6 months!

This blog has been lonely for a while. Sorry about that. I've been sewing and watching West Wing a lot, so my computer has been occupied, as have my hands for typing. But, today is December 19! I'm sure this holds a lot of significance to you, but for us, or me rather, it's 6 months since Ivy's surgery. And y'all, I'm having mad flashbacks of when we found out about her condition a year ago. Christmas last year was tender to say the least. I didn't know so many things about Ivy and her life, so we cherished so much of it. My mom knew this feeling I was having a flew out to spend that holiday with us. Mom of the year award, right there.

We had Ivy's one year well check, 3 weeks late, which fell on the day we found out about her cranio, one year ago. (Did that even make sense?) My doctor, with whom I love, asked how Ivy was doing, and I can't really complain even though she's a touch fussy and clingy. I said to her doctor, "She's good, she's alive." HEAVY MEL!!! But my doctor understood what I meant. And she goes, "Yes, she is! And doing so well, but let's look at her ears while we have her here." So, Ivy had a ear infection, but y'all, a year ago, she needed x-rays and an emergency CT scan of her skull, so, having to grab an antibiotic was much easier than driving to the hospital with a world of unknowns on the horizon. Like, sheesh, what's that expression these days? ALL THE FEELS!

I do love Ivy. I love what her life has done to me. I'm completely selfish with her. She just wants to be held all day or play at my feet or cry at 2:00am for some extra snuggles. And I really do love it. It's super cheesy when mom's say "can they just stay small forever?" But, truth be told, that's all I want in the world with my Ivy. She took 2 steps on Sunday and 4 steps yesterday, and I wanted to push her down so that she never walks and I can just hold her forever. Oh my gosh, I'm absurd.

Ivy's scar barely shows now, and the dissolvable lego pieces they put to keep her skull plates apart only leave tiny bumps near her temples. (Obviously I don't know what they are called, but Dr. Mom called them lego pieces.) And some days, I don't think about. She's one of the girls, playing and goofing with the rest of them. But sometimes, she's that one month old who was recently told that she was deformed and my arms were the only thing to protect her from the world. I told Ken that I don't know why I want to keep her a baby so badly, and he said that for months that baby stage was peppered with a lot of fear and worry, and those milestones held different meanings. He said I didn't get that "normal" baby time like with the other two because there was this lingering Thing hovering over us.

But that's gone! No more hovering! But the memories of this year are fresh and I hope I ever forget how intense that time all was. A year ago, I was so scared yet so hopeful. And today, I'm just incredibly thankful.

Didn't I say that I was done blogging about Ivy's cranio? Ha, yeah right.

a month before surgery

A couple other posts about my girl and her cranio, if emotions are fun for you. 


skeleton pajamas

I don't know how I get sucked into these trends. I'm usually very quick to declare the opposite. But those dang skeleton pajamas. What is it with those? Everyone has them, gap, old navy, carters. It's like, really adorable. This Halloween the girls have really taken to all the decorations around town. It became part of our evening ritual, to go look at the skeletons on St. Charles. I do think the corner of St. Charles and State takes Halloween more seriously than Christmas, from a street watchers perspective. I'm not going to put a picture of this, because you have to see it. It's fantastic.

Anyway, as we make our way home from the evening event, Ken and I pretend the skeletons are gone, or that they are sleeping. The girls then try to hard to find them. It's wildly fun to be a Kostrzewa. Avery has increased in the "smarts" category lately and will call us out on our silly antics. She now knows where we're going once we leave the house and make our first turn on to whichever street. This could be said that we don't go to but 10 places, or that she's quite observant. But, skeletons. Our girls love skeletons!

So, we find ourselves at Walmart a couple days before Halloween, and I'm not sure what I was buying. You really go to Walmart just to get ONE THING. And it's not like Target where you go there for fun. Target is fun. Walmart is a chore. Do you agree? It was a dreadful day at Walmart, as most are, and the social commentary. Oh, the social commentary. I can't share that with a 4 year old so the texts to Ken are constant.

But on clearance, we found skeleton pajamas. Like super ridiculous pink ones where the bones are made up of hearts, and they happened to have a 4T, 2T, and 12 month all right next to each other. Just like that. And then ended up in the cart, and we quickly left Walmart as to keep some hope in humanity in tact.

We raced through dinner, and took quick baths and pulled the pajamas fresh out of the dryer because it was skeleton pajama time! I convinced myself that the girls earned new jams because of their crazy impressive milestone of all three of them sharing a room, which still blows me away. So, I took a million pictures!!!

I posted one on Instagram, but these were the lot of them. I'm like a 20:1 ratio of what I snap to what gets posted. So absurd.

Ivy LOVES her sisters. It's been just about the best thing to happen to me. 


the twirl shop Holiday line!

It might be too early to start with all this Christmas stuff, but it's never too early to get some holiday skirts in your life! I added my Holiday line up to the shop and I think it's all fabulous. Here it is!








update with photos

Friends! How are you? This is a photo dump, so if you're looking for ramblings, that's not today. If your'e looking for something to quickly scroll through, this is the post for you!! I do try to keep this blog to family stuff, but the shop has been occupying most of my free time and I want to share what has been going on! First off, these new skirts and bibs are in the shop now:

There's a coupon code right now: HAPPYFALL to save 15%. Shop HERE!  

 The Twirl shop is now an LLC! So, technically I own my own company. This, this is thrilling. Oh the conversations I can have a cocktail parties. Now, to get invited to a cocktail party. That's the next goal. (Banner designed by Rachelle!)

Do you wanna build snowman?? These Olaf shorts are for boy and girls, with pockets! 
Check them out HERE. 

Okay, enough about the shop. 
Now for the fabulous Kostrzewa 5!

Ken has indulged me in selfies lately. This is entirely pathetic that things like this make me happy. He knows how much I love pictures, so we went to a wedding this weekend and he initiated these selfies.  Swoon. He also looked dang handsome this weekend, so it's probably just him wanting a picture of himself. 
 I like to think that tower in the back is the Eiffel Tower. But, to the left is the mighty Mississippi River. Just as good as Paris!! 

On Sunday, after church, Ken will take Ivy home to nap, and the girls and I pick up lunch somewhere on Freret Street to eat while watching the Saints game. This mural, in front of Gasa, Gasa is fantastic. And a little creepy. But, super hip. So, of course, I told my kids to stand in front of it. Then I stood in the middle of the street to snap it. Safe and smart. 

My baby turned 4! Oh, she's so beautiful, it's difficult sometimes. 

Avery wanted to celebrate with her class, which was great for me because all I had to do was bake some cupcakes! Her class, I love. I love her teacher, and love her friends. Being in a classroom, I'm normally the teacher, so being the mom was new for me, but so awesome.
Ugh, I love this picture because she's so happy with her friends. 

These two. I just, I can't.

Another selfie with Ken?! This was probably the most beautiful day ever. The weather was divine. 

Like white on rice; Ivy on my hip.


Little nugget, helping me sew. She'll be one in November.

We'll end this with the sun setting over the Mississippi. I used a self timer, and this was what we got. 
One shot, because I felt like a tool box doing this while people walked by. So, you know. 
The girls were also dancing to gangsta rap, and the words were obscene, so we ended this real quick. 

Love you all! 



There are about a dozen things I would like to blog about, and sometimes while I'm waiting in the carpool lane to pick up Avery I take "notes" in my phone and I talk out my thoughts, and when I read it later, it's super lame. This was, however, my invention when I was in 3rd grade (talking to the computer and it types for you.) Damn you Apple, taking everyone's dreams.

So I want to write about the whole30 thing I did, or how my baby is really old now and I'm drenched in emotions about it, or how much I love watching "The Blacklist", or how Napoleon Ave owes me at least a month of my life because the TRAFFIC IS SO TERRIBLE!

But, today, SAMOSAS.

Sunday night, we went to Nirvana. It's an excellent Indian buffett where the kids eat for free. At this point, since now Ivy eats like a maniac, this is the most economical eating out option. And since I don't eat like a normal person (or do I?) during the week, Sunday we go hard. So, all the naan, buttered chicken, and lentils. We were eating outside, and I scanned our table, and saw the KID sitting across from me, the peanut no longer needing a booster eat, and the baby, sitting in her high chair clapping her hands, and the handsome man who decided to marry me. And the weather was at this point of feeling like nothing, in that I wasn't sweating, and I breathed it in and felt complete.

I asked the waiter if they sold samosas and he brought out two huge samosas, filled with potatoes and peas with dipping sauces. Why did I want samosas? This are not common appetizers in my life. I'm purely a chips and salsa kinda woman, or a cheese plate. And then I had this "I can't believe that how much my life has changed in ten years" moment because of these samosas. Let's explain.

I went to Sri Lanka in the summer of 2005, and lived at an orphanage teaching English during the day at a middle school/high school and then did a makeshift camp for the girls at the orphanage during the evenings. It was, and remains, one of the best experiences of my life. One day, we were all going to an orphanage opening in a neighboring town. Much like a club opening, with less disco lights. It's a huge deal because Sri Lanka is closed to adoption because of some truly terrible people going about it unethically, and with the tsunami that had recently hit and the on going civil war, there were a lot of orphans. Every church in the country had an orphanage (either a girls home or a boys home) which is really beautiful to me. So, our trip. What would have taken 2 hours to drive to, took around 8 because of the Tamil tigers (silly terrorists) who had seized control of the bridges that allowed you to travel to these towns. So we drove inland and then back out to the coast. We left before sunrise and rice and lentils just didn't sound to good so I skipped breakfast, and loaded the bus with 80 happy girls, who didn't mind any of the trip. We drove, and it was hot, and I was a mess. Hungry, sweaty, with a couple of 8 year olds sitting in my lap. The bus broke down a few times, needed gallons and gallons of water because the engine was over heating. So The Rev, the nicest man in Sri Lanka, reroutes the bus to a little town to get food, for about 100 people. He then comes back on the bus with dozens of brown paper bags of food. I could have cared less what I was eating, I was famished. The girls calmly handed out food to everyone and I took a huge bite not knowing what it was. It was a tiny samosa, filled with potatoes and beef. And it was delicious! I ate as many as I could get my hands on, and the taste and experience attached to it will always trigger this amazing time I had in Sri Lanka.

Back to Sunday night, I'm sitting by Ivy, feeding her bits of my food and she's loving it, and I looked at her clapping after each bite and couldn't believe how fast life happens. Not just how she's not a baby anymore, but how not that long ago, I was in Sri Lanka. And how in ten more years, I'll have pre-teens hogging the bathroom every morning, and I'm sure I'll look at them and remember when we were eating samosas at Nirvana. I don't know if I have ever wanted life to speed up, but I know that daily I wish it would just slow down. At the park the other day, I was jogging walking with the littles and this man yelled, because he had headphones on, "this is the best time of your life!!" and that simple phrase set me up for the rest of the day, probably week. I thought I had had my "best time of your life" season when I went to Sri Lanka, or when Ken and I were newlyweds, or when I got to spend four years in San Luis Obispo for college, but the best is right now? Yes, it is.

Of course, it's hard so see the best when Avery throws a chicken bone at Eliza, or when Ivy screams when I leave the room, or when Eliza eats sand, but every night, after the tantrums and the protests of bedtime, Ken and I are just so happy to have these kids. We settle into the couch and talk briefly about the girls, (and then quickly turn on "The Blacklist.") If this isn't the best, I don't know what is.

We never know what's waiting in our future, and while my life may not look great to some, my heart and life before the present has been preparing me for loving what I have now. I see pictures of my face as I look at my girls, and I remember how I looked at the kids in Sri Lanka and it's all too familiar. I know my heart is where it needs to be.

Be careful next time you order an appetizer, you never know what might happen.
Sri Lanka // 2005
Avery // 2010  +  Eliza // 2012
Ivy // 2013 + 2014

(They all look really similar, while my crow's feet are getting evermore crowy each year. 
A sign of a woman who has laughed a lot, and smiles constantly, and possibly needs better eye protection when in the sun.) 


hello, how are you?

Isn't it about time for a fun photo update from the kostrzewas? Happy Thursday, y'all. That's what you're about to get. Highlights: Avery started school! Ivy started crawling! Eliza started wearing sunglasses and her hair makes the most perfect curl down the middle of her forehead. That's noteworthy, yes? Ken started school too! Mom started (and just finished) whole30! It's been a whirlwind here.

Brevity has never been a strong trait of mine so there are a million pictures. So, pour yourself a drink.

 When they're not yelling at each other, they're lovey dovey.

 Dear Mom, you will never go to bathroom alone ever. Love, all three of us that now are mobile

 What caption would add to this picture? nothing. 

 Ivy "go with the flow" Marie taking in the park and the library with the sisters

 You may have seen a thousand of these on Facebook, BUT THIS ONE IS THE BEST!
Our new normal with A at school. It's good. 

 A new model for the shop. 
 I get a text a day of Avery in action at school. This would be her second breakfast. Tough life, kid.

 We saw Ivy's plastic surgeon for her check up and everything is great! I have been looking forward to this appointment with such anticipation. I was expecting us to share a drink and toast his success and her recovery. I was prepared with a heart felt thank you speech wherein I would explain to this man that he has changed my life, etc. But then the appointment was 5 minutes and he said, "looks good!" and started to walk out. "Oh, um, Dr. St. Hilaire? Can I get a picture of you... holding Ivy?" pause... "Yeah, sure." And then Ivy put her hand on his shoulder and he was instantly in love. I forget that he doesn't hold babies, he just opens their skulls and touches their brains. It must be hard to be so brilliant and then have to talk to moms who are crazy. I didn't cry though!! 

 Avery and dad went on a date to the Superdome for the Saints first home game. You see, Ken is one of the nicest guys. Pretty much the opinion across the board. He manages the bus drivers that come to his school, and one of his drivers gave him these tickets. Because, Ken is nice. And then when they came home, he goes, "I should have brought some of your business cards. Ladies kept complimenting Avery's skirt. You could have sold out of these!" hashtag good dude. 

 I still make her model on the weekends. Sorry/not sorry kid. 

 Sunday mornings. My favorite mornings. 

 Playing with the neighbors dog. And playing with my "allergic to dogs" heart. 

 20 pounds of the best

 After we drop off Avery at school we take to city park, which is actually amazing.
I NEVER KNEW! I walk everywhere with the babies and Eliza loves to find blue dog in the sculpture garden. 

 It's as if Ron Swanson was consulted by Roy Lichtenstein for this sculpture. 
(If you understood all of that, you are my best friend.)

 Welcome to the sheeeet show! The 3:1 ratio at the pediatrician is always a party. 

 Wednesday T-shirt day! Yes! 

 The evening light shines through the window right on Ivy. And then her eyes pierce my heart. 

 "Had a good month in the shop!" said that annoying girl who sells skirts. 

 Yes, Ivy. It is funny when you're sisters get kicked out of the tub for fighting. 

 I think of her scar as like a collection of freckles in a swirly line, and it seems to be adorable. 

 Ivy's in a booster! Welcome to the table, child. 

 After Breaking Bad swept the Emmys, I suddenly got 4 orders for these skirts. 
Thank you, Heisenburg. 

 I also make bibs and burp cloths now. So, fun? 
Stop talking about your shop. 
 And then two months just fly by and this baby is looking great. 

 Weekends with these monkeys is the tops. Avery got dressed herself. 

 The small movie theater near our house is showing Robin Willaims movies every Sunday night and last Sunday was Dead Poets Society. The place was sold out with a line around the block. This movie,  I cried of course. 

 That curl! Will not fail. 

 Snark face at whole foods, post school.

 My babies taking it easy as mom sweats into her eyeballs. It's toasty out there folks. 

She wakes me up with this face. And the curl, can't forget that curl. 

Phew! Are you still there? That was a lot, probably too much. Oh well!
You were warned. 

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