Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Highlights 2011

Christmas this year was wonderful and busy and full of family activities as usual. It would be impossible (and frankly, boring) if I were to share all the many happenings of the past month, so I will spare you the details and skip right to my favorite parts...

Annual Costello Sibling's Christmas dinner, hosted to perfection by Sam and Jen this year

Getting the surprise of a lifetime when my parents flew my sister's family home from France for Christmas and they all showed up at my front door late at night and nearly gave me a heart-attack.

Getting to spend lots of time with these giggly girls who couldn't be closer if they were sisters...

and these wild boys who melt your heart as they pelt you with Nerf bullets

Watching the magic of Santa come alive for Eli this year and remembering him asking if we needed to leave cookies out for him or if Santa would just "help himself in our fridge"

Having our own special time on Christmas eve morning to watch the kids open their gifts and exchanging stockings with John

Spending Christmas eve day with the Costello crew where we enjoyed a delicious brunch and relaxing afternoon with our wonderful family

My parent's annual Christmas eve party and the beautiful dresses Grandma bought the girls

Boy's pull-up contest Christmas morning where my husband was crowned the champion and scored us a Cheesecake Factory gift card and night of babysitting courtesy of my parents

The chaos of 8 children opening gifts at the same time and not being sure where to look or focus

Spending time with the world's greatest, great-grandma who asked for a rocking chair for Christmas so she could rock all of her babies. Do you not just love her?

Papa Bob and part of his future baseball team who have no idea how lucky they are to have such an amazing Grandpa

A childhood story published into an actual children's book written by my mom (and worked on for months and months) as a special gift for my Grandpa

Watching this blue-eyed firecracker trying her best to keep up with all her cousins

The annual matching pajamas picture with all the Johnson kiddos and our newest addition this year, baby Harry!

"Fishing for dollars" competition in the hot-tub where each fish was worth a different dollar amount

 Passing around baby Harry for some much needed newborn snuggle time

And though quiet moments have been few in the past week, when I take a second to reflect on my Savior,  my family, and my blessings, I am nothing but overwhelmed with gratefulness. This Christmas was truly a special one filled with everyone that I love in one place and lots of memories that will leave me smiling long after the tree comes down.

 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore." 
Isaiah 9:6-7

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Big changes are coming

The pantry is stocked with Lucky Charms, there is a tupperware of oyster crackers in my nightstand, and the middle console of my Jeep contains a half-empty bag of cheddar Chex-Mix. And that can only mean one thing my friends.....that baby #3 is on the way!

Parenting our two young cherubs has just gotten a little too easy lately (ha!) so we decided to shake things up a bit and add on to the family. We are excited and thankful to be welcoming another baby in early June next year. This will officially change our playbook from man-on-man defense to zone, a change which is slightly terrifying to us, but who doesn't love a good challenge?

The past several weeks I have been in survival mode, trying to get through my days in a nauseated, exhausted fog with the sole goal of keeping everyone alive and unharmed. My love of green smoothie drinking and junk-food avoiding has taken a back-burner lately to mashed potatoes, mac n' cheese, and just about any comfort food you can think of because its the only thing that sounds remotely palatable. And that energetic, goal-setting, project accomplishing, I'll sleep when its done girl -- man, I really miss her. I hope she comes back in the second trimester because this house is a mess!

We've decided not to find out the gender of this baby because girl or boy, we have all the things we need, and we really loved being surprised with Eli. So bring on the elastic waste pants, VIP maternity parking at the mall, and the minivan that I'm sure is in my near future. Cheers to pregnancy!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick-Or-Treat 2011

Another successful year of trick-or-treating is behind us and we should have collected enough candy to get us through until next October. This year we had two mobile children running down the sidewalks, one of them being an overly-excitable 3 year-old who definitely had the hang of this whole- getting candy from strangers holiday- down pat. And I'm pretty sure our son could have a bright future in sales should he decide to go that route. He was persistent, banging on doors while repeatedly ringing the doorbell, bringing even those folks trying to hide in their dark houses sheepishly to the door to offer him some morsel of goodwill. He scored an unopened roll of Ritz crackers from an Indian woman who offered them to him as "cookies" because she felt bad that he had caught her empty-handed. He fearlessly negotiated, boldly asking for 2 pieces of candy when 1 was offered and 3 when 2 were offered.  He asked to trade candy he didn't care for and requested detailed descriptions from strangers of candy he had never seen before. He let himself in to someones house to pet a dog and then charmed the owner into a bonus pack of bubbles in addition to his candy. He made it his mission to "care" for his sister by always stating that he needed some extra candy for "Norah over there" and people chuckled as they threw a few extra pieces in. He pointed out a fake spider stuck to our neighbor's front door, asked if he could have it, and then shrieked with delight when she told him to go ahead and take it. Yes, he will do well in sales someday, I have no doubt about it. John and I were just laughing watching him race from house to house like his pants were on fire. It was just too much. And yes, we did have many little chats with him along the way about being polite and grateful and not asking for more candy or to trade candy, but his head was spinning way too fast to hear any of that boring parental advice. And he did bring home quite a loot for us to pilfer through tonight while he's sleeping so I guess we'll work on those little behavior glitches tomorrow...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Reason #116 why I love my husband...

He's willing to sleep in a tent with a 3 year old.

Yesterday evening I went to a party at my SIL's house and John stayed home with the kids. Instead of rushing the kids off to bed and ordering his favorite take-out to eat on the couch in his pajamas (which is what I usually do when he's away), he made it a special night for Eli by having a guys sleep-over in the family room. The tent was set up and they snuggled and watched guy stuff like hockey and baseball until late into the night. Eli is quite the night-owl and he can outlast us all when it comes to PM energy. I was snickering to myself from my cozy bed at 10:30 when I could still hear John telling a bouncing-off-the-walls Eli "no more talking" and "time to settle down buddy."

And that's about all it takes to be a little guy's hero and to create the event of his month...and maybe even his year.

You're a good daddy John, our kiddos are definitely blessed.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The 1 hour book-rack

For several months I have been oogling this hanging book-rack from the Land of Nod....

as well as this one from Pottery Barn Kids....

I wanted something that was a mix of these two pieces to hang in Eli's room in order to keep me from losing my mind picking up 50 books off the floor every single morning  have an organized area where he could display his favorite children's books.

So I recruited my handy hubby (multiple times) until he agreed to head to Home Depot (by himself please!) to gather the supplies needed to create the masterpiece I was imagining. Not to mention, we would be saving a fortune making this project a DIY.

John pre-cut all the 2 X 4's and dowel rods at Home Depot to save time and I think even he was surprised by how quickly he was able to whip up the shelf once he got home. A few nails, a little wood glue and it was  ready for me to start painting.

I'm so happy with the way it turned out and that John has the skills to turn my visions into reality. And Eli is pretty excited to have a library of books at his disposal at nap and bedtime. As are we, because a quietly reading toddler, is much nicer than a jumping on his bed, kicking the walls instead of sleeping toddler.
Here is the finished product:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Song of the Week

Every once in a while I hear a song that hits me right in the gut; one that God uses to change my perspective on a hard situation I'm walking through or a bad attitude I'm stuck on. I have been wearing out the repeat button in my car, on my ipod, and on my computer with this one. It is just that good.
Thought I would share it so you can all go and download it and then have a good cry with me over how generously, how fiercely, and how unconditionally God truly does love us.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Apple the rain

Wow, it has been quite a rainy fall so far. I can count on one hand the number of beautiful, sunny days we've had that are conducive for outdoor fun. And I do love those rainy days when I can stay in my pajamas, avoid mirrors, and drink 13 cups of coffee; but I love them a lot less when the kids use their pent-up energy to tear apart the house and compete in 'who can cry the most times in 5 minutes' competitions. Can you say stir-crazy??

Our weekly playgroup has been trying to organize a field-trip to Lynd's Fruit Farm for several weeks to pick apples with the kids and if we waited for that perfect sunny day, then it probably wasn't going to happen. So we headed out this morning despite it being a cold and gloomy, rainy day. I had the kids dressed in cute coordinating, fall-ish outfits and had visions of photographing them skipping together through the orchards, laughing for the perfect candid shots. But instead they were bundled in warm coats with their noses running and soaked up to their knees from the constant tripping over fallen apples. Eli had a blast filling up his bag and running around with his friends while Norah just kind of stood there looking at me with a "what did I ever do to you to be standing here in the rain?" kind of face.  

We crammed our bag full with all the apples it would hold and then hurried back to our cars so we could blast the heat and get to the lunch part of our day. My sister Rebecca and I spent the rest of the afternoon channeling our inner Martha Stewarts and cranking out monstrous batches of delicious home-made applesauce.  It was a fun day and one of my favorite fall traditions to look forward to each year.

See that look I'm talking about?

 Eli was very into it. He was ducking under branches and always 10 steps ahead of me

Our Friends Izzy, Monica, and Caleb

A partial representation of the kids, none being in the mood to smile 

This is a really foul picture of me, but I love Eli's fake smile too much not to post it

All hands on deck to help out with the applesauce making. And one very patient daddy.

The fruits of our labor. These 11 jars will likely only last a few months in our house with the way our kids eat applesauce, but it feels nice to have a fully stocked supply to kick off the fall.