For 2016 and 2017, I recapped my year through photos that had never been posted. The only rules were that I had to be in each photo, and I had to share at least one photo from each month. I’m doing it again for 2018, even though I think it’s getting weaker every year. Enjoy!


Dec. 26 – Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia: Forever struggling to take pics together.
Dec. 25 – Tasmania, Australia: Living my best life feeding kangaroos at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.
Nov. 25 – Shenzhen, China: I don’t know the lyrics to “Frosty the Snowman.”
Oct. 31 – Shenzhen, China: My foot is in this picture so it counts. Apparently this is the only photo I had in October? We watched Monster House and someone was a bit scared.
Sept. 20 – I haven’t been great at documenting my life this year, so this is my only photo from September. A gift from a sweet student (pictured under my desk above.)
Aug. 13 – Glen Allen, VA: A successful group call with some of my favorite people on the planet.
Jul. 3 – Springfield, MO: We got engaged on June 25 but didn’t tell anyone until we got back from Ohio and had a ring to wave around.
Jun. 28 – Ashville, OH: Doing puzzles with the family and being secretly engaged.
May 28 – Ohio: Sharing a Coke
May 1 – Springfield, MO: Jasmine sent me an old map of Nicaragua when we were evacuated. 
Apr. 4 – New York, NY: Even sans original cast, Hamilton didn’t disappoint.
Mar. 10 – Matiguas, Matagalpa, Nicaragua: Favorite shirt and favorite cat, both tragically left behind in Nicaragua.
Feb. 25 – Matiguas: Best friends.
Feb. 4 – Matiguas: I can still remember how warm, tiny, and milk-fat he felt in my hand.
Jan. 30 – Matiguas: After his siblings died, I devoted my time to making sure he survived. I still love him so much.
Jan. 16 – Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua: Peace Corps family ❤
Jan. 1 –  Playa Gigante, Rivas, Nicaragua: RIP to all of the clothes we left in Nicaragua. Also, gotta say I love ringing in all the years with this guy.

Okay, now that the photo part is over, time for a reflection of what I’ve gathered from this journey. First, I’ve noticed I have so many photos from the first half of the year, but almost none from China. It’s not just that I don’t have pictures of me; I just don’t have many at all. I’ve found that one of my biggest struggles in the latter half of the year is maintaining a work-life balance that makes me happy. I find that far too much of my “free” time is spent thinking about work, doing work, or feeling guilty that I’m not being productive enough. Such is the life of a teacher, I guess, but I can’t say I love it. So I’m calling attention to it here and challenging myself to find better ways to compartmentalize?

Another thing (and maybe a continuing trend) is that I wish terribly that I’d taken more photos in Nicaragua. I have waaaaay more from Nicaragua than China, but in the wake of my evacuation, I’m left wishing I’d pulled out my camera and photographed anything and everything. There are people I love who I don’t have pictures of, and who I won’t have pictures of unless and until I go back. At the time, a) I was just living my life and not worrying about documentation, and b) felt like I had plenty of time left to do all this and get proper closure.

This was a hard year. A wonderful year, but a hard one. I said goodbye (but not really) to a place I love and people I love, had some unexpected but joyous reunions with family and friends, and was thrust rather abruptly into a challenging new job and culture. In the middle of all that, Thomas and I got engaged and started planning a wedding from afar.

I honestly have no idea what 2019 will bring (beyond getting married, anyway) and I’m a little terrified about it. I suspect it’ll be a pretty pivotal year, and one that may hold some tough decisions and changes. That said, I’m going to try to roll with it as best I can and embrace the opportunities that come my way.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2019.


For 2016, I recapped my year through photos that had never been posted. The only rules were that I had to be in each photo, and I had to share at least one photo from each month. I liked doing this, so I’m doing it again for 2017. Here we go!

Dec. 30 – Playa Gigante: Closing out the year with this guy by my side.
Dec. 23 – Springfield, MO: ❄️
Dec. 8 – Glen Allen, VA: Snowtogenic?
Nov. 24 – Matagalpa, Nicaragua: I compulsively take people’s temperatures when they’re sick. Thomas had a fever of 103 and was basically as hot as an O-type star.
Oct. 10 – Matiguás, Matagalpa: No puedo expresar la alegría que siento cuando la gente me regala fruta.
Sept. 19 – Matiguás: She asked me to pour water in her mouth like this. Also, my floor is filthy.
Sept. 16 – Managua, Nicaragua: Reunited with my Niquinohomo loves.
Sept. 9 – Springfield, MO: There’s a pain goes on and on.
Aug. 29 – Matagalpa: When they review grammar, I review grammar.
Aug. 20 – Matagalpa: The cuddliest of all puppies.
Jul. 4 – Springfield, Missouri: Emotional day at the record store.
Jul. 4 – Springfield, Missouri: 💇🏽‍♀️🍭
Jun. 28 – Ellijay, GA: S’more 🔥
Jun. 2 – León, Nicaragua: Catedral
May 31 – Matagalpa: Bodas negras
May – Matiguás: Heaven on Earth
Apr. 15 – Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua: Sunscreen Wilson© by Thomas Orange
Mar. 19 – Estelí: Stacks on stacks 🥞
Feb. 25 – Matagalpa: Sneak attack besitos at Kiss Me
Jan. 30 – Matiguás: With pain comes beauty? Or something? I don’t know.
Jan. 26 – Matiguás: Baby’s first fever, vomiting, and diarrhea in Nicaragua! #triplethreat
Jan. 7 – Matagalpa: Great views of my home away from home away from home.

I’m not going to give a long commentary on what this year meant to me, but I’ll say this: it went quick. There were good parts and bad parts, but I always felt supported and surrounded by love, and I’m grateful for that. I already know that 2018 will be an interesting one. I don’t know exactly what it has in store, but I’m excited to find out.