Sweater season is here, and we’re going to need hot soup to keep warm as the weather turns brisk. Dole—typically known for their fruit—just launched ready-to-serve Dole Garden Soup. Actress and cookbook author Ali Larter will judge the Dole Souper Gardener contest to find America’s best gardener (could be you). Parents caught up with Larter, mom of 3-year-old Theo with one on the way, about her childhood gardening memories, cooking for her family, and why she eats what she wants while pregnant.
P: You’re no stranger to trying new recipes since you came out with your cookbook. What is it about food and cooking that excites you?
AL: You know, I grew up cooking with my mom all the time and she always would have dinner parties. I remember sitting at the top of my stairs and hearing all the laughter and the incredible smells that came from her cooking. As I got older and started moving into different cities I realized that that was my connection to people. It’s how I make friends and how I like to spend my time. There’s no happier place for me than at a farmer’s market or in the kitchen cooking and feeding my family and friends.
AL: I do. He’s an amazing sous chef. He’s got his own measuring cups. He has his little apron that he wears. Yesterday we made gingersnaps and buckwheat scones, which he loves. I always include him in the process. He just loves to make a mess. I have to keep him from dumping things into the bowl.
P: What is your favorite recipe to make for your family?
AL: I love my ricotta meatballs. I often double batch it and freeze one batch. Then I do one night of meatballs with a beautiful cauliflower puree and the next night do meatball subs. There’s no way I just cook for one meal. We either freeze one or eat it for lunch or dinner the next day.
P: When you don’t have time to cook, what’s your son’s favorite go-to snack?
AL: He loves hot dogs, but he does not get them often. When you read the ingredients in a hot dog it can make you kind of sick. I let him have them on special occasions.
AL: Well I just starting cooking with the ginger flavor, fresh ginger and cloves and nutmeg. Getting all those flavors out. I love cooking in the fall. Fall and spring are probably my favorite times to cook. I do a gingersnap crust with my pumpkin pie that I got did for my grandma because she used to love gingersnaps so much she’d put them in her coffee. So, I created that pie for her. All the fall flavors are just so rich and delicious.
P: You’ll be judging the Dole Souper Gardener contest. Do you have a green thumb?
AL: My grandfather was a big gardener and also my aunt. When they asked me to judge America’s Best Super Gardener I was really excited. We’ll looked at all the pictures, and someone will win $5,000 for themselves AND $5,000 for their local community garden. I’m excited to see everyone’s passion.
P: Aside from gardening, what is your favorite outdoor activity with your son?
AL: Right now I’m just into laying outside because I’m pregnant and I enjoy laying around more than ever. This morning we played construction trucks so we’re out in the morning with all his trucks and I sit there and pick up rocks with the dump loader.
P: Are you nervous about having to introduce him to a baby sibling?
AL: I’m actually not. I think everyone has different issues with their kids, but he seems extremely receptive and is very very excited. I feel really lucky with that.
AL: I wouldn’t say I’m the healthiest pregnant girl. I try my best, but I definitely crave a lot of carbs and cheese when I’m pregnant and I allow myself to have them. I just tell myself that the baby needs it. I’ll be like Paleo as soon as the baby comes [laughs].
P: Theodore was born in December and you have this new baby coming in the winter. How do you make sure that a birthday is still a special day without being overshadowed by the holidays?
AL: That’s definitely hard. It gets to the point with presents where it becomes silly. There are so many kids out there who need presents. I think we’re gonna start introducing experiential birthdays where he’ll be able to choose an experience instead of just a ton of gifts. Whether it’s traveling somewhere he always wanted to go—the Grand Canyon—or apple-picking, or going on a boat. It’s figuring out ways to do it where we can have an adventure as a family rather than gifts at the house.
AL: I feel really lucky that I do have help and that gives us the opportunity to go out to the movies or dinner. It is busier than ever, but [my husband] loves being a father and that’s a huge part of it. We love parenting together and I feel really lucky to have found someone who is such an incredible father to our son.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing a double mastectomy, Samantha Harris (former host of Dancing With The Stars) has had a year of change. A ball of energy, she celebrated her cancer-free status last night at the 30th annual DreamBall for Look Good Feel Better, an international organization dedicated to boosting the self-confidence of men and women dealing with breast cancer through beauty and style workshops. A mother of two—Josselyn, 7, and Hillary, 3—Harris sat down with Parents to talk about surviving breast cancer and the delicate balance between looking good and feeling better.
P: What does it mean to be the Look Good Feel Better’s 2014 DreamGirl?
SH: It’s such a special organization and to be honored by them for being inspiring through my diagnosis almost seems wrong because I’ve been inspired by so many other women. I feel that I’m really representing all these other survivors who reached out to me through social media to share their stories and open up to me about getting through the treatments and living through the diagnosis and coming out the other side. There was this elusive “other side” that everyone talked about and now I can officially say I am on the other side and I am a survivor.
P: You didn’t undergo chemo or radiation, so did you take advantage of LGFB?
SH: I did attend one of the LGFB workshops in Northridge, CA at one of the hospitals there [before my decision about chemo]. The women in the room were so tremendously inspiring because they had the strength to come in and sit in a room of strangers and take off their wigs and headscarves and be clean-faced. But the point of the workshop is to be able to give women and men tools to find normalcy at a time in your life that is far from normal and help regain some of that confidence. Even though on the one hand you say “Health is all that’s important who cares what you look like” what you look like is what gives you the confidence to be able to focus on only taking care of yourself.
P: You chose to tell your daughters about your diagnosis separately. Where did you come up with that plan?
SH: Knowing that I needed to communicate that Mommy was undergoing something pretty intense but not scare them was a daunting task. One website said it’s important that the message is delivered in a different way depending on their age. My mom had had back surgery recently and it was the first time my older daughter experienced seeing someone laid up in bed. So I said “Just like Grandma had back surgery and she was in her bed for a little while getting better but now you see her running around Mommy also has to have some surgery.” I also wanted to make sure that the first time she heard the word “cancer” it wasn’t some deep dark scary thing to whisper in a corner like years past. I was really open with them.
P: How did your diagnosis change your perspective on motherhood?
SH: It made me feel sad for my daughters because now they are at a higher risk because their mom had cancer. But I turned by perspective on that to say that my girls have a leg up because they will be checked and monitored much more closely than had I never had cancer. Hopefully, G-d forbid if cancer is in their path, we’re gonna find it earlier and get rid of it faster. Or hopefully G-d willing we’ll have a cure. That would be even better.
SH: It’s hard in a very modern feminist world to justify that I feel defined by my looks, because I’m not defined by my looks. But you are very much yourself when you feel like you like yourself.As for my girls, my 7-year-old has started to become more body aware and it’s sad to me that it’s starting so early. She’s noticed that she has hair on her arms and her legs. She’s been wearing pants in the hot weather. I thought, you know what I can’t believe I’m going to be shaving my daughter’s legs this early (not with a razor, just men’s clippers) but there are enough things to be self-conscious about I didn’t want her to be self conscious about body stuff.
It’s a double-edged sword because how you present yourself in the world influences how people perceive you. As women we have an asset because we can use products to make us feel better outwardly and if that little bit helps your confidence on the inside then you’ll be more successful in everything else you do. I think it’s important for girls to know it’s ok to care about your appearance—it’s important—it’s not ok to obsess about it. That, I think, is the distinguishing factor.
One great way to look good and feel better? Check out our pregnancy fitness workout below!
Flu season is coming up and actor James Van Der Beek is not taking any chances with his growing brood. The longtime TV star (Dawson’s Creek anyone?) and father of three, Olivia, 4, Joshua, 2, and Annabel, nearly 9 months, is spreading the word on fighting influenza with FluMist Quadrivalent, a needle-free flu vaccine. Parents took some one-on-one time with James to talk TLC, how being a dad to daughters has changed him, and the one thing he would do if he had 45 minutes to himself.
P: We’re here for FluMist. Vaccines have been a big buzz topic. What is your take on vaccines and what do you say to parents who might not be with you?
JVDB: I totally understand the debate about vaccines. They certainly have a utility. My wife and I went back and forth on the whole vaccine issue, quite a bit, but when it came to the flu vaccine specifically it was something we decided to do. Initially I was afraid you could get the flu from a flu vaccine. You actually can’t. It’s impossible. That was new to me. When I found that out, I realized there are a lot of myths about the flu that even I had—as health-conscious as I am. When I found out that it hospitalized 200,000 people a year and that it’s responsible for the hospitalization of more children than any other vaccine-preventable disease, that’s when I thought this is something that I can really get behind and help spread the word. And [FluMist] is needle free. Kids don’t like when you stick needles in them. Go figure. My 4-year-old did it and didn’t cry and was really proud of herself. We did not vaccinate our kids last year and I had two kids with the flu and my wife was pregnant. And G-d forbid it can lead to some bad complications.
JVDB: Well my first kid was a daughter, yeah you do start to be more concerned with the world in general knowing your kids are going to go out in it. You start to really look at other people’s attitudes towards women especially, and you’re a lot more hyperaware.
P: Have you seen the YouTube videos of the daddy-daughter dates? Would you take Olivia or Annabel on a father-daughter first date?
JVDB: I just loved stories. I loved to have a story to tell and my kids will tell me a story and the only way I’ll know that they’re making it up is that there’s a dragon in it. Everything else is really believable until a dragon makes an appearance and I say, “Oh ok you’re making this up.” I turn to my wife and go, “Sorry…my bad.”
P: You’re three kids in, what do you think you’ve learned and you’re doing better with the third than the first?
JVDB: I’ve come to just realize how important it is to embrace the chaos. There might be parents out there who are able to manage everything neat and tidy, but that’s certainly not us. Fighting to really find that appreciation in all of those moments is so important because it really does go by so quickly. It’s a big cliché and it’s so true. There are those times when you’re just so frustrated and you just think to yourself “Really?!” Especially those moments: sit there and think I’m gonna miss this when it’s not happening.
P: What still continues to baffle you? Is there anything you wish someone would tell you the secret to?
JVDB: How do kids have that much energy?
P: I think we should institute adult naptime.
JVDB: I would LOVE adult naptime. I would endorse that in two seconds.
P: You recently had 45 minutes to yourself and you didn’t know what to do. If you had 45 minutes again, do you know what you would do?
JVDB: I should work out because that’s catch as catch can. What I would love to do is to see if I’ve got a football game recorded that nobody has ruined the score for me and just spend 45 minutes going through that. That would be something…. That’s so pathetic. Better than doing the dishes, which is what I think I did last time. I find myself doing dishes saying, “Why am I doing dishes right now? I could be doing anything.”
P: Despite the lack of free time, you seem to be very happy as a father. Was there one moment when you went “Wow. I’m a dad.”
JVDB: Yeah. First moment my first one was born. That was it. It was pretty instantaneous. I’d wanted that for a long time so when it did happen it felt like the resolution to a lot of unanswered questions in my life.
Photograph: Via Instagram with permission from James Van Der Beek
Yesterday, Hilary Duff celebrated Trident gum’s 10-year anniversary of their sponsorship of Oral Health America’s Smiles Across America campaign. (The campaign provides oral disease prevention to uninsured children.) This week 5 cents of every pack of Trident gum purchased—up to $200,000—will go to the cause! Parents sat down with the actress-cum-pop star and mom of 2-year-old Luca to talk dental health, why she’s more afraid of the terrible 3s than the 2s, and her own mommy monologue—Lizzie McGuire-style.
P: You’ve been involved in a lot of charitable work, what drew you to this cause?
HD: I think I just got inspired knowing that Trident has supported Oral Health America for the past ten years and they’ve raised over 2 million dollars doing such good. I’m starting to work with my son, taking care of his teeth everyday and trying to teach him how to brush. I’ve always had teeth issues so I know how painful it can be. I want to teach him how important it is to keep healthy teeth and brush after meals. And it’s my gum! This is actually my gum that I buy.
P: Speaking of teaching your son to brush, is he brushing his own teeth? Does he ever complain about having to do it?
HD: He wants to brush his own, but I brush him first and then I let him “brush.” We started brushing when he had two little nubs sticking out just to get him used to it. My friend told me, “Get a toothbrush in there as soon as you can and make it a habit and routine.” We try to make it fun. I’ll be like “I bet you can’t stand on one foot while I brush your teeth” and he goes “I can! I can! I can!”
HD: No. Not at all. I’m worried for 3 because 2 has been a breeze.
P: What’s your favorite part about 2?
HD: I think just all the vocabulary that happens. He’s getting so vocal and now he can put 4 or 5 words together. It’s a big thing when they can start joining words, but it’s sad too because some of the really cute things that you love go away quick. He’s starting to sing. He loves to sing the ABCs and The Great Big Spider—he does not like The Itsy Bitsy Spider he likes The Great Big Spider.
P: So you changed the words?
HD: Yes. And I guess…just how capable he is with everything now. He knows what he wants, but he’s a very sweet little boy and he has a really good spirit. He has the best smile. I’m lucky, but I’m a little afraid for 3 because 2 has been great.
P: Is there anything that he does that makes you think “Oh my gosh, he’s such a little mini-me?”
HD: All of his vocal-isms. He says “oh!” all the time because I say “Oh.” I’ll say to him “It’s time to go!” He’ll say “OH!” The other day I put something on instagram where he sprayed me with the hose. I didn’t think he could pull the trigger because they’re really tough. I just say “sure” all the time and I said “You can’t spray me” and he said “SURE!” and then pssshhhhh blasted me with the hose. He also says “No way” which is bad. I usually say it in a good way when I get excited like “no wayyyy” and now he says it in a bad way. I’m like “Do you want to change your diaper?” “No way!” Excuse me? The sass.
P: This year has been a year of transition for your family. What has been the key to maintaining a positive parenting relationship for you and for Luca, perhaps as an example for other moms that might be going through harder times?
HD: I think the key thing for us is that he’s our main priority and we love and care for him so much and so everything else will straighten out eventually. We’re just trying to move forward with as much love as we can for him and our family. And we have a lot of respect for each other.
P: You’re most famous for your portrayal of Lizzie McGuire. She always had that inner monologue running through her head as a cartoon. What’s your mommy inner monologue like?
HD: I wish I could be funny right now, but I really don’t think it’s funny. I think a lot of the time I remind myself to count to ten. Take a breather. Their little legs can’t always keep up with ours and I don’t want to rush him through life and rush through the stages that I notice are going by so quickly. My life is so busy and so hectic and I move so quickly that it’s like, take it down a notch. It’s all good. So I think Ok count to 10. Sometimes it’s so easy to say “I’m just gonna pick you up and we’re gonna go,” but I want to be really patient with him.
Parents attended a taping of The Meredith Vieira Show, featuring special guest Jessica Alba. Movie star, entrepreneur and mom of Honor, 6, and Haven, 3, Alba is now a billionaire thanks to her venture The Honest Company. Dissatisfied with the home and baby product options on the shelves when she first became a mom, Alba founded the venture to provide non-toxic, truly organic, eco-friendly products in the baby, bath and body, cleaning, and wellness markets. But the conversation wasn’t all busines. Meredith and Jessica had a ton of fun on set and the audience learned a few things about Alba that they didn’t know before:
1. She loves her 30s. Alba confessed that her teens and her twenties were a time of insecurity. She says that she had a lot of the “normal” worries, but that much self-doubt came from her lack of a college education, which made her feel she wasn’t smart enough. Alba says that becoming a mom and making it over the hump of 30 was when she truly came into her own.
2. She can’t sing. At bedtime, moms will do anything to get little ones to go to sleep. Alba and her husband resort to singing. Well, Honor had a sleepover recently and Alba was going to tear her hair out if the girls didn’t get some zzz’s. So she sang to them. Honor’s friends were mortified because Alba is completely tone deaf (even though Honor never realized it)! Still, we have a feeling that with her acting chops, Alba will be just fine.
Playing With Baby: Let the Music Play
3. She has trouble at school drop-off. Alba admitted that just like a lot of moms out there, taking her eldest to school is much harder for her than it is for Honor. Alba misses her daughter during the day, saying that she wishes that during nap time she could just sneak in and cuddle with her.
4. She loves hand-me-downs. Alba is not too good for passing down pre-loved clothes to Haven. In fact, she prefers it. She loves seeing the outfits a second time around and reliving the memories of Honor wearing the same ensemble.
5. She’s good at guessing games. This episode of The Meredith Vieira Show pitted Vieira opposite Alba in a guessing game much like “25,000 Pyramid.” Although Vieira’s team won in the end, Alba put up a good fight!
Jessica Alba appears on Wednesday, September 10th’s The Meredith Vieira Show, check your local listings or visit MeredithVieiraShow.com to find out when and where it airs in your city.
Photograph: Jessica Alba & Meredith Play The “Baby Talk” Game With Two Pregnant Audience Members/Courtesy The Meredith Vieira Show
Set your DVRs, ladies, because tonight is a 90210 reunion! Well, kind of. Jennie Garth and her longtime gal pal Tori Spelling are teaming up again in the new ABC Family series Mystery Girls, premiering tonight. Parents caught up with Jennie a few weeks ago and then met her at a special Mamarazzi screening event, hosted by The MOMS of SiriusXM fame. The actress and mother of three daughters, Luca, 17, Lola, 12, and Fiona, 8, opened up to us about raising her girls to be confident women, recovering from divorce, working her latest volunteer project, and filming her hilarious new sitcom.
P: Your girls are growing up so quickly. Is it tougher to be a parent to toddlers and preschoolers or tweens and teens?
JG: Oh my god I would have to say younger is tougher because they cannot articulate what they’re thinking or what they want or need so well. The language barrier is definitely a problem.
P: What traits of yours do you see in each of your daughters?
JG: All of my best ones [laugh]. I can definitely see qualities from myself as well as qualities of their dad. Good and bad from both of us. Luca today was listening to the same exact music that I was listening to at her age, which was The Cure. She didn’t listen to it today because of me, she listened to it totally on her own. So we have similar musical taste. She’s also beautiful. She has very similar body, dance, movement style. My middle one, Lola, is very organized and very much an organized thinker, a list-maker and she likes to have tasks and complete them—that’s how my brain works. My little Fiona, she’s very competitive. So when we play board games she likes to win, and she’s very quick-witted and those are definitely both qualities of mine. You definitely see yourself in them for good and for bad sometimes.
P: Is there a childlike thing that you get excited to relive through Fiona, since she’s your youngest?
JG: All of it. Easter egg coloring, and you know, she loves to play board games. Coloring. Coloring book coloring. I love just sitting and coloring. She loves any kind of game. Puzzles. We do all that. And reading with her. We still snuggle in bed together, where the other girls do their own thing at bedtime, you know. The book-reading at that time is one of my favorite times of the day.
P: Having three girls is no easy task, and you’re a single mom. Do you have any best piece of advice for women dealing with the same situation and transition?
JG: I have so much encouragement and wisdom to pass along to people. When I first was on my own, everything was so challenging. Everything was stressful. Everything was more than I could handle and I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to get through it on my own. I felt like I was swimming upstream all the time. And at some point it just changed. And all of a sudden, mornings are pleasant again. The morning rush isn’t stressful. It isn’t like “I can’t do this,” it’s like “Yeah, we got this guys.” Me and my girls will handle it and it will all be great. It rounded a corner for me and I think that that happens when it happens for everyone and nobody can force that, and it’s really hard to believe when you’re in it. Hold on to that faith and knowledge that it will get better.
From a kid’s perspective, it’s an ongoing condition. My kids are never going to not be sad that their parents aren’t together. And me acknowledging that and holding that really gently and tenderly is the best thing that I can do. I can’t change the situation unfortunately, but I can hold the fact that their feelings about it are always gonna be right there at the surface no matter how old they are.
P: It sounds like you are all so close. With such a busy career it can be tough to keep that “family unit” feeling going. Are there any routines to carve out family time?
JG: We do dinner every night together. It’s tough because my teenager’s got a full schedule. But it’s always family before friends and the girls respect that and they take that seriously, which is cool. I just keep it really tight. Family first.
JG: Well with the three girls, two of them are now in glasses. I wear glasses. Eye care is something that’s a part of our family. I see when we provide vision care for the kids that don’t have access to it what a difference it makes in their lives. It’s pretty profound. I love being a part of it and this campaign is a very simple one. For every “like” on the Eye Solutions Facebook page Alcon is donating a dollar and that money goes directly to free exams and eyeglasses to children in need. I’ve been there and I’ve helped kids get fitted for their very first glasses.
P: Is activism and volunteerism something you hope to cultivate in your girls?
JG: Absolutely. It’s something that’s been instilled in me since I was a little girl. It’s something I’m just naturally handing down to my girls. It’s not something I really thought about. You pay it forward, that’s just what you do in this lifetime.
P: Mystery Girls with your longtime friend and co-star Tori Spelling premieres tonight. Tell me about the show and how you help your girls create solid healthy friendships like the one you have with Tori.
JG: Tori’s and my friendship is a pretty unique situation because we were on  for ten years together. Not a lot of people get to experience what we did. So we have this crazy bond together and we are so blessed by that and able to carry that into our next job together. This is very a special love for each other. For my girls it’s just about teaching them their self-worth, first and foremost. Teaching them to love themselves and respect themselves and to gravitate toward other people who do the same and also to give them that same respect.
JG: For me it was location. It’s very close to my kids’ school and our house, where we shoot it. The hours of the day that we work, sitcom hours, are much less than any other show you can shoot, and we work three weeks on, one week off. So I can have a solid week with my kids. And also, our kids come to the set and it’s so close to their school that they just come right after school. If this was a show that shot in West Los Angeles or something, it would be a totally different decision to look at. When you have kids, for me, they come first and my job comes second. So I have to look at all those factors, location and traffic and drive time all that stuff.
P: Your character, Charlie, is a bit concerned about being perceived as a cool mom by her daughter. How concerned are you with being a cool mom?
JG: I try to be not cool. I’m the mom with the tattoos. My kids admire the fact that I am kind of edgy personally, and they actually try to keep me in line. But I try to be not cool because I don’t want to be their friend. I want to be their mother.
JG: I think just in my actions and them seeing me function, you know. I’m so independent and capable that they have no other way of seeing a woman. I set an example not by choice but because that’s how I have to live. It’s so easy to stereotype women. Even my 16-year-old daughter is cast in plays as the “pretty girl,” the cheerleader, and she does it beautifully and she does it with depth and a certain depth I wouldn’t think they were expecting, but I’m already cognizant of what’s happening with her. It’s something that we’ll be facing and working on and discussing I’m sure for the rest of all of their lives.
Mystery Girls premieres Wednesday, June 25 8:30/7:30c on ABC Family. Check your local listings.
TS: Having done a lot of reality work since Liam was born, I’ve had that luxury of always being able to have them with me, so this is my first job that takes me away from them in eight years. It’s been a definite transition. I don’t think I was completely ready. Finn is still so young. But the timing was right and in this business you don’t always get a second chance, you know? We had an amazing show that ran for 10 years and to me that was like lightening in a bottle and that is what this felt like with this show. It felt like Wow this is the moment for it so I gotta take it and create it and do it. The nice thing is they do get to come to set, so I get to see my kids. We shoot very close to where we live, so it’s a nice balance.
P: Not only are you starring in the sitcom, you’re also the creator and executive producer. Where did the idea for Mystery Girls come from?
TS: When I first came up with the idea it was “Mystery Mom” because I was a mom and I wanted to do something in the realm of comedy, but I also love mysteries. I love like the 80s, 90s mysteries and I was like “I’ve never seen a sitcom do it, why not?” And two women doing it! The idea that [our characters] used to be on a show together was a wink wink to 90210. It went from Mystery Mom to Mystery Girls because it opened it up to everyone. But what we bring to these roles, it’s not just like you could have hired any two actresses to play these roles because there is a friendship and a sisterhood that goes for 20 years that you can’t write that.
P: Before Mystery Girls, your birthday parties on your reality show were famous. Do you have any fun parties planned and where do you get your inspirations?
TS: I did it the wrong way. I’m just putting it out there. I did it backwards. I went all out for the first two and then I kept having babies and now at four I’m like “There’s always a party, oh my G-d.” As a fulltime working mom, you just can’t keep doing the big parties. We’re scaling back now and we’re remembering it’s about family and who’s at the party, not about how big they are, even though I do still fixate on the details. It’s all about the DIY. Stella’s definitely a mini-me as far as decorating. Inspirations just come from when I was a kid. Everything that is out kind of comes back. So I always try to bring things back. Right now we’re into Jell-o molds. Bring em back!
P: You mentioned Stella got your decorating sense. Are any of your four kids a mini-me?
TS: I’m gonna have to hear that question again because as soon as you said four I was like oh my gosh I have four. All of them have a little, yes. Liam is definitely stubborn like me. He’s creative and passionate like me. He holds in his feelings like me. Stella does the same. Stella’s a DIY goddess, so she got my crafting gene and love for it. She loves fashion like I do. Stella does everything I do. We have a lot of fun together. We’re best friends. Hattie has a much bigger voice than I’ve ever had. I would love to have Hattie’s voice. I’m still trying to find my voice and Hattie has it. She’s loud and proud and she’s number three. I will see her using her hands like me—I talk a lot with my hands. The other day she was on the phone and she had her hands on her hip just how I talk on the phone. I saw her walking and I was like “That’s my walk.” And then Finn. Finn and I have a really special bond. I had a hard pregnancy with him, so he and I…I just want to hold him and never let him go. He has a little soulful spirit and he looks a lot like me when I was a baby. Oh my gosh there are so many.
P:What has your proudest moment been as a mom?
TS: [When they show love to each other.] Mine are so little that they were kind of their own people and now they’re starting to love each other. They are just starting to help each other and the other day Hattie needed help off the couch and she was starting to cry and she was like “Sissy Sissy!” Stella came running over and lifted her off the couch. She changes Finn’s diaper and he looks for her. It’s knowing that there’s a little community of love I created. That they have each other and that’s my legacy to pass on to them. I’ve given them this. I’ve given them love that will surround them forever.
In anticipation of this summer’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtleslive-action movie, wecaught up with actress and new mom (again!) Megan Fox. While many may recognize her of Transformers fame, her favorite role is mother of two boys under the age of two. Parents talked with Megan about the challenges and joys of parenthood, her rules about TV (unexpected for an actress!), and what she looks forward to as Noah, almost 2, and Bodhi, 4 months, continue to grow.
P: Now that you’re a mom, how does that affect how you pick your projects?
MF: The main thing it does is it affects how much I’m willing to work. I’ve never been an extraordinarily ambitious girl or career-oriented, but especially once I got pregnant with my first son and now [having] my second, it’s so hard to be a working mom especially when your heart is not in your work, when your heart is with your family. I have to make one movie a year because I have to invest in their future and I have to be able to pay their way through college and be able to provide for them. I’m looking for movies that will shoot in Los Angeles, for projects where I’m part of an ensemble so I can shoot in and out in 10-20 days. It’s all about trying to spend as little time away from my kids as possible.
P: What is it like having two kids under 2? What’s the most enjoyable part and most challenging part?
MF: It’s total chaos obviously. Before you have kids you really do not understand how much work it is and how consuming it is. And then you have one and you’re like, “Oh my God my baby is my whole world.” Every moment of the day is dedicated to this one baby and then all of a sudden you have two babies! Their needs are so different because Noah is nearing 2 and then my newborn is 4 months. It’s really hard to manage because I also don’t let them watch TV. It’s not like I’m going to sit Noah in front of the television so I can take care of Bodhi. I have to figure out how to incorporate Noah into the process and have him help me take care of Bodhi and make sure he doesn’t get jealous and make sure nobody’s neglected and everybody’s needs are being met. As a mom it’s hard because I don’t feel like I’m ever giving either one of them 100% of my attention or 100% of myself, so I carry a lot of guilt. Do they each understand how special they are and how much I love them? And are they understanding that they’re unique? It’s hard to make each one feel like an individual when you have to raise them together and manage them together all of the time. So that’s the most difficult part.
The most amazing part of it aside from being blessed to just continue to have children: Noah’s starting to interact with Bodhi. He’ll try to comfort him sometimes when he cries and he’ll do the “sh sh sh sh” and to watch him do that melts my heart. I’m excited for the future, to see them be brothers and be best friends and I know that there’s gonna be lots of fighting, but there’s also gonna be lots of hugs and kisses. It’s sort of mind-blowing to think about how amazing the future is going to be with them, holidays and birthdays.
How to Prepare a Toddler for a New Sibling
P:When did you first have that “I’m a mom” feeling?
MF: I was really connected during my first pregnancy. But even during my pregnancy I had no idea how worried I was going to be for the rest of my life. From the moment I gave birth to Noah, that was the first time I was like, “I love something so much that I will never be the same again.” I will never be relaxed again because I will always be worried about him and hoping that he is ok and safe and happy.
P: You said you don’t let the kids watch TV. When is the age range that you will let them?
MF: I do let them watch movies, I just don’t let them watch TV. With movies I feel like there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s linear. There’s a clear story. I think that it’s different than just putting a kid in front of the television, because it’s just nonstop. They’re just being bombarded with all of this sort of live media and it’s very overwhelming and it’s too stimulating I think for anyone. I don’t watch television because it’s just too much it overwhelms me. I just can’t deal with it. But I do let them watch movies. Movies are so nostalgic and they can remind us of these amazing times in our childhood. I remember going to the theater to see movies with my dad or my mom and those are special moments for me. One day they’re gonna watch television. I can’t keep it from them forever. My intention is to keep it away as long as possible or to introduce it through Apple TV so they’re not being exposed to the commercials constantly. My goal is no computers, no cell phones until at least 8th grade.
P: Tell us about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. How was it filming while pregnant?
MF: I constantly had a big box of saltine crackers with me wherever I went. So in between takes I would scurry away and shove a bunch of saltines in my mouth to keep me from being nauseous.
P: Your character, April, is a confident woman, and you yourself are also very strong. Do you have any confidence tips for young girls?
MF: You know it’s hard growing up. I’ve always been someone who’s been really assertive and willful and that’s just something I was born with, but I had to learn how to temper that and focus it in the correct direction because it was sort of becoming a detriment. I wasn’t using it correctly. You have to trust yourself. The idea of being really intuitive and listening to your own conscious and listening to—I’m sort of a spiritual hippy so I don’t want to be off-putting but—you gotta listen to your higher self and trust that you know what is right. Be prepared to maybe lose friends or lose relationships. Be prepared to maybe make some people upset and that’s ok as long as you’re pursuing what you really believe is right and correct and true.