Just Like My Mom

In my tweens and teens, there was no worse insult than telling me I looked just like my mom.  Or that I had her same personality. (Yes, being a jerk to the woman who sacrificed so much for me did seal my fate of having sassy-mouthed kids.)

Surely you can guess which one is my mom.

But, you can’t fight reality forever.  She and I do look alike. And yes, I have some of her same quirks.  We’re fun at parties.  What I really hope though, is that I can some day be a mom just like her.

You think your mom does birthdays and holidays really well? Pshaw.  My mom rocks birthdays and holidays.  You get your favorite meal cooked at home and served on the ‘I Am Special’ plate.  (Mine was always hot dogs and my mom’s famous fried potatoes.)  Birthday cards are displayed on the mantle for at least a week, as is the ‘Happy Birthday’ banner.  In college she sent me a birthday box when she thought my friends were not going to live up to her standards.  It literally had all you needed to have a very Suzanne Karmann (my mom) birthday.  There were plates, napkins, noise makers, a crown, and confetti.  (Keep in mind I was in my early 20’s.)  I already had the banner, so she knew that was covered.

Nana has a banner for EVERY holiday, and when we were living at home, we got cards and small gifts at our place at the breakfast table for every holiday as well.  If Hallmark makes a card for it, Suzanne Karmann celebrates it.  Christmas was invented so my mom could have a whole month (or two) to decorate, cook, and generally plan hoopla and festive outings.  Seriously, it’s her thing, and she takes it very seriously.  The woman has an attic full of decorations for this holiday.  One year, my husband and I were helping with the annual ‘get all the boxes down so Nana can take a trip down memory lane over every item’ event.  My husband looked at the garage filled with Christmas and said, “I think I’m seeing my future.”  To which my dad replied, “Yeah, probably with a lot of this same crap.”

My mom lives to feed her family.  She has been known to rent a second refrigerator for major holidays.  When her kids and grandkids are staying with her, every meal is a labor of love.  You are not expected to grab a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  Oh no, not with Suzanne Karmann around.  You’ll get eggs! And bagels!  And fruit!  And Star Wars-shaped pancakes!  It amuses me to no end to see my husband try to do for himself in her kitchen.  He loves her and all she does for us but is just used to being independent, and she just wants him to give in and become another mouth to feed something special.

One of the best things about my mom is how much she cheers for her kids and grandkids.  I danced a lot when I was growing up, and she always told me I was the best one.  And I always believed her; I danced like I owned the place, and it showed.  (I never believed her that I was cute, but that’s my problem, not her lack of work.)  In her eyes, we can all do whatever we want and do it well.  My sister-in-law and I joke about how my mom prefaces all her compliments with, “All my babies….” and then proceeds to talk about how any one of us could cure cancer soon.

These are just a few of the things that my mom does that are my ideal of what a good mom is.  But I don’t think she knows it.

When I was younger, I had a very good friend named Shelly.  She and I kept in touch through many moves by my family and growing up by both of us.  When we reunited to become roommates in college, I found out she had always wanted to be in my family, and my mom was the reason why.  She felt my mom was loving and caring and just all-around on top of all the things a mom should do.  I think my mom would laugh until she cried about that.  As with most moms, I don’t think she thought much of herself when she was in the midst of all the crazy.

And now that I’m a mom, I need her so much more than ever before.  It’s not just that I need her example and wisdom; I need that cheerleading and food!  She gets me through the rough stuff with her funny stories of being a young mom.  Guys, she used to change the sheets on my brothers’ cribs EVERY DAY.  (I only changed them after significant staining.)  She has given me the best advice about being a modern woman:

“You can be caught up at work.  You can be caught up at home.  You will never be caught up at both, and sometimes you will be caught up at neither.”

She is a somewhat rosy-glasses kind of person about things she plans and wants, but she keeps me grounded in what to expect from life.  It can be hard but happy and fun.  Do the best you can and screw the idea of perfect anything.

Except for being a perfect grandmother.  She pretty much owns that.

Super Nana. Flies to Poland to help her daughter move and keeps the grandkids happy with ease.

Cooks with kids without fear.

She took care of me when I was on bed rest. Some may have called me Pregzilla at that time.

Gratuitous shot of the cutest boys ever and the Nana who loves them.

We love you so much Nana.  And I respect and adore you to the moon and back.


The Best Lasagna Ever

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a cook.  I am not saying this to be modest or because I lack self-confidence.  I seriously do not cook.  I make three good meals and two of them are tacos.

Being in Poland has exacerbated the problem, and I really have fallen behind.  I’d say I’m about 12 in cooking years which means I can boil water but will still make a mess while doing it.  I will also complain and act like it’s the hardest thing anyone has ever done.

I'm not sure why I own this.

In order to kick-start my cooking endeavors, I bought a lasagna pan and a lovely metal mixing bowl.  Nothing makes a hard task easier than new supplies.  I also figured the spending of money would guilt me into actually doing it.

I was anxious all day the day of the lasagna cooking. This was such a huge deal for me that I had to plan when to shop and where. I cleaned the kitchen so I would not be dissuaded from cooking.  I even had to put it on the calendar so I wouldn’t chicken out.

Here are some pics of my work:

Wow, that looks like a lot of work. Why am I doing this again?

Jack was leery when I told him onions made you cry. He also wanted to know what a real one was doing in our house.

Once the meat and onions began browning, I relaxed. That smell is so calming to me due to helping my mom make tacos and enchiladas when I was younger. It was the part I helped with. Also? No idea what meat that is.

What's up parsley? Not only did I use my flawless Polish to buy you fresh, but now I'm gonna chop you up real nice.

This is how Rachel ray started out. But with a more annoying voice.

First, this is not my blood. I actually did not cut myself this time. (I did burn my thumb, but it was only a flesh wound.) Second, that is about as messy as I allow my cooking space to be. I clean as I go.

Dinner was an hour late. Just like mom used to make.  I gave the kids jellybeans to keep them quiet. (It’s like I’m new to mothering.) They proceeded to take their sugar rush and Angry Bird their room.

How was the final product you ask?

How ya like them apples? (No apples were used in the making of this lasagna. I am not that inept.)

I’m happy to say that it was very yummy.  Alex loved it, and Michael seemed to like it.  Jack was not impressed, but three out of four happy eaters is pretty damn good.  I actually was sad when I inevitably dropped a serving or two while transferring the leftovers to freezer containers.  I have ideas on how to tweak it next time, and I look forward to trying again.  In a year or so.

Marvelous Me

Remember when you were great?  When you knew you were rockin’ a look or about to ace a test or just do an awesome thing so awesomely?

For me, those times mostly happened when I was much younger.  I knew I was a good dancer and demanded I be in the front row at every recital despite being the tallest girl. (I’m still pretty terrific; ask me to Cabbage Patch, and you’ll see.)  I was smart and never let a teacher’s question go unanswered.  Later, I learned the power of sarcasm and knew my wit made people laugh.  I liked that very much. (Still do.)

I don't care who you are; that's funny right there.

My parents always lifted me up and rewarded my talents with genuine pride.  I have ALWAYS felt they loved me and liked the person I was, even when my best me wasn’t coming through.  So, it’s confusing that I turned into that girl.  That girl who doubts herself.  That girl who doesn’t believe anyone thinks she’s pretty.  And I am way too entrenched in my belief that I am a bad mom.

So, today, I’m joining a blog carnival called Mother’s Pride.  I’m here to shout my positive traits from the rooftops!  I’m here to remind myself of all the good things I have going on.

Parenting Power

*  My boys love reading.  I’ll never forget the day when they were around 10 months old, and I realized I had made an impression on them with books.  They were pretty crabby and clawing at the baby gate.  I said, “You know what?  Let’s read and see if we feel better.” Next thing I know, they had crawled over to where I always read to them and sat in a little 2 baby semi-circle.  They quietly waited for me to come read to them.  Holy crap!  They knew what I was going to do and were excited to do it!

*  My boys are BFFs.  That seems like an obvious thing for brothers to be, but I really think we’ve done a good job of laying the groundwork for life-long support.  They stick up for each other when I’m disciplining them.  They ask after each other when there is sadness or illness.  A popular phrase in our house is, “But he’s my best brother!”

*  My boys have good manners.  They say, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ many times without prompting.  They are kind to other kids.  I’m teaching them to say, “Okay Mommy,” to let me know they heard me and are following my instructions.

He seems pretty happy with me as his mommy.

He also seems pleased.

Super Self

*  I am a good writer.  I love to do it, and I think it shows.  Should I be published?  Well, yes, I should. 😉

*  I’m funny.  I say things to make people laugh because I love hearing it and because I like to cheer people up. I’ve been told I can turn stories about a bad day into comedies.

*  I have nice legs.  I like my legs.  They are long and are pretty strong.  They work hard for me and look nice in a skirt.

*  I’m a good teacher.  I love my profession, and my passion shows.  I am committed to learning from my mistakes and educating myself so that every year I teach is a year I improve.  I am so proud to be a teacher.

Wow, I’m kind of marvelous.  How about you?  Are you super groovy too?  Yes.  Yes you are.  Trust me; I’m not friends with the un-groovy.

Please feel free to join this carnival of self-confidence on your own blog or in your personal journal.  And of course, please feel free to tell me in the comments more ways I rule.