Wednesday 23rd August 2017

Reality Bites. Part Two. 2017.100.

Reality Bites. Part Two. 2017.100.

So a few weeks back I wrote here about ‘reality biting’ from the emotional health perspective as it started to over shadow my physical recovery. It is true that as I said back then our feelings can take longer to catch up with us. In some ways a more gentle and regular pattern of life has taken place since then and life is pretty good!

However, there have been some more moments and events where reality has bitten and I outline them here:

  • I am finding it  a challenge most days to ‘like’ the face…i.e. the mouth I see which is shrunken and ‘old lady with no teeth in’ look. Oh wait. That IS me. Old(ish!) lady with no teeth ..at the top. However, I saw myself in a photo and it’s not pretty. I am vain! I guess we all like to think we present a reasonable face to anyone. It will happen! You know it will…just going to be a few months yet.
  • I am feeling luckier as time goes on that my cancer does appear to have been isolated in that one place in my mouth but IF I let my imaginative thoughts take over I anticipate more cancer in my future. Note to self: remember mindfulness and living for today
  • I am hungry and wanting to eat from a nutrition and enjoyable perspective but I am very limited by foods which require virtually no chewing and can be swallowed with no chance of choking. Oops: I remember this well when I ‘try’ to eat some small pieces of cooked chicken within a soup I have blended and I manage not to choke but to remember that I cannot chew. Note well…OK? Sigh.
  • I have a great desire to have the rest of this year on fast forward to the days when I can eat well and without much restriction but that’s not going to happen. I was reminded of this limitation again when I did my first mini supermarket shop last week and had to say to myself: can’t have chips, can’t have meat, can’t have ANY thing that is hard, crunchy or needs chewing. In 2018 this will be different. Be patient ..LOL.

I posted this photo recently and had so many positive comments about my appearance. For a while though I wondered why I felt defensive about my loss of weight because it has not been intentional. I feel I have to justify my weight loss (over 3+years) because it did come at a ‘cost’ thanks to anxiety and IBS. But..I reflected on this too because for the many years I was very overweight I was using food as a comfort. My slow and gradual weight loss has made me realise that in many ways it has also helped me to feel more content at this size and I am certainly more physically comfortable and I think my recovery was assisted by me being this size.

But you know what I do actually say to myself now?

  • I am so fortunate to have recovered well from a MOST major and complex surgery where part of my leg was made to fit into my upper part of my mouth to give me, over time, teeth and gums and a S M I L E to be proud of.
  • I have the best support person in the world…who is also incredibly patient with this ex-patient…and that of course is my husband who I paid tribute to here.
  • I have my 100% independence back now. I can look after myself in terms of hygiene…oh I do need some help with covering my leg to have a shower…and dressing. I still need the nurses to visit to dress my leg wounds but they are going well too. I can walk well with no boot and I can drive. This has all come about in the past week to 10 days.
  • I am, as they say, #blessed!

Some photos showing my progress. This post is published just under 7 weeks since my surgery on 6 July 2017.

This will be the last of the posts about my cancer diagnosis and surgery for a while. As I recover more over the next few months I will be back into other topics and those of interest each week. I appreciate that the number of commenters and the amount of support I have had since I announced I had cancer has buoyed me through much of this time. Big thanks to you all.

How have you managed when being ill or post surgery?

Are you someone who has little patience or are you someone who can wait?

Have you ever cared for someone post-surgery or who has a major illness?

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell here for I Blog On Tuesdays and with Leanne here for her Linky called Lovin’ Life on Thursdays.

 

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Selfie Time.#LifeThisWeek 32/52. 2017.99.

Selfie Time.#LifeThisWeek 32/52. 2017.99.

When I was younger I resisted being in most photographs and I used the excuse “I am the photographer”.

And I realised that by doing this I was avoiding my appearance flaws (in my head and in reality) of my size.

I read something which made me change my mind…not matter what I looked like and that was….

how will your family remember you as their mum, mother-in-law, grandmother if you are not in any of the photos?

It then clicked with me that I needed to be willing to be part of the picture!

I am glad I did because there are records of me playing, having fun and being with the kids.

But what is it about ‘selfies?’

Since the advent of the mobile phone and reversing camera inside, it is easy to take a photo of yourself and I admit I have become more interested in taking selfies as a way to measure new experiences, where we live now and…most recently, my cancer diagnosis and surgery.

So: here are but a few of my selfies.

I sometimes can talk my husband and my dad into being in a selfie and my grandson (down further) is selfie- savvy and is very tall!

Most of the  following selfies were all taken once I knew I had cancer in my gums and the ones in the latter stages are following surgery.

Do you take selfies?

Do your record your life in photographs?

Happy Monday.

Denyse.

 

Added: On Sunday 20 August I drove myself to the Beach as I wanted to see the effects of the high tides and the windy conditions..it was an independent activity I handled really well. In fact I came home and said to B “that was the most normal I have felt” since before surgery. To let you see the effects of the wind..I present 2 selfies!!

 

Joining with Alicia for Open Slather here and Kell for Mummy Mondays here.

Link up here for Life This Week!

Here are the rules:

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today! Next Week: Mindfulness.


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I Am Grateful Today. Part 3. 2017.98.

I Am Grateful Today. Part 3. 2017.98.

For those of you who have been following my story of having cancer, the surgery for cancer and the recovery, this post is bringing you up to date with my first month at home.

Going home! Are there any better words when you have been in hospital? I do not think so! I spent the whole of the journey back home being very grateful for my discharge from Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and being entrusted into my loving husband’s care. I think I talked all the way home as it had been some time (ok, 10 days!) since I had been outside the walls of the hospital.

The following photos will tell part of my story of gratitude.

However, throughout all of this ‘cancer journey’ the one person I am most grateful to is my husband:

the yin to my yang, the calm to my panic, the voice of reason to the voice of worry, the patient man for the patient who is often less than patient….I dedicate this post to him.

And even though he dislikes the attention, I have told him often enough that without his care, love, compassion, practical skills and commonsense my time becoming accustomed to have cancer and facing the serious surgery would have been much, much harder.

I am very grateful to B:

 

Here I am …within one month even I can see the differences and I know I feel different inside and much more ‘like me’ so I am incredibly grateful for healing time, a good body, great medical and surgical support and my outlook!

Taken on 12 August 2017, 4 weeks after my arrival home from hospital.

I am most grateful for YOUR support and care via your comments, your Facebook updates and those on Instagram. Thank you all!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell for I Blog on Tuesdays and Leanne for her link up called Lovin Life on Thursdays.

The gratitude post in photos!

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Ideal Meal. #LifeThisWeek 31/52. 2017.97.

Ideal Meal. #LifeThisWeek 31/52. 2017.97.

So, who picked this prompt? Ummm. It would appear that I DID. How interesting then when I cannot EAT all of the foods I am about to list….so let’s go! It is a story about ‘my ideal meal.’

One day, perhaps next year some time I WILL be able to eat these again. Mind you, they would not have been cooked by Mum. Sadly.

Let’s venture back to the 1960s and 1970s for this. Although I must add that this meal combo does still occur! I am making this prompt a tribute to my late Mum. She made these meals many times for friends AND family. My mum was a superb cook and was self-taught. She had many guides and recipes but in the end she followed what she thought would work. I notice I am a cook like that too.

Dad misses Mum’s cooking too but he is managing for himself very well these days! 2006. Mum’s last Mother’s Day.

Even though I could never eat 3 courses any more, I am presenting my ideal meal thus:

First Course: PRAWN COCKTAIL.

Simple ingredients: shelled cooked prawns, shredded lettuce, a sauce of tasty tomatoey-goodness. Accompanied by little triangles of brown bread with butter.

http://www.taste.com.au/images/recipes/agt/2002/01/12319_l.jpg

Second Course: BAKED DINNER: CHRISTMAS -STYLE.

Lots of ingredients: Ham, Cooked Chicken, Cooked Pork, Turkey, Roasted Potatoes & Pumpkin & Sweet Potatoes. Cooked green vegetables and carrots. Accompanied by apple sauce, Mum’s gravy (made from the pan leftovers), cranberry sauce. This photo is as close to one of Mum’s baked dinners that I could find!

https://foodtrail.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/dsc06842.jpg

Third Course: LEMON MERINGUE PIE.

Few ingredients. In fact, the one Mum, my daughter and I make is the recipe on the back of the Nestle Condensed Milk can. Yummo! Not accompanied by anything. Warm or cool. Fine. Must have at least one slice left over to the next day.

http://www.cookingmamas.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Lemon-Meringue-Pie-1024×680.jpg

So, there it is. An ideal meal where there would have been the company of family and most of all my parents.

However, I have made all of these meals too, over the years but with only me and one husband to cook for we tend to eat much more lightly.

What is your ideal meal?

Are you salivating over this page like I did when I wrote it?

How hungry are you now?

Denyse. I link up here on Mondays too: Alicia’s blog  for Open Slather and Kell’s blog  for Mummy Mondays. This is my link-up: Life This Week. You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today! Next Week: Selfie Time.

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Reality Bites. Part One. 2017.96.

Reality Bites.Part One. 2017.96.

Today, 6 August 2017, as I write, it is exactly ONE month since my cancer surgery on 6 July 2017.

I am calling this post ‘Reality Bites’ as the consequences of the diagnosis of cancer, the pre-op visits and treatments and then the ultimate ‘reality’…. the complex and major surgery in my mouth and on my right leg have truly ‘bitten’.

I am writing it out so I can honestly tell you, my readers, that I am NOT doing so well in that emotional sphere at the moment.

This is despite my previous posts where I appeared to be going so well. I was/am in a physical sense.

Readers who want to read more about what this surgery was about can go here:

my diagnosis….my updatesmy grateful post #1my grateful post #2.

Reality has bitten in the form of a heightened emotional response (and IBS frequency) to what has happened to me…my feelings are catching up with what I have been through – from date of diagnosis 17.5.17 till now. (less than 3 months!)

Here is how it is for me NOW as I recall memories that are not great and are affecting me somewhat even though I know things will get better over time.

  • Wow, it’s been one month since the huge operation which I  knew was going to (hopefully) take all of the cancer out of my mouth and leave me with a reconstructed mouth using tissue and bone from my right leg.
  • I recall my feelings of being totally overwhelmed when the surgeons began to describe how they would ‘fix’ this cancer in my mouth only one day after I found out I HAVE cancer.
  • I got through the drive home after that with my hub on my least favourite road (M1) as I tried to wrestle the past 24-48 hours into some sort of sense for me. It was surreal.
  • At home I ‘tried’ to go on with ‘normal life’ but that is impossible when the word C A N C E R shone like a red light in my mind constantly.

“last smiles” were/are treasured but under those false teeth it’s cancer

  • I made  plans and prepared for hospital,  making meals for later,  and making sure I had sufficient clothes and activities ready to take to the hospital but it was surreal. I was doing this BECAUSE I have cancer. It still did not make sense to me.
  • I know that I saw my GP and psychologist about the surgery and what is meant to have cancer and yes, I cried sometimes but other times I was just numb. THIS could not be happening to me!?
  • My mouth and its discomfort and smell were the source of the cancer and I began to ‘hate’ it.
  • I also knew this surgery was going to take away 3 things that were and are precious to me: smiling, communicating and eating. Made me sad and quite stressed.
  • I was resigned to what the operation was but I truly had no idea of how it would impact me because it was like I was somewhat detached.
  • I knew that the surgery would be within 4-6 weeks of our consultation with the surgeons but oh how those weeks dragged on as I wanted to surgery to be over…but I also did not want to have it. So horrible. It  ended up being 7 weeks after diagnosis.
  • It took me weeks to finally get out the hospital forms and complete them. I just couldn’t before. I had to make myself do them. Filling them out meant, of course, I HAVE cancer and HAVE to do something about it. 
  • I made a decision to stay in a ‘cheap place’ the night before surgery and I so regret this as we were uncomfortable and I spent some of the time ‘feeling guilty and responsible’ because I have cancer. 
  • On the day of surgery, at 6.00 a.m. we  presented yourselves at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and then once ‘checked in’  I undressed and got into the paper gown which meant THIS is about to happen. O.M.G. 
  • I said goodbye to my husband and was off….the journey into the unknown…the operating theatre.

I’ve written two posts (see above) which described how things went for me in hospital so I will not outline any more here today.

The next post will outline what happened emotionally in hospital and then my homecoming. I have chosen to write about it all from an emotional perspective as life as a cancer patient post-surgery is affecting me and writing it out is to help me.

At home in my first weeks.

Have you had cancer?

Do you have an experience of having a life-changing event for you where things caught up with you later on?

I appreciate your comments and support. I am not looking to ‘get advice’ as I think that in recognising what is happening to me and letting it happen is probably the healthiest way I know how.

Thank you for your support!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie and friends here for I Blog On Tuesdays and here with Leanne and friends on Thursday for Lovin’ Life linky.

 

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Birth Order. #LifeThisWeek 30/52. 2017.95.

Birth Order. #LifeThisWeek 30/52. 2017.95.

I have always been fascinated about ‘birth order’ and how it applies to different people in my life. I have used some of the notions of the ‘birth order’ theories in my role in education and as a parent and grandparent. I think I chose this prompt for this week as OUR first born had her 46th Birthday yesterday!

Our first born having a swing and smiling at her grandmother, my mum.

  • I am a first born.
  • I am conservative and less likely to take risks.
  • I like the way things are most of the time and unless there is a good reason for change, then leave it alone.
  • I like to do well.
  • I like to please people and especially true of my parents and of those who are close to me whose approval means a lot.
  • I chose an occupation which suited my personality well – teaching. I did eventually rise through the ranks to become a principal.
  • I wondered why I wasn’t ‘enough’ when my parents decided to have another child…this is my theory anyway!
  • I tend to take the lead and be bossy.
  • I am not good at doing things where there is a risk involved.
  • I want to know ALL the details of everything that might affect me, as well as those I love and care about.

First Born is ONE! That’s me.

 

Our first born with a first born Mum and fifth born Dad.

That’s about it for now! Oh, I married a fifth born (he is one of 13 children) so it does not take too much imagination that we are opposites in many ways but I also believe the qualities of each of us is complementary.

I do not wish to generalise however, in his excellent book: Why First Borns Want to Rule The World and Last Borns Want to Change it. Michael Grose sums parts of my own behaviours very well.

An excerpt from a review of the book:

“There are many factors affecting a child s personality and the adult they become, yet the least understood but most emphatic influence on personality is birth order. Why is it that children in a family can share the same gene pool, a similar socio-economic environment and experience similar parenting styles yet have fundamentally different personalities, interests and even different careers as adults? Birth order! The implications for parents, teachers and adults involved with children are many. This book also provides answers to all your questions about the personality and behaviour of your colleagues, life partner, friends and siblings. And perhaps explains some of your own ambitions and quirks. Addressing multiple births, special-needs children, genetic engineering, blended families, gender balance, single children and birth-order balance in the workplace, parenting expert and father of three Michael Grose challenges parents to raise each child differently according to his or her birth order.”

Here is the link which sets out more about the theory of Birth Order and has some interesting insights.

So what do you know of birth order?

Have you considered it as part of getting to know more about yourself and others?

What is your place in your family – birth order wise?

Denyse.

I link up here with Alicia on Mondays and here with Kell too!

I hope you join the link-up today too.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today! Next Week: Ideal Meal.


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I Am Grateful Today. Part Two. 2017.94.

I Am Grateful Today. Part Two. 2017.94.

Two weeks ago I wrote “I Am Grateful Today. Part One. Here is the link as it is the ‘back story’ to this post.

Where did those two weeks go? I did say I would write Part Two last week for I Blog on Tuesdays and Loving’ Linky on Thursday but a hiccup called anti-biotic reaction in my gut  s l o w e d  me down!  Add to that a  ‘foggy post-anaesthetic’ brain and needing to rest more, time got away!

Here I go, outlining some of the features I was grateful for during my stay on Level 9 North Room 16 at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. I arrived on the ward late Sunday afternoon from ICU and the delight at seeing the V.I.E.W. from my bed made the wait worth it!

I was in my private  room from Sunday 9 July until Saturday 15 July – day of discharge.

Warning: I have added a few photos of myself as I was recovering. In some ways this was very helpful for me to see progress. Scroll on by if you would prefer not to look. 

The arrival in a room of my own brought me some independence even though I still needed some initial assistance to get up for the ‘loo. I was grateful, oh so grateful for my relative independence.

I was still on nil by mouth – liquid food via a naso-gastric tube  ( I tolerated it and guess I was grateful because the nutrition, along with the drip feed of fluid was keeping me alive (LOL) …just disliked the feeling on the fluid  tube feed inside me. 

I stayed in a hospital gown because..I was messy…no details but a fair bit of me in the head/neck area was cut into and then stitched back so there were… messy fluids. I was grateful for a warm quick wash in bed and a change of gown daily. It also meant my nice Sussan nighties stayed in the bag until later in the week.

I have mentioned elsewhere that I had some amazing nurses caring for me and I struck up conversations with them all. Often my chats were to ask them about their career choice and how they liked their working lives, and with only one exception all agreed (from young ones to older ones) that this is a vocation for them. I am incredibly grateful to those who choose nursing and who remain dedicated to it as I saw first-hand how rushed off their feet they could be. I often said to them “I hope you have had a meal and a bit of a break today/tonight”.

The night nurse I had 4 nights in a row who clicked with me was Roan and I know I featured him in a post recently  about how we shared a passion for  photography. He was the one who invited me to get up and onto the balcony for sunrise pics. I am so grateful for his genuine care.

As the week progressed I was grateful to see some of the surgeons’ team arrive each day to check on me (and the flap inside my mouth to see it was still ‘lub dubbing’. I was ALWAYS grateful to hear that sound from the doppler! 

I had excellent care from three allied professionals and I am oh so grateful for their advice and help.: the physio who got me into my boot and walking with some trepidation but I eventually could walk unaided. The speech therapist whose job it was on Day 6 post surgery to see if I could speak well (derrr. who was ever going to stop me!) and to drink my first glass of water…as sips! It was GOOD. So grateful for that drink for sure. The dietitian had lots of advice and seemed well-versed in IBS issues and I was grateful for my first day of clear fluids on the 7th day post surgery. But I never wanted to try the soup again after the third time! I tolerated the jelly and the apple juice well. On the last day in hospital I was on smooth soft foods but there was little for me to choose from (that I liked!) but I was grateful to have some mashed potato and some baked tomato – which I had to smash up for it to ‘go down.

Each day brought me something to be grateful for. I was told by every medical professional just how amazingly well I was progressing. I had no measure for this but they obviously did and when I asked the Professor quite cheekily did he think I could go home on the weekend (I hoped Saturday) he said words to the effect ” keeping on going the way you are and I see no reason why not”. How grateful I was that I would be discharged in the minimum time (I was told initially 10-14 days and I went home on day 10!) And check me out with NO more tubes down the nose or up the nose..oh so grateful for that day! 

The person I am also incredibly grateful to is the anaesthetist who put drips and cannulas in 3 different places ( he said to ensure that if one stopped working in the marathon 11 hour surgery, he has a spare to use!). I might bruise easily, and now 3 weeks post-surgery my bruises have gone. They did not hurt me much. I was grateful for relatively little pain in the mouth and just a bit from the leg’s various sites where flesh and bone were harvested. From day two I only ever needed panadol – drip version first, then  liquid version as swallowing too challenging with the swelling inside my mouth.

There are many quiet and lonely times in hospital once evening comes and I was so grateful for my iphone for messages, texts and emails (as well as IG, twitter and FB) and my new Ipad for games, music and more. I also took my art things but the one I did enjoy the most was making mandalas each evening. The meditative effect for me was so for helpful in mitigating missing my husband and home.

I was grateful for the kindness of friends who understood my request for no visitors other than my husband and my daughter. Our son could not make it in. I had many, many well-wishes and some surprises dropped into my room for me. I did feel grateful for this. It is a distraction and a way in which to reinforce how we need to connect with our fellow humans!

 

On Saturday 15 July, after the minor (which led to some not great complications for my gut later at home) infection  was noted in an area of my leg & treated,  my husband arrived…I was already dressed (keen much?) then he had to pack up the bag and more. It was done with ease and I was grateful to leave my room of shelter, health recovery and protection  to be put in a wheelchair and taken to our car.

I am grateful if you have read to the end. It was interesting trying to recall events chronologically and without the photos to help me I would have struggled. This weekend ( as I write) I am feeling less and less foggy-brained and the gut is settling from the nasty antibiotics.

Have you ever had major surgery?

How was your recovery?

What were you grateful for?

Denyse.

3 weeks post-surgery. On our way home from post-op check up.

 

Joining Kylie Purtell for I Blog on Tuesdays here and Leanne at Deep Fried Fruit for Loving’ Life here on Thursday.

 

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Winter. #LifeThisWeek 29/52. 2017.93.

Winter. #LifeThisWeek 29/52. 2017.93.

Almost 2 months into a southern hemisphere Winter and it’s not been anything much other than mild. For those who live inland from the coast there have been under zero C temperatures and frosts and for those with a high altitude on some of the mountains and hills where snow can fall – in both New South Wales and Victoria – the season of snow has begun.

For those of us (I include many on the east coast of Australia), Winter means much less daylight, some colder days and evenings and at times some wild weather. This Winter, touch wood, we have had little of the wild weather, in fact you could call in mild weather. The southern coast of Australia has had its share of cold and the northern end of Australia is sunny with less humidity. Western Australians have a temperate climate too,

So, as I am still somewhat in the fog that is post-surgery I am adding photos to express my Winter this year!

How has your winter been to date? And to my northern hemisphere readers, what WAS Winter like for you?

Denyse.

Outside temp today: 13.3 and inside 20.5 thanks to air con.

I like the clouds in Winter!

I LOVE how the sky is so beautiful in winter

Sydney scene in Winter

A different day..a different Sydney scene!

No leaves nor frangipanis while it’s Winter

Across the Harbour Bridge on a Winter’s Day.

Clouds get me taking pics every time! Local Beach in Winter.

P.S. This post was written at the end of last week, and this weekend is the last in July. I believe in NSW we have one of the driest Winters on record and by gee I did notice that in our garden when I got home from hospital.

I link up each Monday here: with Alicia at One Mother Hen and with Kell at All Mum Said. Join them too!
Here’s my Monday linky…#lifethisweek 29/52.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today! Next Week: Birth Order.


 

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