Monday, December 29, 2014

The Robinson Review...A Look Back at 2014

This branch of the Robinson Family Tree has had a pretty solid 2014.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best in 2015, and give you some highlights from our 2014.

Nigel has had a very nice year. He has continued his homeschooling with Robin and is thriving. The homeschool format has allowed him to grow at his pace without having to worry about being slowed down or rushed by the other students a typical classroom. The most gratifying part of this experience has been observations from others on how much Nigel's confidence has grown over the last 1.5 years. It has also been a great experience for Robin. Nigel loves having his Mom as a teacher and she loves teaching him. One of his favorite things about homeschooling is the lack of tests. As he says, "My teacher knows what I have learned."
He has begun art classes with his Grandma Karen and has shown a creative eye and steady hand.
Nigel continued his Martial Arts lessons, and has earned his Blue Belt with a Red stripe so far.
His favorite memory from the past year was our trip to Washington D.C. to visit Brett, and the rest of his crew. The cousins had a blast spending time with each other, site seeing, and hanging out at the pool.
Nigel is really looking forward to 2015, and the adventures which lay ahead. Top on his list: learning to play his new blue guitar, which he received for Christmas.

Nora really enjoyed her 2014. Februrary saw Nora's twelfth birthday, which she had been planning for the last 4 years. As a family we really love watching the Olympics, both Summer and Winter. With the Winter Olympics taking place in February, Nora could not pass up the opportunity to have an Olympic-themed birthday.
Here she is preparing to light the Olympic torch.
And this is one of the games she created; Pin the Skis on the Jumper.
Nora has continued her great work in the classroom, maintaining straight A's throughout middle school, and this year has made the Scholastic Bowl team. As a seventh grader she was finally able to participate in school athletics, and decided to join the Cross Country team. She really enjoyed competing with and supporting her teammates. Nora had a solid first season setting a personal record at a home meet running the 2 mile course in 15:14, and receiving a medal for a 16th place finish in the girls open at the El Paso-Gridley meet.
Nora is looking forward to building on the success from the season, and has started training with me in the offseason. In fact, we ran our first race together this year at the Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Run 5k. Added bonus, we made the front page of the local paper!
Nora is very excited for what lies ahead in 2015. In particular the beginning of Scholastic Bowl, the upcoming track season, and a return to Cross Country next fall.

Robin is awesome. As I mentioned in the section for Nigel she has been an amazing teacher. Enough cannot be said about how much time, work, and patience she puts into his education. The dedication she shows to both kids is fantastic. We are very lucky to be in a situation which allows her to stay home for the kids.
She has entered her twelfth year as a proof reader for the Legal Record, a newspaper owned and publshed by our brother-in-law, Brandon. Speaking of the Legal Record, 2014 saw some big changes for them. Brandon has formed a partnership which has opened up the Chicago market and brought about a name change to the company, which is now called Chronicle Media.
Robin continued to be very involved in Eureka Christian Church by singing in the choir and being part of the worship committee. I am constantly amazed by the things she and the committee do.
One of my favorite things about Robin is her creativity and ability to pull things together out of thin air.
Here is the unicorn costume she put together for Nora.
Our worship committee wanted a traveling Mary and Joseph to travel house to house within our congregation this Advent. They could not find a suitable Mary and Joseph, so, Robin made them.
We were invited to an Ugly Sweater Christmas party, and I wanted something unique. So, she helped me by making a sweater that is ugly on the inside.
I, for one, am looking forward to what she comes up with for 2015!

2014 has been Super.
I tired of being beat up by my family, so, in July I joned them in their Martial Arts class. I have been having a great time taking the class with them, and have become a touch more flexible. So far I have earned my White Belt with Yellow stripe. The rest of the family still has a leg up on me.
Work at Eureka College has been great. We brought in the second largest freshman class in school history, opened our first new academic building in 96 years, and have a great start on the class of 2015! I love what I am doing. I feel like I am having a positive impact, and have so much more time to spend with the family.
I am still running and have renewed excitement due to Nora picking up the sport. I am not running as fast as I did a few years ago, but am still earning medals in my age group. In fact, this year saw my first age group wins. Robin and the kids got me a great gift for Christmas; a three pack of races for 2015, the first of which will take place on New Year's Day. To say the least, I am going to hit 2015 running.

We all hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a Happy and Healthy New Year!


Thursday, June 5, 2014

What Next?

Before anyone who is near and dear to me freaks out, I am not making any major life changes. In your defense, there have been several on my part!

Life is just so cool!

We are truly blessed!

There are so many options in life. So many things for us to try. So many flavors to taste. So many people to meet.

How does one person fit it all in? How does one avoid being overwhelmed by choice, paralyzed by decision?

Just jump!

Close your eyes and jump in with both feet.

I had a saying in college. "I'll give it a whirl." I wanna live like that again. What's stopping me? What's stopping you?


Do you want to learn to play the cello? Go for it...take some lessons.

Get in better shape? Find a fun way to move every day. (Call me if you wanna run!)

Try a new food? Dig in. (Unless you are allergic it won't kill you!)

Make or have more friends? Introduce yourself to a stranger. (Most of us don't bite....and we are all social creatures!)

Just have at it.

Live life.

Enjoy life.

Be you, and....



Friday, May 16, 2014

I Am Not Good At......

This could be a pretty extensive list. Be sure to clear your schedule prior committing to reading this post.

On the other hand, (you have different fingers) I could just focus on a couple really glaring weak spots. Yeah, that's the route I am going to take. Why point out many things at which I am mediocre when I can really dig into two which are mega fails?!?

First and foremost, this blog. It was going to be different this time. I had given myself permission to not hold myself to a standard of writing everyday, or every week even. Once a month was the goal. Have I managed that? Click here to see for last post. I love writing. It is a good way to keep in touch with my friends and family, has some therapeutic benefits, and helps keep me mentally sharp....I think.

Unfortunately, it seems to have fallen victim to an unforeseen side effect of my new job. I spend a lot of my day in front of a computer writing e-mails, researching prospective students in our database, etc... When I get home the last thing I want to do is sit in front of my laptop and write. Sorry. Sorry to my family for not keeping you up to date on the happenings of the Robinsons. Sorry to my friends...I am a riot and am depriving you of my humor. Sorry to The Ocho, I miss you guys. Sorry to me. I really miss doing this.

Any suggestions? I really want to make this work. Does anyone else have a similar issue? What did you do to overcome it, or did you?

My second massive failing is a connected to the first in a way. I am not good at maintaining friendships. I used to blame this on my career in the restaurant business. I was at work when everyone else was out socializing...weekends and holidays. I have been out of the direct running of restaurants for over 7 years. Let the good times roll! Not so fast. The first job I took upon leaving the restaurants was managing a warehouse. I worked strange hours (very early in the morning), and therefore was too tired to go out with friends. Then, of course, came school. Going back to finish my degree was a massive undertaking which consumed nearly two years of my life. Oooh, this is a good one...many of my good friends live out of state or at the very least are several hours away.

These are all great reasons, right? Not so much. It is easier than ever, thanks to the internet, to stay in touch with people. Just write a quick note saying hi and giving a short account of life....oops, see above. I work bankers hours these days, and have my nights, weekends, and holidays relatively free. I sleep well, and have finished school. Several of my out-of-town friends have extended open ended invites for us to come visit. What gives?

Am I anti-social?

Am I lazy?

Am I powerless against the call of the couch?

I don't have the answers. All I do know is my lack of communicating has weighed on me as of late. Hopefully writing it down and broadcasting it publicly will help.(Ahh...therapeutic benefits sneaking in here!)

"Nuff of this depressing crap. Now for some things at which I excel.

I rock a killer beard. It makes me hot not only in the summer, but year round.
I married well. Have you seen Robin? She was pretty kick a$$ before, but now she is learning how to truly kick butt!
I have awesome kids. They are doing the Couch to 5k with me.
I can run.
I'm killing it on the PLP 61 day challenge.
I have an awesome job.
I am pretty sure I make a positive difference.

Alright, I feel better. I hope you do too.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

January 2013, Revisited...

I did not get around to writing the Robinson Family year in review letter, failed to write a blog post recapping the year, and even blew it with Christmas cards. We had a pretty good year with some notable happenings. Over the course of several posts I am going to attempt to fill you in on the year that was.


2013 started with renewed determination to run more, write more, and finish my Eureka College career strong. One of those three goals were accomplished. Resolutions are meant to be broken, right?

On the personal front, January consisted of a lot of reading and writing for school. I did, however, find time to turn out a couple No Worries entries. In fact, three of them were likely the most viewed in No Worries history. Robin and the women of Eureka Christian Church went off to Springfiled, IL for a retreat leaving the men and children to fend for themselves. I choose to document our story. I am told the testimony was quite humorous. Here are the links if you care to have a read and decide for yourself:

Retreat or Community Conquest?

Retreat or Community Conquest?...Part Two

Retreat or Community Conquest?...The Homecoming

January was really about Robin. I was thrilled Robin was able to get away for the weekend, recharge, and spend time with some friends. She carried a huge load while I was in school and deserved more than just one weekend for all she did.

January 2014 found the women heading out on the retreat again, but without the mischevious intentions. They had a great time as usual, and the men survived on their own...barely.

The rest of the month primarily found the Robinson's huddled together at home as much of the Midwest was in the grips of a polar vortex. We all managed to get through without losing any fingers or toes, but it did take a huge bite out of the runing I wanted to get done. It also gave us all a real appreciation for the warmer months. Rumor has it a groundhog will let us know what the future holds in terms of weather tomorrow. I, for one, am more interested in the big game:

#10 Michigan @ Indiana. Go Blue!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Inertia, Thy Name Is......

Bitter Wind Chill!

A few posts ago I mentioned I was having issues with running lately. I think I have it figured out. My problem is the unbearable wind chill which has been blasting through the Midwest this winter.

That is it. I have named my ailament, my road block, the thing keeping me away from my running. Now that it has a name I can beat it, right?

Not that simple.

The mind is willing, but I still cannot get into a good rhythm with my running. It is a physically daunting task to try and get out in these conditions. The wind literally takes your breathe away. It is hard to do much of anythnig without breathing, let alone run.

What to do...

Many people resort to the dreadmill, er, I mean, treadmill, in these conditions. So I thought I would give it a go, and went over to the college fitness center last Sunday and gave it a whirl.

It. Was. Torture!

One of the aspects I love most about running is the journey. Unfortunately on a treadmill you are....

Running to Stand Still.

Kind of defeats the purpose.

Many tell me it is better than nothing, and occaionally, it is. However, making it a habit is just not an option for me.

I had a great plan set for last week, but Mother Nature had other ideas. I am facing a similar challenge with the beginning of this week. Our forecasted tempurature for tomorrow is -1 with wind chills reaching 30 below. Tuesday is going to be a bit better, but I am not sure if it will be warm enough. More importantly, still enough.

Later in the week should be better and I have to get back on a roll. Normally I would not be so irritated about a lull in January, however, I have been trying to get back into similar shape as I was prior to returning to school. Also, I have a distance goal for the year. I would love to log 1000 miles this year. This may be a a tough task. I am behind the 8-ball due to the weather in January and my need to build my milage up appropriatly with out getting hurt.

Mother Nature, throw me a bone, please?

Until she shapes up I hear the couch and a martini calling my name.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday....At Home!

This is a situation very unique to my new career; being home on a bank holiday. Having spent the majority of my working life in the restaurant business in some shape or form I typically found myself working most holidays. Early on in my restaurant career it did not bother me at was just an other day, and most of my friends were in the industry anyway.

Then came the family.

These holidays were no longer just an other day, but opportunities to spend time with Robin, Nora, and Nigel. Well, missed opportunities that is.

Now that I work for a college I have many of these holidays off, today being one of them. To the general observer, we did nothing special with this day off. Robin and I watched the newest episode of Sherlock in the morning and were joined by the children about halfway through. We all had separate breakfasts before Robin, Nora, and Nigel went to Mu Sool Wan, and I hit the basement for my workout which was followed by a run. The afternoon found the kiddos spending with their cousin's, Sofie & Pete, and Robin and I home alone.

Not a lot of quality time there.

However, just the fact I have been home has been wonderful. We are all back under one roof now. Nigel is putting together his new Lego Technic car, and Nora is practicing her piano. It is great just to be present and able to see and hear the activity.

The quality of life improvement this new career has provided for me and the family is priceless.

Thank you Eureka College.

Speaking of new careers and Eureka College: I kinda had a big year. I will catch you up on the year that was 2013 in the Robinson house during the course of my future writings.

Oh, and I have not forgotten. I alluded to the grip inertia seems to have on my running. I'll get to that.

Until then....


Sunday, January 19, 2014

False Starts

I started blogging in 2007 with a pictorial year in review, (click here if you want a walk down memory lane) had a solid year of writing in 2008, so-so in 2009, and have been hit and miss ever since.

I really enjoy writing, but find so many excuses not to do it. Inertia is powerful with this one!

This year I am going to attempt to break free, and write more often. It is good for the mind and soul. To actually accomplish this I am going to be a bit more realistic in my expectations.

In the past I attempted to write daily; pretty unreasonable. One day missed would turn into two, then three, and so on until I convinced myself there was no point gave up all together.

To complicate matters even more I would put imaginary (at least I hope they are) pressures on myself. First the obvious, does anyone even care to read my ramblings. I am sure everyone wonders from time to time whether or not others have any interest in ones thoughts, hopes, dreams, or superhero fantasies. Some do, some don't. It is something over which I have no control, so, no need to dwell on the topic. Second, I have written, according to some, a few very funny entries. Guess what? I feel the need to be funny every time I write. Not gonna happen.

My unreasonable expectations, and imaginary pressures all combined to bring my attempts to continue writing to frequent and screeching halts.

This time around I am going to be a bit more realistic. Writing once a day, twice a week, or once a week is just fine. The important bit is not how often, but that I just do it. Worrying about whether others care about what I have to express is silly. There are my friends and family out there who genuinely care about the happenings in the Robinson household, and I would like to share. I am not forcing any one to click the link and read. As for the funny bit...I am funny, but not every time and surely not when forcing it.

So, that is it. That is my plan to break free of the inertia keeping my fingers from the keyboard. Speaking of inertia...

I really should be going for a run, but I am having issues getting a good rhythm going. That is a topic for another day....