Family, Life, Love, Pictures, Wedding

First Anniversary

There have been two days in my life that went exactly as they should: my wedding day and my first anniversary. February 21st is a great day.

We started off with a French toast breakfast, followed by some lounging around (meaning Nathanael was preparing a slideshow of our year together as a surprise for me while I tried halfheartedly not to interrupt him). We went and did sealings at the Draper Temple at two o’clock (the time we were sealed). We had an early dinner in Salt Lake, did some shopping, and then spent an evening with the Utah Symphony.

I don’t have any cool I’ve-been-married-for-a-year advice or profound thoughts. I just really, really love being married. And knowing that it will never end, if we do our part to be obedient. I’m looking forward to attending symphonies for eternity with this outrageously handsome man.

Anniversary Collage

If you’re interested in 11 minutes of pictures of us, here’s the slideshow created by my thoughtful husband: Nathanael & Shelbey: Year One. (Unnecessarily Long Disclaimer: There is a cuter version that has our song playing in the background, but Nathanael had the misfortunate of marrying someone who once wanted to be a copyright lawyer and who believes passionately in the proper use of other people’s art… So the real, higher-quality video with a copyrighted song is for our use and this public one has a classical song in the public domain. If you want the real experience, just mute the video and play “Stay With You” by John Legend and “Take It From Here” by Justin Timberlake. It will be much better that way.)

Family, Life, Pictures

First Things First

…Can someone tell me why “Marley and Marley” is stuck in my head?

Let me reverse engineer my thoughts: “Marley and Marley” –> A Muppet Christmas Carol –> Michael Caine –> The Dark Knight –> Christian Bale marathon –> Bryn –> proud of myself for hanging out with friends lately.

There’s a reason for everything.

Anyway… I am still alive and well. Here’s what we’ve been up to since the last time I posted pictures.

I was in a play at the Scera…

#1: This beautiful family was kind enough to come to the play. I teach Stefany singing and Jonathan piano. We have a good time. | #2: My very own space in the dressing room. | #3: I know it’s blurry, but it’s still an awesome picture for those involved. Rebecca (stage right) was my favorite cast member. She’s a hoot and a holler, and so is Steven (center stage).Play Collage

It was a grand old time being an ensemble girl again. It reminded me of my early high school years, when the drama teacher used to call me, Anna, and Shamae the “sophomore princesses.” I must have unwittingly reprised that role, because everyone thought I was 16.

We celebrated Christmas…

#1: I met my only blood-related nephew for the first time. | #2: Being a great uncle. | #3: Tune in to the 2018 Olympics. You might see me and Nathanael in the paired figure skating competition.Christmas Collage 1

#4–6: The nephews had a grand time on the trampoline. It kind of freaks me out how reckless kids are.

Christmas Collage 3

#7: We went to California for Nathanael’s cousin’s wedding. We decided to head to San Francisco between the sealing and the dinner, and Michelle (sister-in-law) took us down the famous Lombard Street (which is so famous, apparently, that I had never heard of it, haha). | #8: Neil Family Golf Tourney. | #9: My Dallas came home from her mission and, unfortunately, this is the only picture I have. Apparently you’re not supposed to take pictures in the chapel.

Christmas Collage 4

#10: I got to pretend to be a mom of three boys for ten minutes. | #11: I’ve never seen five adults have so much fun playing Blind Man’s Bluff. I’ve actually never seen adults play Blind Man’s Bluff. | #12: Nathanael as the blind man.

Christmas Collage 2

And other random stuff…

#1: I’m reading The Count of Monte Cristo for the first time and absolutely loving it. Also, that big orange book? It means I’m a real editor now, y’all! I love my new job. | #2–3: I, by some miracle, was handed my dream calling (Young Women Secretary). We do fun stuff, like try on wedding dresses and have relay races for dressing babies. | #4: I was in a short movie (if you can even really call it a movie) for the Church History Museum about the early days of the Relief Society. They gave me a cute hat.

Random Collage 1

#5: I finally got to see Caitlin’s horse, Axel. | #6–7: Nathanael making kids excited about engineering by teaching them how to program robots. | #8: You know you’re officially a Mormon when you go to your husband’s church basketball games. | #9: Thanksgiving… Wow… That was out of order. | #10: This is what we do all the time (Nathanael, homework; me, try to get Nathanael’s attention).

Random Collage 2

#11: I was treated to a heart-shaped egg-in-a-blanket and pears and cheese Valentine’s Day morning :). Last year, I swore off celebrating V Day (even though I was engaged and a week from getting married). I like celebrating it better! | #12: If you have tacky, ostentatious taste like me, make sure you marry a man who’s sweet enough to let you do whatever you want.

Random Collage 4

#13: We went to the planetarium, which is usually among my favorite activities, but… | #14: … Jared’s face sums it up.

Random Collage 5

Let’s end rather abruptly with a completely unrelated video I found on YouTube when I was preparing for a family home evening lesson. I cried when I watched it. I’m not exactly sure why, but I did.


Family, Life, Pictures

A Month of Photos

Nathanael and I don’t take very many pictures of ourselves, but if I want to remember anything about our lives, I need photos. Plus, the more pictures of his handsome face, the merrier.

So I challenged us to take a picture every day in September. If it came to be the end of the night and we had forgotten, we HAD to just snap some random picture—no matter how hideous.

Needless to say, we non-picture-taking-people performed abysmally at said challenge by taking photos 11 out of 30 days in September. However, that is about a 1,000% increase (statistic verified by Jared) from what we normally do, so…

8 Worst

Just some all-around low quality and/or ugly pictures for your enjoyment.

Collage 1

Collage 2

Collage 3

Nathanael looks great as always. I’m the culprit in these photos.

8 Best

And when I say “best,” I mean…

Collage 1

Collage 2

Collage 3

You know, there could’ve been a picture to beat all of these: one of mine and Bryn’s triumphant reunion but OH WAIT. We still haven’t even taken a picture together?

Family, Life, Love, Wedding

My Thoughts on Marriage

I was lucky enough to escape the well-intended deluge of marriage “advice” after I got engaged. That is most likely because  I see approximately 15 people on a regular basis. But I had already heard the common answer to “How’s married life???” many times in my 23 years.

“Well… It’s good… But it’s HARD.

“Oh you know, it’s an adjustment.”

“Be careful who you marry—you really do marry their entire family.”

These came from faces with knowing smirks or thinly veiled exasperation. I swore my marriage would be different!

But it’s not.

Let me tell you, it is hard to get out of the bed in the morning when the man of your dreams is still in it. It is hard to see someone you adore become discouraged and feel their discouragement like its your own. It is hard to feel like you’re not being as nice as you hoped you would be.

It is an adjustment to make important decisions with the person I trust the most, and no longer make them alone. It is an adjustment to get in arguments that will never end in a break up, but always end in hugs and kisses. It is an adjustment to see hair in the sink and smile, because this time it’s not hair from my head, but hair from an emptied razor belonging to the man I now live with.

And okay, the family thing is true. Nathanael’s family wooed me and I married him for them too. I wish everyone’s in-laws were as nice to their new daughter/sister/cousin as mine are to me!

My overall rating on marriage: 5 stars, two thumbs up. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be shown what you need to do to become more Christlike.

So that’s what those marriage whiners meant! …Right?

(I know every marriage is different. I know I’m still a newlywed. But I also passionately believe that marriage needs more positive reviews, because it is ordained of God and has the potential for the utmost of human joy. This is great for those struggling with communication.)

marriage is foreverThat adorable picture thanks to the lovely Brooke Schultz.

[EDIT: Just saw this and thought it was relevant: Saving Your Marriage]

Family, Life, Pictures, Quotes


I am so happy. That’s all.


#1-2: Seal Beach Pier. This place was so beautiful, if a little chilly. Fisherpeople were lining the sides a little farther out. I was so surprised by how many people were fishing!

Warning: DO NOT touch the railings unless you love the rancid combination of bird poop, salt, and fish guts.



#3-4: There’s a place off Ocean Avenue, where we sat, talked….and listened to Ocean Avenue, naturally.



#5: Nathanael’s company treated us all to a dinner at Medieval Times. If you haven’t been there and you live near to one, please stop what you’re doing and go. You’ll grow fond of being referred to as “my lord” and “my lady.” I do have one regret—not owning a period-appropriate dress. If I still lived with Jenae, one of my all-time favorite roommates, I would’ve had my choice of Medieval dresses. Alas. | #6: Maggie and I were huge fans of this guy’s outfit. | #7: The Knights. If you look on the left, you’ll see my crown resting on the table. Although wearing a crown is one of my more favorite things in life, the circumference of the crown was not large enough to stay on voluminous curly hair right after a shower.



#8: My love and I with one of the brilliantly white horses and the flower the Knight threw to Nathanael, which he gave to me. I’m having some serious time machine cravings right now just looking at these pictures—yes, to relive that fun night, but more to live in that time period. I just have to remind myself that I would have been far more likely to be a chambermaid than a princess.



#9: Chickens at the San Diego Fair. Do they or do they not look exactly like Chocobos from Final Fantasy? | #10: An extremely fabulous rooster. | #11: My husband just after the greatest moment of his life. After debating for about 15 minutes whether or not to play this fair game—because they were offering such relatively snazzy prizes, I figured it had to be rigged—Nathanael paid his $5 and got two chances to knock down those metal milk bottles with a rubber ball. He nailed them in one try. Remote control helicopter + winning = outrageously happy Nathanael.




#12: This photo is totally blurry, but I wanted to memorialize a very, very blissful moment of my life. Maggie, Emily, and I went to Downtown Disney as the sun was setting and were treated to gorgeous live violin music while eating pizza under some twinkling trees. Contentment doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt. | #13: Photo credit goes to Kenzie. The fivesome in Downtown Disney on another night to watch the fireworks with our husbands. | #14-15: The best use of Legos I’ve ever seen.



Aaaaaand if you have a minute, I highly recommend watching this and this.

“Some of us who would not chastise a neighbor for his frailties have a field day with our own. Some of us stand before no more harsh a judge than ourselves, a judge who stubbornly refuses to admit much happy evidence and who cares nothing for due process. Fortunately, the Lord loves us more than we love ourselves. A constructive critic truly cares for that which he criticizes, including himself, whereas self-pity is the most condescending form of pity; it soon cannibalizes all other concerns.

…He who was thrust down in the first estate delights to have us put ourselves down. Self-contempt is of Satan; there is none of it in heaven. We should, of course, learn from our mistakes, but without forever studying the instant replays as if these were the game of life itself.”

—Neal A Maxwell

Family, Life, Pictures


I’m alive! And in California! But here are pictures from before we left, because we haven’t actually taken any here yet…
#1: We went on this glorious, absolutely glorious bike ride down the Provo River Trail to a little spot with a swing, the river, and the perfect climbing trees (thanks to my mom’s recommendation!). I daresay it might have been one of the best nights of my life. | #2: A hideous picture of me to prove that my husband was, in fact, there. | #3-4: I LOVE climbing trees.

enjoying nature with husband

 #5: This is a monstrous tree we climbed. Can you tell how far away the ground is???
climbing trees
Luckily someone cancelled on going to the Hidden Gardens Tour with my mom because that meant I got to go!
#6: My mom and I took pictures of paintings of flowers, not actual flowers. #artistmomproblems | #7: I was informed after taking this picture that these flowers are dead. But aren’t they cool still??? Right?? | #8: You can’t really see it, but this treehouse met with their lawn on the front part, and the back part was hanging in a tree a hundred feet in the air over a river. We can all agree that tree houses are the most magical things ever, can’t we?
Hidden Gardens tour
#9-10: Last, AND least. Just kidding, not least. Not even close. These are our primary kids. We only taught them for 6 weeks, but HOLY CRAP I love them. With only my own experience to draw from, I didn’t know kids could be so well-rounded, interesting, and faithful. My favorite thing one of them ever said was: “Your husband doesn’t say very much. I’d like to listen to him.” AKA you are overbearing. I tried to not take control the next week. Tried.
teaching kids
Family, Pictures


You will NEVER guess what I’m going to blog about. MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If there’s one thing on I pride myself on being, it’s original. Hence why I blog, get national holidays off of work, and take pictures. 

But before we get off to the vacation stuff, let’s take a look at life at the Neil Residence (which is really just the Ballantyne Residence, because yeah, we live with my parents [temporarily]. But not like I’m complaining; my mom treats us like royalty!)

#1: WARNING: This photo might spontaneously combust from all the cuteness contained therein. | #2: My husband knows exactly how to cheer me up.

husband and catimg_1600

Okay, onto all the outdoorsy, relaxing, holiday celebratin’ stuff. We went to Lava Hot Springs, ID, with Nathanael’s awesome cousins and their (even more) awesome wives (hey, I’m biased toward anyone who waits outside the dressing room while I try on 15+ items—thanks, Sarah!).

First and foremost, I golfed. I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

#3: The athletes participating in a pre-game putting warm-up. | 


#4: Do you see that person laying down on the left? That’s me. This accurately describes how thrilling I found golf to be (i.e. not thrilling at all. Like, seriously. Who invented this stuff?)


#5-6: My husband, the golf pro.


 #7: This man is the reason I try new things.


#8: This fine group of good-looking people is my new family. As if I didn’t already like them enough, they treated me to a superb weekend of laying out, zooming down waterslides, and eating delicious food and they didn’t even mind when I wanted to read instead of play baseball (incidentally, I really like baseball, but I’m thisclose to finishing Les Mis!). They’re keepers, I tell ya. And Sarah took basically all of these pictures. I love being able to count on someone to get good pictures of our activities.


#9: We had a little incident on the road home, but thank goodness for boys who know about cars! And for the pleasant company of Brooke and Jacob who can talk about baby names for hours.