Meet a Mom – Joanna Lander | Essex County Moms



  1. How many kids do you have and what are their ages?


I have 3 children.  My oldest son Julian is 7 years old.  My middle son Harley is turning 5 this summer and my daughter Piper is almost 3!


  1. How long have you lived in Short Hills/Millburn/Livingston and what made you decide to live here?


We have been living in Livingston for 6 years.  My husband and I both grew up locally, in Westfield and South Orange.  We are lucky to have family living close, particularly grandparents who love to babysit!  We have made great friends through our children’s preschool and elementary school, and feel very connected to friends in our neighboring towns.  One of the greatest attributes of this area is the wonderful sense of community that permeates throughout the different neighborhoods.


3.Tell us about your business and what other local things you are involved in!  And how did you get started?


I started a business called “In the Mix”.  I bake customized, hand rolled sugar cookies of all shapes and sizes.  The more colors and fun toppings, the better!  I learned to cook from my father and through that passion I became a self-taught baker.  A meal will always bring people together, it is a constant that unites all people.  My love affair with baking and decorating cookies began when my first son Julian was turning one.  We hosted a huge “Bows and Bowtie Birthday Bash”.  All the little boys arrived in bowties and the girls in big hair bows.  For endless hours, I worked tirelessly on baking and hand designing at least 100 bow and bowtie cookies in every color!  From that day forward, I promised my son (and later my other two children) a special theme-based cookie for their birthday parties.  Seven years later, with the motivation of my family and many supportive friends, I launched my own business and hope to share my passion with others.


My son turning one was another turning point for a lot of exciting changes in my life.  Prior to having children I worked as a general medicine and oncology social worker for many years.  I decided to further my education in the healthcare field and enrolled in school to become a Registered Dietician (RD).  Many years (and three kids!) later, I am still enrolled in classes to complete my degree with the goal of starting a clinical private practice.  The journey has been long, but incredibly rewarding!  A lot of my peers have asked, “how is it that you want to be a dietician, yet you bake cookies”?  It’s really simple.  I love a good salad, but you cannot live life with your head in a bowl of lettuce.  Life is about eating wholesome, substantially nourishing foods, most of the time.  Celebrations and milestones deserve a sweet indulgence, in moderation.  Balance is an art and life is meant to have sprinkles and color.


 4.Favorite thing to do when you need “me time”?


I am a huge fitness junky.  My happy place is the Barre3 studio in Livingston.  It is my one hour haven where I can challenge my body and mind, and leave any stresses out the door.  Last year I was asked to be their Brand Ambassador.  I planned many events both in the studio and at community venues, while building their brand both on social media and through word of mouth.


5.Favorite place for dinner with kids?


Our kids love Echo Tap and Grille in Mountainside.  They have a huge menu, including the “crazy” decadent milkshakes that all kids love.  We also love Seymours in Livingston. They make the best ice coffee (at all times of day!) and yummy dinner.  They are the most kid friendly, family run business in town.


6.Most enjoyable place to hang out?


Our kids love to be outdoors.  In the summer, the Jersey Shore is our happy place.  The kids love the rides and games at Jenkinson’s.  In the fall we love to hike up at Bear Mountain in Rockland County, NY.  In the winter, sledding at the local schools with friends is our favorite thing to do!  And in the spring, we love going fruit picking at Alstede Farms in Chester.


7.How do you balance your career and being a mom?


I have discovered a whole new level of multi-tasking!  I’ve learned how to eat with my right hand and feed my children with the left.  I’ve learned all kinds of tech savvy ways to expedite emails and text messages, mostly done from the carpool line!  I’ve also learned to involve my children, which is not always easy because they are all still young.  Because my business is based out of a kitchen my children are always asking to help (which often means spilling flour on the floor) or to taste, or to just stand with me and watch.  When I am making test batches of cookie dough, I let them count the eggs, measure the water, pick their own spatula.  I want them to develop their social-emotional intelligence and feel confidence and pride in being mommy’s little helpers.


8.Proudest mommy moment(s)?


When my son Julian was in Kindergarten, I came into his classroom as a special visitor to teach the children about “eating the rainbow”.  I had boxes of fruits and vegetables in all colors, and we made a rainbow, played games and read stories.  When my son had his graduation ceremony, each child stood on the stage and were asked to share their favorite memory from the year.  Julian took the microphone and said, “the day my mommy came to my class and showed my friends how to eat healthy foods, most of the time.  My mommy really cares”.  I had tears rolling down my face as I felt so valued and connected to my child.



9.Can’t believe that happened mommy moment!


When I was pregnant with my third child, after having two boys, I was convinced that my third would be boy.  When I went for my mid pregnancy ultrasound and the doctor confirmed I was having a girl, my jaw dropped.  Truthfully, I never fully believed the doctors until the day I delivered her, with my hospital bag packed full of pink bows.



10.Best advice you have gotten from a mom?


When my first son was born, I felt as though my emotions were hijacked!  I went from being an organized, well planned and autonomous person to never knowing what time it was, often wearing the same sweatpants for multiple days in a row, and having a small person attached to me 24/7.  I kept hoping that good patterns would stick and difficult ones would disappear, but every day (and hour) was incredibly different.  My mother-in-law came over to spend time with Julian during his first month, and I couldn’t wait to tell her that he slept through the night a few times that week, so things were looking up.  She said to me, “yes, that is great news but remember children are constantly changing.”  In the moment I felt so defeated, like what do you mean he isn’t going to be a robot and sleep for 12 hours every night?  But she was right.  Babies go through phases, every day is different, and I had to expect that not every day was going to be the same.  This moment has stayed with me through my years of parenting as each year comes with something new and different.


11.Best piece of advice you can give other moms!


My compassion for other parents, including my own, has grown tremendously.  Parenting has made me much more sympathetic and much more likely to assume the best instead of expecting the worst from other people.  There is no perfect parenting style or solution to all challenges.  We are all trying our best to love and create secure happy homes, and we all need to support one another to achieve success in the hardest job there is.


12.One thing people would be surprised to know about you…


I drove across country and I have backpacked through Europe twice in my life.  I love to travel and explore new places and cultures.  Hopefully when my children are older, we can experience more worldly adventures together!


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