Finding Routine

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I crave routine. I thrive when my life is in order and I can see and plan what my immediate future will most likely look like. Substitutes don’t get routine — especially if you’re willing to take any job that is offered. Needless to say, the lack of routine really bothered me last year. I would go through periods where I wasn’t subbing at all and got into routines around the house, then I’d get a call to sub and almost felt like I shouldn’t take it because I didn’t want whatever semblance of ‘normal’ I had to become lost. So when I got my long-term subbing opportunity at the end of last year, I was in heaven! Routine, a schedule, plans… a PURPOSE!

When I decided to sub again this year, I knew something had to change. I couldn’t just let myself get caught in this rut of not having any sort of day-to-day schedule. So I was more than willing to help when the principal approached me about helping with the after school program.

I was excited when Brian and I realized that we could car pool in the mornings — that way I could help with speech class, then come home, then go back to after school program, and finally take Brian home.

Now, no matter whether or not I sub, I have a purpose every single day.

But this means that on days I do sub, we’re gone from 7:30-5:30. And then we come home and don’t feel like doing anything, including making supper.

During the transitional part of our summer, we were in an eating rut. We went through too much mac n cheese and pizza rolls. I don’t want our fall to consist of even more mac n cheese and pizza rolls! So we’ve needed to come up with some quick “go-to” decently-healthy meals.

I think some of our readers can relate to this same frustration. How do we have delicious, fast, healthy meals without having to spend lots of time in the kitchen when we get home from work? Yeah, I know. Rachel Ray can teach us tons of 30-minute meals — but sometimes they don’t look all that appetizing and I’m not as fast in the kitchen as she is! Add in the fact that we make one big shopping trip and try to plan for 14+ dinners and never know exactly what will sound good makes it hard to shop and cook.

We’ve started to pre-make a lot of dishes on Sunday so our week goes more smoothly. And when I don’t sub, I try to get dinner pretty much ready before I go to After School Program. That way, when we get home, we can warm it up and go!

So, I want to know: What are your “go-to” meals? What tips do you have for making cooking during the week seem like less of a chore?

If you, my dear readers, will answer these questions, I will start a series to share what we learn… including pictures and recipes and tips. Please comment! I think this is something that could help a lot of us… so let’s work together! 🙂

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Our Little Town

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Here are three things I never want to forget about our new little town:

1. When a really full train goes by, the house shakes and I get nauseous. The trains are also really loud and annoying. I want to remember this because I know at some point in the (hopefully) near future, it will seem like second nature.

2. The tornado sirens go off Monday-Saturday at 7:00 AM, noon, and 6:00 PM. We have no clue why… and I kind of don’t want to ask. Every time it goes off, it’s like a little mystery.

3. In our first week here, we had 4 families come introduce themselves and bring a welcome treat. The people are so nice and caring! I am planning to return the gesture as soon as I find a delicious recipe that I have all of the ingredients for.

The Real Housewife of Mason City

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Greetings, readers! I know it’s been entirely too long. But the last time I posted we were battling with the feelings of hopelessness because we hadn’t gotten full time teaching positions despite having tried our hardest. Miraculously, Brian received an English teaching position in a small Nebraska town and we packed our things and moved to an even SMALLER town.

With Brian’s paid full time job, I was also offered some great opportunities in Litchfield. I am the new head speech coach (with Brian as my assistant). I’m also helping with the school’s after school program. It doesn’t pay much and is only 10-ish hours a week, but it satisfies my soul!

I also head over to the school every morning with Brian and help him teach speech class — and I help him out by planning most of our activities and lectures.

So no, our dream situation of both finding jobs near Grand Island and getting to stay in our lovely apartment didn’t come true. But what we have is so much better. Brian is a great English teacher and seems to have a great report with the staff and all of his students. If I can’t teach full time, I’m doing exactly what I’d want to be doing. Coaching, subbing for great kids (whom I also have a great report with), and helping with the after school program — which allows me to work one-on-one and in small groups with some awesome elementary kiddos.

Oh, and our house! That’s right, we upgraded from a small (but perfect for us) 2 bedroom apartment to a ridiculously well priced, newly (and by newly, I mean they’re still working on it as we speak!) renovated 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom HOUSE with a deck and gardening space! And our landlady… yeah, she’s probably the nicest lady we’ve ever met. She’s so good to us!

Adjusting to life in a small town has been an adventure. We were used to going to the store almost daily this summer. And eating out — or at Hy-vee — about once a week. Needless to say, we’ve had to change our eating and shopping habits. We plan for at least a weeks worth of meals before making a huge shopping trip to Wal-Mart or HyVee on the weekend.

My parents got us the BEST house warming present ever! A DEEP FREEZE! It’ll be great to start stocking up on meats, veggies, and other frozen goodies. Hopefully that will help us this winter so that we can make it two to four weeks between shopping trips.

I think that pretty much sums up life for the time being. We’re still working on getting into routines and figuring out small town life. But, we’re happy. God’s plan for our life was so much better than our plan was. It was a summer of practicing having faith that things would work out. A summer of learning to be patient and letting things happen. A summer of testing our strength as individuals and as a married couple.

Today, the fall equinox, is the beginning of a new season. A chance to let go of all the bad feelings we had over this summer. And we can do that.

We’re making wheat bread and chili from scratch, lesson planning, and watching movies and football. Life is good. We’re so grateful for where we are right now.

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