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The Longwinded Homeschool Wrap-up Where I Prove Brevity is NOT My Strong Suit

The past three weeks have been a blur, quite truthfully. We’ve been plugging along in our school work. Really – nothing overly exciting. Just routine. Normal. And life as it happens. But that’s what it’s all about, right?

This past week was more of a ‘catch-up’ week where we were tying up any loose ends, doing some review, and I spent some time packing and doing some last minute prep for speaking at Teach Them Diligently in Nashville (I’m sharing more on that below, so keep reading!).

The End is in Sight!

Nancy Larson Science 2

The winter months can be hard on a momma…and the kids. It was really exciting for the boys to see that we are ‘this’ close to finishing up science for the year. Once we’re done, we will work on some fun projects together, but science is one subject they love working on together, so if they ask – we do it!

Most Mornings…


This is the view that I have many mornings before school even starts. Kaleb is a get-it-going early boy. He typically pulls out his independent work long before school even starts (see – the blinds behind him aren’t even open yet!!!), pulls up a stool at the counter, and begins his work. If only I could pull some of that motivation and pour it into a few other kids…

Life with a Pre-Teen


One of my ‘goals’ the last few weeks was to take more pictures of a certain 6th grader residing in our home. I finally (after 2 weeks) realized why it’s so hard to get her picture. She intentionally hides when she thinks there is picture-potential. I’m dead serious.  So this is my attempt to document that she does indeed exist and participate in school with us.


I was able to sneak in an extra picture before she realized that I was snapping it (and held the dog up in front of her as a shield). She uses her bed as her reading space every day, just for a little added quiet time.

Hands on Multiplication and Division

spielgaben math 3rd grade

Math with Kaleb has been – well, math. To make multiplication and division a little more hands-on, we’ve been using our Spielgaben set to create the numbers and show how the problem would be divided or multiplied out. It’s been a great tool to help him visualize the problems and put his problems into practice.

Moving into World War 2


There are two boys that are rather thrilled with all of the lessons on World War 2 (minus all the stuff on the Holocaust – that’s not so thrilling). There are endless tanks, weapons, and scenes being drawn during our lesson time.

McKenna loves to draw stick figure comic strips of each lesson – and I have to say, her ‘retelling’ of the Germans invading Russia in the middle of the cold, cold winter was pretty hilarious. While I never would have thought that comic strips would be a learning tool, it’s really amazing how much she retains from our lessons with her drawing. (And no, I don’t have a copy of it because she was a little too self-conscious about it. You’ll just have to take my word on all the laughing that went on when we saw her depiction of the Russians wearing puffy coats and staying nice and warm while the unprepared Germans shivered in the -60 temps).

Games and More Games


One thing that’s been happening every single day in our house – games. Between Battleship and Settlers of Catan, the kids have been little game fiends. Most mornings are started with Battleship before they even have breakfast (someone please tell me why I waited so long to buy this game?


Settlers of Catan has been one of my favorites though too. We’re going to start adding in some of the extensions this week and I can’t wait to see how that goes. I know that they are just games, but the conversations and time spent together have been so much fun – and there have definitely been some character-building moments as well too.

The Crazy Dog


Now that our puppy Addie is pretty much house-trained (PHEW, people – can I just say, PHEW!!!), she is up in the school room with us most of the time. She has an affinity for Ticonderoga pencils (what can I say, she has great taste). Unfortunately, she manages to ferret out every single pencil that we somehow missed picking up from the floor. On the bright side, the school room floor is looking DIVINE lately). Between the kids breaking the erasers off and her chewing the other end, I’m going to need to break the bank getting more pencils.

Flying, Speaking, and Learning at Teach Them Diligently

I cannot even begin to tell you how much of an HONOR it has been to be a part of Teach Them Diligently last year and this year. Before I go any further, I’ll tell you that I may have been mildly freaking out in the week or so before I had to fly out to Nashville. Like any momma, I may have been looking forward to a few days of no kiddo demands, but there was a new session that I was working on and frankly – it was a bit overwhelming for me.

Ironically, it was on balancing life and homeschool – and not being overwhelmed. (Oh yes, the IRONY people. It is not lost on me.)

But trying to figure out how to fit everything into a one hour session and actually have it be helpful to others – well, that right there can be just enough to throw me over the edge. My heart is SO MUCH to help and encourage you all – and I really didn’t want to have it be a big, fat bust. Yes, there’s a bit of pride in there too.

And can I tell you a little secret? I’m really truly not one that enjoys getting up and sharing in front of a large group of people. I’m more comfortable sharing with a small group, more like friends chatting over a cup of coffee. Or tea. Or water, if you prefer. This computer screen offers a whole lot of buffer in some ways, but I really know how much hearing something in person, from someone’s heart, makes a difference too.

Carisa and me TTD Nashville

This girl, my fabulous wonderful in-real-life friend Carisa from 1+1+1=1 has been such an amazing encouragement and well, FRIEND over the years. We joke that we are proof that you can meet normal people over the internet, but she is one person that I know God brought into my life at just the right time and I am so thankful that she is also a part of Teach Them Diligently as well. We have one session together and a few separate, and I am not afraid to admit that the opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with her is a huge bonus!

ttd balance session

All that said, once the conference started and the sessions were underway, I felt such a peace and excitement. For those of you that came up and introduced yourselves to me – thank you! It is so wonderful to connect with you and hear from you all in person and means more than you will ever know. Your sweet patience as we waited for the tech guy to get started, sharing seats and spots with other parents – just made it something absolutely amazing. For those of you who had to sit behind me and had a lovely view of my bum instead of the powerpoint – you have huge hugs (and apologies) from me.

(And if you were in my session, you’ll understand when I say I’m crying right now – but also laughing because of the entire bum comment above).

For those of you not in the Nashville area – well, I’d love to connect with you in either Atlanta, Ohio, or Dallas for Teach Them Diligently. I had the opportunity to sit and listen to a few sessions and can’t wait to hear more at the upcoming events. I promise you will be encouraged beyond measure! 

Well, that’s the super-long wrap up of the last few weeks. What have YOU been up to?

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Linking up this week with Collage Friday and Weekly Wrap-up!

Homeschool Wrap Up – Weeks 23 and 24

The last two weeks have gotten us back into a groove (finally!). Taking a week off was much needed, but those winter blahs have set in around here. We’ve had a lot of snow and don’t even get me started on the cold. YIKES! Let’s just say I’m not a fan and would rather be curled up by the fireplace, under a warm blanket, with a  cup of tea, and reading a book. It definitely makes it hard to get in the mood to do school!  But maybe that’s just me.


And somehow – despite my goals from last time – I have no pictures of McKenna (again) other than the one where I fed the girls chocolate cake before breakfast (because I am a FABULOUS mom and wanted it out of the house so I wouldn’t eat it). Meanwhile, I will snack on apples and drink lots of water, ok?

Learning Multiplication with Carrying


Even though he could use the laptop, Kaleb has decided to use just the textbook with me for Teaching Textbooks 3. The past two weeks we have learned about writing dollars and cents out (and that decimal point) and multiplication with carrying. Boy wonder figured it out on the first try! Woot!

Cooking with Mom


Sometimes the days get frustrating and attitudes get cranky – and both parties involved need a little bonding time. Zachary and I had a rough day one Monday, so we ended up in the kitchen making cookies for co-op the next day. I often forget that 1:1 time with the kids is so very important and can make a world of difference in both of our attitudes. Zachary loves to bake and I definitely do not let him help out enough – because to tell the truth, sometimes (ok, many times) it is easier and faster to do it myself. But in that, I miss out on moments like these when he is in his element and having fun. And in the end – all is good.

Portable Homeschool


One of the great things of homeschool is we are portable and able to move anywhere. Because let’s face it, the bed is way more comfy than a desk.

Building Rockets and Growing Crystals

Homeschool Week in Review-9

One of the projects for Laurianna’s science class was building a rocket. Not nearly as intricate as her boat or glider, but still fun! The kids didn’t get a chance to test them out because it was SO VERY cold and we were feeling rather nice at the time, so testing will have to be another week.

Homeschool Week in Review-10

After talking about crystals, Laurianna used salt and water to grow crystals as part of an experiment (the coloring is from the paper they are on).

The Benefits of Co-op

Homeschool Week in Review-17

One of the things that I love about having Laurianna in a small in-home co-op is the chance to work with friends and bounce ideas off them. The group we are a part of has four teens (all working on 9th grade subjects) and we meet weekly for science and literature. I’ve been teaching the lit class this year and it has really been quite a bit of fun.

For each of the books that we’re reading the kids have a 500-600 word paper due. While revisions and suggestions from parents are great, the kids have really enjoyed the weeks of peer reviews where they all read over each others’ papers and give their honest feedback (at times hilarious). It can be really intimidating to share your work with others, but they have been CHAMPS in this process.

Maybe your kids are different, but I can sometimes tell mine that an idea in a paper needs some tweaking or doesn’t make sense and said child doesn’t necessarily agree with the changes. But the same words or ideas from friends – well, suddenly it’s a whole new ballgame (wink).  It has been MUCH fun this year walking the high school road with several other friends.

If you’re interested, you can see our Peer Review Form here – it’s not fancy, but it’s been a great help to us this year.

Ending the Week on a GREAT Note!


Laurianna and I were able to help out at one of the Rock and Worship Roadshow concerts. You all – do yourself a favor and see if there is a show coming your way. It was absolutely amazing. We volunteered to help with Compassion during the concert, but were able to enjoy the entire concert and hear I Am They, Group 1 Crew, Crowder, Tedashii, Jamie Grace (Laurianna’s favorite!), Matt Maher, and Mercy Me. Loved it so much! Tickets were only $10 and it was something we hope to definitely attend next year too – with the entire family!


Needless to say, it was a great way to wrap up our week. It was a late night, but this girl and I needed some time together – and worshiping and serving were a great way to do that!

That’s it for the last two weeks – how has your homeschool time been going? Be sure to share either in the comments or link up with one of the ladies below!


Mary_CollageFriday weekly wrap up



Linking up this week with Collage Friday and Weekly Wrap-up!

An Unplanned Homeschool Break (Week 22)

One of the best things about homeschooling is our ability to be FLEXIBLE. Usually that word isn’t super prominent in my vocabulary, especially when our school plans have already been put into place. (Call that stubborn). Our usual school schedule is six weeks of school and one week off, which means we weren’t supposed to have a break for a little bit longer.

Last Monday though, we were looking at a week full of appointments and company, so before we were supposed to start school, we took a vote, decided to nix the week, relax together, and lengthen our next school stretch. (Oh yes, the kids were ALL about doing nothing and relaxing!)

BUT, prior to that, we did get another week of learning (and fooling around) in. If you doubt the fooling around bit, just keep reading.

Mad Libs for Language


It’s not ALL that we’re doing for language, but Mad Libs definitely make language time fun for the boys (and the girls enjoy listening to the stories when they are done). We pulled out a few of our How to Train Your Dragon Mad Libs and practiced parts of speech. Best part is listening to the boys continue to work on them together and giggle away.

Memorizing Poetry

poetry unit

Part of our Learning Language Arts Through Literature year with Zachary involves a poetry unit. It’s not especially his favorite one we’ve gone through, but he did like working on limericks together and coming up with his own. He is not otherwise a fan of memorizing poems and reciting them (even through I think it’s a good thing for him to do).

Roy G Biv


Some of you may see the ROY G BIV order and something in you just smiles. We have one boy that puts everything in that order. And I do mean everything. This may have been his favorite science lesson so far, just because it spoke his love language of order.


Because I am a nice mom, I even let him ‘cheat’ a little bit and not write out the color names. Instead he used crayon colors in the blanks. Let me tell you, years ago there was a part of me that would NEVER have let this slide.

Game Time!

Our afternoons are spent reading together, listening to audiobooks, and playing games (or resting) when we are done with school.


Games are one of my favorite past times. My hubby isn’t a huge fan, so I do my best to suck my kids into the fun. During a co-op time, McKenna learned how to play Clue – and now we are all having fun with it. Years ago I loved this game, so it is so much fun to play it with the kids.

sequence game

A new-to-us game is Sequence Numbers – with the sneaky plan of working on math facts together. We love a few of our other Sequence game versions, and this one is right up there with those!

Please Tell Me You Did This Growing Up

glue skin peeling

One morning, before we started our history lesson, I grabbed a bottle of glue from the table and spread a thin coat of it on my hand. The kids weren’t sure what to think and one of them may have been a wee bit horrified. Somehow, despite our many years of homeschooling and glue being right in the middle of the table, I had never shown them something I did rather often during my grade school years.

Peel glue off my palm in a complete piece.

The kids thought this was most wonderful and have been going through glue like crazy. (grins) It’s the little things in life, right? Now I have to try it again and see if I can still do my entire palm and peel it off in a single piece.

Our Week Off…

As for our week off, we still kept busy! There were a few doctor’s appointments, a much-needed trip to the library to stock up on books and audiobooks, lots of time building with Legos and reading together, game playing, had a VERY belated birthday party for three of our kids, took a trip to an indoor waterpark, and had a visit from family to wrap up the week.


While our family was here for the weekend, we celebrated a cousin’s birthday with a trip to an indoor trampoline park – and even the adults were having a lot of fun. (Note to moms: if you have birthed multiple children, you may want to consider that trampoline jumping – even on an empty bladder – might not be in your best interest unless your bring backup. I’m just keeping it real.)

My Goals for The Next Two Weeks of Homeschool

  • Pull out the art supplies!! Kaleb is itching to work on some more art projects, so we’ll be using our DVDs from Home Art Studio and having some fun.
  • Finish up All About Reading 4 with Zachary. He has loved the lessons and is flying through them this year.
  • Take more pictures of McKenna!! Somehow that girl manages to slip out of many of our pictures.

That’s it for the last two weeks – how has your homeschool time been going? Be sure to share either in the comments or link up with one of the ladies below!

Mary_CollageFriday weekly wrap up


Linking up this week with Collage Friday and Weekly Wrap-up!

The Two Fairly Uneventful Homeschool Weeks (20 & 21)

Overall, the last few weeks have been uneventful school-wise. We’re plugging along in our everyday subjects, adding in a little extra support in some additional areas, and trying to get reading time in.

Free time for me (which includes read-aloud time and game time) seems to be few and far between because one eye needs to be on the puppy all the time to make sure there are no ‘surprises’ waiting around the house for us. I may also be a wee bit exhausted from midnight potty breaks in the freezing cold.

beautiful sunrise

BUT – I will say that having a puppy has caused me to stop and look at a few things differently. Getting up super-early isn’t necessarily something I want to do (i.e. long before the sun comes up), but late nights and early mornings have reminded me of a few things – including slowing down and just enjoying the beauty that is around us. The time outside at night means there are stars and a brilliant moon to see. Morning brings a gorgeous sunrise. We won’t talk about the times I’m out with a flashlight at night and hear rustling in the woods, ok? It’s just the wind. The bears are still hibernating, right? I’d prefer not to enjoy nature that much…

lazy susan homeschool organizer

During our morning subjects together (history and Bible), sometimes the kids get a bit focused on other things. Like reorganizing the school supplies. Someone may have chosen to sort the colored pencils by greens/blues and red/yellows. Or cools/warms. Incidentally, this lazy Susan supply organizer in the middle of our table is one of the handiest things ever. For real.

snap circuits

Technically the boys are the only two that are supposed to be working on Snap Circuits projects every day, but sometimes the projects pull other kiddos in too. And then more things are built. But if they are getting along and happy, sometimes I know to just stay quiet and let them have fun together – right?

All about Reading 2

Reading is coming along well too for Kaleb. He is working through All About Reading 2 and Zachary is almost finished with All About Reading 4.

wright brothers

This past week we learned about the Wright Brothers in Mystery of History, but my personal favorite was probably learning more about Helen Keller. Just thinking about the obstacles that she overcame – just amazing. We all loved watching a video clip of her, hearing her voice, and getting a better picture of who she was. History has been so much fun lately and I love that we can start tying in actual video clips of history now!

About Minecraft…

Incidentally, if you are considering Minecraft (or have any advice), I’d love to hear your thoughts. I asked you all on Facebook and there is a great thread going there, but feel free to chime in below. We are way late to the Minecraft game (believe it or not, we limit our kids technology time quite a bit – yep, mean mom alert). Do your kids play? Any thoughts or advice to give?

That’s a quick round-up of what we have been up to. How is your school time going?


Mary_CollageFriday weekly wrap up



Linking up this week with Collage Friday and Weekly Wrap-up!

A Little More Than Halfway Done – 19 Week Homeschool Update

Somehow getting over the halfway mark seems to make a mental difference – do you know what I mean? We ended in December on week 17, and I have to tell you it may have made me a little wiggy. Somehow Christmas seems like it should be the mid-point, but really – that extra long break for us at Christmas was fabulous, so I’ll just let it go (and now I’m humming that song, thank you very much).

Getting back into the swing of things was admittedly a little rougher (because really, truly – I rather enjoyed having a whole bunch of lazy days, but routine is nice too). Having done absolutely nothing over Christmas break turned out to be a very good thing for all of us. But everyone managed to pull back together with a day or two and we’re all good now and it’s back to the typical attitudes (Truth = my kids aren’t always keen on all we do! Shocker, I’m sure).

History Time Together

homeschool history time together

In our history time, we’ve been learning about a wide span of things in the mid 1800’s thanks to Mystery of History 4: the French rule of Mexico, emperor Meiji of Japan, the Dominion of Canada, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War. While we’ve literally been hopping all over the place, it’s been fun to see how things tie in together historically too. I tell you – there is so much that I either don’t remember or never learned. Homeschooling is truly such a great learning time for me as well (either that, or I appreciate some things much more now that I’m older – let’s just go with that).

We typically use the coloring sheets that go along with Mystery of History, the kids often start stick-figuring what we are talking about (there may be many Civil War battle scenes lately) or take notes on what we’re learning. Stick figures are always popular.

The Fun of Science (9th Grade)

Exploration Education physical science

Laurianna is continuing Exploration Education physical science with our small co-op (there are only 4 kids), and they are having a lot of fun with the hands-on projects to go along with the weekly lessons. Over the period of a few weeks they work on different labs/projects (so far they have framed and wired a miniature house, made a glider, a steamboat, a racecar), and they are currently building a working scale.

During the week she study the lessons and work on experiments independently, and once a week the group works on additional experiments and reviews the learning material together. Our co-op time is usually about an hour and a half or so – just enough to squeeze in a little more.

Reading Time

true adventure of homer p. figg

We haven’t been dedicated in sitting down to read, but we’re currently in the middle of The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg. The story takes place during the Civil War (and I think it’s hilarious). While it’s below the reading level of the older two, it still has been fun to listen to together.

read aloud time

Sitting still during reading time can be a bit tough, so the kids will color, draw, or build when I am reading. The boys have spent quite a bit of time building with their new Simple and Compound Machines K’Nex set they received for Christmas. 

On the reading front, Zachary recently discovered the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and has been reading and re-reading them. I cannot tell you how much this makes my heart happy. He has gone from ZERO interest in reading to scouring the library shelves for something new to read in just a few short months.

Art Time (9th Grade and 2nd Grade)

homeschool January 2015-34

Kaleb is rather happy to be working on art projects again (we love Home Art Studio). Just before we started back with school, I rearranged the wall above his desk and took some of his artwork from the fall down. He loves to display it when he’s done and usually works on at least one project a week, so it can get a little crazy above his desk. With the above project he worked on color mixing and using oil pastels as well as drawing his own fish.

homeschool January 2015-36

Last semester Laurianna’s art time at co-op was spent working on a marionette. She sketched out her project, cut dowel rods, and molded and painted the body parts for her puppet. Her marionette was based on the story of Esther and she chose the king. Her teacher helped with sewing the clothing after the fabric was chosen, and she is SO excited about her creation.

The Puppy

homeschool January 2015-19

The biggest change in our house has come in the form of a little puppy, Addie. We’ve been talking about getting a dog for well over a year and finally brought home a little one. Needless to say, the kids are thrilled and (mostly) pitching in to help with all the fun stuff that goes along with having a puppy.

homeschooling with the puppy

Addie has been joining us in the schoolroom during the day, and most often we’ll find her trying to chew on our chair bottoms or curled up in our bean bag chair (much like I would like to do). Of course the kids say that she ‘helps them study’ – ha! Not so sure I believe that, but it has been rather fun.


Well, that’s a quick look at the last two weeks for us – what have you been up to with your kids?


Mary_CollageFriday weekly wrap up

Linking up this week with Collage Friday and Weekly Wrap-up!

In Which We Finish 13 Weeks of Homeschooling

Rather than taking our typical break after each six week block, the kids (and dad and mom) decided to push through the next few weeks and take a full week off at Thanksgiving, and then a little more than three weeks off at Christmas. Somehow December manages to always get crazy fast, so we’re hoping this will make it easier (and fun!).

Ready to see a few things that we’ve been up to? Apparently I wasn’t super ambitious with the camera – but it’s been a GREAT two weeks and we’ve gotten so much accomplished (I love that feeling!).

Learning about Wheels and Axles

simple machines nancy larson

The boys are working together on Nancy Larson Science 2. The most recent unit has been on force, friction, and work. One lesson in our unit was about wheels and axles, so we pulled out our Lego Education Simple Machines set and put together cars to show how they move down an inclined plane. While many of our science lessons are already hands-on, adding LEGOs definitely made it even more fun! 

Parallel Learning

boys at the table homeschooling

One of the things that I love about the above picture – two boys working on completely different projects (reading vs. LEGOs), pjs vs. fully dressed (ignore the crazy hair) – it’s just a snapshot of what our days looks like. Granted, it isn’t always quite this peaceful (or cooperative), but that’s another part of our days, right?

A few of you have asked what books are sitting on the table next to Zachary. While I was cleaning off our shelves and pulling out things for my nephew, I found some old Scholastic Early Readers and had Kaleb go through them that morning. He was having an “I can’t read” day, and it was so encouraging to him to FLY through almost the entire box of books in no time flat (encouraging for both him as well as me!). He was all smiles when he finished reading them, realizing what he COULD do.

Incidentally, the above picture shows Zachary working on his third book this year (yay!!) from his fourth grade reading list, and he just finished it up this week!

The Boy Who Chews…

History time

History is going great as well, although we are a bit behind on our history timeline – oops. Kaleb (sorry for the bad picture!) and the other kids have been using Chewigem pendants and tags the last week and a half. Honestly, I am really thankful for them, because Kaleb is a huge chewer and constantly has things in his mouth (typically Lego pieces) and that makes me super nervous. The Chewigem dog tags have kept toys and unsafe things out of his mouth and helped with a lot of the fidgeting in the other kids. 

Learning How Business Works

homeschool mini society project-1

The 6th through 8th graders in our high school co-op are working on mini society projects. Essentially, the kids set up their own businesses, create their own society with jobs, currency, etc… and find out what makes money work – a little crash lesson in life.

McKenna is working with another girl in her class and they have been busy making as much as they can with as little cash expense as possible. They have created rock monsters (made with googley eyes and cheap paint), t-shirt bracelets (using old t-shirts), and monster bookmarks that sit on the corner of book pages. It’s been a great experience to discover what works with marketing a product, how much time to budget for projects, and what products are worth the time/effort and have the best cost/effort ratio.

Listening to Books

Audiobooks for Families to enjoy

Last week I shared some of the recent audiobooks we’ve listened to as a family. Richard Peck has been a favorite author in recent weeks, but we’re headed back to the library this week to see what else we can find!


Time Away with (One of) My Girls


I’ll be sharing more soon, but this past weekend McKenna and I had a weekend away to have our talk on friendships, peer pressure, dating, and the S.E.X. word. Oh my goodness. It was such a completely different weekend than my weekend with Laurianna, but it was so absolutely wonderful. We did things that spoke to her heart, including spending time working on a special mug at a local pottery place. She has big plans for the finished mug, including toting it to church for Sunday morning coffee – love it!


On the Mom Front

The kids haven’t been the only ones busy around the house. I’m slowly working on my November book list (shockingly, I got distracted with two other books, but have finished two of the books in my pile, Start: Punch Fear in the Face and A Lady at Willowgrove Hall. I’m almost finished with Parenting with Love and Logic and Six Ways to Keep the Good in Your Boy – again, so helpful if I focus on ONE book at a time!


I’ve been working hard on my November goals too. Our living room is currently a work in progress, but it’s getting there! We’ve emptied out our entertainment center, moved our tv, primed the mantle, and we’re now prepping for full painting and bookcases on either side of the fireplace. Painting over the wood is killing me a bit, but I think the end result will be beautiful, so trying not to panic! (fyi – I hate, hate, hate decorating).


What have you been up to with your kids?

Mary_CollageFriday weekly wrap up

Linking up this week with Collage Friday and Weekly Wrap-up!