updated 07/16/2013 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/16/2013 AT 9:00 AM ET
Former Bachelor contestant Desiree Hartsock is calling the shots and handing out the roses as the current star of The Bachelorette. The bridal stylist will blog all season long on PEOPLE.com about her dates, the guys and the difficult decisions she must make. You can also follow Desiree on Twitter.
After a beautiful week in Madeira, I was excited to meet the families of the four guys left on The Bachelorette. This week would be pivotal in helping me discern my feelings for each guy. It felt so refreshing to be back in the States, and I couldn’t wait to see what the men had in store.
Zak always has a surprise for me – I love that about him – so I had no idea what to expect for our date. I knew that his family business was in sno-cones but I did not expect to make them for a classroom of kindergarteners. It was so much fun trying all the unique flavors and it brought me back to my childhood. Zak was amazing with all the children and that showed the kind of father he would be – funny yet caring.
He tried to explain each family member to me the best he could, so that made me feel right at home. Their energy was out of this world and the entire house was filled with joy. I was nervous at first to talk with his protective sister, but her sweet personality put me at ease. I didn’t necessarily have any weighing concerns about Zak that I needed answers about – but I needed to see if my feelings were matching up to his. It was such a kind gesture for Zak to give me a ring to show me what he was hopeful for in our relationship and tell me that he loves me. But at that same moment I realized that maybe I wasn’t there with him yet – and that broke my heart.
Since Drew tended to be more reserved and serious, I hoped his family would bring out a different side to him. Going with him to pick up his sister Melissa is a moment I will never forget. She was so excited to see Drew and I could see the love that they had for each other. The care he took with her showed me how he would take care of his own family one day.
I was really looking forward to meeting Drew’s father, Mal. After my conversation with him, I could see why he’s Drew’s hero. Mal was so kind-hearted, yet strong, and it was such a pleasure to meet him and get his blessing. His entire family was so loving and kind – the type of family you want to be around. Also Drew lit up around his family. I could see a more comfortable and charismatic side to him that I had been looking for. And the steamy kiss he laid on me as I left was quite memorable too!
I was thrilled to meet Chris’s family in Oregon. One of the qualities I love about Chris is his athleticism, so it was nice to share in his passion for baseball and see where he played as a kid. I enjoyed showing off my baseball skills and hopefully impressed him. Spending the day with Chris in his hometown felt effortless and I could picture what a life together would be like.
I always have an amazing time with Chris and our relationship has progressed in such a wonderful way but I needed his family’s blessing. I knew he was ready for a commitment but I needed to see if our lives meshed well together. I enjoyed talking with his mother and I could tell she only wants what is best for her son. That was endearing and I was glad that his family gave us their blessings. It felt great to know where my relationship stood with Chris and that made me hopeful for the rest of the journey.
It seemed like forever since I last saw Brooks in Madeira, so I couldn’t wait to see him and meet his large family. I am always very comfortable with Brooks and love how engaging he is in conversation, so our time in the park brought me right back to where we left off. Since his confidence throughout this journey has waivered, I shared a list of our best memories to reassure him of my strong feelings for him. It worried me that he still needed reassurance, so I did have questions for his family to see if he is ready for a committed relationship.
Meeting a family that included nine siblings and their partners along with his mother, I was prepared for anything. His mother and siblings told me that Brooks is ready for a committed relationship once he meets the right girl and that he would be the best partner to have in life. After a great day, I felt confident in my relationship with Brooks and couldn’t wait to see him again.
Sending Zak Home
Sending Zak home was difficult because he is such a great guy. He will make some woman very happy one day – and will certainly keep her laughing through life.
The relationships are now at a make-it-or-break-it stage and I can see my life with any of the three men left. After that hometown rose ceremony, I was 100 percent officially in love and feeling good.
Stay tuned for next week’s episode, The Men Tell All, as I re-live the ups and downs from the previous dates, and come face to face with the men I sent home. I have no idea what to expect, but I do know that I have a few choice words for a few of the guys, especially because I was able to get some advice from former Bachelorettes Ali Fedotowsky, Ashley Hebert and Emily Maynard on just how to deal with some of my bad boys. This should be interesting!
BREAKING NEWS: I just learned that Brian is too scared to show his face at The Men Tell All, but that is probably for the better. I definitely don’t want to waste any time on a guy who showed up with a girlfriend. That is not the type of guy I was ever looking for, nor is he someone that any self-respecting woman in America should be with. I hope you don’t get your heart broken by that jerk, Stephanie!
Thanks for watching the show and reading my Bachelorette blog!