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

Pushing Motherhood – a Documentary About Waiting

Sybil and Linda are best friends. They met as dancers — working dancers who toured the world with big name acts, who appeared in TV shows and movies, and produced their own Hollywood titles too. The demands, both physical and otherwise, of such careers left no room for family in these women’s lives.

Until just a few years ago.

~2245 2

Sybil Azur and Linda Cevallos-French directed and produced the documentary “Pushing Motherhood,” which chronicles their late-in-life journeys to get pregnant and start their families. Available only on Vimeo, “Pushing Motherhood” is $3.99 to rent and $9.99 to buy. I was 35 when I had my second and last son, so I was technically considered “Advanced Maternal Age,” but since both of my pregnancies were textbook “normal,” I wondered if I would find this film interesting.

I was riveted.

Both women decided to get married and have babies around the same time – both were older, having delayed family planning until after their careers were well-established. They had waited long enough that their doctors measured their hormone levels even before they tried to conceive, to make sure their eggs were still viable. The tests showed that they were.

But that’s where their experiences began to differ. Sybil and her husband were able to conceive fairly quickly with no medical intervention. Still, the documentary does a very good job of communicating the worry that an older first-time mother experiences, even when things go well. Even younger women in the prime of their fertile years experience that worry, so they will relate to this story, too.

Meanwhile, Linda and her husband, the film’s co-producer and editor Brian French, weren’t having such an easy time of it. They went through artificial insemination, then in vitro fertilization without a successful pregnancy. By now I’ve known many people who have undergone these costly, emotional, and physically taxing processes, but I never knew quite how involved they were until I saw this film. The camera – sometimes handled by Linda herself mid-procedure – captures her shots, her needles, her vials and bottles and syringes. Close up shots of her skin, trying to find a place to inject the daily doses of hormones that are meant to prepare her body for a pregnancy. In the film, Linda is a good sport. I can imagine that her hormonal monster may have gotten left on the cutting room floor, so to speak. If I were Linda, I would certainly make that executive decision. But she does leave in the emotional scenes when she learns from her doctors that not all of the embryos created during the IVF process would be viable, or that she was not indeed pregnant, as she had hoped.

Most of all, what struck me was Linda and Brian’s almost palpable sense of hope. Even as she wept after receiving sad news, Linda remained hopeful. The film gets all the way to the end, and there she is with her big eyes and her bright smile, and her ever-supportive husband.

By then, Sybil has had one baby, and is pregnant with a second. Their stories have diverged. Both women have happy endings, as the viewer learns while the credits roll, but I’ll save the content of that part for you to experience if you watch the film.

“Pushing Motherhood” also includes interviews with other women who waited until they were older to try to have babies and doctors who help these women conceive, and facts that flash on the screen to educate the viewer about just how hard it is to get pregnant when you are older than 35, and why. That so many of the women didn’t expect it to be difficult to conceive is surprising to me, considering all the people I know in my life who have had similar troubles. But we all think we’ll be the exception, don’t we?

For me, a woman whose baby-making days are done and done, I found “Pushing Motherhood” an elegant, eye-opening film made personal through the stories of Sybil and Linda. I really never knew just how trying the fertility battle of an older mother can be. For younger women, this film should be an inspiration, a reminder of what a miracle conception is, and how even the best efforts of the most skilled scientists and doctors can fail at mimicking what nature does. That, and girls, you’ve been warned. If you wait until you’re 40, it could be a lot harder than just throwing your birth control pills away.

Pushing Motherhood Trailer:

Pushing Motherhood from Tempo Entertainment on Vimeo.

On My Way To School by Sarah Maizes (Children’s Book Review)


We’ve been back at it for a month now, and the bloom is off the rose. Every weekday morning there are groans and whining instead of bounces and enthusiasm like there were during the first few days of school.

While Sarah Maizes’ latest book in the On My Way To… series came out before school started, I am finding that it is useful now that school is a daily reality that has sunk in, however unwelcome.


It seems funny to review a children’s book, but our kids have preferences for certain things just like we do, right? The best way I have figured out how to discover my own boys’ tastes is just to to put piles of books under their noses and see which ones they pick up again and again. It was easy when they were babies and I read them Goodnight Moon every single day and night. They had no choice. But once they got older and actually started learning how to read, well, let’s just say they expressed their opinions with no reasonable doubt.

That’s why I hoped and prayed that they would love the series by Sarah Maizes. She is my friend and colleague, and she has persevered against all odds (i.e. the intimidating world of book publishing) to publish not one but now three children’s books inspired by her own daughter Livi who stalls and hems and haws when forced to go to things like bed, a bath, and now school.

On My Way To School is the fantastical journey of a little girl who doesn’t want to go to school. “School is for people who need to learn stuff. I have gone to school and hundred times and I already know lots of stuff,” declares Livi. Boy, have I heard that one before.

Turning the mundane, routine task of getting out of bed and getting dressed for school into an adventure filled with snails, pirates, kangaroos, a red carpet, and more, Maizes channels Livi into a story that can help kids wrap their little minds around going to school. Michael Paraskevas’ colorful and imaginative illustrations will hopefully inspire them to create their own adventures out of otherwise ordinary days.

This book is perfect for my 7-year-old who is just getting a handle on reading, and loves the pictures and the story. He creates fantasy worlds for himself all the time, and can, no doubt, relate.

I think I’ll put it under his pillow and hope he awakes with a sense of adventure for school that he receives by osmosis during the night.

On My Way To School
by Sarah Maizes
$14.29 on Amazon