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

Road trippin’

One thing I have really loved about this summer is that we have gotten to take several long weekend trips.  With little kids, big vacays are not always possible for us, but have found that the long weekend works quite well.  We went to Chicago for my 30th, kayaking for our anniversary, and we spent this past weekend in Omaha/Council Bluffs/Lincoln with some family of mine.

Jeremiah and G have spent the last few days working on the much awaited treehouse (AKA the guest house, the way-too-big-house-on-stilts, and you-are-spending-way-too-much-money-on-that-treehouse, as I call it).  Jeremiah feels that a house 8 foot in the air measuring 8 by 10 feet with a 4 foot deck is absolutely appropriate.  He’s trying to talk me into putting a murphy bed in there, complete with real size doors and windows, insulation and electricity.  So far I’ve talked him out of all of that nonsense.   He thinks it can double as a guest bedroom someday. I think there will just be a lot of sweaty neighbor kids in there in the meantime.In the works!

In the works!

So, back to our trip.

We left Friday and headed to Council Bluffs, about a 4 hour drive. All 3 kids did sleep at one time, added bonus, and no trip is complete without ice cream.  We did have a potty accident, and all electronics were not working. Whoops. I think it’s good for kids to have to be bored sometimes anyways.



Saturday we ventured to the University of Nebraska’s Morrill Hall at Lincoln and saw a ton of cool natural history. Kids loved it.


Favorite picture of the weekend!

Favorite picture of the weekend!

We ate at a fantastic restaurant called Valentino’s and then drove through a safari park.  That was the COOLEST! It felt eerily like Jurassic Park, which was helped by all the kids humming the theme song from the backseat……. but no dinosaurs mauled our car, thank goodness.  We drove through elk, bison, crane, white tailed deer, turkey and other habitats. At times the animals were just feet from our car.  SO cool! We had 8 people in the car and it was a ton of fun.





We had dinner that night with family.

L and A enjoy the giant whirpool tub

L and A enjoy the giant whirpool tub. Yes, L is almost cross eyed without glasses!

Sunday we had more family time and headed out. We love spending time with our Council Bluffs cousins!!!!  On our way back, we decided to drive to a few of the covered bridges of Madison county, as none of us have ever seen them, even though we are native Iowans.  They are so neat!

Rosemond bridge

Rosemond bridge

Inside of the bridge. Built over 120 years ago

Inside of the bridge. Built over 120 years ago

We stopped to see Aunt Mel, and then made it home in time for a company picnic for my employer. There was a bounce house, ice cream cake and 3 tired kiddos! Successful weekend.

Hoping to get another trip or 2 in before it gets too cold!

Have a great week!

-The {road trippin’} Costellos


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 :)


Happy Sunday!


-The {novice kayakers} Costellos