Julie and mother “Johnnie” Friedman
I recently asked you to let me know which of my posts on the blog have been your favorites so far. The vast majority of responses were the stories about pregnancy and motherhood. Why? It is where our lives intersect, a common denominator we can all relate to. We wouldn’t be here if it were not for our mothers, and if we are lucky… we get to experience being a mother too. I know Tatjana has been the greatest joy in my life!

Julie Anne Rhodes and mother “Johnnie” Friedman

My mother and I have had a more tumultuous path through the years. I was a head strong, rebellious daughter to put it mildly. I took all the unconditional love for granted, and perceived her protective lioness instincts as a malicious will to deprive me, rather than to protect me.
Life takes on a whole new meaning when you have a child. “Mother” becomes an inextricable part of your identity. Sometimes the other hats you wear (daughter, wife, friend, career, etc.) come into direct conflict with that role. The differences in our generations didn’t help either. Mom’s generation were brought up to rely upon a man to provide for them… something my generation, the first to grow up with women’s lib, perceived as weakness.

Julie Anne and Tatjana Rhodes
It wasn’t until Tatjana was born that I started developing a much deeper respect and appreciation for my own mom, and what it means to be a mother. With the onset of the first contraction I remember thinking “wow… did she really have me with NO pain killers?” By my second contraction I was begging for an epidural!

Julie Anne Rhodes and sister Patty Halfon

You must have been doing something right, mom. Against many odds, you managed to raise two happy, healthy, well-adjusted (no snickers allowed) girls that love and adore you!

Julie Anne Rhodes and mother “Johnnie” Friedman
Mom is indeed a much wiser, stronger woman than I ever gave her credit for.I may be a grown woman now, but there are still times “I want my mommy”, and this year has been definitely been one of them. I needed her, and thankfully she was there to see me through the surgery.
Mom is the first person I run to with news, good or bad, because no one will ever care quite as much as she does (I know, because that is how I feel about Tatjana). Mom’s had my back all these years… even when I was too stubborn to appreciate it. Thank you mom for never giving up on me, and for always being there for me when I’ve needed you. Happy Mother’s Day, I love you!
How will you celebrate your mother this Sunday? Click “comment” at the end of the post to leave your replies.

Crispy-Ginger Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This is one of mom’s favorite things to order when we go out for lunch. The combination of textures, warm meat against the cool lettuce leaf, and the fun of wrapping the lettuce around it to eat with your fingers make it a kid-friendly, family favorite as well.

Servings: 4

  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 lb. lean ground chicken
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 can water chestnuts, (8-ounce) drained and chopped
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 3 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 head romaine or iceberg lettuce, separated into leaves
  • Hoisin sauce (optional)

1. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon of peanut oil to the pan. Add ground chicken and cook, stirring frequently and breaking up into crumbles, about 6-8 minutes or until no longer pink inside and beginning to brown on the outside. Remove from pan to a plate, and tent with foil to keep warm.

2). Add remaining oil to the pan, then the garlic, ginger, and chili flakes. Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

3). Add carrots, mushrooms, and next 7 ingredients. Increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Add cooked chicken and green onions, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 additional minute.

4). Everyone makes their own lettuce wraps by spooning a little hoisin sauce onto a lettuce leaf (if desired), then a spoonful of the chicken mixture; roll up and eat immediately.

Serving Suggestions: I usually serve this either as an appetizer, or with a little lemon Jasmine rice on the side to round out as a meal.

Variations: you can substitute the chicken with ground turkey or pork, and use different vegetables of your choice.
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  • May 6, 2010
    5:58 pm

    It's so true. The connotations associated with the label "mother" are ALMOST as important as the responsibilities that label has.I do not know where I would be without my mother; and I can only hope I am HALF as good as she is with respect to raising my own challenging child.Thank you for putting some of my emotions into words.T

  • May 6, 2010
    6:14 pm

    Thanks, Jewels, for the beautiful Mother's Day post. I thank my mom every day for giving me the "tools" to be the best mom I can be! Happy Mother's Day to you!Amilee Hodge

  • May 6, 2010
    9:27 pm

    Awesome blog!I'm really really glad that you have a good mother…I said "thank you" to my dear father(dadà for me) on last father's day..that's enough for me.Martina D' Epifanio

  • May 6, 2010
    9:27 pm

    Aww love this! My mom and I had some rough times as well but now I appreciate her more than ever.Budgie Bradbury

  • May 6, 2010
    10:37 pm

    I've already lost my mom, but all of the things you said were "right on." I miss her all of the time… Great post & love the photos. :)Kim Phillips Cuccia

  • May 6, 2010
    11:45 pm

    I agree about the rebellious teen yrs, not respecting mom and then boom you are one and everything changes. Mine is 60 in Aug. and is still working as a full time paramedic. now I want her to come live near me when she retires in 1 1/2 yrs. She'll always be mommy to me and don't care if I'm 36.Carly Guerrero

  • May 6, 2010
    11:52 pm

    Kim I'm sorry to hear about your mother. I don't even want to think about life without mine, but I'm happy you hang onto the good memories. That is what we are all left with in the end.Martina, from what you have said about your father he's an amazing man, and certainly stepped up to the plate playing both parent's roles.Amilee, Budgie, and Carly… at least we appreciate our moms now, and let them know it.

  • May 7, 2010
    1:19 am

    This blog had me in tears….so, so true……the introduction just screamed out my mother and me. However, I guess there are many out there that felt the same way. Being a mum now I completley understand what she was on about all those years ago.This Mother's Day, my husband and my precious little princess will be taking me out for a lovely breakfast at a Cafe near the beach. For lunch we are taking my mother (along with my younger brother) out for a lovely meal. Dinner will be at my mother-in-law's which will include all her son's (4 of them) including their wives & children. All up there will be 16 of us for dinner on Mother's Day. Looking forward to it. May you have a lovely Mother's Day.Aussie MumP.S. Gorgeous Photos.

  • May 7, 2010
    4:32 pm

    oh honey, i know that feeling! Especially when Mummy's day is on sunday…well we can miss them in togetherness and knowing that they are forever with us and we've both skipped on seeing them prematurely! Hows that for some positivity for a friday xxxx lots of love xxxLou Ashby

  • May 7, 2010
    4:32 pm

    i love those photos. nothing makes us appreciate our own mothers more than joining the club ourselves.i'll be spending mother's day with my own two beautiful girls, the hub, and kicking it off with breakfast at disneyland!i hope yours is lovely.

  • May 7, 2010
    5:53 pm

    Check out Julie Anne Rhodes' fabulous blog-Rock & Roll history, fashion, people & some damn fine food too!Nile Rodgers

  • May 7, 2010
    5:57 pm

    Talented, gorgeous and smart – and a damn fine chef. One of the finest blogs around, a hefty dose of glam, fabulous Californian food and beautifully written – you will get addicted to what Jewels comes up with next. Unmissable.Alison Hay

  • May 7, 2010
    6:00 pm

    Aussie Mum I think you must be my younger Aussie twin, Wan… so much fun! Lou, Nile, and Alison… I have the world's best friends! Hugs to all of you. xo

  • May 7, 2010
    6:18 pm

    There with you both….not easy but we have all coped and hopefully have made them proud!!! Nothing beats a mother's hug. Take care xxGi Halwagi

  • May 7, 2010
    6:35 pm


  • May 7, 2010
    10:27 pm

    That's great. Happy Mothers Day to you. Mark Downie

  • May 8, 2010
    12:03 am

    "Mother" is such a strong common thread. I remember when Princess Diana died, someone who's life seemed to be as different from mine as you could get, but suddenly realizing in one way, we had so much in common, we were both mommies and we both loved our boys so very much. That was what made me cry, that she would miss out on so much of their lives. I remember sharing those thoughts with my mom and she completely understood.I have not always agreed with my mom, I still like to mess with her, say and do things that make her laugh while at the same time she wants to wring my neck. My boys sometimes (often) do things that mirror what I did or said when I was their age. At those moments I call my mom and appologise. I call her when I need comfort or advice. I call her and tell her everything about "her" boys, my two sons. She is a fabulous Grandmama, who knows her grandchildren (all twelve of them) quite well.For mother's day I will call my mom, at a time when I have plenty of time to talk to her (a few hours) and email her some pictures. That is all she wants. Happy Mother's Day Everyone!

  • May 8, 2010
    4:19 pm

    I hope you have a very Happy Mothers Day!Dorah Caulfield

  • May 8, 2010
    4:20 pm

    Happy Mother's Day! Have a blessed weekend!Eileen Ikuta

  • May 8, 2010
    4:21 pm

    You all have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend too! Would love to hear all about it.

  • May 8, 2010
    4:39 pm

    Happy Mother's Day! I love hearing daughters talk about how much they love their mothers. My mom and I see each other at least once a week, and talk daily. My respect for her tripled when I became a mother. That's some hard work!Best to you, Julie Anne.

  • May 8, 2010
    7:52 pm

    Happy Mother's Day to a wonderful mom!Cynthia Zeman Godwin

  • May 8, 2010
    8:02 pm

    Happy Mother's Day and enjoy your travels to Turkey…You will have a great time..The Black Sea , Marmara Sea, the Aegean, and the Mediterranean – Fishmarkets, the smell from sea….Fresh Seafood…..Fantastic…. The Turkish Cuisine a crossing between the Far-East/Central Asia, the Mediterranean and Europe, maybe not exotic food but surely and definitely interesting and delicious – a taste and reflection of cultures. Bring back spices. I do recommend an evening at Ulus 29 (see post) I am sure you will enjoy it. The Ottoman Empire was there for approximately 600 years so …think about the evolution of the Turkish Cuisine ….baklava, seafood, soups, pilafs, kebabs, pastries, candy and helva…..and wherever you go there is fresh bread and smells from the pastery/bakery shops….. Thanks for stopping by my blog and enjoy your travels – I am on my way to Jordan, Amman – Aqaba…..and then very likely South Africa in June/July… who knows???? Live well… Life is Good…."Tavarua"

  • May 8, 2010
    8:20 pm

    Yes, life is great Tavarua! I love following your blog and will be stopping there often… the perfect escape when trapped in LA. Thank you so much for getting me even more excited about traveling to Turkey (praying to the volcano Gods to behave every day), and I will make a point of an evening at Ulus!Happy FIRST Mother's Day Cynthia, and Lane I am actually jealous (at 16 I never would have believed the words about to spill from my mouth) that you see your mom every week!

  • May 8, 2010
    9:44 pm

    Hi Julie Anne,Even though I am not a mother and my mother passed away so many years ago that I have few memories of her, I think of the day as a celebration for all women because we all have been a "mother" to someone in need. I know that I stayed late at the office to talk to students who needed someone to talk to and they all knew that I was in early and they could come in and just talk. Their parents would call for reassurance that all was well (I worked in a student dorm)and I would talk to the parents and listen as long as necessary to see what I could do to ease their fears of sending their son or daughter into the world on their own for the first time. Mentoring is another way of mothering, you're sharing your life experience with someone younger who needs some guidance. I see this in you and recognize a soul who needs to be mothering in order to feel whole. Be happy, you have raised a lovely daugther who has her whole life ahead of her to learn and build on what you and your ex have taught her. Maybe this quote will bring you a little comfort – "You should study not only that you became a mother when your child is born, but also that you become a child. Dogen Zenji"In other words see the world through the eyes of a child when you become a mother, it will help you become a better one. I have no doubt that you have and continue to do so. That as well as sharing such a wealth of knowledge and a sense of fun with the rest of us. You mentor a lot more people than you would ever realize. Happy Mother's Day!

  • May 9, 2010
    1:14 am

    I just lost my Gram who raised me this past March. For the first time in many many years I don't have anyone to do something for on Monther's Day as my mother passed 20+ years ago as well. I plan to take fresh flowers to her grave, have a nice meal, and give thanks to the Lord above that he blessed me with 48 years with my "mom."

  • May 9, 2010
    3:09 am

    Julie Anne, thank you so much for that beautiful blog. It brought happy tears to my eyes. I'm sitting here with my "little man", wide-eyed and trusting on my lap. So many years of love, responsibility, and worry ahead! I am thinking very differently about my own mother this Mother's Day. Like you with your mom, there were very tumultuous times. I'd never understood a parent's worry, and am now getting the beginning tastes. Sadly, my mom had to return to Cali earlier this week, so we can't share Mother's Day together, but I'll be making the most appreciative phone call!Jewels, have an amazing Mother's Day. Safe travels to London and Turkey-you must be so excited to see Tatjana! Looking forward to hearing about your trip, and perhaps a great Turkish recipe or two? :-)Cyndi

  • May 9, 2010
    3:10 pm

    We had a huge gathering last weekend for my parents 80th birthdays. Yesterday I was at my daughters for the day. I have beautiful flowers! I love your site Julie Anne!KarenaArt by Karena

  • May 9, 2010
    3:44 pm

    happy mother's day julie from italy xoxoClaudia Saragan

  • May 9, 2010
    3:44 pm

    HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!Martina D' Epifanio

  • May 9, 2010
    3:45 pm

    Happy Mother's day for you too!!!!XXXMariFer Cruz Ortega MariFer Cruz Ortega

  • May 9, 2010
    3:49 pm

    One of my favorite blogs!Melinda McCoy LaBarge

  • May 9, 2010
    3:51 pm

    Fascinating.Jennifer Terrell

  • May 9, 2010
    3:52 pm

    Awesome Julie Anne!!Thanks for the nod NileColleen Rohde-Szudy

  • May 9, 2010
    7:27 pm

    Happy Mothers Day Jewels.Stuart Drexler

  • May 9, 2010
    7:29 pm


  • May 9, 2010
    7:30 pm

    Thank you! Happy mothers day to you too! I hope you have a wonderful day!Suzanne Voelker

  • May 9, 2010
    7:35 pm

    Happy Mother's Day to the most stylish mom I know…… xoxoxoJulia Negron

  • May 9, 2010
    7:36 pm

    Happy Happy Mother's Day To You … you do it so beautifully.Madeleine Gallay

  • May 9, 2010
    11:22 pm

    I'm not a mother, and I feel that I've missed out on something very special. I lost my own mother at a very young age and have very few memories of her. But, on the other hand, women can be very influential by mentoring or being there for teens and young adults. I was a secretary in a university dorm and had many young students stop in to talk about different things. I would stay late to talk with anyone and most of the kids in general knew that I was in my office early and would talk with them. Talking to parents was always difficult, so many of them were fearful to let their son or daughter leave the nest and take those first tentative steps into adulthood on their own. I loved chatting with the students and learned so much from them about what their lives were like with regard to fitting their studies in with other interests. These young adults have a lot of stresses in their lives and developing strategies to deal with these falls back to the lessons they learned at home. Sometimes you do have to step back and let them make their own mistakes in order to learn about life. I think that you and your ex have set your daugther up with all the necessary "tools" to live a productive life and a personally satisfying one. You're a good mother, Julie Anne, don't ever doubt that. It is very evident how much Tatjana means to you in the stories and pictures you share with us. I love this quote that I found on a calendar – "You should study not only that you become a mother when your child is born, but also that you become a child. – Dogen Zenji" In other words we all need to look at life through our childrens' eyes in order to see life as they see it. How you see it as an adult is very different than how a child sees it and that is something worth remembering. Happy Mother's Day to you and all the posters who shared such wonderful stories.

  • May 9, 2010
    11:29 pm

    Happy Mothers Day! Mom!

  • May 10, 2010
    5:02 am

    Happy Mothers Day Jewels!!!!! You're a FANTASTIC Mommy, you should be SO proud, you raised an AWESOME kid ~ LOVE and MISS YOU xxxxxxx'sSammy Phillips