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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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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Darning socks

August 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm (crafting, family)

My husband has a pair of socks – they’re nothing spectacular, just a stocking stuffer from his mom a few years ago. But he LOVES them. He calls them his “comfy socks,” and when he knows it’s going to be a rough/long day, he wears them. Sadly, about six months ago, he wore a hole in the heel of one of his comfy socks. It’s been sitting in my craft stuff for a while, and I finally got to JoAnn’s today to find some yarn to darn it with.

So after following this tutorial, and watching this video, I got this:

darned sock

Yeah, it’s not pretty. I couldn’t find yarn of the same thickness or color, so this was the best I could do. I also didn’t have anything round to stick in the sock, so I used a ceramic scoop from my kitchen, which worked okay. I tried on the sock, and I think it feels fine – Tyler was a little more skeptical, but we’ll see. I think once he gets over the fact that his sock has a black heel, he’ll be fine. 🙂

So first darning experience – somewhat a success. Will I do this again? We’ll see… does anyone darn socks anymore? I don’t think I’d do this for anything other than special socks! Have any of you ever darned a sock?

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Crafty tutorial: child’s apron

June 3, 2011 at 9:21 pm (crafting, family)

My husband’s cousin turns 5 next week, so I decided to whip up something crafty yesterday for our gift. She LOVES princesses, which I fully indulge, so I found some fabric and got to work. My photos aren’t the greatest, but I thought I’d share how I made an apron for her.

To start:
-get some sort of cotton fabric for the body of the apron. I bought 3/4 of a yard, and had a little leftover. You might be able to get away with 1/2 a yard but don’t quote me on that.
-I also bought two yards of purple ribbon, and two yards of tulle. I used a little ribbon for the neck of the apron (you don’t need it, it’s just fun) and the rest of the ribbon plus the tulle was for a tutu.

Pattern Piece
I made a dress for her birthday last year using a Simplicity pattern, and I knew it still fit her, so I used the bodice pattern piece as a guideline for the apron pattern.

Cut Fabric
I ended up with two pieces like this, and pinned them right sides together. I should have made the side ties now, and pinned them in, but I didn’t because I’m a goober. Scroll down and see how I fixed it, then when you make your apron, put your side ties in here.

Turned inside out
I sewed the sides and bottom together, then turned it inside out through the open top seam (near the neck). I ironed it, and poked all the corners out so it looked nice and crisp.

Bias tape
Make your own bias tape for the neck straps and ties. I cut a 3 inch strip, about 15 inches long (make it as long as you want your neck strap or ties) and ironed it in half. Then open it up, and fold each side in to the crease from the first ironing you did. Then fold it in half, and iron that original crease one more time. It’s really easy, and very worth it.

Pinned ribbon/straps
I pinned some purple ribbon across the top seam, which was open from when I turned it inside out. I didn’t bother sewing it closed before I put the ribbon on – sewing down the ribbon will close the opening. (If you don’t have/don’t want ribbon, you can make a bias tape strip to go on the neck, or just fold under the raw edges and sew it closed when you top stitch.) I then pinned my bias tape strap on one side and then the other end on the other side to make the neck loop. Make sure you fold in the end on your bias tape, so that no raw edges are sewing. Use a lot of pins, it helps.

Sewn straps
All sewn!! Make sure you keep sewing all the way down the strap. I can’t imagine you’d stop, but just in case, I’m putting that info out there.

Top finished
A look at the top of the apron, all finished.

Apron straps pinned
Make two more bias tape strips, to the length that you want the ties to be (that go around your child’s stomach). I have no idea how long mine were, let’s say they’re 15 inches, like the neck strap. Sometimes I just wing it. Pin these to the sides, at the right angle where the armhole curve meets the side seam. Really, I should have made these bias tape straps in the beginning and sewed them in then. But I didn’t. See the next picture.

Topstitch straps
I wanted to topstich all the way around the apron, to make it look more finished, so I sewed the straps on when I top stitched. Meh, it works. I sewed a seam starting just where the neck strap ended, about 1/4 inch in from the edge, and went all the way around.

Pretty topstitching
Yay, pretty topstitching!

Finished apron
And that’s it! Finished apron!

Then I whipped up a matching tutu with the rest of the purple ribbon, some pink tulle, and some white ribbon I already had. This was super simple – just sew with a long length stitch, then gather, then sew on the ribbon with a zig zag stitch. I then sewed the white ribbon on top of the zig zag with a straight stitch, just to hide the zig zag stitches. Plus it’s fancy.

If you make one, or both, share your results with me!

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Some things are universal

May 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm (family, random)

I’ve got an interesting new project lately, to occupy my time between student teaching and a hopeful teaching position in the fall. I came in contact with a Ph.D. student who’s getting her doctorate in history and needed some help transcribing a diary. I’m a self-proclaimed professional at reading bad handwriting since my days in admissions (high school students have atrocious handwriting!!) so I offered my services. I’ve been reading and transcribing the diary all week, and just finished this morning.

It was written by a senior editor of a major magazine who lived in New York and kept a journal every day for 40 years. FORTY! I couldn’t believe it! I’m reading chunks from the 1940s and 1950s. He’s fairly well-off, has two houses, servants, a driver, a cook, parties with the rich and famous, etc. My life here in little old suburb-of-Los Angeles doesn’t have much in common with this guy, 50 years ago, across the country, and yet, I’m struck by our similarities.

Here’s someone who has everything going for him, seems to have his life all worked out, and yet he’s terribly unhappy at times. He has relationship issues, friend issues, job issues, financial issues, etc. Sometimes I get very stressed out at where my life is going – I want a family now, I really really want a job now, I want us to be settled, I’d love for us to have a house and a dog, etc. My husband feels the same way – sometimes we feel so unstable, not knowing what the future will bring, and we’re ready to be in one place for a long time with career jobs instead of placeholder jobs.

But, as sad as it was to read this diary, with all of his troubles and unhappiness, it was kind of reassuring and inspiring – it’s fine for me to want more out of life, to be excited for the next stages in our lives, but that next stage doesn’t bring magical happiness and sunshine, as evidenced by his life. Everyone, at one point or another, (and sometimes lots of points) is unhappy and dissatisfied with life. Even this guy who has an amazing job and an amazing life is unhappy. What he doesn’t seem to have is a faith – and I think that is what pulling me through these dissatisfied times. I know God’s got a plan, and I just have to be patient.

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Current state of affairs

May 2, 2011 at 12:15 pm (family)

I found out about the news of bin Laden’s death while in line for a ride at Disneyland, which, by the way, is possibly the weirdest place to be thinking about politics.

Then I read this post on Diary of an Air Force Wife, who I pretty much agree with.

With a brother in the Marines and a husband contemplating the Air Force, I am caring much more about war than I ever did before. I feel relief today… I’m glad we finally accomplished some of what we set out to do. That at least this mission is completed, after being in progress for almost half my life. But more than anything, I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated that my brother will still be deployed sometime soon, we could still lose him to this war, that my husband would be gone too if he/we join. I’m frustrated that this doesn’t change anything. I’m frustrated that military are still being screwed around with regarding pay/compensation/everything, that we still jump to get involved in so many squabbles (ahem, Libya) that we don’t need to join.

I think that today, like most days when thinking about my brother or our potential future military life, I am both as patriotic and unpatriotic as I can be. I’ll do anything to support those who serve, but I hate that this means more of them gone.

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Sour Cream Dutch Apple Pie

April 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm (family, pictures, recipes)

I don’t make pretty pies, as evidenced by this picture:
Sour Cream Dutch Apple
But, it was tasty! My theory is pie gets all mixed up when you try to slice it, especially fruit pies. So as long as it tastes good, your mission is accomplished. (Also, I’m not very good at crusts, so that’s probably the problem.)

I got this recipe from Taste of Home, and it’s by far my favorite apple pie recipe.
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* Pinch salt
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup sour cream
* 2 cups chopped peeled tart apples
* 1 unbaked pie shell (9 inches)

* 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons cold butter

* In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt. Stir in the egg, vanilla and sour cream; stir until smooth. Add apples; mix well. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325° and bake for 30 minutes more.
* For topping, combine flour and sugar in a small bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle topping over pie; bake 20 minutes longer or until filling is bubbly and topping is browned. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or chilled. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 8 servings.


I brought this pie to our Easter dinner yesterday with my husband’s family. We cleaned up nice, I think!
Us on Easter

Happy Easter – He is risen!

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new nicknames, and birthday reflections

April 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm (family, friends, random, teaching)

Upon finding out it was my birthday today, the students tried to guess how old I was. Most guesses ranged from 18-23. When I said I was turning 24, one girl remarked, “You’re young, but pretty.”

Young but pretty?! Okay… 🙂 Suffice it to say, they were very surprised at how old I actually am. Also that I’m married. It still cracks me up when students are surprised that I have a life outside of school!

Some other students (not in my class, in another class) also calling me “Barbie” now. I’m not really sure what to make of that. Do they think I’m too pretty? Too fake? Childish? I have no idea, and I don’t plan on finding out. 🙂

So today, I am 24 years old. This feels incredibly old to me… the other day someone asked me how old I was and I almost responded “22,” before I realized not only was I 23 at that point, I was almost 24! I’m excited to be older, I’m excited for this year. I feel like we’ve been transitioning from college and grad school life thus far, and the next year has a lot of big grown up changes coming. 23 wasn’t that exciting of an age, but I hope 24 will be.

How about you? Are you more excited about certain birthdays than others? I hope you’re still excited about birthdays in adulthood… a birthday is such a fun day to celebrate!

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March 28, 2011 at 9:24 pm (family, links)

Long story short: my husband is applying for the Air Force and in a fit of “needing to know what I’m getting myself into,” I started reading military wife blogs last year.

This is a post from one of my favorites: Diary of an Air Force Wife on love. Read the last sentences of her post.

I wrote a facebook note (ha, back in the day) a few years ago with a similar theme. In our loviest, mushiest moments, I love my husband a lot and can gush about his qualities. But, 90% of the time, we are in real life situations. We’re going to work, running errands, cleaning the house/car/whatever, eating dinner, etc. And in those situations, I love him the most, by far. I don’t stop to acknowledge that enough, that it is his constant presence and support and love and care that I need and adore, far more than our occasional romantic dinners and flowers. Those special occasion things are fun, and good, and necessary, but it is real life with my husband that I love.

She reminded me of that, all the way in North Dakota (can I say I am SO worried we’ll end up in ND and I’ll freeze to death??) and I wanted to give my husband a public shout-out. I love you, Tyler, more than I can ever say!

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Ecclesiastes 10:14

February 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm (family, random)

“…no one really knows what is going to happen; no one can predict the future.”
-Ecclesiastes 10:14

We’ve been going through Ecclesiastes in our Bible study at church, and for the most part it’s a depressing/uninteresting book. (Sorry, God.) However, this week, the verse above came up – and Tyler and I couldn’t help but look at each other and laugh.

Like I mentioned a few posts ago, we’ve been having an ongoing discussion lately about the future. Jobs, family, where to live, going back to school, etc. You name it, we’ve probably considered it! We’ve been waiting on a few job prospects for both of us, and are hemming and hawing about making any other plans until we hear back. We’re major planning types, so to not have a sure plan is driving us crazy.

But this verse… it just seemed to come at the perfect time. Our pastor read it, and then talked about how sometimes you just have to go for it without worrying about if it’s the right time. I don’t think either of us believed when we entered college that we’d get married 3.5 years later, but we went for it and it’s been an amazing 2.75 years. Going to be pondering on this verse for the rest of the week… how many areas of my life do I just need to let go and trust God in? Who cares if it’s my “right time” – is it God’s time?

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