Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Things I've Learned from Camping

I think camping gets a bad rap. People think that camping means you rough it and live in the wilderness. They have obviously not been camping with the Royals. We do sleep in a tent (although I DREAM about one day owning a pop-up camper) and we do have to use the restrooms that the campground provides (BUT, many of them are cleaner than my girls bathroom at home--esp. the countertops!).

• Using peeps instead of marshmallows (even when you normally don’t like peeps, is AWESOME on smores

• If you share a bed with your 7 year old and she goes to bed first, be prepared to move her out of your side onto her own sleeping bag

• There is a HUGE difference in a Comfort Station and a Restroom (if you don’t know this, don’t go camping until you do)

• When your site is not close to the comfort station, do not wait until the last minute to head out to the restroom; you might take the wrong path and have a painful last 100 steps

• Adult juice boxes rock

• Reading in nature is even more fun than being curled up in front of a fire at home

• You can never pack too much toilet paper, paper towels, or wet wipes

• Like most things in life, it's so much more fun with friends

• When you’re dirty, but around others who haven’t showered either, you don’t stink so badly

• If you choose to go to the bathroom “in the woods,” make sure it’s really the woods and is not facing your neighbors campsite

• A little sand in your hair won’t kill you (although some between your toes may really annoy you)

• Always clean your feet before getting in your bed; otherwise, you’ll have gritty stuff in there that will never come out

• Everything tastes better when it’s cooked and eaten outside

• When you sit around a campfire and swap stories with friends, bonding always occurs

Sunday, March 27, 2011

New Traditions

Traditions are a big deal to me. Probably bigger to me than to my girls—at least right now. Each year, we add new traditions and some things fall away. For a while, we had pancakes every Saturday morning. Now, we do it a couple of times a month because the girls got tired of them. We used to do sundaes every Sunday, but now, we’ve been trying to eat healthier and not keep ice cream in the house.

Everybody loves a smore (at least every SANE person does). There is some debate in our house on HOW to make them (Brian thinks you need to wrap the whole thing in foil and cook it in the fire, but that takes a looooong time and I prefer roasting the marshmallow and putting it on the graham cracker and chocolate).

Anyway, several months ago, we went to a bonfire with friends. Instead of just Hershey chocolate (gotta use Hershey bars), I picked up some Reeses peanut butter cups. They were a hit (although Brian insists they really need to be put in foil and cooked his way since they are so thick and harder to melt).

This weekend, we were introduced to another tweak with the smores. Instead of using marshmallows, our friends used PEEPS. Now, normally, I cannot stand PEEPS—they gag me; however, I tried one on a smore and they were so stinkin good that I’m still sitting here thinking about them and wishing I could have one right now. Not only do they add a yummy caramelized crunchiness to the smore, they add color (not to mention that they melt a whole lot easier and more consistently than a regular marshmallow).

I’m not saying that all traditions need to change. Some need to stay the same. The key is in knowing which to change and which to keep.

Friday, March 25, 2011

School Picture Dy

School Picture Day. Those words used to send me into anxiety attacks.

Seriously. I'm not joking.

I love my girls. I try to let them be themselves. On picture day, I always question that decision. When Hope was in preschool, I remember trying to get her to wear a dress. HA! The best I got was a green shirt and sparkly jeans. When I dropped her off at school, all of the other girls—even her friend who liked to play in the dirt with her-were wearing pink and had bows in their hair. Let me just tell you, Hope is not a bow girl. When she was younger, I was lucky to get her in a ponytail or headband (neither of which she would do that day.)

As I left her school, I called Brian, and started bawling. Seeing her look so different from those other girls brought up the biggest fear I harbor: What if I really am the worst mom in the world? What i f my child felt weird and the other kids made fun of her? (Neither of which happened that I know of-she came home with the same skip in her step that she left with.) So, after Brian talked me off the roof once again, I moved on with my day. But every year, when picture day rolls around, I find myself tensing up to see what she will wear.

Caroline is easy when it comes to clothes. She loves dresses (as long as she can wear capris under them). BUT, she has the straightest hair in the world—except for the humps that seem to appear overnight. I spent 45 minutes curling her hair for the Daddy/Daughter Dance and it was almost straight before she left. I used hairspray, mousse and all the other tricks I could think of. I just couldn’t do that this morning, so she put a headband in, I straightened as many humps as possible and put some wax on it so the static (that is ever-present) would stay down.

So, by North Dallas standards, my girls look like rag-a-muffins. Most days I am okay with that. Picture day is another story. And that frustrates me. I place such a high value on authenticity, so why do these stupid pictures bother me? Why do I feel the need to pull out the “pretty shirt” for Hope and try to get her to wear it?

Today, Hope went in a pair of olive green shorts and a brown shirt with polka dots that coordinated with the shorts. Caroline went in a dress w/ capris and stringy hair. They were both wearing tennis shoes and socks (and not the twinkle toes shoes, plain tennis shoes). They both had smiles on their faces when they got out of the car. They both felt confident in what they were wearing. Those are the things that really matter, right???? I DO believe that.

I just hope those around them believe it too and don’t judge my girls—or me—too harshly.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Beginnings

I think my favorite passage in the Bible is Lamentations 3:23--"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

I love new beginnings. Like, REALLY love them. I’m the typical “Spring is my favorite season”-kind of person. There is something about the smell after a spring rain that makes me want to do cartwheels. And seeing the first bloom??? I’m getting giddy just thinking about it now.

As I was reflecting on spring today (with my sunroof open), I was trying to be all deep and figure out the meaning behind why I like it so much. (I know, I really need to get a life and stop being so narcissistic, huh??) Anyway, I had a thought…

Spring comes after winter. In winter, everything dies. Unless there is snow, it’s really pretty ugly. (If you’re a winter lover, please don’t send me hate mail, I’m just stating the facts). When I think of winter, I think barren, dead, dull.

I wonder if part of the allure of spring is because it’s such a contrast to the dark and dreary winter. It brings color and hope and a newness about it. Our eyes are so accustomed to seeing things in black and white that the brilliance of spring almost blinds us and takes our breath away.

But, the second part of that is that if not for the winter, we wouldn’t be able to have spring. The trees and grass need to die so they can come back to life again—more vibrant than ever. Just as the grass at the farm that burned last week will come back greener this spring.

I think God does the same in us. I think sometimes He allows us to go through a barren, dead time to get us ready for the growing He has for us. Or, He needs to kill off some things in us so that new growth can occur. We know that winter has a purpose (although, if there's no snow, I don't really care for it). I think those hard times do the same for us.

I , for one, am so very glad to be entering the spring season. I plan to embrace this one with my entire being! How about you? What season are you in right now?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Luckiest Kid on the Caroline

I am the luckiest kid on the planet because I have a family that Loves me and takes cares of me they give me food and ater for me to drik ann eat some people bon't get food.

by Caroline Royal
1st Grade
Age 7

So much to say?

I feel like I have so much to say, but when I sit to write, nothing comes out. In my head, I have many ideas, but after running them through the filter of 1) will it embarrass my family, 2) can I REALLY be honest about that with people outside my comfort zone and 3)does it even make sense, words fail me.

I'm in a quandary here (don't you like that word? I've always wanted to use it and finally found a place where it fits). I have some heavy stuff weighing on me, but no great analogies, great scripture references or pretty bows to tie it up at the end. You know, like those kinds of movies that leave you asking lots of questions and feeling unsettled? That's where I am right now. Huh, just realized I found an analogy; maybe things are picking up and I'll have some insight at the end of the day. (Then again, I have meetings all day and soccer practice for Hope, so probably won't have much reflection time.)

So, it you have anything you want me to pontificate upon, (man! I wish I could use these words in Words with Friends!) let me know...I’m sure I’ll have an opinion.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Caroline's Complaintment

Caroline informed me tonight that she needed to tell me a "complaintment" she had. The cookie dough bits at the new yogurt place did not taste good.

Guess life is hard at 7...

Spring Break 2011

**Disclaimer** This post is not meant to be a bragging one-, or "look what we did" kind of thing. The original intention of this blog was to capture memories for my girls. I totally get it if you are bored reading all the goofy posts lately, but I'm praying that one day, my girls will appreciate them.

We thought we had Spring Break 2011 planned. About 30 minutes before we were supposed to leave for the farm, we got a call that it was on fire. Besides being worried about family, we were disappointed. I had my books packed and ready, the girls were looking forward to playing with cousins and Brian had his fishing poles and tackle box sitting by the garage door.

We decided Brian should go ahead and head to the farm to help build fences and chop down trees. That left me with both girls. Did I say that they were not happy about staying home? Oh, and let me throw in the fact that one of the perks of the farm is that we don’t spend any money except for gas to get there.

Saturday didn’t start out so well. Our pantry was pretty bare so I had to go to the grocery store and since Brian had already left, the girls got to come with me. For those who have never grocery shopped with your kiddos, let me just say, there are few things I would rather do in life than have them jumping on the cart, asking to buy crap food and arguing with each other while I just try to get my eggs through the store without them getting broken. I have been known to shop at 5am so that I could do it alone—sleep is a small price to pay for sanity.

Saturday night shaped up a little better. Thanks to Nickelodeon, we watched a silly movie and did a girls night party (complete with chocolate covered strawberries and pigs in a blanket—we Royal girls know how to party).

Sunday night, we watched Anne of Green Gables. I’ve waited to introduce the girls to the greatness of Anne because I wanted them to be old enough to appreciate it. If they didn’t like her, I might have to find new children—seriously—you don’t mess with my love of Anne of Green Gables. Thankfully, Hope loved the movie (even though she originally thought Anne was from Green Bay). Caroline was not as enamored—she thought Anne talked too much (she's still young--I'll give her another year or so to change her mind before I disown her). I have to say, there's not much better than sharing a love of something with your daughter.

On Monday, both girls slept late (and by late, I mean 9 and 9:30). We met a friend at the park and played all afternoon. It was a fun, relaxing way to start the week. I always dread hanging out at the park, but end up having a great time.

Tuesday, we went with friends to the Dallas Museum of Art (after a brunch stop at Chick-Fil-A). It was a great day—it’s always nice to go places with friends whose kids are just as energetic as your own. To hear more about our adventures there, you’ll have to check out April’s blog post “A Step By Step Guide to Getting Kicked out of the Dallas Museum of Art.” Since I'm technologically-challenged, I can't figureout how to make a link work so you can go to to read it.(If you don’t follow her blog, you should—she’s funny and she appreciates Anne of Green Gables—two things that make her a great friend in my book).

I’ve already talked about Wednesday and Thursday in my last two posts. They were fun days, but exhausting for me. I don’t regret them, but am hoping to catch a nap before the weekend is over.

Friday, we headed to my brother’s house in East Texas—about 3 hours away. Brandon has 2 girls that get along great with my girls, but we don’t get together enough to play. The girls shot bows and arrows, played mini-golf and ate dinner together. The best part of the day, though, was a horse-riding lesson they each got—the perfect ending to a fun week.

I don’t want to over-spiritualize, but I can’t help but think what a great analogy this week has been. In life, we plan and think we know what is best for ourselves and those we love. When God has different plans, we can sit paralyzed or we can move forward in what we’ve been given. This was one of those moments for me. Honestly, going to the farm is the best vacation for me because I get to sit and read and relax the whole time. This week, while fun, was not a time of relaxation and certainly was not all about me. BUT, I don’t think I regret one minute of it. We were able to do some fun things and excluding food, we spent less than $50 for the entire week, but did something fun every day.

I can’t help but think about Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Why do we doubt when plans don’t go the way we think they should instead of embracing the changes immediately?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hope's Day

Hope’s day was very different from Caroline’s. Hope is an active kiddo and likes to be on the go…a lot. Originally, the idea to spend a day with each girl came from Hope. When she found out we couldn’t go to the farm for Spring Break, she was upset. Next to being at the farm, her favorite thing to do is to drive around Aubrey ( a town of 1500 which is a little north of us) and look at the horses and houses—in that order. So, she asked if we could drive to Aubrey, which was met by loud “BOOs!!!” from Caroline (who gets carsick when we are in the car for more than an hour). That’s what gave me the idea to let each girl stay with Mimi for a day and I would do something fun with the other.

A friend told me about Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch in Pilot Point (just north of Aubrey). After looking them up online (, I told Hope about it and she was all-over going to see a bunch of endangered animals (especially when she heard there were monkeys).

So, I met Mimi this morning and switched girls with her and Hope and I headed north to Sharkarosa. Thankfully, I had printed out some info on the place, because Hope was asking a thousand questions and was giddy with excitement. Although it was her fun day, I made her listen to country music—there’s only so much I can take in one day.

We arrived at the ranch around noon and spent the next 4 hours in “Hope Heaven.” There were monkeys, camels, horses, zebras, bears, porcupines, kangaroos, dogs and many other animals that I can’t recall right now. I don’t think she stopped smiling all day.

We rode a tram that took us into animal pens (one of which was a bit reminiscent of Jurassic Park). There were buckets of food on the sides of the trams, so the animals came up close. We were allowed to pet most of them. We rode the tram twice—just so Hope could touch more animals. The driver of the tram was actually the owner of the ranch and such a down-to-earth, nice guy. When the bucket right outside our seat was almost empty, he came around and refilled it.

Hope had a great time. She took LOTS of pictures. I’m still not sure which part was her favorite: petting a baby kangaroo, seeing a bear, having an alpaca try to eat her hair, or buying a bear-claw necklace. I guess it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that, toward the end of our time at the ranch, she exclaimed, “This is the best spring break ever!” Music to my ears.

Caroline's Day

For Spring Break, each of my girls spent a day/night with their Mimi and I got the other. It’s always fun to see how different the dynamics are when it’s only one instead of both. Each girl got to choose something fun (that cost less than $20) to do with me for the day.

Caroline's day started out slow. I thought she would enjoy arts and crafts, so I was researching places to go and do something creative. After finally deciding to go do a mosaic tile project, we found out the place was closed, so we were back at square one. Finally, she decided she wanted to go see a movie, so we went to the Dollar Theatre to see “Tangled.”
After the movie (which we both loved), she wanted to wander the aisles of Toys R Us, so, needless to say, we didn’t just wander—we bought. We came out of there with the game Operation. I hadn’t played that game in years—there’s nothing like fishing out a toilet from a man’s stomach or hearing a farting sound and trying to find the toxic waste symbol.
For dinner, she begged to go to Babe’s so Brian and I reluctantly agreed (ha!). I have to say that I was so sad she wouldn’t do the hokey pokey because she would be to “a-barrassed.” Sniff—my baby is growing up. At dinner, she wanted us to buy dessert so that Brian and I could feed each other—like we did at our wedding. Although, she informed me that the reason I was so much bigger now then when I got married was because I had eaten too much wedding cake. Really—she saw the pictures of how big our cake was (her words)!
We didn’t order dessert, but when we got home, she broke into one of her birthday presents—an ice cream maker and mixed us up a treat. Can’t say it was the best ice cream I’ve ever had (okay—it was pretty much just plain disgusting), but she enjoyed making it (even she wouldn’t eat it, but she did save some for Hope).

All in all, it was a good day. It’s funny. Since Caroline has never been an only child, I often forget how funny and entertaining she is. I mean, isn’t that why we had children—to keep us amused??? Seriously, Hope is so good at so many things that I worry Caroline will get stuck in her shadow. Its days like today that remind me that this kiddo will never be in anyone’s shadow—she shines way too much for that!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yep--I'm THAT mom

I often catch myself saying things that I always hoped would never come out of my mouth. You know the phrases: “Because I said so” and “This is the last time I’m gonna say this” and the worst ever, “Just wait til your dad gets home.” All things I immediately regret, but they just seem to flow off the tongue so easily.

Today, the girls and I met a friend and her daughter at the park. We actually went to 2 parks. At the second, there were several kids—including a group of middle schoolers. I noticed the middle school students immediately—as a mom, you subconsciously look over all the people at a public place your kids are going to be running around in. They were sitting in a circle and were sticking to themselves and not paying any attention—good or bad—to the other kids playing around them.

Due to the wind, my friend and I moved to another spot, on the other side of the play area from the students. After we had been there for a while, my 9 year old came over to ask me about the students. She said they were sitting in a circle, spinning a can and kissing each other. She wanted to know why they were doing that. Oh-Uh. I don’t think I ever imagined myself explaining Spin the Bottle to my child.

So, I tried to describe it in basic terms and told her it was not a game I ever wanted her to play (gotta throw that in there). My friend said, “That’s pretty gross, huh?” Hope said, “Not if it’s a cute boy you get to kiss.” Double Oh-Uh! I think I have a new prerequisite for friends for her—no cute boys or friends with cute brothers (wonder if there’s a box I can check for that on her school enrollment card, as well???).

So, my friend and I talked about going over there to say something to the students, but I decided I would just sit closer to them and observe. Hope decided to sit right beside me. After about 30 seconds, she got bored and ran off to play again. Just in time, too. One of the girls spun the can and then proceeded to say the f word before she reached across and kissed the boy.

I couldn’t sit still any longer. I tried to be polite, but I explained to them that this was a playground and while I knew they weren’t bothering the kids, they were using language and playing a game that 1st and 3rd graders didn’t really need to be exposed to. I apologized to them for being THAT mom, but I also just wanted them to understand that these kids were listening to them.

They immediately apologized and left. I truly think they felt bad. They were just a bunch of kids themselves, hanging out and didn’t mean to cause any trouble. But it made me sad. I don’t regret saying something to them. I wasn’t rude or hateful or angry. I stated facts. But, I started to wonder if their parents knew what they were doing. Probably not, but if they did, would they care? Would they think this was just a harmless, rite-of-passage game?

I will probably never see any of those students again and even if I did, I don’t think I would recognize them. But, I have prayed for them several times since I last saw them. There, but for the grace of God, go my kids. I prayed for them to have courage to make the wise choice. I prayed that they would have candid conversations with their parents. I prayed that they would think back to my words to them and realize the leadership role they play in this world.

And I prayed one more prayer. I prayed that if my girls ever played spin the bottle, they would have an adult step into their game and stop it—long before their turn came to spin or kiss anything or anyone.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Brian’s Granny is 92 years old. I call her Brian’s because he was born in her family, but if she heard me refer to her as his, she’d be mad at me. She considers me hers as much as those who share her blood. Up until the last 6 months, she could run circles around most of us. She has started to slow down a bit, but is still more active than many adults.

Granny lives on the family farm. One of her daughters and grandsons also have houses there, but she lives in her own house, drives her own car, does her own cooking and even mows her own yard (on the riding mower). She takes all of her dishes out of the cabinets every spring and washes them. She cleans all of her windows—inside and out—a couple of times a year (although last year, one of Brian’s cousins came and did it for her).

When Granny turned 85, we had a big party in her church hall. There was a polka band, sand on the floor and even some kegs of beer. Hope was @18 months old and danced as much as Granny (which was a LOT). That party is one of my favorite memories of her.

For her 91st birthday, we all went to Brian’s cousin’s house in Tulsa. The kids swam and ate and we had a great time. One of my favorite pictures of her is the one at the top of this page--right before she opened her presents—with all the grandkids surrounding her in their swim suits.

Granny’s parents emigrated from Poland. She and Brian’s Grandpa John bought the farm from them and built her current house. She tells stories of sitting in the kitchen and using the oven door as a table while she sat in their only chair and Grandpa John sat on a milk crate. I never met Grandpa John—he died when Brian was @Hope’s age. I’m told Brian is a lot like him.

Up until @ 5 years ago, Granny used to go polka dancing every Saturday night. She even had a couple of outfits—complete with the petticoats under the brightly colored skirts. When she would come to Dallas, she always liked going to Kubys, a German restaurant, where they had live polka music and sauerkraut and sausage.

Granny makes the best fried chicken in the world. Even Babe’s can’t compare—seriously. She eats half a banana every morning and always has cookies from Braums for us when we arrive. Then she takes us to The Country Boy and we grocery shop (which means she buys all kinds of things for the girls to eat). We usually have a roast while we are there and she always orders pizza for the kids. On Thanksgiving, she gets up at 3am to put in her turkey—which is always HUGE and done way before time for us to eat.

She doesn’t have any pets right now, but has had an assortment of cats over the years that help to keep the mice out of the barn. She pretends she could care less for all the other pets at the farm, but she’s been known to sneak goodies to all of them and pet them when we’re not looking. Our dogs have always been welcome to come with us when we visit, but the last couple of years, our big dogs have become a bit too much for her, so they don’t get to visit the farm with us anymore.
She is constantly trying to buy me things for our house and was thrilled when, after 2 years of bugging me, I found a comforter that I liked. She has also bought us a dishwasher and curtains for Hope’s room. She loves to buy us things that make our home pretty.

My girls absolutely adore her and she feels the same about them. She thinks they can do no wrong and doesn’t care if they are loud or messy in her house. She laughed with delight when they spoke Polish to her at Christmas (their Mimi—Brian’s mom, Granny’s daughter—taught them to say a couple of phrases). She also has a soft spot for Brian--they have an incredibly special connection.

Granny is one of our favorite people. This blog is not long enough to tell all the stories about her, but I wanted to leave just a few of the things we love about her. Two years ago, she had a pretty serious diagnosis and we were told we could have 2 weeks with her or 2 years. I remember praying that we would have at least one more time with her that summer. God has blessed us and we’ve had several chances to see her and be with her at the farm since that time. I am praying that we have several more--we love that spunky lady.

The Farm

Most people have that ONE place where they go to escape. Some go shopping at the mall, some go out in nature, others just stay in bed. The one thing the Royal family agrees on (probably the ONLY thing we all agree on) is our happy place—the farm.

When I first met Brian, I tried to explain that it really wasn’t a farm—just a bunch of land with some houses on it. But, soon enough, I found myself referring to it as the farm—like everyone else. Its 100 acres and Brian’s Granny, aunt and cousin all have houses on it. There’s even another “little house” ( as it’s called) behind Granny’s that was originally intended for her mom. It has 2 rooms and a bathroom, but Brian doesn’t let us stay in it anymore when we go there because he’s scared of the spiders that tend to live there (shhhh—don’t tell him I told you).

I feel like I’ve posted stuff before about the farm, but I can’t find them.—sorry if this is old news to any of you, but, even if I did post, the farm is worthy of several references. It’s the place we go to not only relax, but to rejuvenate our spirits. It’s a slower pace of life—one grocery store (called Country Boy), a Dollar General, Sonic and Braums—all within a couple of miles of Granny’s farm. In the last few years, they’ve built a Target, Kohls and Starbucks in the next town over—only 30 minutes away!

Granny’s house is a little 2 bedroom stone one. She has a back porch that was enclosed years ago that is still called the back porch—even though there’s another one right outside it. She still has the metal swingset she bought when Brian’s oldest cousins kids (the youngest of which is getting ready to graduate high school) were little. In fact, she still waxes the metal slide so that the kids can use it. I have pictures of the 6 youngest all on the basket-swing together. Now, they just use it to shimmy across.

We used to go to the pond and get a big load of sand to bring back for the kids to play in, but now, she has a sandbox with a lid. There’s nothing like loading up on the four-wheeler to ride around the farm—whether getting sand or hauling brush!

In the past, we’ve had bonfires with the cleared brush, but that won’t be happening any time soon. Yesterday, several houses and barns around Granny’s (at this time, the count is 40) burned. The police think they were started by an arsonist and not natural causes, which makes it even worse.

The good news is that Granny’s house, Nana Barbara’s and Dave & Diane’s are all still standing. We’ve been told the farm is black and if it weren’t for David’s sprinkler system, his house would have been gone, too. Barbara’s new vinyl windows melted and the fire took out her air conditioning unit—right beside her house—but left the house untouched. The yard around the little house is burned, but it and Granny’s are fine.
We were supposed to leave yesterday afternoon to head to our happy place and honestly, I think I was more excited this time than ever before—our whole family was. It’s hard to try to get your kids to not be disappointed in what we are missing and to focus on what so many there lost. It’s even harder when I am having the same selfish thoughts. I NEEDED to go there right now.

So, since this blog is really for my children, I think the next several posts will be about our farm memories—pretty boring to those who didn’t experience them or have a context for them, BUT, hopefully, years from now, they will remind my girls of our happy place and give them a context to compare as they look for that place for their families.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Things I never thought I'd do...

Wash jeans that were stained with cow poop
Tell my girls to stop farting
Laugh when my girls fart
Buy the generic brand of anything
Feed a frog
Talk to a fish and tell him he's cute
Yell at other people's kids
Make macaroni and cheese as a meal for my girls
Grocery shop, fold laundry or wash dishes at 5am
Write a blog and open myself up for other people to comment on my personal feelings
Like middle school kids and want to hang out with them (once in a while--not every day)
Share my computer with a 7 year old
Get overwhelmed with 3rd grade math
Clean dog poop of friends' kids feet (notice how a lot of these have to do with pets???)
Own a charcoal grill and use it
Forget my camera for pretty much every major function
Tell my girls "Because I said so"
Live in my current house for as long as I have
Get tired of reading self-help books
Become a home-body
Enjoy going barefoot (seriously--I used to hate this)
Use my hubby's shaving cream
Bribe my kids with ice cream, candy or money (this probably explains why I can't afford to move and still live in my same house)
Love people as much as I do (even those with more baggage than me)
Forget how old I am
Be caffeine-free
Think an appliance or something for the house is an awesome birthday/anniversary gift
Look forward to making copies at my girls' school

I'm sure there are more, but these are the first things that came to mind. What about you?

Random-ness and the Books on my Shelf

I often feel so random in my taste. I hate for everything to match--I never buy an outfit that the store puts together (now you understand the way I dress). When I make cards or invitations, I cannot make two exactly alike--even if I really like one--I have to change it up. Even in making my girls’ lunches, I have to change up their chips and snack every day.

Anyway, I was glancing at my bookshelf at work today and was struck by the randomness of the books I have on it. Here are some:

• The Strong Willed Child (hmmm--wonder why I need this one?)
• Grace Walk
• The Divine Conspiracy
• On Being A Servant of God (my favorite book of all time!)
• A Heart Like His
• Go Put Your Strengths to Work
• The Angels Were Silent (No—this is not a book about a day I actually stayed quiet)
• He Loves Me!
• Choosing to Cheat
• God's Front Door
• Strengthsfinder 2.0 (because putting my strengths to work wasn’t enough)
• Making Vision Stick
• Would You Rather? (I have several of these)
• Christian Coaching
• Think Orange (because, honestly, who wants to think fuschia?)
• Living By the Book
• Living Your Strengths
• God Came Near (BEST story of the birth of Christ ever)
• The Great Omission
• Find it Fast in the Bible
• 101 Great Games for Kids
• The Me I Want to Be (my most recently finished book)
• Sacred Marriage
• Belief Matters (written by my pastor)
• Unchristian
• Creating Community
• Bittersweet
• Next Generation Leader
• While Shepherds Watch Their Flock (which I'm reading now)
• The Power of a Praying Wife

Wish I could say I've read all of them, but I'm at about a 60%. As I look over the ones I have finished, I can usually remember the things that were going on in my life when I read it (sometimes I remember that more than the content of the book). Some are fond memories; others remind me of hard things God has brought me through. Some had a big impact, others, not so much—in fact, a few were just a beat-down.

They also remind me of the many facets of my life. God didn’t create me to be just one thing—He created me to be Angel Royal: woman, wife, mom, employee, friend, coach, cheerleader… He gave me the gift of encouraging others at the same time as the gift of discernment.

While I do believe God has a plan, I think he allows randomness to keep us from becoming matchy-matchy. I think He celebrates our eclectic-ness. I mean, who else would make every stinkin snowflake different? Or give us the thousands of different styles of jeans? Or the many different colors of sunsets?

The fact that He loves randomness makes me love Him more…

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

If I were Caroline Grace Royal (age 7)

I would want to make all the expensive places like disneyland cheap to go to so every one could play am have fun. I would also want every one to have a home for the wintr so they can kep wrm.

(no spelling was changed in the typing of this document)

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Kleinfeld Experience--Royal Style

Tonight, the girls and I were watching one of my favorite shows: "Say Yes to the Dress." I'm still not sure why I like it--shopping for my own wedding dress was not the fairy tale experience I thought it would be (not to mention that some of those brides REALLY annoy me).

The first time I shopped was on Mockingbird in a little bitty studio that was so stinking crowded! It was hot and I felt claustrophobic. The next time, I went with my mother-in-law and was really not in the mood to go, but did anyway. The shop was bigger, and I narrowed it down to buying a white dress and not ivory, but it, too, was a beat-down.

They say 3rd time's a charm and it truly was in my case. I was having dinner with Brian and his family and Audra, my now-sister-in-law, wanted to go. So we talked her hubby into putting their baby to bed on his own and we ran to David's Bridal. I was hesitant, but she started pulling dresses and insisting I try on veils, too. I had a saleslady who made it fun, as well. I can't remember who found my dress, but I DO remember waiting to try it on last because I just KNEW it was the one. Crazy, huh?

Anyway, as we were watching the show tonight, the girls started asking me questions about my dress. Caroline has asked to see it before, but I've put her off and showed her the wedding album instead. As we were talking tonight, I started to wonder why I hadn't ever gotten it out for them. (I have a confession--I was a cheap bride and didn't pay to have my dress cleaned after the wedding, so it's just been hanging in a bag in the back of my closet.)

So, I paused the show, told them to wait a minute and ran back to my room to grab the dress and give them their own Kleinfeld experience--Royal style. As soon as they saw the white bag, they both started jumping up and down. So, I laid it over the chair and opened it up.

It was not a fancy-schmancy one, but touching it again made me remember how perfect it was for me. The top had beading, but the skirt was organza and tulle with a beaded border at the bottom. It has a few small rips in the top layer close to where the bustle buttons are, but it still looked beautiful. As I unbustled it, dried rose petals fell out--which reminded me how glad I was that I insisted we have rose petals thrown at us instead of birdseed on our wedding day (I'll have to write another post about the adventures of finding rose petals for a wedding that was happening the day before Mother's Day).

Back to the dress. Hope liked it, but told me that it would have been prettier with no sleeves. Caroline asked if she could wear it for her wedding because it was her style. I think they were shocked when I asked them if they wanted to try it on. Why not? It's not like it's pressed or clean. Even though Caroline asked to wear it, I think both girls will want a dress of their own when/if they get married. As frivolous as it is to keep it, I just can't give it away, so why not let them pretend to be princess brides?

So they put it on and had to hold the top with one hand and the veil with the other so it didn't fall off of them. They took turns holding the train and pretending to be princesses. They even let me take their pictures (although I had to promise not to put them on facebook--I know, I know, this is kinda the same, but they didn't say I couldn't blog about it).

I've always found it a fine balance between the excitement of a wedding and making it all about that ONE day. Maybe that's why I've hesitated to bring out the dress before now. Who knows why I decided to let them play in it tonight, but it was definitely one of those moments that I hope they remember when they are sitting in therapy years from now. "Mom may have been crazy half the time, but remember that one time when she let us put on her wedding dress and prance around the living room?"

Definitely a good ending to the week (especially after the tooth fairy incident).

And the Worst Mom of the Year Award Goes to...

This morning, I reached the pinnacle of mom failure. I always wondered what it would feel like to be the worst mom ever—I knew I was in the running, but I was holding out hope that someone else would beat me. I think, today, I finally earned the title.

What finally put me into the winner’s, I mean loser’s circle? The tooth fairy forgot to show up at our house last night. Yep, you heard me right—NO SHOW!

I can give all kinds of excuses, but truth is, until Hope asked me to turn her light on this morning so she could see under her pillow better, I just plain forgot about it. It’s not like losing it was uneventful—it came out while we were out to dinner and we left a trail of bloody napkins to prove it (ok—I’m exaggerating. I did make Hope throw them away so that our sweet friend who works there didn’t have to deal with them).

Anyway, I knew this day would eventually come. Part of me wanted to just tell her the truth this morning, but I thought about all the reasons I want her to believe as long as possible (I talked a little about it in my post on Santa at the Royal House last December).

What is amusing is the different reactions the girls had. Hope’s was, “HEY! That’s no fair!” When Caroline (who is 2 years younger) and I were discussing it later, her response was, “Maybe she’s sick. Or her wings got wet and she couldn’t fly. I’ll bet she comes tonight.”

So the dilemma is whether the tooth fairy will come while she is at school or just wait until tonight. I’m sure she will leave a note explaining why she didn’t make it last night (I can’t wait to hear her excuse--she has no snow or rain or tornadoes to blame it on, so I’m curious). I’m also assuming she’s gonna add a late fee to the usual dollar she leaves.

I told Hope there must have been a lot of kids who lost their teeth last night and she probably just didn’t have time to make it here. But that excuse stinks—does it mean other kids are more important than my child? Or is it a good lesson for her to learn that she is not the center of the world? Geesh, when you’re a parent, sometimes there’s just not a good response.

Especially when you’re the worst mom of the year…

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Control Issues of the Remote Kind

We have a control issue at the Royal House...a remote control issue. I don’t think this is an uncommon problem—most families have a battle of wills over who controls the family TV.

So, what’s unique about our control issue? It's that Hope—the 9 year old--is the one who carries it around the house with her. In fact, she told me this afternoon that it was a good thing that she holds onto it so tightly; it shows us that she can protect something.

I think we need to go back to the drawing board with the lessons we are teaching at Casa Royal. Either that, or we watch way too much TV...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I bought a sign last year that hangs in my office above the board that has the names of all of the leaders I am responsible for. It reads "Faith is not believing God can, it's knowing He will."

I love that reminder. As I look at the names and see the individuals He has brought to us, I see lots of life. Many have children, some have gone through divorce, some are still in school, others are retired. There are so many stories on that board, that I catch myself staring at it for long periods of time--just thinking about the faces that go with the names and praying for them. Can you tell that I L-O-V-E my board???

Back to the subject at hand, I love my sign almost as much as my board. It's such a great wake-up call to me when I take the time to read it and not just let it fade into the background of my wall. I get caught up in all the things I need to be doing for these people and to staff the blank spots on the board. I can sit for hours and dream up lots of ideas and think of the should've/could've/would've stuff. And I do that way too often.

But every now and then, that sign catches my eye and I TRUlY acknowledge what it says and REALLY believe it to be true. Faith is not knowing God can, it's believing He will.

There are many areas that my faith is not strong, but for today, at this very moment, I'm choosing to believe my sign.

"O God, God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who unswervingly keeps covenant with His servants and relentlessly loves them as they sincerely live in obedience to Your way. You kept your word to David my father, Your personal word. You did exactly what You promised--every detail. The proof is before us today!
1 Kings 8:23 (the Messae) empahsis mine