Showing posts with label Italian Mothers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian Mothers. Show all posts

Friday, March 22, 2019

Italian American Mother Series - A Daughter's Letter to Her Mother.....

Happy Mother’s Day mom, as you celebrate 59 years of mothering and 37 years of grand-mothering. These are the raw numbers of age, but they don’t reflect the memories, stories, lessons, and wisdom that come to us with the fullness of a life lived with intensity, insight, love, and faith.

Mothers are angels sent from God. They are like snowflakes; each one is different and unique in their own way. Not until I had my son did I realize the sacrifices mother’s make. Madeline, my mom is the heart of our home. She is the one that gets everyone together for birthdays and holidays. She loves to cook meals for the family. Everyone in the family can attest to her strength, her honesty, and her warmth. My mom embodies what a mother should be and shares her wisdom with everyone she meets. Her hobbies include reading, gardening, cooking, spending time with my dad, family, and friends. I have so many memories of my childhood with my mom, but these thoughts are a special way to wish my mom a Happy Mother’s Day!!!

One of my mother’s favorite hobbies is reading books. So mom, here is one of the best books you have ever read. Each of us has entered my mother’s book in a different chapter—some long ago, some more recently—but we are, nevertheless, all part of a story that began in Brooklyn, NY and to the present in St. James, Long Island where she and my dad resides.

My mom was a teacher by profession and as they say chief, cook, and bottle washer. She did it all. Took care of three children, ran a home, worked, and there was always a hot meal on the table at night for dinner. On Sundays, church was always the top priority as the whole family would go to Mass together. Sunday was not only for church but for family. We always had grandparents, friends, and relatives to share in our Sunday dinner. The table had to be set just so, with the proper placement of forks, spoons, and knives. A typical Italian Sunday meal was centered on pasta (macaroni or mac’s for short we would call it) and meatballs as a first dish and then came the entrĂ©e with all the trimmings. After every one was almost busting out of their clothes came the coffee, demitasse, (Italian black coffee) tea, fruit, nuts, figs, and all the decadent desserts. We of course do not eat like that anymore, thank goodness or we will have to be rolled out of the house. Things were different then. Both my parents are my heroes. They not only share their love of family and food but also their faith in God. No matter what life brings, they taught me to be strong and know that family and God are always there with love and support.

The end of this story is not yet written, so we will refrain from speculation, but suffice it to say that we will be eagerly awaiting the sequel on Mother’s Day next year. But as we reflect today upon the time we all have to give with our mother, however long or short, we are reminded that our connections with one another constitute our greatest blessing. To that end, let us celebrate times shared, advice given and sought, wisdom imparted, stories remembered, and the joy of life. Thank you mom, May there be many more chapters to come….

Love your daughter, Dottie :)

*Permission for photo by Dottie Balin

This story was originally published 5/12/13 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Authentic Italian Organic Zucchini Soup - Calabrese Style

I shared this picture on Facebook and the response was overwhelming, this is my mother's zucchini soup that  she makes all year round. To stick to the authenticity of my blog, I post things about my everyday Italian American life, so this is the real deal.  The soup is a combination of the actual organic zucchini, crushed tomato, boiled potato, garlic,  and onion.  So simple, yet complex in flavor.  I have to say, I can't believe my mother was so willing to give me the ingredients, usually it's TOP SECRET.   Enjoy! 


Add 1 quart of water to pot to boil:
  • 1 pound of zucchini cubed (organic or regular- I prefer organic)  
  • 1 small onion cubed
  • 1 clove of garlic (the whole thing - don't be cheap) 
  • 2 medium cut tomato or San Marzano from the jar/can (whatever works for you ) 
  • 1 medium sized potato cubed
  • 3 leaves of basil 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (don't use low grade- olive oil can make or break a meal) 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
Combine all ingredients in the boiling water, cook about 20 to 25 minutes to tender.   Serve and enjoy!

This is a regular meal I grew up on, ever wonder why Italians are so healthy?

8 Health Benefits of Zucchini

** As a side note, this ingredient list had to be deciphered from an ancient Calabrese coded recipe.. LOL**

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day to my Italian Mother....

My Italian Mother - Happy Mother's Day

Here is a picture of my mother, Francesca. This picture was taken in Reggio Calabria,Italy while we were there visiting on vacation. It's difficult to sum up what a mother means to a person or how they've positively affected you. Don't get me wrong my mother drives me nuts too.. LOL but --I love my mother and thank her for not letting me forget who I am.. Happy Mother's Day Ma!

Photo: Copyright of - Italian American Girl 2012 - You must ask permission for reuse.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The American Dream...My Mother Graduates College

Amazing Is --
-- When your 69-year-old mother graduates college. A woman, who came to the United States in the 1960's after marrying my father in Italy. Not only did she raise four children, but she was also the brains behind my father's businesses.

In most traditional Italian families, the women really aren't that dominant, but in the case of my mother, she wore the pants -- and quite honestly my father didn't mind - and he was quiet proud of her many times.

All the while, she handled the business, but yet growing up we still had hot meals on the table and had to stay in line with her rules. My mother like I've said before is one tough lady, you can't mess with her or tell her what to do. She's traditional in an UN-traditional Italian woman way.

My mother's dream was to pursue her education here in the United States; because she was unable to do it when she lived in Italy, then she got married, and then she had it seemed the time was never right. Around the same time, and partially because I was the youngest and off to college, I think my mom felt inspired so she signed up for college.

The funniest moment was when I went with my mother to her university to sign her up, we went to the registrar's office and immediately the people would start asking me questions, but then I would have to say, "no, it's not for me, it's for her.." they were surprised, but in a good way. She managed to surprise many people with her drive.

My mother began taking one course here and there and then progressed into a full time student. She worked hard in every subject and come hell or high water; she always attended her classes. Let's say she was probably one of those annoying people in class who asks a lot of questions.. (LOL) I had the opportunity to meet some of her professors, who always made it very clear how fond they were of her and how amazing they thought her drive was for staying in college so long and being such a great student.

It took her close to 15 years to get her Bachelor's degree, but she did it.
Congratulations to my mother, the graduate. One of her American dreams came true.

Friday, October 2, 2009

An Italian American PhotoAlbum..

Here are a few pictures from our very own family archive:
1. Rome--1963 My mother and father on their honeymoon.
2. Reggio Calabria--1950s- My mother as a child with my nonno.
3. Rome--1950s--Pope's Mass in the square.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Italian American Doctorate Student Seeking Italian Americans For Important Research Study...Read here.

You are invited to participate in the research project entitled, The relationship between differentiation of self and chronic anxiety in Italian Americans. The number of Italian-Americans is increasingly growing in the United States and so is the need to gain a better understanding on how to better treat and assess individuals and families who identify with this culture.

This research will provide insight into the ways in which Italian-American individuals think, feel, and experience anxiety. In this study we are looking to see if being an Italian-American influences the relationships among these three variables. That is we are looking to see if culture influences people’s thinking, feeling and anxiety. If you are an Italian American who would like to further the research on your culture, I invite you to participate in this survey. Results will have meaningful implications for the assessment and treatment of the growing number of Italian Americans.

The first 300 participants will be given the opportunity of being included in a prize drawing to win one of three gift cards, each valued at $100. All information that you provide will be confidential and anonymous. Please take some time to participate! Your input is greatly valued!

Click Here To Take Survey

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Italian Americans Celebrate Mother's Day- Pavarotti Sings, "MAMMA."

Dedicated to our Italian Mothers.

Italian Mothers.

What is it about Italian mothers and their need to nurture, love, micro-manage, cook, clean, work, and keep everyone happy? My mother is 100% Italian, off the what ever characteristics we Italian-Americans talk about when it comes to our Italian mothers, I magnify it by a 100X's. My mother is an absolute force to reckon with, she's strong, smart, incredibly willful, savvy and sometimes funny. (maybe more than sometimes.)

You know, when you hear the stories of sons and daughters talking about their Italian mothers, mother-in-laws, its really quite true about their presence and will. Italian women are strong and always get what they want, so take an Italian woman and add children to the recipe and you have one protective, strong willed woman. Italian mothers have a way of giving love and making you feel like you're the most important thing in the world.

I'm not sure about other cultures, I guess a mother loves unconditionally, but there is something to be said about Italian mothers and their ways. My mother is loving, but can throw on the ever so traditional Italian mother guilt like no other. I know when she asks me for something, it really means something else. No one can understand the indirectness of a question better than a son or daughter of an Italian mother. Compliments come and go, because one day your the "bella mia," and the next day your "scema." Its just the way it is, which is funny. I mean, its one can give and take greatness better than an Italian mother. Sundays are usually my days with my family and I see all the things my mother does so effortlessly, it always make me wish I can be just as cool as her. Don't get me wrong my mother and I butt heads often, but according to my siblings and father, its because we are very alike. I don't see it, but OK, whatever. --I can only imagine myself at my mother's age, what will I be like? Just like her? The thought. I need a glass of wine to do that. Anyway, where would we be without our overbearing, micro-managing, loving, guilt giving, strong-willed Italian mothers? My guess is, no where. She's my rock, and she doesn't even know it!

(Photo-Property of Copyright 2008-2019)

This was originally posted on 5/9/09 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Growing Up Italian American & Celebrating My First Holy Communion.

This past weekend, I celebrated my niece's first holy communion. Ok, but the picture on the left is actually me (being a joker) and my parents. Experiencing all these milestone occasions with my nieces and nephews now always put me through these reminiscing journeys, where I think back on how it was for my immigrant parents to adjust to the Americanized ways of celebrating occasions and answering to Americanized kids who demanded the American way.

So, I thought back to my communion and how my parents made it the best ever that I could imagine. I have amazing memories of that day and the unbelievable party they threw me in one of the best restaurants. Mind you my parents worked hard and were by no means wealthy, so throwing a party and not skimping on anything meant a lot then and now. I appreciate my parents for everything they did to make that day special for me. One other example I can recall too was so many of my American friends were getting Communion portraits done and I remember not asking my mother to do one because even as a kid I knew that would cost a lot of money. But, a few days before my Communion, my mother surprised me and told me I was going to get in my Communion dress and go to a professional photographer to get my portrait done. I was so excited!!!!

Its funny now, because my niece got hers done too this week and that made me think, what a big deal it was to get a such a special picture done and my mother who didn't know the ways of the American traditions made it happen for me. The party was beautiful and full of great people, who were my parents friends..of course no family because remember we have no immediate family here, but my mom and papa did everything that day to make it one of my best memories of growing up Italian American.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why Family Is Everything.

These past couple of days have been a bit stressful for me in the sense that my mother was rushed to the ER over the weekend because she thought she was having a heart attack. Now, if your Italian you know that Italian parents will do anything in the world not to go to the hospital and if you tell them you're calling your 911 they freak out. They would rather get up on their own two legs and go the doctor because the ER doctors don't know them personally.

So, as you can imagine this was exactly the scenario that occurred, as my mother lay in pain telling me she couldn't breathe, she was still telling the paramedics that they didn't know what she was talking about and telling the first response police officer to sit down in the living room and my father asking him if he wants coffee as my mother breathes through the oxygen mask.(I kid you not)

The second part of all this drama was the fact that I realized while in the ER with my mother, that my family is so tight and if one of us are in trouble we drop everything and support each other to high end. After my mother came home that day, I said to her, I saw so many poor older people in the ER and hospital beds with no one there for them, it made me sad for them because I can't imagine ever being alone in a bad situation, my family is everything and we are always there for each other, that's one thing we were brought up to be supportive and always help each other, an amazing family value and quality of being Italian. So, for those of you who have wondered why I haven't posted in a few days, this is why and now my mother is home and doing much better, so back to our usual Italian craziness.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Greetings From Reggio Calabria.

Well, if you've been reading my daily posts, you know my mother is in Reggio Calabria for the holidays. She ended up going to be with her sister (my aunt) this year, because her husband (my uncle) past away this last summer. The whole concept of having to travel half way around the world to be with your sister is really something. My mother has been in America a long time, close to 40 years. When she decided to marry my father and come here, she knew she was leaving and almost giving up seeing her family frequently. We have no relatives here, I think we ended being the only ones who left Calabria. This is why when I visit Calabria, its my family in full force. Here in the states, we are pretty much on our own. We have some "family" but no one I would consider as close as my real family, obviously.

So, I got a call from my mother this morning, telling me about what my cousins are doing and how everyone is preparing for the holidays. In Italy, when someone passes on they usually don't celebrate any holidays for at least a year. So, this year my aunts and cousins will be in mourning and not celebrate. Its tough for them because they really do stick to this respectful tradition, so even the kids kind of miss out on the holidays, but it teaches them respect and honor of those who passed. I am sure someone will give gifts anyway, so the kids have some fun.

On a lighter note, so I think my mother will also be visiting with the rest of her brothers and sisters, she's one of seven. Of which, my mother lives in America, her other brothers moved to Venice and one in Rome. So, we got most of Italy covered and America. In Italy, Christmas starts about a week early with religious days, which urges the Italians to go to church and prepare for your families. I think the important thing to mention that in Italy, Christmas is not consumed with the retail hoopla. Its somewhat, but never like here in the states. Most families gather for dinner, church and if anyone gets a gift its for the children. The concentration is on Christmas and religion.

So, I had to sit and listen to her go on about what fabulous meals she's enjoying and how she's going from family to family. When you're there, its just an incredible feeling of familiarity. I mean, for example, this is a true story. Over the summer I was walking down a street near where my mother grew up, and some old lady, says to me in Italian, "are you Franca's daughter?" But the translation in Italian, sounds better. I said, "yes," this woman was so amazed because she thought I looked like my mother and recognized me. Well, turns out this lady, used to go to sewing school with mother when they were teenagers. I mean really, its just so fascinating and of course I ended up in her house having espresso and biscotti.

I'll share one more example with you because I think this one was really great. We were at the marina getting gelato of course, when this guy walks up to my father and says, "do you know who I am?" Of course, my father doesn't remember, but says, "no, who are you?" Turns out this guy goes onto to explain, that when he was a small child, he went with his family to see my father leave the port of Villa San Giovanni when he first embarked on the first leg of his transatlantic voyage to America. This guy goes onto to tell my father, how that experience of seeing my father leave on a ship for America, left such an impression on him. I was amazed, I felt like my father was a rock star. So, when in Calabria, you never know who you're going to meet and what its all going to mean to you. Greetings from Calabria are always welcome.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Alitalia Is Stepping It Up This Holiday Season.

I just dropped my mother off at the Alitalia gate in Newark, NJ. Usually Newark is an absolute zoo and anyone whose flown out of there or in, knows what I am talking about. This time around instead of flying Continental, my mother was able to get her flight through Alitalia. So, lets just say, from the moment I opened up my car door to get out and get the luggage, the Alitalia staffers were on top of things. I didn't have to wait, my mother was escorted with her luggage very promptly and courteously...I was thinking to this is how things should be handled. I hope my mother has a great flight into Rome and the hospitality continues into the motherland. I'll keep you posted, but just wanted to give a piece of refreshing news..not the usual gloom doom of airport etiquette. Ahhh....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Calabrese Secret Decoder Ring.

As the holidays are slowly approaching, I find myself spending more time with my parents or around their house. With a busy schedule, its not always easy to meet their demands of attendance at family functions or just regular everyday.

So, I really think that my family is super funny, and if you saw the day to day, you would probably laugh too. This past weekend, I helped my father put up the Christmas lights on the house. Now, mind you this is a huge endeavor every year. My brothers and sister have long resigned their duty to putting up and helping my parents put up the lights because they realize its a task that requires extreme patience and.. ok..forget that..I'm doing it because I'm the youngest and I guess I'm paying my dues last. There you have it.

Its the order of age that dictates who gets stuck with helping my parents on certain things. Anyway, so we begin putting up the lights, and no matter what year, my father always puts up a fight with me on how to put up the lights. I tell him, "Papa-- don't put the big lights with the little has to match.." Do you think he listens,? No. Here I am disconnecting lights right after he decides to mess up the symmetry of the lights. He has no regard for design, his ideology is, "what's-a -da-diff-a-rence?" I try to tell him, yes there is a difference.

So, the comedy to this is, I'm stringing lights and he's messing up the lights on the next set of bushes. The neighbors heard us yelling back and forth in Italian and English. Then, here comes my mother sticking her head out of the door, to tell me not to put lights on a certain tree because she doesn't like it. Well, Mom,...guess what?...that tree has lights on it already. " ci fa niente..) Really, as she's standing there with the infamous puss on her face, so here I go, Margaret disconnects the friggen tree so she's happy. The irony is at the end of the stringing, I test all the lights and my mother and father are both standing there. So, the tree that my mother specifically says not to string, is not lit. She says, " Ma perche, non du-ma.?"( this is phonetic dialect--not a real word.) Um.."ma, did you not tell me to disconnect the lights off this tree?" She says, "Yeah, ma se como tu i min-tiste gia, i potive ra-sarre." (again this is all phonetically spelled, so you can understand.)

I just looked at her and said, "you must be joking! You guys are incredible..!!! I need a secret decoder ring just to figure out what you guys really mean or want!!!!!" There you have it, the eloquent masterpiece of a moment in putting up the Christmas lights at my parent's house. It just doesn't get any better than that. Oh and don't think my brothers and sister weren't laughing when I told them. I'll have to mastermind a task for them to do next, so they can get the full effect of Fran and Joe.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Growing Up Italian-American, Siblings.

In this picture to the left is my brother, Santo and me on the right. Now, I found this picture today and just couldn't believe how funny we were in action all those years ago. I can remember always having the best of times and just hilarious moments because we were after all growing up Italian-American. For some reason, I will say Italians have such strong bonds between siblings that no one can break. We're pretty tight even till this day. The reason why we had so many hilarious moments was because growing up my father was always working and mom was pretty much the disciplinarian, so if anything went was my mom who enforced "ti faccio --Badingbadinga." Now, this word, was like the word, that let you know you were going to catch a slap, pinch, or worse. Yes, worse.

So, today we were talking about the time, when my brother and I were at church with my mother. My mother is church lady, and when its time to pray, you better pray. Of course, this day...Santo and I were in our usual giddy moods. Hitting each other behind my mom as we stood at the pews. Well, we were laughing so hard ( I think because the church was so it was just uncontrollable) that my mother grabs both of our wrists from each side and squeezed them so hard to pinching that we were dying of the pain. So, the pain was intense..then of course, which led to us laughing harder. Needless to mother didn't tolerate it. She calmly escorted us out of the church after communion and got us in the car. She turned around in the car and slapped the both us. Well, after that day...we never misbehaved again in church., but till this day my brother and I literally fall of the chair laughing when we talk about this story.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Discrimation Against Italians...or Just Everyone?

Well, talking about curly hair and discrimination is one thing but when we talk about discrimination against Italians, then I say, "let's discuss." I have to share this story with you because it enrages me beyond belief. So, this time it involves my mother. Now, if you ever met my mother would you say.."oh my God, she's so sweet"...yada, yada, yada. Yes, its true..she's great and wouldn't harm a fly. Here she is having to deal with an official office this past week. ( I won't say which one.)

But anyway, she goes up to the desk where the receptionist is sitting and tells the woman her name and signs in. Of course, I am driving her because it was in a location she wasn't sure about so I volunteered to drive her. Then, the woman calls her back over to the desk and asks her to fill in paper work and such and then proceeds to ask her a bunch of questions. My mother has replied, and actually asked her a few questions too. With each question, this woman is getting more and more condescending with her, as if my mother doesn't understand her because she happens to have an accent.

I find that many people in this country are extremely discriminatory against others with accents..doesn't matter what accent you have. Anyhow, getting back to the story..I'm listening to this b**** talk down to my mother, so I calmly walked over to the desk next to my mother and say is there a problem..?? The woman says, "no, did you need help with something.? I said, no..she's with me and that's my mother and oh by the way..she understands and speaks English." I didn't say it with the nicest tone. So she got the message.

But, gee wouldn't you know it her attitude changed immediately toward my mother. That just proved to me how judgemental and jerky people are when they hear accents. I felt like saying to this woman, FYI-this whole country is about immigrants...what planet or country are you living in? Like I also said in a previous blog, I'm all about immigrants and giving everyone a chance, just as long as we all play fair.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lasagna and Real Sauce, It Just Doesn't Get Any Better.....

I am very lucky. Most Americans are so busy with their schedules that making dinner is really the last thing we worry about at night. We settle for frozen dinners, salads, take-out and or any other readily available garbage sold in our food stores. Well, tonight as I arrived to my parents house, I was greeted at the door with an unbelievable smell of sauce, lasagna and my favorite meatballs. Now, the great thing about being Italian is that it doesn't matter what day of the week it is, there is never a reason for cooking great--its a requirement!!

Part of my healthy regiment is due mainly to my upbringing. I work out and lets face it with Italian DNA, its hard to keep weight I have to work extra hard to stay at a healthy weight. Our menu in my household growing up was always more of a vegetarian one, southern Italians are not big meat eaters. We rarely do anything beefy or broiled. We eat lots of versions of salads, rice, beans, pasta, fish and fruit. Aside from that I ban any kind of beef and my mom to accomodate me (cause that's what Italian mothers do) she specially makes me turkey (lean breast) meatballs. Let me tell good. So, I wanted to brag a little about my gourmet tonight and share just a few pics of the preparation of making lasagna and the sauce. My mom is the rockstar of cooking!!! Love her.