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For teens and tweens in middle school, their days can be full of confusion, frustration and struggles with low self-esteem. Art is one way to escape, to let their feelings out and their creativity flow at a time when they usually keep all of their emotions bottled up inside. And once they feel free to discover and unleash their talents, there’s no telling where they can go now or in the future.

A new gathering place for moms, kids and families has “hatched” in the St. Louis area, much to the delight of local parents – and particularly local moms.
 
The Nest, a self-described “stay and play creative café designed to function as a modern day community center, restaurant and membership club for women and families,” officially opened its doors in Frontenac last week. With an indoor play forest, drop-in childcare, classes for women and children and unique and healthy dining options, The Nest fills a niche that has been long overlooked in the St. Louis region.
 
According to Co-Founder Christina McHugh, the idea for The Nest was born from what she describes as “a HUGE deficit in the current market.”
 
“For me,” says McHugh, “what was lacking was a space that caters to children AND offers variety to adults. That was really missing in our area. We try to create an environment that supports families – where mom feels comfortable breastfeeding, where the kids are going to have a good time and not want to leave, where parents will always have that helping hand.”
 
“We’re the ones,” she continues, “who will hold the baby while you pay your check or put on your coat.”

The upcoming school break means you might be looking for child care, and Winter Break or Holiday camps offer the chance for your kids to have fun, meet new friends and try new activities (or enjoy old favorites). Here's a line up of local organizations offering Winter Break camps:

• Winter Break Camps at the Y

Where: Your local Family YMCA Branch (find it here)

When: Dates vary by branch

Like a lot of moms, I have a love-hate relationship with the holiday season. I love baking (okay, mostly eating) gingerbread cookies. I love decking the halls with lights and garland and bright red bows. I love watching all the sweet and sappy made-for-TV Christmas movies that run endlessly on the Hallmark Channel this time of year.

The most important lesson I've learned this holiday season is that life is as precious as it is fragile.

This thought entered into my head as I stood tiptoe upon an unsteady ladder next to our enormous evergreen tree, my sweaty outstretched hand shakily clutching a paint roller extension pole duct-taped to a steel blade rake, swatting at a string of Christmas lights dangling two feet above my head.

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