My least favorite holiday.

There. I said it. I don’t like Halloween! It is, by far, my least favorite holiday.

I have many reasons to validate my statement; huge influx of candy/sugar, focus on death/gruesomeness/creepy things, having to explain why perfectly nice people have fake blood running down their face on this certain night of the year……I digress. The whole premise of trick or treating is quite odd, if you think about it.

About a week ago I remembered that the kids would want to dress up for Halloween and, of course, trick or treat.  I told them that we had more than enough costumes in and amongst our dress up clothes, so they could ‘go shopping’ in the toy room.  It worked magically.  We don’t really encourage the creepy costumes, and they don’t really seem to want them.

Pre-candy rush

Pre-candy rush

G knew from the get-go he wanted to be a ninja. Fantastic. He found black pants and a black shirt, we had a running mask for the ‘ninja mask’ and I tied red strips of fabric around him to resemble a ninja. He found a sword and practiced his sweet ninja moves and it was done. Lucy picked an Elsa dress and Amelia somehow perfectly fit into one of Lucy’s old dance costumes to be an adorable Minnie Mouse.

Minnie wasn't too fond of her ears

Minnie wasn’t too fond of her ears

Yes, I despise Halloween. But my cute kids sure do make the night better!

-The {trick or treating} Costellos


Conception Seminary College a school of 1000 acres located in Conception Junction, Missouri. I had never been to a seminary before, until this last weekend. Uncle Cameron (Jeremiah’s bother) is in his first year of seminary there, and we ventured the 4 hours there for 2015 Family Weekend.  IT WAS AMAZING. The place, the people, the SPIRIT in that place.  There is nothing quite like it. I can see why Cameron loves calling this place home.

I’ll let some pictures do the talking.


There were so many fun family activities throughout the weekend, but the best part was just BEING there. We got to meet and talk to other families, most of whom have sons in the seminary, who were such an encouragement to us as Catholics and Catholic parents.  Jeremiah and I both left the weekend with a new passion and love for our faith, and our family.

As for the fun stuff, Cameron gave us tours of his school and dorm room, we got to do several tours of the grounds and buildings, including the beautiful historic Basilica, a hayrack ride, banquet, several meals, watching a soccer game, hiking out to a secluded grotto, Mass, partaking in the monks’ daily prayers, and enjoying God’s beauty in the rolling hills of Missouri!

Coolest library ever--it had 3 floors with color coded staircases. G compared it to the Ghostbusters library.

Coolest library ever–it had 3 floors with color coded staircases. G compared it to the Ghostbusters library. Cameron’s favorite place to study

Gabriel standing just under the St Gabriel statue

Gabriel standing just under the St Gabriel statue….

....And next to the St Gabriel Guesthouse. G loved all this

….And next to the St Gabriel Guesthouse. G loved all this

Hiking to the grotto

Hiking a few miles to the grotto

Our Lady of Grace Grotto

Our Lady of Grace Grotto

Grotto---kids found hedge apples and Amelia sliced her head open on a bench..woof.

Grotto—kids found hedge apples and Amelia sliced her head open on a bench..woof.

Gabriel overlooks Lake Placid in the early morning

Gabriel overlooks Lake Placid in the early morning

Holy Cross Oratory. Seminarians have daily prayer several times per day here

Holy Cross Oratory. Seminarians have daily prayer several times per day here. It’s on the 4th floor and overlooks the grounds, seats a few hundred

Walking more trails after Mass

Walking more trails after Mass

And the real reason for the weekend: seeing Uncle Cam in his natural habitat ;)


Our Seminarian, Cameron

And the mustachios....

And the mustachios….

We had a fantastic time at the Seminary. I learned so much. The entire school is run by 50 Benedictine monks, whose primary purpose in life is prayer.  They don’t own many worldly goods, stop everyday to pray 5 times, have daily Mass, and eat 2 out of their 3 meals per day in silence. They live in a Monastery attached to the Basilica that is off-limits to anyone but them. They are super-prayer-warriors.  Fascinating.  We hope to return to this PLACE in the future.

-The {proud of Uncle Cam} Costellos

Jeremiah’s Epic Treehouse {Tour}

I haven’t seen my husband so proud since the days our children were born. Beaming from ear to ear, covered in sawdust and sweat, he gazed up at his labor of love and said, “That treehouse is everything that I dreamed it would be….and more. It is AWESOME.”




Yes, he’s quite proud of his creation. And I’ve got to give him props. He didn’t use any kind of kit, blueprints or pre-fab version, he made it all from his brain. There were sketches and pictures floating around the house for months, some even drawn in crayon, how cute ;) Many a night there were several guys out in the yard, talking, theorizing, or as they say ‘visualizing’ the treehouse and discussing how to go about this or that, or how to hang this truss, or how to achieve a good angle with the slide.


I came home at the end of the day several times this summer to J on a ladder 60 ft tall (or so it seemed) and Uncle Cam pulling some kind of gymnastics moves on the upper rafters and peak. For awhile I wondered if we would make it through the treehouse-building-process without a trip to the ER from a fall related injury.

The treehouse has been quite the talk of our small town. Everyone has seen it and brings it up in conversation. I go to the bank, school, post office, city hall, library…. they all comment on it and say how our kids will have great memories from it.  I think it’s kind of humorous. We’ve gotten questions about renting it out. That’s even better!

So here’s a short tour of the treehouse after I made the kids pick it up today. Yes, it’s pretty much a second toyroom so it gets a little deep.  The neighbor kids are in it whenever our kids are as well so it’s like the neighborhood playground.


Amelia has no fear. She climbs the ladder like she’s been doing it for years.  It scares the daylights out of me usually, but she just turns around and smiles.  The ladder is 7.5 feet tall and has an attached rope for practicing some kind of rapelling skill, I guess.  Before it was up, she would scale the aluminum construction ladder without a thought. Yipes!


Porch is 4x8ft with a lower 2.5×2.5 ft landing for the slide.


Jeremiah made this awesome railing for multiple reasons. Obviously, we needed a railing on the deck, but we needed a functional one, at that. He put the boards vertically so kids would be less likely to climb it, and cut the 1/2 circles in the top to allow us to see through it and the kids to see out. He also positioned the treehouse itself in a place in the yard where we can see into it from the kitchen, dining/living rooms, and from the top of the stairs. Works great!



The only decor haha!

Gabriel got this picture on a garage sale, months ago, for this specific purpose!

The inside of the treehouse is in the baby stages. We had some leftover carpet pieces from our upstairs and they *almost* cover the floor in there. It’s 8×10 in there so it takes a good chunk of carpet. There will eventually be a ‘hidden door’ beneath the south window that will lead to a cargo net type of climb, but I have to be convinced that my children will not fall doing that, so it might be awhile. J has plans for electricity, drywall, a murphy bed, and a skylight, but we’ll see. I had the fabulous idea for a retractable roof, but I guess I voiced it a few days too late. ;)

We do have a few things to finish before cold weather hits….first up is the door handle/latch so *ahem* no one will lock their sister in there anymore.

-The {treehouse-lovin} Costellos

Carseat prison

Yesterday we traveled 96 miles one way to Backbone State Park near Strawberry Point, IA. We do an annual Labor Day weekend picnic and family get-together with my mom’s brothers and their families.  It’s tons of fun. This year we hiked up to a cave, hiked beautiful trails with several kids in tow, and waded near the springs of a frigid trout stream.  We ate a ton of good food, had water fights and water balloon tossing contests and great conversation. Nana and Papa had offered to drive and we can all fit into their Flex, so it worked out well. Until we went home.

Loving Backbone!

Amelia loves Backbone!

You would think riding in a car is not that awful. You would think the fact that you have been awake all day, missed your regular nap, and are only 21 months old; that a nap in a very comfortable car with your family would be an ideal way to spend 2 hours. What else is there to do?


That’s not even the right word.


Amelia has mastered the scream of all screams.  It rattles your eardrums until they ring.  I’m pretty sure it could splinter glass. It makes one’s blood boil. Especially if you are trapped in a car with that sound.

Our kids have never been great, nor terrible in the car. I guess they are just mediocre. They get bored, but are usually decent.  Yesterday was not the case.  G and L were fine. Amelia was the other end of the spectrum.

We tried everything. I offered snacks, drink, toys, crayons, sights out the window, games.  Nana tried songs. I tried ignoring her after nothing else worked. Papa tried his stern ‘papa voice’ to scare it out of her. J tried tickling her feet from the front seat. She had no reason to be shrieking like that. The  car became a prison, with our little obscenely vocal prisoner strapped securely into her seat in the direct center of the car. I had even turned her around to forward face for the little trip, thinking she might enjoy that more. Guess I was wrong. It got so bad that we pulled over. None of us could take it anymore. I immediately pulled Amelia from her carseat and there it was: SILENCE.  She would have rode the rest of the way home in my lap, but of course that’s not legal. :-P I ventured into a gas station with her in tow because I just had to get out of there before I snapped! I bought 3 tootsie pops, one per kid. That kept her quiet for the next 16 miles. Then she gave me an empty sticky lollipop stick. Then it started again.

We survived the remaining 10 miles home. I put Amelia directly to bed, and she was asleep within 3 minutes, and that was that.

There have got to be other parents out there who dread the car ride, maybe more than I do. Amelia is definitely the worst of our kids thus far in the car, and it’s hit or miss.   My blood pressure is still recovering.

Next time we go anywhere farther than 30 miles, I’m contemplating earplugs.

-The {ears still ringing} Costellos



Well, it’s happened. My ‘Baby G’ started kindergarten. {He has notified me that I am to refer to him now as ‘Big G’, and he reminded me just how big he is when he inhaled an entire 1/4 lb burger and fixin’s at lunch today. Gulp}  Ahem. Big G has started kindergarten. And he LOVES it!

“Can we go to school yet? When do I get to go to school? Is it time to leave yet? When can I go to school?”

He is in a small class, and they are grade sharing this year with 1st grade students. So he gets to do reading and math in kindergarten with his teacher, and most of the rest of the day shared with 1st graders. So far, it is working wonderfully!  His teacher is fantastic.  He even got to help raise the flag on the very first day!

What a way to start kindergarten!

What a way to start kindergarten!

So far, he thinks school lunch is amazing and loves learning about ‘Superkids’ (reading curriculum).  He skips down the hallway and doesn’t think gym class is all that fun. He loves playing on the Smartboard and is tired by the end of the day, but when asked, says his day was ‘AWESOME! and ‘REALLY GOOD!’.  It is definitely bittersweet to send our first off to kindergarten, but he is so, so, so ready.  He is thriving and it is so great to see his enthusiasm for school!

And so another thing happened, Lucy finally gets to go to school everyday! She has been counting the days until preschool started and now it’s here. She is in love with her teachers and already telling of all the friends she will make and fun they will have.  She is more than excited about being able to ride the little school bus home each day and has no shortage of ideas of which outfits she should wear to meet all of her new friends.  She could not be more excited or ready for everyday preschool!

Lucy's first day of 4 year old preschool!

Lucy’s first day of 4 year old preschool!

Who knew it took so much stuff to start the school year?!

Who knew it took so much stuff to start the school year?!

And then there’s this kid. She’s starting to potty train, and would probably do it if she had a few more words in her vocab to tell me when she had to go, versus just screaming.  At least Amelia still has a few years before she is allowed to go to preschool. I say ‘allowed’, because I’m absolutely positive that she would go to school if I let her. Unbeknownst to her, she is 21 mo, not 4 years old.  Until then she’ll keep swinging like a monkey on anything and everything she can reach. All. the. time.

Just a swingin'

Beast baby

So, today, I took my 2 oldest babies to school, together, and I didn’t cry ;)  Lucy hardly even noticed I was there I think, she was more concerned with choosing a color of marker to write her name. It is so exciting to begin this new chapter in our lives!

-The {beginning a new school year} Costellos

A visit from the Pope

So Pope Francis visited our church today. It was kind of a big deal. Everyone was running around trying to get a picture with him. I even got a high-five ;)


HAHA! Turns out it was a cardboard cutout! #papafrankie

We also had our backpack blessing today for all students/teachers/catechists. The kids wanted J to take his backpack as well, so he obliged.   I will be co-teaching the 3 year olds again this year and G and L will be in their respective classes. J and Amelia will just hang, for this year ;)  I got to wear a new dress that I was super excited about! Check out for an awesome selection of dresses, skirts and shirts that anyone can wear comfortably.  I really like this dress since I can hold/carry/tend to kids without worrying that my shirt is being pulled to my waist by a toddler!  What I wore Sunday:

What I wore Sunday: my new favorite dress! Thanks modest pop!

What I wore Sunday: my new favorite dress! Thanks modest pop!

Well now that you are reading I’ll tell you about some other stuff.  I didn’t get to post last Sunday because we were in northeast Iowa celebrating my Grandma’s 84th birthday! Isn’t that fantastic!? We all surprised her and had a wonderful afternoon together.

Happy birthday Grandma!

Happy birthday Grandma!


Jamberry’s at the birthday!

This past week marked our last full week of summer.  The kids and I had one more weekday playdate and ran some errands. J’s school had a back-to-school social at one of our favorite restaurants on Friday. G and L were off having some grandparents time and attending a movie in the park, so we got to attend with just Amelia in tow.  It is AMAZING how kids are different when you have them just one on one.  Amelia was a delight.  She charmed all J’s coworkers, gave high 5’s to anyone who wanted them, ate very neatly (unusual), was very agreeable, willingly shopped with us, and sat very politely as she inhaled her ice cream cone.  It was a treat, for her and us alike.

Gabriel starts school this week, and Lucy on Monday next week. This summer has really flown by! It’s been a great summer, with lots of fun, and a lot of progress made on the house and yes, the “Guest House”.

Walls up! Now for the deck, slide, roof....

Walls up! Now for the deck, slide, roof….

While we were working on it yesterday the kids had a lemonade stand. With the help of the neighbor kids, I believe their profit was $7.50, to split 4 ways (Amelia only drank lemonade and did not sell any!)   :) I believe the entrepreneurial spirit has been kindled!

Lemonade for sale!

Lemonade for sale!

I also spent a chunk of time yesterday prepping some school-morning breakfasts that are going to change my life, I’m convinced! Breakfasts are really a weak point in our house, and more than once my kids have eaten a bag of dry cereal or an apple on our way to a destination. Jeremiah will often opt for cookies if the pickings are slim…I digress.  I made and froze a bunch of the following:

Homemade chewy, chunky granola bars

Egg breakfast scramblers

Healthy banana chocolate chip muffins

I also snagged a couple boxes of whole grain waffles at Aldi for something like $1.50 apiece! Hopefully we are set as far as breakfasts go for awhile, and no one will have to eat dry cereal!  I plan on doing a freezer meal post once again soon as fall rolls around, as it has been awhile!

Have a great week!

-The {pictures with the Pope} Costellos





One in a minion

What a busy week it has been! Monday we found out that our Lincoln had been side swiped while parked in Minnesota.  To make a long story short, the other person’s insurance covered all of the damages, along with a rental car for us for the duration of the repairs. I could come to like the Jeep Cherokee:

Nice to drive, but will be happy to get the Lincoln back!

Nice to drive, but will be happy to get the Lincoln back!

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at the Mississippi Valley Fair. Monday our kids, along with allllll of their cousins, competed in the Kiddie Kattle Kapers competition.  They participate every year, but the theme they did this year was “Dairy: one in a minion”.  You guessed it! They all dressed as minions, even the calf that they led along with them.  We didn’t have time to shop for actual bibs, but J did a fantastic job of painting up some shirts for them to wear.  They won, of course.   ;)

One of the minions

One of the minions

A minion pair, one of which does not like pictures

A minion pair, one of which does not like pictures. Amelia chose not to participate, haha

We also got our fair share of fair food, more than our fair share of dairy treats, rides, shows and exhibits. I must say I cannot wait until my kids are old enough to be in 4H.  J and I were both in it as youth and I was thoroughly impressed by some of the projects this year! Thursday I went to work but J kept plugging along on the treehouse. There is only one word to describe it; MASSIVE. The walls are now fabricated, a mere 7′ above the 7.5′ platform. There is talk of a cargo net, slide, rope climb, tire crawl and more. He hung 2 swings on the underside and they have already been the hit of the neighborhood. He has been using some of the 2×4’s that we pulled out of the Maple Street Estate when we gutted it so that is neat. He is also using windows pulled from Uncle Kyle’s old porch and a door he bought on an auction for $1. Literally, $1. I’m planning on doing a full blog about the ‘Guest house’ once it is more complete.

One wall, 2 kids

One wall, 2 kids

Friday I took all 3 kids school shopping. Woof.  We had 2 school supply lists this year that rang me upwards of $100. I guess I shouldn’t complain, because I shop bargains on almost everything, except school supplies it seems. As I’m working on school registration paperwork and pricing new glasses for Lucy I keep hearing ‘cha-ching, cha-ching’.  I can almost feel the money being pulled from my wallet! On the contrary, that afternoon 2 former PT patients of mine brought us a 30-gallon can full of sweet corn….for free! Thanks guys! I also found out I was chosen to be a brand rep for the website! I’ll be posting some pictures of their clothes so check them out!

Love him

Love him

My corn helper

My corn helper

Saturday I spent a few hours of the day freezing up all that corn, doing laundry, running, washing out carseats, helping with the treehouse, washing diapers, and making food and eating food.  I like Saturdays :) Today we went to church followed by book club/Target with Aunt Mel for me, and lunch with the family and Mendards trip for the rest of my crew.  I can say my afternoon was funner than Jeremiah’s ;)  Amelia has decided to try to grow up in leaps this past week. She is regularly trying to use the potty and now insists on drinking with a big kid cup. She refuses, however to add much to her vocabulary and loves to spill and throw food on the floor/wall/chair. Stinker.

Hold the lid, please

Hold the lid, please

Here’s me, tonight, tired, doing dishes. I still needed a pic for WIWS, so here it is, although not my best. But hey, check out all that nice woodwork trim around the window and door! Yeah!

WIWS: dress from Target, dishes from my family, ha!

WIWS: hi-low dress from Target, dishes from my family, ha!

-The {enjoying summertime} Costellos