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When Joyce first told me she was going to come visit this year I didn't believe her. When she said that she was coming mid-July, I didn't believe her. She then called and said, "Sam, I'm booking my ticket right now! --- wait, let me call you back." I still didn't believe her. Then she called with the news, "Sam, I bought my ticket!" I was so beyond excited that I would finally get to see her after over a year of waiting! But she still mentioned sending me her flight confirmation just so I could be sure. You see, Joyce is my friend who I have never been in the same state with for more than 6 months. She was always flying back and forth between California and home to New York and then once... she went to New York and never came back. And that was three years ago. In that time, she's gotten married, graduated college, and started a home. But she really came back — for 5 whole days! Being the planner that I am, each day was minutely planned. Being the not-so-much-a-planner she is, I told her I'd be flexible. And guess what, guess who was late to pick her up from the airport? That's right... me! Amie and I were just minutes late but we missed her grand entrance down the escalator at Ontario Airport. I was devastated! But enough of this story, let me tell you through photos just how you can max out 5 days in Southern California with some time in the sun, toes in the sand, and just some great girl time in our jammies!

Day 0

Picked our friend up from the airport. We were totally on time. Her flight came early. That's life.

Day 1

After a scrumptous breakfast of cinnamon rolls and fruit with girlfriends, we travelled down to San Diego and walked through Balboa Park. Last time I was there, I saw this little nature filled canyon that I wanted to explore so we started there. Then we walked along the main street ending with some cooling off in the fountain. We actually got in the water. Right after I saw a dog pee in it. This is where the title of this blog post comes in. After Balboa Park, we went to my favorite part of San Diego: Coronado Island. A not-so-secret tip: if you want to go to a rather less crowded view point of the city of San Diego, instead of making the left to head to Hotel Del Coronado, make a right onto Orange when first arriving in Coronado. Then at the dead end, make a left. There's a little tiny park on the right with some benches and a small beach. Not only do I love the beach on Coronado Island, I love the food. More specifically: I love Miguel's Cocina. And the most wonderful jalapeno cheese sauce known to man. Each time we go there, I get the shrimp enchilada a la carte, Andy get's a combination plate, and then we feast on chips, salsa, white sauce, and pickled veggies. Our bill comes to $16. $20, with tip. Love it! Read about Day 2 after the jump!

I have these two best friends. What? I can't have two best friends? Well oh well I do. I even had two maids of honor. Say what? That's just how we are. When it's just two of the three of us, it's just not the same. There's a synergistic effect when the three of us get together. There's enough energy, enough laughter, enough pure happiness to last a year. Maybe two. But that's the longest we can go it has been decided. We sharpen one another. We talk about the important stuff. And the not so important stuff. We truly know one another. What makes us tick. What pushes each other's buttons. We can cry together. We can snap at each other because hey, that's real life. Can't be smiles and laughter all the time. We can get in fights and make up an hour later knowing that no fight can be that important to undo a friendship. It's real. It's true friendship. And I miss them already, my heart aches for them. After spending a whirlwind 5 days together last week, I'm still recuperating and will be posting a couple blogs on our adventures!

South Dakota is just like you would think it is. Open meadows, empty roads, and fireflies to light the night sky. It's coming back to a time stood still. A time where there is no traffic and there's nothing better to do than play a game of Pitch at night and watch the stars light up the sky. Andy's grandparents own 1,120 acres of this land. A land populated by a couple hundred cows, a flock of wild turkeys, two horses and then two little grandparents who open their home up to anyone passing by. We were able to stay with them for just three days but in those three days we managed to ride horses in the fields, go fishing, float down the Niobrara River, stand at the base of Smith Falls, play card games, get eaten by Mosquitos, catch fireflies, and eat tons of food! Grandma's home cooking is the best especially her pot roast, gravy, and chocolate chip cookies! And you get three full meals: breakfast, dinner, and supper. Dinner is the best. It's the biggest meal of the day. It's what you Californians call lunch but bigger and better. I spend more time connected to my phone than

We made it to Kansas after a 20 hour drive through the flatlands of America. Everywhere you looked, it was flat. No hills. No towns. No anything. We were all quite happy to be out of the car and in our hotel. That first night was spent napping while Everyone else was at the rehearsal. I woke up at 8 to the sun shining thinking I had slept all night but it was only 8 pm! So Andy and I walked around the hotel and then ended up on the front curb looking for anything to do! We decided to go get ice cream from Dairy Cream but since Andy always listens to my best ideas we walked there! In that 3/4 of a mile we were devoured by the local bugs. I got 4 pretty bad bites but Andy got over 10 all over! Even his face! Needless to say, while the bugs kept us hostage at DQ, we had to call reinforcements to come pick us up! The next day was the wedding! It was a sunny and very warm day in Kansas. We sent the as much time as possible in the air conditioned hotel and then went

I loooooove birthdays! I love celebrating a person's life! I just love love love it! I love showering people with presents, but you need money for that. And with the incredibley large circle of friends that Andy and I have been blessed beyond belief with, showering people with presents has come to a halt. I just stopped giving presents. Shame on me. I finally figured out what to do though, thanks to my very very very good friend Jessica! She makes these wonderfully creative pieces of decor for all her friends. She even makes handmade cards with handmade envelopes. So yes, she is wonderful. Anyway, she inspired me to start using my own skills and a little bit of time to create gifts for others. I have been dabbling in digital illustration lately (project will be posted soon) and for more practice I have been making little individual illustrations for the front of birthday cards. Not nearly as thoughout and creative as Jessica, but I am trying! So here's the June birthday cards: 1. Amie Belle Strawberry Pals Card 2. Lauren "Yoyo" Card 3. Grandpa's Pope Hat in honor of Bucca Di Beppo's Pope Room Card 4. Josh's Nitty Gritty Nacho Card 5. Mr. Harry

I met Amie Machelle Thompson more than 15 years ago. Where we actually met for the first time is unknown but we spent many years together in elementary school together involved in girl scouts. We shared a hatred of camping and the outdoors. We even 'got' poison oak at camp once and got to spend the rest of the camp in our tent. It wasn't always good times in girl scouts though. She was the spoiled brat and I was the cry baby. Some things never change. Middle school came and went but in our eigth grade year we took a class trip to Washington D.C. A trip I will never forget. That trip was 10 years ago. That's the trip Amie and I claim is when we became best friends. Since April 10, 2000 we have been inseparable. We shared many sleepovers, many tears, many drives, many trips to Disneyland, many tubs of ice cream, many many laughs, many summers, many beach days, many snow days, many boyfriends, many trips to the mall and swap meet, a few trips to D.C., and many movie nights. When Andy asked me to be his wife, Amie was the first person I called after