The FAB Mom’s Guide by Jill Simonian: Book Review

In the seemingly endless pile of books about having a baby, there are a few that stand out as actually being worth your time and energy. The FAB Mom’s Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby by Jill Simonian is worth the read for a few reasons.

The FAB Mom's Guide - book coverFirst, one look at Jill and you will think to yourself “How can I be like her?” Second, her down-to-earth voice and the nuggets of personal confession she shares in the book will make you laugh and remember that even glamorous women have their un-glamorous moments. Third, if you’re into this sort of thing, The FAB Mom’s Guide includes lots of up-close-and-personal advice and confessions from celebrity moms.

I’ll admit that celebrity moms are not my role models for anything, really. I don’t have fashion sense, I barely wear makeup, and I celebrate the long stretches of days when I don’t have to get dressed and leave the house. And my kids are 9 and 12 now! But I remember those days of new motherhood. I had no intention of bouncing back to anything. I just wanted a nap.

Not Jill. She is a force of nature, and if you’ve ever watched her on the local morning news show or on any of the online programs she has hosted over the last several years, you’ll see what I mean. She is warm, kind, funny, self-deprecating, and drop-dead gorgeous. (Sorry, Jill. It has to be said.) Her kids are adorable, she’s super successful at everything she tries, and she’s so nice and normal that you can’t even hate her for it all.

So, much like you’d look to self-made rich people to get advice about how to earn and save money, or fit people for how to get in shape, you can look to Jill Simonian for some advice about how to “bounce back” to your pre-mom self if you are facing new motherhood and you want to climb up out of the slump and get back to business. Whatever your business is. Because Jill did just that.

In The FAB Mom’s Guide, Jill shares some of the quirky tricks that worked for her as she prepared for the births of her daughters, and as she mothered them to toddlerhood. All along the way, she worked at getting more television hosting jobs and building up her blog. Celebrity moms were her role models, and she certainly knows plenty of them as you will read in the book. I would be intimidated by their beauty and ability to be put together out in public, but Jill took their poise as inspiration and used their examples to keep herself energetic and resilient, while cherishing her daughters and her new motherhood at the same time.

There are chapters about exercise and fashion tips, advice about necessary baby gear, how Jill kept herself connected to the world even though she had infants, and more. She is always careful to add disclaimers to her words—this book is her experience and not advice, “this is what worked for me maybe not for you,” etc. But I don’t think she needed as much of that qualification, because this is obviously one woman’s story. It certainly won’t work for everyone (stiletto heels to give you confidence? I would surely twist my ankle) but that’s okay. Not every parenting book is for every parent.

For a woman working in Hollywood, having and raising a baby is very difficult if you want to keep your career and not feel like you are neglecting your family. One thing I have learned from so many accomplished colleagues who are also mothers is that there is no need to apologize for wanting to do good work and be successful. Those are the moms who seem to be the happiest. And Jill is always the happiest of them all when I see her, so even for this not-new mom, The FAB Mom’s Guide was an inspiring book to read.

The FAB Mom’s Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby
by Jill Simonian
Hardcover ($13.59 on Amazon) and Kindle

Mother’s Day Gifts For the Mom Who’s a Reader

Do you frequently see your wife/mother/sister/friend curled up with a good book, or swiping her Kindle, engrossed in a story? Does she always have a magazine in her bag or something to read while waiting in the pickup line? Does she tell you about the latest New York Times article or amazing novel she just read, or does she constantly post Goodreads reviews to her Facebook feed?

She might like to read these lovely books about motherhood. Because even when you’re in the thick of it, it’s nice to know you’re not the only one. Or if your hands-on mothering days have gone by already, once a mother always a mother, right? You can look back and marvel at the experience, read about someone else’s journey, and find novelty or recognition there.

These titles are collections, and in each one there is an entry by writer whose work I know and I love. That their pieces grace these volumes makes them automatic reads for me, but their accompanying works measure up. I enjoy reading collections especially when my life is extra busy: I can read one or two pieces, feel like I’ve accomplished something, then put the book down until I get a few more spare minutes. Both are perfect Mother’s Day gifts, and you can order them NOW on Amazon for Saturday delivery and still look like a golden child. (Or husband, partner, sibling, whatever.)


mother's day letter to my mom

A Letter to My Mom created by Lisa Erspamer

Each of the entries in this book is a letter from the writer to his or her mother. I can imagine that each person sat down to write it, became incredibly choked up, and had to get up and pace, or fold some laundry, or do the bills, or load the dishwasher. Anything to procrastinate writing the most emotionally charged thank-you note of her life. Well, that’s what would happen to me if given this assignment.

Lisa Page Rosenberg (whose mother I have actually met, and is lovely like she is) demonstrates that mix of life lessons and common sense that we can thank our mothers for. She writes “From you I learned about hard work, responsibility, and not putting my elbows on the table.”

Letters in this book come from writers, performers, creatives, children, adults, and people who have become mothers themselves. They range from names you may have never seen, to famous people like Suze Orman and Nancy O’Dell. Some are not actually thank-you notes, but messages of forgiveness, longing, or guilt sent beyond the grave. I found myself hoping that each new letter was to a mother who is still alive, because so many of them are not. How can one live life without a mother? I have been lucky to not know the answer, only to witness that loss in others.

Maybe you’re not a writer, and you haven’t written a letter since you applied for your last job. Just get this book for your mom. It’ll speak the volumes you’re not brave enough – yet – to write yourself.

A Letter to My Mom created by Lisa Erspamer
Hardcover available on Amazon

mother's day multiples illuminated

Multiples Illuminated edited by Megan Woolsey & Alison Lee

Kick it up a notch with this collection of essays and advice about creating and birthing twins and triplets. My own (singleton) children are 9 and 11, so pregnancy and childbirth are but nostalgic memories for me now. I can revisit that time in my life by reading posts from my personal blog, on which I chronicled the adventures, but it was so long ago that I remember it mostly with a fuzzy fondness. Look what I did, I think, when I look at my children. I made these kids.

Reading the stories in Multiples Illuminated, though, I feel my lady parts clench right up. Hell no, I think. Better them than me! But seriously. Even though I have several friends with twins and one with triplets, I never had to live through the fear that a multiple pregnancy brings with it. The struggle to get the babies far enough along inside the womb for them to be healthy outside it feels very real in this collection. The mothers’ anguish during daily visits to the NICU, their long bed rest periods, their supersize pregnancies.

Lexi Rohner, whose essay “Same Time Last Year” breaks through the fog of memory to when her triplets were born, prematurely as many multiples are, and she was unable to hold them for a week. When she finally did, “Touching them was an undeniable sedative. What small creatures to have such power over my heart.”

Throughout the book, the editors have placed helpful advice to women who are expecting to give birth to multiple babies at once. Advice beyond what you’d read in a “regular” pregnancy book. And that’s something I can relate to, considering the best advice I ever got when pregnant and parenting babies was from blogs. Many of the contributors to this book are bloggers, and they do a great job of keeping it real.

Multiples Illuminated edited by Megan Woolsey & Alison Lee
Kindle edition and hardcover available on Amazon

Books and Bugs at the LA Times Festival of Books

Got a kid who’s crazy about bugs? Bring her to the LA Times Festival of Books April 9 & 10 – fun and educational for the whole family.

la times festival of books poster
poster by Shawn Nielsen

Think of it as Woodstock or Lollapalooza or I guess now Coachella for books. The annual LA Times Festival of Books, happening this weekend at USC‘s campus, is a huge celebration of books, authors, media, music, and creativity. There are presentations and signings all day and demonstrations and performances. There are kids’ pavilions, the pretty campus of USC, and a possible Metro ride for your family in it so you can avoid parking.

LA Times Festival of Books bug bites

Adam the Entomologist, host of the new kids’ TV series BUG BITES on KCET, will be showing off live insects each morning from 10 to noon, capped off by a butterfly release! BUG BITES brings life to the miniature world of insects on a gargantuan scale, using a colorful animated cast to explore a world rich in undiscovered secrets. BUG BITES airs Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. on KCET.

LA Times Festival of Books bug bites screenshot

Also appearing in bugland is Andy Harkness, a Disney Animation artist who is the author of the children’s book Bug Zoo, a charming tale of a young boy who opens a zoo full of bugs and troubleshoots his poor attendance challenges. (Ages 3-5). That’s happening on Saturday the 9th at 5:00 on the Children’s stage, but many other Disney publishing authors and books will be present throughout the weekend.

LA Times Festival of Books Bug Zoo cover

There’s so much to do at the LA Times Festival of Books for families. If you haven’t yet been, this is the year to check it out!