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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On Our Radar: December 19, 2014

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(Product)Red Aden + Anais Swaddles
WHO: Expecting moms who want to make a statement and a difference.
WHAT: Profits from this jazzy Aden + Anais 3-pack of swaddles – designed by Rachel Zoe, Jessica Alba, and Gwen Stefani – go to Global Fund to help fight AIDS.
WHEN: Limited supply, so get them while you can. Makes a great gift (hint hint).
WHERE: adenandanais.com

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Pure Brazilian Coconut Water
WHO: Anyone looking for a refreshing beverage, especially if you’re sick, nauseous, or hungover.
WHAT: New raw, artisanal coconut water is made from only Anão coconuts from Brazil, unlike its mass-produced counterparts. You can taste the difference.
WHEN: When you’re thirsty.
WHERE: purebraziliancoconutwater.com

Town and Country Diaper Tote
WHO: Parents who are a little bit (or lotta bit) preppy.
WHAT: The Town and Country Baby Tote takes the classic tote and adds a brilliant insert turning it into the perfect diaper bag, complete with monogram.
WHEN: Before you register for some sad chevron number.
WHERE: townandcountrybabytote.com

Stay + Co Baby
WHO: Parents of stylish babes.
WHAT: Cute, comfy layette in simple stripes and camo from two SoCal moms who needed a creative outlet.
WHEN: Naptime and playtime.
WHERE: stay-and-co.com

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shoshanna_gruss

Within 2 minutes of chatting with Shoshanna Gruss, we were smitten. She’s warm, kind, real, honest, funny, and a successful entrepreneur who’s managed to find true balance in her life. But then she told us about her daughter Sienna and their impromptu girls trip to New Orleans, and we almost ditched on the designer to hang with her. “She’ll eat anything, try anything, loves museums, and is always down to explore.” And she’s in a band. She’s nine.

But back to our mom-crush. The mother of 3 (aforementioned Sienna; twins Colby and Angelica are 2) runs a business, sees her friends (albeit not as often as she’d like), takes her daughter to school (and picks her up) every day, reads an occasional book, and travels (with and without kids). She’s the quintessential role model for entrepreneur moms, and we say that without even the slightest eyeroll.

Besides overseeing her eponymous fashion line (that’s been around for 17 years!), she’s also the Style Director at Elizabeth Arden, where she collaborates on the design of new products and acts as a spokesperson for the brand. And speaking of collaborating, Sienna has helped design suits for the babygirl swim: “She’s more rock-n-roll than I am, so our stuff is a little too girly for her. I let her help, and her designs have been best-sellers!”

She talked openly with us about her difficulty getting pregnant both times (the 7-year age difference wasn’t “the plan”), and her good fortune of having 3 healthy kids is not lost on her – her gratefulness is palpable. She’s also shared tips for twins parents, her secret to staying organized, and her terrifying #momfail we give her kudos for sharing.

Meet the smart, beautiful, down-to-earth Shoshanna Gruss.

She’s With The Band

Sienna sings and plays keyboard and drums in a band. Currently she’s in a Rolling Stones cover band with the School of Rock, but her old band, Kings of Brooklyn, played at the Bitter End – it was such a proud moment!

Colby strums away on his ukulele all day long. Some people are born with this.

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Out Of Your Control

Anjelica, on the other hand, is going to be an ultimate fighting champion – she’s very physical. I was an athlete and was the same way as a child. My mom is the most refined elegant woman but was a wild animal as a child. You gotta celebrate the kid you got, not try and make them into what you want them to be!

Meaningful Names

My kids are all named after grandparents who have passed away. It’s such a nice Jewish tradition to name kids after family members who are no longer with us. When they ask why they have their name, it keeps you talking about people who were loved and special so they feel that connection.

Winter Babies

The twins were born in November during the coldest winter ever, and I’m a secret hermit so we were shut-ins for the first year, and I didn’t feel guilty about it. No one loves a snowstorm more than me – I love being trapped in the house , so it was a perfect year for me!

Twins Must-Have

The City Select Twin Jogger is the perfect twin stroller. They can face front and back, facing each other or not – you can coordinate it a million different ways. It’s easier to have them front and back so you don’t take up the whole sidewalk, and they enjoy it.

Twins Tips

Don’t buy 2 of everything! They only want whatever thing the other is playing with – it’s not about the toy itself. He loves cars and trucks, and she likes to beat him up – whatever he has in his hand, she wants.

Don’t compare them. She is physical, verbal, and jealous; he is totally laid back. They never hit milestones at the same time. It’s a fascinating study of gender.

The Struggle

Sienna is 9 and the twins are 2 – that was not our family plan. It was hard for me to get pregnant both times, so instead of seeing anything as a negative, I am just so grateful that I have 3 healthy kids. The long road has made me never sweat the small stuff because I know how lucky I am.

Perspective

It’s almost a beautiful age difference because Sienna grew up with just us for so many years, and now the twins are as well. I’ve been the young mommy and the old mommy. I was always so nervous with Sienna, but I am less so with the twins. All the things I have watched some super successful type-A moms stress over – getting into the right schools and making straight A’s – I don’t fret about that stuff. My only goal is to keep my children healthy and happy. You have to find your child’s strengths and help them feel good about that, and instill confidence in the places where they aren’t excelling, all while allowing them to be themselves.

How She Does It

I am a super organized person, and I have to write everything down, like with pen and paper. I use a paper calendar, and I have all of them from the last 20 years – they are so helpful with remembering things!

I am committed to dropping Sienna off and picking her up every day at 2:30pm from school. I’ve had my business for 17 years, so it runs like a machine. What suffers is my social life – I see my friends a few times a month, and I plan it in advance (it’s all about being a planner). I have really great help and the women I work with are incredible and the reason I get to be the kind of mom I want to be.

Her Style

I wear a uniform: a Chinti & Parker sweater or Steven Alan button-down, high-waisted skinny jeans (either Citizens or Sevens – I love the high-waisted are flattering and nothing sticks out), and Supergas. I feel casual enough to get on floor with the kids but pulled together enough for work.

The Hardest Part

I struggle with letting them be independent and giving them space to grow. When I see them try something and not succeed right away, my instinct is to go and do it for them, but they need to figure things out on their own sometimes. That’s hard for me.

Biggest Fashion Pet Peeve

That trying too hard look: I see these NY women wearing the highest heels and the tightest pants, and it makes me uncomfortable for them. Comfort, grace, and elegance are so appealing. I like people to express themselves and the non-creativity in that look bums me out.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh

To unwind, I love to listen to that flutey spa music, put my face in a pillow, and lay there and drift off at night. I would love to find more time to read (there are 30 books next to my bed), but I am so tired!

I did just read I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You and Warpaint, about the Elizabeth Arden-Helena Rubinstein rivalry – their stories are fascinating. I get super obsessed with women who have broken boundaries like they did.

My fantasy is to be on a beach with sea glass and beautiful shells, a chair, my flutey music, a beachcomber, and a reader – if anyone wants to give me a present!

Last Purchase

I have a thing with chromatic color, and Solange did this Chromance collection of multi-colored stones – it was a real gift to myself. Women, in general, are not as giving to themselves as men, but I’m changing that!

Secret Obsession

I torture Sienna with crafts like making friendship bracelets, and she is not into it like I am! I love to bake, paint, and make stuff. I have a sketchbook of stuff I have cut out and glued in: things that inspire me, places I want to go. I just took Sienna to New Orleans, and we had the best time. That’s what life is all about.

#Momfail

When Sienna was little, I was holding her on my hip and gabbing away on the phone, not paying close attention to her. She had pulled a knife out of the woodblock and was holding it over herself, and I smiled and slowly just grabbed it from her, praying she didn’t drop it. Then I moved the woodblock to the other side of the kitchen… and started breathing again.

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holiday gift guides

The time to get your holiday shopping done is right NOW. Our 6 gift guides make it super easy.

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last-call-for-him
last-call-for-girls
last-call-for-boys
last-call-for-village
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