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Tuesday Book Review: The Must-Have Mom Manual, What a Good Big Brother! & Sara Snow’s Fresh Living

March 31st, 2009

Hello, my chickens,

Would you like to know what I’m reading? First up, we have two funny moms — Sara Ellington and Stephanie Triplett — who put their smart little heads together and just published their second book, “The Must-Have Mom Manual: Two Mothers, Two Perspectives, One Book That Tells You Everything You Need to Know” (Ballantine, 2009, $17, 525 pages.)

They’re a little lewd, they’re a little crude, they’re both pretty and pretty funny. They cover almost everything, from what to expect to tips on breast vs. bottle (they can appreciate both), accepting help, refusing help, co-sleeping and on and on. Kids and sports? Check. Family nudity? Check. Clutter, gear, cleaning products, working from home, grandparents, holidays… they have an opinion (and websites for you, book suggestions and tips) on just about everything. They’re seasoned, but still new enough that new moms can relate. (Their first book was “The Mommy Chronicles.”) They first met in Virginia Beach, at an ad agency where they both worked.

Stephanie, who likes clutter and sparkly stuff, is fond of calling Sara, who doesn’t, and saying, “You should see what’s on my wall right now. You would just vomit.”

A little yin and yang is a good thing. This book is down-to-earth, not preachy, and is a good choice for a new mom or a mom-to-be. (Covers ages birth-six.)

The picture book “What a Good Big Brother!” was written by Diane Wright Landolf, with paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (Random House, 2009, $16.99, unpaged). Yeah, any book jacket with baby toes on the cover is gonna get me, you know it. Nom nom nom as Amalah would say.

Cameron likes his baby sister okay, but sure can’t figure out why she cries so much. Loving story, with beautiful illustrations, about how a family helps the big brother adjust to the new baby.

Just finished Sara Snow’s “Fresh Living: The Essential Room-by-Room Guide to a Greener, Healthier Family and Home” (Bantam Dell, 2009, $16, 274 pages). My friends gave me and my family a hard time for “being green” when I was growing up. Nobody called it that — I just know we got compared to Euell Gibbons a lot. (“Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.”) We sorted out our tin from our paper from our newspapers from our glass. (“Why do you have all these garbages?” my friends would complain.) We used to gather bottles along the riverbank to take back for deposit (the bottle bill was brand new — yes, that’s how old I am). We didn’t eat Twinkies and Coke and crap like that. I remember my mom wanting us to appear “normal” and buying potato chips, soda and pizza for my friends, for slumber parties. I would stare at them, gorging themselves, and get grossed out.

I had a friend whose lunch everyday consisted of a bag of Doritos and a Pepsi and I thought that was just hideous. Meanwhile, we never sprayed the lawn or the weeds, we composted everything, ate as much as we could from my grandparents’ organic farm (including the poor, unsuspecting chickens and cows) and I kept hearing, “Why do you have all these garbages? And how come you don’t have any good snacks?”

Then, later, “You guys are the ones who taught me about recycling!” and “Your family never did eat crap.” Yeah, you’re welcome.

Anyway, my family upbringing has nothing on Ms. Snow’s. Her dad, Tim Redmond, was a co-founder of Eden Organic, they had a family commune, and she, too, grew up watching other people and asking herself, Why do they do it like that?

Then it turns out that the whole organic thing, treading lightly on our dear Mother Earth, being “greener than thou” is hip. She’s on TV with her own show (she has a background in television in film) now, she is being interviewed all the time and looked to as a mentor.

That’s hip.

The book is good, and her writing style is refreshing. She delves into the kitchen, bathroom, garage and even the bedroom (“…yes, I just said ‘greener sex.'”) Hahaha. Excellent book — Wacky Mommy gives this one two green thumbs up. Nice job.

Reviewed today:


  1. Anne says

    When I first read the Must Have Mom Manual review with my tired Mom eyes I thought it had 17,525 pages. “When did they have time to write a book that long? ” I thought. Then I re-read it. Oh 525 pages! I still wonder how they wrote something that long, because I rarely get more than one hour at a time by myself to write.

    April 8th, 2009 | #

  2. Wacky Mommy says

    Anne, heard that. Also, there’s the whole “trying to stay awake” issue.

    April 9th, 2009 | #

  3. Sara Ellington says

    Sara Ellington here, one of the authors of The Must-Have Mom Manual — well it’s not 17525 pages long but it felt like it sometimes! It helped that there were two of us, and the kids were in school, but still it took over a year to write! Hope you enjoy it and find it useful…it’s not meant to be read cover to cover, but by topic as you need the info.

    April 27th, 2009 | #

  4. WackyMommy says

    Sara, thanks for dropping by. The book was great. I’ve been having trouble staying up at night to write and study, I meant (it’s sometimes the only time I can), not having trouble getting through your book!

    April 27th, 2009 | #

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