Friday, October 31, 2014 have a Happy Halloween Ann Arbor.


William:  A bat...with a dagger?
Isabella:  Katniss
Abbey:  A ghost
Audrey:  A witch

Usually my house is filled with kids and friends.  This year, Isabella and Will both disappeared with their friends.  Abbey and Audrey went out with their Dad trick-or-treating in the snow....  And I stayed home to hand out candy to the crowds...

It was a small crowd here this evening.  

A small crowd of 11.

Eleven trick-or-treaters.

Next year we buy the big candy bars!

Monday, October 27, 2014 post a few photos from

...our dinner party this past weekend.

I think the event was really well received by Mark's peers.  I think the success of a gathering can be judged by how well the conversation flows, if the guests actually eat, and how long the guests stay.

1.  The conversations seemed to flow easily from topic-to-topic.
2.  The guests ate.  Lots of food.  The desserts were decimated.  Poor Will only had one slice of peanut butter pie.
3.  We thought our event would finish up around 9:30 or so.  Our guests stayed until well past 11.  Our kids' that that rocked!  Of course that meant they were allowed to stay up super late as well.

If I had known the guests better I may have taken some photos with actual people in them.  Instead, I snapped a few photos before our guests arrived.

Aren't the hydrangeas lovely?  I wish my yard was full of them!

The food.  It turns out that black-bean cakes really don't look so pretty on a table.  They sort-of look like overcooked hamburger patties!  They do taste delicious though...

This dip was nearly's a long time family favorite.

A tex-mex menu isn't complete without Queso.  (There's a little glimpse into my tiny kitchen and some more Hydrangeas.)

The drinks.  

Mexican beer.  Cocktails.

And Margaritas.

I'll believe we'll host this group again after the holidays.  I'm already planning the menu...

I think MidWest fare is in order.

Sunday, October 26, 2014 pull out my sewing machine make a couple Halloween costumes.

Will and Abbey want me to make their Halloween costumes.

I don't sew much.  (Since I taught Isabella to sew a straight stitch nearly two years ago.)

I decided to start with Will's costume.  The bat.
It only took me twenty minutes to figure out how to thread the bobbin on Isabella's sewing machine.

After I finally figured out the bobbin issue and began to thread it, I ran out of black thread.

Why of course I did.

Dark Grey thread is really close to black right?

I've cut.  I've stretched fabric.  I have eye-balled measurements.  (This has NOT been an exact process).   I've even sewed on finger holds.

I did not get a photo.  I'll save that surprise for Friday.

He's happy.  And that's what really counts.


Thank goodness Abbey wants to be a ghost.  This one will be easy.

Buy sheet.  Check.
Cut holes for eyes and mouth.  Check.
"Sew swirlies on the bottom mom."  Huh??

I have deciphered this to mean she wants the bottom of her ghost costume to be kind of like the bottom of a little Pac Man.  I have five days to get this right.

It's going well don't you think?

Thursday, October 23, 2014 prepare for our first

...dinner party here in Ann Arbor

We are hosting Mark's study group along with their significant other's tomorrow evening for dinner here at our home.  We thought it might be a nice opportunity for a bit of socializing outside of working on homework sets...and a chance for them to see 'the life of the old-married-guy (with a bunch of kids)'.

I needed to be a little more deliberate about my preparations for this gathering since I don't have my sous chef (Amy), my florist and interior designer especially for all the details (Meghan), and my server/nanny/run all the errands I don't have time for (Liesse).

Seriously ladies, this party has my feathers ruffled.  I am not sure I'll be able to pull it off.

The menu:

Black bean cakes with jalapeƱo guacomole
Spicy chicken taquitos
Vegetarian southwestern egg rolls with southwestern dip
Shrimp pico de gallo
Nacho dip

Desserts (not really tex-mex...but delicious anyway!)

Peanut butter pie with hot fudge sauce
Cheesecake with raspberry sauce
Cream cheese and chocolate chip cake

The state of my kitchen:

PS  Always schedule things crazy events like this for a Friday evening.  It may make the week a little crazy, but having an entire weekend to relax and recover, makes the effort so worth it. 

Monday, October 20, 2014 enjoy the

...Meet The Nicest People in the World Day.

You've heard of Grandparent's Day.  And Sweetheart's Day.  And Coffee Drinker's Day.  Well apparently, today was "Be the Nicest Person You Can be Day".

The funny thing is...each of my children noticed it.

It started with a trip to the dentist.  We were long overdue.  LONG overdue.  I schlepped myself and my four cherubs off to a dentist that I picked off of a random Google search.  I chose this office due to its proximity to our house and to Isabella's school.  I hadn't had one person recommend this place and didn't know a thing about them.  Oh yes...and they were able to book all five appointments consecutively.  Score.  (This should have been an ominous sign right?)

I have never been to an office where the staff was so cheerful, timely, welcoming, kind, and tolerant of four kids waiting in a dental office.  They were complimentary, efficient, and warm.  Seriously.  Each of my children commented how NICE they were.

Bonus:  No one had a cavity.

Double Bonus:  They each earned FOUR prizes from the prize chest.

Extra Double Bonus:  They were given a $10 Toys R Us gift card for being cavity free.

(Although I might have to deduct some of their bonus points since I had to endure a trip to Toys-R-Us to spend their gifts!)

Next Nicest Person You Can Be Day Experience:

As I mentioned we had to go to Toy-R-Us so the kids could browse and contemplate what to spend their $10 on.  After spending way-too-long in the store it was time to check out.  That woman was a saint I tell you!  She checked out each child individually.  She helped them use their gift cards and added in the extra dollars and change they needed to add.

Bonus:  They were curious about the 'magnetic thingy' you have to take off of clothing so you don't set of the alarms so of course she did a demonstration of how to take these off of the clothing items.

Double Bonus:  She let each child take the said 'magnetic thingy' and run out the door with it.  Just so they could set off the theft alarms.

Three Times!!  (Isabella chose not to participate in this experience.  I think she was a bit embarrassed by it.)

Next Nicest Person You Can Be Day Experience:

Finally, after such a stressful afternoon of five dental appointments AND a trip to Toys-R-Us I decided it would be too much to make dinner this evening.

We went out.

Nothing fancy.

We just went to FIVE GUYS on campus.  It is a place where generally they are already pretty friendly people...

I tell you they went above and beyond today...Demonstrating how they put together the burgers to Abbey and delivering our food to the downstairs eating area for us.

What was fun about this afternoon was how much we noticed and appreciated these strangers' kindness to us.  A good lesson for sure.  And so nice for the kids to be appreciative.

Wouldn't it be NICE if Be the Nicest Person You Can Be Day happened more often?

Sunday, October 19, 2014 attend a party

...for Superheros

We have been meeting new families and making new friends.

This afternoon we attended our first birthday party for a little girl that lives around the corner.  We have only met the family a handful of times at the park but they are super friendly and have been very welcoming.

Mark was studying today and Isabella had her own homework to complete.

Reluctantly I went, dragging the other three with me.

It's funny how uncertain about the gathering we all felt.  And we even had each other to walk into the party together!

I have a new appreciation for how they must have felt walking into their classrooms alone on that first day of school.  So many faces.  All unknown.

But alas!  The party was a huge success for my kids.  The moment they saw the bounce house they knew the afternoon would be just fine!

Then, when they saw art projects and goodies as well...they were hooked.

It was such a cute theme.  I wish I had my better camera to take photographs for our new friends.  Everything was so cute.

She had super-hero capes for the kids to decorate...

The girls thought this activity was fabulous.

She had a photo station with a Polaroid to take a picture when their projects were complete.

And there was plenty of food and goodies.  The party was a huge success!

Even Mr. Too-Cool-For-Superhero Parties enjoyed the festivities...

His excitement wasn't truly observed until later this evening, near bedtime, at which time he was observed dashing back-and-forth through the main level of our home with his cape flying behind him...

Saturday, October 18, 2014 take a mini break

...from my routine and enjoy having company.

My days off are usually spent cleaning, running errands, returning phone calls, doing paperwork, cooking...

You know all the things I did before I got a j.o.b.  Now I just try to cram all that stuff into my days off.  Don't feel too sorry for me.  I only work three days a week.

I do have a perfect schedule.  Really.

I digress.  Fridays are the days I generally grocery shop, prepare for the weekend, make appetizers, goodies...

Not yesterday though.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to take a break.

My brother-in-law was visiting and I was lucky enough to get to spend the day with him.  We had coffee, walked the kids to school, then we went to a MOVIE!

We went to see Gone Girl.

If you are wondering this is my review: It is as equally disturbing as a movie as it was as a book.

Creepy.  Unsettling.


What a nice break.  I can't remember the last time I went to a movie, much less in the middle of a week...when I should have been checking things off of my list.

So nice.  And frivolous.

We had such a nice visit with him this weekend.

I am thankful for this time.

On Saturday Abbey had quite a following at her soccer game.

arriving...and already wearing our hoods!
As you can see it was VERY cold.

Fred tried to stay warm early on by playing some hoops with Will.

Even Uncle Jason tried to stay warm for a bit.

The colors of the trees behind them are really beautiful (even if it was really cold out).

The Crow's all bundled up.

I think I mentioned it was cold.  Perhaps I should consider indoor soccer in the future?

While Will was off playing basketball, soccer, and riding on his rip-stick and Abbey was playing in her soccer game...

This is how Isabella and Audrey passed the time.

A picture is worth a thousand words.
Let's just say raising their heart rates isn't really 'their thing'.

Later in the day we enjoyed watching Will play his first basketball game of the season.

He played hard.  He had several great defensive moves and one break-away.  Oh yes.  And we were warm.  I love being warm.  

Thus, I really love basketball.

I think Grandma and Grandpa would agree.

What a nice mini-break from chores and routines.  

I am so glad you made the trip Jason.  

I know Mark and the kids are too.

Monday, October 13, 2014 go to the Cider Mill get some apples and cider and donuts.


I didn't take as many photos as I may have on our annual treks to the Cider Mills.  I didn't have the kids all in matching or coordinating attire (as I usually do).  The air wasn't chilly and the sun wasn't shining.  And we didn't even pick out our pumpkins.

However, William did take a couple of fun photos:

Hello World!

Who is the fairest of all?
We did go as a family.  All six of us.  We did enjoy a delicious cinnamon and sugar donut, fresh apple cider, and a perfectly crisp Jonagold apple.  

And most importantly, we enjoyed an hour of meandering around outside together as a family.

Sunday, October 12, 2014 get a j.o.b.


How did a week go by since I last wrote?

It was my Isabella that asked why I hadn't written in a while?

I guess it's because I got a J.O.B.

And I have been so busy trying to stay get organized efficient functional that the evenings have passed all too quickly.

I took a job as a part-time speech pathologist at a school district very close to us here in Ann Arbor.  I am excited about the change.  I love my profession.  And I have been so lucky to have a profession that has been so well-suited to our lifestyle.  At the same time there is a small piece of me that might be content to stay home and do projects and bake and clean and organize, and volunteer, and...

But alas.  After three months off I am working again.

The house isn't completely settled.  The projects aren't complete.  I still think there are a million things to still do around the house but sometimes the little things can wait and this is the right job for our family right now.  Three days a week.  I can send the kids off to school at and be here before they get home.

Week number one of working was a mild success for me and a huge success for the kids.  Especially for Will!  His responsibility factor multiplied by many factors and he has risen to the challenge with barely a complaint.  He is responsible for accompanying the girls to school and waiting with them in their school lines until school begins and they are let into the school.

Tuesdays.  Wednesdays.  Thursdays.

This is a big deal for the 5th grade boy that just wants to throw the football around with his friends before school starts.   The kid who wants to run the 1.5 blocks to schools 'so that I won't be late' now has to walk alongside his I-want-to-pick-up-each.and.every.-walnut-along-the-way-sister.

The young boy who can't stand to be late for anything now walks into his own 5th grade class just as the second bell is ringing.

And he has yet to complain.

That is success.

As for me, I jumped right in to a full caseload of young shining faces.  I have my own office!  I have my own school computer!!  And I am excited to work again...

Monday, October 6, 2014 wish Will a super

...Happy 10th Birthday.

A decade.

How does that happen?

I am hardly old enough to have a 10 year old!  Much less now two 10+ year olds!

Mark and I surprised him outside the school with a bunch of balloons.  You can see he was initially trying to contain his excitement....

But really...he kind-of-liked-them.

We celebrated Will's tenth birthday for several days.

We presented him with his gifts on Saturday so he could look forward to the event on Sunday.  I think he was really pleased...

First the jersey:

Then the hat:

Oh my!  Tickets too??!!

Will, Mark and Fred were able to enjoy the game together on Sunday.  

Will couldn't stop grinning when he got home...even when describing the game's ending.

After the game we all enjoyed a nice dinner together with a little cheesecake celebration...

And on Monday we enjoyed some more festivities. 

Just what he needed...some more Maize & Blue.  Anyone ever think he might need a little Green & White in his wardrobe?
Including dinner at his favorite restaurant...Buffalo Wild Wings.

 And Papa even came down to celebrate with us!

Happy 10th Birthday William Joseph Crow!  

P.S.  After three straight days in the same Lion's gear, he finally chose, was persuaded, was forced into wearing a different ensemble to school on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 4, 2014 catch up...

...With the LaGrange Family at the Great Wolf Lodge.

In Sandusky, Ohio.

This Army life sure has its challenges but there are also certain rewards and perks.

Reward:  Having the opportunity to make friends that really become more like extended family
Reward:  Having friends pass by pretty close to your new home on the way to their new duty station

Perk:  Having a mom that can be a little.bit. lenient when it comes to excused absences.

The results:

A few tears...

Some time in the water...

Some time becoming a Magi....

And plenty of smiles...

...especially from the two of us.

Thanks to both Mark and Donnie for supporting this little mini-reunion.