2011: The Year of the Blog

*Update: When I wrote this, I was struggling with the idea of moving back to Texas and going back to work, which would require me to polish up my online image a bit. As the months ticked by, it became apparent that although we wanted to go to Texas NOW, and had prayed for such happenings, God’s answer was either “No,” or “Not now.” I really wanted to mope about that, but I decided instead I’d just bloom where I was planted. So I’m baaaack.

As the year draws to a close, so does my blogging experiment. For one year, ever since January 2nd when I posted a gallery of photos from the year before, I wrote and kept a public record of my life.

I shared funny stories about the world around me: my son, my extended family and my friends.

I published recipes that were special to me as well as new ones that I just had to share.

During that time, I made some wonderful friends. Some of whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet face to face, and some who I count the days until we get to share a bottle of wine or see our children play.

I’ve discovered that I’m living virtually parallel lives with so many women across the world. I’ve watched as others struggled with PPD, chronic illness and loss in their families and I’ve hurt, prayed and offered support along with the rest of the blogging community.

This entire year has been such a gift to me.

I’ve been amazed to see that during twelve short months, my blog has seen more page views and more followers than I ever though possible. I’ve been blessed with opportunities to earn money for my family through blogging.

I’ve been able to accept, for myself, that if I put my mind to something I can take it as far as I want. That I can be successful.

So, thank you, wonderful blogging family and friends and exceptional brands, for this gift that you gave me.

During this next year, my family has been blessed with a couple of new projects – projects I either can’t or won’t write about just yet. Because it’s so hard for me to not write about what’s happening in my life, I’m ceasing posts on mamamash.com for the time being.

I’ll still be available if you need a guest post – you can find me on Twitter (where I won’t be posting much but will answer mentions and DMs) or you can email me at mamamashblog at gmail dot com. I’ll also continue to subscribe to your awesome blogs and visit you when I can.

I wish all of you the happiest of new years, I look forward to coming back in a few months to update you on our little projects and I leave you with my favorite posts. God Bless!

My favorite stories:

The Five Nap Commandments: My all-time favorite post, written while sleep deprived.

Rookie Mom Mistake: Sending Mixed Signals: When pooping deserves its own celebration.

The Pythagorean Theorem in Real Life: Wherein I explain how my husband got those stitches in his face

The Legend of Captain B: A sort of feature a did about my cousin, the man I’m sure will save us all during the Zombie Apocalypse.

Does that mean I can say fart now:  A post about the silly people who are my heart and soul.

Ewwwshi: Sometimes, my family does not share my tastes in cuisine.

Sugar and Spice and some potty advice: The first time I realized that my days of pooping alone were over.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat: How motherhood can be monotonous, but also satisfying.

My favorite recipes:

Cheesy Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

Chicken Spaghetti

Italian Wedding Soup

Tomato Basil Soup and Grilled Gruyère Sandwiches

My guest posts:

Today’s PSA: The Drawer – At Multitasking Mumma’s

If I Could Turn Back Time – at Chosen Chaos

Making Memories – at New Mom Survival Adventure

Guest Star – at Mama Wants This

In the Kitchen: Bacon-Swiss Chicken

I love perfect trios. Red, white and blue. The Scarecrow, The Lion and The Tin Man. Jack, Chrissy and Janet. The Bee Gees.

And of course: Chicken, bacon and Swiss.

My bacon-Swiss chicken is a bit like a certain famous dish at that overpriced-but-tasty chain restaurant that uses a bad Aussie accent and cheesy commercials to promote itself. The cheese is different – as is the lack of any fungus tucked under the other toppings poised and ready to gross out my husband – but the basic slightly-greasy goodness is the same.

Bacon-Swiss Chicken

4 slices baby Swiss cheese
4 slices bacon
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Kick’n Chicken seasoning (or whatever you have around the house)
1/3 cup honey
¼ cup mustard
2 tbsp mayonnaise
shredded cheddar (optional)

Trim excess fat off the chicken breasts. Cover with plastic wrap and beat the hell out of ‘em until they are of a nice, uniform flatness. I’m not going to tell you to pound to ½ inch thickness, because who really goes around measuring their meat after they pound it?

Put your hand down.

Drizzle a bit of the oil over the chicken then season well with salt, pepper and seasoning mix. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Cook your bacon using whatever method you prefer: skillet, microwave, oven or idling engine. Set out to drain on a paper towel.

Mix the mayo, mustard and honey and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the rest of the oil in a skillet and brown the chicken breasts.

Cover a cookie sheet with foil and place the chicken on top. Cover with the mustard mixture, bacon and sliced cheese. If you like a bit more color, cover the Swiss with a bit of shredded cheddar.

Bake for about 20 minutes until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

*Yields one man-sized serving, one mama-sized serving and one extremely-picky-but-will-eat-this-every-time-toddler-sized serving.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The day is done.

I pull on the silver handle and hot water pours into the tub. After leaning over to sprinkle in some bath salts, I straighten up and disrobe.

I leave my clothes in a pile on the floor. They are soaked in dishwater and covered with the tell tale spots and patches of a day spent toiling at the housework. They are the uniform of a stay-at-home mom: Loose, comfortable black sweats and a baggy t-shirt.

I step gingerly into the tub, anticipating warm water but find it to be a little cool. Once I’m seated, I turn the handle to the left. The water comes in hotter. It’s still not enough, so I push a little further.

Steam begins to rise.

I swirl the water around the tub, pushing it behind me where it always seems so much colder. I fan my fingers and let my hands sink below the surface.

I look down and my gaze rests critically upon my body. Breasts that could still be described as full but certainly not perky. A flabby, scarred abdomen that once proudly held a child. Strong, muscular-but-stubby legs. Crooked, misshapen unpainted toes.

I slide back, lay my head on the cold white surface of the corner and use the tips of my toes to shut off the tap.

The resulting drips lull me to sleep.

Too soon, the chill of the water revives me.

Reluctantly, I lift the drain stopper, step out of the bath and towel off.

Goosebumps pop up all over my body and I reach for the flimsy, leopard print satin robe – a gift from some long past Valentine’s Day – hanging on the back of the door.

It sticks to my damp skin but provides no warmth, so I trudge into the bedroom and search for a fresh pair of sweatpants, dress and crawl into bed.

Wash, rinse, repeat.