Friday, January 1, 2016

I was a broke single mom when I met him........

I was a broke single mom when I met him........I had very little to offer. I was damaged goods, healing from the brokenness of an abusive marriage. I had no money, a toddler, two jobs and way too much emotional baggage.

I objected to the idea of a relationship. What could he offer that everyone else had promised to and failed?

When Steve and I met we were two broken people. He had been hurt badly and so had I. We both desperately needed to be understood, respected and loved. Little did we know that on that night, on that blind date, we would find our life mate.

After that awkward first year we made mistakes, I stumbled and hurt his feelings a few times as I came to terms with how good a man could really be. A man that God sent me to show me how it was supposed to be. We soon got married and began our journey.

As we built our family one building block at a time we had our struggles. Sometimes it felt like we had too many struggles. How would we ever make it through? How would we make it through the financial hardships? How would we ever get past it all?

God. God's hands were constantly at work........the blessings we experienced in both small and large ways were so obvious. How could we deny them to chance or luck? God allowed us to learn tough lessons in our finances but was always faithful. God allowed us to learn tough lessons through friendships but was always faithful. God allowed us to endure some hard lessons in our relationship and we almost let go, but he held us together until we were strong enough to grasp it back on our own.

Here we are today celebrating 11 years of marriage with four young men to raise. We are not perfect, we are not rich, we still have so many years ahead of us to get more things wrong, learn more lessons and experience more blessings.

I do not take for granted for a single day this gift that I have. My husband is as solid as they come. He loves the Lord, adores his wife and teaches his children how to live. He supports my decisions and helps me follow my dreams, he makes me want to be a better mother and wife.

Last year for our 10 year anniversary Steve bought me this anniversary band and we renewed our wedding vows in a church. We couldn't find a ring with 10 stones so he bought me one with 11 stones and joked that it was under the pretense that I would stick around one more year. The truth is, I would stick by his side without a single diamond, without a single other thing but just his love and support. I know I am blessed beyond measure.

Some people say I earned this after the tough marriage I endured the first go round, but I know that I didn't earn a single thing. This family that I have is a blessing and a gift that I must never become complacent or feel entitled.

Happy Anniversary Steven Roybal! Here's to many more!

For I have found the one whom my soul loves. Song of Solomon 3:4

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


3 years ago I quit my job to stay home with my children
after 20 years of working outside the home my career drastically changed
taking care of tiny humans is not the toughest job
but it is tough
some days more than others
but on those tough days I remember what my dad always taught me 
find perspective in my life
what has meaning? 
where is that meaning?
how can I use this to leverage the situation to move myself forward? 
not just move forward, but enjoy every meaningful moment
thank you dad
because of you........

I will not complain about the screaming
because one day my halls will be baron
the rooms will be silent
and I will miss the shriek of a toddler and the laughter of my young ones

I will not long for uninterrupted sleep
because one day I will lie awake
wondering what my children are doing
or if they are home safe in their own beds

I will not wish for a sparkling clean house
because one day I will find small tokens
of children grown, a rattle, a sock, a long lost lego
and I will treasure memories of messy floors in a home well lived in

I will not cry over broken dishes
because one day those cracks and chips
will become fond memories that will bring a smile to my face

I will not worry on long busy days that leave me exhausted
because one day I will be bored and take up hobbies to fill my time
while I fondly remember those days of long "to-do" lists
and days that 12 hours was just not enough

I will not commiserate during long sporting events 
standing in the hot hot sun, carrying a baby on my back
with sunburned shoulders and achy feet
because one day I will only have photos for those moments

I will not shoo my children off my lap
or out of my kitchen
or out of my bed during morning snuggles
because one day my lap will be too brittle to hold them
my kitchen will only hold food for two
and my bed will seem too big for just my husband and me

I will not beat myself up over a missed run or workout
or let my body image warp because I enjoyed a piece of birthday cake
because my kids will remember that I was healthy
and balanced
and fun
and lived in the moment

I will live for today
I will savor each loud, interrupted, messy, broken, exhausting, hot, long day
because someday
my boys will look back and from their perspective say
"Thanks Mom" 
and I will know that every minute counted
whether I can see it right now or not

This is my youngest son Cooper. Most days he is a hot mess. He came into this world screaming and 20 months later, he hasn't found a reason to stop. He challenges me every day to be a better mother. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

How and why I chose to finally forgive my Mom

my mom was awful
my mom was abusive
my mom was a little crazy
my mom divorced my dad after 19 years
my mom disappeared from my life for 10 years
my mom told me she wished she never had us
my mom alienated her children
i never really had a mom

this is the mom i have remembered for the last 20 years
the mom i have chosen to remember

the truth is.....
my mom had 6 kids by the time she was 28
my mom went thru painful labor 6 times
my mom nursed a newborn 6 times
my mom homeschooled 6 kids
my mom taught us to pray
my mom read us the bible
my mom taught us right from wrong
my mom taught me to cook
my mom taught me to clean and sew
my mom managed a crazy house with 3 little boys and 3 little girls

the truth is......
my mom buried her father way too early
my mom was exhausted
my mom was discouraged and gave up
my mom was brutally abused by her second husband 
i didn't even know if she would survive him
my mom was the sole caretaker for her own mother until she passed
my mom was the sole caretaker for her 3rd husband until he passed
my mom was alone and scared
my mom had her own story

the truth is.......
my mom never gave up
my mom tried
my mom apologized even though it fell on deaf ears 
some of my siblings still don't speak to her
my mom tried to gather her life pieces
my mom went back to school
my mom always told herself she could do better
my mom tried and tried

my mom is a devoted grandmother
my mom has built relationships with each grandchild 
my kids love her

the truth is.......
my mom made mistakes

i'm not really sure when it happened, maybe when i started homeschooling
maybe it was when i turned 35 (i grew up)
i began to see my mom as a woman, not the mom that did me wrong as a girl
i started to understand her as a person
a person who made mistakes.....and then tried to make it better
a person who i needed to forgive

i am a mom
i make mistakes
i will continue to make mistakes
some small, some potentially huge
one or more of my boys may be upset with me at some point
i may need to apologize
i may need them to forgive me and help me move on
i may be heartbroken and give up
i may say all the wrong things
and when i do.......

well, i won't want my children to hang on to ONLY that for 20 years

i will want them and NEED them to remember the love
the countless sacrifices 
fundraisers, volunteers time
the long nights
the tears i cried wondering if i was doing the right thing
the stress over each loving punishment
only handed out to ensure they grew up right
the hugs
the i love yous
the encouragements

my mom has apologized and it is up to me to forgive
i have always told her i forgive her but i wonder if i really had
we don't forgive so that the other person can move on
we forgive so that we can move on
but i want her to be released and move on too

i know some of my siblings can't find it in themselves to forgive
that's OKAY!!
we all experience situations differently
each experience has its own outcome and no one is obligated to do anything but what is best for them
but this is finally where i am at
and it feels good

my mom needs me now
more than ever

i am proud of you mom for how far you have come
i am  praying for you as you enter your next life journey
i will be here when you get to the other side

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Watch out! I'm blogging about Vaginas.......try to contain yourselves

One in every three women is physically or sexually abused or assaulted in their lifetime
In fact it is estimated that of all women killed in 2012, almost half were killed by intimate partners or family members. HALF!! Hopefully this leaves you a little breathless, because its terrible!

Since 2010 I have been involved in the movement V-Day. Its a movement about women, for women and by women. In 2010, 2012 (in Eugene, OR) and 2013 (in Sacramento, CA) I performed in the V-Day produced play written by Eve Ensler called The Vagina Monologues. In it, I and casts of amazing women from all walks of life joined together on stage and read powerful, moving, and heart wrenching stories from REAL WOMEN and their experiences both good and bad simply living as a woman......about their vaginas. I am not in the show this year, but I am part of the logistics crew putting it together and I am just as excited to see this show as I am every year. My husband is also a HUGE fan!

So what is "The Vagina Monologues"? People hear the word Vagina and assume.....well I don't know what they assume. But what if I told you that if you saw the show you would laugh, and then you would cry maybe in the same breath. I can tell you that one minute you are thinking to yourself "Yeah, women unite, stop the violence!" and then the next minute you will be shocked at what some women have survived to talk about. 

It is provocative
It is risque
It is unique
It is funny
It is sad
It is moving

Don't be afraid of the word Vagina. Don't be afraid of this kind of feminism. We need everyone behind a movement that protects the women we love right? 

Last year I finally admitted that I was a survivor of domestic violence. Not everyone knew this truth about me......after years of pretending, pushing it to the past and trying to hide the embarrassing truth. I finally stopped taking the blame and said the healing words out loud. I am a survivor.
(read my blog here) Surviving-and-Thriving

V-Day is a movement that not only gives a VOICE to women to speak out against the horrors and truth of violence against women. It is a global movement determined to END violence against women by raising money and awareness, helping local shelters and outreach programs who work to protect and counsel women who have survived it and educating our communities about this horrible reality and how we can do our part to make it STOP.

OK, heavy stuff right? This is depressing!

But seriously, we all have mothers, some of us sisters, daughters, aunts, friends.......we have someone who has been or could be affected by this at sometime in their life. So how do you help you ask?

  • Buy a ticket to a show and have fun night out. Tickets are $20 and 100% of the ticket proceeds go back to local communities. Most local areas have a show, just look for them! Buy a ticket to the Sacramento show
  • Don't want to go to a show? Buy a ticket and donate it. There are ticket donations available to send women who can't afford to go. Call me, I will connect you!
  • Make a corporate donation or become a sponsor, advertise on the show program that will be read by hundreds of show patrons in the Sac and surrounding area.
I am passionate about this movement. I am raising boys who will contribute to the change that is needed. 
By just taking the time to read this, you are already part of the solution. 

Until the violence stops

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What 30 days of eating clean REALLY looks like.......

So about 35 days ago I decided to challenge myself to eat "clean" for 30 days. Actually I have wanted to for a long time but between the chaos of being a new homeschool mom, still nursing a baby and the multiple upcoming birthdays for my kids I had just put it off. I finally was able to make it happen.

I have been a life long "dieter", a lifetime Weight Watcher so I was prepared for some sacrifice. No problem. All I had to do was'
-Avoid sugar (coffee creamer)
-Avoid soda
-Avoid alcohol
-Avoid processed food

Easy......ok, maybe not. But I was ready.

So here I go, I started on a Sunday (a fresh week). I weighed and measured myself (no before pictures), and I wrote down my goals. I pre-made some clean meals, bought extra protein, veggies and fruits for snacking, made a menu......I was set.

Surprisingly it wasn't hard. The pre-made food made it simple to stay on track, and usually I am so busy I don't eat so I was feeling pretty on top of it since not only was I eating well but I was actually EATING.

I told a few people, not many because I am typically not fond of opinions......but since I was eating clean through parties, holidays (Thanksgiving) and other events, I ended up having to explain myself. Weird I know....

Here is what I wasn't prepared for:

People had actual opinions.....about what I was not eating: "It's not like you actually NEED to lose weight", "Why would you deprive yourself of living a little?"

Well, what if I said it wasn't about weight loss?
What if I said I was just doing it to;
1) see if I could do it,
2) see what the results would be if I had just enough self control to pull it off,
3) get my body into really healthy post baby shape

Sounds crazy I know, but its true!

People made it about themselves: "I could never give up coffee!", "I don't care enough to diet, I guess I'm ok being fat", or they make excuses for what they are eating while sitting next to me.

Why is there the stigma that if someone makes healthy choices, they are secretly judging everyone around them for not doing the same? I am fine with anyone around me making their own choices. I seriously don't expect anyone to change their habits because of my personal challenge, anymore than I expect someone to run a marathon with me because I decided I wanted to do it.

Week 1: Flew by. I ate well, I didn't miss a meal, ran 10-15 miles/ week with lots of was great!

Week 2: I was still motivated, I was detoxed from sugar, still running, still lots of energy and felt great!

Week 3: I had a lot of leftovers because I reverted back to not eating on busy days. Still fine with no sugar, but I just didn't have the motivation to make more meals. But I was losing some weight and my pants were my motivation became seeing results.

Week 4 (last week): I feel like was the hardest. The newness was gone, no pre-made meals to eat, super busy gearing up for Christmas. I feel like I squeaked by! I still ran, I was really hungry, I wanted to eat!!!
But I did it, I let others encourage me and I finished strong. I was really proud of myself!

So what did I accomplish? 
1. I set an example to my children of goals, self control, discipline, health and accomplishment
2. I proved to myself that I can do it if I try
3. Physical results

Starting weight: 156.5
Ending weight: 151
5.5 lbs weight loss in 30 days and I lost 2 inches in my hips and waist
I am still on my quest for size 8
I am a modest person so this is a vulnerable pic......
I just wanted to share hopefully some inspiration.
Mother of 4, 1 year post baby

No shakes
No pills
No special workout

Self control
Smart choices
Staying active
Pushing myself past comfort 

What worked for me:
Menus, pre-made food, writing down goals, writing down exercise

What didn't work for me:
No prep, negative self talk

For some of the recipes I used, including clean PB Chocolate cups, check out my Clean Eating Pinterest board

Friday, October 17, 2014

That one time I almost gave up on running

I am a runner

I used to be a good runner, a dedicated runner, a motivated runner.
I used to run miles and miles every week.
I ran with friends,
I ran with strangers,
I ran on my lunch break,
I ran at 3:45 in the morning,
 I ran in the snow or rain, 
I even placed from time to time in my age group, sometimes it seemed like I lived to run.
I Loved to run.

Then I moved to California.
I had another baby,
I'm home with kids all day,
I don't even have many friends who run,
I don't get lunch breaks,
and its always HOT.

So what that means is that I have had to rely on my own motivation and desire to keep the running fire burning......and let me tell you, it just about fizzled out.

I still love to run but finding time is so hard. Running used to be so social time and solo time for me all at the same time, then it became a quick 30 min run here and there sandwiched between a million other things that needed to be done. I have had a tough time finding that coveted "balance" that so many moms (stay at home or working) are desperate to achieve.

I have been so hard on myself, and trust me, I can insult myself better than anyone. I have always had high energy, endless optimism about what I can achieve and my own self why oh why did I lack any energy at ALL? Did I use all my enthusiasm and energy homeschooling? Were my kids sucking the life out of me literally? Kidding!! Was it really the weather? Really the lack of the social aspect? When was I going to snap out of it??

I get up a few times a week and go to the gym but recently, my husband, (who has now become my running partner) gets up with me at 5:00 am about 3 mornings a week and we run. Just 3 miles, just him and me.
The weather is cool and now that I have a 12 year old we can go alone.

At first I was dragging, he just about drug me out of bed. But something happened.......last week I started feeling the same enthusiasm I had felt when I first started running (when Mason was Cooper's age). I begin to think that maybe I have been too hard on myself. I have gone through SO many changes since I moved to California.

New job
New house
New friends
New routine
New baby
New town
New church
New at homeschooling

Each of those things alone marks a huge life change and I have been tackling them one after the other since we moved with no break. I often compare my life here with my life in Oregon and that may be the most damaging thing I can do. I am here, not there. It will not be like it was before, this is my new life. I cannot lose who I am just because I am 500 miles from home. I have to learn how to function, adapt.
I know, you would think I would have taken care of all of these details by now but I guess I am a slow learner.

So, this week I have resolve with new energy. I am a servant of my house and family and that is fine, I have no complaints. But I WILL carve out some time for what I love. The weather is a bit tamer this time of year and I have my sight set on some running goals. The kids are getting a little bigger and I refuse to talk myself out of finding joy in what I love.

Get ready for an overload of optimism, because I am back!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Who's teaching who?

So I am now in the world of homeschooling and I have one full month under my belt, and the question becomes glaringly clear I teaching them? Or are they teaching me?

Its true I want to be the primary educator for my children, I want to teach them not only the academics that they need for a successful life. But that is not all there is to teach. I want to teach my children God's word, character, integrity, patriotism, love for others, love for life and respect for fellow humans, authority and our world..

Now, I am not writing this to explain or defend my decision to homeschool my boys. I learned early on that those who poo poo it will not be convinced by my arguement, so I won't waste my breath.

What I want to share is the amazing journey that just this first 5 weeks has been!

True to who I am, I started with a "plan"......anyone who has multiple kids is laughing at me right now. So, needless to say the first week was bumpy. Not only did I want an immediate fantastic experience, but I wanted it to go a certain way. Daniel threw fits, Mason was confused, Sammy was a goofball because the house was full of playmates. This was week one. I didn't feel defeated and I didn't feel like giving up but I did "feel it".

I re examined my strategy, called other successful veteran homeschooling moms asking for encouragement. (thankfully I have a few in my back pocket that are more than willing to offer encouragement and advice) I heard the same things that I had heard before and knew in my heart. "Stay the course", "Give it time", "Be patient with yourself, and your boys".

So a deep breath and a second week. I allowed myself to be led by the boys......I know it may sound weird, but week two was about adjustment and allowing them to accept homeschooling as a different, but good thing. And so we went, such an easier week and I began to realize......maybe they know more than I thought.

As we have gone into week 3, 4 & 5 I began to feel a difference. I began to feel a calm. They began to have a routine. We established some guidelines for our loose structure and the boys are becoming more adapted and able to guide their own day. They know exactly what they need to do. So now I teach them "lessons" and they teach me a ton more. Don't get me wrong, we have days that are tougher than others......but where would the lessons be if everyday was perfect?

Daniel teaches me forgiveness, patience, flexibility, how to release the reigns (just a bit) and let him try new things. This is hard because he is my oldest, the one I will make all my mistakes with, the one that will challenge all I know about parenting. He teaches me that my kids see everything I do and that's where they really learn. But that boy is funny, super smart, articulate, a great debater (who makes too much sense sometimes) so often he teaches me humility......with a touch of toughness so his head doesn't get too big. He reminds me that my boys need hugs and mommy touch no matter how tough they seem.

Mason teaches me even more patience, he teaches me to think differently about how I communicate, he teaches me empathy because he feels so deeply. He teaches me how to be creative in my instruction and how to express my joy in a way that allows him to beam with pride. Mason is also very witty, and creative and loves to get his hands dirty. He reminds me to smile, to compliment and be an encouragement.

Sam teaches me yet more patience (are you seeing a trend here?) He teaches me to laugh, think like a 2 year old, get on the floor sometimes no matter how busy I am. He is a firecracker, he laughs, he cries.He reminds me to be silly and that he needs me more than ever.

Cooper reminds me every day how fortunate I am to be a mom. He is a constant reminder of God's blessings in our house.

So what kind of mom would I be if I was all these things? I would be VERY patient, forgiving, flexible, humble, a positive example, loving, creative, empathetic, encouraging and unafraid, giggly, joyful and playful.

Just the kind of Mom I want to thank you boys for being a teacher for me. I pray that I can and I will always be attentive to their needs and what they are trying to teach me.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6