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spanx.jpgThere was a time in my life when I never thought much about Spanx. Perhaps if I had a wedding, I might throw a pair on. But we were simply acquaintances. Then I had two children and well, Spanx became like a close friend. You know one of those people who makes you feel a little uncomfortable at times but you still go out with him or her practically every night anyway.

Here is the scenario. I’m going out to dinner with my husband or perhaps to a friend’s birthday party. First, I put on my outfit minus the Spanx. I feel comfortable. I feel good. I look in the mirror. Not so good. I look at my sagging, little belly. I sigh. I strip down, put on the Spanx and then get dressed again. My skin feels a little itchy under the tight nylon and spandex combo. The waistband is digging into my mid-section. But I look in the mirror. Ahh… that’s the girl I remember.

If I really had balls, I would take a picture of my tummy with and without the Spanx just to really show you the difference. But I just can’t do it.

Along with my collection of Spanx, I’m always on the look out for a good “poochie” top. I think my friend Julie came up with this term. A poochie top is a shirt that doesn’t cling too much to the stomach. But it’s a delicate balance because it can’t be too free-flowing either or it will make a girl look pregnant (when she’s not). Basically, a good top will hide the pooch but still look sleek and cute. It’s tough to find and sometimes I feel like I’m on a post pregnancy scavenger hunt. My old body-hugging t-shirts and blouses just sit there, neatly folded, mocking me from the closet. They are so very cruel.

I did just order a Pilates core work-out DVD. Do you think 3 year-old Dylan would be interested in watching that instead of Elmo? Probably not. Maybe I’ll pop it in after the kids are in bed. Or maybe I’ll just put on my Spanx, sit on the couch and drink a glass of Shiraz.

mama bird notes

Contributing mama Daphne Biener has successfully battled the princesses in her home. But there is a new nemesis lurking out there. Can her girls be saved? Click on “contributing mamas” under the menu bar. Daphne’s in trouble and you smart mamas are her only hope.


By Daphne Biener

Hello. My name is Daphne and I am a hypocrite.

It’s not what you’re thinking. We decided long ago to be open and honest with our kids when it came time to talk about drugs and sex. We haven’t gotten there yet. No, my problem is, well, my daughter Kira. This brilliant, talented, amazing kid wants to be a cheerleader. The princesses were one thing, but this? I don’t think I can handle this one.

Once upon a time I considered myself the epitome of liberal thought and open-mindedness. My enlightened children would be anything they wanted to be. So what that society insists girls play Barbie and boys build trucks? I, for one, would not let gender-bias limit the dreams and talents of my girls. Race car drivers? Astronauts? My girls would buck all stereotypes, leaving doubters behind to eat their race car dust.

I was never a girly-girl. To this day I shop only under duress and live contentedly in my well-worn jeans. The girls’ propensity for pink must come from their father’s DNA. Our house is full of this crap. Silky gowns, purple high heels, bejeweled crowns – it’s everywhere. The fluffier the tulle the better. Sparkles, glitter, and pink, pink, pink. A few years ago, following a particularly wonderful check-up, my pediatrician asked if I had any questions. Childhood ailments and anything serious safely off the table, I mustered up enough humility to ask about the fever – the princess fever. The doctor laughed, and promised me they’d outgrow it.

And they did. They are far too busy these days with monkey bars and jump-ropes to be slowed down by plastic pumps. But now the Cinderella gown, abandoned in a glittery heap in the corner, looks positively innocuous compared to the real life horror that looms before us: pre-pre-prepubescent cheerleaders.

I have a ugly little secret. It was long ago, but ok, I admit it. I was a cheerleader. But I can be honest. I was a cheerleader to get boys. To get attention. And yes, I wanted to shake it, shake it, shake it, in an inappropriately short skirt so that everyone would turn and look at me. I’m not saying I’m particularly proud of this, I’m just telling it like it is.

So maybe now you understand my dilemma? Now you can see why I am mortified by the mere idea of my sweet 7 year-old as a cheerleader. But what’s a mother to do? Must I tell her the truth? Please say that I can I keep my past a secret. No, never mind. Just forget it. I’m going back to bed. Wake me when it’s time to talk about smoking.

You can read more of Daphne’s work here on the mama bird diaries or visit her site, Sestina Queen.



Once upon a time, there was a 30-something gal (yeah, that would be me) who lived in Manhattan’s west village with her husband and two girls. They lived on a sleepy, cobble stone street where kids loved to zip down the sidewalks on their scooters and skateboards. Each night, the sun set on the Hudson River, cascading golden rays of light across the water and off the buildings. Life was nice. And quiet.

construction.jpgThen one day, the building next door was knocked down to make way for a new luxury apartment building. Then shortly after, the building across the street was also razed and new construction began. Next, the electricians came with their backhoes and ripped up the cobble stones. 3 year-old Dylan began to plug her ears each time we made our way down West 12th. There is presently so much construction on our little block, the street is officially closed to everyone except residents. And then today, the couple across the hall began redoing their hard wood floors – a process that is quite loud and very dusty. It’s the first time I’ve really thought about a quieter life in the suburbs.

I truly love New York City. I adore walking a few blocks with Dylan to our neighborhood coffee shop. We rarely get into a car and can stroll to amazing playgrounds and kids’ activities. The restaurants are incredible. We are always running into friends. On Saturday mornings, we, as a family, head to our favorite 24-hour kitschy diner and enjoy breakfast, while we watch some of the folks who are still out from the night before. Each year, we take Dylan and Summer to see Santa Claus – at the Marc Jacobs store on Bleeker Street. When we hit the playgrounds, I hear French, Spanish and a zillion other languages. You’ve never felt so dumb as when a 3 year-old speaks to you in French and you have no idea what she is saying… but it’s wonderful. The city is constantly exploding with culture and life.

I guess that’s why it’s so damn noisy. And crowded. We went to a Halloween celebration over the weekend and it was a maddening obstacle course of children, strollers and lines. Yes, they gave out free chicken hot dogs with whole wheat buns and sweet, pink cotton candy but the line was a 1/2 hour long. I’d rather pay for my cotton candy. And maybe live somewhere calmer and quieter. Maybe.


Have you noticed that dog owners are stealing all the good kid names? Some of the most popular names for male dogs are now Max, Jake and Jack. As for female pooches, names like Molly, Maggie, Sadie, Sophie, Chloe and Zoe are all at the top of the charts. Yes, someone actually keeps track of this.

In my apartment building, there is actually a dog named Kelsey (which is of course my name, but I’m assuming she spells it with an “s” like most other Kelsey’s do). It’s definitely a little strange to hear her owner call out, “KEL-SEY,” and to turn around and see a big, fluffy, sloppy golden retriever come galloping along. Surprisingly, this dog owner has always had trouble remember MY name. She often calls me “Chelsea.” Lady, I have the same name as your dog. Where is the confusion here?

My friend Rachel who is about to have a baby in like a minute or so, says one of her favorite names (she wasn’t divulging the name) is taken by a friend’s dog. My sister-in-law Kimberly just named her baby girl Josie. I think Josie is an adorable, sweet name for a little girl. It also happens to be the name of my mother’s dog. I’m just glad Kimberly didn’t name her daughter Martini after our former dog. Now that would have been a little weird. But Josie? Not a problem. You can’t let these dog owners (I’m talking to you mom) have all the good names.

Of course, Rick and I swear we are never, ever getting another dog. But if we one day do, we are going old school like Buster or Buddy. Although the name Michael is nice…


snuffy.jpgMy friend Anna recently referred to my children as “imaginary Mr. Snuffleupagus-type kids.” This is because Anna, despite the fact that she is marrying my very good friend Adam this November, has never met Dylan or Summer.

I’m always surprised when someone, who doesn’t yet have kids, actually wants to meet MY kids. I remember when I didn’t have children (although that memory is fading at the speed of an airborne jumbo jet), I never had the inclination to meet anyone’s kids. Is that awful to say? Of course, I would meet them and of course, I would fawn over pictures. But honestly, every kid pretty much looked the same to me and I just didn’t care that much.

Now I spend all day with my children. Did I mention all day? So when it comes to hanging out with friends (meaning adult interaction), I want it to be a civilized occasion. I want to hire a babysitter, go to a fabulous restaurant, sip shiraz, order the heirloom tomatoes with a hint of basil, savor the olive crusted sea bass and enjoy uninterrupted conversation.

I have on occasion tried to combine my friends and my children. For example, a good intentioned girlfriend (without children) will graciously agree to meet me at a playground so that we can “catch up.” But it makes my head explode as I try to ask intelligent questions, listen thoughtfully, keep my 3 year-old from plummeting from the playground equipment and prevent my 10 month-old from gulping mouthfuls of sand or any other debris she finds on the ground.

Plus the minute a mother begins to even open her mouth to speak to another adult, a toddler’s demand for attention is relentless. Dylan will utter the phrase, “Mommy, run with me” a dozen times before I can even compliment another mother at the playground on her cute shoes.

As a result of all this, Anna has never met my children. But I promise you Anna, they do exist. Just like Snuffleupagus, who is now visible to everyone on Sesame Street, someday you might also catch a sighting. But I’m not going to make it easy for you. You may have to loiter at some of the downtown parks or stake out my daughter’s preschool. It’s not an easy mission. Good luck to you.

mama bird notes

Rick Folbaum, our first contributing papa, shares the euphoric highs and the depressing lows of putting together all the necessary equipment that comes with children. To read more, click on “contributing mamas” under the menu bar. Sorry Rick, we aren’t renaming it “contributing papas.”

In Alex’s beauty diary this week, she introduces us to a fab hand sanitizer that is good for you, your kids and the environment. Move over Purell – there’s a new gal in town. Click on “the beauty diary” for the details.

For New York City mamas, check out a company that plans super cool events for parents AND kids. You mean, we adults get to have fun too? Yahoo! Take a peak at “drooling over this” for the scoop.

Finally, congratulations to my sister-in-law Kimberly and her husband Steve on the birth of Josie Lauren. xo

kelcey kintner


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