Blog of the Week: To the one who stole my childhood

Blog_of_the_week_badgeOur Blog of the Week takes a serious turn this week as one very brave blogger puts pen to paper to write a heart wrenching letter to the one who stole her childhood. 

My thoughts on a page tells us her story.

 

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Last year I did a series of posts where others sent me letters they wanted to write. I received letters of regret, love, confession and thanks. They were beautifully written and many were poignant. I never shared my own letter, but I did write one.
So tonight I am ready to share mine.

I met you when I was only a child, and was drawn to you. You were well known and greatly respected in your chosen field. I was delighted to be “liked” by you, and enjoyed the extra support and encouragement you gave me.
You were my coach, my mentor. In time you became more important to me than my parents, family or friends.
I was happy to be around you, to babysit for you, to have extra training with you.

You were using me. Creating a friendship built on a lie. After one year you made your move. Within weeks you had enveloped me in a giant net, from which I could not escape. I was twelve years old.

Image: Netmums

Image: Netmums

Too young to understand. I did not have the courage to ask for help. My friends didn’t understand, and most deserted me. My reaction to my distress, shame and hurt at what was happening, caused me to become withdrawn at home. My parents could not reach me. Even surrounded by brothers and sisters and loving parents, I was alone.
You had succeeded in your mission.

As I grew up, you tightened the noose. You stalked me. Trying to control every moment of my day from a distance.
However you made one miscalculation. I was not as weak as you thought. A combination of my mothers steely nature and my fathers quiet strength, allowed me to break free.

I met a wonderful man, who along with some incredible friends picked up the pieces.
They made me whole once more. Yes I was battered and scarred, but no longer broken.

And then I came looking for you.

I discovered many more who were also looking. You ran, escaping to a faraway country. The news broke. My family struggled. Unwelcome notoriety came knocking on our door. Others took up the call and went looking for you.
A legal loophole stopped us. You would not be sent back.
We would never have our day in court.

Some may say we never got justice.

I say that I am well and happy. You took my childhood but that is only a few short years, I have reclaimed my life.
I am glad I will never again see you.
I will never forget what you took from me, nor will I ever forgive you. But you no longer control my life.
You cannot say that about your own life. You have to be ever watchful. Because wherever you go we find you.
Journalists and police keep an eye on you.
You are scorned in your own neighbourhood.

As I hug my husband and hold my children close, I smile as I think of you.
Abandoned by your family, watched by the authorities, suffering from ever increasing financial difficulties. You are living the life you deserve.

I am writing this letter to let you know,
I too am living the life I deserve!

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If you would like to read the other letters in this series you can find them here.

 

 

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Blog of the Week: Losing my mind to sleep deprivation

Blog_of_the_week_badgeWe’re back with another Blog of the Week after the Christmas break, and this time we are featuring Molly from Mother’s Always Right. Molly has recently had her second child and this post brought us all back to the utter exhaustion a new baby brings.

Any tips gratefully appreciated!

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Tiny hands

Image: Mother’s Always Right

There’s a moment, just between awake and asleep, when I think I’m dreaming. The snuffles are in my mind and I have a delicious few hours yet with my head firmly on the pillow.

I wake before she’s properly awake herself. The snuffles get louder and I lie there in the darkness praying she’s just readjusting herself, getting comfortable for more sleep. And then she cries. I look at the clock – if I’m unlucky just one hour will have passed since she was last awake. If I’m lucky then it’ll be two. If I’m really lucky it will be three. One time it was five, but that’s never happened again.

As I wrench myself from sleep, mouth and mind thick and foggy, I reach for my baby. She’s usually hungry. As she suckles at the breast I take deep breaths and force myself to stay awake. I sway slightly, as sleep threatens to creep back under my eyelids and close them again. There’s the hint of a ghost in the corner of the room – dark shapes that aren’t there in daylight. Probably an echo of my dream.

Once she’s finished feeding I rub her back and encourage a soft burp. Sometimes she’s fast asleep before she’s finished. Often she’s still awake. I lay her gently back in her cot next to my bed. And then I lie there in the dark, praying once again that she will sleep.

If I’m lucky she will quickly drop off into a deep slumber, with me not far behind. If I’m unlucky she’ll cry again, needing to be cuddled. If I’m really unlucky then not even her dummy will do the trick – I’ll still be rocking and cuddling (and most probably crying with her) an hour later.

Good nights are at least one chunk of three hours sleep with no interruption. Bad nights are an hour snatched here and there, in between soothing a baby that won’t sleep and a four year old who’s had a bad dream. Those nights leave me nauseous with tiredness – sometimes the nausea is real and I vomit through lack of sleep. It’s raw and primal, as my body screams for rest – just five minutes! The result is a strange sensation of being awake but not alert. My head is fudgy with treacle. I can’t remember anything. My body is not my own.

The following day I exist in a blur of irrationality. I wonder how many more nights like this I can handle before my body will simply give up and shut down. Can you die from sleep deprivation? I Google it. The answer is not reassuring. I spend the rest of the day thinking I’m dying.

The internet is no help. “Give her a bottle!” scream the forums. “Co-sleep!” shout the others. “Set a routine!” “Feed for longer!” “Leave her to cry!” “Cuddle her until she stops!” My head is a whirl of conflicting advice – but I am too tired to take any of it in anyway. I resolve to ignore everyone and find my own solution.

We try a bottle of formula at 10pm. My devotion to sleep wins against my dedication to breastfeeding. The baby still wakes two hours later. The formula goes in the bin. We try co-sleeping. The baby sleeps soundly for the longest period yet. I, however, am even more tired than before. I get a numb side as I snuggle around my baby. My 31 year habit of sleeping on my front burrowed under the duvet does not suit sleeping with a baby in the crook of my arm.

I resolve to buy a co-sleeper. The treacle in my head is so thick, though, that I can’t decide which one I need. In the end I give up and ask Facebook, happy to leave the decision in the hands of others. It’s £80 but it seems a small price to pay – I’d happily remortgage our house in return for two hours straight slumber right now.

Happy baby

She is only 13 weeks old. Nothing really. Far too young to expect a lot in the way of sleep. But 13 weeks without sleep is a lot. I listen as other mothers tell me of their babies who slept through at four weeks old. I ache for the sleep they speak of – six, seven and eight hour stretches in one go. My baby girl gurgles happily at me and anyone who looks at her, as if playing innocent in the face of her mother’s accusations, “She is allergic to sleep at the moment!”.

My plans to spend the evening catching up on work and ironing are postponed. I have a bath, Googling “baby sleep at 13 weeks” and go to bed.

Tonight is a new night. Wish me luck.

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If you are struggling with sleep deprivation why not visit Netmums’ dedicated section on all things related to Baby Sleep. 

Posted in Babies, Blog of the Week, bloggers, Sleep | Tagged | Leave a comment

Blog of the Week: A pretty sh*t year.

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One of our favourite bloggers here at Netmums is Jane from Northern Mum. Talented, honest and witty her posts always raise a smile or a head nod.

Here she shares why 2014 wasn’t the greatest year for her, but how, like many of us, she’s fighting to see the bright side.

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At times I feel like a right mardy arse, December arrives and my Christmas excitement grows but, as is par for the course I start to look forward to putting the previous year behind me and starting afresh.

It seems like every December I dwell on the shite that popped up throughout the year and forget all the joy that the twelve months gave me.

This year being no exception.

When I reflect on the year, all that seems to stick out in memory is that my daughter spent half the year limping around on crutches plagued by an invisible pain and the fact that my marriage finally died on its arse.

Image: Netmums

Image: Netmums

It is getting a bit boring having crappy years.   But the temptation to drown in a five-year long cocktail of Diabetes, Hip dysplasia, Epilepsy, CRPS, hypoglycemia and divorce is often overwhelming.  I am not ashamed to admit that once or twice a year it simply climbs on top of me and tries to suffocate me with sadness for things never going the way I planned.

But….

 

 

If I force myself; if I try really hard; I can see the good in 2014.

It was the year I shed most of my belly, where I replaced my love of fish and chips with mussels and sweet potatoes. It was the year where my oldest girl fought a tremendous battle with an agonising pain and learnt to run again.  My youngest daughter walked into her first day of school without a sign of a limp and my son continues to grow in character, wit and strength.

2014 was our first time vacationing as merely a mum and her kids, and we had a ball.

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Image: Netmums

It was the year I found CrossFit and managed to deadlift 100kg within my first six months.

It was a year fraught with tough times, juxtaposed next to some amazing achievements.

It was simply a normal year.

Perhaps it is not healthy trying to reject one year with the promise of the next.  Blaming the months for misfortune seems to be passing the buck.  If life was easy, then it would be stupidly boring.

Some days have been more of a challenge than others, some weeks have been incredible.

When I remember 2014, I will always remember it as a time of change, tears, laughs and smiles.

I can’t blame a year for all that went wrong, so I will celebrate its passing and raise a toast as we wave it goodbye.

Bring on 2015, we are ready and waiting.

 

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Blog of the Week: 10 things I have learned in my 2 weeks as a Dad.

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We love hearing new Dads sharing their experiences of becoming fathers for the first time, and so this post from Darren at Ask Dad was a real treat.

And it sounds like a lot of important lessons have been learned in just two short weeks…

Congratulations Darren!

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Well I’m a Dad of two weeks, so I’m clearly an expert now ;)

I’m officially  a 2 week old daddy. The first week was one spent in hospital and the second week at home with my fabulous little son Nathan. I have seen a brand new side to my wife and now a mommy, but I’ll write about that another day. Today I’d like to share with you 10 things I have learned about being a dad that I would not have believed had someone told me beforehand.

 newborn baby toes

1. You find a new level of worry.

Nathan was born via emergency C-Section 11 days late. My worry turned from immediately from my wife to my little boy who blood oxygen level was dipping and turning a dusky colour(nurses term for turning blue) and then coming back pink. And he would not feed. The pediatrician told us he needed to spend some time in the Neonatal Unit. Because he is not feeding we need to get an IV line in.

My poor little man needs a pretty big needle put into his hand. The anguish you experience is strong. After 2 hours and they still could not get a line in and even the midwives are starting to get worried that helpless anguish takes a brand new level and there is nothing you can you and all you want to do is have them healthy and give them a cuddle and kisses. Nothing else in the world matters more than wanting, wishing a hoping for a speedy recovery. That level of anguish and worry takes over all thought but you must accept that this little creature has now got to fight his own fight and you cannot do everything for them as much as you want to!

2. You will wash the same items 100 times in a day

So sinead has been getting mastitis and as such it has been recommended that she pumps off any additional breast milk that Nathan doesn’t drink. That means dismantling 6 parts, filling the sink, washing, sterilising drying, and reassembling the pump every 2-3 hours, 24 hours a day. Now before you pull out the smallest violins in sympathy, I do recognise the enormous effort it takes to actually breastfeed, but that’s not what this post is about. 

3. Your hands will be chemically stripped

Every nappy change, pet of a dog, make a breastmilk bottle, pick up of a baby, make a cup of tea for guest or load the dishwasher you will need to wash and dry your hands. Do a week or two of that there is not a chance a germ can live on your hands. The only downside is that nothing else can exist their either. Including your skin.

My keyboard tying hands have never seen a grass days labor and they feel like I’ve been lifting bricks all week.

4. Those hundreds of baby grows, you’ll never get through?

Guess what. They probably still won’t be enough. I find it hard to fathom how many times you need to change a vest and a baby grow. You will just have to experience it for yourself!

5. Your mouth is an extension of your hands

With a baby in one hand, the other to do whatever it is you need to do, your mouth quickly becomes the third hand you never knew you had. You will surprise yourself what it can actually hold in your gob!

6. That level of tired everyone tells you about

I’m an early riser. A 6am start would be pretty typical for me and I am used to working really hard. I genuinely thought that having a baby would be a similar amount of work.

Well was I ever wrong. Even though I’m not doing the midnight feeds, I am doing all the other work. Nappy, vest and baby grow changes. Dismantling, washing, reassembling the breast pump and storing the milk. Try and do a days work after that process a few times a night!

7. Baby’s will puke or poop on every newly washed item of clothes

The headline says it all. If it’s not one, then it’s the other. If they puke on the baby grow, it needs to be changed, by the time you have them in a new outfit and are planning on making some food, they have filled the nappy and the process starts all over again.

8. You’ll never be prouder than your little one taking a poo.

So I have learn that your baby’s poo is a great indicator of their health. Yellow mustardy coloured seedy textured poo is what we are aiming for. Nathan can go for over a day without a movement and then you see the scrunched up face and and clear cut ‘wraaaaapp’, ‘parp’, ‘wap’, and that is quickly followed by, ‘oh what a good boy, proud of that one!!’

Who’d have thought your paternal pride could extend that far!

9. Nappies Everywhere

It’s like a ticking time bomb changing a wet or dirty nappy. You never know when mount Vesuvius of wee will erupt. As such the old nappy comes off and is discarded very quickly as you try get the new one on. I found 3 nappies by my bedside one of the evenings. They just end up everywhere. Accept it!

10. You will fill new parts of your heart you never knew existed.

Despite the tiredness, endless washing changing, feeding, burping repeating and as cheeses as it sounds, my life has a brand new meaning, my motivation has a new focus, my relationship with my wife has deepened and this little man has truly hit parts of my heart that I never knew could have feelings.

Posted in Babies, dads | 1 Comment

Blog of the Week: The seven stages of sleep deprivation

Blog_of_the_week_badgeIf you’re reading the Netmums blog then chances are you are a Mum (or Dad). And if you’re a Mum (or Dad) then chances are you know all about sleep deprivation.

Hurrah for Gin does too. So much so that she decided to dedicate a whole blog post to it.

A hilarious must read for all parents out there.

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I don’t know if it’s the colder, darker days or the fact that my boys have been tag teaming me with a pre 6am wake up every fricking day of the week, but I’ve been feeling a teeny tiny bit tired lately.

Anyway I don’t like to complain so Instead I thought I would share my best practice guide to getting through the day when you are severely sleep deprived – broken down into easy manageable stages.

Actually I guess it’s more of a big long whinge but whatever here we go…

1, Shock – It’s dark, you are toasty warm in bed dreaming of being a world class gymnast when suddenly there is a small child all up in your face demanding cheerios, milk and/or a particular toy you haven’t seen for months.

‘Go back to sleep’ you say. ‘It’s the middle of the night!’ you say. But when you reach for you phone to confirm the nonsense hour you see that it is actually morning. Or at least A version of morning, just not a particularly good one…

morning3

 

2, Stalling – AKA Cbeebies or milkshake, or a random combination of both because you have perfected the skill of flicking between their very specific programme preferences in your sleep to ensure minimal fuss. If that utter tripe Cloud Babies comes on it’s game over for everyone.

3, Denial – Who needs sleep anyway? You could forgo your plans for the day and stay at home rocking in a corner but that would be weak. Soft play here you come – YOU CAN DO THIS!!

4, Acceptance – YOU CAN’T DO THIS! Soft play should be outlawed. Other peoples kids should be outlawed. Your own children need to be made illegal.

5, Self Medication – Have a coffee, have a gin, maybe have a coffee with added gin? Then eat Fangtastics until you feel sick.

6, Oblivion – The coffee-gin-tangfastic cocktail is not good. Everything is now terrifying. Under no circumstances should you allow your eyes to view even 5 seconds of Kate and Mim-Mim. Her massive purple bunny is no friend of yours.

7, Anger – You are on the home run and start feeling a little triumphant until the inevitable 5.45pm phone call…

late3

8, The Second Wind – Remember how all you’ve wanted to do all day was lie on the sofa and pass out? Well the kids are finally in bed and guess what?

Now you feel F*CKING AWESOME!

Why go to bed when you have a whole evening to do with whatever you like – your lounge is your lobster. You could sit on the sofa half watching TV and dicking about on your laptop or you could… well why think of other options when you could just sit about half watching TV and dicking about on your laptop?

7.47pm – Perusing facebook whilst looking up new cutlery baskets for the dishwasher.
8.23pm – Lasagne and Eastenders.
10.01pm – Ooh 30% off at Debenhams ends tonight…
11.17pm –  Browsing Right Move for a fantasy house.
11.59pm – A quick google of teeth whitening solutions then bed.

9, Insomnia - Must remember to pay the water bill! How real is Made in Chelsea? Why doesn’t your Sainbury’s local stock Heniz ravioli any more? Do you need another wee? Does everyone hate you? Tomorrow is bin day.

Fade and repeat.

(*And yes there may be 9 stages rather than 7 but I’m sleep deprived and can’t be expected to accurately count)

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Blog of the Week: Don’t have a third child…(unless)

 

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Ever wonder if you are ‘done’ or whether you should have one more child to complete your family? Well Amy Ransom has – and has lived to tell the tale.

Here she takes us through some of the things you may want to consider before you embark on having a third (or forth, fifth, sixth…) child.

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Just today, four people have found my blog by searching ‘can’t decide on third baby’, ‘backed out of a third child,’ ‘why did I have a third baby’? and ‘can’t get over not having a third child.’

Well, there’s four scenarios for you right there.  Yikes.

Yes, having a third child can be an all-consuming question that throws you into turmoil.

Especially when the answer is so different for everyone.

Disclaimer:

This is the part where I say, ‘I wouldn’t change it for the world’ or ‘I wouldn’t turn the clock back’ and churn out a hundred other cliches blah, blah, blah.

And the truth is, I wouldn’t (and not just because I can’t).

Because now that there are three, unique little individuals in my care, I honestly couldn’t say which one I’d put back.  And for the five minutes each week, where everyone is synched in happiness, I look at our family and I feel perfectly content.  Complete.  Proud.

It’s the remaining 10,075 minutes I struggle with.

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The list.

Only four months in, I’m really not qualified to write about three kids.  Yet.  You’d be better off heading over to the lovely 3 Children and It.  She has tweens AND teenagers all sewn up.

But I’ve compiled a little list anyway.  On what I DO know, whilst they’re young.

It goes something like this.

Don’t have a third child…(unless)

  1. You like sleep deprivation. Because by adding another child into the mix, you’ve increased the chances of SOMEONE being up by 33.3% recurring. And my. Is it recurring. Night after night after night after night.
  2. You have an industrial washing machine and your very own Dot Cotton manning it.Because like the sleep deprivation, you also increase the washing by 33.3%. And just as kids grow bigger.  So do their clothes. See where I’m going with this?
  3. You have an enormous car. Preferably a convertible. Or an actual bus. Because even when you manage to get a car that’s big enough, someone still has to sit in the middle. And how do you get to that middle seat? How indeed. I’ve tried flinging Godivy in and hoping she lands somewhere near the seat, going in from the boot (once I’ve unloaded it) and finally opening the sunroof and parachuting her in. Of course, once you have got everyone in, you’ll drive off and a tiny voice will pipe up, ‘Mummy, you’ve forgotten to strap me in.’  And it begins all over again.
  4. You like noise. And lots of it. Chatter. Questions. Whinging. Crying. I think this one is pretty self explanatory.
  5. You like chaos and avoid routine. Because suddenly no one will do what they’re asked. Even if they used to. The baby will carve out its own erratic lifestyle, based on the fact that you are erratic. And the older children will take advantage of the fact that you’re dealing with the baby and use the opportunity to do any of the following a) bicker b) sample the delights of nappy cream or c) eat everything in the sweetie tin.

    'It's dawn...I can't cope with this until I've had coffee'

    Image: Netmums

  6. You like being with your partner ALL of the time. Because having three young kids is a team game. A game where neither of you ever wins but at least you lose together. Your other half can go to the pub again in four or five years. Just in case he’s wondering.
  7. You like your partner. Because otherwise no. 6 is going to KILL you.
  8. Your family live nearby. By which I really mean upstairs. If they live any more than 10 metres away, don’t even think about having another child.
  9. You’re agoraphobic and antisocial. Because not only will the effort involved in getting all five of you out prevent you from doing it very often, but you’ll probably not get invited anywhere as a family again. Most dining tables are built for eight and you put their seating plan right out.  Not that any of yours actually sit at the table anymore.
  10. You don’t need time for yourself. That 33.3%? Yes, you guessed it. 33.3% LESS time for you. Which I think leaves you with a deficit of about, oh 963%.
  11. You have a full time nanny, cleaner and chauffeur. An in-house psychiatrist is worth the cash.
  12. You have no expectations whatsoever.  Of anything ever again.

Do have a third child…(if)

  1. None of the above puts you off.
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Blog of the Week: 51 thoughts every mother has about a rare night out

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Our Blog of the Week this week is from Kate Takes 5 who has captured perfectly all of the thoughts that race through our minds on a rare night out.

A must read for any mother who has ever had, or plans to have, a night on the town.

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1. God I’m so sick of this sh*t. All I do is cook and clean and look after children. No one appreciates me.

2. What I need is a night out.

3. I wonder what the girls are doing on Saturday…

4. Mashed banana on the sofa?! Are you kidding me? Right that’s it. I’m going to organise a big girls night. Get the hell out of here for awhile. Have some fun.

5. They said yes! I can’t wait. This is going to be brilliant.

6. What will I talk about? I have no news. I know no news. All I can talk about is babies.

7. I really don’t want to be one of those women who only talk about babies.

8. It’ll be fine. I’ll just listen to all their news. Everyone likes a good listener.

9. What will I wear?

10. Jesus my stomach isn’t really that size is it?

Image: Netmums

Image: Netmums

11. I’m sure I heard someone say double denim was back in again…

12. Shite. Taxi is in 30 minutes and I haven’t even fed the baby yet.

13. I remember when getting ready to go out was part of the fun… Bath, blow dry, music, wine…

14. OK f*ck the bath, where are the wet wipes?

15. 20 minutes?!

16. This was a terrible idea.

17. What about my poor babies? Will they be ok without me?

18. I don’t want to go.

19. Ok well I’m out now so I might as well try to enjoy myself.

20. I’ll just ring once to make sure everything’s ok.

21. Everything’s ok.

22. But is it really? They wouldn’t tell me even if it wasn’t would they?

23. I need another drink to relax.

24. A double? Well why not.

Women Drinking Party

Image: Netmums

25. Actually this is nice. It’s good to reconnect with old friends.

26. They all look great though. I look like sh*t.

27. Oh another drink! Good idea.

28. Wow I love this music.

29. We should totally do this every month.

30. I love my friends.

31. Or even every week!

32. Nothing beats a good night out. Why did I not do this sooner?! This is exactly what I needed.

33. Sh*t. I think I just spent the last hour talking about my babies. Now they all think I’m really boring.

34. Must prove I’m not boring.

35. Yes! Lets dance on the table!

36. I am THE BEST fun!

37. Ouch. Falling off tables is actually really sore.

38. I looked damn hot up there though.

39. Why do I have to get in the taxi?

40. Where’s my other shoe?

41. They all hate me.

42. Oh thank God I’m home. I missed my babies so much.

43. I wonder if they’re still awake…

44. Once I try every key I’ve ever owned in this lock here I’ll go up and see them.

45. Oh look! They are so gorgeous when they’re sleeping. Who needs stupid nights out when you have this?

46. Actually that cot looks really cosy.

47. I wonder if I could just squeeze in there beside him…

48. Why is someone jumping on my head?

49. 6am?! Are you f*cking joking?

Image: Netmums

Image: Netmums

50. I think today may actually be the day that I die.

51. I am never, ever, ever, ever doing this again.

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Find Kate Takes 5 on Facebook. 

Posted in Blog of the Week, bloggers, Woman - the woman behind the mum | Tagged , , | 1 Comment