photo p1_zpsc8a7232f.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p2_zpse73671a0.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p3_zps456abd62.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p5_zps95486d0f.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p4_zps481d5f13.png

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A trunk, a cake, and an uncarved pumpkin.

So, where were we?

Last I left you, it was Friday and we were about to embark on the weekend.  Let me just give you a quick update.

The annual Halloween Hullabaloo was Friday at Sarah's school.  I participated in the Trunk-or-Treat and handed out candy to all the little kids (and some of the big ones, too!)

 Here' my Dollar Store trunk:

I think it looks pretty good but you guys should have seen some of the other trunks!  There are some really creative people out there!  I had some white cotton that I've used previously to hang as spider webs with little plastic spiders hanging in ti  but didn't feel like dealing with it so I didn't.  And you know what? It was fine!

On Saturday, Sarah went to the mall and to the movies with some friends which meant I was in charge of baking Sunday dessert.  I made a copycat version of a Red Velvet Nothing Bundt Cake.  It turned out really well.  It was very moist and tasted alllllllllmost (but not quite) like the real thing.  My mom said it was better but I'm not sure.  Everyone ate it right up and I will be making one for Thanksgiving so I guess you could say it was a hit.  And the cost savings over a NBC is huge. The only downside is that I need a little practice piping the frosting. Hopefully I will have a steadier hand for the next one:

And yes, the entire center of the cake is filled with cream cheese frosting!

The recipe can be found here at Mom Loves Baking.  I followed her recipe exactly as written.  The only thing I plan on doing differently next time is not beating the frosting quite as long.  She said to beat it two full minutes after everything was incorporated but that made the frosting a little loose.  I like a firmer cream cheese frosting and I think it would make it easier to pipe as well if it weren't so loose.

Peter was supposed to have his last driving class on Sunday but right after lunch he had an allergic reaction to something and his right eye swelled to almost shut.  He had to take a Benadryl which of course led to a 2 hour nap so I had to reschedule.

Luckily the Patriots game was showing around here so we got to watch that.  It wasn't pretty but it was a W so we will take it! 

We were planning on carving the pumpkin but never got around to it.  Then yesterday Dan had his post-op appointment and came home from work immediately after so he was home early!  He needed a new coat so we went out to get it and on the way home discussed carving the pumpkin.  Ultimately we decided against it.  The kids could not care less, so why go through the hassle?  That sounds like the Halloween version of bah humbug.  Just call us the Scrooges of Halloween!

And with that, you are all caught up on life at the Cotell home!

Oh, and Happy Halloween!!!

Friday, October 27, 2017

7 Quick Takes featuring a game!

It's Friday so how about  Seven Quick Takes?

1.  First, let's play a game of Where's Wally?

Did you find him??

Peter was worried that he wasn't going to come down but he did.  But not until he climbed up even further!  Crazy cat!

2.  Last weekend, I made this yummy dessert (Classic Pumpkin Roll) for Sunday lunch since Sarah spent all Saturday in Confirmation Class.  I thought I would share the recipe. It can be found here on Mom Loves Baking.  I followed the recipe exactly except it call for a 13" x 18" sheet pan and mine was 12" x 17".  It was really good! Even Dan liked it and he's not a huge fan of pumpkin.

 3.  Fall swimming is over and I am very glad that for the foreseeable future we only have Scouts in the evenings.  It will be so nice to eat dinner at 7:00  instead of 8:15!  At the last practice last night they did a bunch of time trials and Sarah was excited that she shaved a full 5 seconds off her 100M freestyle time from this summer!

4.Tonight we have the Halloween Hullabaloo at school.  Sarah's class is selling pizza as a fundraiser, Dan and I are hosting a trunk in the trunk-or-treat and Peter is manning one of the games to get some service hours for high school.  It should be a fun evening!

Which reminds me, I need to go to the basement and pull out the Rubbermaid bin full of trunk decorations that I've used for the last two years and make sure everything is still intact. I did remember to stop by Costco yesterday and pick up some giant bags of candy.

5. Peter has his final in-car driving session this weekend!  I've already made an appointment at the DMV on a day following his birthday that he's out of school so he can take the test for his driving permit.  It's starting to get real y'all!

6.  Dan and I were watching an old episode of Dateline last week and low and behold my Uncle's stepson was the defense lawyer working on the case.  It was really cool to see him on the tv screen.  I am a Dateline and 48 Hours junky although Dan loves to joke that they like to pack 30 minutes worth of show into 1 hour.

I am also a huge First 48 fan.   I love to watch the (real) detectives solve the homicide cases.  I think I would have made a great detective if it weren't for the fact that you have to start out as a beat policeman, ride around the town in the middle of the night chasing down bad guys, getting shot at, and risking life and limb.  Yeah - I guess I'll just stick to my armchair detective work and leave the real work to people who are braver and more daring than I.

7.  Have you guys ever had a cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes?  If you haven't and there's one in your area, go there now and get one.  They are sooooooo very good!  The only problem is that they are a little pricey.  I found a recipe for a copycat version and Sarah will be giving that whirl for this Sunday's dessert.  I'll let you know how it turns out next week!

Check Kelly's blog for more Quick Takes and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

It's official. I'm a crazy cat lady....

I never managed to get my walk in yesterday.  The rain hung around until late in the afternoon when heavy winds and a tornado watch took over.  But I did manage to get out in the fog this morning and knock out 2 miles. 

I'm usually an all or nothing person. So if I can't get in my exercise on Monday, then in my confused little mind, I think to myself "Self, what's the point of doing any exercise this whole week since you already blew day one?"

Or, as another example, if I eat something fattening in the middle of the day then I think to myself, "Self, this whole day of eating well has been ruined so I better spend the rest of the day eating more horrible food and then just start overeating better next Monday." 

All this to say, I'm glad I got a little exercise in this morning even though I didn't do anything yesterday.

There's not a lot going on around here this week thankfully so I feel like now is as good of a time as any to let you know that Dan and I have turned into crazy cat people.  I'll find myself texting Dan pictures of Wally doing adorable things throughout the day and I've even spotted Dan taking pictures of him as well in the evenings when he's home from work. 

I feel like the blogosphere needs more Wally pictures so here you go:

He loves to watch the computer screen.  Perhaps I should get him a video of fish or would that be a little too crazy??

He will sleep anywhere at anytime on anything. 

This picture was taken on October 21.

This one was taken on October 11th.  He's growing up waaaaayy too fast! He's losing his fluffy kitten-ness.

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Monday, October 23, 2017

The weekend in review.

Another weekend is in the books!  They sure go by quickly, don't they?

We went to the last home football game of the season.  Our team lost.  Peter always has a good time because all the high school kids sit in one section together called The Pit.

There's a hierarchy to the pit that you learn at the first game.  All the seniors are in the first rows, then juniors, then sophomores, and they waaaaaay at the top (well not waaaaaayy at the top because the stands aren't super high) are the lowly freshman.  And the seniors lead the cheers and chants.

As we were leaving, Peter was lamenting the fact that he missed two games because of camping trips and the fact that there were no more home games.  Then I reminded him that there's a pit in the gym for basketball games and he could continue to have fun on Friday nights during basketball season.

Sarah went with us this time because one of her friends from school was going.  This friend knows a lot of other kids from the other Catholic schools so Sarah got to meet them.  Hopefully a lot of these girls will be going to Bishop next year with Sarah.

Sarah had a Confirmation Retreat all day on Saturday and Peter had driver's ed.  While they were off doing their thing, Dan and I did yard work, household chores and we washed the cars.  The weather was beautiful this weekend and I really wanted to go to the balloon rally in Statesville but with the all-day retreat, there was no time.

On Sunday, we had our pictures.  If you will recall, this is the picture I posted of our outfits.  I feel like I need to clarify the OUR part because this was what I selected for the whole family:

Mom left a comment on Facebook that I should wear the burgundy shirt and navy pants.  When I read that I immediately started laughing.  I guess I didn't make it clear in my post but that's exactly what I was going to wear.  I'm a little worried that she thought I was considering wearing a polo and khakis or a button down and khakis! 

So just to be clear - the first outfit is Dan's, the second mine, the third Peter's, and the floral dress Sarah's.

Sarah objected to the floral dress and went with another dress that was burgundy with tiny flowers on it.  So the girls were predominately in burgundy, the guys had the blue, we had two prints and two solids.  I was feeling good about the whole thing.

Everyone got dressed and ready in time and we made it there on schedule.  The photographer was running behind but I figured that would be the case.  She was doing mini-session after mini-session from 11:00 - 6:00 and we were at the end of the day so I figured we would have to wait a bit.

No worries though because Sarah and I used the time to brush our hair and reapply our lipstick and the boys walked around.  It was almost our turn and Dan looks at me and asks, "What's on your shirt?"

I looked down and there was a small stain of some sort.  And then he exclaimed, "What the heck is THAT under your arm?"

I looked down and there was an enormous white stain underneath my left armpit!  It looked as if I had applied my deodorant directly to my shirt.  I honestly don't  know how that happened!  I almost burst into tears.  This wasn't a little deodorant mark this was roughly a two inch by three-inch swath of deodorant. 

I grabbed the anti-bacterial wipes from my purse (I always keep a pack in my purse for dirty hands, sticky tables at restaurants, and yes - wardrobe malfunctions) and got the white off my shirt.  It left a dark mark but I figured if I kept my arm down during the pictures it would be okay.  I didn't really want to mess with the stain on the front because I didn't want there to be a dark wet mark right on the front of my shirt. 

I'm just hoping that the photographer was far enough away that the spot on the fornt isn't noticable in the pictures.  She took a lot of great shots so I'm hoping that at least a handful of them turn out.

I will definitley be booking her again for another mini-session in the spring for another round of shots.  She's very affordable and she gives a photo release with the digital images so we can print the shots ourselves.  That's so much better than having to pick packages like we have to do with the kids school and sport pics.

After the pictures, we came home and the kids finished their homework and we watch the Patriots game and just like that - the weekend was over! 

I had every intention of going for a walk this morning but, of course, it was raining.  Maybe I'll get my act together and go after I get back from the grocery store.  I have spring pictures to get ready for after all!

Happy Monday, y'all!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Dressing room mirrors don't lie.

Last night was a swim night and I had to drive carpool so that meant a delicious crock pot dinner at 8:20 PM.  (Thankfully only one more week of fall swim practice so we will soon be back to our normal 7:00 or 7:30 dinner time!)

We were having chili last night and as we were eating, Peter said, "Why do you have to put beans and tomatoes in this?"

"Well, because if I didn't, then it would just be spicy hamburger meat."

And through the whole meal, Sarah kept coughing and saying between choking noises, "Spicy.  It's so spicy!"

So guess what on  next week's menu? A big bowl of plain ground beef.


I have spent  two days - TWO DAYS - trying to figure out what to wear for our pictures on Sunday.  The kids and Dan were no problem.  I'm the issue.

The first day was spent trying on dresses and realizing that I hate everything.  In case you aren't in to fashion, let me enlighten you.  Florals are big right now. Guess what I don't like to wear?  And with every floral dress I tried on, I felt more and more like a fat flower garden.

I found a few casual solid color dresses but there was something wrong with each one of them: too low cut, too long, too short, too baggy, too tight.....  So I went home in disgust and ate a salad for lunch.  (And was shocked the next morning when I woke up and had not lost any weight.)

I headed out yesterday morning in search of a shirt or sweater or something that would look decent.  That's harder than it sounds but after much huffing and puffing and muttering under my breath in countless dressing rooms, I found a shirt that I don't hate (I don't necessarily love it either), that  goes with the colors of the other outfits, goes with a pair of pants I already have, and looks age appropriate (because most of the stuff I tried on was designed for either a 17-year-old girl or a 71-year-old woman).

Here's what we are going with:

And yes, it took me TWO DAYS to decide on a burgundy shirt. 

After spending two days in dressing rooms staring at my fat under florescent lights, I laced up the old sneakers this morning and went for a brisk 2 mile walk.  I'm going to attempt to start walking in the mornings.  Although, just three or four weeks ago I said the same thing and went exactly ONCE.

That morning several weeks ago, I talked to a neighbor who I would see when I used to RUN every morning and I told her then I was trying to get back into shape.  So of course, this morning when I'm out she's walking her dog and said, "Hello!  I haven't seen you in a while but then again I don't see everyone so maybe I missed you."

"Nope.  You didn't miss me.  I have good intentions but poor follow through when it comes to exercising."

We'll see if I lace up those sneakers again on Monday morning or if I just decide to wait until spring.

We've got another full weekend.  Tonight is the last home football game of the season and it's the News2  Game of the Week.  Maybe I'll be on TV!

Sarah has a Confirmation retreat all day on Saturday and Peter has another driving lesson.  And of course, we have PICTURES on Sunday afternoon.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Redemption, a quick history lesson, and the outfit that does not exist...

Well, I think I redeemed myself from Monday night's raw chicken dinner.

Have you ever heard of the Moravian Church?  No. Well let me enlighten you.

The Moravian Church was established in the 1400's by John Hus.  He was against the idea of indulgences in the Catholic church.  He also did not believe in Purgatory and felt like priests should be able to marry.  Because he had these ideas 100 years before the Reformation, many historians say that the Moravian Church is the first Protestant denomination.  (It started in what is now the Checz Republic and eventually, a tiny remaining group of followers moved to Moravia, Germany in the early 1700s.  In the mid-1700s the Moravians led a small group of missionaries to Pennsylvania.  This mission was established on Christmas Eve and they named their town Bethlehem (now Bethlehem, PA).  About 10 years later they came down to North Carolina and founded Salem which is now Winston-Salem. 

And what do the Moravians have to do with my dinner?  Well, I was raised Moravian and every good Moravian knows what chicken pie is! 

Chicken pie is basically pot pie with no vegetables - just chicken and a thick broth inside of an upper and lower pie crust.  Every Moravian church has a ladies group that hosts chicken pie fundraisers throughout the year.  And what's funny to me, is that the Catholic church I attend has an annual Moravian Pie fundraiser!  Very ironic, don't you think?

My Uncle David is retired and actually helps with the chicken pie suppers at two local Moravian churches and has become quite the expert at making them.  And he kindly gifted us one this past week.

I popped that baby in the oven while Sarah was at swim practice and served it with mashed potatoes, homemade chicken gravy (my husband loves gravy and was thrilled when he saw this!), green peas, and I even went the extra step and opened up a can of cranberry sauce (luckily my family likes the canned stuff).  I also made a blue cheese brocoli coleslaw (that was delicious but no one touched but me. They don't know what's good.).

When the kids got to the table, one of them declared, "It's like THANKSGIVING!!!"

So, dinner was a hit!  Redemption is good.  Thanks, Uncle David!

This was not the acutal pie we had.  We were too busy eating it to take pictures!

And in other news - this Sunday afternoon we are having our family pictures taken.  It's been years since we've done it, actually almost 10.  Every year Sarah asks when we are going to have another one taken and every year I say, "This year!" and then I never get them scheduled.  But our PTO is having a mini-fundraiser and one of the moms at school who is a photographer is donating her time and talent for mini photo sessions.  So we basically have 20 minutes to get a couple of good shots. Hopefully at least one will be frame and Christmas card worthy.

The issue is finding just the right outfit for me that will take off 20 pounds of fat and 10 years of wrinkles.  Do you think Kohl's has an outfit that fits that bill?  I sure hope so because I have a 30% off coupon!

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

They can't all be winners!

Every Sunday afternoon, I sit down with my grocery list app, my Pinterest boards, and my calendar and I meal plan. 

I look at the calendar to figure out which nights we will be eating late due to activities, which nights will need crockpot meals because of said activities, which nights we won't be home (my favorite because that means momma doesn't cook), and which nights we need a full-on meal.

And then I go through the recipes I've pinned or when I'm feeling old school, I get out my recipe binder and I figure out what we are going to eat on which nights and then I create my grocery list.

I do this every Sunday because every Monday morning I head to Aldi and Wal-Mart to get groceries for the week. I have done this for years. In fact, I guess I've done this ever since we had kids.  I have to have a meal plan or we would be eating Domino's pizza every night for dinner. Which if you ask the kids would definitely be preferable.

I'm not one of those talented people who can walk around the grocery store without a list and manage to make it home with all the ingredients for a weeks worth of meals and then actually be able to open up the pantry at dinner time and look in and think, "hmm, let's have chicken casserole, mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner" AND actually be able to find all the necessary ingredients and cook them and have them on the table.  Nope, that's not me. 

I've always admired those people but that's not how my brain works.  I tell you all of this because last night, I went rogue.  Yep.  I veered away from normal meal plan and tried to be adventurous.

Typically on Monday nights, Peter and Dan go to Boy Scouts and twice a month Sarah has Girl Scouts.  But, last night, the Peter did not have Boy Scouts and in the afternoon Sarah's meeting got cancelled so instead of the chili I was planning on having, I decided to move lots of things around and decided that we would have a sheet pan chicken and veggie dinner since we would all be at home.

But then, and here's where things go really wrong, I decided to sub out the chicken from the sheet pan dinner with a chicken recipe that I just found that sounded really good.  The only issue was that the chicken wasn't cooked in the oven but in a skillet.  I hate cooking chicken in a skillet because it always (and I mean ALWAYS) takes longer than the recipe claims and then your chicken isn't done but everything else is and sits there getting cold while the chicken is still cooking.

But the marinade for this chicken recipe sounded really good and it got a lot of rave reviews so I decided to go for it.

The chicken breasts were different thicknesses (aren't they always?) so I pounded them out. Well, actually Sarah pounded them out for me because she said she had some aggression she needed to work out. There was one really big one that she didn't quite get pounded out thin enough but I decided I would just cook it longer.  No big deal.

I had the chicken in the skillet and the veggies in the oven and everything was humming along nicely.  Peter called out to me from the office and said the printer had a paper jam.  I went in to fix the jam and then he asked me for some help getting his math project printed out.  There were some spacing issues and I was trying to help him.  It was taking longer than I expected and I could hear the chicken sizzling in the pan.

The heat was up a little higher than I realized so when I finally got to it, the chicken was really charred on that side. I flipped it over and turned the heat down and let it continue to cook on the other side.  I used the meat thermometer and the smaller pieces were done so I took them out and let the two bigger pieces continue to cook. 

We finally sat down to dinner and I was very excited to try this chicken only to cut into my piece and one part of it was very undercooked.  Peter's had the same problem. 

Dan's and Sarah's were cooked all the way through so I guess perhaps when I was checking the temp with the thermometer I wasn't putting it in the thickest part of the two undercooked pieces. 

Dan gave Peter some of his chicken.  Sarah offered me some of hers but I let her eat it all and I just ate cookies after my dinner of carrots and potatoes and brocoli.

You know how you can think back to your mom's kitchen and recall the meals you loved her to fix when you were growing up?  Well, I think my kids are going to be reminiscing about all the times they almost got salmonella. But I guess that's what good family stories are made of!

Monday, October 16, 2017

The weekend in review....

It was a full weekend here in our little neck of the woods.

On Friday evening Peter, Dan, and I went to the Homecoming game.  Sarah stayed home because she's not a sports fan and she wanted to get her homework done because she too had a busy weekend scheduled.

Our plan was to hit the food trucks but when we go there, the lines were long and we didn't feel like waiting.  So, we took our impatient selves to Dairi-o and got burgers there.

I always love the thought of food trucks but in reality it's usually waiting in long lines to order, waiting in long lines to get the food, and then looking for a place to stand while you eat the food.  BUT - if you do go through all of that, the food is usually really good! 

On Saturday, Sarah had a Girl Scout biking and camping trip.  Unfortunately, we weren't good scouts and didn't even check the air in her bike tires until 10 minutes before we were supposed to leave.  And of course, one of the tires was flat.  Dan tried to pump it up and realized that lthere was a hole in the tube. So we lowered the seat on Dan's bike and she took that one. It's always good to have a plan B. 

Sarah had a great time.  They biked for 13 miles around Quarry Park and Salem Lake and then went to a corn maze and ended the evening with a camp out. 

 The girls are standing on an overhang that looks out onto the quarry and in the distance you can see downtown Winston-Salem.

Saturday afternoon was spent working around the house. Peter and Dan took care of the yard work while I did laundry and other exciting chores which included cleaning out the refrigerator. 

How in the world can a refrigerator get so dirty??  When I took out the bottom drawer to clean it there were enough crumbs underneath the drawer to keep at least one mouse full for the winter and several petrified blueberries.  I spent the majority of the weekend pondering how all those crumbs got in the fridge in the first place (it's not like we are eating in the fridge) and then how they got underneath the drawer.  If anyone has any answers, I'd love to hear them.

On Saturday evening, Peter headed to a friend's house to meet a bunch of other guys who were going to the dance without dates.  The friend's parents served them burgers and cherry pie before they headed out. 

Peter said he had a good time when he got home but I didn't ask a lot of questions.  I tried on Sunday morning and was met with terse answers and eventually, "Will you stop asking me so many questions!  Geez, mom." 

I will be glad when Sarah gets to that school next year so I can finally know what's going on!

On Sunday we went to Mass, had lunch at my parent's house, fixed Sarah's bike tire, watched football and ate queso and guacamole for dinner. 

I'd say it was a good weekend!  Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, October 13, 2017

FIVE days! In a row!

Well, would you look at this!  It's Friday and today makes FIVE consecutive days of posting!  I can't even remember the last time that happened - if ever!

Do you remember waaaaaaaay back in blogging's heyday when every November there would be challenges to see if you could post every day during the month?  I never did that because sitting down here and figuring out what to say for 30 days in a row was a little daunting.  But look at me now - FIVE DAYS!  However, tomorrow is Saturday so unless something really extraordinary happens between now and tomorrow, don't count on a weekend post.

....and the whole internet weeps....

The picture Peter's vice principal took yesterday  morning was one of the pics posted on the school's Facebook and Instagram accounts so he was very pleased with that.  And he managed to keep his makeup and wig on all day except for PE. I would have loved to have seen Peter running around during PE in his gym clothes and his face painted white and black. I'm sure he looked like some strange metal zombie.  

Tonight there will be tailgating and food trucks in the parking lot before the game.  We are planning on getting there early enough to eat from one of the food trucks.  I hope there are some good ones there.

Tomorrow night is the dance.  I'm not 100% sure if Peter's going or not.  One of his friends was trying to get a group of guys to go together but that friend has since asked or been asked (Peter wasn't sure) by a girl and some of Peter's other friends are going with girls as well.  So it sounded as if he wasn't going.  But there was some texting last night and it sounds like he might be going after all.  He's got money to buy the ticket but we'll see if he comes home with one or not. He is his father's son though so I would not be at all surprised if he chooses not to go. ( The Cotell men do not like to dance or socialize for that matter!)

Sarah's going biking with her Girl Scout troop tomorrow and then they will be camping afterwards.  She's looking forward to that.  Peter and I will be getting our flu shots.  We are not looking forward to that.

Dan is feeling a little better each day but he's still not back to 100% yet.  Hopefully next week this time he will be back to his old self!  This surgery was definitely more than he expected.

And with that, I'm going to leave you with a little Wally montage.

Whut dis?
Why momz dodrent here?  Wally must attack.

Wally killd it Mom.  U saf now.

Why was my deodorant on the floor you might ask.  Well, if you must know, I had a mammogram earlier in the week and you can't wear deodorant.  I put my Secret in the middle of the floor so that I would remember to put it in my purse on my way downstairs so that I could use it after the mammo.  My doctor's office has a can of aerosol deodorant in the changing room but I can't deal with a cold shot to the arm pits so I always take my trusty Secret solid to put on right after. TMI?  Probably.  But you asked.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

No analogies??

"That was the most boring thing ever!"  That's how Peter summed up the PSAT.  That and, "Oh, I did horrible on the math." 

Math isn't Peter's strong suit anyway so that was expected.  Plus, I'm assuming the math is more advanced than what Peter has learned so far because he's only in the 9th grade. 

We were discussing it at dinner and Dan chimes in  with, "A cow is to a barn as..." and before he finished, Peter said, "Nope.  There were no analogies on the test."

WHAT???  Those were my favorite questions!  Apparently, according to Peter, all the non-math questions consisted of reading "very boring essays/articles" and then answering a bunch of questions.

He did tell me that there were a lot of funny memes floating around about the PSATs yesterday but got annoyed with me when I asked him to describe some of them.  According to Peter he couldn't becuase:  #1 - I'm too old to understand some of the pop culture references, #2 I didn't take the test so I would not be familiar with the essays or questions they were mocking and #3 - Memes can't be explained, they just have to be understood.

Not wanting to be left out, I went online and googled "2017 PSAT Memes" and found a bunch.  And he was right, I didn't get them because I didn't take the test. I guess some things need to be left to the youth of the world. 

In other Peter news, (and yes, I am aware that I have a daughter but there's not much happening in the 8th grade right now that I'm allowed to discuss so...) today was the much awaited Character Day.

He got up early this morning and got into character if you will:

On our way to school, Peter said, "Hmmmm....I hope there isn't a no face paint rule." 

He probably should have thought about that prior to 5 minutes before arriving at school.  When we pulled up, the vice principal was monitoring the parking lot so I figured if face paint wasn't okay Peter would come chasing after me as I pulled out. 

Halfway home I got a text from Peter saying that the VP loved his costume and actually took a picture of it.  Whew! 

And lest you think my boy sits around ALL DAY and listens to death metal on his head phones while playing video games, here are two of his recent drawings:

Today I'm having lunch with my bestie, my BFF, my girl Jenny from the block (okay not that Jenny From the Block) but Jenny from my block.  I'm excited to catch up with her because it's been a couple of weeks! 

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Don't forget a good night's sleep and a healthy breakfast!

Today is PSAT day at Peter's school.  I mentioned to him last night that it might be a good idea to look through the booklet they sent home and he grudgingly did.  He headed out to school this morning with extra #2 pencils and his calculator so I guess he's ready. 

A good mom would have made him bacon and eggs and toast but y'all - breakfast food is the worst and the thought of eating all of that first thing in the morning makes me queasy.  Luckily Peter and Sarah feel the same way way.  A bowl of cereal is all they want in the mornings.  Dan on the other hand loves breakfast so he's he only one getting a raw deal with my loathing of breakfast. 

We do all love bacon though and sometimes on Sunday evening I will make a pack of eat for us to snack on (or put on BLTs when we have fresh tomatoes).  My mom makes a huge lunch on Sundays and we're never really hungry on Sunday evening so we just usually snack.  Bacon makes everyone happy! 

Yesterday Peter wore Dan's old Patriots jersey to Mathletes vs. Athletes day.  Unfortunately, in typical Peter fashion, he didn't try it on until yesterday morning and the fit was really odd.  It was an "authentic" jersey so the shoulders were really wide (I am assuming for shoulder pads, because you know, most fans put on shoulder pads when they are watching the game....) so he said that he had to wear his sweatshirt over it for most of the day because it kept falling down in the front and in his words, "I didn't want my nipples showing all day!" Ha!

Most kids were wearing sports jerseys or uniforms but I did see some very good nerd outfits complete with pocket protectors, suspenders, and taped eye glasses! 

Peter gets out early today so he and I will be heading back to the Halloween store.  The wig I got him yesterday was too heavy metal/glam metal according to him.  He has a very specific look he is trying to accomplish for character day (in fact, it's a particular death metal singer) and I'm just not sure if we are going to be able to pull that off or not.  We're going to try though....

Sarah had swim practice last night and it was so hot at the pool.  I was sweating just sitting in the bleachers.  The kids said the water was hot too and they all had red faces when they got out.  It didn't help that when we got in the car at 7:40 to head home the thermometer was reading 85.  I'm a summer/hot weather girl but even I would like some cooler temps. 

That's it for my daily update.  As I mentioned previously, I'm trying to post more regularly so be prepared for lots of boring details of our life! 
Blurry photo of Sarah at swim practice.  She's the one in the middle doing backstroke!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Dan went to our family doctor yesterday and diagnosis?  Uvulitis!

Uvulitis is  an inflammation of the uvula and can be caused by many different things.  Most likely though, Dan picked up an infection at the hospital when he was having his surgery.  So, that's comforting....

He got a nice shot of steroids in the rump and came home with some very large Augmentin pills.  He said his throat was feeling a little better this morning but we were hoping it would be like strep and the antibiotics would start working immediately.

I'm kicking myself for not forcing him to go to the doctor on Saturday morning.  Our family doctor has clinic hours every evening from 4:00 to 8:00 and on Saturday mornings from 8:00 to 12:00 where you can just walk in and be seen by a PA or NP.  It's super convenient and we discussed going on Saturday morning but Dan takes a more wait and see approach where I am more, let's go get it checked out and get the meds going if needed.  Next time, I will force the issue.  Had I done so, he could have saved himself 3 extra days of extreme pain when swallowing.  It's the diet plan he did not want!

I'm heading out this morning to get the necessary items for Peter's character day costume.  Hopefully I can find what he's looking for without breaking the bank.

PJ day seemed to go well.  It ran the gamut from sweats, to plaid sleep pants, to shorts and tees, to onsies, to full on button up old man pjs with bath robes.

Today is Mathletes vs. Athletes.  Peter wore Dan's very old Drew Bledsoe jersey.  Drew was the quarterback of the Patriots before Tom Brady if that tells you how old the jersey was.  Although, his name isn't on the back just his number - 11, which is currently the number of Julian Edelman.

I can't wait to see if anyone dresses up as a Mathlete - which I am assuming is full on nerd gear.

And since I don't like to have a post without a picture, and I'm pretty sure you don't want to see Dan's extremely inflamed and spotted uvula, I'll leave you with these:

This can will curl up anywhere!  So cute but I don't allow cats on kitchen tables or counter tops because that's just gross!  So, no matter how cute he looks here, he had to come down!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Weather, hernias, and Wally. Just another day in our neck of the woods.

Here's a picture of the tree in our backyard.  I love this old tree!

It's been rainy and HOT here and today looks to be no different.  It was so muggy when Dan and I stepped outside at 7:20 last night to pick up Sarah from Confirmation class that he declared it felt more like a July evening than and October evening. He was right.

Even as I type at 7:30 AM the air conditioning is running because it's 76 degrees right now according to my outdoor thermometer.  The weather forecast is calling for rain all week so it will LOOK like fall outside but it will NOT feel like it.

Now that I've covered the weather,  I know you really all came by for today was a Dan update.  Right? 

He's doing better.  He's finally able to stand almost upright as he slowly walks around. For most of the time since his surgery he has walked hunched over like a little old man.   He's still very stiff and sore but that is improving each day.  And he went to work this morning.  His problem now is his throat.  It has been sore ever since the surgery. 

The first couple of days we attributed the soreness to the anesthesia as that can be a side effect according to Google.  But we are 5 days out now and the pain is getting worse and his uvula (the little hangy down thing in the back of his throat) is covered with white spots.  I think it's strep but the white spots aren't spreading and he has absolutely no fever. So, who knows?   He said the nice thing about the throat pain is that it takes his mind off of the pain around his incisions. He is going to the doctor this afternoon so hopefully he can get some answers and some relief.

Peter headed out the door this morning  in his new pjs for the start of Spirit Week.  He seemed less than thrilled with the whole thing and even though I thought about taking a picture, I didn't even dare to ask. 

So, picture if you will, a tall lanky brown haired kid with a semi-scowl on his face wearing plaid pajama bottoms, a grey tee shirt and a blue sweatshirt and you've got Spirit Week in the Cotell house! 

And just because I can't leave you with the image of a surly teenager in your minds, here's my baby:

Somebody can't get enough of mommy!  :)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Seven Quick Takes: Homecoming Edition

Let's do some Quick Takes!

1. Next week is Homecoming at Peter's school and they are having different dress up days.  Monday is pajama day (which always annoys me - not a fan of people wearing pjs in public and then to wear them all day to school - blech).  This one is easy enough to do because Peter has pajamas.  However, they are too short because - who cares?  No one sees them but us.  But I picked him up a new pair from Walmart (nothing but the best for MY baby!) even though he said he didn't care if they were too short or not because "it's just pajamas".  I don't like his reasoning because  high water pajama pants  are still high water pants when you are wearing them out in public. 

2.  Tuesday is Mathletes versus Athletes and the kids are supposed to dress up like jocks or nerds.  Peter will be wearing one of Dan's very old Patriots jersey's from before the Tom Brady era (assuming I can locate it from the nether regions of the closet).  Fingers crossed it hasn't disintegrated yet!

3.  On Wednesday all the 9th, 10th, and 11th graders are taking the PSAT and the Seniors are off so there's no dressing up on this day.  However, there is an early dismissal so Peter's very excited about that! However, I conveniently scheduled an orthodontist appointment to fill the void.  He's less excited about that.

4.  Thursday is Character Day and Peter is thrilled with this one.  He's going to dress up like a rocker.  Not sure if I mentioned it on the blog or not but Peter is VERY into Death Metal music.  Before you get too excited, it's not as bad as it sounds.  Well, the music is as bad sounding as you think but the themes of the songs aren't about death.  Most of the bands Peter listens too write extremely long songs about historical events or battles.  It's very odd to me but Peter digs it.

I have been instructed to purchase a long straight black wig and wrist spikes and black and white face paint.  I told him I could probably get him an 80's hair band wig or an Elvira wig.  He said it COULD NOT be an 80s hair bad wig because 80's hair band music is for POSERS.  Obviously.  So I guess I will be getting an Elvira wig and trimming it a little.  I feel a trip to the Spirit Halloween store in my future.

5.  Friday is Blue and Gold Day.  I guess he will just wear his Bishop tee shirt with his Bishop sweatshirt and call it good.

6.  Friday night is the Homecoming Game.  There will be tailgating in the parking lot and food trucks at the school before the game so we are planning on getting there early.

7.  And last but not least, there is a Homecoming Dance on Saturday night.  Peter said he's going. (He has a tendency to change his mind at the last minute so we will see.)  It sounds like several of his guy friends are going without dates so at least he will have a group of guys to hang out with if he does go.

And look!  Just like that - Seven Quick Takes!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Now his intestines are back where they belong...

Dan's hernia surgery was yesterday. Thankfully it was very uneventful but I'm going to bore you with the details regardless. 

We arrived on time and checked in at the front desk.  After about 10 minutes, we were called back to sign a few things and go over a few things.  Then we waited another 10 minutes.  Then Dan was taken back to get into his hospital gown and to have his IV placed.  After he was all ready, they called me back and I sat with him until the doctor came in. 

The doctor reviewed a few things with us, then answered any questions we had and left to go scrub up.  We also met with the anesthesiologist and the OR nurse.  Then I gave him a big kiss and I went back to the waiting room.

They have monitors in the waiting room that list the last three letters and first initial of all the patient's name and tells you their status:  Prepping for Surgery, In Surgery, All Done, Waking Up, Hit the Road, etc. so I could track Dan's progress.

An hour after his surgery started, the surgeon came out and told me he had done fine.  In addition to his direct inguinal hernia on the right, he also had an indirect hernia on the left so the surgeon repaired them both while he was in there.

About 15 minutes later, the nurse called me back so I could hang out with Dan while he was waking up.  We were back there for about 2 hours.  He was in a lot of pain so they gave him extra medication and he really doesn't remember much about being in recovery. 

Finally he was able to pee and we were able to go home!

On the way home, I dropped off his pain prescription and had to show my driver's license because it's a narcotic.  I told them I would be back in an hour to pick it up.

I got Dan home and (semi) comfortable and headed back to pick up the prescription.  The pharmacist came out with a copy of my driver's license that the tech made earlier and said, "Do you have another license?"

I was thinking to myself, "Why would I have another license?  No one has two driver's licenses! What's wrong with this pharmacist?"

But instead said, "Ummmm, no that's the only one I have......"

"Well, this one has expired and because you are picking up  a narcotic, I can only give it someone with a valid driver's license."

Y'all, about 6 months ago, I realized that my license was going to expire on my birthday and thought, "I'm going to need to get a new one.  I guess I will get a new one when they send me a reminder that it's time to renew."

Guess what the state of North Carolina does NOT do?  That's right.  They do NOT send you a reminder when your license is set to expire.  (However, they WILL send you a reminder when your license plate is about to expire.) 

So, I had to call my parents (apparently I'm  8 and not 48) and ask them to come down to the pharmacy with a valid (because they have their act together) driver's license and pick up the prescription for me.

I went online this morning and renewed my license so I should be good to go for another 8 years. 

Dan is still very sore this morning and hobbling around like an old man.  He said he was hoping he would be able to go back to work tomorrow but now realizes that that's not happening. So he and I will be relaxing around the house for the next two days. Although, he has already said he's not going to be able to sit here for two days doing nothing, so I imagine in an hour or two he's going to want me to drive him around just so he can get out of the house. 

Tonight we will watch the Patriots game.  The only two other times they've been on tv here they have lost so I'm not feeling too good about that.  Also, the Red Sox have an afternoon playoff game today so it will be a New England sports kind of day around here!

I really wanted to take a picture of Dan in his hospital cap and gown yesterday for the blog, but I decided better of it. So, I'll leave you with a picture of Wally instead...

Okay, that was two but I couldn't resist.  Look at those big ears!!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Friday turned out to be more eventful than I was expecting.

My kids had the day off of school and my brother had the day off of work. While I was taking Peter to the barber for a haircut,  my brother was next door doing some yard work at my parent's house when he heard a loud mewing coming from our bushes.  He came over to investigate and found this:

As we were driving home from the barber shop, I got a text from Sarah that said, "Uncle Brad found a cat in our bushes."

Lovely.  Just what we need.  Another cat.  This makes the fourth cat that has been lovingly tossed out of a car and into our yard since we've living here.  Two of those cats have managed to make their way into our home.  (One of them died last December and the other one eventually wandered off.)  I was happy with just the one cat in the house and wasn't looking to add to the fold.

This cat though is just the cutest thing.  He immediately let us pick him up.  Has not hissed at us once. He is very friendly and playful (although the annoying neighbor cat came by last night and this kitten puffed up into a giant fur ball and was standing his ground in front of his food dish.) and not the least bit shy.

After keeping him outside this weekend, we took him to the vet yesterday.  He was treated for a little eye infection, tapeworms, and fleas. And he got the first of his vaccines.  He tested negative for feline leukemia so I introduced him to our other cat last night.  That didn't go as well as I had hoped.  The old cat, whose name is Kitten, was scared (she's the biggest scaredy cat in the world) and  Wally (our new kitten) puffed up like he did for the neighbor cat.  So that's going well.

Dan is convinced that Wally is going to turn out to be like our other cats - boring and lazy.  I'm hoping he turns out like the cat that I had when I first started dating Dan. 

Mikey was the coolest cat ever.  He was an indoor/outdoor cat and didn't have a litter box inside.  He came inside when I jingled my keys and yelled "din-din" and was just the best cat ever. He liked being inside just as much as he liked being outside.

 The only problem was that after I married Dan and we moved to our new house, Mikey kept going back to my old condo.  The neighbor would call and say, "Your cat's crying at your front door again." and we would have to drive back and get him and bring him back to the new house.  Eventually we had Peter and Mikey could not deal with a crying baby (and let me tell you, Peter cried A LOT!) so one day he left and never came back.  Although  a couple of days after he left, I swear I saw him walking up Interstate 77 heading in the direction of my old condo.  But being that it was an INTERSTATE, I couldn't stop and check.  And we never saw him again.

Anyway, enough about cats.  After I took Peter to the barber shop, I took Sarah to find a new dress.  We came up empty handed.  Everything out there was cute but it was very bohemian looking and Sarah is definitely not into tho boho chic look.  After trudging from store to store, she finally said, "Mom, I think I can dig something out of my closet, put a sweater over it, and make it work."


On Saturday we spent the day doing work around the house.  We (Dan) finally finished taking down the kid's old swing set and we burned it.   He took the trampoline down earlier in the summer and now it's just a regular backyard.  No sign of kids anywhere except the rarely used basketball goal.

It was bittersweet seeing both of those come down but it was also a little depressing looking out the back window and seeing two play things that hadn't been used in ages just weathering away.

And speaking of sad - we watched the horrible Panthers/Patriots game on Sunday.  The Patriots have no defense and not even Tom Brady can make up for that. 

Tomorrow is Dan's hernia surgery.  He was told on his pre-op phone call that I had to wait the entire time and couldn't leave so I guess I will be heading to the library today to find a good book!

Any and all book suggestions welcomed!