August 31, 2012

I Passed!

Just wanted to let everyone know that I PASSED the CPA exam! I'm so excited and relieved. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I have so much time now! No more studying hanging over my head.

I would like to thank Google for this great image of what an accountant looks like:

Accountants can be cool, I worked with some pretty fun people in Orlando, so there. :)

Anyway, I realized the other day that passing this exam is literally the hardest, biggest thing I've accomplished in my life. It didn't come easily or naturally to me, and I stuck with it until I made it happen. (I would also like to seriously thank the Lord Jesus - because I did not sleep the night before this last exam due to a huge thunderstorm, and I told God that all credit was due to Him if I passed - I was not in a good state of mind!)

Things have always come pretty easily for me. I always made good enough grades in school without studying too hard; I did study, but probably not as much as I should have. I've run several half marathons, and a few years ago I wanted to run a full marathon, just to say I could do it. I didn't train sufficiently, but I made it happen anyway - that was hard, but only for 5 hours. 

This CPA exam thing was on a whole different level, and lasted for 3 years, starting in the Fall of 2009. For 2 years, I took exams and didn't pass them, and I didn't understand what it would take. Then, last summer, my sweet husband suggested that if I didn't pass the next one, maybe I should take a break from the test. For some reason this was the motivation I needed! I knew I was smart enough, and I knew I could pass. By some miracle, I passed that section by 1 point! I realized that it was the hardest I had ever studied for one part, and I only passed by one point, so I better step it up for the next section! The next one I passed with room to spare, and then went on to pass the next two. Once I set my mind to it in July of 2011, it took me one year and one try on each part to pass. I wish I had just set my mind to it back in 2009! But I guarantee you I know that information better than someone who passed the first time - I've studied it for three years!

It feels really good to have worked at something for so long, and to have set a goal and accomplish it. I am notorious for starting things and not finishing them. Or for coming up with great ideas that I want to start, and never even starting. For example: 

It was such a great feeling to set a goal, work hard at it, and see it fulfilled. Now I'm full of ideas of all kinds of goals I want to set for myself! I'm trying to pick just one or two that I can be serious about and actually accomplish (hopefully with a shorter time frame than 3 years). 

August 1, 2012

This Year We Will Be In.....

This year we will be living in....


I did not mean to, but I've abandoned this blog for a few months, and now I'm back! In the meantime, Matt has signed a contract for next year with a team in North France, in the city of Lievin, France. Its a good contract and a step up from last year, so we are excited to see what this year brings! Last year, I said I didn't care if we were in Spain again (because I liked it) or a different country (because I want to see more of Europe). I am really excited about France, though, and especially about the area of Europe we will be in - perfect for traveling! We are really close to England, Belgium and not too far from Germany. Last year we only traveled within Spain, so this year I'm excited to see more of Europe.

Last year was a good experience, but I think this year will be even better, just from an adjusting standpoint. First, we will have a car this year, which will be great! Second, we already have visitors scheduled. Last year, we went all fall with no visitors, and we missed our families a lot! This year we are trying to spread everyone out so we won't be as homesick. Matt's dad is coming in October for his first game, and my sister is coming for Thanksgiving in November! I know it will be so much fun to see both of them not too long after we've been gone. The only way this year will be harder than last year is that neither Matt nor I speak a word of French! (Oui, merci, and that is all....) At least last year Matt could speak Spanish. I've started using a free library program to learn a little bit, so we'll see how that goes. 

I took my (hopefully) last section of the CPA exam yesterday! I saved the most difficult one (FAR - Financial) for the last, and it was a hard test! I'll find out if I passed or not right around the time we leave, so hopefully I passed and I won't have to bring my books with me to France. It would be so unbelievably great to be finished studying. 

Matt's been playing a lot of basketball and training to get ready for France. He played in a Pro-Am tournament in Birmingham last week, and his team won the championship! That was pretty cool, except I didn't get to see him play because I was studying for my test. His family got to see him play though, which they loved. 

Anyway, we are dealing with Visa issues right now, and as soon as we get that figured out we will leave, probably around August 22. That's soon! This summer has flown by, but its been a good one. It's been great to have a summer for the first time in a few years, work some part time jobs, be completely flexible, go on some fun vacations and spend time with our families. We'll be in France until May, and then back to the USA again for another great summer!

June 9, 2012

A Note to Myself

During the past year in Spain, I kept thinking, "I really need to remember that for next year", so I thought I would post some notes to myself on here. If you have any input, please add, I will take any advice!

We are in a unique situation where we are moving every year. We will have fully furnished apartments (including kitchen utensils, etc.) in Europe, so we pretty much just need to bring clothes. But it's tough to know what to bring and also what to buy once here. Almost anything I buy for the apartment will be left behind, and I hate to spend the money to buy the same things again every year.

1. I DO NOT need to pack as much as I think I need to pack. I don't need to pack every piece of clothing that I own, I can do laundry, and Europe is not a third world country, I can buy anything I end up needing. Also, there is always Christmas and family and friends visiting that can bring me something if I need it.
2. Trust the weather - if the reports say the city is cold, it's going to be cold, no matter how warm I wish it was! This past year, I packed for Avila, Spain while living in Orlanod,Florida. I brought lots of sundresses, shorts, sandals, etc. thinking that I could surely wear them in September and May. At Christmas I took all of these things home realizing that I will never wear them in Avila, even in Spring.
3. Don't bring more than one pair of shoes that aren't comfortable, no matter how cute they are. I won't ever wear them because I am walking so much (I guess this depends on which city we live in).
4. Bring an umbrella - small to pack, and not worth buying and throwing away every year.
5. If I have room (yeah, right!), there are some food items that I missed out on last year that would be nice to have, such as brownie or cake mix, a measuring cup and teaspoons, boxes of macaroni and cheese (my favorite), certain items I use for multiple recipes - packets of taco seasoning, ranch dressing mix, etc.
6. Also if I have room, a comfy extra blanket and some extra pillowcases would be nice. I love having a blanket on the couch to watch TV and read with, and also the pillow cases in Europe (at least the ones we had last year) are kind of weird - scratchy and very long.
7. I would like to pick out a few durable (i.e. won't break in suitcase) picture frames and bring a few pictures of family and friends to make our apartment seem more like home.

Things to buy at the beginning of the year next year (some things are just not worth the money unless you can use them all year):
1. Go ahead and buy basic baking and cooking ingredients - spices and flour, sugar, etc. (This year I waited until January, and it was so much better having a fully stocked kitchen).
2. Buy a Swiffer for the wood or tile floors - a broom just doesn't clean good enough.
3. Swiffer dusting rags - wet paper towels just don't work that great.
4. Go ahead and buy necessities - like hangers for the closet.
5. Get a bath mat for the bathroom - using a towel to stand on is no fun for an entire year.
6. Go ahead and get a cell phone at the beginning of the year. I went this entire year without a cell phone and it was doable, but not preferable.

I'm hoping that next year, where ever we are, will be even better because I will be more prepared and will be able to adjust more quickly. It will be different every year - the apartment will always be furnished, but the extent of our kitchen utensils will always be different. This year we had no dishwasher, and a random compilation of mis matched cups, bowls, etc. but next year we could have a fully stocked kitchen complete with measuring cups and cookie sheets (haha-the things I'm getting excited about!). Some of Matt's teammates had a DRYER in their apartment - this is a huge deal in Spain! I would be so excited if we ever had a dryer and didn't have to line dry clothes.

Anyway, we won't know until later this summer where we will be next year, could be Spain, could be a different country, but for now I'm just enjoying the USA! 

May 22, 2012

Home Again, Home Again

"Home again, home again, jiggity jog" I can't remember who used to always say that, maybe my grandfather? Has anyone else every heard that expression? Anyway, Matt and I are home again! We had a great year in Spain, but we are SO HAPPY to be back in the USA! We've had a pretty busy couple of weeks since we got back, and its just now slowing down. We have gotten to do some really fun things though!

Two days after we got back to Alabama, I hopped in the car with my mom and sister and went to Jacksonville to see my brother's winging ceremony (he's in the Navy, and is now a NFO - Naval Flight Officer). It was great to see my brother and spend the weekend with most of my family. 

Everyone who came to support Blair

My brother Blair, me, my dad and my sister Elizabeth

All the ladies: my mom, me, my Aunt Sallie, my cousin Claire, and my sister Elizabeth

The plane Blair flies/navigates - a P3 - it was so big!

Dressed up for the celebration that night

The day after I got back from Jacksonville, Matt and I got to go to Talladega with some sweet friends of ours who invited us! We were so excited to go (I have never been), and it was a really exciting race and a fun day. Matt dressed for the part:

My sweet friend Heidi

The racetrack

lovely orange earplugs

After Talladega, I came home and did nothing but STUDY for an entire week. I sat for the Audit section of the CPA exam on Friday, May 11, and I'm now waiting to find out my score...I might find out this week, which would be extremely fast. I've passed two of four parts, so I really hope I passed Audit and can take the last section in July and be finished with it forever!

After my exam, I enjoyed not studying for a few days, and then Matt and I went with my family to the beach. It was such an amazing trip! The place we stayed was so nice, we were on the bottom floor with the pool right outside our back door. The pool was HUGE! It was the size of about 5 normal pools with a fountain, lots of stairs, palm trees and umbrellas all over the pool deck, it was really nice. We were about a  3 minute walk from the beach, and the water was so clear while we were there, no jellyfish. We got to stay for 6 days and the weather was perfect the whole time. Thanks Mom for taking us on such a great beach trip!

Me and Matt at dinner

Everyone with my cousin at his restaurant - its on 30a and its called Local Catch - it was delicious!

Our amazing pool

Playing Risk - we played 2 full games of Monopoly (one of which I won!) and 2 full games of Risk during the week - I guess saying my family likes board games is an understatement. 

Now we are back to normal life, Matt is starting a job at Greystone this week and I'm still unemployed - know anyone who needs an accountant for the summer? Hopefully I can find something soon or you might see me bagging groceries at Wal-mart! 

April 27, 2012


Over the past month, we've had a lot of visitors, and it's been so much fun! Matt and I have loved seeing our family and friends and getting to show them where we live. It's really helped this last part of the year go by fast. Here is a summary of the last month.

First, the whole Robertson family came to visit!
In Madrid in front of the Royal Palace

We went to Madrid for two days, got to see a Real Madrid futbol game, Salamanca for one day, ate at Cuatro Postes (the Hotel here in Avila where Matt eats all his meals with the team and where Matt and I lived for the first 3 weeks we were here), walked on top of the wall in Avila, went to Matt's basketball game, and just enjoyed hanging out together. 
Here are a few pictures from their trip:
at the Real Madrid game

The Cathedral across from the Royal Palace in Madrid

A Cathedral and statue in Salamanca

Brothers at the train station

On top of the wall in Avila with the Cathedral in the background

The next week, my mom came for a visit. On the day she flew into Madrid, there was an organized general strike in all of Spain - crazy! The trains weren't running because of the strike, so we had to wait until 4 pm to catch a bus back to Avila. We saw some of Madrid with her suitcase in tote, got some tapas, and crashed that night. We went back to Madrid for 2 days later in her visit, got to do the tour of the inside of the Royal Palace (my favorite thing!), went to Salamanca for a day, ate at Cuatro Postes, walked on top of the wall and went in the Cathedrals in Avila. 

Tapas in Madrid near Plaza Mayor 

Plaza Mayor

Hot chocolate and pastries in Avila

On top of the Wall in Avila looking down at a Cathedral

On top of the wall in Avila, different Cathedral in background

A city building that used to be a palace in Madrid

In front of the Royal Palace in Madrid

The Royal Gardens

Eating lunch with some of my English teacher friends, Carol, Diana, and Sylvia

My mom was here doing Santa Semana, or Holy Week, leading up to Easter. In Avila there are processions every day with a band and people carrying floats with statues representing different things about the Holy Week. We got to see several of these, and they were pretty cool to watch. It was strange though because the costumes everyone in the parade wears are basically the same hats that were worn by the Ku Klux Klan, which is freaky, but they have no relation to each other. Here, these hats and robes are worn in all different colors and are associated with the Holy Week celebrations. 

A week after my mom left, our friends Heidi and Ian came to visit for a couple days. They came to Madrid for a few days, then Avila to see us, then went to Barcelona for the rest of the week. We were so excited to see them! I can't believe you guys made it to Spain to see us. Unfortunately the weather was awful, rainy and windy and cold, I hope it was better in Barcelona! This is the only picture I have from their visit, I guess we took all the pictures with their camera.

Heidi and me at a coffee shop

Thanks so much to everyone who made a trip to come visit! Matt and I have missed family and friends a lot this year, so it was great to see all of you! Who wants to come visit next year? Who knows what country or city we will be in - start saving now! :)

April 19, 2012

Home is where the Heart is

{I found this on Pinterest}

I remember the first time I accidentally said "I'm going home!" and I was referring to my freshman dorm at Alabama, not to my family's house. I felt so weird saying that. Since then, it doesn't seem as big of a deal...home is Tutwiler, the Alpha Chi house, Matt's house in Birmingham, my family's house in Birmingham, our apartment in Orlando... and now Spain, kind of. But not really. In college, "home" was where ever my stuff was, but now it has become the opposite - where ever my stuff isn't - and where ever Matt is.

Matt loves Florida, and the whole time we lived in Orlando, I liked it, but I really loved Birmingham, and the idea of living in the south (as in, southern culture, which Florida is not really part of). I kept telling him that once we left I would probably love it and miss it. Well....since living in Spain, I always think of my true home as our apartment in Orlando. I guess mostly because it's the only place Matt and I have ever lived together, so it feels like our home. It's hard for me to realize that apartment doesn't exist anymore, someone else is probably living there now, with different furniture and everything. But I still picture it as home.

Matt and I both whole heartedly want to pursue this basketball thing, however long that lasts and wherever it takes us. I realize this will probably leave us "homeless" for awhile. All of our possessions are in storage, except for our clothes that are with us (I am struggling to learn to "pack light"). We will have an apartment in a foreign country from August - May, then come back to Birmingham (at least for this summer) and live with our families or rent somewhere to live. I think there are some amazing positives, but also some negatives, to being "homeless". I think one of the main positives for me personally is trying to realize that stuff doesn't really matter, who you are with matters. I could not do this by myself. I took a one week mission trip to Romania my senior year of high school and got homesick. I hated my freshman year of college and came home all the time. But with Matt, I'm home. In Orlando I never got homesick, and here I miss home, but really I'm great because my best friend is with me.

This summer I went with Matt to one of his shooting (basketball shooting, not gun shooting...obviously, but just in case :)) lessons. I was sitting there watching him work and Ephesians 3:20 came into my mind:

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations...".

I was just thinking that God has given me so much more than I even know to ask for. I always thought I would meet some guy in college who was pretty great, and we would get married a little while after that, he would have an 8-5 office job, I would work until we have kids, then I would be a soccer mom, and we would live in Birmingham, or maybe move away for awhile and then move back. That sounds like a great life.... But instead, I got to marry someone that my family already knew, I already knew his family, we have a few pictures together from when we were younger, and we got to fall in love while we were both still in college. We got to be different and get married while he was still in college. Then he took me to Orlando, Florida. Now he is taking me who knows where all over the world while he plays professional basketball, which is way more fun than an office job. He is so amazing and such a wonderful husband, best friend, everything. I don't know how I ever had fun in life without him. And he loves the Lord so much. God has given me way more than I could ever ask for.

This year, starting with this past summer, when crazy things happen, or when nothing happens and we have to wait, Matt and I both are learning to trust God. When I struggle to trust that His plan is perfect, I only need to look back and see that he has been faithful, and that he has given me more already than I ever would have dreamed on my own. So maybe if my prayers don't get answered the way I planned, maybe I should trust that he has something different, and better, in store.


About two months ago some of my English teacher friends had a day off and were so kind to take me to some villages around Avila searching for Castles! It was really fun, and here are some pictures from the day:

My friend Diana

Me in front of the Castle

Unfortunately there wasn't anything inside, just overgrown grass and some rocks

The back of the castle was literally built into the mountain rocks

View of Avila from the Castle, you can barely see it

Some Chick-fil-a cows in a village we drove through; according to my friends these are milking cows

Another castle and restaurant, but it was closed

Some small houses in the tiny villages we were driving through

More cows, just wondering around 
A hotel in the mountains near Avila - near meaning about a 1 hour drive through the mountians! It was beautiful though, and the hotel is very old, with a gorgeous view out the back.