March 18, 2002 12:00 PM

Okay, last year is a wrap, and Hollywood’s Newcomers of ’01 are ready for their close-ups. Their folks, however, are still in mushball mode. “Parenthood is wonderful! Everyone should try it,” says Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, 27, who had her “cute as can be” first child, Jackson Slade Pasdar (Dad is actor Adrian Pasdar, 36), last March. Life with Denim Kole, age 3 months, “still seems like a fantasy,” says singer Toni Braxton, 35. “I feel like I’m babysitting someone else’s child.” Being a celeb’s kid is, of course, the same but different. When Maines appeared on Sesame Street, Jackson “got to meet Elmo and Big Bird, and I got his picture taken in Oscar’s can,” says his mother, who notes that the boy is, so far, immune to the trappings of showbiz: “He really had no clue.” And like all parents, those pictured here have their hopes and dreams. “Everyone wants their kid to do better,” deadpans Christopher Titus, 37, who says he’ll never put that kind of pressure on 6-month-old Kennie Marie: “I just hope she makes as much money as I did.”

“You’re really relaxed with the second one,” says Ripa, 31 (showing off newborn Lola Grace on Live with Regis and Kelly last July). Ripa, whose son Michael is 4, says she and husband Mark Consuelos, 30, “are just better at it this time.”

“The love I feel for my son is invigorating,” says Blanchett, 32 (with her husband, screenwriter Andrew Upton, 36, and Dashiell John, now 3 months old, last December). “I have never felt so energized and alive in my life.”


One perk of her second pregnancy was the stylish maternity wear designers sent her. “I had cuter clothes!” says the actress, 38 (at home in December with 9-month-old Amelia Gray), who has been married to actor Harry Hamlin, 50, since 1997. Toting a baby around also proved a bonus: “You should see my arms,” she says. “All of a sudden I have, like, muscle on muscle.”


Jackson Slade, who turns 1 on March 15, “used to hate the car. Not even music would make him stop screaming,” says the Dixie Chick (with her son in December). “When our music came on, he’d scream even louder!”


“I get this little bundle of happy when come home,” TV’s Titus says of 6-month-old Kennie Marie (with Dad and mom Erin, 38, in December).


The guitar that sweet daddy James, 53, gave his 11-month-old surrogate-born twins Henry David (left) and Rufus Logan (with mom Kim Smedvig, 48, in December) went down well. Says his friend Jessica Kusmin: “They’ve already mastered smashing it on Dad’s head.”


Before giving birth to son Denim Kole, says Braxton (with producer husband Keri Lewis, 31, and their 10-day-old baby on Dec. 12), “I thought singing onstage was the ultimate high.”


“I loved everything about being pregnant and giving birth to Corrina,” says singer Grant, 41 (with her well-balanced daughter in December). “She’s a very happy and easygoing baby.” A lot like her dad, country crooner Vince Gill, 44, to whom Corrina bears a strong resemblance even at 12 months. Says Grant: “This is a really sweet time for our family.”

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