Monday, April 24, 2017

A Second Sweet Surprise

Little Apple Seed,
You made yourself known to us on February 20th. I was off from school, and before getting up for the day and chasing your brother around I had been feeling very sick, so I took a test. Lo and behold, two pink lines. I was so excited! I was so very hopeful that you were my rainbow baby. It felt different this time; I couldn't wait to tell your Daddy.

I laid the test on the kitchen counter. It was a beautiful day and we decided to use our fire pit to roast hot dogs and marshmallows. Daddy got home from work and went inside. He came back out with a smile. It was a blissfully perfect day.

The next two weeks were so encouraging. I had so many symptoms and felt so very sick it was hard to keep the news to myself. You definitely had your own agenda. We waited about a week to tell your grandparents this time, and it was so much fun keeping you our sweet, special secret.

Unfortunately, you also were not meant to stay. With bitter tears in my eyes that Friday afternoon, I experienced the grief of loss again. On this side of Heaven, I will never understand. You and your sibling will forever be in my heart. You both are my favorite what if? and I will forever wonder who you would have been.

A mother walking through an early pregnancy loss is nothing short of Herculean because it is something she and only she will ever feel. She and only she experienced the reality of the life inside her; she and only she must contend with the harsh reality of the loss.

My sweet little one, thank you for being a ray of sunshine, if even for a few weeks. Thank you for helping me grow closer to the Lord as I lean into His Word and find my identity in my Savior instead of trying to be a savior.

All my love,

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Back toward the end of July last year, Josh and I were discussing the value of our home. I never thought in a million years that we would be at a point in our lives where we could afford to start looking for our "forever" home. As much as we LOVED our home, our neighbors, and living in Simpsonville so close to all of our friends, my heart ached to be closer to my family and our country roots were calling for some space for a little hobby farm. I thought for sure acreage and a bigger house would be at least another 5 years down the road. However, we -and by we I mean Josh because I SUCK at Math- crunched some numbers and realized that it just. might. could. happen.

So, I started looking for land. We thought maybe we could get some land and then build a house. A few timid steps into that process and we knew we'd definitely be biting off more than we could chew. We also knew that for our budget, we could afford more land if we could find a house already built on it. I began stalking the Realtor and Zillow websites, trying to keep an eye out for ANYTHING in our price range. There were pretty slim pickings in the area we preferred. August arrived and school started, and the search continued on the back burner because #iteachmiddleschool. Whew.

On August 28th, I stumbled upon a listing that had just been reduced to our price range. As I scrolled through the pictures, I saw more and more potential in the sweet, secluded brick house. I wanted an old farm house, so the idea of a brick ranch wasn't very appealing to me. However, when I saw it came with two outdoor buildings (Josh was immediately interested), an in-ground pool, a chicken coop, blueberry bushes, blackberries, apple trees, and 3.5 acres, my jaw hit the floor. Alllll of this, IN our price range, ALREADY established? I immediately contacted our agent (who is also a college friend!) and asked her if we could just look around. I thought, okay so maybe this won't be for us, but at least we would have a good idea about what we would be getting into if we went the "fixer upper" route.

As soon as we pulled up into the driveway, I was hooked. Beautiful trees led to a peaceful, rolling front yard with a giant front porch that made me swoon. As we made our way through the house, we realized it would be work, a lot of work, to get this 1977 diamond in the rough back in ship shape. What was encouraging was that at least the potential was there, and as far as the outside land goes, it was perfect.

That day we decided to get our house ready to put on the market. In a week. Gulp. I was thrilled and excited and so so scared. Holy cow, could we really do this? No, no we couldn't. Thankfully, though, God could. And did. Yes. Our house was ready to put on the market in 7 days. It was the cleanest, neatest, least cluttered it had EVER been. I almost regretted listing it because I wanted the chance to live in it and enjoy it all clean and de-cluttered and looking the way I had wanted since we had moved in, haha!

So, we officially listed it. Our parents thought we were crazy. We thought we were crazy. We had an offer in less than a week. It fell through, and we were sorely disappointed. However, we continued to pray that God would bring our neighbors and our house the family meant to call it home. 12 days after listing our house, it went under contract to the perfect family. We celebrated by purchasing a special Christmas ornament while in Pigeon Forge, TN on vacation with family. We were so excited!!

The following weeks were very stressful and involved paperwork, financing, inspections, repairs, and lots of packing. However, I had a quiet confidence. After all, we knew from the start (ahem, submitting an offer on the house we wanted BEFORE we had even listed our own home) God would have to work the details out, because on paper it shouldn't, couldn't, work. Finally, October 28th arrived. Exactly two months after I first spotted our new home. Closing day.

busiest week ever.

my brothers are amazing!

We got to sit down with the sweet family buying our house to sign papers and exchange hugs along with house keys. We also got to chit chat one last time with the very nice man we bought our forever home from. Then, it was time. Time to go home.

The next day, we had our first overnight guests come to stay for the wedding of a childhood friend. 2 days later, we enjoyed our first Halloween in our new town. Dax loved parading his Marshall costume in downtown Easley, and I loved decorating my new front porch. Since our closing, life has been nonstop, but we are so in love with where we live and are slowly making this house our home.

 I'm looking forward to sharing some progress we have made on updating the inside of our home, but it's slow going since we both work full time and chase a toddler. (: I'm sure there will be plenty to share over the summer!

Until next time,

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sweet Little Surprise

*This post contains sensitive information about loss. Just a head's up.

Dear little poppy seed,

As I drove to the store the morning of July 4th, I knew you were there. I didn't need a test to tell me. Sometimes, a mama just knows. I'd felt so sick at the Georgia Aquarium the day before, and I just knew. Your daddy, however, was not going to just take my word for it. So as I picked up strawberries and blueberries to make an Independence Day treat with your brother, I also grabbed a pregnancy test.

When I got home, I told your daddy I was going to take a shower. It wasn't a lie- I did take a shower. But I also took that test and was shocked, but not surprised, when that second line slowly made its appearance. I called Daddy to the bathroom and the look on his face as I handed him the test will be etched into my mind forever. "I'm pregnant, baby!" was all I could say. We were over. the. moon.

You see, you were our sweet little surprise. It took a lot of time, patience, and prayer before your brother grew in my tummy. When we found out about you, we hadn't even been planning on growing our family yet! Make no mistake though- I wanted you. We wanted you. We told Dax, your brother, that you were growing in my belly and his first response was to ask if he could hold you! My heart grew so many sizes in just a few days as I imagined what it would be like chasing two little Atkins kids around the house. We were overjoyed and began to celebrate you with your grandparents and aunts and uncles.

However, the dreams I had begun to dream were not meant to be. Days after I found out you were growing, our journey together ended. My heart has never known such sorrow. All I could say while I tried to pray through my tears was that I wanted you. Oh, little one, how your mama and daddy wanted you. I wanted to see your sweet face, give you a name, and introduce you to your big brother. I wanted to feel the aches and pains of pregnancy and labor and be able to nurse you in the middle of the night when it felt like only the two of us were awake in the whole wide world. But- God had other plans. I don't understand His plans yet, but I trust them. 
I made a small box for you; well, probably more for me. It holds a few special pictures and treasures that I will cherish always. We will never forget you, sweet one. You were our little poppy seed. That's how big you got; so teeny, tiny, and precious. Your life, though short, was significant. It brought your father and I closer to each other and closer to God. 

I'm not sure what the future holds, but I know that I will always hold you in my heart until I hold you in Heaven. 

As your brother says, I love you ever ever.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Summer Bucket List!

For this teacher mama, there is no sweeter time of year than when I can put my lanyard and lunch box away for several weeks and soak up the sunshine of summer time with my boys! Spring was ridiculously busy for us, so our goals for summer mostly include lots of quality time being lazy around the house and enjoying time outside. However, we do have a few adventures planned and I wanted to share our 2016 Summer Bucket List!

*You can get your own blank copy of this Summer Bucket List here!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Two Fingers!

Goodness gracious, you are already two years old! How can that even be? The past year has been a whirlwind. There has been a lot of loss in our family, and I'm thankful you are too young to remember the pain and grief. Your daddy and I look forward to telling you lots of stories about Memaw, Grandaddy Bill, and Uncle Ricky. They were wonderful people and we miss them a lot. Losing them has been hard; but son- your contagious smile and love of laughter has kept us all feeling warmth and sunshine!

One of my favorite things about you right now is how quickly you learn. You are forever studying the world around you trying to figure everything out. When you think you've got it, you light up and tell us all about your discovery; whether we understand you or not. You will take things a part and put them back together over and over and over just to make sure you know how it works.

You also love people. Everywhere we go, people stop to admire your head full of wild curls and try to sneak a smile out of you. You will raise one hand up in an acknowledging wave to other kids, and as we enter and exit places it's not uncommon to hear you say "Hi, people!" or "Bye, people!". Two separate strangers now have given you a dollar just for being a bright spot in their day. I wish I were that cute!

Learning to obey and respect what Mama and Daddy say is a challenge for you right now, because you are just so darn curious! Time out has become routine in our house as well as a few spankings for a bossy attitude and brave (read: give-your-mama-a-heart-attack-unsafe) choices I had no idea could exist in someone so little. We love you unconditionally regardless, but just know we are doing the best we can to teach you how to express your feelings in a way that is healthy and safe.

Your love for Paw Patrol almost beats my love for coffee. It is an all consuming passion. For your birthday, we gave you your first set of action figures- all the Paw Patrol pups, of course. It has been so fun to watch you play with them and imitate the fun rescues we watch over and over (and. over.) on television in the early morning hours when you are convinced it's time to be awake.

Speaking of early mornings, let's talk about your early rising tendencies. Neither your father nor I are morning people- we detest mornings. Please learn to love sleeping in, and we may learn to love you in the morning a little more. Just kidding- we always love you, we just don't like you very much at 6am on Saturday and Sunday.

Watching you soak in the outdoors and experience nature is another one of my favorite parts of life with you. Hearing you shout "Shoo, bee!" is one of the cutest things ever and it makes me so happy to swing you between the two big trees in our back yard. Playing outside is how I grew up and I hope you will continue to love it as well. You won't really have a choice. I'll do like your Nana did to me and Aunt Ashy and I'll lock you outside until you learn to love it!

Dax, as you continue to grow big and strong always remember that Mama and Daddy are so proud of you and love you always, and Jesus loves you even more than we do. You can always run to the Father to seek unconditional love, clarity, and peace. 2 years down, my boy. I can't wait to see what adventures and blessings are in store your third year of life!

Love forever,

Monday, April 4, 2016

Easter + Spring Break!

Spring break fell pretty early this year, and Easter happened to coincide with the break. So we got to enjoy lots of candy, reflect on the grace and love of Jesus, and spend quality time with our peeps. <seewhatididthere> As much as I tried to savor the days, they were gone all too quickly and I'm now back to the grind. The good news is summer break is just around the corner!!! We crammed a lot into those 7 short days- dying Easter eggs, being sneaky and helping my bestie get engaged, having fun at church on Easter, playing with friends at the park, playing outside, and just enjoying Mama/Dax time together.

The physical, spiritual, and emotional struggle to become pregnant and have a normal, healthy pregnancy is something I still have not forgotten; I doubt I ever will. However, my sweet boy has exploded with personality and an iron will. He tests me at every turn and I had a day or two over the break where I pouted and just wanted a break. I cherish that wild little boy, but that does not change the fact that parenting and training a child up in the way he should go is hard. Props to all the mamas and daddies out there fighting to raise children into strong, resilient, kind, loving, successful adults. Like my friend told me- the struggle is real. By Thursday Dax and I both were pretty tired of each other, so we were equally thrilled when Grami and Papaw snatched him up Friday night and let Josh and I have a date night. My early bird had me up before 7 every day of my break, so being able to sleep in until 8 am (insert laughing emoji here) Saturday was refreshing!

The next few weeks don't see us slowing down much as we celebrate friends and family getting married, more friends having babies, and Dax-man's SECOND BIRTHDAY. Holy cow. We're getting pumped about his Paw Patrol party and I'll be sharing all the details and pictures afterward. Any other parents have kids obsessed with those pups?! Chase is Dax's favorite. I have to sing the theme song in the car. My life pretty much revolves around yelping for help.

A peek at our Easter & Spring Break:
hardboiled eggs: not a fan
Lesson of the day- don't lie to Mommy.
2 favorites: Daddy's hat & "brush teeth"
Pay-toe-toe, his best bud

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Different Kind of Christmas

*I swear, this post was written in January. I'm just now getting around to throwing the photos in there and hitting Publish*

This year was Dax's first "walking" Christmas. Last year was so much fun watching him enjoy the lights, sounds, and smells of his first gift wrapped holiday. This year- oh, this year- he got to participate in the excitement of placing special ornaments on the tree (and taking them off and putting them back on... a few different times), singing nostalgic songs that make it truly feel like Christmas, baking cookies and arranging them on a special plate with a glass of cold milk, and ripping up carefully taped paper to reveal new treasures. This year Dax really 'got' Christmas. As fun as it was to get to experience all of these traditions with our boy, it was a different kind of Christmas for our families as we continue to deal with the grief of losing grandparents. Happy moments filled with joy held the weight of what it could have been; should have been. A few sad tears fell. The sadness did not last long, and we spent more time recounting happy memories and making plenty of new ones. Below are some of our favorite moments over the holiday season:

As a new year stretches before us, let's be kinder. Let's love intentionally. Let's be generous with our time and resources. Let's live our one wild and precious life.