Civics & Lasagna

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, … -Declaration of Independence, 1776

2016-04-11_21.05.55As a parent, multitasking is a requirement and knowledge of all subjects is a prerequisite. When our children are born, we are asked to somehow sleep, clean the house, fold the laundry, and prepare dinner all while the baby naps.  As they get older, our work load doesn’t change; instead, obstacles are added…dinner, laundry, cleaning, and an all-hands, dog food-eating, playing-in-the-toilet toddler.  And it never ends.  Even when they are no longer eating dog food, playing in the toilet, and finding every dust bunny that you struggled to exterminate, their wants & needs and your daily struggles must coexist. Somehow, as a parent, we have to be everything to everyone, all the time.

My husband says that I take on too much, and I often will start a job before the previous one is finished.  True…and true. But I can’t help it. I know that I have x-number of jobs to complete in x-number of hours and no algebra equation will ever solve it with a rational number.  Rationally, I know that I have to help kids with homework, cook dinner, and still manage to get the kids a decent bedtime. My OCD says that I should clean out the dishwasher and wipe down the counters before I cook. The mother in me says that I should put my life aside to help my children. And, as in the case of last night, somewhere between coming home later than expected from the gym, studying for a civics final, and making lasagna, all of the worlds collided, and I became SUPERMOM!

No, I have no cape or sword or golden lasso or extraordinary power.  I’m a mom in a kitchen elbows deep in ricotta cheese teaching a 12 year old to decipher the grievances in the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Paine’s influence on the Founding Fathers. In a matter of 2 hours, we studied for a civics test, made lasagna roll-ups, ate dinner, and cleaned the kitchen, before getting the kids bathed and in bed.  For a Monday night, I consider it a success.

Yes, I could take the easy way out.  I could very easily pop a frozen dinner in the microwave, give the 12 year old an Ipad and Google, and sit down with a glass (or bottle) of wine, but I don’t.  I refuse to raise my kids the way I see too many parent do.  I refuse to leave my kids to fend for themselves or make a bowl of cereal for dinner.  I refuse to leave my kids to “figure it out” when it comes to their education. I refuse to be that mom.

Instead, my kids WILL finish their homework before anything else–before playing, before bicycles, before TV, before dinner, before bedtime. Except for the special occasion or emergency pizza delivery, I will cook dinner with my own two hands and a stove. And, we will eat dinner at a dinner table as a family without a TV blaring in the background. We will eat and talk, and when we are finished, we will clean up.

Are my goals realistic?  Not always. Are my plans perfect? Definitely not. Do I have to make adjustments? Constantly. However, as a mom, in a world where everything else seems be going wrong, the least I can do is try to instill core values and basic family practices on my kids.  Even if that means that I am overworked, stressed a bit, multitasking constantly, and never finish one job before I start another.

Chicken & Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

2 chicken breasts-boneless, skinless, cooked, and shredded

15 oz. container ricotta cheese

10 oz. box frozen chopped spinach-thawed, drained, and squeezed dry

1/2 c. parmesan cheese

1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1 egg-beaten

10 lasagna noodles-boiled, drained, laid flat to dry slightly

1 TBSP olive oil

1/2 c. chopped onion

2 cloves garlic-minced

1 bay leaf

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1/2 TBSP sugar

1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

1 TBSP dried parsley

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp salt

1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

For the tomato sauce

In a sauce pan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender.  Add bay leaf, tomatoes, sugar, Italian seasoning, parsley, black and red pepper, and salt.  Cover and simmer over medium low heat for 20 minutes.

For the filling

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, shredded chicken, squeezed spinach, parmesan, shredded mozzarella, and egg.

Assembly

Spread a generous spoonful of filling over each lasagna noodle.  Roll up like a pinwheel.

Ladle half of tomato sauce into the bottom of a casserole.  Place lasagna rolls seam side down on tomato sauce.  Ladle the remaining tomato sauce over the lasagna rolls.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese melts and sauce is bubbly.

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