Strawberry Swing Smoothie

14 frozen strawberries
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup shredded coconut
Blend ingredients together until smooth.

Baked Polenta w/ Tomato and Basil

 4 cups warm water
 1 cup cornmeal
 1 tsp. salt
 4 tbsps. unsalted butter
 ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
 ½ cup grated parm. cheese
 2 cans diced tomatoes
 1 onion, peeled and sliced in half
 4 tbsps. unsalted butter
 Chopped basil, to taste
 Parm. cheese for topping
Preheat oven to 350°. In an 8×8 baking dish, stir together the first 3 ingredients for the polenta as best as you can. Bake for 45 min. In a med. saucepan, combine first 3 ingredients for topping. Turn on med. heat, and simmer for 40 min. (stirring occasionally). When the polenta is finished baking, stir in butter until it is melted. Bake for another 15 min. Polenta will have a dry top and not jiggle when it is finished baking. When this has occurred, remove from oven. Stir in remaining polenta ingredients. Discard onions from tomato sauce, and pour the sauce over the polenta. Top w/ the basil and parm. cheese.

Balancing Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom

What I’ve Given Up, As a Stay-at-Home Mom
Sleep: Getting up at 4:30AM gives me time to plan out my day and get myself around. I like to have my coffee; check the news for the day; and get done w/ my shower before I am bombarded w/ small footsteps trampling around the house!
FULLY Getting Around: Getting fully ready in the morning, all at once, is a thing of the past. I now am lucky to exit the shower without hearing at least one child up and running around. I usually alternate between two simple hairstyles and struggle to get through a quick makeup job before someone is asking for breakfast. The remainder of my self-preparation takes place throughout the rest of the day, if at all.
Enjoying My Own Meals: As my kids are both in school, lunch is the only time that I have a shot at finishing without interruptions. Even then, I am often stopping to answer phone calls or hurrying because the dog needs to be let out. Breakfast and supper usually consist of being the last to sit down, after grabbing whatever both children require for their own. Sometimes, my children are asking for seconds by the time I get mine so I am abandoning my plate before I even began. Once I do get sat down, my meal is spent settling arguments, begging the kids to finish their food, or instructing them on proper table manners between bites. My food tends to see the microwave more often than my mouth.
My Own Plans: My day surrounds whatever the boys have going on for the day. Activities, school events, sports, etc. take priority over my own plans. My day is customized to fit theirs.
Nice Clothes: New and trendy clothes are the last thing that I’m thinking about. I refuse to shop outside the clearance racks, the few times that I do “splurge” and by clothing for myself. When doing laundry or ironing, whatever the boys need to have are what gets done first. I can honestly say that I only have one pair of jeans that fit me well, and it’s a hit or miss as to whether or not those will be ready for me in the morning!
Relaxation: Contrary to popular belief, the life of a stay-at-home mom is nothing short of chaotic. My boys having school during the day only means that this is the time that I get tasks done around the house, cook, and plan activities for when they both return home…not to mention caring for our number of rescue animals!
Understanding: Sadly, stay-at-home moms are often viewed as lazy, lesser beings. Our society holds great value in occupations outside the home, especially those making the most money. Frequently, what is overlooked is what has been given up. Though I hold a Bachelor degree in Criminal Justice Administration, I put my dreams of a career aside in order to be there for my children whenever they need me. In doing so, I have put myself in the shadows in order to let my kids’ lives shine.
Identity: I am no longer myself. It’s something to come to terms with, but a new “self” had to be born in order to stay home with my children. My hobbies, my friends, and my overall interests had to change…or they at least had to be put aside on a constant basis.
But, I’ve Gained so Much…
Productivity: I have learned, rather quickly that all is possible with a some coffee and a plan. Getting up early gives me the opportunity to accomplish so much in a day! My house is clean and orderly; my family gets homemade meals and treats; and my kids have great memories of the super fun and creative activities I have involved them in.
Letting Go: This is meant in a good way! I have realized that taking hours to get ready in the morning is so overrated. I would much rather have well-kept children and a beautiful home. I still take time to take care of myself, but I am proud to not be taking excess amounts of time away from my children in order to feed my own self-consciousness.
Chef-Style Meals: I may not have much time for my own meals, but my kids get to enjoy a variety of new foods. I am there for them, to teach them table manners, serve them their food, and encourage them to try all the new “experiments” that Mom has made. By doing so, my boys are growing up with knowledge of food types and also an awareness for proper mealtime etiquette.
Family Time: My kids are learning that they are loved and very important parts of our family. Their day is of interest, and they have a mom who strives to do everything she can to make it smoother. By tweaking my own agenda to accommodate theirs, we get more together time and do things as a family unit. We will have many memories of our time together, and my kids will always remember me as an active role in their lives.
Well-Dressed Children: By waiting to buy my own wardrobe, I am giving more opportunity to my boys to have nicer clothes. We are constantly buying clothing for the kids, and their closets are overflowing with options to wear. It makes me feel good to send them off to school or an event looking their best.
Strength: Life as a stay-at-home mom has taught me strength in its highest sense. The lack of time that I have to sit down and relax has enabled me to push through each day and be proud of my accomplishments by the end of it. I have learned the art of fighting sleep, sickness, and stress in order to keep this household running at its finest.
Independence: Screw what other people think of my life! I accomplish more in one day than most do in a few days working outside the home. I don’t get to clock in and out or escape my job; it’s always there, and I am always on call. Life as a stay-at-home mom could not be any more important: I am raising human beings 24/7, readying them to go off in the world someday and be everything that they can. I have my kids to show for my hard work…and the countless memories.
Finding Myself: As a stay-at-home mom, I have had tons of time to reflect on my life. Obviously, this is not what I had planned for myself many years ago. I’ve come to realize that I have been set on a path that I could never have foreseen at a young age, one that I was meant to walk. My writing may not be published someday, but I can do this blog. My pictures aren’t of crazy times, but of my family. And, cooking is a new hobby that I have found I enjoy and am quite good at. I can still be myself, with the inclusion of my family!

Deluxe Bbq Chicken Pizza

• 1 prepared pizza crust
• 1 small can of chicken, broken apart
• 2 tbsps. honey bbq sauce (for the chicken)
• ½ cup honey bbq sauce (for the pizza)
• 2 ¼ cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
• 3 pieces cooked, chopped bacon
• ½ cup diced pineapple
• ½ cup sliced jalapeno peppers
Cook the pizza crust, as directed. Mix chicken w/ bbq sauce. Spread remaining bbq sauce on pizza crust. Top w/ 2 cups of the cheese. Add the chicken, pineapple, and jalapeno slices. Top w/ remaining cheese. Bake until heated through.

Crockpot Egg Casserole

12 eggs
 8 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
 1 peeled and chopped onion
 1 clove minced garlic
 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
 1 (2 lb.) bag of frozen, shredded hash browns
 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
 1 cup milk
 1 tsp. dried dill
 ¼ tsp. salt
 ½ tsp. pepper
Sauté onion, garlic, and pepper for about 5 min. Place 1/3 bag of hash browns into the bottom of a greased crockpot. Add 1/3 of the bacon, 1/3 of the veggie mixture, and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat the layers. In a lg. bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Pour over the other ingredients in the crockpot; cover; and turn to low heat. Cook 8-10 hrs.

Tuna and Chickpea Salad

1 can (6 oz.) tuna, drained and broken up
 1 can (14 oz.) chickpeas, drained
 ¼ red onion, finely diced
 2 tomatoes, diced
 1 tbsp. dried parsley
 3 tbsps. olive oil
 2 tbsps. lemon juice
 ½ tsp. salt
 ¼ tsp. pepper
Place first 4 ingredients in a bowl, and mix together. Mix together remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, and then add the two mixtures together.