Sunday, December 16, 2012

We Are Family

I've got all my sisters with me...

A Christmas tradition, the annual Costello sibling's dinner. Hosted to perfection this year by Chris and Rebecca. Well done you two, we were treated to a mouth-watering feast. You make having a 6 week old and throwing a dinner party for 12 look like a cake walk.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day 18

When your kids are too sick to go into the church nursery and your advent calendar's activity of the day is to "set up your Christmas manger" (which you don't have), this is how you spend your Sunday morning improvising:

A big thanks to all the Little People, animals, and construction men for making this scene come alive. And especially to cowboy man, for stepping into the role of baby Jesus. You were the only one small enough to be swaddled in toilet paper and placed in the trough. I'm sure you understand.

Monday, December 3, 2012

6 months

So I've apparently gotten into a bit of a writing slump...

I blame 90% of it on the crazy busy, unending job of feeding and watering 3 little people; and the remaining 10% on my own laziness once those 3 little people finally close their eyes at night. But at least I'm being honest right?

Life continues on here as the days blur into weeks, which blur into months, which continue through holidays and family feasts, and thankfulness, and replacing pumpkins with garland, and filling up the calendar with so many events you start to sweat a little when you face your Monday morning to-do list. I love this time of year, even more now that Eli and Norah are old enough to be transfixed by all the magic and the twinkling lights. But it does still get a bit overwhelming at times trying to cram it all in.

Gavin will be 6 months old this week. I would say that the time has flown by, because that's what you're supposed to say as a parent. But sometimes when I look back at all that has happened in our little guy's short life already, it seems much longer. And I don't mean that negatively. Certainly, these months have been emotional, and heart-breaking, and difficult. We would never have chosen to watch our son struggle to hear us, to meet milestones that should come without effort, to deal with an uncertain future. But this boy has wrapped himself so tightly around every inch of our hearts, that it's as if he was never not here. We still are in the waiting phase, faithfully keeping Gavin's hearing aids in for as much of the day as we can, practicing simple sign language with him while we bathe him, play with him, feed him. We still don't know how much language he is getting. We probably wont for a few more months still. And the waiting is so hard.

But I do know that Gavin (or God rather) is changing me through all of this. I look at Gavin and I see perfection. My mother-bear protective nature over him is something fierce. God has been teaching me so much about my own pride, about waiting for His timing, about releasing the death grip I hold on things I cannot change. And he has also been revealing to me the beautiful heart of the man I married. John cares for Gavin so sweetly, tenderly helping him with his hearing aids, getting up with him during the night, patiently working with him on his development, never complaining about what isn't. I am so thankful for a man who is much stronger than I am at showing grace in difficult circumstances.

The Bible verse we chose for Gavin's nursery wall when I was pregnant has become the powerful words I pray over him each night when I put him to bed. What a perfect reminder of just how much God thinks of each one of his children.

"The Lord your God is with you.
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."
-Zephaniah 3:17 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fun in the Kitchen

One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2012 (yes, I'm a nerd) was to work on being more relaxed and easy-going. Now you may be saying to yourself, "hey, wouldn't an easy-going person NOT make New Year's Resolutions based on the fact that resolving to do something is, in principle, kind of uptight?" And to you I say, "baby steps, my friend, baby steps"

Anyways, here we are in mid-October and I'm questioning the amount of progress I've made toward my goal. So today, with John working at the office all day and my only plans being to remain in my pajamas for as many hours as possible, I decided it was time to get cool, and be that mess-loving, easy-going mom my kids never knew they were missing out on.

I saw this idea on Pinterest a while back to create a fun, kid's cooking/baking experience for little ones who love to be involved in the kitchen. And mine do. Whenever I try to sneak away in the afternoon to start whipping up dinner, it's never more than 10 minutes before I have two little helpers sitting Indian-style on the counter arguing about whose turn it is to dump ingredients and whose turn it is to stir. And while its fun bonding for us all, my mild germaphobia along with a tendency to get overwhelmed by a huge mess, make it a continual growing and stretching experience for me personally.

So for this project, you basically take a muffin tin and fill each cup with all different textures and types of food/spices from your pantry. I used dried rice, marshmallows, spices, pasta, sprinkles, sugar, beans, cinnamon sticks, etc etc. You get the idea, just use whatever you want. Then give each kid a bowl with some flour in it. Spread out measuring cups, spoons, spatulas, whisks, a few spices for shaking and water for mixing, and let the chefs go to town creating whatever their little hearts desire. This blog-which I would link you to if I could only find it again!- suggested putting all supplies in one of those under-the-bed long storage bins to help contain the mess. And I would say this is a must! Thankfully I had one of these bins hanging around still from my college dorm days.

The kids LOVED this, and once they realized it wasn't actually an all-you-can-eat buffet of "these taste spicy mommy," they got pretty serious about their cooking. They played and played until they had used up all the ingredients and created big soupy, delicious looking concoctions of goop. I convinced them both to taste their yummy creations, to which they both ate heaping spoonfuls, and then quickly spit out in disgust. But I enjoyed a good laugh. It was only once they came up with the brilliant idea to move each other's "soups" back and forth into different containers by scooping it up with their hands that not-so-easy-going mommy came back and we had to call it a day. But it was a great, tactile learning activity for a rainy morning and one that I'm sure they will be begging to do again in the future. And I feel one step closer to being that easy-breezy girl who laughs in the face of that big, giant mess.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hearing Clinic

Today we took Gavin to Children's Hospital for his first visit with his hearing team. The hearing team consists of an ENT doctor, social worker, Audiologist, case manager, and speech therapist. We will be meeting with this same team every 3 months from here on out, and then additionally with some of the members individually (Audiology & speech therapy) on a monthly basis, which will eventually turn into weekly by 9 months. Along with these appointments, we also have started monthly home visits from an intervention specialist with Help Me Grow as well as monthly home visits from a parent advocate with the Regional Infant Hearing program (RIP). So managing Gavin's schedule has become a full-time job and I'm thinking about hiring a personal assistant for him to help me keep it all straight.

We switched ENT doctor's after our initial visit in July based on the recommendation of several people, as well as my strong dislike of doctor #1 and I am so glad we did. The doctor we met with today was kind and patient with us, even as I drilled him with my long list of questions and concerns. He sat down (imagine that!) and didn't even interrupt me mid-sentence, which was very refreshing. We met with all the other members of the team after him, who gave us helpful tips on interacting and parenting Gavin in ways that will give him the most benefit with his hearing.

Basically, we are in a watching and waiting period with Gavin. Because he is only 3 months old and will mimic the vocalization and developmental skills of normally hearing babies up until 6 months, our goal right now is to give him as much exposure to sound as possible-even though we have no idea how much he is actually hearing. The more consistent we are with keeping his hearing aids on during waking hours, (despite their inconvenience and challenges), the more exposure the speech and language centers of his brain will have and the better chances he has of developing normal communication skills as he grows. When Gavin is between 6-9 months old and can sit on our lap unassisted and has good head control, we will be able to have his hearing tested much more accurately in a sound booth and will know how much benefit he is getting from the aids. And although I never wish for my babies to grow up quickly, I am anxious for this time to come so that we will actually know something.

Gavin will also be scheduled for a CT scan and genetic marker blood test in the next couple of weeks in order for the Doc to *hopefully* be able to determine the cause of his hearing loss. It wont change the course of treatment for him at this point, but its something that we just really need to know for our own peace of mind.

And while we wait, we continue to pray healing over Gavin daily. Our hearts long for the day when God opens up his ears and restores our son to perfect health. Because no matter how big this all seems, our God is still bigger. Much, much bigger.

So that is the latest of the happenings with our sweet boy. Are you worn out yet?

Sunday, September 16, 2012


It may have taken us until September, but we finally got around to making s'mores out back with the kids this summer. Just wanted to document this accomplishment. Turns out Graham crackers taste pretty stale when you're still holding onto last year's box. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

tomayto, tomahto

and yes, that's how you spell it...don't worry, I googled it.

Although I am behind on posting about Gavin, family vacation, and the start of preschool, all I really want to talk about tonight is tomatoes. Everything else seems like too much work. Or maybe I am just hungry?

We have been enjoying a huge bumper crop of late summer tomatoes from our garden. I was careful this year not to overwhelm myself by planting too many varieties of things that produced more than we could eat or store for the winter. And with a new baby and the garden feeling a bit more like an extra chore than a hobby this year, I'm thankful I kept it simple. But nonetheless, the kids still come in from "harvesting" in the back-yard with armloads of tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and greens nearly every day that need to be eaten.

We have been canning jars of pickled peppers (John's new passion), making big batches of fresh salsa weekly (John's food addiction), storing away homemade marinara sauce in the pantry, and freezing ziplocks full of creamy tomato soup for the cold months ahead. The kids really love to help with all the preparations and it's been fun to have the whole family involved with and enjoying the garden this year. And its cheap family entertainment that keeps us all hanging out together in the kitchen, so the stored food is just a bonus to me.

Here are two of my favorite tomato recipes I've found this year that are oh-so-delicious and way too good not to share.

Creamy Tomato Soup
(don't let the stock photo sway you from making turns out so much creamier and melt-in-your-mouth good than the picture implies. Is that even a picture of tomato soup or is it a meat marinade?)

Roasted Roma Tomato Sauce:
I promise you will like it or I will eat your leftovers. Roasting the tomatoes before making the sauce=brilliance. Why didn't I think of that?

Now go get cooking!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

"oh mom, you're so right. people really don't  appreciate your sense of humor like they should, 'cause girl you are cracking me up."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Update...

God's grace is sufficient for me today. If I start thinking about tomorrow or next week or sometimes even the next hour, I quickly become overwhelmed by all that needs to be done and overcome by fear. This is the greatest lesson I have learned over the past week. I have to trust God to help me through just today, and let everything else go.  Some days its a lot harder than others.

Gavin received his hearing aids on Friday and we have been trying to adjust to our new normal. We didn't realize that our biggest challenge with hearing aids would be trying to keep them on our squirming, kicking, head thrashing baby. And although they are the smallest size they offer, they are huge on him. It is the constant battle to put them in again and again, hour after hour, day after day as he cries and pushes us away that has been the most draining emotionally. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a device that is supposedly the best for keeping the aids in place on small infants. Hopefully that will make things easier for all of us, especially Gavin, who doesn't understand why we are forever pulling and poking at his little ears. In the meantime, as I write this Gavin is sleeping in the swing wearing Norah's pink-bowed headband as a temporary fix. Poor guy.

We are noticing that Gavin is more interactive and interested in his surroundings with the hearing aids, but we have no way of knowing at this point how much he is actually hearing. Eli and Norah acclimated to their brother's new gear without much fanfare and they are laying their sweet hands on his ears daily and praying for God to heal them. I love to listen to their innocent, simple prayers. "Work ears!" and "Jesus, make these ears open right up" and my favorite of Norah's-  "Jesus pray that Gavin can hear me"

The next several months will be those of watching and waiting. Gavin's hearing will continue to be retested as he grows to gauge how much sound he is able to gain from the hearing aids.  The levels will be adjusted as needed and we will continue to talk and talk and talk to him to give him as much language and hearing opportunities as possible. 

And look at his sweet little face? So much personality already at only 2 months old. I just love him.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I have been putting off this post for several weeks now. My heart had been too heavy to put into words the emotions I've been feeling and I just wasn't ready yet. And although I'm not sure I'll ever really be ready, I know we have friends that read this blog who care about our family and the happenings within it. The past 8 weeks with our sweet Gavin have been ones full of great joy intermixed with great sorrow. At 4 weeks old, Gavin was diagnosed with profound, bilateral hearing loss at a routine screening test. The type of loss he has is unexplained, it is life-altering, and it is permanent. And we know that Gavin belongs to a God who doesn't tremble at any diagnosis and can completely restore with a touch of His hand. So while we pray for healing every day, continuously, and will not cease; we are also taking the necessary medical steps on the path of helping Gavin to start hearing sounds. I am most heartbroken as a mom knowing that my child might someday feel different than other kids and will have to work harder and struggle more to gain skills that come naturally to most. I want to protect him from the hardship and pain that can come from having a disability, yet I know I wont always be able to. And it just kills me.

God, in His kindness has been giving John and I many small reminders of His presence and tender care for our family throughout this process. It truly has been a depiction of the 2 Corinthians verse "For when I am weak, then I am strong." We have been wrapped in love and support by our families and friends and covered by their prayers. John is my rock, always there to remind me that everything really will be okay and to pull me in for a warm hug when I'm losing my mind.

It has been a busy few weeks of appointments with audiologists, doctors, social workers, and care coordinators. We have been overwhelmed with information, pamphlets, programs, forms, and insurance uncertainties. But next Friday is a big day. Gavin will be fitted with his first pair of hearing aids and will be able to hear our voices for the first time. I am anxious to see how he reacts when he realizes our house isn't the quiet sanctuary he originally thought.

Thank you for your prayers and all the love you've been sending our way. God is good, even when we don't understand. 10,000 reasons for my heart to find.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Because it's the best therapy money can buy...

and it doesn't cost a single dime.

I am a runner. I am not a fast runner. I am not a competitive runner. I am not a group runner. I am not the kind of runner that spends time planning routes. I do not run long enough distances to warrant wearing a water backpack. I do not own a sporty watch that beeps at me to tell me how fast my pace is because I do not care. I run to enjoy the feeling of being completely alone, to mentally work through the days successes and failures, and because I have more than a just casual affinity for ice-cream.

And it feels so good to be back pounding the pavement again after almost 11 months off. Here are some of the songs I am loving sweating to this summer:

Barton Hollow-The Civil Wars
Free Me-Joss Stone
What Makes You Beautiful- One Direction
Stronger-Kelly Clarkson
Princess of China- Coldplay and Rihanna
Love you Like a Lovesong- Selena Gomez
Faster- Matt Nathanson
Free- Graffiti6
Somethin' 'Bout a Truck- Kip Moore
Part of Me- Katy Perry

and then the cool down....

New York-Snowpatrol
I Wont Give Up-Jason Mraz
Poison and Wine-The Civil Wars

Monday, July 16, 2012

Siblings Camping Trip

Over the weekend we went to Delaware State Park for the 3rd annual Costello sibling's camping trip. We were thankful for a break in the unbearably hot weather and for temperatures topping out at 85, instead of 104. The kids were so excited and couldn't wait to spend the night in our miniature tent (that we've yet to upgrade despite it having a max capacity of 2).

We got to enjoy an evening boat ride where Eli took his first ride on a tube with Uncle Sam and Max. Norah entertained herself by getting drenched at the campground water fountain for a loooong time and both kids thoroughly took advantage of the opportunity to shovel Cheetos in their mouths whenever we turned our backs. There were a total of 15 cousin kids this year, 7 girls and 8 boys. The girls rode bikes, played at the water fountain, and filled up water balloons so sweetly. The boys, rowdy and fired up mostly thanks to Eli (what a shocker), ran from tent to tent where they wrestled and shouted and shook the walls.

I didn't get any pictures of my favorite part about camping-making S'mores, because Gavin and I headed home after dinner. Now don't get me wrong, I am usually a pretty good sport when it comes to roughing it in a tent overnight. However, the thought of waking up several times during the night to feed Gavin while being 1 of 5 people crammed into a 2 man tent on a hot night was enough to send me running for my king-sized bed. John got to stay and have the delightful "bonding" experience of getting Eli, Norah, and himself to sleep on a single twin air-mattress. What a good daddy! And seeing as he called me at 6:40am the next morning to say the tent was down, car packed, and they were heading to Bob Evans....I think I made the right choice.
And next year, it looks like we'll be ready to upgrade that tent. And yes I said the same thing last year, but this time I really mean it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Jesus Calling

I couldn't have needed to hear this more this morning....

"Stop worrying long enough to hear MY voice. I speak softly to you, in the depths of your being. Your mind shuttles back and forth, hither and yon, weaving webs of anxious confusion. As MY thoughts rise up within you, they become entangled in those sticky webs of worry. Thus, MY voice is muffled, and you hear only "white noise."
Ask MY spirit to quiet your mind so that you can think MY thoughts. This ability is an awesome benefit of being MY child, patterned after MY own image. Do not be deafened by the noise of the world of that of your own thinking. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Sit quietly in MY presence, letting MY thoughts reprogram your thinking."
Deuteronomy 30:20; Genesis 1:27; Romans 12:2

-Jesus Calling

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A day to celebrate

Father's Day and our 6 year anniversary happen to fall on the same day this year. John went to enjoy a morning of golf with his dad and all his brothers and I was pretty proud of myself for getting 3 kids fed, dressed, reasonably clean, and out the door on time for 9 o'clock church. Granted, I did start getting ready at 5:30am but that's besides the point. And my lovely sister-in-law Rebecca greeted me at the door with a helping hand and an icy-cold Starbucks coffee, which kept me awake during the service.

Last year we were riding roller coasters, dining on steak, and enjoying a fancy hotel overnight on our anniversary. This year we are snuggling a new baby, ordering take-out, maybe a little wine, and spending the night at home. It may not be very glamorous, but a quiet night in with my best friend sounds pretty alright with me.

This morning when I was up feeding Gavin at 5:30, John woke up and wanted to show me this video he had made me for our anniversary before he left. I was a little bleary-eyed, but it still made me cry. It is extra sweet to me because John isn't the most technologically savvy man (no offense babe) and I know he worked hard to figure out how to put this together for me. So here's 6 years of our marriage in about 4 minutes.

And Happy Father's Day John! Thanks for partnering with me not only in life, but also in parenting our kids. I couldn't imagine anyone else to share all the ups and downs with. And thanks for working so hard to provide for this growing family and for doing it with a smile on your face. We love you! 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sibling Love

These kiddos are pretty crazy about their new baby brother. Makes our hearts melt to see how sweet they are with him. Gavin doesn't get much personal space around here but he doesn't seem to mind all the head rubbing, hovering, and sticky fingers so far.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Who's Who?

Eli and Gavin or Gavin and Eli. Can you tell the who's who? It appears that we have some twinsies in the family.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Introducing Gavin Michael

A little less than 48 hours ago, we celebrated the birth of our third baby and second boy in our family. Gavin Michael was born on Wednesday night at 10:03pm and was 7lbs 2oz and 2 days late. My labor with him was mostly a blur and went so quickly that I wasn't even completely convinced I was in true labor until my water broke in the car on our way to the hospital. After being triaged and admitted to L&D I decided I most definitely wanted an epidural (NOW please!) and wasn't up for the experience of another natural birth. I received nods and "we'll sees" from both the nurses and my midwife, who knew there wasn't a chance that we had time for that and I eventually quit begging when I realized it was time to push and my complaining wasn't going to get the baby out any faster. My midwife and John were both amazingly supportive and worked hard to keep me focused and from losing my mind during the whole experience. And once that beautiful baby boy was in my arms, all was mostly forgotten and I was one very grateful mama. Gavin came out with the rarity of having his umbilical cord tied into a complete knot and the nurses and midwife were all shocked by how healthy and perfect he was, as apparently infants with this condition in-utero do not typically have "happy" outcomes because the blood & nutrient flow to the baby is compromised. John told them that we serve a mighty God and we were certainly praising Him for protecting our son's life. Thank you Jesus!

There is nothing so sweet as that newborn baby smell, the little grunts, and a tiny warm body cuddled up on your chest. I know there are many sleepless nights and long, exhausting days to come, but I'm not worried about those right now. With each new baby, I realize a little more how precious these early days are and how quickly they will pass and become distant memories. So I am soaking them up and feeling so overwhelmingly happy and blessed tonight with our new little family of 5.

The umbilical knot