Turning off the TV.

This year we as a family decided to turn the TV off for Lent – forty days without the tube. With the new baby, the holidays, and all of the other stressors we’ve had, there had been lots of Netflix and video gaming in the Robinson household. So this was going to be hard, but doing it as a family is the key.

For Christians, Lent is a time of reflection on the sacrifices of Christ. It’s the forty days before Easter, starting with Ash Wednesday. We try in small ways to make some sacrifices ourselves in an effort to bring ourselves closer to God. It’s a wonderful time of growth and expansion, probably because it is a challenge. The idea is to give up things that are not necessarily harmful to us but rather luxuries that we would otherwise feel entitled to. So you wouldn’t necessarily use this time to give up smoking, but of course there’s never a bad time to give that up.

I thought I’d share our saga here with you, and let you know how we’ve spent the time. I guess one good thing is that it’s afforded me the time to take up blogging again 🙂

Day 1 – Ash Wednesday. Church! Dinner at the table with everyone. The house felt so quiet. Shockingly quiet. It’s amazing how without that background noise (which is of course what TV tends to be) there is just this emptiness. A bit of a jolt to adjust to.

Day 2 – Thursday. This day was a bit more challenging. The boys however discovered a love of bath time. They took four baths between the two of them – two together and one each alone. We were admittedly shocked at this development.

Day 3 – I was home from my internship. We read lots of books today and the boys spent a ton of time outside. Also got their room a bit clean! Went to see hubby’s grandfather and spent a great portion of the afternoon there.

Day 4 – Saturday. The hubby was gone with his dad all morning, so the boys and I enjoyed a super quiet day.  We listened to a lot of NPR. The boys played with their Skylanders – these little statue toy things that go with the Wii. The boys played out their game WITHOUT their game. It was super fun to see. They played out this elaborate story with their figures. For a while Virgil was even the bad guy. Day 5 – Sunday. Church again in the morning. I am so proud of my boys, who are hanging with it so well. We’ve talked a lot about God and sacrifice, how it can make you a better person. However, Yeats says that next year he’s giving up homeschool for Lent.

Day 6 – Monday. Took Hermione to PT and her first speech. Hubby did karate with the boys. An easy day!

Day 7 – Tuesday. LeapPad has taken over our house! Mom got the boys the old kind of LeapPad, the kind with actual books that you touch with a pen, and they had not really taken much notice of it for months. She hooked them up with like twenty books. Now it’s all they want to do. LeapPad started at 4:30am. Hermione went to doc for what turned out to be infected ear pits (see previous post)

Day 8 – Wednesday. We decided to have a picnic on the deck. In the cold. With blankets.


Day 9 – Thursday. Karate with the family. This is perhaps my favorite picture ever!


Day 10 – Friday. The boys rediscovered their Cars racetrack. An afternoon of racing ensues.

More to come as the days roll on toward Easter!

Categories: Motivation, Spirituality, Stories from My Life | Leave a comment

Sick night

Hermione has infected ear pits 😦 They’re these little dimples right at the tops of her ears which are actually more than just tiny spots but rather cavernous sinuses. We always knew infection was possible and so we caught it super early as we watch such bizarre things closely.

Thought I’d share our nighttime comfy tray!


Happy midnight everyone!

Creamed corn (currently our favorite food), fruit medley, ibuprofen for the fever, antibiotics for infection and clonazepam to chase away seizures.

Categories: Childcare, Stories from My Life | Leave a comment

Moms and bottoms

Bottoms that Moms Hate to See:

  • The Dirty Bottom

    Dirty Bottom

  • The Bottom of a Roll of Toilet Paper

Toilet Paper Bottom

  • The Bottom of the Milk Container

Milk Bottom

  • The Bottom of the Gas Tank

Gas Bottom

Bottoms that Moms Love to See:

  • The Clean Bottom

Clean Bottom

  • The Bottom of the Sink

Sink Bottom

  • The Bottom of the Laundry Hamper

Laundry Bottom

  • The Bottom of Chris Evans

Captain America Bottom

Categories: Stress Relief | 1 Comment

Celery Appleberry Smoothie

So I’ve decided that it’s time to expand my repertoire when it comes to smoothie making. For a long time I’ve shied away from more exotic ingredients, and by exotic I mean vegetables. So this morning I looked in the fridge and came up with a little something different.


Celery Appleberry Smoothie

Makes one 8 oz smoothie.

  • 1 stalk celery, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 apple, chopped
  • 1/2 banana, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water

I have a GREAT GE single serving blender that I got for 20 bucks at Walmart.  Use your full size blender if that’s what you’ve got.

Just spin for 2 minutes, to make sure that everything is well blended!

MUCH better than I would have thought! The celery adds a little zip, but isn’t overpowering.

I love my veggies, but I’ve been in a veggie rut for a while.  Everything you read says how great vegetables are in smoothies, but I’ll admit that though I’ve tried it at restaurants, I’ve always maintained a fruit only smoothie regimen at home.

This is one that I’ll have again. Without a doubt.

Categories: Health, Recipes | 1 Comment

How to attack a fever

Long time no blog. But here I am!

Until this year, we’d never really dealt with much sickness in our house. Colds here and there, and the occasional bout of stomach flu but on the whole nothing serious.

This week has hit our little family hard! Yeats and Jude, who are terribly robust little boys, both have had incredibly high fevers. Jude topped out at 103 and Yeats at 104. Hermione has been banished to my inlaws (who are awesome btw) in an effort to keep her well and out of the hospital. So far she’s not been hit. She’s on a special med that will raise her threshold for seizure just in case, but she can only stay on it for a few days.

Our sick little boy.

We’ve also seen what a typical febrile seizure looks like. Now I see why everyone freaked out about Hermione’s. Jude (3 years old) had one when his fever hit 103. We called the doctor, who he’d already seen earlier in the day, and since he didn’t have another one and his fever went down, we just kept him home.

Here’s what a typical febrile seizure looks like (from the National Institutes of Health):

  • The child may cry or moan.
  • The muscle tightening may last for several seconds, or longer.
  • The child will fall, if standing, and may pass urine.
  • The child may vomit or bite the tongue.
  • Sometimes children do not breathe, and may begin to turn blue.
  • The child’s body may then begin to jerk rhythmically. The child will not respond to the parent’s voice.
  • The seizure will stop within a few seconds or a few minutes (less than 10)

Jude’s looked like muscle tightening.  Both sides of his body – this weird flexing of his arms and legs that happened at the same time. He stayed pretty responsive and it only lasted for about 3 minutes total. We got him into a cool bath quickly and got the fever down, which stopped the seizure.

So how do you attack a high fever in a child over age 2?

  • Don’t panic. Even a fever of 104, if it can be brought down with medication, is ok. Don’t treat a low grade fever (less than 101) as an otherwise healthy child actually benefits from a low fever and will get better faster.
  • Give an initial double dose of acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol). We use the melt in your mouth pills, which are widely available. The boys love them.
  • Alternate acetaminophen and ibuprofen (brand name Motrin or Advil) every 3 hours. This is trick we learned in the PICU.
  • Cool washcloth alternating on the forehead, back of the neck, chest and back. This does absolute wonders.
  • Warm bath. It’s VERY important not to shock the system. If you plunge a child with a fever into a cool or cold bath you could cause serious complications. But a warm bath can be just the trick, and is also comforting to an achy child.

Fevers often spike in the middle of the night and come without warning. It’s essential that parents of young children keep children’s strength ibuprofen and acetaminophen on hand. We live miles from the nearest 24 hour drugstore, but even if it’s close by you don’t want to find yourself running out at 3am with a sick child at home. If you don’t have some in your medicine cabinet, pick it up TODAY.

Here’s what Dr. Sears has to say about how to treat a fever, in much more detail than what I’m offering http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/childhood-illnesses/fever

Most of all trust your instincts. Hermione gets ibuprofen at a fever of 99 because of the risk of a seizure. Jude started acting unlike himself several hours before his fever hit in the middle of the night.  Yeats started being snarky yesterday afternoon, and his fever spiked to 104 at 4am.  You know your kids best!

Categories: Childcare, Health | Leave a comment


On the list of terrifying things that can happen to your child, slipping into a nonresponsive state is high. This week we experienced that with our daughter and I thought it would be worthwhile to tell you our story and to educate a little about what seizures are.

First of all, a seizure is short circuit in the brain. Nothing more. It’s not permanent, by definition it only lasts for short time.  They’re not GOOD for you but they won’t kill you or cause long term damage as long as they’re passing. In fact, anything under 5 minutes isn’t considered worth going to the ER unless it’s the first seizure or there’s some other complicating factor.

There are tons of kinds of seizures. Sometimes people have seizures that last only a few seconds and are very mild. The two major categories are:

  • Petit mal – basically staring spells. They usually last for less than 15 seconds and are often misdiagnosed
  • Grand mal – what most people think of when they think of seizures. Body shaking, eyes rolling, last for a few minutes.

Seizures can be caused by medications or backing off of medications. Children under 5 are prone to febrile seizures, which are caused by fevers. Usually these last less than 15 minutes and are like grand mal seizures.

Epilepsy is diagnosed when someone has recurrent seizures that are not brought on by some outside force (fever, medication, alcohol, etc.) Sometimes there is an issue in the brain that’s found to cause the seizures and sometimes not.

There are drugs that doctors use to prevent seizures, but there’s no magic bullet. The seizure medications available today don’t cause physical side effects which is great as there was a time that you had to choose between seizures and pancreatic, liver or kidney damage. But they do cause other effects – drowsiness, nausea and dizziness which can be problematic especially for children. They are also mood altering for many people, making them downright mean.

Some myths about seizures:

  • Tongue swallowing – NOT REAL. This is totally an urban legend.
  • Epilepsy = Mental retardation – NOT EVEN. Lots of people with super IQs have seizures.
  • Having one means you’ll have another – NOPE. A person could have one severe, grand mal seizure and never have another one.
  • Seizures are contagious – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

But what do you do if someone has a grand mal seizure?

  • Keep them from hurting themselves. Make sure they don’t bump into anything, fall off of anything or get near the water.
  • Don’t call 911 if it lasts for less than 5 minutes.  Take them to the doctor once the seizure is over. If it does last longer than 5 minutes CALL 911!
  • Once the seizure is over, don’t overstimulate the person. This could cause another seizure.
  • Let the person rest. Seizures are exhausting and the person will probably sleep for hours.

This week our 7 month old little girl had a seizure. It was 11pm on a Tuesday night and was totally unexpected.

She’d been fussy earlier in the evening and had finally gone to sleep around 7pm, which would usually mean that she slept until after midnight. She woke up and was a little warm, but I was feeding her before I took her temperature because she was so upset. About halfway through her bottle, she got a little fussy so I pulled the bottle away and sat her up.  She got a far away look and became unresponsive. She’d had a seizure while we were in the NICU that was caused by a reaction to medication and my husband and I are both in special education, so we were pretty sure this was a seizure.

After a couple of minutes we called his parents to come stay with the boys while we went to the ER.  But the seizure kept going and getting worse. She started shaking and her eyes started rolling. That’s when we called 911. By the time they got there 5 minutes later, her lips were twitching and her tongue was moving so it looked like she was speed talking.  They worked on her in the ambulance in the back yard for 20 minutes before they could get it to stop, and that involved drilling into her lower leg bone to insert a line and administer medication to make it stop.  The whole thing lasted for at least 30 minutes.

Once we got to the ER, there was the usually flurry of blood draws and whatnot. She had another seizure around 1:30am (perhaps brought on by all of that activity) that lasted for 20 minutes before they were able to stop it with medication in the PICU. She was actually transported upstairs during the seizure because the PICU was so better equipped to handle it.

People enter into a kind of catatonic state after a grand mal. Often there’s a partial paralysis called Todd’s paralysis. Hermione had this on her right side for several hours and wasn’t herself even for short spells for two days.  She slept constantly and ate little, was fed by IV and her eyelids swelled shut from the excess IV fluid.

We’re pretty confident that Hermione’s seizure was febrile. On Wednesday morning I woke up in the PICU at 7am and found her to be a little warm. When the nurse took her temperature, it was 106. Yes, one hundred and six. As her neurologist said, if my temperature was that high I would have a seizure.

Still, this was our second experience with seizures, the other one being likely caused by a medication. So we’re told that she probably has a low threshold. She’s on one of the anti-seizure meds called Keppra.  She was on it before and we don’t like it, we find that she’s not responsive, generally in a bad mood and just not able to make developmental strides on it.  We’re giving her B6 daily to help mitigate the effects, but here’s hoping we’ll only be on it for a couple of months at most.

She’s home now. We never found a cause for the fever, we think it was viral. She’s on a low bit of oxygen (darnit we’d make it without home equipment until now!) but is doing well and we should be off of the O2 in a couple of days. Sleeping a lot but that’s the sickness and the Keppra.

At the end of the day, a seizure is terrifying but nothing to be afraid of. You look at your child and wonder if they’ll ever be them again, if you’ve lost them. One the the most amazing things that I’ve ever seen was her during this – she was still there, in her eyes. I could see here in there, not helpless but fighting it. She wanted it to stop and she was trying desperately.  She’s a tough kid.

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Beautiful Baby at the Grocery Store

Just had throw up a quick post to brag.


We did our grocery store thing today Three grocery stores – there are two discount chains in the Asheville area, one specializes in health foods followed by just a few leftover things at the big box regular grocery store. We scored some buckwheat noodle ramen as a treat for my oldest, spelt bread, a case of soy yogurt and whole wheat/spelt thin bagels for a fraction of their price at the health food store. Did I mention the two cases of my husband’s favorite soda – Zevia – which is no calories but sweetened with stevia. Got them for less than half price. They are his super treat.


We literally got stopped a dozen times for people to marvel at Hermione’s beauty. Seriously – stood in front of the cart so I couldn’t move kind of stopped. She’s just as much a charmer as her brothers were. Even her genetic mutation couldn’t keep the adorable out – I think it’s just making her that much cuter. And we were worried.

This is the definition of a cute baby.

Categories: Stories from My Life | Leave a comment

Using a 5K to jump start your fitness

Looking for a way to jumpstart your fitness during this spring? Tis the season for 5Ks!

A 5K equals just 3.1 miles and is an attainable goal for just about anyone, even if you’re sedentary by nature. With a little training, you can find yourself revitalized and proud of yourself.  If you’ve never tried running, it’s something that you should really give a shot. Starting out can be intimidating, but jump in and give it a try!

Six weeks is a reasonable training time for someone who has never run before to go from sedentary to a 5K.  So with that in mind, here’s a basic sample training schedule and how to.

  1. Pick your race. Allow yourself six weeks at least, don’t try to cheat the schedule especially if you’ve never run a race before. Runner’s World has a great race finder. 
  2. Find a plan that works for you. They’re literally ALL OVER the internet. It can get overwhelming.  I’ve included here a super simple time training plan. Since it’s a time based plan,  all you’ll need is your watch and some decent running shoes in order to get started. This is a real beginner plan and meant for someone who’s never run before. Remember that in the real race, you can walk for portions when you’re unable to continue running.  The idea here is to start small and to increase gradually.
    Week 1 REST REST 10 min – jog as much as you can, walk when needed REST 10 min – jog as much as you can, walk when needed REST 10 min – jog as much as you can, walk when needed
    Week 2 REST REST 15 min – aim to run for one 5 min stretch REST 15 min – aim to run for one 5 min stretch REST 15 min – aim to run for one 5 min stretch
    Week 3 REST REST 20 min – run for 7 min stretch REST 20 min – run for 7 min stretch REST 20 min – run for 7 min stretch
    Week 4 REST REST 25 min – run for 10 min stretch REST 25 min – run for 10 min stretch REST 25 min – run for 10 min stretch
    Week 5 REST REST 30 min – run for 10 min stretch REST 30 min – run for 10 min stretch REST 30 min – run for 10 min stretch
    Week 6 REST REST 30 min – run as much as you can REST 20 min – run as much as you can REST RACE DAY!!
  3. Follow your plan. You’ll find that you’re feeling better and stronger every week.  Running is addictive for most people, so hang in there for those first couple of weeks. Every time you run you’ll get stronger and enjoy it more.
  4. RACE!!


One of the best parts about doing a 5K is that you can do it with your family and friends. You can also find a cause that you’re passionate about to run for – there are 5K’s for everything from cancer prevention to the Girl Scouts out there. We’re planning to do the Bunny Run on Easter weekend at Lake Junaluska, there’ll be an Easter egg hunt and a half mile fun run for the kids. A great way to encourage family health!

In summary, here are 5 reasons to do a 5K this Spring:

  • Jumpstart your health.
  • Inexpensive (most 5K’s have an entry fee less than $30)
  • Huge sense of accomplishment.
  • An attainable, reasonable goal for almost anyone.
  • Support a good cause!
Categories: Exercise | Leave a comment


I’ve spent the last seven months making lemonade.

It was just over seven months ago that our daughter was born.  That was the biggest odyssey of the last year and she is the defining characteristic of our lives during this time (you can read about our journey in my previous blog posts here).

But that wasn’t the only thing that went crazy during these last eight months.  My grandfather-in-law was hospitalized while my daughter was still in the NICU (he’s in his 90’s and his heart has been compromised from heart attacks for nearly twenty years). My niece had her appendix out. My grandmother, who raised me along with my mother, was in a car accident. Again, all of this was while my daughter was still in the NICU. Then two weeks after she came home that same grandmother was walking across the street to church, which she has been doing for decades, and was hit by a car. In the face – the rear view mirror hit her full on in the face at full speed.  She was being escorted across the street by a gentleman from the church who was untouched. I can’t go into details because the insurance company hasn’t settled yet, but it was and has been horrendous.  She’s 92.  Then two weeks later, a couple of days before Thanksgiving, my husband was informed that he would loose his job at the end of December because he was unable to fulfill his teacher licensure requirements as a result of our time in the Ronald McDonald House at Duke with our daughter.  We were expecting a pay raise and had planned our family budget around it. He lived in a hostile work environment for the next month and was then denied unemployment because they offered him another position (a teacher assistant position which paid too little to justify a 45 min commute each way).  It seemed as though it was all over until the second week of January when my father-in-law was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

There you have it. I feel like the lemons have been falling from the sky for the last half year.

But what do you do when life gives you lemons? You make LEMONADE.


For everything that’s happened, nothing has been devastating. That may seem crazy but it’s true.

  • Our daughter is surpassing everyone’s expectations. Including ours.
  • My grandfather-in-law has slowed down a little but is doing great.
  • My niece is minus one small organ but is otherwise an awesome teenager.
  • Grandma is still with us! There are long term repercussions from the accident, but she is alive and home. That’s just amazing.
  • My husband and I are taking this opportunity to re-evaluate our vision and change our lives.
  • My father-in-law had his kidney and the tumor removed at Duke and the cancer had not spread!

For all of the struggles and hard choices and seemingly insane turns of events over the last few months, we are all still here.  Our family has been through the fire and we’re stronger on the other side.

So on this leap day, I’m taking this extra sunrise as a sign that life is beautiful and a gift. Raising a glass of lemonade to all of the strong people in my life who inspire me and to the miracles that I’ve been blessed to witness.

Categories: Stories from My Life | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

20 reasons to exercise

  1. You will NOT live to be 100 if you don’t.
  2. It’s addictive.
  3. Workout clothes have come a long way.
  4. More exercise = less cancer.
  5. Our bodies are meant to move.
  6. It involves oogling hot guys at the gym.
  7. Your children.
  8. Your grandchildren.
  9. Your great-grandchildren.
  10. Fewer real sick days (so you can use those sick days for fun)
  11. Your body is real – your TV is not.
  12. More exercise means more food!
  13. A little goes a long way.
  14. Your friends will be impressed.
  15. Lower medical bills.
  16. Better sex.
  17. A sense of accomplishment.
  18. Being able to shop anywhere in the mall.
  19. You will feel better. (even if it sucks at first)
  20. No more guilt about not exercising!


Categories: Exercise, Motivation | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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