Persephone: Parent

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What A Photo Holds

I try not to have too many regrets. I try not to have any actually. I live by the fact that whatever I did made me who I am. There are certain things that, with hindsight, I could have handled better or differently, but I can’t change that and don’t regret how I actually did it. That probably makes very little sense. I’ve recently been sorting through my photo albums. As part of my decluttering process, I’ve decided to cut down on the number of old school photo albums that I have (especially as I am now making a photo book each year). I’m cutting down by making a few scrapbooks (a friend bought me a lovely pink, friends orientated scrapbook about 4/5 years ago and I am going to make it!) and new photo frames for the walls. Then I decided to clear out and throw away any involving people that are no longer in my life.

About 3 years ago, just before I gave birth to Elvis, I cut a relatively good friend out of my life. In fact, according to TimeHop it was three years ago today. Her lifestyle and how she chose to live would always bring me down and I decided that I didn’t need that negativity in my life. So, I decided that I didn’t need those photos in my albums. Please note that I have an electronic copy of every single photo from my Mother’s Aunt down through to my own. Then there was the best friend who I lost/she left over a decade and a half ago. I don’t need those photos. If I’m decluttering and want fewer things, then what’s the point in keeping them? Perhaps I could put them in a box, but that would just be thrown out in a few years. Oh, then there were the photos of some people that I used to work with and barely ever speak with since I moved away. And the family members that we’re no longer in contact with. To be fair, when I finish compiling my scrap books and photo frames, even family and friends that I still love and cherish will be facing having their photos being thrown away.

Who looks in photo albums?

Through looking through these albums (probably fully starting in 2007), I nicely, positively reminisced about those that are no longer part of my life. The friend that I cut out of my life a year ago today, I enjoyed looking at our photos. I enjoyed thinking about what our friendship had once been and didn’t really think about the sadness that ended our friendship. However I still agreed with my decisions on all of those people that are now in the recycling bin.

My regret that I noticed whilst looking at all of these old photos dating back a decade-ish, is completely vain. I used to always think that I was fat. Always. I had a stomach. I had no boobs. I had a podgy little tummy. Well, according to some of these photos, when I was wearing the right thing, I did not have a stomach at all. And I regret never seeing my body clearly enough. Because now I definitely have a tummy (two babies later!), in fact I had the tummy in 2012, just before getting pregnant with Elvis and after my laparoscopy surgery. In some of these photos, I think I’m kinda, well, hot. I had a nice figure. Not amazing. But nice. Nicer than how I ever felt.

And I wish that it’d never brought me down. I would kill for that figure now (kill cookies by eating them because I still have little will power). I will never get back to that figure. I know that. But, hopefully, I will like myself, my size and my body much more than I ever did.

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Good Food Habits

I think I have quite a bad relationship with food. Well, good if you consider the fact that I love food and could eat all the time. I quite frequently eat until I’m past full. Since the New Year and my Operation: Yummy Mummy, I have slowly started changing my relationship with food. I put my food into my fitbit food diary so kind of calorie count – my aim is to restrict take aways, unhealthy snacks, not limit or alter my usual meals.

I’ve been doing better. But I still have bad days. As part of my PND/PNA therapy we learnt to use an activity diary to try and track when our moods drop to try and find a cause. Well, yesterday I felt low and I know it was because I ate badly. So I considered what I ate and when and have come up with the following changes:

  • Freeze flapjack so I don’t have a whole batch sitting in my fridge. I kept eating it in case it spoils!
  • Don’t cook extra for myself when cooking a quick meal for either child. Just because I know I’ll want some sweet potato fries. No, just no. Also applies, don’t eat their leftovers no matter how badly I want a fish finger!
  • When having leftovers for a meal, spoon it out of the tub onto a plate/bowl. Last night I ate all the pasta (except for whatever I kept randomly spooning onto Robin’s tray) as it was in the tuperware tub. I ate too much as it was leftovers and more than 1 portion. It’s too difficult to see in the tub.
  • Alter food input on weekends where I am nowhere near as active. Today, I’m trapped in the house with both kids. My activity levels are way down yet I’m still overeating. Or maybe eating my normal amounts but less active. Not good.

Realising these bad habits and finding solutions is one thing, actually sticking to them is another. I just ate multiple jelly babies and two pieces of flapjack as I was bored whilst both children slowly finished their meal 😯

Somehow I need to find some willpower and motivation, simply being just 0.7kg from my goal (potentially 2 weeks away) is not enough of a motivation apparently. But then, how am I supposed to not feel low when I’m stuck in the house with both children, Elvis being a bit ill and super tired and cranky. I didn’t even dare risk going to the shops today. How do I entertain myself on those types of days?

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CBT: Session Four – I Can Read Your Mind #PND

The fourth therapy session was the first one after a huge break over Christmas. During this gap, not only had Robin started sleeping through the night and dropping her morning feed (only two feeds a day left), but she had started going to bed really easily (quick feed and then done) so I’d started reintroducing things to my life and, unlike previous attempts, had begun to enjoy them. I guess it was part of the depression, the constant thought of “what’s the point?” What was the point in trying to do aerobics or go jogging at bedtime, she’d still be screaming? Why bother getting up early to do it, I’m too tired anyway? I don’t want to read a book, I want to veg out on the sofa and watch TV, get bored and eat junk food. Everything had seemed so hard, so hard to motivate myself to do and so hard to wrangle the family to allow me to. But that had started to change over the Christmas period, with a cinema outing and date with my mum, going out for drinks with a friend – no children in sight, taking the time to exercise, trying to get my diet in order and using calm, quiet times to read my book so that I finally got interested in it. I’d never seen that as part of the depression, but it was.

In the fourth session, we learnt about negative automatic thoughts (yep, I know them very well) and what type of thinking you do. I’m a black and white generaliser who can read minds and plays more on the negative than the positive.

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It Gets Better – A 20 Month Age Gap, A Year On

One of my greatest anxieties, other than getting children to nap, has been being alone with both of mine. Where other people can never get out of the door on time with their children, I have always been able to get one and then both of them, including me and Hubby up, dressed, washed, fed and out, by whatever time I need to. I guess that I kind of don’t understand those that can’t, those that have anxiety or panic over trying to get somewhere on time, but then I freak out at the prospect of being alone with mine. Or at least I did.

Even just a month or so before Christmas, the thought of Hubby going to spend all day long at the football filled me with dread. Or Elvis being ill and needing to stay home from nursery. God, no. I just couldn’t bear the thought. I’m not even sure fully what it was about being alone with them. Maybe how to keep them both entertained. How to feed him and myself solids with a baby who didn’t eat. Who do I leave screaming to deal with the other?

It got easier as Robin got better and more independent with napping. I started using the TV less to babysit Elvis when Robin needed things. Then when she finally started eating and crawling it got even easier. She developed a routine that fit with him and his nursery run. The only times that I’m really alone with them is a Friday after swimming and then weekdays for a short while before and after his nap. He started dropping his afternoon nap as early as October and I don’t remember freaking out about it.

He did have two days off sick in November and then Hubby was planning on going to the football, I would have been alone with them both for 4 whole days. I was scared of that.

Today, Elvis awoke at 1am with an awful cough. Then he woke again at 5. It sounded really wheezy. At 6 I brought him in to bed with me and told Hubby that we weren’t getting up. He wasn’t going to nursery. I didn’t even need to think it over or try and get over any anxiety, I knew I could do it and didn’t feel any anxiety. Because, yep, whatever you want to think of me at other times during this past year I have gladly sent him in when he was a bit ill, because I couldn’t deal with him and her. I was so anxious, so scared, that I sent him off a bit ill. Others might frown upon that, but I just couldn’t do it. I was too scared. I won’t say that the therapy has helped with that particular issue (Robin growing up has), but it would have helped amazingly.

I can cope with a 20 month age gap. I am coping with that age gap. At the moment. I’m pretty sure I’m over the hardest, the highest hurdle and I have all of the tools from therapy to help me should any future hurdles involve anxiety.

On that note, I have been blogging about my 6 therapy sessions (first, second and third) and I do think that maybe my PND is more PNA and it is far more manageable. I got a letter on the weekend discharging me from their services and it said that at the start I had a level of 13 on the depression scale, 11 on the anxiety and I ended with a 3 on depression, 4 on anxiety. I think the anxiety should have maybe started higher as there are a lot of instances that I didn’t realise I had anxiety. But then I realised a lot doing the course. Such a lot.

I guess, what I’m saying for anyone with a 20 month age gap, whatever might worry you, whether it’s minor or life controlling, it gets better. You might need help from friends, family or professional people, but I’ve made it to over a year in and today I am happily sitting at home as Storm Imogen blows down my fences with a bit of an ill boy on the sofa and a potential teething girl attempting to nap and I’m not stressing, I’m not worrying, I’m not panicking. I’m not reaching for the junk food to eat my feelings.

I’m living.

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Yummy Mummy: Three More Bags for Charity

Well, I was really hoping that I could announce I was back to pre-second-pregnancy weight already in this post, but apparently I have lost no weight.

None. At. All.

And I’ve had a really good week, so I am a bit miffed, however I am trying to keep in mind that when my size 16 jeans became too loose a few weeks ago, I started wearing my 14s which where a bit too tight. Now, they fit much better. Okay, that could be that they’re stretched a bit, but I’d like to think it’s because I’ve shrunk a bit. Until I weighed myself, I felt on top of the world so I’m going to ignore the lack of weight loss. Plus, it wasn’t a weight gain!

As for the decluttering, well, there are currently three huge charity bags waiting by the front door for us to take out later on today. Plus another bag filled with glasses, cups, ornaments and another bag with even more glass in it. I’ve been quite ruthless. I went through all of my cups and decided that my husband and I could each keep 3, then there are 4 spares (a nice set that match our kitchen), the rest have gone. It includes cups I was using to hold pens and other things in my wardrobe (that is how much of a hoarder I am), cups that I got in my first ever full time job, a cup that I bought with one of my best friends who is still one of my best friends. But I don’t need 4 cups. I don’t even need 3, but 2 are my favourites and the 3rd was bought “by my son” and says Mummy on it. I might be being ruthless, but I’m not heartless.

I put a dress in the charity bags that is brand new, still has the labels on, which cost me £50 and I really wanted to wear to afternoon tea at the Ritz. But it didn’t fit. I kept it in case it ever fit. It won’t ever fit. I can’t cling on to these things.

I went through my dressing table drawers three times. On the third time I ditched the nail varnish from my graduation ball. I only know one person that I went to that ball with. It wasn’t a highlight. I don’t remember much about the night in total, so why keep the nail varnish except some twisted notion of nostalgia?

The way that I decluttered my room was chuck everything I wanted to get rid of on my nursing chair (which also needs to go!) and then I bagged it up a few weeks later. That way, I did get to view it all one last time to make sure. A few items I realised were not good enough for charity and instead went into the bin. I took ONE thing back out. It is a little handbag with a wrist strap, which I think will be good for when I take up jogging again in the better weather. It is big enough for my phone and keys, but also small enough to fit in my hands. Everything else stayed in the bags. I’m pretty sure that my bedroom is almost done. Elvis’ is fine. Robin’s needs some work.

Here’s what my decluttering list looks like:

  • DVDs
  • Under my bed – clothes, bags
  • Under Robin’s bed
  • Top of our wardrobes
  • Over the Bed unit and the jewellery collection
  • Bedside drawer and bedroom shelves
  • Kitchen crockery and above the cooker cupboard
  • Glassware
  • Under the Stairs
  • Top of stairs nook
  • Cookbooks
  • Photo Albums
  • Books – fiction, non fiction I’m going to be ruthless, and only the keep the fiction books that are part of a collection or I haven’t read yet. I might even check out all of my Start Trek books in the loft!
  • Bathroom drawers and cupboards
  • My bedroom corner
  • Top of the kitchen units
  • Clothes hangars
  • Back room – filing cabinets, shelving unit, shelves, mantle, window, craft boxes I can’t even get in to this room properly at the moment due to baby stuff to sell. Oh, well.
  • Loft Goodness knows what’s up there!
  • Side shed this needs sorting if we want to clear the conservatory for more practical use in the summer
  • Conservatory some of the stuff needs to go in the loft and I deemed that too much hassle! Especially when the loft needs sorting!

What else is new in Operation Yummy Mummy? I’ve been arranging playdates with neighbours that have children the same age as Elvis. One of our neighbours’ daughters goes to nursery with him, but in the year above and they seem to like each other. I also potentially have a mum date tonight. Unless a child gets ill or something. I’m sorting out the last of my nursing tops for the Little Pickles market which is in 2 weeks and yesterday, a courier came and picked up 5 boxes of DVDs, games and consoles for Music Magpie. We’re just finishing off a second Music Magpie order and I need to list a few items on ebay in a minute.

Oh, and I just emailed a company with regards to hiring them for Elvis’ third birthday!

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Robin Upset Me

My son is 32 months old and is just beginning to understand his emotions. I blame nursery. Haha. He now often uses being tired as an excuse for not doing things, but he is going through something at the moment. Like I said, he’s 32 months old. He’s just dropped his afternoon nap and he’s really exploded in his abilities. He’s more outgoing. He has a memory. He referred to someone as his friend. We keep talking to him about how things are about to change with Robin starting nursery and that our swimming lessons might be changing. I think he might be going through more upheaval than he did twelve months ago when he suddenly received a newborn baby sister!

Robin has started walking (yay!) and the day that she was doing lots of walking with her pram walker (which she now ignores just days later as she can toddle as far and fast alone), Elvis went and hid between two toy shelving units. I asked him why. “Because I’m sad.”

“Why are you sad?”

“Robin upset me.”

And my heart broke.

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CBT: Session Three – Oh, There I am! #PND

As I walked into the third session, I was still feeling so so down from the session before and then my failed attempt to socialise, that I wondered what the point was. But I wasn’t about to lose my place on the course and I really loved the creche aspect! Honestly, possibly not the best reason, but I’m not going to lie – it was not hope and optimism that made me go on the third week. Haha! The third session was all about rumination (I tick all the boxes, so, yep, I ruminate. A lot) and introduced SMART Goals.

Well, somewhere in the week afterwards, I began to see some light.

I think it happened when I set my SMART Goal in front of everyone in the therapy session. Because that meant I had to stick to it. Right?

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Yummy Mummy: Another 0.2kg Lost

A slow week again, but with Robin’s first birthday we ate alot of cake and didn’t eat at home at all for one whole day. On top of that I always have a take away on the weekend. And I had extra lazy days because a cold knocked me out and I’ve just wanted to sleep! 😴

But 0.2 loss is better than nothing and waaaay better than a gain. Only 1.1kg from my first goal! Yay! Maybe 3 weeks if I stay really good.

In other Yummy news, I’m reading “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” and I am loving being back in Westeros. I’m still doing at least 3 nights of Dance Central aerobics and my PND therapy course has ended so it’s up to me to remember to keep working at keeping me happy (still working on the blog entries). My attempts at my own social life have been knocked a bit but it is cold season and I refused to let some let downs get me down.

I’ve finished decluttering the kitchen cupboards. I simply emptied one and sorted through it, ditching things that haven’t been used in ages, dishes without lids or multiples (who needs 3 ceramic trays?) And then moved on to the next. I do still have the stuck thought of I might use it one day which I can’t shake, but I’m making steps to make space.

I just spent this morning clearing through my clothes stored under the bed and although I do have a huge pile to donate to charity, I still have loads to put back under there. I am incredibly proud of my self, however, as I hate getting rid of perfectly good clothes. The problem is I do consider my body is in a state of flux. I am actively trying to lose weight and I’ve been pregnant for over half of the past 3 years, so just because I have loads of clothes that don’t fit, it does not mean that they won’t again. I’ve read some articles on declutttering and they state that you should get rid of things that don’t fit, if you ever lose the weight, you’ll want to buy new. Well, I don’t think that applies to me quite yet. These articles are quite ruthless on what you should ditch and whilst I’m nowhere near their level, I’m ditching stuff I wouldn’t have before. If part of my PND is feeling like I lost myself then why would I get rid of the clothes that I associate with the me that I was, the me that I assume or hope I will be again?

Or maybe that’s exactly why I should get rid of them. A clean slate and all. The person that I was is never going to be the person I can be again. I’m a whole new person and that person who wore Little Miss t-shirts is like my distant relative.

It’s just that, yes, my whole entire body has changed, but I’ve spent 3 years in maternity/nursing-able clothing and, well, it’s pissing me off. I’m fed up with it now and I keep all of the clothes that I loved back in the distant past because I want to remember what I was, who I was, what I looked like, but also what I can be when I don’t need an expandable waist to accommodate a growing child or easy access to my boobs for another growing child.

I’ll re-evaluate the clothes when I get to either the right weight or when my breastfeeding journey ends forever, but even so, I’ve cleared out 3 big bags for charity.

Along with 2 bags waiting to be taken to our local BHF store, I also have three bags of kitchen things ready to go and maybe a box plus of kitchen things that are currently in the shed… they may have to wait until I clear up some space as they might need a clean now! Our back room is still a dumping ground. There’s the three huge piles of boxes that are waiting for the next Little Pickles Market and two huge piles of DVDs/games waiting for me to sort out a Music Magpie order. Oh, and I sold on most of my unwanted Christmas presents last week on ebay and made over £40. This house will declutter, it will just take a while as I am a super-hoarder.

So, maybe only 0.2kg down, but two huge bags and three carrier bags of charity worthy stuff down. That’s a pretty good week, I reckon!

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Growing Up and Moving On

Elvis has been having swimming lessons since he was about 10 weeks old, and he moved up into his current toddler class about a month after he turned two. Not even 6 months ago actually and they’ve started talking about him moving up into one of the preschool classes already. This terrifies me.

For one thing, he is only just 2 and a half, he doesn’t have the best attention span and he’ll be in the water. People die in the water.

But then, I do think he’s almost ready. In just the last few weeks he has advanced so much. He seems to have really come out of his shell in general, but just today, he was asked to float on his back as we sang Twinkle, Twinkle and he just assumed the position. Lovely spread legs and outstretched arms. My son hates leaning back in the pool! Oh, and when they were asked to dunk themselves, he did. He hates dunking in the songs, but does enjoy trying to submerge everything but his face. I think he might almost be ready for the group. Especially when I think about the others that are currently in his class – they are too little to be able to dunk themselves. I guess he might be in that tricky position where he is more advanced than most in his group, not quite as advanced as the next group.

Three of his little friends have moved up, but two of them are 3 already and one is only about 2 months away from her birthday.

Is it better to be a big fish in his little pond, where he can do everything he’s asked, or be the little fish, the youngest and possibly the least capable? But how else is he going to learn, he needs to be pushed.

I really am in two minds. I want him to move if he’s ready. But I don’t him to move up.

Water is dangerous. It’s a new instructor so I’d be entrusting my son’s life with someone I don’t really know.

On the other hand, in a few weeks Robin starts nursery (that’s a whole other growing up matter!) and has to move her swimming lessons to the same day as Elvis. He currently swims at 10am, she’d be at 0930. That means I need someone else to undress him and then dress her, with me staying in the pool for a whole hour. If Elvis moved to the preschool class, he would be at 11am (and I don’t have to go in the pool for preschool classes) so I think I could take Robin, leaving Elvis at home with Nanny, come home, put her down for her nap and then take him, staying dry and watching from the sidelines. This would make it easier for me, my mum and both of them really. It would enable me to do the whole thing with Robin, just like I did with Elvis rather than handing her over soaking wet for someone else to dress her, but…

Aside from the danger aspect (which is worrying me), it takes away our time, the 30 minutes of swimming together, watching him advance each week right in front of my eyes. I worry so much that he learns everything he does at nursery, but swimming is where I teach him, where I see him. He just comes home and knows more letters, knows how to count, but I taught him to climb in and out of the pool. I taught him to swim a length on a woggle. It’s my 15 minutes alone getting dressed/undressed with him and having random chats without as much of a time pressure as before nursery or as many distractions as at bedtime. I love that time with him and I don’t want to give it up.

What could I even replace it with?

But I will have to give it up at some time. Either in 4 months when he fits the age criteria for the preschool class, or in 1 month when it suits the busy teachers, my family or when he may actually be ready to join his friends. I guess it isn’t about him growing up, it’s just the by product of him growing up. I feel like I’ll be losing something and I don’t know how to change that. It’s the only quality, one-on-one time that I ever have with him and I’ll be giving it up yet still having it with her.

Oh, hello, there, Mummy Guilt! Welcome home.

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The Blame Game

And how to get over it?

With only a few weeks before my return to work, I think I’ve realised why I really don’t want to go back. Rewind almost three years ago to when my maternity leave with Elvis was almost up and work errors meant I didn’t get paid. Then I got paid too much. Then they took back my overpayment leaving me with nothing that month. No warnings, no explanations until I questioned, no communication at all and still no real explanation as to why I was penalised for their error.

I was given assurances that it wouldn’t happen this time.

Rewind to a year ago when I recieved a letter telling me you’ll be surprised to learn that you’re not entitled to maternity pay. Replace surprised with fucking fuming.

Rewind to the beginning of this tax year when, 4 months into it, I discover that someone hit a reset switch at work and started paying me. I never realised. I didn’t get payslips. I told them, the payments stopped and I heard nothing else from them. So I owe them money. A lot. I have no idea how much. And I was technically claiming benefits because I knew I’d have to pay back the overpay. (And the benefits are because I wasn’t entitled to maternity pay, which they could have told me before I went on maternity leave, but didn’t because they’re incompetent).

So I fully expect to either not be paid this month or to receive a huge bill. And if they don’t pay me, will my nursery fees be paid? Nope.

And I blame work. I blame work for every second of stress the pay issues have ever caused me. I blame work for not being able to pay my mortgage when I returned. Most of all, I blame work for how my daughter was born.

The letter about my pay, or lack thereof, came 14 hours before my waters broke and over a week into my maternity leave. 36 hours later I had the choice of induction or emergency surgery. I spent two nights away from son. Two whole days and Robin was born only about 36 hours before my planned surgery in which I might not have visibly been away from home at all due to nursery.

I could have gone in to labour at any inconvenient time but that’s out of everyone’s hands. That’s nature.

Instead I seem to firmly believe that the waters going was from the surprise at not being entitled to pay. I was fuming. I was so angry at their incompetence, not to mention the fact that I had no idea if we could afford no income from me after about 6 weeks. I blame them for not having figured this all out earlier, giving me extra time to fill in the paperwork and find my payslips. As it was, I filled it all in, had a baby and had to redo the forms because the forms were invalid. If we hadn’t have changed management, I might have been told earlier. I might have been calmer. And I blame them for all of that pain, for sobbing on the second night away that I just wanted to see my son. I blame them for rushing home to see my son and having a longer recovery.

The drugs played a part in me sobbing hysterically to just get my baby out because I wanted to go home to see my son. The hormones, lack of sleep and pain definitely played a part when I was alone in the hospital so Daddy could put Elvis to bed and sobbed every time I heard a newborn cry because I wanted my son. But the reason, I believe, in my irrational head, is that my waters only went because I was stressed by the fear and anger that letter provoked within me and if the waters hadn’t have gone, would contractions have even started? Because the doctors only made me stay in due to potential issues with my scar tissue.

Perhaps I can take ownership of some of it, but not all of it. Their incompetence caused so much stress and so much pain. It is their fault that I had emergency surgery and their fault that I spent so long away from my son. I blame them for the stress of trying to fill in paperwork within days of my daughter being born. I hate them for having the nerve to call me twice in the week after I gave birth, the first time less than 24 hours later, to discuss my complaint. And management knew I’d had my baby as I’d had a congratulations from them, an email promising that we’d discuss my complaint, but to forget it for a while to focus on my family. Well, the other guy who was ringing me, clearly didn’t want me to focus on my family.

Meanwhile, no one has kept in any form of contact. None of the admin people even still work there. I randomly bump into people and hear about the redundancies, hear about who’s walked out, moved to another school. I used to work in a team of 12, now I think we might be about 10, maybe 11, but I only really know 3, maybe 4. I think it is compounded by the fact that I was only back for a short time in between maternities. I think I made about 5 months. My job is pretty physically active. I’m on my feet all the time, rushing from lab to lab to prepare things, lifting and carrying things constantly whether they’re heavy or not. I couldn’t do that during my 5 months back. I couldn’t even sit in the usual work room due to the chairs being too high. So, really, I’ve spent over 3 years not doing my job and I don’t know what to do to. Because of all of the departmental changes (we became an academy during my first maternity leave), I don’t think I even know the people I work with.

So, I don’t know how to do my job, I’m the new person walking in to a department almost, I probably won’t get paid properly for a good half year and, yeah, I’m anxious, desperately trying to put the steps I’ve learnt in therapy into use to not completely lose it.

And I don’t know how I’m supposed to walk into work and not hate everything and everyone I see. I hate the very thought of it.

And I truly don’t know how to let that go.

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