Post(est)s with the Most(est)s!

Ahhh... it's that time of year where we all begin to reflect and think back on the past year. I love these types of posts... I realize they aren't for everyone, so feel free to skip this one if you so desire.

I cannot believe it's going to be 2014 in just a few short days.  2013 seriously flew by! :) I already gave you thoughts about my year back in September, on the year after I came home from Honduras. No need to rehash all those things. I will say, though, that 2013 wasn't the best year of my life so far, but it was in no way horrible. I did have some low points, but had WAY more awesome and amazing experiences (hello, Italy! Spain! New job! Moving to Florida!).  And throughout every.single.thing. I have learned something. God has shown me His love.  He has never abandoned me.

And that's the most important thing.

So today, I am just going to focus on my blog from this past year.  It's still a baby blog, only having my first post also in September 2012, but it has been so fun!  I have loved, loved, LOVED building a community of other young woman, all the while still keeping my family and friends abreast of the happenings in my world.  I actually really love to write.  I love reflecting and praying as I write about whatever is on my heart.  Sometimes I wonder how I can make my blog bigger. Get more readership. All those things.  But, then, do I really want that?  It would add a little more pressure, and am afraid it would take away the joy that blogging brings me.  Anyway, I digress.

On to the Posts with the Most! :)  You got that right! I am joining Sarah, from Amongst Lovely Things, and the other bloggers as we chat about our posts with the mosts.  It has been fun to read everyones, and of course to reflect on mine!  Ok, ok. I have gone ooooon and oooon here.  I'm stopping. Now.

Post with the most CLICKS:

The Not Alone Series has brought a LOT to this here bloggity. A lot of love.  A lot of fun.  A lot of God.  And, surprisingly, quite a bit of traffic.  Most of the "clicks" are usually from the NAS posts.  Which is AWESOME!  That is the whole point Morgan and I wanted to start the series: to reach other single women (and men??) and remind each other that we are in fact not alone.  And by the looks of the "clicks," we have been able to do just that.  The chastity AND discernment (second most "clicks") still get a couple views each week, interestingly.

Post with the most COMMENTS:
NAS: Friends with Guys?

Of course with the Not Alone Series, we try to cover an array of topics. Discernment and being 'just friends' with guys created a lot of chatter.  So, they tied with the most comments (not including my responses).  It's always fun to interact with everyone that is reading!  :)

Post with the BEST PICTURE:
Um... can I just say my whole blog?!  

I have SO MANY PICTURES in this blog. It's ridiculous.  So, because this IS my blog, I can do what I want. :)  So, please just start clicking around. You will find many, many pictures to distract yourself with!

Post that was the HARDEST to write:

This was hard for many reasons, mostly personal.  I mean, obviously.  After just rereading it... it's still hard.  I almost feel like I was reading about someone else.  I have come out of that fog, and am feeling much better.  Some days are better than others.  The love that you all gave me in my moment of vulnerability was so incredible.  Thank you.  Also, I just realized this post has more comments than the ones above.  Oh well!  Can't go back now! ;)

Post that was your PERSONAL fave:

I just love my prayers for my husband. I pray for him all of the time, and try to read/pray this post frequently.  I also love conversion stories and was very happy to write mine out!  God did grab hold of my heart, and has never let go. :)

And there you have it, friends!  Thanks for looking back with me!  I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be a wonderful year! :)  So many blessings for you all!  In those moments throughout the next year where you feel alone, down and sad, please know that you aren't ever alone.  And I will be praying for you!

God bless you!
Happy New Year!
Merry Christmas!

Advent: Week Four Recap + Christmas

Ok, so the fourth week of Advent was reeeeeeally, reeeeeeally short, but I figure it's still nice to talk about!  Even though I was pretty purposeful this Advent, I felt like Christmas crept up on me.  I knew it was coming, and I still couldn't BELIEVE it was so close! :)

Advent Day 22, I finally decorated my tree!!

I also got my hair did that day. :)

Advent Day 23, I spent an evening eating a yummy meal with friends.

On the morning of Advent day 24, I said a rosary, for all of you who
read this little bloggy.

AND THEN FINALLY IT WAS CHRISTMAS!!!!!! :)  On Christmas Eve I hung out with Mart and the babe... we relaxed, chatted and prepared our evening meal.  It was delicious, per usual. :)  Then, we opened gifts.  I just love watching people open gifts that I really think they will like.  It's so fun! And, Zuz seemed to enjoy it too! Even though the paper and the containers the actual presents came in were more entertaining.
That little apron she is wearing... I got her that! :)

Yay! It's Christmas!!

My church looked beautiful!

Zuzu and Mommy watching Daddy sing during the
Christmas carols before Mass.

Christmas at Midnight: Jesus is born!!! :)
Christmas Day: Breakfast, snuggles and hugs from friends.
After enjoying a nice Christmas morning with Martha and the babe, I was off to the airport so I could get to my mom for Christmas evening!!

It was like looking at a real life Winter/Christmas village!!

I have to say... walking into my mom's house was awesome.
She worked so hard, cooking all day to have a delicious meal, and decorated
beautifully. The fire going made everything all the more cozy.
It was just perfect.

Kori, Mom, Paul and Alex! :)
So fun to spend time with these special people.

WIth me this time! Sorry, Paul... I think this was the best one!

Alex getting some tickles from Papa! :)

Alex checking Jones' ear... she is just like Doc McStuffins!
(have you heard of Doc McStuffins??? I hadn't... interesting little show!)

Me and my momma! :)

Kori and I! :)

Yay for selfies with cute kids!
 Christmas Day wrapped up for me this morning:
I really forget how beautiful the snow is!
I know that it can be miserable, but I haven't seen it in years, so I am a little giddy about it.

A Christmas morning tradition of quiche and cinnamon buns.

And that, my friends, was my amazing Christmas! :)  I am just so thankful to have wonderful friends and family that love to celebrate and bring joy to my life.  I hope all of you were able to spend time with loved ones, as well.  I know this time of year can be hard, but know that you are not ever alone. God loves you.  So many blessings to you and your family! 

Abrazos y amor!

Advent: Week Three Recap

Happy LAST WEEK OF ADVENT!!! :) Can you believe Christmas is in two days?!

Hmm... this week was a bit harder to be purposeful. It was the LAST week of school before break (!!), so there were lots of goodies and cheer and celebrations to be had!  I also was really bad with listening to Christmas music. Ugh.

But, it's ok. I can't get down on myself about it.  I reflected a little more yesterday about Advent and singleness, if you haven't seen it already.  So, I was able to reflect, still. :)  I have been thinking a lot of Mary these days.  Can you imagine being so far along in your pregnancy, probably ready to just have the babe out already, overcome with anticipation, yet a little nervous, knowing you are going to birth Our Lord?!

I mean... I can't.  She knew exactly what she was doing. She knew that she was carrying the Son of God.  And she just did it.  And did it awesomely and perfectly.  Loved and adored her Son.

And that's what we are called to do, too. No matter what!  Thanks, Mary, for helping me during this Advent! :)

On to the pictures!

Advent Day 17, I bought Christmas cards for family and friends!

One morning this week the moon was just amazing! :)

Zuzu is getting excited that Auntie Jen will be off work
for TWO WEEKS! :)

Advent Day 20, I FINALLY got a little something for outside! :)

Mart and Tom got a very special delivery. ;)

Advent Day 21 I was just admiring my little tree and enjoying some coffee.

Remember that time I said I wasn't going to complain
of the cold... um, well, that was before I saw that I might actually freeze.
Like, legitimately freeze. BUT, I should have a white Christmas!

We went the beach for the evening, and this is the beach hat I decided to wear!
I had to remind the people of FL that it is still December and still almost Christmas!

Family + Advent + Singleness

It's 10pm* on a Saturday night. I'm in comfy PJs, chillin' at home.

I declined an invitation to go to a "kegger" by a coworker.  Instead, I opted to hang out with Mart, Tom and the babe (which isn't unusual, I know) and spent a lovely evening at the beach,  chatting and watching the babe totally love the waves and sand.

Last night, we went to the Christmas Story that my parish puts on every year.  I wasn't able to go last year, as I was already back in DC for Christmas.  It was beautiful!  The kids were adorable. Baby Jesus did so good, until the angel handed Him (really He was a she!) to Mary.  It was just precious.  I mean, let's be honest, Jesus probably did a lot of crying, too, when He was a wee babe.  The choir sounded amazing, per usual.

The families were buzzing all around.

That's what we think of this time of year, ya know?  Family.  And for us single people, when we are far away from family, it really stinks.  We don't have the husband (or wife) with the kiddos of our own.  We don't always have the option of going home, or going to where family is.  It's reality.

So, our friends become our family.  And Mart, Tom and the babe are my family.  They are so much more than friends.  I am so incredibly thankful that I have them in my life.  I am so incredibly thankful to God for allowing them to be so open and welcoming to me.

That's why I chose to spend the evening with them.  I didn't want to go to a party, and maybe drink too much and be around people that I didn't know at all.  I wanted to be with family that I love and that love me, especially during this very family-centered time.

Advent is such a special time.  A time to prepare our hearts.  For the joy and love of Christ.  It's also so romantic and wonderful and magical, ya know?  I let my mind wander a lot during this season.  I have thoughts about meeting the perfect guy, having some magical kiss under the mistletoe, going on romantic dates, drinking hot chocolate blah blah blah.  I get sucked into the sappy, romantic Christmas movies on Hallmark and Lifetime.  Which then perpetuates my wandering mind of wishful thoughts that are so far from reality.

It makes me feel crazy, sometimes.  It's a choice for me (allthetime) to not think about it.  And, it's hard.

But, you know what?  Just as Advent is a time for preparation... so is this time of singleness.  There is so much joy and love and anticipation.  It's not always easy to be purposeful during Advent, and neither is it always easy to be purposeful in my life in general.  But, as we have talked about with NAS, there is so much that I can be doing now in this season of my life to prepare for the next.  It only makes sense. We are always in some sort of preparation mode.  If it's not preparing for a husband, it's preparing for a baby, if it's not that, it's something else.  Ultimately, in all that preparation, we should be preparing our hearts, always, for Heaven.

And really... that's our ultimate goal.  To prepare our hearts for Him.


*it's now 11. It took me a while to write this, what can I say?!

Rota, España

We had a wonderful quick afternoon in 'downtown' Rota.  My friend and her hubby live nearby... it's such a beautiful town. It was super quiet and pretty darn chilly that day.  It's where all the Europeans go for holiday, so the Summer is hoppin' but the Winter is calm and sparse of people.

Take a looksie!

We walked around.... got some ice cream... saw the BIGGEST RAT OF ALL TIME! It still gives me the heeby jeebys. Blah.

I would love to go back and visit Rota! :)  Oh, did you see that I went to Morocco, too?!  Check it out!

Advent: Week Two Recap

First... HAPPY GUADETE SUNDAY!!! Pink! Pink! er, ahem... rose! Rose! :) I love this day!

But, let's recap this past, second week of Advent, shall we?  I wasn't as good about putting my decorations up each day, but hey. It's ok! It was a good week. I spent some time in adoration, which is always, always good.  I have such a different feeling during Advent this year.  I am just so much more aware of the waiting... the anticipation... the excitement and joy.  It could be because I have been more purposeful AND because I get to see my Momma on Christmas this year (it's been TWO years!) and see the rest of my family in DC afterwords.

Also, if you know me... I love Christmas music. And, I have not been choosing to listen to it. At all. (ok, yes, I did for a little bit yesterday while wrapping gifts and cleaning my house), other than if it's on in a store, etc.  This is a BIG deal for me.  But, surprisingly its hasn't been that hard.  Maybe because it's hotter than hades (at Mart would say) and feels like we should be celebrating the Fourth of July instead of bundling up and drinking hot chocolate all the time, getting ready for Christmas.  As Colly and I both agreed... how about the temps just stay in the mid-60s!  For her in Pittsburgh, that would be super warm, and for us down here in the hottest part of the country... that would be downright chilly.  Oh, to dream and be cold. ;)

And I will say to you all right here, right now on this here bloggity... I will do my utmost to NOT complain about being cold when I am in MN and DC.  And if I do, so help me God, you can.... well, I am not sure, but you can do something! :)

Anyway... you came for pics.  So, here you go!

Advent Day 8
My actual tree... that's still small, I know.
 Also on Advent Day 8, during the day, which was the second Sunday of Advent, I met up with Niki from A Catholic Heart For Home!!!  It was SO fun to meet a blog friend in real life!! 
She was vacationing in FL, and my friend Jennine and her hubby live near there and were coming over to my side of the state and brought Niki with them! They rock.
We had fun walking on the beach, doing a little shopping (do you still love your bag, Niki?!) and ate a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, as always, by Martha!
All in all, a lovely and blessed day!
So exciting!!!

Not really part of my Advent thing, but this pic is too cute to NOT include!
As I wrote on Instagram: "sometimes, the adorableness is so strong, I seriously
think this will be the moment I die from my heart exploding."
It's true. There are days that I think she can't be any cuter,
and then she does something to prove me wrong! haha. The joys of babies.

My Lord and My God

Advent Day 11
I have had this manger for a LONG time. My mom has had it for a LONG time.
Every year I take it out, I think, "oh no! It's going to be in pieces." But, no. It's
still hanging in there. Which is good, b/c I don't know what I will do when I have
to get a new Nativity set. It will be a challenge, for sure.

Advent Day 12
Santa Baby!!

Advent Day 13
My clinic assistant at my middle school got me this cute guy. I love him!
I was excited to FINALLY put something festive in my kitchen!

Doing a little Christmas shopping and stopped by See's Candies.
They gave us a chocolate lollipop... and Zuz LOVED IT!
She was content in the stroller, sucking on that thing and putting chocolate everywhere,
especially on her feet. Yummmm....
And there you have it, friends! My second week of advent!  I can't believe it's already rose Sunday!!! :) So many prayers and blessings for your Sunday and third week of Advent!

First Days in Spain AND Morocco!

Well, I have started to go through, edit and purge mis fotos de España! And I promised you all I would share them... so here I am. :)  I hope you enjoy and let me know if you have any questions. Seriously, if you have chance to go to Spain, go. And, maybe I'll join ya! ;)

Without further ado!

Hmm... I don't really have anything before Morocco. You will have to refresh your memories on what I did when I wasn't out and about exploring, by looking through my iPhones pics. :)

Ok. Morocco! It was such a fun day. It was chilly and rainy, but that didn't stop us from making the best of it!  It's so fun to say that I've been to Africa! Whaaaat! Yup... I have.

We all got up bright and early, drove about an hour and a half south from Rota to Tarifa. Hopped on a fairy... smiled pretty...

Said goodbye to Spain...

Smiled for more pics...

And said HELLO to Tangier, Morocco!!!
We met up with our guide, Jamal, and climbed into our van.

Stopped to take some pictures.

And see the largest mosque in the city.

This is the entrance for men:

And the entrance for women:

 Then we did a lot of driving through the windy roads, passing beautiful Summer homes of kings/queens, princes/princesses from northern Africa and other countries.

Then, we stopped for too long at one palace and thought we were going to get in trouble or something by the guard... but, instead he invited us in to look around a bit!!

This is the guard house/entrance:

We walked up to the garage... and Morgan was being a goof!

And of course these royals have a pink Bentley.

After we were finished daydreaming about what life is like living in a multi-house palace, we got to see views like this:
This is the Atlantic Ocean, btw.

And then went to the northwestern most point in Africa, 
which is where the lighthouse is.
 This is also where the Atlantic and Mediterranean come together!

Then we enjoyed some AMAZING mint tea and cookies.

Oh, and of course, when in Morocco, do as the Moroccans do and
And throw your hands up like you just don't care!
Can I just pause for a moment and tell you all that riding a camel is just a little... scary. They are TALL suckers. And here in Morocco, you don't hold on to much, other than a handmade handle. Plus, it was raining and muddy and slippery... RIGHT NEXT TO THE OCEAN!
But, it was awesome!!!  Something I will never forget!

Then we went into these caves, that unfortunately I don't remember much about because the person in there didn't speak English very clearly. But the caves have a lot of meaning and tradition for the Moroccan people. So, yea.  They were still pretty cool! 
If you just flip this picture (think mirror image),
the outline is Africa... cool, huh?

We walked around some more...

Toured an old palace...
Awesome hand done mosaic.

We then ate some of the most delicious food!!! ... walked around some more... shopped.. bought things... and raced back to the boat!

But, not before one final picture with Jamal!

It was such a fun day!  Made even more special by hanging out with Morgan and her friends. I am so blessed to have such wonderful opportunities to experience different parts of the world, meeting new friends along the way.  Thank you, Morgan, for such an awesome day! It was SO fun! I would totally go back!
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