An Incredibly Awesome Royal Christmas Wish
We became official BYU Pegbuddies in 2013
(Left to right: Royal, Kelli, Kambria, Aubrey, David, Michael, Maralea, Brad, Zoe, Whitney, Beckham, Jordan)
Another year has come and gone. I sometimes feel like at any moment I am going to wake up and find myself lying in bed as a 16 year old in Eugene, Oregon, and discover it was all just a dream (then have to start all over again, only this time I will have all this extra knowledge and pressure to bring everything to pass - ala Marty McFly from "Back to the Future"- ha). Where have the years gone? In my much younger, pre-marriage days I would sit around wondering where my future spouse was at that very moment, thinking about what she was doing, whether she liked The Beatles, too, and whether she might be thinking about me. It will have been 31 years ago this New Year’s Eve when I gave Maralea the ring, hugged her and said: “I can’t believe I found you.”
The Royal wedding, April 22, 1983, Salt Lake Temple
(I elected to adopt the Magical Mystery Tour look with the white tux.)
|Maralea with Zoe and Aubrey, November|
(How did we manage to get everyone to look at the camera except Maralea?)
As Maralea hosted quite a large group for Thanksgiving last month, I marveled at how she worked circles around us all in the kitchen, always with a smile on her face, a spring in her step and a little giggle in her giddy communication with everyone. Maralea loves being with family. I learned that about her when I drove her home to Sparks, NV for Christmas break, 1982.
I remember spending a few days with the Kelly family, watching Maralea joyfully interact with her parents, seven siblings and two dogs (one that bit me, thank you very much) and thought to myself: “What are you waiting for? Marry that beautiful woman!” (I was in such a hurry to get home to Las Vegas from Reno on December 24, 1982 (to go secure the ring) that I got pulled over in Fallon, NV for speeding and rather recklessly maneuvering around a slow poke in a no passing zone. When I related my Christmas Eve sob story to the patrol officer, he smiled, provided me with a brief caution about the need to engage in safer driving, then said: “Today’s your lucky day. Merry Christmas.” I think of that officer fondly each time we drive through Fallon.) I am so glad I convinced Maralea to take a chance on me (cue that Abba song song from the 70's I hated so much - it just makes sense to sing it - ).
|Maralea with little Brad and his two|
teeny casts, 1985
|Maralea with Kelli in our Green Valley home, 1987|
|The Royal family, finally altogether, November 2013, after having retired Life Sized Jordan and replacing him with the real deal. From left: Brad, Beckham, Whitney, Kelli, Royal, Mike, Zoe, Maralea, Aubrey, Kambria, David and Jordan|
|30th Anniversary dessert is served!|
|At the Manila Temple with Jordan and his training companion, Junjun Declaro|
|We were happy to replace Life Sized Jordan with the real deal in November.|
|Home At Last! Our meeting at the airport in Las Vegas in November was sweet.|
(David, Kambria and Aubrey are present in this photo via phone (Facetime), held by Brad, so we're all there)
|Grand Reunion! Maralea and I were honored to|
be with Evelyn and Michael on their special day
|Together Forever! Evelyn married Michael Warren in the Atlanta Temple, 33 years after her baptism in Vidalia, GA|
|Evelyn, January 1980, Vidalia, GA, helping Elder Day and me make our |
filmstrip on member missionary work
|Mission Days: Okay, one more nostalgic picture from our mission.|
This is what Elder Day and I looked like while teaching Evelyn
(Exception: This does not depict a normal flip chart picture from the discussions)
|The Next Generation: With Evelyn's daughters, Rachel (in the awesome blue BYU sweatshirt), Rebekah (with baby Parker), and John (Rachel's husband - Go Bulldogs!)|
|Ahem! Royal asked us to mention that he turned one in February. (He has shaved since this photo.)|
|A Berns Family Wedding: Tyler and|
Caitlin, married in the Nauvoo Temple in May
|The Berns Family Baptism, March 1980, Foley, Alabama|
(Back (from left): Steve Jones, Bob and Kay Berns, skinny me. Front (from left): Tim, Michael and Angela)
|Vehicular Deersaster: This is what happens when Western Illinois deer fail to look both ways|
(Thrifty wanted us to drive this heap 150 miles back to St. Louis. Do you think we would have made it?)
|Mississippi Queen: We celebrated life|
after RAM BAMbi with a walk along
the Mississippi River
|Nauvoo the Beautiful|
|At Carthage Jail, about 45 minutes before our meeting with RAM BAMbi|
(Oh if we had only known what fun we were about to have)
|Zoe getting zzzz's: We love awesome baby pictures!|
Whitney in April at a hospital in Portland, Maine. (Brad was selling alarms for the summer back east, so Whitney, Beckham got to travel with him . . . and then Zoe. Yay for long family cross country trips.) (Whitney later said: “We drove back east with one kid and came home with two.”)
|A Blessed Moment: Brad and Whitney x 2|
(with Zoe and Beckham)
The day of Zoe's baby blessing
Letting it slide: Brad and Whitney with Beckham in Cincinnati
|Cheese!! We got to bring Beckham home with us from Cincinnati, which made the drive home for Brad and Whitney with Zoe a little more manageable. (Beckham likes flying. Can you tell?)|
|Hello Aubrey: David and Kambria welcomed Aubrey to the world in August|
And Aubrey was her name . . .
|Another Blessed Moment: In Salt Lake City for Aubrey's baby blessing in late September|
(Psst. Whitney, look over here)
|BYU v. VA: At Charlottesville, VA, one of the|
hottest, muggiest, wettest, stormiest games
and worst BYU losses we have ever attended.
But hey, we still had fun!
|Cool Cat: Maralea, holding onto the water sprayer we had to sneak into the stadium by flattening it and stuffing it in my pocket, then unsmashing and filling it with water. Quite ingenious.|
A two hour rain delay in VA was the first of two straight BYU games we attended delayed by bad weather
A two hour rain delay in VA was the first of two straight BYU games we attended delayed by bad weather
|Royals and Lawlers: It was so great to spend time with the Chuck and Vivian Lollar family in Norfolk, VA|
|The Paytons! We were all smiles while spending time with Rich, Margo and their wonder kids|
|A Royal Recovery: Mom and Dad the day|
after Mom's surgery
|Comfort and Joy: Mom, two weeks post surgery,|
visits with Aubrey
|Picture Wrestlemania: Less than three weeks post surgery, Mom had enough energy to put Beckham into a picture posing submission hold|
|So Beautiful! Mom, one month post surgery. Amazing!!|
|Maralea's Angels: The kids were finally back in town!|
|Hanging with the Royal Gang at Lake Las Vegas in November was super duper sweet|
|Picture Mayhem: We enjoy the "family action shots" most!|
(Notice how Maralea and Kambria are workin' it while the rest of us are oblivious)
We had some of our great Kelly side family come to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving and we had a big family dodgeball game that was a blast. (My low back really acted up, but I played through it like a tough guy . . . only to spend the next two weeks writhing in pain. Getting old would be so much more fun if our bodies did not actually get all weak and frail.)
|Mighty Hikers! Thanksgiving Friday at Valley of Fire|
Here’s a look at how the awesome beyond all measure Royal family is doing.
|Jordan? We hardly recognize this guy|
without a white shirt and tie!
|Jumping Jack Jordan leaps into the next phase of life!|
Kelli and Royal
|Precious: Kelli and Royal smiled a lot in 2014|
and throwing them at anyone or anything (including, but not limited to, golf balls at windows).
|We want the dunk! Kelli teaches Royal about multitasking, here helping him dunk a ball while holding bread in his left hand|
|Cool Cousins: Royal and Beckham soaking up the Vegas November sun|
(That poor Slinky never had a chance)
|Three's Company: David, Kambria and|
Aubrey, a trio of fun
|BYU Baby Girl: Aubrey looks so good in BYU blue!|
|Blown Away: A windy August day in Provo for Beckham's birthday . . . when Aubrey was knocking at the world's door|
Brad and Whitney finally settled down in 2013, trading their nomadic lifestyle for a home in Cedar Hills, UT, after Brad accepted a full time position at ComScore, Inc. They traveled to Maine in March for Brad to sell home alarms, which they found to be much more challenging with their growing family. (Zoe was born a few weeks after their arrival in Maine, then they relocated to Ohio about six weeks later.) While Brad and Whitney have enjoyed all their sales adventures over the past few years (expanding from Alaska to California to Dallas to Maine), they are glad to have finally put down some roots.
|Go Cougars! Beckham and Royal clap while singing the Cougar Fight Song. (Rise and Shout baby!)|
|What's up, girl? Zoe and Aubrey share some|
cousin girl time in November
|Fantastic Foursome. Brad and Whitney prepare to depart for their new home in Utah|
|You've Really Got A Hold On Me |
(Sorry, Smokey, but The Beatles sang
that song best)
|Twelve Royals a Leaping! (David, you could at least try a little.)|
|Getting old is NOT a drag. Grandkiddies are awesome!|
|Father/Son Playground Time. |
Brad teaches Beckham the finer points
The maintenance guy at our resort on Palawan, Philippines, in response to a request to change a light bulb in our room.
|Gecko Buddy. This little guy became|
our friend during our stay on Palawan
What does Elder Royal say about my daughter?
The words of a mother in the Philippines who followed us to our vehicle, got my attention, and was ready to have a serious discussion about matrimony in broken English.
Beckham taught Royal the art of crib climbing during a visit in August. Since that time, we have been unable to keep Royal in his crib. (Beckham sleeps in a little mini pup tent within his crib that is designed to keep him from climbing out. It’s like he gets to camp out every night. We expect that Beckham will be due to get his Camping Merit Badge before he turns three.)
|The Great Escape! Royal caught in a jailbreak|
|Look how I can watch my shows, Dad! Beckham finds a comfortable ninja position to|
watch videos on his mommy's phone
Going into this latest football season, BYU came out with the slogan Royal Strong and True to promote the royal blue colors that used to dawn BYU jerseys. It was a promotion that put us in Royal family BYU heaven. The first thing we did in August during a visit to Salt Lake City was to buy a boat load of those shirts at $25/each. When I balked at the collective price, Maralea put it all in perspective, advising me that I had no say in the matter. The shirts would be purchased for a big family picture and I was going to like it (ha).
It’s going to take one very special woman to put up with you
|Just like Mary Poppins, Maralea is|
"Practically perfect in every way"
Wow, Mike. How come you aren’t this happy all the time?
|Next Generation Cougar Fans! |
Guess who is Royal Strong and True?
Dad, can we live here forever?
Brad, September 1992, two weeks after we arrived in Las Vegas (after moving him away from his friends in Carson City, kicking and screaming). We are still here and plan to remain forever. But, Brad did not keep up his end of the bargain (buying a house in Utah). (Ha.)
|Philippines Visit: Brad, Whitney and Beckham during their trip to the Philippines in January (drinking Royal orange soda, by the way)|
I’m happier than I have ever been in my life
Kelli, as she began 2013, has had quite the journey and is an inspiration to us all!
|Mommy/Son Costumes. Kelli and Royal prepare for a big time Halloween Trunk or Treat candy haul|
|The Olsons over Thanksgiving Weekend in Pine Valley, UT|
(Ethan is the little guy up front - can you find him?)
Ethan (to me, while looking at the Hawaiian chicken, which was awesome): “Uncle Michael, what is this?”
Me: “It’s chicken . . . uh. . . liver.” (I was teasing him. I knew he would HATE liver.)
Ethan (with a crinkled up nose and a sigh of disappointment): “Aww. I hate liver!!”
Ethan then returned to his place at the table with an empty plate and just sat down, sulking. Later, when Allison asked Ethan why he was not eating, they had the following conversation:
Allison: “Ethan, aren’t you hungry? Why aren’t you eating?”
Ethan: “Because I hate liver.”
Allison: “There’s no liver.”
Ethan: “Uh huh! Uncle Michael said there is and I hate it.”
Allison (now looking at me as I try to hide): “Haven’t you learned yet that you can’t always believe Uncle Michael.”
|Ethan with Allison, Christmas Eve 2012|
Yet Another Lost Wallet Story
|Oh No! This is my lost wallet look|
Me: “Has anyone seen my wallet?”
Maralea: “What? Not again!!! Did you try [insert the usual places here]."
In March, for example, I left my wallet at Wendy’s with a $4,000 cashier’s check in it. (Sorry, Brad. I know I should have been more responsible with your money.) Fortunately, it was retrieved and returned to me by the shift manager the next day. (When I called to ask if I had left my wallet there, the shift manager got excited and said: “I am so glad you called. I have been praying that God would send you back here to find your wallet.” I was very glad her prayers were answered.) In June, my wallet went missing. It usually turns up in one of about six spots from my office to my truck to the house. But, our search this time was fruitless. So, we cancelled all my credit cards, went to the DMV for a new driver’s license, got a new temple recommend, etc. About two months later, I received a telephone call from Deseret Industries that went like this:
DI Lady: “Hello, this is Ashley from Deseret Industries. We were going through some donated clothes and found your wallet. I’m calling to see if you intended to donate it. Normally, when we find wallets, we just destroy all the contents, but yours has current cards and cash.
Me (wondering how my wallet made its way into the donation bag placed in the garage): “You are kidding me! Oh, about the cash . . . is there six dollars, a five dollar bill and a one?”
DI Lady: “Wow. You got that perfectly!”
(Nailed it!) The wallet was returned and we tuck this away into the vault of Michael’s lost wallet miracle stories.
|All Washed Up. Kelli was all wet at Chevy's after our waiter took a little spill.|
(This has nothing to do with a wallet, other than I had one with me and paid for the meal anyway.)
|Yay. I found it! If we don't know the|
pain of losing things we miss the joy
associated with finding them
"Everything will work out"
One of my favorite quotes from the late Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley.
Mike, at a Peter Frampton concert, to himself in response to the singing inquiry: “Do you, YOU . . . feel like I do?” as he looked over at Maralea to see her sleeping.
|Happy Together. I actually have a picture of Maralea sleeping at the Peter Frampton concert, but she wouldn't let me use it here, so I am including this picture taken on my birthday when we were both wide awake|
Beckham, yelling out Cougar cheers during sacrament meeting.
It took us a while to figure out, but this is what Filipinos in the Philippines call a bathroom. (CR is an acronym for Comfort Room.)
At least you still have your passport.
|Monkey see. This seemed like a good spot for|
a random monkey picture
|Baby Blue. Aubrey here models our family|
theme for 2013 and beyond!
(Yes, Maralea, I'm glad we bought the shirts)
With best wishes and love,
The Michael and Maralea Royal Clan
(A few more pictures from the times of our lives)
|Playing and singing with the children began early, here I am with Brad in Eugene, Oregon, 1985|
(Special shout out to my Uncle Harry Pittman, who made this guitar for me. I still have it today.)
|Fountain of Youth. Beckham shows Royal the finer points of water fountain operation during a trip to the park|
|Funny Bone: Tickle fighting cousins|
|The Provo Royals enjoying the Utah fall (Beckham is always making us laugh)|
|Texas Beat 'Em. BYU spanked Texas in Provo and we were there (sweet victory)|
|Blue Crew. Yeah, getting our money's worth with the Royal Strong and True shirts|
|BYU and Beatles, No. 1|
|Pretty Baby. Aubrey, dressed up all pretty for her blessing|
Royal here reacts to hearing the opening theme to a Beatles cartoon
|Another Royal Family. David and Kambria with Aubrey on her blessing day|
|Four generations, Grandma Kelly, Maralea, Kelli and Royal|
|Happy first birthday, Royal|
(I haven't had dinner yet and this is making me very hungry!)
|Mommy Cake. Kelli had a birthday in February, too|
|Playground giggles. Zoe is always smiling!|
Sister Chelsea Olson left for her mission in Uruguay, January
|Royal Missionaries. We loved serving in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission with Mom and Dad in 2013|
(two sets of Elder and Sister Royal), with President and Sister Neider
|Carry that weight. David leaped for BYU graduation joy|
|The Graduate. David borrowed his graduation gown, which was more|
purple than blue, but the price was right
|One Last Call. Jordan's last call home from the Philippines as Elder Royal in May for Mother's Day|
|Tuacahn. We got to see Brian Regan in St. George|
We got to see Zoe via i-Pad
|Beckham practices CPR with new sister Zoe|
|Good Times. We always love having Mom and Dad stop by for a visit|
Royal says his mommy is tops
Dad's birthday in March
|Kelli said goodbye to Darla and Brody in 2013 (we miss them)|
Kyle became Elder Jenkins in Arkansas in October
|A Father's Day family selfie|
|A July Fourth hike at Mt. Charleston|
|Flying a kite at Huntington Beach|
|Celebrate. Mom and Dad joined us for a birthday dinner in August|
|Ready to Leap!|
Niece Karley Royal and fiance Christopher Wride are ready to
jump for joy as they prepare to marry just before Christmas
|At the BYU/GA Tech game in October, with Jeremy Pendleton (a very famous guy)|
|Happy Big Brother. Beckham welcomes Zoe into the family.|
|Home Body. We welcomed Jordan home from the Philippines|
|We loved Virginia Beach,|
Charlottesville . . . not so much
|Uncle J loved getting to know his nieces and nephews|
|Smile! Aubrey is happy to be part of a big wonderful family|
First Steps. Royal learns to walk