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This Weekend in San Diego: August 29-September 1 {Labor Day Weekend}

Miscellaneous this weekend in san diego

I might’ve won $100, laid out poolside, and had a ton of fun in Vegas, but wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been sick all week. Maybe I had a little too much fun?

Either way, I’m still looking forward to Labor Day weekend here in San Diego. There are no guarantees I’ll get out and do much (as a result of me feeling so blah), but San Diego residents and visitors will not be disappointed (unless it has to do with traffic, because I can only imagine how bad it’s going to be all weekend long).

Here are three events that I think are worth checking out this weekend in San Diego:

Festival of Sail (event website)

Friday-Sunday, 9:00 am-7:00 pm
Monday, 9:00 am-5:00 pm

The largest tall ship festival on the west coast begins on Friday and lasts through Monday. This event, which is particularly good for families, will feature a petting zoo, arts and crafts, food, vendors, a beer garden and more. Tickets range from $5-7, and children under 3 get in free.

Padres vs Dodgers (Padres schedule)

Friday, 7:10 pm
Saturday, 5:40 pm
Sunday, 1:10 pm
Monday (vs Diamondbacks), 1:10 pm

petco park section 303

If I’m feeling up to it, this is definitely something I’ll be getting to this weekend. Not only are Padres games always a good time, but if it’s going to be against the Dodgers, it’s going to be an exciting and fun game. People from LA will definitely be coming down to watch (especially with the long weekend) and it’s sure to get a little crazy at Petco Park.

U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge (event website)

Friday, 9:00 am-7:00 pm
Saturday, 9:00 am-9:00 pm
Sunday and Monday, 9:00 am-7:00 pm

Live music, dancers, food, a beer garden, and…sandcastles! I have a friend who went to this last year and the photos looked amazing. “Master sculptors” (as they’re called on the website) from all over the world are coming to San Diego for a sandcastle competition. Apparently these people start building days before and have until Saturday afternoon to finish. This is another one that, if I’m feeling up to it, I’d love to attend.

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Long weekend or not, what are you doing this weekend? Any exciting plans?

I’m definitely planning on taking it easy and getting over whatever nonsense I have been dealing with for the past week. Possible movie + junk food night with some friends on Sunday. Maybe some beach time. But mostly just taking it easy. So exciting, I know.

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FlipBelt Review + Promo Code

product review running

One of my friends from the east coast is coming to visit in mid-November, during which, we will be running a race together. I think she mentioned she wanted to do the 10k, but I’m hoping to do another half marathon this year and I think this race will be the one.

In the past, I’ve used two other brands of running belts (one for half marathons, and one for the marathon, which holds more energy gels). Since I’ll be training again and my running belts are old and worn out, I was thrilled when I was given a chance to try out and review the FlipBelt, as part of my being a Sweat Pink Ambassador.

I hurried on over to the website, and picked out the hot pink FlipBelt, which arrived in my mailbox two days later.

That weekend, I decided to head out with my new FlipBelt and go for a short run and see how it felt.

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{Running Skirt: Adidas, $40, purchased at Marshall’s for $20!; Top: Forever 21, $10.80; FlipBelt}

Loved the key ring…

flipbelt key ring

And then it was easy to tuck my keys inside….

wearing flipbelt

And flip the belt over…

flipbelt flipped

Once I left for my run, I found that the items in the belt (my keys and cell phone) stayed in place, didn’t bounce or slide around, and I think this may be a perfect running belt for my race in November.

While I was running, I began thinking of other times I could use this product, and I can definitely see myself using it while paddle boarding (just to hold onto my keys), hiking, and even just to hold my stuff when I go to the dog park or dog beach.

And now it’s your turn:

Interested in getting your own FlipBelt? Fit Approach and FlipBelt are teaming up to give readers 10% off an entire online purchase at the FlipBelt online store with the discount code: sweat33

Share the code on Twitter:

Tweet: Run, play, explore with #FlipBelt! Use the code sweat33 for 10% OFF your entire purchase! http://ctt.ec/fW6Kc+ @flipbelt @fitapproach

Disclosure: I received this product for free as part of being a Sweat Pink Ambassador, in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own.

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This Weekend in Photos: August 22-24 – Vegas!

attractions photos travels

What a weekend. I’ll keep it short, with a lot of photos…but basically we left for Vegas on Friday morning, drove all afternoon and met up with a group of 10 other people for a weekend away. We all stayed at the Wynn / Encore, which was definitely a pretty big step up from Excalibur, the only other hotel I’ve stayed at in Vegas. We’ve already talked about meeting up again in November for one of our friend’s birthdays, and mine as well, so that should tell you how awesome this weekend was.

Friday

Aside from the traffic, the drive out was beautiful…

drive out to vegas

And we stumbled upon this sign, which actually seems like a pretty cool place to pull off next time (the history of which also made me think of Oregon Trail)…

We arrived at our hotel and got up to our room…

wynn casino interior wynn hotel room

It’s definitely the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. And the view wasn’t so bad either…

view from wynn room

We met up with our friends at the pool, before we all headed back to our rooms to get ready for dinner and a night out.

fri night outfit

(This whole outfit was under $40! #wynning [do you see what I did there?])

I didn’t get a picture of where we went for dinner but just so you know, we went to La Cave in Encore. To say it was delicious would be an understatement; it was undoubtedly some of the best food I’ve ever had. Six of us split a bunch of different plates, but the stand-outs were the beef carpaccio, the beef filet crostini, the sea scallops, and the sirloin. 10/10, would recommend and if we are back at the Wynn in November, I would love to go again.

We got cabs to Paris

paris hotel

 And bottle service at Chateau

chateau bar

chateau bar drinks

Where we had views of the Bellagio (and its fountains)…

view from chateau

And honestly? I was a little overwhelmed by the cost of doing bottle service but at the end of the night, I have to say it was completely worth it. We had so. much. fun. Our group was full of such fun people and we were all dancing and hanging out and it was the best.

A few of us headed back to the hotel around 3 and once Adam and I got back to our room, we immediately fell asleep.

Sunday

To put in perspective the kind of night we had before: Adam slept until 1:30 pm. I was up by 10, and spent the whole morning laying in bed watching Catfish on MTV. Once Adam got up, we headed down to gamble for a bit…

roulette at encore

Adam walked away from roulette $325 richer, and me $60 richer. I’d say it was a win. Then we met up with everyone else at the pool, many of whom were struggling just as much as Adam.

view from encore pool

Didn’t take any shots of the pool, as I thought that would be creepy, but here’s one view from the pool we hung out at at Encore. They have several pools, and we spent several hours relaxing poolside. We eventually all went back to our rooms to shower and get ready for dinner.

bartolotta at the wynn

Again, didn’t want to be that person, so here’s a quick shot from when we were all done eating. We ended up eating dinner at Bartolotta. This place was good, but in contrast to the night before, I didn’t really feel it was worth the cost of the food. The night before we got way more food, that I enjoyed a lot more. If you’re into seafood (and willing to pay a pretty penny), this place is probably right up your alley. But for me, as much as I liked the food, again, I didn’t think it was worth the price. I’d go again, but wouldn’t want to pay the prices.

After dinner all 12 of us squeezed into an Escalade (not sure how this happened, but it did) and we got a ride to the Stratosphere to view Vegas from the observation deck, and so some people could go on the rides up there. Since we had more the 10 people, we were able to get a group rate for $10 per person, as opposed to the regular $20 admission.

view from stratosphere

The views of Vegas from up there were absolutely stunning. It was really quite beautiful.

Most people stayed up there, got some drinks and went on some of the rides, but a few of us headed back down to the casino. I figured I had made $60 so I might as well keep going with only that amount. If I lost it, I’d break even, but it was worth a shot.

I somehow won another $40 at the roulette table, and decided it was time to stop since I had gotten to my goal of $100.

100 chip at the stratosphere

We got back to our hotel around 2, and set our alarms for 8 so we could get up and drive back to San Diego.

Sunday

No pictures from the drive, since I drove the whole way, but leaving early was totally worth it. By 3:00, we had picked up Maeby from Camp Run-A-Mutt (aka the best dog daycare in San Diego), bought all our produce for the week, gotten Chipotle, and unpacked.

I’d say the weekend was a success.

Have you ever been to Las Vegas? Did you do anything fun this weekend? What’s your favorite casino game? And why do people play Craps (your money goes so fast and it seems like your odds are pretty awful)?

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Guest Post: Coping with Long-term Hospital Stays

guest posts

First off, big shout out to my good friend (from real life! I have real friends!) Jerseysjov. And to also start with, she will be doing a walk for the American Heart Association (an organization she is closely tied to, as you’ll see below, she recently had a heart transplant and donated her old heart to research). You can learn more about the walk, find a walk near you, and make a donation on the AHA Heart Walk website. San Diego people – the SD walk is on September 13 at Balboa Park!

Here’s a throwback from sophomore year of college (her blog is anonymous, so any pics of her face will have a little black box over her eyes):

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She’s one of those people who I haven’t seen in a few years but I know that if we met up, it would be like things never changed. Not only is she an incredible person with an awesome sense of humor, and she’s also the ultimate package (smart and hot), but she’s seen some shit. Like, legit, been through some crazy stuff.

In her own words:

Last year I got sick. Really sick. Really suddenly really sick. House style sick. I spent four days throwing up everything I ate or drank, then went to the local ER after fainting at home due to what I thought was just crazy dehydration. I passed out in the waiting area at the ER (my boyfriend said it looked like I was having a seizure, but when I came to I had no post-seizure-like symptoms), and they zipped me back to see what was going on. The last thing I remember is telling my boyfriend how scared I was, and looking up at the several IV fluid bags they hung as soon as I came back. I woke up almost two full weeks later in a specialized ICU in the city hospital attached to life support systems.

Turns out the tummy bug I had got a little cocky and decided to take a walk to my heart. The virus attacked my heart and my own immune system in turn attacked both the virus and the infected tissue. This caused my heart to swell so much in my chest that it could no longer pump blood to my brain. This is called viral myocarditis; any viral infection can take this route, but it’s very rare: the hospital where they sent me is one of the top cardiac centers in the country and they see fewer than a dozen cases per year. Typically, patients who experience viral myocarditis get very sick very quickly and recover just as fast.

After a few weeks of waiting for my heart to “wake up,” my doctors and I realized this wasn’t going to happen for me, and I was put on the heart transplant wait list. And there I sat, tethered by four 4-foot tubes of my own blood to machines that were serving as my circulatory system until 6 am on November 14, 2013, when I went down to the OR and got a stranger’s heart stuffed in me.

The time I spent trapped in the hospital, July 31 – December 2, taught me more about myself and my family than I’d learned in the previous 25 years. It galvanized my no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners attitude. I leaned heavily on my sense of humor, and tried to find a way to make myself and my nurses laugh every day, even if–especially if–that laughter came after an hour or more of despair. I found out who cared enough about me to send me Facebook messages, text, call, Skype, or visit. I found out who couldn’t be relied on to do any of those things. I felt alone. I felt loved. I experienced more anger, confusion, excitement, depression, relief, fear, and hope than I thought possible.

The hardest thing to accept was that nearly dying saved my life: during a biopsy of my “native heart,” which I had signed off to let them have for research on myocarditis, they discovered I had a previously undetected genetic disorder called ARVD. This disorder causes the walls of the right side of the heart to thicken and eventually shut down, causing in many cases sudden death. This was why I didn’t “bounce back” the way a healthy young person should have from the myocarditis, but at the end of the day I’d rather have a transplanted heart that guarantees I’ll wake up tomorrow than the one I grew up with that might have killed me all the way out of nowhere one day.

I’m still at home, I suppose you could say I’m “in recovery” even though I would have gone back to work had I not lost my job when I got sick and then felt too overwhelmed and anxious to get back on the horse. I spend my time puttering around the house, reorganizing the pantry and talking to my brother on gchat. I honestly don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the longest, most difficult 4 months of my life; I’m working hard to make sure my life isn’t all about my heart transplant, but if you’re curious I’ll sure as hell talk your ear off! My hospital social worker has put me in touch with a few other transplant wait-listers who requested to speak to a past recipient, and I’m more than happy to share my story with them and my friends.

That’s how this post came to be. My social worker asked me to give her some anecdotal data for a presentation she is giving about coping with long-term hospital stays. In our lifetimes, we’re all going to be involved with someone who has to be in the hospital for a not-fun reason. It’s a stressful situation for anyone, and I’d like to share some tips on how to alleviate that stress and otherwise bring a little sunshine to a pretty dismal situation.

The absolute number one thing you can do is keep in touch.

The days in a hospital are very long and often filled with unpleasant or invasive tests. Having a social outlet kept me feeling like a human and not just a failing heart. If you set up a Skype date or a visit, do your absolute best to keep it, since that phone call/video chat/hangout might just be the highlight of a patient’s week. I told so many people that they could come visit me any time, and the vast majority didn’t take me up on it. I don’t have hard feelings, since I know hospitals aren’t the most fun places to chill, but I do have an extra special nook in my new heart for those people who took time out of their day to come see how I was doing.

Remember that your loved one is and will always be more than their illness/injury.

Bring them little activity-presents they’d like: I went through crossword puzzles like tissues, and spent a long time picking at a cross stich pattern that I’m still not finished with. If allowed, bring in a special snack to share. You don’t even have to spend any money: send them links to articles they’d enjoy reading, text them a dumb selfie to make them laugh, bring in a blanket or small piece of art from their house to make their room more like home. And don’t underestimate the power of a little nail polish!

Tell jokes, discuss the news, talk about books- basically chat about anything that isn’t the hospital stay.

I was so desperate to mentally escape my situation that I even accepted an offer to be visited by two football players doing some kind of outreach/goodwill thing despite never having watched an entire professional football game in my life. There were days when I was ok with explaining my wacky machines and what the plan was for the future, and there were days when I couldn’t bear the thought of having to tell someone yet again that there was no way to predict when I’d be home. I preferred hearing about what my friends and family were doing with their own lives, rather than have to rehash my shitty life yet again. I still distinctly remember the first conversation I had with a friend where my heart wasn’t mentioned at all and how great it felt to be able to help someone instead of feeling like the problem.

However, you also need to recognize that your friend is probably experiencing the worst day/week/month of their life, and if they want to feel bad, let them feel bad.

On the days when I was upset, in a particularly bad amount of pain, or just not fucking feeling it, I would be bombarded by motivational speeches by everyone who walked through the door. My particular situation sucked, but it wasn’t that dire; I knew that I wasn’t going to be there forever, but some days it felt like I sure was! My hospital stay was longer than some jobs I’ve had, so comparatively it was one of the most seemingly-endless experiences of my life. Being told “one day this will be a bad memory” didn’t help. “This will all be over before you know it” is equally unhelpful. Instead, reminders of where I came from would sometimes boost me out of a funk–“3 weeks ago you couldn’t walk two laps and now you do that twice a day,” “the swelling has gone way down; you’re looking more like yourself every day.” Realism beats out platitude any day of the week, but if it’s looking grim and there really is nothing good to say, don’t talk about it.

Take care of yourself!

This means eating well, getting sleep, and drinking plenty of water. This could help you prevent illness and injury, and it means that your hospitalized loved one will have someone they can count on. My family ran themselves ragged the first month I was in, and I spent a few lonely weeks while they were home recovering from colds, flus, and conjunctivitis as I was in isolation and couldn’t be exposed to those germs. Actually, my dad came in with his double pinkeye, but he was under the impression that his germs wouldn’t rub off on me…which brings me to a related point: take care of yourself mentally! I can’t thank my social worker enough for her work with me, and my immediate family all went to professional counselling with the exception of my father. Can you guess who’s still holding on to the grief and stress? It bothered me to see my loved ones looking so terrible, and when they perked up, I did too.

I hope you never have to use my advice, but odds are you’ll get the cosmic short straw one day or another and I hope when you do you’re able to prevail. Take it all in, but at the end of the day you should let your loved one run the show. Come into their circle with love and warmth rather than trepidation and anxiety and see where that takes you. If they want to cry, cry with them. If they want to laugh, laugh with them. If they’re screaming their face off in the middle of a steroid-fueled freak-out, validate that what they’re feeling is real and that it’s okay (but I would recommend staying out of arm’s reach).

I’ll never have my old life back, but this new one is shaping up to be pretty sweet.

 

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Thank you again, Jerseysjov for taking the time to share your story. Check out her blog or follow her on Twitter to fully appreciate her ridiculous (translation: amazing) sense of humor and how sarcastic she is (basically we’re soulmates).

Did she miss anything? How have you dealt with friends/family that have been in the hospital long-term? If you’ve experienced something similar, what did you find helpful?

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This Weekend in Photos: August 9-12

beaches dog things orange county photos

With four days in a row, my weekend was a little longer than usual, and there was good reason for that: my mom was in town!

She flew into Los Angeles on Thursday morning, spent Thursday and Friday with my brother (who lives up there), and then on Saturday we met up for the Anaheim Angels vs the Boston Red Sox in Anaheim.

Saturday

angels vs red sox anaheim

The game lasted a ridiculous 19 innings (and boo…the Sox lost), but we stayed 16 innings and headed back to San Diego (with my mom) around 11 pm. We also snuck down to about 3 rows behind the Angels’ dugout in inning 10. It’s the closest I’ve ever been and unfortunately, my phone was dead, but we were so close and it was so exciting.

Sunday

Brunch at my favorite spot: Wonderland in Ocean Beach…

wonderland ocean beach pancakes

With HUGE pancakes and mimosas…

wonderland ocean beach mimosas

A walk down to Dog Beach to show my mom how amazing it is. She loved how happy all the dogs are, and I found some great seashells for her to take home.

dog beach shells

We spent the rest of our afternoon at the San Diego Zoo. More on that coming soon…

Monday

I took my mom to Mission Beach for an hour or so, and then we headed back to her hotel and then my house to get ready for the Padres game.

We met up with Adam in Gaslamp, where we grabbed dinner at Southpaw Social Club (which we will definitely return to and I’ll write a review on soon). A few beers, a selection of appetizers and an entree later, we were ready for the game.

petco park section 303

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petco park san diego palm trees

It was a really fun and exciting game, and the Padres won! I also ran into my friend who just moved here from the east coast, so that was pretty awesome too.

Tuesday

Took my mom back to Dog Beach (this time with Maeby)…

happy dog dog beach san diego

Stopped at Sunset Cliffs so she got one last ocean view, and then dropped her off at the airport.

Maeby was very sad, and so was I.

sad dog looking out car window

I’m excited to see her again in a couple of months when we go home for Thanksgiving.

 

How was your weekend?

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Katzra Sushi and Hinotez Japanese Restaurant – Kearny Mesa

restaurant review

A couple weeks ago, Adam and I were on a serious Asian cuisine binge. We only had sushi once when we were in Connecticut, and that was already almost a month ago! So naturally, that Thursday we stopped by our newest favorite sushi spot in San Diego: Katzra Sushi Bar on (where else?) Convoy.

And then Friday was a ramen kind of night. But we chose not to go with our go-to Tajima, and instead decided to branch out and try a new place. Can you believe it? Me neither. But when we ended up at Hinotez (right near Convoy but surprise! on Balboa), I was happy we did.

katzra sushi san diegoKatzra Sushi Bar

4233 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa
858-279-3430 ▴ Yelp

So let’s be real for a second: around the corner from Katzra is Sushi Deli, which is wildly popular in San Diego because it’s so inexpensive. And you know why it’s so cheap? Because it’s not that good. Listen to me people. I loved it the first time I went there, and then I ate sushi at other places (like Nozomi on Convoy, Fish Attack on Clairemont Drive, and Katzra on Convoy, where sushi rolls are only an extra $2-5 each), and then I went back to Sushi Deli and I was wicked disappointed.

Read the Yelp reviews for this place. It’s legit. The parking lot (just like every other parking lot on Convoy) is absolute crap so you should probably just plan on parking on the street. But honestly? It’s doesn’t matter. The sushi here is so, so good. The sushi chefs are friendly, and the server we had last week was the only server working and she was amazing. What should you get here? Umm..everything. Because we’ve seriously tried every single roll and they’re all really good. But as an FYI, they do have a sushi happy hour type deal where you can get some rolls for, I believe, as little as $3. And then for some reason they always have a “grand opening special” which is 20% off house rolls. So we went and got seaweed salad, a beer, a glass of wine and five (yes, FIVE) sushi rolls, and it was only $55. Yup.

Moving right along…

hinotez japanese restaurantHinotez Japanese Restaurant

7947 Balboa Avenue, Kearny Mesa
858-565-4244 ▴ Yelp

Alright, so back to what I was saying. Can you believe we didn’t go to our usual ramen spot, Tajima? It’s kind of ridiculous since we go there whenever we can. We decided to give this place a go.

Let’s preface this by saying this restaurant is in front of one of the dive-iest bars I’ve ever been to. One of Adam’s friends loves it and we went with him one time, expecting there to be a ton of young people and have it be super trendy (that’s the kind of person this guy is). But when we walked in, it was more middle-aged people just hanging out and there was karaoke. And some girl was singing Jennifer Hudson and she was amazing. And they served Magic Hat #9 (my favorite beer ever that I rarely find out here since it’s brewed in VT), so basically this place was a win for me.

Got a little off-track there. Whoops.

We couldn’t find this place initially when we GPS’d it but then we saw the sign for the Carriage House (that bar I just went off about) and knew we were in the right spot.

We walked in and it was fairly empty, so they were able to seat us right away. And then we saw that not only did they have ramen but they had a bunch of other really good stuff, including skewers. A whole page full of skewers. So we ordered a pork belly one and a beef one, and then two bowls of spicy tonkatsu ramen.

Let’s start off with that skewer. Probably the best I’ve ever had. The meat was tender and flavorful, and fell right off the wooden stick (learned from Jerseysjov below that the wooden stick is the actual skewer [which leads me to believe I'm an idiot]).

Now for the ramen. The verdict on this?

Amazing. Possibly better than Tajima. Which is saying a lot. I’ll probably still go to Tajima so I can have their scallop croquettes but Hinotez’s ramen was just so damn good.

hinotez japanese restaurant ramen

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And the winner…

Miscellaneous

…of the Sand Cloud giveaway is…

random number generator

JerseySjov:

giveaway winner

I will send you an email to the one you provided in the comment box, so please check your inbox!

Big thank you to Sand Cloud for giving me the opportunity to try this awesome product out, and for giving the lucky giveaway winner the chance to enjoy it as well!

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I’m back on Thursday with reviews of two great restaurants in Kearny Mesa…

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This Weekend in Photos: August 1-3

photos travels

As you might’ve seen on Friday, or if you follow me on Instagram, then you know I spent the weekend in Big Bear Lake, which is a mountain town about 2.5 hours northeast of San Diego.

The getaway was to celebrate one of our friends’ birthdays, and the cabin, which was supposed to fit 7 people, was instead full of a group of 15 of us on Friday night, and 11 of us on Saturday night. But with four bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a jacuzzi and big balcony, we had just enough room for a nice little weekend away from San Diego.

In the mountains, where it rained most of Saturday, I was reminded of New England and it made me miss it a lot. The rain was definitely welcome, since Southern California has been experiencing a significant drought, but it also made the weekend in the cabin a little more cozy.

Other highlights of the weekend? Spending time with great friends, making new friends, carne asada tacos, and some Magic Hat.

Maeby got to hang out with her best friend Lilo, and made a new friend, Swarley (obscure How I Met Your Mother reference).

new friends

And as for the rest of us?

I think this picture of Maeby on the way home summarizes how we all felt Sunday morning…

dog sleeping in car

Exhausted.

It was a good weekend away, and as always, it was so nice returning home to San Diego.

And now, the work week begins again…

Happy Monday!