Home for the Holidays

"I have been very happy with my homes, but homes really are no more than the people who live in them."
- Nancy Reagan

 - 27 Hours - 
That is how long it took to get home. 

Subotica, Serbia
Budapest, Hungary
Munich, Germany
Chicago, Illinois
Portland, Oregon

All of that travel in one day (or rather one day and 3 hours of travel) landed us in the majestic Pacific Northwest. Fresh air. Family. Friends. Childhood memories. Battling "Ducks" and "Beavers." Pinot Noir. Rain. Lots of rain. Evergreens everywhere. Mt. Hood. Home. 

Chris and I were exhausted, but as soon as our plane landed in Portland, Oregon, I insisted on a meeting with little "JJ." Ohhh sweet, smiling little JJ, the newest addition to my family and the only person to truly make me cry of homesickness in Serbia. 

Chris, JJ, Me, new Daddy and new Mommy. 
We were tired, but there was no better way to kick off Christmas 2011 than with a kiss from my new nephew. 

He is perfect. 
Absolutely content. 
Alert at only 3 weeks. 
And he can already wear a mohawk. 
How cool is JJ?!

Our short visit in Oregon was a whirlwind of family, friends, parties, Christmas songs, gingerbread houses, gift giving, food, and MORE food. The trip reminded me that no matter where I go in life, I always have a deep community that loves me and knows my story . . . no matter how long I have been away. 

I truly am blessed. 

My parents threw one party after another, and after the handful of dinners I've thrown in Serbia, I have to say that I have a new appreciation for my mother. She hosted three huge parties in a row, and didn't skip a beat. You go Mom! I have a lot to aspire to!

Sweet dear friends from middle school, high school, and church. 
All of my "Mom's" (minus Mrs. Dikih)
Mom hosted an "Ugly Christmas Sweater/Gingerbread Contest Party." I didn't really know what to expect, but I am always ready for a dress up party. The party was non-stop laughter, and at the end of the evening we all went caroling around the neighborhood. How about that for some good-ol-American-Christmas-traditions!

The gingerbread "houses" got pretty creative . . . 
My brothers and Chris decided to make a football field.  Go 49ers! 
My team made a NASA spaceship. 
The annual family Christmas picture! 
Party #3 - we brought Serbian rakija to share. Our friends called it "Serbian fire water."
My best friend and her hubby (and their soon-to-be-little-one)
There are about 300 more pictures from Christmas 2011 in Oregon, but those can stay safely on my new little computer. Chris surprised me with an amazing computer for Christmas and a new camera so that I can better document our time in Europe. What a husband I have! Being home with Chris reminded me that I have so much to be grateful for. 

"Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to."
- John Ed Pearce

Next stop - Kentucky! Off to visit Chris beautiful family and the "home" we left to move to Serbia. 

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