Welcome! I'm Cookie's Mom. You can learn all about Cookie and why I blog here: About Cookie's Chronicles. If you're new here, you may want to SUBSCRIBE TO MY RSS FEED. Thanks for stopping by! Pull up a beach chair and be my guest, won't you?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Best of the Blogosphere:
October 2011 Blog Tour

It's time once again to show our appreciation for our fellow bloggers.

October 2011 Edition

There is so much great content out there, and since there's also a LOT of content out there it's sometimes easy to miss the really stellar posts. Every day we bloggers give pieces of ourselves to the blogosphere. This feature is my way of showing my appreciation for your efforts and to thank-you all for supporting mine.

Won't you join me?

Have you been keeping track? Write a list of the October posts you enjoyed most and link it up. Remember to also include in your list the post you're most proud of writing this month!

If you haven't kept track, no worries. There's always next month! This month, toot your own horn and link up your best post from the month.

Please grab and display my button anywhere in your post. Follow me if you like (no pressure). Feel free to leave me a comment - it makes me feel loved! Most importantly, please visit a few others who have linked up and share your thoughts with them.


Here are some amazingly good posts I read this October.

I stopped breathing for a few seconds as I read this post. Brilliantly done, terribly sad as well, is this post by Tonya of Letters for Lucas: Heartbeat

There are so many wonderful posts at Just.Be.Enough. This one by Robin Farr really lifted my spirits: Five Things That Make Me Smile

I recently discovered The Butter Bottom Blog. Seriously funny stuff from the dad's point of view: Kids, Karma and the New Basketball Goal

I also recently discovered a new fun community over at Free Fringes. It's called Lovelinks. Link up your favourite post from the week, visit others, and vote on your favourites. It's a wonderfully supportive place to hang out. Here is one of my favourite posts from this past week: How to Amuse Your Children With Math. And guess what? I was voted #4. Pretty cool, huh? Thanks to everyone who visited and commented on my entry. Your support is very much appreciated. Congratulations to the winners, @mommy2cents and @amorninggrouch.

This month I had the pleasure of picking a topic for NorthWest Mommy's Monday Listicles meme over at The Good Life. The topic was Ten Tips for New Moms and I loved reading everyone's take on it! So fun! In case you missed them, here are just a few of my favourites:
House Unseen 
Peeper Summarized 
Stasha got me good with her rebellious post. Check it out, along with the rest of the fantastic and unique interpretations of this topic, at The Good Life. You can read my Ten Tips for New Moms here.

I had fun participating in the Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge this month with Project Alicia, Bumbles and Light and Live and Love Out Loud. I had fun focusing my lens on yellow, orange and red, and it gave me an opportunity to capture some images of my garden at this majestic time of year.

I also started 'pinning' this month. I know, I know. I already have far too many guilty pleasures. But who can resist? Visit me on Pinterest to see my favourite Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge submissions. Just beautiful!

Finally, I have already mentioned my Ten Tips for New Moms post. That's probably the post that I am most proud of writing this month. This one is a close second: Bull Canyon, A Boatbuilder, A Writer and Other Wildlife: Book Review and Interview with Lin Pardey. Bull Canyon was a really wonderful read. I enjoyed interviewing the author Lin, an inspirational woman.

I can hardly believe October is winding to a close already. I hope you all are enjoying the fall and looking forward to the coming winter.

Thanks to all of you for another great month and for putting out such great content!

Don't forget to link up your list of amazing October posts, or share your own favourite post!

Psst! I'm also linking up with Rach of Life Ever Since for Life's Lessons and Erica of Free Fringes for Lovelinks. Be sure to check out these fun memes!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shades of Autumn: Red

I'm linking up again this week with Project Alicia, Bumbles and Light and Live and Love Out Loud for the Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge.

Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge

I don't want to jinx it or anything, but we really should be seeing snow any day now. I heard rumours of it in the north end of the city a couple of days ago. We have temps of -7°C (~19°F) in the morning and highs of at most 10°C (~50°F) right now. It's starting to get chilly and the wind is lifting the last of the leaves from the trees. But it's still beautiful and when the snow does fly that will be beautiful too.

Until then, let's pay homage to colour red.

I'll miss you, autumn! You are truly majestic.

Live and Love...Out Loud

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordy Wednesday: Collage Fun

I love to go out into my backyard at this time of year and admire the fall foliage. Jack and I have made fall collages for that past three years now.

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We wandered the gardens picking out our favourite leaves
and brought some inside.

We brought a LOT of leaves inside
(and a couple of flowers).

Then we carefully selected just the right leaves and voila

Jack's minimalist collage:

And mine:

I may have gone a bit overboard.

I think Jack has a better grasp of the concept of blank space than I have.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Getting Toddlers to do What We Want

I recently read an article entitled "Reverse Pyschology: Appropriate Parenting Tactic?" at A Moment To Think. Great, thought-provoking article. I began to comment on the article, and realized (after writing several paragraphs) that what I really needed to do was to write my own post on the subject.

As a brief summary, the author speaks of trouble getting her toddler girl to eat what she wants her to eat: carrots are used as an example. The author and her husband sit down to eat carrot sticks without their daughter. When she immediately comes over to the table to request a carrot, the parents make a show of hesitating and then reluctantly agree to her request. That is a very brief summary of just one aspect of the article. Do read, the article in its entirety for the full picture. You'll, no doubt, be able to relate to their dilemma, as I can.

I empathize with the author of this article. I've definitely been there. As I read through the article though, I began to see an issue with the reverse psychology approach.

Hubby and I have certainly used reverse psychology ourselves. Yes, reverse psychology can work, in the short term, but I think it has the potential to do more damage and make our lives harder in the long term. And ultimately, we use it as a last resort technique, meaning we've given up.

I'm not judging. I have plenty of lazy parenting days. The point is, we know we're being lazy when we do this sort of thing, and it should tell us that it is perhaps not the best parenting technique we could employ.

I think the idea of eating and enjoying something in order to set a good example for our kids works well.  The problem I see with implying or saying outright that they can't have any, when what we really want is for them to have some (reverse psychology), is what happens next. We then give in to their request.

The message we send when we give in, is that when we say 'no', we don't really mean it. We think we've won because we've tricked them into doing what we want them to do, BUT what we have really done is taught them that if they plead/whine/etc we'll change our minds, and they'll get what they want.

So, what does reverse psychology get us? Potentially, a temporary feeling of euphoria when our kids do what we want them to do (thinking that they are doing it because they want to) and an even harder job of disciplining them in the future.

When it comes to getting our kids to do what's good for them, like eating vegetables, maybe all we can do is set the example and be firm and consistent in whatever disciplinary measures we feel are appropriate. I'm not suggesting this is easy, only that it seems to me the most effective approach in the long term.

For example, what we try to do with Jack is to suggest he at least try everything that's put on the table. We remind him that tastes change, and that even if he didn't like something last week he might like it today. Jack knows that we sometimes have dessert available and we eat it after our supper if we are still hungry. Jack also knows that he can have more of whatever he wants once he finishes everything that's on his plate. We try not to talk any more about the food in front of us. It's hard, but we try to resist reminding him to eat his veggies or offering him more food. We make one meal for everyone to enjoy, not several meals based on personal tastes. We set an example by eating and enjoying our food. Those are some of our methods. They work for us when we are firm and consistent with them. (When we are tired and frustrated, things don't go quite so well.)

What do you think? Can you relate to the dilemma of wanting your child to do something that you know is good for them, like eating vegetables. Can you relate to wanting to use reverse psychology or some other 'trick' to get them to do it? Do you think it works? Do you think it has harmful side effects?

How do you get your kids to do what's good for them?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ten Tips for New Moms

It's Monday again, and you know what that means! Time to link up with NorthWest Mommy for Monday Listicles. If you're not addicted already, check out the Monday Listicles movement. Get a writing prompt each week and treat it however you like. Couldn't be more fun!

It's a particularly exciting link up for me today, because I got to choose this week's topic: Ten Tips for New Moms! In case you missed it, you can read all about my rationale for choosing this topic in my post from last week, Guilty Pleasures. (Thanks to Jacqui of Chicktuition for suggesting last week's topic.)

I'm also linking up with Love Links. Join the community and meet some new blogging friends. Link up your favourite post from the week. If you like my post, you can visit Love Links to vote for me.

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Before I get to my listicle for this week, have you heard the news? Since you all know and love Stasha B, I thought you'd want to be in on it. Stasha recently ran a contest to give away one of her limited edition, signed prints as a thank-you to her fans for encouraging her to launch her new photography business. We all know how talented she is and we're all very excited that she's finally taken the plunge! Well, guess who won the contest? Yup. ME!!!! Take a look at what I won!

Thanks so much, Stasha! It's a stunning photo and it's going to look fantastic on my wall. Visit Stasha's new website, Stasha B. Photography to check out her latest creations.

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Now on to this week's Listicle.

I expected this post to be a funny, lighthearted look at motherhood, rather than the more serious and emotional piece it turned out to be. I have many crazy anecdotes from my own mishaps as a new mother that I thought I might share, but for whatever reason, this post just didn't go that way. I'll save those stories for another time: perhaps a post entitled, My Ten Biggest F*Ups Since Becoming a Mom. How will I limit myself to just ten?

Ten Tips for New Moms

1) Labour and Delivery. Let's start at the beginning shall we? You're pregnant. You're full of joy and the promise of a perfect life with your perfect new family. You and hubby have worked out the perfect birthing plan, attended Lamaze classes so you will know how to breathe through the pain, and packed your bag with all of the comforts you will need for your transition from this stage to the next beautiful stage of your transformation into motherhood.

Here's the thing. Things never go according to plan. Plans are great - guidelines - wish lists, is really what they are. You will be disappointed if you expect things to go entirely the way you want them to. Hope for the best, but be prepared for alternatives. One way or another, the baby will come out, and that is all that will matter in the end. When you hold that little bundle in your arms, the unimportant details of how he or she arrived will melt away.

My experience: The breathing lessons were completely useless as I went from no contractions to contractions 2 minutes apart, instantly. I brought a bag to the hospital packed full of things to aid in my "comfort" during labour and delivery, but never used any of it. When we arrived at the hospital we left the bag in the car and once in labour I couldn't let go of my husband's arms long enough for him to go and get it. The only thing I desperately needed from that bag was an elastic band to keep my sweaty hair out of my face! I resisted the drugs, as per "the plan" but just barely and mostly due to circumstance (I couldn't stand the nitrous oxide, I kept telling the epidural guys to "Go away! Wait come back! Nevermind, go away!" and the baby came really quickly). In the end, all that matters is the beautiful boy I now have in my life.

2) Nursing. So you want to nurse your baby exclusively, for at least four years? That is a respectable goal, to be sure. Mine was to nurse exclusively for 2 years. But, once again, life has a way of messing with our plans. Accept ahead of time that there are certain things that are beyond your control. Despite your best efforts, nursing may be difficult for you as it is for many, if not all, moms at least some of the time. This is NOT cause for shame. It is NORMAL. We are told that breastfeeding is the most natural thing we can do as women, so we expect it to just work. In reality, breastfeeding is HARD WORK! We are told all sorts of things about how and when we should nurse our babies, how and when to introduce a bottle, if ever. Wait and see. Breathe. Listen to your heart. Do what feels right to you and what works for the unique pairing of mother and child.

My experience: I wanted to nurse exclusively and did, for fourteen months. It nearly killed me. My son had acid reflux and nursed every 1-2 hours (which meant that I slept never more than one hour at a time) until we finally sorted out what was wrong and got him on the right medication - 5 months later. I listened to advice to not give him a bottle for 6 weeks to avoid so-called "nipple confusion". After that, my son would not take a bottle. No confusion, but still no rest for mom! If I had a second, I swore, he would have one bottle a day right from the start so that someone else could feed the baby and I could have a rest. I had many other nursing struggles along the way and almost quit several times. I finally stopped nursing when it seemed that Jack was less dependent on it, and when my body told me it had had enough. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to nurse my child, but would never suggest that there is a right way to do so or even that nursing is necessary. Yes, it has benefits, but probably way more important is a healthy, happy and connected mom.

3) Sleep. Ugh. We parents torment ourselves for years over the quality of our children's sleep. Scheduled naps and bed times. Sleep training: 'cry-it-out' methods have us alternately feeling we are giving our children the gift of a lifetime of healthy sleep habits and crying our eyes out thinking we are the cruelest parents ever. Try not to lose your mind. Try not to hate your partner, if you have one to deal with, when he or she unwittingly undermines your sleep plan. Be patient with him or her - they are learning too. Stay strong. Be persistent, but be forgiving with yourself and your child. Whatever sleep goals make sense to you, trust your judgement, give them a try. Don't be too hard on yourself if it's not easy or if you decide it's not working and you need a new plan. There is never anything wrong with changing course. In fact, as true as it may seem to you that change is the only constant, you've never experienced how true this is until becoming a mother. Get ready to go with the flow!

My experience: I am not a good sleeper. This obviously affected my decisions with respect to setting up my son's sleep habits. His first five months (with acid reflux and trouble sleeping) had an affect as well. It was important to me that he learn to sleep on his own. Ideally, he would also be able to sleep through noise. We were, despite teasing and, in some cases, judgement from others, very strict with Jack's bed time. Unlike other parents who kept their kids up until midnight so that they could attend weddings and other events, we put Jack to bed at the same time every night without exception. We felt that sleep was that important. We used a cry-it-out method as it was needed, a few times over the course of his first 3 years. It always worked pretty well. It was always very hard to do. Our son is a pretty good sleeper. We're not as strict anymore on very special occasions, but if he's late to bed it's only by an hour or two. We don't feel that he has missed out on anything as a result.

Sleep is another topic that could fill several posts. Whatever sleep problems you run into, know that there is a solution. There is a way to correct anything that goes wrong. Stay educated about sleep concerns and you'll be just fine.

4) Food. Double ugh! You will spend a ridiculous amount of your time preparing food and then shoveling it into the garbage when your baby, and then child, refuses to eat it. It will make you cry at least once. Breathe. This too shall pass. Not slowly, but it will. Over the years, if you are patient, your child will learn to enjoy what food is put in front of him or her. Resist the urge to be a short order cook! Resist the urge to feel you are a failure because your child will not eat broccoli. Your baby will eat if hungry and will, over the course of the week, if you are serving a variety of healthy foods, get all the nutrients he or she needs. This is your new mantra - repeat after me: I, as a parent, decide when and what my child will eat. My child decides if and how much he or she will eat.

My experience: I made all of my baby's first foods from scratch. I recognize this is not for everyone, especially moms who head back to work or have multiple kids or multiple demands on their time. It was, for me, relatively easy and made me feel good about controlling the type and quality of food my child was getting, I used good quality, organic food and still, I think, saved money. As time went on, I tried to expose my child to a variety of foods and flavours. I still try to use good quality food at home an to buy little or no processed food. This is a topic that I could dedicate several posts to. Tomorrow I will discuss a tiny aspect of the problem of getting kids to eat what's good for them.

5) Milestones. Milestones are both joyous to behold and the source of much anxiety for many parents. Know this, new mama. When your doctor tells you that your baby is just fine, it's really true. Your little Joey may not be crawling yet while many of his peers are. He may not be the crawling type. He may just stand up and walk one day. Sally may not be able to colour between the lines until she is five or six. You know what? That's okay! Every child develops differently. Each one has different interests. Encourage your child's interests. Gently help them to experience new things and learn new skills. Recognize your child's efforts and be proud of her accomplishments. Resist the temptation to compare your child to others her age.

My experience: I have been in situations, even with beloved family members, where when speaking about one of my child's interests (for example, noting that my son loves activity books as he plows through one at a family dinner), I have had to endure lectures about what my child should and shouldn't be doing, what appropriate development and learning is for his age, and so on. Someone might simply note something my child is doing and talk about how their child/neice/grandchild/etc can do that only better. I have seen moms shrink in size as some other mom bragged about their child in a way meant to make other children seem slow to develop. Moms, I implore you. Be proud of your children AND other children too. They are all beautiful creatures who will, if we get out of their way, grow up to be brilliant at any number of things they choose.

6) School. As your child gets a little older, you'll face such important questions as, Should I enroll my child in Gymboree? Should he go to preschool? Which one? What about language? Does my child need to be in french or spanish immersion? Most moms agree some form of socialization is good for kids. Yours might get it at home. As to which school, which subjects and what's important for your child to be exposed to? That's a very personal choice. Respect your choices. Trust your instincts about what's best for your child and be okay with it. It absolutely does not matter what anyone else does. Period.

My experience: I did the Gymboree thing for a while, and took Jack to some programs at our local rec centre. It kept him active and that was necessary for his sanity and mine. As an only child, I think he benefited from being around other kids. He is now in preschool. One that he loves to attend. One that embraces play. It didn't matter to me to have him in the best preschool to prepare him scholastically for kindergarten and beyond. I'm still debating which school he will go to, but my priorities at this age will lean more toward where he will be happiest (things like being close to home and friends will be factors) rather than where he will get the best education. A good public school will likely be good enough. (As an aside, this is a difficult decision where I live as we have a ridiculous number of choices when it comes to type of school.)

7) Bad behaviour. Along with socialization, and simply being a toddler or preschooler, comes bad behaviour: defiance, hitting, kicking, name-calling, screaming, whining, running away, not listening, not cooperating... the list has the potential to go on and on. Please don't be too hard on yourself when your perfect angel starts to do bad things. It does not make her a bad kid. It does not make you a bad parent. Into each life a little poop must fall, and as the parent of a toddler or preschooler you will shovel your fair share. Just clean it up and get some good advice on how to avoid stepping in any more of it.

My experience: You may have heard me mention my willful child in the past. I don't know where he gets it from (ahem), but it's a challenge to deal with. Just when I have one problem sorted a new one rears it's ugly head. It's tiring. I knew it would be this way too. I remember him kicking the bejeebers out of me in utero and thinking, This kid is going to be trouble. But I also knew that meant he would be a critical thinker, and that if I could just keep calm and support him he'd do really well in life. I knew it would be tough, and I quickly learned it would be tougher to do on my own. Which brings me to my next two tips...

8) Get educated! Knowledge is power. When you are feeling overwhelmed, remember that whatever you are experiencing many women before you have also experienced. Take advantage of courses offered to new moms. Many may be offered for free through your health region. Check out the multitude of books available through your library on a range of topics related to bringing up baby: some of the ones we just talked about, such as sleep and feeding. Subscribe to newsletters that offer tips and information about child development, where to get help when you need it, recipes, local family-friendly resources and events... whatever will make your life easier! Motherhood will be your hardest and most rewarding job ever. Don't be afraid to use the training manuals!

My experience: I met a group of moms when Jack was 3 1/2 months old through my local health region. We attended a course together that offered advice to new moms on all things related to keeping baby healthy. This combined with an information booklet offered by my health region were valuable resources for me. I also subscribed to babycenter.com for tips on supporting my child's development. If free information and advice was made available to me, I took it! I didn't necessarily follow everything I read or was told, but I made sure I had plenty of information to make informed decisions.

9) Get help! There is no shame in it. In fact, it's one of the smartest things you can do. Find someone in your life, a group of new moms or an organization you trust and use them! Ask them for help, and offer your help whenever you can. As a new mom you will see that one of your best resources is the huge network of fabulous moms out there, both the ones with kids your age and the ones who have been where you are about to go. Don't be afraid to make new connections. Many of these moms will become life-long friends.

My experience: Remember that group of moms I mentioned, the ones I met when Jack was just a tiny babe? We're still very good friends. We all met for weekly playgroups for several years. We still manage a few playgroup get-togethers, though our children are moving in different directions now. Somehow we manage to find time for each other still. We have each been powerful resources for one another. Simply knowing there were others close by that were going through the same things I was going through gave me a great deal of strength to survive some very tough days.

I've mentioned a company called Parenting Power on my blog before. These professionals have offered me invaluable advice when I needed it most. Very empowering. It helps to put the problem in perspective, remove blame from the situation, and quickly move to a workable solution. If you can find an organization like this one in your area, I say, Take advantage of it! Motherhood is at the same time highly rewarding and potentially very stressful. Anything that helps to tip the balance toward the benefits of the rewards and away from the stress of the trials is an investment well made, in my opinion.

10) My final tip to you, new mom, is to love yourself. You will spend most of your time worrying if you are doing the right thing, caring for your family and doing the best you can to care for yourself so that you can continue to care for your family. YOU ARE what they need. YOU ARE who they love. No matter your state. No matter your ability. No matter that all you have to offer your child today is celery and a hunk of cheese. Tomorrow is another day. Do the best you can with what you have today. You love your family. YOU ARE part of that family. Love yourself.

Please know that there is no right way to raise a child. There is only what feels right to you. Educate yourself, yes. Seek advice from friends who have been there, YES! Then, decide what is best for your family.

Be okay.

Everything will be okay.



I selected this post to be featured on Top Mommy Blogs. Please visit the site and vote for my blog!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Picture me, the lucky winner!

Oh happy day! I entered a contest and won!!

Stasha B. Photography recently ran a contest to give away a photo of the winner's choosing. The contest, posted on her blog The Good Life, was a way of celebrating the launch of her new photography business and a way of saying thank-you to the fans that encouraged her to do so.

I'm one of Stasha's biggest fans. I first discovered her through her blog, where she shares the story of her life with a very cute boy, Little J, and an especially regal dog, Big M. Check out her 365 project, which offers one photo for each day of the year to tell her story.

If you're a blogger, be sure to take part in Stasha's Monday Listicles link up. It's highly addictive.

Stasha is a very talented photographer and I'm so happy that she decided to share her talent. I chose my favourite of her photos, which was difficult to do, and entered the contest. You can view her selection of limited edition, signed prints here. I can't tell you how excited I was to find out that I won!!

Guess which one I picked?

Alright, I won't make you wait any longer. Here it is, framed and ready to hang!

The photo is called "Under the Dock". Beautiful, yes? And now? It's mine! All MINE! Okay, you can have one too, but don't wait too long. This is a limited edition print. My photo doesn't do Stasha's work justice, I'm afraid. Take a look at it on her website, Stasha B. Photography, check out the rest of her amazing photos, and pick your own favourite!

Thank-you so much, Stasha!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shades of Autumn: Orange

I'm linking up again this week with Project Alicia for the Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge.

Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge

Finding shades of autumn around here at this time of year is definitely a challenge! Let's see how I did!

Little J, Big J and I went out this past weekend in search of this week's challenge colour, orange. I may have mentioned in my last Shades of Autumn post that we typically get yellows here in Calgary, and we're already just about at the end of our fall season. Many years it would have snowed by now, but the snow has held off so far. <crossing fingers and knocking on wood in the hopes that it continues a little longer>

The oranges we see at this time of year are mostly mixed with brown.
Still very pretty, I think.

In my garden, red and yellow give an impression of orange.

I think technically the 'orange' in this photo reads more so as brown.

I think that's as close as it's going to get!

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I intended to get some photos of the little gaffer among the leaves again, and we had a trip planned to a pumpkin patch and corn maze, but Little J had a tummy ache and we had to head home before we could even begin. Hubby snapped this photo of him curled up in my arms. Poor fella!

In just a few days, there will be plenty of orange decorating the neighbourhood as we all prepare for Hallowe'en. Here's one from the vault: Little J, Age 3, Hallowe'en 2010.

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Be sure to check out the amazing photos linked up at the Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge. There are some very talented photographers showcasing some beautiful work there (as well as some amateurs like myself).

Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wordy Wednesday: A Gift for 'B'

Glass bead necklace and earrings.

For my sister, B.

We picked out some beads on my last trip to visit her
so I could make her something to go with this fabric:

What do you think?

It's so pretty I had a hard time letting it go.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

It's Monday Listicle time again with NorthWest Mommy.

Before we get to this week's listicle, I have the pleasure of announcing next week's listicle topic. I feel like I won a pageant or something! Hon? Where's my tiara? Ah, there we go.

My sister thinks you should all write a list of Ten Reasons you Want to be Scottish - we Scots apparently think quite highly of ourselves - but I fear that would alienate a few non-Scots. So... we'll go with my second-best idea which is Ten Tips for New Moms.