The First Term of School

We arrived at school and dropped him off at his classroom. Off he went without even saying goodbye. The whole thing felt rather unceremonious if I’m honest!

A year ago, the first Mummykind baby began his first term at school. Of course that first term was full of firsts for him and us. Now he is in his second year of school and I found some of my musings from the time in my dusty drafts folder. I thought I would take a look back and share some of the ‘firsts’ of that first term.

The First School Run

This was possibly the smoothest school run all term if you can believe it. Maybe because he had been looking forward to it for months. We got up on time (even with a newborn in the house) and breakfast went down quickly, uniform went on excitedly and the sun was shining so off we went with plenty of time to spare.

School is just over a mile away and he kept up the whole way, beaming with pride in his new uniform all the way. (Now he asks to be carried from about half way if my husband is with us. He must know I would say no…) When we arrived at school we had to walk him round to his classroom and drop him off. I had no concerns about him just getting on with it, he has always settled well in new places. There were some tears from other children when we arrived but not mine, off he went without even saying goodbye. The whole thing felt rather unceremonious if I’m honest!

The First day of term

The first day of term for Reception class (kindergarten to our friends across the pond) was a week later than the rest of the school so everybody else was already settled and the teachers could focus on the little ones. The first day was a half day, as were the next four days. As far as I can tell he spent the day playing with his new friends – nobody from his preschool or toddler group went to the same primary school so he didn’t know anybody! But, as is his style, everyone is his friend from the moment they meet. I was worried that the bigger class and older children would overwhelm him being the baby of the year group but if anything, he was pretty miffed to see me at pick up time, he wanted to keep having fun.

The First School Dinner

For the first day only, parents were invited to join their reception children at lunchtime to help them settle into the dinner hall. School dinners make me nervous because of his allergies. They have a set three weekly rolling menu and on some days all he can/will eat is plain pasta. The school is good at catering for his allergies but I can’t expect them to cater to his selective eating as well. On the first day he did have plain pasta and on subsequent days he was able to have some proper hot dinners. I now find it easier to send him with a packed lunch once or twice a week and let him have the plain pasta every so often. Don’t bee fooled, he would eat plain pasta all day every day if I let him, he doesn’t feel like he is missing out!

A few things made me anxious on that first shared lunch time. His care plan hadn’t been finalised so the kitchen staff didn’t know not to give him milk and I was surprised to see that some of the older children were not very good at using their cutlery so yoghurts and grated cheese went EVERYWHERE. It is now time for me to trust my son to not touch those things, it’s a lot of responsibility for a four year old but he has handled it like a champ.

The First Parents’ Evening

This is the most adult thing I have ever done. there are lots of things you have to be an adult to do but this really takes the biscuit. I am married with two kids, I drive and own a company… still not as grown up as being the parent at parents’ evening. My own personal revelation aside, my son is thriving. I had considered keeping him back a year as a summer born, particularly as he was still almost entirely non-verbal at 2 years old. My worries started to subside

The First School Event

My son was so ready for it. The school put on an autumn faire with rides and games and a talent show. Some of the teachers dressed up for a performance and there was even a little bit of food that he could eat before the evening closed with fireworks. It was amazing to be enveloped in the community and it was so fun. It was a brilliant way to close the term, with all of its ‘firsts’.

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Burnout in the Blog

Some of our regular followers will have noticed that we haven’t posted in a long while. Even with a big writing team we found that last winter was too hard on us to carry on with the blog for a while for a few reasons that we will share as and when we feel we can. Unlikely as it seems, our whole team hit a burnout around the same time!

Our health, both physical and mental, is a priority and as individuals we were all facing one thing or another that was consuming all of our time or energy or general capacity to exist. We had planned to be back in April, after a refreshing break. We spent a long time discussing whether we wanted to keep the blog going and if we did then what direction did we want to take it in? Well, we never came to a definitive answer before we were thrown head first into lockdown and home schooling.

Mummykind will be sticking around, maybe there will be some rebranding down the line and the team might be a little lighter for a while but for now Mummykind will stay just the way you know it. It’s going to be very important for us to take it one step at a time and ease back into writing, so our upload schedule will be a little slower than it was until we build back up to more regular posts.

Thank you to everyone who has stuck around and to all of our new visitors – website traffic has been phenomenal even without any new content in nine months! We are looking forward to writing for you again.

What I learned from the first week of potty training

Hi! It’s been a while!

I took a bit of a break to deal with the stress of miscarriage, and the excitement (and strain) of being in the first trimester with baby number two!

For the last few weeks we’ve been potty training our daughter. It was a bit of a shock to us that she seemed to be ready a few days after her second birthday, but we followed her lead. She’d been following us to the loo for a while, and was very adamant that she wanted to use the ‘big potty’. So, we threw ourselves in off the deep end, purchased a seat that fits our toilet, and away we went. Here’s what I quickly learned.

  1. Just because they say they don’t need to go, doesn’t mean its true.

After a few days of absolutely no accidents, I found myself relaxing a little around our trips to the toilet. My daughter had been in such a good routine of saying ‘mummy, wee wee’ that I was beginning to trust that she knew when she wanted to go.

Wrong.

Just because she knew she needed to go, didn’t mean she would. I found that my little one was often so enraptured with whatever she was playing with at that time, that she’d try and convince me that she didn’t need to go so that she could carry on playing.

Lesson learned. Do not believe a two year old. It will result in wet underwear and a big old mess.

2. If you don’t take spare clothes out with you, its your funeral.

I’ve recently found that 3 is the magic number. One change of clothes in, and its an accident. 2 changes in and you’re obviously not paying attention to the fact that your little needs to go, they’ve been having a nap, or in my case, you have a stubborn daughter. 3 changes means it’s time to go home. We carry a wet bag with us for wet clothes, and any reusable nappy inserts we’ve had to use to soak up wee outside. The one day I forgot this was obviously the day that my daughter went through all 3 clothes changes.

3. Wiping a toddlers bum is nowhere near as easy as I thought it would be.

Why did I think it would be easy to wipe the bottom of a toddler that’s pretending to be a dinosaur?! To be honest I don’t have any more to say about this one. If you have any good suggestions, help me out and leave a comment and potentially save my sanity

4. A little praise goes a long way!

I’m not talking full on sticker chart, prize at the end of the day kind of praise. If you find that works for you, that’s great! We’ve found that a simple high five for number two’s in the toilet has worked best for us so far!

5. Remember that they’re only little

At the end of the day, we take for granted the fact that we interpret our bodily functions so easily. It must be so difficult to learn to use the toilet properly at the same time as learning to talk, and learning all about the world around them that must seem so big and wonderful. We’ve found so far that a little understanding goes a long way. We only use praise, if our daughter has an accident we tend to say ‘oh no! Let’s clean it up’ and leave that to be the end of the discussion. Positive reinforcement has definitely been the way forward for our family!

So far, we’ve been potty training for a week, and honestly I’m so amazed by how far my daughter has come in this time. I know that its not a long time to be nappy free, but I never expected to be buying tiny knickers for my just turned two year old!

How did potty training work for you?

Becoming a big sister…

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I wrote a blog entry in 2019 about preparing my daughter for her brother coming along. It worked to an extent! She was so excited and seemed to be prepared for the change! But we’ve still run into a few hurdles along the way.

I cannot fault her for how helpful she is with him and for showing an interest in him. I’m so proud of her when she tells me on a daily basis that she loves him and when she introduces him to everyone that she meets.

Everyone said she’d get jealous but I was so adamant that she wouldn’t. I mean I never stopped giving her my attention so I naively thought in my head it wasn’t going to happen. The first few weeks passed and we had no problems whatsoever.

In hindsight this could have been because my partner was around for the first 4 weeks. Since then my daughter’s been copying behaviours such as wetting herself, (which has happened as  late as her brother turning 4 months old). On one occasion because her brother had drooled on me, she started licking my clothes! She’s stopped doing these things, (at the moment) and I found the best way to respond was to talk to her, to ask her if she was okay, reassuring her that I love her for her and that she doesn’t have to be like her brother. I’ve been trying to make more one to one time although it’s quite hard because my partner is at University as well as working full-time and we don’t have a lot of involvement from other family members, because they are busy doing their own thing. She’s constantly asking for cuddles and wants to sit on my lap when I’m feeding her brother, but I’ve found a way of having them on each knee! It’s easier said than done though, trying to juggle everything. I feel so guilty that she’s having to wait all the time for me and if she asks me to play with her, I feel like I have a million and one things I need to do first at the moment. I don’t want her to feel she’s not important, but I only have two hands! When my partner was home over Christmas I was able to take her out to do a few nice, inexpensive Christmas activities, so we could have quality time, but I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard to do that since. In my situation my partner finishes University soon, so hopefully that will create more opportunities for us as a family to do nice things.

Whether it’s because: she’s now 3; that she’s dropped her daily nap; or because of all the change, her behaviour has definitely become more challenging. She is such a strong and determined young lady, which I’m proud of but she can be so defiant and a handful when she wants to be. So taking both little ones out on my own, trying to build up my confidence, has been difficult when she’s been doing what she wants to do and not what I’m asking of her. Not only that but the not listening is so hard isn’t it?!

Please tell me this phase passes soon! 

Mummykind’s December (and 2019) Top 5

Here it is! The final one of 2019! So as well as just a roundup for this month, we’ve done a roundup for the whole year.

Top 5 Blog Posts in December

Top 9 Blog Posts in 2019

  1. Planning a Moana themed party
  2. Getting your toddler through a cold
  3. Collecting colostrum during pregnancy
  4. Ideas for your paper anniversary
  5. Post-partum haemorrhage
  6. Sarah’s birth story
  7. I refuse to be ashamed about my miscarriage
  8. Recognising the signs of sepsis
  9. How I use my bullet journal to get my parenting shit together

Top 9 Instagram Posts of 2019

And, just because it’s easier and prettier, here are our Top 9 instagram posts of this year!

Personal Top 5s from 2019

As it’s the end of the year and it’s always good to focus on the positive things… here is a personal Top 5 from each of us!

Sarah

  1. Got pupillage!
  2. Managed Christmas alone with Olivia while Jamie is away in the Falklands
  3. Went to New York in April
  4. Got her first car after passing her driving test last year, OH THE FREEDOM!
  5. Went to see Frozen 2 with Olivia… 4 times…

Amy

  1. Went on holiday to New York
  2. Got Mummykind featured on BBC South East Today and inspired lots of mummies across Kent and East Sussex with her story about Postpartum Psychosis
  3. Oliver began interaction therapy for his ASD and is even saying some words now!
  4. Felt more empowered than ever as a single mum
  5. Started learning to drive

Paige

  1. Made an effort to be more present with friends and family, which meant spending less time on her phone or online
  2. Spent a long weekend camping with her church family
  3. Prioritised her mental health, especially avoiding eating disorder triggers
  4. Made more time to plan date nights with her husband!
  5. Finally got answers and diagnoses for lots of medical problems that have long been an issue

Charlie

  1. Had a beautiful baby boy!
  2. Went on holiday to Norway
  3. Got engaged!!
  4. Got promoted at work to a specialist vulnerable women’s worker
  5. Had a mini break at the New Forest

Maria

  1. Had a beautiful baby girl!
  2. Maria’s son started school this year
  3. Received an environmental award
  4. Started a new business – South East Reusables CIC

Harriet

  1. Started an Open University course in Psychology
  2. Got a 1st class mark in her first university assignment!
  3. Went on holiday to France with her family
  4. Celebrated 6 years suicide attempt and self-injury free
  5. Had her first plus size modelling gig

Top 5 Other Blogposts we LOVED

  1. Preemie Parents – Guilty as charged
  2. Advice from a Twenty Something – 7 ways to take care of you this holiday season
  3. Confessions of an Irish Mammy – When the bin truck comes early
  4. Counting to Ten – Christmas with my family
  5. Mama Castle Writes – Embrace the motherhood

Mental Health Monday: The Aftermath of Christmas with Sensitive Kids

We have had a fabulous family Christmas. It’s been intense but it’s been fun and full of love and laughter. We’ve had overnight guests, cooked for 10 on Christmas day and then another Christmas dinner for 8 on Boxing day. It’s such a busy week every year because we are the ‘hub family’ and tend to host more than anyone else for the sake of practicality. We love it, but something happens with our little boy when things get crazy.

Our usually well behaved little guy becomes completly horrible. It started on Christmas eve when we accidentally lost track of time and didn’t feed him his lunch before we left the house, we had to stop at the only place I knew I could get a quick bit of dairy free food for him and hope for the best. So he had a muffin from  a coffee shop for lunch. The rest of the day involved full blown tantrums over every single little thing, in the packed town centre (our own fault for being disorganised I suppose!). As a result, we spent far longer out and about than we had planned and of course that just made things worse. When we got home we still had tons to do and he just wanted to cling to us relentlessly. Anyone who knows our little guy will know how fiercely independent he is, and how uncharacteristic clingy behaviour is. He has been going from cuddly to lashing out at us over the tiniest thing. I’ve had to keep reminding myself that he wasn’t doing it on purpose, he was just tired and confused. We stopped the feverish tidying  and organising and played trains on the floor until his eyes started getting heavy and put him to bed, he had conked out before I had even finished reading to him.

We didn’t think much of his low appetite on Christmas eve, but after we specifically made him mashed potatoes and peas to go with christmas dinner the next day and he didn’t even touch two of his favourite foods we knew this was more than just fussiness. The over excitement had drained our little lad and then we sit him at a usually calm table with 9 other people, Christmas crackers and music and expect him to eat dinner as normal but at lunch time? No. It just wasn’t happening. We let him go, knowing there had been a bit of snacking and that we could try again later. He had a late nap, followed by a jam sandwich and more excitement – the poor kid doesn’t know which way is up and which way is down by the time he gets to bed 3 hours after his bedtime.

Boxing day rolls around and we do it all again with my side of the family (on a slightly smaller scale). There are sweets and snacks everywhere, he somehow gets away with eating an entire moo free cocolate Santa in one hit, he’s completely baffled by how much other stuff has cows milk in it so he isn’t allowed to eat it but everyone else is.

When he refused his meal again on Boxing day I felt a pang of guilt that we had put him in this position, he’s acting out because suddenly everything he knows has changed in the blink of an eye and he has no idea how to handle it.

I’m tempted to pack away the decorations early to help us get back to business as usual  as soon as possible, because my poor little guy is exhausted and miserable now, especially since all the presents are done and the people are gone. We’re just left here with wrapping paper all over the place and a super fractious little boy who is needing a lot of contact and reassurance.

So if you need me, I will be on the sofa cuddling my toddler until the new year. See you on the other side.

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Why I’m opting for risk reducing surgery at 22

As women we are constantly told to check our breasts… admittedly I try to when I can but normally it is at the bottom of my to-do list, plus I always wondered… at 22 do I REALLY need to check? I guess after recent events it’s safe to say, yes. Back in May, I started noticing some discomfort in my left breast but I dismissed it… after all one of the many perks of being a woman is that our breasts just hurt sometimes due to hormonal changes.

A few weeks went by and following the discomfort I began noticing some discharge from my left nipple, it was blood-stained but for some reason I ignored it, completely dismissed it. I had a little feel and lo and behold there was a lump, so after sticking my head in the sand for a little bit I went to see my GP who examined it. They advised me they were not too happy with it so referred me to the breast screening team as a 2 week urgent referral.

2 weeks of stress passed and I met the specialist, she had a feel, discussed my symptoms and my family history and said she thinks there may be something called a “papilloma” and wanted to arrange an ultrasound but reassured me it was nothing to worry about…after all I am only 22.

My ultrasound came and was admittedly the worst point of this whole situation. The sonographer was rude and blunt. She looked at me while laying there, (rather exposed) and said “right well where is this supposed lump?” She then proceeded to blame my nipple piercing… wrong… so wrong.

I then saw a consultant who spoke to me about the situation, and it was a bit like de ja vu. She advised me she she too felt there were maybe 2 or 3 papillomas causing the lumps and discharge. She discussed something called a “Hadfields procedure” and wanted to refer me to the breast surgeon.

I went away and did my reasearch.

“An intraductal papilloma is a wart-like lump that develops in one or more of the milk ducts in the breast. It’s usually close to the nipple, but can sometimes be found elsewhere in the breast. Intraductal papilloma is a benign (not cancer) breast condition. Some people who have multiple intraductal papillomas may also have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer. “

https://breastcancernow.org/information-support/have-i-got-breast-cancer/benign-breast-conditions/intraductal-papilloma

A Hadfields procedure is an operation carried out to disconnect and remove the major nipple ducts and some breast tissue. This will take approximately 20 minutes and is usually undertaken under a general anaesthetic (you are asleep). – https://www.royalberkshire.nhs.uk/patient-information-leaflets/Breast%20unit%20Hadfields%20procedure.htm

The day came where I met with the surgeon, 11/12/2019 and she agreed as a risk reducing procedure it was beneficial to do the Hadfields procedure, taking into account that there is a family history of breast cancer. Of all things to ask, I asked the surgeon: “Will there be a visible difference? Will people notice part of my left breast is gone?” She smiled sweetly and advised; “providing you wear padded bras then no, but if you were topless or intimate with someone it would be obvious, yes.” So I nodded, signed all the forms and left. It didn’t really hit me straight away, and I still don’t think the full extent of it has hit me.

24 hours on and I’ve been crying in random bouts. I have an untold amount of questions but obviously this is the best outcome, as it stands at present. Two lumps are benign and by having them removed it is reducing a huge risk of them ever changing which papillomas have a tendency to do. If there is one thing I have taken from all of this, it is the importance of checking your breasts, and reporting any changes to your GP.

I’m sure I’ll write the outcome of the surgery once I have had it, but for now it’s time to accept what is going to happen.

Have you been through anything similar? I would love if you could share your experiences with me

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My first smear test

The most awkward part really is the getting undressed bit. Both my kids are summer babies so all my late pregnancy speculum exams have been easy, I was wearing a dress! This time I had to try not to get tangled in my own skinny jeans. The rest is all pretty straightforward.

Way back in March I got a letter inviting me for my first smear test because I was about to turn 25. I was pregnant at the time so had to find out if you can have a smear test during pregnancy. Turns out you can, but it’s best not to.

After going overdue and then waiting the recommended 6 weeks post partum it was late October before I booked my test and I was nervous. Not for the usual reasons, I’ve recently given birth with various medical professionals all up in my business. They have seen it all and I have had speculum exams and cervical sweeps galore. No, I was nervous because of my scarring.

TMI WARNING: When I gave birth the first time I had an episiotomy, it was stitched too far and left me with excess skin. When I gave birth the second time I ripped it. With a second degree tear. I was stitched up well, no extra stitches this time, no extra bit of skin. But now I have a mass of scar tissue that is tight and painful.

So I arrived at my appointment and explained this all to the nurse and she was lovely about it. She told me a similar thing happened to her and that she would naturally be gentle and swift and use plenty of lube.

The most awkward part really is the getting undressed bit. Both my kids are summer babies so all my late pregnancy speculum exams have been easy, I was wearing a dress! This time I had to try not to get tangled in my own skinny jeans. The rest is all pretty straightforward.

The nurse was quick and efficient, I let her know that it was painful around my scar tissue and she told me should could see it and understood why it was painful, she took the swab which wasn’t comfortable but it wasn’t painful either… and it was over in no time at all. The only real pain was because of an issue with my own body and not what the nurse was doing.

Incidentally, the nurse told me that it was likely that I would require reconstructive surgery if my scarring hadn’t softened after 6 months, so if you like a good TMI post then watch this space, I’ll tell you all about it!

The results for my test came back normal for anyone wondering. I am so thankful that I was able to have such an important test and relieved to have good results.

If you enjoyed this you might like…

Spotting the early signs of lung cancer
How to be a sex positive parent
Have you checked you lemons, melons and mangoes?

Mummykind’s November Top 5

Wow – November is over already! Where has the year gone? It’s very nearly, dare I say it?, CHRISTMAS! I’m not sure whether we will continue our round up posts next year – what do you all think?

Top 5 Blog Posts

This post from Maria is number 1 this month!

I guess we know what everyone’s kids have been suffering with since the wintery weather came along!

This one from Sarah is still up there in the top 5! I guess it’s still Summer somewhere…

With the release of Frozen 2 we may need to plan a Frozen themed party to suit those winter birthdays!

We’d love to know if anyone has tried this during their pregnancy as recommended by Maria – get in touch!

This post is up at number 3 this month.

We must have had a few readers looking for gift ideas this month! I’m sure that many of these gift ideas for your paper anniversary could also be appropriate as Christmas gifts for your other half!

This one from Sarah is up at number 4 this month.

Last but not least, at number 5 we have Sarah’s birth story making a comeback!

Keep an eye out for Maria’s new birth story post all about baby no.2!

Top 5 Things we did

  1. Sarah took Kiera to see Little Mix at the O2 Arena in London! Coincidentally, Amy also went to see them the day before. Everyone had an amazing time and came away feeling so empowered. #GRLPWR anyone?
  2. Maria applied for funding to expand her nappy library – keep your eyes peeled for more developments!
  3. Harriet & Florence and Charlie, Immy & Leon all went to Little Street together and had a lovely time
  4. Harriet got a 1st in her first university assignment – we’re all so proud of her!
  5. Maria and her husband celebrated 8 years together – CONGRATULATIONS GUYS!

Top 5 Other Blogposts we LOVED

  1. Tales From Mamaville – The importance of mental health as a mother
  2. Rainbows Are Too Beautiful – An Elf on the Shelf for our autistic kids
  3. Vikalinka – White Christmas Truffle Cake Recipe
  4. Easy Mommy Life – 10 phrases to use when your toddler doesn’t listen
  5. A Moment With Franca – 12 Family Movie Nights Advent Calendar

What have you been up to this month?

Military Children – The World They Live In

Adapting to change is something we all struggle with, and we all know how change (and lots of it) can disrupt children and affect their wellbeing.

Military children are inspiring.

We waved goodbye to Daddy in our house for the 2nd time in 2 years. Last year, she had her 2nd birthday a month into his deployment and was barely aware that he was going. When she asked, I told her Daddy was at work (or on holiday!), but with little concept of time at that age, she didn’t know when he was coming back. That was probably made all the more confusing when his tour was extended, and he returned for 2 weeks R&R in the middle of it before heading back out to finish the tour off.

This time is different. It’s a much shorter tour for a start (just shy of 3 months as opposed to 8), and Olivia is older now. She’s 3.5 years old and much more aware that Daddy has gone away to work for a while.

It’s something she’s used to, though more from me being away at work than Daddy. In fact, she is used to both of us working long and unusual hours, having little routine in terms of who will be picking her up from the childminder, or who will be tucking her into to bed.

She takes it all in her stride, only occasionally being upset that either Mummy or Daddy aren’t around when she wants us. I am so immensely proud of how well she manages all of that change at such a small age. I suppose the big, independent and fierce personality (that she was destined to inherit from me and her Nanny) probably has a lot to do with it!

The other home truth about military families is that, usually, when one parent goes way, the other one is around to do everything. If they work, it’s part-time or in school hours or a normal job with normal dependable hours. The army mantra is still very much set back in the 1950s, expecting the ‘wives’ to do everything when it comes to childcare or managing a home. I’m not sure how this equates when the serving member is a woman with a husband at home, but, in our situation, Olivia is a bit of an anomaly in that respect. When Daddy is here, it’s him doing the majority of the home life, but in reality, neither of us are dependable because either of us could be away at the drop of a hat.

She didn’t choose this life, and no military children do, no military spouses do either, for that matter! We’re all lumped with it and have to make the best of it. But our children are certainly the most incredible little people, managing the change so well and with few complaints along the way.

Their voices are rarely heard. Spouses often feel overlooked when it comes to the respect and awe that their service member receives for ‘what they do’, because the people left behind dealing with the everyday are forgotten. If the spouses feel that way, imagine how the children must feel. Especially those like Olivia who are too young to really understand where Mummy/Daddy is other than ‘at work’ and wondering how long it will be until they’re back.

The cake we baked for Daddy after his last deployment!

Unfortunately for Olivia she has even more change to come. There is no support at all for military families needing childcare while one spouse is deployed, and so Olivia will be spending the weekdays with Nanny for the next 3 months so that I can carry on going to work.

Military life is so incredibly frustrating, and definitely better suited to single people who want to travel the world! Our family of four became two, and is soon to become one, whilst we wait for Daddy (and Kiera with him) to come back home.

I’m so proud of our ‘pad rats’ for adapting so well to everything that’s been thrown at them. But we certainly cannot wait to have Daddy back home!!!

Are you a military family? What’s your experience of military life?

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