she needed a haircut. Despite the lowered thermal output, she still looks like a depressed ham in the second picture. You'll be pleased to know that she has since recovered and is back to her adorable self.

When we adopted Maya from my parents 18 months ago, I had some pretty serious concerns about how well she would adapt to living in our house with Greta the Weirdo. I was worried about food guarding. I was worried Maya would feel abandoned or that Greta would be jealous. Since they both came from shelters, there's always the unknown 'what happened to you before we got you' issue. We knew that Greta and Maya could at least get along, having spent a summer together when they were both puppies.

My fears were mostly unrealized. Greta gained a little weight since there are now TWO bowls of food available, so we're watching that. Maya developed a deep and abiding love for the snow, much to the surprise of EVERYONE who knows her. This is the dog that always peed on the patio at my parents' house because she didn't want the snow to touch her at all. They both follow me everywhere and I have a love-hate relationship with that.

Maya still cowers in fear if Mr. H-B and I raise our voices or if we handle bubble wrap. She also makes these terribly sad whimpering and sucking noises if she's having a particularly intense dream. (Seriously, dog, what happened to you before we got you?) Greta still runs in terror if I even touch the vacuum cleaner, Swiffer, or broom. Maya, on the other hand, lets us vacuum the hair off of her.

The moment captured below, though, seems to be a clear assurance that Maya is happy here. Dogs don't typically show their bellies unless they trust you (or they're submitting to you - but let me tell you, Maya is not submissive...). Add to this the fact that she was asleep in this position, and I think we can just call this whole thing a success!



In the last year or so, I've undergone some profound changes in my perspective about life, work, and family. As my imaginary readers know, kids are just not in the cards for us in the immediate future. For months I was completely devastated by this. I found myself sinking into depression and wallowing in self-pity. And then I read Lean In. Look, I'm in academia, so I know I'm not exactly Sheryl Sandberg's core audience. In fact, I even found parts of the book irritating and pedantic. However, I found many other parts to be incredibly useful in shaping the way I'm moving forward (for now).

One of the things that I really loved about Lean In was the discussion about priorities. I've found myself wasting a lot less time than I used to. That's not to say that I didn't watch the new Veronica Mars movie for a second time in 12 hours this morning. I'm just finding that I prioritize other things over television or Candy Crush (shhhh...I'm embarrassed by that addiction, too). Our TiVo conked out a few weeks ago, taking all of our subscriptions with it, and I can't even remember the names of all of the shows that I felt obligated to watch before.

I was called as a Gospel Doctrine teacher back in December. It is one of the most challenging assignments I've ever had at church - more so even than teaching myself to play the organ (at least I could assign myself simple hymns when I didn't have time to practice). The 2014 course of study is the Old Testament. I've never really studied that particular book of scripture, though I read it once through as a missionary (crossing things off a list, of course). I felt completely overwhelmed by the prospect of actually having to, you know, study before teaching. It doesn't help that the current manual is woefully out of date and, frankly, dull. Though there have been lessons that I dread, I have mostly relished the opportunity to teach on topics that are controversial and difficult, and am grateful that I have been forced to prioritize gospel study and research over other less spiritual pursuits.

I also appreciated Sheryl Sandberg's comments about throwing yourself into a career - not taking the easy path, just in case kids and family come along. (Well, at least, that's the message I got from it.) I actually found this particular concept to be in line with what I've been taught or understood all along - be open to possibility (marriage, kids, winning the lottery), but don't live like it's a sure thing.

With this in mind, and trying to move forward from painful losses associated with infertility, I have been motivated to throw myself into my career. I have taken on new projects, dedicated myself to learning how to write more and better, and taken a job that I previously would have thought was too challenging. I thought I didn't want to do more research; I thought I didn't want to have graduate students; I thought I wanted to teach a lot of first and second year classes. Though my new position is not at a traditional research institution (e.g., Big 10, Ivy League,etc.), I will be required to publish a lot more than I had envisioned when I thought about the future. When the offer came though, and even while visiting campus, I knew without a doubt that this is the right choice for me and that Texas is the right choice for us. I need to be challenged - just enough - to keep moving forward and to keep leaning in.

I'm excited to see where these new changes take me. I feel like the proverbial butterfly, just starting to emerge from a chrysalis, seeing the sun and feeling the breeze. So cheesy, I know, but the growth and change from the last year have been tremendous. I can't wait to see what's next!


Movin' On Up

  • Boxes purchased 
  • Moving truck rented
  • Books shipped to my new office (!)
To do:

  • Find a house to rent
  • Pack up our current house
  • Figure out how to transport the Vominatrix from here to Texas
  • Decide whether Maya can ride in the moving truck or if it would be better for her to keep Greta calm
  • Decide where we will stay between here and Texas
  • Finish the semester*
*This is currently driving me crazy. I can't seem to focus on school, research, etc... No surprises for anyone that knows me at all.


Deep in the heart of Texas

After a grueling job search, I'm so happy to say that we're moving to Texas. I have accepted a tenure track position at a wonderful university and am ecstatic to get moving on the next phase of our lives. 

(If you know the name of the university, please don't mention it in the comments.)


Scenes from a Snow Day

Today, I love the snow. I'd suggest not talking to me tomorrow when it's -40.

One of these things is not like the other:

Snow flutters and feathers down from a slate grey sky

Mr. H-B sprawls on the couch and gleefully absorbs entertainment

Greta and Maya drape themselves across the carpet after tearing through knee-high snow

I putter anxiously, desperate to keep busy and stay out of my nervy mind