It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start. -Mother Teresa

Sunday, February 11, 2018

January 2018

So I joked about keeping the blog up so that I wouldn't have to do it all in December for our annual Christmas "Letter". But here is it February and yeah, it didn't happen...

2018 began very low-key. I had to work on New Year's Day so we were just looking forward to being home and relaxing. Christmas/New Year's is still a little messy in expectation-wise in our multi-cultural family. For those of you who don't know, Ukrainians traditionally celebrate Christmas on January 6th (They follow a different calendar.) Shockingly, Christmas is a RELIGIOUS Holiday that involves church. New Year's is when they put up their tree, have presents, and eat. We are still working through all of this...remember our girls did have some traditions but even when they lived a very untraditional life style (in an orphanage) so tradition I said, "Messy."

Speaking of multi-cultural, we attended our first quinceaƱera in January. It was one of the most beautiful expressions of parenting I have ever experienced. After celebrating Mass (on Epiphany no less), we were guests at one great party! 

When we moved into this small town, the Garcia family was the first to invite us to their home and life. Although this was the largest and most opulent event they have ever thrown, they were still attentive and thoughtful hosts. One of the things I admire about and try to emulate from them is multigenerational entertaining especially the way they include their own children. 

We started back to school and I feel like we are still struggling to get back into a routine. This semester we started Geography. It has opened many conversations about worldviews...without inviting too much controversy into the subject...let me share that raising children from two different continents and cultures truly changes the way I teach and the way I learn AND leads me to question what and how I was taught. As an American, I have certain biases that aren't necessarily bad but I need to recognize that I am viewing the world through them.

 Anyway, we have been working on world maps, first blob maps and now more detailed. I am amazed at what we can accomplish and learn together....yes, I am including Jo in this although it is a high school level class. She gets most of it and isn't technically graded, which is a good thing because one day her map was upside down so her world is different than everyone else's. Truly art imitating life! 

Two weekends found us at Swim Meets! Due to weather and what I consider a ridiculously early warm-up time, we spent the night in a hotel the night before one of the meets. It was fun to swim and hang out in the hotel (why must you eat pizza and junk food in a hotel???) with just our two swimmers: Stacey and Jo. And in a first, we allowed the other two to stay home overnight for the first time. With grandparents literally across the street and an Aunt who can see our house from her's on the other side we weren't exactly worried about large parties! ;)  They were delighted to have the opportunity to prove themselves trustworthy. As a parent I felt like it was a major milestone moment for me too! 

Speaking of parenting milestones, January found us having our first big cell phone issue. Anyone with kids knows there is not better example of a LOVE/HATE relationship than that of your child having a cell phone. We love the ability to connect with them when we need to. We hate the ability for them to connect with others when we don't want them to! For the sake of privacy I will leave it vague but gosh darn it, this private "little" issue took up a big part of my month.


Michael hosted soccer registration and is getting schedules set up. His goal is to have a co-ed traveling high school team. It is tricky to get teens and parents to make a commitment even just to a recreational team. I hope he isn't disappointed and it makes me all nervous to see him investing in something I think is going to be frustrating...

Professionally it was a busy month! He is always busy this time of year preparing for the Annual Housewares Show. In addition, his company moved into a beautiful new corporate office. This move involved and continues to involve some special projects he never dreamed would be part of his job as a graphic designer! Just this week Michael and the owner took a "field trip" to photograph their first local factory only to return to over a million of square feet of factory and office space. It has been a blessing to see and be a part of this company's continued growth.

I am continuing to work part-time at the shoe store at the outlet mall. It is our "slow" season so we have reduced hours. It really helps me appreciate how much easier it is homeschool without working! Organizing and utilizing my time well has never been something I was good I continue to grow and be challenged in this area. It has been good for all of us to share in more of the household duties especially preparing meals (which takes on additional responsibilities to most families since we eat all three meals every single day at home). 

I ended the month in a very unhealthy way with lymphangitis. (Yeah, I had never heard of it either so I had to google it and found this LINK.)  Pretty much it is an infection. It started in my thumb and literally left painful, swollen, hot, red lines of infection up my arm, into my armpit, and to my chest. It escalated quickly...and recovery took way longer than I expected (and included an allergic reaction to the initial antibiotic).  It's over. I never want to do that again! 

Nadia continues to plug away at her classes. I know it is tricky for her to still be in high school when technically graduated in Ukraine. Our school systems are different so she is earning the credits she needs to have an American diploma too. 

She stepped out of her comfort zone this month and applied for a job. It wasn't the right timing for them and her but it was great practice. It is exciting to see her trying to figure out what God has created her to do. 

She joined an adult Bible Study in our community. Not only has she enjoyed participating but she has also enjoyed bringing snacks to share each week. Again it is exciting to see her stepping out of her comfort zone and trying new things and making new friends. 

The biggest thing to happen this month is a booooooyyyyy! Yes, Stacey officially has a boyfriend so we (that means you and me!) can officially tease her. 

Seriously though, we are "those" parents who in order to make life better we first make it more embarrassing. This meant that we sat down the four of us (Michael, Laura, Stacey, and P) to discuss expectations, guidelines, and issue warnings. 

Remember at the beginning of this blog how I discussed how things can be a little messy regarding expectations because we are a multicultural family??? Well, that is in all areas of life especially communication. This guy needed a few warnings about dating our daughter...not just the typical ones. Although her English is great, somethings still get "lost in translation", and our proud daughter is almost never willing to admit this. It makes parenting her tricky sometimes; I can only imagine how fun it is to date someone like this! 

He is a great kid and we have enjoyed meeting with weekly for dinner. He comes on Wednesdays if you want to join us and interview him! (You're welcome, P!) 

Nan started taking drivers ed at the local high school. She is the youngest freshman so it is a long time until she will even actually get her permit (by long time I mean 10 months...which is nothing compared to the 22 months until she can get her license but she's not counting or anything). 

She continues to be a part of our church worship team. Mainly on the piano with some vocals (yes, she has her own microphone so she looks like Barry Manilow or Elton John...okay, she doesn't look like them but I knew she would read that and complain, "Moooooooooom!") Occasionally she brings her acoustic guitar or does a special. 

Her friend, Susie and her, enjoy playing and sometimes recording music together. It is fun to hear them practice. Speaking of practice, she is still trying to get the hang our her electric guitar and so refuses to allow us to see (though we can still hear). 

Since this is my blog and I can type what I want. I want to publicly congratulate Nancy for being the messiest person in our family. Her clothes are not able to be stored on hangers or in a dresser. They are somehow all attracted to her bedroom floor. I know that her roommate finds this adorable and amusing. (Right, Stacey?) 


This pretty much sums up Jo. The paper prompts her to finish this sentence "My snowman melted because..." Jo's response is simple, "NANCY" 
Oh what to say about Jo...there is so much. When asked what pretty much sums up her year so far. Her response, "I like almost all the stories that I listen to on my ipod. I didn't really like Little Women after all because it was really long. I don't like when people give the dogs squeaky toys. It is annoying. Right now I like that we all get a day to make lunch. My favorite thing is to make sandwiches. It is easy...super easy. I like Skylanders because there are two ways you can play with them on the game or in the human way (let me translate: you can play on the Wii or just with the characters like action figures). I like pets more than I like poop but not more than I like my sisters." 

Jo received a membership to Little Passports for Christmas from her Meme. Our first country was Brazil. She made these yummy treats! 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

What I Read in January 2018

I set a personal goal to read 100 books in 2018. More specifically I plan to tackle Tolstoy's short stories and continue reading Newberry Honor books. 

This month by glancing at the list, it would appear that I read quite a bit. Truth is that yes, I read every single day BUT some of those books are Children's books (3), Audiobooks (1 but I also read parts of it. The Audible app lets you sync your reading/'s awesome!), Cookbooks (1), and Young Adult Books (1). You don't have to read thousands of pages of little print to enjoy reading books...there are lots of ways to enjoy books. If you aren't already reading, can I encourage you to try one of those types of books that I just listed?

Click Here to see what I read in 2017.

Book that I enjoyed most this month: 
Surprisingly, The Three Musketeers

Book that still has me thinking about it: 
The Sun and Her Flowers, Love That Boy, 

Book that I will discuss with my kids: 
Lies My Teacher Told Me and Freedom Over Me
Book that I will never read again: 
The Invisible Thread and the cookbook

Book that I gave up on and never finished: 
I read them all this month

Book that I have previously read: 
The Family Under the Bridge

Book that I will read again someday: 
The Family Under the Bridge, Freedom Over Me, and I would love to discuss Love That Boy

Books that I read for Book Clubs:
The Invisible Thread and The Good Daughter

Have you read any of these books? 
What did you think of them? 

What did you read in January? 
Anything you would recommend?

BONUS: This made me laugh...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Robey Annual Family Christmas Letter 2017 - December

December's wintery breath 
is already clouding the pond, 
frosting the pane, 
obscuring summer's memory...
― John Geddes

December is a time of traditions and family. It is also a busy time! We kicked off the month by hosting our 10th Annual Elf Party! After a decade it was time to add a new game: Sorry I ruined your life (and crammed 11 cookies in the VCR). It was our first group game and our first ever was awesome!!!!

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Swim meet in Clinton

 Laura hosts her Annual Book Club Christmas Party

JoJo hung out with friends at a Homeschool Christmas Party

Stacey at Stonick's, She took her first solo airline flight! (To LAX no less!) Stacey spent some time this December with her first host parents, who are her Godparents. She had so much fun and was spoiled rotten! 

After dropping Stacey off at the airport Laura snuck down to Missouri for a quick visit with the Ashley family. She was way overdue for some cuddles with this cutie! 

We tried something new this year, we opened our Christmas stockings on St. Nicholas Day...The Ukrainian St. Nicholas Day. So blending cultures and traditions to try to make something that works...

Hanukkah with the Stewarts 

Panting Christmas ornaments with Walteros

Decorating Christmas cookies

Josie and Miguel playing in the snow

Celebrated the birthday of this lovely lady. We don't take her birthdays for granted! She is literally a living miracle! 

Christmas on the farm

Waiting for the "Hatchimal" to hatch

Meme and Nancy 

Yeah, this of course ends in tears by the youngest.  

Opening christmas presents

Big Christmas Present - Europe Travel Voucher

Big Christmas Present - Ukraine Airline Voucher

Grandma Fuzzy and Papa Joe unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning. 

Aunt Karen and Miguel joined us for Christmas!!!

Playing games and doing manicures on Christmas day
New Star Wars on the Big D Screen

Victor Miguel's Birthday Party with Laser Tag! 

Monday, January 1, 2018

What I Read in December

I set a personal goal to read 75 books in 2017. You can see what I have read so far by clicking HERE.  In a future post, I will share if I reached my goal and what goal I have set for 2018.

The Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Love and Marriage 
in the Letters of Believers by Michael Haykin
Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber
It Takes Two: Our Story by Jonathan and Drew Scott
Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies 
by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Watson Hamilton

Digging to America by Anne Tyler

Mary Poppins (Book #1) by P.L. Travers

Rowing Without Oars: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Ulla-Carin Lindquist

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

The Dry by Jane Harper (Book Club)

Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

Book that I enjoyed most this month: 
Digging to America (But I knew that I would and had been saving it for that reason and until I was ready to deal with an adoption story)

Book that still has me thinking about it: 
Digging to America (There is a lot going on in here since the story is told over a long period of time from several points of view.) And believe it or not: It Takes Two. I love reading how parents raise their kids to be who they were created to be. The Scott boys were allowed to try and allowed to fail at many things...I love this! 

Book that I will discuss with my kids: 
Carver (We visited the George Washington Carver National Monument on our Girl's Road Trip in 2016. Consequently I have stood in the literal space he was born and walked the land he was raised on. I have seen the pictures, artifacts, and read his words. These poems took me back to that and reminded me of the lessons I learned by visiting there. This book reminded me of Brown Girl Dreaming because it told a linear story but through individual poems. (And I think I really like that!) 

Book that I will never read again: 
Ivanhoe (it went on and on and on...)

Book that I gave up on and never finished: 
Uncommon Type...there has been so much hype around this book and its adorable and talented author, Tom Hanks...I wanted to like it so much but eventually I put it down and didn't pick it up again until it was due back at the library. 

Book that I have previously read: 
Julie Andrews' Collection...well sort of. I had started the book previously but never finished it. I have also read/heard several of the items she shared. This book also has an audio version that is read by the authors. I enjoyed listening and reading it very much. 

Book that I will read again someday: 
Carver and Julie Andrews' Collection, (Interesting that they are both poetry books. 

Have you read any of these books? 
What did you think of them? 

What did you read in December? 
Anything you would recommend?


I was invited to share my Holiday Reading Wish and Giving Lists over at What She Might Think. Click HERE to read what I shared.