Home Sweet Second Home: TC Michigan

Hey hey! Where to begin?!?! The last few weeks have been non-stop and filled with unforgettable times. I have mentioned this before, but I started this blog as sort of a journal to record special memories, adventures, and moments. These next few posts probably will contain details that seem extraneous, but are momentous to me- so as always feel free to skim where you see fit 🙂 I start graduate school in just a couple weeks so I am soaking up these precious moments of spending time with family and friends before 3.5 years of grinding through the books commences.

I think it is going to take me all of August to recap these adventures, but I am biting at the bit to share all the fun times and a crazy amount of good eats. I can’t wait to catch up on your lives as well!

So let’s begin with my first trip to Traverse City, Michigan to celebrate my Grandpa’s birthday!

Traverse City, Michigan is known as the Cherry Capitol of the World, but to me it is much more. It is the place growing up where I spent many weeks of the summer on the water, and many winters on the slopes. My grandparents live there (as do my Aunt and Uncle now too!). My mom’s side of the family all grew up there so it is home to a big chunk of the fam.

Unfortunately, DJ couldn’t go with work, but he was very missed. To prepare to return to my second home, I packed a ton of food for the airplane.  I packed boom chica pop, a sweet potato with a black bean chipotle burger and hummus, tomatoes, carrots, grapefruit, an apple, almonds, and a ton of protein bars. (I put the perishables in my lunch box that I once included in my Friday Faves). I hate spending an arm and a leg in airports, so this was perfect! I ended up spending $15 total for the trip all on liquids- a coffee, a vitamin water, and a regular water.

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I headed out on July 19th. After going through TSA, I found an outlet friendly seat and blogged a bit while sipping on my cafe au lait & munchin’ on my protein bar.

Everything went super smoothly (initially). I even did a free trial of CLEAR through TSA- which was effortless! If I traveled more often I would totally do it permanently. Highly recommend.

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You will get a kick out of this. I had been desperately trying to finish the fourth book of HP (as you probably know)….. welll, I literally did not have five extra seconds to finish the dang thing so I quickly screen shotted each page so I could finish it while traveling. The ending was a page turner! (below is the screen shotted frame of all my individual screen shots on my camera roll, lol). So, yes— I am officially done with The Goblet of Fire- ya proud?!

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Anyways, while sitting on the Tarmac for over 30 minutes, the pilot finally said in that pilot’s voice “Uhhhhhh folks, if you have a connection, uhhhhhhh, you may want to make other arrangements.  Uhhhhhh looks like we won’t be getting off the tarmac for a while. Uhhhhh”. He said we were free to get off the plane at that time. I figured I would just grab a hotel near O’Hare’s airport rather than rescheduling my whole trip. While waiting, I was so grateful for all my snacks! I feel like I ate the whole flight.

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As we were getting close to landing in Chicago, I thought, “I could really still make this connecting flight!!” The connection was set to leave by 9:30 pm. Boarding ended at 9:00 pm. The pilot said to make sure to let those with connections into the aisle right away. My neighbors were SO friendly, and were cheering my on to make my connection. I sprinted, legs burning, through the airport. I was that person- bags flying, limbs flailing… you know, that person.

I arrived to the gate at 9:12 pm (the terminal was totally on the other side of where we landed). Womp womp. I missed it by literally 12 minutes and could see my plane sitting on the tarmac. Sadly, I missed it by O’Hare…..

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I waited with all the others who missed their connections in the customer service line, absolutely sure that I was going to have to stay overnight. I was slightly excited to stay the night in Chicago, but also bummed that I wouldn’t make it sooner to see my family.

When I made it to the front finally, the customer service rep said there was one seat left on the American flight they would comp for free, but it was about to board. I hustled ran like a crazy maniac once again through the airport and arrived to H1B with one minute to spare. “Boards in 1 minute” displayed on the screen sent a wave of relief through me. I made it!

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Once I arrived finally at 12:30 pm, my momma took me to the 24-7 Meijer to get necessities that I wouldn’t have since my luggage was going to be a day late. It was one of those memories I will treasure, just the two of us in the quiet Meijer grabbing essentials while catching up while the rest of the town was asleep. I just love hanging with her- any time or place! After stocking up, we drove to my Aunt’s in Sutton’s Bay where we were staying for the week.

In the morning I had avocado toast on Dave’s bread with hummus and avocado & the BEST Tim Horton’s coffee. Someone knows me well and had the fridge stocked 😉

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After working out on Saturday the 20th, Momma bear and I went to Grand Traverse Bay Company to pick up a pie for my Grandpa’s B-day party.

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Once back to my Aunt Terry’s house, we got ready for dinner and soaked in the calming, gorgeous views. It feels like staying at a resort! (Oh also fun fact- this is where DJ purposed to me  & you may also remember one of my VERY first blog posts was a trip here).

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We then went from Sutton’s Bay to Traverse City where my grandparents live (and truly my second home through my childhood).

We greeted one another with tons of hugs and then finished getting ready for dinner.

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But always before dinner is cocktail hour at Gma’s and Gpa’s- which includes your drink of choice and grandma spoiled us with her famous cheesy crab english muffins and pretzels with cream dip. The cheese crab english muffins are pure magic, and I wish I could share them with you!

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And ALWAYS ALWAYS a blue cheese stuffed olive from grandpa. Any other blue cheese stuffed olive fans in the house?!

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We all went out to the deck to enjoy our drinks and apps.

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This is Halston (my sister) and Kevin (her boyfriend). Can ya stand it? Tooo cute.

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Sista sista

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For dinner there were ribs, refreshing coleslaw, my grandma’s famous three bean salad, and mashed potatoes. My mom made her and I seitan ribs since we don’t eat meat- it was PHENOMENAL.

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And of course- dessert. Key lime pie…. (yummers)

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And chocolate mousse pie.yumyumyum.

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My Uncle Jeff from Asheville & I. <3

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It was such a lovely evening.

In the morning of July 21st I used Aunt Terry’s gym to do a nice 6ish mile run while reading Sharp Objects. Gosh, Gillian Flynn is a truly adroit writer. The book is undeniably dark, but goodness the storyline is tremendous & well written.

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We all got ready for the BIG day- my Grandpa’s bday party. Get a load of this living room. *heart eyes*

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The food was on another level. I mean this would out-do most restaurants. The smoked salmon is something I still dream about.

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Time for photos! I took an asinine amount, so I kindly narrowed them down to just a few, haha.

My sister, Halston, and her bf Kevin. <3 My favorite couple

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My mom and I

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My stepdad, Pete, and Grandpa!

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The gang – just missing Deej

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The girlies! My mom, me, Halston, Aunt Terry (Left to Right).  Can ya tell we’re related? Haha.

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And the man of the hour with our Grandma surrounded by all their good friends <3. These two role model what it means to have a beautiful marriage and relationship.

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Family picture!

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My sister, Uncle Jeff, and I <3

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Me, Halston, Aunt Terry and Uncle Jeff & Kevin (LOL). This picture kills me every time.

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They had such a lovely little bar area & set up for the party too.

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My Aunt even made cucumber lemon water. She so effortlessly hosts the best parties!

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Before eating we said a prayer all together, and I read a poem to my Grandpa for his birthday. It was easy to write because he is one of the best individuals I have ever known, along with my grandma <3

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After these special moments, time to eat!!!

A bowl of carbs is just a bowl of happiness

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Below is an avocado salad my momma made that was one of the most refreshing, delicious, tasty concoctions ever. SO good.

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Annnnd it wouldn’t be a party without my Grandma’s famous potato salad. Good lawwwd.

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My Uncle Pat went above and beyond with this steak. I didn’t try any since I don’t eat meat- but it looked pretty darn perfect!

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LOVED this cake <3 My grandpa loves to mow the lawn, so this was just perfect. Haha.

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These two . CAN. YOU. STAND. IT. ?!

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We finished the evening with the delicious key lime pie from Grand Traverse Bay company. Seriously the best key lime pie I have ever had.

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It was an spectacular day, and a stunning evening.

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I will recap part two of the trip soon!

Questions for youuuu!

  • Blue cheese stuffed olive fan?! Yay or nay?
  • Where is your “Second home”?
  • Have you been to TC, Michigan?

xo <3

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Finding my [[ Center ]] & Fighting Self Care Guilt

Happy Friday Eve, everyone! I have been spending the last couple weeks finding my center per the title. *Cue the yoga mudra*. This sounds like some serious Californian crap, but ohhh well, it’s trueeee.

Leaving off from the last post, I entered into the next week determined to do some serious self care.

Self care is difficult for me because I tend to feel like I have to be dying on my sword, exhausted in every way before I allow myself to take a darn bubble bath. But that’s what these couple of months are for before diving back into the deep end in August. I am struggling though because if I’m rested, calm, and moving less than the pace of a tornado- am I doing something wrong?! The guilt has been knocking at the door… but I had to remind myself of the beautiful lesson I learned about seasons/transition times when I moved here, and I am going to soak up these next few weeks best I can. After all, I have to be rested before I can give my all, right?

My sister, Andi, and I chatted on the phone on Father’s Day reminiscing about our Dad and life in general. I told her how I’m feeling a bit strange not being busy busy busy. She said the awesome thing about these phases and seasons is that you are available- truly available for whatever God might have for you.

Case and point- I was on a run today and saw a debit card on the sidewalk. In all my busyness previously, I honestly may have just left it, not bothering myself with it. But since I had the time, I was able to run the card to the nearest Police Station- It felt good being able to just do something that I selfishly probably wouldn’t have if I was in one of my busy seasons. The police called back and said the man was incredibly grateful. I also feel like I’ve just been able to be there for my friends and family a bit more this last couple weeks. Usually, I just keep my phone on “Do not Disturb” because when I was at work I obviously couldn’t answer, and when I wasn’t at work I was running around getting ready for work or trying to sleep. It resulted in a endless games of phone tags and a full voicemail box. Now, I actually have my phone on and am able to chat with my friends and family who are going through some tough stuff right now. I’m so glad I can be there to just listen.

So what does this self care look like? Well first, I have allowed myself to sleep without an alarm (which is a challenge when usually I set an alarm even when I don’t need one). My body has been thanking me though- I am breathing easier and feel like my feet are actually on the ground. My circadian rhythm is resetting- and not only physically- but emotionally too.

I’m beginning to actually feel like myself again.

Second- I am cutting out the artificial sweetener drinks and sticking to water. I love those ICE drinks and Vitamin Water Zero- but I have decided to try to just drink pure water. I have noticed the difference in two things- bloating & energy. I love my flavored wa’ (pronounced wah), but time to hydrate the old fashioned way.

Next, this past year in nursing I have severely damaged my back, actually more than I realized. I am working on doing more stretching and some yoga to help it, but DJ suggested I get a massage. I decided Monday June 11th to get one at Elements Massage in Los Gatos with a coupon. Although the masseuse  talked the entire time and we ended up talking about her family’s medical issues, it was still enjoyable. A nurse is never really off duty ;). Haha.

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Monday during The Bachelor(ette) season is my favorite night of the week! I love that DJ watches with me because he has the most hilarious commentary. We took a nice lazy walk on Sunday night on Main Street and passed Rootstock Wine Bar. We decided we would hop in there the next night for a glass of wine before the Bachelorette.

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It’s pretty expensive, but sooo delish, and a nice date place every once in a while. They always have some of the best wine. I also love the whole ambiance- it’s rustic, yet chic, and comfortable. On some nights they have live music playing. We sat out on the patio and enjoyed our glass of wine before walking home to eat our Tollhouse  chocolate chip cookies and watch maybe the silliest shows on television. (Although.. it does look like it could win an Oscar next to the Proposal- ew, that show– awful. Do not even get me started!).

Tuesday morning, the 12th, I tried my first Orange Theory class!!! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I used the arm band for the first one, so I don’t think it was accurate- but it a fantastic workout. I don’t think I’ll stick to the courses because it’s very similar to Insanity (with the HITT routine) that I already do. But every once in a while with some friends it would be fun!

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Almost every night this last couple weeks (That DJ doesn’t have a game of course), Deej and I have been going on evening walks after dinner. This has been one of my favorite parts of the day. We used to take walks often when we lived in Indiana, but have just been so on the go since moving here. It’s been great to have that time together to chat, unwind, and reconnect.

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Wednesday, the 13th,  I did Insanity then realized a new Handmaid Tale episode was out on Hulu. To Peet’s we go with popcorn in tow!

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After, I rounded up our groceries for the week from TJ’s and did some meal prep the rest of the day. In afternoon I started the book, “Behind Closed Doors”. It’s a difficult read from a content perspective, but goodness I could not put it down. Has anyone read it?

Thursday morning, the 14th, I made the same avocado toast that I’ve been having every morning while enjoying it out on my balcony. It has a slice of seeded bread, 2 TBSP hummus, 1/2 avocado, and pink himalayan salt and pepper. I think I’ll be on this kick for a while.

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I went for a run, although somehow I think a sweat bee got caught in my mouth and stung me or something. I was okay, but it was a bit of a shock and hurt! I don’t even know how that happened, lol, but the bee season is in full swing right now. I then was proceeded to be chased by killer crows on the last rung of my run. They followed me about 1/4 mile even when I changed direction and then started flying in front of my face. It was so scary!!! I dove across four lanes of traffic and finally lost them. (A few days later, I heard on the radio this is a thing in Canada!). Mack vs. Nature- 0-2.

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I then caught up on e-mails, laundry, etc.

One of the meals I meal prepped for the week was salmon, broccoli, wild black rice, and ciabatta bread from Trader Joe’s! We gobbled this up for dinner.

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Friday I headed to my first Bar experience!! I had heard about Barre3 from Kori, and when my friend invited me to try The Bar Method, I jumped on it. I think there are some differences between those two- but generally the same idea.

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The boutique was immaculate, quiet, and adorably decorated.

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So my thoughts on bar: I’m such a cardio junkie- so this was a fantastic new challenge for me! I loved how much they focused on strength through micro-movements. It was a workout unlike anything I’d ever done before. I still don’t know that I can totally depart from my cardio- but I would love to incorporate the idea of focusing on such specific muscles into my normal workout regimen more. No wonder Kori & Kaci (Kori’s twin) have the most perfectly toned arms!!

The rest of the day Sara, my friend, and I went back to her house to binge watch our show & snack.

In the evening I headed to Harry Potter Night to watch the San Jose Giants play!

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They went alll out for this! When you enter the gates, they give you a ticket and sort you into a house. Despite the long debate DJ and I had in our kitchen about which house we would be in, I was sorted into Gryffindor! (The sorting hat at Warner Bros said Gryffindor too, sooooo).

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If I had to sort myself I think I’d be in Ravenclaw. Which house are you?!

They even sold Butterbeer from a local brewery (It was basically cream soda, mmm mm!).

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I just LOVE minor league games, especially at Muni. The food is irresistible and the environment is pure fun and excitement.

I recorded on video the House Race on broomsticks, and this poor little man ate it. I felt bad, but I couldn’t help from laughing.

Saturday morning, the 16th, I was craving a soft boiled egg over my toast. I went through FIVE eggs to try to get one that didn’t break right when I was taking off the shell. Well…..

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I overcooked it when I finally thought I had it right. Haha. What are your tricks for a perfect soft boiled egg that’s a bit runny?!

I ended up just going with a normal over medium fried egg.

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Yum, yum!

I went for a calming long walk, listened to a podcast, chatted on the phone, and then during my mid-stride bliss, I was pooped on by a bird. Not the first time this has happened, probably not the last. After taking a THOROUGH shower and washing all my clothes, I then got to work posting tons of things on Poshmark and Ebay that I’ve been wanting to post for a while.

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These are all the clothes I have left (minus workout clothes/pants that are in my dresser). I feel lighter having narrowed it down to clothes I actually wear (considering I wear the same like five outfits in rotation- ha). DJ had to work the weekend, but was home Saturday night for dinner.

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We improvised with the little bit of salmon we had left, rice, and them a tomato soup from trader Joe’s with tortilla strips.

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Sunday the 17th was Father’s Day. It was a hard day- just missing my Dad and DJ had to be at work so I did feel a bit lonely. I went on a long walk in the afternoon and called my step dad, Pete, and my grandpa which turned my mood right around. I’m so excited to see them in about a month! I continued to spend the rest of the day spring cleaning and posting to Ebay/Poshmark.

Monday the 18th- Wednesday the 20th I spent the days shopping. Ok, that probably sounds wonderful to most of you, but not for me! I hate shopping (especially when I need something). I get in the mood maybe once a year for like five minutes when I actually want to shop. This was not one of those times. I needed to find a dress for a wedding we have next weekend and also was hoping to find something to wear for fourth of July. I struck out everywhere, leaving each place empty handed.

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^ I mean, this is what I’m working with… (although the dress alone is pretty cute!).

I did enjoy seeing the massive gorgeous Anthropologie at Stanford Mall.

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Since I couldn’t find a single thing, to online shopping we go (I must clarify- I do LOVEEE online shopping! I’m still a female, ya know?).

Tuesday evening, the 19th, we headed to DJ’s Dad’s to celebrate Father’s Day and to say goodbye (They are moving back to Ohio). It was bittersweet, but I’m glad we had one last hurrah before we saw them go.

Yesterday morning the 20th, I had the best cosmetologist (in my book) at Limon Salon work some serious magic on my damaged hair (part 2)… part one is in the previous recap where she had to work my hair out of the awful highlights.

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Last evening, I made a big crockpot chicken and veggie slow cooked meal that made the house smell magical. I am going to try to make meals in the next couple weeks that we can freeze for when things pick up here soon.

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I’m now sitting at Peet’s (imagine that) and then heading to a work dinner with DJ’s coworkers tonight. Woohoo!

How are your weeks going? If you know how to make a soft boiled egg, please help your girl out!

xo <3

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San Diego: Part One- Mister A’s, Coronado Beach Brunchin’ & Mission Beach

Long time no see!!! But I can’t say long time, no SEA! This past week, DJ and I zipped to San Diego (MY FIRST TIME) for an impromptu getaway. On a whim, I requested a couple days of PTO, not thinking it would get approved. But I’lllll be all the darned, I got em’!!! We quickly planned our trip, and I’m pretty confident I spent more time planning than we were actually there. I LIVE to plan a trip.

Since last year, I have been sick sick sick (overly dramatic use of the New Year). This virus is hanging around much longer than the usual.

It’s actually kind of entertaining— like “What form will it take this week?!” Behind week one we have a runny nose! Behind week two we have a dry nagging cough! Feeling adventurous- week three has a sinus infection and body aches! I thought I was getting better around the second week, but the last day I worked on the 12th, I entirely lost my voice by the end of my shift. Trying to give report to other nurses was painful.

The next morning (The 13th) I woke up with a swollen, hoarse, scratchy throat, horrifically runny nose, and swollen face. Happy 24th birthday to meeee! I felt all the body aches and allll the sick. Luckily, I was fueled up my hot coffee and ibuprofen which alleviated the symptoms a ton. PS. Get your flu shot if you haven’t. This year it is SO bad, you guys. Not something to mess with. I get that it is only 10% effective.. yadayadayada.. but majority of those who have become severely gravely ill did NOT have their shot.

Anywho, I was adamant I wouldn’t let this bug get in our way. Mind/matter. I was ready to rally through it and not miss a beat of what we had planned. “Rally” became the theme of our trip. Every time I felt like utter crap, I just said, “But imma rally!“.

The sweet guy gave me the greatest birthday card in the world and this flower birthday cake before hitting the road. I meannn come on now, how ingenious is this since obviously we wouldn’t be there to actually consume a cake. Even now (on the 22nd) the flowers are still in full bloom, without a wilt in sight. And it said, “Hope your birthday takes the cake”….

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I blew out those candles with all the energy I could muster and we jotted over to San Jose’s airport. Neither of us have been in this airport before, and we loved it! Easy & simple and much closer than the SF airport for us.

Naturally…. had to get some Peet’s with LOTS of honey and cinnamon lathered all over the foam of my cafe au lait.

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We flew Alaska and loved it! Granted, it was only about an 1.5 hour flight, but we were in the air much quicker than it seemed usual for most airlines, and it was all over a pleasant flight.

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We made it…500 tissues later!

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I turned a corner in the afternoon and was feeling much better by the time we landed.

Since this is a travel post, I will include quite a bit of information on the more practical travel side (skip this if you aren’t planning on visiting anytime soon, or ever, which would be a crime, and I may try to convince you otherwise)……

When DJ and I were trying to figure out the most cost friendly/ location convenient way to do San Diego, we found that doing the package deal seemed the way to go. We were able to snatch a flight, hotel, and rental car for <$1,000. Granted, parking is a bear, especially at The Westin where we stayed, it was $50 a night!!!! We found a lot directly across from valet that was much cheaper, but overall- that’s something that definitely needs to be taken into account when visiting. We debated if uber/lyfting vs. driving was cheaper, and honestly with all the parking fees it probably would have been about equal, but at least with a rental you have the convenience to get up and go wherever you would like at any time. But like I said- parking is a pain in the neck, so we would definitely consider just ubering next time). We also were able to walk to Gaslamp from The Westin which helped immensely. If you want to do San Diego, I highly suggest staying right in downtown so you can walk most places and not have to pay the uber fees at all (except for when visiting other beaches/Coronado island). ALSO, if debating Westin Gaslamp vs. Downtown 100% stay at the Downtown location. It is maybe a 0.3 mile difference, and the Gaslamp hotel is much more expensive. We loved the Westin downtown complete with a pool, hot-tub, amazing workout facility, beautiful views, super clean, an in-room coffee maker (essential), quiet, awesome bar, and friendly staff. Like I said, only downsides would be the parking cost & the fact that breakfast is not included. But the breakfast is tremendous if you vouch for it (it’ll be included in my last San Diego post).

This is the view from the hotel window. If you want to explore the Westin downtown, click here!

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We got all snazzed up and headed to our first destination in America’s Finest City: Mister A’s.

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Despite having totally lost my voice at this point, I had not lost my appetite. I’m one of those people that only lose my appetite if I have the literal plague. I actually usually get more hungry when sick, especially with colds. The ibuprofen definitely helped with the swallowing ailment too.

Mister A’s is located on the twelfth floor of a building overlooking San Diego. It promised to have the best view in San Diego, and the best food. Can’t pass that up, am I right?

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This is one of the classiest little restaurants we have ever been to.

Now, the foooood. Let’s chat food. I’m eating spoonfuls of PB while writing this to keep the hunger at bay. I suggest you do the same.

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Prior to the meal they brought out bread and butter with a complimentary little bread nugget with a light whipped aioli and hummus creme.

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Even their butter is served in the most beautiful fashion!

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Do you spot the sea salt below? We have never had anything like it. It was out-of-this-world delicious. It was unlike any sea salt I have ever had. I could actually go on for days about how much I loved this stuff. I need to find out where it is from and how I can acquire these little guys.

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I nearly ate their physical menu everything on it looked so good. After much YELP research, we decided to try what seemed to be two of their famous apps- the black mussels provencale with garlic, shallots, and fresh herb butter and their plancha grilled octopus with romesco sauce. I’ll tell ya what, those octopi are the closest I have tried to Marco Prime’s (the best octopus dish in the world). If you follow, I have been on a hunt for that flavor ever since. Gosh, this stuff was good. DJ LOVED the mussels, I preferred the octopus, but still thought they were savory and scrumptious as well. I even asked if the seaweed was edible, and the waiter goes, “Well it’s more for garnish, but I guess technically?”. I joked that he could leave the empty plate so I could savor the seaweed. He thought I was serious, and looked a bit horrified.

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For the main course, I had their main scallops with champagne butter, savory cabbage, walnuts, and parmesan. Oh. so. stinking. tasty.

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DJ had their lobster tail served over zucchini and basil. It was easily one of the most generous servings of lobster tail I have ever seen!

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We also tried their truffle mac as a side and ya know, we thought it was pretty subpar. It needed more salt (luckily we still had our handy dandy sea salt on hand). I’d suggest trying a different side, everything else was phenomenal, but the mac and cheese we could have done without (shocker, I knowww).

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We ended the exquisite edible extravaganza with decaf coffee (for me), a sweet complimentary slice of carrot cake (YAASSSS) & their chocolate royale with dark and white chocolate mousse, caramel ganache, and praline crunch (highly recommend).

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Sometimes my eyebrows have a life of their own, but gotta let them live, ya know?

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The views did not disappoint. It was a perfect end to the evening.

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We waddled back to the hotel with a “no regrets” food coma and had plans to visit Gaslamp. I even got dressed up in something a little more versatile to walk through the historic district….but the minute I sat down I realized I couldn’t do it. I ‘d hit my limit for the day and needed to go to sleep. We decided to explore and rally into the night the next day!

In the morning of the 14th I was feeling tremendously better. I even was able to squeeze in a few miles before hitting the town. I LOVE working out on vacation. I feel like I always am more motivated to get up at the butt crack of dawn and crank it out. Plus, it was very important to create an extra stomach for this trip!

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While some people say breakfast is the most important meal of the day (which I would usually concur), if brunch is in the running it may have my vote. According to the Internet (the most reputable source), Hotel Del Coronado hosts the best brunch in all the land in their Crown Room. We made reservations on Open Table and woke up two eager beavers to see what all the hullabaloo was about.

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First, Hotel Del Coronado was more gorgeous and breathtaking in person than one could fathom. It was simply captivating, a historic landmark that inspired not only awe, but wonder. We agreed that one day we would have to actually stay there.

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The Crown Room was spectacular. It was much larger than I envisioned from the pictures. I feel like I am writing about something sacred while describing this experience. It was easily one of the BEST meals we have ever had. We agreed that if you are going to be in San Diego on a Sunday, it is worth every single cent and more. It is an experience of a lifetime and everyone needs to add this to their bucket list ASAP. There is no amount of pictures, words, or BOLD TYPING that can do this justice. It was a few hours in time that will forever be reminisced between the two of us.

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This brunch had EVERYTHING you can imagine. EVERYTHING. I took a bajillion pictures and probably didn’t even snap half of it. We are talking endless lobster, crab legs, sushi, a make-your-own-donut bar, make-your-own smoked salmon bagel bar, endless unique drinks, a Bloody Mary bar, desserts on desserts on desserts to your heart’s delight, waffles, pancakes, prime rib, beef, veggies upon veggies, cheese from every sector of the world and fruit, parfaits, a candy bar, NYC cheesecake……. I’m not kidding.. I haven’t even covered the half of it.

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At the make your own donut bar, they even had a flamer that toasted the marshmallows on top of the donut if you wanted to make a “S’mores” donut!

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THERE WAS A LOBSTER TAIL IN MY BLOODY MARY. WHAT IS HAPPENING.

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And guess the heck what- DJ said he finally found some all-star pancakes that rate up at the top. (If you follow, we have an ongoing hunt for the best pancakes for DJ).

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Below is a donut DJ made, too cute not to snap a shot.

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There were crown chandeliers hanging all over… you know I couldn’t resist..
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Highlights from the brunch included- the crab legs, biscuits and gravy, smoked salmon, pancakes, mimosas (I didn’t actually prefer the Bloody Mary although it was their signature drink), the NYC Cheesecake, and their shrimp… good lawd, it was the freshest doggone shrimp I have had. I also have to say our waitress was perhaps the sweetest lady of all time. She was such a doll and made the whole experience even that much more terrific.

***Cue the food coma***

I questioned if I would ever be able to eat again quite honestly.

After that experience of a lifetime, we made our way back to the car to change into some beachy gear!

Gotta still represent the SJ in the SD!!!!

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We perused their shops and views.

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Finally we made our way to the beach, greeted by the most terrific sand castle I have ever seen.

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We breathed in the fresh salty air, sunk our feet into the soft sand, and let the sound of the waves overwhelm our senses, saturating our lungs with calm.

We laughed watching the sea gulls fly high into the air and drop a shell from many feet up, hoping to discover an edible gem inside. We mainly laughed at how close the shells came to plopping on people’s heads half the time.

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After the amazing time frolicking on the beach (DJ HATES when I use the word frolick), we headed to our next destination: Belmont Park at Mission Beach.

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Oh how this screamed Santa Cruz to us!!! It is truly the Santa Cruz of San Diego.

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We had to ride the historic Giant Dipper! This one and the one at Santa Cruz are the considered National Historic Landmarks.

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It was actually way more fun than I expected for being such an old coaster!!! But I think it can also guarantee a headache after a few rounds 😉

We walked along Mission Beach, definitely a more boisterous beach than Coronado’s. I’d suggest Mission or Pacific if you are looking for more a party, upbeat, and laid back crowd. Coronado is more calm, quiet, and sophisticated.

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We then headed to La Jolla for an epic sunset. I will include that in my next post! I may have to break this into three parts because there is just far too much. It will probably take another post to just finish the 14th, and we were there till the 17th. Oh boy, haha.

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I am still stuck on the couch after working all weekend long and never really recuperating too much, but that means I’ll have a couple days to catch up on here. I haven’t opened WordPress for a few weeks and am excited to sit down and respond to y’all soon and see what you are up to!

PS. If you have any San Diego posts, please feel free to leave in the comments below! I’d love to explore yours too!

xo <3

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The Last Couple Weeks…

Last night after a 12- hour shift I pulled into our apartment complex, parked the car, took the elevator up to our floor and walked into our home.

“How was it?”

That was all it took. The tears just flowed. And flowed some more.

DJ jumped up from the couch and just held me.

The end of my first week of in-hospital nursing came to a close. With it came feelings of incompetence like none I have ever experienced. Those feelings of inadequacy slowly chipped away at my confidence, as though carving out pieces of my soul. After three shifts, I was broken.

I knew this was coming, mentally. I have heard it from countless other new nurses before. I won’t let that happen, I lied to myself.

Yes, this past week was perhaps one of the most emotionally draining of my life. I knew orientation would be a challenge- but I truly don’t know how I’m going to finish everything by the deadline of April 19th. We have countless skills we have to perform in-hospital, but when caring for patients, it’s hard enough to find a bathroom break, let alone demonstrate how to set up a chest tube, how to clean a tracheostomy, how to insert an NG tube, how to change a CVC dressing, set up a lumbar drain, etc.

On top of that is the physical exhaustion- the 4:30 wake up calls, the intense modules to complete on my “day off”, the desire to keep a home running for DJ and I to live in, including keeping groceries stocked and the laundry done.

But perhaps one of the most challenging aspects right now stems from the deep love I have for the people I am caring for. All that above, it’s hard to do, but oh man, it is so worth it when I can care for someone so intimately and make a difference in their lives. But out of this love I have for caring for my patients comes a desire to be freaking good at caring for them. And I’m not. I have no idea what I’m doing right now, and I am beyond frustrated with myself. One of our educators told us multiple times that we have to be forgiving with ourselves. Now I totally understand what she meant.

I forget to chart so many things. I lay awake panicking because I can’t remember if I did A, B, AND C, or if I only did A and B. I drive to work nauseas because I’m so terrified.

But it’s normal, they say.

Do I regret this choice or decision? No.

Do I wonder if I have what it takes? Yes.

Do I have to remind myself multiple times a day that God has a specific plan for me here? Yes.

Is this the first chapter of my story that has a beautiful ending where I can confidently say that I am a good nurse? I really hope so.

Ya’ll know that I’m pretty candid around here. Yes, I LOVE to make the world’s-worst jokes, and I LOVE to laugh-but I will let you know when it’s been tough tough tough. When things get stressful, I tend to go into hermit mode and cut myself off from the world. But in this past couple weeks I have worked up a serious appetite to blog. I feel like it always helps me put things back into perspective. When you can write about a situation, it gives it a tangibility and control at your finger tips. You decide what is highlighted, and ultimately you decide the perspective you have and the learning you gain from the experience. That’s what writing does for me, and it’s cathartic and healing in an essence of its own.

And although this week was so hard, I know that it will get better. I am in a learning season, and sometimes learning is one of the most trying obstacles we can face in life. Why? Because learning requires a stretch of our will, minds, energy, patience, and that is usually uncomfortable. But the awesome truth about the trials of learning is the accompaniment of growth. Lessons aren’t learned in complacency, but rather in tribulation. As is growth. So for that growth I am thankful, I need this stage to help me blossom. I need it to refine me and my character. I need it to meet new friends, lead people to Jesus, and carry out a purpose for which I have been called. One day this stage will allow me to encourage others that walk through it too.

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(Romans 5:3) Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And in the mean time, I refuse to solely survive. I want to live, I want to thrive. I want to learn as much as I can and not let every negative, exhausting, emotionally draining situation define me or my perspective.

I also don’t write this for pity or anything- it’s simply to have a baseline for myself moving forward so I can see that growth that takes place! I know things will get better, and I hate to be negative, but it’s also important for me to be candid about these things for my own reflection! 

Hope I didn’t give anyone an extra case of the Monday blues! 🙈

Sooo, without further adieu. I would love to share some highlights of our week…

I am officially running the Big Sur Marathon!!! I haven’t officially announced it here because I didn’t know if my work schedule would allow it. To be honest, I haven’t trained much, so it may be a bit rough. If anything, I will see some spectacular views! I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself to get a great time or even finish it if my body says, “heck nah”, so we will see. I did complete an 18-miler with two minor breaks on Friday while studying on the treadmill, so that’s not too bad! This weekend I don’t work Saturday, so I might go for a 22-miler while I study! Anywho…. here are my nature-y pics from other runs during the week!

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DJ and I still haven’t seen each other much during the week. Baseball season is gearing up, so he has been at work till about 10/11 pm every evening including many weekend nights. However, Saturday March 25th, he had a lunch break (where he could actually leave the office). We met at Bill’s because where else?! He ordered the french toast croissant and I ordered the greek omelette again because I’m addicted. We missed ya, Mom and Gordie! (If you missed our awesome weekend and the full review of Bill’s Cafe, check it out here).

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For dinner these past couple weeks, I have done crockpot ribs and a combination of Hello Fresh/Blue Apron, and salads. Blue Apron > Hello Fresh by a LANDSLIDE. I used Hello Fresh because we had a promo giftcard. It was promo no-no. I mean the stuff wasn’t horrible, but it was not Blue Apron. Blue Apron makes me feel like this in the kitchen…

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NOTHING ELSE DOES THAT! 

Oh, and here are the ribs. Made with none other than the SJ Giants BBQ sauce 😉 #REPRESENT

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This meal below was easily one of my favorite Blue Apron meals of all time!!! It was a mozzarella pizza with fresh oregano, spinach, and green bell peppers. YUM. The dough was perfection too.

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Traditionally, spring has been my least favorite season. But these California blooms are poppin’!

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BEST part of the day right here. Circa 5 am. Time with Jesus, coffee, Ezekiel bread/yogurt/strawberries.

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Oh hey look it’s a nurse! Don’t let the uniform fool you. My only recommendation for anything currently is to eat chocolate and take a Tylenol.

***Unless you have liver issues. Do not take more than 4g in a 24 hour period.***

Have to protect my butt now that I have a thing called a license.

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I’ve tried to change the scenery of my study areas and resorted to hanging out in our apartment’s community area. It’s so cute, I don’t know why I haven’t done this more in the past. And I’m lovin’ those pillows.

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On one of my days “off” (there is ALWAYS something to study and do or a class to attend on our days “off”, hence the quotations), I returned a ton of the business casual clothes I didn’t end up wearing for our two big business cas. weeks of orientation. I decided to take a quick stroll around Santana Row just to be outside for a bit. So many amazing memories here. There’s this memory and this memory and this memory……. It made me happy and nostalgic all at the same time.

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Thursday night we had our church group. This is the first time I have been able to make one since the group started up three weeks ago. DJ actually was able to request to leave early and led the group for the evening. Such a stud. My good friend Danielle (from that insane hike), made Lamingtons- a traditional Australian dessert. Holy Maloly they were so good. I can’t even explain. All good things come from Australia.

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She also made Vegemite/Veggie/Bacon and cheese scrolls- Which are seriously manna from heaven, and all people need to try these before they die. Danielle is also one of the greatest bakers ever, and I think Jesus blessed me a little extra with her as a friend.

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Last night was the first date night DJ and I had since my last post (at the Socialight on March 24th). I came home from work around 8 pm emotionally exhausted and hangry as mentioned above. ***I also have to make a side note that DJ cleaned the whole house, did dishes and laundry on his first day off in a couple weeks. He is amazing.***

Anyways, there was a very specific meal I was craving- and that was Lazy Dog’s Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna over Cauliflower mashed potatoes in a curry coconut cream sauce. Luckily, DJ hadn’t ate a huge dinner so we headed over to Main Street for a late one. (Also what better place to go post 12-hour work day than Lazy Dog?)

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This was the highlight of my week. Just spending these precious, small moments with DJ. (He doesn’t like me taking his picture, so I sneak them and then post them on the internet while he’s not looking 😉 ). And then he’ll read this and I’ll get a lecture. It’s like clockwork.

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And forever, the PEET’s mug will host our Sunday mornings.

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So, today was PALM SUNDAY!!!! I needed my church family badly. They encouraged me greatly. Also, in this worship service today, I felt so wrapped in love. There is a specific reason for this… it’s amazing the way God works.

Going back a few years… the day after my dad passed away in high school, I went to church. I felt like going through the “normal” motions was just how I coped. I remember the first song that played in our worship service was “Hosanna”. I couldn’t choke out the words but my heart was singing them. It was laden with emotion and has been for me ever sense. It’s weird though, it doesn’t bring with it feelings of immense sadness and loss necessarily. It brings back the reminder that the Lord is my comfort in my darkest moments. Our church that DJ and I attend now has their own worship music from C3 Church’s elevation worship- they rarely play more “mainstream” worship that most churches know. However, this morning, while I was feeling downcast and perhaps more stressed than I have in my life, the worship team started playing this song. It just brought me such comfort- reminding me that God is my place of rest, my Prince of Peace. I felt like Jesus was reminding me that He will be with me through all of this.

DJ had to work today, but was back home for dinner (officially an anomaly).

For dinner tonight I had some leftover Seared Sesame Ahi tuna from leftover’s last night in my salad with tons of avocado and white cheddar puff pastries from Blue Apron. DJ wanted his leftover ribs.

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I spent the rest of today studying and basically trying to get organized (contrary to what the picture might say).

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The work week starts again bright and early at 5:00 am (which now feels like sleeping in compared to my hospital days). I have modules and classroom work the beginning of the week and 12-hour shifts starting Thursday.

I am so very sad that blogging has been put on the big ole’ back burner. Once orientation is over the load should lighten up a bit. I send ya’ll so much love.

xo <3

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