Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Check and done!

I can finally breath!

As of bright and early this morning, all of the Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers have been purchased.  That is always such a relief.  Now, I just hope Amazon Prime delivers and gets everything to Massachusetts post haste.

I will still have to wrap everything when we arrive, but I can't do anything about that now so - check and done!

And I had a little help from an elf named Sarah and we finished the Christmas cards last night.  They will hit the mail box this morning so - check and done!

I still have to pack for our trip but that will happen tonight and tomorrow which leaves me a little free time - something I have been sorely lacking in the last few weeks. 

So at 9:00 I will be sitting at Chick-Fil-A drinking coffee with some friends from my old MOPS group. (And MOPS is Mothers of Preschoolers if that tells you how long I've been friends with these ladies!)  After that I will be eating lunch with my BFF and catching up with her. 

It always feels good to get to this point where you can feel some relief and actually start to enjoy the season. 

And amidst all of our Christmas preparations, Sparkle the elf has been busy.  I've tried to be a little more creative with Sparkle this year because Sarah still believes he's magical and I've got a feeling that next year this time, she won't.

Look how we found him this morning:

I guess he's hoping for a white Christmas. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gingerbread cookies with Sarah and Dan.

On Sunday afternoon, Dan and Sarah made gingerbread cookies.  It's an annual tradition for the two of them because Dan loves gingerbread cookies and I can't roll any kind of cookie with any success so he has to take matters into his own hands.  He does a great job at it and Sarah loves to help him so it's become their thing.

Peter usually pops in to help cut out a few and I'm always around to take pictures but it's become a daddy/daughter tradition around here.  Peter was at a friend's house working on a science project yesterday but my brother dropped by to fill in. 

Here are a few pictures from the afternoon:

And now all that's left to do is eat them all. Shouldn't be a problem because they are delicious.  And what makes them even better is the frosting. Dan loves cupcake frosting so they always whip up a batch to eat with the gingerbread men. YUM.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Yikes!  Has is already been more than a week since my last post?  You can tell it's been crazy over here.

PTO planning meetings, basketball practice and games, scouts, church, a sleepover, no school on Monday, ordering Christmas cards, homework,more homework, and just life have taken up my week.

Oh, and in the middle of all that crazy - my printer stopped working so I downloaded a new driver.  While I was doing that, my computer informed me that I had a bunch of Windows updates that were available if I wanted to install them.

So I did.  And everything was fine until Peter got on the computer to start playing his beloved Minecraft.  He then informed me that the screen was flicking on and off.

I looked at everything I had updated and discovered that I had updated the graphics card.  And apparently (at least that's all I could think of and Google helped me confirm), the update effected the game.  He played on it for 5 days before informing me that all the screen flickering was really bothering him. 

Yesterday, I "refreshed" Windows.  What this means is that Windows was put back to factory settings.  All my files were saved but any programs I had loaded on my computer that didn't come with it were deleted.

After the refresh, I had to add the following programs back to the computer: McAffee, Firefox, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Java, Roblox, Windows Mail, Excel, and Word. 

And it only took me about two hours. And I say "only" just a weeeeee bit sarcastically because I have about a million other things I could be/should be doing with my time.

But Minecraft is fine now.  Except Peter informed me that the refresh wiped away all of the worlds he has worked so hard to build and had he known that he would have rather dealt with the flashing screen. 


If you need me today, I'll be parked in front of this computer (and it better not have any issues because I've pretty much maxed out my IT skills) ordering Christmas gifts for the family.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I've got a few things taking up space in my brain this morning so I thought I'd dump them out here.  Lucky you. But that's what #Babble is all about!

I saw quite a few Facebook status updates and tweets yesterday trumpeting the fact that people are done - DONE! - with their Christmas shopping.


I haven't even started yet. 

And Christmas cards?  Apparently quite a few people already have theirs in the mail.  Showoffs.

I haven't even taken one picture of the kids posing in front of the tree in pretty clothes yet, which means of course, that I haven't ordered any cards yet. 

Oh, and remember when my computer crashed a couple of months ago?  Well, my address list was conveniently stored in an Excel spreadsheet so I could easily print out labels. That's gone.

And did I mention that we leave for Massachusetts on December 19th?  That's 17 days from now.  If anybody is going to get any presents or Christmas cards from the Cotell family, they will all have to be ordered and shipped prior to the 19th.  Somebody better get busy!

And speaking of getting busy - someone has been busy eating.

Right before we left for our trip to Washington, D.C., I had lost 12  of the 23 pounds that I wanted to lose.

I knew I was going to go off the diet on our trip because there was birthday cake, milkshake from Ted's and lots of opportunities to eat out.  And I knew I wasn't going to miss any of that.

When we got back from our long weekend, I stepped on the scales and had gained about 4 pounds back.  This was expected, because when I say I went off the diet, I went waaaaaaaaay off!  But I will say, I enjoyed every morsel! 

I had two weeks between the trip and Thanksgiving and I lost 2 of those 4 pounds but I wasn't too concerned because I knew that on Thanksgiving, I was going to eat whatever I wanted.  And I did.  And it was good!  And I don't regret that decision one bit.

And now Christmas is looming.  I am going to follow the Atkins plan until we leave on the 19th and be off the diet  until  January 5th.  I am hoping to eat in moderation (ha!) during our vacation and not gain too much back and then start in earnest again in January.  We'll see how the eating in moderation goes. 

I have a PTO meeting in the morning where we will be making our initial plans for Catholic Schools Week in January and I don't want to show up empty-handed and idea-less so I better quit all this babbling and get to work.  And to shopping.  And to Christmas carding.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Forget the bass - this is all about the tree, bout the tree....

Friday morning we set out for the mountains of North Carolina in search of the perfect tree.

The ride to Laurel Springs was beautiful and there was still some snow on the mountains left from a snow earlier in the week.

Amid arguing over which tree was best (the kids  have equally strong yet totally opposing opinions), throwing snow balls (sometimes it's best to let off a little steam), and trying to channel our inner mountain goat so as not to trip on the side of the mountain (okay, hill, but it was still hard walking at an angle), I think we found a great tree! 

Road trip selfie with  a photobomb!

So pretty!

This is the one we choose!

And of course, we had to have the guy that chopped the tree down take our picture in front of it!

We headed to North Wilkesboro for lunch at Brushy Mountain BBQ and Creamery.  The kids were very excited about the creamery part of the name.  Unfortunately, after we found it, we realized it was closed.  Boo!

So we headed to the cute little downtown a couple of minutes away and found several  restaurants.  I was leaning towards the wing and pizza joint but the kids saw an Italian restaurant and decided that was more to their liking.  Of course, what did they get??  Um, pizza. 

When we got home, Dan put the lights on the tree and we called it a day.  On Saturday morning we decorated the tree.  And when I say "we", I mean the kids.  I did a little directing but other than that the kids did 90% of the work themselves.  Dan popped in a couple of times to hang a few of his special ornaments but he was busy getting the lights and the wreaths up on the outside of the house.

Working together like good little elves!
 We took lots of posed cheesy shots while decorating the tree!

Dan is hanging a camel ornament that he painted when he was a kid.  Later, when he was stationed in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm at Christmastime, his mom sent him this ornament as a reminder of home.  The kids always make sure Daddy gets to hang this one!

Hanging his Red Sox ornament!

Posing with her princess ornament.

So determined!

More determination!
Our tree is full of ornaments that are handmade or chosen with a specific event or person in mind and as we decorate, we are also reminiscing.  Our tree definitely wouldn't win any decorating awards but it's full of love and really, isn't that what Christmas is ultimately all about?