The Mama Confessionals: What No One Tells You About Motherhood

I can remember the summer before our oldest went to preschool. I continued to second guess myself in the weeks leading up to his first day of the twice weekly class he would be going to for a combined 5 hours a week. Were we making the right choice? Would he be ok? Would I be ok? And many more anxiety filled questions that were very similar. And here is a little spoiler alert for all you parents with little babies. These questions, at least in my experience, continue to happen for each new milestone. I don’t think you can really understand this emotional roller coaster if you aren’t a parent.

At the time I was just 6 months out of counseling for postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth to our daughter. During the second week of preschool, I entered a room of 30 women+ women who I had never met to attend a weekly bible study that was held at the church where my child attended school. Clutching my Bible, I felt scared, my anxiety was choking me, but I knew I needed to be surrounded by women who I could learn from, lean on, and laugh and cry with. But most importantly I knew I needed to be fed and nourished with God’s word as often as I could.

As the months went on I found myself actively engaged in reading my Bible and more importantly being convicted by the Holy Spirit. Upon looking back at my sons preschool years I am discovering that he is not the only one who grew up. God has wrecked me. And I mean that in the best way possible.

My mama heart is bursting with love, joy, and goodness when I look at all my kids and see how much they are learning and growing, and changing. And these feelings have me either smiling or crying. The tears are happy but there is also this weird grief element that goes along with it too. It is like I am trying to enjoy these moments because I know they are fleeting by being as present as possible, but by doing this it also causes me this weird heartache.

You always hear other parents tell you that “It goes by so fast.” And that is totally true, it really is, but nobody tells you about this wonderfully horrible wave of emotions that happen each time your child reaches a life milestone.  Based on what I have already experienced I am guessing that each milestone gets more wonderful but equally more gut wrenchingly intense.

Over the past year I have made it a daily priority in our home to be intentional about reading and helping our kids understand the significance and importance of Jesus and the work that was done on the cross. These feelings that I am having as I watch my babies grow up only intensifies my desire to consistently share the gospel message with them. This life is so short. Based on this I have begun to ask myself 3 questions.

  • Have I been consistent in spending time in God’s word on a daily basis? If I can’t commit to daily reading the Bible on my own I don’t know how I can expect to be able to do it for my kids consistently.
  • Am I looking for ways to continue to grow in my knowledge and understanding of the culture and context in which the scripture was written?
  • Can others around me say that they have seen Christ centered change in my life?

With these questions in mind I can then look at what I am feeding into my kids and nourishing their minds with. And let me tell you, I am not sure when it happened but the two oldest have stopped loving veggies and only want hamburgers and pizza the majority of the time. Truly, their souls might be getting better nourishment at this point.

All jokes aside, I am so grateful. The privilege to be a parent isn’t lost on me. Frequently when I lead my kids daily bible lessons and catechism I pray that the Holy Spirit convicts them to turn to Jesus and that they will be called to repentance as they acknowledge that their sin is separating them from the Lord. With very few things for certain in this life I can rest assured knowing who I have placed my hope and faith in and I will continue to pray my children come to know God as their personal Lord and Savior.

Looking back over the last three years, I am not surprised that my son grew and changed. What I had not anticipated was that God had such plans to grow and change me. As our oldest enjoys his final week of preschool I am appreciative for the love, support, teaching, and guidance he has received. I am thankful for the friendships he has made and in turn the friendships our family has made. And lastly as Josh and I continue to raise these little ones into adulthood, I am grateful for my relationship with Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

PS…To our preschool family, our family has been blessed by being in community with you all!

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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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