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Merry Christmas Eve!

Posted Dec 24 2009 8:29am

I am LOVING all of the exciting things your coming up with for the Knock Knock Giveaway. Keep ‘em coming!

Also, to those of you who have left comments with questions (some of you are even in Chicago — cool!) on my most recent posts, I will definitely respond back while I’m on my holiday “break” next week.

For now, I’d just like to say…

Families come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen a lot of changes this year — and I mean A LOT. All have made me a stronger and happier person in some way: engagement, graduation, new job, family loss and coming together to celebrate a life.

Through it all, I don’t know where I’d be without my “families.” First of all, there is my mom, my dad and my little brother. I love them all so much.

My second family is the one that will be starting on 10.16.10. (Just realized that could mean something more than what I actually mean — I’m only talking about the wedding people!) My future husband — still feels weird typing and/or saying that word, but “natural” at the same time — is my rock and support system whenever times are good or times get rough. For all that you have been and all that you will be – I love you, Bobby!

But perhaps the most unique family of all is the one that has been formed in the blogging community. I said this at Thanksgiving, but it should be repeated: all of you have had a profound impact on my life these past 1.75 years. I mean that very wholeheartedly, too — from eating and living choices to career choices and beyond. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do. My life is much better with you in it!

To celebrate, I thought I would share pictures of many of the bloggers who I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to meet in real life. Not everyone is represented here due to lack of pictures in some cases, but hopefully this gives you an idea of just how impactful this community has been. Just look at how many new people have entered my life as proof!

First, back in 2008, I met the amazing and wonderful VeggieGirl.

Started the year 2009 with a bang!

L: Heather, Gina, Melissa, me.

R: Me, Rose and Mara.

Went on to meet many more friendly faces.

L: Me and Karla

R: Mara, foodie friend (!!), Michelle, me and Shannon

The blog love would continue through the summer at BlogHer ‘09.

L: Me and Kath

R: Mary, Roni, MizFit

As well as a trip up to my old campus stomping grounds to meet with Mara, Caroline and Amanda. I also met Amanda and her sister, Ashley, on a separate occasion, but we don’t have a picture!

DSCN4209

And even when the temperatures began to dip, there were still Chicago blogging buddy meetups to be had.

L: Lo, Me and Val

R: Brittany and Me

In conclusion, these pictures do not even begin to encompass the friendship, happiness and opportunity for growth that blogging has afforded me. My good friend Sarah – a former blogger and awesome person — came and stayed with me in Chicago, and my friend Mara was kind enough to invite me to her wedding and has taken me on several foodie adventures.

Can’t forget about my meetup with Kristie Lynn, either! There were so many opportunities — forgive me if I’ve forgotten anything. It’s not over, either — more foodie fun to come in the next couple of weeks!

I can only imagine what 2010 will bring! I know that there are more of you in Chicago and still more that might be visiting. Please don’t hesitate to email me if you’re in town because I would love to meet all of you.

To summarize, I would like to wish ALL of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS, from the Bender family to yours!!

Back soon with a festive recap of our extravaganzas!!!

Abrazos,

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