Archives for posts with tag: guest blog

We’re thrilled to welcome Marissa Jaret Winokur back to our celebrity blogging family!

As you may recall, the Tony-winning actress, 39, beat cervical cancer 11 years ago, underwent a hysterectomy and later she and husband Judah Miller welcomed a baby boy with the help of a surrogate.

Their son, Zev Isaac, is now 4 and Winokur is back on the small screen, starring on TV Land’s Retired at 35.

She can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @MarissaJWinokur.

Marissa Jaret Winokur's Blog

Visiting the Empire State Building – Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur


The week after Hurricane Sandy, I sat down to do my monthly blog. There has been a lot of focus on my weightloss, so I knew I needed to address that. I thought, “This blog is going to be easy to write. I’ll talk about how I did it to everyone out there who is struggling with their weight as well.”

But then I got distracted by Facebook. Who doesn’t? My God, what did I do before Facebook? I guess I had to call people and see how they’re doing! Now I can just read a post and call when in trouble.

I saw a post from my oldest friend Nancy. We were best friends at age 5, living in New York, where she still resides.

Her post said, “Nine months pregnant … nine nights without power but my incredible husband is keeping us safe, warm and well-fed. Thank you to all who have been checking in on us. Baby L is a good listener so far, I told him/her to please not make your appearance until the power is back!”

OMG!!! Who cares how I lost weight?! Nancy was going to give birth to her first child alone and in the freezing cold dark. How terrifying!

My New York family had power only because my brother has a generator (very MacGyver of him!). But the theater my niece Emily worked at this summer is still underwater! How can I even think about a weightloss story?

I lived in New York my whole life. Like every New Yorker, I have stories about spending summers on the Jersey shore, riding the roller coaster in Seaside that is now famous for that sickening photo of it being washed out to sea.

I have many friends on Facebook who organized cars to drive into the devastation with basic things like blankets and diapers. My heart is broken for my hometown and all the people that Sandy has hit. I can’t imagine Nancy about to give birth!

The storm really had me thinking about our home safety. I live in California: earthquake capital!

I realized Zev is almost 4 and we really haven’t talked as a family about what to do, where to go and where to meet if there was an earthquake. HAVE YOU?! I mean, REALLY? Your first instinct is, “Yes, I totally know what to do.” But really think about it! DO YOU REALLY?

This weekend, we are doing a legit earthquake drill at my house. We picked tables to hide under and meeting places. I am going to put together stuff you need in your garage and get flashlights and candles ready!

I mean, I can barely think ahead enough to have the right foods for Zev’s lunches let alone what I need for an earthquake kit!! You can find that info online — I was happy to see many websites dedicated to safety kits and such.

Marissa Jaret Winokur's Blog

With my family in Bedford – Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur

This September was the first time I took Zev back to the street I grew up on in Bedford, N. Y. It was very emotional. I lived in the same house my whole life on a beautiful dead-end dirt road.

I always dreamed I would raise my family in that house — my father designed it and built it. My brother still lives nearby, so visiting is fun and easy.

We also took Zev into N.Y.C. We stayed downtown, right where all the flooding was. What would we have done if we were there when Sandy hit?

I know there are storms and disasters all the time, but this one really hit home to me. Now that I’m a parent, it all seems so incredibly sad and hard. I can honestly say — not proudly, but honestly — before I had a child I would see things on TV or hear the news, feel sad for the people and move forward with my day.

Now I see everything through a mother’s eyes. How would I deal with telling my son we are lucky to be alive, but we lost our home? How would I be able to make him understand we are lucky to have our house, but there will be no lights or electricity or warm food for weeks?

I feel so bad for the parents out there. Let’s be honest — being a parent is hard on a normal “everything is okay” day. Now add being a parent when you are made to feel helpless by the storm pounding on your house.

At a birthday party this past weekend, the mothers and I were all talking about how we can help, maybe sponsor a school that was hit or do a clothing drive or something. Anything!!

Within one day from the party our preschool teamed up with New York’s Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services‘ relief effort. There were flyers in every kids cubbyhole asking for help.

This is just one organization. There are so many ways you can help or work as a community with your friends and other families.

I know on Facebook Jennifer Cody is spearheading the Broadway community by gathering clothes and food and strollers and diapers and driving them in her own car to Staten Island and Queens — where families have been hit the hardest — and handing supplies to families in need.

I am in awe of everyone pulling together and really stepping up. I felt so helpless here 3,000 miles away in beautiful sunny weather … But we are not helpless.

This is when we can really work together and help out any way we can and teach our children through example.

Marissa Jaret Winokur's Blog

Zev hails a cab — Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur

Zev is putting a box of his toys together to send to kids himself, and as he said, “Not just the baby toys. I’ll send some good ones too!” Ha.

I know for a fact that my weightloss blog would have been funnier. I understand the fluff and — dare I say, “lightness” — in the face of sadness is always welcomed! Trust me, I am a comedian and that’s how I make my living!

But right now I’m a mommy first. If this blog makes you put together a box of your old sweaters that you will never wear and send them to a family in need, then my time was better spent making you think than laugh.

I promise next month I will tell you how I lost 60 pounds step-by-step and the plan on keeping it off!!!

If you don’t have time to research other ways to help, please donate to the Red Cross.

– Marissa Jaret Winokur

Celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy is a new mama!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

von Oy, 35, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They welcomed their first child, daughter Gray Audrey, on May 21. She is now almost 6 months old.

In her latest blog, von Oy reflects on the important of taking time for yourself.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @JennavonOy, as well as posting on her weekly blog, The Cradle Chronicles.

Jenna von Oy's Blog: The Importance of Mommy Me-Time

Gray and I – attached at the hip! – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Any mom who tells you she absolutely never has alone time is either lying or damn-near ready to be fitted for her straightjacket! I must admit it is getting increasingly more difficult to find time for myself in the midst of the madness. Now that Gray is almost six months old, it seems as though her naptime is getting shorter and shorter with each day that passes. Consequently, it is difficult to attend to my daily “chores.”

There are mornings I long for a shower so badly that I could wail my way through an entire box of tissue, though I concede it might be better spent cleaning off the drool and snot. And while I’m certain the lingering Eau de Spit-up is attractive all on it’s own, some days I simply look in the mirror, huff audibly, and decide a combination of deodorant and perfume will just have to do.

It’s the perfect accompaniment to my sweatpants, T-shirt, and un-brushed hair, I suppose. (I might have refrained from admitting all of that aloud, if I didn’t suspect many of you could say the same!)

We’ve all seen the candid photographs of celebrities out shopping with their kids, nursing a latte in one hand while pushing a stroller with the other. I am befuddled by the folks who manage to look eternally composed during those outings! Apparently, I am not a card-carrying member of the calm, cool and collected club. I’m thankful the paparazzi aren’t as prevalent here in Nashville, as I undoubtedly wouldn’t fair as well.

But it’s the life of a mother, isn’t it? It’s wonderful and, simultaneously, dirty work. And it’s no secret that I love it, despite my current inability to remain clean for longer than two consecutive minutes. If showering is so abysmally tough to conjure up the time for, exercising the right to have some “mommy me-time” is as farfetched as a cow jumping over the moon. (Or anything jumping over the moon, for that matter…)

But it’s an absolute necessity — for all of us! None of us is exempt from the urge to take a few moments to regroup. Warning: our sanity may be at stake if we don’t!

I know, I know, “me-time” sounds like a miracle, to say the least … something akin to winning the lottery twice or seeing the Virgin Mary on a loaf of Wonder bread. If shaving my legs has become a thing of the past, you ask, how can I possibly find time to do something relaxing such as curling up with a good novel or sipping tea in front of the bay window? The simple (but, as you know, not so simple at all) answer is: you make time. For your sake and the sake of your children!

I certainly don’t purport to be mother-of-the-year, nor am I an authority on the subject; I just know my own innate thirst for serenity. It’s imperative. Consider it this way: a car requires gas or it risks stalling in the middle of a busy intersection, right? Without refueling, I find myself doing much the same thing. My frustration levels peak and I fear I can’t be an effective parent.

Mind you, I’m painfully aware that this is easier said than done. Like most of you out there, I don’t have a nanny or easily found babysitters. My parents and in-laws don’t live close enough to stop by at a moment’s notice so they can take care of Gray while I “luxuriate.” Not to mention, separation anxiety has begun to rear its ugly head lately — for both Gray and I. I barely have enough time to get my work done, much less rest!

I am my child’s full-time guardian, so my time is devoted to her … and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having the ability to spend each day with Gray is something I feel both blessed and passionate about. But everyone has a desire for some time to themselves, including yours truly, and I expect that the future will prove it harder and harder to come by.

How would you bide your time if you had one hour a day to do anything you wish? Forget laundry, or sweeping the floor, or feeding the dogs, or eating lunch. Those are all necessities. I’m referring to one solid hour for something that makes you take a deep breath and unwind.

Jenna von Oy's Blog: The Importance of Mommy Me-Time

Writing my blog – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

If I had my druthers, I might spend my me-time sipping a gorgeous glass of Chateau Margaux and whipping up a Cassoulet. Cooking is my therapy, so I’d chop and mince to my heart’s content! I might light some candles and draw a bubble bath, hit up the vintage stores, pen a new song, or work on editing my book for publication (which, sadly, I’ve been neglecting for months now). I might even knit a shawl or begin a photography project.

It all sounds dreamy but, alas, I know none of those things are in the cards any time soon. Don’t get me wrong — my husband is amazing at taking care of our little one for a while in the evenings so I can get a few things accomplished — but lo’ and behold, that obligatory shower generally wins out in the election process! I imagine you can sympathize.

And I don’t want to ignore the fact that my husband should have some downtime as well. He gets up at 5:00 every morning and works until 5:00 in the evening. Daddies need quiet time too! Sometimes, to take the edge off, we try to combine household projects with activities we enjoy.

For instance, Brad often fires up his iPod with a favorite music list and mows the lawn. Combining the outdoors with tunes and physical labor makes him zone out blissfully. Other times, he irons while watching political discourse on his computer. Of course, I can’t swear this relaxes him, per se. I’m often surprised his work shirts don’t have holes burned into them in the shape of certain outspoken, ostentatious commentators. That said, at least he’s found a way to enjoy the mundane task at hand.

My mom recently flew in to visit us for two weeks and I can’t express how grateful I was for her assistance. She offered that my husband and I take advantage of her presence by doing a few things for ourselves. As heartbreaking as it was to leave our daughter for an hour or two, we took her up on it and went on a beautiful dinner date.

I also got to do something special that I’ve been hungering for … I had a massage!!!! I’d set aside some money I received for my birthday in May, and swore I’d eventually get around to using it for that purpose alone. Talk about quality “me-time!” I almost wept with relief as the massage therapist worked my shoulders and back. Breastfeeding definitely takes its toll! It was an incredible blessing to enjoy such an extravagance, and I can’t thank my mom enough for making it possible.

It has been a bit of a struggle, but I’m learning to appreciate and accept the help that is offered to me. I want to be Supermom, but I know sometimes that means allocating some time to concentrate on my own peace of mind. I’m often too quick to turn down proposals of assistance, because I fret about taking advantage of friends or family. I worry it means I “can’t handle” my own life. But that’s probably just my ego talking.

Hearing about a growing number of women with postpartum depression makes me recognize my own demand for quietude. Reserving personal time for my needs is crucial for my health and helps to cut down on my stress level. This means I can be a better mother to my daughter and a more supportive wife to my husband.

I’m not even remotely claiming to be a doctor, but I imagine most of them would be avid proponents of mommy me-time … even when it is tough to come by. Sometimes I think the most selfless thing you can do is concentrate on yourself for a few minutes. It may seem counterintuitive, but it allows you to attack the day with a sense of calm. I can certainly speak to that. I know I’m a more confident and even-keeled parent when I have a few minutes to recharge my emotional batteries!

In a way, contributing to this blog (as well as my weekly blog, The Cradle Chronicles) has become an integral part of my me-time maintenance. I covet the moments I am able to devote to purging my thoughts onto paper. If you’re wondering why my posts are typically so long-winded, there’s your answer! I long for the moments spent furiously typing away on my laptop. This has become a comforting creative outlet that I treasure, and I appreciate you being a part of it with me.

Jenna von Oy's Blog: The Importance of Mommy Me-Time

Reading with Ruby – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Wishing you all a few moments of blissful respite this week…

Until next time,

– Jenna von Oy

More from Jenna’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

  • Jenna von Oy’s Sweet & Personal Nursery Style
  • Jenna von Oy’s Blog: United We Stand in Politics and Parenthood

Welcome back to our blogger Kimberly Van Der Beek!

Born and raised in Washington, she married actor James Van Der Beek in August 2010 and is mother to their two children – daughter Olivia, 2, and son Joshua, 7 months.

A proponent of healthy living, Kimberly, 30, sits on the parent board of the Environmental Media Association and serves as co-chair of Baby Buggy’s Los Angeles committee.

Husband James’s sitcom, Don’t Trust the B– in Apt. 23, premieres its second season on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m.

You can find her on Facebook and @KimberlilyVDB on Twitter.

In her latest blog, Van Der Beek talks to Robyn O’Brien about why Californias should vote “yes” on Prop 37.

Kimberly Van Der Beek's Blog: Prop 37

Joshua’s first meal – avocado – at 6 months old – Courtesy Van Der Beek Family


With Prop 37 on the California ballot asking for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled, genetically modified ingredients have become a huge topic of conversation around households all over California. I called Robyn O’Brien and found out why this conversation is important for all of us moms and dads across the country.

Robyn O’Brien is a former financial analyst, author, TEDx speaker, founder of Allergy Kids Foundation and mother of four. If you haven’t seen her powerful TEDx talk yet, you can click this link to watch it.

Before giving me some simple suggestions for my household food choices, Robyn gave me a glimpse into the business of GMOs. “They genetically manipulate the DNA of a seed. They engineered these new organisms into seeds so that they could either start making their own insecticidal toxins within the plant itself, or so that they could spray more of these pesticides, weed killers and chemicals on the plants,” she told me.

“As a chemical company, that was a really smart business model because it helped them sell more of their products. That was the initial reason why it was done.”

“There are no long term safety studies,” she said. “And so when industry says these foods are safe, if you were to ask to see the study, they can’t show you. Those studies don’t exist. And that’s a really hard thing to digest. Because all of a sudden you’re realizing the FDA didn’t have the capacity or the bandwidth to conduct the studies that needed to be conducted and relied on the chemical industry to do their own quote on quote safety studies. With that, GMOs were introduced into our food supply in the late 90s. They just took off and now they are in about 70 percent of our processed foods.”

As a parent, Robyn was initially closed off to the GMO conversation because it was hard to accept that she may be feeding her children unsafe products.

“I think the very first thing that moms need to do is give themselves permission to move into a vulnerable state, and to keep moving through it. It hurts, to think that the FDA did not do the safety testing because we all just think this stuff has been done. How could something be let out without any premarket safety testing? I mean, a car wouldn’t be allowed, so why are we allowing that for our food? You think, ‘Oh my gosh what have I fed my kids?’”

Here are the simple steps Robyn suggested to me. And they don’t include a garden or new grocery store!

1. Give yourself permission to make a change. It’s never too late to reinvent and become something new — to become a part of the solution.

2. Find a friend that cares about food the way you do to stand by your side while you make changes.

3. Take baby steps that work for you with where you are at in life. Start to eliminate those ingredients for which there are no safety tests. GMOs are primarily in corn, soy and canola. So if you’re shopping for chips, skip the corn and get potato instead. Instead of buying soy-based products, buy something else. Maybe one month start dialing back on artificial dyes. (Note: Kraft, Coca-Cola and Walmart don’t use these dyes in the products they produce for many other countries because they are linked to hyperactivity.)

4. Check the frozen food aisle for a budget-friendly way to get organic produce.

As Robyn started making these changes in her own household, she realized she wasn’t at the pediatrician’s office so much for inflammatory conditions like eczema, allergies and ear infections. She was able to shift her budget more and more and says, “You find that you start paying for your health at the grocery store instead of paying for diseases at the doctor’s office.”

Might I add, as I was writing this blog I got a swift kick of renewed inspiration when I walked into the kitchen to grab a snack and saw my daughter Olivia eating a bag of corn chips “baked in soy oil” (as if that was something to brag about)! Well, I guess my first baby step will be to not buy these chips anymore and I’ll have sweet potato fries on hand instead. What’s your first step?

Californians, vote YES on Prop 37!

– Kimberly Van Der Beek

More from Kimberly’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

  • Kimberly Van Der Beek’s Blog: Sharing My Birth Stories
  • Kimberly Van Der Beek’s Blog: Raising a Spiritual Family

Constance Marie's Blog: Kid Versus the Vegetables

Halloween bunnies – Courtesy Constance Marie

Look who’s back! We’re thrilled to say hello again to Constance Marie, our original celebrity blogger!

The actress, mom to daughter Luna Marie, 3 , with fianc Kent Katich, stars on Switched at Birth, which returns Jan. 7 to ABC Family.

She’s also one of the celebrity voices narrating beloved children’s stories for Little Golden Records, available now at Walmart.

Marie, 47, can also be found online on Facebook and @goconstance on Twitter. If you’ve missed any of her past posts, check them out here.

In her latest blog, the actress shares her secret for getting Luna Marie to eat well.

In this corner, the all-time champion, Little Tommy, weighing in at 40 lbs.! And in the other corner, packed full of vitamins and gently saut ed in butter … Se or Green Bean!!

I know this is a sore subject for many, many moms! Moms trying to get their kids to eat vegetables or eat healthy or just eat anything! As I mentioned in a previous blog, I was an overwhelmed, exhausted, and totally terrified new mom who realized I was in way over my head. So, I dragged myself to a mommy group when my daughter was three months old. I admitted I NEEDED HELP!

One of the many great things about this mommy group was that it was run by a therapist. And while I was sitting there in a sleep-deprived, cracked-nipples-breastfeeding haze, I heard this therapist say: “If you make your child’s food intake a battle, it will be a battle you will be fighting with them for the rest of their lives.” I thought to myself, “Wait, what was that?!” It apparently was SO important she said it again, for which I was very, very thankful.

I wasn’t really sure what she meant by this, but I do remember watching many moms over the years. They tried to get their children to eat and the children really, really, really enjoyed saying “NO.” Thankfully this therapist from the mommy group showed us an exercise and said, “We need to teach our children that their hunger needs to be more important to them than to their mothers. Thus, ending the power struggle.” Oh! And she also added, “Whatever you do, be CONSISTENT!”

I realized a lot of children don’t like their vegetables. NEWSFLASH: I am a vegetarian. I also wanted to raise my child vegetarian — there was no way I was going to raise a vegetarian who hated vegetables. C’mon! That would just be wrong! I also learned that children eat how WE parents eat. Sad to say, if you want your child to eat healthy, we parents have to eat healthy! I KNOW!!!! I’m not happy about it either. Gone are the easy, breezy, awesome days of “Do as I say, not as I do!”

So when Luna Marie was about seven months old, I used the exercise the therapist taught us.

Constance Marie's Blog: Kid Versus the Vegetables

Luna Marie starts to eat! – Courtesy Constance Marie

Full disclosure: I was completely terrified and a nervous wreck before I tried this, but I did it anyway.

I prepared some steamed broccoli. I put it in one large bowl in the center of the table. I put my daughter in her highchair. I grabbed two plates and set them down in the center of the table. Then I took a deep breath and sat down. I took one plate from the stack, put it in front of myself, left my daughter’s place empty, and started to serve myself some broccoli. I did not offer my daughter anything. I just sat there and ate my broccoli contentedly.

Of course, I hammed it up a bit like it was the greatest broccoli I had ever eaten in my entire life (if anyone saw me, they would have called the acting police)!

Needless to say, she did not like being ignored. She started to crane her neck to look into the bowl of broccoli like, I can only guess her thinking, “What is in that bowl that is so yummy and making my mommy so happy?” Her next thought, “Why isn’t she giving me any?!” And then the one I was waiting for, “I want some of that!!” Then there was a lot of baby pointing and whining to which I responded innocently, “Oh! You want some broccoli?”

That was exactly the moment I was waiting for! DING! DING! DING! DING! The first round goes to Mama!

She learned that if she wanted to eat, she was going to have to make sure she got some. I wasn’t going to force it on her. If she didn’t eat, she would just have to wait till the next mealtime.

I also need to tell you — my daughter eats five times a day. Because she is a vegetarian, she needs to eat more often … I have also read that it is healthier to eat smaller meals more often throughout the day. On a typical day, Luna Marie eats breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner.

Of course, if she didn’t eat I moved up the next mealtime a little. But I never told her that!!! I wasn’t going to give away my secrets. That would have wrecked my entire master plan! She didn’t have to feel hungry for long, but she did learn what her hunger felt like (I in turn, also learned how to breathe and tolerate the anxiety of knowing my daughter didn’t eat as much as I would have liked her to). And I only had to do this two times to get this to work.

Constance Marie's Blog: Kid Versus the Vegetables

Digging into noodles and lima beans – Courtesy Constance Marie

The other thing I learned was to course the meal out:

First, I served the vegetable. Then, I served protein. In our case, beans, tofu and veggie meat.

Then come the yummy carbs … ya know, all the things kids/moms crave!!!!! Lastly, the fruit! Another main point, keep the rest of the meal hidden in the kitchen because if kids see there’s something else, those little suckers want that instead, thus continuing the power struggle!

I am not a nutritionist or a doctor. I am just a mom trying to give my child a balanced meal. Raise your hands if you hear me.

And we parents know that it can be so hard to follow our own rules.

Especially in today’s modern age of no time, limited budgets, prepackaged foods with lots of chemicals and sugar in everything!!!!!

The last thing that I learned was a very simple rule. My kitchen is not a restaurant and I am not a chef. Let me say that again. I am SO not a chef. I THINK CHEFS AND COOKS ARE SOME OF THE MOST UNDERRATED, UNDER-APPRECIATED AND TALENTED PEOPLE IN THE WORLD — and I am NOT one of those people! My daughter knows we eat what I have prepared and that’s it. If she’s really hungry, she will eat what I have made. If she doesn’t want to eat what I have made, she does not have to. But that’s all there is. It’s her choice.

I grew up the daughter of a single mom with very limited resources — we had what we had, and if I was hungry I ate it. There really was nothing else … so I have applied these lessons to my daughter. She knows if she doesn’t like what I have prepared, she has the choice not to eat it. But she WILL be hungry. That is her choice. And I use all my strength and patience to be okay when she says, “NO THANK YOU.” (Yes, she is that polite when she rejects my cooking).

Every once in a while, I also hear, “I don’t like this!” But I also learned that you have to introduce a new food to a child at least 10 times before making a proper evaluation whether they truly do not like that food or if they are just in a mood. If my daughter consistently hated something after 10 times, I would remove it from the menu but try to make up the vitamins with some other kind of food.

Honestly, in the beginning it was a complete learning experience for me too. I realized that I was measuring my worth as a mother by whether my child ate or not. I also learned that as a mom, it is almost impossible not to do that.

Constance Marie's Blog: Kid Versus the Vegetables

Amongst the squash – Courtesy Constance Marie

I know to some parents this approach to food may sound hard-core but I also know it worked for me. It has saved me so many struggles and a lot of worry. Both my daughter and I know what to expect at meal time. As a result of this, Luna Marie is an amazing eater!!!! (Just like her mama…) Yes! This worked for me and I do not take ANY credit. This was taught to me and now I am sharing it with you.

My daughter eats green beans, asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens, spinach, raw beets etc… she will eat all of them. And the best part — she actually likes them! That part I had no control over. Luna Marie learned she doesn’t have to eat her vegetables if she doesn’t want to, but she will not get to the next course if she doesn’t.

Also I have her eat vegetables with lunch and dinner, because come on, none of us really want to eat vegetables for breakfast! Unless it’s spinach … in a yummy omelette saut ed with garlic in a little olive oil and some cheese … Wait! I digress! (I told you I love to eat.)

I know I will not be able to control what my daughter eats for the rest of her life, but I can for now! I also know that someday, after she has lulled me into a false sense of security, a mealtime will come where Luna Marie’s head will spin all the way around and peas will come flying out at me like The Exorcist. Children are these little feisty creatures that are constantly evolving and we as parents are constantly having to adjust to that. DAH-MIT!!!

I learned somewhere that the first five years of your child’s life are so important and set the stage for how they will live in the world … Also, that that’s the time when you as a parent get to set their eating patterns.

Our children can accomplish amazing things if they just have a healthy body fueled by healthy food. What ever you choose to do, and however you do it, I wish you all the strength and courage in the world because you’re going to need it. Being the rule-maker is hard. I also applaud you for taking the time to read and research how other moms do things! It truly does take a village.

– Constance Marie
More from Constance’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

  • Constance Marie’s Blog: All Covered In Smudge
  • Constance Marie’s Blog: Meltdown Management

L.A. shower – almost 8 months – Courtesy Elisa Donovan

Please give a warm welcome to our newest celebrity blogger, Elisa Donovan!

Best known for her roles as Amber in Clueless and Morgan on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Donovan currently stars in the ABC Family franchise The Dog Who Saved Christmas. The latest installment, The Dog Who Saved the Holidays, will premiere this fall. Following that, she will costar in MoniKa, set for release in 2013.

Donovan, 41, is also a writer and yogi. A recovered anorexic, she assists in counseling and supporting young women struggling with eating disorders.

She lives in San Francisco with her fianc , Charlie Bigelow, and their 4-month-old daughter Scarlett Avery. The couple will wed on Oct. 13, 2012.

She can be found on Facebook, as well as Twitter @RedDonovan.

My fianc knew I was pregnant from reading a supermarket tabloid. Not because I had given the magazine an exclusive on my belly. And not because a stealth paparazzi stalked me outside of Whole Foods and snapped a pic of me in sweatpants and enormous sunglasses, stuffing an ice cream cone in my mouth while looking suspiciously pudgy but not quite fat.

No, he knew of my state by reading an article about Jennifer Aniston.

Let’s be clear on one thing right now: I am officially outing my fianc as a closet tabloid reader. Actually, “reader” doesn’t quite capture his relationship with these magazines. “Devout devourer” is more accurate. The fact that he is a 35-year-old man who works in finance should be noted. He is also an avid watcher of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Go figure.

With this knowledge, it’s easy to see how apropos it is that Charlie should learn of his impending parenthood from his main source of breaking news. In this article, a reputable physician stated that clearly Jennifer Aniston was pregnant based on her symptoms, which consisted of “a bloated belly, sore breasts, exhaustion and general symptoms of PMS.”

Since I had begun each of the prior 10 days saying to Charlie, “OHMYGOD I’m so bloated! My boobs are killing me. I’m going to get my period any second…” and ended every day with, “SO weird I didn’t get it. I’m so getting it tomorrow!” Charlie used his powers of deduction and as I exited the lavatory of the airplane we were on stated, “You’re pregnant.”

(Note: As this occurred 12 months ago, unless Jennifer Aniston is having the longest pregnancy in recorded history, not to mention disguising it uncannily well, that doc might have been a little off in his prediction. Charlie however, turned out to be spot on.)

It’s not that my pregnancy was a complete surprise (we had decided about a month before not to start trying but, to stop not trying, it’s just that we didn’t think we’d be successful quite so quickly. (Charlie likes to take all of the credit for this. I had never thought about the immense pride a man feels in being so … manly. Surely my years of acupuncture, yoga, organic eating and herb-taking were merely coincidental. It’s all just because he’s such a stud!)

We were extremely grateful that we were so fortunate, though I’m not sure we were quite ready for the now very real, very imminent arrival of OUR KID.

After staring at the blue plus sign on the EPT test in our bathroom, I secretly had the shameful sensation of wanting just another month or so before becoming pregnant. Just a little extra corner of time in order to prepare, to get ready, to — I don’t know … drink wine more heavily? Go out salsa dancing til 2 a.m.? To squeeze the marrow out of my non-parent adulthood?

It was a familiar feeling, like that of wanting just one more day of vacation, or wanting to stay up just an hour later when I was 10. However, I was 40 years old. How much longer did I really think I needed?

Baby’s first party hat – six months pregnant on my birthday – Courtesy Elisa Donovan

The cruel irony of the first trimester of pregnancy is that you aren’t supposed to tell anyone that you’re pregnant, yet you feel more pregnant and bereft of sanity than at any other phase of the process. I felt like a Martian. A pudgy and bloated Martian, masquerading as a human; trying to act like non-pregnant people do, and walk like non-pregnant people do, and talk like non-pregnant people do.

Your body is suddenly no longer your own, and it feels like you’ve been invaded by foreign bodies … which in essence, I suppose you have. Your body is going through such a massive change unlike any other, a change that is so new and so intense, it feels like you must be able to see it on the outside.

Everywhere I went I assumed everyone could tell, like I instantly had the belly of an eight months pregnant woman, or like it was tattooed on my forehead. In restaurants, waiters would ask, “What can I get you?” and I would respond, “I know! I’m SOO pregnant! I’ll have a club soda!”

One day in yoga when I was about five weeks pregnant, a young guy recognized me and asked me if I was me. (This is always a somewhat surreal experience when someone asks, “Are you Elisa Donovan?” to begin with. Almost as surreal as when I’m asked, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Elisa Donovan?” My response to this inquiry is generally, “Surprisingly often, yes.”)

So this guy asks me if I’m me, and I say, “Yes, and I’m pregnant!! I mean, I’m not supposed to tell anyone, so you know, don’t say anything, but it’s so obvious, right! I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep it to myself!! I might hurl any second!” I’m sure he thought I was a complete loon, but at least I left him with a good story — “Yeah, that redhead from Clueless is a total wacko.”

Then there’s the slow and steady loss of your mind. I had the sense that my body was constantly working on something other than what I was physically doing at any given moment (which is most definitely true), and so I felt this constant distractedness. I’d be having a conversation with someone and then realize I had only heard snippets of what was said, usually leaving out the pertinent information. (“I’ll pick you up at ___. Be ready. And don’t forget to bring your ____.”)

My memory completely left me for the simplest and most familiar of things. One day I was ordering a burrito to-go in a taco joint (anyone who knows me would agree, the fact that I was in a taco joint at all, let alone ordering a burrito, is proof positive something was askew).

“I’ll have the Baja burrito with –” and suddenly I drew a blank. I stood there staring and smiling at the guy behind the counter, hoping he could read my mind. “With…?” he asked. “Yeah … Ahh — it’s green … it’s, it’s, it’s — sort of thick, kind of like a sauce…? Not a sauce, but a –” I started to gesticulate wildly, “…a sauce?”

Pause.

“…Guacamole,” he said, deadpan. “You want guacamole on it?” “YES! That’s it!! Guacamole!!” I laughed at our shared joke assuming he was totally on board. “Ha! I’m telling you, sometimes it’s tough!” “…Right,” he said, looking at me like I was high and from Mars.

Then there’s the morning sickness. I had the misconception that “morning sickness” happened in the morning (call me crazy), and that you just threw up once or twice and then went about your day. For me it felt like the worst hangover imaginable coupled with jet lag, and it lasted for three to four months straight.

Charlie would leave for work in the morning, and I would be in bed in sweatpants. He would come home from work in the afternoon, and I would be on the couch in sweatpants. I was horizontal virtually all day and night, sitting up from time to time to eat some Saltines or take a sip of ginger ale. It was the worst.

One day Charlie came home and sat next to me on the couch. He stroked my head, an oily, matted-down mess of hair, and gently whispered: “Listen E … you have to take a shower. At some point, you really need to take a shower.”

I thought my reply was not only logical but exemplified economy of time and energy: “But I’m just going to be back on the couch again tomorrow, so…?” “You’re smelly,” he said, kindly. “You really are.”

One would think this would have catapulted me into action. Not so much. Though I did promise to consider it for tomorrow’s task.

Self portrait in the mirror, due in 1 week! – Courtesy Elisa Donovan

Then there are the hormones. The hormones that rage through your system like fiends. Be afraid, be very afraid. And they switch without warning. One day Charlie and I were packing to go away to a friend’s wedding in Santa Barbara. I went down to the car to hang up my garment bag with my dress in it.

I opened the back door to find that he had put the seat down to accommodate his surfboard, so when I tried to hang the bag in the door it brushed against the edge of his dirty board. (Yes, the bag brushed against the board. Not even the dress, but the bag it was ensconced in.)

I went bananas. Fuming, I bolted back upstairs and really let him have it — “THERE IS NO SPACE TO HANG MY DRESS IN THE CAR!!! WHY DO I HAVE NICE THINGS IF THEY’RE GOING TO GET THROWN AROUND LIKE GARBAGE??”

Pause.

I know. Charlie’s response was not unlike what I imagine yours might be as you’re reading this. You’re a batsh*# crazy lady. WTF does not even begin to describe it. Yes, I took it to the level of asking, “Why do I even have nice things???” But in the moment I was totally incapable of stopping the words from leaving my lips.

Conversely, another day we were walking along the marina in our neighborhood in San Francisco. Just taking a little stroll together, holding hands. Charlie looked over at me to see tears streaming down my face.

“Ohmygod what’s wrong?! Are you okay?” he asked, very concerned. “It’s just … we’re on a nice walk, Charlie,” I said, weeping. “It’s just such a nice walk…” The poor guy really didn’t know who he was going to meet each day he woke up.

Then there were the moments when I would be so overcome with joy that I’d be laughing just walking down the street. By myself. So the few times that I didn’t feel crazy, I just looked crazy to everyone else.

Have I scared you away from getting pregnant yet? Don’t worry, it all gets better. The second trimester is awesome … or at least you won’t feel so utterly wretched every waking moment, so comparatively I guess it is pretty rad.

When I was about 11 weeks pregnant, I asked my mom how and why anyone would ever choose to do this twice. Who in their right mind would ever say, “Yes, sign me up for this trip AGAIN!” I couldn’t fathom it from my perch on the couch, my greasy head leaving a dirty indentation on the cushions.

My mom’s response was simple and immediate: “Because you forget. You forget all the bad stuff. Because the result is so amazing, you just forget.” And as I sit here typing this with my baby girl lying next to me, kicking my thigh with her little tiny leggies and drooling all over her bunny rabbit t-shirt I must say — it really wasn’t that bad.

– Elisa Donovan

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