An Eccles Easter

We were so blessed to have our Eccles Family with us for this holy weekend. They arrived in time for the Good Friday service (which was a wonderful time of remembrance and solemnity with our Ecumenical brothers and sisters), and we still had plenty of time for a late stew dinner and good conversation before bed. There really is nothing quite as lovely as conversation with our parents
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Saturday was a simply gorgeous spring day and we ventured out of the confines of our cozy home many times. We took a walk around the village while the Sour Cream Pound Cake was baking, admiring homes and wishing the canal was filled with its gentle waters rather than revealing the contents of its belly. 
After enjoying a light snack of Pacific Beach Peanut Butter (which I reviewed in yesterday’s post) and homemade crackers, we opted for an exploratory walk through the locally acclaimed Mount Albion Cemetery. It might sound strange to enjoy a cemetery so much, but you would not believe the beauty contained in this sprawling, terraced, park-like grounds. Not only is it intriguing and emotionally riveting to read the various epitaphs and calculate lifespans, but the walking path is just incredible (not to mention extremely aerobic.) 
By the time our walk was over, it was time to head to Medina for an tasty tour of Della’s Chocolates (we came home with Dark Chocolate Toffee & Coconut Clusters and Dark Chocolate Peanut & Raisin Clusters – a grown up kind of Easter treat!) and Rosenkrans Pharmacy and Gift Shop (where I couldn’t resist buying 2 bags of Easter M&Ms on sale for $1.99 each!) Finally we were more than ready for a sit down, early dinner at Avanti’s! (They don’t open until 3:30 on Saturdays, 4:00 on weekdays.) The boys split some spicy Buffalo wings and a Cheese Steak Hoagie Pizza. I ordered a delicious salad with apples, walnuts and crumbled Bleu cheese (my dad would be impressed with my love of that stinky cheese), and mom enjoyed an amazing-looking burger and fries. (I shared a few of her fries and a Buffalo wing, so don’t think I was too ultra healthy. :))
Sunday morning we enjoyed a celebratory worship service together at AFMC and rounded our time out with another filling meal. I opted to stray from the traditional ham or turkey dinner and made a pot roast with carrots, mashed sweet potatoes, biscuits, green beans, and that delectable sour cream pound cake with ice cream and strawberries for dessert. Yes, we were full! 
As we waved goodbye to our dear family, we opened the windows for a bit of fresh, 60 degree air and settled in to enjoy a true Sabbath Sunday together

Sister Shoot | Sammie & Allie

One of my hopes for the time I had in Florida watching my cousins (for some reason, I keep wanting to call them my nieces), was a photo shoot. I love any opportunity to practice my photography skills and I think it’s fun to work with low-key family shoots like this one would be. While I know I don’t possess the photography knowledge of a professional, I believe I have a special gift of working with my subjects, bringing out their personalities and having true fun together (no staunch, stuffy photo ops with me.) 
On our last morning together, though the skies were cloudy and rain was imminent, we dolled up the girls; I did their hair, they did their makeup (a new interest for Sammie and a bit of an obsession for Miss Allie ;)), and we accessorized. I loved how they opted to wear matching boots. So cute. 
The backyard offered plenty of great photo backgrounds, so off we went! I have to say, this was one of the most successful shoots I’ve done –the largest number of good looking photos straight out of the camera! I had good subjects (and a new lens!) 

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These two have a special friendship, sisterhood. 

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On the boat dock. Love those lily pads. 

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Sammie really came into her own during this shoot.
I loved watching her blossom.

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And a few shots of my girls and me.
The oldest cousin of twelve with the youngest two.
I am 27, they’re 12. 

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I love these girls and I am thankful for the relationships we developed during our time together. I look forward to being an influential part of their lives as they grow into godly women.

km photography | Josh & Amanda’s Wedding

Back in December we had the awesome opportunity to photograph Josh & Amanda’s wedding. This lovely couple became friends of ours during our time in Monroe, Michigan as we shared lives in a small group, lead the youth ministry together, and went on a few double dates. In November 2011, we made the trip from our newly settled New York home to Monroe to shoot their engagement photos. A few months later we were honored to be asked to be their wedding photographers.
December 21st, 2012 (12-21-12) was a freezing cold day with gusty winds and a temperature that made outdoor photos questionable. Both Amanda and I were pushing for outdoors (I shoot much better in natural light), so we gave it a go. My toes ended up slightly numb (she traded shoes with me at the end! The girls were wearing Ugg boots for these pictures.), and I’m pretty sure the girls were frozen despite their adorable black shrugs, but it was a success. 
I loved being behind the scenes with the bridesmaids as they got dolled up for the big event. It was such a great way to help out as I could and get to know each girl better. Knowing your photo subjects makes photography that much easier (and way more fun!) 
Kevin and I both had a blast at this all-day event. It was great spending all that time with Josh & Amanda  on this momentous occasion and I hope they feel the same. Thanks, guys, for this opportunity and for your business! 
Here are few favorites from that special day together.

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On Capitol Hill

Kevin and I have had lots of great trips with family or visiting family and friends. We’ve gotten many weekend trips, particularly camping excursions, just the two of us. We have been so blessed to have the past 4 and a half years of marriage to focus on each other. But we had been hoping for a week away, just us, to a “foreign” location, to relax, unwind, enjoy each other’s company, and do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. A bona fide vacation.

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the Jefferson Memorial sited from the banks of the Tidal Basin 
Way back in April or May, I began planning our vacation. I looked into various spots, modes of transportation, places to stay, what to eat, how much it would cost. I love planning trips like this. It’s like a window-shopping addiction. (I’m pretty sure I got that from my dad.) After much hemming and hawing, we finally decided to visit Washington, D.C.! We’ve been saying for years how we wanted to visit the Capitol together, so no matter how nerdy it makes it, we booked the trip! 
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The Lincoln Memorial –
a moving experience
Thanks to Hotwire.com, we got a fantastic, fancy-pants hotelthe Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill–for way way way cheaper than normal, and get this–we ended up FLYING via U.S. Airways instead of making the 7 hour drive. It was less expensive to buy 2 airline tickets and take public transportation to the hotel than it would be to pay FORTY FIVE DOLLARS A DAY to park our muffler-needing, partially rusted ’98 Honda Civic in the valet parking garage. *yeeesh* 
And so, from Sunday, November 18th to Friday, November 23rd, Kevin and I spent our time with the Capitol building in our peripheral vision. Our evenings were taken up with relaxing in our luxurious hotel drinking Safeway-brand diet cola and eating too many tomato-basil Lays chips while watching Friends re-runs on TBS and getting in more than my fair share of the one television network I miss most–The Food Network. Every morning we awoke around 7 or 7:30, with no alarms set, rolled out of bed feeling rested and ready to conquer the city. We walked around the National Mall through the various entities of the Smithsonian Museums and strolling wherever we felt like it–exploring our way off the beaten path. The weather was absolutely perfect in my opinion–50s, sunny, crisp, but warm enough for just a sweater. I love November. (and not just because it’s my birthday). 
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I loved this view of the Washington Monument

We ate delicious food. The birthday lunch at Moe’s Southwest Grill at L’Enfant Station was amazingly filling and super cheap (but also I had a stomach ache all night afterwards. That may have been because of the run I took in the afternoon. Ooops.) The West Wing Cafe was kitty-corner from our hotel and fed us fantastic sandwiches–and I am a sandwich critic. :) Pete’s Diner was this little hole-in-the-wall place right next to the Capitol building and MAN could they cook a good sweet potato pancake! We indulged a bit in a Crumb’s peanut butter chocolate cupcake on my birthday (but wasn’t super impressed, honestly) and made a few coffee-and-danish stops at Starbucks, Au Bon Pain and Dunkin Donuts. I am so glad we checked out Armand’s Chicago Style Pizza. SO GOOD. And what’s Thanksgiving dinner without some solid Chinese food from the Union Station food court?? ;) 
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A beautiful day to visit the Lincoln Memorial 
We walked a lot, we ate a lot, I ran on the treadmill in the fancy-pants fitness center and along the National Mall. We made friends with our floor’s housekeeping ladies and they kept up stocked on Tazo black tea & fresh towels. We went to see the new OO7 movie–Skyfall–at the Regal Cinema in the Gallery Place metro stop on Thanksgiving day and even ordered a gigantic coke & popcorn to share (with refills! so there *is* such a thing as too much popcorn. I didn’t believe it.) I brought 3 books and read exactly 11 pages. I finished crocheting 1 scarf and probably could have crocheted 3 more. But I was even too lazy relaxed to do that. It’s not often I can watch tv and not feel guilty about not being busy with something else. :) Kevin read a huge book–one of the Bourne novels–and honed his Pokemon skills via the Kindle Fire. We talked, laughed, people-watched, avoided pigeons at all costs *cough* I am scared of birds *cough*, and tried our best to not stick out like the sore thumbs of tourists that we were. I was a minimalist packer for the first time in my life and we never felt stressed or rushed or pressured–even at the airports and the metro stations! 
I call this vacation a WIN. and from what I hear, my husband totally loved it as well–which makes me super happy.
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We strolled through the lovely Constitution Gardens Park
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Washington Monument
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And of course, the Capitol Building, just 1/2 mile from our hotel

Two Fall Photo Shoots

What have I been doing lately? Spending time with some great families, experimenting with aperture and shutter speed, and eagerly sharing some of the best results on Facebook. A Senior Photo session and a Family Session in the same week! Lots of fun! (I’m going to need a bigger memory card!)
Laurel is one of our 12th graders in youth group and it was so much fun spending the afternoon gallivanting across the blustery fall countryside with her and her mom and sister.
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love long deserted country roads. 

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Her prized pup, Casey, got in on the action
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we couldn’t pass up these impressive petunias!
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And then there was the T. Family, friends from church. We’ve been wanting to get together to photograph their 3 beautiful children since last fall, so making last minute photo shoot plans for Sunday was impressive. The kids kept me laughing, and quickly become optimal models for our time together. “Oooh, do one of me over here!” :)
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how lovely is that fall lane? 

The One with the 9 Hour Trip to Family Camp

I am so thankful that in the midst of a wonderfully hectic summer (can I get an “amen”?!), Kevin and I had the opportunity to head to Somerset Beach Campground. This camp has been our home-away-from-home for many years now (8 for me, 25+ for Kevin!). You know those places in your life that act as part of your foundation? where you can step back inside and know you belong? where memories are abundant and new joys are just waiting to be experienced? I love those spots! And SBC is definitely on that list in our lives. 
Our purpose for visiting was threefold. 
A) It was SMCFMC (long, but accurate acronym) Family Camp. We can’t miss family camp!
B) Kevin was leading one of the youth “afterglows”–a fun event for all of the teens. 
C) Many of our family and friends would be there. And who doesn’t need to reconnect now and again? (Facebook just doesn’t cut it. thankfully.)
After a 7 (turned 9) hour drive from NY to MI in 90 (million) degree heat in our efficient (yet un-air conditioned Honda Civic, Kevin and I arrived at site 79–his parents’ camp site year after year. We set up our tent with just moments to spare before darkness fell, took much-needed showers, and hit the sack. For the next three days, we enjoyed all of the time we had to catch up with Mom & Dad. (Can I just say how cool it is that the parent-child relationship grows into something so beautifully mutual as we grow older? I really love it. And yes, parents-of-teens, there’s hope. :D) It’s tough being 7 hours away from them now, after having years where we lived just an hour’s drive away and saw them frequently. We had a lot of talking to do. :)

Both sets of Kevin’s grandparents were at camp as well and they spoiled us with love (and a lunch out at Freddie’s Freeze) just as they always do. My bro-in-law, Brian, is officially grown up–he has his own staff trailer on the grounds and is working full time before heading to SAU’s campus in the fall. We didn’t get to see him as much as usual, but that’s what growing up and moving out and having a girlfriend do to you. :)

One of the mornings, we drove into Jackson where Kevin was going to do some work over a Venti Coffee at Starbucks and I was meeting up with these wonderful girls from college.

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With Karina in Chicago, Britt in Colorado, me in New York, and the others spread throughout Michigan we don’t get together nearly as much as we’d like. But it was a wonderful gift that everyone was willing to rearrange schedules and drive many hours to get together for just a morning. We enjoyed brunch at Panera and then visited for a while longer back at Angie’s house. 
One other bonus of being at Family Camp was visiting with some of the teens we’d said goodbye to last August. It was fun hanging out and catching up on their lives. It’s astounding to me to see how quickly teenagers grow up and change after just a year. Wow. Plus, we were honored to be asked by Brooke & Alisha to take their senior portraits around the campgrounds. Here are two from the collection: 
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Our time at SBC was over far too quickly! But we’re thankful for the time we had to reconnect with dear friends, like Sara and Debbie (not to mention meeting their beautiful baby girls), seeing the same familiar faces that grace the grounds during family camp each year, and just enjoying a change in pace for a few days.  

The One with the Sound of Music

After 3 months of practicing, 30 hours of dress rehearsals, and 13 live-show hours The Sound of Music production weekend is over. And honestly, I’m kinda sad to see it go. The show was phenomenal! You would not believe the quality of student actors and musicians–tremendous!
Being in the pit meant a front row seat to the action, the sounds, the expressions, the hilarity, the night-by-night variations in dialogue that kept us on our toes. Each night was just a *little* bit different from the others as the cast members came into their roles and felt the energy from the audience.
My husband sat in the balcony and took some fantastic pictures of the action. The costumes, the set, and the action are all beautiful. Enjoy!
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The Nuns Choir sounded beautiful and looked authentic
(and check out those mountains and the pit down below.)

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The “kids” were adorable as they met Maria and sang “Do Re Mi”

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Liesl VonTrapp (one of my students/teens, Lydia) & Rolph
in their secret gazebo dance to “I am 16, Going on 17”

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The Von Trapp Kids warmly welcome Maria’s return

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Caught in the action: Maria & Captain Von Trapp dance the Landler at the Gala 

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The children perform “So Long, Farewell” for the Gala Guests

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“Goodbye…Goodbye….GOODBYE!”
The Children say goodnight at the top of the steps (awesome set, huh?)

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The Family Von Trapp Performing at the National Festival
on the same night the Captain is commissioned by the Nazi forces

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And a quick shot of the keyboardist (Look at that posture, will ya!? LOL)

There were moments in some musical numbers that I wanted to shout “NAILED IT!” You know those parts that you practice over and over AND OVER again and you still struggle to get right? Well all three shows in a row, I played those parts perfectly. I was thrilled! Hours of practicing pays off (You hear that, students?! :D)
I have seen and heard great responses about the show and I’m so pleased to have been a part of it. One gentleman posted on the orchestra director’s Facebook and said, “I have to say, Mike…. I’ve been to every High School musical since 1997 (not kidding), and that was the best pit orchestra I’ve heard. Great work from everyone.” Wow! So cool, right?

And today I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. I’ve erased all of the pencil marks in my 140 pages of music and will return the book tomorrow. The show has come and gone, and I have accomplished something I honestly doubted possible back in January. Thank you, Jesus, for the opportunity to participate in the community like this, to use my gifts for your glory, to minister in whatever ways you allowed. 

The One with the Wolf Lodge

I am one lucky girl. This weekend I am spending time with Sheryl & the kids on their family vacation. With all of the trials facing their family, Randy needed to stay home and take care of business. That left Sheryl to take the kids on a long drive to an indoor water park/hotel to meet up with her sister and brother and their families. And guess what?! She invited me along! How great is that.

I was completely honored to be asked to join in on the family adventures and have been having a great time. I love having the kids run up and ask me to play with them or go with them on water slides. And it’s been great talking with the “grown ups”–it feels like I’ve known everyone for quite some time. I feel like I fit in (I hope I do. :D)

Here are some fun shots from the last 24 hours at Great Wolf Lodge.
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Ashlyn in action. :)
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hung out with these lovely girls this morning. 
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girl time! this brought back many good memories. 
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cute kids
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gingerbread house building (Aunt Sue is super fun!) 

The One with My Thursday A.M.

Inspired by my photo-sharing post from yesterday, I thought I would publish a few more pictures from my handy-dandy iPod. 
Every Thursday morning, I head over to the church to help out with childcare during the weekly Morning Moms Bible study. It is a blessing to have flexibility in my schedule and to be in the stage of life where I can serve in this way. I love spending time with the littles
This Thursday, after entertaining ourselves with some bouncy balls, transforming our hands into pterodactyl talons or lion claws, and singing “My God is so BIG!,” we had ourselves a little photography fun. How cute are they?! 
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The One with {Memorable} 2011

I know we’re well past the craze of New Year’s posts and lists about best blah-blah-blahs of two thousand eleven, but I’m still mediating on these unforgettable moments of the former 12 months. I’m giving myself permission. I hope you don’t mind. ;) 
And now, in no particular order (no seriously, these are not in any sort of order. I know you can’t believe it, but it’s true)
Top Ten Memorable {serious, sad, and silly}Experiences of 2011


1} Taking 15 teenagers camping for 8 days to our home-away-from-home Family Camp
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2) Celebrating the births of so many of my good friends’ babies and getting to be together with my college girls at one of the showers.
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3} Finally jumping on the Harry Potter bandwagon and loving every minute of it. (darn it, Kevin was right again. :D)
4} Moving from our sprawling Michigan parsonage to our quaint, slightly-dilapidated, but perfectly-sized-for-us house in this quintessential small town in New York.
5}Watching my husband excel in his first semester of his MDiv program in seminary. (Who would have thought we’d be here?)
6}Building a deep, true friendship with the most amazing woman. Endlessly thankful for Sheryl.
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7} Finally passing my 6-mile-barrier in my running career (thanks to Sheryl, actually). I ran 7 miles with her and then 8 on my own the following week. Oh, and running my first official race.
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8}Expanding my photography skills with official photo gigs–at Elise’s wedding, with Josh & Amanda’s engagement shoot, as well as a family session in December.
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9}Opening a successful (ever growing) piano studio in our new town and actually having a studio.
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10} Adding more than 160 recipes to my now-three-year-old recipe blog: Adorkable Recipes. And getting featured on Tasty Kitchen
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Did you have any special moments in 2011? I’m sure you did. I’d love to hear about them!
linking up with Oh! Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.