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Makin' Laundry Soap!

Have you ever gotten tired of paying a fortune for laundry soap? Do you have a front loader and have to use low-sudsing expensive HE soap? Well, both those statements apply to me, and so whilst perusing an online forum I stumbled across a recipe tutorial on how to make your own gel laundry detergent for cheap.   I watched the video a couple times, and thought, "Hey I can do that!". So I went out with Monkeys in tow this past week and bought my supplies. You will need: 1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda 1 5 gallon bucket with lid 1 box 20 Mule Team Borax 1 bar Fels Naptha soap A measuring cup, a wisk to stir with, a pot to boil in, water and a cheese grater.     First take the bar of Fels Naptha and the grater and grate the soap all up. You can use either the large grate or small, it doesn't really matter. While you are doing this, put 4 cups water in your pot and bring it to a boil.     Now add your grated soap to the pot of boiling water slowly, and stir with your wisk, until the soap all dissolves. When you are done, it will look like this.     Then dump it into the bucket. Fill the bucket in the bathtub, half full of HOT tap water. Now add your 1/2 cup of Borax and stir well. Now add your 1 cup of washing soda, and stir well. You will notice it foams a little with the washing soda, and starts to thicken some. Be sure to stir it well from the bottom of the bucket to mix it well.     Once you have mixed it well, then you fill the bucket to about an inch or two from completely full, and stir some more. Then seal the lid on top, and let it sit overnight to cool and gel. When you check it the next day, it will be a semi-firm gel that stirs easily by hand and reliquifies as you stir it. Mix it well, especially from the bottom up, as the particulates can settle a bit.     Now all you do, is take your dispensing container (old laundry soap bottle is perfect), and fill it half full of the gel goo. Add more water to the bottle, till full, and shake well. Measure out 1/4 cup of the diluted soap mix for a full load of laundry, and wash! This recipe will yield approximately 10 gallons of laundry soap!

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Fish!

Got back from vacation last week and found the blog feature seems to be working! YAY! So this is just a picture post to show off some of the nice fishies we caught on vacation at our lil' secret piece of heaven on earth. We don't own it, but we get to camp there...     So here are the fish pics!         Red coffee cup is DH's     Just so you don't think all we caught were lunkers...         But most of 'em were! At least for bass.   This one was DH's fish, held up by Monkey1      

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So the Russian Mob ate my computer...

Just when you thought it was safe to click on the upside down picture of OBL on the Drudge Report last weekend....I sure hope you did NOT do it like we did...there was a most evil computer virus embedded in that. It ate my computer. It installed some malware called INternet Securite 2010, and then when we tried with some professional grade disinfectant to clean the drive, it nuked our access to it. In fact when we gave the drive to a friend of a friend in the biz, so to speak, it managed a cross-platform, cross-OS lock up of his Por MAC unit...they're not supposed to be able to do THAT!   We knew it was bad, when our IT friend said, "Wow...I've never seen THAT before!".   We had to get a new machine...luckily we had been planning on upgrading anyway, just not then. Oh well.   The last thing we saw before they nuked the drive was rambler.ru which is a russian domain. So we blame the Russkies for this.   Lesson learned? Don't visit the Drudge Report any more. Too bad, but that's twice now we got hit from thier site, so it's now off limits. Have to get our news elsewhere.

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85# of BCR Redux...

Remember this blog?   Early this morning, suddenly, I hear a wee "CHIRRUP" noise. Now, I had replaced 2 smoke detector batteries earlier this month, so I waited to see if I heard it again. Blast it! "CHIRRUP". Again...about every 30 seconds. I couldn't tell exactly which of the half dozen of the things it was, but it sounded somewhat fainter than last time, so I was guessing it was in a Monkey bedroom.   Suddenly, after the latest CHIRRUP, there was a whining, frantic cold wet nose stuffed in my face, followed shortly after by a pair of paws on my head! Much spluttering aside, I shoved the offending mutt off the bed, whereupon he promptly did it again after the next CHIRRUP. Shoved off again, I realized dimly that he was shaking like a leaf--terrified of the CHIRRUP. Now, this is a large Rhodesian Ridgeback...3 times or more he tried to crawl into my bed (not permitted). He tried hiding under the bed--I even let him into the warm bathroom with the 2nd RR, and DH, where he sat shook & whined most piteously...   Well, this morning, at 5:45am, I was rudely awoken as a whining shaking not-quite-drooling Ridgeback sought to hide in my bed from the Evil Space Alien Smoke Detector that was chirruping from the garage...From a sound sleep I was trying to figure out Why the dog was in my bed, occupying DH's spot without the attendant Marine Corps Language from DH! And where on earth was DH? I knew he was on pager duty, but I am the one to answer the phone if it rings at night, and I could not for the life of me remember any callouts. Turns out DH had just gotten up and saw the dog freaking out, and thought he had heard the CHIRRUP, and had wandered down the hall to investigate.   Maybe the dog is afraid the smoke detector is trying to echo locate his few remaining brain cells? Sheesh...what a Big Chicken Ridgeback!  

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Wow...neglected this blog for a while, eh?

Wow, it really has been a while since I looked in on this little blog! I meant to write in the intervening months, but somehow never got around to it. Well, we have celebrated 2 Monkey birthdays since my last post, had one heck of a hot summer, and it isn't even August yet, and dealt with nagging health issues for DH. Oh, and my mom visited this month for a few days--her first trip here, since Dad died. We had a nice visit, and my jam making adventures during her visit, have inspired her to try apple jelly today.   Sold some stuff and bought other things preps related. Been working with DH to pay down debt, and 'to go all Dave Ramsey' on other debts...Still worried about the potential for a work strike against DH's employer. The contract offers & negotiations have, well, simply sucked.   The last couple days have been much cooler, only into the 90's here in DFW. Rain too, has come along. That's nice as it means I don't have to water as much, though it makes for killer humidity.   -Vic

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I am so sick of everyone getting sick here!

Ok, so here is my moment to whine...   Back on June 10, my Monkey 3 came down with high fever, sore thrroat--Hand Foot & Mouth disease. Then when she was just well enough to go to VBS, Monkey2 caught the same virus! 3 days later, just as he was going off to the last 2 days of VBS, Monkey 1 came down with HF&M. So I was relieved when it SEEMED that everyone was done getting sick...that was 2 wks ago this coming Saturday...so on Monday June 22, Monkey 3 (my little Plague Vector) came down with viral gastroenteritis. Puke puke puke, no food for 5 days, puke puke puke...and everyone is just barely well enough to enjoy cake on the 26th for Monkey 2's birthday...and Monkey 1 gets sick the next day...Sunday, and today is the first solid food she has eaten and kept down...Wed she puked 5x and I had to resort to ice cubes to keep on top of the hydration. So today to celebrate (since we had to cancel our trip to Alabama this week to visit my sister for my neice's wedding) something positive, we went out to a pair of empty play parks just to get out of the house and such. And of course, on our way in the door when we got back, Monkey2 blew his lunch and soda all over my shoes and the front porch! And DH has to go out of town this weekend...so I will likely be stuck at home with yet another barfing child who will be wholly miserable and probably will be sick for the next 5 days!   I swear, I am gonna cook me a Ribeye steak and have a Bloody Mary tomorrow I think!

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Tribute

It's Memorial Day, that long almost-summer weekend where we remember and honor veterans lost, and those family we too have lost. Some of you may know I lost my father this year...I wrote the following about a year or so before he died. My goal today when we went to the range to shoot, was to be sure to take the Enfield. My dad, I miss him.   The Enfield. I read somewhere that it was a ‘sultry Saturday’ yesterday, and they were right. It was warm in the low 90’s, overcast, and humid enough to cut with a knife--to say nothing of the chance of pop-up thunderstorms…     Not exactly the finest of weather to head out to do something I have wanted/dreamed/longed to do for nigh on 40 years. But it was what was available. We loaded up the kids and our friend SS into the vehicles and took off north. We were bound for Ralph’s place, about an hour NE of home, with plans for lunch afterward, or maybe it was an early dinner?     We got there and got set up. First off, the kids earned some cold hard cash by helping police up the scrap metal and burn off some energy just being kids. I set out a tarp to reduce the chance of fire ants, and the kids were bundled off to safety behind the firing line. See, Ralph has a range, a shooting range, a shooting range open to the public in his back yard! God, I love Texas!     I’d been wanting to shoot lately, and long guns at that…but there was something special going on besides just a trip to the range. Last year my dear aged father, at last gifted me with his old ‘wallhangers’. Both of which, I have loved since I can remember. I have always thought of them as ‘mine’, something my good sister has never desired to contest. They mean nothing to her, and so much to me.     Dad was born English. Dad served in WWII in the Royal Merchant Navy. After the war, Dad became an American. Dad used to tell me of shooting at box kites flying off the stern of the ships with an Enfield rifle. I used to think that would be easy to hit…until I grew up and learned that shooting moving objects was a lot harder than you saw on TV.     I have it now—that wallhanger Enfield. No, it’s not his old service rifle—but it is an Enfield, it is correct for the war and oh my, time has not been cruel to it. I have longed to take it out and shoot it, for as long as I can remember. Dad remembers things too, sometimes. Snippets, a bit of song, or images from a trip across the Pond from before I was even born…but simple things—the crossword puzzle, clothing, a clock, the TV remote, and sometimes people, fail to register true to him now. It tears my heart out.     That old rifle is cared for now, loved in its own way, for what it means to me. I couldn’t wait to shoot it yesterday. It was the first one out. You know, it shot pretty good for an old SMLE! The range is too short to wring out the flip up rear sight, so I made do with the large rear peep sight instead. It was better than minute-of-torso accurate with some factory ammo, and if I had been shooting better, the groups would’ve been tighter. The brass came out in perfect condition too, so there are no chamber or headspace problems. Not that I expected any really, since I doubt it’s been fired since it was FTR in ’49. Not too shabby for a 65 year old battle rifle!     The rest of the day didn’t matter…despite my good scoped rifle being way off target, despite having fits with another rifle, and the downpour that started before we were done for the day... for I had fulfilled a near lifelong dream. I had finally taken Dad’s old wallhanger out shooting. It is a wallhanger no more!    

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If Life is a bush of cherries...(pics added!)

then why did I plant six of them?? Yes folks, about 4 yrs ago I decided to plant 6 Nanking Bush cherries. Despite the best efforts of both Texas weather & the Monkeys, all 6 survived. The first year they fruited, the Monkeys picked most of them whilst still too green, the next year the mockingbirds ate them all. Last year, we got a goodly number and the Monkeys enjoyed eating them. These are small, marble sized fruits with a pit of course, and they tend on the tart side, unless you wait until they are super-ripe.   This year however....God apparently wants me to have cherries all year! Goodness have we been blessed with a bumper crop! I have started giving some away, as my free space in the chest freezer is rapidly filling with frozen cherries! One bush is nearing crop-end this year and is very sweet. Another two are just coming into full ripeness, two more are about a week behind, and the last did not set a good crop (5 of 6 set good crops). I will try to get some pics up eventually too.   A friend even told me a recipe for....well, uh, cherry whiskey liqueur. 2c cherries whole, a fifth of cheap whiskey and 2c sugar, all placed in a large sealable glass jar and left alone for a month to work its magic. Haven't tried it yet, but ya never know!   Vic   The row of bushes:   Pics of the crop:   The bushes not yet ripe:   See? Life IS a bush of cherries! This I picked this morning...

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Many things going on recently...

Haven't kept up with this little blog for a while, as there have been lots of things going on around here. We have some apples on our two little apple trees! A lot more got pollinated than the little things can support, so I noticed they have been self-culling. Saves me the mental anguish of culling them myself I guess. I hate thinning plants or culling fruit!   We (DH & I) also successfully taught Monkey1 how to ride a bicycle! This was a major goal, as DH & I both love to ride, and the Monkeys have put a serious crimp in our riding. We hope to get the other two graduated to a no-training-wheels situation maybe even later this summer, provided we can get enough time to ride in our church's parking lot. It's big and empty during most days, and has a slight slope to help, and islands to navigate around too.   DH has also gotten a fair bit of OT from work, which is nice as it lets us have a little bit of spending money. We've been trying to pay down stuff as his union still is working without a contract...I only hope they don't get totally reamed if/when they sign a new contract. Healthcare has been the biggest sticking point.   Lastly, we got rid of some accumulated 'stuff' thru the church garage sale (which is tomorrow). We want to go early, to see if there is anything worth buying, but the challenge will be to keep the Monkeys from buying back all the stuff we donated!

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Blackberry Jam!

I was looking through the grocery store flyers and spotted a nice sale at Sprouts Market (sort of a health food/Organic ) grocery. They had fresh blackberries for 88 cents /6oz box. I figured it was worth a road trip to the next town over, to visit the place. About 20$ of berries later, I have managed to make jam! Do you have any idea how long it has been since I made jam? Literally about 8-9 yrs, and before that, more like 20 yrs. Yes this is only the 3rd time I have ever made jam. And I gotta say, it is tasty! I'm just waiting on the jars to cool and test the seals, but the 5 pts look good, and the scraps in the fridge taste yummy! I'm stoked!   --Vic

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85# of BCR at O'dark:30...

So, yesterday I felt rather like death warmed over...the cold I thought was gone, came back and I felt awful all day. Managed even to sleep a good part of the afternoon, thanks to DH watching the Monkeys. I tried hitting the sack early, but it didn't really happen, but I wasn't up any later than normal I guess.   Early this morning, after a pleasant wake-up with DH, I snuggled back into the pile of blankets, seeking another hour or more before the Monkeys awoke. Suddenly, I hear a wee "CHIRRUP" noise. Now, I had replaced 2 smoke detector batteries earlier this month, so I waited to see if I heard it again. Blast it! "CHIRRUP". Again...about every 30 seconds. I couldn't tell exactly which of the half dozen of the things it was, but it sounded somewhat fainter than last time, so I was guessing it was in a Monkey bedroom.   Suddenly, after the latest CHIRRUP, there was a whining, frantic cold wet nose stuffed in my face, followed shortly after by a pair of paws on my head! Much spluttering aside, I shoved the offending mutt off the bed, whereupon he promptly did it again after the next CHIRRUP. Shoved off again, I realized dimly that he was shaking like a leaf--terrified of the CHIRRUP. Now, this is a large Rhodesian Ridgeback...3 times or more he tried to crawl into my bed (not permitted). He tried hiding under the bed--I even let him into the warm bathroom with the 2nd RR, and DH, where he sat shook & whined most piteously. He even managed to get the old RR to pick up on the fear and start shaking and wandering about...   It wasn't until DH found the dying detector and replaced the battery, that the poor hound settled down!   BCR...Big Chicken Ridgeback (the brindle one on the left...)

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Rainy Days & Bread Days...

Well it has finally rained in North Texas. Somewhere in excess of 4" this week, all of it slow-falling and soaking in well, but all of it MUCH needed too! Though it does mean that the grass is going to need mowing. Supposedly it will be sunny tomorrow, but I won't believe it until I see it.   Yesterday I decided I was tired of buying store-bought bread. I haven't been able to make bread from my stored wheat since 1/8 and my surgery. I don't have a mixer--I AM the mixer & kneader of the 10C dough ball...and the shoulder I had rebuilt is my dominant arm, so there was no way I was going to stir anything! Still, now that I've started PT, I decided to see how badly it pained me to make a 3 loaf batch. Well, Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition! It didn't hurt much at all! I turned out 3 suitably tasty loaves, and now know I don't have to spend #1.30/loaf on cheap sandwich bread any more!   I was even able to stockpile some decent meat yesterday at the store--rump roasts on sale for $1.99/#, and country pork ribs (bone in) for $0.99/#. DH has been out in the rain & cold all week (highs in the upper 20's all week) and asked for potroast, taters, carrots & gravy (a true comfort food for him, and with a rump roast I was able to concoct a very tasty dinner last night, to the point that his reply was "You can shoot me, and I'll die happy!". I told him the insurance money wasn't enough to keep me in the style I was accustomed to!

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In like an icebox, out like an oven?

Gosh, after last week's 80deg temps, the last couple of days have been downright frigid! Sub-freezing temps, mucho wind, and the sunshine just didn't help warm stuff up enough. So why am I feeling grouchy? I'm on the downhill side of the monthly thing, so that's not it. DH has been in a good mood, so that's not it. Stress? Yeah, I suppose so, and some odd dreams, but......maybe I'm suddenly feeling old. I think that's a big part of it.   So much to do and so little time to do it. Preps are mostly ok, though the diet might get a bit boring. We would survive. Storm season is coming, literally, not just figuratively, and I need to get the shelter re-worked. After the canned goods explosion, I need to restock some stuff & reorganize down there a bit. I just don't seem to have the enthusiasm needed to actually get it done.   I guess this post is a bit pointless, and uninteresting, but I will go ahead and post it. Hope everyone's week is better than last week.   -- Vic

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DH, long nights, and a weekend funshow, oh my!

Poor DH, he's been hit with a bunch of OT this week. Last night he didn't get home until 9pm! It's been wacky for him all week with lots of 'problem children' work tickets. Pretty much all we did last night was tuck the Monkeys in bed, and crash ourselves.   I did however, manage to get the stove cleaned up, and buy the right parts to fix the burners! I've been cooking on the two small elec ones for about 6mo and it's been driving me nuts. Now to go back to Lowes today, to exchange the un-needed new burner, and get another replacement receptacle and DH will wire that in tonight maybe...wow, the thought of having a stove with all 4 burners working! The plus-side is the receptacles are a LOT cheaper than new burners!   Still have a list of stuff to do by Saturday, but hopefully we will get to go to the local "funshow" if our sitter is available. That's almost like getting a 'date night' with DH!

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Got some stuff done!

Well I managed to get a bit of stuff done yesterday, though not as much as I wanted.   1. get stamps & mail out an ebay item sold. **DONE 2. vacuum Monkey rooms--**DONE, though it needs it again in one of their rooms... 3. roast coffee--**DONE 4. put the kids tent away--**DONE 5. slay the laundry beast 6. pay bills--**DONE 7. sweep the floors--**DONE 8. if feeling energetic, I could mop the kitchen 9. homeschooling the monkeys--**DONE   Also managed to vacuum out the van from the road trip, and get two thank you cards sent out.   Today I need to work on #5,8, and add more thank you cards, school, folding laundry (tough to do with my shoulder...), list more stuff on ebay, and try to figure out dinner.

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A Monday to catch up

Well, I think the stress of the last week caught up with us all yesterday. DH was sick most of the day, I was exhausted, and Monkey1 had a tummy ache all day and whined about it non stop. At least it's Monday, so DH is back on routine, and Monkey1 says the tummy ache is gone. Now I can maybe try to catch up on everything that did not get done.   1. get stamps & mail out an ebay item sold. 2. vacuum Monkey rooms 3. roast coffee 4. put the kids tent away 5. slay the laundry beast 6. pay bills 7. sweep the floors 8. if feeling energetic, I could mop the kitchen 9. homeschooling the monkeys   And yet here I sit on the 'puter...suppose I ought to get my backside in gear & do something constructive.   I also want to thank you all for your prayers and condolences. They are much appreciated.   -Vic

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It was good to go home, it IS good to BE home.

My Dad's funeral was Saturday, and we buried him Monday, in a pretty spot in the cemetery east of his town, near the train tracks. He grew up with a train running behind his home as a boy--though not this train, nor this country. It was good to go home--to see Mom & help her out, to see old friends near & dear, and to tell the funny stories of Dad.   We left there today, and drove the 9hrs back to home, home with a capital H. Home! Our home--empty now without the dogs underfoot. They'll come home tomorrow. Our bed & blankets, our sights & sounds and comforts of Home.   It's funny--I didn't cry much. Not because I didn't love my Dad or anything silly. Rather because I felt the Lord's comforting presence in what occurred. I have been blessed with seeing God in action a few times in my life, and this was one of them, and I am at peace because of what the Lord has done for us.

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Sadness and Loss

What do I do? What do I say? THAT phone call came this morning around 6:30am. My sis calling to tell me Dad died last night. If you saw my prayer requests you may remember he suffered severe dementia, and had just gone to a care facility Monday. I feel lost & conflicted--I miss him so much, though in truth I have been missing him for a couple years, as his decline got worse and worse. He used to have 'moments' on the phone where he was Dad again...and I hoped I could reach him so he knew I cared. In the end he knew no one--only pain and the relief morphine could give him.   I pray God will have mercy on his soul.

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Sunny Thursday

So it is a sunny day today--that's good actually, as DH is on pager all week. No rain until Sunday maybe, but then again, it means no OT for him, so less $ to pay down bills. Everything's a tradeoff, eh?   The Monkeys are up & around, and are somewhat behaving this morning. I don't expect it to last though. It never does!   The shoulder is alternately feeling fine, and just aching. I see the doc tomorrow and find out if I start PT next week, or stay in the sling. I admit I do get out of the sling a bit each day anyway, but am very careful not to lift or twist it in any way. It hurts if I goof up! Even typing this is problematic.   --Vic

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I am so sick of everyone getting sick here!

Ok, so here is my moment to whine...   Back on June 10, my Monkey 3 came down with high fever, sore thrroat--Hand Foot & Mouth disease. Then when she was just well enough to go to VBS, Monkey2 caught the same virus! 3 days later, just as he was going off to the last 2 days of VBS, Monkey 1 came down with HF&M. So I was relieved when it SEEMED that everyone was done getting sick...that was 2 wks ago this coming Saturday...so on Monday June 22, Monkey 3 (my little Plague Vector) came down with viral gastroenteritis. Puke puke puke, no food for 5 days, puke puke puke...and everyone is just barely well enough to enjoy cake on the 26th for Monkey 2's birthday...and Monkey 1 gets sick the next day...Sunday, and today is the first solid food she has eaten and kept down...Wed she puked 5x and I had to resort to ice cubes to keep on top of the hydration. So today to celebrate (since we had to cancel our trip to Alabama this week to visit my sister for my neice's wedding) something positive, we went out to a pair of empty play parks just to get out of the house and such. And of course, on our way in the door when we got back, Monkey2 blew his lunch and soda all over my shoes and the front porch! And DH has to go out of town this weekend...so I will likely be stuck at home with yet another barfing child who will be wholly miserable and probably will be sick for the next 5 days!   I swear, I am gonna cook me a Ribeye steak and have a Bloody Mary tomorrow I think!

Vic303

Vic303

 

I am so sick of everyone getting sick here!

Ok, so here is my moment to whine...   Back on June 10, my Monkey 3 came down with high fever, sore thrroat--Hand Foot & Mouth disease. Then when she was just well enough to go to VBS, Monkey2 caught the same virus! 3 days later, just as he was going off to the last 2 days of VBS, Monkey 1 came down with HF&M. So I was relieved when it SEEMED that everyone was done getting sick...that was 2 wks ago this coming Saturday...so on Monday June 22, Monkey 3 (my little Plague Vector) came down with viral gastroenteritis. Puke puke puke, no food for 5 days, puke puke puke...and everyone is just barely well enough to enjoy cake on the 26th for Monkey 2's birthday...and Monkey 1 gets sick the next day...Sunday, and today is the first solid food she has eaten and kept down...Wed she puked 5x and I had to resort to ice cubes to keep on top of the hydration. So today to celebrate (since we had to cancel our trip to Alabama this week to visit my sister for my neice's wedding) something positive, we went out to a pair of empty play parks just to get out of the house and such. And of course, on our way in the door when we got back, Monkey2 blew his lunch and soda all over my shoes and the front porch! And DH has to go out of town this weekend...so I will likely be stuck at home with yet another barfing child who will be wholly miserable and probably will be sick for the next 5 days!   I swear, I am gonna cook me a Ribeye steak and have a Bloody Mary tomorrow I think!

Vic303

Vic303

 

SNOW!!! In Texas!

So we managed a record setting snowfall for the Metroplex the last 2 days. The nice thing is, all 8-10" of it should be GONE by Sunday! It gives the Monkeys a chance toplay in the snow, and I don't have to drive in it. The roads are already clear pavement.   Here are a couple pics to enjoy.     Two Monkeys (#2-3) and their tiny snow man.   And Monkey1 and her big snowman.

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SNOW!!! In Texas!

So we managed a record setting snowfall for the Metroplex the last 2 days. The nice thing is, all 8-10" of it should be GONE by Sunday! It gives the Monkeys a chance toplay in the snow, and I don't have to drive in it. The roads are already clear pavement.   Here are a couple pics to enjoy.     Two Monkeys (#2-3) and their tiny snow man.   And Monkey1 and her big snowman.

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