## Hashtag BLESSED (and also hashtag sorrynotsorry for that obnoxious hashtag) ##

Greetings from the Mitten State! I do apologize for not putting up my "out of office" so to speak, and leaving my blog to collect dust for a couple of weeks (as if that hasn't happened before!) I'm nearing the end of an 18 day Michigan trip, bouncing around along the I-94 corridor. I haven't been "home" to MI for a stretch this lengthy since I moved away to Chicago 9 years ago, and it has been such a pleasure to have more than a second to spend with my MI friends and family - and it still doesn't feel like enough time!

Brian joined me for the first half of the trip. We drove to MI together, with a quick overnight stop in the CHI to pick up our friend Matt. I dropped the fellas off in New Buffalo, a cute little beach town just inside the MI border, where they met with 8 of Matt's friends in a rented "beach bungalow" for Matt's bachelor weekend, complete with plenty of steaks, golf, boating, gambling and beach time. During their dude bro weekend, I spent some time near South Haven to camp with my sister and brother-in-law in their beast of a camper, and to celebrate my sister's birthday at their campsite, along with a gaggle of family members. I'm rather impressed with myself to say that, during my time camping with them, I successfully managed to slow down time enough to enjoy a beach side sunset, and a sunrise run the next morning before heading south down the lake to pick up B.

I picked B up on Sunday, and we spent a better part of the week at my Mom and Step-dad's in Portage. B had to work during the day, but joined in the festivities in the evening. My mom and I made him carrot cake cupcakes for a belated birthday celebration that night (they were pretty delicious!!) The next evening, B and I trekked back out to S. Haven to have dinner with my sister, brother-in-law and dads. The next day, I was in S. Haven AGAIN, sans B this time since he was working, but with my mom and step-dad, to enjoy one last get together with sis and bro-law before they packed up their camper to make the long return to their home in TX. And for our final evening together on the Westside, I took B on his first trip to Bell's Brewery (home of OBERON), and we treated my two early twenty-something cousins and their gorgeous gals to brews and dinner.  Of course, we also had plenty of trips to Meijer throughout the week - one of my strange addictions every time I come home to MI!

The two of us headed to A2 on Thursday to celebrate my mom-in-law's 65th birthday with dinner at Pizza House. We also spent some time enjoying dinner with one of my BFF's and her husband, and the next morning, we also squeezed in a 5K that this same friend organized, before heading to the D to attend a #geekwedding of a neighborhood friend of B's from childhood. The wedding was plenty of fun, with a geek theme mashup of everything from Dr. Who to Star Wars to Video Game couples. Bonus, the in-laws were also invited to the wedding, so it was a great chance to continue to enjoy some extended family time.

After dropping B off at the airport on Sun, I had the pleasure of grabbing brunch with a friend from my childhood, who I haven't seen in ~17 (!!!) years. Serendipitous circumstances made our brunch possible -- neither of us lives in SE MI, but we both happen to be in the area at the same time, and it was such a treat to catch up.

Following brunch, I headed back to the Westside, to again stay at my Mom's for a quick stop-over. My mom, stepdad and I gabbed way into the night while enjoying a couple of beers. Although our late night beers (and the wild rainstorm that night!) made for a somewhat extra challenging 9 mile run the next morning, it was well worth it.

I'm currently at my Dad and step-dad's in Gun Plain, and I will be here until tomorrow evening before I head off to a girl's weekend near Holland, at a lovely home right on Lake MI. We've been enjoying plenty of QT here in the "country", including some time on Pine Lake Beach, a private little beach that is only for the use of those who live in my Dad's neighborhood, along with some kayaking and also some running around the lake. We've enjoyed a few nice meals, including dinner out with my aunt and cousin last night at a little Plainwell Brewery. And today, my dad and I went into Kzoo to volunteer at the Food Pantry, where I helped to bag groceries for those who came in for food. Tomorrow, we'll squeeze in a final kayak around the lake in the AM (and maybe I'll fit in a run), and a trip to the movies in the PM to check out the new Amy Schumer flick.

I cannot express how wonderful it has been to spend time with so many different loved ones over the past few weeks. Clearly, one of the voids I've been feeling has been related to the absence of family, and my heart is now so full.  #BLESSED, y'all! I cringe cringe CRINGE when I see people type that trite little ##, but EFF it, right now I can think of nothing more fitting. Life is damn good!