Beware of the Pack Mentality

#faith

Last week I decided to open a twitter account because, well, that’s the thing to do. With the whole Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate still fresh in my mind, I tweeted a question my daughter once posed about evolution. I thought it was innocent enough…wrong!
Saturday and Sunday I was attacked all.day.long by athiests and evolutionists. And not just personal attacks against me, but against homeschooling, the bible, God, and my children! The slants against my children were particularly vicious-

-”Her children probably don’t even know how to spell IQ.”

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There goes that idea.

-”Your children are going to be scientifically illiterate.”

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Hmmm…

-”Did a goat just back over one of them?”
I’m assuming this is referring to the ”all homeschoolers live on farms” stereotype. Funny thing is, I live in the city!

-”You are raising your kids on hell and fear.”
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They look terrified, don’t they? Actually, Dillon did get sick a few minutes after this was taken.

-”You’re sheltering your children from the real world.”
Boy, that’s original. Actually, it’s hard to shelter them considering we live in the city and are the only Christians in the entire family.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to wrap my brain around why they care so much about a person with nine twitter followers. I must have had to block about fifteen people, and I’ve never blocked anyone before! (referring to when I still had a Facebook account)
I felt like I was in one of my kids’ games! You know the ones- where every time you beat a bad guy, five more show up? They were acting like a pack of wild, injured animals. Wait…that’s when I realized something- they’re acting this way because instinctively they know their time is almost up. Instinctively, they know that they’re wrong, and someday they will have to face the Almighty God, and they’re terrified. Like I said, a pack of injured animals.
Someday, we will all meet Him, and I’ll be honored to say that I was persecuted in His holy and precious name. What about you?

    
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Joy Focused Learning

Five Free Field Trips

#homeschool #freefieldtrips

Having ten kids in the house can be a bit of a financial strain, so we have to be creative when it comes to field trips. Maybe some of these field trip ideas will inspire you and help you save money!

1. Allentown Art Museum- Our local art museum has free admission on Sundays and a free children’s art workshop where instructors will help them with an art project, or they can choose another independent project.

2. Lehigh County Historical Society- This is a museum showcasing local history. Once in a while, they’ll have free admission, invite other local museums to display things, and give a tour of the Trexler House.

3. Allentown Fish Hatchery- This is where they raise trout for stocking during fishing season. The kids love to feed the fish (there is a small fee for the fish food) and watch them all jump all over the water.

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4. Cabela’s- We looove Cabela’s. There’s so much to look at…huge fish tanks, a fish pond, and animal displays everywhere. All of the fish and animals are labeled, and there are some displays with prerecorded narratives.

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5. Allentown Recycling Center- We set up an appointment here and actually got a guided tour. The kids also got to help separate recyclables, throw stuff into the  compactors (which they particularly enjoyed), and they got a souvenir bag with a bunch of neat stuff, including shoelaces made from recycled water bottles!

Research where you live and see what free resources you can find. So many establishments are happy to share what they do!

What free field trip ideas do you have?

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Share the Wealth Sunday Blog Hop

Weekend Review: Breakthrough

#unschooling

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     The past month has been pretty awful weather-wise, and this week was no different. Snow Monday, snow and ice Tuesday night, and we were expected to get thirty inches this weekend, but, last that I heard, that storm has changed course. I really hope that’s true because Caollin and London are being baptized on Sunday!! I’m really hoping I don’t have to postpone it because of another snowstorm.
     Anyway…on with my weekend review.
     I actually made it to church for once on Sunday because the weather was decent enough to get out of the driveway. Caollin and London were recorded giving their testimonies for their baptism this Sunday. The testimonies are usually given in person on the day it actually happens, but when children decide to get baptized, they’ll tape it so the kids aren’t too uncomfortable. Believe me, the girls really appreciate that!
     Devin spent the weekend at her friend’s house and came home Sunday afternoon. She hadn’t seen her since July, so she had a really good time.
     My panic from last week continued for part of the weekend, until I had a breakthrough when I realized one of the reasons my kids weren’t really doing anything was because of me. I was pressuring them so much about doing educational activities that I was stifling their creativity, so this week has been about standing back and watching them live life.
     There was so much snow that this was an excellent week for snowboarding. Starting Monday, Dillon and Arianna’s friend had a couple of snow days, so they spent them snowboarding and sledding on a hill at the nearby creek.
     Dillon and Arianna have also been making several YouTube videos. Dillon has been researching Minecraft mods and skins and whatnot and posting videos about how to download and install them. Arianna has been making her own makeup tutorials.
     Caollin, London, Bailey, and Ireland have been playing ”restaurant” all week. They’re very into it. Caollin made menus,

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and they’ve been busy taking orders and setting tables in Caollin and London’s bedroom.

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     Devin finished up her astronomy unit this week and has moved on to oceanography.
     Tuesday was really just a continuation of Monday’s activities. More snowboarding, restaurant play, and YouTube video production.
     Dillon found some really cool maps for Minecraft, and Caollin and he have been incorporating them into Towns they’ve been creating for the past couple of weeks.
     Caollin decided to advertise for her restaurant, so she made some illustrations of the foods they serve.
     Wednesday we researched birds indigenous to Pennsylvania and were delighted to find out that there are roadrunners here! We’ll have to check exactly where because we’d love to see one. They’re so cute!
     Dillon watched a documentary about the titan boa with his dad, and Arianna researched plants and pollination in an Abeka science book a friend gave us. Caollin and London were still busy working at their restaurant.
     On Thursday the funniest thing happened. London came downstairs crying her eyes out. I asked her what was wrong. Apparently Caollin fired her for leaving her shift early! I had to laugh because this was like a real job to them! Caollin was lecturing London about what her responsibilities are as a server. Later, I heard Caollin hire Bailey as a busboy, Ireland as a dishwasher, and Summer as a hostess.

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The dishwashing station

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The restaurant pantry

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The restaurant was moved downstairs today, so Kenzie became a customer

     Devin was busy researching how silk is made. She doesn’t mind doing projects as long as she can somehow incorporate art into it.

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     Dillon made a really neat water slide and cabin on Minecraft.

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     I went upstairs to see what Arianna was up to and found her copying passages from Psalms in rainbow markers! What a neat idea!
     Friday will probably be more of the same and a trip to the grocery store. I really don’t mind the fact that the kids did pretty much the same thing everyday because they’re delving deeper and deeper into these activities, and they’re really passionate about them.
     So, this is what our house has looked like this week…not too exciting, but the kids were happy, content, and learning, so that’s good enough for me!

How was your week?

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Maybe “Educational” Should Be a Bad Word

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Calm down…I know what you’re thinking. To clarify myself, I am not against education, just society’s definition of it.

Just what exactly is considered to be educational by most people?

– Something that fits neatly into a  school board-approved subject- i.e. English, Math, Science, etc.

– Something which is learned out of textbooks, then tested and graded

– Anything which is covered in standardized testing and the Common Core

Makes sense, right? It’s all very straightforward…

…or is it?

An important question here is who decides what is considered to be educational? That’s easy….school boards and the government. Oh, boy. That’s a problem for me. Our government can’t handle running the country- the job we hired them for. Why would we throw something else at them for them to control, particularly, our children’s futures? I don’t know about you, but that’s a problem for me.

This brings me to my next point…what about the interests of our children that don’t fit into a neat little box? For example, Arianna loves watching makeup tutorials. This has evolved into her using my other kids as canvases for her own theatrical makeup experiments. She’s also turned it into a business; she charges a quarter for face painting. More recently, she’s started recording her own makeup tutorials and uploading them onto YouTube. Would the school board or NEA consider this to be educational? I can’t speak for them, but I doubt it. Has she learned through this? Absolutely.

You see, my problem with the word ”educational” has nothing to do with learning. My concern is this: shouldn’t anything that our child immerses herself in and surrounds herself with be just as important as any mainstream educational objective?

Another issue is something I may have caused myself with my children. Since I was always so concerned with fulfilling state regulations, I was constantly focusing on those schoolish subjects that my children had no interest in and devaluing their true interests because I thought they weren’t educational. There’s that word again.

Being a product of the public school system, I had these same views so ingrained into me that I contributed to my children believing that the things they most wanted to do weren’t worth it.

Thankfully, I’ve come to my senses. If a child is learning while they’re doing something, anything, it is educational.

Last week, London and Caollin were playing ”restaurant” for hours- making menus, taking orders, setting tables- the whole shebang. They were having so much fun.
The last straw came when London, who’s eight, came up to me while playing and said,
”Mommy, is this educational?”

I was floored!

What have I done? My little girl was more concerned with that than with enjoying herself. That’s when I decided to never use the e-word in front of my kids again. (2016- I do use that word now, but less frequently!)

Are my kids learning? Every single day. But that’s not what I want to focus on anymore. I want to focus on living.

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What are your thoughts on this subject? Join the conversation!

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Throwback Thursday Blog-Style

Happy Birthday to My Mother

Mom, you’re going to be a hard act to follow.

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This is a photo of my mom with ten of my kids and me. I found out I was expecting Kenzie a month after this was taken.

     Today is my mom’s 79th birthday. I know she won’t mind me saying that because her favorite saying is, ”You’re only as old as you feel.” I wish I felt the same. The closer I get to 40, the sadder I get.
     Having said that, today’s post will be a tribute to my mom, Jean.

– Happy birthday to the woman who, upon finding out she was five months pregnant at the age of 39 (my current age),chose not to take the doctor’s advice and have an abortion. I wouldn’t be here today. The doctor was concerned that her advanced maternal age would cause her to have a Mongoloid baby (the doctor’s words, not mine).

– Happy birthday to the woman who did not have a baby with Down Syndrome but did have a baby with club foot in both legs. (Me)

– Happy birthday to the Mom who, along with my dad, drove me to Philadelphia over and over again to see a specialist.

– Happy birthday to my mom who never gave up on me, despite being told that I would never walk without crutches. She enrolled me in dance classes and skating classes, hoping the doctor’s predictions wouldn’t come true. They didn’t.

– Happy birthday to a mother who accompanied her daughter to countless dance classes and recitals. Because of her, I eventually became a certified dance teacher and a member of a dance company. I never did need those crutches.

– Happy birthday to the Granma who, despite still working full time, still finds time to be with her grandchildren who love her dearly. 

You’re going to be a hard act to follow, Mom! I can only pray that I will approach motherhood and, eventually, grandmotherhood with the same tenderness, hope, and determination that you have.

I love you, Mom!

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Sometimes Simple Is Hard

Keep it simple; don’t complicate things.

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Leave it to me to take something that is pure simplicity at its core and turn it around into something complicated. It happens unintentionally; it always does. As a former ”gifted” student, I’ve always excelled in areas of academics but failed miserably when it came to common sense.
Unfortunately, simplicity is all about common sense, and therein lies the problem.
In this post last week, I discussed the panic I was beginning to feel with allowing my children to follow their own interests and the fact that I felt they weren’t following any interests. They just seemed to be existing but not learning. Every time I would tell them to pursue something…anything…they wanted to, I would get a deer-in-the-headlights look from them. They honestly didn’t have a clue as to what I expected of them.
So over the weekend, I started thinking that maybe we should go back to our old eclectic method of homeschooling. They seemed they were doing so much more self-directed learning after I would finish their lessons for the day. I even went so far as to tell them that, come Monday, we were going back to our old routine. Believe me, they weren’t happy about this, but I guess they’re used to my indecisiveness because they took the news better than I thought they would.
And then the unthinkable happened. After I talked to them about this, I noticed that they did more self-directed learning in two days than they had done in the four weeks since we began unschooling!
Arianna made her own lipstick, learned how to paint her nails in a swirl pattern, and helped her dad change the brakes on the car!
She also made her own makeup tutorial and uploaded it onto YouTube.
Dillon went snowboarding, researched all kinds of mods for Minecraft, and made several batches of playdough for himself and the younger kids.
The younger kids were making paper dolls, crafting with playdough, and playing games all.day.long.
These are the same kids that weren’t doing much of anything last week, other than arguing with each other or staring off into space while petting the cats!!
     That’s when it hit me…I was to blame! I wasn’t giving them the space they needed to pursue their own interests. Sure, I was telling them to do it, but that’s the point…I was constantly telling them go find something to do, why aren’t you doing anything, find a project to do, etc. I also kept reminding them about making sure they were doing something educational, and I think the problem was that they didn’t think their interests were educational.
     I took something as simple as natural learning and complicated it as only I can! I made unschooling into something separate in our life, instead of a way of life!
     So I decided to give this whole unschooling thing another shot- with a twist. I took away the media blackout that I had instated because it made that period of time seem too schoolish. I also tried really hard not to interfere with their pursuits today. (I think I did really well, if I do say so myself!) I also made a point not to keep using the word ”educational.” As a matter of fact, London asked me if something was educational, and I replied, ”It doesn’t matter! Just have fun!” (FYI it was educational.)
So what did happen today?

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Dillon worked on some crafts.

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Puppets and paper dolls were made.

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The kids played ”restaurant” for hours, complete with making menus and taking orders.

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We watched A Little Princess. Arianna read it last year, so we watched the movie, and it’s a family favorite now. I cry every time I watch it!

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I asked Arianna what she was supposed to be, and she said, ”I’m a fish-monster, duh!” Preteens…

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Caollin journaled on her tablet.

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We played a makeshift game of Twister using our living room rug.

     Although I don’t have a photo, Dillon also made a YouTube video about how to download and install Minecraft mods, and Arianna emailed me her journal entry for today.
Would I count today as a success? Absolutely. When my children were actually given the space they needed without pushing or prodding, the learning continued beyond what I ever expected.
My lesson today? Keep it simple; don’t complicate things. I wish I would’ve realized this all along.

How has simplicity, or lack of it, affected you? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

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Throwback Thursday Blog-Style

Our Homeschool Month in Pictures

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Our new kitten, Violet

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Ireland and Summer ”hanging out”

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Dillon drawing

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London’s ”Noah’s Ark”

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Kenzie and Caollin

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Summer watching Dora

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Summer multitasking

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London making paper dolls

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Bailey in his ”boat”

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Arianna…building

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Dillon working on his blog

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Kenzie asleep in her exersaucer

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Jace and Violet

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London and Ireland doing science experiments

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Dillon sewing…yes, sewing

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Luke, Caollin, and London making chicken fingers

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Caollin with the fake lung we made

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Ireland doing her ”schoolwork”

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Ireland after Arianna did her makeup

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Devin makes an appearance

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Daddy playing with Kenzie

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Devin made this headband

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Dillon’s puppet

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Arianna’s math

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Crowley

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One of Ireland’s ”experiments”

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How I feel after posting all these pictures

So there was our January! What did yours look like?

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You Want the Truth About Homeschooling?

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Are you new to homeschooling or thinking about doing so in the future? What do you think of when homeschooling comes to mind? A beautifully coiffed Mom teaching her neatly dressed children, while simultaneously polishing the furniture and baking bread? Exquisitely mannered children doing everything they can to please said Mother? This is my wake-up call to you…that’s not reality!
Don’t fall into the trap of believing all the sugar-coated stories you hear of homeschooling! While there may be amazing families out there who seem to exemplify perfection- this is not the norm! Homeschooling families are real families with real issues, just like yours.
This was almost my homeschooling downfall- I was comparing myself to the fairy tale version of it, and if you’re a new homeschooler, you need to know the truth! That’s what I’m going to tell you today.

– Your house will be messy at times, but learning is happening, and memories are being made!

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My table looks like this at least three times a day.

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It will get cleaned!

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This is where the learning and memories come in.

Remember that your house is lived in 24 hours a day. Don’t beat yourself up if it gets a little cluttered at times. It happens when you’ve got kids at home- all the time.

– Your laundry will pile up, but that’s a great excuse to do school in your jammies!

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Don’t panic. This is extreme- I’ve got twelve people in the house and one washer and dryer.

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Bailey learning in his jammies

Yes, there are going to be days when your kids have to wear mismatched socks (that happens a lot here) or you will remember the night before church that your son doesn’t have clean pants (that happens a lot here, too). That’s okay. It’ll get done. If my kids are perfectly happy wearing their pajamas, and we’re not going anywhere, that’s fine! Less laundry for me!

– There will be bickering and crying at times (and not always by the kids!!), but love and friendship will win out!

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Notice the mismatched socks!

– There will be days…or weeks that you feel just plain burned out, but flexibility is one of the benefits of homeschooling.

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Take the day off and go somewhere!

Put in a DVD or let your kids follow their own interests for a while. Believe me, that’s learning at its best!

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That’s a salamander she’s holding.

– You’re going to want need to be alone at times, but that’s okay! Everyone needs some downtime. If having some alone time is going to help you be a better parent, by all means, do it! If you can’t actually get away (like me), get creative. Take a few extra minutes in the shower, send the kids outside, or let them watch TV (they’ll be fine).

I didn’t write this post to discourage you, but to encourage you. Homeschooling is such a tremendous blessing and joy, but if you go into it with unrealistic expectations,  you run the risk of disappointment, which homeschooling is not.

What advice would you give to new or prospective homeschoolers?

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List_it_Tuesday

Five Random Thoughts from a Frazzled Mom

I’m linking up with The Pebble Pond today for Random Five on Friday.

     One of the reasons I write is because I constantly  have thoughts running through my head throughout the day- some thought-provoking, some just plain stupid.:-)  Here’s a snippet of some recent ones:

1. Luke(5) broke my only broom, so which should I use?

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My broken broom?

My broken broom???

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Or Summer’s toy broom???

Hmmm…. I actually tried both. The broken one worked better, even though I had to do it on my hands and knees.

2. How do my kids know when I go down in the laundry room when they’re playing all the way upstairs?? Do they have radar??

3. Why do people spend so much money on jungle gyms when we’ve got what we need right in the house??

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The kids jumping on the laundry pile as we’re getting ready to take it downstairs

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Ireland pushing Summer in the washbasket

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The kids made their own washbasket obstacle course.

See??

4. Will I ever sleep through the night again? It’s been soooo long!

5. I wish there were little cleaning fairies who would come to my house to take care of this…

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I keep telling myself that someday I’m going to miss the mess. Okay, maybe not the mess itself but the cause of it.

What goes through your head??

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