Ma Mere-isms: Guide to Living a Full and Happy Life

Barbara Ipsaro has said many things over the years. She is direct, smart, educated, funny and full of love. Below are some quotations that capture her expressions and her family traditions. A strong woman of faith, we adore her for her joyful approach to this chapter in her life. She is perpetually MA MERE!


  • When in Italy, before anyone was married: I have an announcement to make; when you have children, I want to be called “Ma Mere.” And I don’t want to babysit your children. I am telling you now so that you don’t take it personally. It’s not about your children. It’s that I’ve been taking care of children for 25 years!
  • Is it moving you forward?
  • She has very unfortunate hair. (Bery-ism)


  • If it happens once, it’s an accident. Twice is a pattern. The third time, you have to clean my car with a toothbrush! (Bro-ism, with kids spilling drinks in the back seat.)
  • Spelling lesson on her last name: I as in Ida, P as in Paul, S as in Sam, A-R-O.
  • Marriages are like houses, always in process.


  • Education lifts you up and out.
  • This looks like it was made by ‘loving hands at home.’ (Bery-ism)
  • If you wear a lot of black, put on something that will dance on it, like a sparkling necklace.


  • Never go into a shop with the sign: Antiques and Collectibles!
  • I like to read the New York Times Sunday Review section first, to see what the smart people are saying.
  • I like reading what Peggy Noonan says about politics in the Wall Street Journal. She’s Catholic, you know.


  • Today: Weight Watchers!
  • After any event, when we pull up to the front door we always say, “Didn’t we have a GOOD time??? Oh, we DID!”
  • In decorating: Whatever you want to camouflage…it will fade out.


  • If something’s on sale and you see a lot of the same style on the rack, don’t bother trying it on. There’s something wrong with it.
  • That priest is bucking for Cardinal, if you ask me. (Papa-ism)
  • I’m easy to buy for. I love everything beautiful!


  • “Hoppy uppie two little girls.” (Ughhh! said Missy. I hated that expression, but it’s funny now!)
  • Whether you’re moving across the country or across the street, it’s all the same amount of work.
  • Any woman who has buried her mother, still longs to please her.

MaMere w sisters

  • “You are 18 years old,” meaning I am too old for my misguided action.
  • “You are 18 years old,” meaning I am too young to be thinking I could do something you need to be 21 or older to do.
  • Looking at a jar of face cream that promises to lift and firm, “That won’t work!”


  • I think it’s just FABULOUS! (Ma Mere said ‘fabulous’ before it was cool.)
  • No, you may not make our mistakes, but you will make your own.
  • The hard part about having adult children is that you have to watch them go through it.

Eleanor DU graduation Bolder Boulder & Color Run 2012 294

  • I can only deal with what I know. So, if you don’t tell me, I can’t help you.
  • During “bed time chats,” Meg and Missy remembered that Mom would say mid-sentence, “You girls have GOT to go to bed!”


  • Tell me if I am repeating myself. I have so many kids, I can’t remember who I said what to!
  • “It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it!”


  • We Bagli girls always choose the most expensive things on the rack.
  • Busy,’ (Elizabeth) your tastes will change; just give it a try.


  • Don’t be afraid of your children.
  • (Time-out advice for parents) Don’t let it hurt you too much. Stay the course, despite what the children say or do.

V7 school

  • Loud Clap, every morning in Ocean City: Let’s HIT THE BEACH. (Papa-ism)
  • ”It’s quittin’ time!” (Papa-ism)
  • Never give up on your children. They are who they are. They’ll come back.


  • Children haven’t changed. Parents have.
  • My goal was never to raise good children. My goal was to raise good adults.


  • Does this house have party parking?
  • It’s hard to see ourselves.


  • I don’t like putting on makeup, but I love the result!
  • Habits creep in and out.


  • Ma Mere on scarves: It is good to have a little something to distract them.
  • Shopping advice: I know it doesn’t look like much, but just try this on for me. You can’t tell what it looks like on the hanger!


  • “Tommy, run upstairs and get my cigarettes! Would you, please?”
  • Bro on presents: Always give her a little something she can hang on herself.

Eleanor DU graduation Bolder Boulder & Color Run 2012 247

  • It might be what they do, but it’s not what we do.
  • Long pause, then…”So…..”


  • At 5pm: It’s ‘Howdy Doody Time!’ (Papa-ism)
  • It takes 10 minutes more every decade to get ready for bed.


  • Your children already know how you feel about everything.
  • On dessert: Henry, you can have grapes. We’re having French vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce! (found on p. 711 in Joy of Cooking)


  • Let your children mourn their mistakes, because then they’ll make fewer of them later on.
  • “Build your life around yourself,” said Dr. Gillie Godenne.

Kat's DU graduation

  • Hang around with people 10 years younger than you are. It helps keep you young and current.
  • The older you get, the younger your hairdresser should be.
  • You don’t need a face lift right now, but I definitely will be the one to tell you when you do!


  • The things you worry about usually don’t happen.
  • This thought is 30-seconds old…


  • “Max’s clothes never make me feel dowdy.” Barbara Ipsaro, age 70
  • Whatever you want to spend your money on, you can find to spend your money on.

Eleanor DU graduation Bolder Boulder & Color Run 2012 353

  • The best “cure” for breaking up is a new boyfriend. It always worked for me!
  • I always buy the original of everything: Thomas’s English Muffins, Werthers Candies…whole milk.

MaMere holding court

  • No bows. No ruffles. It’s too ‘little girl’ for you.
  • I LOVE having my kids here, because I can get them to do stuff.


  • There’s nothing more passive than getting your hair colored. You just sit there!
  • The clothes in that shop are what we call, “pedestrian.” You know, everyday clothes. Nothing special.
  • No one is fully an adult until they are emotionally and financially independent of their parents. (Bro-ism)


  • Everything that tastes good calls for a “pound of budda!”
  • Let’s just even out the cake a little.
  • Regarding gay marriage: It’s hard enough to find love in the world. So, if two people of the same gender find love with each other, I say, “Good for them!”

U with bro

  • When visiting Buckingham Palace: It ain’t much, but we call it home!
  • In London: I just love being driven around.


  • I could totally live in Oregon. You don’t have to pump your own gas!
  • I just pray sometimes that I won’t get found out! (When she’s trying to act like she knows something.)

  • The Blessed Mother. What does she know? Her and her “one.”
  • Ma Mere: She may not always be correct, but she’s never uncertain.