Homemade Love

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It’s midnight and I am eating a bowl of Cream of Wheat. I put berries in it, because that makes it grown up Cream of Wheat.

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I am extremely nostalgic. It doesn’t take much for this mind of mine to drift back to memories of my youth. Even this very late dinner does that. It made me think of mom…and what perfect timing right before Mother’s Day.

I sometimes stay up too late by choice. I get distracted by Facebook, laundry, writing, and oh….eating. My mother often stayed up very late also. My brother and I were in awe, thinking she had some super power. That power being – never sleeping yet still amazing. There were no distractions for her, like Facebook. She stayed up late because it was the only way to accomplish everything on her list. And her list was long.

Mom basically raised us on her own. Dad worked hours away in Chicago all week and only came home on weekends. I never understood just how much my mother did for us, until I grew up. That’s motherhood though, isn’t it? The reward comes when an adult child wakes up one day and realizes, “Damn! My mother was amazing!” Until then, and forever and always, we give it our all.

My brothers and I lacked for nothing. We lived in a tiny little town in Wisconsin, population almost non existent. There was no shopping for cool clothes or convenience food, yet we had the cutest clothes and homemade everything for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every kid in town wanted to eat at our house. Those late nights mom had, produced homemade canned applesauce, pickles, candied apple rings, and strawberry jam, homemade bread, pies from scratch, and cookies. I grew up with very little preservatives. Thank you, mom.

If staying up until early morning hours to make sure we had the best food, wasn’t enough, mom was a constant presence at our school and in the community. She was the leader of not only my adorable little Brownie troop, but also for the Cub Scouts. She was president of the school board. She was ALWAYS the room mother for all of us, and often requested by the other children too! I don’t remember a school party without my mom there and her fabulous homemade treats. It was so comforting and I knew I had the mom everyone wanted.

And by the way, her hair and make were done every day. She was and is elegant and lovely. Always put together. I am thankful for that influence in my life.

What amazes me most now, at the ripe ol’ age of 45 and recently divorced…..is that my mom did all of this while living in a nightmare. Her marriage was abusive and she wasn’t able to leave until we were all grown. She made life look perfect for all of us, because that’s what mommies want – a perfect world for our children. After a certain age, even as a child I figured out it was far from perfect. Still, my mother never quit. We still had all of our needs met, above and beyond, even when at one point she had to join the workforce. The laundry, dinner, lunches for school, everything was just magically done for us. Wow mom – thank you! I wish I had the gumption as a child to try to help out more.

One of the greatest blessings of age has been my relationship with mom. She’s my best friend and confidant. At some point in my life, after raising children myself, I started to see my mother as a woman and a friend. We just don’t see our moms that way when we are young. There is a woman in there. I had to experience motherhood and marriage for myself to understand what it was like for her. Now I can imagine it, even feel it. Now I know how much she must have struggled at times, simply putting one foot in front of the other. All the while taking care of my self-centered , child’s heart.

This Mother’s Day I am looking forward to time with my mom more than ever. Thankfully she never tires of me as I have become more needy of her through the years. Always there with a glass of wine or a cup of tea and a listening ear…..this Mother’s Day will look like any other day for the two of us, because we are often together. It isn’t any other day for me though. As time goes on, we lose people we love. I live purposely with that thought, and cherish this holiday as we take a day to reverence our dear mothers who give everything without blinking.

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Italian Dreams

Montemaggiore Belsito….Italian words have a way of making anything sound lovely. If you don’t recognize those two words, I could lead you to believe it’s an Italian dish, my favorite restaurant, or maybe a day spa where I get away to unwind and pamper myself. Whatever the meaning, it rolls off the tongue and conjures up romance and passion.

Italy has to be the next overseas trip in my life. I have romanticized it so greatly in my mind for many years, and I have no doubts it will live up to my Italian fantasy.

As for Montemaggiore Belsito, it is the Italian Village in Sicily where my Italian ancestors are from. It means great mountain.

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I long to go to this magical land, full of opportunities to awaken all of my senses. I can’t decide if I’d like my first stop to be a visit to my ancestral grounds or if I’d rather save it for the last leg of my journey. Knowing myself, I would be so anxious I’d have to see it first, so as not to rush through everything else trying to get there. I can be a bit childish when I am excited about something. The first time I saw The Magic Kingdom at age 34, I ran to the entrance leaving my children in the dust. Thankfully they find my weirdness endearing.

When I imagine Italy in my mind, it is like a giant work of art coming to life….History so ancient in Rome, it is hard to grasp as an American, romance oozes along the Venetian canals, Renaissance art around every corner in Florence, and supposedly the best pizza ever in Naples. I intend to gain weight in Italy.

I see myself, (and a romantic partner….Italy is too romantic to go alone), standing in the middle of some Italian square. It’s summertime and I am wearing a lovely sundress and heels. I wouldn’t want to damage the beautiful, artistic scene with jeans and flip flops. I don’t know where we are, but we are holding hands, standing still and just smiling as we take it all in. There are people walking all around, lovers kissing, music playing in the streets, and the most wonderful aromas coming from restaurants and outdoor cafes. I want to sit still in Italy. I want to watch the canvas painting in my mind, come to life.

Italians have adopted the phrase, slow food. Why is that sexy to me? Not a bad idea for an American to ponder. I find great pleasure in things like thoroughly and ever so slowly, enjoying every bite of a decadent meal. Savoring every bite of a well made dish while having fabulous conversation with an attractive man across the table, is truly an aphrodisiac. I’m not sure what my blog is rated, so I’ll stop there.

There is so much beauty to be found in our world. And there is a world beyond where we live. I long to see more places. I long to feel a connection to my ancestors. It helps me to understand who I am and where I came from.

I may be building up Italy too much in my mind….but I don’t think so. I am a passionate person, full of curiosity, sensuality, and desire. What better place to challenge that woman inside of me, than beautiful Italy?

Sigh…..for today I am in Illinois. I’ll make the most of it though. Maybe some homemade Italian bread and pasta tonight.