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motherhood

The Birth Of An Empty Nester

 

I’ve been preparing to become an Empty Nester since I became a mom. I just didn’t realize it at the time. Now that my son Jack is 22, and is subleasing an apartment in town, and my daughter Sari, 18, is getting ready to leave for college out of state in TWO days, I will join the ranks of Empty Nesters and start a new chapter in my life.

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Language of Happiness Speaks To Women, Businesses And Gets Results

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Lori Lander and Tammi Johnson, Founders of Language of Happiness

Finding your happy place just got easier, thanks to two St. Louis working moms Tammi Johnson and Lori Lander, who know a thing or two about taking care of other people’s needs before their own. After all, they’re moms!  So after decades of experience in the IT corporate world and leadership training (Johnson) and a career dedicated to women’s wellness and community service (Lander), these two powerhouses recently joined creative forces to create Language of Happiness, which offers a variety of workshops to women who are looking to make the most of the next stage in their life.

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Challah Making Club Brings Women Together


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What do you get when you combine 150 pounds of flour, 16 dozen eggs, 128 ounces dry yeast, 25 pounds sugar, 24 ounces canola oil, and 4 pounds of Kosher salt?

The Jewish Women’s Society Challah Making Club!

Thirty women get together once a month for lots of love, laughter, and learning (and wisecracks about yeast—sorry I couldn’t resist). The long tables are filled with big bowls, measuring cups, spoons and we all have our own spot to combine, mix, and braid the ingredients into eight mini loaves (or fewer depending on the size and shape) of challah.

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Some women are balaboostas, effortlessly rolling and stretching the dough in the palms of their hands into the perfect shape of a snake, while others like me still struggle to pinch and tuck the ends. It doesn’t matter; it’s not a competition. We are all there for each other and to have a good time. Sure, I admit I envy the intricate eight-braided challahs and round cinnamon bun designs that line the foil pans ready to take home and show off to their families. I’m still proud of myself for trying, and it all tastes heavenly when it comes out of the oven gold brown, crunchy on the outside, sweet and chewy inside. Honestly, the best part of the night is being a part of this sisterhood and doing an ancient mitzvah while I wear my blue “Keep Calm and Bake Challah” apron. Continue reading

Welcome Back To Old School

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When it comes to parenting, there is no manual. Back in the day, my mom kept Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care paperback in her nightstand, next to the S&H Green Stamps and the TV remote. I never noticed any dog-eared corners on the faded brown pages so doubt if she ever referred to this “timeless bestseller.” Turns out she probably could have used some expert advice on how to redirect her high-spirited daughter because her idea of discipline was chasing me down the hallway with a flyswatter.

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Last 1st Day of School

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It’s almost Labor Day, and I’ve procrastinated to write this back-to-school blog. Maybe because my youngest is a high school senior and in 300-something days I will be an empty nester. (Yes, I obsess about it). For the last 12 years, I have taken my daughter’s first day of school photo in the front yard, with her holding our toy poodle Luci, next to the Chinese maple tree, which has grown from her shoulders to as tall as the two-story gutter.

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My First Mother’s Day Without My Mom

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Mom & I at Listen To Your Mother, 2015.

Last year, I knew it would be my last Mother’s Day with my mom. She had been going down hill for a couple years with a myriad of diseases and ailments…cancer, kidney failure, depression, back pain, a couple episodes of gout, you name it, she was dealing with it. And at the age of 91, she was done fighting. We talked openly about the end of her life, and she told us how grateful she was to have lived a full, happy life until she lost her independence and health. We didn’t want her to suffer anymore, physically or mentally, and she worried everyday that she was a burden to me. It was cathartic for me to write her eulogy a few days before she died. I wrote a lot about my mom over the years, and many of the stories appear in my book Mishegas of Motherhood. Where do you think I got the mishegas from? This piece was the most recent one I wrote about my mom, when her lymphoma came back on my 50th bday. I guess you could say I was prepared to lose my mom, my best friend. And then again, I wasn’t.

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Book signing, 2012.

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Learn How To Survive/Thrive Teen Years at Mom-Daughter Workshop

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What if teenage daughters could see their mothers as a great ally as they grew up and became independent? What if mothers could create safety for a teen daughter’s experience of herself, consciously guiding her to be who she was born to be?

What?! Sign me up!

Being a mom of a teen daughter is challenging, especially in today’s culture with a barrage of social media, peer pressure, and everyday stress that forces girls to grow up too fast. Moms ride a rollercoaster of emotions with our mini me’s. We are each other’s worst enemy and then best ally in the time it takes to get a spa pedicure.

If only there was a parenting manual on how to navigate our way through middle school, high school, and beyond. A resource that is as relevant and timely for moms as it is to our impressionable daughters so that we are both thinking on the same page. Wait a minute…there is such a book that speaks to us. It’s called Mothering and Daughtering. Keeping Your Bond Strong Through The Teen Years. Better yet, the co-authors are mom-daughter duo Sil and Eliza Reynolds, who live in The Big Apple and will be here in St. Louis next weekend as part of the Girls In The Know (GITK) mom-daughter empowerment celebration. Girls, it’s about to get real!

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For sure, the mother-daughter relationship is the most complex one of all, and perhaps no one understands the dynamics of this erratic dance better than Sil and Eliza who collaborated on this bestseller. When it comes to surviving and thriving the rocky adolescent years and into adulthood, this mom-daughter duo has been there, done that. For the last 10 years, they have travelled the country, from the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in New York to the Esalen retreat center in California, inspiring moms and their preteen daughters to “meet in the middle” and create a deeper, more meaningful relationship. And they also know girls just wanna have fun—so they have planned an engaging weekend of ritual, storytelling, art, and exercises in communication that will no doubt create special memories. Through creative strategies and games, moms and their daughters will learn new ways of being together in mutual respect and love—and have a blast!

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Counting Down to College

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Next weekend, my son Jack will move into his college dorm as a freshman, and mark the beginning of a new stage in his life and mine, too. As a parent, this is the day I have tried to prepare him to spread his wings and fly out of the nest. Never mind the fact that mama bird is feeling a bit emotional, like the first day I dropped him off at preschool (multiplied by one thousand).

Of course I’m excited for him. He has worked really hard to get good grades, score decent on his ACT, and write an impressive resume and college essay. He deserves this time to explore his freedom, take on new challenges, and meet new people. My biggest concern is that he sleeps into the afternoon or falls out of his loft bed.

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Watch LTYM on YouTube!

What’s the #1 fear of most people? Public speaking. What’s the #2 fear? Watching themselves speaking. OKay, so now that I got that out of the way, I’m actually very excited to share with you our entire LTYM St. Louis playlist, now live on our YouTube channel. In fact, you can watch shows from all 24 cities across the nation, from Chicago to Washington, DC. That’s about 350 speakers, who all have their own stories to tell.

Of course, it’s impossible to capture the energy in the room that day. St. Louis was the only city to have two performances, a morning and afternoon, and, believe it or not, we were so pumped up that we felt like we could have done it again if our Spanx were not so damn uncomfortable.
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Celebrate Motherhood The Month of May

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What’s better than Mother’s Day? How about Mother’s Month? Seriously, I’m considering petitioning Hallmark to officially expand this national holiday for the entire month of May. Who’s with me?

St. Louis women can celebrate motherhood with a variety of exciting events and activities that stretch beyond that single Sunday in May.

Mark your calendars and get ready for some serious fun:

Mama-palooza

Thursday, May 2, 7-9 p.m.

 The Crescent in Clayton, 155 Carondelet Plaza

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The month of May kicks off with Mama-Palooza, featuring former St. Louisan Melissa Gerststein, co-founder of The Moms, and the hilarious  New York Times bestselling author Jill Smokler, “Scary Mommy” blogger, who is stopping here on her whirlwind book tour of her newest release, “Motherhood Comes Naturally (and other vicious lies).”

Leave it to the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) to host a Girl’s Night Out that brings us together for nibbles and giggles, while raising money to help local children. You’re invited to nosh on drinks and appetizers, win prizes, and laugh at the parenting sagas of these two famous funny ladies, while benefiting NCJW’s Back-to-School Store, which provides school supplies and new clothing to 4,000 elementary and middle schoolers in eight area public schools and the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry.

RSVP:  www.ncjwstl.org or call 314-993-5181.

Spa for The Soul

Sunday, May 5, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m

The Chesterfield Art Center, 444 Chesterfield Center, Suite 130

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The Jewish Women’s Chai Circle hosts the second annual Spa for the Soul, featuring the ultimate day of pampering. Guests will enjoy mini mani-pedis, massages, health and beauty demos, crafts, raffles, a delicious kosher brunch, and so much more. The highlight of the event is a laughter therapy workshop led by stand-up comedian and actress Esther Rachel Russell, who will show us why laughter is the best medicine. Russell began her improvisational comedy career at the famous Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles, where she wrote and performed in comedy sketches with the “Saturday Night Live” comedy stars.

Founder and artistic director of the all-female comedy improve troupe, “Woman Gone Mad,” Russell has performed in the acclaimed off Broadway comedy, “A Match made in Manhattan-The Interactive Jewish Wedding.”

See you at the spa, and get ready to feel beautiful inside and out.

RSVP:  www.ChabadofChesterfield.com/spa or call 636 778 4000.

 

Listen To Your Mother

Saturday, May 11, Showtimes 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

St. Luke’s Institute for Health Education

232 South Woods Mill Road

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This special Mother’s Day celebration is not to be missed, and I’m not just saying that because I’m co-producing/directing the inaugural show in St. Louis. Listen To Your Mother St. Louis, which is held on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, is part of a national series of live readings that features some of our area’s most talented writers and bloggers, as well as everyday people who have an amazing story to share. Proudly, St. Louis is one of 24 cities across the country to host a production that is produced, directed, and performed by local communities for local communities.

Fifty percent of our ticket sales benefit Connections to Success (CtS), a local nonprofit organization that helps break the cycle of poverty through hope, resources, and a plan. CtS will be at the show with their Mystique Boutique, a mobile upscale shop that sells designer clothing and accessories to raise money for their programs.

I promise, you will laugh, you will cry, you will be transformed by this national movement that gives moms a microphone. Our show also features refreshments, live jazz music, prizes, shopping, and more surprises. Plus, Virginia Kerr, of Great Day St. Louis, is our emcee, so you don’t want to miss out. Bring your family and friends, and start a new Mother’s Day tradition in St Louis.

RSVP: go to www.listentoyourmothershow.com/stlouis or send me a note.

Also worth mentioning…Spring is in the air, and the Lou has plenty of outdoor fun, too. For example:

Laumeier Art Fair is a nationally acclaimed fine art and craft fair at Laumeier Sculpture Park, one of the world’s premier open-air museums. This popular annual event, which is held on Mother’s Day weekend, features creative and original works of art from 150 artists from across the country, not to mention food, drink, and musical entertainment.

For an old-fashioned good time with your family, visit Eckert’s and enjoy strawberry picking, wagon and pony rides, live entertainment,  and, of course, festival foods like funnel cakes and frozen custard.

If beer is your choice of beverage, the St. Louis Microfest is for you. This premiere event offers samples of international and craft beers, live music, silent auction, and plenty of food to make you thirsty for a cold brew. Profits benefit Lift For Life Gym, which provides supervised and safe activities for children eight to 18 years old, five evenings a week, all free of charge.

Got a green thumb? Shaw Nature Reserve and several nurseries from throughout the area will offer hundreds of varieties of annual and perennial wildflowers, ferns, trees and shrubs to use in home landscaping and to attract wildlife. The sale will feature the showiest and hardiest native plants for sun or shade, including purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, blazing star, dwarf crested iris, cardinal flower, compass plant, wild phlox, ostrich fern, bottle-brush buckeye, fringe tree and short-leaf pine.

And for all us dog lovers, the annual Bark in the Park promises a day of fun for both dogs and their owners. As the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Humane Society of Missouri, this annual festival features a one-mile pet walk and 5K run in Forest Park. After you work up a sweat, enjoy a full day of entertainment and favorite foods like funnel cakes, kettle corn and fresh squeezed lemonade.

Enjoy your Mother’s Day Month! You deserve it!