Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Traditions

I was thinking back about Christmas traditions in our family and had to smile as I remembered some very fun times with our boys. They were the best little helpers as we made our Christmas goodies. We started when the boys were very young making popcorn balls to deliver to all of our neighbors and friends. Every year we made lots and lots of popcorn balls of red, green and white. I remember Matt skating across the street during an ice storm once to deliver our treat to the neighbors one Christmas Eve. We loved those popcorn balls and would eat them until our mouths were sometimes sore. After we left Fairfax we have had several friends request we stop by with the popcorn balls. It's Annie Crowley's recipe...........everyone loves it.

Annie's Popcorn Balls

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white karo
1/2 stick butter
Stir to first bubble. Cover and let boil for exactly 2 minutes. Pour over two batches of popped corn and shape into balls.

How easy is that!

Our long time tradition for Christmas morning breakfast is our "Sugar Lump Bread", link sausages and Grandma Rigby's Orange Julius. We've had the same breakfast for at least 30 years on Christmas morning. If you can't tell, I'm a recipe nut and have a super collection from lots of family members.

Freshly Baked Sugar Lump Cinnamon Bread

A Crowley Family Favorite - I found this fun recipe in 1970 right after moving to the DC area.

We also always have a ham dinner on Christmas Day. This tradition goes back to our Neider Family in Idaho. My dad always made Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings and the ham had to be prepped just so with glaze and cloves, etc. He would sometimes let us put the cloves in the ham, but most of the time he insisted on doing it all himself. It was a very fun tradition.

Another fun thing in Tyhee was our Christmas deliverys. Since Dad and Mom had the IGA store in Tyhee, they would gather their kids each year and designate several families to receive a bushel basket of food. Dad would put the ham in the basket and then send us kids all over the store to select other items we felt were appropriate. I can still remember squealing with glee as we raced back to the basket. With a full basket the family would then deliver the goods. My parents were especially generous and it was a very memorable experience.

With my own children I love thinking of the sweet times. One FHE in November, we had the manger with a baby Jesus. Every time a good deed was performed we put new straw in the manger with the hope that by Christmas the manger would be nice and soft for the baby. After about three days, Andrew could no longer take it and filled it full so the baby would be comfortable. That Andrew likes to take care of everyone still.

One of the sweetest Christmas FHE's was when Andrew was our own little baby in the manger. He was just a perfect baby Jesus. Our Christmas FHE's were always memorable. We started the year Matt was a baby having a special FHE at Christmas and invited friends or family to come. Everyone had to be on the program in some way. They were so memorable. Last year we did the Christmas Story with little Charlotte in the manger and Lauren, Tanner and Carsen were shepherds. They were adorable.

So this year will be new for us. We are going to Matt and Gabe's for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Of course we will take our traditions with us and also enjoy Matt and Gabe's. It will be such a delight to be with them and watch our darling Charlotte enjoy the awe of Christmas.

It's been a quiet Season for us and we have happily navigated it very differently. We are so thankful for all of our Christmas' and the sweet spirit that surrounds and fills our home. The hustle bustle isn't here and it feels serenely peaceful. We'll still have the sugar lump bread, the divinity and maybe some caramels, but it's very quiet. I'm not even going to look at the part of our beautiful tree where the string of lights went out today. It just won't bother me this year. I'm just going to think about our fun traditions.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Is it REALLY December?

Wow! How do you say............STOP! I need more time. Thanksgiving flew by so quickly, it seems like a blur. And. it seems like I was just anticipating the Freslings arrival on the 22nd. Well, arrive they did and what a wonderful week the Crowley gang had. It was very over the top with smooching the chubby cheeks of Emery and Audrey -- snuggling with Tanner and Carsen -- and watching Charlotte discover her cousins.

Cute picture stolen from Shelly's blog - missing Charlotte

Tanner, Audrey, Emery & Carsen

So here's what we did:

1. We hosted an amazing dinner on Sunday, November 23rd. Rich's best friend and best man from Boise was here with his wife (Jack and Ruth Haight). They now live in Colorado and were here visiting Stacy who just moved here with her darling family. Joining us were Matt, Gabers and Charlotte, Jeremy, Shelly, Tanner, Carsen, and Emery, and Andrew, Melanie, and Audrey. Okay...........that was 17 for dinner. What fun.

2. After the Haights left, we had a little birthday party for Tanner and Carsen. Those handsome young grandsons are 5 and 7 now. We took advantage of the whole gang being together to celebrate.

Another picture stolen from Shelly's Blog

Carsen and Tanner

3. Monday & Tues - fun with all the Peperhead's and Freshlings. The big event of the day was taking Shelly shopping and to lunch for her birthday. (Sept) We ended up at the Vera Bradley & Brighton boutique for quite awhile.

Shelly's Bag

We reserved some items for Black Friday. Then we had lunch at Frost's Cafe. This is a little Main Street Cafe that has been in Culpeper forever. Margo and I ate there last week. A very 50's place. In other words, they haven't changed the decor since then.

4. Now it's Wednesday and Andrew and Melanie arrived to stay for the rest of the week. We ended up having a little mini Christmas celebration as Andrew and Jeremy's families will be away celebrating in Calif & Utah. What a night. Just to summarize: Everyone got new socks. It was great.

Melanie came with her pecan pie ready and Shelly made two pumpkin pies. Andrea and Gabers made their pies -- coconut cream, apple struesel & lemon meringue later for the big feast. Somewhere in all of this day, Gabers made her gooey pumpkin bars. Oh my gosh. They are wonderful.


Matt, Charlotte, Gabe, Drew, Jordan, Ken, Tricia, Doug, Jeremy, Andrea, Melanie, Andrew, Shelly & Tanner, Rich leaning in........missing Carsen, Emery and Audrey.

5. Thanksgiving Day - we headed for Uncle Ken's lakehouse. It's about 30 minutes from Culpeper. I took the stuffing and veggie platter. Gabers surprised us with raspberry jello with bananas and other stuff. Crowleys were in heaven. Annie Crowley used to make red jello with bananas for her family. Gabers took it one step further.

The Maryland Crowleys were all at the lake except Shannon, who was still in Italy. Ken, Tricia, Kara and new husband Drew, Jordan and Uncle Doug were all there. It was fantastic. Check out the cute centerpiece Tricia made - a pumpkin with pansies and the darling apple candles. She hollowed out the top of the apples, rimmed the opening with cloves and put a small votive candle in the apple. The tablescape was beautiful. It was very clever. The Crowley Men worked diligently on their afternoon activity after dinner to get an abandoned wasps nest out the the tall tree, but alas and alack were unable to get the darn thing down. They had fun trying.

How do you say full.............Thanksgiving. We were full of food and blessings. We loved being together and sharing all of that good food and enjoying each other's company. The only Crowley missing was our sweet little Lauren.

A Pie Feast!

6. On Friday when I awoke, Andrew and Audrey were standing by the bed asking when we were going to get up. That's payback for all those years of getting Andrew up for seminary. He said, "Melanie has been gone for two hours. She left at 6:00 to go to the made rush at Kohls." She did very well too. So, Shelly and I got in gear and were getting ready to leave when Mel came back and we all went to Pepperberries Boutique for our prizes. Funny thing is none of us have really liked Vera Bradley stuff before, but now she has some fun winter patterns and yes, we now all have darling bags.

Melanie's Bag

Okay we finished shopping in time to get Jeremy and Shelly back to the airport. They flew back to Fresno Friday night. Andrew, Mel and Audrey stayed for one more day and Matt, Gabe and Charlotte were also there to keep us from being too sad. Then, the next day, after breakfeast, my two amazing daughter's in-law went like buzz saws through the house stripping beds, cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming. Love those girls. I am so lucky. And those boys, Matt and Andrew put up my 12 foot tree in the family room complete with all lights working. That was a big job. Three strings were out when I took it down last year. They found the naughty little burned out bulbs and wow! The tree is beautiful. (My son's are the best.)

One more stolen picture from Shelly's Blog

Tanner and Grandpa in a tense game with Charlotte

So now it's December. This weekend I hope to get some decorations up and finish the tree.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Smiling Shark by Bruce Yates

Bruce and Margo at the Smithsonian with the picture of the smiling shark. The picture will be on display for one year. Bruce captured this picture in the Bahamas.

see his stuff at http://www.underwaterreflections.com/

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cleaning Lady Woes

This is such a dilemna, I don't even know where to begin. I have a cleaning lady, a very nice, cute, about 30 something that cleans for me every other week. I have been very pleased until this month...............then I am such a marshmellow, I can't figure out how to tell about how I am displeased about some items. Then Rich and I stayed home last week on the day she was supposed to clean. (another deer problem with Rich's car -- it was complicated)

We decided to leave before she arrived. So we went to vote and then went to breakfast. Both close to our house. We went on a little road trip later to Charlottesville to give her some more time. When we got back she was still there which was odd. I went in the house and there she was -- with her three children. One was a baby -- nine months or something and the others looked to be 3 and 5. She also had a flat tire which Rich started working on immediately without even going in the house.

Anyway, we left again to let her finish and I wasn't too concerned, but not really feeling all that great about it either. Her babysitter had canceled. (I think it is her mom.)

Later we returned and she was finished and was gone. Then I kept finding very obvious items that had not been cleaned. And..............children evidence. Rich even found a book that had been scribbled in with a red marker that he just started so no other children could have been guilty.

I want to let her go, but I know she needs the money. I'm thinking of telling her that Gabe ask me if she can clean for us. I know that is a big lie -- but I am a coward when it comes to this little mother. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good News!

Good news #1
For those of you who have been worried about the bedspread for the guest room.....your worries are over. The Bedding gods have smiled down on me. Last weekend I found the perfect comforter for the guest room. Love you Ralph Lauren. It was only the 4th one I dragged home, but I knew it was a winner. It is amazing how good new bedding makes a girl feel. So satisfying and just in time for good news #2.

Good news #2
Margo is coming to visit for a couple of days. Her brother is a diver and has award winning photography from his dives. One of his shark photos has been selected to be shown in the Smithsonian. That's quite an honor. It is a smiling shark! The picture is amazing. Anyway, she is meeting him here and then spending a couple of days with me. I am so excited for her visit.

Good news #3

Jeremy, Shelly and fam will be here for Thanksgiving. WOW! We are super excited to have them for a week. I can't wait to hug those little Crowleys. We are going to Uncle Ken's lake house for the big day. Just thinking of family and Grandma Donna's stuffing recipe makes me swoon. I always make the stuffing the day before and put the big bowl on the screened porch. Well, as you know, we have no screen porch. I guess I will have to punt. I love all of the Thanksgiving feast, but the SAGE stuffing is my favorite. You know Jeremy and Shelly live in the raisin capital of America and the first Thanksgiving he shared with her family, Nancy's stuffing had raisins in it. Nancy kept trying to encourage Jeremy to try the stuffing and finally he said, "It's a well known fact that raisins cause cancer. I can't risk it" Ha Ha. I don't like raisins cooked either, except of course in Aunt Renee's raisin filled cookies.

Anyway, it's that gathering time of year. What fun! What fun!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


So, I've been tagged to put on the 4th pic from the 4th file. Fun idea.

This pic was fun to see. The story: Thanksgiving at the beach with the Eastern Crowleys and Gabe's brother Ches. Of course I am giving instructions to all for the Amazing Race at Nags Head. In the picture you will see...............Me giving directions, Ken Crowley in ball cap, Jordan Crowley, Shannon Crowley with her hand on Tanner's head, Gabe, Melanie (then Baker, now Crowley), Andrew Crowley in the background, the back of Lauren's head, a little boy head of Carsen, held by Shelly, and Matt I think. This was such a fun Thanksgiving. The year 2005. The Amazing Race was won by Jeremy's team. We didn't know it then, but Andrew and Melanie were engaged the next week.

The race was so much fun and I recommend it as an activity on Thanksgiving Day. We had four teams -- each had a Crowley boy and Crowley girl - then we matched up old and young. Each team had the same items to find. They had to take a picture of their team at each place and the first one back to the house won Nags Head Fudge. Wow. One little problem. I asked them to find the red horse with the airplane wings. Well, I am colorblind and the horse is purple. Yes, I heard about that big time.

Okay, I am supposed to tag four others, but I'm not sure anyone reads this. So I will try........

I tag Shelly, Andrew, Gina and Nature Grams.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Something's Wrong

Halloween isn't here and yet the first bag of treats is gone. What is happening? Rich came in and saw the bag opened and ask, "Did you open the Halloween candy?"

I replied, "Yes, we had some early trick or treaters." Quick huh! However, usually when we get into the candy there is some left for the trickers. The first bag is gone. I don't remember eating all that many so I think what is really happening is the bag is much smaller with fewer candies.............I now believe the trickers to be the candy makers.

I actually try to buy candy I don't like so I won't eat it. That didn't work this year. I ate the candy I don't like. It wasn't that bad. What you gonna do? I went back for more candy and there were malted milk balls. Of course -- they are my very favorite. I can't resist them. Ever. I bought two bags thinking that would be plenty as we probably won't get very many kids. The first bag is already down to two treats left. (Those darn early tricker or treaters.) I'm at a loss. I'm not supposed to even eat candy. Then after sending my kids popcorn for Halloween there was a give-away tin. It arrived yesterday. It's hopeless.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cub Land

Since this log is my to be journal, I decided to blog about my scouting experiences which are heretofore unjournaled. Channa, Lauren's mom is now working in the scouting program with her husband (in Lehi, Utah) and it reminded me of my years in cub scouts. I was called to be den leader when Matt was 8. So I worked with both Matt and Jeremy's cubs. Rich was bishop part of the time and I kept asking to be released, but no luck. I wanted some lofty calling since my husband was the bishop -- I was den leader for years. It was a good calling because we met at the house. That made it easy for me.

Matt was a new cub scout when I was called to the job. What a fun bunch of boys were in the group. We had lots of fun. I do remember one boy just wanted to go up to the kid's rooms to play with their legos. And ...........his mom wouldn't pick him up for hours. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. Anyway, the best experience came from a summer camp at Fort Belvoir. I arrived with my gang of cubs and found out the activity of the day was to build a go-cart from a stack of lumber, tires, hammers, nails, etc. As I later learned, the "experienced troops" came prepared with dads and aerodynamic plans for assembling the machine. One boy would ride in the go-cart and one would push. Yes, there was to be a race at the end of the day.

I looked at the stack of materials and remember thinking -- this is not something I can do. Then, I looked at the boys. They were counting on me, so we went to work. We did finish the little go cart and needless to say it didn't look very pretty. No aerodynamics were involved. We had to nail it back together after each race. But.............guess who won? The little rag tag Fairfax Cubs. The other troops were amazed. They didn't realize our determination. The best part is recalling how awesome those little boys felt about their accomplishment. One kid fell off and skinned his knee and said he couldn't race again. Of course I told him his buddies were counting on him and to get back over there.............off he went.

The next year I talked the bishop into letting our cubs plan and execute our own Camp Akeala at a lake. We did and it was a blast. They all learned boating safety and we had the rain gutter regatta that year.

When Jeremy's group started with Cub Scouts, I had 12 boys. They were also a fun group. Best memories: sucking the hard-boiled egg down the milk bottle and out again; the Halloween meeting; time after time having the little boys bump their heads on the light fixture above the table and replacing the globes; and having a hole (for about 10 years plugged with calk) in the stainless steel sink made by one exuberant scout. Such is the fun of a scout leader. The Halloween meeting deserves a mention. The scouting materials had a poem about visiting a graveyard and instructions to blindfold the boys and pass around all the body parts. (Brains - spaghetti, Heart - piece of liver, Eyes - grapes. You get the idea. After the about the third body part some of the boys were scared and crying. I couldn't believe it - babies, I thought. So I let them take off the blindfold and all was well. I had a good laugh.

Just when I was trying to think of a way to talk Andrew out of being a scout, I was released from the calling. Andrew was 8 and had already had several years of cubbing with Matt and Jeremy's groups. So that was a good long spell of scouting for me. We had our nine pinewood derby cars to show for it. Lots of fun. I still remember the twinkie made to look like a pinewood derby car -- gum drops for wheels. I guess I'm amazed at what a good memory it is now. You never know.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Everyone has been asking for the caramel popcorn recipe. This has been a huge family favorite in the Neider family for years. If Rosy and Renee got to the bowl first.....................they know. (Rosy confessed on Andrew and Melanie's blog.) There wasn't much left.

2 cups light brown sugar, packed (I use one cup- it works - not as much sauce tho')
1 stick (4 ounces) butter or margarine
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 quarts popcorn (or more)

Bring brown sugar, butter, and syrup to a boil; add 1 can sweetened condensed milk. I continue to cook for another couple of minutes, stirring constantly because it will burn easily. Pour over popcorn and stir with a big wooden spoon until every kernel is coated. I use the turkey roasting pan to coat the popcorn because it is long and lends itself to better coating. This also makes great sauce for ice cream.

Then fight over who gets to clean the pan.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Grown Children

An amazing thing happens to children. One day you look at them -- and those children are gone..................grown. What happened to them? What happened to my little ones? Even when the boys were in high school and college, they changed so dramatically in the maturing process. I remember looking at my little boys and thinking on many occasions -- what will they be like when they are grown? What will they look like? Will they have good jobs? Will they be well balanced as adults? Will they enjoy life? Am I giving them what they need as children? Mothers worry as all you mothers know. Well, now I know. Those little boys have grown. The nice thing is they grew into people that I really like. They are talented, smart, handsome, fun, funny, well educated, hard-working, valiant, and much more. and......... I enjoy being around them. They turned out! Know what I mean? And a bonus that I never considered....................they have darling wives and children. And Girls! As I said, AMAZING. Am I lucky or what!

A mother knows her children so well. Knows their little personalities. My cubs are grown; however, they still have the same personalities. Love those boys. My harvest has been bountiful.

Funny Moments:

Matt: 3
Telling Matt about Baby Jesus and asking him what Baby Jesus did when he grew up. After thinking hard said, "He made those cattle stop lowing."

Jeremy: 6
Leaving me a note on the piano: "My mom is a jrake (jerk). Piano is for baby." Then running away to the drug store -- coming back for money to buy his mom a present.

Andrew: 5
Rich had returned from the hospital and Andrew asked him if he was going to die. Rich gave him a long explanation and we both felt sad that Andrew was thinking about his daddy dying. Then Andrew said, "Well, if you do die, can I have your side of the bed?"

Just love kids. They come up with the best treasured moments. Thanks Crowley Boys for all of the fun, all of the hugs, all of the entertainment, all of the blood, sweat and tears. It's been worth it. You have grown into awesome men that I enjoy knowing. The harvest is indeed bountiful.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thanks for the Blogs

I feel like I've just visited with my kids, all of my nieces and friends. What fun blogs you all have. They make me feel so connected to everyone. Thanks for sharing your life in your blogs. They are inspiring, crazy, funny and just enjoyable to read.............

I need to get caught up with my blog, but I have just been too darn busy. I did have to drive myself to work today. No HOV. Rude. So I stopped at Macys to look at the bedding on the way home. It seems like I am always looking for bedding. Those who know me well understand the situation. It takes about 10 attempts before I land on just the perfect one. This one is for the guest room. I found one I loved -- a Ralph Lauren -- a bit pricey, but I figured with coupons and discounts, I would go for it. Until...........one pillow sham........$135. Whatever. It was a good thing they didn't have two or I might have been tempted. So I have been searching the net for a better price. Come on Ralph. Really. He really loves his shams.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Idaho Weekend

Mark and Andrea after the CRY-FEST

As everyone knows Mark was sustained as Bishop of the Whitacre Ward on Sept 14. I surprised him by showing up at the front door with cornpones from Maddox. Of course we both were crying when we saw each other. Normally our eyes are bigger and not swollen.

We had a very enjoyable weekend listen to Marks "words of wisdom" as he spoke. Of course he gave credit to everyone he knows -- but not himself. I will just say it. He is a valiant and good man. Heavenly Father held him for this opportunity in the old "25th Ward". We love our Mark............... or that should be our Bishop Neider.

Mike, Mom, Andrea, Darryl & Kenny

Look at the fun we had while Mark was busy all day at church. I'm a lucky sister to have such great brothers and a cute little mother.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

August Highlights

Wow, it's been a month since I've been to my blog....................sorry my dear little blog. I think August just sneaked by and we were too busy working to check in with the world. Not many highlights in the last month, but here are a few. I'll go backwards............

1. September 7th................Audrey's blessing. What a wonderful day. Our little Audrey was beautiful in her white dress and shawl. I have to admit her daddy was quite beautiful also. When Andrew started up to the stand with Audrey, I started crying right away. Don't you just love being so happy about something that you just start crying? Beautiful men in the circle and Andrew came through with an outstanding blessing for his little one. After church Melanie had us all over for brunch -- now get this -- Pull aparts (bacon, egg and cheese in the crockpots)4 of them all lined up. That Melanie is amazing! Gabe and I helped with the fruit. What good Crowley girls we are. I think there were about 30 of us. Good company for a special event.

2. BIG BONUS -- Matt and Gabe were called as the Gospel Doctrine teachers in our ward. Wow. Matt gave the first lesson and Gabe the 2nd. If you want an amazing Sunday School lesson stop by. We feel very lucky to benefit from this. As Matt was teaching about the stripling warriors, I was sitting there thinking. Hmmmm........that's my own little stripling warrior teaching his mom. Love it.

3. I loved a lesson I gave the Laurels this month about the scriptures. It was such a good reminder to me. The scriptures can help us soooooooooooo much -- sad, anxious, offended, insecure, unloved.................you name the emotion we get mixed up with or problem we are trying to sort out -- we all need help on any given day. The answers are in the scriptures and I always go to other avenues first -- forgetting that. The scriptures can really bring a peaceful heart when needed the most. The quote I found and I love............."I go to the scriptures like I go to the mailbox to see if there's a message for me."

4. Sunday evening Sept 7th -- Matt and Gabe showing up at the door with a birthday cake all ablaze. Of course little Charlotte was there beaming. What sweet thoughtful kids. Yummy cake too.

5. A beautiful bouquet of flowers from Rich on my birthday delivered to my office -- what a nice surprise from my sweetheart. Birthdays are just so fun. You are a good boy Rich.

6. My commute began again in the first week of August -- off and on then in earnest the last weeks. Up early -- out of the house by 5:20 and to work by 7:00. Then back home again by 6:00. It's dark in the morning, but it's good company. Thank goodness it is a beautiful drive home. Rich is a good conversationalist so I do most of the listening. Rich continued without me in July as I don't work the month of July -- no HOV. He was glad when I came back. We have had only one fight in the year we have been driving together. And yes, that one day the drive was very long. I can't remember what the fight was about, but I'm sure it was Rich's fault. I do remember before we left the house he was in the kitchen and said a cuss word and I yelled down from upstairs, "I love it when you talk dirty to me." Ha Ha Ha. I heard someone else say that in a movie or something. Funny huh. I need to refer back to number 3 above on those occasions.

Blog on fellow bloggers...............

Monday, August 4, 2008

More Beach & July

My mom spent a month with us in Culpeper. This picture is on the 4th of July with little Audrey two weeks old.

Ha Ha Ha now that my company has gone home, I am getting the ceiling fans installed; consequently, I have time to finish this blog. The workers just left for a lunch break. When they arrived I thought -- oh well -- we'll see what they can do? Two of Virginia's finest in all black hip hop garb -- shaved heads. You know the look. But -- zip zip zip -- they know what they are doing. I almost ask them to bring me something back. Well I am hungry. Yes, I'm in a mood today and there isn't much food in the house.

The fans are chic...........I will post pics later. Remember if you come to visit me you will have your own fan............this is the fan in the family room minus the parrot. It is awesome. The blades are also dark.

More pictures from July:

July Family Fun

Jeremy and Emery

Grandma, Tanner and Carsen exercising...........

July was busy and fun. Grandma Neider came for three weeks. Shelly, Jeremy, Tanner, Carsen and Emery came for three weeks. And we were so excited to meet our new little Emery. We headed to the beach for a much needed week of relaxing and fun. We really missed Lauren, Gabe and Charlotte at our beach reunion. Those girls are fun.
The pictures really tell the whole story.

Tanner, Carsen at Madonna's Lake

Carly Z was our lifeguard at the lake. We had a fun lunch and Grandma came down to the lake after a long visit with her boyfriend, Cliff.

Andrea and Madonna

Cliff and Madonna live on about 300 acres in Unionville, Virginia where Cliff put in his own lake. It is about 25 minutes from Culpeper.

Grandpa Crowley, Tanner and Emery in the swing.

Granpa Crowley and Emery at the beach house.
Emery: No on told me how handsome my Uncle Matt was....

Our Little Audrey

Tanner is a good little babysitter for Audrey

Melanie and Audrey in Culpeper

Grandpa and Grandma with Audrey and Emery. Grandpa is doing a better job with his little granddaughter and than Grandma is..........

I have lots more beach pictures to add as soon as I can find what file I put them in.........I guess I'll start a new post.

One more.............Tanner in action in the little blow up pool at the house in Culpeper.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lessons from Mom

It has been a whirlwind three weeks with Mom visiting from SLC. Let me just tell you all that this is one incredible woman. All 84 years and 100 pounds of my little mother. She is simply an amazing woman. We do get on each other's nerves.........yes we do...............but we quickly get over it. It is quite a contest to see which of us is really the boss when we are together. I think we are at a toss up. Actually she lets me win once in a while to preserve my self image.

We have had some really fun talks and laughs. We shopped until we could only drag our tired bodies home. As we wandered around Culpeper, we found a quaint cafe with homemade cherry pie and you can't beat that. There is no one who appreciates some of the finer possibilities of life more than my mom. She has taught me to appreciate and enjoy life too.

Here are some of the other lessons from MOM.

1. She always wanted me to put my best foot forward -- even if that foot hurt.

2. She gave me the courage and confidence to be and try anything and everything.

3. Mother taught me to enjoy even the mundane humors of life and to especially to learn to laugh at myself.

4. She taught us always to honor our grandparents and father. She engendered in our family a fierce family loyalty and pride.

5. She always told me that my brothers and sister would always be my best friends.
They are..........

6. Mom gave me a life long love of reading that started at a very young age. I loved going to literary club with her occasionally. What a great gift.

7. Mother also taught me to look for life lessons in all that I do. She believes you can learn something from everyone.

8. Mother taught me to be thrifty. She wanted us to stretch our dollars.

9. Mother always taught me the value of hard work and the value of a job well done.

10. I wish I had learned her ability to never procastinate. I'm still working on that one.

There are so many other lessons I've learned from my mom. She has always been a great example to me. I can see her in my minds eye kneeling at her bedside. I still catch her there.

My mom is the best. Growing old.........no problem. She still thinks I'm a kid. The rest of you should be so lucky.

I sure love my mom!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Scoffers Red Alert

This is my new adorable table and chairs for the grandkids. I am so excited about it too. I have been looking and looking to no avail, but yesterday, discovery.........right here in Culpeper at Goodwill. And......it is brand new -- not a blemish on it.

As many of you know my mom is here visiting for the month. We have had such fun together. She's fun. I wish we all had her energy. I was trying to decide whether or not to tell her about the Goodwill Thrift Shop in Culpeper and decided yes, but would have to take her when I had plenty time. She can poke around these places until she finds many treasures.

Well, anyway as I pulled into the grocery store near Goodwill, I thought what the heck -- I'll take her to Goodwill while I get groceries. You know the rest of the story. I popped into Goodwill to help get the lay of the land for Mom and here was the adorable table and chairs..............the kicker.............it was a whopping $8.00. Love it.

Just in time for the boys who will be here on Thursday. Yippee!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Grandpa and two of his Girls.

Grandpa Crowley loves his grandkids.................and they are crazy about him too. He has completely captured Tanner and Carsen and now Charlotte seems to like him more than Grammy. Well, I'm not going to put up with this, but here is a cute picture I will share. In the meantime, I am planning my strategy to win the kids back ............watch out Grandpa.

July 4th Celebration

What a great day to be alive. We had a fun celebration with the Virginia Crowleys. Culpeper was hoppin too. A 5K in the morning and the Bradleys from St George, Salt Lake and Fairfax came to run. Matt and James went to the old time car show with their daughters in tow.........Then there was the old time parade. We decided to miss. The Crowleys came with darling granddaughters. New little Audrey and busy little Charlotte. We didn't need parades with these two to gather our attention.

Gabe came with her famous potato salad and even more famous baked beans. As a bonus she slipped in a Texas Sheet Cake. It doesn't get much better. Matt and Andrew put our new grill together and cooked hot dogs, hamburgers and fruit kabobs. We even talked Grandma Neider into her famous German Chocolate Cake. Well, if you haven't had that recently...........give it a go when Grandma visits. We swooned from so much delicious food and good company.

Melanie's mother (from Salem, UT) was still here with Mel and the baby and it was a good opportunity to get to know her better. She has taken good care of Mel, Audrey and Andrew.

Right when the fireworks were set to go, it started raining. Oh well -- we just remembered last year when Tanner, Lauren, and Carsen were with us on the lawn. Love the 4th. It always is fun to fix a fun feast and relax the day away.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Granddaughters Galore!

We are so excited for our 4th granddaughter. Audrey Elise Crowley was born Friday, June 20th to Andrew and Melanie. She was 9lb 2oz and has lots of black hair. She is simply adorable and looks very much like her daddy. Girls Girls Girls. I love it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Planets Aligned

It doesn't happen very often, but the planets aligned this month for me. Lauren wanted to be in Virginia for her 12th birthday. She flew in on the 31st be with her Virginia family for two weeks. What are the chances that my oldest granddaughter, Lauren, would turn 12 on the first Sunday in June and have her first day in Young Women in the ward with her parents and grandparents -- where her Grammy is the Laurel leader. Un----------real.

The girls were having a joint lesson and Lauren was welcomed to Young Women and I got to see it. Wow! My cup runneth over. Our YW Pres gives the girls a new packet of UNO cards with a beautiful card attached describing the YW motto -- U-know you are a divine daughter of God - through the whole motto -- It is very clever. She also got a birthday balloon. And I was there..............she answered questions the teacher asked and participated. (Matt's girl all the way)

I'm so bad with the pictures, but hope to get one........I am so lucky...........thank you planets for aligning.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Our newest little sparkle princess has arrived. We are so excited to have another little girl. I can't wait to hold her.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Full Time Job

I discovered that having a husband is a full time job all by itself. You know what I mean? However, I thought my husband was the only one that was a full time job. I expressed that thought to a dr friend of mine and she said, "All husbands are full time jobs." So I guess I'm not alone in this vocation.

Anyway, I have one of the best jobs around. There is never a dull moment with Rich Crowley. Just hang on and prepare for adventure. Just today as he was filling the car with gas, he opened the car door to tell me "Killer Joe" was playing. Sweet.

Actually we had good news today. Rich had his cancer scan and the tumors have not changed in size at all. That is a miracle to me. He continues to be a walking miracle. That means we do nothing. Go back in a year. I marvel at his diligence. He is amazingly precise in managing all of the instructions the drs give him. Thanks, Rich.

I really didn't think we would have him here to celebrate his 64th birthday, but we do and did celebrate a little yesterday on the day. Matt and Gabe invited us over for a wonderful dinner. Thanks Supers. More celebration to come. So Happy Birthday Rich. Here are the top ten reasons I won't quit my "job".

1. Love that guy. I wouldn't want to argue with anyone else.
2. He's fun. He always tries to crack me up in church.
3. He takes care of me and my kids......now three boys -- three girls
4. He keeps the conversation going when I am too tired
5. He can make me laugh
6. He takes care of his cars
7. He continues to be unpredictable and interesting
8. He loves my family
9. He is crazy about his grandchildren
10. He works hard to make sure I am happy.

Love you Rich............

Monday, May 19, 2008


Well, I get the "Lousey Day of the Week Award" from last week. I noticed in Sunday School that Bro Henry had two heads. I was wondering if I was being possessed or something, but just in case I made appts to see the eye drs. I ended up in the second appt on Thursday. I knew it would take a long time and I wouldn't be able to see well when it was all over, so I had Rich drop me off. It was "crazy". The inner waiting room had lots of us going in and out of different testing rooms and most could not see. I was sitting next to one chubby lady who said to me, "So, do you like your shoes?" I thought of so many things I could say, but politely replied that I liked my shoes. Many languages were being spoken in that room, but all eyes were on my shoes.
Well, the dr said my macular had become problematic causing the double vision and gave me a shot in my eye. Yes, with a needle. He said the treatment could possibly help or reverse the problem as we had caught it so early. So I am hopeful. It's the same vision problem that Grandma Neider has so it might be in your genetic make-up also. (I knew Grandma would feel so bad when I told her. She did.)

I held it together pretty well after being beat up for three hours. I was headed straight to the cafe in the complex to get a diet coke and to call Rich to pick me up. As I was leaving the outer waiting room (all blurry people), Rich called to me. He had come back at hour two because he thought it was taking too long. Anyway, when I saw him, I lost it. It was like I was 5 and had skinned my knee and just found my mom. Anyway, I put on my "cover your whole face" dark glasses and went for the diet coke. All was well. Traumatized but well.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Love My Blog

Things that fall under the crazy catagory that you can blog to cheer yourself up:

1. I was so hungry just now that I looked in my desk and found a Ricola for a snack. Desperation.

2. Church was so funny yesterday. Everyone knows what the first Sunday brings. I looked over at Rich and he had his arms resting on his knees with his hands covering his face. I almost laughed out loud. Then I smilingly nudged him. He came up smiling. Then one woman got up to speak and Gabe next me on the other side, said, "Here we go, tuck yourself in." Church is not as much fun without Lottie. She was home with Matt yesterday.

3. Every day we pass a pasture of black angus -- about 30 of them. In one spot of the pasture is a high mound of dirt. Yesterday all of the cows were minding their business eating grass and two crazy cows were standing on top of the dirt hill. I guess they were the Guard Cows. This is called entertaining yourself while commuting.

4. Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo.................so I went to celebrate with a co-worker for lunch. We went Mexican -- Coyote Grill. I had very nice -- and professional -- out fit on yesterday. Later after a great lunch and returning, I was working with the computer tech on next year and schedules. She said, " Is that guacamole on your jacket?" You know it's hard to be cool when you have guac on your jacket. Cinco de Crowley.

5. One of the lessons I have learned over the years is to laugh at myself and life. It just seems I'm getting the opportunity to laugh at myself more and more. Oh well. Have you had any embarrassing moments lately?

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Everyone was curiously quiet about AI last week. Interesting huh! I agree with Whitney. where is Michael John. We want him back. I was sad for Brook, but knew it was inevitable.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I was so mad at work today I wanted to hurt people. If you know me well, you know it takes a lot to get me mad. I took a break from work and started calling the utilities for the beach house to cancel, etc. When I called the cable company, the "helper" couldn't talk with me about disconnecting because the account was in Rich Crowley's name. I told her that Rich Crowley doesn't even know who his cable company is, didn't set up the account, and has never paid the bill. I did all of that. Well, she said.........................it is security -- we cannot make changes without his authority. I said, "Are you afraid someone is going to steal a TV show or something." Yes, it was a juvenile thing to say, but I was starting to feel better already.

She said, "No, it's an FCC regulation. You can call them if you have a problem." So I replied,

"What a great suggestion Ashley. Whom shall I call there? and .............Thank you so much for your help. And by the way, you didn't have any trouble adding the additional wireless internet to the account when I called last year. Was that a security violation that I should report when I call?"

Anyway, I was finished at that point. Tomorrow I am going to call and say. This is Richi Crowley. Yah, my parents gave me a boys name. I would like to cancel my cable.

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Great Big Weekend

First of all I left town for the weekend -- headed to Nags Head -- without my cell phone or computer. I couldn't believe it. Yes, it worried me, but what could I do? It makes a girl worry to be out of communication. But, I survived. OK............we were clearing out the beach house for the last time.................oh pain. Knife to the heart. Oh yes, it felt awful too. Every last thing that belonged to us has been removed. Our beach house of five years gave us the

BEST OF TIMES (My favorites)

1. Thanksgiving with all of the Rich Crowleys, Ken Crowleys and Ches Perri. We had our Crowley Amazing Race. A blast. Jeremy's team won, but it was close. They won -- what else -- Outer Banks Fudge.

2. Pirate Party during our week long family reunion in the summer. We all dressed up like pirates with eye patches, etc. Gabe made a treasure map and we all hunted for the booty. (The pirate pinata)

3. Our first Christmas in Nags Head. Awesome.................a tree covered with beautiful shells and decorations. All the Rich Crowley family were there. What a peaceful place to spend the holidays. It was magical.

4. A FUN week with the Neider Gang in an October visit. All of my brothers and their wives and Mom. What fun. Mike bought puzzles -- we ate, walked on the beach, slept in, ate some more, teased , took a trip down memory lane and relaxed for a whole week. A great memory.

5. Christmas with the newly weds -- Rich and Andrea -- and Andrew and Melanie had a very quiet Christmas at the beach. Matt and Gabe were supposed to come, but Super was due to have Lottie and the drive was too long. Anyway, Melanie and Andrew were so delightful with showering each other with well thought out gifts. What fun.

6. Sisters-in-law Week. Andrea, Rosy, Margo, Renee, Anna Marie -- need I say more. This group knows how to have fun. We made a pact that we wouldn't cook all week. What happens in Nags Head -- Stays in Nags Head.

7. Margo and Mom - Margo came twice and once Camille even came for a few days. What fun we had. It's a shame Margo doesn't enjoy shopping. Mom kept us busy trying to find her as she collected 50 lbs of shells to take home to Ross' class.

Ok...........................there were many more happy, happy times and we are scheduled to have our family reunion there in July. Yes, we are selling the house, but that doesn't mean we will stop going. We have gone to Nags Head for 30 years -- every year except one -- 1976. We love it.

The very best thing about the beach house was being able to leave our cares and worries accross the bridge and just come to the ocean to refresh. We have loved it so much and it has been such a great family time.

Our last weekend included a breakfast at the Nags Head Pier, a very long walk on the beach, dinner at the Black Pelican. (I think it was my favorite dinner of all time.) Rich and I talked a lot about our commitment to our family and each other. We were sad as we left, but as we crossed the bridge, I said, "You know, I'm really sick of Nags Head. Let's get out of here."

Rich said, "You know, I hate it too. Let's go home."

We took all of our memories and headed to Virginia-- but we left a part of us there -- on the Outer Banks -- in our beach house. We will return, but it may never be the same. My hope is that it will be even better and more appreciated.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blogger Mania

I'm getting my blog going. It's an ongoing process....................... I saw the girls' blogs showing pictures with their babies, so I followed suit. Aren't my babies handsome.........................

How do I get cute paper on this thing? Someone help!