Why my family went 9 months without a kitchen sink

Yes, it’s true.  Our family of 5, with 3 kids 5 and under, went 9 months without a kitchen sink. No, we are not crazy, as many of you might think. (ok, maybe a little)

Don’t get me wrong, we still had a sink….a utility sink, around the corner from the kitchen, in the bathroom, with no surrounding countertops.  That’s where we did dishes, washed out rollers and paintbrushes from painting, and washed hands when we were downstairs.  It was far from perfect, not even close to ideal. But it was usable, and it worked.  We still ate and cooked yummy food, and were clean.  It was just a little different. And we used a lot of paper plates and plastic spoons.

Isn't it lovely?!

Isn’t it lovely?!

Some people have asked me regarding the remodel, “Why is it taking so long? You have lived there since September.”  If you have ever completed a kitchen remodel, or better yet, lived in the house where the kitchen is being remodeled, or even better yet, lived in a house where you are remodeling the entire first floor, you know that it takes a long, long time.  Here are our 2 main reasons why:

1) We did most of the work ourselves.  My husband and his dad/brothers/my dad are very, very, very handy people.  They can do just about anything.  Toss that in the mix with a very large extended family that know how to do even more stuff, we have quite a bunch.  When you are doing the demolition, building, and finishing yourselves, it takes awhile.  We hired out part of the electrician work, installation of countertops and drywall and cabinet making.  Other than that, it was US.  And, beauty takes time ;)  Our cabinets are hand made, not something you buy at a store.  That means they took awhile.  They were made just 6 miles from our house in the same woodworking shop that made our cherry queen- sized bed that we got as a beautiful wedding gift that I still love to this day.  They were definitely worth the wait!!! My dad, our kids, and J stained and varnished all of the cabinets and doors. Things have to come in order in a kitchen.  I learned you cannot install a sink before you have countertops, which comes after all lower cabinets, which comes after the floor is installed, which is after all the paint, mud/sanding, drywall, plumbing, electrical, gas……there’s definitely a pre-determined process.  We did the plumbing. We hung the cabinets (ok maybe with a little muscle from others). J and brother installed the faucet, garbage disposal, sink plumbing. We installed the floor. We took out and replaced all the windows. We hung the microwave and moved the gas lines from one side of the room to the other for the stove/oven. We still have one wall of pantry/desk/additional cabinets to go in, but it will probably be next year and are not a necessity at this time, just something that will finish it off!

There were more than 1 several numerous moments and days where I was at my wits end with not having a finished kitchen. But guess what? I got over it!





2) THE KITCHEN IS PAID FOR!  That pretty much sums it up!  It’s not on a loan, and it’s not on credit.  We saved until we paid cash for everything that you see here (plus the dishwasher on order), except the floor. Our mortgage is smaller because of it and it feels great!


And that, my friends is why we went 9 months without a kitchen sink. And we couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome!

-The {enjoying the fruits of our labor} Costellos


The birthday party that was

Lucy has been counting down the days until her birthday for……quite some time.  She just couldn’t decide what she wanted for a party.  We finally agreed on a *small* tea party gathering at our house.  I did the entire party very frugally and much of the decor and crafty type stuff I already had.  I was very pleased with the outcome despite my lack of tea party experience:


Would you like some tea, perhaps?

Would you like some tea, perhaps?

Lucy got to have 3 friends over for the party, and we invited some close family as well.  I was just trying to keep things simple.  We dressed up like princesses, played pin the handle/spout/lid on the teapot, each made our own little purse, and, of course, drank ‘tea’ out of miniature tea cups, complete with finger foods fit for royalty!  It was fun!  The kids also played outside and Lucy got some presents.

View from the top






Lucy requested a birthday cookie instead of cake, so I did my best.

Lucy is 4!


In the middle of the party, I see our neighbor delivering loaders full of dirt to our backyard.  He had been planning to bring the dirt for several weeks, and the birthday just so happened to be the day he could deliver it.  You see, our 90-ish year old Maple Street Estate had a cistern in the backyard.  We needed to cave it in and fill it, hence the loads of dirt.  So every time I looked out the window amidst the tea party, the dirt pile was getting bigger.

Well, one thing leads to another, and soon my brother in law is down in the cistern hole, and the next thing I know there are 4 men busting out the old cistern blocks with sledge hammers.  This went on until well into the evening.  “Make hay while the sun shines”, right?  So I guess we’ll fill the cistern in on Lucy’s birthday…..


Just the beginning...

Just the beginning…

Hard to see, but they are completely underground and the cistern is about halfway full. That hole is deep!!!


We have been listening to the Little House on the Prairie books in the car lately, and one thing that Pa always says is “All’s well that ends well”.  I guess this would be a prime example of such.  The cistern got filled in and Lucy had a fantastic 4th birthday party!

And to end this short post, here are a few from just today:


Gabriel, the "Navy water-man person"

Gabriel, the “Navy water-man person”

Mud toes

Mud toes


Amazing garage sale finds this morning!

Garage sale finds for kids this morning: 15 shirts, 3 pairs of shoes, 3 pants, 3 shorts, 1 pj’s, 3 dresses and 2 toys. *PSYCH*

– The {birthday season} Costellos


To my children: Spring 2015



You wanna mess with this?!

You wanna mess with this?!

In keeping with my quarterly journaling to my kids, here goes my most current thoughts on those 3 crazy, loving, little people that call me Mom :

My peeps

My peeps

April 10, 2015


5 years and 10 months old

Young man. You really are! You just about eat as much as an adult many days, and sometimes more, but I’m not sure you have an ounce of fat on you! You spend hours playing Legos, and your creations are very innovative. You are a great kid, and a great brother to your sisters.  The outdoors is your favorite place to be.  You can be entertained with water for several more hours, making locks and dams, mud, rivers, spraying things, and seeing what happens if you mix this with that.  You ask a lot about how things work.  You are obsessed with getting something, anything, remote control. As soon as we leave preschool, you ask if you can have a playdate today. Every. Day. You are shy and reserved at times, obnoxious and defiant at others.  You are thriving at school!  You dislike potatoes.  You are learning to stand your ground with your peers.  Soccer is your favorite game, along with sharks and minnows. You despise the sound of canned laughter during a TV show and refuse to watch once you’ve heard that. You daydream a lot and come up with very fascinating scenarios, stories and questions in your head.  You talk about kindergarten a lot and you are really looking forward to it.  You love to wake up early and sneak downstairs to watch cartoons.  Amelia adores you.  You remember stories well, especially Bible stories.  You are always making something.  You are headstrong, smart, creative, funny, helpful, caring, energetic, hands-on, and fun.


3 years and 11 months old

About 2 weeks ago you declared that you were done sucking your fingers.  After almost 4 full years of this habit, you have now broken it, just as easy as that. We painted your fingernails bright red as a reward, since you were never able to have your fingers painted before this.  You make cards for people out of empty envelopes and cover them with a lot of stickers.  You are especially an auditory learner and memorized the Hail Mary prayer  in about a week, and now can recite it.  For about the past 6 months, you have a female doll named Jason.  You have imaginary friends named Creesa and Reesa and Mia, and several others, depending on the day.   I hear you make up prayers while you are playing.  You decided you no longer want to be Rapunzel when you grow up.  You asked yesterday if you are old enough to clean toilets.  Today you asked me if a mouse is a kind of rodent. You wear a ring every day.  You enjoy ballet class and being on stage. I caught you today brushing your hair and counting the strokes.  You are mature, interactive, smart, persistent, a leader, brave, artsy, and fun.


1 year and 4 months old

At 16 months, you are my most cuddly baby.  You love to be held, rocked to sleep, slept next to, and cuddled and carried.  Despite this, you are very independent and want to do things your way.  You prefer to eat sitting on my lap, not in your highchair. You insist on wearing your winter coat and hat most days, all day, inside and outside, although it’s getting warm.  Sometimes I think that you believe you are much older, like 3 or 4 years old instead of 1.  You recently figured out how to open outside doors on your own.  You ride small 3 or 4-wheeled toys now and pull wagons to collect sticks or bark.  You love to dig in the dirt and play in the playhouse.  You have mastered the playground and love the slides.  Your feelings are hurt easily and are somewhat of a tender heart. You take a paci to sleep and we are trying to keep it out of sight during the day. You run, climb, hide, laugh, and roam around.  You *must* wear shoes at all times, according to you, and you like to wear a backpack around the house.  You are a funny little personality that keeps us on our toes and we love you!



Having fun together... for now....

Having fun together… for now….

-The {capturing memories} Costellos


Sarah and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad {Morning}

This morning, I woke up in BEAST mode. Not a good type of beast mode.  Not the type where you get things done and conquer the world. No, this was more like I was angry. At what? Who knows, but I knew it was going to be a day….and suddenly I knew how Alexander felt.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Book

Alexander is a friend of mine. I like his book.


So it went like this:

I woke up to Gabriel telling me he needed a shower because he was, well, wet.

The water was too cold, he cried.

The baby needed me immediately. When I gave her breakfast, she dumped her yogurt all over the kitchen. Then she screamed some more.

Daniel Tiger was on. I despise Daniel Tiger and his sing alongs, they get stuck in your head all day.

Lucy refused to get dressed.

Wet clothes were in the bathroom and on the carpet for who knows how long.

I had to wash dishes for 45 mins. In the utility sink I despise. In the bathroom. While listening to aforementioned Daniel Tiger in the next room.

The toy room was a disaster and puzzle pieces everywhere. I depise the toy clutter we currently have. It’s too much.

Kids cried when I threw away gobs of puzzle pieces because I knew the 4 puzzles thrown on the floor were beyond the point of return.

Lucy changed her clothes 3 times after I have repeatedly asked her to get dressed just ONCE in a day to save on laundry.

Amelia wet through her pajamas.

I fumed, ranted, and raved about getting the toy room cleaned up so one could at least WALK through the hallway to get there.

Amelia tracked macaroni and cheese that she had dumped on the floor. all. over. the. house.

Amelia cries when Lucy whacks her on the top of the head with an Ariel doll.

Kids all cry when I make ‘breakfast cookies’ and make them wait until after lunch to eat them.

My stomach hurt.

It was a cloudy day.

My eyes were tired.

I didn’t get to shower until the clock read PM.

My orange was moldy.

I had to clean the vaporizer in the kids room. Scrubbing those scales off makes me unhappy.

I thought about going back to bed. But alas, I had to be an adult and go to the eye doctor, Menards, make dinner, pay bills, prep dinner for tomorrow, give baths and do all those other adult-ish type things that you don’t always want to do.

Tonight after the girls were asleep I laid with Gabriel, talking about his day. “Sorry I was grouchy this morning”, I said. He replied with, “What?”  I stated my apology again, and again he responded with “What?”.  “You know, I wasn’t very nice this morning, I was kind of mad…?”  I said, trying to explain. “I didn’t notice,” G replied, then added that the favorite part of his day was “Playing with the Transformer toy in the waiting room at the eye doctor’s office”.

OK. Guess I didn’t mess up so much after all.  Beast mode: OFF.  Good thing we get second chances. Lord knows I need them.


-The {still despising Daniel Tiger} Costellos


Round ’em up

My baby G. My first born. My son. My oldest.


Sometimes I feel like my kids don’t get any older. I know this sounds absurd as most people feel like their kids grow in the blink of an eye. I sometimes feel this way, but I’ve only ever had little kids and preschoolers. I’ve always had littles. Then we attended kindergarten roundup for Gabriel yesterday.

When I was laying with him in his bed the night before roundup, G told me he was nervous, excited. We talked through his emotions. His mature emotions. 

We were getting ready to leave the house the next morning and G was rushing us.  He didn’t want to be late.

We got to school and he was shy, hiding behind me and refusing to say much. I thought my Baby G has returned.  The Superintendent of the school saw G’s hesitations and offered to let him feed the fish in the big tank by the school’s front doors. He jumped on it while we completed some paperwork.

We got a tour of the school, got to sit in on the kindergarten activities that his class did, got a run down of what kindergarten will entail as well as meeting much of the staff. G’s hesitations quickly faded. He was skipping down the hall. He was happily interacting with his classmates and enthusiastic teacher.  He was loving every minute of it.


The teacher had everything as a ’roundup’ theme, complete with cowboy hats, sheriff badges, roping letters…. yeee-haw! They read a book about kindergarten, played, did a science experiment, did some work with letters, got a tour and their picture taken. Perfect. The science experiment was by far his favorite. The teacher said they will do science every day in kindergarten. G was beaming.

I was absolutely thrilled with the school. It is small, very small, and we LIKE that! Very personable. Very friendly. Very, very, very successful in educating kids. They have been ranked as a Blue Ribbon School before. We could not ask for a better fit.

Tonight Gabriel asked if he could go to Kindergarten tomorrow. He adores his preschool, but is ready for more. He was disappointed that kindergarten doesn’t start until August.

I am a little sad to watch my first go off to kindergarten. But more so than that, I am so excited to watch him continue to grow and thrive, just as he has in preschool.  He’s a thinker, a builder, an inventor, a question-asker. He’s going places in this world.

Yay, Gabriel!

-The {growing up} Costellos

Why Bother?

As a parent of 3 young children, there are some things we do that I sometimes wonder to myself ‘why bother?’.  Hear me out;

This morning we woke up earlier than anticipated (ahem, Amelia) and figured we could go to early church (before Sunday school) instead of late church (which is after Sunday school).  We no more than get into our pew this morning (on time, for once), and the shenanigans begin. Amelia dumps cheerios everywhere.  Lucy proceeds to unpack the diaper bag looking for some elusive item she believes to be in there. Lucy and Gabriel fight over a book. Amelia and Gabriel fight over a book. Amelia yelps for the umpteenth time. Amelia proceeds to follow in Lucy’s footsteps and tries to not so gingerly unpack the diaper bag and finds a ball-like lip gloss that she plays with. Until it rolls away in front of the pews in front of us. Amelia yelps some more. Books and sippy cups get shoved under pews into other peoples legs.  Sippy cup leaks on the floor. More fighting between I don’t even know who. More dropping of cheerios. More crunching of cheerios under my feet, more destroying of the diaper bag. More time of me tending to my children and less time of me paying attention or actually participating in Mass. Lucy goes up a few rows and sits with an adoring cousin for awhile and it helps. 2 is a lot less than 3 some days, it seems.  All of a sudden it’s Communion time and I realize I have sung 1/2 of one song and have no idea what the Gospel or any of the readings entailed. We go up front for the Sacrament and return.  By the end of Mass, J and I look at each other and just shake our heads. Some times are better than others. Some Sundays our kids behave great, other days are more like today. We stopped taking loads of toys to church because they ended up being more of a hassle than it was worth.  So why bother?

Turns out, J and I have very similar beliefs on church. Go figure. We both feel very strongly that our children need to be present weekly IN church.  All of our children attended their first Mass before 2 weeks of age, which was also their Baptism.  They may not understand or know all of what is going on, but if they are not there, how are they going to learn? We are ok with them reading or looking at a book quietly during Mass since they are so young. Gabriel is getting to the age that he can participate in more of what is going on and we are trying to encourage him to do so.

We bother, because for us, it’s what we do and how we live. It’s how we build our life, base their upbringings. Its how we learn morals, values, and church practices and teachings. It’s important that our kids are there with us.  And it’s extra rewarding when we see the fruits of our labors thriving. Today one of Gabriel’s Sunday school teachers informed us that he was one of the few who could recite the Lord’s Prayer during their class. Lucy was the only one in the 3 year old class, which I help to co-teach.  I love hearing the kids’ questions about readings and God, sometimes quite humorous.  Today Gabriel specifically requested that he could have ‘The Kids Bible’ for his looking book during quiet time. And last night when G and I were out on a date, he didn’t blink an eye when I told him we were going to pray before eating our pizza, and he said the whole prayer. To us, it’s very important they are there with us.

Next time you see a family with young children attending church or any other social event, for that matter, be thankful they are there. They care enough to take their kids to a somewhat uncomfortable and possibly very embarrasing situation, in hopes that they are raising their kids in a better way, in a way that will hopefully produce positive influences on society and moral citizens.  And please, keep smiling at them, because that helps a little too. :-)

Dear Amelia;


Dear Amelia;

Well, we are all bunkered down for the ‘Snowpocalypse 2015′.  We ran around and did errands this morning and now due to numerous cancellations due to impending weather, we have nowhere to be until 8am Monday morning. Ahhh, bliss. I kinda like snowstorms!

You are asleep in your crib upstairs while the rest of us are watching a movie.  Tonight, for the first time ever, you didn’t want to be rocked to sleep.  I have mixed emotions about this.  My lap and arms felt empty, but it did leave me some free time to write this blog. Lucy as usual has been cuddly and is on my lap.  Very unusual for you, and I hope you still like to rock to sleep some nights  :)

In getting some things crossed off my to-do list today, (one of which was hanging kids pictures around the house), I realized that you have not had any professional pictures taken since 6 months old.  You are 14+ months and I haven’t even had your 1 year pictures done.  No wonder third children area always feeling jipped!  I did get around to buying you a picture outfit and shoes today which are super cute! You ran away from me at least 6 times in the store today.  I’m sorry I missed your 9 and 12 month pictures :(

I am so interested and excited to see how your personality forms.  So far, you know how to work it.  You always seem to get what you want. G and L love to make you happy.  You love people but are shy sometimes. You do not like to be alone, probably because you never have been. You even sleep with 2 others in your room! You love to sing.  You are getting very good at picking up and love to put things where they go. On the contrary, you also love to pull anything and everything out of it’s place.

You love chocolate and I do too.  You are definitely my daughter.

Thank you for being a better sleeper! At 14 months you seem to have a better handle on the whole thing.  After 12.5 months of you waking anywhere from 1 to 6 times per night, I was tired, to say the least. You are now going on a few weeks of going to sleep on time  at 8pm and staying asleep until after 6am. It’s kind of nice.  But I still wake a lot, tossing and turning. Sometimes I feel like I’m actually missing having you in our bed.  Sometimes I feel like waking you up so I have some company ;)

You sure do like your pacifier.  We cannot seem to get very far without one. Many times, you carry 2 pacisin your hands so that you can flip them in and out of your mouth intermittently. You sleep with one and definitely prefer one in the car, or it gets pretty loud.

I hope you like hand-me-downs. With an older sister already, you are not getting too much new-to-you stuff. I’m more than ok with it. I hope you learn frugality at a young age and embrace it!

As you can tell, I’m having some varying feelings about you growing up. You used to be such a mama’s girl, and mama’s girl only. Last weekend you stayed at Aunt Jen’s house for a few hours and didn’t even cry when I left. You never cry when I leave you with Nana either.  You like to run away from me now, but sometimes still to me.  You are starting to say words like ‘more’, ‘mama’.  You don’t need me for everything like you used to, and you are becoming more independent. I hope that you don’t grow up too fast. I hope that we relish everything you do, learn, say, become.  I hope that you retain the amazing spirit and headstrong will that you possess, and all the things that make you you.  I hope that you love this crazy family of yours, because we sure love you!