Kyle likes to poke fun at me about being a "doctors wife." He knows that the term has always made me a bit uncomfortable, mostly because of the 'high-maintence, easy-life' stereotype attached to it. Let me correct myself, I should say that the idea of fulfilling the stereotype is what makes me cringe.

But oh, when life comes to bite you in the bum.

Since we've moved to Michigan, my days have been spent working out, job hunting, house hunting, finding places to volunteer, taking Maizy to the dog park, ironing shirts, preparing dinner, shopping, meeting friends, watching the Today Show, doing photography shoots, visiting family and laying by the pool.

Just when I had convinced myself that I wasn't really being a stay-at-home wife, I was smacked in the face with reality. A few days ago, a few of the other wives and myself set out to kayak the Huron in hopes of spending some quality time together. As we talked about being the sugar mamas throughout med school, we put our paddles up, let the sun soak our skin, and toasted as we waved to our hubbies hard at work in the hospital.

Stereotype fulfilled.

Sunday was Kyle's last whole day as a free man. This past weeks orientation sucked up a good twelve hours a day, but the gruesome part of residency begins tomorrow. (I'm becoming quite nervous at the reality that is about to hit us, but more on that later).

One church service, brunch and a wonderful nap later, we headed out to find some new stomping grounds for Maizy to play! Kyle had the urge to go hiking, but the mountainous terrain is no where in sight up here in the Midwest, so we scoured local park websites and discovered some alternative options.

We rated stop 1 a six out of ten and decided to go about our typical Sunday activity: driving around and looking at houses and neighborhoods.
In our search, we stumbled upon a great little hideout. Complete with blackberries and deer.

Maiz ran wild until she collapsed from heat exhaustion.
We took that as our sign to take the pup home and go find a new favorite Thai restaurant.

Then we passed a Diary Queen on the way home. Hello soft serve.

Those simple days when deciding a restaurant or a park is our most difficult decision. They bring the simplicity back to life.

I've learned a lot in the past seven days.
First, I'm a grazer.
Second, my sugar snap pea obsession is no longer.
Third, I'm positive I could make LaraBars at home and not pay $1.50 per bar at the local market
Fourth, I can only complete 30 days if I lock myself INSIDE OUR HOME.
Fifth, I'm loving the possibilities of coconut oil.
Six, after looking at our grocery bill from the organic market, I rushed home and dug out my gardening gloves. I have now learned why people prefer picking weeds over convenience.
Seven, I could get used to this fresh smoothie business each morning.
Eight, the blender is the best invention.EVER.

7 days ago I began the Whole30 program. The first few days were great, and I was really enjoying concocting new recipes. I had been home the majority of the time, so it was fairly easy to stick to the plan.
Then it all came crashing down. Dinner with friends, work functions, etc etc...I suppose I should have looked at our calendar prior to beginning this, because this week was not the week to begin an extreme easting plan. First the open bars with my favorite wine staring me in the face, then a buffet of desserts lurking around the corner. I stood my ground the first time. Then the next event rolled around and in order to not embarrass Kyle in front of all of his new coworkers (aka some of the nations leading surgeons), I ate the sit down dinner without one complaint - creamy chicken and all.

At first I was bummed and felt pretty trapped. But that didn't last long. While I was at it, I enjoyed a delicious glass of Pinot and even had a tablespoon of milk in my coffee with CHOCOLATE CAKE.

I've read that the key to successfully completing the program is to learn to eat in every situation.
I realized that even though I adjusted my salad order sans cheese and dressing, the food is most likely from Sysco and contains A LOT of preservatives. (refer to lesson learned #4). You cannot avoid it or control it, unless you go out to eat at an all-organic, local ingredients restaurant. We are in Ann Arbor after all, so such a restaurant shouldn't be hard to track down.

Today, the second week begins (well, I'm restarting the cycle. So today is the first day, AGAIN). I suppose I consider last week just a test drive. I learned quickly that I must give myself grace, and for me, that may be a greater lesson than the discipline.

I'll be back later this week with the nitty gritty of the food I've been (will continue) eating! Recipes and all :)

It's been 95 degrees here for the past two days, putting a bit of a damper on plans to play outside all day long. So, I decided to make myself "useful" and make my "to-do" list for summer. Clearly that is a nagging priority in our lives ;)

For the past four years, we've enjoyed summer in Virginia, and although it was blistering hot, it was still a blast. There may not be mountains to hike or an ocean nearby, but I'd still hold that the summers in Michigan are quite wonderful. I plan to make up for lost time with my hefty list, most of which consist of being Up North {refer to map}

1) Fishing with my dad in Traverse City
2) Tour of Lakes on the pontoon
3) Biking around Mackinaw Island
3.5) Eating homemade taffy on the porch at the Grand Hotel
4) Wine tasting in Leland
5) Camping at the sand dunes
6) Making homemade cherry pie with fruit from the side-of-the-road stands
7) Canoeing the Huron River in A2
7.5) Take advantage of Ann Arbor Top of the Park Festival
8) Golf 
9) Collect Petoskey stones along Lake Michigan
10) Watch the Howell Hot Air Balloon Competition
11) Go to numerous Tigers Games
12 ) and the list continues to about 50 fun activities....

51) Photograph it all!

But most importantly, spending time with this little one and learning to say no to the lip quiver. It's deadly.

In the past six months, we've been on both the buyer and seller side of a home. Being in our upper 20's, it's evident that there is still so much for us to learn. What we do know is that what our parents told us has proven to be pretty darn accurate.  The list below is made up of things that we might have already known but it's since been reinforced and other's we've had to learn the hard way.
In other words - all helpful information that I'd happily give to anyone as they encounter the monster called house hunting. Hopefully the following will make the investment much more of an exciting venture than a stressful one!

1) LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. It really is EVERYTHING when you house hunt. For example, there are specific styles of homes that make me cringe. However, if we found one if an area we really wanted to be in, the style becomes irrelevant compared to location.

2) Don't fall in love with anything you see online. Pictures can be very deceiving; either by making homes look really good when they are in rough shape, or they can misrepresent a great house by taking poor photos.

3) It never hurts to ask. Anything and everything. Assume you know very little.

4) Hire a real estate agent. Get recommendations from friends or google specific agencies before hiring them. Our agent has been priceless in our search! She's become our psuedo-parent in our hunt and given us priceless information and resources.

5) RESALE. Unless this is your "forever home," you NEED to consider resale value. What school district are you in? What are other homes selling for in the area? Do you have to put in a lot of work in order to resell it in 5-7 years? Are their new developments (residential or commercial) in the area that will affect your location? Call the police department and get a crime report of the area over the past five years. Drive through the area at night.

6) Talk to the neighbors.

7) Don't buy the nicest house on the block.

8) Nothing is final or guaranteed until the last paper is signed.

9) You won't walk into your dream home. There will be things you want to change. Which brings me to this...

10) Do your research before you house hunt. Know how much appliances cost, what your taxes or association fees will be, or how much it would be to demolish a wall. The worst thing is to fall in love with the "potential" of a home, with no real concept of how much it would cost to bring that "potential" to life.

11)  Paint is your best friend.

12) Use any resources at your disposal. Ask your parents, friends, etc. who have any experience or knowledge about home purchasing or remodeling. This is the time to not be prideful and ask the "stupid" questions.

13) Don't assume anything about a home until you see it in person.

14) "New" does not always mean better. "Updated" does not mean it was a good update.

15) Don't look at things over your price range. You'll end up falling in love with something that you cannot afford. It's a mean trick that will only result in dissatisfaction.

16) You can make anywhere home, but remember, you do have to live there.  Don't settle for something sub-par just because you want to purchase a house.

For about three months, I've been contemplating doing the Whole30s food program. It came up once I realized that for two weeks straight, I had some sort of sugary goodness -
I have always been a sweet tooth, it's like my hands are magnetized towards anything that has sugar in it. Can you relate? I can't be the only one!

The program was created to serve a few purposes, one being to help your mental and emotional relationship with food. Sounds crazy, right? But, it's true. If I was really honest with myself, I have a pretty unhealthy relationship with food. Eating is my default when I am bored, stressed, tired, happy, sad, watching a movie, on a road trip, and the list continues. It's my comfort and distractor.

The reason I am starting it isn't to eat less, but to learn how to eat, when to eat and enjoy REAL food. The hope is that it will help me learn how to cook with raw ingredients and explore different food groups that I otherwise wouldn't had ventured into. Overall, my main goal is to train myself to make healthier eating decisions when I'm actually hungry rather than when I just want food. Detoxing your body from sugars and preservatives may be a difficult task, but I think the end reward is well worth the "I want to bang my head against the wall" effects.  After doing  a ton of research on the program (I'm usually quite skeptical of everything up this alley), the majority of people claimed that it changed their lives. I now sound like an infomercial, but I promise I'm not endorsing the program (especially since I haven't done it yet!)

So, for the next 30 days, there will be none of these:

So, today is the BIG day. I spent Saturday afternoon shopping with a ridiculously detailed grocery list, and Sunday evening preparing some meals in advance. I also separated the cupboards - one that holds all the foods I can eat, and one that holds all the foods that I can't. You can imagine I got made fun of for this, but I  know myself well enough that if I get desperate during my lack-of-sugar-induced headaches, anything is fair game. 

What can I eat?!
After a few hours of research, I've found some pretty great recipes and I'm looking forward to experimenting with them. I do, however, think I will be pretty sick of coconut products by the time this is over. It seems to the reoccurring ingredient for cooking and baking. I've also read that coconut oil is amazing for hair, so if I don't use the whole bottle, at least I'll have another option :)

I'm off to taste test my sweet potato casserole. I'll be sure to document this whole process, but I may "sound"irritable this week. Give me a break, a body does some strange things when it is detoxing from MSGs, sugars and all of the other crap stuff that is in our food :)

Last weekend, we headed down to Cincinnati, and although the drive is awfully boring (it is Ohio, after all ;), it was so worth it!
Griffin and Stephanie and Ben and Lynn all live in Cinci, so what better reason to take a two day trip? 

Friday evening we had a girls night, as the boys had a date with a movie we had no interest in seeing. But Saturday called for all couples activities. 
We may have almost sweat to death, but playing sand volleyball for two hours was a perfect start to the day. After which, we made our way downtown to watch the Tigers play the Reds. This weekend made it really feel like summer is upon us!

There's little that makes you feel more American than cheering on your favorite baseball team, eating a hot dog, and drinking a cold beer as the sun beats on your back. 

Now, we need to address this small issue you see below. Ben has an excuse to become a Reds fan. He's lived in Cinci since college graduation, and his wife is from there. Understandable.
Griffin, on the other he's just a trader to D-town.

My mom and Pat also happened to be in Cinci for the series - they may have had better seats than us...

Thankfully the Tigers managed to pull out a win the night we went, that way we could rub it in our "From Michigan but are now Reds Fans" faces ;)

 We love only being a few hours from ya'll! (so worth the boring drive through Ohio ;)

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions, filling up our gas tank, coffee stops and unforeseen circumstances.
It has gone a little something like this:

Three days after graduation, we finished the last minute packing and turned the lock on our home in Charlottesville. This was our first home as a married couple, and it definitely wasn't easy to say goodbye to it.

12 hours later, we arrived in Ann Arbor with a moving truck and car packed to capacity.

This is when life became less than ideal and completely veered from any plans I may have had. We hadn't found a house to purchase in the previous visits to Michigan, so we unloaded all of our belongings into a storage unit.

We also kissed goodbye a few pieces of furniture that proved to not endure the mountains on the drive to Michigan.

For two weeks, we lived as nomads and wandered from each of our parents homes, seeing family and friends and looking for houses in Ann Arbor. It never hit that we weren't returning to Charlottesville, as it felt like any other vacation we used to take when we came back to Michigan...until it didn't.
By this point, Maizy was confused as ever and had no idea where we were bringing her next. She was clearly begging us for some normalcy.

Upon yet another house hunting adventure, we indulged in an old favorite, Zingerman's Deli. About that time, my tears proved that I'm not good at nomad life and we decided it was best to rent an apartment for three months while we search for a house. It was time to make our new city home - house or not.

And that brings me to the present. Our {mostly} empty storage unit is reflected in the second bedroom of our new apartment. Our kitchen only holds the bare necessities (blender and juicer included), our closet space split between clothing packed in moving boxes and the minimal needs for the summer months. The only pictures displayed are two that I had put in my suitcase, just in case.  

There is a constant reminder of transition shown as I walk past the second bedroom lined in moving boxes. It may not have been our plan, but we know there is a much better one - better than what we could ever imagine. In the mean time, we've come to love our new humble abode. The lack of decorations aren't apparent when we cuddle on the couch at night and realize we're together and happy, no matter where our things may be placed.

And just for good measure, moving wouldn't be quite as fun without looking like the Beverly Hillbillies -  at least once.

If you've followed me over at Meredith Allyn Photography Blog, you know that for the past year the blog has contained both personal and professional work. When I made that decision a year ago, it seemed to be the best way to document the coming of a company.
Now, I find myself not writing about things that I really enjoy, simply because it "didn't quite fit." Needless to say, it's high time for both the biz and my personal life to have their separate places.

And what better time than now?
So here I am, recently relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and starting a whole new chapter in our lives. The books have closed on medical school and Kyle's residency begins in only a few days. We are exploring a new city, making new friends, finding a new church, changing careers and settling into a new home. Life has seemed to fly by, and I don't want to ever feel limited to document it.

Enter:  The Mitten Wife.

Although I'm still putting the finishing touches on it, I am so excited and relieved. As far as photography goes, I'll do a quick photo post of my most recent sessions, linking to the Photography Blog.  I definitely encourage you to join me over there once in a while too ;)

I'm an constant mind-changer and indecisive person, so I suppose that the past blogs life has been an accurate portrayal of mine. Thanks for being gracious as The Mitten Wife begins it's humble days of life. You'll be reading a lot more about faith, marriage, travels, our new home, and everything else in between.

Follow. comment. ENJOY!

Oh, and Maizy would like to say Hello! She'd like welcome you here, to her new blog home.

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