Category Archives: holidays

Sunday ‘Father’s Day’ Scenes

First, there was the Annual Father’s Day hockey game at Greenbrook Hockey Club.

DSC01484 DSC01489 DSC01504 (1) DSC01528 (1) DSC01535 (1)Then, there was this.


Hockey with Pop-pop


Cat Play


In which we find out Sean is afraid of heights 🙂


Rigging an easier way for the little kids

And then this happened.


3 Generations of Costello men – and a photo bomb from our little neighbor 🙂

Handful of Hearts

I love having a party – in my teeny, tiny house. It poses some challenges, like having to move furniture around multiple times until the space functions as it is needed and importing seating from family and friends. I like the cleaning and prepping and how everything looks right before everyone comes. I also like how everything looks right after they leave – ah, the glorious ‘wrecked-party-house’! One of my favorite, annual photos on New Year’s Eve could be entitled ‘Aftermath’. Nothing says ‘good time’ like sticky floors and confetti behind the toilet tank.

The boys and their friends asked for a poker party. Whatever you think about that, I thought the same thing. I don’t know how to play and was very uninterested in learning. Everyone gained a working knowledge of the game and the big game of the night was strangely intense. Thankfully, ‘poker teaching’ really fell to the dads and us moms were off the hook.

It was very fun combing the card game with Valentine’s Day – the ‘hearts’ theme really pulled the two together 😉 DSC09271 DSC09270 DSC09267 DSC09259 DSC09251 DSC09249Best decoration for the party – smiley kids and friends and family eating and drinking together.

Hands down.

My camera is on it’s last legs – please forgive me. Better photos coming soon!

Mikey’s Turn to Turn 11

Mikey came into our lives in the conventional way – via a blue Hyundai. Typical story, right?

When DYFS called us to see if we could take Mikey and his sister, I said “no”. I told them we weren’t ready. I told them that we already had 1 child with significant medical needs and Mikey’s seemed extensive. I told them it just wasn’t a good time. I told them I’d check with my husband.

Dennis told me that we should take them in immediately and who better could deal with Mikey’s issues than me. He said it would be fine. Oh. Okay.

I called back and said yes.

Mikey came to our house in a wet diaper, a football jersey 4 sizes too big and a pair of Nike Air Jordan’s. Half of his hair was a poofy, little afro and the other half was stringy, little braids. He was so enthralled with the prospect of the bathtub that he tried to get in with his tiny shoes on. He came complete with a garbage bag full of 14 medications and a firm ‘good luck’ from the caseworker.000_0007 000_0017 000_0020Mikey was 16 months old and could walk stairs, foot over foot, and catch a tiny bouncy ball repeatedly thrown against the wall. He ate twice his body weight in food, especially fruit and slept through the night. I’ll admit – some of the early years were a blur. It was joyful and precarious. The balance often tipped to the ‘overwhelmed’ side.

It was not a straight line from our first meeting to his adoption nearly 3 years later. Sometimes things got scary and difficult. Once and a while a relative would show up who felt they were capable of caring for Mikey. The thought of someone taking him from us was terrifying. We were told that he was ‘failure to thrive’. I hated those words. Mikey was small – so small. I wanted the doctors to acknowledge he was thriving though – eating, learning, and coming off medications one by one until there were NONE left. Failure to thrive – ha!

Foster care is such a bad situation. It is hard on everyone. It is not a ‘natural’ circumstance to be in. But on June 7, 2007, Mikey name officially changed to Michael Dennis Kenneth Costello. I actually did not revel too much in his adoption day. I woke up and thought, ‘let’s get this mess behind us so we can continue to just be a family.’ I wanted it to be OVER and to BEGIN all at the same time.

100_1034100_1703 100_1765Mikey has always been physically gifted – swimming like a fish at 2 and 3, riding a two-wheeled bike at nearly 4, running faster, jumping higher and skating faster than everyone else 🙂 Everyone is Mikey’s friend and he sees a friend in everyone, he is generous and would give you his last piece of Halloween candy if you asked. When I see my 4 boys together, nothing makes more sense to me. DSC08010 (1)Mikey is simple in a very good way – he sees things just as they are in the moment that he is in. There is nothing else for him. I know I can learn from that – and I am glad that he is right here, in my house, in my life, and in my heart.

Belated Birthday Post for Gavin

Paying homage to Gavin’s entrance into teenager-hood. He asked if I posted about him for his birthday and it flattered me that it might be meaningful to him. Here goes.

Gavin was an intentional, planned addition to our family. That is a strange status in our family 🙂 In the midst of some of Ethan’s worst medical and behavioral challenges, Gavin made his way into our lives and hearts.

100_0104When I became pregnant with Gavin, there were many people concerned for us, including my doctor, that he could be born with Down syndrome. The risk of having a second baby with DS after your first is 1 in 100. I suspected that I might want definitive testing to secure that information before his birth, but somehow I did not. As each day passed, I waited for the time that the statistic would invade my sleeping hours and produce daily anxiety, but it never materialized. I never needed to know whether he would or would not be born with any differences.

Just like his brother, his entrance into the world was rough, bumpy and complicated. Dennis and I both thought that Gavin looked like a baby with Down syndrome the moment he was born. Turns out that he and Ethan just share a family resemblance.

With each boy that has joined our family, we have never experienced any sibling rivalry or regression. I know that we are lucky. Ethan was thrilled with his new plaything brother from the start. Today, Ethan still refers to Gavin as ‘baby’. It is pronounced ‘bay-ay’, and although he can produce the word Gavin, he prefers not too and I prefer not to correct it.

100_0225I enjoyed every minute of Gavin from the moment he came home. He was a ‘textbook’ schedule baby. Just stick with the program, and he was a gurgley little bundle. He ate and slept beautifully – things I was not accustomed to. He grew and developed at a rate at which was new to me – so fast, so simple, no therapists. When he spoke at 14 months, I was floored. I had no reference point for a child being so easy and pleasant.

As he became a toddler and preschooler, it only got better. While Ethan was safely and happily settled into his school program, Gavin and I did the regular stuff that I really had no chance to do with Ethan – library programs, nature classes, gymnastics, swim lessons and food shopping. I used to call him my ‘good little company’. He was fully conversational and a wonderful traveling companion. Can you start to see how homeschooling crept into our life?

Mikey joined our family at this point, and again, another brother was happily welcomed by all. Although I know that there were hard days included in this time frame, probably lots of them, it remains a time in our family history that I view with fondness.

100_0430 100_0524Now, we welcome Gavin to the teen years. He remains the chatterbox that he started out as. He is rambunctious and passionate – his highs are high and we all need to share in them, and his lows are low and we all need to weather them. He makes friends easily and is very gregarious. He is contemplative and argumentative. He rarely sits down, even to eat. He is a great brother. I see sparks of leadership. He is still good company and I enjoy watching him play video games, teach himself algebra, read stacks of books, torment his brothers, bake cookies, pick a guitar, build Lego, watch documentaries, and earn merit badges.

DSC05725 (1) DSC06823 (1)All in a day’s work when you’re 13.

Blog Ketchup

It’s too bad that my blog has been ‘broken’…but Dennis fixed it. Isn’t he just the most? To say the least.

Christmas was fine. Just fine. I say that because I still struggle to find deep meaning in the Hallmark-type occasion that rears it’s ugly head. I hope as I debrief the events, I can come up with ways to bring a little more significance and less stress to my family’s holidays. Our families were generous to us and the boys and that is lovely. It was mostly quiet and fairly low-key, and in that, I take deep satisfaction.

And New Year’s. LOVE. IT.

It’s a time of for reflection and planning, taking inventory and assessing. I love the fun of celebrating with friends and family. No pressure – just fun. LOVE. IT.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

Weekend Check In

I am not the grinch that may family often accuses me of being. I’m not! It just takes me longer to catch the holiday spirit than some.

I am pleased to announce that this weekend I produced lots of pretty, little cookies, placed a large Amazon order, enjoyed the Frasier Fir that Dennis and Gavin parked in my tiny living room and even hummed along to many of Ethan’s very loud Christmas carols. We drove out to see a great lights display at ‘Christmas in Warren‘. See? I’m practically oozing Christmas Spirit 🙂

On a somber note, I spent several hours this weekend sitting with a friend who had to do something very, very, very hard. It was hard to watch and hard to be there, but if my friend could do something that I could not wrap my head around, the least I could do was be present for the experience. It was a situation that was draining and left me reeling on a very deep level. I think it will unravel in my mind for a long time. What it reminded me of was how much in life actually matters. It is so little when you really break it down.

When I returned home, I kissed and hugged each of my kids very deliberately. Sometimes I don’t do that enough. When Dennis received a last minute offer for our entire family to attend a NJ Devils Hockey game – all together – in front row seats, I decided we should all go. I would normally encourage Dennis to have a night out with the boys, but in light of feeling, well, I don’t know what I was feeling, but I wanted us all to be in one place.

I snapped this picture with my phone. This is what matters.


One 4th of July

It’s simply about a few things. Oppressive heat and humidity, a parade, something cooked on the grill, a swim in the pool and fireworks. There’s no need to get fancy. Trust me.

Ethan LOVES a parade and our town obliges with the firetrucks and classic cars, girls scouts and boy scouts, costumed characters, local politicians and a rag time group. Super sweet.

It sometimes make me laugh that we say we ‘swim’ in our pool. We bob. It’s fun, but it’s not ‘swimming’.

There were burgers and dogs for all, but the fireworks – oh the horror! We went to view them in a nearby town only to find out that there was “Park and Ride” to the field. Agh! Parking and riding makes me very upset. Really. As predicted, getting home really stunk and I will NOT do it ever again. I mean it.

We met all the requirements and another 4th of July gets marked off the calendar. Sometimes that’s as good as it gets.

Groove. Still not found. Posting soon about my lousy case of Ennui. Does that make it sound romantic. It’s not.