Kayak voyage

Jeremiah and I celebrated out 9th wedding anniversary last week. We decided awhile ago that we wanted to go somewhere and do something for our anniversary, sans kids. Aunt Mel’s weekend services were available and thank goodness for her!  We haven’t had our kayaks out AT ALL this year, so thought it would be fun to do an kayaking trip. ‘Why not make it an overnight?’ we thought; ‘Why not go for 30 miles? That sounds like a great idea!’. We figured we could do that in about 8 hours. Nevermind that the most we’ve paddled in one day is a few hours.  So we had a plan.  We had everything all mapped out, gear packed, and ready to go!

 

Putting in at Picture Rocks

Putting in at Picture Rocks

Paddling along...

Paddling along…

Well. We did end up going 30 miles in around 10 hours. It was a long trip, but fun for the most part. I admit, I did lose my sense of enthusiasm around mile 15 and temperature of 90 degrees and sweltering sun. I kinda wanted to go find an air conditioner at that point. When we realized we had left the destination car keys in the car at the original starting point, I started to get even  less enthusiastic.  We paddled pretty constantly during the trip but it took longer than I expected. I thought it was totally reasonable to be able to paddle a kayak at the same speed in which I run, about 7 miles/hr, with the current and all. J can run about 9 mi/hr so we thought we’d be somewhere between the 2 paces.  Not quite.

:)

:)

 

We chugged along, J was convinced we would make our destination by 6pm or so, as we had originally planned. The river was beautiful overall, with majestic limestone bluffs in some parts, and rolling cornfields and pastures in other parts. We could see the bottom of the river for 90% of the trip, and the water was clear and clean! I’ve never seen such a clean river before!

Sandbar where we ate lunch. Shade was a bonus!

Sandbar where we ate lunch. Shade was a bonus!

Our expeditions never seem to go completely as planned. In keeping with the theme of leaving the keys in the wrong car, I also lost the lid to the back compartment on my kayak somewhere on the river and J broke his paddle in 2. BEAST. He also talked like a pirate for much of the trip which was quite entertaining.  ;)

 

Big bluff

Big bluff

We decided not to stay overnight and camp. It had been a long day and we were both kind of done with the trip. Good thing Aunt Mel was spoiling the kids within an hours drive so she could come to our rescue! She delivered me to the car with ALL the car keys in it and meanwhile the kids got to splash in the river. Amelia tried to eat the contents of the riverbed, but it’s all good.

Having a blast in the river!

Having a blast in the river!

So we survived, but I really couldn’t use my left arm at all last night it hurt so bad! I now know what my patients with bicipital tendonitis feel like!

Here’s me, Amelia, and the fantastic Aunt Mel, on Auntie’s Day (TODAY!), before heading to Mass. Linking up for What I Wore Sunday, Aunt Mel is wearing a scarf which was one of her Auntie’s Day gifts, and I’m in one of my favorite maxi skirts. Although I’m not sure why I ever try to wear a white shirt, as it never stays that way long with 3 littles. Amelia is wearing a sundress that she got as a birthday gift :)

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Happy Sunday!

 

-The {novice kayakers} Costellos

 

Journal to my kids; Summer 2015 edition

Summer 2015 edition

This marks 2 full years of chronicling my kids on a quarterly basis! I’m proud I stuck with it!!

Working out

Working out

Gabriel: 6 years and 3/4 month old

Today you rode your bicycle without training wheels, without help, without throwing a fit, all around town.  We have to force you to get on the bike, but you are finally getting confident enough to go on your own.  You are getting so helpful and responsible – it’s wonderful! You wanted to see what I do at work, so you came with me and did jobs all afternoon! You hate getting your picture taken, for some reason.  You continue to dream about your treehouse, which will hopefully begin to take shape in a few weeks.  You got 3 stitches in your forehead last weekend and are bashful with all the attention it draws. You were more upset about leaving the family gathering and cousins than getting the stitches.  You get mistaken for an 8 year old alot because you are so tall! You love to build – Legos, extra wood in Papa’s shop, the dirt pile out back. You like to wear baseball hats, they are always cocked sideways. You like to be modest and prefer to wear a shirt always, even when swimming or right before bed. Your favorite book subject at the library lately is dinosaurs. Amelia lets you carry her around and you are great at calming her down and playing with her.  You still torment Lucy a lot but then want her to be by your side when you are scared of something. Kindergarten is not too far off and you are excited! I love your playful nature, twinkling eyes, vivacious laugh, endless energy, creativity and constant questions!

Today's 'do

Today’s ‘do

Lucy: 4 years and 2 months old

You are my mini-me. Today you made me do your hair just like I did mine yesterday. I made the mistake of showing you my pinterest hairstyles board. You ask a lot of questions and have no trouble conversing with adults.  You love all things girly, favorites lately are Jamberry nails, rings (you have 1 you don’t remove, just like me), matching clothes/accessories, fun hairstyles, scarves and jewelry. You nap only a few days a week now, if that. You love to play in the water, watch princess movies, ride your bike, pretend play almost anything. You love to do art, paint, draw, stick stickers everywhere.  You get really whiney and cry a lot if you’re low on sleep. You like to ‘mother’ to Amelia. You still want to be Rapunzel when you grow up. You are a good helper, especially in the kitchen. You like to be independent but then almost always insist that you need help. You say a lot of funny things and your hashtag I created is #lucyeveryday to chronicle your quotes. You have more shoes than everyone else put together. You rarely wear anything just dresses and that’s fine. You got this Doc McStuffins chair at a garage sale that you are obsessed with. You are so fun to watch grow up and change, and you make us laugh every day!

So happy Lucy's old TOMS fit her now!

So happy Lucy’s old TOMS fit her now!

Amelia: 1 year and 7 months old

As Nana says, sometimes, you are “a ball of fire”.  Especially mornings. You finally started falling asleep on your own, without crying. Sometimes, you actually want to get in your crib. You are starting to really enjoy sitting while reading.  If you don’t like something, we all hear about it!  You yell, babble, scream A LOT! You like to eat, but you also like to throw all your food on the floor.  You love baths with Lucy and pouring water on her head. You like to play with your stroller and it can entertain you for a good while. You also like anything with wheels, balls, riding/pushing toys. You sometimes like baby dolls but many times just play with whatever G and L are playing with. You are excellent at making messes. You are obsessed with shoes and often insist I put yours on, even if we aren’t going anywhere. You can often be found sitting in the window seat keeping watch for the neighbor dog. You hated your 18 mo pictures and snarled and screamed at the photographer, especially when the flash went off, so we have no pictures.  Looking back it’s funny, but wasn’t then. You must be included in everything, and don’t like being left behind one bit. Your hair is finally long enough for a clippee in front, but you rip it out. Your laugh is beautiful and your curiosity endless.  I love watching you grow and discover!

We got a rare family picture today at church today. I’m hoping to start blogging every Sunday, and linking up to Fine Linen and Purple‘s “What I wore Sunday”.  This dress I wore is my new favorite thing. It’s so versatile! I wore it to Mass, out to lunch, while I was sorting/packing away/toting tubs of kids clothes to the garage, while watching the kids on the slip’n’slide and while on a bike ride with the kids this evening! And it makes it even better that I only paid $5 for it! Hopefully pictures get better as I continue this! ;)

Here's us!

Here’s us!

-The {Happy Sunday} Costellos

Adios 20’s…

So I turned 30 yesterday.

 

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve always loved birthdays. As you can tell by some of my previous posts, I really love having the kids’ birthdays. But there is something about 30 that is different, and I hadn’t really been looking forward to my 30th birthday like I had my other birthdays.

I finally put my finger on it the other day. I’m sad to leave my 20’s. Just. Sad. A lot of really fantastic life events happened for me in my 20’s. I mean, almost all of them! Getting engaged then married, graduating with my Bachelor’s and Doctorate degrees, birthing and raising 3 amazing and really fun kids, various running races, trips, as well as 2 remodels and moving twice. Of course there were bad things that occurred too, but there was a lot of good!

Jeremiah sensed my hesitation with turning the big 3-0. So he decided to lift my spirits by giving me a gift every day for the 30 days leading up to my 30th birthday. Yes, you read that right, thirty gifts. How sweet!!!  My first gift was a new running watch. I loved it, but I was a bit concerned about how much money was going be be shelled out with this whole idea. He pulled through. Everything he got me was perfect; thoughtful and meaningful, and many were just cute little things or snacks that he knew I would like that were not even expensive. He got me a new dress, sandals, earrings, scarves, a sheet set I had been eyeing as well as some great body scrub. Not many guys can buy their wife a dress that she actually really likes! I gotta hand it to him, it was an impressive and very thoughtful way to ring in my 30th.

We also got the opportunity to go to Chicago for the weekend over my birthday, as J was already there for a training class he is taking. It was great! Both of our parents offered to watch the kiddos.  Like many parents, we get very few days, or nights without our kids. Although we both enjoyed it, we missed the kids dearly.    We ate at some new and old favorite places, strolled the Magnificent Mile and the Chicago Riverwalk, perused The Field Museum, went on a Wendella sunset cruise on Lake Michigan, and walked a TON!

Our boat, the 'Lucia'

Our boat, the ‘Lucia’

View from the Chicago River

View from the Chicago River

 

Skyline from the boat

Skyline from the boat

 

Ain't nothing like some classic Chicago deep dish

Ain’t nothing like some classic Chicago deep dish

:)

:)

So, adios 20’s. I hope my 30’s are even better!!!

-The {turning 30} Costellos

 

Today, life owned us

That’s the only way to put it.

The day started with Amelia falling off the couch and onto the hardwood floor and acquiring a massive goose egg right on the front of her forehead. Put her in a great mood. But that stuff happens alot….

We all loaded up into our smaller car to take J to the train station 1.5 hrs away, for his 12 o’clock departure.

About 40 mins into our little trip, Lucy vomits. All over herself, her sister, both of their carseats, the floor, her toys. YUCK. She was carsick.

We stop to clean up the vomit mess. We are missing our wipes, apparently misplaced from fireworks festivities last night. Missing any and all glove compartment stash of napkins as well. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Forced to use a dress-up fireman’s jacket that Lucy was wearing for a rag. Double YUCK. She has no extra clothes and her carseat is really gross.

Amelia completely covers her legs in pen marks. One of the older kids thought it was good entertainment to let her have a pen and watch her mark up herself without telling us.

We get to the train station. They are remodeling. The only bathrooms are outhouses and the indoor waiting area is about 12×12 feet with 4 small benches.  Good thing it’s not raining.  Train is running 2 hrs late meaning we have 2.5 hrs to kill.  My 3 kids need something to do. I was not planning on being there more than about 30 mins and heading home after J was gone on the train. Time to improvise.

The car stinks. You know what I mean. It’s about 82 degrees today and the smell is getting worse. We opt to walk around the downtown and look for lunch. Not working. We head back to the stinky car.

We do a drive-through and grab lunch and head to a park, windows down. Kids run off some steam.

We decide we are still hungry and hit up an ice cream joint. We race back to the train station in the smelly car.

Amelia is covered in ice cream. Again, no wet wipes available.

Ice. cream. everywhere.

Ice. cream. everywhere.

Check back in at the train station. Train won’t be here until 3:00pm. Wait, make that 3:30pm….. Apparently there is a lot of re-routing of Amtrak train throughout the country due to flooding, putting all the trains behind.

Kids are thiiiirrsty. Guess what? Remodeling = no running water in the station and certainly no drinking fountain. SERIOUSLY…..

Lucy and I walk 2 blocks and buy a case of bottled water. Amelia dumps 2 of them on the ground. G dumps part of one to make a river on the sidewalk. Lucy makes a princess castle out of rocks.  At this point I don’t even care. We have been at the train station sooo loooong.

3:45pm the train finally shows up. 3 hours and 45 mins past the original departure time. J bids us goodbye and hops on.

Lucy has a minor meltdown on the platform. Amelia has a moderate meltdown on the platform, from the confines of her stroller. G is still thirsty and unwilling to push the stroller any longer.

We make it back to the car. It REEKS!!!!  I strip Amelia down, I divy out more water. We finally get going. Lucy threatens to vomit again and trying to dramatize it. I know she won’t and she doesn’t. The drama…..

Lucy has to go to the bathroom. I’m not getting a sleeping toddler and 2 other kids out of the smelly car so she can pee. We stop on an exit ramp. She gets her shorts wet. The carseat is so dirty I just don’t even care.

We make it home. We scrub and clean out the nasty car, strip carseats (one of my least favorite jobs). Amelia cries a majority of the time. I have a splitting headache that has gotten worse since about 11am.

I make dinner. I’m on the phone for about 10 minutes and in that time Amelia flips her entire highchair tray off onto the floor, along with the entire contents of her dinner. AWESOME. More mess.

G showers, I get the girls in the tub. As I’m trying to get a pen-covered Amelia and a puke-smelling Lucy with intense fro-hair into the bathtub, Lucy calmly and seriously looks at me and says, “Isn’t it hard being a mom?”

YES IT IS, LUCY! Thank you for the sympathy :)

We made it through the rest of the night, so far. G helped cook dinner and prayed on his own before inhaling his dinner. They helped clean up the living room and picked up after themselves.  That all warmed my heart.  No one is sleeping yet, but I have hope ;)

Tomorrow is another day….and I somehow have to make it to work.

-The {airing out the car} Costellos

 

Gabriel’s SUPER 6th

I admit, I’m kind of getting into planning parties. Little kid birthday parties, that is.  Now that we’ve gotten into the stage where the kids can invite other friends and cousins their own age, the parties have become a lot of fun to put together and throw.  Enter my project for the past month……Gabriel’s SUPER 6th!

I knew that G would love a superhero themed party.  He’s been superhero minded since about birth!  I found tons of ideas on Pinterest, but alas most of them looked like you could spend a month’s mortgage on the supplies, food and decor, and I knew that wasn’t for us. So I did my thing in a much more frugal manner.

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Some of the big kids got kinda fancy!

My mom spent an evening at a thrift store picking out armloads of different colored tshirts that I crafted into capes that the kids decorated–basically I cut off the front, left the head hole and stuck some velcro on it for a clousure- voila!. I found a template for a mask, cut them out of foam and tied with some skinny elastic to create the mask that they also got to decorate.  We strung some twine between the posts of the park shelter and used clothes pins to hang. Each kid got to pick out their ‘disguise’.  They loved it!

For games I set up several ‘training stations’.  Each station was a superhero-type skill where the kids could practice.

#1: Hulk smash: idea was simple. Use the giant foam fist to smash the ice cream cones as quickly as possible! (This was hard to get a picture of as they went so quickly!)

Hulk smash!

Hulk smash!

 

#2: Mighty muscles: build your muscles by lifting the weights with 1 arm or 2, or while lying on your back!

Mighty muscles!

Mighty muscles!

#3: Super aim: use the bow and arrow to practice your aim!

 

Super aim!

Super aim!

#4: Spidey balance: walk the balance beam without falling off!

Spidey balance

Spidey balance

#5: Shield toss: use Captain America’s shield (frisbee) to knock over as many super cans as you can!

Shield toss

Shield toss

We played one somewhat organized game called ‘Catch the Villain’.  Here’s how it worked: G’s 2 grandpas were nicely told graciously volunteered to be the villains. They went to hide in opposite directions in the park. I gathered up all the superheros in training and told them there were 2 ‘bad guys’ —who were actually nice– who were loose in the park. They were to catch them and bring them back to tie them up.  It was fantastic and they loved it! Here’s what it looked like:

Bringing in the 'bad guy'

Bringing in the ‘bad guy’

Papa Bart all tied up

Papa Bart all tied up

Tying up Papa Dave

Tying up Papa Dave

 

For food I did some snacks to fuel the superheroes:

 

 

 

YUM!

YUM!

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And of course we had candles on his super cakes!

The big 6!!!

The big 6!!!

Here are some of my favorite pics from the day:

High flyer!

High flyer!

No words....

No words….

A few of the superheros that wanted to pose!

A few of the superheros that wanted to pose!

A lovin the big swings!

A lovin the big swings!

 

The real Superman :)

The real Superman :)

And there you have it! A VERY fun and frugal superhero party for an awesome (almost) 6 year old!  I had such a fun time planning it and seeing all the kids have so much fun. It made my day when one of the kids said “This is the best birthday party I’ve ever been to!”.  Not sure that’s entirely true, but it did make me happy!

-The {birthday partying} Costellos

 

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!

**swoon**

**swoon**

WE. LOVE. IT

WE. LOVE. 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

Food

Food

 

 

 

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