My first infograph.

Now that I’m officially a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM), the questions went from “When are you going back to work?” to “So… how is it…staying at home.” I never know what to say. 95% of the time I respond with, “I am really enjoying it.” But to not to risk sounding like a total Polyanna, I do say that there are good moments and bad moments, but I am generally really enjoying the time I spend with Wes. This post is not about about whether one should work or stay home. I vow to never pen that post! This post is about how maybe I haven’t left teaching at all… because being a SAHM is eerily similar to being a classroom teacher. Let me count the ways.

(I was feeling extra motived last night so I tried my hand at making my first infograph! I had a lot of fun! Brought back fond middle school memories of searching through clip art for the perfect picture to put next to every copy block.)

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2015 in 10

Before looking forward, I think it’s fitting to look back. Grateful for 2015 – the ups and the downs and the Person who makes goodness and beauty from it all.

  1. We moved out of our first home into a new home. I learned that my heart can find its home in people not an address. And though living in your new home can feel like a prolonged AirBnb at first, it eventually goes away.
  2. We threw Wes his first birthday party! I learned that decorating is a lot more fun when you borrow your friend’s Silhouette. Also if you can swing it, outsourcing the food prep to Miguel and 5 Star Tacos is one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made.
  3. Doljabi Ceremonies are a lot more fun when you throw away all the white collar professions and opt for careers that bring people true joy and happiness – chef, barista, crossfit coach, rap artist and those nice people at the Apple store.
  4. We planned our first church wide retreat and survived to tell about it! I learned that you really need a team of diverse talent to pull off retreat. Also – Mt. Hermon is nothing short of magical.
  5. If your entire family contracts a stomach bug the night before an all expense paid trip by your work and you’re having second thoughts about going… just get on the plane and go. You might as well be sick in someone else’s bathroom and sleep in someone else’s bed that you don’t have to clean.
  6. It is nearly impossible to discern the difference between a growth spurt / teething / sleep regression / wonder week in infants and toddlers. I say just pick whichever one gives you the most hope.
  7. We decided to splurge and get NFL Sunday Ticket. It turns out it was one of the worst seasons for the Chargers since I became a fan 10 years ago. And so many of them got injured, I couldn’t recognize half of the team at any given moment. Oh and it may have been their last season in San Diego. Great. Can we get our money back DirectTV?
  8. We attended a great parenting seminar in the fall. I think about the things I learned often. Haunting words (paraphrased): “You can’t make up for lost time. Your kids just want your attention and your delight.”
  9. Toddlers are really great for sparking joy and wonder in your life. Things that make Wesley say “WOOOOOOW”: The automated clothing rack at the dry cleaners, play kitchen ovens, elevators and coffee machines.
  10. We hosted our first Thanksgiving! Special shout out to our double oven. The highlight of that night was watching Tim’s cousin’s kid (second cousin?) read Wesley all of his bedtime books on our bed. Two Thanksgivings ago while I was pregnant, this sweet girl was trying to convince me to name my future son either Percy Jackson, Niko, Ra or Hot Cheeto. What she didn’t know was that I was going through some pre-term labor drama and if someone told me at the time, “Hey, I promise your baby will make it to 37 weeks but you have to name him Hot Cheeto” I would’ve said “Where do I sign?” Wes made his debut at 37 weeks and 2 days. We are still grateful every day.

2015 collage

 

The Best Bolognese

The story:

For our second trip to Italy, we decided to go to city where the Italians go to eat. Bologna. Italians call this city La Dotta, La Grassa, La Rossa.

La Dotta  – “The Learned” (home to the oldest university in the Western World – University of Bologna, or as the locals call it, UniBo. If you were a student in the late 15th century, you could’ve sat next to Copernicus in Astronomy 101.

La Grassa – “The Fat” (The food here is nothing short of amazing. The food from this region of Italy – Emilia Romagna,is iconic Italian- parmesean, tortellini, balsamic vinegar, bolognese.

La Rossa – “The Red” (The abundance of brick buildings).

It was in a little alley in Bologna that I had the best bolognese of my life.

Tagliatelle al Rag, Serghei, Bologna

Tagliatelle al Rag, Serghei, Bologna (It’s just called Ragu in Bologna)

trattatoria serghei

Up to this point, most meat sauces I had eaten looked something like this:

Sicilia-Meat-Sauce

(Ground beef + jarred marinara + seasonings) over pasta

Don’t get me wrong, this is yummy, delicious and an incredible weeknight meal. However this is NOT bolognese. Once I tasted it I closed my eyes and let out a deep sigh. A sigh so deep it was like my body said “this pasta is so good, it must be my last meal. I am ready to meet Jesus.” This dish ruined me for many many moons because I didn’t know how to recreate this at home. That is until I found a Bon Appétit recipe that comes pretty darn close.

Good for when:

  • You find yourself having to cook for Italian Italians
  • You wonder what you should do for a couple hours before dinner
  • You have leftover pancetta

Not ideal if:

  • You are hangry
  • You are avoiding pork, dairy or wheat

The Method:

Copied from this recipe

We first tried to do the lasagna but found that we didn’t care for the béchamel and just wanted to eat the meat sauce by itself. From then on we only used the sauce and would pair it with a flat noodle to maximize flavor absorption.

Bolognese Sauce 

  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 4 oz. pancetta (Italian bacon), finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I like a Pinot Grigio for this. I wish I could tell you that broth is a decent substitute… but that would be disingenuous and downright mean to sabotage your bolognese.)
  • 1 cup whole milk (Milk is really important! Don’t skip!)
  • 1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes (I have used non San Marzano tomatoes and it did not turn out so well. Definitely splurge and get the San Marzanos)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided (We almost always use store bought stock.)

  • Pulse onion, carrot, and celery in a food processor until finely chopped. (Yes, definitely use a food processor)
  • Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add beef, pork, pancetta, and vegetables; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until moisture is almost completely evaporated and meat is well browned, 25–30 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
  • Add wine to pot and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, about 2 minutes. Add milk; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until moisture is almost completely evaporated, 8–10 minutes. Add tomatoes and 2 cups broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, adding water by ½-cupfuls if sauce looks dry, until flavors meld and sauce thickens, 2½–3 hours.
  • Let sauce cool, then cover and chill at least 12 hours or up to 2 days. (Letting the sauce sit will give it a deeper, richer flavor.)

Cooking life lesson I’m still learning … when the ingredients are simple and few… you have to get the best because there’s not much for them to hide behind. Imagine dancing in a room of 10 people vs. 1000. If you are in the former, you better be incredible.

Leave a comment if you give this recipe a try! I would love to hear what you think! If you are too lazy to make this but want to try it, leave a comment too 🙂 I’ll have you over for some ragu!