Thursday, March 29, 2012

LadyMama of the Week: Leah Notik (My Mom!) + Recipe

So much of what keeps me going with writing and blogging for LadyMama is the fact that it connects me with so many amazing and interesting real women. To embellish on the notion, I decided to start "LadyMama of the Week," celebrating readers who, just like me, are "trying to stay smart, stylish, spiritual and sane." 

The fact that LadyMama is so much fun is only a wonderful byproduct of my larger goal to infuse honesty and humor in today's Jewish women.  So who better to introduce the first installment than my very own mother—a woman who has inspired within me that very goal! 

Growing up, I always had to question whether my friends came over to see me...or my ever-so-cool mother! My "Ma" always gave the best advice, was completely non-judgmental and never failed to provide some great laughs. The kind of laughs that you might think you couldn't have with your friend's mother when you're seventeen :) My Ma is hip without trying—never letting her candor and ability to relate get in the way of delivering wise insights.  

My mother is my best friend. To be honest, I would not have said that when I was a teenager. But as soon as I got out of that fragile phase, we were able to connect and bond in a unimaginably deep way. Now that I am a mother myself, her wisdom is indespensable. But most rewarding is the way we can sometimes connect as peers, usually talking about the family and how funny/hard/amazing life is. 

Having asked my mother the questions you're about to read, I realized that I should have been interviewing  her all my life! These only scratch the surface, so I can definitely say this will not be the last time. I now have a million more questions for which I'm sure she will provide genuine and meaningful responses. She is full of gems that come from rich experiences and a soulful eye on every situation and person she comes across. 

I encourage LadyMamas everywhere to sit down with their mother (or female guardian/mentor) to ask some real questions. And if you know of another woman who would shine as LadyMama of the Week, please e-mail me at! 

Now, introducing...

Me and my mom (not my sister, I promise) at my nephews bris in in January

  (My mom!)

LM: How does it feel having your youngest child about to graduate college?

It feels great! We are so proud of her. But I have to be honest, I'm already starting to get "empty nest syndrome" just thinking about it. When you embark on motherhood your kids are with you for many years. And you can never imagine it being any other way. In our case our daughter is the youngest of seven. Kids have been in and around home for approximately 32 years! So this will be a huge transition for me and Tatty. But of course, we are looking forward to all the simchas and happiness that will come with her move and new job this summer. But truthfully this will be an adjustment (did I say that already? :)). 

LM: What do you think has changed most about motherhood since you became a mom 30 years ago?

One of the greatest shifts I've seen is a certain surge of mothers being unfulfilled in their role of being "just" a mother and needing more. I feel that our generation was a bit more content just being a mother and housewife. Although I myself did it's happening a lot more out of this intrinsic need, not circumstance. Women today are up against a lot of pressure to work, use their hobbies and accomplish great things aside for mothering. The hard part is making sure your family continues to thrive no matter what. It's deeply important for mothers to feel self-fulfilled, but this must never come at the cost of her family's well being. And that is a challenge that did not exist as much in my generation. 

LM: What advice would you offer today's mothers to help them live happier, richer lives?

I would have to say bar none that women today need to do all they can to be more present. I find that most people and mothers today are not living and enjoying each moment to the fullest. Cell phones, computers and social media have taken over our time, energy and focus.  I'm not dissing these venues but we are not getting enough rest when we have free time and enough focus when our time is needed.  Stay in the moment and enjoy the small tedious things. Nurturing your family with good food...playing with your children...these are the things that matter in the long run and these are the memories that will stay with us.  This does not mean that I'm opposed to working mothers in any way— it's more about appropriate balance and structuring your life so that your family isn't missing out or needing a certain attention from you that you can't give.

Being a mother requires true dedication to your children day and night. So no matter what our greater personal goals and ambitions and hobbies, women today need to try hard to give 

LM: What would you say is one of your biggest accomplishments as a woman/mother?

I definitely think having seven kids in ten years was a great accomplishment! :) More so that I felt that each one was loved and nurtured.  But looking at our family now and seeing how all my kids are these unique individuals who are honest and real and contributing to the greater community at large is the most satisfying accomplishment.  I'd also love to take credit for the fact that my children love one another and want to always spend time with each other to laugh and debate and help each other out. There's nothing more gratifying! 

LM: Do you have any regrets? Things you would have done differently?

Yes I have regrets, just like all parents do.  One of the largest ones would be to have shielded my kids from my own internal processes. I was always a deep person who was ever changing in the way I related to my Judaism and the world. And sometimes my honesty in questioning either our communities or even decisions I myself made wasn't the best thing for my kids. I will say though that even this "regret" turned out okay, because I am actually happy to have taught my kids to be honest seekers in this world. 

If you're a young mother reading this, just know now not to spend too much time regretting things. You will make mistakes but as long as you are committed to the health and happiness of your children -- things should turn out alright ;)

LM: What are some things you think every woman today needs to help her succeed as a woman/wife/homemaker/mother?

Women need tons of support and love form their spouses. When there is Shalom Bayis and true love and respect at home, a woman can shine as a wife, homemaker and mother and always feel special and fulfilled.

On a more materialistic side, definitely a maid to help maintain a clean and orderly home so that one can concentrate on the children's needs. 

LM: How has your background in nursing affected the way you care for your family?  

Well the real question is "How has being a mother affected being a nurse?" :) 

But I guess I would say that it has made me realize that one of my strongest qualities has been compassion and about giving to others at all times. Humans are so fragile and we need to do our utmost to accommodate peoples' needs and deal with others in a way that honors their humanity.

Just like being a nurse, nurturing is a huge quality in motherhood. And the more you nurture, the more it comes back to you.  

LM: Looking back, is seven kids a lot? a little? just right? :)

Recently I visited a friend that at one point had the same amount of kids as I in the same age group and now has 4 more after me.  I was so impressed and, for a minute (yes, just a minute!) I thought how great it would have been if I would still have kids home after our youngest moves out this year.  Kids are a blessing but one really needs to know what their threshold is...and enjoy fully whatever they have been given. It is your life investment!

LM: What's something you always tried to live by that you hope gets passed down to your children?

I hope that, just as I love my siblings and parents and treat each relationship with utmost love, selflessness and  esteem that each of my children will do the same  with their siblings and family and treasure these relationships with each other forever!  I think I have been a living example of what this means.  In order to create your own dynasty of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents it is important to always be humble and never let small little petty disagreements get in the way of a healthy and loving family dynamic! Always approach matters in true humbleness. 

LM: What's it like to read your own daughters musings on being a mother herself? :)

Absolutely heart warming and amusing! I love how real and unadulterated she is!  She's fearless as to what people think and so frank to address  issues that we are all thinking but yet too afraid to talk about.  I'm always amazed at how her articles can be so deep yet filled with great humor! Making everyone feel truly human, relevant and able to relate is a true talent.  You are a trendy, professional, well expressed LadyMama and your mama is so proud!

[Editors note: Awww, thanks Ma! :)]

LM: Any closing thoughts?

Appreciate simplicity!

Love deeply, enjoy each moment, smile intensely!  

We are blessed with gifts from above for a short while and it is our honor and responsibility to take care of these gifts to the best of our ability.

Treat each choice in life as a rare jewel , examine and re-examine until you make the best choice for your family.

The art of listening is so important.  Looking one another in the eye and truly listen.

Try to love unconditionally and not be swayed by societal demands. We are always put under community norms and to live by them might not be your norm. Do what feels right to you and your family and then you can be real with everyone around you.

Mamasita Buena's Famous Family Favorite:
 "Easy and Amazing" Chocolate Chip Bar Recipe 

This is the only picture I could find of my family's favorite treat. As you 
can see, we all want to get our hands on them. And even chocolate-chip bars 
in this amount were always finished way before Shabbos was over! 


1 1/2 cups oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 white sugar

Mix all the above.

4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
 2 tsp baking soda  + 1 tsp salt (mixed together)
1 bag of chocolate chips 

Combine all ingredients. Mix. 
Bake at 350º until brown (usually about 45-60 mins)


If you know of a woman who would shine as LadyMama of the Week, please e-mail me with your suggestion at! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest Blogger: Dear Husband, We Won the Lottery

By CSK from Los Angelos, CA
(If you want to contact the author directly, please e-mail her at


My husband and I often talk about winning the lottery. We speak about all the things we'd buy, the cars we would drive, the house we always dreamed of being at our finger tips, the charities we'd give to and how life would be so much easier without the constant struggle of bills and rent. Together, we buy a lottery ticket once a week in hope of waking up one day to a whole new life—a life where we could live comfortably and be able to make all our dreams come true. 

Then, one night as I lay in bed thinking to myself, it dawned on me. And I decided to write this letter to my husband.

To My Sweet Husband, 

Do you remember that night when you placed a wedding band on my finger, and then stepped on a glass under our Chuppah with the crowd erupting in music and dancing... 

That night, we won the lottery.

Do you recall that day when we set up our tiny little apartment, shopping for all the new things we would need to build a home together, so naive and innocent but so rich with happiness...

It was then that we won the lottery.

The memory of the day when that red plus symbol appeared on my pregnancy test and you jumped in the air and yelled "Yeessss!" as we laughed and cried tears of joy, knowing we were about to build a family together…

That day, we won the lottery.

The moment when our beautiful baby boy came into this world, and I watched you turn from a young man into a father holding your son with a face glowing with love and pride...

At that very moment, we won the lottery.

Do you remember how hearing the laughter of our newborn made our hearts melt together, as if the entire world was frozen in time, when it was really just the three of us...

Right then, we had won the lottery.

I'll never forget the nights before my grandfathers death, where you'd lie awake with me at night listening to me tell stories about my Zeidy and how much I would miss him.. You were so tired from a hard day's work, yet you sat with me until 3am, both of us bonded by a sincere understanding and love...

It was that night that we won the lottery.

And do you remember taking our son to the beach, watching the waves crash onto the shore, as he clapped and watched in amazement.. 

Just one of the many times we had won the lottery.

So to my husband, my best friend, my partner, my world: Although we may not have won the Megamillion, We have already won the most meaningful and rewarding lottery countless times in our lives.

Your rich wife

Many times in our lives we think about how much happier we would be with more money. How easy everything would be. How all our problems would magically be washed away in exchange for those crisp dollar bills. That we would have better relationships, better marriages. How we would be better mothers, wives, and friends—if only we would just have that money. But I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when you are filled with happiness and love and you choose to see the real wealth all around you, you are just as rich as yesterday’s Megamillion winner! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Advice Under The Knife: My Response to Halberstam

By Mimi Hecht
Mimi Hecht is a stark contrast to the by-the-books, food pureeing, self-sacrificing supermom that many women feel pressured to live up to. Her articles like “The 10 Untruths about Motherhood” and “My Mama Manual” offer women an honest and humorous take on both the joys and hardships in trying to stay sane, stylish and spiritual in Motherland. Through her candor in addressing things like infertility, the high price of groceries or her mind-battle over circumcising her son, Mimi strives to inspire confidence in women and teach new moms to march to the beat of their own drum. To share her thoughts and celebrate all kinds of mothers, she started LADYMAMA a growing online community of modern-day Jewish women. Follow LadyMama on Facebook at

Advice Under the Knife: My Response to Halberstam 

There's vanity...and then there's vanity.

Upon reading Yitta Halberstam's (co-author of "Small Miracles") recent Jewish Press article, entitled "Purim And The Tyranny Of Beauty: A Plea to Mothers of Girls in Shidduchim," I couldn't decide what gave me the heebeejeebees more: Her rambling about her beloved son who is inundated with resumes and offers; her pathetic attempt to make a Purim lesson from her deranged thoughts on beauty; the unabashed twisting of stories of famous Rabbis to make her point; a very feigned attempt at empathizing with the plight of single girls—the list goes on. But even though the entire thing has every reader considering whether or not the article is perhaps a satire, her opening—in which she actually readies herself for a backlash from readers—makes me think she was actually being quite serious. 

Halberstam writes about attending a Shidduch event where mother's and young single girls would be introduced to each other, to help bypass the inevitable stumbling blocks of resumes and help get properly acquainted with single girls in real life. Perhaps overbearing mothers should have been suggested as the problem. But instead, Halberstam goes on to explain her surprise at how most the girls in attendance did not seem to be wearing makeup and were certainly not, as she says, "decked out." She tries to build a case that even the most modest and pure religious boy looks for an attractive girl and "What were they thinking? How had their mothers allowed them to leave their homes with limp hair and unadorned faces?" Through a series of pretty low statements, Halberstam reveals her belief that girls today must make significant improvements and even consider plastic surgery in order to up their chances of getting married. 

Even had she not blatantly encouraged young single girls to consider cosmetic surgery, her article would have still been grotesque. Her condescending undertones that push an emphasis on physicality that  would make even the most vain person cringe. But the fact that she brazenly suggest plastic surgery as an acceptable form of cosmetic enhancement and tries to present this as a solution for the Shidduch crisis is appalling. The fact we she shares an adherence to the same religion and even community is downright petrifying. 

I'm not sure if Mrs. Halberstam believes in a G-d or not, but I do. The G-d I believe in makes matches for all sorts of people—the tall, the short, the fat, the skinny, the pimply, the crooked nosed...even people missing limbs or suffering from body-altering conditions find loving, healthy relationships. Sure, aesthetics are a fact of life, especially when dealing with helping men and women choose partners. But encouraging a girl to try and look her best is very different than suggesting mothers to "confront the need to make our daughters as shidduch-worthy as possible, no matter what it takes." (And I quote: "Borrow the money if you have to.")

Halberstam, who admits to having a nose job when she was younger, claims that "There is no reason in today’s day and age with the panoply of cosmetic and surgical procedures available, why any girl can’t be transformed into a swan." It makes me wonder if she thinks she's dealing with some MTV reality show and forgot that most Jewish singles who abide by the Shidduch dating system still have an iota of respect and faith in the principles and priorities of authentic Judaism—nevermind humanity at large! Her views weren't just out of line with the religion she claims to represent, but would be shocking to any descent person of the world. 

More than being incredibly insulting to single girls everywhere, her statements is even more abhorrent when you consider that she claims to represent single men today. Maybe I just don't run in the same materialistic, vain and gruesome circles as Mrs. Halberstam, but most men I know are not excited by overuse of makeup and certainly would not desire that their future wife have undergone cosmetic surgeries. Despite the stereotypes that men have (and I don't deny that they are the more physically-driven of the sexes!), it's flat-out disgusting denial of the reality that most men are very capable of keeping their eye on the deeper, more important aspects when considering a potential spouse. Perhaps in her quest to alter the faces of young singles today, Halberstam is revealing more about her dear son than anything else. I wish him luck. 

When I was looking for my soulmate, the fact that I was 5"11 and taller than what seemed like 90% of potential suitors certainly made things move slower. I was intent on marrying a tall man. Furthermore, many men are intimidated by tall women or, well, it's just not their look! That's fine. Perhaps if I wanted to make things easier I should have cut a portion of my legs and reattached my feet. But no, the same G-d that gave me my eyes, hair and nose also made me tall. And he had a husband for me, too. An exceptional man who loves my height and my makeup-less face—but mostly just loves me because I am so obviously his soulmate in a myriad of deep ways. Imagine that. 

Mrs. Halberstam, I can introduce you to many beautiful women who—even with their big noses or droopy eyes or  pimples or frizzy hair or extra pounds—found their soulmates. Being deserving of marriage and love and happiness when you're not some imaginary man's idea of physical perfection? Wow! What a concept! 

My blood boiled reading Halberstam's example of an older single woman who "had a nose job….gastric bypass …botox injections….her teeth were capped…..and she wears violet-blue contact lenses…There’s practically nothing about her that’s real!...But…guess what? She’s getting married next month!” She should really make sure no one can get her address, because she would surely see rocks through her windows for unabashedly using this story to build her case.  

Halberstam closes her article with wishes that young women use her advice to build a Jewish home that is an everlasting edifice. Meanwhile, striving to mirror her ill priorities is actually the antedote to a deep and meaningful life. 

To any single women out there who have ever felt the wrath of pressure to alter their looks to win dates, I urge you: Do not accept any advice that crosses the line from "Put your best foot forward" and into "You're not good enough" or "You're inherently undesirable and need to change." If there is a G-d in the world, there is no such thing.  You only need to be good enough and pretty enough and smart enough for one person, and that man will see you for the beautiful woman you undoubtedly are. 

Mrs. Halberstam, it will take a "big miracle" for you to become a trusted and positive voice on the issue of Jewish dating. In your disingenuous effort to help cure a crisis, you have perpetuated the problem. Congratulations on becoming yet one more example of what today's young Jewish singles have to overcome in their attempt to be themselves and live up to Judaism's core priorities in a world that is already so blinding and full of pressures. What young singles need today is support, practical tools to aid in their search and to be kept in mind for prospective suitors. What they don't need is some ranting mother who, although she may have found her husband via nose job, apparently lost all her good sense.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

LadyMama Fashion Finds: My Coral Crush

The highlight of my day yesterday was meeting up with Sharon of for a light lunch on a most gorgeous sunny and breezy spring day! 

Sharon and I met virtually when we were both featured in an article about Jewish female bloggers. We've met in person since, but this was out first time having a real-life, just-you-and-I get together. So how funny that we both showed up wearing coral maxi skirts!  

Now, Sharon is the real fashionista of us two. To see what I mean, like her Fashion-Isha Facebook page, where she features the most amazing MODEST and seriously stylin' looks, often straight from the runway or worn by celebrities. So to say the least, I was honored to have made the same style choice as her that morning. Phew!

Matching with Fashion-Isha got me thinking about how perfect the color coral is for a flowing, feminine spring maxi skirt, but also how it adds a strong dose of pretty pick-me-up just about everywhere else! It's more feminine than orange, more confident than pink...and an absolute must have in your wardrobe, jewelry, decor and just about everywhere else (including a carseat I found :)). 

Enjoy these coral inspirations 
to take with you into spring and beyond! 

Source: via Deb on Pinterest

Source: via James on Pinterest

"California Coral" by Essie 

Source: via Michael on Pinterest

Source: via Meredith on Pinterest

And who says your baby's carseat can't express some coral crush? :)
Maxi-Cosi Pebble Infant Car Seat - Sugar Coral

Thank you to our sponsors: the beautiful coral reefs!

Thanks for joining me on this coral cruise! 
If you take inspiration from this post and infuse your clothing or surrounding with coral, send a picture to! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

LadyMama Fashion Finds: Flat Sandals

It's been a while since I've done a LM Fashion Find and my anticipation for 
spring crossed the threshold today with New York's weather nearing 70º! 

So although its not even mid-March yet, I did a little sandal research 
to prep for the even sunnier days ahead! 

Enjoy my mental shopping; there's a flat sandal here for everyone! 

Source: via Mimi on Pinterest

Source: via Mimi on Pinterest

Source: via Mimi on Pinterest

Source: via Mimi on Pinterest

Source: via Mimi on Pinterest

Source: via Mimi on Pinterest

Source: via Mimi on Pinterest