Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Mis-Matched Stockings and other Royal Christmas Traditions

Traditions make me happy. I love knowing what to expect and anticipating it. Here are some Christmas traditions that I hope and pray my girls (and Brian) never get tired of at Christmas time:

Making gingerbread men cookies and spending a couple of hours “painting” them—this is Brian’s Gran’s recipe and he just shook his head when I bought orange zest the 1st time we made them—it requires zesting real oranges—not buying the pre-zested stuff

Having mis-matched stockings hanging over our fireplace—everyone has one that fits his/her personality (except Hope who chose an ugly one from the old pile this year instead of her cute one. You can't see it very well, but Brian's is camo.

All the grandkids on my side of the family having coordinating clothes for Christmas Eve. This is something my stepmom has done for them for Christmas and Easter their entire lives.

…Watching the light show at our local fire station (this year they even have Party Rock Anthem playing with flashing Christmas lights)—tried to take a video of this last year, but it was bad, so you’ll have to just trust me.

My brown-haired angel on top of my tree (not sure why this one is on the list, but it REALLY makes me happy)

Giving the girls matching Christmas jammies to wear on Christmas eve (part of this is because I have a few pics of me in some embarrassing things on Christmas morning)—I told Hope today that I was still gonna buy them matching jammies when they were in their 30’s—amazingly, she didn’t seem to mind.

Taking the yearly “pretend you really love your sister” picture of my girls in their matching jammies. This is always one of my favorites—you can’t tell they were just yelling at each other before it was taken--they really do look like they love each other.

Wearing my sparkly red shirt on Christmas morning. I bought this for a party in my pre-kids life and the girls were always begging me to wear it, so a friend of mine suggested I do it on Christmas morning and I have for the past several years. It's itchy and leaves glitter everywhere, but the girls love it.

And my favorite of all--waking up in our own house every Christmas morning. This is something Brian and I agreed upon even before we had kids and it makes me happy (we also agreed to only go to one house per day on the holidays—no running around from one family to the other).

What things do you hope you will always do at your house?

Dear Santa (from Caroline 12/2011)

Dear Santa,

How can the raindare (reindeer) eat ice cream. Can the raindare eat candy. How big is your stumik (stomach). When you leave to dliver presints, Do the rain dear gofe(goof) around and push you over. Do rain dear whar (wear) shows (shoes) when it is varey cold. Is ther rain dear babys. Do they go into the place ware you make toys.

P.S. What do rain dear eat.


Don''t Ask--it's Safer that Way

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again…It’s never dull at the Royal house.

The girls came running through the living room with sleeping bags, dressed like this to play outside this afternoon (why, yes, she is wearing normal clothes, a hat, a bathrobe and house shoes--and in case you couldn't tell, she is carrying a sword).

This was one of those times I didn’t even ask what they were doing (but I did hear them making very loud monkey noises—sorry, neighbors!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Woe-Is-Me Rant

Let me just warn you now, this post is going to be a rant. I need an outlet and since this is my blog, I’m choosing to “scream” through my writing.

I know I am blessed. I really do. I don’t take much for granted. I am thankful every day I get in my car and can drive it (esp. after having to walk to the girls’ school the past few times because Brian’s truck is not working right and he’s had to use my car). I am grateful that I have food in my pantry—even when I have to cook it and it’s not exciting. I am thrilled with my new-to-me washer and dryer that a friend gave us—eliminating my need to head to the Laundromat once a week.

But tonight, I am weary. Just when I think we are heading back up, something else happens. Our dishwasher died. Or at least we think it did. It dumped TONS of water all over our floor (which required the use of @10 towels to sop it all up—but, hey—I have a washer to wash them in, right?).

It’s been one of those weeks where we have a ton of dirty dishes—I can’t catch up. I emptied a load this afternoon, started another (the one that caused the breakdown) and still had enough sitting on the counter for another load.

I know I should be grateful that I have a roof over my head and dishes to eat out of and a kitchen to call “mine.” But for this moment, I want to just scream and ask why it is we can never catch a break???? We both work extremely hard. We both volunteer time to other things. We both try to create a loving and fun environment for our girls. We both work on being good friends to those around us. So why, when we are almost caught up after being behind for over a year, does this have to happen?

Why us? Is our plate not full enough?

Ok, I’m done with my dramatics. But I am gonna go and read the book of Job—maybe I’ll learn something.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Burnt Hair/New growth

Almost 2 weeks ago, I had an “incident” with our grill. I’ll save the telling of what happened for another post when I need a good laugh, but the short story is that a lot of my hair was singed (aka—burnt off).

After the initial dread of looking in a mirror in case my eyebrows were gone, I laughed and moved on. But my girls were scared. I looked like a lion with all the fuzz around my head. And part of me was scared to start pulling out the burnt pieces for fear that it would leave big holes, but I had to be brave for them, right?

So I started pulling. And worse than seeing all the stuff falling, was the smell. After washing it 6 times and conditioning it twice, I still smelled it. And was scared to get too close to people for a couple of days in case they could smell it.

And folks, there is NOTHING worse than the smell of burnt hair.

Skip ahead to today—almost 2 weeks later. The hair is starting to grow back. I have all of this baby hair at my scalp that is dark. And it is sticking straight out and is able to be hid right now, but I’m not sure how much longer it will be before it pokes out for all to see.

Sometimes, I’m happy with things as they are and don’t want to make any changes. Or see the need for any. And it takes something dramatic for me to change—usually not something I would have planned or expected—sometimes it’s something really hard (like having my hair burnt).

But, as the new hair grows—thicker and a better texture—the beauty of it pushes through the old, and you don’t see the dry, split ends as clearly as you did before.

And none of it was my doing. Not the burning, not the growth. My only job is to style it in a way that uses it effectively.

Hmmm…kind of makes sense to me in an oddly, spiritual way.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our Real Tree

For the first time in 3 years, we bought a Christmas tree. This makes me really happy. We have been offered a couple of different artificial trees as our friends and family members have gotten new ones, but I have held out for the real thing.

I’m not sure why I insist on a real tree every year. They are messy. And the branches often fall, leaving gaping holes. And, they die. And it’s harder to hang those heavy ornaments on.

But, the smell makes up for all of that. There’s something about walking into a house with the pine smell assaulting you as you go through the door that makes me almost giddy.

My tree will never be photographed for a magazine. In most people’s opinion, it’s probably pretty lame. For one thing, the ornaments don’t all match. It’s pretty hodge-podge with things that Brian’s Gran made, things the girls have made, and our eclectic collection of angels, soccer players, ballerinas and country-themed ornaments.

For another, I don’t use white lights on it—it’s full of color. I know, the white is so much classier (and I do use them in my garland over my mantle), but there’s just something about the colored lights on my tree that fits the Royal family.

I love looking at beautifully-decorated trees. But I love ours, too. It’s a reminder to me that beauty comes in many different forms. And some of the most beautiful things are those things that are authentic, exposing their flaws for all to see, but which stand tall anyway.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What's Weird?

So, earlier, I had this great thought for a facebook post. I was gonna say, reason #137 why my kids are weird and name something Caroline did.

The problem is, I can’t remember what she did.

When I asked her what she had done that was strange this afternoon, she shrugged her shoulders. Hope piped in and said she probably kissed or licked something. Sad to say, that’s not weird-worthy in our house. Then Hope’s opinion was that Caroline always does weird stuff.

And she’s right.

So, either I’m just old and forgetful or the strange things my girls do are becoming more and more “normal” to me.

Who knows?

How to Buy a Christmas Tree

• Take a Brian Royal with you. He’s the one who pulls out all the trees, cuts the twine, shakes them out and holds them up for everybody to critique.

• Always choose the one in the very back—you know the one you have to move 7 others to get to—it’s always the best

• Take your kids with you—if you can brainwash them into thinking the kind of tree you like is the best, it helps when your hubby disagrees

• Make your hubby use his birthday Home Depot gift cards so that a) you don’t have to spend any money and b) you don’t feel guilty for spending any money

• Again, take a Brian Royal with you. He’s really handy when it comes to putting the tree on top of the car and tying it down (he even brings his own tie-down things that cinch). He’s also great at standing with the employee, wrapping up the tree after you’ve decided on it, while the rest of the family goes to sit in the nice, warm car (not to mention how great it is to have a husband who does his own trunk-cutting when you get home so that it fits perfectly).

I’m thinking I really owe my hubby right about now…

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Club

Book club rocks! Seriously, it’s one of those things that I never used to be able to understand. Why would people want to sit around and talk about a book? Especially if it’s just a fiction book that has no real purpose but entertainment.

But, I was fortunate enough to suggest to a friend that she host a book club—and being the great friend she is, she agreed! In fact, she leads the discussion, looks up the questions and even has a list of books for us to choose from for the next book club meeting. Everyone needs a friend like that, huh?

I’ve always heard that moms have to take care of themselves before they can take care of others. And I’ve always laughed. I mean, when is that supposed to occur? It’s not like you can just leave your kids unsupervised while you go across town to chat with friends about books—especially when you don’t have time to even open them or when you get interrupted 10 times before you’ve finished the first chapter.

But, I’m coming to see the value in that statement…to an extent.

I come home from book club refreshed—even if it was a fluff book or a dark book (not that we’ve read many dark ones, but we’ve read some weird ones). Even though it’s after 10pm when I walk through my door, I feel ready to re-engage with life.

What is your favorite book? Are you in a book club? If so, what book did you read that had the best discussion?