"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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Royal Blue Christmas - December 2015

Royal Strong and True, wear the white and blue!
October 2015
Mom and Dad, Christmas Eve, 2014
            It has been a rather remarkable/challenging year in our family.  Within just a few weeks after Mom declared that the Royal Christmas Eve 2014 “was the best we’ve ever had,” she was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and was thereafter with us for only another three months.  Those three months were a mixed bag of moments filled with sadness, darkness and despair, followed by bursts of happiness, hope and joy.  Our dear, sweet mother was a saint by any definition.  Our lives were fully invested in helping to provide comfort and love to Mom in 2015 as her body slowly surrendered her mortality.  She left us at a very young 77 years old, joining her parents on the other side of the veil, preparing a heavenly home in anticipation of our later arrival. 

Maralea and Mom at the Los Angeles Temple,
January 2014
                  We will forever cherish blessed moments with Mom at her bedside, joyfully recalling family times past when our family was filled with so much love and light.  We savored the opportunity to write of Mom’s life and read those accounts back to her, creating a lighthearted version of: This is Your Life!  Mom so enjoyed those special moments, one day stating that such reflection: “Makes me feel like my life was worth living.”  Our mother’s life was not only “worth living,” but it was a triumph.  She provided us with a golden template of what it means to both live great and die great.  We love you,
Mom and Dad, Valentine's Day, 2015
Mom.  We also stand in awe of our father, who took such great care of Mom and walked through his own Gethsemane through her illness.  We feel blessed beyond any possible measure to be part of the Royal family.  Our family legacy of faith means the world to us.  We now embrace the challenge given by the Savior following His given Parable of the Good Samaritan to, “Go, and do thou likewise.”  (Luke 10:37.)  Thank you, Mom, for blazing a trail of faith, and showing us what it means to “[fight] a good fight,” finish our earthly “course” and keep “the faith.”  (2 Timothy 4:7.)  You exemplified the spirit of a true Latter-day Saint not only to our family, but to the entire world.
Maralea and Kelli visiting Mom in the hospital, February 2015.
Three generations of beauty, grace, love and faith.
Allison and Mike with Mom, February 2015
              Thirty-three years ago this month, I determined that I would propose to Maralea.  Throughout our courtship, it had become apparent to me that Maralea was every bit as angelic as our sweet mother.  Maralea’s close connection with Mom was almost immediate, and developed into a beautiful mother/daughter relationship.  A few years ago, Mom invited Maralea to join one of her book clubs.  It is a tight knit group of ladies who enjoy reading and getting together discussing books (I guess).  (Mom loved to read; hence, her membership in multiple book clubs.)  Maralea has continued her association with the book club since Mom’s passing, something that gives her a sense of closeness to Mom.  It is wonderful that Mom and Maralea shared so many common interests.  Putting our dear mother to rest in 2015
Mom, April 2014, dressed in Royal
purple.  She would have loved to know
that the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
was named in her honor.  ;)
has been bittersweet.  The bitter is the product of her suffering and our loss of companionship.  The sweet portion is the many decades we shared together with precious, cherished warm memories, and that Mom teamed with Dad to teach us the gospel of Jesus Christ and freely provide all associated blessings.  That gift includes the promise of Eternal Life as a family.  Our gift to Mom is choosing to walk with the Savior.

             Maralea and I traveled to New York City for the first time in 2015.  I had some business there, so we were somewhat limited in what we could do.  However, we got to some Broadway shows (Maralea’s idea, not mine), walked to Central
The Manhattan Temple, April 2015
Park and stood across the street from the Dakota where John Lennon was shot in December 1980 (my idea, not Maralea’s), attended the Manhattan Temple (loved it), visited with the LDS sister missionaries handing out lemonade and copies of the Book of Mormon just outside the temple, and shortly thereafter had a hilarious conversation with an old, gruff woman scalping Broadway show tickets who approached us and said: “Do you want da Book of Mormon?”  When I responded that we love the Book of Mormon, the woman thought we were ready to shell out $250/each for a pair of show tickets.  She was confused when I explained that we would prefer reading the actual Book of Mormon, not attending the play.  When I told her that we are, in fact, Mormons, the woman responded (with a rather glazed look in her eyes and a cigarette dangling precariously from her bottom lip): “Do ya want da Book of Mormon or not?”  In retrospect, this would have been a great opportunity to break out and sing the following to:“Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” from Frozen: 
Do you wanna Book of Mormon?
Would you like to read and pray?
Of course it’s true, I testify,
That it will change your life,
It’s better than the play!

It is a second witness
Of Jesus Christ
And I want to tell you why!
You should wanna Book of Mormon
How I love the Book of Mormon.
Read it!  . . . Just try.
            We also were part of the audience for one of David Letterman’s last shows in the Ed Sullivan Theater before his retirement, and even got on TV when they handed out milkshakes.  (Mom later confirmed that she watched The Late Show with Allison that evening and that they saw us in all our TV studio audience glory.) 
Can you find Maralea and me in The Late Show studio audience?  Hmmmm?  Mom did (of course).  April 2015
BYU/Michigan, September 2015 (ugh)
            Maralea and I were as fanatical about BYU football as we have ever been in 2015, attending 10 of 13 games played.  We traveled to Nebraska (yay), Michigan (ugh), Missouri (ridiculous), and UCLA (dang), while attending all home games but Fresno State.  Our favorite game was BYU v. Wagner, not because the game was so great (BYU stomping on a sacrificial lamb small FCS school), but because it was a Royal family reunion weekend and we had a fun tailgate/football experience.  We loved singing the Cougar Fight Song over and over again with our little grandcubs.  Good times!  One of the benefits we received from our 2015 travel to BYU games was visiting Church history sites for the first time, such as Winter Quarters and Council Bluffs, attending temples in Michigan, Missouri and Nebraska, and even getting to teach missionary discussions with our wonderful missionary friends, Elder and Sister Warren in Kansas City, MO.  Evelyn (Sister Warren) was baptized in the fall of 1979 when I was serving in Vidalia, GA as Elder Royal.  Being present to watch Evelyn teach the gospel and testify of its truthfulness 36 years later as Sister Warren was a great highlight not only from 2015, but of my entire life.  It is a beautiful thing to see the blessings associated with the gospel manifested so brightly in the eyes of others.
At the Kansas City Temple with Elder and Sister Warren, November 2015
We love our Royal blue grandkiddy time!
Getting these four to be still for a quick pic was challenging
Keeping them happy throughout the family picture shoot was challenging, as well.
(Ha.  Poor Aubrey badly needed to take five here.)
 Here's a look at how difficult it was to get our grandchild Royal Strong and True pictures

           Below is an update on how our wonderful posterity is doing
Jordan, our caboose, is not so little anymore
           Jordan is enjoying the single life of a BYU student in Provo.  His present ambition is to get into physical therapy school.  He is pursuing a major in exercise science.  Jordan likes residing in close proximity to the Richards Building and Smith Fieldhouse so he can workout out often and play lots of volleyball.  (We have not yet seen a repeat of Jordan bloodying a co-ed’s nose with a grand Meet the Parents like volleyball kill shot from 2011, at least not that has been reported to us.  We only learned of that incident because David happened to be an eyewitness.)  Jordan enjoys school, his job at the law school, and carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders as he figures out the true meaning of life.  He served as Elders Quorum President in his BYU student
Jordan gets in volleyball any time he can
ward and recently moved to a new apartment, amazingly without the help of his quorum members (ha).  Jordan got in trouble by his mother when she discovered that he actually picked Utah to beat BYU in the 2015 Royal Family Bowl Pick Extravaganza.  (The fact that Utah won 35-28 made Jordan’s pick all the more painful.  Absolute loyalty to Cougar Nation is No. 1 with Maralea.  Jordan knows better!!!)
Hard to believe that these four are all grown up.  Where did the time go?
David, Kambria and Aubrey

Three Royal amigos here, soon to be four
            It was quite the eventful year for the Mr. David Royal family (as David recently referred to it).  Their cute little family of three grew to four on December 22, 2015, when little Peanut arrived rather unexpectedly.  Their newest little girl is doing well along with her Mama Kam.  (We were expecting Peanut to arrive after the new year, which left me scrambling to update this Christmas blog before posting.)  
Welcome to the Royal family, Peanut!
Update: Peanut - Macie Noelle
(Peanut will be officially named later, once David and Kam get that figured out.  For now, we will be singing: "Got a Peanut, got a Peanut, got a Peanut from Kam. Kam and David got Peanut, got a Peanut, hot bam!"
        David left the world of advertising completely when he accepted a new job in the tech sector as a data analyst for Visible Equity in Salt Lake City, UT.  According to David, it has its perks, from a better salary and benefits, to an office within walking distance of his home, along with some tremendous growth opportunities within the company.  Also, in July, David and Kambria traveled to Orlando, FL with Visible Equity for a full week to attend a convention and play at Disney World.  (The grandparents got to babysit Aubrey, which was a blast!)  David served most of the year in his ward as a finance clerk and is now in the Sunday School Presidency (aka assistant bell ringer - ha), and Kambria was recently called as the sacrament meeting pianist after
David, Kambria and Aubrey enjoying October
leaves at the 
park, Provo 2015
having served most of the year as a primary teacher.  Kambria spent the majority of her time this year, in David’s words, “with the oven turned on.”  That's right!  They are expecting their second little Royal girl to arrive during the first week of January.  (David is holding out some hope that the Royal newbie will arrive on New Year’s Eve so he can claim her on his 2015 taxes.)  Sweet little Aubrey turned two this year and loves just about everything and everyone.  When we bring out our phones for pictures, in order to get Aubrey to smile we encourage her to say “Cheese!”  That turned into “Cheese, Papa!”  Aubrey says it with great enthusiasm, but usually while looking away and not always with a smile.  Aubrey is looking forward to having a little sister to help take care of.  Life is about to get very interesting in the Mr. David Royal Family home.
We enjoyed beginning the season with Hail Marys  in back to back games, this one vs. BSU
Craig, Kelli and Royal

Royal likes the whole Royal Strong and Truetheme for 2015
            Craig and Kelli got engaged less than one week before Mom passed away in May.  Kelli came to see Mom to share the great news.  At the time, Mom was very weak, lying in bed with her eyes closed.  Kelli said: “Grandma, I’m engaged.  Look at my ring.”  As Kelli held out her left hand, Mom’s eyes opened wide and she reached out for Kelli’s hand to examine the ring.  Although Mom was incredibly frail, she mustered a sweet, warm smile.  Craig and Kelli became the Friedel family on August 8, 2015.  Craig graduated from the UNLV Boyd School of Law in the spring and passed the Nevada Bar, was sworn in as Craig Esquire in October, and accepted employment with a local law firm.  The newest Friedel family now resides in an apartment within our ward boundaries so we get to see them a lot.  Craig is a Cub
There were plenty of kisses to go around on
Craig and Kelli's wedding day, August 2015
Scout leader and Kelli serves with Maralea in the YW Presidency.  Royal graduates from nursery at the end of this month.  He started pre-school, loves super heroes, can sing the entire BYU Fight Song, and enjoys watching The Flintstones with his Papa.  After watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Royal’s favorite repeated dramatic line became: “Is there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
We manage smiles through difficult times, here as the kids prepare to drive back to Utah following Mom's funeral in May, 2015 (well, except for Aubrey, who was not happy here - probably sad that Beckham and Zoe were not in the picture) .  We are grateful for a wonderful family.

Brad, Whitney, Beckham and Zoe

It was challenging to even get Brad and
Whitney to look at the camera together while
wrestling with excited Beckham and Zoe on this
beautiful family Royal blue picture day.
This works!
            Brad and Whitney reside with their two sweet children in Cedar Hills, UT.  Brad is going on year two working for a software company in Provo, which he enjoys.  Brad serves in the Elders Quorum Presidency in his ward and Whitney serves as a Relief Society teacher.  (They reside in the same ward as KSL’s voice of the BYU Cougars Greg Wrubell, which is a pretty big deal.)  Whitney enjoys wrestling with Beckham and Zoe.  They traveled a lot in 2015, which included trips to Los Angeles to cheer on the Dodgers.  (Beckham and Zoe are now diehard fans of the LA
Super heroes Batman, Robin, Batgirl and,
of course, Alfred
Dodgers for baseball and BYU for football.)  The entire family went to Costa Rica for Thanksgiving, and Beckham got his first experience on a zip line (likely to be one of many).  Beckham started preschool in the fall.  Brad and Whitney said that Beckham comes home everyday singing a different song about whatever letter he learned in school.  Zoe tries to do everything her brother does (including jumping off the back of the couch into piles of pillows on the floor, climbing up ladders and onto the roof of cars, etc., the usual stuff).  They are seen daily walking around the house copying each other.  When Brad and Whitney instruct Beckham not to do something, he figures the given restriction only applies to him and therefore quietly whispers to Zoe to do it.  (We expect this will change sometime in the near future.)  They love running around together playing Jake and the Neverland Pirates (“and MEEE!”)

Mike and Maralea
We are bluer than Royal blue, truer than
Royal true Cougar fans!
            Maralea and I have gone through a difficult transition of having to get used to the fact that Kelli and Royal are no longer with us every day (after more than three and a half years we shared together).  Royal spends the night with us when he can, but very much loves his “new house.”  Maralea continues to work as a legal assistant at our firm.  (She probably deserves a raise.  I completely forgot about her one year anniversary in 2015.)  Maralea serves as the ward YW President.  It is fun watching her work with the YW leaders (especially Kelli) and the young women of our ward. 
There is nowhere we won't go to watch
Cougars, here at Nebraska, September 2015
Maralea is beautifully amazing in every conceivable way.  (I can still hardly believe I ever convinced her to marry me.)  I am continuing to serve in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission Presidency as executive secretary.  We love everything about missionary work.
Saying goodbye to our sweet, faithful, ever beautiful mother was a difficult moment in time.
However, we are grateful for the promise of forever families.
             While 2015 delivered up some rather unique challenges for our family, we have also been greatly blessed.  We feel extreme gratitude for the Lord’s goodness and look forward to moving upward and onward with faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His great Plan of Happiness.  We have learned through difficult times that happiness is always within reach, come what may.  Our best wishes to all for a very merry Christmas and a happy new year now and forever, “to infinity, and beyond!”
            With true Royal blue love, 

            The Royal family

More Royal stuff  . .

We broke out in song during our first time at Times Square, April 2015
Aubrey loves the beach!!!
Royal loves the beach, too!

David and Kambria enjoy a beautiful January LA sunset
Mom and Dad at Royal's 3rd birthday party, February 2015

Beckham prepares to slide upside down
We always have fun visiting with Beckham and Zoe 

Jordan and I made our way into this Yahoo Photo of the Week while attending General Conference in April 2015

This is a picture of a picture Maralea had taken of herself in her wedding dress.  She gave me this picture for our 32nd anniversary.  (No way am I'm trying to fit back into my tux!)

We were excited to go on a little Pine Valley jaunt in March, 2015
Royal demonstrates how to be a true gentleman by keeping Emma dry at the Pine Valley cabin 
Maralea with four of her sisters for the Kelly family reunion in June, 2015
Maralea with her sweet mother at the Las Vegas Temple, June 2015
Kelli photo bombs what would have been an awesome picture of Maralea and her little sis Kathy
Beckham and Royal, two cousins putting safety first when riding stuff

We were so happy to welcome Craig into the family in August, 2015

Aubrey loved spending time with her Aunt Kelli on the swing in July, 2015

We were all smiles at Craig and Kelli's reception in August, 2015

Did we mention that we love hanging out with Beckham and Zoe?
At the airport to send off Hermana Olson with a big adios as she departed to serve as an LDS missionary in Honduras for 18 months!!
David and Kambria are so photogenic that strangers passing them by in a Provo park stop and take their picture.  (But, that's not what's happening here.  Cuz Kimberly Foote is being photo artsy.) 
Craig, Kelli and Royal enjoying an October hay day
Tailgating in the Marriott Center parking lot before any BYU football game is a MUST.
Zoe takes a quick riding break to pose for a Papa pic

Thanksgiving 2015 in Pine Valley
Kelli as a happy bridesmaid for Chelsea at Jace and Chelsea's wedding, December 2015
Feelin' a whole lotta joy-ah in La Jolla, November 2015
Beckham had a Dodgers themed birthday party in August 2015
Aubrey prepares to go down the big slide at a park we visited in August for celebrate MY birthday!
A Royal trio: Kelli with Kambria and Whitney, August 2015
Zoe, Royal, Beckham and Aubrey hang out in the shade to get a break from the Vegas heat,
Las Vegas Temple, August 2015
Aubrey: the suds bearded young lady
David, Kambria, Jordan and Brad with Mom in the hospital, February 2015

Royal found his favorite street at Disneyland, January 2015
Beckham knows what he wants for Christmas!!!!
My last picture with Mom, March 2015.  How we love and miss her!
The Circle of Life continues onward, as David and Kambria welcomed Aubrey's little sister, originally named Peanut (for one day), but more permanently named Macie Noelle.)
We love helping BYU promote its football program.  We are now, and will always be
Royal Strong and True!
Oh yeah, one more thing.  We're buds with this guy Ty, BYU's next Offensive Coordinator.