As I snuggle under my duvet tonight to write these memories, I am a mother whose heart is swollen with pride. I have so many emotions coursing through my body at this moment that I can barely contain myself. I must tap out my emotions in order to breathe in and out the thoughts that fly through my mind. The college responses are coming in…and the news is favorable.
I must confess that I have the most delicious caramel filled milk chocolate bar from Lake Champlain Chocolates sitting by my bedside helping me to tap out my joyous news. I am savoring every gooey milky morsel.
Anyone who has gone through the teen years with their children understands the wrenching pains and uplifting joys of watching their children stumble, struggle, hurt, succeed, and then celebrate their first tastes of success in life.
We want nothing more than to assure her she will be alright. That she is worthy. That she is valued. But, this is one of those momentous turning points in life. This is the beginning of the ‘hills’ and the ‘valleys’ that weave the tapestry of a life that will be beautiful at times and painful at others. This feels like so much more than a scraped knee, a bee sting, or a bad dream.
We are not parents filled with gloating pride of accomplishment. Seriously and honestly, that isn’t it. But, rather we are celebrating the joy bestowed on us as parents to watch our child be joyous and uplifted for these precious moments in her life rather than be anxious and distressed.
To manage these interim weekends of waiting and wondering what life will bring our first born, we’ve kept busy on weekends creating, stirring, rolling, and mixing recipes in the kitchen.
Patrick is still happily tickled to pull out his Father’s Day gifted pasta maker. Last weekend, he suggested we tackle lasagna…from scratch…bechamel and tomato sauce and all.
Rolling out pasta dough has to harken back to playdough playing days of pre-school. Remember taking clumps of playdough and squeezing it through those little molds to make all sorts of shapes?
One of the cutest items we bought when we lived in Japan was this little playdough “sushi” maker kit. You could squeeze though little rice mounds, sheets of nori, and all sorts of raw fish toppings to create ‘obento’ boxes. We had countless Japanese tea parties.
Bechamel sauce in lasagne brings this traditional pasta dish to new levels. I’m not sure what was more sensual…the aroma while cooking the sauce or indulging in the final result. I would have been willing to imbibe the sauce by the spoonfuls with morsels of dense Italian bread and flakes of pungent crumbly Parmesan cheese.
Hearty, thick, chewy, Italian bread is compulsory for this Northern Italian lasagna indulgence. I realize that this requires doubling up on those evil carbs, but …just don’t eat lunch…is all I can say! I usually put out a cheese tray with fruit mid-afternoon so I can concentrate and save my appetite for a Sunday dinner.
One of the beneficial side effects from the labor of stirring the sauce, squishing the tomatoes, cranking through the pasta dough, and layering this heady goodness on top of each other is the assured knowledge of …leftovers.
My heart as a mother is singing with joy (and relief) for the happy news that our daughter is receiving from the colleges of her choice. I’ve been through many of life’s ‘ups’ and ‘downs’. I know I can handle disappointments and failures that come my way.
It is truly heartbreaking to watch your children struggle through these moments in life when they are fraught with self doubt and uncertainty. You, as a parent, know they do not quite have the perspective to foresee that they will survive and be stronger in the future.
Tonight, we are thankful for the strength and joy that comes this time with good news.
Furthermore, delicate nibbles on caramel filled milk chocolate squares do wonders to promote those celebratory moments.
Weekend Homemade Lasagna with Italian Bechamel Sauce
(recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for the lasagna
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk at room temperature
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, (recipe follows)
- Salt and white pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground chuck beef
- Salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese
- 3 large eggs
- 1 pound thick lasagna sheets, cooked al dente
- 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Simple Tomato Sauce:
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional