Where I Come From

The past week and a half has completely flown by--I honestly cannot believe that it's been almost two weeks since I went home for a weekend to Virginia. Maybe it's because of the cold I had most of last week, but I can't really remember much in the few days after we got back. Now, I'm in the middle of working on a proposal for a project that's based back in Virginia, and at the same time, we're planning another visit home for Halloween. It all just makes each day go by even faster, to the point where I can't believe that we're almost three weeks into October. So, while I take a break from over-using the research portion of my brain, here's a story board of Brad's birthday weekend and everything that came along with it.

Thursday, October 6th

We left around dinner time. With nine hours of road ahead of us, convenience stores and streaming radio from Brad's phone became our best friends. I was expecting to fall asleep by 9:00, but I guess the Starbucks energy drink did its job. Plus, it was a surprisingly okay drive--other than the random driver in Ohio, who honked his or her car horn at me for driving too slowly right before an exit (couldn't they see the Michigan plate? I was lost, okay?). I was also a little unnerved by all the random, huge deer hanging out by the side of the road around midnight. Regardless, we made it in okay and finally got to sleep shortly after 4 a.m.

Friday, October 7th

Brad's birthday! Brad and I are now the same age, at least until my birthday next weekend (there's always that nice couple of weeks each year when I don't feel like an old lady). After waking our exhausted selves up and talking to my parents for a bit, Brad and I headed to Blacksburg, where he dropped me off at my old workplace while he went to hang out at Virginia Tech (his old stomping grounds).

With baked goods in hand, I walked into PSI, expecting at least a few people to be up front, awaiting my grand arrival. Even better--there was practically no one around. Of course. I dropped off the small plates of cake I had brought in the kitchen (only to find that there were two very large pans of very large cinnamon rolls already up for the taking), and started mulling around to find people to talk to.

Lucky me--some of my friends were having a prom dress-up day (I don't pretend to know why, but I wasn't surprised), and I got to be their photographer. It's things like this that make me miss my old job.

Me, taking pictures of the lovely (silly) ladies.
After photos, I went to an impromptu lunch with everyone, which made me remember all over again how much I missed them. Say what you want, but I really do believe that we all have different phases of our lives for certain reasons--and the reason I ended up working at this job was to meet so many great people.

After Brad picked me up from lunch, the two of us drove to his--sorry, his mom's--house (so weird saying that), where his side of the family was waiting with a festively-decorated house.

Yes, that's a stuffed squirrel on the left. Yes, it's real.
View off the back porch
After some greetings and basic family-style reuniting, we took a ride over to the construction site where Jessi's (Brad's sister) new house is being built! To make it even more exciting, Jessi's new husband, Jared, is the one building the house. Now, that's a pretty good wedding present.

The perfect place for a log cabin

That's Maggie. She ran up to join us.
Hilltop view from the house

We milled around the property for a few minutes, then it was back to the (finished) house for food, food, food. We definitely didn't go hungry.

And, of course, what would a birthday be without cake and presents?

An awesome cake for an awesome engineer


Brad and his granny, showing off his new hats

Queen kitty and pooped puppy, a.k.a., Fuzz and Maggie

Saturday, October 8th

On Saturday, Brad went to the Tech game while I hung out with my parents. Our day consisted of mall shopping (mostly for my mom, who put some birthday gift cards to use), sending my wedding band off to be repaired (don't even get me started), searching for deals at Walgreens (my dad likes sales), and stopping for  lunch at Red Robin. If you haven't tried it yet, I highly suggest getting their Oktoberfest burger (I got the chicken version). Definitely about as German as you can get at a burger restaurant. If you're a vegetarian, you're missing out.

Saturday evening was reserved for the Moose Lodge, where my parents are members. Every week, the lodge puts on a dance for members and their guests, and I went along to help my parents sell popcorn as a fundraiser for their upcoming haunted house.

My mom, head popcorn-popper for the evening

My dad, signing people in to the dance
The band
After the music started, I made the mistake of goofily dancing around the popcorn machine. Before I know it, a man in flannel and overalls came over and swept me onto the dance floor. The only evidence I have is a few blurry photos, but I believe that they're enough proof that those fun and interesting few minutes existed.

Sunday, October 9th

Continuing with the tradition of a busy weekend, Brad headed to see more family members on Sunday morning (just too many people to see in three days!) and I went with my parents to Sinkland Farms (a popular, local pumpkin patch). To me, fall just isn't complete without a visit to the farm.

Punkin Chunkin'!
This year was the biggest I've ever seen the festival--it just keeps growing and growing.
An outdoor event wouldn't be complete without a little clogging.

Tons of animals to make friends with, including Maude, the Belgian work horse. Hello, there.


I love and miss the mountains.


Since I'm poor, I didn't buy any pumpkins at the patch. Still, we had a good time with the hayride, eating brownies, and browsing craft booths. (P.S.: Don't tell anyone, but I might have gotten a couple pumpkins at Dollar General after we left. They were grown on a patch somewhere, right?)

Later that evening, I visited my family's church with my mom, where we helped organize a craft session for some of the kids at the church. It was fun and went by quickly, but I was definitely reminded of how exhausting kids can be.

After church, we went home to meet up with my dad and sister, Carolyn, who had just gotten home from a school-related trip to Georgia (At least, I think it was Georgia . . . she's always going places). Brad joined us soon after, and we all went out to celebrate his and my mom's birthdays. The venue? Cracker Barrel! Man, I missed Cracker Barrel.

*Waitress, taking picture*: "I can't really seen anything on the screen..."
Me: "You have to look in the little window"

And of course, we had to goof off in the gift shop after dinner. When an employee came over to talk to Carolyn, we thought we were going to get in trouble for taking pictures, but were just told that we could upload our photos to Cracker Barrel's website. I might just have to take them up on that offer.
This candle is so pretty!
We finished the night at home with Guitar Hero and stayed up as late as we could, despite how exhausted we were. Poor Carolyn, who had been on the road all day, fell asleep on top of her homework. That's normal, though.

Monday, October 10th

We had to head back to Michigan on Monday since, you know--Brad had to go back to work, or something silly like that. The goal was to get out by noon, but of course we were delayed. Luckily, I had the whole morning to get ready, and while it was difficult to leave, I knew we'd be back a few weeks later. Not to mention, Thanksgiving and the Christmas season are coming up, so there's sure to be lots of family time during the next few months.

Plus, we had a lovely, scenic trip home.

It's no wonder why I love this time of year.