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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Pinterest Party: Two new dinners

February 4, 2012 at 10:59 pm (recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

My friend Bethany over at Happy Homemaker Me is hosting a Pinterest Party! Want to join us? We’re all making something from our boards, then sharing what we made.

So, I’m lame and I don’t have any pictures of the two recipes we made. I blame it on the recipes being delicious enough that I just dug in and forgot to take any. 🙂 But I wanted to share the pins I’ve made lately, and the little modifications I made to each one.

First up is tonight’s dinner: Pizza Crescent Rolls.

Source: Uploaded by user via Stacey on Pinterest

Super easy! Crescent dough was on sale at the grocery store, so I picked some up. I modified the dough and made them into calzones – just take two crescent rolls and instead of rolling them up, sandwich pepperoni/cheese/a bit of sauce between the two. Press the two rolls together and then bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes. My husband proclaimed them “delicious.”

Next up was dinner from earlier this week: Fresh Mozzarella and Pesto Grilled Cheese.

Source: via Stacey on Pinterest

Once again, fresh mozzarella was on sale at the store, so I picked some up. I LOVE cheese! And I have a basil plant that I’m a little obsessed with. So I whipped up some very basic pesto (olive oil plus minced basil plus minced garlic), grabbed some chopped spinach (my modification to this recipe), and sliced up the fresh mozzarella. I used sourdough for my bread, and buttered what would become the outside of the sandwiches. I spread some pesto on the inside of the bread, and then layered two slices of fresh mozzarella with some spinach. I cooked these in a frying pan on the stove, and they were quite good.

So that’s the new and exciting food we’ve been eating this week. 🙂 How about you?
And what have you made lately from your Pinterest?

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My latest project

January 9, 2012 at 9:11 pm (family, pictures, random)

My blogging hiatus is getting out of control! But that picture above is part of the reason why. Our first child, affectionately nicknamed “Pudge” for now, is due July 30th.

Some day, hopefully soon, this will mean lots of baby project posts. But for now, this means I need to sleep more!! 🙂

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It’s the little things

January 1, 2012 at 8:05 pm (crafting, pictures, random)

I have this grey pea coat with silver buttons that I bought in 2008, before I left to study abroad in England. The buttons are a constant annoyance – the shanks are too sharp, so they cut through thread and fall off all the time.

Today I finally bought new buttons instead of sewing the old ones on again, like I’d been talking about for years, and since they didn’t have any black buttons I liked, I opted for a deep blue. They make me smile.


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Yikes, it’s December

December 17, 2011 at 10:37 am (random)

Well hey, everyone. I underestimated how busy November and December would be, I guess! This is my first post from my iPhone though, so maybe now that my phone is all fancy, I will post more. (HA. It’s an admirable thought though.)

Next to figure out: how do I stick photos in from my phone’s camera? Cause that would be brilliant.

And more future posts I’m promising you: pictures of two projects I’m working on. Christmas break starts in four days, so they’re coming, I promise!

Hey look, I think I figured out pictures!


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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:

And their mailbox out front:

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: via Stacey on Pinterest

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

Source: 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: 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: 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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New Recipe: Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

October 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm (recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

Source: via Stacey on Pinterest

I finally made something off Pinterest! I pin all these things, and sadly don’t get to attempt nearly as many as I’d like. But yesterday we got a dinner invite from dear friends (who just had a baby and are already having dinner guests, they rock!) and they said they’d provide dinner if we provided dessert. Deal! So when I got home from work I browsed through the dessert recipes I’d pinned, trying to find something new. Those peanut butter cup brownies you see above fit the bill – something new, but ingredients I already had.

Click on the picture to see the pin, or click here for the original website. Overall – super simple! Make brownies, don’t bake all the way, fill with melted peanut butter and chocolate chips. Verdict? AMAZING! Although my muffin tin failed me and none of the brownie cups had bottoms. They were more like brownie cookies. But, they still tasted really good!

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Best of Pinterest: Sept 25

September 25, 2011 at 8:00 am (random)

Things that have caught my eye recently on Pinterest:

Source: via Stacey on Pinterest

I think this is just brilliant for wedding showers! Then you don’t have to stick masking tape on and scribble your name with a Sharpie. (In fact, I kinda want to do this to all my Pyrex now…)

Source: via Stacey on Pinterest

This just makes me laugh, so much. A “Chia Pet” pet costume? Awesome!!

Source: via Stacey on Pinterest

I’ve been in search of some DIY art for our very bare living room walls… This might make the cut. Or perhaps in the bedroom? Not sure yet.

Source: via Stacey on Pinterest

This is definitely happening soon for my living room! In shades of light and dark blue and apple green.

Source: via Stacey on Pinterest

The only way I get through fall and winter (I HATE COLD) is because there are cute decorations to make me happy until the weather gets warm again. I just put out all my pumpkins today, and I reeeally want to make these to add to my collection!

What are you pinning?

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Well hello again…

September 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm (random, teaching)

Yeah, so life got busy. We moved. I started teaching. Tyler is officially accepted into the Air Force as an officer, and we are still jumping through hoops. Etc, etc. But, this weekend has been a wonderful time of catching up and relaxing. My kitchen is stocked with food for the first time in a month, I made a Target run, and got some crafting in.

I’ve got a few blog posts in the works, but first wanted to share my personal tips for first year teachers. I’d heard it was a killer year, and I was pretty sure I was going to die. But, I’m not dead, and actually I love it. Every day I arrive with a smile on my face. Granted, I still get way too many emails and have way too many papers on my desk to go through, but this is what works for me…

1. Clothes get laid out the night before. Yup, just like when you were a little kid. Don’t just think about it in your head – literally get the shoes/clothes/underwear/socks out and stick them somewhere. Saves me a lot of headache in the morning.

2. Be okay with random lunches. I grab a fruit, a grain, a protein, and a granola bar. If the grain and protein is a pita with cheese and nothing else, it works. It’ll get me through the day.

3. A sub told me, don’t let students get free rent in your head. They don’t think about you when they get home, so don’t think about them. That thought has made the biggest impact on me this year – yes, I still want to make great lessons and have brilliant visuals and all that, but in the long run the kids need to know the material. As long as we learned something that day, it was a success.

4. ASK. Sometimes I feel horrible because I’m having to ask questions about everything, but I’ve learned so much by being willing to ask. Everyone is happy to help, they were a first year teacher once too!

5. Laugh. Kids are hilarious! Enjoy what they say. And write it down!

6. Be willing to educate outside of the content. My health class, oh man. We get started on some random topics. This week, I taught them what the term “baby boomers” meant. Especially in special education, I’m there to help them in whatever way they need.

This is just what works for me – but it’s been the most valuable thing for making my first year a success.

Coming up… posts about my latest finds on pinterest, and another about how to throw a baby shower on a budget.

So how are you all doing? How have your August and Septembers been?

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