gail

As a trained chef, Special Projects Director of Food & Wine Magazine, a judge on Top Chef (and Top Chef Masters and Top Chef Duels), host of the new show The Feed, overseer of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, board member of City Harvest and Hot Bread Kitchen, published author (if you haven’t read Talking With My Mouth Full you should) – Gail Simmons has a lot on her plate.

Add to the roster: mom to five month-old Dahlia Rae. But don’t tell her that “it’s going to get better” because she already loves every minute of it: “It’s such a special, cozy, crazy, amazing time. Of course I am exhausted, but I don’t feel like I am trying to just get through to the next stage.”

The new mom leaves her Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, neighborhood – where they moved a week before she gave birth – for Boston soon to shoot season 12 of Top Chef with Dahlia Rae in tow.

We caught up with her (in between pumping and meetings) about the challenges of nursing and one of her most embarrassing moments (yes, it involves breastmilk).

What’s In A Name?

Dahlia is my favorite flower – it symbolizes sunshine and comes in so many amazing colors. It was our wedding flower and it was on our invitation. Rae is to honor my husband’s Aunt Rena, who passed away two years ago. She was so encouraging and supportive in our lives, and we love and miss her so much.

 Lifesaving Products

We opened the Fisher-Price bouncy chair when she was a month old, and we couldn’t believe we hadn’t opened it sooner. It allowed us to eat dinner, for me to pump and go to the bathroom when I was home alone with her. Once she hit three months, she graduated to the Mamaroo, which we call the hovercraft. She’s really into it now.

 Part Of The Club

On Top Chef, I was the only one who didn’t have kids, so they’ve been a wealth of knowledge and help. Michelle Bernstein made me realize it’s okay to be back at work and to lose the guilt associated with it because it’s the quality of the time you spend with your kids, not the quantity.

 Deep Thoughts From Gail

How will she sleep comfortably unswaddled? How can I leave the house without 14 bags? How do I pump when I’m running around all day? These are questions I don’t know the answers to.

 #Momfail

I was taping in front of a live studio audience and forgot to put nipple pads in my bra. They leaked right there. It was horrifying. You think you’re at least keeping it together on the outside. Of course I was wearing a beautiful silk dress. And in case you didn’t know, yes, milk stains. It was a low point.

Get In My Belly

After giving birth, you feel like you don’t know anything, including how to keep yourself fed. I have mastered the efficient grocery shop. Fresh Direct is tough for me because I like to physically walk the aisles and see my options. I went to Union Market and created a basic order with them. Sometimes I go and pick everything out and have them deliver it, others I just call and ask for my basics. I embrace anyone who delivers these days.

Flower Child

I love Honest diapers. Dahlia wears dahlias on her bottom – how cute is that?! Angela and Ethan Stowell [chef] gave me this amazing RoSK blanket that’s waterproof on one side, soft and fluffy on the other and it ties onto the stroller. It’s great for the park because you can put the waterproof side on the ground.

Neighborhood Nosh

We moved to Cobble Hill a week before I gave birth, so we’ve been getting to know the restaurants with baby in tow. We love Buttermilk Channel, Court Street Grocers, Nightingale 9, Red Gravy, Iris Cafe – they’re all so accommodating and kid-friendly. I spent a month in LA shooting and we frequented Cafe Gratitude, Alfred Coffee & Kitchen and lunch at Fred Segal.

Just Stop, Already

Everyone keeps saying, oh it’s going to get better, but we are actually loving the early days. She’s only four and a half months, and we are already reminiscing about things she “used to do”. It’s such a special, cozy, crazy, amazing time. Of course I am exhausted, but I don’t feel like I am trying to just get through to the next stage.

Give Yourself A Break

I think new moms feel out of control so they obsess about routine and schedules, but the truth is they are babies, and you have to give yourself a break. They are going to be fine if you can’t feed them every three hours to the minute. Babies are adaptable and every child is different – you can’t prescribe one schedule for all. It’s all going to be okay as long as they are fed, dry and loved.

First Foods

I hope to make Dahlia Rae’s food myself in the beginning. I can’t wait for her to try avocado, banana, mango, sweet potato, peaches, corn. There would be great irony if I spawned a very picky eater.

Three Hours Alone On A Saturday

Will that ever happen again? I’m getting a mani, pedi and a massage anywhere that will take me at a moment’s notice.

Mom Brain

Now I know why my mom sometimes can’t remember my name. Because she had three children. I barely know my own name some days, and I only have one. Sleep deprivation is rough.

 

Photo Credit: Melanie Dunea

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evamurri

You may recognize her distinctive beauty from Saved!, Californication, Undateable, or Robert Mapplethorpe’s portrait of her as a child (which hangs in the permanent collection at, oh you know, The Guggenheim!), but Eva Amurri Martino is about to be your new girl crush.

The actress and daughter to none other than Susan Sarandon has a lot of mom stuff going on — and not just the run-of-the-mill sleep training and diaper changing. She just wrapped a Lifetime miniseries playing the early years-version of Marilyn Monroe’s mother (in excellent casting, her own mother plays her in later years.), and her next project, Mother’s Day, features an all-star ensemble cast, including Sharon Stone and Sarandon (again!), playing a dozen mother-daughter sets over the course of a single Mother’s Day. Oh, and she was 9 months pregnant during filming and looked ahhhmazing.

Off-screen, Eva (Italian pronunciation: “Eh-va”) has a 7-month-old daughter, Marlowe (quite possibly the cutest baby EVER), with her soccer star-turned-NBC broadcaster husband, Kyle Martino, and she’s as passionate about her stand against mom shaming (preach!) as she is about styling Marlowe’s “luxurious mullet.” (Want proof? Check out her Instagram, but be prepared to lose an hour to precious pigtails and bedhead.)

We caught up with the new mom to talk bath time (the best), sleep schedules (so rough), and getting your groove back post-baby (all about it). She’s wise, hilarious, and incredibly grounded… take it away, Eva!

Pregnancy Style

I never went mumu or loose-fitting style; I actually wore way tighter clothes than I do normally. I got wider right away, so they held it all in – form-fitting maxi dresses were my thing! I was the biggest during the summer, which was so brutal. I found loooong tanks that I loved at A Pea In The Pod and I wore them with ASOS maternity jeans and denim shorts.

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Post Pregnancy Style

I’ve never been very practical when it comes to clothes, and I kind of got real after I had Marlowe. I went thru my wardrobe and purged, so now I only have things in my closet that I feel great in – there’s no time for the rest. When I was pregnant, I discovered Nike wedge sneakers, and I still love them: They’re so comfy and make your legs look great.

New Baby Must-Haves

For me, the must haves those first few months were Summer Infant’s SwaddleMe, Alaffia baby balm, and the BabyBjorn bouncer saved our lives – we put her in it way before you were supposed to and stuffed blankets in it. She would sit in it so happily forever.

Best Advice

I find that a lot of people have a lot of advice. You have to do what works for you, whether that’s co-sleeping or getting on a schedule, it has to work for your family. Otherwise, what’s the point?! And make sure that you check in with yourself and your partner along the way: Does whatever you’re doing feel right and is it sustainable? Our baby nurse got us on a schedule that was stressing me out, so we got rid of it!

Surprise Yourself

I am much more patient than I expected. I am good at waiting those few extra minutes to let her settle herself.

The Hardest Part

It’s so hard to find time for yourself, for your relationship, and as a family. We fell into the trap of handing off the baby, so we could each get things done, but we weren’t spending time all together. A baby is such a huge change for everyone, so acknowledge that. It’s hard and you don’t have to be great at everything right away. You know what’s not awesome – being inside all day with a baby with reflux screaming her brains out. Being real about that was so freeing. You have to get out of the house, go to the gym, and respect that you’ve been through a lot. It’s okay to have a lot of feelings that aren’t all positive.

Downtime

My husband and I love watching TV together – Veep, Game of Thrones, I’ve even gotten him into The Bachelor. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I go get a mani and read a dumb magazine. Those things you didn’t think twice about pre-kids, I enjoy those things much more now.

Losing The Baby Weight

Honestly, it sounds so annoying, but breastfeeding helped a lot at first. I was eating really healthy because it helped produce more milk: A Korean friend’s mom made me seaweed soup that was delicious, and I ate lots of salad and fruit. At 3 months postpartum, I had 7 pounds that weren’t coming off, so I hit the gym and ran, did yoga, and pilates. Now I dress accordingly to hide the things I don’t like – it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors and certainly not what it used to be!

Relationship Saver

We have a built-in date night every Wednesday. We see a movie, try a new wine bar, go for dinner, go for a walk. Whatever it is, we get dressed up and get our groove back a little.

Why? Why? Why?

Mom shaming drives me crazy. Why does every mom need other moms to do things their way. New motherhood is such a vulnerable and powerful time, but it’s also really hard. Do not judge other moms on how they raise their children. We have so much power in numbers, and it’s just too bad so many women fall victim to this.

Secret Talent

Right now, my secret obsession is doing Marlowe’s hair. She has a really luxurious mullet, and I love to style it. I do pigtails, 3 pigtails, braids – it’s so fun! I went down a rabbit hole and have some fun hair accessories on the way from Wild Juniper, Mini Scoops, and Our Little Charmed Life

Perfect Family Moment

Marlowe loves the bath – she is so goofy and kicks and laughs. It’s such a sweet time as a family. One child is so manageable, and it’s amazing to just put our full attention on her.

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On Our Radar: April 23, 2014

primarybag

primarycrib

primarycarrier

primarybib

FEED + The Honest Company Collaboration
WHO: Moms in need of a diaper bag.
WHAT: Two of our favorite brands have joined forces and created an adorable diaper bag – for every bag purchased, one mother and child will receive essential micronutrients for a year.
WHEN: They’re limited-edition, so get one while you can.
WHERE: feedprojects.com and honest.com

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Oeuf Fawn Crib & Bassinet System
WHO: Parents expecting a baby.
WHAT: A smart 3-in1 from Oeuf – starts out as a bassinet on wheels, turns into a standard crib, then turns into a toddler bed.
WHEN: Order now for mid-May delivery.
WHERE: giggle.com

Moby Aria Wrap
WHO: Parents with newborns.
WHAT: Moby’s new carrier has it all – 3 positions (front, back, hip), integrated infant insert, 3 seat positions as child grows, and 2 shoulder strap options (straight or crossed) for maximum comfort and options.
WHEN: You’re ready to stroll.
WHERE: mobywrap.com

Nanana Bibs
WHO: Parents with a penchant for beautiful French designs.
WHAT: These sweet terry bibs have chic collars that baby will surely drool and spit up on.
WHEN: Makes a great shower gift.
WHERE: perfectlysmitten.com

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baby name

One of the most difficult things about pregnancy is agreeing on a baby name with your, ahem, opinionated partner. (Seriously, what’s wrong with Coco Lilypie Firchau?!) Before you find yourself settling on a moniker you’re lukewarm on just to get the hell out of the hospital, give these a try.

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BabyNameGame is a 99-cent app that randomly serves up names for you to swipe right (love it!) or left (NOPE!), Tinder-style. If you and your partner use it separately, it will let you know which ones are mutual winners.

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Put names you like through the blind date test. Imagine your baby is all grown up and being set up on a blind date – “hey, want to go out with my friend _____?” When you picture that person, do you want to meet them? (We owe Joanna Goddard for this trick!)

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Another mental check: the Supreme Court Justice test. How does your potential name sound after “Chief Justice”? (If the answer is “bizarre”, but you still love the name, consider it for potential middle names. You know, if you care.)

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Hit your favorite well-stocked newsstand and run through the mastheads of interesting magazines. If the name “Serena Van der Woodsen” makes you swoon, pick up every international edition of Vogue. More of a Blair Waldorf? Town & Country.

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If you want to honor, say, your Great Aunt Bertha and your partner’s grandfather Herbert, without giving your kid a scarring-for-life name, this crazy site will spit out anagrams of up to three names, giving you more elegant — but still commemorative — options like Heather or Barrett.

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Go to a museum and note artist names on placards. (Go big or go home, people.)

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Narrow your search with Awesome Baby Name: It takes your last name into account and suggests names based on available URLs. (At this time, ArloSmith.com is not taken.)

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The Baby Names by Nametrix app allows you to search by the most common names for each profession. As in “Hannah”s for playwrights and “Vernon”s for plumbers. And yes, there’s even data on how likely one is to be a stripper name.

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Know the first letter you want to use but wary of diving into the abyss of a general name site? (Maaike, Maalik, Mab, Mabel… not helpful.) Try Amazon’s alphabetized list of biography subjects and you’ll get a more succinct (and inspirational) list — think Marc (Chagall), Marianne (Faithfull), Morgan (Freeman).

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If you like the idea of a family name but aren’t crazy about the ones you know about, use Ancestry.com to dig in and unearth further-back relatives… and their (awesome) names.

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Scroll through photos in the #1weekold feed on Instagram to see what babies around the world are being named in real time. (Potential dealbreaker/maker for this one: You’ll also find some #1weekold puppies and chicks here.)

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