Monday, December 24, 2012 celebrate Isabella's 10th birthday

...Happy Birthday my intelligent, devoted, caring first born!


...hang the stockings with care

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 show off a pretty

...Christmas sweater

First it was this...

After a little bit of time...

Four double D batteries....

And two strings of lights...

It became this:

Notice any difference?
How about now...

Isn't it pretty?

Yep.  It lights up.

And the tie plays music.

And just for good measure there is a little appliqué snowman that has melted on the back.

It was a hit.

or maybe it was him?

Saturday, December 15, 2012 enjoy a girls day out

...with my three favorite ones.

While Mark and Will enjoyed boy time at the bowling alley and fine dining at Buffalo Wild Wings.

I wish I had gotten a photo the three of them in their Christmas best for our date day...

They looked adorable.

I won't forget our time together today though...

We enjoyed the first part of our morning watching the play:

I didn't realize it had been made into a theatre performance (either); however, it was super cute and all three girls enjoyed themselves and their pink frosted cookies during the show!

We followed up our afternoon with lunch at our favorite local restaurant...Chipotle.

Then finally, we dropped Isabella off at a birthday party at Michael's where she made these (note: a great place for birthday party!):

a solar system, garden, dog house, and Thomas Jefferson.

and this:

"a Thomas Jefferson likeness"
Was there a theme at this birthday party?

What a lovely, fairly ordinary, day of time well-spent with my girls.

Time I am forever grateful for.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 make ice-cream


Coming up with a fun family advent activities that can coordinate with the chaos can be a bit tricky...

But this will be a favorite for years to come I am sure.

Ice-cream sundae bar.

As much as I love ice-cream I didn't even sample one bite of their creations.
  • I wasn't offered a bite.  In fact, I had to prevent two of them from licking their bowls.
  • Sprinkles aren't really my thing.
  • All those combinations of textures and flavors, frankly makes me a bit queasy.

As I have mentioned before...Audrey is really 'into' bunny ears.

In case you were wondering....Will's hairdo is not-by-chance.

It was a very serious and surprisingly quiet activity.

Masterpiece 1.

So Yummy!

He added more chocolate...several times.

Sprinkles anyone?
Already the requests are pouring in for topping for our next ice-cream bar....marshmallows, chocolate chips, graham crackers, gummy bears...blech.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 attend the school

...Christmas program.


Clearly the two little ones are excited!

During the performance...

The lighting at these functions is always terrible.  And I never can get quite close enough.  

When they look back on these photos in years to come...who will they remember?

Will they be in touch with any of these children?

I sure hope so...

Post performance...

Enough already...

These jokers were DONE!

(Note:  Audrey and Luke were giving themselves bunny ears...they haven't got the memo on that one.)

P.S.  I enjoyed this year's performance so much more than last year's....I was even able to take pictures!

Monday, December 10, 2012 share something I know

...about lemons.

Sometimes when life hands you a lemon...

It makes you sweet after all...

putting her babies to sleep
explaining the importance of rest...
she fell asleep watching Arthur's Christmas
and transferred into Daddy's arms
Who knew? thank my Dad

...for coming to visit at this crazy time of year!

My dad has been super busy at work for the last few months.  And between football season and now basketball season he hasn't had too many days off.

Traditionally my dad has come into to town on the weekend of the Army/Navy football game so that Mark and I can enjoy a weekend away.  Even though we weren't able to attend the game this weekend my Dad still made his trek to spend some time with the kids.

And I quote him, "I needed a rest."

Mark's retort, "I don't think any one person has every used that phrase to describe time at our house..."

Audrey is his biggest fan.
I can speak for myself as well as the kids it sure was great to have my Dad around.  He cooked, he tidied, he did several art projects with Abbey, and he finished up all of my holiday baking!

This doesn't even include all of the times throughout the few days that I deserted him with my cherubs so I could run errands alone...and Mark and I even had an entire day to ourselves in Syracuse (we nearly finished our holiday shopping!).

He even...without a single complaint, had all of Amy's kids here for one of the afternoons!  And still made all of us adults dinner (to include Amy).   

For all of the things he did, I love watching him enjoy the kids the most.  And the joy on their faces when he arrived...priceless!  I am certain, their welcome, made the long drive here worth every moment of his time.

Thanks Dad!

When he left, my dad said he was ready to go back to he could rest.

Wonder when he is coming back?

Thursday, December 6, 2012 make some ornaments

...for our Advent activity of the day

Once again, I am a big fan of 'trying to kill two birds with one stone'.

Is this an appropriate phrase to use during the holidays?  My heart tells me I should be enjoying the head tells me the kids don't know our 'familiy time' is checking things off of my what is the harm?

Ohh...the inner conflict I am facing!

I digress.

The bottom line for this evening is we knocked out a few teacher cards and other holiday gifts in the process of working together on our activity.

While I was unpacking all of our Christmas decor a few days ago, I found several ornaments and card-making kits I must have purchased on clearance at the end of the holiday season.  I pulled out these little kits for our Advent activity tonight and let the kids get to creating!

Isabella began working on her teacher's card...

Abbey LOVES anything crafty lately!

Look how carefully she was writing a note to her teacher!

Isabella crafted a clever card for the UPS man...

And Will worked on the package embellishment for his teacher's gift...

It turned out to be a pretty cute snowman craft for him.

All of us were happy with the activity.  I crossed on some gift preparations off of my list...and the girls got to draw, write, glue, and stick on foamy things to their hearts' content.  Finally, William didn't have to do any of those fine motor tasks he doesn't really enjoy by picking a slightly different project.

My conclusion:

Activity + To-Do List = Happy Family

All is well in Crow-land tonight.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 hang the outdoor lights


What a tortuous experience.

Everything went wrong that could have...

  • I couldn't seem to convince Frosty to stand upright.
  • I put up all of the lights and realized I had started with the wrong 'plug' end.  So I had to take them all down, flip them around, and them put them back up again.
  • I fell off the ladder.  Well not that far.  And I wasn't hurt.  The ground was super wet and the ladder was sinking too much to the left and...well, I not all that coordinated.  I am certain is was probably pretty humorous to watch.
  • I finished my project...and THEN decided to plug the lights in.  They didn't work.


No matter.

The lights are hung.  The house is decorated.

And it was an incredibly beautiful day to be outside (it was 67 degrees today!) and Audrey just played alongside me.

I did manage to capture a video of Audrey singing to her Frosty the Snowman.  (The kids LOVE this blow up guy!) I believe I need to have her watch the show a few more time to learn the words.

Take one:

A few moments later...

I love her smile at the end.  I stopped the video too quickly...but again she was asking "Why isn't Frosty singing with me?"

Sweet memory making.

Monday, December 3, 2012 temper the holiday craze

...since I have been waking to night sweats and heart palpitations.

No.  Really.

I get myself all worked about all that has to be done.

I can start hyperventilating on a lazy Saturday morning in the middle of March when I think about something trivial all of the closets 'need' to be cleaned out.

You can imagine how my poor heart is racing now.


Excuse me for a moment while I take some deep breaths out of my brown-paper bag.

Breathe In-Breathe Out

Let's just throw it out there that our life is a little crazy here at the Crow household without adding on all of the holiday activities.

Christmas programs.
Holiday parties.
Ornament exchanges.
Cocktail hours.

Yup.  We are cramming it all in here.

And because this is my absolute favorite time of the year I feel the need to make it extra-special for my children.

So many things to remember for them such as...

Helping them track down their crazy elf each morning.
Remembering to put a special holiday joke in their lunch each day..
Creating a family-centered activity each evening for our Advent activity.

You can surely see why I can barely remember to brush my teeth each day.

So this morning as I was getting ready for my day I was trying to think of a fabulous Advent activity that would mesh with my work day, I was trying to figure out how I could mitigate some of the stress...or I was trying to figure out how I could cross several items off my list at once...

and so the activity of the day meshed into:

Take my cherubs to the PX and have each child pick out a toy they would personally love to have for Christmas and instead give it to Toys for Tots (teach giving vs. receiving...than I worry are they really getting this message???)   Afterward, we would grab dinner at one of the choice dinner locales offered here on Post.

In a little over an hour we shopped, bought our gifts, ate dinner (and dessert...soda counts as this), and even managed to have a little chat with the big-man-in-red himself.  Complete with a pretty good casual photo op!

Check.  Donation for school program.
Check.  Giving.  (On my list several times throughout the season for them to witness/participate.)
Check.  Family time.
Check.  Provide dinner for offspring.
Check.  Fill 5X7 empty holiday photo frame.

Bonus...Santa was super great with each of my darlings!

Even number 4 is sort of smiling!

Post Script:

I am not certain that my children really get it.  We are trying to teach them about giving vs. receiving.  I am trying to help them understand there are children, in our own community, who may not receive anything for Christmas.  But I am not sure how/when this message sinks in.  I can only hope that in some way, the message we are trying to give them is they should be thankful for all of their blessings.

Saturday, December 1, 2012 begin the Christmas countdown

...with a family trip to Syracuse.

We went to see the Polar Express in IMAX at the MOST.

If you haven't caught this movie in IMAX you really should.  

We all really enjoyed the film.  I suppose my children even consider this a 'holiday classic'.

As Audrey said, it seemed like we were in the movie.


And another bonus...

Running into Santa on the way back to our vehicle.

Ahh...the excitement 

And wonder....

of the season.

Enjoy a very happy, beginning of the season.