Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A few family photos

I always love getting family pictures taken in the fall with all of the beautiful colors. My wonderful sister-in-law offered (again) to snap some pictures of us with her fancy camera. And I am so thankful we didn't have to hand over a big fat check to a professional this year because it was pretty much chaos and pit stains from the word go. It is hard work to capture our 3 lovely children sitting poetically still with actual (not CHEESE) smiles, looking remotely in the same direction at the same time. But Rebecca was patient with us and managed to grab a few precious moments in time at this busy phase of our lives. Thank you, my friend, we don't deserve you.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

4 months

Today marked Gavin's 4 month hearing birthday. Hard to believe its already been that long. His activation day is still so clear and fresh in my mind. Unless you have lived through the experience of a diagnosis of deafness over your child, the uphill battle of an entire year of pain and unbearable silence and so many appointments and so. much. waiting- it is impossible to appreciate the hundreds of tiny miracles and bursts of joy that occur here every day now. Gavin is hearing. Praise God! Progress is slow and even tedious sometimes, but every day he is discovering something new about his world. Hearing his squeals and baby babbles is a healing ointment to my soul.

Yesterday, while outside playing, as a gift to me to mark his 4 months of hearing, he whipped his little face up to the sky at the gentle rumble of an airplane flying far overhead and watched it, mesmerized until it disappeared out of sight. And then I called his name and he came crawling happily, chubby-cheeked back to me to finish our game of bubbles. What a kind and generous God we serve.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First day

Day 1 of our homeschooling adventure was a success. And we didn't actually do any of our work from home. Ironic, isn't it?

I am so grateful to be the one spending the hours with this handsome, intelligent, ornery boy. Such a gift.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


 As summer is winding down and parents and kids are gathering up their supplies and preparing to head back to school, we are preparing for a new school adventure here as well. Eli will be starting kindergarten this fall, and we have decided to homeschool him for the upcoming year. And although for many, the very notion of homeschooling conjures up images of unsocialized kids sitting around in their pajamas watching "educational" cartoons and combing each other's bowl cuts, let me assure you just how far home-education has progressed from that stigma. It would be more accurate to state that we have decided to "alternatively educate" Eli this year, since he will be out taking a variety of classes with his peers just as often as he will be learning from home. The reasons we came to this decision are many and varied, but we came to it with the absolute certainty that this is where God was calling us to follow Him this year. Homeschooling has always been on my radar. However, with all of the unexpected stress, and time, and energy we have been pouring into caring for Gavin and getting him to all of his appointments for the past 14 months, I honestly didn't think I could handle it anymore-or that I even wanted to. John and I have been praying over school decisions for over a year (as in public or private options), knowing that time would creep up on us and catch us unprepared if we didn't. And the more I poured out my heart to God and asked Him to show us where to send Eli, the more my desire to educate him at home grew. Much like Gideon though, my faith was weak, and yet each time I asked Him to confirm His will by keeping the fleece dry and the ground wet or the ground dry and fleece wet, God answered. The confirmation was all around us and eventually, we settled into the idea and started to get excited about it. We are heading into this year with open hands and open hearts knowing that it is going to be a trial. We have not committed ourselves to 12 years of homeschooling, knowing full well that God is full of surprises and that only He holds tomorrow.

I am a bit terrified of course, because this is all very new to me. But after reading what seems like 100's of books on learning styles, teaching styles, curriculum, educational philosophies, socialization, behavior, etc, etc...I am getting pretty excited to get started.

Eli will proudly tell anyone who asks him about kindergarten that he is going to be homeschooled. He thinks its pretty cool that he gets to travel around the city for classes and have mommy all to himself for a few hours a day (sort of, at least). And to me, homeschooling is simply the gift of time with my child that I don't have to miss out on. And the fact that I get to be his favorite teacher.... for a little while longer at least.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The first annual and perhaps one and only Kid's Day

This year was the first where the concept of celebrating Mother's Day and then Father's Day actually meant something to Eli. He watched as the honoree was given a card and a gift and rewarded with breakfast-in-bed and a day of special privileges and allowances. After Father's Day in June, Eli asked us excitedly, "so when is kid's day?" I automatically snickered because let's just be real here people-- when you are a stay-at-home mom to 3 young children, EVERY day is kid's day. Which is why 9 out of 10 mom's idea of the perfect Mother's Day is to be given a cup of coffee, a good book, and just left the heck alone for a while.

But my darling husband, who has always been much nicer than I am, jumped on the opportunity to remind our children just how special they are."Kid's day is coming up in just a few weeks guys." So while we kind of forgot about that whole conversation after a few weeks, Eli reminded us (several times actually) and wanted to get the specific date pinned down on his mental calendar. He had pretty high expectations. He requested cards, breakfast-in-bed consisting of a bacon and cheese omelet, yogurt parfait, and orange juice, and gifts. Norah debated about her breakfast options for a few days before agreeing to yogurt, peanut butter toast, and milk.

So on our first annual celebration of Kid's Day in the Costello house, John and I got up early to cook breakfast for our kiddos and served it to them bedside. The day was spent bike-riding, eating mac' and cheese, playing Trouble, and having ice-cream for dinner. The best part is that Eli firmly believes that this is a National Holiday celebrated by all. But they went to bed happy, knowing the joys of having special privileges and allowances for a day of their very own. I guess a little spoiling here and there is good for all of us.

The excitement of breakfast-in-bed was overrated when we actually tried to wake up these sleeping bears. We call Eli "The Teenager" in the morning.
Warming up. And yes, Eli has been sleeping on the floor in the tent John built him for Christmas for 7 months and counting.

And here's our pretty princess alert and fresh at 7am

And warming up to this special treat

Gavin was very supportive, although not impressed as he drinks his breakfast bottle in our bed every single day. Suckers!

Breakfast-in-bed party of 1 was lonely, so they decided to eat together in Norah's room

Such sweet kiddos

.......The remainder of the day's events were not captured on camera, but just know they were totally awesome.
 Ending with ice-cream for dinner!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Happy National Ice-Cream Day!

There are no excuses for not celebrating this one....

Sunday, July 14, 2013

When life comes at you fast

After spending 7 relaxing energetic days lounging wrangling little people on the beaches of Lake Michigan, we came straight home to spend 7 days hanging out in one of the tiny cells rooms of Children's Hospital. Remember in Monopoly that whole "Go straight to jail, do not pass go and do not collect $200" card? That's kind of what it felt like. Ah, life! But let me back it up to the beginning.

On our second to last day of vacation, I was watching Gavin splash away in the baby pool when I noticed a small lump on his head directly over where his right cochlear implant was implanted 6 weeks ago. When I touched it, it felt squishy and filled with fluid and completely not normal. The Holy Spirit set off an alarm within me and let me know this wasn't something I could ignore. I showed John and started making some phone calls back home to our ENT clinic and was told to take Gavin to the nearest Emergency Room for an assessment. John and I decided to wait until the next day when we would be heading home anyway so that we could take him to our own hospital where people knew about his situation and had all of his information already. Again, thanks to the Holy Spirit's prompting. We drove the 5 hours home and I convinced John that it would be easier just to drive straight into the Emergency Room with all the kids and the loaded van instead of going home first. I was expecting our little ER visit to be short -maybe an hour- so someone could examine Gavin, assure us everything was fine, and send us on our way.

I will spare you of all of the sequential details lest I bore you to death, but our "little visit" turned into a 14 hour party in the ER, followed by an inpatient stay for 7 days. It turns out any kind of infection around a cochlear implant is cause for serious concern because of the direct pathway from the cochlear implant device (embedded surgically in the cranial bone) to the brain itself. Gavin had a cerebral spinal fluid leak, which had turned into a Staph infection, which had the potential to turn into Spinal Meningitis if not promptly treated with strong and specific antibiotics. The next days were filled with ultrasounds, cerebral needle aspirations, labs, an emergency I&D surgery, CT scan, spinal tap, more labs, 8 IV starts and failures, and finally a PICC line placement. It was enough to break even the strongest of mothers having to watch your 13 month old being held down while screaming for one procedure after another day after day after day. It was just so unbelievably hard.

One afternoon when I had finally rocked a tear-soaked and exhausted Gavin to sleep in my arms after IV attempt #7, I started sobbing from the stress and the heart-ache and the fatigue. I had the radio on to the local Christian station that normally drives me bonkers except for when I'm desperate. "The River Positive Thought of the Day" came on (ridiculous one-liner pick-me-ups that John and I always make fun of), and it really made me stop and think.
It's the things in life that you cannot change that end up changing you.
And cheesy as that is, isn't it so true? God has been molding me, molding my marriage and molding my family through every set-back and trial we've faced with Gavin. And all the fighting and kicking and screaming on my end doesn't change anything about the circumstances. But when I allow God to change me through the hard times that I'm desperately trying to push away, then I come out of them a little bit stronger and looking a little bit more like Jesus. Or at least I hope to. And then I can look back and see just how closely He was holding onto us when it felt like everything was falling apart. 
Gavin is home now and is on the mend. We were so thankful not to have had to remove his cochlear implant and go back to the beginning. He will remain on IV medications at home for the next week to hopefully wipe away any remaining traces of infection and then we will have his PICC line removed if all the labs come back clear. This boy has a heart of steel. He has been through more medical torture in one year than most adults have in their lifetime. He may subconsciously hate the color of hospital gown yellow forever, but we certainly wont hold it against him!


Costello family vacation 2013

This year we switched it up from our usual route to the Outer Banks and headed to Union Pier, Michigan for our annual family vacation. It was my first time visiting the beaches of Lake Michigan and let me tell you, I didn't miss the ocean for even one second. Lake Michigan has pristine white sand, clear calm water, gentle rolling waves, and breathtaking sunsets. And it was only a 5 hour drive, which is like winning the lottery with 3 antsy kids. This year we were 17 adults and 18 kids under one roof and it was loud and messy and so much fun. As always, this trip wouldn't happen without the generosity of John's parents blessing us with this chance to be together for one uninterrupted week. We are so thankful that every member of the family makes it a priority to come and make these special memories. Here is the highlight reel: