Friday, April 20, 2018

A Pinterest worthy transformation!

Check out my Dad's latest project!

Quite a few years ago he was at an auction (he loves going to auctions) and there was an old piano up for bid.  He made a bid of $10 to get it started but low and behold, it never did.  So my dad ended up with an old piano for $10.

And it's been sitting in their basement ever since.

Until several months ago when he decided that he was going to turn that old piano into something useful.  So he took out the insides of the piano, sanded, prepped, painted, polished and tinkered until he turned the old piano into a BBQ workstation!

He added a prep/work surface and storage on the top and bottom.

On the back he added a place to hang all of his grilling and smoking tools.

Isn't he the cutest thing ever??
My parents are Master Judges with the Kansas City Barbeque Society and they have become excellent meat masters themselves through the years.  In fact, tonight, we will be enjoying ribs that my dad will spend all day smoking.  Hey - he's got to try out that new work station!

I think he did a Pinterest worthy job, don't you?  (And also, I am kicking myself for not getting a before picture of the old piano.)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 16

Here we are at Thursday again! How did that happen so quickly?

Here's a list of what I've been thankful for this past week:

1. My surgery went smoothly with no problems.

2. The lipoma on my back did not need a drain.

3. The carcinoma on my face could be stitched up without having to do a skin graft from my neck.

4. My recovery was quick and relatively easy - the worst part honestly has been that I can't take a shower until the stitches are out of my back.  I go this afternoon for that so I am excited that starting tomorrow I can take a shower instead of a bath!  (It's the little things!)

5. I hung up my hummingbird feeder last week and saw 2 hummingbirds this weekend!  I'm hoping now that it's finally (maybe, I hope!) starting to warm up more will come.  I also need to get some plants for the patio where the feeder is hanging to encourage more of them to come.

6.  It was sunny and in the low 80s yesterday! Can I get a hallelujah?!    (I'm ignoring that fact that the next five days are showing highs only in the mid 60's.)

7. Yesterday was teacher lunch out at Sarah's school.  I always help out at that and then afterwards head to lunch with some of the other moms.  I'm thankful that I am able to help out and I am also very thankful that I get to have lunch with some old PTO friends.

8.  My hair.  Every morning I complain to myself a about the current status of my hair - thinning and very dry. (Middle age is no joke!) Yesterday morning as I was grousing, I was struck by the thought that at least I had hair.  It my not be perfect (and it never is) but at least I have it growing out of the top of my head.

9.  My sweet parents.  I am always thankful for them.  They are always so willing to help me with the kids - and now that the kids are older that means helping me get them to and from everywhere they need to be.  I was thankful that this week I was actually able to help them for a change!

10.  And because you can't have a blog post without a picture. Wally is the only thing that everyone in the family is always telling me to take a picture of because he's so cute.  He may be cute but he is still a menace.  The whole time I've been writing this post, he has been walking on my keyboard.  Any typos are his fault!

 What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Track and other miscellany

Things are really ramping up around here.  Sarah's conference track meet is in two weeks and our school is hosting it which means a lot of work for us to get everything ready.  The nice thing this year is that we are hiring a timing company to track times and placements.  This is such a step up from the usual dads with stop watches acting as official timers.  In theory dads with stopwatches is not a bad thing, however, in practice, there is a lot left to chance.  It will be so nice to have a third party in charge of which school places where in each event.

With that said, I've been ordering flags, hip numbers, barricade tape, lanyards, etc like a boss.  And after reviewing all the shipping status emails, it looks like everything will be here by tomorrow!  It's nice to get things checked off the list because as soon as one thing gets checked off, another item gets added.

Peter is still plugging along with track at his school.  He's trying to improve his 200 time so that he can make it to states.  I'm not sure if he's going to be able to do it, but I sure hope so. Every evening when I pick him up from track practice he falls asleep on the 30 minute ride home and usually ends up either sleeping longer in the car in the garage or going upstairs and taking a longer nap in his bed. 

Sarah's got two more weeks of swim practice  and track practice and then she will be able to relax and enjoy May.  And I say that laughingly because May will be a very busy month - confirmation, 8th grade school retreat, buddy luncheon, may crowning, awards ceremonies, graduation, school picnic, conference wide kickball tournament, and graduation dance just to name a few of the things on our May calendar.  Not to mention - the fact that her teacher will not slack up just because it's the last month of school.  Whew!  I think she's going to be napping in the car, too!

After reading all of that, I think I need a nap too!

I will leave you with a picture I took of Wally yesterday.  This cat is into everything.  If it's on the counter, it's fair game.  I'm not used to having a cat that gets on the counters.  Our other two rarely did.  I am constantly cleaning the counters with antibacterial spray!

Head in the grocery bag trying to figure out if he can get through any packaging to eat something!

Monday, April 16, 2018

A surgery update and a weekend report.

Happy Monday everyone!

I made it through my surgery with no problems.  Thank you for your prayers! 

We dropped the kids off at school on Friday at 7:45 and then headed to the hospital where the procedure was being done.  It's a small hospital with most of the work being outpatient surgeries but they do have rooms if you have to be admitted overnight.

We were there a little before my 8:15 check-in time and got checked in a few minutes early.  They called us back almost immediately after that and began to prep me for surgery.

We met with the anesthesiologist and his nurse, my nurse, and the doctor who was doing my surgery.  At 9:55I was being whisked to the operating room and by about 10:10 I was out.  The last thing I remember was looking at the clock.

I made sure to look when I opened my eyes and it was 12:15. So I had been out about 2 hours.

Dan spoke to the surgeon before I woke up.  He told him that the lipoma was bigger than he originally thought but that they did not have to put in a drain.  I was very happy to hear that.  And the carcinoma was pretty deep but luckily it wasn't wide so they did not have to do a skin graft.  I was also extremely happy to hear that.

We left the hospital just in time to pick up some pain medication from the pharmacy and get the kids  from school.

I came home and my care group and bestie Jennifer had flowers for me:

Aren't they both so springy and beautiful!?  I have the best friends!

Peter and Dan got everything packed up and headed out for the weekend to zipline and camp with the Boy Scouts.  My parents took me and Sarah out to dinner on Friday night and then I went to bed.  Poor Sarah was up very late working on homework.  She had a ton of it this weekend.

On Saturday I slept in as late as Wally and Kitten would let me.  (Those two love to have cat fights of epic proportion right on top of me in the wee hours of the morning.)

Sarah spent the day working on more homework while I managed to do three loads of laundry and nothing else.  We went to Mass and then to Zoe's for dinner where one of the things we had was this delicious hummus trio starter:

I love hummus and Zoe's makes some of the best.  Also, I love their new power grain bowls.  So good and good for you!

This was my eye on Sunday morning:

Attractive, isn't it?  It's even more purple today but thankfully my glasses cover a lot of it up! Who needs eye shadow with this black eye?

 The boys came home a little earlier than planned from their camping trip on Sunday morning because the weather forecasters were calling for a lot of rain and they didn't want to be stuck in a lot of wind and rain trying to take down their tents.

Sarah was supposed to have a track meet on Sunday afternoon but that ended up being cancelled due to the weather.  There was actually a tornado that touched down in a nearby town and a lot of wind and rain.  So after a quick lunch, we all spent the rest of the day at home being lazy.  Dan and I napped and the kids relaxed and next thing you know, it's Monday!

Here are a few pictures from the camping trip:


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 15

 It's Thursday already! So what was I thankful for this past week?

Glad you asked!  Here's the list:

1. My dishwasher is finally fixed!  And early!  No more dishpan hands for me! And I am hopeful that every time I am loading and unloading the blasted thing I will remember to be thankful that it is working and not complain about having to load and unload it!

2. I am going to continue singing praises about the weather.  We've had some warmer weather and sunshine.  Praise the Lord!  However, this devotion stopped me cold yesterday:

Be careful not to complain about anything, even the weather, since I am the Author of your circumstances. The best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank Me for them.

Ouch!  I guess I will be able to work on this one on Sunday when the weather is supposed to be rainy during Sarah's very long track meet.

3. Peter's Eagle Project was approved! Very thankful that this didn't drag out.  I've heard some horror stories.  Now the real work of getting it done is near.  Hopefully he will be able to complete the actual project by early summer and then work to have the rest of the requirements completed by fall.

4. I finally finished our taxes!  Did you hear the angels singing yesterday around  noon?  If you did that was when I hit send on the eFile button!  I'm always thankful when that chore is done and also thankful that we get a little back instead of having to pay.

5. My husband.  Once again I am thankful for a man who is willing to spend all day Saturday painting trim only to spend all Sunday afternoon repainting it because I got the color wrong.  And really, he should be my #1 thankful each week because I honestly don't know what I would do without him.

6. The cancellation list at the dermatologist office.  I made Sarah an appointment with the dermatologist (poor thing has the same horrible skin I had as a teenager) and we were looking at a 6 week wait time.  As soon as we got back from vacation, I had them put her on the "call if there's a cancellation list" and we got in about a month earlier!  We were both relieved. The nurse called the PA we were seeing "The Acne Queen" so I hope she lives up to her name!

7. The Red Sox!  They are off to a great start this season.  I'm trying to be thankful now so that when they start to slide and the Yankees start to catch up, I can at least remember this.

And with that, I'm off to drive carpool, meet some friends for coffee, and spend 4 hours at a track meet where Peter will run for less than 1 minute.  It's going to be a great Thursday and for that, I am also thankful!

My surgery is tomorrow morning so if you could say a prayer for me, I would greatly appreciate it!

Monday, April 9, 2018



That about sums up our weekend.  To say it was low-key would be an understatement.  I almost hesitated to even come here and write about it so boring it was.

But, here we are.

On Friday evening the boys got the yard work done because low and behold it was going to be rainy and cold here on Saturday.  Which meant on Saturday Dan needed a project.

The trim paint in our bathroom has been peeling for a while now.  I guess the ventilation in there isn't good even though we run the fan every time anyone showers.  So he scraped and taped and painted his way through Saturday. 

And at the end of the day we realized he used the wrong paint.  And it wasn't his fault.  It was my fault.  I won't go into the boring details of how I made that mistake but the result was the bathroom trim was too creamy looking as compared to the trim in the rest of the house.

So, my poor husband spent Sunday afternoon and into the evening repainting it.  And the color was much better but it still isn't quite right but it is good enough.   Learn from my mistakes people - take excellent notes on what type and color of paint you use when doing a project.  And/or don't let your husband throw away old paint cans without going through them and taking notes first.

While Dan was painting, I made a coconut cream pie for Sunday dessert which was delicious.  I did a bunch of laundry which was not delicious.  I helped Peter with a little Eagle Scout project work.  (His project was approved by the council, by the way!  And now the fun part of fundraising and then actually doing the work happens!) And I helped Sarah do some things in her room (that girl is always wanting to redecorate or rearrange her room which is kind of sad because her room is pretty small and there's not much that can be done.)

Sarah and I watched American Idol last night.  They did a great job of packing one hour worth of actual show into two hours.  Sarah kept saying, "Mom, are you bored?"

Um, a little bit.  Hopefully tonight's duet rounds will be a little more interesting.

And just like that it's Monday morning.  It's been a long two week break and now we just need to make it through two very busy months and it will be summer vacation!

This week is going to be busy. I've got lunch with a friend, coffee with my care group, Sarah has a doctor's appointment and a track meet, Peter has a track meet, the dishwasher part came early(!) and it is being repaired this week, some fresh mulch is being delivered, and I have my surgery this Friday.

I will be having the basil cell carcinoma removed from my nose and the lipoma removed from my back.  It's outpatient surgery but I will be under the whole time and I'm not really looking forward to that.  So prayers are appreciated!  

Have a great week!

And just because he's so cute (even though he is a menace), here's a picture of Wally asleep in Sarah's sheets. He managed to snuggle his way into them before I could get them into the washing machine so we let him nap there for a while because he is spoiled and we are suckers!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 14

It's Thankful Thursday!  What's on the list this week?

1. Tissues and cold medicine.  I've got a bit of a head cold (or maybe it's allergies)  and I'm very thankful for Kleenex and medicine for congestion and runny nose.  Hopefully this thing will be gone in a day or two!

2. Vacation.  I am very thankful for our time in Savannah.  I love spending time with my people. Although it might be time to start getting two hotel rooms.  :)

3. 2 weeks!  Our normal spring break is 1 week and 2 days off but this year the kids got two full weeks thanks to a diocesan wide teach meeting.  Have two full weeks has been awesome.  We were able to go away for four days and come back and still have a week with nothing to do!

4. Tulips.  Some of our tulips that are planted outside have come up and I'm happy to see them.  We planted a bunch of bulbs a couple of years ago but only some of them come up.  Not sure if the bulbs were bad or if we planted them too deep but I'm definitely enjoying the ones that are up.

5. Aldi tulips.  And I spent $3.99 and got this little beauty so I'm enjoying having some tulips coming up in my kitchen!

6. Leftover paint.  I had enough leftover paint to repaint the dining room wall that had been marked up and splattered with food.  Yes, I'm aware that my kids are older and food shouldn't end up on walls, but it still happens.  This dirty and scuffed wall has been annoying me for months (lazy, much?) so I spent yesterday repainting it.  It looks so much better!

And y'all, that's it.  I know there is more I should be thankful for but this list is going to have to do for this week.  I'm going to blame it on the head cold!

What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Back order!

I had scheduled the dishwasher repair guy for Monday.  When the kind people at GE asked me if I would prefer an appointment from 8-12 or 1-5, I responded with 1-5.

I always get my groceries on Monday morning and I knew that we would be out of everything since we would have just returned from vacation.

Shelly, my helpful GE customer service rep responded with a "Great!  I'll get that scheduled for you!"

Her next email said that she had indeed scheduled it for Monday from 8- 5 but that she had told them I wanted them to arrive after 1.  This annoyed me a lot but I was getting my dishwasher fixed for free so I went with it.

I woke Peter up before I went to the grocery store and told him to answer the door if someone came to fix the dishwasher. I then quickly did my shopping at Aldi and Walmart and was back home just in time to get a call from GE at 10:00 (clearly not after 1:00 but I was just glad I was home) saying the repair guy was finishing up at his current repair and would be at my house next.

When he arrived I showed him to the dishwasher and said, "Before you start, this is supposed to be free." 

And just as I expected, he said,"It says here you are supposed to get 25% off parts." (That was the original offer from GE before I pushed back.)

And then because I knew this was going to happen, I presented him with the email from Shelly stating that it would all be free - parts, labor, trip charge.

I asked him if he needed to call someone before he got started and he said no that he would sort it out later and then I insisted that he keep the email.  I didn't want the repair guy to get in trouble because Shelly didn't code something correctly in the system.

About 15 minutes later, he called me in and said it was the  pump.  I already knew it was the pump and not because I'm an experienced dishwasher repair person but because I am an experienced Googler.

My Googling had informed me that if it wasn't a clog (which Dan had already confirmed it wasn't) then it was most likely the pump.

Then the nice repair man informed me that the pump I needed was on back order.

Of course it was.  It seems like anything related to my new kitchen is breaking and then is on back order. Remember the faucet?

He said it would be two weeks so he set me up for another appointment two Mondays from yesterday.  He also said the part will be shipped directly here and if it happens to come early to call the GE customer service line and they can reschedule the appointment.

It would be lovely if it came early but I know it won't.  In fact, I'm anticipating that it won't even be by the day the repair guy is scheduled to come back.

So we will be hand washing all the dishes for two more weeks at least.  Dan is less than thrilled with this latest development and  I just keep thinking this is my punishment for requesting that they fix it free of charge.

I also keep thinking about my super cheap (was it a Whirlpool?) dishwasher that we got when we first built this house and the fact that at 10 years old it had never been repaired and  was still going strong when we did the remodel and sent it to Habitat for Humanity.

Moral of the story:  Expensive isn't always better.  And also, if you want a repair done for free, you may have to wait several weeks.

 Hopefully Dan will be okay with my dishpan hands! 

Monday, April 2, 2018


And just like that  - our vacation to Savannah is over.  We had a nice time together as a family.  Nothing like being together 24/7 for 4 days to really bond your family. 

We got to Savannah around lunch time and had lunch at The Pirates' House.  A portion of this building is the oldest building in the state of Georgia.  It was originally opened as  an inn and tavern   but it wasn't long after it opened that a bunch of pirates took the place over as their hang out, hence the name The Pirates' House.

On the porch of the Pirates' House.

After lunch we walked from our hotel on Bay Street to visit Colonial Park Cemetery.  It was the original cemetery in Savannah. It looks fairly empty but that's because Sherman's Union soldiers used it as a campsite during the war so most of the stones were moved or destroyed.  Apparently they also slept in many of the mausoleums and just tossed the remains aside.  Also, at one point the city built a fence and a road over part of the cemetery so those graves were just covered over. Many of the old headstones are now hanging on a fence.  It wouldn't be a Cotell vacation if we didn't explore the old cemeteries!

After that we made our way to Forsyth Park and along the way visited some of the 22 city squares.

Then we headed back to the hotel to rest before dinner.  Our hotel had a rooftop pool and this was the view:

On Thursday morning we too a hop on hop off tour through the city.  This gave us a great view of the entire historic district and we learned a lot of history of the city as well. 

After the tour, we walked back to Forsyth Park and had lunch at Betty Bombers which is more of a local joint (not touristy) in the American Legion building.  The burgers there were excellent and they had WWII memorabilia on the walls.

We headed back through town to our hotel enjoying more of the squares along the way.  Here is the exact spot where Forest Gump sat on his bench in the movie.   The bench is now in the Savannah History Museum at the Visitor's Center. 

Then we drove to the Wormsloe Historic Site.  We learned all about the beginnings of Georgia here.  Our tour guide was really good and the whole tour was very informative.  If you ever go to Savannah I recommend a visit here.

And the entrance is a 1 and 1/2 mile driveway lined with 400 live oaks.  Gorgeous!  These photos don't do it justice.

After dinner on Thursday we took a ghost tour.  Our tour guide was probably new and still learning his lines and that made me nervous. It always seemed he was on the verge of forgetting what he was going to say.  Also, his stories were horrible.  Either there are no good ghost stories in Savannah or he just messed them all up.  The best part of the tour was that we got to go into the house where Juliette Gordon Lowe (founder of the Girl Scouts) died.  Also we go to see the old ships chandler and they made that part of the tour very spooky. 

Friday morning was rainy so we drove out to Bonaventure Cemetery.  The movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was filmed there.  We downloaded an app that you were supposed to be able to use as you drove through the cemetery which would give information about the historical people and where they were buried.  The app was horrible and not worth the 4.95 we paid.  So we used the cemetery map we found online to see the graves we were interested in.

We then headed back to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist for the Good Friday service.  The cathedral was beautiful.  I didn't get any pictures of the inside because the service was going on.

And it was pouring rain on Friday so these pictures were taken the day before!

Thankfully it stopped raining because after we left the Good Friday service, we immediately went to River Street and hopped on a tour boat and went on a dolphin tour on the river.  We saw approximately 15 dolphins on the river/

At one point there was a pair of them that kept coming out of the water in unison.  It was really neat to see but I didn't get a picture of them.

On Friday evening we had a meatless dinner at a little Italian restaurant.  And oh how I wish we could have eaten meat.  This place was authentic and our meatless entrees were delicious so I can only imagine how good the meat-full ones were! The owner spoke in a heavy Italian accent and gave everyone hugs and the place was so small that you almost felt like you were in his house. 

After dinner, we walked around the city more visiting lots of little shops on River Street and in general enjoying the scenery.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that we had ice cream at Leopold's.  Definitely visit them if you go to Savannah but be prepared to wait in a long line.

On our way back home on Saturday, we headed over to Tybee Island and went to the top of the lighthouse.

And with that, our Savannah vacation was over!