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.



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:










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!





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