Week 3 & 4.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. This means I’ve been rushing around. This is good. We’re still unschooling. It’s still A-lead. It’s still fun! We head butt about a lot of stuff – mostly to do with cleaning the house and a lot to do with making good choices, especially when our siblings get home. I’m anxious to get back in to therapy with A as I feel I can voice my frustrations better and I think a therapist will help both of us communicate better. For the most part, though, we’re doing really well! I received my Christopherus curriculum in the mail (yay!) so much of my days have been spent reading through the syllabus, looking at the year to come, and chatting with my saviors friends about what to do! Here’s a look at what we’ve been learning/doing over the last couple of weeks!

This is an example of how A’s little mind works. These forms were drawn within seconds of each other but I covered the one on the top so she didn’t have it as a reference. Neither are wrong and both are awesome. Initially I was concerned about spatial awareness but the spacial awareness is on point – just varied.
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Our Story of the World lesson was about Ancient Egyptians. We learned, once again, about the Fertile Crescent and why it was so wonderful when the rivers, like the Nile, Tyris and Euphrates would flood! I illustrated with some Kinetic Sand how the farmers would dig canals so that the water was more accessible for their crops! (thank you Kinetic Sand!) We also learned that the Nile flows from South to North but since Ancient Egyptians weren’t aware of how our world was laid out, they assumed the south end of the river was north and vice versa. We also learned about the Red King and the White King. There was a great battle between them and when the battle was won, the Red King placed the White Kings crown upon his head and the one ruler of Egypt, Hedjet, was born.
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Since my husband had a long Easter weekend, we decided then would be the time to plant our flowers, herbs and veggies. Throw in a snake and it was an adventurous weekend! We have basil, cilantro, tomatoes, strawberry, cucumbers, lemon balm, citronella, and loads of flowers. I hope it’s a “fruitful” spring/summer/fall!
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No Easter weekend would be complete without the time honored tradition of dying Easter eggs. (PS – food coloring makes them WAY more vibrant)
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We moved on to hieroglyphics. I found a cartouche maker online so we were able to recreate one for each of us. Mine is on the right. I wrote some facts on my paper hoping that, over time, A will be interested in doing this herself. Lead by example is my mantra and a sharpie is my weapon.IMG_0076_2
We went on to MadLibs – another success!
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The kids started up swimming lessons again. For the LIFE of me I can’t figure out why they haven’t grasped this yet! Oy.
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We also baked together. We made my favorite sugar cookie  – Swig! This says ❤ H.S. which means, I love homeschool. She signed her name at the bottom which isn’t easy in frosting.
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This meme has made me question my sanity all week. Please tell me we are, in fact, in the year 2015. I think I’m going crazy. I literally googled “what year are we in” because I keep questioning myself. The first website that came up was a reference website for time travelers so they don’t get lost. I may need help. I was going to teach A about palindromes but I keep remembering I’m crazy and don’t do it.
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A named our lizard friend in the back yard John. He’s awesome… and he’s the only lizard in the world who is. Don’t ask me to explain myself: it’s irrational.IMG_0081_2
We headed to the library this afternoon and picked up some read aloud and read alone books I’m looking so forward to! I allowed A to pick up one she liked and she came home and read the whole thing while I watched a documentary on Lincoln. Library days are fast becoming my favorite days.IMG_0082_2IMG_0083_2
We finished up today with some origami and A is now happily making more paper crafts and learning fast that origami may look easy in principle but it’s not. Good news is that I finished my first box for squirrel math lessons which will start up soon.
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Week 2. Day 2 & 3.

We’ve been relaxing and enjoying each other the last couple of days. Guys, I can’t even begin to tell you the shift I’ve seen in A’s personality since I brought her home. She’s loving, playing independently with no trouble, excited and affectionate. This is and always has been my A, I think her anxiety was running her instead of A telling her anxiety to shove it. I’m so very thankful that I’ve been gifted with abundant blessings in wonderful, encouraging friends, a supportive family, a providing husband who is able to bring home the bacon so I can stay home and a God filled with love and grace. I have my A back and I’m over the moon. I know the difficult days are coming but I’ve loved every single minute with her and she’s loved every single minute with me.

So, here’s what we’ve been up to. Sometime last week A brought me a video of a woman teaching fractions on YouTube. She found it and she asked me if we could learn it. DUH! So, we gave the first portion a whirl.

 

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She struggled quite a bit with this. You can see we tried cutting out the pieces so she could visualize better what math is happening here. I never struggled with geometry at this level once I was able to see it. That wasn’t the case for her. So, I called my lovely friend J who helped me with a new idea. She said to play restaurant with the layers of a hamburger, asking A that I want a whole bun, a whole hamburger patty, 1/4 lettuce, 3/4 tomato, etc. I LOVE this idea and I really think making this more like a game with help her tremendously. **Blessings**

Today was homeschool day at the library. A built several lego creations in with her new friends. Once she began to feel overstimulated she came to me and asked to go play checkers. This is huge. Normally we would end up in an anxiety overload and have to leave. So, what’s a Mom to do? I played her in checkers. A – 1, Mom -1. She’s not bad!

 

 

 

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She doesn’t know why but I took her to Phase (our favorite organic restaurant) to celebrate this little victory of successfully managing her anxiety. We followed that with a little trip to HEB where we thought it would be a nice gesture to buy my older daughter, L, a magazine and put in on her clean room and freshly made bed. L is a HUGE science/space buff. So, A and I bought her a copy of Popular Science. I hope she loves it! I also hope these tiny gestures help her know that she is just as loved and supported as her sister.

 

 

 

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Week 2, Day 1.

After a long and tiring weekend of doing nothing except Palm Sunday Mass, I was excited to get back in the groove of teaching A.

Since my gym doesn’t allow children under 12 to participate in classes, I had to cancel my membership and get creative with a new method of exercise. Still yoga + 1 active child. Here’s what 40 minutes of yoga looks like time-lapse style. (my tattoos make a brief appearance but hey, I got up in that shoulder stand with NO WALL!)

Today is Social Studies and English. We read chapter 2 of Story of the World, Vol 1. Nomads.  A really enjoyed learning about how early civilizations lived, moving from place to place following or searching for food and resources.  We learned about Jericho, the world’s first civilization. We learned about the Fertile Crescent and how the two large rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, helped this land to be as fertile as it was.  We learned that eventually people (let’s face it, probably the women) figured out that if we planted new plants and raised new animals to eat, we wouldn’t have to continue moving.  Once the once Nomads became farmers, we started to see our first villages and cities!  We also learned about a shaduf, the first farming machine. It was meant to work as counterweight system to help the early farmers water their crops inland from the Tigris and the Euphrates.  I decided we’d probably have enough materials in the yard to build a miniature shaduf ourselves. It isn’t perfect but it was fun and A enjoyed it. For now, that’s all that matters!

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Afterwards, we moved on to Language Arts. We started with form drawing, a tool meant to help her handwriting with practice. I show her the form (in whichever creative way I chose) and within the practice she’s meant to make the forms as many creative ways as possible: skipping it, tiptoeing it, running it, “air drawing” in the sky, etc. Then I draw it and she repeats it. Then I draw it and mirror it. Once again, she repeats. This is such a quick and easy way to work on penmanship daily. I could really tell that her spacial relationships aren’t where I would have expected at this time and no wonder her handwriting was so inconsistent! I can’t wait to do some more of these because I really enjoyed them, too!

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To wrap up our “school day” we did some ready aloud time. A picked out The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and A Photographer’s Life: 1990-2005 by Annie Lebovitz. We’re slowly working on confidence while reading. Typically she mumbles and rushes and doesn’t enunciate words clearly. She’s also timid about asking about a word she’s uncertain of – she’d much rather mumble right over it. So, we practiced reading a little slower, a little louder, and a little more clear. When she feels confident, she does so much better. Annie Lebovitz’s book, A Photographer’s Life, is a fun study of her work between 1990-2005. We’re worked on appreciating the beauty in the human body (right now A thinks it’s hilarious or gross, which is fine, it can also be that) and she’s pointing out what about or why she likes or dislikes a photograph. It was interesting that she picked that book and certainly a tough one for me to find a lesson in that wasn’t either above her head with technicality or above her head with morality. It was still fun!

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Wrapping up. Day 4 and 5

It took one solid day of research on ancestry.com to finally finish our family tree research.  I called A over only when I found something cool: a draft card, a picture, an old census.  We found out some really neat stuff about her family.  On my side of the tree are criminals, horrible deaths, farmers, and strong and mighty women. On her father’s side are a famous doctor, military officers, really cool names like Beech, and an entire unexplored lineage.  This was really fun for me and interesting for A to see how you gather information from different sources, even if the access to these sources all comes from the same place!

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Here are some of the neater things we’ve found!  Savannah McDuffie is A’s great (x4) grandmother.  We were able to trace A’s father’s lineage back to her great grandmother (x7!!).  Her great grandfather (x6) had a family bible that’s pretty famous in the history world as being a “relic” of sorts with a lot of unlocked information about Georgia during that time.  I even found a newspaper clipping about it!  Her maternal great, great grandmother, Jewell (or Mama Miller), gave birth in a cotton field in Temple, Georgia to A’s great grandfather, Bobby.  Their family were share croppers so this makes sense!  My grandfather came from humble beginnings laying there in that cotton field.  I have been reminded lately of how influential he became in his hometown of Villa Rica.  His parents, Jesse and Jewell, had very little education, as most poor families did back in those days, but were hard workers.  An honest days work really meant something back then.  It wasn’t about how much money you made it was about how hard you worked.  That’s been lost in today’s world, sadly.  My grandfather, Bobby, grew up going to school and helping on the family farm. He finished high school and was offered a full scholarship to Auburn University to play football.  He turned down the offer and joined the Navy, which he hated.  He finished less than a year before he was medically discharged due to being blind in one eye.  Bobby came home where he began working in an engineering company.  He later left the company and started his own engineering firm, Miller Mechanical Contracting.  He was embarrassed about his lack of education and poor upbringing so he made sure to learn proper table etiquette, dress, speech, etc and taught it to his two daughters, my mother and aunt.  At 36 he suffered a massive heart attach but survived. He knew it was time to retire and retire he did. The business he had built and run and the real estate he invested in was enough to support his wife and two children until this very day. Sadly, he died at 53 when he suffered another massive heart attack but he left a legacy in Villa Rica that the old folks still remember. Bobby Miller was a respected man and I’m proud to have been blessed with the opportunity to get to know him for the 1o years of my life in which he was still living.  And I take great pride and responsibility in making sure A knows the strong line of hard working family she comes from – especially Mama Miller, who gave birth to her son in a cotton field, could throw a calf out of a barn so she could milk its mother, kill and dress a hog before lunch and have buttermilk biscuits ready to eat for anyone who stopped by.

There are so many tales from my father’s side but I think the one that sticks out most is how much my Nanny, Virginia, loved her Daddy.  She would talk about him like he hung the moon and dotted the night sky with millions of twinkling stars just for her.  She said she’d sit on the porch counting the minutes until he came home from work.  I didn’t know him as he died before I was born, but I feel like I do because of how fondly my Nanny spoke of him.  I hope that A learns that even into adulthood the capacity of unconditional love is something to be thankful for and not to take for granted.

I always let A dress herself. And, to me, she always does a superb job. What a beautiful gift I was given. I truly pray that she grows up to be everything her family history points her towards and helps her to be capable of…. and more. Kid, you’ll move mountains!

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Make new friends. Day 3.

After my “reminders” day yesterday, I decided today should be a day for exploring. A and I had already explored the public library here, which is actually SUPER nice, seemingly new AND offers a homeschool meet-up once a week! Today happened to be that day. The main goal of our trip was to meet some new people and check out whatever books sparked A’s interest.

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A wanted a picture in front of the library so I obliged. It’s pretty nice, eh?

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She picked up The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers. What an adorably appropriate book for bean. She loved it, laughed and slowly started to feel less shy about all the new kids running around her!

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The kids all gathered into a side-room in the library to begin their “lesson.” The lady who runs it isn’t a certified teacher in any way but I still think it’s lovely that she volunteers her time to do this weekly. She even announced that she is beginning a new legos robot camp next month! I’m really excited for that one! Back to the “lesson.” She read Fancy Nancy: My Family History by Jane O’Connor. I found this timing to be perfect as we’re doing family history and history in general ourselves. She went around and asked where the kids’ families originated. The countries included were Japan, Scotland, England, Czechoslovakia, Ireland, Germany, France, Mexico and Canada. And Africa. I smiled. The point of the lesson was that America is a melting pot and even in this room there were that many countries represented. A listened quietly, though there was a lot of chatter and disruption… I’m assuming this is only because she was feeling shy.

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The final project to wrap up the lesson was a simple family tree which we filled out together. All done with lesson! Next stop: make friends

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I decided I would lead the “getting to know you” conversation between my A and her table partner A. They got on immediately. My A even loosened up enough to be goofy with her new friend… as you can see in the picture. I left them to get to know each other better so that I could make some new friends. I met 5 new Moms. They all HS all their children so it was a bit of a madhouse around there with children ranging from newborn to 13! They *all* made me feel right at home. We all chatted for a solid hour. All of their daughters are in Girl Scouts together and have been for a while. I was so thankful that their daughters also welcomed and embraced A right from the beginning. So, what’s a Mom to do, you ask?……. I have your hookup for girl scout cookies next year! #turndownforwhat

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The books… she seriously grabbed almost 1 of everything. I had to remind her we were coming back next week and that she wouldn’t have time to read all of them right away. We kept The Day the Crayons Quit!

Reminders. Day 2.

Day 2. I overwhelmed myself.

Let me start from the beginning.

We began the day by doing chores first thing. She gladly participated in cleaning and wanted to clean more than I cared to let her help me with.

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After we did our chores, which included picking up the entire house, doing the dishes and sweeping the kitchen, she, all on her own, set up the lessons she wanted to study today. This made my newly developed little granola crunching heart happy. There’s an art station (of course), a math and a science station.

When we finished chores, it was time to start dinner. We’re having a great one from Budget Bytes, a blog I use regularly for meal planning. She is a gal on a budget who loves food. What more could you ask for? $4.87 recipe. $.0.86 per serving! She also has a fairly sizable vegetarian/vegan selection. Pretty awesome! We talked about how to follow a recipe, how to use utensils, etc. Dos and don’ts. Do read the recipe all the way through. Don’t forget to preheat your oven. Do use a sharp knife. Don’t cut with exposed fingers. Although I didn’t get a photo of this, we did practice with fractions on the carrots. I went a little overboard with the fractions as I tried to move way beyond 1/4… I didn’t even fully grasp fractions until I was in 8th grade. I don’t know what I was thinking. (notice in the photo A’s nicely curled fingers!)

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We talked a bit about how Mom doesn’t use measuring devices unless I’m baking. I told her that’s because I know what a tsp and TBS look like in my hand! So, I measured out a tsp and put it in her hand! Voila! No need for measuring with A either. Ha!

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It was FINALLY, much to A’s elation, time to start our lessons.  Since she wanted to do art AND science, I decided a plant life cycle would be best. Combine both worlds. (Mind you I’m doing all of this on the fly). I knew there would be dandelions in the yard so we went and picked one in both phases of growth. When I googled life cycle of a dandelion I was BLOWN AWAY! What an awesome little weed!!! Not only can you make salad and tea and WINE from them there is a certain species that is used to make RUBBER! How cool is that? That’s not even the coolest part!! Did you know that a dandelion appears to be 1 flower, but in reality it’s actually about 50 individual flowers all clustered up in the middle! ….. I know, right?! Check out this and this macro image of the center of a dandelion at the tiny stigma and the grouping of the tiny little flowers. This means that dandelions are self sustaining, which is why they’re pesky. They require no pollination and can therefore be sustained in typically unsustainable environments, like big city’s! (think sidewalk cracks). So, so cool! We were able to grab one of the tiny guys and make a slide for viewing in the microscope. I was fascinated. As was Anna.

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The slug who was attached to the bottom of the dandelion I was trying (and failing) to pull up by the root. Gross.

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The beginnings of A’s work.

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Our finished work. A’s left, mine right. Hers is out of order because I was doing this all willy nilly and we were learning facts as we went. My OCD is off the chains because I had to add a stage to mine that makes the intervals between the flowers all screwy. (I’m a loon most days) We supplemented our materials by watching a video on dandelions and this time-lapse.

True confession time. I gave up on math in 4th grade when I received my first ever C in a subject. I made a C in math from that point on, save one term my 8th grade year. I’m not good with teaching it and I have a hard time grasping the concepts, especially retroactively. I sucked at this lesson with A. She’s still struggling with numbers. Here I was trying to explain 1/4 past, 1/2 past and 1/4 to (which is why I was talking fractions earlier). She eventually got it but it was slow and I know it didn’t sink in. We’ll try again later. Much later. This brings me to my reflections…

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After being completely upset and a bit pissed off at exactly how far behind my child is by public school standards I kind of lost it. Do I hold her back a year in our new curriculum? Do I start over *from the beginning*? What ifs started to pile on top of themselves. It was bad. I turned to my education council (my new name for my homeschool Mom friends who are my lifeline) and they calmed me down. In Waldorf A is on track. Phew. I’m also biting off too much right now. I need to let her de-school. We need to reintroduce a love of learning. Stop after the microscope, don’t pick up the lined paper. Breathe. Have faith in A and have faith in myself. I can do this. And that kid will move mountains.

We ended our lesson and headed to my favorite organic cafe. Phase. We had a delicious fresh pineapple juice with apple cider vinegar, fresh fruit platter and a veggie burger with an avocado and Phase-made dill pickles. It was an awesome way to wrap up the day with her. I’m a bit impaired when it comes to taking selfies. Excuse the absolute crap picture. 🙂

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Homeschool. Day 1.

I’m writing this journal, appropriately and coincidentally, on our first day of homeschool, where we studied history and archaeology.  I’m writing this for A.  I’m writing this for me.  I’m writing to keep track of her progress and mine.

I decided to homeschool A when I realized that a) public school isn’t bad. It’s served my oldest daughter, L, well. Public school isn’t the right fit for A and it’s hard not fitting in, especially academically. And b) A needed a place that fostered a love for learning, a place that encouraged and supported her hyper focus instead of trying to stunt it with medication or redirect it with … well, whatever. Today is day 1 on our journey.

We began the day with errands. We disenrolled her from school.  That experience was much more emotional for me and for her than I realized it would be.  I was so exhausted from constant advocation that I was a bit blinded by how much we were leaving by pulling her from school; her friends, her teacher, affirmation from peers and her teacher, exercise with group sports, exposure to new and exciting things, her spring concert that she worked so hard on. Sure, I can do those things with her but I wonder if, one day, she’ll want to do these things without me just for independence.  She’s a pretty independent child.  I guess we’ll see.  I keep telling myself, one day at a time.  I’ve not signed her life plan for the next 10 years by pulling her from school now.  We followed that emotional low with a trip to the commissary to pick up our groceries for the remainder of the month. Thus began our first lesson: making healthy choices.  We follow a mostly vegetarian/vegan diet.  That isn’t what I focus on so much but I think it matters some in our decisions.  We learned that ingredients labels are important, not because of calories but because of what’s IN our food.  If Mom doesn’t know what it is, it’s probably not a healthy choice with few exceptions.  We still buy “junk food” in the form of Back to Nature’s Oreos, Bear Naked chocolate granola, and Veggie Straws.  Whatever diet you chose, you can’t take a girl away from chocolate. She helped me track my list along the way, getting distracted here and there, which was fine with me.  We picked out some sushi for lunch and went and ate with her Dad at his office: a treat rarely enjoyed by either A or me.

We headed home to begin our first lesson. Story of the World, introduction, and Mad Libs: Space.

As we sat down to read Story of the World, A wanted to paint. So, I went with it. She painted, I read. We learned about *what* history is and *who* historians are. We also learned about *what* archaeology is and *who* archaeologists are. She was very intrigued by the whole premise which was promising. We wrapped up with a brief review lesson I just made up and a few youtube videos on archaeology. I had her define history, historian, archaeology and archaeologist. Within her definitions there were obvious misspellings and words she asked me to help her spell. We underlined those and set them aside for “further review” at a later time.

 

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She made a little “key” of sorts so that we wouldn’t forget why certain words were underlined in pink.  *making mental note to make sure she knows the difference between our and are*

This hilarious-for-Mom-and-kid-video was awesome! I’m more of what you call a “lenient” parent when it comes to videos with very mild swear words. This is one of those!

And this gem because we’ve actually been to this dig in person but A doesn’t remember it!

 

We moved to our MadLibs: Space material. She absolutely LOVED this! She laughed a TON and by the time we had finished one she remembered what each of the descriptors were… thus completing the grammar lesson. I’m sure it’s not cemented in there yet, but with a couple of days practice and a review at the end of the week, I feel confident it’ll be committed.

 

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When we finished this we went on to work on our family tree project (tying into our history lessons) that we’ll finish at the end of the week. I’m really excited for this part, particularly, as my maternal and paternal side has an extensive record of the families histories. I’m excited to see Anna realize how far back, all of the names, where and when they were born, what their occupation was… it’s pretty cool! We had a cotton field birth as recently as her maternal great-grandfather!

 

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Mine left, hers right. Neither makes “sense” as a family tree, but I figure we’ll just draw black lines in a bracket over the top of the trees anyway!

That’s it! Our first day down!

I do want to take a moment to thank both Janel over here and Jolene. Their friendship, mentorship, encouragement and faith in me has been such a tremendous help in taking this first step. I can’t believe I’m here. I never, ever would have thought this would be me. A homeschool Mom. I guess it’s true what the meme’s say…

 

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