living a well tended life... at any age

she’s leaving home

Sending your first child off to college is an experience unlike any other – one that you can’t really prepare for, or anticipate all the emotions of.

Starting sometime in her junior year of high school you create “the list” – of potential schools she’ll apply to. Then later that year you begin the round of college visits – a surreal experience if there ever was one. I vividly remember walking around various campuses with Chelsea, trying my best to pay attention to the impossibly perky and adorable “ambassadors” leading our tours – but with my head swimming with the thought that this may be where my little girl will be living a year from now. I would quell the ensuing panic by reminding myself that I still had a “whole year” – plus!!! – before she left. As if a year, when you are a parent, is a lot of time.

chelsea and sheri

Especially when that year is senior year – application deadlines,  acceptance (and sometimes rejection) letters, senior prom, graduation, shopping/packing/orientation………….and in a blink you are back on that same campus with hundreds of other young adults and their parents (strained smiles are the order of the day), setting up her too-small, too-far-away dorm room. There are some rushed hugs and “I’ll text you later”s and…………she’s gone.

Or more accurately, YOU’RE gone. Back to a house that looks the same, but feels totally different.

I always assumed that Chelsea’s first year away would be the hardest – that by her second year I’d be a “pro” at packing her up, setting up her room, saying our good-byes and adjusting to her absence. And some of that did happen. But that first year is also so fraught – with texts,  phone calls,  excitement and just the novelty of it all – that it goes by quickly, without a whole lot of time or opportunity for introspection.

chelsea and sheri

It was her second year that really blindsided me. Yes, we were now “old pros”. Most of her dorm supplies had already been purchased the year before. Setting her up and saying good bye felt much less intense and dramatic. She had her best friends as roommates. And before I knew it, we were back home and back to normal.

It was only then that it hit me – this is the new normal. Yes, she’ll be home for the occasional doctor appointment, Thanksgiving and winter break – but she’ll always be leaving to go back. And eventually she’ll be leaving for good.

Don’t get me wrong – this is what we prepared for. This is exactly what we wanted for her.  Truthfully, I can no longer even really remember what it was like when she lived here full-time. That seems like forever ago. I couldn’t be more proud of my beautiful, smart, funny and accomplished daughter. She is my hero, my role model, my partner in crime. We definitely make the most of her time at home – sleepovers in the city, trips to the next great bakery or boutique we’ve discovered, baking some delicious treats to bring back to her friends at school.

And of course, cooking her favorite meals – her  favorite which I share with you here. It’s not fancy or complicated, but I now save it for when she comes home.

She’s home now – and although it’s not for long (or forever), it’s the best thing ever.

chelsea and sheri

What are some of your special family meals and how do they connect you with the people you love?

Chicken Caesar Wraps
adapted from the New York Times

chicken ceasar wraps

chicken ceasar wraps

2 T Dijon mustard
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
8 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
1- 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 clove of garlic
2 slices of bread – I use whatever sandwich bread I happen to have
shredded parmesan
1 head of romaine lettuce, shredded
flour tortillas

Place chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet – season with salt and pepper. Whisk mustard, mayonnaise and vinegar in a small bowl. Pour in 6 T of the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking till emulsified. Put 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing into a separate bowl and brush onto both sides of the chicken.

Broil or grill the chicken till cooked through – when cool enough to handle, slice or shred into thin pieces. Set aside.

Mince the garlic in a food processor. Add the bread slices and pulse till you have uniform crumbs. In a small skillet heat the remaining 2 T of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the bread crumbs and stir frequently, till golden brown. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Heat tortillas on the grill or in a skillet – stack on a plate and wrap with foil to keep warm.

Assemble your wraps – put a layer of shredded lettuce on a tortilla. Follow with some chicken, cheese, bread crumbs and a drizzle of dressing. Roll up tightly and serve.

14 Comments

  1. Leslie Schulte on March 30, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    While living abroad with my family (for 7 years, 7 years ago), It was challenging to find the familiar ingredients from “home” that would satisfy the limited palette of my then 4 and 7 year old. Today, Kayla, my Sophomore in College and soon to be HS senior, Rebecca, enthusiastically and nostalgically enjoy this somewhat modified version of Vichyssoise from The Joy of Cooking. My copy opens automatically to the page that the recipe is on!
    3 medium sized leeks (mince the white part mostly)
    1 medium onion
    Stir and saute them for 3 minutes (approx)
    in 2 TBLS butter
    Peel and slice very fine
    4 medium potatoes
    Add
    4 cups chicken broth
    Simmer covered for 15 minutes till tender
    Use a Hand blender in the pot to puree (my family likes some potato lumps)
    Add 1-2 cups cream (I usually use 1 cup half and
    half or even just whole milk if the puree is thick
    enough.
    Salt and white pepper
    (1/4 tsp mace…my family doesn’t care for that)
    garnish with chopped watercress or chives (we don’t usually bother)

    A tossed salad
    A challah
    Voila!

    • sheri silver on March 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm

      This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dana Vogel on March 30, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    You and I have shared the “leaving home” story many times and each time the lump in my throat and tear in my eye return. We face the new normal with each milestone and that is truly the bittersweet of life. Thank you for sharing.

    • sheri silver on March 31, 2011 at 7:43 am

      Thanks Dana – we certainly have….

  3. Amy stein on March 30, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    With only a 2 year old and a 4 month old at home, I have little to share other than good ol Mac n cheese…however, because of you I held onto my kids a little tighter and a little longer tonight. Thank you.

    • sheri silver on March 31, 2011 at 7:42 am

      Thank YOU! And stay tuned for a to-die-for mac and cheese recipe soon!

  4. Amanda on March 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Hi Sheri. I am living this right now. I’m the mother of 4. My oldest is 19, though he’s following in his father’s footsteps and going to work with him. However, my daughter is a junior in high school and has already asked me if we can start touring colleges. Reading your post actually invoked a few tears!

    I wanted to tell you that totally by chance I saw you on Nate Berkus today. I’ve never watched the show before, in fact I usually turn the TV off once my husband heads off to work, but I didn’t today. Not sure why. Anyway, the financial expert gave you some good advice, though not very detailed. I hope that they gave you some more detailed information back stage. 🙂 I figured there must have been a reason that I left that TV on today. 🙂 So if you are interested, I’m happy to extend an invitation to you to join our food blogger’s discussion group. it’s a fabulous way to learn about all the things she talked about and get to know others just like you.

    Let me know if you are interested. 🙂

    • sheri silver on March 31, 2011 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks Amanda – for you lovely note and the invite to your blog group. I’d love to learn more – count me in! Sheri

      • Amanda on April 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm

        Hi Sheri 🙂 Glad I stopped back by, I didn’t realize you had replied to my comment 🙂 Shoot me an email and I will be happy to fill you in! amanda@amandascookin.com

        • sheri silver on April 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm

          Just sent it! Thanks again! Sheri

  5. iHeartQuilting on March 31, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Hi, right now, my favorite family meal is anything we sit down to together, since our schedules are pretty busy. But since I have a picky 7 yr old, we frequently have some form of spaghetti, lol. Just saw you on the Nate Berkus Show, which is how I found your blog. I’ve added you to my favorites, and can’t wait to try your scone recipe for our Easter Brunch here!

    • sheri silver on March 31, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      Thanks so much! Let me know how the scones turn out……..and I have a VERY picky 2-year-old, so I feel your pain!

  6. Shaina Haber on March 31, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Hi! I also saw you on Nate Berkus today, and the scones totally made me text myself your website so i would remember to look you up! I like your writing, you’re a fan of smittenkitchen like me, and yeah. I’ll be reading religiously 🙂

    as for your college student…watch out, or in two years or so she might be living back at home…*sigh* i’m 23, graduated, and can’t afford to live on my own even though i SO want to! only good part? my mom buys me baking supplies cuz i bake for them 😀

    • sheri silver on March 31, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      Thanks so much for your lovely note!

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