Musings About Life... After Birth



Posted by Chelsea on August 08, 2011

When it comes to celebrities, I am most opinionated. Obviously, I know them all super-well, so I clearly have all sorts of gounds on which to form said opinions. I mean, doesn't three years of Us Weekly subscriber status offer one the right to judge? Um, I think so.....

Regarding Jessica Alba, I have never been a fan. I find her pretty and all, but my distaste for her comes from the fact that I think she's a really crappy actress who has been in a bunch of really crappy movies and therefore I think she's not so deserving of the fame she's earned. Sorry, Jess.  That's just how I feel.

When I saw Jessica on the cover of the September Lucky magazine, I groaned. She's already not my fave, and there she is, looking not one ounce pregnant despite getting ready to give birth any day now, with the cover touting that she'll share her thoughts "on nudity, hating diets and her secret splurges." Gag all around. Imagine my surprise, then, when I read the story inside and found her comments about losing baby weight (in my opinion, one of the all-time worst task EVER) refreshing, honest and just flat-out awesome. Reading what she said made me want to literally cheer out loud, and I'm not being hyperbolic. Tell me you don't love what she says:

On her post-baby shape-up plans: "I have a hard time with portion control, so I have 1,200-calorie meals delivered. But I also work out, so basically I'm starving  - it sucks." 

Seriously, thank, you, Jessica, for admitting that the way celebrities drop their baby weight in record time is to a) pay lots of money for someone else to make them portion-controlled meals and ultimately, b) work out so much that they literally starve themselves. And, naturally, that that particular course of action sucks. Of course that's what they do, because there is NO OTHER WAY to lose 35 pounds in a freaking month. At all. I just loved hearing someone admit it and not be all, "I just have really good genes," or, "I did a lot of pilates when I was pregnant." Please.

On working out: "Working out every day for even just 45 minutes is good for my mental state. But getting dressed and actually doing it is the worst. It's hard to get motivated...In the gym, I have like five things to distract me "TV, iPod, magazines. Workout partners are good, too, so you can chat and not just drown in your own misery. Sorry, does that sound bad? I just hate working out."

Again, Jessica, I am loving your honesty here. i know the "I hate working out" statement isn't original or particularly Earth-shattering, but again, I love that she freely admits that working out makes her miserable and that essentially, she'd rather be sitting on the sofa watching the Real Housewives than on the treadmill. I feel that way, and I love hearing that someone else  - especially someone who looks like her - admit that they have to force themselves to work out and that they don't just "loooove the endorphins!!!!" it provides them.  A celebrity actually being real  - especially about this kind of thing - just makes me happy. 


Jessica, I heart you. 


In light of Jessica's comments, I have now decided that I officially love her and will no longer diss or avoid reading stories about her. I will not, however, go and see "Spy Kids 14" or whatever the heck her next movie will be. Sorry, but I still do have some standards. 

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Posted by Chelsea on January 14, 2010

If you’re preparing to welcome child number two, you’ll soon be faced with the task of introducing child number one to the subject of his soon-to-arrive sibling—not to mention your changing shape. Unsure of how to do so in a way that will foster sibling love as opposed to loathing? Our on-call child psychiatrist, Dr. Michael D. Kaplan, gave me these helpful tips a while back when I wrote this piece for The Family Groove. I think it bears repeating for anyone who needs help facilitate a child’s transition into siblinghood.

At what time are kids truly able to grasp the concept of pregnancy or that a new baby is about to enter the scene?
DR. MICHAEL KAPLAN: Parents typically assume that young children have a more fully developed sense of pregnancy and the impending arrival of a new child than young children are actually capable of. Parents are usually excited for themselves and anxious for their current children, and often respond to this anxiety by giving their under-5s more information than they need or can process. Children under 5, and especially those under 3, respond much more to parents’ emotional states than to the information. They are observers and will notice how the parents talk to them more than what they actually hear.

There is a difference between how kids understand pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby. Children have a very limited understanding of pregnancy and a limited ability to plan for the sibling rivalry that is on the way. This is due to the fact that kids don’t start to grasp a firm understanding of the concept of the future until they are about 5 years old. While kids under 5 can talk about these things—especially precocious children—it is only around age 5 that it truly hits them.

What a child can connect with, however, is the reality of his or her mother’s growing belly and her potential preoccupation with the changes in her body and life. Children under 5, as we all know, are very needy of their parents’ physical attention. When the pregnancy proceeds into the final trimester and mom can’t lift as much or as frequently, is tired more, and is moving very slowly, kids pick up on that. In their egocentric worlds, they may experience pregnancy in its later stages (and even more so if mom is on bed rest) as a withdrawal from them. Try as best as you can not to be overly concerned about this stage; it is a completely normal developmental phenomenon. In fact, it actually helps to prepare your child psychologically for the decrease in attention he or she will need to manage when the baby comes.

In what kinds of ways can parents help their child feel like a part of welcoming a new family member and not an outsider to the process?
MK: Parents can do a lot of things to help their child through this period. I recommend parents invite the child to help set up the nursery and pick out new toys and stuffed animals (as long as they get a new one each time, too). I also advise making sure that the child gets extra time with parents prior to the birth. As mom gets tired, dad and other family members need to pick up the slack. In fact, dads can do a lot at this time in terms of expanding their role with the first child. I encourage parents to take a child under 5 on a hospital tour for siblings, if the hospital where you’re giving birth offers one. Today’s hospitals are much more welcoming of siblings than in the past, and it will help your child feel secure once he or she visits mom and the new baby there after its arrival.

A key bit of advice: Have extra presents for the first child in the closet. Many friends and family members will know the protocol of bringing two gifts—one for baby and one for your first child. In case anyone forgets, mom or dad can run to the closet and choose a pre-wrapped gift. Additionally, allowing the child to open all the gifts for the baby will make him or her feel like an important part of the process.

Parents should carefully plan for arrangements for when mom goes to the hospital, taking care to make everything as similar for your existing child as they generally are. For example, the child should go to school or day care on that day. Keep his or her routines as familiar as possible.

What should parents avoid doing or saying to their existing child about the new baby before a baby arrives?
MK: Again, the biggest risk is in going overboard. Many parents tell kids under 5 that a baby is on the way the moment they know—all in the service of “being open” with their child. I would advise waiting until mom is fully out of the first trimester and the pregnancy is a sure thing. My feeling is that for young kids, they should be told when they have something concrete like a big belly to help them. Once mom’s belly is big enough to notice, it’s probably a good time to introduce the concept to a child under 5. Until then, keep it quiet, being especially careful of loud conversations on cell phones to friends, etc., because the kids will always be listening.

Parents should avoid going overboard with guilt-reducing comments, such as “We will still love you just as much.” As with everything else, you don’t want to put those ideas into your child’s head if they are not already there. Once you tell your child about the pregnancy, tune into what they ask about, and avoid putting adult ideas into their heads. Remember: The ways in which we handle these big events set the stage for how we handle informing our kids of other big changes down the road.

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Posted by Chelsea on January 06, 2010

Choosing your baby’s name is quite a responsibility; not only will your selection be judged by nearly everyone who hears it, but you’re also making a choice that will literally define your child. Between the pressures of pleasing family, honoring relatives and finding a name on which you and your spouse agree, picking baby’s name is often the stuff arguments between moms and dads are made of. If the name game has you stressed, consider these helpful tips I put together a while back for a piece I did for The Family Groove —they may point you in the right direction, not to mention help your marriage.

1. Beware of the quirky name
You may be tempted to pull a Gwyneth and choose an original name for your baby, but such a move is worth reconsidering. Some names are simply too hard to live with, especially for kids who may not yet have the independent spirit you do or have grown to develop. Plus, “It’s faintly ridiculous being called India, Atlanta or Summer and holding down a steady job as an accountant in Bognor Regis,” says Laura Wattenberg, the author of The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby.

2. Size Matters
If the baby’s last name is long and multi-syllabic, consider a short first name with one or two syllables. Tom Cinnamonson or Matthew Cinnamonson rolls off the tongue much better than Jonathan Cinnamonson. At the same time, long multi-syllabic baby names will often strike a balance with a short last name. If you have a two-syllable last name, you’re in luck—they sound good with virtually any length first name.

3. Consider tease-worthy nicknames or embarrassing rhymes
When choosing a name for your child, remember that all of its connotations—lewd or otherwise—will be unearthed by his or her friends on the playground. Rhea may sound beautiful to you, but be prepared to console a crying little girl who was called “Diar-Rhea” at school. Also pay attention to the first and last name combination. For example, if your last name is Johnson, naming your son Harry, while a perfectly adorable name, isn’t the wisest choice.

4. Consider how it all ends
If your baby’s last name begins with a hard consonant, you may want to choose a baby name that ends with a vowel sound. For example, the name Melissa Karp is much more pleasant than Meg Karp.

5. Don’t be a celeb name-stalker
You may love Oprah, but resist naming your daughter after her. By awarding your offspring with a celebrity’s name, it will not only date the child later on, but you’ll come off looking like a bit of a fanatic. This rule also goes for naming your baby after a celebrity’s offspring, says Wattenberg: “If you name your offspring Rocco, at best it will look like you’re severely lacking in imagination, at worst you will come across like a quasi-stalker.”

6. Classic vs. common
Traditional names that stand the test of time are popular for a reason: they’re timeless, sound good with practically any last name, and are virtually stigma-free (and that’s why there’s so popular). However, classic baby names have their pitfalls, too. If you go with naming your son the proverbially-popular, unquestionably adorable Jake, it’s almost certain that there will be at least one more Jake in his class, which means he may be known as Jake P. for quite some time.

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Posted by Chelsea on June 25, 2008

Currently, I am working on a personalized stationery story for The Family Groove’s October issue, and having a blast coming up with recommendations for the best, coolest and most adorable paper goods and websites that sell them. Personalized stationery, it just so happens, is one of my all-time favorite things. Perhaps it is the southern gal in me, but I just adore a nice little monogrammed thank-you note card.

I’ve discovered some great new sites and products that you’ll be able to check out in September, but I have to give you a sneak preview of one of my favorites, Sara and Abraham, a retailer I discovered courtesy of Atlanta (my hometown) Momtourage member Sloane, who sent me a set of their cards when baby #2 was born. Designed by owner Sara Tams, Sara and Abraham notecards and products are breathtakingly sweet and beautiful, not to mention exceptionally well-priced. Most of her designs feature silhouettes, which you can customize to best represent your kids by choosing from a large selection of “children”. Additionally, with most products you can select from a variety of color options:

Here’s a sampling of some of the products I find especially gorgeous:

Personalized Folded Notecards, $18 for a set of 10. Seriously, how sweet are these for a little girl? Of course, you can choose this style an make it all cute and boyish in red or blue as well.


Sloane got me a set of these in red with the “Owen and Wyatt” silhouette and my sons’ names. I cannot tell you how adorable they are, and so perfect for sending thank-you notes to everyone who sent them both a gift when #2 was born. Momtourage member Alison has some with the “Abby and Izzy” silhouette to represent her twin daughters (in pink, of course). Personalized Folded Notecards, $16 for a set of 12.


How cute is that little carriage? Personalized Flat Note Cards, $12 for a set of 14.

Sara and Abraham also offers 8X0 silhouette prints, perfect for framing and putting in your kids’ rooms. You can get them in the above designs, but my favorite is the “Kids at Play” print.

Personalized 8X10 Kids at Play Silhouette Print, $18.

Aren’t they adorable? I knew you’d love ‘em. To purchase some for yourself or for a gift, click here. When you checkout, enter code MOMT4, and you’ll get four free cards with every order!

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Posted by Chelsea on May 02, 2008

Three momtourage members - Jillian, Rhea (of lucky uterus creator fame) and Hallie - have delivered baby boys in the past week. Little Marlon Jonah, Samuel Miles and Charles Sutton join old-timer momtourage baby boys Seth Philip (Alicia’s, born in February), Jordan Benjamin (Lauren’s, born in March) and, of course, my Drew (also born in March).

In case you haven’t received the memo, boys are so the new black.

Mazel tov, everyone!

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Posted by Chelsea on April 28, 2008

Momtourage members Alicia, Lauren and I all had little boy babies (baby #2 for all of us) within a few weeks of each other. Alicia was first, and after swearing by the success the book “Good Night Sleep Tight: The Sleep Lady’s Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go to Sleep, Stay Asleep, and Wake up Happy” by Kim West provided her with getting little Seth on a good sleep schedule, she sent the book to me and Lauren. “We’ll all have to discuss it after you read it,” she said. “Kinda like a new moms book club, you know?” I have to say, I really liked the book. Lots of good suggestions on how to get your kids sleeping well - with much focus on the ultimate goal of infant rearing: getting your kid to sleep through the night.

Like Alicia, it seems every mom has at least one “book” - some guide she swears helped her with her kids because it holds all the valuable tips and answers. My preferred baby literature has always been Tracy Hogg’s “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” , which offers awesome tips to get your kid on a schedule, sleep through the night, etc., and Dr. Harvey Karp’s “The Happiest Baby on the Block”, which offers helpful hints on how to soothe and calm your baby. I’ve recommended both to all sorts of people, and have found that others like them as well.

What are your preferred baby/kid-raising guides? I’m always up for some new tips, because - believe it or not - I so don’t have all the answers.

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Posted by Chelsea on April 07, 2008

I’ve lamented many times about how I long to cease carrying a diaper bag and resume ownership of a cool purse. Alas, it’s not gonna happen anytime soon - especially now that I have two children, both of whom require totally different “stuff”.

In the abyss that is my diaper bag, I have all sorts of crap - diapering essentials, a bib, a burp cloth, toys, bottles, sippy cups, snacks, a little bag for myself (with Advil, lip balm, MAC Blot Powder, Kleenex, etc.), my cell phone, my wallet, pacifiers…see why I still have to carry one? As the snacks crumble and the cups spill, things get all schmutzy and/or wet, and often, the big stuff pushes the little stuff to the bottom, making it all hard to dig out. Annoying.

One solution I’ve found to help keep my diaper bag organized (and its contents protected) is The Handy Sack. These functional and fashionable pouches are made of commercially coated cotton (they come in all sorts of cute patterns) that is stain and water repellent, so they - and their contents - won’t get ruined by an exploding bottle or smashed pack of Saltines. The front is clear, so you can see exactly what’s inside - spoons, toys, passies - whatever - and you’ll always know when you need to restock it. They’re great for travel too - just stash all of your child’s toiletries in it and you’re good to go.

Oh, me so handy!
How great would this be for a new baby or shower gift?

To purchase your very own Handy Sack, visit They retail for $22.95 each, but if you use promotion code April15FamilyFUN, you can get 15% off! Want to win one? Send your name, address and kids’ ages to me at

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Posted by Chelsea on March 30, 2008

First and foremost, the biggest, hugest thank you to reader Mona, who took it upon herself to up and photoshop that picture of me and the boys. Check out her handiwork:

Look, Ma - no tag!

How nice is that? Mona, you rule. Now, if you could only photoshop the post-pregnancy weight off of me in all of my other photos…..

In other news, my best friend Jessica, who has been my best friend since we were 8th graders (my, do we have some stuff on each other), is spending the year with her husband in China, courtesy of this cool opportunity she got with Google, the company for which she works. Anyway, it’s been kind of hard because China is like 13 hours ahead of me in my Eastern Standard time zone, so we rarely get to talk or google-chat. Luckily, there is email. In her latest report, she talked about how interesting Chinese culture is re: kids. She doesn’t yet have any of her own, but knows how into the subject I am, considering my profession both as Mom and parenting journalist. She writes:

“So, one of the different but really cool things here is how people are with their kids and other peoples’ kids. Since everyone can really only have one kid, people LOOOOOVE kids. LOVE them. And, in general, there is like, no violent crime here, but people especially really look out for little kids. So, if you’re at a park, restaurant or shop, you can really kind of let your kid run around and not worry about him. For example, last night we had dinner with some folks who also fairly recently moved here from Atlanta and who have an adorable 2 1/2 year old (Dillon). So we meet them at the (really nice) restaurant, and there is a kids playroom tucked away behind this like, frosted door. All of the waiters and waitresses were swooning over Dillon and
talking to him and playing with him. So he goes into the playroom, and we sit down to dinner. A few minutes later he comes out of the playroom and over to the table (totally by himself) and the waiter picks him up and helps him get settled in his high chair.  Can you imagine? And this is at a really cool, great restaurant - not one you would typically consider “family-friendly”. Nancy (Dillon’s mom) says it takes getting used to, but once you do it is awesome. And it was so fun - we got some adult-talking time when he would go to the playroom and we got some Dillon time when he came back. It’s a totally different approach but it was really cool to see.”

I’ve been saying that if a Democrat doesn’t get elected in ‘08, then I’m moving to Canada, but China might work too…

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Posted by Chelsea on March 25, 2008

Thank you so much to everyone for all of your congratulations and well-wishes!

We brought the baby home from the NICU a week ago today, and fortunately, he is back to a nice, non-yellowed flesh-color. Many thanks to all the wonderful nurses and doctors in DC’s Sibley Memorial Hospital special care nursery.

The baby has been doing well - sleeping, eating, pooping… you know, the typical newborn drill. Mostly our focus has been on son #1, who at two and a half is far more work than #2. Everyone has been inquiring as to how #1 is doing - how he likes the baby, and how his behavior has changed, if at all. I’d say that the way he’s acting is probably pretty textbook. He’s interested in the baby, not not terribly so. He gets upset when he cries, and when he goes to look at him, he will almost always try to take a swing at him. The other day, for example, he bopped him over the head with a nail file. I have a feeling it won’t be the last time.

Luckily, however, #1 has not been freaking out when he sees me holding the baby. The other day, he saw me doing so and actually came up to snuggle with us. It was seriously sweet.

Who knows how to use photoshop? I gotta get the tag from the baby’s swaddle blanket and our nanny out of the background of this photo.

Let’s hope for more moments like this one in the future.

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