Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!!

2016 was certainly a banner year around the Robinson house for our family.  We are so thankful that 2016 was a healthy year for all of us and we give God the glory for clean scans and great UVA checkups for Dave.

Here are some highlights from our year!

Youth events at church are always keeping us hopping.  Here was Hope at our princess tea party which was a fundraiser for our Nashville Mission trip.  Kyle and I had the opportunity during 2016 to serve at a nursing home and a refugee literacy center as part of our Week of Hope mission trip in Nashville.  We are excited because 2017 will provide 4/5 of our clan the opportunity to head to Charleston SC this summer for another mission trip.  Hope will not be old enough, but blessedly Mike and David will join us this year!
2016 was a year of basketball for our family! We certainly love our hoops around here! Lots of fun memories were made in 2016 in basketball gyms.
This past year Kyle has played on several AAU teams and he is now playing on his high school JV team.
Easter morning our three kiddos in blue:)
Springtime now means Challenger baseball for our family!  It is a family affair as Kyle is our pitcher, Dave plays, Hope volunteers as a helper buddy and Mike and I keep it going.  We adore these kids and we love our time at the field!  Thankfully we enjoy baseball because in 2017 Mike has stepped up to be the Little League president to keep our league going strong and to keep Challenger available to the special needs kids in our area.
This past year in 2016 Hope became a swimmer girl graduating from the developmental swim team to the LASO swim team!  She kept us busy in 2016 with her basketball, swim, and piano!
in 2016 we made lots of memories on Pops boat on Claytor Lake.  We love our lake time and we hope 2017 will also include many summer days at the lake.
This past year we enjoyed a leisurely cruise to the Bahamas with Pops and GG.  We love time together as a family to rest, relax and eat!  Ha!  Cousin Adam and Garnet joined us this past year and we had a geat time.  We also hosted Oma and Bob for a week in September.  If you ever go on a cruise they are serious about that rule about having a photo ID to return to your boat after a day on land.  Some of us learned this lesson the hard way.
In 2016 we were blessed with the opportunity to host families for Special Spectators at Virginia Tech.  We love volunteering for this amazing organization that we ourselves were blessed by when David was in treatment. We always meet the strongest and bravest families through our volunteering with Special Spectators.  In 2016 we also had the opportunity to start a summer feeding and literacy program through church for children in poverty.  It was an amazing 8 week program staffed by our youth group and it was a blessing to us all.  We are excited for the program to expand in 2017 and provide us an opportunity to serve more children.
This past fall Kyle started high school which has been a great experience so far.  Here he is dressed up for the homecoming dance!
In 2016 David was asked to be a model in the Cure by Design fashion show to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  Dave rocked the stage in his fancy clothes with Pops, GG, Dad and Hope to cheer him on.  I was home helping my boy get his tie straight for homecoming dance and plan a midnight  buffet for his friends after the dance.
In 2016 Hope became a tennis player with the help of Ms. Bennie.  This girl keeps us hopping!
The big news in the past year is that Dave was invited to play on an AAU basketball team and it has been such a blessing for him! What a precious sight to see him decked out in his uniform with his friends.
Kyle used 2016 to get better at his basketball game and it is showing this season.  I am sure 2017 will include many more hours in a gym cheering on our kids playing basketball.
in 2016 the AAU basketball bug his this little love too and she has joined a cute little team.  We even got to watch them win their first tournament a few weeks ago!  I love that our kids learn the valuable life lessons that come from being on a team.
2016 gave us the opportunity for David to participate in Buzz's Bunch events at Virginia Tech.  Words cannot express how thankful we are for the love that David has been shown at VT.  Here he is with Coach Buzz in a post game press conference.
We ended 2016 shopping and planning a great Christmas for the 43 kids our youth adopted through Santa's Elves.  This project is crazy and hectic, but it certainly provides a great blessing to end the year.  We pray that 2017 will provide us many opportunities to teach our own children and the church youth the blessing that comes from serving and loving their neighbor.

The best and biggest news of 2016 came when Mike won the Regional Superintendent of the Year award.  It was so amazing and emotional to watch him accept his award because frankly he was so deserving of it.  We knew when he received his award that God had provided another job opportunity for Mike and that he felt that it was probably going to work out.  Mike was a wonderful and tireless superintendent for ten years but it was time for a little less public and lower stress job which God provided.  In August he began his tenure at the Linwood Holton Governor's School.  He loves the challenge of his new job and we all love his lower stress level  and more time with us.  He has a more balanced life now which is a blessing to him.

We were blessed in 2016 and we cannot wait to see what 2017 has in store!  We pray that as a family we grow closer to God, look for ways to serve Him in our community and enjoy quality time with friends and family.  Welcome 2017!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Basketball Nuts

Most families would be posting blog updates on all the holiday festivities their family has been participating in.  Our family; however, has been spending the last few weeks preparing for Christmas between basketball games.  We certainly love our basketball around here and yesterday was a pretty banner day in this household.
We never dreamed we would be starting all over again in the AAU basketball circuit, but yesterday  I found myself back in the younger ranks of AAU cheering on our girl ball player.  Hope quit ballet this year to play more basketball and our girl certainly loves it!  We are not staking our retirement on her WNBA career, but this girl loves playing hoops! Yesterday these tiny ballers went to their first ever tournament.  We gave Hope this big pep talk about Kyle's first AAU game when he was in second grade and how they lost 42-4 in their first game and for her not be upset if they did not win.  Mike and I even secretly questioned if these little girls after only practicing for two months would even score against more seasoned teams, but amazingly they won their age division!!!!
Here she is getting her ginormous championship ring!  She was speechless and exhausted after spendng 11 hours in a gym playing a total of four games.  Notice her proud Pops looking on as she got her ring.  He and David made it in time to watch the championship game!
A team of excited girls ready to play and modeling their new uniforms!
David also had an amazing day at Virginia Tech with his beloved Pops, his Uncle Chad, Aunt Net Net, and cousin Clayton.  He was invited to participate in Buzzs Bunch Day at Virginia Tech. He got the chance to warm up with the team prior to the game.  They got to watch the team play against the Citadel and I hear David ate a hot dog or two!  Ha!
After the game David got to go behind the scenes and attend Coach Buzz's press conference!  He spoke so well!  Buzz asked him three questions and Mike and I were so impressed that he remembered the three questions, answered correctly, and used his best speaking voice.  That was HUGE for our boy!  What a treat!

Not only did David get to attend the post game press conference and speak, but he, Pops, and Cousin Clayton got to to into the locker room and hear Buzz address and pray with the players.  He then got to break the huddle down!! I hate I missed all of this, but I was with my baller girl and I guess Mommas wouldn't have been allowed in the locker room anyway.  :) If you watch the press conference it is so cute because David was exhausted after a big day and getting up at 6:15 didn't help and he looked like he was going to fall asleep!  We certainly love our Hokies Men's basketball team and Coach Buzz!
You know you are a tiny baller when your feet do not touch the floor when you are on the bench!  Ha!  These girls were so precious and never gave up! We know we now need to get our girl some knee pads and true basketball shoes.
We love our number 14 with her hands on her hips pulling up her shorts!
Our elf on the shelf put himself in a plastic box so he could attend the basketball action!  It was so cute to see these girls passing him around.
Not only has Kyle's JV basketball season kept him busy but this past week he played in a tournament in Bristol with his team.  Over four days he played three games in that tournament.  He loves his hoops as well and it was fun and exhausting to cheer on our boys.  Mike was with him yesterday for their final game in the tournament while I was with Hope and Dave was at VT.
Basketball is what Kyle loves the most.  He is learning a new position this year and is frustrated that he is not scoring more, but we are so proud that he has been given the opportunity to play different places due to his time spent in the off-season working on his ball handling.  Kyle is his harshest critic!

So for our family, instead of posting Santa pictures, cookies that we have baked, or a car full of presents bought, we post basketball updates!  Our bottoms are numb from hours spent on basketball bleachers, but we love every minute of it.  It is exciting to watch our oldest play high school ball, watch David have opportunities like Buzz's Bunch and his own AAU team, and to see our baby girl play a sport she was watched since infanthood.  We are also so thankful for our village of extended family yesterday that helped our kiddos get to their activities.  GG was with me for 11 hours in a gym and Mike was with Kyle.  It took Pops, Uncle Chad, Aunt Net Net and Cousin Clayton to keep up with David at Virginia Tech yesterday.  We are thankful for time together and for time watching our kids be basketball nuts.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Big Feelings Five Years Later

This week has been full of big feelings as we have faced the five year anniversary  from the day David was diagnosed with cancer.  Thanks to Time hop on facebook and the fact that November will always be different for me, I have relived lots of hard and painful memories this week from D-day at UVA five years ago.

Crunching leaves on a sidewalk will always remind me of those cool mornings walking from the Ronald McDonald house to the hospital trying to beat  the oncologist before rounds.  Thanksgiving break always reminds me of those days that David was recovering from surgery preparing to begin the battle with chemo.  There are so many memories floating around my head from those first few days where our lives changed on a dime.

So five years later here we are.  We are so incredibly blessed that our boy made it through the storm, and he is here with us.  He is a little beat up and scarred, but we are all stronger because cancer pushed its way into our lives.  Five years later we as a family understand what really matters and that list pretty much only includes God and family.

Cancer has made us laser-focused on raising our kids to be laborers for God's Kingdom and learning what it means to love our neighbor.  The love you all showed to us during the hard days changed us and made us want to be better neighbors back to you.  We want our kids to know that God comes first always and that our lives are meant to bring Him glory.  God was so present and powerful in those hallways of UVA hospital, that we were changed by seeing His glory.

I will never be bold enough to speak about how cancer changed Mike or our other kids-that is their story to tell not mine.  But as a cancer Momma who was blessed enough to be able to be bed-side with our boy constantly I have been changed.  I would never want cancer to enter our lives again, but I am so thankful that God used it to make me a better servant of His.

I am now bolder in sharing my faith because I know that Jesus is real, present and active in our lives.  and aching to be important to us.  He is our best friend, our comforter, our sustainer, and our healer.  I no longer feel the need to try to please man because I am here to please God and God only.  Not everyone will understand the changes I have been through and appreciate the newer me, but that is fine.  I want to raise my kids to be Godly servants.  I want to love my husband well and always honor my wedding vows. I want to welcome little preschoolers to their educational journey with a big hug and knowledge before they launch into "big school." I want to teach middle schoolers the amazing and life transforming story that is the bible and model for them how to put God first always.  I want to spend my life serving the least and the lost by showing the love of Christ.

So cancer, five years later you still are impacting us.  We never wanted you to enter our home but thankfully our God used you to teach us what is of value in this world.  Five years later I am still the same cancer Momma pouring my heart out on my laptop on this sared blog space, but today I can praise God our boy is still with us and that I am a new and improved version of myself.  To God be the glory today and always.  Amen.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pumpkins, Hokies, and More!

This time of year the calendar is always full but with fun and festive fall activities.

This cutie went to the pumpkin patch with our afterschool church program.  That program has grown so much this year and Hope loves it!  The Conner family is always so sweet to welcome so many kids, preschoolers, and youth from church to visit their pumpkin patch and pick their perfect pumpkin!  This picture makes me sad because Hope looks so grown up here!
Thursday night Kyle and I headed to Blacksburg for a night Hokie game versus Miami.  Night games are so much fun at Lane Stadium and I love that for decades this has been one of the special things I have done with my Dad.  It thrills me that my boys love it as much as I do and that we have made some great memories in Blackburg together.  Yes, it was a late night for a work and school night but it was so worth it!
We love the Hokies and it was great to get a win versus Miami!!
Cousin Clayton also joined us and I caught this sweet moment walking to the car.  Clayton is also in sixth grade like David :)
Friday night Mike and I had a date night back in Blacksburg to attend the VT basketball tip-off banquet.  We are big fans of the VT coach, Buzz Williams and it was a great date night for us!  We were invited by the Glenns and got to sit with some other great Marion folks and mingle with the players and coaches, eat a great meal, and learn more about the VT basketball program.  We have such respect for Buzz because of his Buzz's Bunch program for special needs kids.
I took a selfie with the coach to show David!  There were some amazing auction items but they quickly got above our price range!  Ha!
My pictures are out of order again, but last week Mike and I started a new testament bible study at church.  Tonight was our night to take snacks to I got crafty thanks to pinterest and had a pumpkin themed snack!  Above are homemade cream cheese pumpkin muffins, and below are "pumpkins" made out of mandarin oranges and celery for the stem! I also made pumpkin bread with cinnamon chips.  Of course when we got to church Mike was given all the credit for the snacks!  HA!
We also got to visit with one of our favorite VT players, Seth Allen!  We will be rooting for him and all the VT players this upcoming season!

It has been a busy few days around here but I did get a night Hokie game with my oldest, a date night with my man, and time at home this weekend to try out new pumpkin recipes for bible study.  I am thankful for the beauty of this time of year and I am thankful for quality time with those I love the most.  Life is getting ready to get really busy as basketball season is coming up for all THREE of our kids!!  Enjoy the beauty of the season!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This is What Inclusion Looks Like

Tonight I sat on a hard gym bleacher watcing an AAU practice.  This gal has spent many countless hours in the gym doing the same thing for our oldest but tonight I was sitting there for our David.  Our special needs child with low muscle tone, who has scars from battling cancer, and whose IQ is just below the magic line to be labeled with an intellectual disability, was invited to be on a local AAU basketball team.  Those who know David well know that basketball is his life, and watching him out on that court with his peers from school playing on a real team just about made this Momma come undone.  
 Tonight, my friends, I witnessed the pure straight up magic of inclusion.  Because David has been exposed to the typical curriculum in regular classes, he has made lots of friends- true friends who love him for who he is.  They certainly know he has a disability but good friends certainly do not count chromosomes.  Good friends know David loves basketball and has a pretty decent shot so when they needed a player they reached out to David.  I cannot handle the awesomeness that happened in that gym tonight.
We are certainly realistic and know that David will not be the tallest kid on the team and will not be called on to do the jump ball, or be the clutch foul shooter in a close game, but that is not what this is all about.  David has been given the opportunity to be on a team, receive a uniform, and make memories with his peers from school.  That is worth more than any basketball stats that will be kept this season in the stat book.
 Tonight the boys that missed two foul shots had to run suicides, and this Momma was probably the happiest mother ever to witness her child running suicides.  I love that the coach holds him to the same expectation as the other players, and has set the bar high for our Dave.  He does not have the ability that others may have but what this guy lacks in ability he compensates for it with heart and work ethic.
 Just when my heart was already beating out of my chest, Kyle was called out on the court to help in some drills.  I looked up and saw his awesome coach working with him on foul shots as big brother cheered him on.  God has certainly blessed our Dave with an amazing village around him!

Tonight I witnessed a beautiful example of what inclusion looks like-it looks like a child with a significant disability being included with his peers, being held to the same standard but with his friends recognizing that David was made a little differently.  I am not sure how many games this team will win this year but after witnessing their first practice, it truly does not matter because this team is made up of winners-from their coach down to every player who welcomed my son and encouraged him during his first practice.  This Momma is so thankful and overwhelmed by the magic of inclusion.

I also got to cheer on my favorite girl tonight playing tennis and this sweet girl was a joy to watch!  May her heart stay pure and her determination never dim.  She too is a winner!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hoco 2016 and Cure by Design

What a super fun weekend we just had!  Last week was Kyle's first homecoming week at MSHS.  MSHS faculty and students make it such a special week with dress up days, a variety show, a movie night, and then of course the football game and dance.  I love that my kids will go to a school with such school spirit.

Saturday night I watched in awe as my first born enjoyed his first homecoming dance.  He went in a group made up of some great kids and he asked a sweet girl to be his date.  The kids chose Mason's farm as the spot for pictures and between their beautiful smiles, gorgeous fall weather, and a picturesque farm the pictures turned out great.
I really encouraged Kyle to go to homecoming because I want him to have four great years of high school.  I want him to be involved and make memories with great friends.  He certainly chose a pretty girl (inside and out) to be his date and I so enjoyed taking their pictures.
My heart was so full watching these kids laugh and have fun together.
My Momma heart was struggling that I actually had a child old enough to attend a high school dance.  We worked with him all week on how to treat a girl- I instructed him to treat his date in a way that is pleasing to God and how he would want someone treating his sister one day:)  

This beauty, Caroline, was also in their group.  Kyle and Caroline have grown up together and he loves her so much.  He even called me from the dance worried because she was upset for a minute because some boy was dancing with a girl.  This girl is the center of their social group and she was THE freshman rep on the homecoming court.  She looked beautiful! 

handsome guys in the hay loft on the farm.
The farm was so beautiful and gave us lots of good photo opportunities.
AFter the farm the group headed downtown to eat dinner.  We had to do some last minute pictures on the Iron St. Mall.  This picture makes me smile.
I was also THAT Mom that followed them into the restaurant for one last picture.  A few Moms and I had dinner at a nearby restaurant while they ate dinner.
Meanwhile while I was playing homecoming Mom, Mike, Dave, Hope, GG, And Pops, were at the Hotel Roanoke for the Cure by Design fashion show to benefit the American Cancer Society.  David was one of the models and it was a fabulous night!
David getting ready to rock the runway.  Blessedly one of my friends from college was also attending the gala and offered us seats at her table which allowed David to have a big cheering section!! I hate I had to miss it but having multiple children means that often you have to divide and conquer and Saturday night was one of those nights for us.  Mike said David did great and was not shy at all! HA! I was so thankful that GG and Pops were willing to be there in my place and truly cheer him on.
It is amazing to think that in our family David has finished treatment for cancer and Pops is almost finished with his chemo.  I never imagined that cancer would touch us so directly.  I am so thankful for events like this where David gets to shine and to give support  to the American Cancer Society.

This past weekend all the Robinsons (minus me) were in their finest for either Homecoming or the Cure by Design Gala.  I am so thankful for a fun homecoming weekend for Kyle with a great group of friends, and I am thankful for Dave to use his sparkle and personality to help raise crucial dollars for the American Cancer Society.