Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Agathe!

When I think of a perfect summer night it involves 3 things: breezy warm weather, a leisurely evening walk, and Graeter's Ice Cream. Tonight was one of those nights.

For the next several weeks we have the privelage of hosting a French student in our home named Agathe who arrived from Toulon, France last night. She is a dear friend of my sister Sarah's and is so excited to be in America for the very first time. Today is Agathe's 15th birthday and we wanted her to feel extra special, especially since she is thousands of miles away from her family and friends. We took her out for some American pizza at one of our favorite places, got her a few gifts, and finished off the night with the best ice-cream (I think) in the world. Agathe was wide-eyed and delighted as she experienced American hospitality at its finest with unlimited drink refills, attentive and friendly waiters, and even a free dessert just because she was from France and our waitress thought that was really cool. She couldn't believe that we were allowed to take home the left-over pizza in a box as this is unheard of in France. She was also amazed by the jar of free mints for the taking on the way out the door. I guess sometimes its the small things that make our country the best in the world.
I think Agathe really enjoyed her birthday. She told me on the way home that she felt special and loved her first day in America. 

Does Norah like ice cream?

I'm gonna go with yes

Can you tell that Eli is just a bit enamored by the cute blonde living in our home?

Such a good big brother

And Norah's post ice cream face one more time

This boy loves his ice cream as much as his mama

 Happy 15th Agathe! Thanks for sharing it with us

Monday, June 13, 2011

5 Years Baby!

This Friday will be our 5 year anniversary. We celebrated a little early and planned a fun "stay-cation" around town without the kiddos. Thanks to my parents and grandparents, we got to have two whole nights to ourselves. We dropped the kids off Saturday night and, after meeting up with friends for a quick celebratory happy graduation drink for John's cousin Brit, headed home to pack our bags. Sunday we left early, grabbing breakfast and coffee on the way, and drove to King's Island. Now, don't snicker, I know an amusement park is not your typical romantic destination. But for all of our 4 prior anniversaries, I have either been pregnant, or recovering from childbirth and we had to take it easy. So we wanted to do something different and carefree this year. And on a nostalgic note, the first time I can remember falling for John was on a chaperoned friend's trip to Cedar Point the summer between our 7th and 8th grade year. I asked him then what he wanted to be when he grew up and he told me, "maybe a trucker," and yet somehow I still found him irresistible.

I surprised John by hacking a pair of old jeans into cut-off shorts for our special occasion and we were off to hit the coasters. Let me tell you, we had such a great time. Nothing makes you feel like a kid faster then flying through the air at 60 miles an hour screaming at the top of your lungs. We enjoyed a half empty park and quick lines and complete freedom from schedules. We did not remember experiencing such severe whiplash on the rides when we were 14, but that was the only thing that made us feel old.

We had originally planned to stay at the park through dinner and then drive back to our hotel downtown. But by 4pm we had ridden all the big rides, thanks to the short lines, and were ready to head back to Columbus. We upgraded our dinner plans from chicken on a stick, to Hyde Park in the city. Only problem was, we didn't pack any nice clothes, and we thought the restaurant might frown upon my cut-offs and John's bathing suit. So we stopped at the outlet malls on our way back into town and split up for 30 minutes so we could each purchase a presentable outfit to wear to dinner. I felt slightly like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, except instead of Rodeo Drive, I was at the Banana Republic... factory store....scouring the clearance rack. Same difference really.

With outfits in tow, we drove to the Westin hotel downtown and checked in. The concierge found a note in our reservation that we were celebrating our anniversary and she quickly upgraded our room to a Junior King Suite. Giddy, we headed up to shower and get ready for our late dinner out. Just as we were getting ready to leave the room, there was a knock on our door and another concierge delivered us a complimentary plate of chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne on ice, and a card signed by all the hotel staff.  Now how's that for customer service?

Dinner at Hyde Park was delicious and fancy, and we tried not to scream when the bill came. I had our waiter box up all the leftovers just on principle, and then realizing we had no place to keep them cold,  threw them away on our walk back to the car. It was a fun splurge on a place we'd always wanted to eat at someday.

Monday we slept in as late as you can sleep in once you have kids, which is 8am, and then finished off our stay-cation with breakfast on the patio at the Northstar Cafe. I finally got to try their famed praline scone, which lived up to every bit of it's best-scone-ever reputation. Just sitting at that restaurant is an ego boost because you are surrounded by trendy, artsy, cool people who assume you must be one of them.

We both agreed that this was our favorite anniversary celebration so far. It was the perfect mix of fun and romance and brought those old 7th grade heart-throb feelings right on back.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Costello Pool Rules:

1. No throwing
2. If you must carry water out of the pool, be a dear and use it to water mommy's flowers
3. Splash others with caution, they will have the right to reciprocate
4. Clothing is optional, but use of the slide in your altogether is at your own risk
5. No potty in the pool.
6. Kindly keep it to yourself if you forget #5.
7. Drinks are on the house, snacks may incur an extra fee.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Amish Country

Yesterday the kids and I headed to Millersburg, OH to visit Amish Country with our Wednesday morning playgroup. It was our first official playgroup field-trip and we loaded up the cars with 4 mommies (gripping tightly to our saving-grace Starbucks coffees) and our 8 children ages 4 and under. The drive was a little over 2 hours, and since the air-conditioning in my Jeep is on the fritz, I had to drive the whole way with the windows down and the highway noise blaring in. On the upside, the scenery all the way there was beautiful rolling farms, rich greenery, and tons of uber-stinky farm animals that delighted the kids. On the downside, I didn't listen to any music because I couldn't hear it over the wind, Eli was sure he could be heard over the noise if he just kept raising the volume of his voice, and I arrived at our first stop with a sweaty back and sunburned left arm. But I was feeling more Amish already as they certainly can't crank up the AC in their buggies.

We went to a working Amish Farm and were able to take a tour of the houses, the barns, the school, and the grounds. The parts of the tour I heard were quite fascinating and being that our guide was born and raised Amish herself, she really knew her stuff. However, I spent most of the tour stepping outside or rushing off with my screaming Norah who was flailing against me in the Ergo and desperately overdue for a nap. Not until we were lead into the irresistibly smelling kitchen filled with cookies and sweets for sale at the end of the tour did she perk up and decide to settle down for a few bites of cinnamon roll.

The boys loved visiting all the animals in the barn and got to pet goats, sheep, pigs, puppies, kittens, horses, and baby bunnies. Eli especially loved all the liters of puppies that seemed to be coming out of every corner, and he snatched up a few of the slower ones for a little bit of toddler lovin.'

We took a buggy ride with a nice man with very long beard and I was thankful that Eli didn't make any comments about his facial hair. He did stare at him a little too long and told him that his horse was stinky, but that's not so bad. You'd be surprised at how nice of a breeze you pick up going at a good pace in the those  buggies. It was not nearly as hot as it looks when you pass them on the road and feel sorry for them.

After our time at the farm we drove to a big Amish store and enjoyed cheese sampling and perusing of delicious down-on-the-farm treats, trying to remain calm as our children tried to pull down dozens of rows of spices into the isles. At this point we were starting to feel majorly out-numbered, or at least I did. The children were growing more devious by the nano-second and the tears and tantrums were kicking into high gear. We made the wise decision to call it a day and save the last part of our Amish tour for another time.

Eli and Norah were asleep within the first 10 minutes of getting in the car and I drove the rest of the way in a hot, relative silence, as the wind whipped through the car and I hummed along to the tunes of road.

It was a fun day with great friends. I always tell myself that even though these activities take so much effort and planning and stress, I will not let myself regret going on a fun adventure with my children. These are the memories that turn life into living. And I know when I remember them, it wont be the stressful parts.

*please excuse the poor quality of these photos. Along with my car, my camera is also on the fritz since my France trip. Apparently its not a great idea to stick an open bottle of water and a camera in the same bag at the same time. Who knew?