I used to be pretty good at creating habits. My OCD and perfectionism didn't really allow for anything less. I tried to do everything and do it all at 200%. I'm not really sure what made that all change, but I started to say no to some things in order to say yes and provide 200% to the other things. It's always a challenge to figure out what to say yes and no to, but I believe it is well worth it.
I'm working on creating a new habit. I was reading earlier today. Reading about fear and worry and anxiety. The author was talking about how fear can become a habit. We get so used to responding to one thing the same way over and over again that before we know it, we are responding without even thinking about it. I think I'm there...and maybe have been for awhile.
And I want to change.
We probably all have other emotions tied to joy. So why not make that a habit? I look at all those little faces that visit Disney World for the first time. The joy in their eyes says it all. But why? Have they ever been? Do they have fond memories of riding Dumbo the Flying Elephant a million times? Probably not...especially if this is their first time visiting. Then why? They're been trained! They're seen that little castle pop up on movie after movie. They don't think about each detail or their adventure for the day. So, if this is true for them, can't it be true for me? I want to choose joy. I want joy to be the automatic reaction my heart feels before my brain has to stop and think. I need a new habit - and I choose joy.
I'm still fighting anxiety - pretty hard. Some things have gotten better, but other things send me in to a near panic attack. But - I am comforted.
I have found GREAT comfort in music and reading. These are things I have enjoyed at different points in my life, but not something I would normally use to describe my hobbies or favorite things to do. I use both of these as entertainment. But, recently, they have brought great peace to me heart. They have helped me refocus on the things that really matter.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not there yet. I haven't arrived at a perfect ending. I have a long way to go. However, I know that I have grown a ton in the last few months. I've grown in myself, in my marriage, and most importantly in my relationship with God. I truly am learning to deal with one day at a time...and one step at a time. I know it's not an easy fix. Thankfully I have a great community of friends walking and fighting this battle alongside me. Community really does make a big difference in your life, especially in struggle.
Find some friends you can share your struggle with. Be there for friends in a struggle and through the struggle.
When we first got married, I thought life was pretty perfect. I was teaching full time and Mike was back in school. I would get home around 3pm and take a nap. I would get back up between 4:30-5pm to start working on dinner. Nearly every single night, dinner was ready to go by 6pm - just in time for Mike to get home and have a few minutes to relax. That "perfect" homemaker was working inside me. I loved being a wife. Cooking each night. Laundry every Saturday (or Sunday if we had plans on Saturday). Everything was all nice and put away - ALL the time.
That lasted about 6 months.
Cooking wasn't the same anymore and I loathed laundry! Before long, we found ourselves eating out quite a bit or making the most of cereal or whatever else was always in the fridge. We have tried meal planning each Sunday afternoon. We always felt like it took away from a day of rest and then we had to figure out when we were going to the grocery store to get everything for the week. A meeting or something would come up and we would swap out the gourmet meal for a run to Chipotle. We would end up throwing stuff away because it would go bad before we ate it and felt like a lot of our time together was being spent on business planning.
Several months ago, a lovely friend introduced me to onceamonthmeals.com. I had seen all the freezer meals on Pinterest, but really felt like that was too much to handle. You factor in sorting through the recipes and which ones 1) I would want to eat 2) Mike would eat and 3) I could eat with Celiac Disease. Seemed like way too much trouble. With onceamonthmeals.com, everything is done for you! They even have a gluten free menu to choose from. Other menu options are Paleo, Whole Foods, Diet (includes WW points), etc. They give you a shopping list and you change the number of servings you want and everything recalculates. They give you labels for each item with cooking instructions. And they give you a prep sheet - what should be done first. (For example, chopping all your veggies first so you do not have to wash the knife and cutting board a million times with cutting raw meat.)
We bought a subscription for them and went through their menus. We found several we liked and actually doubled them. This was back in September, and we STILL have stuff in our freezer from then! Obviously that means we didn't eat at home every day, but we have eaten healthier and wiser. This time I went through and picked some recipes that I knew we liked (some from the previous time cooking) and others that are just staples for us. It took a little longer to come up with a shopping list, but it was much better the second time around and because I wasn't using unknown recipes, I didn't have to go back and forth to the computer for recipes.
This is about halfway through and the burritos were already in the freezer.
Let me say this, if you have never done freezer cooking before, I highly recommend using onceamonthmeals.com your first time. You can cancel your subscription at anytime. The $10/month is worth the time it takes to plan it all out and learn how it works. After that firs time, decide if it something worth the the convenience, new recipes, time savings, and excessive options. Feel free to try it on your own.
OK - here is the breakdown. We spent just under $150 on groceries. We buy as much as we can from Costco. Then Aldi, then Publix. If we need a specialty item, we usually hit up Whole Foods. So far we haven't had to do that. I cooked about 4 lbs of chicken in the crockpot as soon as we got home. Once cooked, I throw it in my trusty KitchenAid mixer and shred it. Stick it in the refrigerator until the next day - cooking day. You will also want to chop any veggies up to make it easier for the next day. We use a lot of frozen stuff so we eliminated this step. You could also brown beef on the shopping day, but we held off. That meant it took us a little longer the next day because we couldn't assemble some meals until the beef was ready.
Keep in mind, the $150 does not include some stuff we already had on hand. We already had rice, beans, marinara sauce, and lasagna noodles.Once you find the meals you like, you will probably have a lot of the ingredients on hand.
As promised, here are some of our favorite recipes! This does not include some of the staples for us: Chicken Pot Pie, Shepherd's Pie, Lasagna, and Tacos. Oh, I also made 12 chicken-bean burritos for last minute lunches. The chicken-bacon bites are AMAZING!!!
OK - so here's what we got for the $150:
3 Lasagnas (12 servings total)
2 Shepherd Pies (8 servings total)
2 Chicken Pot Pies (8 servings total)
12 Burritos (12 servings total)
1 Taco (4 servings total)
9 Chicken Broccoli Casseroles (25 servings total)
2 Cashew Chickens (8 servings total)
2 Teriyaki Chickens (8 servings total)
~30 Meatballs (10 servings total)
~40 Chicken-Bacon Bites (20 servings total)
(I still need to make the Granola bites.) Most of the casseroles or main dishes are prepped for 4 servings. We just eat two and then have two servings for leftovers the next day.
115 servings for $150! That is not including the breakfast bites. $1.15 per meal per person is not bad! Granted, you still need to add some side dishes to many of these meals. This is also a a GREAT way to take a meal to a family that just had a new baby or other families who are in need. You can take it out of the freezer to thaw and give them cooking/reheating directions so they can make it when they are ready. Let me know if you try it and some of your favorites!
First looks have become a newer, non-traditional moment that many couples are choosing to get some extra time together. As you are planning out your wedding, you may feel like each day is creeping by and wondering if you will EVER get married. Your day arrives - and you can hardly breathe, let alone think about eating. With those two things being a necessity for life, how can you squeeze in the luxury of spending time with the ones you love?
Plan what you want, when you want it. You will hear it from more than just me: your wedding day is going to FLY by. There will be some moments that are a blur. Plan accordingly to enjoy each moment as it comes. Those special moments you want to enjoy, allow for extra time for them. This can be the "first look", prayer time with your wedding party, or something else. Maybe I am a sucker for some things traditional. Maybe it is because I was raised most of my life by a single dad. I don't really have a reason why, but I LOVE the father daughter dance! With my dad being one of my best friends through I wanted to enjoy every single moment that we had together. I knew the rest of the day was moving so fast, the father-daughter dance was going to be the only time I could spend with just him. I could thank him for all he had done and or always being there. For setting the standards high for my husband and for loving me unconditionally.
I have noticed some couples shortening their special dances. Personally, that was not an option for us. We knew that the rest of the night was going to be a whirlwind. For us, we wanted every single second with one another and our mother and father to soak up. The party would could come soon enough. By all means, make decisions based on YOU and your other half. But, if you are looking to enjoy some quiet time with your father (or the groom with his mother), I would encourage you not to shorten your song. Soak up every single moment you can. Your guests will wait. You have an audience, all eyes are on you, but somehow they all disappear and you can have just a few moments to say thank you and remember all of those special moments that your father poured into you.
I know I've talked about these before. So, I'm not going to bore you. Instead, I'm just going to let one of my lovely friends, Laura, share about her experience with a first look.
I loved doing a 'first look'. I was so nervous before the wedding, but seeing my groom beforehand totally put me at ease. It was great to have a time that was just the two of us that day (something you just don't get again until you drive away from the reception) -- we had our own special moments to take each other in, embrace and anticipate (together!) all that the rest of the day had in store, and spend some quiet time in prayer together. I cherish the picture that captures the intimate first hug from that day, and the moments that followed as we prepared to say 'I do'. I wondered if I would feel that it took some of the specialness from 'the big moment' when the bride enters the church during the ceremony. But, I actually felt that it created two really special moments. One when my groom and I first saw each other - a moment that was all our own - and another when I entered the church where all of our loved ones had gathered to celebrate with us. Then I appreciated knowing we had time to get all the pictures that we wanted, of just the two of us, our bridal party and our immediate families, without feeling the need to rush to meet our waiting guests at the reception. I would definitely recommend doing a 'first look' to other couples!
Just for the record - this is still one of my favorite photos we have ever captured! Aubrey could not wait for Laura to make it down the aisle. About halfway through - he took off towards her. The moment was breathtaking! Look at the where he embraces her! They then took a few minutes together and he checked out the ENTIRE dress. They made their way to the front of the church and spent some time praying together. It was truly magical - and only Mike, myself, and the videographer had the front row seat. Definitely a perk to this job!