The Story of Us

Today is our 10 year wedding anniversary. Woohoo! Josh is my teenage dream come true! I had the biggest crush on him when I was 17 years old. I hope you enjoy my attempt to document how we started dating. 

The Prequel

It can be hard sometimes to determine where the beginning of a story should start. I first noticed my future husband the summer before my senior year of high school. I was 17 years old and lifeguarding at Kiwanis Wave Pool and immediately developed a school girl crush on him.

This guy, who I would quickly learn was named Josh, was walking across the pool deck wearing a Tennessee Titans hat and a shirt that indicated he was a pool manager at another city pool. I honestly didn’t think it would EVER be a possibility that I would date Josh because I knew he had to be in college, if not graduated, but I still joked with my friends at work over the summer that I was going to marry him one day and have his babies.I was able to get scheduled twice that summer at the outdoor pool while Josh was managing. I don’t think he spoke to me directly that day.

The summer ended, high school resumed, then it was summer again. I lifeguarded and taught swim lessons over the summer before attending Arizona State University and continued working in this capacity all throughout college.

Sometime between my freshman and sophomore year at ASU I got booted off my parents family membership at Lifetime Fitness. I decided that this would be the perfect time to join the YMCA. And why the YMCA you ask? Well it was a fairly easy choice on what gym to join. The price was right, it was close to home, and I almost Josh also worked there. On one occasion my mom was using a guest pass and I can remember pointing out Josh to her as he walked down the hallway. I told her how he also worked for the City of Tempe, was from Tennessee, wanted to be a firefighter, and probably a few more random facts about a person I had never talked with.

During my junior year in college I overheard at work that Josh had been hired as a firefighter and was moving to Tennessee. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that my position that upcoming summer would be working alongside Josh as his assistant manager at an outdoor pool. Josh had moved to Arizona from Tennessee specifically with the goal to get hired as a firefighter in this state. At this point he had been testing for a little over 6 years when he decided to go back to Tennessee to see if he could get hired.

If you are unfamiliar with the hiring process for the Fire Department it is brutal. There are usually over a thousand applicants for just a handful of positions. It is uncommon, but does happen, where positions can be offered and then revoked for various reasons. In Josh’s case he had already been fitted for his uniform when he discovered he would no longer be hired.

In life we sometimes have the opportunity to look back on challenging seasons and see how God was at work. For some of us, it is easy to see how something better was waiting in the months or years ahead, and for others of us, we may never get the answer on this side of eternity. Fast forward our story two years and Josh and I would be on our honeymoon when he would learn he had been hired to a local Fire Department.

The Story

In March of 2005 we had a staff training and because Josh and I knew we were going to be working together all summer we sat next to each other and had our first real conversation. I also found out he was 10 years older then me. We left the training walking to our cars together and I can remember telling him that we were going to be best friends by the end of the summer. I am pretty sure he didn’t believe me. This is our first ever picture together. I was thrilled. In case you are curious, I am 21 years old in this picture and Josh had just turned 32.

I really didn’t see Josh very much the majority of the summer. I saw him when he would come in to work, but then I would leave, and I also saw him for two hours each week at inservice training. You can learn a lot about a person in a work environment. I got to see how Josh treated others, his leadership skills, work ethic, his lighthearted attitude towards life, and the way he valued my ideas and opinions. It wasn’t until the end of the summer, on the night of our staff awards banquet, that we actually spent time together not getting paid. I am pretty sure he fell for me that night or if could have been a slow build up of spending short snippets of time together over the summer.

As the summer season wrapped up, we slowly began spending more time together away from work. We would meet up for a movie or to grab a bite to eat and easily spend hours talking on the phone. Over the course of the next two months Josh would try to hold my hand at the movie theater and I would pull it away. It might sound silly but once I knew there was a 10 year age difference between us I wanted to make clear, I was a girl worth pursuing and also respecting. Not that I think holding hands is in anyway disrespectful but I just needed to know, that he knew, I was worth the wait.

I knew that things might be moving from friends to potentially something more when Josh offered to go trail running with me at South Mountain. I was fairly confident that he must like me more than a friend because Josh was not a runner. We did my 5 mile loop and he jokes that his knees haven’t been the same since. Shortly after this my hand became quite comfortable tucked securely in Josh’s hand.

The majority of the time we spent together was at my parents house because I still lived at home. We would typically eat dinner with my family, which I am beyond grateful for, because Josh really got to know my parents and brother and they really got to know him. After every meal he ate with us he always volunteered to do the dishes and my mom grinned and graciously allowed him to clean her kitchen.

One night after dinner we went for a walk in the neighborhood. I need to preface this by saying that up until this point we had not let anyone at work know we were dating. We were holding hands and suddenly heard our names questioningly being called from behind. As we turned we could see Kyle Perkins, a lifeguard who worked at our pool over the summer, and Kyle if you happen to be reading please know that we still laugh about this, with what could only be described as a jaw dropping expression on his face as he rode by on his bicycle. And after that it quickly became known that Josh and I were dating.

How We Became Us

I am not really sure when our friendship turned into something more because it was this slow crescendo that built up over time. We began looking for a church to attend together and found our church home that we still attend to this day. Josh was baptized there when we were dating, we were married there, and all of our children have been dedicated there.

We quickly fell into an easy routine of spending time together and with my family, going to church, Josh writing me love letters, and talking on the phone before falling asleep at night. Josh told me that he wanted to marry me shortly after we started dating.

I didn’t have any clue that he was saving for a ring, or even how much a ring cost, or how nice of ring he wanted to give me. Finally after what felt like forever, when in reality it had been a year, he asked me to marry him. You can read more about his proposal HERE and see my ring HERE.

This post could continue to go on and on forever but because I know it is getting long I am going to wrap it up. The past 10 years have been mixed with joy and heartbreak, sickness and health3 babies, 2 vasectomies, and much more in between. I would be lying if I said I had this whole marriage thing figured out. I don’t. But what I do know is that marriage is a commitment and one that is not always easy. Josh has been my faithful friend for the last 12 years and the passage below sums up my feelings towards him and our relationship.

In the year 1846 Rev. Richard Baxter wrote…

It is a mercy to have a faithful friend, that loveth you entirely, and is as true to you as yourself, to whom you may open your mind and communicate your affairs, and who would be ready to strengthen you, and divide the cares of your affairs and family with you, and help you to bear your burdens, and comfort you in your sorrows, and be the daily companion of your lives, and partaker of your joys and sorrows. And it is a mercy to have so near a friend to be a helper to your soul; to join with you in prayer and other holy exercises; to watch over you and tell you of your sins and dangers, and to stir up in you the grace of God, and remember to you of the life to come, and cheerfully accompany you in the ways of holiness.

I am grateful for our marriage, for the joy and heartaches that have continually brought us back to Jesus, for God’s grace, and for the blessings of our children. This is our story and I hope you have enjoyed this ever so small snippet of our beginning.

PS…Special shout out to our boss Pat for placing us at the same pool together that summer :). It was great running into you at Costco a few weeks ago.

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Fry’s ClickList & Once A Month Meals

Disclosure: The following post contains affiliate links. This means if you purchase an item from a link I provide to those shops, I might receive a commission. I only share products and services that I would personally use and think are a good fit for my readers. Thank you for supporting the brands that support our family. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

This summer our family was fortunate enough to go on two separate vacations. We ventured to the beach and to the mountains and it was wonderful to get out of the Arizona heat. But once we returned from vacation we never really left “vacation” in regards to our eating.

I started making multiple trips to the grocery store each week because I had no plan of what we were going to be eating for our meals. Which in turn led to the amount of money we were spending on food being over what we budget for monthly. I found myself not being a great steward of my time or our family’s finances as June turned into July and somehow I ended up in September.

Having used Once a Month Meals multiple times in the last year I knew what I needed to do in order to get our food budget back on track.

Once A Month Meals

Once a Month Meals provides everything you need to shop, prep and cook the bulk of your monthly meals in just one day — and freeze those meals for when you want to eat them. To start you can pick a meal plan that is based on 7 different dietary preference or you can customize your own.

The recipes are easily adaptable to the needs of your own family. For example, our family stays away from soy and two of the recipes I selected called for soy sauce which I swapped out for coconut aminos.

When your menu is finalized you print out the shopping list, prep instructions, cooking day instructions, recipes, labels, and thaw sheet. Everything is organized for you to be able to succeed in prepping meals ahead of time for you and your family! It is very well organized.

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Fry’s ClickList 

This leads me to this last weekend. On Saturday night after the kids went to bed I got my laptop out and signed in to my Once A Month Meals account to meal plan and prep for the week ahead. I quickly created my meal plan of 5 recipes, that can be cooked from frozen in my Instant Pot, and went to town on my grocery shopping list with Fry’s ClickList.

I love Fry’s ClickList! If you don’t know about this little gem it is amazing and a huge game changer in how you shop for your groceries. ClickList is an online grocery ordering service from Fry’s. You can shop online and pick up your order at the store…without having to leave your car!

Saturday night I ordered our groceries using the shopping list that was generated based on my meal plan I created. In less than an hour the meal plan was done, groceries ordered, and I never even had to leave my house. Sunday morning after church we drove over to Fry’s at 10am and within 10 minutes we were back on the road with our groceries heading home.

Time To Prep & Freeze

Once we were home Josh headed out to Costco to pick up two packages of organic ground beef that I still needed and I got to work prepping the vegetables and cutting up the chicken. I was able to freeze 2 recipes by the time Josh came home.

My customized meal plan included…

  • Instant Pot Bourbon Chicken
  • Instant Pot Teriyaki Honey Chicken
  • Instant Pot Southwest Casserole
  • Instant Pot Pumpkin Sloppy Joes
  • Instant Pot Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
  • Eggo Breakfast Sandwiches (I used gluten free Vans waffles instead)

Each recipe serves 4 and was doubled. When I was finished prepping all my meals my freezer was filled with 10 dinners!

I went from a sad empty freezer…

to a freezer full of yummy meals for my family.

By 2pm my kitchen was all cleaned and I had a loaf of pumpkin bread baking in the oven.

I happen to pick fairly low prep recipes to freeze this time which is why I was able to pick up my groceries, prep the food, put the recipes together, and get my freezer stocked in such a small window of time.

Recommend Reading: Once A Month Meals & Instant Pot Review

The Instant Pot Is Amazing!

The recipes I made called for 6.5 pounds of cooked ground beef. I had noticed in the past that Once A Month Meals suggests using your pressure cooker for ground beef and I have always opted to use my skillet instead.

I decided to use my Instant Pot because there was such a large amount of ground beef to cook.  And I am so glad I did! I dumped all my meat in my instant pot added 2 cups of water, sealed the lid, and set the timer for 10 minutes.

I was nervous to open the lid when it was done because I was certain I was going to see a huge glob of meat. To my surprise it worked beautifully! It  might be hard to tell in the picture but the meat is finely separated.

The Instant Pot has truly changed the way I use my kitchen and allowed me more time with my family. Once A Month Meals is adding new recipes to their library and has over 80 recipes specifically for the Instant Pot. It is great to be able to take a meal from my freezer directly to the Instant Pot and know it will be fully cooked from frozen and ready to eat in less than an hour.

What I Spent & How Long It Took

The total cost for 10 meals and 12 breakfast sandwiches was $190. It works out to $15 a meal and $2 per breakfast sandwich. I purchased organic meat and produce but depending on the menu you choose, the region you live in, how you shop, and how big your family is the cost of your meals will vary. Once a Month Meals reports that shopping for a monthly menu can average between $150-300.

From the time I picked up my groceries to when my kitchen was clean took 4 hours. Each time I make multiple freezer meals I get a little faster and my system becomes more streamlined.

My kitchen however, is still just as messy.

The length of time this take does depend on the recipes you select and how much prep is involved before the recipes can be assembled.

Ready To Make Your Own Freezer Meals?

Once a Month Meals has two membership options for you to choose between. You can select either a $16 monthly subscription or a $170 yearly subscription. Regardless of whether you choose the monthly or yearly option, your membership will give you access to all nine menus and associated documents (shopping, recipes, instructions, etc.) as well as the ability to mix and match recipes from different menus to create your own custom menus in MenuBuilder.

I would love to know if you have ever made freezer meals? Do you own an Instant Pot?

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The Mama Confessionals: My Baby Swallowed a “Foreign Body”

Well here I sit at my laptop and resurrecting my series The Mama Confessionals. What is funny is that 8 hours earlier today I had decided it was time to do this. My plan had originally been to write about how horrific postpartum periods can be. I seriously feel like I am in junior high again, and really, who wants to relive that awkwardness. Lets just say that my washing machine has been doing double duty lately on my jeans and I am saying thank you for dark washed denim.

Additional Reading: I Locked My Kid in the Car & Opps..I Peed My Pants.

But instead of writing about all that, life decided get interesting last Tuesday evening around bath time and gave me some new material. Bath time is usually one of two things.  A celebratory event that cultivates imagination and fun for 10-20 minutes before the full on bedtime routine starts or a rushed 5-10 minute wash up that usually ends in tears, most of the time it is the kids crying but sometimes I can feel like shedding a few tears myself. Kidding. Sorta. Not really.

So with three kiddos ages 5 years, 3 years and 9 months, I have the two older ones in the tub and little one in his Snuggle Bath Tub <—-Best baby tub EVER! I bathe the baby first and then get him dressed right outside the bathroom door so I can still see the older ones. My little guy had only napped for an hour because we were at Bible study this morning and had preschool drop-off/pickup.

He has been teething like crazy and chewing on everything. Even me. Nursing mama’s you know what I am talking about. Yikes and ouch. He was tired and upset while I was attempting to diaper him and get him dressed and I handed him a plastic comb. The comb or as it is referred to in the emergency room “foreign body” became a chew toy and the next thing I heard was a crack. I quickly removed the comb from his mouth and saw that a few plastic bristles were missing.

After sweeping his mouth and removing the bristles I saw that there was still another in his mouth. I couldn’t get it out and in between attempts he swallowed it.

Mommy guilt is real.

So there I stood. Naked crying baby in my arms and two other naked kids in the bathtub pondering what I should do next. I called Josh at work, trying to sound like I had it together, and explained what had happened.

In the span of 20 minutes, Caden and Maisie were out of the tub and in pajamas, Jesse was dressed, I had a bottle of milk pumped, and Josh was walking out the door with Jesse and taking him to the hospital.

A few hours later Jesse was home, sleeping in his crib, and Josh was back at work. The hospital staff didn’t seem overly concerned. Which was a relief. The x-ray didn’t show anything and so we were told to watch his poop and be on the lookout for any behavior that seems out the ordinary like, slobbering, painful cries, and also refusing to eat. Some of which is just typical behavior for a teething baby.

Less than 24 hours later we found ourselves trying to console Maisie after she fell off a toddler play structure face first at an indoor playground. First let me say that if you are a business owner who operates an indoor playground you might want to think about having mats or padding underneath your play equipment and secondly it would be so helpful if first aid kits were available to your staff members.

We were unable to see where the blood was coming from because their was so much blood in her mouth. The decision was made that getting everyone to the car would be our best option at this point. Caden wanted to stay and play and was upset that we were leaving and Jesse started to join in too. With three crying kids, we loaded up our family and were heading out the door as front desk staff tried to get us to fill out an incident report.

As politely as possible we declined and Maisie began demanding through tears that Josh fix her tooth and make it feel better. An urgent care and dentist visit later Maisie was on the road to healing with no permanent damage done to her face, tooth, or mouth.

All of this to say that there is never a dull 24 hours to motherhood. Each day is different even when it feels like you are doing it on repeat for the 100th time. Be thankful for those ordinary moments because seriously in a blink of an eye you might just find yourself being excited to go on a treasure hunt digging through poo.

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