Mardi Gras

We are very lucky to live in a town where so much goes on.  Even though it’s a relatively small town (50,000) they offer so much.  I just always assumed every town did this but I have so many Instagram friends who say their town doesn’t do things.

We go to everything.  Old town tours, 3rd Fridays, Old State Bank tours, Civil War tours, balloon festivals, Civil War reenactments, festivals and art shows and library special events and free events at our free art museum and so much more.

This past weekend was a Mardi Gras parade.  Mardi Gras actually started in Mobile, Alabama not New Orleans like most people think.

This is a huge fundraiser for our Art Museum.  It starts at 10:00 and has a Canine Mardi Gras Parade, then a Children’s Parade at 2:00 and then the actual parade at night.  There are events and a scavenger hunt of sorts where you had to get stamps from 28 small shops located in our downtown area.  We had such fun going into shops we had never visited and meeting the shop owners.  We tasted Cajun cooking at the cook-off and wandered around the children’s activites area.  We spent the entire day there, then ran home and changed to get back for the night parade.

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All the dogs all the time.

Mardi Gras dogs

The dogs in the parade

Dogs MG

Aren’t they adorable? Keilee wants to take Nomad so much but he is so badly behaved on a lease.  We said what we always say, “Next year we are taking him for sure”!

We almost didn’t go to the night parade because it was so cold and my goofy child refuses to wear a coat (“It messes up my outfit”)  But I am so glad we did.  They outdid themselves this year and the floats were spectacular.  My iPhone failed to really capture the beautiful, vibrant colors.

floats

More floats:

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We stood on the front row and got beamed by beads a couple of times.  Those people throw HARD!!  But Keilee ended up with over 50 necklaces!!  And so many people actually came over and put them on her neck.  She also got some Moon Pies which she had never tried before.  (I know, I know, they are a Southern tradition but I hate them and she has never expressed an interest in trying them)  Her verdict : “I would never specifically ask for them but they are good”.

Keilee Mardi Gras

All in all it was a wonderful day.

Does your town have any cool traditions or festivals?

Homeschooling Rocks!
Karen

 

“We don’t hide the crazy, we parade”.  ~Unknown
Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let The Good Times Roll

Alice and Elsa and Snow and Thank You Notes….

I am trying to post here more.  Lately Keilee and I have been going back and looking through my blog posts.  It seems like we used to do such fun things!!  It is just easier to do cooler, hands on learning things with a 10 year old than a teenager.

But I still want to document what we do.  The pictures of learning aren’t always that awesome.  She pretty much sits on the couch and does her school type work.  But I do want to show the other things that take up our weeks.

It snowed here a bit last week.  Nothing like the blizzards that so many of you got but about an 1″.  I took this picture of Keilee reading my Nancy Drew book and then used an app called Superphoto.  I love the way it turned out.

snow

We went to the library and Keilee noticed they were having an Alice Tea Party so she asked the children’s librarian if she could dress up as Alice.  They said they would LOVE that.  It was such a great time.  They had a tea party and then showed the movie.  The movie broke so Keilee suggested she read a chapter from the tea party scene.  Our Newspaper was there and took pictures.

Alice Collage

She also had an Elsa birthday party.  Our ‘car selfies’ when she is dressed up are some of my favorites.

Kei Mom Elsa

It’s been really rainy here lately and we HATE letting Nomad out because he gets soaking wet.  And that dog wet smell? Yuck.  So we made him a raincoat.  He was not impressed.

Poor Nomad

A little over a year ago Keilee gave me a jar filled with about 100 “Thank You’s”.  About twice a week I pull one out and read them.  I have laughed and cried many times doing this.  What this has made me realize is that little things do matter.  Kids remember the times you spent making things fun and educational and just the moments you spend with them.

Thank You Jar

So keep dancing in the kitchen and playing those board games and taking those walks and all the little things you do.  They will remember.

Homeschooling Rocks!
Karen

“Each day of our lives we make little deposits in the memory banks of our children.”  Charles Swindoll

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Bringing Smart Back

Keilee has talked about doing a YouTube channel for years. She has put various videos on YouTube and even had the one she did on her 13th birthday (13 Random Acts of Kindness) get over 20,000 views.

But last summer she decided to actually do it. She wanted it to be short videos that would give knowledge to kids. She wanted to show kids it was ‘cool to be smart’. She decided to name it “Bringing Smart Back” very loosely based on the song “Bringing Sexy Back” (although she refuses to say that word! Ha)

The idea of ‘making a video every week’ sounds good in theory but it is such a time consuming endeavor. She thinks of a topic, researches thoroughly, writes her script, films it, edits it and post it along with a description. Then she decided she would like a webpage with accompanying lesson plans. She wanted it all to be free. Then she decided she wanted a Pinterest board with ideas to go along with each video. And she has an Instagram account for Bringing Smart Back.

She has so many videos that I love. She loves going on location for shoots.  But I really liked this one about Social Media.  She explained it from a kid’s point of view.

She also loves doing characters.  It’s the ‘theater kid’ in her coming out.

Very early on she was contacted by Great Products who said they would love to sponsor her.  To say she was excited is an understatement.  This is a great Homeschool company ran by homeschoolers! If you aren’t familiar with this company they have Homeschool and Christian T-Shirts very reasonably priced.  They gave Keilee merchandise and her own coupon code!  Use “Keilee” for a 10% discount.

Keilee tshirt

With her webpage, Bringing Smart Back,  she creates some of the lesson plans herself and some are just links to plans she has found online. She has to check each link to make sure it works and is free, she has to watch completely each video that she links on her webpage because you would not believe the videos that start out sweet and turn bad!!!

From August to mid way through November she did 4 videos a month. Then she had a bit of a meltdown. She was so stressed because she had so much to do. In addition to Bringing Smart Back she has schoolwork and her Princess business and she has a new script to learn each week for Kids church, and she has her Keilee’s Kreations crochet business. During November and December she got 19 orders and had to get those all made before Christmas.

So I suggested she take a break during the holidays from Bringing Smart Back. She started it back in January and has decided (with strong suggestions from her Mama) that she posts 2 videos a month.

Keilee has always been great at time management but there is only so many hours hours in a day and you can’t cram 30 hours into 24.  As Moms most of us know this right?

But she has gotten excited about it again and is back on track.  And she doesn’t have the one million subscribers she wanted to have or been mentioned on Hank Green’s Sci Show but who knows?

So check it out.  And share it if you feel like it.  And show your kids because “Bringing Smart Back” is cool!

Homeschooling Rocks!
Karen

 

“We should all feel confident in our intelligence. By the way, intelligence to me isn’t just being book-smart or having a college degree; it’s trusting your gut instincts, being intuitive, thinking outside the box, and sometimes just realizing that things need to change and being smart enough to change it.” ~Tabatha Coffey

Plans and More Plans…

A new year beckons shiny and new. I like new beginnings. I like August which means the start of our new school year and I like January which means the start of a new year.

We had plans this year. But our plans seem to get derailed pretty easily. Why does it look so good on paper and so hard in real life? It reminds me of budgets. I’ve always been horrible at them. On paper it is so pretty; all the money accounted for. Everything tucked into it’s neat little category. But it never works out that way.

I have a horrible habit of complaining ” I can’t do anything!! I want to find things I love to do.”  I love to read and play a few video and online games and watch Korean dramas but nothing very ‘creative’.  I vowed to change that this year.  With varied results.

So this new year there are plans; plans to learn Korean and Calligraphy. Plans to do a short study on the upcoming movie “God’s of Egypt”, plans to better manage time, especially hers, plans to do more Bible studies, to start Periscoping (she is KeileeT there if you Periscope) from a homeschool teenagers perspective and more.

More reading aloud, more living in the moment, more exercise, more saying yes. There are plans to start a daily planner- for me (oh my word I have seen videos and scopes about these and while they are beautiful beyond words I MUST realize mine with NOT look like theirs. Not even close).

But now, only a few days into the new year life happens. My Dad decided to get a new floor in our homeschool room which meant there were piles and piles and piles of stuff everywhere in the house. They came last week and removed carpet and came back Monday and it took 3 days. Then began the great purge. Do I really need 2nd grade curriculum? So when life happens plans go awry. And that is one of the frustrating things about homeschooling but also the great things about it. Keilee has always seen ‘real life’. She knows there are days when errands have to be ran and things taken care of so you have to learn to manage your time well.

Ta da our new art/homeschool/craft room.  Trust me this looks amazing comparatively speaking.  She has so.much.stuff.

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My Korean numbers.  Good grief I will never learn this.  The actual ‘words’ aren’t bad but the characters are crazy!

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This is called faux calligraphy.  My first attempts weren’t very good but I’ll get better.

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We have been watching tons of periscopes about planners.  These people are serious about their planners.  They are like works of art.  So I got a planner and while mine will NEVER look like theirs I am enjoying it.

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A page from Keilee’s Art Journal.  Her page about her 16th birthday.  She plans to do a Periscope soon about her Art Journaling.

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Some dolls she made for her Instagram shop, serving at our local soup kitchen, shenanigans in Wal-Mart and the promo ad for a Tea Party and Alice in Wonderland movie she is doing at our library.  We went to the library to see a quilt show and saw these flyers about the showing of Alice in Wonderland.  So Keilee asked to speak to the head of the children’s department and asked her if she could dress up as Alice.  She was thrilled with the idea.  Keilee is so excited because she loves Alice.  She has been going around speaking in a British accent for 2 days.

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I know all these things will not get done.  I have learned many things over the years of homeschooling but one of the most important is that no matter how much you plan ‘life does happen.’

But everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. How you choose to use it can make all the difference.

Homeschooling Rocks!
Karen

 

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” ~Robert Burns

Linking with Sylvia at Faithful Mom of 9

~16~

January 3rd was her birthday. Her 16th birthday. How is that possible? I am not ready for her to be 16 but time is a funny thing; it happens regardless of if you are ready for it or not .

We had such an amazing day. We went to church to hear an amazing message then she led Kid’s Church. Their script for the next few weeks are 2 extremely county people in Louisiana (think Duck Dynasty) who take off on an adventure to the Arctic.  Then she made cupcakes for her Small Group of 4th-5th grade girls.  She adores these girls.  And they adore her back.

Keilee and her sweet girls. They made her a whiteboard card.
Keilee and her sweet girls. They made her a whiteboard card.

After church we went to IHop for the 14th year in a row!!! We started going when she was 3. There were ladies there who said they had been a part of singing to her since 2010!!!

IHop ladies singing Happy Birthday!
IHop ladies singing Happy Birthday!
The sundae!!
The sundae!!
YUMMY!!!!
YUMMY!!!!

Then back home for family visits. After that we went to an abandon railroad to take birthday pictures. Then we went to Olive Garden for dinner. We had gift cards for both IHop and Olive Garden that we had been saving.

Happy Birthday!!
Happy Birthday!!

One perfect piece of tiramisu.

Tiramirsu

 

For her birthday she wanted to change her bedroom. She completely took down her loft bed by herself and is now using an antique bed that I used to use years and years ago. She didn’t want me to buy her a new comforter but I insisted. She hadn’t had a new one since she was 5. She knew what she wanted and searched and searched online. She knew she wanted a gypsy/bohemian and we looked in stores and online. She finally found the one below. And loved it. She then bought 5 yards of in sale fabric and tore strips for the ‘curtains’. She made the crocheted bunting and the fabric bunting on her headboard. And she took off ALL her stuffed animals and spent a long time picking her favorite few; a wicked witch from “The Wizard of Oz’ when she played the witch when she was 11, Marie from “Aristocats” where she played The Duchess when she was 13, Butch the Bulldog that we got at The Opryland Hotel when she was 5, Meeko the Raccoon from when she played Meeko in Pocahontas when she was 8, an owl my brother got her last Christmas and her tooth fairy pillow I got her when she was 5. And the new colorful pillow my brother got her for her birthday Sunday.

The room reveal!
The room reveal!

I have had the utmost honor of raising this amazing girl. One who loves so many things. Who talks about “Fruits of the Spirit” more often than the Top 40. Who can take a stick and fabric and create something amazing. Who thinks that most teenagers are from another planet and she doesn’t speak their language. Who is happiest watching a documentary on serial killers or the brain .

Who never watches anything teen drama or a movie about anyone doing anything ‘inappropriate’ without saying “2 words people: Self Control”. Who gets a little freaked out about being 16 and wishes she was 6 at times. Who loves knowledge and music and corny jokes and Korean dramas and anything in the world animal related (especially dogs or baby animals). Who has Pinterest boards that she actually does the pins! Who loves being on stage or performing in any way. Who has grown and been stretched by God this year as she teaches children about God and prays over them .

Who delights me every single day. Who has never been in trouble really because she is just that good of a child. But who doesn’t have a clue what a ‘clean room’ looks like, she honestly doesn’t get it. Mess bothers her not at all. Who has to create the same way most people have to breathe. Who sings constantly and dances most always. And good Lord, her crazy dances are legendary around our house. Who has such an idea of right and wrong. Life is black or white to her. She will learn the ‘gray’ in time .

Who wants to be an psychologist; child, animal and/or criminal, and a farmer and a English tutor in Korea and a Disney Princess and an animal rehabilitator in Africa and an actress depending on the day. And who could do them all and rock them. And she doesn’t care about money. “Just enough to live on” she says .

This child who is almost grown up (but not really Mom there is still so much I don’t know) and who won’t be here forever and oh my goodness that time is getting closer and closer .

Who has taught me the meaning of ‘wings and roots’ (although the wings are hard y’all) .

Happy Birthday my Keilee girl. May you always soar. May you one day find your tribe and know without a doubt that you are home. May God always guide your choices and your life. May your light shine oh so bright and illuminate everyone you come into contact with .

And may you always, forever more, without one ounce of doubt; know you have a Momma who always loved you to Pluto and back. And then back again. And back .

Homeschooling Rocks!
Karen

“What I want most for my daughter was that she be able to soar confidently in her own sky, whatever that may be”. ~Helen Claes

 

2015

Just a quick recap of our year so I will have it all in one place.  How do you document a year?  There were amazing times but I am sure I will leave out highlights no matter how hard I try.

Keilee turned 15 and got her permit.  She has been wanting to drive since she was 12 but once she got it she wasn’t that excited.  She drives occasionally but it’s just not that important to her.  She has zero desire to get her license at this time.

Kei driving

It snowed!  Which is rare and we always love.

snow 2Snow in Alabama!!!

snow

She created and sold so many handmade items for Keilee’s Kreations.

KK collage

She joined a party Princess group and has absolutely loved it.

Princess collage

We spent days with friends.

friends collages 2015

We volunteered at Soulstock a Christian Rock Festival and volunteered hours and hours at our local soup kitchen.

Serving

We spent long summer days at our favorite pool.

Pool

Jessica and her girls visited in the summer and we had a blast.

jess summer

At Epic Church!!!

jess summer 2

Keilee started her YouTube channel Bringing Smart Back and the accompanying website with lesson plans.

She started leading worship at kid’s church and teaching a small group of 4-5th grade girls every Sunday.

Church

We went on an incredible trip with Jessica, Grace and Lilah that I did not blog about.  Jess blogged about it at Teachable Moments.  This was one of our very favorite memories of 2015 and one of our favorite trips of all time.  Keilee has always wanted to do the Civil Rights Tour in Alabama.  She has wanted to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge forever and especially since seeing “Selma”.  Thank you Jess for making one of her dreams come true!

trip Civil

We had a wonderful Christmas and did so much.

2015 was a great year.  It had it’s bad moments but for the most part it was wonderful.

Now bring on 2016!!!  Keilee will be 16 on January the 3rd and neither of us are ready for that!!  We are making a few changes because that is what is awesome about learning at home.  You can shake things up as often as you want!

Homeschooling Rocks!
Karen

“Whatever you do or dream you can do — begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it”. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, writer and statesman

 

Blessed…

We had a wonderful Christmas season.  I tried to say ‘Yes’ more than ‘No’ during this month.

And because of that we had the best month, one full of beautiful memories.

We went to our town’s Christmas parade which we haven’t done in a couple of years.  And ate dinner at one of our favorite sandwich shops.

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We served Christmas dinner for over 250 people at our downtown rescue mission.

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We went to church to the kid’s showing of “Polar Express” in footie pjs!

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We went to the boat Parade of Lights and then looking at Christmas lights and out to eat with our dear friend Patsy.  (who was my Mom’s best friend)Search results for icloud2

Keilee and her princess friends were in a Christmas parade in a town near us.  They rode on a float and threw candy.  Fun was had by all!

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Keilee went to eat lunch right before Christmas vacation with her favorite little girl in the world.  She surprised her and she was beyond ecstatic.

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We took selfies. :)

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We went to our downtown and watched this amazing 3D light show on the Old State Bank.  Then we walked through downtown and ate dinner with some of our favorite people.

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Keilee fell in love with my cousin’s new Lab while delivering a crochet order to her.

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We took photos with Keilee wrapped in lights.  Because we thought it looked cool.

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Keilee taught kid’s church every Sunday.  She taught over 100 kids per service and also led a small group of girls in 4-5th grade.  She LOVES this and even made each of her ‘girls’ a goodie bag for Christmas.

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She had a great idea of ringing the Salvation Army bell dressed as Elsa.  I took her to the main office and she met with the director and he told her she could.  She asked the girl who plays Anna and they both spent over an hour walking around the mall taking pictures with tons of kids and then ringing the bell for 2 hours.  And Keilee did it all in 6″ heels.  She’s kinda my idol.

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We had the most wonderful Christmas morning complete with great gifts for each other.  And Nomad.

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We plays tons of Board games, baked for friends and family, read Christmas picture books aloud, listened to Christmas music almost non-stop, watched tons of Hallmark Christmas movies and so much more.

So from us to you, we hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

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It was one of our favorite Christmases to date.

But…we are both ready to get back to ‘real life’.

Bring on 2016!!

Homeschooling Rocks!
Karen

“At Christmas, all roads lead to home.”

Fawns, Barbies and Cotton…

It’s been a crazy 2 weeks.  Most days I feel very non productive.  That is because I live with Keilee who does more in a day than I do in a week.

She has decided that she wants her Instagram more ‘artistic’.  So she has been taking and posted photos she deems ‘artsy’.  This is one of my favorites.

Keilee Paint

Keilee  helps teach a homeschool Science class on Thursdays and they did exploding pumpkins.  The kids all LOVED them!

Pumpkin Collage

Halloween was a great day.  Keilee told me she wanted to be a fawn and I was like, ‘What??  How boring. ” I should have known better.  I love the way it turned out.

Fawn Halloween

Our church had a Fall Festival that we both helped with.  It was a great day and we had a wonderful turnout.  We went to a play Halloween afternoon and then it rained Halloween night so we decided to stay in at night.

Halloween collage

We have a family that we met during “Shrek the Musical”.  They homeschool and they have 2 boys.  We really liked them but haven’t seen them since the play.  About 6 months ago we followed along with the journey to adopt Lily from China.  We finally got to meet Lily.  Keilee took her 2 tutus that she had made.  She was such a delightful little girl and Keilee had a blast hanging out with her and her 2 older brothers.

Lily Keilee

This is a collage for Keilee.  It is the guys she thinks are cute and I told her I was going to put it here so one day she could look back and see it.  Think she has a ‘type’?  6 guys and 4 of them are Korean. 😉   Plus Jason Momoa and of course, Johnny Depp who she has loved since she was 3 and saw Pirates of the Caribbean.

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This little girl was turning 4 and her Grandmother hired Keilee to dress up as Barbie and visit her at her day care.  It was the first time Kei has gotten to be Barbie and she loved it so much.  The little girl and all the kids were just so excited to see her.  She sang Happy Birthday and ate cupcakes with them.

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Keilee is still working hard on Bringing Smart Back on YouTube.  This past Wednesday was about cotton and we got to visit a farm and a cotton gin and Keilee interviewed the farmer and cotton gin manager.  It was SO very cool and she has learned so much.  We both have.

I can not believe it is already November.  Time marches on so quickly. We have a CRAZY month planned with Elsa parties, field trips and a TRIP with friends!  We are both so excited.

Homeschooling Rocks!
Karen

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The 3 Faces of Keilee

It was a crazy, busy weekend for us.

Friday night Keilee was asked to be a Zombie tour guide at the historic Princess Theatre.  She looked like a zombie I guess but it was a bit disturbing!  She sent a picture to a really good friend of hers and he told her, “It makes me want to find someone and beat them up.  You look like you were abused!”.

She was so excited to do this.  They had different areas ‘zombified’ and it was similar to a haunted house.  Keilee and the man who works there are the only 2 that did the tours and she had a blast.  Like she said,  “I really like being in charge.”

The little girl in the picture is Emma Jo.  Emma Jo is who Keilee fell in love with (and vice versa) during Aristocats.  She saw on Facebook that Keilee was going to be a zombie and begged her Mom to take her.  She ran and hurled herself at Keilee and wanted a picture.  Keilee told her ‘I am so sorry I look so gross” and she told Keilee, “You always look beautiful.”  They are so sweet together.  Keilee has plans to surprise her Thursday at her school and eat lunch with her.

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Saturday night she was invited to a 1940’s Swing Dance.  We ordered her dress weeks ago from China and paid $11 for it! Including shipping.  She found shoes at the thrift store for $2.99.  She worked so hard on Emma’s birthday present.  I wish I had made pictures.  She made a board book with quotes and pictures of them and it was beautiful.

Swing Dance

Sunday after church she had an hour long Elsa party.  She always loves being Elsa and seeing the kids so excited that Elsa and Anna are at their parties!

Elsa

She told me Sunday night that she was so ready for Monday and the chance to just be “Keilee”.

Even though this week is shaping up to be really busy at least she can be ‘herself’.

Homeschooling Rocks!
Karen

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Week That Was Beautiful…

The weather turned cooler and we had such a great week.

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We went to an Art Festival that was amazing.

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And Keilee got her picture in the paper.  It’s one of my all time favorite pictures of her!

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Most of her week was spent on Bringing Smart Back.  She works on this about 20-30 hours a week.  I’m going to do a post on it but I keep putting it off!  Her trailer for what’s going to happen in October is one of my favorites.

She gathered things outside and used her microscope to look at them.  I love that she still does things like this!

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So not a lot of ‘content’ for my blog but a great week nonetheless.

Homeschooling Rocks!
Karen

“There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir: We must rise and follow her, When from every hill of flame She calls, and calls each vagabond by name.” ~William Bliss

Jesus, a Mother, a Daughter and a Dog….