Sunday Scenes – The Mundane Edition

Because sometimes it just looks like this. No exciting trips, no apples or fall leaves, no beach, and nothing entertaining. Sometimes the monotony of completing the same tasks over and over, ad infinitum, numbs my brain. Maybe there is a way to find comfort in the little things that occur again and again. Maybe some people just are not wired that way.

The 4th Annual Cousin’s Day

Once upon a time, one sister was blessed with the opportunity to provide childcare for the other sister. The first sister never needed to worry about her children and knew they were well-loved and cared for. The other sister, did not need to leave home in pursuit of another type of paid employment. Oh! The joy they shared :)

One sad day, the kids all moved on in different, big-kid, endeavors – like school and stuff and the magical time period ended. But, realizing that it was a very special and exceptional bond that makes people into cousins, there clearly needed a more official way to celebrate the sacred bond that they shared. The sisters deemed the former ‘Columbus Day’ (I never really like him anyway) ‘Cousin’s Day’ and so a tradition began.

Feel free to revisit The 1st Annual, and The 2nd Annual and The 3rd Annual editions of this recurring event. May I now present to you – views from The 4th Annual Cousin’s Day Celebration.

‘Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold
the cousins together.’

~ Woodrow Wilson

Sunday Scenes – Challenge Update

These were some scenes from my Sunday. Just sights I encountered during my day. I like them and hope you do too.

010x016x067T092x029149157xxOn another note, my “Days Without Yelling” count should have been pushed back to ‘0’ after my vacation. I yelled. But you know what, it was not for waste. I am learning many lessons by challenging myself to this.

I have found that I have gained a new consciousness of how I am responding to my kids. Too often before, I would not even register the situation until the yelling was over and I felt terrible.  I am finding that I can see it coming and am beginning to be able to do something about it. I want to be in control of how I respond when I am really angry. Wouldn’t that be nice?

I also noticed that I have not gone to ‘crazy yelling’ in this whole period and know that when my voice is raised – I see that Orange Rhino in my mind. I don’t ever want to go back there.

I honestly do not want my boys teen years to be filled with yelling and screaming. I KNOW they are going to do things that I find infuriating – but I believe that I can decide how to respond. I see a little light at the end of the tunnel.

I have also noticed that I need to find alternatives to yelling that I find productive and worthy endeavors. I have found myself lecturing and having ‘discussions’ with the boys in tones of voices that are definitely not what I envision as effective or endearing. Just because I am not ‘yelling’, does not mean I have addressed other yucky issues – but one thing at a time, right?

Where To Start

I did it again – blog neglect. It’s either the blog, or the kids or the house, or the….I don’t know where to start to jump back into my little corner of the internet. So, I’m going to start right here and I hope you’ll just meet me where I’m at. Please.

We had an exciting trip to Sanibel Island, FL. We saw sights and had experiences we had never had before. I will not lie (I try really hard not to lie to you) it is just not easy vacationing with The Boyz. But there were plenty of wonderful moments that will make great memories. I am so glad we had a chance to visit this beautiful island. (You know I just like saying ‘island’, right?)

Now I’m here, but I’m not really ‘here’ if you know what I mean. My brain is either still on the beach or I am having a problem with Mercury being in retrograde – blame Mercury – sounds good.

I still have not done ‘real’ food shopping since our return, so we are consuming the dregs of boxes of cereal, tuna, toast and whatever I can dig up hunting through the freezer. Laundry has been done in stops and starts and does not seem to be diminishing at all. I am shuffling papers around my desk, but no headway is being made there either. Oh well. I’ve checked in with you – here – and that’s something.

How did I contract a case of ennui in October. Damn it Mercury.

A Big Deal

We are headed for a family vacation to beautiful Sanibel Island, FL. We fly out Sunday morning.

Did I make that sound natural?! Because it is SO NOT!

I honestly never let myself believe that this is a place in our lives to which we would get. A simple vacation, so easy and normal for some other people. But for us, it’s an undertaking of epic proportions.

A few years ago, we managed a trip to Washington D.C. and it was the first time that The Costellos, as you know us (6), managed a trip. We stayed two nights in a hotel. Our sites became set on the bigger and better things and we managed a trip to Disney World. We drove all the way there. These were amazing feats, for sure.

Until the age of 7, Ethan was chronically and often critically sick. There were infections, viruses, and illnesses aplenty. For the first 11 years of Ethan’s life – 11 years – he did not sleep. He was either up many times a night or he stayed up for days on end. It was hard enough to manage at home, but being out of our environment was out of the question.

Mikey also joined our family very unwell. It took several years to get skin infections and asthma to a manageable state. Gavin was nestled in the middle, of course, with his own issues and concerns. Daily life was a series of putting out fires – sometimes in the literal sense :) I would not consider vacationing more than 20 minutes from a major medical center in those days.

Add Sean a few years later and the rising costs of, well, everything, and it seemed like airfare and tropical islands were an unattainable dream. This vacation is the product of a series of fantastic deals and God’s goodness.

It’s still a production. We mailed several boxes, via UPS, full of Ethan’s matchbox cars, AutaBuy Magazines and coloring books – there was just no way we would get them all on the plane. He would be extremely unhappy without then, and then we would be extremely unhappy with him, without them. We are assessing what everyone will need to be happy so that it can be put into bags and transported to our island paradise.

I am pretty sure what I need to be happy will soon occupy a 3-bedroom beach cottage on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.


Liberty Hall Museum

What a hidden gem we found in Liberty Hall Museum in Union, NJ.  I have to tell you, I thought I hated all things ‘history’ until Gavin developed a real loved for it – places, movies, documentaries and historical novels. Gavin’s way of learning about history is way better than what I was exposed to in school. When I see something from this vantage point I am usually really impressed – like I was at this location. I remember things when I see them and hear the facts told in story form. I’m sure my kids do too.

The docent that lead our tour had first-hand knowledge of the family that inhabited this historic house. It’s a place that has hosted 8 presidents and goes back to 1772. Truly, we were walking in history’s footsteps :)

001 002 003 013 018 019The English Garden was wonderful and right now apples are ripe and $8 a bag to pick. I’ve heard they host wonderful teas here as well. I think I’d leave The Boyz behind for that ;)

Check out how I am doing on my 30 Day Challenge here.


I had a horrible experience on Sunday morning when I went for a walk. It was sunny, cool and breezy and I knew it would be good for body and soul. As I approached a house coming up on my right, I could hear a father yelling at his child/children. He was loud, he was swearing, his tone was nasty and his words were terrible. I could hear his kid whimpering and crying. I stopped dead in my tracks.

My heart started racing and my hands were shaking and I couldn’t catch my breath. He kept yelling, yelling and yelling – the kids kept crying. Part of me wanted to go up to the door, knock and say, ‘Dude, I’ve been there. What can I do to help.’ I did not think that would go well at all. I could not help but wonder what someone has heard through an open window at our house.

So, I stood there. And worried. And got more and more upset. Then I ran into a friend and she stood with me and listened to this man yell at his kids. We deemed that it was ‘regular’ yelling – the ‘pissed-off-lost-your-head-totally-had-it kind of yelling’ – not a ‘call DYFS’ kind of situation. Still sad. It got quiet and we moved on.

Well, sort of. I have not really ‘moved on’.

I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve yelled. I’ve lost my mind and my temper. I hate it when it happens, I make appropriate apologies, debrief things with the kids. But it’s not enough. I know that apologizing doesn’t make it ‘ok’. I really want to do more than say ‘sorry’ and try harder.

So I am taking The Challenge from The Orange Rhino. I’ll start with 30 days. It’s a manageable goal. I don’t know if I’ve gone 30 days without yelling – I don’t think so :(

I am so glad there is a mom who has chosen to be this open and honest about yelling – the causes, the damage, the aftermath and the solutions. She has come up with lots ideas and strategies to help.

I don’t think it is as ‘easy’ as that. I have issues and triggers and know that there are things that send me straight through the roof. I think this challenge will make me more conscious of how I handle the next giant surge of anger and frustration. If I can manage it for 30 days, what would make me think I can’t catch up to The Orange Rhino – she’s at 521 days :)

I am intent on getting that guy’s yelling voice out of my head – but most of all my own yelling voice out of my kids’ heads.

Please tell me you think it’s possibly to quit yelling? How about joining me?

(I’ve set the days on the right to ‘0’ because it’s only fair to start there)