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

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

What I Read December 2018

I set a personal goal to read 100 books in 2018. More specifically I planned to tackle Tolstoy's short stories and continue reading Newberry Honor books. To complete the year,  I've read 145 books. You can see what I have read so far by clicking HERE.

That number isn't completely true. That does include books that I gave up on and never finished. My general rule is to read 100 pages at least before I give up on it so I choose to include them in my reading list. This year that was 3 books ( Little Failure, The Last Black Unicorn, and Amy and Isabelle). 

This month I read a lot or finished some things that were ongoing. Of the 20 books that I read/was reading this month I finished all but one. And so many of them were just plain ole' good books, so it was a lovely month!!!

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resistance, and Finding Joy 
by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Being A Dad Is Weird by Ben Falcone
Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Ranger Apprectice #4 Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes
Shade by Pete Souza
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Note to Self: Inspiring Figures Write to the People They Once Were by Gayle King
Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food by Ann Hood 
Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch a
nd America's King of Beers by William Knoedelseder

Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart
One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent  by Arnold Ytreeide
Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington

The New Living Translation of the Bible

Book that I enjoyed most this month: 
One of Us is Lying, Bitter Brew, Dumplin', and Being a Dad is Weird...and Where the Crawdads Sing and Hattie Big Sky (I told you it was a good book month!) 

Book that still has me thinking about it: 
Where the Crawdads Sing, Sure Signs of Crazy, Jotham's Journey, Mamba Mentality, Option B 

Book that I will discuss with my kids: 
NLT Bible, Hattie Big Sky, Crown, Note to Self, Dumplin', Option B

Book that I will never read again: 
Little Failure and Shade 

Book that I gave up on and never finished: 
Little Failure 

Book that I have previously read: 
none though I did continue with the Ranger's Apprentice Series. I usually hate series. The Bible but not necessarily ever having read it in an entire year and that specific translation, 

Books that I will read again someday: 
Hattie Big Sky, Bible, Jotham's Journey, Note to Self, Option B

Books that I read for Book Clubs:
Hattie Big Sky, Where the Crawdads Sing, 

Books that I think would be good for a Book Club: 
Option B, Sure Signs of Crazy, Dumplin', Bitter Brew, 

Book that wasn't really on my radar: 
Being a Dad is Weird. Obviously, reading a book about being a dad isn't really for me but it was immediately available on Cloud Library and I needed something to read. I ended up really enjoying it because the author and his wife (actress Melissa McCarthy) both grew up in Central Illinois and attended local universities. The people and places in the book were familiar and it was neat too look at "my lifestyle" from that POV. In addition, he is in a similar parenting season. 

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

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

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Robey Family Annual Christmas Letter

 Hanukkah 2018

I started off the year with the best of intentions. (Don't we all?) I was going to blog an update every month rather than try to come up with a big update at the end of the year. So you can read about January, February, and March by clicking on them. And you can read about the rest of the 9 months here. I guess three was better than none???

So I started off the year by telling of individuals, I guess I will try to keep doing it that way. Should we go from youngest to oldest for a change?



She NEEDS to be outside several hours a day. It doesn't have to be in a large block of time. She is happy to track in mud or sand several times throughout the day. We can accomplish school in between this. I'm not sure how she possibly would make it in public school all day. She cannot sit still and still is, as her Papa Bill has always called her, "squirmy."
Uncle Vic literally traveled halfway around the world to spend Easter with JoJo...and his family but JoJo felt like it was personal. That is the cool thing about Vic, he makes each of the girls feel like that. He listens, hugs, plays, and is just there whenever he is actually able to be there. While he was serving overseas, JoJo had her cousin for a whole year. They recently moved back to California for their next orders. To say it has been hard to not have Miguel and Auntie Karen at her beck and call is a major understatement. 

This year my folks, who live across the street, made some updates to our small beach area. This included adding a pier and dock. It has been a wonderful addition to our summer except for one tiny incident: MICHAEL (I wasn't there; it was her Dad's fault.)  was swimming with JoJo when she came running down the pier. If you have spent anytime with us, you know that JoJo walks and even runs on her tip-toes. This caused her foot to slip into a small space between boards. Her foot and part of her leg stayed straight. The rest of her body and the other part of her leg fell forward. Needless to say, we had our first (unintentionally) broken bone in our family. She spent a month on the couch because she resisted using what she referred to as "the crutches of doom".  To this day when I ask her to come in and work on school, she gives me a whole, long story about how she missed her entire summer and the least I can do is let her have a few minutes now to enjoy the outdoors.

For one "perfect" week, I had TWO kids on crutches this summer. Stacey is used to it and this is as we are leaving the house to go get her cast cut off so Jo is smiling. 

This injury also meant that she missed out on swim and soccer this summer/fall. Instead we found Cub Scouts. Our small town does not have a Girl Scout Troop and until this past summer, had been without a Cub Scout Pack for several years. This year Scouts BSA opened up to girls, so my Dad (an Eagle Scout) checked it out with her. Now the three of us joined in the rechartering of this pack so it is "our thing."

JoJo earning her Bobcat Badge at Cub Scouts. 

Once the cast was off, she was able to return to her piano lessons with her beloved Woozie. I mean, Ms. Jane. Woozie is Ms. Jane's dog. I think JoJo likes piano but I  know she loves this dog (and ALL other dogs). "OOOOOOOHHHHHHH Look at that aaaaadoorrrable pupppppppy!!!!" Is probably her most used phrase other than, "I can't my leg hurts." (used only when asked to do school/chores/bed).

Piano lessons with her beloved Woozie. (And teacher)

NOT folding her clothes or cleaning her room

That is pretty much Nan.
And, oh yeah, she doesn't want to be called Nan.

NanCY is now driving us around on her Learner's Permit. It is actually going really, really well. We thank Papa Bill for all those years of practice on the farm. Seriously, THANK YOU, PAPA BILL! The Gator was the best money you ever spent. :) 

She continues to attend lessons, practice at home, and play with the worship team at church (when her schedule permits). Sadly she continues to refuse to play if I start to sing and/or dance to her music. I pay for the lessons, I should get to sing along. Don't you agree???

Spring soccer happened in Arcola and she continued to officiate. In the fall, she considered herself the Striker Coach and Stat Girl for the inaugural season of the AOC Boys Soccer program which her Dad coached. This was not just done out of support of her father or love of the game. It may possibly had something to do with #10 on the team. His name is Ian and she is obsessed with him. It works out okay because the feeling is mutual. She is very much looking forward to the inaugural season of AOC Girls Soccer which her Dad will also coach.

Nan and friends watching the final game of the season trying to protect themselves and the stat book from the sleet. 

Last year Nan stepped onto the volleyball court for the first time and had a great time. This year she had two new JV coaches who invested heavily in her and the rest of the team. The amount of improvement we saw from their support, a week of camp,  and her practice at home over the summer was amazing.

Nan and Nadia on their volleyball team. 

She loved playing with those girls so much, she has decided to move on with them straight into basketball season. She had played one season at the YMCA as a first grader and one season in town as a 3rd grader. She thought basketball wasn't for her. Yet here she is trying it again essentially for the first time competitively as a sophomore! Her first game was the first time she had ever played 5 v 5 ball. I'm way proud of her for trying something new and out of her comfort zone.

Nan and Ian post basketball games. Wearing coordinating outfits actually is a normal thing for them. They say they do it "by accident" but look here, they literally have matching shoes. :) 

NanCY (always add the "CY")  hangs out with her friends sometimes in person but constantly on her phone. Her room is still horrifying.


Licensed Driver 

When I talk about Stacey she is Stacey but sometimes I talk about Nastya, that was Stacey before she was technically my daughter. But that is weird because it feels like she has always been here and been a part of our lives. I haven't quite figured out how that all works. When I ask her about it she just shrugs her pointy shoulders or laughs.

Stacey not only continues to swim but volunteers and teaches before/after her own practices. It is not an overstatement to say that she is adored by the swim kids and their parents. Everyone knows her and talks to her. Remember Nastya who used to hide every time we had people over and hated social situations? Yeah, Stacey is hugged, cheered for, and chatted to constantly at practices and meets. She is working toward becoming a certified teacher and continues to compete. Well not this week, she is actually banned from the pool by her doctor. A very surprised doctor explained to her that in his over 2 decades of practice, she is his first in the pool swim injury. We were not surprised. After all, Stacey is one of a kind!

Could Rory and Stacey possibly be any cuter??? 

She joined her younger sister, JoJo, this summer in the living room. For about a week, they overlapped sleeping on the couches with their legs elevated and using crutches. A little after a year a very successful surgery, she was able to have the plates and screws removed. Her surgeon and his staff are very proud of themselves and was a unique surgery and she has healed and improved in ways none of us imagined possible!

Dr. Gordon has changed this girl's life. Do you think we can convince him to leave pediatric orthopedics and move up with Stacey when she turns 18. We can't imagine going on this crazy journey with anyone else in the lead. 

Stacey also participated in spring soccer and spends time every evening on her phone with Peyton. Peyton's family is more fun and active. They are trying to steal her. We could be mad at them but they are just so wonderful we want them to steal us too! (Plus they always bring us Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.)

Stacey and Peyton: We can switch their outfits and see "this picture" a few other ways this year past year.  (Stacey and Peyton in Baseball Uniform; Stacey and Peyton in a Basketball Uniform; Stacey in a Soccer Uniform and Peyton; Stacey in a Swimsuit and Cap and Peyton) These two are both super busy but show up to support each other whenever they can! 


Licensed Driver!!!! 

In this house we are just weeks away from celebrating her completion of High School! We are celebrating with a small family luncheon at a local restaurant. We are blessed that family includes her Godparents from Michigan and their 4 sons. I am sure I have shared this before, but they are Nadia's first host parents. They continue to love, support, and pray for her. It means so much to me that both her and Stacey's first host parents serve as Godparents to them. Host parents are the coolest people.

This is the senior picture we used for her graduation invitation/announcement. Yes, I said Senior Picture!

Nadia's brain processes life differently than most of us. I know that sometimes she finds this frustrating but I doubt you noticed. She continues to sincerely smile. That being said, after graduation she is continuing some ESL classes through the local community college and working. She now works at the Best Western Plus here in town. She never has to be there any earlier than 9am. It seriously is the perfect job for her!

These Roommates seriously love/annoy each other. It makes this Mama's heart so happy to get texts like this picture: Nadia took JoJo to hang out at the Pumpkin Patch Halloween Afternoon. And unlike any of her other sisters, she actually helped her wear a costume in public. (JoJo went through a few stages this past year. One involved a bonnet and another a cape...her sisters were less than thrilled. Well not all her sisters, Nadia tends to be the most understanding of JoJo!) 

Nadia like every other teenager in our home, fills her spare time with friends and being on her phone. If you were to ask me, I would say that her best friend is actually her Nana. I bet she doesn't even realize that is the person she first tells everything to! The two are currently addicted to playing rummikub together. You can join in but just know, she is in it to win it!

Okay, one more senior pic because...well...look at this beautiful girl! 


Father's Day 2018

Laura is off meeting with a friend so I thought I would jump in and write my own yearly recap. I am just finishing my 14th year as a graphic designer at The Libman Company. We moved into a brand new corporate office building last December and it has added to a job and company that I continue to love working for. The downside is I now often drive to work because instead of a couple block walk, the new office building is now on the other side of the 1,500,000 sq ft facility. Small sacrifices.

Annual Daddy-Daughter Date to Busch Stadium. 

I continue to coach soccer and enjoy getting to work with kids/young adults. Last spring I coached Jojo and the U8 division (24 kids total) and enjoyed the challenge and seeing her out there improving and having fun. I also coached a co-ed high school team of 25 players (including Nancy, Nadia and Stacey.) We had an incredibly talented team and went on to win our division, our conference tournament and lost by one goal in the league championship. It was by far one of the winningest seasons I have experienced as a coach. This past summer/fall I got the opportunity to be the Head Coach of Varsity Boys Soccer at Arthur Okaw Christian. It was a fun challenge of helping build a brand new program and my first time not coaching at the rec level but within IHSA. I loved the new challenge and am looking forward to also coaching the AOC Varsity Girls soccer team in the spring.

This past summer I also got the chance to start golfing again after a 15-16 year hiatus. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed being out on the golf course and am looking forward to getting out there more regularly when the weather turns warm again.
Cub Scouts hosted their Fall Camporee in one of the  most unique and memorable  "campground" we have ever stayed. (And we have camped in Death Valley and the Grand Canyon!) We set up our tent on the field at Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Illinois following the Homecoming game. We watched a family football movie on the big screen before crawling into the tent to sleep. It was cold but memorable!  

Other than that I love getting to attend all of the girls above functions and striving to be the best Dad I can be. I also am truly thankful that Laura and I get to do life together and she continues to inspire

This year we went to get our first real tree. It is something we have been putting off for years until we were sure everyone would be old enough to remember the event. After all, if it is too much work and mess so we never do it again, we wanted the kids to have that memory too. I am posting a picture of us kissing...on the internet. You're welcome, kids. 

Our family always tries to have "a show" something we only watch when the six of us our together. Most recently it has been the Netflix series Free Reign. So it only seemed fitting when we all took trail ride for Nadia's 19th birthday. No actual pics from the ride. Instead we left our phones in the van and instead were just together in nature. It was late September and we rode through a grove of trees and a field that were filled with literally thousands of monarchs resting on their migration south. It is special that we get to share that magical few minutes in memory-only together! 

Well it is hard to talk about myself...what to say? What to say????

I parent, teach, and work very part-time at the local library in the Youth Room. If I'm not doing that, I am driving or attending my children's events or reading.

Photo Credit: Stacey. I didn't even know she took this picture but she messaged it to me and it makes me happy! My beach, my nephew, my book..I can just feel how relaxed and happy I am. This is just a few steps from my front door! 

Last night I went out to celebrate a friend's birthday and my friends only partially were joking when they wanted to know if I was done with this year: Could I eat carbs, drink alcohol, and spend money again???  It was a good question because in addition to spending the end of last year and the beginning of this year taking off weight and maintaining it (20 pounds!) Michael I started the year off by attending Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at our church. We have worked hard to pay off debt and stick to a budget. It hasn't been the most fun year but we have accomplished a lot.

Michael and I joined our local Rotary Club this year. It has been good for us to have something we intentionally do together. In addition to our weekly meetings, we have many opportunities for service. We love when we can include our kids. From this picture, you can see that JoJo didn't mind that I volunteered her to help us with the Annual Rotary Golf Outing. She and I were tasked with getting out all the carts and taking them up to the Club House. Michael and I are still getting to know our club and fellow members so we can figure out where we best fit in. In the meantime, Michael has done a few graphic things while I have volunteered (along with NanCY) at our communities new museum and just took my first training in Heroin and Opiate Addiction/Narcan training. A goal for me for 2019 is to spend more time educating and bringing life-saving resources to our community this year in this serious area. 

My accomplishments other than paying down debt and reaching my reading goal are pretty much shared with my kiddos: we now have two licensed drivers and one with a permit. One completed braces and the other has a way to go but only 4 more payments! (I work for braces.) JoJo is (finally) reading but still refuses to end a complete sentence with a period. (story I can't put that story on the internet). Nadia is graduating. Stacey is pretty much done with all orthopedic surgery and therapies. (Now just to keep her from injuring herself.)

UPDATE: Since I have typed that we have scheduled another oral surgery. I wish I was making that up. Poor child!

If the above paragraph sounds a little whiny, it wasn't meant to be. I am just in that season I am in. Three teens are exhausting. There are a lot of emotions, lessons, and growing that is taking place (and hormones...and driving practice). But even if pictures like this were never texted to me, I know it would be worth it. BUT it really does help when you see all 4 girls that I loved through those emotions, lessons, and driving practice hanging out together. Jessica still is our most important Sister/Friend but has also taken on the role of youth leader for the older three. For the record, all three who are eligible for driver's licenses are, in fact, licensed drivers. I did that. Well they did but I helped (and drove them to the DMV). So Nancy you better not fail and ruin my record.  

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from the Robey Family! 

Monday, December 3, 2018

What I Read November 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 I did read a collection of Tolstoy's short stories, which I carefully read slowly and savored. But only one short Newberry Book.

So far this year I've read 125 books. You can see what I have read so far by clicking HERE.

Book that I enjoyed most this month: 
The Family Romanov

Book that still has me thinking about it: 
The Family Romanov and Miracle's Boys and A Place We Knew Well

Book that I will discuss with my kids: 
I don't know the answer to that...I read a lot of YA this month. Much of it, unintentionally was LBGTQ. I am still processing. 

Book that I will never read again: 
The Mistletoe Secret (it was fine and fluffy and the book equivalent of a Hallmark Channel Movie)

Book that I gave up on and never finished: 
Amy and Isabelle. It had been on my to-read list for a long time and I really, really wanted to but I could put it down for days and days and not pick it up or miss it. Honestly, I just didn't care what happened to them. :( 

Book that I have previously read: 
none though I did continue with the Ranger's Apprentice Series. I usually hate series. 

Books that I will read again someday: 
What Men Live By and Other Tales and Annie and the Old One

Books that I read for Book Clubs:
A Place We Knew Well and The Faerie Guardian

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

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

Thursday, November 1, 2018

What I Read October 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. I only read two Newberry Honor books and I continue to read a book of Tolstoy's short stories.

After being recommended by a patron, I checked out The Ruins of Gorlan from our Young Adult shelves. So, so, so not my type of book and yet I very much enjoyed it and actually checked out the sequel!

So far this year I've read 111 books. You can see what I have read so far by clicking HERE.

Book that I enjoyed most this month: 
Anne of Avonlea

Book that still has me thinking about it: 

Book that I will discuss with my kids: 
Sisters, Bridge to Terabithia

Book that I will never read again: 
The Big Blueberry Barf-Off, The Vanishing Year

Book that I gave up on and never finished: 

Book that I have previously read: 
Anne of Avonlea, 

Books that I will read again someday: 
Anne of Avonlea, Bridge to Terabithia, 

Books that I read for Book Clubs:
The Vanishing Year, Bridge to Terabithia, (The Road Back to you which I had previously read for another Book Club so I didn't count it as re-read, I just sort of skimmed through most of it again)

Book that was a first for me:
Big Blueberry Barf-off was my first R.L. Stine book. I read it and pieces of several other of his books and some biographies on him for an event I hosted at the library. (I will not be reading them again: not for me!) 

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

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What I Read September 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.

I only read one Newberry Honor book (and it wasn't as good as I expected it to be) but I did read two of Tolstoy's short stories. One has been on my been working in the back of my brain for a while now because some of it feels a little relevant with modern church issues.

I listened to Anne of Green Gables and am sorry that it is over. The version that I listened to was narrated by Mary Sarah, who also narrated the versions of Uncle Tom's Cabin and Persuasion that I have recently enjoyed. It takes me a few chapters to clear her voice from my brain and those older books. Does that make any sense? Do any of you other audiobook listeners have that issue with narrators?

So far this year I've read 101 books. You can see what I have read so far by clicking HERE.

Book that I enjoyed most this month: 
Anne of Green Gables, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Book that still has me thinking about it: 
Father Sergius, Eleanor Oliphant, Heretics Anonymous

Book that I will discuss with my kids: 
The Nine Tailors (Nancy read it for class and I read a copy too so we could discuss it), Smile (I read it over breakfast one day and just knew it was the book for Stacey. She read it before the day was over too!) 

Book that I will never read again: 
The Mysterious Benedict Society, The Locksmith's Daughter

Book that I gave up on and never finished: 
none but it was touch and go with the above two

Book that I have previously read: 
Anne of Green Gables 

Books that I will read again someday: 
Anne of Green Gables, Heretics Anonymous (probably with my girls), Although I probably won't read the Nine Tailors again I am interested in reading more from Dorothy Sayers and the Lord Wimsey Series

Books that I read for Book Clubs:
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Locksmith's Daughter

Book that was a first for me:
Smile because it was my first Graphic Novel. I have to admit that I have been putting off (and dreading) trying to read any graphic novel. This one came across my desk at the library and it was delightful! It was the perfect book for a girl who grew up in the 80s/90s. And I am looking forward to checking out more by this author especially because she is making the Babysitters Club Series into Graphic Novels. This will NEVER be my favorite form of literature but I am trying to expand and better understand its popularity. 

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

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