While a ton of our friends and family are hunkering down on the East Coast, we here in Michigan are getting annoyed with the windy conditions. It is ruining my new 'do and my new favorite hobby: trail running!     (just teasing, I've been praying all day for ya'll! stay safe!!!)

I noticed a few months ago that I was becoming a bit bored with running. It started to become more of a chore than an enjoyable exercise. My knees were starting to feel it too, as running solely on the pavement can really take a toll on your joints and muscles. In order to combat my boredom and save my body, I started to explore some of the trails around Ann Arbor.
Now, I can't get enough! The gorgeous fall colors lured me in, but now I'm here to stay. There is something about the peacefulness that comes from running through open fields, along the river, and through the trees ("to grandmother's house we go...") The air feels fresh and clean, and there is such a sense of adventure in jumping over fallen trees or seeing the deer in the distance. Running has always been a great escape, but running in the wilderness brings a whole new meaning to stress-free.



Well, mostly stress-free. I will admit that it has been a bit challenging. The marks on the palms and large goose egg on my knee attest to the fact that it can be a bit more dangerous than your average run-of-the-mill jog. Yesterday I bit it three times..face first. The leaves cover up those lousy stumps that your foot will catch if you don't pick up your feet just enough. Obviously this becomes a bit more of an issue when your tired. I came out of the trail covered in dirt, some mud and probably some rabbit poo (considering Maizy couldn't stop licking me when I walked in the door).
I, not-so-secretly, felt totally legit.

Here are some of the places I've been getting lost lately (they all connect so it's a whole new adventure to try to find that one little bridge that will take you onto an entire new park):
Bird Hill 
Gallop Park 
The Arb

Maybe one day I'll master the trails in and around A2, but until then, I'll be enjoying the exploration.




I shared a few weeks ago how much I loved the documentary "Searching for Sugar Man."
Guess What?!



Rodriguez is coming to Ann Arbor!
I about jumped out of a my seat when I found out. There was also a lot of hand clapping involved (there seems to be a lot of that lately)

He will be playing at The Annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival .
If you did one thing this winter, it should be this. I promise you won't be disappointed. So, go buy a ticket for Friday, January 25th (and Saturday, January 26th if you'd like ;)...and in the mean time, watch the documentary (which I believe is or will be soon, available on NetFlix).








What do tape measures, estimates, floor selections, paint samples, moving boxes, a ridiculous amount of paper work, a houzz.com addiction, countertop selections, furniture shopping and one very excited family have in common?!?!

You guessed it!


 HOUSE!


It almost seemed like this would never happen, right?
I've been keeping a secret from you for quite a few weeks. We wanted to make sure we got through inspection, negotiations, appraisal, and the stacks of paperwork prior to spilling the beans that we will officially have a house to call our own in November!
We're thrilled!


When I got the call from our agent that our offer was accepted, I almost dropped the phone. It was the fifth offer we had put on houses in Ann Arbor, so our hopes were not high. 
SO, you can imagine my excitement to run home, shake Kyle awake (he was on nights!), and tell him the news!  He fell back asleep after responding with a huge smile and sigh of relief, then woke up asking if it was a dream.
I then texted my mom telling her that we'd be hosting Thanksgiving this year. (Although that's looking a little ambitious at this point). Maybe Christmas.


And to keep you at bay, you are only seeing the front yard below. (Just joking, I just don't have other pictures to share right now.)




We have a lot of projects we can't wait to start (beginning the day of closing!) No worries, I'll be sharing the progress. Our family has graciously volunteered skills and time to help us, so we also have weeks of family bonding to look forward to! I'm pretty sure Hannah will be an expert painter by the time we are finished. 


So there you have it folks, a huge prayer answered! We're so excited to have a place to call home, and Maizy is running in circles with excitement that she now has two acres to gallivant around on. 
We are also in the market for a riding mower ;)
THANK YOU for sticking with me (us) through this process, allowing me to vent, document and share the experiences that brought us here. We're incredibly thankful. (eee! and excited!!)


For a look back on parts of this "little" adventure:






I have no idea where that title came from.
Since this post clearly falls under Friday Ramblings (it's Friday!), I believe that means that I can do just that....so here I go.

Let's get the most important out there first:

GOOOO TIGERS!!!!!!!!
Did anyone else get chills last night when we beat the Yankees?! It was so exciting!! Made me want to cry just watching the excitement in the stadium. I was on my way home from a photo shoot and spent my time in the car making up a song about the win. I don't want to give it away just yet, as I'm positive it will be a huge hit.




Now onto something that isn't such a huge hit: Silk blouses.
I love them, but I learned the hard way that I am only allowed to wear them when I plan on not drinking or eating. Or brushing my teeth. Each activity left evidence on my blouse and I ended up at the dry cleaners by the end of the day.


Diet A & W. I can't get enough. I've stopped buying it at the store so that I am only limited to it when it is available...and now it happens to be free to work. 


I'm thinking about putting Maizy in a doggy day care once or twice a week. Is that not completely ridiculous? That girl is so high maintenance. 
(but seriously, for anyone who has done doggy day cares, would you recommend it?!)


Hannah, sweet baby Hannah, turns one next week. ONE. I'm not coping well.
But, it does mean we have a big birthday party and one year photo session coming up! Can't wait to see those little fingers dig into her first birthday cake!

This weekend is a big one for us! Michigan  VSMichigan State football game!! Kyle and I both come from split houses when it comes to the UM vs. MSU debate, so this weekend always provides great opportunities for trash talking and making ridiculous bets. 


Have a wonderful weekend...and GO BLUE!












Happy Monday Friends!

I feel like a few posts lately have been debbie downers. Not purposely, I promise I don't sit in PJ's all day, everyday, eating ice cream and watching chick flicks. That only happens every night.
Just kidding.

Let's talk about something encouraging :)  (I have a few of these posts coming, by the way!)

I had mentioned a few times that a job was on the horizon as something I was looking for. Let's dig into that for a minute, so that you aren't totally confused. I've done photography for almost two years now, and I love it. But, there was one big downfall to only doing that in a brand new city. It was lonesome.

After about a month of working from home and only doing photography, it became evident that I couldn't do that long term. Not because I didn't love what I was doing, it was because I couldn't be at home, by myself, everyday. I needed more structure and social interaction than blogs and emails and meeting new people only a few times a week.

I love Maizy to death, but I think it's best that we separate once in a while ;)
So, we started to pray for something flexible that was part-time. Essentially, the best of all worlds: flexibility, plenty of time to still grow my photography business here in Michigan, a consistent schedule and social time! Applying to jobs when you technically already have one is a strange thing, and becomes a bit more complicated when you interview!
However, I am happy to report it has worked out brilliantly.

I'm so, so thankful! I'm on my third week of working part time outside of the house and although it's been an adjustment, I'm really enjoying it! I'm able to do what I love in both careers, work in an environment where I thrive, I have to get out of PJ's everyday and I still have time for life. Looking back, it's an opportunity that I'm happy to have waited for. Eeee! I get so excited thinking about what a blessing it is for us. {insert big smile & clapping hands...and maybe a few giddy jumps}



OH! And speaking of photography, the blog will soon be overwhelmed with adorable families taking advantage of the fall foliage! Stay Tuned.





If you are in the Grand Rapids area, I'd love to suggest a great benefit for you to attend!
Art Aid for Tesfa is dedicated to 
"liberating Ethiopia from poverty by empowering it's youth through the whole brain benefit that art provides. It seeks to help Ethiopian youth develop self-sustainability by teaching creativity while funding their education."

Sometimes it can be difficult to describe how important art is for children, especially when the art programs in this country are the first to be cut from our schools. 
 This video is directly from the Art Aid website and it perfectly captures how they incorporate art into education for children in Ethiopia. 




By attending the Art Aid Benefit on Friday, November 9th, you are supporting the very faces you see above. 
YOU are helping to provide opportunity for a children to have hands-on education. Something that is a precious gift for any child in Ethiopia. 

You will be able to view the artwork of many children who have benefited each year from this cause. 
Interested in partnering? Purchase a ticket or Donate Here.



See you November 9th!



Two and a half years ago, I gained two more sisters. My brother married an incredible girl who I  absolutely adore, and when I married Kyle, I gained another incredible sister. I think I got pretty darn lucky, because I LOVE my new sisters, so much so that I feel like they really are my "real sisters."

And I'm not just saying that because they read this blog ;)

Last weekend, I drove down to Indianapolis to see Kyle's sister (and mine:), Kelly. The last time I ventured there was when Kyle and I surprised his family with Maizy in tow, when Kel was just moving to the city. It was due time to revisit.

We planned a girls weekend, full of food, chick flicks, shopping, a long run and the ZOO! We have a tradition of running together every time we see each other. The only problem is that Kelly is considerably faster than me, so I make her talk the whole time to slow her down and distract me ;)
Thankfully, I also had a new city to explore. After an 11 mile run (we were suppose to go 13 but I petered out), we made our way out of town to a pumpkin patch festival.




We are both such suckers for all of the chutneys and jams sold at these stores. I  also discovered homemade diet root beer. I've had this thing for diet root beer over the last few months, so every time I see a new brand I get giddy and MUST try it.




We dabbled in some wine tastings and went home with three new ones.




Unfortunately, we didn't get very far with drinking the red with our shrimp primavera.




Ha! After almost an hour, we finally got the screw out. The cork is another story. We are still determined. It will be another weekend project.
After getting a fairly decent arm workout from our wine bottle issue, we spent the evening watching yet another chick flick. It was wonderful!




Sunday morning we walked to the Zoo and took the canal for scenic route. Indy dies their canal each month to represent that month's cause. It's still up in the air what the red represents? Diabetes?







We spent the morning making faces at animals and figuring out how to become sister dolphin trainers.








The best part; we fed the giraffe. We had to drag one another away, because we would have ended up paying a ridiculous amount of money to continue to feed the girl one carrot at a time, at $2.50 a stick!




Oh! I also added to my winter wardrobe.




Helloooo Wally. You're incredibly fat.







Sadly, we only got one picture. Well,  I should say that only one turned out when a stranger borrowed my camera. The rest of them are a big blur.







Until next time...







It seems ever since we made the move to Michigan, it's been a waiting game.
For work.
For a house.
For an easier schedule.
For friends.
For a church home.
For A2 to feel like home.

I wrote about it a bit here: Lessons In the In-Between. However, I didn't write specifically about an entire other aspect, one I have deemed "the cycle of disillusionment" 

Allow me to be a bit vulnerable for a minute, or two.

I quickly realized that it was awfully easy to idolize the waiting period. To dwell on the when, why, or how of every situation. The moment when my computer told me the most visited sites were real estate and jobs, I felt the heaviness of where my heart was. Now, I'm certainly not saying that searching for those things is bad. What I am saying, at least for me, is that it became an idol in my heart and mind.
It consumed my time, my thoughts, conversations and prayer life.

I became disillusioned. 

It was more than being preoccupied with things that maybe I couldn't control, I was also believing the lies that satan told me. Thus, I'd question the Lord's goodness and faithfulness (Psalm 34).
In unforeseen circumstances, have your thoughts wandered here? Mine certainly have.
I'd be stuck at home all day. My business wouldn't succeed. We'd be stuck living out of boxes forever. We'd never find a place of our own. God didn't want us to. We'll never find a church like the one we had in Charlottesville. God wants punish us for something. Was moving from C'ville the wrong decision? 

The cycle continues..

Essentially, I began to question what WE HAD BEEN BLESSED WITH!
Sure, I miss Charlottesville so incredibly much that sometimes I get teary eyed thinking about it, but I KNOW THAT I KNOW THAT I KNOW we are suppose to be HERE. I also know that being in Michigan is a COMPLETE answer to our prayers.

But isn't that what happens when things don't go our way? We question absolutely everything, even the things that we prayed diligently for. When we do, we begin to idolize the things that hold no eternal value, we begin to doubt, we become unsatisfied, frustrated and angry. I was beginning to feel each of these on different levels. Little by little, I could feel the doubt rising as the lies invaded.

And the cycle continues...

I was out running the other day, thinking about this whole kit & caboodle picture. I was soaking up the crisp air, as the bright orange leaves fell from the trees around me, and I took a very, very deep breath.
I gave up.
It was a moment forever engrained in my mind as that one moment when I quit. Instead of praying for the specific house that we recently put an offer on, I remember thinking, "no, I'm not going to pray for that house. I'm going to ask for whatever God wants for us. HIS will, HIS plan. Not ours." I admit that I've thought that many times before, but this time, in my heart of hearts, I never meant it more.
The anxiety that once enveloped my heart was a mire remnant compared to the peace that overtook it. I truly just didn't (and don't) want something that isn't of God. That goes for a house, a career, our family, our future. Simple as that.

Cycle ends.

I'm not going to tell you that the last six months have been a cake walk (duh), nor would I say it's been the hardest time in my life. I will say that what it has taught me, where it has brought me, far surpasses the seemingly important complaints of the noisy neighbors or limited kitchen space.
The anxiety that I once held seems far away. I'm positive that this cycle will return with another face or name; maybe tomorrow or maybe in ten years...and that's okay. That is life, and it is the power of Christ to conquer it.
This move has been a long transition, one that is far from over. I'm okay with that.
Better than okay, I desire it. Why? Because I KNOW THAT I KNOW THAT I KNOW, God's plan is so MUCH greater.
For me, for you.








Have you heard of this documentary, "Searching for Sugar Man?"
A friend was urged to go see it by multiple people, so we had a movie date last night to see what the hype was about.
I left wanting everyone I know to go see it. I felt pity, strength, hope, wonder, curiosity, and empowerment with each passing minute.
I want to meet Rodriguez (aka "Sugar Man"), hug him, tell him what an incredible gift he has, and sit for hours in front of his fire place. All while inviting him to live with us so as not to endure another winter in the slums of Detroit. Then talk about his experiences has a rock star in South Africa and how his music help bring change. Curious yet? You should be. Go see it!





Also known as, Dexter Cider Mill. (or little will power)
I couldn't wait to visit the cider mill close to Ann Arbor, since one of my favorite things to do in Charlottesville was visit Carter's Mountain. Of course, this one was not surrounded by mountains, an expansive apple orchard or locally brewed wine, but it did provide incredible donuts. Okay okay, it is on the Huron River, which can't compete with the mountains but is beautiful nonetheless.

Although we spent the majority of our time swapping away bees who attempted to drink all of my cider, little could have ruined the perfect Sunday afternoon. I also have a small obsession with Dexter Village, so I like to hop on over there whenever "necessary." (Even if it is only for the "healthy bites" at the corner coffee shop.)








Needed.







On our out, Talin and I were curious about this little stand, so we stopped to say hello. It resulted in a life long friendship, multiple taste tests of cobblers, chili, and jalapeno sausage. If you are around this area, I highly encourage you to visit on a Saturday or Sunday. Small establishments like this make everything feel like home; warm + cozy.
It's on the corner of Central and 5th street, around the bend from the Farmer's Market.





They set up shop at the mill. It seemed like everyone in town made a stop here to pick up their Sunday evening dinner.



But who wouldn't, when the bourdon peach cobbler looks like scrumptious?!




It melted in my mouth.











They were the NICEST people, I can't wait to take Kyle when he has a Saturday off work.
And just for good measure...
Talin- poop on LA, you look good in a small midwestern town :)




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