I’ve been in Indiana for three days and have loved every second. The minute I cross into Bloomington, I’m home and I’m happy. After a rough 9-hour night drive from DC, we made it to Rick’s sister’s house in Avon and proceeded throughout the entire next day on only 2 hours of sleep.

When I got down to B-town, the first face I wanted to see was this one:

Yes, she is playing with my deoderant. Everything she does is cute, I can’t help it! Oh, you haven’t been introduced yet? Well, this is my beautiful niece, Giovanna — the light of our lives 🙂

Soon after arriving to Bloomington, we just had to visit Max’s Place. The only place I care about eating when I’m home is here. Literally, world’s best pizza and a cute, little hippie joint with live music, great beer and awesome company. Tonight, my Dad’s friend Scott was hosting (and singing) a showcase:

My Dad goes to Max’s so frequently that he has his own table (basically!) and he was even invited to the employee Christmas party! That’s our go-to place for meet ups with family and friends. Giovanna is Max’s most famous baby.

In fact, she’s been known to pass out for a nap on the floor and run around the restaurant to charm customers.

After a couple of Blue Moons, I was more than read to hit the sack. See, I was still working on 2 hours of sleep in this photo. I passed out quickly when I got home!

The next day, we went to lunch at Roots with Grandma. I snapped this photo of Shelby and Giovanna walking afterward:

Earlier in the day, I ran 8 miles on my usual “homey” path around the deserted Indiana University campus. It’s nice but I almost prefer passing lots of people because it entertains me. However, running on campus always reminds me of the good old college days. 
I went to college at IU but also grew up in Bloomington. Despite the close proximity, college always felt like a different place. I always lived on campus and was a normal college kid even though my parents were just a 10-15 minutes away. 
Then, it was off to a year reunion with my best girlfriends from high school. Megan, Amy, Britney and I have been friends since we were 15 or 16 years old and have luckily remained close over the years. We usually only see eachother together once or twice a year but we make it happen at Christmas!

Megan and her husband, Mike, just built and moved into a beautiful new home. I was in awe of their amazingly high ceilings, plush carpeting, beautifully built kitchen, rooms, warm fireplace and more. It was so nice to be in this Christmasy home for our gathering.

Now that we are “grown-ups” there are lots of kiddos involved. My sisters, Lindsey and Shelby, joined us along with Adam, Mike, Tom and Rick — the significant others’ of all us ladies.

Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of all the kids but they included Mike and Megan’s three: Henry, Jack and Katelyn, Amy and Adam’s son Jhett and Giovanna of course! We had a few pregnant ladies at the table as well! It’s a really exciting time for everyone and so fun to have kids around during the holidays. I got a photo of the newest addition, baby Katelyn, while she slept on my shoulder. She is an adorable baby — smiles and sure to be a joy to everyone who meets her!

Earlier today, Shelby sent me a video of Giovanna saying my name — which of course I’m in love with and simply must share with you all:

Another thing I love when I come home is my Dad’s cooking. He can throw together just about anything and make it taste good. Tonight, he made what he calls his own “Hobo Stew” — with all kinds of various ingredients that tasted delicious:

I’ll leave you for today with a photo of our family Christmas tree. Gifts become less important every year but appreciation for a loving family to spend the holidays with increases. I’m lucky. Merry almost Christmas readers!

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