1. BulletMarch, 2009: Publishers Weekly gives rave review of The Must-Have Mom Manual!


Advanced Review

Issue: March 1, 2009

The Must-Have Mom Manual:

Two Mothers, Two Perspectives, One Book That Tells You Everything You Need to Know.

Hosts of the Sirius radio show The Mommy Chronicles, Triplett and Ellington offer sage advice in the practice of “momology” based on their own experiences—one a mom with a career outside the home, the other a stay-at-home mom. Interspersed throughout is advice from other similarly situated women as well as doctors and child psychologists. Ellington and Triplett were best friends even before they embarked on their careers as advisors, and their close friendship is evident throughout this casual and highly accessible book. Sections focus on broad topics—after the baby comes home, marriage, work-life balance—with individual chapters alternating between the two authors. They offer advice on everything from breastfeeding to hosting birthday parties to managing a household with children from birth through age six. Among their soundest advice: trust your instincts, accept help. Each chapter ends with a listing of the most highly recommended “clutter-busting” resources and product recommendations. Readers will appreciate the decidedly unglamorous, often humorous, and always practical advice.

— Vanessa Bush

Stephanie and Sara heading to the Today Show

With hosts of Whatever with Alexis Stewart  & Jennifer Koppelman-Hutt at Sirius Studios in New York

Stephanie and Sara on the set of our  satellite media tour in New York for Johnson & Johnson

  1. Bullet February, 2009: The Must-Have Mom Manual gets great advance review from Booklist!

Former radio show co-hosts and authors (The Mommy Chronicles), Ellington and Triplett are an odd couple—best friends with differing views who happened to have been pregnant at the same time. Ellington is the organized stay-at-home mom who ended up bottle feeding and preferred her baby to sleep in a crib; Triplett is a working mom who breastfed and embraced the family bed. Together they prove that there's “no one right way to be a good mom,” as they dole out advice on an array of topics ranging from recovering from the giving birth to dealing with “sticky decisions” like whether to let kids eat Pop Tarts for breakfast. While the authors have thoroughly researched their material, they've also lived it, and along with tips from medical experts and other resources, they include insider advice readers won't hear from their pediatricians (i.e., to avoid embarrassment, practice collapsing the stroller before going out in public). Though the two occasionally disagree, they do so in a genial manner that demonstrates how working and stay-at-home moms can get along and learn from one another. They also offer an occasional tip for dads (i.e., after the delivery, “you can never go wrong with diamonds”). This breezy, chatty read is filled with practical information as well as laughs. (Apr.)

With David Huff and Tosca Musk of Back 40 Films

  1. Bullet February 2009 - Sara featured in South Carolina Celebrities Read campaign

Florence County Library invited Sara to participate in a program geared to encourage people to use their public libraries.  South Carolina Celebrities Read featured a photograph on a 11x17 poster of prominent individuals reading their favorite book. Selected posters were displayed in South Carolina's State House on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 as part of Public Library Appreciation Day.

  1. Bullet September 16, 2007  Article in Lynchburg News Advance:

“Checking in with the author of "The Mommy Chronicles"

By Casey Gillis


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Two friends find out they’re pregnant right around the same time. For the next year or so, they e-mail each other back and forth, talking about everything from morning sickness and delivery to what it’s like to be a new mom. Eventually, they compile their e-mails into a book, which then spawns a radio show broadcast from their respective homes in Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta. Soon, Sirius Satellite Radio picks it up, and the two women become an overnight sensation among other young mothers. Sounds like a movie script, right?

    Well not yet, but it’s in the works.

    Amherst native Sara Behnke of Charlotte and pal Stephanie Triplett of Atlanta are the two friends. They released “The Mommy Chronicles: Conversations Sharing the Comedy and Drama of Pregnancy and New Motherhood” in 2005 through Hay House publishers, and afterward experienced a whirlwind of book signings and appearances. Now Charlotte-based independent filmmaker David Huff, whom Behnke and her husband David met through a mutual friend, is looking to make a movie about their experiences. “First of all, Sara and Stephanie are really funny and very intelligent women,” says Huff, who owns Back 40 Films. “They both have great marriages and great kids.“They’re living the real life of women who have a husband, a job, kids. … Everybody who’s married can relate to this.”

    Huff says he sees the film being about how these two women balance everything. “They wrote the book on being moms,” he says, “(then) all (these) wacky things happen to them that take them out of the home,” like book signings and appearances, which leave their husbands holding down the

fort back home. “It’s very topical,” says Huff, who also sees it as a humorous battle of the sexes.

    Plus, he says, “it’s just good family entertainment, and we need more good family entertainment.”

    Behnke, 38, says she and Triplett feel like Huff is someone they can trust to tell their story. “It’s still just kind of surreal to me,” she says. “I still can’t believe it’s going to happen.”

    Behnke and Triplett met when both were working at an advertising agency in Virginia Beach. They bonded

immediately, and managed to stay close after Behnke and her husband moved to Charlotte. Their e-mail conversations began after they both found out they were expecting around the same time, with due dates a few weeks apart.

    “We kept in touch with each other to monitor the progress of our pregnancies, and we talked out our problems and shared ideas and traded information from all the pregnancy books we were reading,” they write in the book. “Writing these letters was a great outlet for us to console each other, and of course it

made for some terrific male-bashing … sessions, too.”

    Their e-mails continued after the birth of their first children: Behnke’s daughter Anna and Triplett’s daughter Sara, both now 6. By the time the book was released, they’d both had their second children: Behnke’s son Cade, now 4, and Triplett’s son Timmy, now 5.

    After “The Mommy Chronicles” came out, they began doing their own podcast on iTunes - with Behnke broadcasting from her home in Charlotte and Triplett from Atlanta, where she’d moved - and were soon getting hits from all over the world.

Their publisher, Hay House, eventually put “The Mommy Chronicles Show” on its own radio network. Not long after, Sirius Radio picked it up.

    They stopped doing the show in 2006 because it ended up not being the right fit for them, Behnke says.

(They’re currently working on a new demo with an NPR producer and would like to re-launch it elsewhere


    The timing, however, was eerie. A month after they ended the show, Behnke was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She has spent the last six months undergoing chemotherapy, which wore her out so much that she says she never would have been able to keep up with the radio show. She was diagnosed after going to the doctor with swollen, painful lymph nodes under her arms. At first, doctors thought it was just an infection, but after several rounds of antibiotics didn’t take the swelling down, they did some tests and found the cancer.

    Behnke had several surgeries to remove the lymph nodes and in February, began the chemo. She had her last treatment in August, and at a recent check-up, she received a clean bill of health. Doctors say there’s only a 5-10 percent chance of it coming back, but Behnke will still have scans every three months for the next two years.

    “If anything happens, we’re going to jump on it right away,” she says. She’s not sure if Huff will include her battle with cancer in the film, but Behnke says she’s OK with it if he

does. Being open about it, like she was about her postpartum depression in “Chronicles,” is just second nature to her.

“I just don’t know any other way to be,” she says. “The way I deal with things is to talk about (them).

    “ … Some days I wear the wig, some days I wear the baseball hat, some days I don’t. It is what it is.”

    During her treatments, she kept friends updated with her progress through a Web site called the Caring

Bridge. “E-mail was really great (for) me because I didn’t want to have a lot of emotional phone conversations with the kids around,” she says. All along, Behnke says many people predicted that she’d eventually write a book about it, but she’s

doubtful. “It’s just something right now that I don’t want to relive,” she says. “You just want to get past it. Maybe

down the road.

    "(Right now) I’d rather do activism than write a book about it.”

Instead, she and Triplett have collaborated on another book, again about all things mommy, that they expect to be released in 2009. It’s called “The Must-Have Mom Manual,” a sort-of catchall resource full of tips.

    “We tackle everything from how to protect your child from sexual predators to how to plan a trip to Disney World,” Behnke says. “(It’s full of tips) from the time when you give birth and how to manage your stay at the hospital all the way up to (getting your kids ready for) kindergarten.

    “It’s all the tips on things moms need to know about, all in one resource.”

    When they were doing the radio show, many women would call or write in with suggestions on show topics, and they’ve used them as an outline for the book. There are whole chapters on organizing your household, choosing schools, joining play groups, introducing a pet to the family and going back to work versus staying at home.

    “We’ve done a lot of research on these topics,” Behnke says, but “these are not hard and fast rules. …We’re not saying we have it down better than anybody else. (We hope) you can learn from our mistakes learn from our successes, and hopefully, it’ll make your life a little easier.”

    Life has gotten a little easier for both Behnke and Triplett as their children have gotten older. “Our lives are changing in terms of … having more freedom and a little more time to (ourselves),” Behnke says. “In the beginning, when you have babies at home, you’re just in the trenches. I think we have more confidence because we have that time under our belts.

“But nobody knows it all, (and) we laugh about it.”

With Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory

With Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run

  1. Bullet 2006: The Mommy Chronicles in Atlanta Parent

Parenting by the Book

by Amanda Jean Clothier

    If parenting were an exact science, imagine how easy it would be.

    All you’d have to do is follow the rules and guide your children safely from adolescence to adulthood. If only…

    Well, parenting is obviously much more complicated than that. But with humor, trial and error and a piece of advice here and there, we all muddle through. In the past year, several Atlanta parents have published books about coping with the challenges that children present. Those parents include two everyday moms (one lives in Charlotte) with serious e-mail habits. Here’s a look at their book and why they put pen to paper.

The Mommy Chronicles: Drama of Pregnancy and New Motherhood

by Sara Ellington and Stephanie Triplett

“We had no idea we were writing a book,” says Atlanta-area author and mom of two Stephanie Triplett. Not long after she found out she was pregnant, her friend, Sara Ellington, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., found out she too was expecting (their due dates were just a few weeks apart). That started an e-mail conversation. A long e-mail conversation. At first the friends shared the woes of pregnancy (which for Sara meant never being able to get enough spaghetti). Then they shared the many joys of new mommyhood (which for Stephanie meant finally having the cleavage she’d always wanted). They got the idea to save their comedy and drama-filled e-mails as a sort of two-person journal. Eventually, that idea turned into The Mommy Chronicles.

The book covers how the friends handled postpartum depression, staying at home, going back to work, and husbands who, at times, just didn’t get it. [Chapter 6: “We’ve Decided to Let the Baby Stay (But We’d Like to Get Rid of our Husbands)”].

The women who gave birth to The Mommy Chronicles are working on new material for their weekly radio show, which can be heard Fridays at 4 p.m. ET at www.hayhouseradio.com and on Sirius Satellite Radio.

  1. Bullet March 22, 2005 Charlotte Observer review:

Comfort for new moms: Wry, candid book looks at pregnancy, beyond”


Special to the Observer

THE MOMMY CHRONICLES: Conversations Sharing the comedy and Drama of Pregnancy and New Motherhood

By Sara Ellington and Stephanie Triplett, Hay House. 256 pages


A recent Newsweek article titled “Mommy Madness” struck a cord with women across America for its examination of the way society drives mothers to be perfectionists – and to obsess over everything from playground politics to the prestige of preschools.

For those of us feeling the pressure (myself included, as the mother of a 2-year-old and a newborn), we have some comrades – and some comic relief – provided by Sara Ellington of Charlotte and Stephanie Triplett of Atlanta. In their new book “The Mommy Chronicles,” they offer insider information on everything from pre-labor jitters and postpartum blues to the chaos that defines the first year of motherhood.

Upon learning they were both pregnant and due within weeks of each other, Ellington and Triplett began e-mailing constantly. The result is more than a series of online conversations between two friends.

Reminiscent of Vicki Iovine’s “The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy” and filled with equal parts humor and candor, “The Mommy Chronicles” is a guide to savoring the joys and navigating the trials that define pregnancy and parenthood.

There’s a lot to relate to here, as the authors’ ruminations run the gamut – from getting over the hang-up of going to the grocery store without makeup to why strangers feel they can touch pregnant bellies without invites to the inevitable decision to buy the dreaded minivan.

Though Ellington and Triplett possess distinctive voices, the overall tone is warm, conversational and funny.

For frazzled moms in particular, this brand of humor is apt. Take, for instance, a pregnant Triplett’s remark that “there’s something big on the horizon” and hopefully it won’t be my a__.”

Or Ellington’s observation that with everything mothers have to get done, God should have designed a third arm – one that could later wither and fall off like the new baby’s belly button stump.

The authors’ straightforward writing style is refreshing too, particularly in dealing with the marital frustrations that come with the territory of having a new baby. Husbands who are loath to help around the house are fair game, and the writers also lament that men can become dads without losing their careers or themselves.

Mostly, though, the book is filled with good-natured griping on dilemmas both big (to work or not to work after baby comes) and small (the baby is sleeping and Oprah’s on – do I take a nap or watch TV?).

The pace of “The Mommy Chronicles” is mostly quick but it does have a tendency to plod in parts, such as within the series of e-mails leading up the writers’ respective labors, or Triplett’s e-mails regarding her day-care woes. Still, its words will resonate for all of us who struggle with “Mommy Madness.”

The authors’ final thoughts are particularly poignant. They serve to provide moms and moms-to-be with much needed perspective as they muddle through what Ellington and Triplett have dubbed that “mysterious club called ‘Mom’.”

Watch Stephanie and Sara talking with Ann Curry on The Today Show!

  1. Bullet-The Must-Have Mom Manual excerpted in the May 2009 issue of Parenting magazine

Stephanie backstage at the Today Show

  1. BulletMarch 29, 2009: Stephanie’s interview in the

Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Moms on 2 paths: Both lead to a book

By Helena Oliviero

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Stephanie Triplett and Sara Ellington immediately hit it off while eating lunch together at an ad agency back in 1994.

Triplett ordered a burger and fries. Ellington feasted on a plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

“I was like, ‘Yes! This woman likes to eat real food,’ ” said Triplett, now a 42-year-old Woodstock mom to two kids. “I was so tired of these snooty women in our office who wouldn’t let anyone see them eat or only ate salads. I knew this was my kind of girl. The rest is history.”

But the two best pals —- who gave birth within weeks of each other —- had different parenting philosophies.

Triplett breast-fed her baby while Ellington went with a bottle. Triplett shared her bed with her newborn; Ellington always put her baby to sleep in the crib. And while Triplett returned to work, Ellington stayed home.

Still, the moms didn’t let their opposing parenting choices pull them apart. In fact, the two teamed up for a satellite radio program, “The Mommy Chronicles,” and now have co-authored a book, “The Must-Have Mom Manual” (Random House; $17), which features their side-by-side views on everything from diaper bags to clutter to date nights.

Radio host and author Stephanie Triplett chatted with the AJC recently and shared some thoughts on kids, parenting and sex.


Q: Going to a restaurant with a toddler: Are parents just asking for trouble?

A: I would say go to a family-friendly restaurant. If you go to a restaurant with a kid menu, you are in friendly territory. Bring a snack like Cheerios for your child while they are waiting. Bring your own sippy cup because the cups at the restaurant are too big. Request a booth because it makes it easier to maintain a child and gives you a little more room. Bring entertainment —- like crayons and a coloring book. And if all else fails and food is smeared all over the table, and your toddler has a screaming fit, leave a generous tip.

Q: If you had to give moms one piece of advice, what would it be?

A: To stop feeling guilty. Some hormones must be released when we are pregnant that brings on the guilt. I remember we were having a really busy week around Halloween and my daughter was supposed to dress up as a fairy for her dance class but she shows up in her normal pink and black. I sat outside writhing in pain and I thought, “How could I have forgotten?!” And I was beating myself up over it. After class, she was fine, it was totally no big deal to her.

Q: You talk in the book about sex being like a new bicycle, and before kids, all you want to do is ride the bike. But now, you don’t have as much interest or energy for the bike. But you still like to have it in the garage —- just in case you need it. What tips would you offer couples to help them avoid becoming one of those sexless couples?

A: One of the biggest things you have to do is to keep trying to keep that kindness going for each other every day. You have to be deliberate about it. And even though we [women] are doing more than ever before —- taking care of the home and laundry and kids —- it seems like we get less attention for it. Men need to realize we need that attention.

Most moms are reluctant to sacrifice sleep for sex. But I would say try to focus on all of the reasons you used to like sex, and give it a try.

© Deborah Triplett Photography


  1. BulletMarch, 2009: Sara & Stephanie featured by  Lynchburg College:

Look for the

“Got Clutter?” article on the cover.

By Jennifer Rothacker jennifer@momscharlotte.com

Sara Ellington may seem like your typical stay-at-home mom: driving carpools, volunteering at her kids’ school, worrying about what to serve for dinner.

Except this Mountain Island Lake mom has authored two books. The second, which hit bookstores last week, earned a sizable advance and is expected to be Random House’s biggest parenting book of 2009.

And she did it while raising two young kids, battling cancer and knowing essentially nothing about getting a book published.

“I needed something that was mine,” explains Ellington, who found it harder than she expected when she left her marketing job in 2000 to become a stay-at-home mom. “It’s hard to put yourself out there like that … (I) decided it was better to try and fail then to wonder ‘what if.’...”

“The Must-Have Mom Manual” is a sort of she said/she said about mothering that Ellington wrote with best friend Stephanie Triplett of suburban Atlanta. Triplett loved breastfeeding, Ellington didn’t. Triplett returned to work and used daycare, Ellington stayed at home. The book’s key message: There’s no one right way to do this parenthood thing. The book spans birth to 6 years.

Ellington, 39 and a blogger for MomsCharlotte.com, the Observer’s Web site for parents, expects sales to exceed the 10,000 copies of her first book, “The Mommy Chronicles,” which details the e-mails she and Triplett exchanged during their pregnancies and childbirths.

“Our hope is that the book is so useful if someone asks you to borrow your copy, you’ll say, ‘No, get your own,’” Ellington said.

One parties, one plans

Ellington and Triplett met in the late ’90s in Norfolk, Va., where they both worked at an ad agency.

Triplett, 42, is the tall, blonde beauty, the one who executes the perfect party and then is the life of it. She’s married to a comedy hypnotist, and the couple trade jabs like a comedy team of their own. Ellington describes her as “a fish who’s attracted to anything shiny.”

Ellington, on the other hand, is the planner. “She has a friggin’ system for everything – from grocery shopping to putting away toys,” laughs Triplett. “If the Container Store knew her name, they’d give her her own parking space.”

Ellington’s lakeside home is impeccable and when a task is set before her, she researches it to death. In her writing, be assured her grammar is impeccable. Husband, David – an account manager for Verizon Wireless – loves do-it-yourself projects, which sometimes drives his wife crazy.

Triplett recalls the seminal moment when she knew the two were destined to become great friends.

“We went to lunch and the girls in our office were the hoity-toity type, ordering salad with dressing on the side,” Triplett said. “We went to Chili’s and Sara goes, ‘I’ll have the fried chicken with mashed potatoes.’ I was like, ‘Oh yes, this girl is going to be my buddy.’”

A few years later, they both moved, Ellington to Charlotte and Triplett to Atlanta. They both found out within weeks of each other that they were pregnant and the e-mails began.

“The initial reason for saving (the e-mails) was for our own use, to remember all those details,” Ellington said. “Then the book idea came about. It wasn’t contrived, these were our real conversations. Stephanie would tell people we were writing a book without knowing it.”

As they compiled the book, they began intensely researching the publishing industry. They read books on writing proposals, attended conferences, “soaked up all the information we could,” Ellington said.

After just a few rejections, they found an agent and got a contract with Hay House, a publisher in California. It was quite a coup, considering that only 1 to 2 percent of books pitched every year get published, according to industry statistics.

The Mommy Chronicles” did well – Ellington calls it a “tax write-off” – but the two authors realized this wasn’t going to make them millionaires. And, they would have to do most of the promotional work themselves.

“People think you’re going to leave the neighborhood and move to a bigger house,” Ellington said. “You can’t just write one book and think ‘that’s going to make me a million dollars.’ You have to build this like a career.”

Radio stint; ‘Today’ time

Their career got a nice boost in 2005 when Hay House asked the women to host a mommy radio show every Friday afternoon. The publisher shipped them equipment to set up in their basements, trained them for 20 minutes and they went live on the air. Soon after, Sirius radio picked up the show. Again, real life didn’t change much. They didn’t even get paid for the show.

“I would pick up the kids (Anna is now 8, Cade is 5) from school at 3:30, drop off two other kids (in her carpool) and screech to the house,” Ellington said. “Most of the time David could be home to watch the kids, but in a couple of instances (on the show) you can hear a ‘Mommy’ or a dog barking.”

Both women knew what an interesting story they made – two moms, talking about parenthood, in their basements. So, they e-mailed the “Today” show, again and again. Finally, a producer called. The show sent camera crews and shot footage for a 30-second segment. Their book sales spiked, but just for a day, Ellington said.

Sirius ended the show in December 2006. A month later, Ellington kept getting sick. Her pink eye wouldn’t heal, her lymph nodes swelled. She learned she had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Chemotherapy began in February and lasted for 6 months.

Her husband, her mother and mother-in-law took over child-rearing duties. Triplett took over the book promotion.

“Thank God I had Stephanie,” Ellington said. “I was an emotional mess.”

That August she got the all-clear and has remained cancer-free at every 6-month appointment since.

And then came Book No. 2

The bud of another parenting book began to sprout a couple years ago. The two women had fired their first agent, so they called up Marly Rusoff, agent to powerhouse writers such as Pat Conroy, Ron Rash and Cassandra King. The pair had seen the super agent at a conference and liked her style. So they cold-called her after they got the “Today” gig, asking for help in making sure the taping went well. Rusoff admired the women’s spunk and agreed to hear their pitch: “They’re just so much fun, and life doesn’t offer a lot of fun.”

This go around, the publishing process has been a bit easier, thanks to Random House, which through its division Ballantine Books has published “The Must-Have Moms Manual.” And, the pay has been better too: between $50,000 and $100,000 for an advance, Ellington said.

While they still do a lot of their own promotion, Random House helped get them reviewed by Booklist and Publishers Weekly. A few major papers are doing reviews and articles on the women.

Now, Ellington and Triplett are hitting the tour circuit again. With their growing popularity, they’ve been asked to pitch Enfamil, Kodak and Baby Orajel on the road. And they’re considering creating a podcast.

Throughout their rise in publishing, the two women have remained close. Both sets of children adore each other. The husbands get along too.

“Our biggest concern was if we write this book, what will it do to our friendship,” Ellington recalled. “We decided that the friendship would come first.”

How to get your book published

Tips from Sara Ellington:

1. Do your homework: Before Stephanie and I ever wrote the first book proposal we attended many book festivals, read books and scoured the Internet.

2. Get a good agent: Do your research, get references, and make sure your agent has a good client list. If an agent tries to charge you reading fees, that’s a red flag.

3. Expect some rejection: Few books get a “yes” from every agent the author queries. Be persistent.

4. Be flexible: If a publisher likes your work but wants a couple of changes, listen. It may be the difference between getting published or not.

5. Expect to keep working after the book is written: Once your final manuscript has been submitted to the publisher, the real work begins. There will be interviews, possible television appearances, book signings, Web sites to create, cold calls for appearances, etc. Book promotion is a big part of an author’s job nowadays.

6. You’re not going to be on “Oprah”: We heard one agent say that the best strategy to get on “Oprah” was one word: pray. A few books get on “Oprah,” but the vast majority do not.

7. It’s not a one-shot deal: Few authors become rich from one book. Writing is a career and it generally takes multiple books and a lot of work to build a lucrative career.

8. How to know if you’re ready: If you’ve read all this and you’re still thinking “I can do this ... I have a great idea, a great manuscript and I am determined ...” then you are probably ready to go for it! But, remember this: Thousands of books are pitched every year and only a handful get published. It’s a tough business that requires talent, luck and persistence.

Multi-tasker mom pens a manual

  1. BulletCharlotte Observer - April 12, 2009: PAGE 1A

Watch Stephanie on Good Day Atlanta!

there’s more than one way to be a good mom.

Follow Sara & Stephanie’s blog on Facebook!

Follow Sara & Stephanie’s blog on Facebook!

  1. Bullet-October 2009: Today’s Charlotte Woman features story on Sara and Stephanie -- click image below to view

Look for Sara and Stephanie’s article: “6 Sleep Secrets” in the July 2010 issue of Parenting!

  1. Bullet-June 2010: Parenting Author Susan Heim reviews

The Must-Have Mom Manual.

Watch Sara on Great Day St. Louis