Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

To say that 2013 was good to me would be an understatement. 
Here's my favorite moments of the last 365. [In no particular order, because I know someone *cough* Brian *cough* Wolfie* will say something about it.]
Sunday drives around Logan with my roommates--particularly those to the Lonely Bench. Because sometimes, it's easier to deal with life when you're singing along to Taylor Swift as loud as you can with your five best friends. 
Surviving my first year of college; not just with a decent GPA, and my life, but also without a ring on my left hand. 
Conquering my fourth Ragnar, even though the amount of training I did was equal to the amount of Olympic gold medals I have. 
St. George trip with the remaining Snitches. We discovered Swig, Friends at 2 am, and spent absurd amounts of time by the pool. 
SOAR days. Whether it was scooping a dozen gallons of ice cream, trying to calm down yet another angry parent, or giving "tours" on the shuttle--my summer job was the best I'll ever have. 
Designing this "Recycled Fashion" dress. After 15 hours, 2,500 puzzle pieces and almost 100 hot glue sticks--we won Best in Show. What can I say, we're well-rounded. 
Getting 95+ new sisters and developing an affinity for green and white. Kappa Delta is just what I needed in terms of support, motivation, and fun.
It might not have been my favorite part--but sending these guys out on their missions has definitely changed my life. Hearing about their experiences and watching their testimonies grow has strengthened mine, and I'm so proud of all of them. Here's to 2014 bringing them all home.
Documenting the last time the Snitches were all together--and all single. Next time we're all together, there'll be wedding rings involved.
Summer adventures with my #twerkteam. Whether we were swimming in fountains, watching fireworks in Huntsville, cliff jumping at Bloomington or watching yet another movie on the LoveSac, I'm so grateful I met these people and am even more grateful that I can call them some of my closest friends. 
Starting [and being almost done with!] my second year of college. Still not quite sure what exactly I'm going to do with a degree in English Literature...but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. 
Coming home to my family is my favorite thing. Between hearing my little sisters running through the house and going on late-night shake runs with my little brother, or shopping with my parents--home is definitely my favorite place to be. 

2013 was different. I moved apartments multiple times, and worked two jobs. I said goodbye to the people I care most about--and found friends that I love just as much. I changed my major once, and my hair color more than once [which is evident as you scroll through the pictures. Whoops.]. And I learned a lot about myself. 
So here's to you, 2013. For teaching me that I can do things on my own, and that change is OK. For helping me get out of my comfort zone, and showing me what's important. 
And here's to 2014, for bringing me back the people I love most and for even more adventures, learning, and change. If 2014 is half as good to me as this year has been, I'll be a happy girl. 

Cheers to a new year, and another chance for us to get it right.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Reason for the season.

It's not about ribbons. It's not about tags. 
It's not about what's in those boxes and bags. 
In spite of the presents, Christmas is not from a store. 
Why Christmas means quite a bit more. 
In the midst of the hoopla and parties, remember what we're truly celebrating:
The birth of a baby boy who came to earth to save all of us. 
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." [Isaiah 9:6]

Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Right this second.

Currently listening to: 
[also this.]
[and this.]
[this too.]
Currently craving: 
Candy canes, Coldstone's Red Velvet ice cream+brownies, and Dr. Pepper.
A movie night with my best friend + snowboarding + my favorite Californian. 

Currently reading: 

Currently loving:
No school, having time to read, limited work. 
My sisters, best friends, and missionary. 
Christmas, the holidays in general, and life. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My lucky day.

It's my favorite missionary's birthday today, and to say I was grateful for today would be the understatement of the century.
It's not everyday you meet somebody who knows every detail of your life and still loves you. Bronson is the most patient, forgiving, entertaining person I know, and I honestly don't know where I'd be without him. 
When my Grandma passed away, he kept my head above water and made sure I was okay--and let me know it was okay if I wasn't. 
When I was working late, he'd wait up and make sure I got home safe; and would drive home with me because he knows how much I hate driving at night. 
When we had finals last fall, he bring me food when I'd been in the library all day; and he even came with Jon and made sure Paige and I got up on time for our psychology final when we'd been studying all night the night before. 
When my birthday came around this year, even though it had been almost 7 months since we'd seen each other, he sent me a package of my favorite things--and on Valentine's Day he had Jon surprise me with a dozen roses, because he knows how much I love flowers. 
He knows me better than anybody else. He gets my irrational fears, supports my crazy dreams, and even laughs at my stupid jokes.
He eats the peach jelly beans, green Dots and gummy bears, and vanilla Frosty's that I hate. 
He understands what I mean when I say, "I HATE cancer." 
He stays with me when we snowboard, even though he's much better than I am and could easily leave me behind. 
He laughs at my jokes. 
He shares my disdain for BYU. 
He teaches me how to be a gracious loser--and does the same when I destroy him in bowling. 
He's completely honest with me, 100% of the time. 
He knows everything about me: he understands my worries and frustrations, acknowledges my dreams, and knows my fears. 
He never fails to tell me I'm beautiful; whether it's at 3 am during a stressful finals week, on the ski lift after a massive crash while snowboarding, in the car on a date, or while I'm in tears for some random reason. 
He's patient with me--more so than just about anyone I know--even when I won't decide where we should go for dinner, whose car we're taking, what movie to watch, or who to hang out with, he's patient and eventually makes most of the decisions. 
He keeps me focused and motivated.
He always knows what to say. Even though he's 1,500 miles away and I only hear from him twice a week--Friday's letters are always full of exactly what I need to hear, and Monday morning emails never fail to make me smile. 
He's the reason I love hockey, go to Aggie basketball games, and can tolerate driving. 
He makes me laugh harder than anyone else, smile when I'd rather cry, and can drive me crazy in a matter of seconds. 
He's the patient one when I'm stressed, the forgiving one when I'm judgmental, and the grounded one when I'm day dreaming and unfocused. 
He keeps me sane, motivated, and constantly surprised. 
Some days, I miss him so much it hurts...and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'll drive the neighborhoods of Logan by myself, listening to Rascal Flatts and talking out loud trying to figure out what he'd say in the present situation. 
Long story short, he's my very best friend. And even though I miss him like crazy, I know he's exactly where he's supposed to be. Michigan sure is a lucky place. 

He's been gone almost a whole year, and that means in just over a year, he'll be home. And everything will be okay again. 
Happy Birthday, Elder! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A bit unusual.

A tree made out of stuffed animals. 
Sounds crazy, right? Probably.
But I couldn't imagine Christmas without it. 
It's another tradition my Grandma started, but this one began before I was even born. 
It started on an old ladder with stuffed animals bound and tied to the frame, and became a pyramid frame with hooks when my Grandpa realized the tradition wasn't going anywhere. 
When my mom and her siblings all had homes and families of their own, the frame was adapted to a shower rod and peg boards in graduating sizes to make the tree shape you see now. 
Not only is this tradition unique to the Bell's, but each tree is different from house to house--except for one thing:
My Grandma loved the idea of the lamb and the lion, and each family has their own lamb and lion to place somewhere on the tree. 

The fact that it reminds me so much of my grandma is reason enough for me to love it--and look forward to "The Animal Tree" and it's decorating each year. 
It's different, but it's beautiful. 

What are some Christmas traditions that are unique to you and your family? 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

One of many.

As cliche as it may sound, the holidays are my favorite time of year. 
I love the chaos of a million family events, the smell of our Christmas tree, and the glow of the fireplace burning all day long. 
Sandwiched between the typical holiday parties and gatherings, my family holds a couple of traditions that mark some of my favorite days of the year. 
When I was little, my grandma would devote an entire Saturday to gingerbread houses--and not just any gingerbread houses. What began as your typical four-walled creations quickly escalated to castles and train stations and airports and mansions, with dozens of frosting colors and candy types to decorate with. The enormous creations we would make were extravagant and some would say over-the-top. But we loved those gingerbread houses. 
After my grandma passed away my junior year of high school, my mom wanted a way to carry on that tradition, but without the craziness and elaborate architecture. 
So....96 sugar cookies and six bags of royal icing later, you have our cousin Christmas cookie decorating party. 
By the end of the night, it's nearly impossible to tell what is a "decorated" cookie and what is merely a pile of icing that spilled from the frosting bag, but watching the little kids decorate their cookies and then show them off--before eating them of course--is always an adventure. 
[And by the looks of the cookies we had this year, these kiddos are getting pretty darn good at using those icing bags.]

December is one of my favorite months of the year, and the next couple of posts are going to show why that is exactly. From my lucky day, to Christmas Eve traditions and everywhere in between...here's to the happiest month of the year.