Thursday, April 28, 2016


I got this email a few days ago. I've been so busy that I just barely got around to reading it. It didn't really matter, because I already knew what it said, and I already knew how I would respond.

Well, that's technically not true. I knew that I wouldn't respond.

I am officially graduating with my Master's Degree on May 9th. And I won't get to be there. At first, I planned to fly to Phoenix so I could walk, but Greg has a conference then and we have family in town right before that, and plane tickets cost I decided not to do it. It wasn't a big deal, except for now, reading this email, I feel kind of sad. I'd really like to walk in my graduate robes. That would be cool.

Two years after we first started trying to have kids, I went back to school. I had always wanted to go to grad school, but I decided not to originally so I could focus on my family. This was a good decision, because I was able to work and help put Greg through school, and that's obviously been a great thing for our family. Greg did well in school and landed an awesome job at an awesome company.

But then, as it became clear that having children was not going to happen on the timetable we had planned, I felt the pull. Back to school. I wanted to do more school. Greg believed in me, and he wanted this for me. I will always be so grateful to him for that. Having confidence in myself has always been hard for me, but Greg believes I can do anything. It's amazing. Before I married him I never would have guessed that I would find somebody who would give me such strong and beautiful wings. Thank you, Greg.

After starting the program at ASU, I second-guessed myself many times. Did I pick the right program? Was I being so selfish spending our family's valuable resources on this? But no matter how much guilt I had about it (and there was a lot), I felt deep down that this was the right thing to do. And I loved it. My degree is in Liberal Studies. Most people look at me cross-eyed when I tell them that. I chose the program because my professors helped me to emphasize in writing personal histories and memoirs. This is my calling. I love hearing the stories of regular people and making them available. This is social history at it's core, and I want to be a part of it.

My "thesis"--technically called an Applied Project--was recording, transcribing, and editing stories from my grandparents Keith and Mardene Dalton about their childhood. It took hours upon hours, but now it's finished, and I'm turning it in tomorrow. Almost 100 pages of history, and I'm proud of it.

As part of my program I also wrote my own memoir. I wrote about our experience with infertility and having Austin and Daniel. It was hard. Every night after work I would sit on the couch for two hours with tears streaming down my face, remembering and hurting and writing. It was such a valuable experience. Cathartic. I'm so grateful I had that. 200 pages of memories and truth. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, but for now the fact that it exists is enough. Maybe 100 years from now my great-granddaughter--who I have probably cursed with PCOS--will find it. That will be a good thing.

So, I'm not walking. But I have a graduate degree. I tend to be very hard on myself, but I'm trying to just be proud of what I have accomplished. We had a few years when we couldn't have children, and I used that to accomplish one of my life goals. It's a good thing. I'm so grateful for a Heavenly Father who doesn't allow things to work out the way I planned. I'm grateful for learning and for dreams and for talents and, most of all, for my family who supports me as I let my curiosity run wild.

Life is good.

Monday, April 25, 2016


So, next week I graduate from ASU with my Master's. Prett-ay exciting. This week I'm finishing the final touches on my big project and it feels good.

Greg's family does graduation presents, and since we were kinda poor when I graduated with my undergrad from BYU four years ago, he went all out on my present this time.

I got a camera.

A nice, digital Canon Rebel.

It's something I've wanted for a long time, but since I don't really know very much about photography and cameras are expensive, I could never justify it. So I've never actually owned a camera in my entire life. But Greg figured that now we have Brynn and we're about to move back to paradise (read: Florida), it was the right time.


I definitely have a lot of learning to do, but I'm really happy to do it. I love creative stuff like this. Greg has always been a strong believer that hobbies are important, but since I tend to be a little bit of a cheapskate, there tends to be something holding me back when it comes to stuff like this. But now that the camera is here, I'm just ready to learn.

Here are some of my favorite pictures Greg and I have taken over the past week.

And, my personal favorite...

Time to bury myself in photoshop and digital photography blogs this summer. Hey, I have an idea. Why don't Greg and I move to the beach with our beautiful daughter in a few weeks and document it all with a nice camera? 


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sorry, Another Reading Post

So I read this book, Do No Harm. 

Also, I want to show you a picture of the guy who wrote it, because he kind of looks like a really smart turtle. 

See what I mean? 

I randomly came across this book when I was looking for books I wanted for Christmas last year. And last week I found it at the library. In the spirit of full disclosure, this book does have some swears. I really wish it didn't. It's a memoir by a British neurosurgeon. Maybe it sounds kind of boring, but it's totally not. I love reading books from smart people, and since I obviously don't know anything about brain surgery, this was just a really interesting read. He talks about what it's like to go into the brain and some of his patients and I just loved it. A quick read, but a great one. I appreciated his honesty, with himself and with the reader. I will never look at doctors the same way again, and I think that's a good thing. They are just fallible people doing their best. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Still Reading

So, even if these little posts about books I'm reading are annoying for other people, I have to say that I'm kind of loving it. I think it will be super fun to go over all the books I've read at the end of the year. Does that make me kind of weird? Probably. Oh well.

This past week I finished The Miracle of Forgiveness. It's an LDS classic written by President Spencer W. Kimball, but I had never read the whole thing cover to cover before. Out of everything in the book, I think there is one concept that I will always keep with me. President Kimball more than once refers to human beings as "gods in embryo." I love that. Maybe it's because Greg and I currently have 16 embryos in storage, but that metaphor seemed so apt to me. An embryo is partially formed, so undeveloped, so small. The difference between a six cell embryo and a fully grown adult who has experiences and ideas is monumental. And yet...embryos are just throbbing with potential. They are so vulnerable, but they are so endowed with power and possibility. I mean, just look at Brynn. Understanding all of this about embryos makes the concept of us being "gods in embryo" so beautiful. We are so small, and yet so precious.

I also finished The Boys in the Boat this past week. I loved it. It's about a college rowing team that took the gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Again, I have a real soft spot for anything related to American social history, especially during WWII. I liked how the author framed his story. He focused on one of the rowers, but he didn't shy away from recounting the larger context of Berlin in the pre-war years. It made the story more powerful because the author clearly had a deep respect for the people in the book, and he demonstrated that respect without glorifying the war era. Also, it's so interesting to learn about things that I'm so unfamiliar rowing. The cool thing is, Philadelphia is a huge rowing city, and Greg and I are always admire Boathouse Row whenever we go downtown. So it was fun to learn about that while we were here. 

Brynn and I went to the library yesterday and I'm already working my way through a delightful and slightly morbid memoir. Coming soon! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Big Girl

I know it's cliche, but I can't believe how big Brynn is getting. I'm so happy to see her grow and play and learn. She's very curious, and that's so fun for us. But sometimes it makes me a tiny bit sad too. I feel like her babyhood is slipping away from me. We waited so long for this, and now she's already almost 8 months old. Where has the time gone? What have I been doing? 

I guess the best way to freeze this time while also celebrating her growing-up accomplishments is to post some videos and pictures, right? Right. 

Playing with Daddy's hat in downtown Philadelphia. Greg's brother's family came into town for conference and we had so much fun going into the city. 

Sipping on her first juice from the Middle Eastern juice bar at Reading Terminal Market, which is officially my favorite place in Philly. 

Big girl sitting in the highchair (mostly we still use the bumbo). 

From yesterday. I was folding laundry and I turned my back for one second. Brynn had been sitting in front of the laundry basket, but when I turned around she was standing up. It's the first time she totally pulled herself into a standing position all on her own, and I missed it! See what I mean? So big. Sniff! 

 Got it all on video a few minutes later:

How we love our darling Brynn Eliza. 

Oh, Brynn. You will never know how happy you have made us.