Emily Mayard and Sean Lowe
07/03/2012 at 08:00 AM EDT
Even though I had so much fun traveling the world with all the guys on The Bachelorette
, I couldn't get back home to Charlotte, N.C., fast enough! Being able to spend time with Ricki and do my everyday mom stuff helped me put everything back into perspective.
But I was also really happy to start the hometown dates with Chris in Chicago. The last time I saw him was at the rose ceremony in Prague, and I didn't want him to worry that I was still upset with him about everything that happened
. He had told me so much about his family from the very first night, so I couldn't wait to meet them!
As soon as we walked in I could feel the love that this family has and it couldn't have been sweeter. I was caught a little off guard when Chris's dad asked me if I felt love, but I told him the truth – I wouldn't have been there if I didn't.
However, I was speaking about the experience as a whole, not knowing he would tell Chris I was falling in love with him, although I did have strong feelings for Chris. He has so many attributes that I look for in a husband and any girl would be lucky to have him! I had a really hard time sending him home, but wanted to stay true to the promise I made his sister that I wouldn't keep him away from his family if I didn't see him at the end with me.
I never know what to expect when I'm with Jef and of course, he surprised me once again! It's hard to believe the same guy who knows about Chloé bags can shoot clay pigeons like it's his job! Just like me, there are two sides to Jef and I love that we can bond over so many different things. Even though his parents weren't there, I absolutely loved his family, especially his sweet little niece, June!
I could tell they were skeptical – just like my own family was – but hopefully after seeing the two of us together they were able to see how real it can be. They made me feel so welcome, and while talking to his sisters I felt like I was talking to my girlfriends back home.
I was sad to leave them, but had no idea what Jef had planned for the second part of the day. The letter Jef wrote me was so perfect. I loved that everything he loved about me had to with my heart and the way I make him feel, not superficial things that undoubtedly will fade.
On my last season of The Bachelor
there was a lot of drama surrounding the NASCAR date. I want it to be very clear that I love the racetrack and have so many wonderful memories there, but was only upset because I felt like I was put in an unfair position and my past was being brought up too frequently. I told Arie I was totally comfortable at the track, and I know he never would've taken me there if I hadn't.
Arie was just as nervous as I was to meet his family, which didn't help calm my nerves at all. But by the end of the night I knew I had no reason to be nervous. His mom is one of the coolest ladies I've ever met and she actually gave me a skirt – you'll see me wear it in an upcoming episode! I saw a different side of Arie after meeting his family and have an even bigger soft spot in my heart for him.
When I pulled up and saw Sean standing there with his dogs I thought I had accidentally crashed a Ralph Lauren photo shoot. Seriously, how in the world is this guy so perfect that even his dogs are well behaved? I'm starting to wonder if Sean is even human!
However, after seeing the room at his parents' house that he supposedly lived in, all my dreams were shattered. Not because I thought he lived at home (though if you saw the way his mother had decorated their home you would want to live there too), but because that room was a MESS! I'm always cleaning something so that room sparked some serious anxiety in me. Thank goodness it was just a joke and even though I never got to see his actual home, I'd be willing to bet it's in perfect order, too!
I knew I'd love Sean's family and it was such an honor meeting the people that raised such a gentleman. I'm very thankful to his sister for talking him into opening his life to this crazy experience!
I know it's an overwhelming day, but at the root of all the craziness is something very real for me so I can't say thank you enough to each of the families for opening up your homes and being so welcoming. I have some memories I'll never forget.
Tune in next week when we head to the beautiful island of Curacao!