Lucy’s 9th {quarantine} birthday

Lucy was incredibly sad when she realized that she would not be able to have a ‘normal’ birthday or birthday party this year. She had planned to have a bracelet making party with a few friends at our house and eat cupcakes. She had designed the invite on Canva and had it all planned in her mind. She was disappointed to say the least and many tears were shed. I told Lucy numerous times that her birthday could still be great, just different this year, and she needed to be open to different ideas. She wasn’t so sure, and was pretty down about it for a long time. But it worked out pretty great.

The week of her birthday, thanks to Aunt Mel, Lucy got loads of mail from all kinds of people! THANK YOU to everyone who sent her anything, she loved it all!!!! She also decided on this raspberry chocolate cake and ribs for dinner. Yes, ribs, of all things. For a 9 year old…..


The night before we always put up streamers around the house and some balloons if I have some. So we did that. The kids always love it, especially when they’re hung in doorways….it’s the little things I guess! I also made a little clue hunt for Lucy to find her present the next day. There were 7 clues that were kind of corny and kind of cute and somewhat clever, and it worked!

We had funfetti waffles and eggs for breakfast, then watched Mass. Then it was present time…..

So, after hunting 7 clues throughout the house, yard and garage, she got a kayak! Lucy has been waiting for a kayak for 2 years, since Gabriel got his when he was 7. She asks me about it all. the. time. It was purple and blue and perfect for her. She was very excited and very surprised!

I had a picnic packed so we went right out to the lake so she could try it out. We took 2 of our other kayaks as well and Amelia also went out alone, even though she’s never even set foot in a kayak! She was impressive and figured out maneuvering in no time! Gabriel is quite seasoned so he was right in his element.




Ruth was not about to be left out, so she climbed in with me and we tooled around a bit. She enjoyed paddling with a stick. Kateri enjoyed digging in the mud and ruining a pair of tights.



Lucy had 6 different drop offs from friends and family during the day and lots of phone and video calls and it was so great! She enjoyed it so much and she smiled all day, which made my heart happy too!


Since she had requested ribs for dinner, Jeremiah took that on as a good catalyst to begin smoking meat for the first time. He took over 5 hours carefully checking and monitoring their progress on this beast. I had no idea smoking meat was such a tedious process. I think it may be a new obsession 😉


We did a Zoom call with family to share in the happy-birthday-singing and candle-blowing later that evening and then enjoyed this after ribs and homemade potato salad:

I know Lucy really missed her friends and seeing family in person, but I think she was overly happy and very surprised with how awesome her quarantine birthday turned out to be!!! Let’s hope next year she can live out the jewelry making party 😉


I’m not sure I’ve ever had a kid SO excited to have a birthday.

Lucy got 4 day stretch of birthday celebrating, and I think she enjoyed it thoroughly. She had only been talking about her 6th birthday for 364 days, so one can imagine how overjoyed she was when it finally came into fruition.

Wednesday was her actual birthday. She literally woke up with a smile on her face. She had a great day at school and EVERYONE knew it was her birthday. The little girls and I delivered birthday treats at the end of the day. We made rice krispie bars, cut them in squares, dipped in chocolate and sprinkles, then stuck a stick in them. The quickest birthday treat ever! They were quite a hit!

On Friday G and L, along with many other kids, were featured at an area college’s art show. L was super stoked about this, because she has declared she will be an artist when she grows up. Love it! As of last week she was going to be a police gal/veternarian combo, which is also good 😉 They also had 3-act kids play after the art show that was really cute. And there were cookies. Win-win. We had to have a lengthy discussion about college, what it is and who goes there, and why Daddy’s face was pictured on the wall from some 14 years earlier when he was a student there.

Saturday was another big day for Ms L. Dance pictures in the morning, and I do have to say I was quite proud of my mad double french braiding skills! She’s in dance and tap, and one of their songs is a version of Yankee Doodle, hence the red/white/blue costume. Her long awaited birthday party was in the afternoon and it was cold and raining! Seems that her birthday is destined for this, as we had the same problem last year at her party… can read that HERE. We had planned for a ‘treehouse party’, but ended up just doing games in the treehouse and the rest indoors. It was SO COLD (for April). She had requested a chocolate cake and pink frosting, and I tried to fancy up the sides a little bit, and that technique has now become requested by G for his 8th birthday. My kids are easily impressed I guess……Can I say that edible gold glitter makes anything appear extra fancy as well?! She got many nice gifts, but her favorite? A recordable tweeting bird that she carries around CONSTANTLY. Her name is Bonnie. HA!

If you want a good read, hop over and read Lucy’s birth story. Gets me teary. every. time.

Lucy is currently up sleeping off her birthday, with Bonnie keeping watch over her on her vanity, LOL. 6 year olds still need naps, you know. We’ve got another busy week (last week was a doozy!) of everything from baseball games to (yet another) eye doctor trip, dance lessons and a long overdue date night (wahoo!!!) Have a great week!


A very wet birthday


We had a few cupcakes. Kids were in charge of sprinkles, as you can see 🙂

We celebrated Lucy’s 5th birthday with a party *a bit* larger than I had anticipated. Being pregnant and all, I had thought about just having a few people over to celebrate and taking the simple way out. But Lucy is hardly a simple person, ya know.  Lucy really wanted this person, that person, that family, this class, etc., and we ended up with quite the crowd! It was a lot of fun and she exclaimed that night ‘This was the best birthday EVER!!’.

The original idea was to have a Pocahontas themed party with all kinds of nature/outdoorsy activities for all her little friends and cousins, ie nature scavenger hunt, outdoor pinata, outdoor games, etc. I made some cute invites on Canva and had them printed, which cost me less than $9 total. WIN.

Then, it RAINED. A lot. All. Day. Long. Monsoon-style rain.

I ended up scrambling for indoor games on the morning of the party that could be contained in the amount of space that we had in the enclosed shelter. So we did balloon games, a toilet paper outfit game, and, my pride and joy project for the last week, a giant PINATA!!!  I filled it with a ton of candy and was happy when allll the kids got at least 2 swings apiece before it was shredded. Some of those kids were strong! Pinata win!!!

I did just snack foods, and a whole lotta cupcakes.  Mini corndog muffins, make your own fruit/marshmallow kebabs, fruit salad, chips, lemonade.  20160430_135009.jpg

The front tassel garland was a tutorial I found online made from tissue paper and twine (way more time consuming than I thought but super cute!) and I made these cute little arrows for the skewers.  It’s amazing what a little hot glue and construction paper does!!!


I’m not one to spend a lot of money on a birthday party, and this one was done quite frugally, which I was thrilled with.   The dollar tree, Aldi, and my time was the supplier to this shindig. I think it turned out great!  I’m getting to really enjoy planning kids’ birthday parties (see Lucy’s 4th and Gabriel’s 6th party posts).  Next up; G’s 7th…at 6 months pregnant…Oiy!




What a difference 2 years makes

That’s right. We’ve come a long way in 2 fast years.  Our Amelia turned 2 last week!

2 years ago, I honestly didn’t know how I was ever going to make it to Amelia’s first birthday, let alone her second. She was a very wakeful, fussy, hungry baby that seemed almost colicky for the first year of her life. I got VERY little sleep for her first year, was in a mess of hormones for her first month, and had 2 other little people needing me constantly in the depth of Iowa winter. Oi.

But here we are, 2 years later.  I am happy to say that Amelia’s colicky nature finally gave way at about 15 months. She is now happy and fun, good-natured and playful, however opinionated, little girl.  She is starting to resemble more of a little girl, and not so much a baby. It kind of makes me giggle when I ask “Are you my big girl?” and she answers with “No! I baby!”.  She also insists on wearing Lucy’s undies over her diaper.

We had a little party for Amelia, just family.  Chili is one of her favorites (go figure), so we had that and taco soup for dinner. She had picked out a funfetti cake, and of course I made chocolate frosting for it!  She got some new clothes, babies, and doggies (toy, not real). She was thrilled!

Happy 2nd birthday Amelia! I hope you are never too old to lick the beater 😉

-The {partying like 2 year olds} 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


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