Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Sweet Boy

 {March 24, 1988}
Meet Ryan.  
The Most Handsome Man in the World.
 And I have thought that since I was 14.  I didn't know him at all, but I wanted to get to know him.  I finally had a stroke of luck Christmas of last year, and remember being nervous for one reason:  that my expectations were too high, that I had dreamed up this idea of Ryan and would be disappointed.  WRONG.  100% entirely and completely wrong.  He exceeded my expectations, and continues to every day.  And here are some reasons why... 

1.  Is there anyone more fun?  Ryan is upbeat, happy, positive, full of energy and always looking to have a good time, with anyone and anywhere!  He has made me appreciate the small things, and learn to enjoy life in any situation.  He is someone that people crave to be around, because he lifts everyone around him.  I would be a pretty boring girl if I didn't have a little "Vitamin R" to spice up my life ;)   

2.  He is diligent.  Oh my goodness.  For example, no matter what, before any kind of studying, he reads his scriptures.  What an example.  When he sets his mind to something, it'll happen.  Whether we go to bed at 8pm or 1am, he is up at 5:30 to study MCAT notecards.  He plans out his day with studies and exercise, and hardly ever does he not follow through with his original plans. It is no coincidence that my grades have tremendously improved being married to Ryan, he is such a hard worker and a wonderful motivator/example.  

3.  He make me happy. I love listening to his made up love songs about me ("lauren, my honey, she honey. I want to be with her right nowwwwwwwww.") He just knows how to make a gal smile.  Washing dishes turns into Ryan's Famous Rap Song Sessions and a bad day at school is forgotten with one big squeeze.   

4.  He is so tender.  That is one of the things that I love most about him, and one of the things I wasn't expecting.  You would think a rugged, handsome manly-man wouldn't be so kind and gentle, but he treats me with such tenderness and affection.  Not only me, but his family.  On our first or second date, I remember watching in awe as he sweetly spoke to his sisters and mom, and treated them all like little princesses.  I can't wait for our own little ones to be treated by such a caring father, and set the standard for their future husbands.  He respects, honors and cherishes the women in his life.        

5.  He is my best friend.  After a long, hard year of getting to know each other in every kind of circumstance, Ryan knows me.  He gets me.  And he loves me for it.  Yoga, running, reading, games, cooking, cleaning, cuddling, bike rides... it never gets old or boring.  And those things are so fun and wonderful, but what I appreciate most is how well we get along.  He lights me up with his infectious energy and I might need to cool him down every once in a while, reel him in to focus for just a few more minutes :)  But it is so perfect.     
 I love birthdays.  I wanted to plan out Ryan's entire day with things he loves, and make him feel special for a full 24 hours, because isn't that what it's all about?  Your birthday is the only day that is allllll yours, so why not make the most of it one time a year.  So....
 8:00 am - I let him sleep in:) But as soon as he woke up, I had him change into some athletic clothes, put on some pre-packed backpacks (with some goodies) and hop on our bikes!
 9:00-11:00 We rode up to a beautiful park in Provo.  We laid out a blanket and ate a breakfast picnic (homemade egg mcmuffins and fruit/granola).
It was so wonderful to be outside, to talk about our future, to enjoy the weather, and to feel a sense of peace and quiet out in the "wilderness."
 12:00-1:00 - We went to the Football spring game.  It was a little bittersweet for Ryan.  He said he misses the game, but not the atmosphere or the politics.  We are both happy he is done, but I am sure there will always be a special place in his heart for BYU Football.

1:00-2:30 - TENNIS!

3:00-6:30 - We sat in line and waited...
... and get some good seats for the Hunger Games!  It was a great movie, but the books are better :)
7:00-9:00 Dinner at Tucanos.  A man's dream.  For dessert, Kate, Ryan and I shared a delicious homemade Pzookie...nothing better :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

At a loss for words...

Last week, while home in Oregon, I got a call from my sister Anna and it went a little something like this:

"Hey whoop, have you read your blog yet?  I think someone is missing you..."
"What?  What do you mean?"
"Just...go check it out. Call me later!"

I dropped the phone and ran to the computer, typing in our ridiculously long blog address as fast as my fingers would allow, and came across the sweetest words anyone has ever written about me.  I know Ryan loves me, but this post REALLY made me feel of his sweet, tender love.  He claims he isn't thoughtful, but in my eyes I don't know too many people as genuine and thoughtful as Ryan, and I feel so lucky to be married to him.  (I could go on, but I will save that for oh I don't know, maybe his Birthday???)

While I was away, he called and texted quite religiously, and he told me he loved and missed me multiple times a day.  Now that I am back, it's like his world is right again, and he doesn't feel the need to constantly stay in touch.  Which is normal.  But now I am adjusting to his usual, less-than-needy self and kind of miss those long mushy texts, calls and blogs ;)

So after his incredibly kind post, each time I logged on to write I felt like there was no way I could write something worthy of a post!  But the time has come...


This last week I was lucky enough to go home and spend a few days with my family.  I cherish those times more and more since Ryan and I seem to visit Oregon less and less.  And with every visit, I soak up those moments with each family member like a sponge, and just wanted to express my appreciation and love for each and every person in my family.  I know this is a little bit mushy for most members of my family, but please read, because I really truly love ya and you should know why ;)

Eric: My older brother.  I love spending time with you.  Some of my earliest memories include you and I walking down to the bus stop together, throwing rocks at the yellow sign to pass the time.  Every time I make cookies, I stop and remember why I love making them so much - they remind me of you!  Each sunday we would make a batch of cookies (eat spoonfuls of cookie dough first), play a loooooong game of LIFE and watch a living scriptures movie.  I look back and appreciate all the times you were kind and patient with me.  One time in particular I was asked to help you organize your room, and I may not have been in the best of moods at the time.  We finished and I went back upstairs to finish whatever it was I was doing, and you came up soon after to give me your fuzzy buddy pillow, because you knew I liked it and you wanted to say thank you.  But thank you.  And lastly, pally waggles, you are constantly making lists of why you love others, but has anyone ever made one for you?
1.  You are the kindest older brother anyone could ever ask for
2.  You are so brave and try new things every day, including different kinds of food, new jobs, different sports...
3.  You have the BEST sense of humor
4.  You can make a friend anywhere you go
5.  You are a fantastic runner, and encourage me to run my best when we run together
6.  You are thoughtful, for example, every time I get the hiccups you bring me a cup of water :)
7.  You serve diligently in your callings at church
8.  You are a great team player and help your teammates on your Special Olympics Team
9.  You are such a nice Uncle to your nieces and nephews
10.  You make our family more fun and make us laugh with all of your "punny" jokes!
I love ya pal.

Alison:  Africa. Shasta. Half Dome. Need I say more?  Yes I think I will!  My dear Alison, I have so much fun with you.  I love your energy and positive attitude and your hunger to make life more fun.  I don't know too many people more fun than you.  We grew so close in Africa and it is a time we will both always treasure.  I saw you work your pants off hiking Shasta and learned how tough you really are.  And Half Dome was such a fun trip, I thoroughly enjoy your company.  But more than these fun trips and experiences, I love how genuine you are.  When I am happy - you are happy.  When I am sad - you are sad.  I hope I can be the kind of sister that you look to and trust when you have ups and downs in life.  I think you are so brave.  You have done things not too many girls would do.  Worked for Dewalt, installed satellites, went to NASCAR races, run marathons, ride horses, have a demanding job  and support your husband happily in the process.  But most of all, I want to thank you for being such a wonderful friend.  

John:  Oh John...remember the time you sent me 15 texts in 5 minutes to try and convince me to come up to Portland while you and Alison were dating?  I knew you were going to fit into the family just fine when you sang your "Piano Peeper" song for the fam.  I think you are so talented and appreciate how hard you work to support the Bell family.  Sidenote.  Last week we played the "things" game and I used your tactic and just wrote down all the random funny things that had been said into one sentence...worked like a charm.  Jiggidy.

Anna:  Gosh you are talented.  One day it's quilts, the next day it's headboards, every day it's homemade bread!  You sing, you play the piano, draw, are creative, hilarious, can dance...all those things are great, but I have come to love you for other reasons as well.  I am sure you remember (because you drove quite a long ways...) but there was a time my Freshman year that I could not take it anymore.  You told me to hop in the car and you would meet me at Vickie's in Ogden. You dropped everything and spent the day with me, just for me.  You are such a great example of selfless service.  When you found out Ryan and I had no furniture, you sent down a load with table and chairs, two end tables, decorations, extra food, cookbooks, the PIANO, entertainment center, a tv...ok, basically you furnished our apartment.  But what I love the most about you, is how you encourage me.  I call you quite often, and most times I have some kind of concern or question, and you are always ready and willing to boost me up and give me thoughtful advice.  I really appreciate that.  I know I can count on you to answer my call, and to really give me your undivided attention, it makes me feel like you really truly care about me.

Alex:  Alejandro de la noche como estas?  I am impressed with your handy man skills.  You can landscape and redo bathrooms, create a porch and patch up old stereos.  I love how each time we get together, you get excited about making a music video and I love how you go all out!  It makes it so much fun.  I really appreciate the marriage cd you sent Ryan and I, and how willing you were to talk about budgeting and the importance of being wise with your money.  I am also incredibly impressed with your work ethic.  You are gone for days or weeks at a time and work extremely hard for your family.  PS.  Even though I wasn't there to see it with my own eyes, I always laugh when I think about Kelly Anderson describing your grandpa walk when you were hiking shasta.  But hey, slow and steady wins the race!

Zoe, Emmett and Ellie:  Cute, cute and cute.  Zoe, you are a very sweet little girl.  I love how you are always singing songs, dancing, and dressing up in beautiful sparkly outfits.  You are the BEST at playing the "guess who" game too.  Emmett, you are a stud.  And you are handsome, not cute :) We wished you lived closer so Ryan could play football with you.  And Ellie bellie shmellie...I love that your two words are "more" and "daddy." So adorable!

Katie: I have many cherished memories of you.  In fact, I found my locket the other day, and your picture was still safely stored inside.  I remember spending lunch at the park in Jacksonville, eating my favorite lunchables and talking about school and hating to think about you going away to the mystery land of college.  But even after you left, I received letters in the mail with pictures and bright colors, and always felt remembered and loved.  Now, I look forward to our talks over the phone, with me being the one stuck in this mystery land of college.  You give great words of advice and I am grateful to have an older sister who has already gone through it all, and can help me through the harder times of life.  I remember calling you a few years back, overwhelmed about school, relationships, and my future.  You said you understood how I was feeling and knew how this time was a time of decisions.  Deciding on where to go to college, what to major in, and who to marry.  But you said just to hold on and be patient, and it would all work out.  And so far, it really has.  Oh and hello?!  Can anyone throw a better party? Each holiday is something fun for your kids and I look forward to following that tradition in my home.        

Ryan:  Speed Milla.  As the first brother in law married into the family, I have many more memories of you.  I remember watching in amazement as you played football at a BYU practice.  I remember you comforting both Katie and I after getting scared at a haunted corn maze.  I always loved hearing about the thoughtful things you did for Katie throughout your marriage, and from a young age you set the standard for what kind of man I wanted to marry.  Athletic and smart, kind and confident, spiritual and thoughtful.  One of the things I love most about you is how thoughtful you are.  Each Christmas I am blown away by your creative ideas, whether it be a sweet baby video for Katie or a book you put together.  It makes me want to try harder and be better.

Aubrey, Julia, Grace and Nathan: Aubrey, I cannot even believe how old you are now, almost nine years old??  You are such a good older sister and help out around the house with all of your fun animals.  Joo Boo, you are such a funny girl!  You are always making your sisters happy and I am so glad you love to dance, you are the cutest butterfly dancer I know!  Grace, reading books with you is one of my favorite things.  I can't believe you are only three, and no one would no by how brave you are when you do gymnastics!  And baby so precious. 

Mom:  Although I am grateful for several reasons that you are my mom, this year I am grateful that you take the time to help me figure out myself.  It sounds weird, but it's true.  It has always been hard to pinpoint why I feel the way I do about certain things, but you have a special way to patiently listen and talk through my feelings.  Also, I have come to realize how much your heart is devoted to service.  I don't think a day passes without you having served someone in some way.  And you don't hesitate to go to the rescue!  Whenever you get a thought you act without any delay, and that inspires me to act on every good thought that comes to mind.  You have touched countless hearts and I am grateful for your example of christlike service.  But something I love is hearing about things that you have saved and tucked away in your jewelry box, and why they are important to you.  Your first brooch from grandpa, dad's high school ring, my fourth grade necklace, grandma's reminds me to cherish the things that matter most so I can share similar things with my children. 

Dad:  I love your temperament.  I feel a special bond to you because we behave in similar ways, and I feel calm and relaxed whenever we are together.  But most recently, I am grateful for the ability you have to make me feel special.  When I was home, you made it a point to set things aside just for me, and devoted a whole day to just have fun with Eric and I.  Those are the memories that last.  Just the other day I took a trip down memory road and thought about annie-i-over, don't wake up the bear, fox & geese, memory, don't eat pete, playing school, shooting rockets...the list goes on.  I want to have that kind of attitude with my kids, and to make sure that we just have some fun!   I also love how thoughtful you are.  Whether it was St. Patty's day or Christmas, we did something. Or for Valentines day, you would always send a rose to school just for me :) And it was always thoughtful.  I have continued on the tradition and am excited to make holidays fun days for my future family.   

So family, just know that I love you.  I will do better at expressing my thoughts more often, and I look forward to our time together hopefully soon!  And here is a little throwback that always makes my day...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

She Doesn't Know

Many of you probably already know what a darling Lauren is.  Or at least you might think you know.  But I doubt you know the full extent of how selfless Lauren is.  She is the most thoughtful, tender, sweet, hard-working woman I have met.  Day in and day out all her energy goes toward something productive and fruitful.  While I sometimes sneak in some ridiculous cell phone gaming between homework and bed (literally a few minutes worth), Lauren is preparing for the next day, whether it be making lunches, checking up on assignment due later in the week, tidying up, or any other productive thing you can think of.  She's a great example to me of always being engaged in a good cause.  There are several things that have been particularly impressive about Lauren that you should know.

1.  She is a tremendous student.  Lauren consistently is getting the highest score or one of the top scores on all of her exams.  She makes note cards by the dozen and devours the information in a night. Even when her brain hurts she keeps working hard and doing her best to prepare for tests, assignments, and projects.  

2.  She is tough.  You might think that isn't the greatest characteristic for a woman to have, but in my book it's one of the most important.  Lauren is ready to work through it all!  The thick and the thin.  She buckles down, when things get hard, she doesn't try to go over it, she doesn't try to go around it, she goes through it.  One fine example is how hard she pushes herself when she exercises.  Having participated in sports for almost two decades of my life, I have great respect for people who can push their body into situations that aren't comfortable and then keep pushing.  Lauren does that.  For heaven's sake she trained for a marathon by herself, outside, in the winter, in Provo, Utah!  Sheesh!  You know, it has been said about Lauren that she'll be great for the gene pool, and having seen her toughness, mentally and physically, there's no doubt about it!

3.  She is unbelievably thoughtful.  Lauren is so kind and her actions show it.  Whether it be an awesome valentines day surprise, a love note, planning for a vacation and much more she is always so caring.  For example, Lauren made a book.  Not just any book, but a book containing all the little fun things we've done, seen, written for the past year.  I know it took a great amount of time and detail to complete, and I had no idea she'd been working on it until the day she showed it to me.  Those are the kind of gifts that will last a lifetime and even stretch through time so that our children and grandchildren can know how we met, what we liked to do, what we looked like when we were young and hip, and what was important to us.  

4.  She is really good.  Lauren is a righteous woman.  She doesn't just read, but studies the gospel.  She gets excited about learning new things in the scriptures and tells me all about what she's learned.  She's is a wonderful co-teacher in the dating class and the ward loves her.  She remembers to say her prayers every night and reminds me on those most tired nights, "honey....we need to say our prayers."  She enjoys her new visiting teaching calling and companion and is a fantastic role model for the sisters in our ward.  They are so lucky to have her as a friend and mentor.  

5.  Last, but certainly not least, Lauren is beautiful.  Whether her hair is short or long, straight or curly, make up or none, sweaty or clean, she is a gorgeous girl.  Very fit, but not scary fit, has smooth unblemished skin, a smile that'll melt all your cares or worries away, and eyes that are very kind.  She is kind.  What a tremendous blessing it is to be married to someone who is kind.  Some of the best advice I ever got concerning marriage came from my crazy mid-twenties-aged wrestling coach was, "Be kind."  Easy to say, but sometimes hard to consistently do.  Lauren is good at being kind.  And she gets better at it every day!

I am lucky be married to such a wonderful girl, and those of you who know her/are related to her are lucky, too.  She is the greatest blessing in my life, and I hope I can make her feel like that every day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mmm Mmm Good

Reviewing over the past few blog posts (or lack of), it is easy to tell we are back in the grind.  A typical day consists of: 

*waking up at 5:30 for Ryan and closer to 7 for me!
*a 2-minute breakfast and quick but heartfelt hugs/goodbyes
*school school school until around 6
*a simple dinner
*never ending homework
*and when we can't stand to be awake one second longer, bed.  

So needless to say...we have had less and less time to write meaningful blog posts.  But today's post is about food, which is meaningful to me!  Only because I made this recipe up, all by myself:)  And it turned out GOOOOOOOOD.  If you are brave and semi-like bell peppers, you really need to make this today if at all possible.

The Ultimate Stuffed Peppers

4 Big Bell Peppers, any color you like
Cut off the tops and clean out the insides - seeds and all
To make the peppers stand up by themselves, barely cut the bottoms off (don't cut into the hollow part of the pepper)
Boil peppers in water and 2 Tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes

1 package dirty rice (make as directed on package)

Saute in olive oil: 
Green onions (as much as you like)
Half an Onion
Two Tomatoes

can of corn
can of black beans
cook dirty rice
half can of tomato sauce
garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper
(stir and heat through)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place boiled peppers in a 13x9 baking dish
Fill each pepper to the top
Top with cheese if desired
Bake for 20-25 minutes!

(You'll probably have leftovers, but we used them for tacos the next night and it was almost as delicious)