Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Fun Part of Pregnancy!


Juggling pregnancy, a challenging group of students, and trying to enjoy some semblance of a life on the weekends (in between migraines... boo migraines) has left this poor blog ignored and neglected. At least when I look back on this period of time I'll have Instagram and my pregnancy journal to reflect on.

And don't let this statement come across as ungrateful because I will suffer with a migraine every day if it leads to delivering a healthy baby- but pregnancy is hard. There are times when I wish I could just hug my mama tight and thank her over and over because she went through this with two babies on board. Holy moly. I am so thankful and overjoyed and blessed and humbled and tickled to death to be carrying a baby that Josh and I created who God is knitting together in my belly as we speak.

All of those same adjectives also describe our excitement over finding out this little squishy one is a boy. :)

 I think this image sums it up pretty well:
"Pregnancy is the happiest reason ever for feeling like crap." quotes, words for maternity
Despite the less-than-glamorous side of pregnancy, I'm so very thrilled to get to the fun part of pregnancy (in my opinion at least): PLANNING A NURSERY!!!!!

Anyone who follows me on Pinterest knows I have had a board with nursery ideas for a while in anticipation of starting a family; not really caring how God planned to bring that about, just knowing that He would. :) Now that our goose is slightly over halfway cooked in there, we are fully aware the holidays are going to have the rest of this pregnancy flying by! As such the Atkins household is in full nesting mode preparing for our sweet boy to join our family.

I thought I would take some time to put a little mood board of sorts together so you guys can see my inspiration and ideas and maybe even offer some of your own! I got a sample of paint this weekend at our local Ace Hardware and was lucky enough to hit the nail on the head- I was looking for a gray that was muddy and had brown/beige undertones rather than blue:


Paint color: Tabby Cat Gray from Valspar.
Curtains: Ikea
Rug: Rugs-Direct
Crib & Dresser: Babyletto Hudson in Brown- Target.com
Velvet Baby Doe Blanket: Berkshire Blanket (previously Babies R Us)
Recliner: Best Chairs TRYP
Throw Pillow: Target.com
Mushroom Nightlight: Amazon.com
Tree Bookshelf: Pinterest (original source unknown)
Twig Initial Inspiration: Hello Little House
Wooden Arrows Wall Art: Cherished Bliss
Deer Silhouette: All Thyme Favorite
Katie Daisy Prints: The Wheatfield Etsy Shop

Hopefully this inspiration will come together to create a fun room for our little guy to grow up in!

Until next time,
-A

Sunday, October 6, 2013

chin up, buttercup

Stress. Worry. Anxiety. Fear.

Take your pick. Lately I have let myself become consumed with these things and they have sought to steal my joy. I have allowed them to be too successful.

Let's face it; with the state of things in our government and the rising tensions among us all as we try to understand what the future for our country holds and decide how to feel or which side of the fence to be on, aren't we all a little overcome with negativity? Boo.

If you don't keep up with me on Facebook, you may not be aware of the main reason for my silence on my blog:

Baby Atkins is on its way! Due April 2014!
I am finally in the 'safety net' that is the second trimester, and I felt the baby move for the first time this weekend. It's still too early to feel a real kick, but when it snuggles in to one side of its squishy waterbed I feel a little twitch. It happened for the first time yesterday after Josh got home from work and kissed me; really kissed me and let me know he missed me. I am an incredibly blessed lady.

The strongest desire of my heart is finally growing deep in my belly, making its presence known with sweet little twitches of movement and an ever expanding midsection. I love this little nugget with every ounce of my being, and the unspeakable gratitude I have for this gift has been stifled by overwhelming anxiety about commitments at work, being able to afford my life, being a good mother to my little roo, being a good wife, and being 'good enough' in general.

Today's sermon at church rocked my perspective and through a beautiful teaching about Communion I realized how much joy I allow to seep out of me as task piles upon task.

I have so much to be joyful about; so much to be crazy dang excited about!!!!

It's my favorite time of year, and even though little nugget tried to ruin the party with an aversion to anything pumpkin flavored (I still force a DnD White Chocolate Pumpkin Latte occasionally), I am hereby making the decision to choose the joy. The anxiety and fear and stress and worry may be waiting in the wings, but I choose joy and satisfaction and eager anticipation.

My twin sister Ashley is not very mushy gushy; at least she doesn't let on to it. She is very no nonsense and there have been many times during my oversensitive whining about misfortune she has just told me "Chin up, buttercup."

This song pulls my chin up and gets me excited for a cozy Autumn season with a pumpkin growing of my very own and an amazing husband who is such an incredible example of grace and unconditional love. Here's to pretty leaves, apple cider, nights by the fire, and lots of cuddling!

 
Chin up, everyone. Though the sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.

-A (and "baby a")

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Summah of Slacking

I have t-minus 5 days to enjoy my last bits of summer. At the beginning (which seems like just yesterday!!!) I had a very ambitious to do list. How much of that have I gotten done?

... not much.

This summer, though, has truly felt like summer to me. Lazy days, enjoying time catching up on TV and taking naps, going shopping, visiting family, and of course spending lots of quality time with my sweetie.

A little photo summary of my laid back summer leave:

I crafted a fun summer wreath!

We got to foster this darling. She was one of our favorites and hard to give back!

I snagged this diamond in the rough for $20 at a Salvation Army

After sanding, staining, and sealing, she's right at home in our living room.

I love minions and am clumsy. The movie was awesome.

This nugget and his red mohawk makes me so happy.
This purchase was unexpected, but we feel fortunate for the blessing of a family vehicle!

Tradition- Joel's Fourth of July Extravaganza did not disappoint. :)

Baby brother hung out for a few days. We always use him as an excuse to go to Frankie's. :)

Sibling love at the Drive game

Twinsies.

This man. I am truly the luckiest girl in the world.

He and our foster left on the same day. I was very sad. And bored.
There was the day we took down the cabinet to open up the kitchen some. And found a hole.  A large one.

Thank the Lord for these!

I had to go back and buy better spackle.

You'd never know now though. :)

Staycation Date Day- Bowling!

Warning- eyes smaller than they appear.

I'm horrible at it, but I love bowling.

Greasy pizza and Dr. Pepper. Perfect.

Happy birthday to me!

My birthday present from Josh!!

He had no idea I'd want it inside. We love it though!

Second cousin hugs and kisses
One word to describe this summer- wet. Flooded at a gas station.

My baby sister's pride and joy- Buttermilk

I loved meeting sweet Grayson and playing with Hannah!!

There's been lots of this.

Holy spa pedicure, Batman.

Love.the.hot.towels.

I work out.

This spoiled boy hasn't been feeling good. Extra snuggles help.


So, although I have yet to wield a paintbrush in the rooms I said I would- I still feel like I got to do a lot. And it was fun. And relaxing. So now I soak up the last few days of this bliss before the chaos of a brand new school year sets in.

source

Until next time,

-A

Monday, July 29, 2013

I Work Out

No, really. I do.

If you would have told me a year ago I would not only work out in a gym where there are men and women and lights that make it possible to see me whilst I bop around on a machine but that I would ENJOY it at the same time I would have probably given you a dirty look and then never talked to you again. Okay, I exaggerate. But seriously, I wouldn't have believed you.

Yet here I am.

A little bit lot of back story here- (feel free to skip this part if you're not into details)

{{There has never been a time in my life when I have not been chubby. In fact, that was my childhood nickname. My aunts, uncles, cousins, and even sometimes parents would all call me Chubby. It didn't bother me when it was just a cute pet name for a chunky little kid. When I got a little older and realized society did not deem it cute to be chubby, I became embarrassed by my moniker.

Fast forward through nutritionist appointments, diets, teasing by family, pressure, and depression and I managed to make it through high school with just a sliver of self confidence. I was told by doctors if I didn't diet and lose gobs of weight I would be 300 pounds by the time I graduated high school. They were wrong. Way wrong. I was active. Always have been. I played intermurals in college, went on hikes, took long walks with friends, walked Scooby two to three times a day as a puppy. I also loved eating and managed to maintain my figure that soon went from "she's chubby" to "she's curvy". My confidence began to grow as I began to find clothes that flattered my shape. I worked at a summer camp during the summers of my college career and I swam and rode horses and played ultimate frisbee and chased kiddos and friends. My curves became flattered by toned legs and arms. I felt really good about myself.

Then I began teaching. I didn't have time for summer camp; couldn't handle the work load. I didn't know anyone where I was teaching; I didn't have anywhere to go exercise. It was just me and Scooby, so I got used to eating crappy food that was within my budget; which included lots of take out because cooking for one wasn't always fun.

Soon after I met Josh- the first man to see me at my worst and best and still ooze with love in his eyes when he looks at me, a goofy grin breaking up the scruff on his face. The man God created and knew would be the most perfect partner for me as we do this life together. He has never once criticized me or tried to force me to work out. He has expressed concern for my health and well being, but has supported every decision I have ever made.

Now, I have been fighting a battle against a syndrome that has brought about a 40-50 pound weight gain. That number the doctors hung over my head is ever present and thankfully I have yet to face it. The decision to begin working out came about as a result of a few things. I was having difficulty walking after sitting for a while; I could feel how strained my legs and feet were and developed bone spurs in each of my heels. I never had enough energy for the day. No matter how much coffee I drank. Finally, the hardest and most heartbreaking: Infertility.

It is very hard to have "done everything right" (degree, husband, home; all in the "right" order) and then watch people around you giggle about getting pregnant "without trying" while you fight month after month for the two lines that promise a new chapter in your lives; a family.

Before you are tempted to unlock the secrets of making a baby for me, please trust that I have been given every piece of advice regarding reproduction; the most common being-
"Stop trying, that's when I got pregnant."
"It will happen when it should happen."
"Just trust God."
"Go on vacation, that's when it will happen!"
"Do x, y, z in the bedroom and you'll be pregnant in no time!"
"Maybe it's not meant for you."
"You can always adopt."

I understand and appreciate the compassion these words are meant to convey; but they hurt. When someone is longing to start a family with her husband, the best advice to give is none. It is best to just offer an ear and shoulder and let it be. And just as an aside... It can be really hurtful to poke fun at a couple about when they are going to have children; you have no idea the journey they are on and the comments that make infertility hurt the most are those demanding to know why we don't have children yet and why it's taking so long. It is a private matter between husband and wife and should never be made grounds for public conversation- especially over social media.

The best way to combat my syndrome is diet and exercise. And after over a year of an unsuccessful journey to start a family, I'd had enough.}}

Onward.

Josh and I joined our local YMCA at the end of June. Being a teacher where I live I get a great discount and we were stoked that we could afford a membership!

That Monday I began working out with an awesome friend. We greet with her and her husband at church and she is great! We meet 3 times a week and she helped teach me how to workout and is so good about pushing me to go a little bit further without being forceful or critical. I would not be where I am now without her. If you are like me (a little chubby around the edges) and you are nervous about working out, it was SO helpful to me to have an experienced friend be willing to lead the way and stand by my side.

I've been at this new lifestyle for a month now, and I have already noticed some changes:
-I have ankles again!
-My calves are becoming defined and muscular again
-My thighs have shrunk. A little. (with a LONG way to go!)
-The muscles in my arms are toning and becoming more defined
-My face is getting thinner (thank goodness!!)
-I can walk through a parking lot or around my neighborhood without being bothered or gasping for breath.
-I don't feel so fatigued
-I don't drink as much coffee
-Working out clears my head and relieves stress
-I sleep better at night
-My husband is seeing and enjoying me in a new light

It's awesome. So awesome. I'm doing this. I'm really doing it. So, for those of you out there who were like me a year ago that would read this stuff and say "Psh. That's great for her but won't work for me." I give you:

A Chubby Girl's Best Advice for Other Chubby Girls that {might} Want to Work Out-
-If you are intimidated, find someone that will support you and do this with you (my husband and friend Kacey are awesome!)
-Get. good. shoes. My sneakers are in bad shape and really hindering me right now. I'm hoping to be able to afford these soon.
-Get.a.good.bra. This is self explanatory. I snagged this one on Clearance at target and like it.
-Invest in some comfortable workout clothes that make you feel good. I love these pants. They are the cheapest I have found and smooth everything out while being very breathable and low friction. These tops are the best fitted and priced that I have found and are very flattering and comfortable for a woman with curves.
-Focus on cardio. If you are trying to slim down, weight lifting will not do it. That will just build muscles underneath your fat. Instead, I do 30-40 minutes (I started with 20 and have been working my way up) on an elliptical machine. It is very low impact and does not hurt my knees. I avoid treadmills because my knees can't take the impact. Then we will do arm workouts with light hand weights and lots of reps on one day, leg workouts on the leg machines with light weight and lots of reps another day. The goal is to get your heart rate up and keep it up for at least 30 minutes. This boosts your metabolism and endurance. Make sure you stretch before and after to prepare muscles and then work out lactic acid. A good stretch after keeps the soreness down and helps you cool down and get your heart rate back to normal.
-Build a playlist that pumps you up and gets you excited and motivates you! Then use it and feel encouraged by the fact that you are being a good steward of the body given to you!

I'm not a medical professional, but I have become very passionate about taking care of my body and being my best self. I want the life I live to be full of experiences and memories; not hours on the couch wishing I could go for a hike or that my ankles would quit hurting and back would quit aching. I want to be able to chase my children or get in the floor and play with them. Josh and I will have a family one day and I will be an active mom on the go able to keep up with her kiddos.

So this was just about a novel, but one of the most important posts I believe I have ever written. I thank God for the motivation every day to share love, press on, leave no regrets, and take care of my family.






Saturday, July 6, 2013

Home

I normally post a lot more during the summer, but I have to be honest- I've been savoring every drop of this summer break (and keeping quite busy!). I'm normally a project-a-holic and have tackled a few things, but the theme of my summer thus far has been soaking up quality time with people I care about. And I would not change a thing about that! 

I find myself thinking I must be dreaming when I stop to think about all the blessings around me. I have a beautiful home that keeps me safe and welcomes friendly laughter over meals, tea, coffee, and even video games; I have a job that is hard- but the good kind of hard that makes you smile at the end of the day- and I am so very passionate about; I have in me the capability to nurse puppies back to health and return them to be adopted to forever homes; I have loving, funny, supportive family all around me cheering on the life Josh and I have established and are maintaining; I have a comfortable, dependable vehicle with features that make me feel sheepishly spoiled as an American; we have a variety of friends that keep our glasses filled and our eyes bright with laughter; and I have him. The man who knows how to push every button at once, yet when fear begins to crowd my thoughts wraps me up in two very strong, tender arms. He is home to me and I adore him. I can barely believe I get to keep him my whole life as my husband. I would rather live in a cardboard box fighting every day with him than be catered to in a mansion with anyone else.

This summer, I am enjoying home.

-A

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

1, 051, 200

 1, 051, 200 minutes.

That's two years. We promised forever two years ago yesterday.

(Funny story- I didn't even realize that I started last year's anniversary post the same way... I was even going to add the video for the song again. Le predictable.)

How do you measure a year?

Our second year of marriage has been measured in:

- Leaving our mark during our anniversary trip to Pigeon Forge {June 2012}

-Making cutesy apple pie for our now traditional Atkins July 4th Fireworksapalooza. {July 2012}

-Sweet love note in my lunch box on my first day of school. {August 2012}

-Celebrating Ashley & Tim's marriage. {September 2012}

-Adopting our sweet princess Autumn. {September 2012}

-Welcoming the most precious nephew ever to this world! {October 2012}

-Voting in my first presidential election. {November 2012}

-Waiting for Santa, a family ornament, and starting our own tradition. {December 2012}

-Celebrating the new year with an early birthday present for Josh. {January 2013}

-Having the Atkins family over for supper & playing Guitar Hero for hours. {January 2013}

-Getting in the Word together and Josh cooking breakfast each morning. {January 2013}

-Greeting at our church on Sundays, Dunkin Donuts in hand. {February 2013}

-Becoming foster parents for sweet puppies in need of furever homes. {February 2013}

-Valentine's day love notes. <3 {February 2013}

-Discovering our emoji keyboards. {March 2013}

-Tackling yard work & rediscovering Josh's carving on the tree in our front yard. {April 2013}

-Celebrating the success of our very first deck garden. {May 2013}

-Getting nursed back to health by myself and his babies after mouth surgery. {May 2013}

-Savoring rare Cracker Barrel breakfast dates together before running errands. {June 2013}

-Ending this year of marriage with a perfect anniversary gift. {June 2013}

Last year we meant to go to a fancy restaurant for supper. Instead we ended up at Mellow Mushroom and loved it! This year, our celebration was low key. We met for lunch, exchanged cards, and cooked supper together. I'm not normally a card person when it comes to holidays, but I do love exchanging cards with him because they will one day be such a neat love story to leave behind for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We ended the evening looking back through our wedding photo book and, just like last year, we wrote down a lesson this year has taught us.

This year's lesson? "Be content in your circumstances; not complacent, but content." We must be good stewards and trust God in regards to our finances, careers, infertility struggle, and relationship.

As we continue on this journey together we cannot wait to see what the future holds!

Two years. And hopefully many, many more.

-A