Although it feels like I have fallen off planet earth if you look at this blog, I really haven't. I've just been hiding behind my computer, editing some marvelous couple's photos from fall sessions.

A few weekends ago, I ventured north a few miles to document Meg and Duane's Big Day!
It was a Pinterest inspired wedding, full of amazing ideas and lots and lots of love.

Meet the new Mr. and Mrs. here

Two weekends ago, we woke up at 4 am and headed to the airport. The day had finally arrived for our friends, Josh and Patti, to tie the knot. As we descended into Charlottesville Airport (my favorite airport!), both Kyle and I got really giddy. We haven't been able to get back to Cville since we moved a year and half ago, so we were SO excited to just visit this little place we used to call home. This is where we were engaged, had our first home, our first two years of marriage, and formed lifelong friendships. It will always be an amazing place for us. We just love it.

The wedding was held at this gorgeous venue just out of town. The half hour drive took us through the winding back roads, through vineyards and farmland - all of the quintessential parts of the state that make your heart skip a beat. (I didn't take pictures because those winding roads also tend to make me a bit car sick ;)

As friends, all of our best memories together are in this town. It was so bittersweet to be there, because it conjured up a life so different than the one we live now. Nothing better or worse, just so different. (Med school was so much more fun than residency ;)

But, for the whole reason we reunited in Charlottesville in the first place:

The summer between first and second year of Kyle's med school, these two started hanging out. I was in Martha's Vineyard for the summer, Kyle was in Michigan doing research, and they were in Charlottesville. Kyle and I returned as an engaged couple, to Patti and Josh who were now "best friends." Everyone knew it was only a matter of time. 8 months went by and it was clear that they both were head over heals for their "best friend." Then, our wedding weekend rolled around, and they came to Michigan to celebrate. Love was in the air, because that weekend finally solidified Josh & Patti's relationship ;) Skip forward two years, with graduation around the corner, and Josh is on one knee asking his future bride to marry him.

It's easy to see why this town is so special to them.

We spent the evening eating ridiculously good food from their favorite restaurant in town, The Local, (if you are ever going to visit Cville, it's a must!), and just catching up. This time in our lives is so treasured, it just felt right to be back celebrating with friends who were a part of that.
It was that weekend last year that was spoken about with such anticipation, "can't wait for Josh & Patti's wedding...we all get to come back!!"

We booked a late afternoon flight on Sunday, so we could spend some time in Charlottesville and visit our old church. We knew it that this would be such a short trip, but we wanted to make the most of it and see as many people as possible - even if that meant just a quick hug! I keep using the word bittersweet, but it's the only word I find appropriate. It was so, so nice to be back in that church, we miss that community, the worship, the teachings, the atmosphere. It was our home.
It played such a huge role in our life while in Virginia, that I got teary eyed leaving it that day.
(are you discovering a theme to this post? Happy, sentimental, happy, sentimental...)

Sunday was spent having a delicious brunch at a past favorite and around the downtown mall, just hanging out. Everywhere we went, it felt like we had a story about, "that one time..."

We stayed with our friend, Tom, for the weekend. What a treat to be able to catch up with him!   Thanks for being such a great host (and letting us use your car!!) We miss the pup Rosko already, can't wait for he and Maizy to reunite too!

Do you picture me teary eyed right now? Because I am. I seriously love this place.
What a treat to return, if only for a very short trip :)

It's been way too long since I've just sat down and written on the blog. At least it's felt like that.
I miss it.
Writing sucks me in and I get lost in just typing away, sharing whatever may be happening in life and recording it so I have my little journal years down the road. One day when I look back on this blog, I wonder if I'll remember what was happening during these seemingly long gaps between posts, or even when I had the energy or time to post daily. Lately, it's been the long gaps that need to be filled in, so I'm playing a bit of catch up today for my own benefit.

Back in August, I knew September and October were going to be some crazy months. It felt like the looming black cloud in the distance, just waiting for me. Between my job, the beautiful fall weather that is begging to be used as the perfect backdrop for photographs, Kyle's new rotation that has proved to be hum, challenging and a good amount of traveling - things have gotten wild around here. If you saw my laundry room this weekend, you'd understand how things have gone in our house the past two months - yikes. (It's taken four nights to get through it...and there's more to go.)

It's just been one of those seasons. Things are too good to complain, yet I find myself fighting the feelings of ungratefulness simply due to stress. Regardless, these months have left me with limited time, thus, this little blog fell off the priority list. (As did any hope of getting Maizy a haircut, my goodness, our poor pup looks like a perfect cylinder of black fluff.)  Although there's been lots to share; travels to Iowa, Nashville and Charlottesville, my 10 year high school reunion, weddings, photo shoots, birthday celebrations, and even more apple goodness...I've failed to do so. Sadly, it also means that neither Kyle nor I have been able to cheer on our favorite football team every Saturday, it's Fall after all! So much of the past few months deserves to be written about and recorded, so in the interim of me catching up on some crazy (don't get me wrong, there's been plenty of fun in there too!) months, we'll let my iphone do some of the talking.

Sunday evening, I'm going to sit on my couch, with nothing in site expect for a roaring fireplace and steam from my hot chocolate, my head resting on my husband's shoulder and Maizy on my lap. Full of gratefulness, relief and anticipation for what's to come. (Of course, that means the holiday season - it's already getting chilly here and stores are full of Christmas decorations already, so I feel it's only appropriate to start the countdown to the best time of year!!)

As a child, my sister, brother and I spent many of days on the practice football field at one of the local high schools. Our dad was one of the coaches, and we'd love going to practice with him. We'd stand on the sidelines and scream "go, go, go," to the players, use whistles to make them hustle and sing along when they did their "Army chants." Jessica and I still sing it to this day, with just as much excitement and pride as we did back then. (Okay, sometimes I would go up and "practice" with the cheerleaders too, give me a break, I was five..and a darn good five year old cheerleader if you ask me.)

This past Friday, West played their last homecoming game.

I grew up in, what I would consider, a very small town. We had two high schools, West and East, but looking back, that doesn't seem to represent the size of the city.  Two people attending the same school may have lived forty minutes apart, but it felt small. My parents and grandparents went to West, as did my siblings and I. I remember walking down the hall of one of the middle schools (now closed) and seeing a picture of my grandfather as a seventh grader, hanging amongst many people whom he still considered friends. When my parents were in high school, our town built East. Thus creating the town division and cross-town rivalry that defined the majority of our teenage athletic careers. After (so I've heard), many years of discussion and debate, the town has decided to merge the high schools once again. This year will be the last year of the East and West era.

A few weeks ago, East and West played one another for the last time (West won ;). This past Friday, West played the last  homecoming to ever be played on the field that holds so many memories of my young life.

I drove the hour north to go to the game, and visit the school I hadn't been to in years.  My mom sifted through basement boxes to find our old sports sweatshirts, others wore their varsity jackets from 30 years ago. Standing on the same field and watching the high school boys carry the same flag from the locker room, down the hill and onto the field felt bittersweet. In a way, much sadder than I had ever anticipated it would. 

It took me a long time to appreciate this small town, as I was one of those teenagers who couldn't escape it fast enough. Now, 10 years later (my 10 year high school reunion was also this weekend, more on that later), I can say that I've grown to love that small town appeal that I so fervently disliked. In the midst of years of traveling and moving, I've realized what an impact that place has had on my life. Appropriately, I've been singing multiple country songs as I write this post, but I'll attempt to not make this post turn into one.

I stood next to my husband and parents while the game played. I told him about the times I'd fetch water for the players by the bench that still sits, put my hand in and lead the chants, stare at the student section thinking those kids were so big, only to stand there last Friday and think how old I felt. How I crashed my car into the pole in the parking lot, was forced to walk in long socks and tennis shoes across the field for our senior homecoming due to a rain storm, played tennis 7 months out of the year on the courts that sat to our left, and played soccer on the fields across the parking lot. I even got so sentimental as to take a picture of the framed photograph of the '95 state championship football team that sits in the exact same location in the cafeteria. That was the last year my father had coached, a day of victory that is etched in my mind forever.

Sure, I may never live in this town again, and from an outside eye, it's just another Midwestern small-town that you'd drive through and probably not think twice about. But it helped shape me. I can't tell you how many people on Friday night told me they remembered when I was born, and how I looked JUST like my mother. "Meremere" is all grown up, they'd say, with a huge smile and bigger hug.
I walk into the restaurants and see familiar faces, run past the church that most of my family members (including Kyle and I) were married in and know that so much of my family heritage rests in its walls. I drive past my high school and I can't escape so many memories from such a young age. I hear stories of my grandfathers gas station on the corner, or the car lot on M-21 and I wonder if our children will hear those memories echoed through my life as well. Maybe I am a small town girl at heart.

Go Panthers :)

I'm a day late and dollar short when it comes to Medical Mondays this month, but I promise if you had a glimpse into my life right now - you'd understand. Chaos feels like an appropriate description. I know many of you can relate so I won't sulk, please just excuse my recent absence and tardiness. 

Hello to anyone and everyone visiting from the Medical Monday's Blog Hop! Although I missed the boat yesterday, I LOVE this week in the blogging world. Connecting with people is what makes blogging fun, so I'm glad you've stopped by! Feel free to say hello :)

Last week, I was planning to share some of my running tips when it comes to HILLS. The evil, evil hills that I'm hoping after this post you may come to love. Far cry?

When I started running regularly, it was in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, there is no such thing is flat land- it always felt like you were going UP.  Although not surrounded by mountains, Ann Arbor has still proven to be quite hilly as well!
Have you ever ran in a city like that? It can be intimidating right off the bat, like you have no chance of survival. There, it was the "I want to cryyy," sort of hills. Those ones you can see from a mile away, rolling, rolling, rolling. I would plan out running routes based on the hills on the route because I was so intimated by them. However, I quickly learned that they are inevitable- so I had better get used to it.
Believe it or not, hills don't bother me at all now. What changed?

There is a reason that professional athletes train on hills, that we are intimidated by them, races carefully plan routes based on the location and size of them, and all of the crowds and signs at races are at the bottom of hills: They are hard. Inclines can take a tremendous amount of energy away from you, leave you panting for air and your muscles weak. Running for three miles on constant hills will leave you just as tired as running 10 on flat terrain.

Every runner knows that running is a huge mental battle. With that in mind (no pun intended), here's how I learned to conquer the hills (and sometimes enjoy them!!).

First, I realized that every hill looked the largest when I was at the bottom of it or running up to it. It's the worst feeling when you are running along, feeling great, and you look ahead and see {what seems like} a MASSIVE hill that you are about to climb. I've had times where my body has immediately felt weaker and tired from just looking at an incline, as if it's already defeated me before I had given myself the chance to conquer it. In that moment, I have to remind myself that it only LOOKS big. Done, easy.

Second, Count!
When running up hills, I count. 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4...and so on.
Because running is so mental, you need to focus on something other than your heart rate increasing or your calves hurting. Focus on counting. 1 2 3 4....1 2 3 4....
If you don't enjoy the counting method, I also (at the risk of embarrassing myself) sing the lyrics, "I like to move it move it..I like to move it move it..." Nice ring, right?! This is all under my breath of course.
Counting or singing on repeat will also help regulate your breathing and force you to take normal breaths rather gasping for air.

Third, Look down!
Like I had mentioned in rule #1- hills ALWAYS feel bigger when you are coming up on them.
Every mountain looks bigger from it's base. (You can quote me on that on that inspirational statement of the day ;)
When you are running up the hill, keep your head and eyes down, only to look up periodically. You will forget you are even on a steep incline. When you look up,  your only view is how far you have to go, not how much you've already done. It's easier to feel weaker at the sight of what is to come.

Fourth, Celebrate!
When running with a friend (or even yourself), make sure to acknowledge the accomplishment, as small as it may be. Slap hands, scream a bit, throw your hands in the air, jump for joy, click your heels together. Realizing you did it and you're perfectly fine will continue to serve as inspiration until your next incline comes. I still tend to tighten my arms a bit on hills, so I'll shake them out at the top and keep going - dual purpose since it appears as if I'm just a bad dancer trying to celebrate.

These are the things that have proven to work for me. I love being able to CONQUER hills, I makes me feel physically and mentally stronger throughout the exercise. Before you know it, you won't even pay any attention to inclines because you will be so comfortable with them being part of your routine. Of course, still feel free to celebrate conquering them anytime you please.

Do you have any tips for running inclines?

I announced last week that a many babies around here were born recently. 
Obviously, that means that many newborn pictures are sure to follow!
It's fun having an excuse to hang out with friends and hold their newborns! It's also always an adventure to photograph them. Everything is so unpredictable, which keeps me on my toes (or stomach, or knees... depending on how we finally got baby to get comfortable and happy)
First up, Alexander. 
For some reason, I just adore this picture. He is just waking up because of our attempt to get naked baby pictures (which, by the way, he wanted no part of) and his this little smile came though. They say that newborns don't smile, but I beg to differ.

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