Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love people that LOVE this time of year. I like watching people run on ‘Holiday Spirit’ like I run on the heat and light of summer. I marvel at people who love shopping and the added revelry.

The combination of still having to do the already million tasks of the typical day rolled together with trying to sneak in all the joyful, little holiday ones is what make it seem oppressive. If you are really good at this, would you let me know how?

Sometimes, I can only see it as added responsibilities. I am not, though, the Grinch that everyone makes me out to be.

I do enjoy:

Christmas music starting about NOW. Not a month ago so that I want to choke on it every time I hear Frosty reprise. Ethan does, indeed, play it year round. Maybe this is his fault ;)

I really enjoy baking Christmas cookies. If the laundry, basic meal cooking, and all the daily activities that need to happen here could all be suspended while I use Royal Icing on everything in site – that would really be fantastic.

I enjoy sparse, meaningful Christmas decorations. Today, I will take out the things that we all love – a nativity scene for the mantle (bought here), a pair of plush, Hallmark snowmen that sing a ridiculous song that I claim to hate, but secretly like. I will put out several Santas, some candles and would like a fresh wreath for above my fireplace. Each year, we cull through more decorations to see what we really want to keep. The box is getting small.

I love when Dennis and I have managed to select a few excellent gifts for the boys. Some years we succeed and I love to see them thankful and engaged in their new treasures. Some years we have failed miserably, ending up in a sea of interminable, plastic nothingness. I’m rooting for us again this year. This is getting better, simply because the boys themselves are out of the ‘toy’ stage.

I enjoy a few meaningful outings. Maybe an evening of lights here and here. Mix both of those with some good hot chocolate toted along and I’ll be thrilled. I could or could not attend a religious service if it comes up for us. I love midnight service in a Catholic Church, but haven’t been able to do that in years. I love a live nativity with a reading from the Gospel of Luke – and hot chocolate. I like Christmas Eve to be spent with friends and family and food – whatever works out – because that’s how we do things. We’ve done lots of different things on the evening and as long as those components are present – and hot chocolate – I’m happy. If I can fit in a quick jaunt to NYC – bliss :)

I do like to fill days and nights with as many Christmas movies as we can fit in. This is my favorite. There are always a few we keep meaning to watch, but haven’t gotten to. Maybe this year.

I love reading Christmas stories. This is my favorite.

I love the story of the birth of Jesus. I love the message of miracles. I embrace the thankfulness for meager provisions that Mary and Joseph experienced that starry night. I love the simple gifts of The Magi.

Simple gifts. I can live with that.

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

DSC03929 DSC03931Gabby the Tabby got sick. Seems it was kitty gastritis. Remember how I lectured the kids when we took her out of the shelter that I do not believe in expensive medical care for animals? Who quickly agreed with the vet that she needed IV therapy and an afternoon spent in their infirmary? Cat-moms can change their minds :)

DSC03937

Meditative pie-baking. Always.

Can you understand how hard it has been over the years to facilitate ‘game nights’ here at the Costello House? Who can read? Who can add? Who gets the strategy of this game and the rules? Simple request – hard to deliver. When game night easily broke out on it’s own one evening, I felt like we had reached some sort of milestone :)

DSC03967

Brothers & food prep. Dennis alerted me to this photo op. Too much.

DSC03974 DSC03976This needs no caption. Really.

DSC03978 (2)

These guys and many more like them littered my kitchen floor the entire weekend. Everyone played.

I crocheted myself these little beauties to organize my crochet needles stash and to help me take my crochet practice way more seriously ;)

There was nothing stellar about these last few days – but I dug them.

November is Nat’l Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. They work together for me, so I’ll tell you a story.

Mikey was brought to our house (the week of Thanksgiving) by an emergency unit of DYFS. We signed up for that. We agreed to take children at odd hours, with no items of their own, for very short term stays :)

Mikey arrived at our house in a soggy diaper, a football jersey with his puffy dark hair in little, stringy braids. He was brought with a black trash bag filled with 14 prescription medications that we needed to figure out how and why to administer to him. He tried to get into the bath tub with his tiny Air Jordan’s. He ate his weight in pancakes. He didn’t say a word. He just smiled.

000_0020In one way, it was such a strange experience having a child suddenly show up for us to care for and to parent. In another way, it was mundane and normal – we just needed to do the next thing that needed done. It was a surreal experience for me. I wish I could have had insight into his little 16 month-old brain. Mikey was flexible and resilient and he settled into the new sights and sounds and experiences – including his two older brothers – without trouble.

Because Mikey was in foster care, it was unclear how long he would stay with us or if he would permanently join our family. Some people think that we must have spent lots of time pondering and considering foster care and adoption. We really just put one foot in front of the other and kept trekking through the process as it opened up organically. When Mikey had been a part of our family for about 9 months, Dennis said ‘if he can’t go back to his biological family, we are adopting him, right?’ Yes. Of course. That was easy.

100_2595

I tell Mikey that our family situation and his adoption into our family are not chance or some ‘second-best’ option. I tell him that families formed by adoption are special and blessed. I tell him that this is exactly what was supposed to happen – because it did. I tell him that this plan was written in the stars, from the beginning of time, by the hand of God. I believe it with all my heart.

I am so THANKFUL.

“Somehow destiny comes into play. These children end up with you and you end up with them. It’s something quite magical.
~ Nicole Kidman

What’s Up?

‘Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.’ ~ Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride

So, what’s up?

~ Hockey Season is over at Greenbrook Hockey Club. That frees up weekend time to find some weekend fun in the coming weeks. Museums, NYC and state park events are just calling us. I can make a nice, long ‘honey-do’ list for Dennis. Despite my complaining about the sheer amount of time Dennis devotes to the league, it is a fantastic place that has provided the boys with a great sport and awesome friends.

~ Homeschooling in November, for me, is always a strange place to be. Things that are not working become clear and we ditch them. Seriously – what’s better than that? Switching my brain to searching for ‘indoor’ type of field trips is a hard one – but I’m working on it now. I dream of filling these crappy, cold months with good books, great documentaries and brain-changing games. A quick trip to the basement has revealed that we have many, unopened ‘science’-types kits that are begging to be tinkered with.

~ This is the beginning of when I need to grasp tightly to a self-enforced set of routines that keep me putting one foot in front of the other. I have struggled with SAD for the last several years, with last year being particularly bad. I use multiple modalities to deal with it. My little lamp, super good vitamins, lists that keep me honest and the dreams about this place :) Maybe there is an encore in store for us?

047x

I obsess over this scene. I don’t think it’s normal – at all.

~ I am working hard on getting some serious, ‘life-planning’ issues in order. I don’t know what is prompting this strong feeling, but when I feel like this, I need to take action. I would like for us to review our long-term, financial goals and revamp or life insurance policies. It is extra important for us having a child with special needs. Every one in a while, we question whether moving is an option for our family. We are in a spot where we need to do some serious fact-finding. Bring it on.

~ We are experimenting with having some help with house cleaning every few weeks. If you would have ever told me that someday we could squeeze that into the budget and that it would freak me out and cause me stress, I would have seriously protested. But it’s true. I am uncomfortable and as nice as she is, I hide from the cleaning lady at all costs – I just pack everyone up and leave. Is this totally weird? I am not ungrateful, though.

Strange, anxious, cold (as in chilly), and busy – but not ungrateful.

(Sunday Scenes was preempted by this because I forgot to take pictures on Sunday – because I’m like that.)

Sunday Scenes – Slacker Edition

Two times a year, I manage to make it through a whole day in my pajamas. I did it yesterday. I have a terrible cold and it seemed like the right thing to do. They might be a little boring – but here are my scenes from Sunday. I did crochet a potholder, though.

Good Monday to you. If there is such a thing.

Ethan, The (Non)Foodie

069He watches every episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. He comments and is intrigued by every ingredient.

“Bacon and eggs?!”
“Yeah, soup!”
“Big, big, big sandwich!”

He watches intently as someone renders duck fat, creates a roux, smokes the perfect brisket and mashes potatoes. He likes to eat and watch. He loves Guy Fieri. He wants him to come over for dinner.

But, Ethan would NEVER eat anything they cook on that show.

He has an EXTREMELY limited diet. 4 foods are in constant rotation. Like 1-2-3-4.

Quessadillas
Pizza
Popcorn Chicken
Bacon

For honesty’s sake, there is a very rare occasion when he eats something ‘new’. It is very rare and has never added that food to his rotation. Sometimes he eats 3/4 of something and then insists that it was ‘yucky’. Sometimes he requests something and once it is cooked or ordered – decides it is ‘yucky’. Frustrating does not do justice to this behavior. There are chips and salsa, and he will eat other things battered and fried – as long as it looks like popcorn chicken. 2 times a year, he eats a bowl of Cheerios.

Between the ages of 18 months and 3 years, the term ‘pediatric anorexia’ was used to describe him. Getting him to ingest anything was a daily struggle and a full-time job. It continued for many years. We have sought the help of many speech and feeding specialists – at one time he was in ‘feeding therapy’ 3 times a week for several years. We have worked with behaviorists and nutritionists. We have tried all manner of approaches. He is one tough nut to crack. Many kids on the autistic spectrum have ‘food issues’.

There is a lot involved in his eating disorder. Sometimes it makes life hard – and sometimes it makes it easy. Either way, we are stuck with it. And while Guy is profiling someone who makes the best blackened catfish with mango salsa, Ethan will be eating two slices of pizza – one plain, one pepperoni. Always.

Sunday Scenes – The Ethan & Sean Edition

033

He’s so good-looking when he’s fixing things

040

Fury, weekend visitor

036x

His office

090 (1)

Total Toy Takeover

091 (1)

Warring Factions