Saturday, December 19, 2015

...enjoying the family advent


School is out for the year.

I am not sure if I am more excited about this or the kids.  I love the fact that we don't have to worry about bed times and wake-ups, making lunches and finishing homework, or piano lessons and wrestling meets.

And I love the holiday season.  "It's the most wonderful time...of the year."

All of the kids love the routine we have around here during the month of December.  Opening the Lego Advent calendar, opening the family advent calendar, lighting the dinner candles (AND blowing them out).  Thank goodness we have an even number of kids; this means every kid gets the same number of calendar-opens and candle-lights.

Oh yes...and searching for the Elf.  They LIVE for finding that guy.  Well, at least two kiddos still can't wait to find him.

I love that even Will gets excited about the activities we do.  Some evenings the activities have to be quick.  As-in less than fifteen minutes quick, because sometimes that is all the time we have together as a family before it is bathtime/storytime/bedtime.

He was just as excited about the painting-the-ornament activity as the girls.  You know the kind of ornaments that are bought from Michael's for $2.00 that only come with three random colors of nearly dried up paint?  Oh yes.  He fought with his baby sister about getting the lovely snowflake over the ugly elf.

On gingerbread house night there was no fighting this year.  They were all exactly the same.

A little background...Making gingerbread houses ranks right up with carving pumpkins in my book.  I can never get the house frames to actually stick together.  Frosting gets everywhere.  There is never quite enough candy included in the kit.

Decorating houses generally invokes a lot of tears.  Mine.

I cheated on the gingerbread houses this year.  When I saw that Rice Krispies had their own 'gingerbread' kits I couldn't believe my eyes.

Best.  Idea.  Ever.

They enjoyed doing them and they turned out cute...

Then, they actually wanted to eat them!

We may try the train next year!  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 start thinking aloud again...

...during this thoughtful season...

This is the busiest time of year.  School activities, finals, shopping, sicknesses (mostly mine this year), and advent activities.

In particular the advent activities are what my kids look forward to most.  Each day of the month, one of them opens the door of the calendar, and our family does something special.  Some days the activities are more focused, sometimes they take several hours, some days only a few minutes.

What our children don't realize is that I love making these memories more than they love the surprise  of the activities.

We went to get our Christmas tree after school on the 4th of December at the same farm we cut our tree down at last year.  Unlike last year, the weather was surprisingly nice this time.

Thus, the kids' spirits were surprisingly good!

It was a good thing we all started out so happy...

Because we walked a long way and got pretty cold looking for the perfect tree that we never found to cut down.

Then the sun began to set.  And we still didn't have a tree.

And the kids grew a little weary.

And a little grouchy.

'Till we finally settled on one of the farm's pre-cut trees (Abbey was so grouchy by this point she refused to get into the photo).

 A few days later...

We were taking communion at church and I was last in line behind my family.  Audrey and Abbey were leading the way crossing their arms, William and Isabella followed their sisters, and Mark was right in front of me.

As I stopped to take the cup, the Eucharistic Minister said to me, "You have such a beautiful family".

She caught me off guard.  And I had a catch in my throat and tears in my eyes when I thanked her.

She sure is right.

I am so thankful we are all together and healthy this holiday season.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

This little lady...

...had her first basketball game.

She was pretty excited about it.

She got the ball several times during the game.

And dribbled it right down the court.

Can you see her there in the mix?

Each time they subbed in they had to shake the girl's hand that they were going to guard.  Can you catch a glimpse of the smile on her face?

This was the last 'break-away' of the game...

And she scored.

She was so proud of herself at the end of the game.

I was too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

...a celebration of Will. He is...


We celebrated his birthday with a family favorite...peanut butter pie.

How can it be?

When this is how I remember him (in all the places he has lived)...

Lansing, MI
He still likes basketball...

Colorado Springs, CO
He's still pretty into baseball.

Pennington, NJ
He's still pretty good with his sisters...

West Point, NY
 He still loves his ice-cream...

Fort Drum, NY
He still loves getting presents.

Ann Arbor, MI
I think he thinks 11 is pretty great.

(I wonder how many more homes he'll add to his list?).

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Taking little moments.

The start of school and the routines seems to have taken us a little bit by surprise.  The kitchen renovation set us back, I have picked up an extra day a week at work, and the kids are moving in even more directions.

I think, for the most part, all the pieces are moving pretty well.

The kids have stayed fed.
We are all wearing clean clothes.
The dog is still walked several times a day.
And it's no small feat that no one has been late for any activity  (Except for me to work...I am habitually ten minutes late).

This weekend we were able to take a bit of a break and enjoy the company of our best friends.

Army came into town to play Eastern Michigan University and this was the perfect excuse for us to schedule a visit together.

It was a lovely day for a tailgate...

And for some Kan Jam...

 And for some Corn Hole...

And for a walk with a buddy...

The kids were all excited to go to the game...

well...maybe not Declan.
They were even more excited when they realized their were bouncy slides and houses!

The game was a great excuse for our family to take a time to enjoy many little moments with friends.

The Eastern Michigan Eagles put on a lovely opening ceremony complete with a bald eagle flying through the stadium at the end of the Star Spangled Banner.

Go Army!

Beat Eastern!

The icing on the cake?  

Army won.

By a lot!  I have never seen them score this many times (cumulative) over the course of the many years watching them play.

So glad we set up this opportunity to enjoy the Morrow's company...

The time was well spent.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I am terrible at tiling.

The house is quiet early this evening.

We are three weeks into school, it's only mid-week, and everyone is tired and cranky.

New routines, the stress of the kitchen renovation, and several various extra-curricular activities has all of us a bit out-of-sorts.

The good news is the kitchen is in its final details stage.

We have all the appliances.
They are all working.
The cabinets are in.
The dust has been cleaned.
And most importantly...cookies have been baked.

I would like to report that the first batches of muffins and cookies turned out perfectly-perfect.

We are only waiting on the new kitchen window and at that point the tiling and trim around the window can be finished.

Speaking of tiling...

What a disaster.

"It's easy."  I heard people say.
"It's easy."  The tiling experts at Home Depot said.
"It's easy."  I told myself after I practically became an expert by watching lots of HOW-TO videos on You-Tube!


In the back of my head I kept hearing my brother's words of advice "Every project will take twice as long and cost twice as much".   I didn't believe those words of wisdom.

Phooey.  This was going to be a morning project.  Easy.

The blogs said this would take just a few hours.  The videos showed me exactly how to do it.

AND I did everything I was told, read, or watched.

It took me exactly 21 hours.  Twenty-one hours.

That's a little.bit.longer. than a morning project.

Leveling.  Sticking.  Grouting.  Repeat.

What a mess.

I persevered.

I loved the look of the tiles.

I loved the look of the dark grout I chose.

This grout turned out to be a nemesis.

It turns out that dark grout stains.  My fingers.  My clothes.  And my new white cabinets.  Grr.

But the contrast is lovely.  

Especially with the stainless steel appliances.

I was pretty pleased when I went to bed super late that evening.

But then, by the time I woke up in the morning the tiles had slipped.  They were crooked.  They were uneven.

I wanted to rip each pretty little subway tile off of the wall.

It wasn't a pretty sight.

Mark was able to gently took peeled pry the sledgehammer out of my fingers.

And slowly and painfully the two of us repaired the worst wall in its entirety.  We replaced several other crooked tiles.  And we decided the bad ones that would hide behind the refrigerator could stay crooked.

The rest we'll fix and repair when the window comes in.

And the next time I have the bright idea to tile an area...I won't.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Nearly each evening, since I last wrote, I have gone to bed often feeling bad that once again I didn't get a moment to write down my thoughts.  I originally started writing because I thought the kids would enjoy reading about our family someday.  

Little did I know that Isabella (and a few others) misses reading my thoughts as much as I miss writing them.

You may notice I changed the heading.

When I started writing, and when our kids were younger, I used to create a list of things that I wanted to do each day.  Now that the kids are older, I have found I don't get to create the agenda like I used to.  Our days aren't filled with trips to playgrounds, zoos, and children's museums any longer.  Instead I now spend my time driving car pools, hosting play dates, and attending sporting events.

I won't write about what 'I wanted' any longer, instead I'll reflect on my thoughts.  The content will remain the same...there will be pictures, projects, recipes, and other things to remember.  Little changes.

Speaking of changes we've had a few doozies here at the Crow home lately...

These four started school last week.

Isabella (7th), William (6th), Abigail (2nd), and Audrey (1st)
And we gutted our kitchen.

In hindsight, we probably could have timed the demolition and remodeling of our kitchen a little better.   More thoughts on this another day.

Instead, I close with this lovely photo... to his first day of middle school.  

So big.  

So brave.

Thursday, July 9, 2015 celebrate #4

...on her 6th birthday

The little lady who completed our family turned six today.  I guess that means we officially have only big kids now.

There aren't too many things she can't do for herself anymore...

She can get herself dressed.
She can brush her own teeth.
She sleeps through the night.
She buckles herself up in the car.
If Mark and I are really tired in the evenings, she can read herself a bedtime story.
She can make her own breakfast.
She can reach her own snacks.
She can pour her own milk.
She made her own lunches the entire Kindergarten school year.
She can even clean her own bathroom.

Wow.  I think she has nearly mastered all the important things to make herself successful for a lifetime.

Perhaps I should add laundry and grocery shopping to the list of things to teach her when she is 6?

If it's true, that she is now a big kid, at what point do we stop referring to her and Abbey as: 'the little girls"?

Will she always be one of 'the little girls'?

I was talking to 'the little girls' last night about how I was just a little sad they weren't babies anymore...

Audrey proclaimed she was going to live with me forever.  I think my heart swelled and skipped a beat.  Until: She continued by explaining that she would live with me always, and I could take care of the babies that she was going to have.

Oh.  Goody.

Perhaps I should start focusing a little more on the positives of them growing older.  Full stop.

We get to sleep in on Saturday mornings.
We get to drink coffee together...generally uninterrupted.
Chores that I don't particularly want to do...I can pass along to the kids!  (Empty the dishwasher!)

While I am sad and I do reminisce a bit about the baby, toddler, and preschool years....I do love watching her (and the other three) grow into the persons they are growing to be.

The Wish.
This 6-year-old little lady is strong, and fierce.  She is wicked smart.  She loves without reservation almost as much as she can sting when she is upset.  She is independent and creative.  She is true.

I can't wait to be part of year seven.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 enjoy the zoo

...with my little ladies

I have had big plans for our summer.  Museums, zoos, and parks...oh my.  While our days have been busy we haven't even begun to touch my summer bucket list.  The big kids have been occupied with band camp, and cyber-safety camp, and I have been busy schlepping them back and forth to these activities.

But today, today ended up being a 'free' day.  So the little girls and I decided to have a date.

I imagined a leisurely stroll through the gates.
I imagined gazing at giraffes and lions and cheetahs.
I imagined the excitement on my girls' faces.


I have read way too many novels.

We parked no less than a mile from the gate.
It was 85 degrees and humid.
We were hungry.
And it was super crowded.

When we walked through the gate the girls excitedly grabbed their maps and began perusing them...not for the quickest way to make it to the cheetahs but for the short cuts to the snack kiosks.

I think it has been way too long since I have been to a real city zoo.  We have been spoiled by zoos such as the Bear Mountain Zoo near West Point, New York and the Watertown Zoo in Watertown, NY.   These zoos were havens for rescued animals native to the areas they were located.

The Toledo Zoo, upon entering the gates, looks a little more like a toy store or a circus than it does an animal sanctuary.

My initial conversation with the girls upon entering the zoo went something like this:

Abbey:  Can we get our face painted?
Me:  No.
Audrey:  Can we get some Dippin' Dots?
Me:  No.
Abbey:  Can we ride the train?
Me:  No
Audrey:  Can we ride the carousel?
Me:  No.
Abbey:  Can we get a tattoo?
Me:  No.

Audrey:  You just don't want us to have any fun.

Excuse me?  Say what?

At nearly that exact moment my daughter was saved.  She was saved from me lecturing her.  Audrey was saved by some poor little boy who was being screamed at by his mother for not standing with his siblings to take a photo.

My girls couldn't help staring.

I like to think they were being reminded of just how lucky they are.  I am not sure if that is really what they were thinking.   But...

Audrey's response to this situation was this:  I know the way to the giraffes.  I think we just need to go past the picnic tables and straight there.

Let's go.

In spite of our initials issues, our day ended up being just fine.  We saw a few animals, enjoyed our picnic lunch, and watched a bird show (most definitely, the highlight).

Even though they know it means no face painting, no tattoos, no train ride and no carousel ride...

The girls even want to go back again.

Monday, June 29, 2015 use up the stone fruits

...and create a warm dessert

We have had a ton of fruit flies around the kitchen this week.  In order to rid ourselves of these pesky creatures I decided I needed to get rid of the fruit we had sitting out.

How does one use up a dozen peaches, nectarines, and plums that are slightly overripe?

sticky countertop

Why...I cook them up with some cinnamon and sugar and add a little oatmeal crumble.  Besides, the weather has been cool and a warm dessert sounded delicious.

little sticky fingers

Stone Crisp
About a dozen stone fruits peeled and sliced
Sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar to taste
Add a crumble mixture of about 1/4 cup soft butter, 1/2 cup oatmeal, and 1/2 cup brown sugar
Bake at 350 (about 15 minutes) till you can poke a fork easily through the plums. 

Serve it up warm.

Sunday, June 28, 2015 take a moment to reflect

....on all the photos I have taken since the last time I have sat down to blog.

My biggest fan (Isabella) asked me today when I was going to start blogging again today and another fan (who knew I had two fans? Thanks, Aunt Patty!) also mentioned her disappointment that my last entry had been June 9th.

In honor of my two fans, I decided to share two photos...the first and last photos that were on my memory card. 

This photo is important for several reasons:

1.  It shows how great Abbey is doing physically!  She continues to amaze us with how great she is doing.  She is nearly back to her old self.

2.  It also shows just how long it's been since I sat down to download photos...this photo was taken on fun day.  At least a week before the kids were finished with school.  Oye.

3.  It shows just how wild-and-crazy I am...I allowed my 7-year-old to go to fun day in white shorts.  That's me.  An out-of-the-box thinker.

The last photo:

We enjoyed the company of our large extended family today to celebrate the life of Mark's cousin.  This was the last photo on my camera.  

Four darling cousins enjoying each other's company.  

Fitting I think.

Finally I thought I might share two photos that I found particularly amusing.

1.  Forget the four kids on their last day of about that adorable dog?  How cute is he?!?

2.  Does this photo need any words?  

I think this horse has a lot to say...