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.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hip Hip Hooray!!

Last night we went out to celebrate my dad's graduation from grad-school. If you know my dad, you know how hard he works and how many hats he wears in his life. He is a teacher, PC-repair company owner, head-technical support guy for Re/Max Impact, concession business owner, landlord, property rehabber,  husband, father, and grandfather to 8. This man is BUSY. So making time to go back to school, study, and pass classes amidst all his other responsibilities over the past two years was no small feat. We are so proud of you dad for obtaining your Master's degree and teaching your family a lesson in perseverance and tenacity.

Finally, the diploma that my mom was hiding from him until the big reveal at his mini "surprise" party

One of my favorite quirks about my dad. He ordered an extra side of french fries to go with his meal...that already came with french fries, despite the waitress trying to convince him that the amount that was included would be plenty. Love it!

A few beer samplers, appetizers, salads, and huge dinners later, we were all quite full and happy.

My sisters and I wanted to do something fun to give to our dad from his grandkids, so we had the oldest 3  (Lily 5, Callie 4, and Eli 3 and a couple answers by Zack 2) answer 10 questions about their Papa Bob.  Here is the compilation of what they came up with. We enjoyed some laughs reading these aloud around the table.

10 Questions About Papa Bob
And answers by your grandchildren

1. What is Papa’s full name?
Lily-“Bob Johnsons”
Callie-“Papa Bob I don’t Know”
Eli- “Papa Bob John”

2. How old is Papa?
Zach- “Big”
Eli-”5 years old”

3. What is Papa’s job?
Lily-”fixes computers”’
Callie-”Teaches people about “computiers”
Eli-”he sells windows”

4. What was Papa studying in school?
Lily-”Computer work”
Callie-”I don’t know”
Eli-”All the Children of the World”

5. What does Papa like to do for fun?
Lily-”Get icecream”
Zach-”Play baseball”
Callie-”I don’t know”
Eli-”He likes to play with everybody”

6. What does Papa always say to you?
Lily-”I love you and WE-WANT-BATHTIME!!”
Callie-”Silly Stuff and funny stuff”
Eli-”Go to bed”

7. My favorite thing to do with Papa is…
Lily-”Go to baseball games”
Callie-”Play with play dough
Eli-”Build a tent”

8. Papa’s favorite food is…
                                                            Lily-”French fries”    *obviously Lily was the winner on this one*
Eli-”maybe hotdogs”

9. Papa loves me because…
Lily-”Because he’s my grandpa”
Callie-”Because I color all the time. Because I like playing in the snow”
Eli-”Because he just does”

10. I love Papa because…
Lily-”He’s funny”
Callie-”He plays with me a lot”
Eli-”He hides under the blankets and does flashlights with me”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Harry

Meet my brand-new nephew, Harrison "Harry" *James* Mitchell. Weighing in at 7lbs 1 oz with a headful of fuzzy brown hair, this little guy is a keeper. I am already absolutely in love with him. Congratulations on baby #4 Kim and Kevin. Well done on your grand finale, he couldn't be any cuter.

*This post has been edited to reflect the correct middle name. I mistakenly jumped the gun in posting what I thought was the final choice when the jury was still deciding. Oopsy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pickin' Potatoes

This morning while I was outside pulling weeds and checking on my garden, I decided on a whim that it was time to harvest the potatoes. I follow a strict gardening science when it comes to growing potatoes and it goes something like this: plant seed potatoes in early spring, water regularly, and then pull up mature potatoes in late summer when you cannot stand one more day of looking at the massive, drooping, yellow vines that sprout above the ground and signify growth below. The potatoes are my favorite vegetable to harvest because, since they grow deep under the soil, its impossible to know how big of a crop you have until you start digging down into the dirt to uncover all the goods. It's sort of like searching for buried treasure, especially for the kids, who became happily covered in mud while they "helped" me dig up potatoes with their shovels. And we ended up with a good size crop this year, much more than I was expecting. I'm telling you, if you're new to gardening and are looking for an easy thing to grow, plant some potatoes. They require nothing but high-quality, deep soil, a little patience, and the ability to overlook those ugly vines as they grow.
So I guess its potato soup for dinner then???

Our biggest and smallest pick this year, with a lemon for size reference.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mr. Big Stuff

Today was Eli's first real day of preschool, without his mommy by his side in the class. And as it probably is for every single parent, it was bittersweet for me to get him ready this morning. I mean, I know its just preschool, but its still my first taste of sending one of my babies out of the nest and into the world for 3 hours a day, two days a week. And selfishly, I love having him at home with me during the day and I don't like to give him up to anybody. He is my buddy and although he's a handful of mischievousness, I wouldn't trade him for the best behaved 3 year-old in the world. That would just be boring.

He really didn't want to go today and was so anxious and upset about it that I almost caved and let him crawl back into bed with me so we could cry about it together. But thankfully, the mom sensibilities in me kicked in and I knew that we had to face this day sooner or later, so we might as well just rip off that band-aid quickly. 

My mom came to our house so that she could drive Eli to school in her big white van-which he thinks is the greatest treat ever-and I followed behind her with Norah. Whatever she said to him in the car during that 5 minute trip must have been really good because he hopped out of the car and marched down the hallway to his class without a single tear or complaint. And I didn't even cry when he forgot to hug me good-bye and walked right over to meet his new friends without so much as glancing over his shoulder. 

And when we came back to pick him up he was all smiles and excitement and all the nerves of the morning were long forgotten. We took him out for his promised ice-cream cone and enjoyed listening to him tell us all about his first day as a big kid. When we asked which little classmate was his favorite he said "Grandfather was really very nice." John and I looked at each other completely lost and although we asked him to repeat the name several times, he stuck with grandfather and seemed very pleased about it. So, there you have it I guess.

A few pictures from the morning:
 I am amazed that he is smiling in these because it was all tears and 
pouting leading up to this moment

 Norah also wanted her turn in the chair with the backpack. 
Such a supportive little sister

My big 3 year old boy

Thanks for dropping me off at school Grandma!

Last minute nerves= a b-line straight to the restrooms on the way to class.
Norah checking to make sure he's okay in there

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Outer Banks 2011

We just returned home from our annual Costello family vacation to the Outer Banks in NC. The trip was nearly spoiled by its collision with hurricane Irene, but thankfully, she only set us back a few days rather than ruining things altogether. And I mean really, in this massive family of 27, we are probably a pretty close match of sheer determination and brute strength to that hurricane. And one way or another, I was pretty sure we'd find a way to spend our vacation all together. 

Our high hopes of enjoying a leisurely flight down were traded for cancelled flights and rushing to pack the car last minute to make the 12 hour trek down and arrive in time to get into our house as soon as the evacuation orders were lifted. The kids were troopers and we pumped them full of snacks and DVD movies along the way until they cried for mercy. 

Despite it being a shortened vacation, we couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather or a more perfect house to fit our large family comfortably. The kids played so great together and watching them dig and shovel sand on the beach while I lounged on a chair and read my book felt like paradise. It was actually relaxing this year because we didn't have an infant and both kids were pretty independent and happy to sit in the sand for hours on end and entertain themselves. And it helped that they had their choice of 11 other cousins to play with.

It is quite remarkable to me that in a family of this size, everyone really does like each other, and it really is possible to spend a week together without any arguing or power-struggles, back-biting or bad-mouthing. I know its probably not normal and that our family is so blessed by God to be able to get along so well. It still amazes me every year though when I think about it. 

I took over 300 pictures this year, although about 25 of those were taken by Eli of random objects in our room when he would play with the camera at night instead of sleep. John said that people might wonder if we have two children instead of one since I took so many shots of Norah, but I couldn't help myself because of her cuteness. So here are some of my favorites and in no particular order. I also realized that I didn't do a very good job of capturing all of our extended family members, or really most of our extended family members. Sorry about that. It was a much larger group than these pictures would imply. 

Thank you so much mom and dad Costello for financing this amazing trip and bringing us all together under one roof for such a great vacation. You guys are so generous and we do not take it for granted! You have raised some pretty spectacular kids and I am a lucky girl to have been welcomed into your big, loving family. 

Papa learned how to make a fast friend by sharing his ice-cream sandwich

Building and digging in progress

The future star of Blue Crush 3. All we need is the surfboard 

The seagulls got wind of the kid's snack-time pretty quickly

A day at the beach and the view of our house from the back
"Seas and Quackers"

Family photo night on the beach-
All the Costello cousins

Naptime snuggles with daddy

Taking Shayden and Eli crabbing on the beach at night

Got one!

Because they're supposed to be the best in the Outer Banks

Kristen and Lincoln enjoying the sunshine

Out for ice-cream on our last night

All the Costello cousins, minus baby Hunter