Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let it snow...

No, it's not snowing in Provo.  Not a lot, anyway.  About as much as we get in Medford which is less than noteworthy after living in Utah for the past four years.  Wow, four years already.  It's good and bad at the same time, but Provo is beginning to feel like home.

Anyway, although it's not snowing outside, it is snowing in our apartment.  How, you might ask?  Lauren and I sat down, turned on some Christmas classics by Burl Ives, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Michael Buble, and other wonderful artists who ushered in a little extra Christmas Spirit into our home.  Then we made snowflakes.  Only a few.  Our plan was to hang many of them around the house, but after Lauren and I started making them (and after Lauren saw the quality of my snowflakes, which look like paper snowflake scraps compared to hers) we decided to make just a few!  Not much progress has been made on my part in snowflaking since elementary school.  All in all it was a fun time to do something productive with our free time.  

Free time?  Yes, free time.  Granted Lauren is working in the mornings and I have football, but we have ALL afternoon to do whatever we'd like!  Life is so funny.  During the school year we literally are going 100mph from one assignment to the next, tests, papers, projects etc.  Now that we have all the free time we wished for, we find ourselves sitting on the couch, scratching our heads, and thinking harder about what we're going to do this week than we did on some school assignments.  It's good, though, to think of good creative ways to have fun without spending money, sitting in front of the TV, or doodling on the computer.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Tree Day

The Stalemate ends with me!  I can’t take it anymore.  Ryan and I have been passing the buck back and forth for days (being the author of our new blog post) and the Christmas tree escapade is too funny not to share.  But first, a little background. 

Every year growing up in the teen years, as soon as Thanksgiving Day ended, I stocked up the CD players with the family favorite Christmas Cd’s starring:  Andy Williams, Donny Osmond, Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, Mannheim Steamroller, and of course, Eric’s favorite Alvin and the Chipmunks.  I would then carefully take down the everyday d├ęcor and replace it with every single decoration we had accumulated over the years (no matter how much Christmas clutter it turned out to be.)  After carefully organizing our Family Snowmen according to height (poor Anna hehe) I moved on to the next order of business- the Christmas tree.

Now, Christmas Tree Day was quite the event.  First we had to make sure mom, dad, Eric and I didn’t have a church meeting, volleyball practice or piano lesson to go to (which usually meant we had a time limit on our Christmas tree picking), and after rounding up the gang into the car we made our way to the tree farm found on the quaint little street called Madrona Lane, where we lived years and years ago.  Every year it was the same, give or take the few where we decided to be adventurous and cut down our own, and every year I had specific Christmas tree standards that had to be met. 

After grabbing our orange flag (to wave our location for the tree cutter) we made our way through the muddy fields, weaving in and out of forests of trees.  Some were plump and round, others tall and slim (aka skimpy) but my tree had to be 12 ft tall, extremely bushy and with minimal holes.  To me, the Christmas tree was what made Christmas, Christmas.  We could have every decoration in the world, with all the right scents, a lit-up house and typical holiday foods, but without a tree, Christmas wouldn’t bring the same feelings of excitement and anticipation. 

Sidenote.  Every year followed the same pattern.  Dad or I would find a tree.  Mom would think it was too big.  Eric would stand by ready to wave the flag.  Dad and I would say we neeeeeeeeeeded a big bushy tree.  Mom would eventually agree, she’s a trooper  :)

After loading/unloading and positioning the tree just right in front of our three windows in the Family Room, it was time to decorate.  With Christmas music blasting, mom would wrap strands and strands of colorful lights around the tree while Eric and I unwrapped our Christmas ornaments.  We receive an ornament every year with a different inside joke accompanied with each one (thanks for the dancing chickin dad) so with each unwrapped ornament brought a different, usually happy memory. 

All in all…I just love Christmas trees, so after the suspenseful buildup I will now share R&L’s Christmas tree…adventure?

We had set aside Tuesday, December 6th as the only feasible day where we could have enough time to pick a tree, buy a few decorations and get it all set up before we had to dive into our studies once again.  So around 4 o’clock we set out for Springville, first to the Walmart (gasp! we usually don't I promise, dad, if you are reading) and then to the farms we were told would be set up close by in various parking lots and fields.  After purchasing a few necessary items, a mediocre tree stand and a few tree accessories, we started our tree farm scavenger hunt.  The first one was directly across from the Walmart parking lot, convenient! The little cluster of trees was advertising “$20 Trees!” so we were excited to save a buck or two.  Like out of a movie, we were led to the $20 tree area where parts of trees and groups of limbs were set together, nothing resembling a tree.  Ryan and I looked at each other and tried not to laugh.  That’s a bait & switch marketing tactic if I’ve ever seen one! After we perused the rest of the trees ($40-50 a pop), we quickly jumped into the still-warm car and made our way to the next “farm.”  Just a repeat of stop #1.  But we were cold, and tired, and hungry, so we found a less than decent $25 tree, stuffed it in our trunk, and made our way to Lowes to pick up some lights.

Long story short.  Since this story is sooooo much longer than I intended, Lowes had Christmas trees.  Beautiful ones.  Perfect and lovely.  $24. Needless to say…we were pretty bummed.  But somehow, it still managed to be the perfect Christmas Tree Day.  We turned on some tunes, wrapped the tree in white lights, added my treasured ornaments and made our first Christmas memory. 

Now, we look at our tree with feelings of pathetic love and laughter.  It is such a sweet, helpless little tree and we are glad it’s in our home.  We love it. 

The End.

P.S. just remember, if a tree farm fails you…go to Lowes.    

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Aloha from the Rainbow State

The past few days have felt just like this picture.....warm, peaceful, and relaxed.  The football team was lucky enough to get an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii for 4 days, with the finale being our game against UH today at 2:30.  We've enjoyed warm mornings in the cove swimming with sea turtes and all other kinds of exotic ocean creatures.  Our afternoons are usually spent in meeting rooms or on the practice field preparing for the game.  The evenings start with a Hawaiin style dinner/Lu'au and added free time.  It really has been such a nice break from the cold, windy winter in Provo along with the hustle and bustle of a climaxing semester.

Despite the island spirit that has swept the team, for me this trip has also been filled with lots and lots and lots of biochemistry.  It's bitter sweet when you are sitting on a lawn chair in a luxurious hotel suite overlooking the beach in Hawaii and studying for a biochemistry exam!  Almost seems like an oxymoron.....Hawaii in December and study in the same sentence...

Biochemistry, though, pales in comparison to the other aspect of this trip that has limited my experience. Waking up, moseying down to the beach, and laying out on the lawn chairs isn't the same when you're alone.  Having Lauren by my side during this trip would've truly made it a taste of paradise.  I used to enjoy cruisin' around with the football guys and acting big and tough, but now I just want to stroll along the beach hand in hand with Lauren and enjoy the smells, sights, and sounds of the ocean.  Knowing Lauren is home alone, doing homework in our  perma-chilly basement and eating little meals throughout the day makes me want to play the game and get outta town so I can get back to her ASAP.  I can't wait to see her...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Welcoming Winter...

We had such a fantastic Thanksgiving week.  After two days of hittin' the books and grinding out assignments, we cruised into five days of tranquility.  It all started with our trip to a cozy north Utah town called West Haven.  We arrived at the General's Resort (aka Aunt Vickie and Uncle Rod's place) Wednesday afternoon.  Our first (and only) order of business was to swap out our summer-fun tires for our winter-safe tires.  If you are wondering what this means, picture dozens of small metal stubs in all four tires that click against the asphalt when the roads are clear and grip the slippery black ice when they are treacherous.  We then, as we always do, cracked the cokes and played an amateur game of pool with Rod under dim-lit Brunswick lights.  This was followed by a pre-Thanksgiving dinner (just as nice and almost as big) and a movie.  Does Thanksgiving week start any better than that?

The next morning, we flopped out of bed at 10:30, laced up our tennis sneakers, and set out for the windy, leafy tennis courts at Mt. Ogden Park.  We were pretty intimidated because we had heard many stories about Uncle Rod and his fury on the court!  He's known for hittin the ball hard, and hittin it low.  After warming up and getting the ol' rusty bones ready to rock, we started our round robin tournament.  It quickly became evident that we were...well?  Certainly less than a worthy opponent.  We were honestly trying our hardest to hit the balls back to Rod but the gushing wind would drop them two inches from the net, leaving Rod a good 5 yard sprint away.  Not to mention the fact that three out of the four balls we were using were dead and had very little bounce to begin with.  It didn't take long to figure out just how he felt about our play.  Despite the weather and our malfunctioning gear, we had a great time and worked up an appetite for Thanksgiving Dinner.  What followed is what you would expect for a typical Thanksgiving day:  an amazing dinner that left us stuffed to the rafters, a two hour food coma, MORE food, and then our farewell.  We are so grateful to have such kind and thoughtful family so close and look forward to seeing them again.

If this trip is sounding too blissful to you, we'll have you know there was one minor hiccup in our plans. As we drove back to Provo we were engaged in a mini planning session when we realized we had left a backpack, and thus all school materials in Ogden.  This wouldn't have been such a nuisance if we were in kaysville, but since we were in Salt Lake City this folly tacked on 90 more minutes to our already 90 minute drive.  Woof!

The crowing jewel of our weekend had to be our two day get-away to Sundance Resort.  We enjoyed and chilly snowshoe hike, followed by a yummy dinner by the fire.  The atmosphere was surreal.  It seemed as if we were hundreds of miles away from home when in reality we were a mere 20 minute drive away.  We passed the rest of the night over card games, pass the pigs, Tim Tam Slammin', and a myriad of other fun activities all in the dancing light  of our cozy little fireplace.  It was so nice not to be distracted by cell phones, the internet, TV, and other empty forms of entertainment that yield very little satisfaction.  That night we fell asleep to the crackling of the fire.  It lulled us into one of the best nights of sleep we've had since we got married.
The next morning we woke up with the sun, and like all resort commercials advertise, sipped scalding apple cider from our back porch, overlooking the entire resort and beautiful Mt. Timpanogos.  After the warmth of our cider wore off, we slipped back into bed and dozed away two more blissful hours of sleep.  It was so wonderful.  The grind of a tough and busy semester makes short adventures like these so much more meaningful.  For us, it was just what we needed, when we needed it, to finish our semester on a good note.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Passing Seasons and Budding Traditions

There are two pretty significant steps happening in our lives this winter.  One is that Ryan will finish his football career at BYU.  Although it might not be sprinkled with awards and honors, Ryan is happy about the opportunities he's had to represent BYU on the field, learn from teammates and coaches, and get really sweet gear and bowl game gifts!  At times being apart from each other and enduring the lonesome weekends was miserable, but looking back on it all it's been a fun journey.  We look forward to much more time spent together come January, even though both our schedules will be littered with work and study commitments, but at least we'll have more time for each other on Friday's and Saturday's.

The next significant step is our first Christmas together and establishing new Folsom Family traditions.  It's going to be great!  We had a great discussion concerning our family traditions and strangely enough, they are mostly the same, at least when it comes to Christmas.  It was fun to recall Christmas experiences and what made them special, what brought the Spirit of the Season, and what particular parts we hold dear and can't wait to perpetuate with our future family.  Since we are both from the same town we've decided to treat our holidays like we are from different places.  We figure that will make both families happy, and if it doesn't, tough!  We'll do one holiday with one family and the other holiday with the other family.  This abbreviated Christmas we'll spend with the Folsoms and next Christmas we'll spend with the Thompsons.  We are lucky to have such great families to spend time with, look up to, and have fun with.  We are excited for the time when we have our own Christmas with our own little ones and establish our own traditions.  Luckily, we already have many traditions in common.  As we chatted the other day we realized our Christmas traditions are close to identical.  For example, on Christmas Eve each child opens one present and (when we were younger) all the kids sleep in the same room.  We usually sing hymns and read stories and reflect on the meaning of the season.  When we wake up, we eat breakfast first, line up youngest to oldest, and proceed to the family room.   We start with our stalkings first and divy out the presents.  Once everyone has their own little pile organized we open presents youngest to oldest, one by one.  That's quite a bit to have in common, right?  Granted we will combine some of our old family traditions, but we would like to create some of our own.  For example, we would like to adopt the idea of the advent.  Each Sunday leading up to Christmas we will do something special to celebrate the season and teach our family about the birth of Christ.

(P.S. writing these blogs can come so easy at times, but it can also be tough when you have a spell of writer's block.  Ryan and I sat on the couch and blitzed through some of this post and trudged through the rest.  We'll get better!)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Our Passport to Blog Country

You might be wondering, "Ryan, Lauren, what brings you to Blog Country?"  The answer is simple, Facebook.  Although facebook was a nice tool to keep in touch with old friends, it usually turned into a numbing pastime full of click-click-clicking through the pictures of complete strangers that not only we didn't know, but people we didn't have any intention of getting to know!  Therefore, we thought to ourselves, "Is there anything that can take the place of our facebook follies?"  The answer, Yes. How? Passport to Blog Country                                        

We figure that the people who really are our friends might like to read about what we're up to and what's making us happy.  We also see it as a fun way to throw a fun personal history into the ether, and one day our little ones will be able to recount the journeys of young folsom-family hood.

Hopefully this avenue of cyber time investment will provide more payoff than our pre-mentioned daily dose of scanning some other mystery person's photo gallery!