Balance: do what works

June 28, 2012 at 8:55 am (family, goals, links, teaching)

Finding the Balance

Today, I’m participating in a blog hop with Happy Homemaker Me and Jordy Liz! We’re writing about how we find a balance between responsibilities and joys in life.

Back in September, I wrote this post with my advice about surviving the first year of teaching. Some of it still applies: I laid my clothes out every single day this school year, I made a lunch on all but a handful of days, and I was able to put the work down and go home as soon as the bell rang.

But aside from that… a lot has changed! We’re not joining the Air Force anymore (a decision that ultimately was about balance and what worked for us), I’m almost 9 months pregnant with our first child, and instead of moving this summer we’re settling in for another year in Los Angeles and I’ll be going back to work in the fall for another year of teaching.

Looking back, I have no idea how I made it through this year. How on earth did we eat homemade dinner almost every night? How on earth did I manage to write every single IEP on time? How did I sew a quilt and cross stitch a stocking? Only by the grace of God, that is for sure. And in this year, I’ve figured out what works for me, and for us. So here’s some updated tips on how to make it all work together…

1. As far as food and cooking: weekly/monthly menus just do not work for me. Particularly when pregnant. I would plan a meal the night before, and by the next day that meal no longer sounded appealing AT ALL. Even when I’m not pregnant, if I’m not excited about the meal, I’m grumpy about cooking and put off starting dinner in hopes we’ll just go out to eat. Not a good habit… So instead, I’ve taken to keeping basics on hand that are easy to defrost and I decide what sounds good at 4 PM every day, in time to have dinner ready when my husband gets home at 5:15. Two things make this possible: I am diligent about repackaging bulk meat (I put it in ziploc bags, which is not the most green solution but it means they can be quickly thawed in a sink full of water) and keeping a detailed grocery list. Any time we start to run low on any ingredient, it goes on the grocery list which is kept on the fridge. If I wait to make a list until right before going to the store, I will always forget at least one or two items.

2. You need a weekend: Friday nights, Saturday mornings, and Sunday mornings and nights are for relaxing with my husband. Always! Work/errands/cleaning wait for Saturday/Sunday afternoons, and Saturday night if I need even more time. As I move forward to being a working mom and not just a working wife, this is the strategy I’m most committed to, since I don’t want to miss any more of my daughter’s first year than I have to. For me, having balance in life is putting God first, then your family, then you, then work/cleaning/errands/the rest of life. My job is important, and I do have responsibilities to my students, but my family is forever. Jobs are temporary.

3. Find your routine: Sorry, this tip is less specific than the other two, but it’s coming from my heart and what I’ve learned this year. Don’t stick to something that’s not working for you, just because everyone else meal plans or everyone else stays after school to get work done. I don’t meal plan, I don’t have a cleaning schedule, and I take any extra work home, because that’s what works for me and my family. When you’ve got your routine nailed down, you’ll know – and if it’s not working yet, switch it up. It’s worth a little chaos to figure out what works for you.

That’s what works for me, condensed into three tips. What works for you? Join the blog hop and share!

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The Real-Life “Up” Movie House

October 2, 2011 at 8:09 pm (links)

You’ve seen Up, right? A quality Pixar film that I loved, but not one I can watch over and over – it’s got some sad moments and an overall somewhat melancholy/bittersweet mood.

This, however, made me exceedingly happy: there’s a builder in Utah who built a replica, full size, actual house from the movie. See for yourself:

Up house

Their chairs from the movie:
Chairs

And their mailbox out front:
Mailbox

The rest of the pictures are here.

I’m now brainstorming what fictional house I want… Father of the Bride house? I Love Lucy’s Connecticut house? How about you – what would you pick?

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Best of Pinterest: Oct 2

October 2, 2011 at 8:00 am (links)

Things that have caught my eye recently on Pinterest:

Source: etsy.com via Stacey on Pinterest



I love celebrating birthdays but I’m not good at remembering them. I need this to help me out!

Source: smittenkitchen.com via Stacey on Pinterest



In my ongoing quest to find parts of fall/winter that I’m happy about… tomato soup with cheese on top? I can get on board with that.

Source: ohafternoonsnacks.com via Stacey on Pinterest



I want these, for my kitchen, SO BADLY. I love the top left and bottom right – they make me smile so much!

Source: team-t-adventures.blogspot.com via Stacey on Pinterest



Orange chicken is one of my favorite dishes, but I haven’t found a recipe I love yet – will have to try this one! And in the crockpot? Couldn’t be easier!

What are you pinning lately?

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Best of Pinterest: August 14

August 14, 2011 at 8:40 pm (links, pictures, random)

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve become quite a fan of Pinterest – you can see my boards here. I thought that maybe once every week or so, I’d share some of the things I’ve found. I always enjoy seeing pictures that other people have found inspiring.

So, here’s what I’ve loved this week:

Source: twojunkchix.blogspot.com via Stacey on Pinterest



I’m obsessed with the idea of a lovely wreath for our door for Christmas this year. Perhaps this one will do?

Source: whiskandaprayer.blogspot.com via Stacey on Pinterest



Crock pot mac and cheese. I’m about to jump into a crazy commute, and I’m gonna need to rely on some crock pot recipes to make sure I’m eating dinner before 9 PM!

Source: emiliehandmade.com via Stacey on Pinterest



Minion cupcakes!! I definitely want a Despicable Me party for my birthday now.

Source: sunset.com via Stacey on Pinterest



We’re moving to an apartment with a PATIO(!) in a few weeks, and I’m dying to try a version of this.

Source: maurices.com via Stacey on Pinterest



Loving this dress. With a cardigan it’s great for teaching, without a cardigan it’s great for dinners out or warm days. Hope to try sewing this sometime soon! Thinking I’ll leave off the bow though – makes it easier to fit under cardigans!

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Links for the week

July 14, 2011 at 9:16 pm (links)

Things I’ve been amused by or found useful this week…

Monkey self portraits – I love an amusing animal story. But seriously, the first picture on this article makes me laugh every time I see it.

Easy English Bible – developed by Wycliffe translators, this is a translation of the Bible using a basic 1200 word English vocabulary. Super helpful for my Chinese students who have little English… spiritual concepts don’t always translate so well.

Koala Sewing Tables – my mom sent me a link for her dream sewing table, and now I’m ogling dream sewing rooms. (Ooo, new Pinterest category?)

Creating the Invisible Mannequin Effect – remember this for future Etsy shop.

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New Recipe: Soft Brown Sugar Cookies

July 6, 2011 at 9:45 am (links, recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

Have you checked out Pinterest yet? Here’s my boards. I wasn’t sure how often I’d use it, but now that I’ve played around with it, I’m really liking it! It’s so much easier to pin a picture of something I love to a board and then find it later, rather than bookmarking it and then trying to sift through the hundreds of recipes I’ve bookmarked. Someone gave me a good tip that you can use Pinterest when starting an Etsy shop to see what colors/patterns/styles are popular at the moment.

I found this recipe, for Soft Brown Sugar Cookies, on a friend’s Pinterest board. Tried them out the other night, and they are SO GOOD. The recipe was really straight forward, I didn’t make any modifications, but somehow I ended up with four dozen cookies instead of two dozen… but I only had enough frosting for two dozen. (And I was too lazy to make more frosting, so half of the cookies are plain.) Either way, I love this recipe! They are soft, with a wonderful flavor.

Any readers who are on Pinterest? I’d love to follow you!

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Links: crafty and otherwise

June 6, 2011 at 11:11 am (links)

A few of my favorite links this week:

Socialite Skirt at Elle Apparel – I bought all the material/notions for this last week, I just need to sit down and make it! I have high hopes for this pattern.

Basic Machine Maintenance: Tension and Skipped Stitches
– my mom and I were just fighting with her machine over this when I visited her last week. Then I came home and found this link, and then my sewing machine started doing the same thing. It’s an epidemic, I think.

Wave at the bus – this is one creative and loving dad! Also, I read a news article about him, and I love that he says his reward is his son’s embarrassment. :)

Pear and spinach salad with poppyseed dressing – from one of my favorite blogs, hoping to try this sometime this week. I’m on a salad kick lately after having a superb one at Catal.

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Well goodness…

May 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm (links, random)

this made me a little teary. So cute!

I know it’s popular lately for new parents to register for a gmail account with their newborn’s name… I never thought about doing it before, but this video made me think twice. What a great way to make a digital baby book!

Link from Geek in Heels.

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Did you know penguins laugh?

April 25, 2011 at 7:21 pm (links)

I have a thing for funny animal pictures/videos. This is well known, and as such I get many links. My friend Laura sent me this one today:

Penguins are Ticklish

Go, watch it, and then laugh.

(The goat who figured out the food dispenser is pretty good too.)

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Link: Angry Birds plus Muppets

April 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm (links, random)

Saw this on one of the blogs I read. I’m totally addicted to Angry Birds, so it made my day. :)

Coming eventually, once I go grocery shopping and clean the apartment and plan lessons for next week: the recipe for my first adventure with monkey bread.

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