Family Matters
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Family feels uncomfortable around cousin

I know this sounds horrible, but I need to vent and welcome advice.

BG: My aunt has a severely (Sorry, this isn't PC) retarded 20 something boy.  He is a big boy weighing in at over 200 lbs and over 6 ft tall.  He is violent by nature, unpredictable, and my aunt is never fully in control of him.  She's very sensitive and wants him to be included in EVERYTHING and grandma doesn't want to be put in the middle. /BG

So this past Thanksgiving the family got together, and again the entire family was left feeling awkward when he was present.  I will admit that we as the family are not comfortable around him.

I with support from the family brought up to Grandma (not in front of aunt) that we are all uncomfortable and we feel that it's ruining our time together because we have to 'dance on egg shells. Grandma's response is she knows and doesn't know what to do because aunt is sensitive. 

The family has been ignoring the issue for the last 20 years, but it's hard to enjoy the holidays.  Even aunt's other child has expressed interest in having a 'brother free' holiday.  So for those keeping score at home only aunt want's him there, which is understandable.

Why am I making this an issue you ask?  DH and I are TTC and are hoping to have a baby by next Christmas.  DH and I do not feel comfortable at the thought of him being around a PG me or around a newborn.  I told Grandma that if he's there, we will not be.  To which has caused the family to jump on the bandwagon of "well if she's not there, we won't be there either."

Any suggestions?

 

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Re: Family feels uncomfortable around cousin

  • image Avengeance:

    Why am I making this an issue you ask?  DH and I are TTC and are hoping to have a baby by next Christmas.  DH and I do not feel comfortable at the thought of him being around a PG me or around a newborn.  I told Grandma that if he's there, we will not be.  To which has caused the family to jump on the bandwagon of "well if she's not there, we won't be there either."

    Any suggestions?

    Sounds like you've already got a solution.

    I'm confused as to what exactly you're asking here ... are you asking whether you're out of line? Since the cousin is violent and his mother can't/won't take the proper steps to control him, then no, I don't think you're out of line. I can certainly appreciate that you feel bad, and I can appreciate that your aunt and grandma don't want to exclude your cousin (and I am not saying that they need to cut him out of the family), but they also need to consider everyone else's safety.

    Are you asking what to do about Grandma? She's an adult and she is free to make her own choices. She certainly doesn't need to abandon her grandson or exclude him from every single thing, but if she's going to welcome a violent and uncontrollable person into her home then she needs to accept the fact that some family members may not be comfortable with her choice and they will act accordingly.

    If you have decided to see the cousin for now, but this will change if and when you get pregnant, then I'd personally wait until you're actually pregnant to bring this up with the family. Just because you want a baby by next Christmas doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a baby or be pregnant by then ... a lot can happen.

    image
  • Just a question.  How would you feel if you gave birth to a mentally disabled child and your family tried to oust him/her from their gatherings?  I think you'd be a little "sensitive" too.  You'd want your child included as well.  I'm not trying to be snarky here.  You should really think about that.  You expect your future child to be showered with attention and love from your family, not treated like an outcast.  What if it were your child?

    I understand your concern, but a little empathy would do everyone some good.  I think you're all being selfish.  Why can't a few of your family members help your aunt look out for him at gatherings, rather than expect your aunt to do it alone?  It sounds like a lot for one woman to handle.  They shouldn't spend the holidays alone simply because you all refuse to engage him and make a sincere effort to accept him for who he is.  He's mentally disabled, for God's sake.  Not some rotten jerk.  It sounds like that's how you view him and that's sad.

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  • image ForeignDs:

    Just a question.  How would you feel if you gave birth to a mentally disabled child and your family tried to oust him/her from their gatherings?  I think you'd be a little "sensitive" too.  You'd want your child included as well.  I'm not trying to be snarky here.  You should really think about that.  You expect your future child to be showered with attention and love from your family, not treated like an outcast.  What if it were your child?

    I understand your concern, but a little empathy would do everyone some good.  I think you're all being selfish.  Why can't a few of your family members help your aunt look out for him at gatherings, rather than expect your aunt to do it alone?  It sounds like a lot for one woman to handle.  They shouldn't spend the holidays alone simply because you all refuse to engage him and make a sincere effort to accept him for who he is.  He's mentally disabled, for God's sake.  Not some rotten jerk.  It sounds like that's how you view him and that's sad.

    Actually, I believe OP's issue is that he is violent and the aunt cannot control him.  She believes it will be unsafe for her being PG or with a newborn to be around him, not just because he's mentally disabled.
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  • Is there actual reason to be afraid he'll act out towards you? You say he's violent by nature and she can't control him.  What exactly has happened at previous family events?  I'm asking just to have more of an understanding of the situation.

    One thing I will say - leave the rest of the family out of this.  Don't make a grand stand about this now.  If you get PG and if there is an event that he'll be at that you don't want to be at, deal w/ it THEN.  Just quietly tell grandma "Sorry, we're busy and can't be there". 

    I think you're jumping the gun to draw the line in the sand NOW when you aren't even PG, and then other family members are privy to this?  Why?  This isn't something that any bandwagon should be starting up over at this point.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
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  • I have to agree with ECB here.  I understand not wanting to be around someone with violent tendencies especially when you have a baby, but I think you went about it in a jerky and insensitive way.  You certainly didn't have to say anything to the rest of your family that WHEN you are pregnant and WHEN you have a baby you won't be coming around.  You could have kept that to yourselves.  Even if you weren't pregnant and didn't want to come, you could have done it with a lot more class.  It is almost as if you are looking for a reason make a grand scene about your cousin. 
  • This is an awkward situation. I think some examples of ways in which he acts that have you and other family members not wanting him around would be helpful here.

    I used to work with severely retarded adults and I totally understand how a full-grown man who is over 200 pounds and acts out violently could be very tough to deal with. We would have certain staff members who were trained in restraints who would have to come running when necessary and place the person in restraints (not tie them up or anything, just hold them) until they calmed down.

    So if it is a situation like that I can see why it would be very difficult at the holidays. I can also see how your aunt would not be able to control him. Is it possible for her to hire someone as an aide during these occasions?  

    However, some of what you said makes me wonder if it is his violent tendencies. You say the family has been ignoring the issue for 20 years but if he is only 22 then this could only have been a problem for a few years (because before that he would have been small enough that any outbursts could have been controlled).

    Bottom line--I feel I need more information to determine whether your aunt needs to face facts and hire some assistance to keep him in line when he becomes violent, or whether the rest of you need to have some more compassion. 

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  • image stw_77:
    I have to agree with ECB here.  I understand not wanting to be around someone with violent tendencies especially when you have a baby, but I think you went about it in a jerky and insensitive way.  You certainly didn't have to say anything to the rest of your family that WHEN you are pregnant and WHEN you have a baby you won't be coming around.  You could have kept that to yourselves.  Even if you weren't pregnant and didn't want to come, you could have done it with a lot more class.  It is almost as if you are looking for a reason make a grand scene about your cousin. 

    I agree with this 100%. What you did at dinner was ask the rest of your family to take your side. If you are uncomfortable now or in the future, don't go, but please let everyone else make their own decisions.

    TTC since 10/06 - Went to RE after 6 months of TTC due to AMA -Diagnosed with MIF 5/07, only option IVF with ICSI - IVF #1 cancelled due to cyst, never got to ER - IVF #1.5 10/07, BFP - Robert Andrew born 7/30/08 Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers
  • image stw_77:
    I have to agree with ECB here.  I understand not wanting to be around someone with violent tendencies especially when you have a baby, but I think you went about it in a jerky and insensitive way.  You certainly didn't have to say anything to the rest of your family that WHEN you are pregnant and WHEN you have a baby you won't be coming around.  You could have kept that to yourselves.  Even if you weren't pregnant and didn't want to come, you could have done it with a lot more class.  It is almost as if you are looking for a reason make a grand scene about your cousin. 

    I agree with this 100%. What you did at dinner was ask the rest of your family to take your side. If you are uncomfortable now or in the future, don't go, but please let everyone else make their own decisions.

    TTC since 10/06 - Went to RE after 6 months of TTC due to AMA -Diagnosed with MIF 5/07, only option IVF with ICSI - IVF #1 cancelled due to cyst, never got to ER - IVF #1.5 10/07, BFP - Robert Andrew born 7/30/08 Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers
  • -->

    Family feels uncomfortable around cousin

    -->

    I know this sounds horrible, but I need to vent and welcome advice.

    It's the single ugliest sentiment I've read on these boards in years.

    BG: My aunt has a severely (Sorry, this isn't PC) retarded 20 something boy.  He is a big boy weighing in at over 200 lbs and over 6 ft tall.  He is violent by nature, unpredictable, and my aunt is never fully in control of him.  She's very sensitive and wants him to be included in EVERYTHING and grandma doesn't want to be put in the middle. /BG

    The respectful way to express this is to say your aunt's son is "a 20 year old man with an intellectual disability." He's entitled to the proper terminology and person first language. And he's a man, not a boy whatever his IQ. 

    So this past Thanksgiving the family got together, and again the entire family was left feeling awkward when he was present.  I will admit that we as the family are not comfortable around him.

    And you know tis because they've all said so? Or because you assume they think as you do?

    I with support from the family brought up to Grandma (not in front of aunt) that we are all uncomfortable and we feel that it's ruining our time together because we have to 'dance on egg shells. Grandma's response is she knows and doesn't know what to do because aunt is sensitive. 

    The aunt is "sensitive"? No, princess, you're insensitive.

    The family has been ignoring the issue for the last 20 years, but it's hard to enjoy the holidays.  Even aunt's other child has expressed interest in having a 'brother free' holiday.  So for those keeping score at home only aunt want's him there, which is understandable.

    What exactly is he doing? Is he truly violent? Inappropriate? Mean? Smelly? Or is he just a scary reminder of what can go wrong when starting a family?

    I might be able to appreciate your sentiments if you were specific. Everyone feeling this way does little to convince me that this is OK./ Time was slavery was legal and supported by the majority in parts of this country; doesn't make it ethical.

    Why am I making this an issue you ask?  DH and I are TTC and are hoping to have a baby by next Christmas.  DH and I do not feel comfortable at the thought of him being around a PG me or around a newborn.  I told Grandma that if he's there, we will not be.  To which has caused the family to jump on the bandwagon of "well if she's not there, we won't be there either."

    So you want to turn away this real live human being over a potential pregnancy?

     What if you're next to have a special needs child? Are you willing to stay home so you don't offend anyone or make them uncomfortable?

    If you don't want to share a holiday with your cousin, don't. Go somewhere else. But don't make it your grandmother's problem and don't make your aunt's life anymore challenging than it already is. Please.

    Any suggestions?

     

  • Sorry if my post was confusing.  It's just a sensitive subject in the family and in the end someone's feelings are going to get hurt.

    True this has not been going on for 20 years.  It really stated when he hit puberty, ages 12-16.  He would go into violent rages and beat the living crap out of my aunt.  it's a miracle he has not killed her.  The doctors have worked with him and have him on a combination of medications that keeps him so doped up he's manageable.  However keep in mind that meds have to be managed at all times and can all of a sudden stop working.

    We are all scared of him on top with uncomfortable around special needs children.  Typical when he interacts he's very rough.  From sitting down with such force on the couch you can hear the back of the chair breaking to shaking your hand so violently you swear you got it caught in a vice grip.  He's happiest when he's eating, hence his size.  So his plate is typically made first.  He can't help how he eats, but it's vulgar and gross.  He typically gets so excited while eating, plus he has severe acid reflux he'll throw up.  So eating out at a restaurant is out of the question.

    He has attacked my aunt once during Thanksgiving.  We went to the movies and in the middle of the theater kicks, punched, scratched and bit my aunt while she was trying to get control of the situation to the horror of my younger siblings watching.

    I know it's selfish, but we would all like a peaceful cousin free holiday for once.  Is there anyway to go about getting this?

  • First off, why in the world would you use the word "retarded" KNOWING it wasn't PC. You just offended me and more then likely anyone else who has a child who has an intellectual disability. Seriously choose your words more carefully. I am not the most PC person in the world, but that is one word that has such a negative conotation to it and makes the person saying it sound a little less intelligent IMO (not everyone will have the same view as me). As the parent of a special needs child, I understand why your aunt wants her disabled son included in the holidays. Just step back and imagine how isolated the disabled person feels (if they can even feel this) or how you would feel if no one in your family wanted you around or how your aunt feels knowing that no one wants her son there. You obviously have NO clue how difficult it is to not only raise a special needs child but how sensitive your own aunt must feel. She is not dumb and she probably knows that everyone wishes that her disabled child was not invited to the family gatherings.

    As for your concerns about the violence. Well, you aren't pg yet so I'd hold off doing anything until you cross that bridge. You come off as trying to find an excuse, ANY excuse to not have to deal with this disabled person.  Once you are pg and have a child THEN you have a good reason to not be at the family gatherings and can use the potential safety issue as the reason. I am curious though what constitutes violent behavior for this person and if they have ever acted out towards you, your DH, or children before.

    This is a tough situation to be in. I don't envy you but I live it myself by feeling that my own older brother avoids myself, my husband, and my kids ever since we found out my youngest is SN. It hurts. And it will hurt your aunt if you or the family shun her son. He cannot help the way he is.

  • Well, I didn't see this post when I wrote my last one. I can see why you wouldn't feel safe. I wouldn't either and I wonder how safe your aunt feels.

    As for being uncomfortable around the SN population, the more you are around it (hopefully) the more you get used to it. This is a good learning opportunity thought for children about how everyone is different and how some people have difficulties with things that they don't have trouble with.

    The only way to go about not having him invited to a family dinner is to not invite him. And yes, someone's feelings will get hurt. There just isn't a nice way to go about telling someone that you basically don't want to be somewhere where X is going to be. I'm not really of help and for that I am sorry.

  • image Avengeance:

    We are all scared of him on top with uncomfortable around special needs children

    You're going to be crucified for the bolded part.  Just warning you.  I want to work with you on being scared of him - that's a genuine concern and I can understand your aprehension.

    However - to say you're simply "uncomfortable" around special needs kids isn't going to win you any fans.  As already pointed out in this post - what happens if YOUR child is special needs?  What are you going to want/ expect from your family as far as support goes? 

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • image EastCoastBride:
    As already pointed out in this post - what happens if YOUR child is special needs?  What are you going to want/ expect from your family as far as support goes? 

    Since this has been asked by others I will answer.

    If the ultrasound reveals ANY abnormalities then the pregnancy will be terminated.  If I have the child, then adoption.  DH was against adoption until he spent a few holidays with my cousin.  He now sides with me 100%.

    Before this becomes a flame worthy thread save yourself some time.  This is not the issue at hand and I will not reply to any more questions based off this response.

  • image Avengeance:

    image EastCoastBride:
    As already pointed out in this post - what happens if YOUR child is special needs?  What are you going to want/ expect from your family as far as support goes? 

    Since this has been asked by others I will answer.

    If the ultrasound reveals ANY abnormalities then the pregnancy will be terminated.  If I have the child, then adoption.  DH was against adoption until he spent a few holidays with my cousin.  He now sides with me 100%.

    Before this becomes a flame worthy thread save yourself some time.  This is not the issue at hand and I will not reply to any more questions based off this response.

    You are going to get crucified over this.  Already I can tell this thread will be DD.

    promised myself I'd retire when I turned gold, and yet here I am
  • image Avengeance:

    image EastCoastBride:
    As already pointed out in this post - what happens if YOUR child is special needs?  What are you going to want/ expect from your family as far as support goes? 

    Since this has been asked by others I will answer.

    If the ultrasound reveals ANY abnormalities then the pregnancy will be terminated.  If I have the child, then adoption.  DH was against adoption until he spent a few holidays with my cousin.  He now sides with me 100%.

    Before this becomes a flame worthy thread save yourself some time.  This is not the issue at hand and I will not reply to any more questions based off this response.

    Yiiiiiiiiiiiikes. For real? 

    ETA: Also, I am only into the second trimester of my first pregnancy, but I can say with every confidence that you are 100% too selfish to be a mother. 

  • That is all fine and dandy but your child can still get cerebal palsy and autism.  My friend has an autistic son who sounds a bit like your cousin and they didn't know until he was about 2 or three. 
  • As a mom to two special needs children, I find your post and even your additional response very sad. 

    I have a child that at the age of six already has violent outbursts on occasion.  His situation is different in that he has a high IQ, but lacks the ability to have sound emotional regulation combined with lots of sensory processing issues.   When we are in situations, such as family holidays, even with massive preparations in place, sometime things go awry.  He may end up in sensory overload, which will send him into complete emotional disregulation.  How might this present? Often times it starts with things like vocal stims (yelling out, whistling) and might end in me trapped in the corner of a room holding him down so he doesn't hurt me or others around him.

    It is so emotionally draining to be "that" parent.  The one who can't control their child, as you said.  Having a child with special needs is difficult enough.  Going to family events with a child with special needs can be awful and stressful, but nothing is worse than having your child with special needs excluded.  Nothing.

    Someday, if you are able to become a parent yourself, you will learn that your love for your child will never, even go away no matter the circumstances.  Your aunt is obviously a very loving, caring woman and wants to do what she can do help make her son happy. 

    My advice.... Try to find some empathy, it will go a long way.  Ask your aunt how you or others can help her out to make the event go more smoothly.  If you absolutely can't fathom being near your cousin on holidays, then you need to remove yourself from the situation, not force your grandma to remove your cousin.

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  • image Avengeance:

    If the ultrasound reveals ANY abnormalities then the pregnancy will be terminated. 

    Well, here's the reality about abnormalities.  A "soft mark" was found in the u/s for my DS, which can be a sign for Down syndrome.  Between that and my age - we were placed in a slightly higher than normal % range of having a child w/ Down syndrome. 

    We continued w/ the pregnancy and I now have a perfectly healthy DS who does NOT have Down syndrome. 

    If I had followed your plan, I would have terminated a perfectly healthy pregnancy and lost out on a pretty darn amazing little kid.

    I'm genuinely not trying to flame you here, but the sense I get from this post is that you don't know the details of your cousin's issues.  You just see him as "retarded" and therefore any issues in pregnancy will lead you to terminate for fear of having a "retarded" child. 

    If he genuinely is violent, I don't fault you for not wanting to be around him. However, it would still do you and your entire family a world of good to make more of an effort to understand the position your aunt is in and to understand the full scope of his issues. 

     

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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  • image Avengeance:

    image EastCoastBride:
    As already pointed out in this post - what happens if YOUR child is special needs?  What are you going to want/ expect from your family as far as support goes? 

    Since this has been asked by others I will answer.

    If the ultrasound reveals ANY abnormalities then the pregnancy will be terminated.  If I have the child, then adoption.  DH was against adoption until he spent a few holidays with my cousin.  He now sides with me 100%.

    Before this becomes a flame worthy thread save yourself some time.  This is not the issue at hand and I will not reply to any more questions based off this response.

    You do realize things like cognitive delays, autism, cerebral palsy, immune deficiencies, and the list goes on and on won't show up on an ultrasound, don't you?    

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  • image birdie_1010:
    image Avengeance:

    image EastCoastBride:
    As already pointed out in this post - what happens if YOUR child is special needs?  What are you going to want/ expect from your family as far as support goes? 

    Since this has been asked by others I will answer.

    If the ultrasound reveals ANY abnormalities then the pregnancy will be terminated.  If I have the child, then adoption.  DH was against adoption until he spent a few holidays with my cousin.  He now sides with me 100%.

    Before this becomes a flame worthy thread save yourself some time.  This is not the issue at hand and I will not reply to any more questions based off this response.

    You do realize things like cognitive delays, autism, cerebral palsy, immune deficiencies, and the list goes on and on won't show up on an ultrasound, don't you?    

    She said if she ends up having a child with 'abnormalities" that she'll put it up for adoption. 

  • So she would put her two or three year old up for adoption ? 
  • image Avengeance:
    image EastCoastBride:
    As already pointed out in this post - what happens if YOUR child is special needs?  What are you going to want/ expect from your family as far as support goes? 

    Since this has been asked by others I will answer.

    If the ultrasound reveals ANY abnormalities then the pregnancy will be terminated.  If I have the child, then adoption.  DH was against adoption until he spent a few holidays with my cousin.  He now sides with me 100%.

    Before this becomes a flame worthy thread save yourself some time.  This is not the issue at hand and I will not reply to any more questions based off this response.

    It's already a flame worthy thread long before you explained your flippant ability to discard a baby because it doesn't meet your high standards of "acceptable". Heaven forbid your child be born with something that would make him/her less in your eyes. Shame on you. Your aunt is doing a job that many (inlcuding yourself clearly) would shy away from in a heartbeat. Kuddos to her for stepping up and taking care of her son in the face of adversity. She's clearly more of a mother than you'll ever be.

    Any abnormalities and you'll abort or adopt out? So you'll only keep the good one huh? Shame on you again. I have two special needs children and it's their differences that make them unique and special. Children are designed in variety for a reason, though I doubt you'd know anything about that. You're so hung up on a pregnancy that hasn't even happened and planned out the execution of that child if it isn't exactly what you want.

    You are the type of person that should not have children.

     

  • I'll try to put it a different way, since you're comfortable terminating pregnancies for abnormalities or putting you children up for adoption because they don't fit into your mold of the 'perfect child'.

    What if your husband developed multiple sclerosis tomorrow? Or Parkinsons? What if he becomes paralyzed to the point where he can't speak, dress himself, or use the bathroom?  Or develops brain cancer that causes his personality to change, and become 'gross'?

    What would your reaction be if your family told you they didn't want him to attend family events? Or better yet, what if it's you that's suddenly disabled? And no one wanted you around?

    Try and show some compassion. Just a little bit would be great. 

    I am SURE that you're going to skip over my questions. Cowards are like that. 

  • What will you do if your poor baby is lactose intolerant like you and can't eat at italian restaurants or God forbid your child would have to eat a salad like a rabbit. 

  • image stw_77:
    So she would put her two or three year old up for adoption ? 

    Good question.... 

    OP? response? 

    I assume she's going to hide behind her statement of "That is not the subject at hand and I will not discuss it any further". 

  • image HannahO28:
    image birdie_1010:
    image Avengeance:

    image EastCoastBride:
    As already pointed out in this post - what happens if YOUR child is special needs?  What are you going to want/ expect from your family as far as support goes? 

    Since this has been asked by others I will answer.

    If the ultrasound reveals ANY abnormalities then the pregnancy will be terminated.  If I have the child, then adoption.  DH was against adoption until he spent a few holidays with my cousin.  He now sides with me 100%.

    Before this becomes a flame worthy thread save yourself some time.  This is not the issue at hand and I will not reply to any more questions based off this response.

    You do realize things like cognitive delays, autism, cerebral palsy, immune deficiencies, and the list goes on and on won't show up on an ultrasound, don't you?    

    She said if she ends up having a child with 'abnormalities" that she'll put it up for adoption. 

    I guess I should have added, nor do those "abnormalities" show up at birth.  Heck, we didn't even see my older sons "abnormalities" until he was about 4 years old.  I'm glad he isn't her child...

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  • image HannahO28:

    image stw_77:
    So she would put her two or three year old up for adoption ? 

    Good question.... 

    OP? response? 

    I assume she's going to hide behind her statement of "That is not the subject at hand and I will not discuss it any further". 

    Yeah I wonder how her loving family would handle that.

  • My suggestion (since you asked) is that you do not have children since you want a "perfect" child and those don't exist.

     

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  • image stw_77:

    What will you do if your poor baby is lactose intolerant like you and can't eat at italian restaurants or God forbid your child would have to eat a salad like a rabbit. 

    OMG is that THIS poster?

    [IMG]http://i46.tinypic.com/b4fbk9.jpg[/IMG]



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