27 February 2011

Celebrity Babies and Moms: Gisele Bundchen

gisele bundchen
She's the highest-paid model in the world [Forbes estimates her income at about $25 million], the wife of a famous NFL quarterback, a stepmom to his son, John [with actress Bridget Moynahan], and a new mother to son Benjamin.
This photo just made me realize how much they look alike

Like a lot of teenage girls, I grew up admiring Gisele. For me, it wasn't the unhealthy-body-image-supermodel-worship thing, though. I have always respected her because she is intelligent, confident, and completely unlike most celebrities. I had every reason to hate her, too, because for years she dated my adolescent love interest, Leonardo DiCaprio.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Gisele Bundchen
Photo via MTV
Despite all of her fame and success as an internationally-desired supermodel, she manages to come across [to me] as a genuine person. Maybe part of it was her less-than-glamorous upbringing: She grew up in Brazil with her parents and 5 sisters. She grew up speaking Portuguese and German and now knows Spanish and English as well [I'm not sure if there are even more languages but that's impressive!]. While she had taken a modeling class at her mother and sister's insistence, she was first discovered while eating at a McDonald's.
Gisele Bundchen Picture 7
Gisele has made controversial comments when discussing natural birth, breastfeeding, [unnatural] sunscreen, her stepson, and I'm sure other things. Sometimes I wonder if it's because people don't like her so they want to find something wrong with what she says. I can't really have an opinion about it, though, because I have similar views.
I'd like to cut in and mention Benjamin's name while I'm thinking of it. Gisele said she wanted to name her son River but Tom Brady didn't go for it. Instead, they settled on the first name Benjamin and his middle name, Rein, is the first part of Gisele's father's name [Reinaldo] and has the water connection she wanted. I don't think I'd let S veto my favorite name unless he just absolutely hated it but whatever. Benjamin and John go together anyway.
Wearing Benjamin in the Ergo
Anyway, I do respect that she continues to speak out about things she believes in despite criticism. She is one of the few celebrities who has had a home birth [or natural birth in general, as far as I know] and I think it's good to put that out there so that women realize it is an option. I personally had a natural birth in a hospital and was amazed at how many people told me I wouldn't be able to do it that way, that I was being ridiculous, or were just shocked that anyone would ever even choose to do so. The more women realize that birth is not the way they portray it in movies and television, the better. It may not be for everyone, but no one should be discouraged from having the birth she wants.
People seemed genuinely outraged at Gisele's insistence that her birth at home in her bathtub was free of pain. I'm sure it's difficult for people to believe [and I did have some pain but it definitely is NOT as bad as I had always heard] but I have read a lot of similar birth stories. I have also seen videos of women who gave birth without making a sound so I certainly believe that it happens. One thing that does upset me is that celebrities who have natural births never seem to get the press that others do. Before Gisele, I thought it was because they normally weren't well-known so nobody cared but now it seems like people just want to ignore it.
As far as her opinion that every mother should breastfeed [if she's able, obviously, which nearly all women are], I can't say I disagree. Clearly in our society, women have a lot of pressure on them in other areas of their lives so it doesn't always work out but I think that even if you're able to nurse for a few weeks or months, that's just such a great advantage to give to your child. I think doctors are not as supportive of breastfeeding and of mothers in general that women often give up before they would with support. I also don't think that OBs should give advice about it when it's not their area of expertise. I tend to over-research everything but not everyone does or has the time and the last thing we need are doctors discouraging what we feel is right for our children.
I haven't seen many photos of Gisele or Benjamin since he was born so she must be taking a lot of time off from work to spend with him. I hope that women will be encouraged and inspired by her. It's never a bad thing to be informed and think about why we do things before making decisions. We don't all have to make the same ones but it's good to start out with everything on the table. This is already way more information than I planned to write so I will just leave this link to a Vogue interview Gisele did last year. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of hers. Oh and by the way, her name is pronounced like Gis-ellie, not Gis-elle. I don't have a good Portuguese accent so it's probably not exact but that's the way I've heard her say it is supposed to be pronounced.

25 February 2011

Celebrity Babies and Moms: Natalie Portman

I think I learned who Natalie Portman was when I saw her in the movie Anywhere but Here. I would have been in 6th grade then. The next time I saw her was a year or so later in Where the Heart Is in which she played a pregnant teenager whose boyfriend left her in a WalMart, where she proceeded to give birth. Ever since then, I've been a fan of her movies and from everything I have read, she is an admirable person as well.
As Alice in the movie Closer
She is now a very well-known actress also recognized for her charity work and support for animal rights. This year, she is nominated [for the second time] for an Academy Award for her role in Black Swan. I'm so pissed that I haven't been able to see it yet but I have heard it's great and plan to see it soon. Perhaps the best news, though, is that Natalie recently joined several other celebrities in announcing she is pregnant. The father is her fiancé, Benjamin Millepied, who was a choreographer for Black Swan.
As Nina in Black Swan
At the 2011 SAG Awards
She is one of the few current pregnant celebrities who seems like she will make a terrific mother. From interviews I have seen and read, she comes across as a very socially conscious and caring person and I'm sure will instill that in her child. I'm definitely less interested in what she names her baby [though I imagine a classic name with at least some French influence] and more anxious to see how she is as a mom.

24 February 2011

Nontoxic Toys: The Earth Friends

The post about Jessica Alba reminded me of these dolls I've been obsessing over lately:

Honor with her Earth Friend doll

I didn't know about Earth Friend dolls until I saw a picture of Jessica Alba and Honor and I instantly Googled to find out what that doll was. I tracked down their website and read about them and now I can't wait until Bay is big enough to play with one. They come in 2 sizes [14 and 22 inches tall] and there are 9 boys and girls to choose from with various skin tones and hair colors:
 Raji Earth Boy, Earth Friend Doll
 Malia Earth Girl, Earth Friend Dolls

Jax Earth Boy, Earth Friend Doll
Jayden Earth Girl, Earth Friend Doll

Lilah Earth Girl, Earth Friend Doll 
Emma Earth Girl, Earth Friend Doll
Hannah Earth Girl, Earth Friend Doll
organic eco doll Adam Earth Friend
The small dolls cost $69 and the large ones cost $89 and they ship free. Because they're called Earth Friends, they each come with a backpack that includes a tree-planting kit. For anyone interested in buying one, enter code "Valentine" for 14% off [it was still working when I posted this]. There was also a 20% off code in the December issue of Mothering Magazine but I don't have that one :(

I know she's not even 5 months old yet but I'm thinking Bay might need -yes, need- a Raji, Malia, or Lilah in her Easter basket. Oddly enough, I wasn't into baby dolls at all when I was younger but I just can't wait to get these for Bay [as in one or two, they're a little expensive for an entire collection].

23 February 2011

Celebrity Babies and Moms: Victoria Beckham

Yay! Victoria Beckham is pregnant with her fourth child. When Googling for photos, I came across these and I'm pretty sure they have something to do with how it happened:

They don't know the sex yet and may not find out until the baby is born. I would think that with 3 boys, they have at least wondered what it would be like to have a daughter. I'm definitely curious as to what name they will choose for either sex. Their boys have interesting names that don't really point to any specific style: Brooklyn, Cruz, and Romeo.

David Beckham with their 3 sons

Already, there are people trying to cash in on the future Beckham baby. With bets on gender as well as what the name will be, the birth of this child is sure to receive a lot of international attention. The current favorite is Juliet with 4 to 1 odds but I just think that would be strange. Other predictions include Chardonnay, Leytonstone [?], California, and USA in addition to extremely dated more established names like Cheryl, Melanie, and Sharon. I'm not sure if those people know something we don't or if they just like losing money but

Nymbler's suggestions

I personally feel like they might try and match the popularity of Cruz and Romeo and choose a more current name such as Ivy or Sage. Of course, in the same way that Victoria's style has changed from trendy to plainer and more sophisticated over the last few years, they could mix it up and go with a classic like Elizabeth or Alice. My guess for a long-shot is Paloma.

By the way, Posh and Geri [as in Halliwell aka Ginger Spice] both made the list as well. I'm not convinced Victoria wants to be reminded of those days every time she looks at her daughter but who knows?

The Spice Girls

As for boy names, I would be shocked if they chose Edward, Ferguson, or Galaxy but I can actually picture an adorable little Henry Beckham. Out of those listed, I would probably choose Pele Henry but it may be too popular for them.

If I could choose the name, it would be Imogen or Marina for a girl  and Matteo or Luca for a boy. Maybe it will even be twins! In any case, that baby is destined to be gorgeous just like its parents. I guess we'll all have to wait for their announcement.

22 February 2011

Celebrity Babies and Moms: Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba's daughter, Honor Marie Warren

I've always really liked Jessica Alba so ever since she announced last week that she is pregnant again, I have been excited and wondering what name they will choose. I remember reading that the first time, they didn't find out the sex and planned to use the name Honor for a girl or a boy [I actually had similar thoughts with Bayard/ Bay but S hated it for a boy and I worried about teasing since it rhymes with 'gay']. Anyway, I wonder if they will go with another unisex word name or something totally different this time. I'm willing to bet the middle name is inherited just like Marie, which is also Jessica's middle name.

I don't know if she's as good a mom as it seems like but she has her daughter with her in almost every picture I've seen in the past couple of years. She's also kept her style from before: no mom jeans or Kate Gosselin haircut! I also like that she is almost always seen carrying Honor:

I can't wait to hear the name and see pictures of their new baby and I'm sure he or she will be adorable with ridiculously attractive parents like this:

Jessica Alba and husband Cash Warren

17 February 2011

Name Narrative: Bay

Every baby needs a name. I've always been fascinated by names and have been keeping notebooks full of name lists for my 24,396 future children since I was about 8 years old. It is the past time I remember most when I think back to sleepovers with my friends and cousins. I also own at least 16 name books and have a whole folder on my computer of baby name websites that I frequent, all of which came in handy when naming my daughter. My favorites of those sites are in the links section on the left.

So, yes, I am slightly crazy and that's why I plan to post about names on here every so often: My baby's only 4 months old and I already have the next two named so I have to live vicariously through others for now. If you want to be featured in a name narrative post, just click on the email icon on the right side of the page or write an email to and I'll send you survey questions.

Bay Horse

Bay Leaf

 Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos

Here's the short version of how we I came up with Bay's name:

Several years ago, I was reading the book The Cheap Date Guide to Style

when I noticed the author's name, Bay Garnett. I can't believe I hadn't considered it as a name before [I'm frequently drawn to word names] but from then on, it just stuck. I asked S [I think we'd been dating a few months or so at the time] if he liked the name for a girl and he said yes. Almost immediately, he decided that it was his favorite name ever for a girl, which got annoying fast. When I would suggest other perfectly good names and he would react as if I had physically assaulted our then-nonexistent daughter named Bay. Add Bay Buchanan's [her real name is Angela] appearances on Fox News and my husband's conservative politics and that was it: No other girl name would do.
Bay Buchanan

The final choice was up to me, though, so I continued to add and subtract other names from my [ever-expanding] list. When I was pregnant and we were adamant about not finding out the sex, it didn't get any easier. I had narrowed the name down to several first/ middle combinations for boys and girls and made mock-ups of birth announcements for each.

My main concern was that Bay sounded too much like a nickname, not formal enough and I wanted her to have at least one other option if Bay didn't fit her. There are not many longer forms and I didn't really like any of them at first.

The only one that really stuck out to me was Bayard. I did a little research and found a civil rights activist, a street in New York's Chinatown, a family of politicians, and several horses [my childhood horse, Shiny, was actually a Bay]. None of those associations did anything to deter me from using the name, in fact, I went from hating the sound to loving it in a couple of weeks.

Civil rights activist Bayard Rustin
Bayard Street, New York City

Another concern that came up was with sibling names. Our boy name was Wolf [it's a name that we both loved before discovering it was my great-uncle's name] and I didn't want them to sound like Beowulf together. I also didn't know if I wanted to trap myself into a nature or surname theme. I don't really care about the nature thing but I think that all of the more feminine first names I like sound too informal as siblings to Bayard. Luckily, I am drawn to surnames that can be shortened to feminine nicknames so I am slowly letting go of the names-that-could-have-been.

As if those things weren't reason enough to end our girl name search, S absolutely despises the names Liesel and Carolina [care-oh-LEE-nuh, he says he "can't pronounce it that way"], which I'll even admit is too exotic for our child to pull off. Our list really did just narrow itself down to the name Bay at the end, even though I wasn't totally committed to it. Once the day [and ridiculously fast labor/ birth] came and we found out she is a girl, we didn't really hesitate to put her name on the birth certificate. I haven't ever regretted it and we receive compliments on her name all the time, but I still don't think it would seem odd if we'd named her Liesel or Margaret instead.

Liesl from The Sound of Music

Karolina Kurkova Is Pregnant!
Supermodel Karolina Kurkova

And so we have our little Bay, whose name seems to fit her perfectly!

Click on these links to read my requested posts about Bayard and Wolf on Appellation Mountain [probably my favorite baby name blog ever].