Monday, October 16, 2017

Our Spooktacular Show....

I've written about our light show before.   We were in the news a few times and won a lighting contest last year.  We first were introduced to Light-o-Rama three years ago.  We originally purchased one kit intended for Christmas use, but decided to give it a try for Halloween.  We attempted a singing pumpkin and have added on to the show each year.  We're up to three controllers and RGB lights now. 

Our first year was rather sparse in comparison to today.

2015 - first show and a test run of the kit

Today, 2017, 3rd year - what a difference now that we have a little experience!!

It truly is a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of money.  Clint spent hours and hours putting this together.  I'm certain we are the only house in town with a singing pumpkin!!  The feedback we get makes it all worth it.  There's always someone parked in front the house watching the show.  We've gotten great reviews and messages thanking us on our Facebook page, Bayou Blue Dancing Lights.   We already have a few new ideas..... Next year's Halloween show will be even better!! 

Haunted Mansion Intro

FNAF It's Me

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Brag worthy

I can't skip an opportunity to brag on something brag worthy!!!

Veronica brought home this packet a few weeks ago:

I'd been waiting for it as I suspected she would get it.  Every year a small number of students are nominated for Student of the Year.  It's an honor just to be selected because there are so few.  This year there were eight fifth graders chosen, and Veronica was one of them.  We had a week to put together a portfolio consisting of everything from past report cards to copies of all her awards/certificates.  Luckily I am that mom who saves nearly everything.  She had to write a biographical sketch about herself and include three topics that were important to her.  I thought with her excellent test scores and near perfect grades, Veronica just might have a shot at getting it.  I copied everything I could and listed every award that I could think of that she'd gotten in the past two years.  I put it all neatly in a binder and hoped it was good enough. 

Tuesday morning I received a call from the principal.  SHE WON!!  Veronica was chosen as STUDENT OF THE YEAR!!  This is so huge y'all.  Huge.  We worried so much about her when she was small.  She cried so much and was the most difficult child at times.  I worried so much when she started school because this was not easy going Valerie.  This was my baby Veronica and she had her own Veronica ideas and ways about everything.  She's been terribly hard on herself and so afraid of doing anything wrong.  She surprised us all from the start by making A's with ease coming out at the top of her class every year.

But this --- STUDENT OF THE YEAR!!!  That puts her at the very top of the entire fifth grade.  She goes on to compete for District Student of the Year next.  That will consist of an interview and writing an essay.  The writing she can do.  The interview....  who knows how that will go knowing my shy girl!! 

I'm just so very proud of her and how far she has come.... 

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Back to school!

Today we begin yet another school year.  Both of my girls are at the same school again, which will make our days a little bit easier.  Last week we picked up schedules and took ID pictures.  Both were up early and dressed rather quickly this morning.  Veronica was nervous... new school for her, new teachers, and an entirely new routine.  She's always nervous about new things.  Val said she was nervous too, but she was excited...

Here's to great school year!

Veronica's first day of 5th grade and Valerie's first day of 7th grade!!

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Summer fly-by

School starts in less than two weeks y'all.  Yikes.  What happened to summer??

We did a whole lot of nothing.  Sure, I took the kids around town a bit.  Skating rink, movies, shopping, lunch, library, etc.  Mostly the girls stayed up all night and slept the day away.  I guess that is what summer is about when you're a kid.

My brave Veronica went to 4-H camp for a week at the beginning of July.  She had gotten invited to go, so the school covered the cost of the entire thing.  My baby girl got on a bus and headed 5 hours to north Louisiana all by herself, not knowing a soul. She was excited and nervous about it.  I won't lie - this mamma was worried.  I knew it would be a good experience for her but by the third day I was so ready to see my little girl.  Veronica had a fantastic time and talked about her camp adventures and new friends for days.  I'm so proud of her for having the guts to go!

While Veronica was gone, I worked on a surprise.  She had been asking about painting her room purple for a quite some time.  I had her choose paint colors, so while she was away I got busy. Roni is quite the collector so it was a task moving and organizing her room.  I think it came out great!


Valerie has had a quiet summer.  She has pretty much stayed home.  She's read book after book in her room.  She's a homebody so she doesn't complain.   I know she has kept in touch with her friends texting and such, but I wish she would have been invited to do something with them.  We took one friend skating at the beginning of summer and Val hasn't seen anyone else since.

Val's big summer news is that she got glasses!!  She can see!!  Quite a while back at a well visit, her pediatrician's office gave her an eye test.  Val couldn't see the chart at all.  Not even the biggest "E."  At first, I wasn't sure if she didn't understand what to do or if she just didn't want to answer.  Until recently, Val has never come right out and admitted she couldn't see.  We were at a fast food place for breakfast, and she couldn't read the menu on the wall from the counter!!  She couldn't see the moon in the sky!!  I got her an eye appointment and to my dismay, she has terrible vision.  She's about 20/200.  No telling how much of this world she has been missing for who knows how long.  Val literally put her new glasses on and went "WOAH," as she looked around the room.  She's a little embarrassed and still adjusting but she is amazed at how much better she can see with them.

We're just days away from 5th grade and 7th grade orientation.  School supplies and uniforms have been purchased.  Backpacks are packed!!!  Might as well say so long to summer of 2017.....

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

One for the birds

Peepers went on his happy way, or at least that is what I'd like to think.  The last time I saw him, he was pecking around at seeds I had scattered in my yard.  He would still come to me, but with great reluctance.  He'd flee if I moved to fast.  He'd still answer from the trees when I called for him, then one day he wasn't there anymore.  I actually didn't see any mockingbirds for a while.  Now there's quite a few around, so perhaps one of them is my Peepers.

When one of our cats would die, my Dad's theory was not to worry because soon another would take it's place.  He was usually right.

The same apparently holds true for birds...

Along came Flappy Bird.

One afternoon a guy I know messaged me on Facebook asking if I'd take another bird.  His mom had found a baby bird in her yard after some stormy weather and didn't know what to do with it.  I had his Mom bring it to me and right away I knew it was a dove.  Just by chance, days before, I had peeked in a dove's nest at the house we just bought (another story for another day) and saw what the babies looked like.  This one was even about the same age - approximately two weeks old.

I once again started the bird routine as I did for Peepers.  I set him up in a tall laundry basket bird cage.  I fed him the same baby bird food.  Mourning doves like to root around for their food, so I used a syringe with the end cut off.  He'd shove his little beak in there and get so excited!!  Boy could he eat. And eat.  Flapping his wings and wiggling about, he was just so happy. And Flappy.  I quickly learned mourning doves do not eat as often as mockingbirds, so this one was easier.  He grew really fast and also transitioned to seeds fairly quickly, but still loved his baby bird food treat.

Same as before, I started introducing Flappy to the outside world.  Once he was feathered, I suspected he could fly and one day he surprised me by taking off across the yard!  Gradually I left him outside longer and longer transitioning to all day.  I'd put him back in his cage at dark, but he spent his days hanging out on the back porch.  He started leaving for short periods and even visited my neighbors across the street!  Flappy was so sweet and tame as could be and would let anyone pick him up.  I even taught him a trick.  I'd hold out my arm and wiggle my fingers and he'd come to me.

Then, one night after being outside all day, Flappy didn't come home at dark.  I looked and looked.  I called for him.  I kept checking....  and he never returned.  I hate to think that something happened to him.  It made me sad that he just vanished.  At least Peepers gradually went on his way, but there has been no sign of Flappy Bird.

Sigh.  I guess I did all I could do for him.

I can only hope Peepers and Flappy Bird have met up with their kind and are out there living the bird life.
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Monday, June 05, 2017

Things that go thump. And whirrrrr

Our washer and dryer get used daily around here.  I wash at least one load of clothes a day.  They don't get folded daily, but at least we have piles of clean clothes laying around instead of piles of dirty clothes.  It's the little things.....  ha!

A couple of days ago, as per my usual routine I tossed a pile of clothes in the washer.  Later in the day I got around to moving them to the dryer.  I turned the dryer's knob and pressed the start button.  I heard a THUNK or maybe a POP.  Then the dryer began to make a 'whirrrrrrrrrrr' noise.

Uh oh, this can't be good.

Said dryer is not quite seven years old yet.  It's our third dryer in 14  years.  It was a mere $300 bucks new, so I began to mentally weigh the cost of repair vs new.  Sigh.  I really really would rather not buy a new dryer.  I stopped and started the drier a few times and the 'lawn mower' sound continued.  I let it run and the clothes dried fine, but it was just noisy.   I researched online and most of the troubleshooting tips referred to thumping or squealing, which I had none off.  Any other noises seemed to indicate a motor issue.  Various places online had a replacement motor for $70-100, if that indeed turned out to be the issue.  Worth fixing a 7 year old dryer??  Buy a new one?  Ugh.

The next evening, Clint had a few minutes of spare time, so we tackled the task of dismantling the dryer.  One of the help sites said maybe something was stuck in the blower wheel, or perhaps it needed to be replaced.  Clint unscrewed all the various screws and piece by piece almost had the whole dryer taken apart.  Then he removed the lint trap housing and to our surprise we found this.....

Somehow a lid from a laundry pod container fell inside the lint trap!!  Mystery sound solved.  It took a little time, but we got the dryer back together and voila!  No more noise.  Crises averted, for now.  

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Test post


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

School's out for summer!!

I won't lie - I am so ready for summer break.  This has been an overwhelming year full of book reports, projects, and other "Mom" assignments.  I know teachers use the diversity to help kids learn, but we've had way too many projects this year.  Momma is burned out on 4th grade!!

It's been a busy few weeks, but both kiddos have finished the school year off with a bang.

Veronica came home a few weeks ago with an invitation to attend a week long 4-H camp!!  She mulled it over and decided she wanted to go.  It's fully paid for by the school if you are invited, otherwise you foot the bill.  The camp is about 4 hours away by bus.  No electronics are allowed, so she will be out of touch all that time.  I'm a little nervous about letting my ten year old leave for a week.  I know it will be a great experience for her but I will miss her terribly.  I want to cry just thinking about it....

Valerie had her spring band concert last Tuesday evening.  They sound so good for being beginners.  Valerie got her two minutes of fame as the band director recognized her as the only one in her group to make District Honor Band.  Go Val!

Awards for Valerie was last Friday.  She had one B all year, in P.E. of all things.  P.E.!!  That knocked her out of the running for a Principal's List award and she got an A/B Honor Roll medal.

This week we also had dancing show offs.  Since this is an off year for recital, each class learns a few dances to show the parents at the last class.  It's really laid back and pretty much the same every year.  They show us the dances they learned and do a few steps across the floor.  And lots and lots of silliness in between!


Wednesday was Veronica's turn for awards at school.  She racked up with A/B honor roll, Advanced Math, French, and KidBiz awards.

AND today was the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!!  Valerie was happily running off the bus for the first time ever.  Veronica was a little teary-eyed but didn't have a big melt down.  Now on to some summer fun because we all know it will fly by........  

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

How To Save a Mockingbird

Peepers is doing great!  He's transitioned to our pet yard bird now.  He hangs out in the trees surrounding our backyard and returns to the porch calling for me when he's hungry.  For a while, he was begging to be hand fed all day long.  He's down to a few times a day now, and sometimes darts away from me in lieu of being fed.  His bird skills are improving - yay!!

I can go out back and call for him and he answers!  I can hear him peeep peeep from a distance in return.  Sometimes he'll even fly over as if he wants to say "Hi Mom!"  What - you don't believe me?  Well....

Y'all probably think I'm nuts, but I've grown quite attached to my feathered child.  I've been feeding this bird for over a month now.  He's quite sweet and very smart.  I know that eventually he'll stop coming around and have a 'real' mockingbird life, which is the goal.  Part of the pleasure of caring for a baby bird is releasing them.  Grow up and go out and seek your fortune, Peepers!!

A few people have asked how did I take care of him?  I did A TON of research online trying to figure out what to do to keep this bird alive.  It seemed impossible and I didn't even think he had a chance at survival at first.  He was just so tiny and it's so hard to duplicate a mamma bird.  I actually almost gave up because it seemed hopeless, but every morning there he was gaping to be fed.  Every day I grew a little more hopeful that he just might make it.

If you do find yourself with a baby bird, everything you read will tell you finding the mom is the best bet.  Sometimes though it just isn't an option.  This is what I did for Peepers.  He was a 4 or 5 day old mockingbird chick when I took him in.

* Baby birds need to be kept warm.  I put Peepers in a box and made him a 'nest' out of a towel.  I put a heating pad under the box for some warmth.  I also made him a sock buddy.  I filled a small sock with rice and microwaved it a few times a day.  Peepers cuddled right up to it and it stayed warm for a good while.

* I fed him every 20-30 minutes at first.  I used Purina Kitten Chow soaked in warm water and fed him using the handle of a plastic spoon.  He took to it right away, but I've read sometimes you have to force them to eat.   If the bird is cold and the food is cold, the bird won't eat.  Keep the bird warm and feed it warm food.  Thankfully mamma birds sleep all night so the constant feeding is only during daylight hours.  Baby bird will sleep all night, too!

*After researching, I ordered some Exact Baby Bird food  and began feeding him that.  I set a timer and every 30 minutes I fed him.  Usually he'd just eat 1-2 bites, wiggle his little booty and poop, and he was done.  After a while, he'd wiggle and poop as soon as he saw me, which was quite comical!!  I guess he knew it was dinner time and had to make some room...

*I took his box outside for a little sun every now and then.  Sometimes it seemed to upset him, so we didn't stay very long.  He'd get really agitated and start breathing with his mouth open which means he was stressed.

* When he was almost fully feathered, I moved him to a tall laundry basket.  I covered the top with netting and put a stick through the holes in the basket to make a perch.  He looooved the perch once he figured it out!  I added more perches and different heights and before long he could flutter to reach them all.

* I took him out for flying lessons.  I'd let him rest on the back of my hand and I'd drop it fast enough for him to spread his wings.  Eventually he'd fly from my hand to sit on my shoulder or head.  Then he'd fly to a tree, sometimes he'd miss and end up on the ground.  It seemed to take him a lot longer to fly than it was supposed to.  Mocking birds become independent around 15 days?  Not this one...

* Once he could fly a little, I started putting him in the tree where his nest was.  Several times he hopped in the nest and went to sleep!  I started with a few hours of tree time and worked up to all day tree time.  I'd check on him often and feed him, of course.  For a long time, he just sat in the tree.  He had no idea what to do.

I spent a lot of time with him outside working on flying.  He'd flutter off my hand and this is what I'd get:

Eventually he caught on and started leaving the tree, but he'd always return.  I'd put him in his cage at night and put him back in the tree in the morning.  I was still hand feeding him all day long as he didn't have any interest in trying to feed himself.

*Finally, he seemed to have enough 'bird skills' to be left out at night.  He had a hard time learning to eat on his own.  I was overjoyed to see him eat a bug!  For the first few days, he was at the back door begging for food constantly.  He'd start at dawn - peeep peeeep peeep.  He'd get quite angry if mealtime was delayed.  I held off and little by little am hand feeding him less and less.  I see him pecking around on the ground, so he's getting it.  He's on his way to being independent!!

Peepers is 5 weeks old now and doesn't go far.  I do go out and call for him every morning, and sometimes he'll fly to the fence wanting a few bites of his baby bird food, but sometimes not.  Sometimes I hear him calling me from the trees to go out and feed him!

It truly has been amazing watching this little bird grow.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Raising a pet mockingbird

Our Peepers is still hanging around.  He's a few days shy of one month old now.  (I call him 'he' but I strongly suspect he is a she!!)  Last night I left him outside for the first time.  For a while, I was letting him free during the day and caging him at night.  He was picking the most undesirable spots to sleep, like practically on the ground.  I wasn't sure he had enough bird sense to fly away from a predator, so I thought it was best to put him some place safe.  The neighbor's cat has stalked him and he flew away, so at least there's that!!

Peepers still hasn't gained his independence though.  He flies from tree to tree and has even left the yard, always to return to be fed though.  He pecks around and I've seen him eat a few small bugs.  I can hear him calling for me about 6am as the sun comes up.  He gets quite angry or HANGRY if I don't feed him right away.  It's quite funny and hard not to give in to his demands.  He wants his baby bird food and he wants it NOW!

For example, this morning I went to the gym and was gone for over an hour.  This is what I returned to:

(be sure to have your volume up for the full effect)

Just WHO has WHO trained here?  The cats are just mesmerized by this feathered creature that hangs out on the porch.

And then there's this...   Hand feeding is one thing, but here he is drinking water, or not...

He's making progress though.  Peepers first wouldn't leave the tree where the nest is.  Then he started venturing onto the porch.  Then onto a tree in a neighboring yard.  He still perches on my head or shoulder, but seems to balk at being handled.  After a few bites of food, he'll fly off only to return later.  It's cute as can be, and I am quite fond of him, but at some point it's got to end.  I can't keep feeding this bird every day, all day.  He needs to learn to be a bird.  I'm hoping that little by little I can ease up on hand feeding him and he'll eventually be off on his own, as a wild bird should be.

Most importantly, he's come a very long way from being at death's door when I found him.  For now, it seems we have a pet mockingbird or maybe it's the other way around??

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Monday, April 17, 2017

A little bit of Easter

The weeks leading up to Easter were sickly ones.  Veronica had tonsillitis.  Valerie had bronchitis.  Then I got hit with it also and was down for a few days.  Val hadn't quite recovered completely and she got sick all over again.  After doctor visits and prescriptions, we all seem to be on the upside of it finally.

On Good Friday, a friend of ours who recently moved back to town came to spend the afternoon with us.  I cooked some white beans and rice, and Clint fried some cat fish, red fish, and shrimp.  We dyed Easter eggs with the kids and had a low key afternoon.

Easter Sunday was even more low key.  I do believe the Easter Bunny has made his last appearance, as neither kid was all that interested.  Veronica seemed a bit excited, but no where near as in past years.  Usually she'd go on and on about the bunny passing, but she said very little this year.  She did want to leave out carrots.  She also got up in the middle of the night to check if the bunny had passed and had trouble sleeping, but that was it.  Valerie couldn't have cared less.  She didn't even want to get out of bed Easter morning.  She had zero interest in finding the eggs the bunny hid.  She looked through her candy and that was about it.  They are growing up.

We had Easter dinner together and did pretty much nothing but watch TV and eat candy all day!!

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter!!

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Saturday, April 08, 2017

Mr. Peepers


Mr. Peepers.

While we were away at Disney, a pair of mockingbirds decided to make a nest in the Sweet Olive tree right next to my back porch.  The tree isn't very big and the nest wasn't far off the ground at all.

I guess no one was around and all was quiet, so the birds thought it was a good spot to set up shop.  I first noticed the nest a little over a week after we returned.  I saw a bird fly out of the tree and spied the nest.  I thought it was an odd place being so low as there are so many CATS around who could easily get to them.  I peeked in the nest when the birds weren't around and found four speckled eggs.

I read up on mockingbirds and estimated they'd hatch in about a week.  On Friday, March 24, I used my phone to snap a pic over the nest and saw babies!!  Little bitty baby birds.  Awwwww.

By Tuesday, we could see their heads popping over the nest and hear them peeping.  I went out back and the mamma (?) bird flew off the nest the second she saw me.  Later, Val and Roni wanted to see the babies, so we went next to the tree and looked at them reaching out of the nest once more.  Lots of peeping while the mamma perched on the roof and squawked at us.

I guess it was too much and we were just too close.  Wednesday I went out and didn't see any birds begging to be fed.  No peeping. I looked closer.  Sadly, they were all still.  And quiet.  With no sign of mamma or daddy bird.  I was so sad.  I don't know if something had happened or if mamma stopped feeding them and abandoned the nest.  She was there the day before, so had she quit feeding them long before?  A few hours later, I thought maybe I should go make sure.  This time I shook the branch the nest rested on, and up popped ONE tiny gaping beak.  Peep peep.

There's no way I could just leave him there knowing he'd die like the others.  I plucked him out of the nest, got a box and a towel and set him up in the garage, far away from the cats.  Honestly I didn't think he would make it through the first night.  I fed him some dry cat food soaked in water because that's what it said to do online.  He was so little and ate so very little.  The next morning I almost didn't go check because I just knew he hadn't made it through the night. I looked in, almost certain I wouldn't find him alive.  I moved his box a little, and to my surprise, up popped the gaping beak.  Feed me.  So I did.  Around the clock, all day.  Every 20-30 minutes, it's time to feed the bird.  (Did you know they make powdered baby bird food?  They do!)

11 days old
It's been well over a week now since I've taken this job.  I can't be away from home long because I have to feed the bird.  I'll be damned if this bird is going to die on my watch!!!  I've been keeping him warm and cozy with a heating pad.  I bought him some special baby bird food and meal worms.  I made him a 'cage' out of a tall laundry basket and some tulle to cover the top.  He's doing quite well and I hope he's independent enough to release with in the week.  He peeps at me when he sees me, hence the name Mr. Peepers.  Sometimes he just stares at me as if he is trying to figure out who I am.

Or maybe he's trying to think of a way to say "Thank you."

15 days old

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Monday, April 03, 2017

A WTF Loot Crate / Loot Wear Review

Clint celebrated his birthday last week on March 24.  Yay!  He likes wacky t-shirts, so I thought I would give Loot Crate's Loot Wear subscription a try.  I signed him up for a six month t-shirt subscription.  They would ship him one novelty tee a month.  It was not expensive, only $43, but my credit card was charged with in seconds.  The website and the email I received claimed that the first shirt would arrive before the end of the month.

You did it! You've successfully subscribed and we're thrilled to welcome you to the Looter community. Your first package should arrive between the 20th and the 28th if you ordered by the 19th. Otherwise your first package will arrive next month. (Don’t worry, you’ll get a tracking email. Just a note, if you have any other Loot Wear subscriptions, you might receive just one tracking email in the case that they get combined). Remember, this is a 6-month recurring subscription. That means after you receive your 6 packages, your subscription will automatically renew (unless you cancel or there’s a zombie apocalypse).

Sounds great.  Okay!!  I figured there was a 50/50 chance that the first shirt would show up before the 24th.  

It did not.

In fact,  here it is April 3, and we still have no shirt.  

I managed to get a tracking number out of Loot Crate's Customer Support and the shipping label was printed a while ago on 3/20.  Then nothing.  It hasn't actually shipped yet.  Hmmm.  I decided to check Loot Wear's Facebook page, and found comment after comment asking about the delay, asking for updates, asking for tracking, etc.  

So it wasn't just me.  They are having some problems fulfilling orders in a timely manner, but are being very vague about it.

I opened a ticket and contacted Customer Support again asking for a status update.  The response was:

Once we ship your shirt, you will receive a tracking email.

You don't say??  (That was my actual response.)   Next I got:

Unfortunately, the March shirts and underwears are delayed and we do not have a specific date of when they could be expected to be delivered.

So, basically what Loot Crate / Loot Wear is saying is that they have NO IDEA when March orders will ship.  Well my happy self replied and said to cancel the whole thing.  If I ordered a March subscription box, I expect to actually receive it in March.  After reading the Facebook comments, delays seem to be an ongoing issue.  Since the shipping label had been printed, they would not let me cancel March, but I was able to cancel the rest of it.  I also filed a dispute with my credit card company.  

I've been reading through the posts on their FB page and made a few comments.  I told them I was unhappy with not receiving what I paid for on time.  I seemed to be getting the runaround with out any direct answers.  I replied to a few others who had the same issue as I did.  

Yesterday I log on to find out I have been BLOCKED.  YES  Loot Crate and Loot Wear both have me BLOCKED from commenting on their Facebook page.  Instead of addressing the issues, I get blocked!!??  WTF.  Never mind I was a paying customer.  Never mind I just want the damn shirt I am owed from weeks ago.  What kind of customer service is that??  They block people for wanting an update on their order??  If that's how it's going to be....

Bye bye Loot Crate.  I shall buy no more from you.  

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Last one ~ Disney Photopass aka Memory Maker Photos

Just dropping off a 'few' of my favorite Disney Photopass pictures!  Memory Maker is definitely worth buying.  If you need a price break, there are lots and lots of people who host shares out there.  Someone purchases Memory Maker, then a group with similar travel dates split the cost.   You just have to know where to look to find a share!

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