"Go Royals! Go forth to serve well. Return with honor!

"Go Royals!  Go forth to serve well.  Return with honor!
This family photo is from August 2003, just before Brad left on his mission to the Philippines, but it remains a personal favorite

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Very Merry Royal Christmas (December 2012)

This was our first year doing this family pose, 2001
We had to do a picture like this for years after so the kids could track their relative growth
The Royal family today, with the addition (since 2001) of Royal, Kambria, Whitney and Beckham
and, of course, Cut Out Jordan
            It is hard to believe that Maralea and I are preparing to spend our 30th Christmas together!  (We will celebrate 30 years of marriage in April 2013.  We technically did not spend Christmas 1982 together since I left Reno for Las Vegas on Christmas Eve morning after visiting with her family for a few days over Christmas break.  But, who cares about technicalities?)  That is MIND BLOWING!  We have no idea where all the years went, but have enjoyed the ride.  One of our greatest blessings has been having incredibly loving, wonderful parents to provide counsel, guidance 
Royal Ray with his Great Grandpa Kelly in June
and direction not only for us, but for their grandchildren.  We experienced the loss of Maralea’s 
father, Howard Ray Kelly, on October 29, 2012.  He left behind his wife, Leona, eight children, 38 grandchildren, and 16 great grandchildren (with four more on the way), with a life filled with Christlike service and living.  (Click here for a detailed account of our November 2-5 funeral weekend with the Kelly family in Reno.)  Ray blazed a trail of faith and honor that has blessed untold multitudes.  If happiness is found in laying up treasures in heaven, then Ray Kelly is a spiritual billionaire.  We love you, Ray, Dad, Grandpa, Great Grandpa!

We had a great time at the  Kelly Family Reunion in June
Royal gazes into his mommy's eyes minutes
after his arrival
            We welcomed two new members of the family in 2012: Royal (our second grandson) and Kambria (our second daughter-in-law), in that order.  Royal Ray joined the family in February 2012.  He came into the world with his eyes wide open, and just quietly stared at his mommy upon arriving in this strange new world.  David and Kambria became engaged over the last Christmas break and were married in May.  Kambria smiles and laughs a lot, is an ace tennis star, and lovingly ate grits with eggs, cheese, bacon, and tons lots of pepper prepared by yours truly while visiting us over Christmas break last year.  
David and Kambria were jumping for joy after getting
Celestially hitched in May
Beckham and Brad:
Like father like tongue
Our oldest grandson, Beckham, had his first birthday in August.  He is already a technological wiz kid.  Jordan hit his one year mark in the mission field in September.  We are looking forward to welcoming home another Elder Royal from his missionary service in 2013.  Oh yeah, 2012 was the year I finally gave into using . . . (wait for it . . . wait for it . . .) READING GLASSES.  (A few months ago, after receiving and reviewing the receipt after dinner at Memphis Barbecue, I replied: That’s weird.  They only charged us a dollar and two cents.  The bill actually read: $41.08.  So, I was finally convinced that, perhaps, seeing is truly believing . . . and important.)
Cut Out Jordan is surrounded by friends at David and Kambria's wedding luncheon.
Front row from left: Landon, Jack, David, Dan and Tommy; Back row from left: Cody, Aaron and Trevor
             I am posting this before December 21st, just in case the Mayan calendar is right and the world comes to an end on or about that date.  Nah.  Not gonna happen.  Instead, we will have to deal with that whole fiscal cliff thing and everything else that goes along with Election 2012.  (Ugh!)

            Here’s a look at how the Royal fam is doing.

Jordan is enjoying life as Elder Royal in the
Philippines Angeles Mission
Jordan aka Elder Royal

            Jordan has been serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines Angeles Mission since September 2011.  He presently serves in Victoria, an area west of Tarlac City.  When he left us in September 2011, we could not imagine hearing Jordan speak Tagalog.  However, we have some Filipino neighbors who are going to be very impressed with the fluent way Jordan now speaks the language.  (We get to speak with him on Christmas Day and are hoping to have our Filipino friends come over to speak Tagalog to him.)  Jordan and Brad will now be able to speak Tagalog in future family settings, and share stories from having both served as Elder Royal in the same mission.  (Brad and Whitney are planning to go to the Philippines in January, but it appears they will not be able to see Jordan.)  We missed having Jordan around so much that we made a life sized Elder Royal in May to deaden the pain of separation (well, and so he could be in family wedding pictures . . . because we are really bad with Photoshop).
Jordan, playing it cool in St. George with
sister Kelli and his mommy
 Cut Out Jordan became the focus of a lot of practical jokes thereafter to scare unwary visiting family members over the summer, as we would hide him in closets, at the foot of beds in the middle of the night, behind doors, etc.  (Jordan got a little beat up in the process, but it was loads of fun.)  For now, Cut Out Jordan just stands behind the TV in the family room . . . staring us down as we watch Cougar football and basketball (while occasionally giving him the score . . . since he can’t actually watch TV as a missionary . . . which is why we have him standing behind it).  You can follow Jordan's mission adventures at Elder Jordan Royal's official Philippines Angeles Mission blog.
REAL Jordan demonstrates his typical facial expression when people
would speak to him in Tagalog in the first six months of his mission

Jordan with Elder Dela Paz (left) and Declaro (right)

David and Kam cozying up at
David and Kambria

            The big news over the Christmas 2011 holiday was David and Kambria’s engagement.  David proposed to Kambria in the Pine Valley Chapel during a private tour of the historical site.  (The tour guide was in on it.  We went early and hid the ring and some sparkling cider with crystal glasses in the upper room, where the tour guide left them, saying: “I need to go lock up.  You two can stay up here for a few more minutes and look around.”  That was David’s cue.  He had the ring box hidden in a drawer of an old table, which Kambria opened.  When she saw the wooden ring box, Kambria picked it up, opened it and said: “Wow, that’s weird.  Why would they leave something so valuable just sitting here in this box?”  She then put the box back down and did not seem to think much of it.  (It apparently did not occur to her that the ring was for her.)  David then picked up the box, got down on one knee, held it out to Kambria, opened it up, displaying the ring, and said: “Kambria, will you marry me?”  It was pretty awesome. 

David and Kam practice a future family picture
here with nephews Beckham and Royal
          Kambria later said to me: “I can’t wait to become your daughter-in-law!”)  That was a very exciting time for our family.  David and Kambria were married in the St. George Temple on May 12, 2012.  They lived with us over the summer while David worked in the advertising department for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  It was really fun having them here - especially playing tennis with Kambria (a very quiet, unassuming young lady who becomes suddenly very intense with a racket in her hands).  (Maralea and I dominated David and Kambria . . . once . . . meaning we beat them . . . badly . . . (ahem) . . . once - mostly by just hitting the ball to David.  Ha.) 
        I wrote a song for David and Kambria to Candida (by Tony Orlando and Dawn), which our family sang at their wedding luncheon.  It was an AMAZING performance.  ;)  But, since we do not have all that awesomeness to post in this letter, here is the next best thing (ha): David and Cody singing their latest wedding hit at the David/Kambria wedding luncheon (a song they stayed up nearly all night writing/composing . . . as per their typical protocol):
David and Kambria in the Pine Valley Chapel moments after the historical (and hysterical) site proposal

Kelli and Royal

Kelli and Royal cheering on the Cougars
Royal gets his first slide ride at
Weiner Elementary playground
            Royal Ray was a great blessing to our family in 2012.  Maralea and I were present with Kelli and her best friend, Jasmine, when our sweet little grandson came into the world, and we have enjoyed watching him grow up under the sweet, nurturing care of his wonderful mother, Kelli, who has displayed an incredible amount of determination and courage, and is focused on being a strong, dedicated mother of a young stripling warrior.  She has successfully navigated through some difficult storms and challenges.  All the while, Kelli has brought beautiful blue skies and sunshine into our home as she not only dotes on Royal, but also on us, her parents.  Royal is crawling, standing, getting into everything (he is especially attracted to the doggy dish), and loves giving big hugs (just like his mommy).  He recently took his mommy’s iPhone and dropped it into the toilet.  (Who knew that could happen?)  Baby proofing the house has been a fun challenge.  He has torn apart my very important, most necessary bathroom scale. . . just because he can!  (Oh right, how could I forget Brody and Darla, Kelli’s annoying little Dachshunds who joined us in January?  Long story - short: we now have two dogs who drive me crazy.  Yay!)  Kelli enjoys cutting hair when she can find the time, and loves serving as Primary Chorister in our ward (which even got her playing the piano again).

Kelli and Royal at a less than enthusiastic moment for the wee one
(it appears to be pretty close to nap time)
Brad, Whitney and Beckham

Brad, Whitney and Beckham are looking forward to expanding their family in 2013
Beckham gets two despite the
flagrant foul

            Beckham is not so little anymore.  He is now 16 months old.  Once he learned to stand and walk, Beckham started running, climbing, pushing buttons, opening/closing things, and has never stopped.  We had him with us for a week over Thanksgiving and Beckham was a riot.  He is very smart . . . and loves Little Einstein.  He is into everything, but especially loves computers and iPhones.  (Brad gave Beckham his phone in church while we were in Reno last month and, during the sacrament, Beckham managed to dial up a loud, crazy song which began blazing from the phone speakers, putting me into such a panic I could not think of how to shut it off.  I think that little maneuver took him about 10 seconds after getting Brad’s phone in his hands.  How do the little ones seem to know just the right/wrong buttons to press?)  It is fun watching Beckham and Royal together.  (Beckham taught Royal a lot of cool tricks, including scooting his high chair across the kitchen floor by shifting forward and backwards like he is rowing a boat . . . and screaming when he wants more food.)  
Beckham gets into everything -
even the doggy cage thingy
        Our family is growing and growing.  Brad and Whitney are now expecting their second child (our third grandchild).  How cool is that?  They spent the summer in New Hampshire where Brad sold alarms (again).  He does so incredibly well with sales each summer, that Brad has chosen to continue doing it post graduation from BYU.  (I’m ready to quit my job and go sell with him.)  Brad, Whitney and Beckham plan to begin 2013 by traveling to the Philippines to tour the area where Brad 
served as an LDS missionary from 2003-05, and to visit some of the really cool islands there.  They also plan to visit Hawaii on the way back - all before they move to their next summer sales location (probably back to New Hampshire).

"People let me tell ya 'bout my best friend,
he's a warmhearted person who'll love me 'til the end"
Mike and Maralea

Taking a tour of the Notre Dame
Tunnel of Champions
(BYU really should have beaten ND - ugh)
We love the Nevada
Las Vegas Mission
            We continue serving as Elder and Sister Royal in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission with my parents, who began serving as the other Elder and Sister Royal on a local part-time senior mission (which they have really enjoyed).  Maralea loves serving as mission office secretary.  It is a full-time job that provides her with direct deposit blessings.  (Maralea sends me off to keep our worldly bank account supplied with money while she keeps our spiritual account filled with the blessings.  So far, it has been working out very well.)  We enjoy serving with President and Sister Neider, the Cavalieris, the Footes, and so many others.  It is wonderful having missionaries in our home so often.  Maralea announced on the Monday before Thanksgiving that the entire Warm Springs Zone was invited over for Pizookies (melted cookies in a dish covered with vanilla ice cream . . . yum, yum).  How many of them do 
New firm!
Here with my partner, Greg Miles
you think came?  Yep, you guessed it: ALL OF THEM!  (I mean, seriously, what missionary would pass up that invitation?)  My law firm split in September, and I now work with Greg Miles as Royal & Miles, LLP.  We are very excited about our new venture.  Our family has had to adjust to some changes and challenges in 2012; however, trials always make us better, stronger, increase our faith, and forge our righteous commitment to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, when we allow Him to act as our navigator.
We especially love serving with the "elder" Elder and Sister Royal
Cougar football games with the family ARE FUN 
(Even when we lose our starting QB for the season because the coach failed to have him take a knee on the last play)

"And now, here's something we hope you'll really like"
(Trivia: Who used this phrase in a 60's TV show to introduce the next story?  Answer)

            At the Kelly family reunion in June, we could not get enough dodgeball with modified rules that allowed for soccer kicking and extended from the free throw lines which included a large area for one on one, ball to ball combat from point blank range. 
Kelli, Jared and David tee up the balls for another round, with Sarah curiously lingering in the background 
The dodgeballs were flying at the
Kelly Family Reunion in June
On the move: They are out of ammo and someone's gonna get it!
Can we just forget this already?
"Why did you do that?"

            Maralea, after I accidentally shaved off half of my left eyebrow because I was trying to trim a few wild hairs with my electric razor in one hand while brushing my teeth with the other.  (I have never been a very good multitasker.)

"Jeff, your wife is here"

Maralea is a good hospital companion.  Just ask Royal.
            These were the first words I heard after recovering from nasal surgery in April.  I thought: “Who is Jeff?”  I heard Maralea say: “His name is Michael.”  I then remember hoping that Jeff did not go to surgery to have a leg amputated . . . and began thinking that I should probably check to make sure my legs are both still there.

"Excuse me, uh . . . can I introduce you to my wife?"

I have no picture of us with Doug Flutie (or whatever his name
is - ha), but I do have one of us in Notre Dame Stadium.
            This is how what I said to Doug Flutie as when we walked past him on Notre Dame campus in October as we were walking towards the football stadium the day before the BYU/ND game.  I recognized him immediately as he walked towards us and had a little debate within my mind about whether I should bother him.  I figured I’d just ignore him, act like I was completely oblivious.  As he walked past us, I changed my mind suddenly, stopped him and . . . for reasons I cannot explain . . . I forgot his name.  It left my head entirely.  So, the only thing that came to my mind was simply to have him shake my wife’s hand and hope he introduced himself - which he did.  It turned out to be pretty embarrassing (but not so much that it would be left out of the Royal Christmas annuls).

"Oh yeah?  What about Sunday?"

Here at BSU stadium, the one and ONLY time we wore
the Game Day shirts (Once the fallacy in the slogan hit us between
the eyes, we simply could not wear them again in good conscience)
            This came from a random heckling BSU fan, as I proudly wore my brand new 2012 BYU football shirt at the BYU/BSU game in September which reads: “Every Day is Game Day.”  I mean, what could I say in response to that?  I had absolutely nothing.  (He could have thrown Monday nights at me as well.)  The fan was right: Sunday is never Game Day for a BYU fan.  That was the last time I wore the shirt, as the 2012 BYU slogan was, as Spock would say: “Illogical.”

“It was still mostly in the cone”
Royal's Bumbo made watching the baseball game a breeze

            This is the explanation I gave to Maralea after eating ice cream off the floor of Angels Stadium at the Angels/Blue Jays game after Royal knocked Kelli’s cone out of her hand.  (I mean, Kelli was going to let it go to waste and it was clearly salvageable.)

A Wicked Good Time

"I'm gonna try defying [stupidity]"
            Maralea and I went to see “Wicked” in September.  Right before the play was about to begin, Maralea suggested that I take a picture and upload something on Facebook announcing that we were at the play.  (And we all know how important it is to let the online world know what we are doing.)  There was no cell service in the Smith Center so, in my effort to be dutiful husband, I stepped out into the lobby to see if there was any cell service there.  About 10 seconds later, the doors closed behind me and I was advised by the usher that I could not return to my seat until the first act was over.  Worse . . . I was the only one in the lobby for the next 10 minutes (and I still could not get internet service to post on Facebook).  (I got to watch the play on a screen from the lobby and, since I was the only patron out there, it was like having a front row seat, so that was a big plus.)  

Stop it!!!

We found ourselves saying "Stop it!" a lot to these two
 cute busy boys a few times over Thanksgiving Weekend
Valuable counsel from Pres. Dieter F. Uchdorf in General Conference, April 2012, on how best to forever eliminate bad habits from our lives and keep our New Year’s resolutions.  (And, if you would like a second opinion on this topic, see Bob Newhart)

Thanksgiving Messages

            Kelli sent an email to all the family inviting each of us to write short messages of thanks that she planned to use for an activity during our Thanksgiving meal.  She printed up the messages, cut them out, and actually baked them into the rolls she made from scratch.  (Those rolls were oh so good.)  One problem: Kelli did not put a message in all the rolls and did not separate the message rolls from the other rolls . . . so we ended up eating a lot of bread over Thanksgiving dinner in order to find our thoughts of thanks.  (It was a great idea which created a fun family memory.)
See the rolls in the basket there in the forefront?
Those delicious gluten monsters contained our messages of THANKS
            When we look back on 2012, all we see are blessings - even within the challenges of life.  And, we will always find blessings in our lives as we embrace our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Come what may, happiness is extended to all who know, love and follow Him.  May we all enjoy this wonderful time of year with our loved ones, and keep the Spirit of Christmas in our hearts throughout every day of 2013.

            With best wishes and love,

            The Michael and Maralea Royal Clan

Extra Credit
Here you'll find some extra stuff,
In case you didn't get enough.
And if you really want to see more,
We think you'll like what's next in store
Some additional pictures that we like, too,
Are posted for your gleeful view.

My favorite socks!!!
(They have holes now.  Need more!)
Royal is in there somewhere, about two weeks before his arrival

Kelli and Jazz saw Donny and Marie
a couple days before Royal was born

Royal was wide awake and taking it all in from the very moment he arrived
(Love this picture)
Kelli had the great fortune of having friend and nurse
extraordinaire Candace Utter to help bring Royal into the world

Beckham meets Royal

Beckham gets two points for the Royal take down
Beckham and Royal meet GREAT Grandma and Grandpa Royal, where Beckham is declared winner
of the first annual Royal Cousins Mixed Martial Arts Challenge
Kelli and Cousin Brittany with Royal at Cousin Kyle's
Eagle Court of Honor in April
Totally Random Picture: We were visited by Elder David Archuletta
at our home in April via BYU-TV (General Conference)

Maralea's birthday was a Red Lobsterfest
David serenades Royal in the back seat with his ukulele
Beckham sees the world a bit differently than the
rest of us (here at the St. George Temple)
Royal doing his best Huck Finn impression with his
Great Grandpa and Grandma Kelly
(David/Kambria's wedding at the St. George Temple)
Ground Breaking Call: We got to Skype with Jordan on Mother's Day!
(First time we did that with any of our missionary sons instead of a phone call)

Beckham sporting a bib
Royal sporting a hat

Our two/too cute grandsons!!

Royal, one week old, but ready for the game of life!

Kelli and Royal show Brad and Beckham that they
can stick out their tongues, too
Beckham engaged in his early morning yoga
Royal with his dapper hat at the multi-stake Pioneer Day Parade
Beckham in the early days of walking (now he's running)
The Bumbo is Risky Business for Royal
Beckham takes a breather to extend birthday wishes

Beckham gets down and dirty

Facetime with Beckham and Whitney
Royal found his place in the sun at the
water park
Royal was bummed that he got the same old mushy orange stuff
at Thanksgiving while the rest of us scarfed down the mega calories
Beckham on Thanksgiving (moments before he got out of his seat
and stood in the middle of the table while Royal watched with admiration)
Beckham and Royal at David and Kambria's wedding, St. George Temple
Beckham enjoyed vacationing with his mom and dad in March
Kelli and Royal, chilling at the park on Thanksgiving weekend
Hey, what a coincidence!  We found Brad, Whitney and Beckham at the park, too
Super cute kids alert!
We took about 50 pictures of these two sitting together and this is the absolute best we could muster.
They are both VERY busy.
The making of Cut Out Jordan
This is 100% Jordan, but we
didn't love the pose (plus, he wasn't
in the "wedding colors")
Jordan's head on David's body.
(Better, but we had another idea.)
Jordan's head on his DAD's body
(Yeah, perfect - a very natural look.  The 50 lb difference in our bodies is hardly noticeable.)
A little Photoshop action, and we got it right
(Thanks to Chris Jenkins for doing the Cut Out Jordan photo work.  She slimmed him down good.)

David is ready to blow out the candles, but Royal
wants the cupcakes NOW!
Wedding Day!  David and Kam, with Mom, Pop, Grandma and Grandpa Royal
Cody shows David how the whole carrying Kam
over the threshold thing is supposed to work

Kambria is all smiles on her first EVER flight in June
(She was even happier when we landed)
Viva Lake Tahoe!
(It was a pretty warm day, but the water is ghastly cold.  See all the people swimming in the water behind us?)
Hiking on Mt. Charleston on July 4th
Kelli and her friends met Bachelorette Emily and her fiance Jeff at the River Bottoms in Provo (September), then coxed them into posing for this picture 
Post game vs. Hawaii - Love BYU games in the early fall
(From left: Cody, Landon, Kambria, David, Kelli, Royal, Maralea and me)
David and Kam at Sundance, loving the colors

Kelli and Royal found fall colors, too

Okay, fine!  We went to Sundance and took
pictures in these awesome fall colors together.
(We don't see fall colors like this in Vegas!)

We loved visiting Evelyn Parker and her family in Monroe, GA in October
(Evelyn was my first "Golden" contact in Vidalia, GA, 1979)
From left: John, Rachel & Evaleigh, Evelyn, me, Rebekah and Parker
Here with Evaleigh (left) and Parker (right)
(Third generation Latter-day Saints - so cute!)
I reconnected with Evelyn in July 2009, 30 years after her baptism, when her daughter, Rachel,
contacted me on Facebook on a quest to find her mother's missionaries

We also attend the temple sealing of Daniel and Jessica Taylor in the Atlanta Temple in October, here with Bishop Dana Taylor, Daniel's father, who rigged the tub in our Vidalia missionary apartment so we could use it as a shower, and who was the first member I met in Vidalia when I arrived in September 1979
Trunk or Treat was awesome, baby!
(I went as Riley Nelson.  Yeah, I know he's No. 13, but I got the hair right)

Rudolph paid us an early visit this year

Brad, Whitney & Beckham enjoy a cruise before beginning a long summer of sales
We loved seeing Tom and Cindy Luna
(Even though our Cougs lost to BSU -
Seriously, Bronco, just kick the PAT!)
"When the moon hits your eye like a big piece of pie that's amore"
(Yet another song where I had the lyrics wrong and was corrected by Maralea as I sang so gleefully)
(I took this picture off the TV during a Monday Night Football game.  Pretty sweet.)
Kelly family working on Grandpa Kelly's car project (preparing wooden cars to be provided to needy children, something he loved to do) after the burial at Veterans Cemetery

Lite Brite, taking pics with lights,
What a sight, taking pics with Lite Brite
(At Ethel M's the day after Thanksgiving)
I thought I was about done, but saw this picture
of David & Kam and had to add it

Fall colors - Vegas style

       Okay, NOW we are done.  (I could upload another 100 pictures from 2012 and be perfectly happy, but I really have to get this posted before December 21st . . . just in case the Mayans were right, in which case I would have done all this work for nothing!)  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good blog.
We love you Grandpa Sunshine