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Park of Roses Pictures

October 22, 2016
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We attempted to take some family photos at Park of Roses, and it was a largely unsuccessful experience that involved both of the children crying 75% of the time. Eleanor skinned her knee, then skinned her knee again, then face-planted the ground, then fell again. Adry was overwhelmed by the pressure to be still and smile. But I still like the pictures Dad managed to capture in the in-between moments… I love my family, even when we are NOT picture-perfect! ♥

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skinned knee- the evidence
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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Recentish Events

October 2, 2016
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I’m starting to see a ton of ME in this girl.

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All the Ellwood/Buccilla/Martin/Miller kids were together at Tara’s birthday party.

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Spoiled by Aunt Alexz and Uncle Matt.

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Snuggles with Grandma Martin

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Adry at his Eye Exam

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Buckeye Girl ~ Tutu, Frills, and Sequins!

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Lapping water from the chair (like a doggie!)
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So very excited about the rain!

Dad’s in his mid-fifties!

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Ella started tumbling lessons!

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Here There Be Monsters

September 11, 2016
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Sometimes I try to not believe in God. You know, just to give it a whirl. To see if it sticks. To see if the handful of anti-religion atheists who’ve tried to convert me over the years are onto something. I must admit- it would make things so much simpler to only believe in that for which there is empirical evidence. ….except if there is anything that history and science have taught me it’s that our knowledge is so incredibly limited. Every discovery we make opens the door to a thousand other mysteries. I believe humans are so infantile in our evolution and advancement we couldn’t yet comprehend most of what is actually out there.

I can’t close my mind to the possibility (or, in my humble opinion, the likelihood) of a creator of this universe. I believe this creator is intangible, either because it is spiritual, or because humans have millions of years of evolution and advancement to achieve before we can discover or comprehend it. (And maybe THEN “God” can be observed and tested!)

And what if “God’s will” is simply that the human race does survive and evolve and advance to the point that we CAN know the creator (God) personally. WHAT IF God either designed us specifically or just took a special interest in our species as we evolved and decided that he really wanted us to achieve that- he really wanted us to know him. What if he saw that we were really fucking up as a species and setting ourselves on the path to destruction and extinction and he decided to connect with us- through Abraham, Moses, and ultimately AS one of us through Jesus in order to “save us” (read: alter our course- change our mindset to achieve SURVIVAL, evolution, progress, and advancement in order to discover and know him one day.)

I like opening my mind up to those possibilities and the wonder of it all– Therein lies my spirituality! And it’s simultaneously why I can’t be an atheist and why the church is so spiritually suffocating for me. It’s honestly spiritual stagnation for me to continue trying to connect with the evangelical church where the probability of evolution is still a debate. Where gay marriage is still a debate. Where the nature of God and how/what form he exists is NOT up for question or debate. Where the Bible is taken at face value, and where more liberal or progressive Christians are accused of picking and choosing verses so they can live how they like. I’ve grappled with the evangelical church for a very long time. I don’t know what to do anymore. Over the past year I’ve packed my bags and prepared to leave, but here I am- just outside the doors sittin’ in the front lawn of evangelicalism, waving goodbye to all the other ex-evangelicals that keep leaving. I want to leave, too…

I spent 10 years- a third of my life- getting frustrated at genexers and millennials for leaving the church. I felt my generation began blaming the church for fallible people- holding the church to a standard of perfection that imperfect humans can’t achieve- throwing the baby out with the bath water- not being the change we wanted to see- etc. etc.- yadda yadda- blah blah. I held onto the church with patience and persistence and resilient determination for 10 years. But I’m at the point in my life where I’m feeling like there’s a pattern and it’s a big problem, and I don’t think I want to be a part of it anymore…

…When I first met my husband he was somewhat apathetic towards church, but mostly very forgiving. (He’d later open up to me over the years about the hurt he’d experienced within the church, and I won’t go into that… suffice to say he was very forgiving.) He never felt good enough and eventually experienced a particularly crushing disappointment that he didn’t handle very well. He’d subsequently lost faith and became self-destructive. When I met him he was on his way to a recovery- he was involved in a band with some church fellas who were a bit older than him, and I think he felt like they’d taken him under their wing and given him an emotional, spiritual, and creative outlet. I think he felt camaraderie and love. I think he trusted them and looked up to them. Then one day, unexpectedly, they kicked him out of his band because he wasn’t Christian enough. They wrote him letters- on Facebook- explaining just how Christian enough he wasn’t. And that was it for Keith. He was done. He checked out of organized religion and never looked back. When I was pregnant with Eleanor he became even more determined to shield her from the hurt he experienced, and I’ve stopped dragging him to church as I can feel the layers of defense he packs on before he even walks through the front doors. I used to think, ‘Keith had a bad experience with one dude in the church, not the church’ but really, the church breeds that kind of thing– Breeds it, justifies it. Keith simply joined the ranks of those before him who’d been marginalized, cast to the side, and in many cases flat out rejected for not fitting in a tiny little box with a tiny little god. (***It must be noted that one of the guys from Keith’s band later came back and apologized for his part in what happened, and I think very highly of that guy for doing so. He’s a genuine, loving person. It meant a whole lot and I will never forget that he did that for Keith.***)

So… I do think I am ready to leave, but I don’t know where to go. I do fully appreciate and am tremendously thankful for my evangelical roots and upbringing. I do not regret it in the slightest. I will always and forever hold out hope of returning and feeling welcome and comfortable in the evangelical church. But for now I just cannot connect with it, and not for lack of trying. I desire to spiritually connect SOMEWHERE, though. I just don’t know where.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Big Kid of the School

August 27, 2016
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My Third Grader!

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I walked Adry into school on the first day of third grade and we found his classroom together. He walked right on in without me, but I realized I was still holding his water bottle so I stepped in to hand it to him. He barely acknowledged my presence as he took the water bottle and searched for the desk with his name tag on it. I realized I was the only parent in the classroom so I sheepishly tiptoed back out! (Teehee, no I wasn’t hoping for an excuse to stick around all day, of course not!)
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I couldn’t help but think about his first day of kindergarten when I walked him in the classroom, along with all the other kindergarten parents, and helped him get settled at his school desk. I was relieved that he was okay when I left that day. I didn’t cry! I was glad he was excited and ready for kindergarten- I thought that’d make things easier on him.

But on the first day of third grade, I cried. I wanted to hug him a little tighter, hold onto him a little longer, and say ‘goodbye, have a great day’ one or two or ten more times. I’d have even been okay if he’d just looked back at me one time for an assuring nod or smile! But he didn’t need any of that.

He’s the big kid of the school this year. His building only goes through third grade. This was our last first day of elementary school before he’s off to the intermediate school next year. He’s confident as hell; he doesn’t need me to hold his hand, and that’s totally okay. I’m starting to need it more than he does. He’s my best buddy and I believe we are now experiencing the best childhood years together. It’s these years I want to hang onto and never let go. It’s these years that are passing way too quickly, and I know I’m going to miss them so much when they’re gone– The muddy shoes, milk mustaches, Ninja Turtle underoos, gaming, Youtube, sword fights with imaginary foes, new pals on the playground, sister cuddles, pure hatred of teeth-brushing, picky eating, and even the attitude fit for a 14-year-old– I’ll miss it all, every second.

..Dang. THIRD grade. Half way to middle school.
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Dear Adry,
On Back to School Night your teacher told me how sweet you are and how well you are doing. She said she uses you as an example of good behavior for the class to model. I’m proud of you! When did you grow up and where was I when it happened!? I’m looking forward to all the new things you learn this year, and all your new ideas and interests and passions that third grade inspires. I will fully support each and every one, you can count on me :-). Last year you aspired to be a Youtube gaming personality, and I was onboard! The year before that you were on your way to being a rock star in a heavy metal band (until you discovered how much drama imaginary band mates can be and you fired all of them for having attitudes). I’m excited to find out how third grade influences and shapes your dreams. I love you so much. You are such a gift to me. Happy Third Grade!
Love, Mommy

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

More Memories ~ Summer of ‘Sixteen

August 14, 2016
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The Last Month of Summer…

Ella Bella, you got to spend so much time with Aunt Alexz (and Uncle Matt). Aunt Alexz was on summer break from school so she took care of you, played with you, fed you new yummy things, played music with you, and taught you new things (like counting, how to be nice to pets, colors, etc). Now you use your “counting voice” and pet our heads and call us “good doggies” all the time… And every single living creature both living and make-believe is a doggie. Humans, pink teddy bears, turtles, bugs- all doggies.
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Adry Padry, your daddy and your grandparents on the Ellwood side took you on some fun outings including a road trip to Gettysburg where you learned about the Civil War.
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And as a bonus you got to meet the singer of Beartooth! He posted this picture on his Twitter and called you his best fan ever! You were so proud.
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Adry, you also spent some time with Grandma and Grandpa Martin, and, even though you were pretty sick, you enjoyed hanging out with the animals at the pet store. You liked this pug puppy because Dan TDM has pugs!
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You both spent Wednesdays together with Grandpa Sanders! He took these photos of you at The Park of Roses.
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And we got to meet Maya, Cousin Jack’s new baby girl!
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Adry, you held her for like an hour, and you got to feed her, too. You loved it. You turned down going out for snacks so you could stay with her. You can’t get enough of babies and I like that about you.
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It reminded me of January 2009 when we took a trip in a blizzard to meet Maya’s big brother, Logan.
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This summer I’ve enjoyed slower mornings with Ella and snuggle Netflix nights with Adry. We watched Grace and Frankie, Gortimer Gibbons, and Parks and Rec ’til we fell asleep! We also snuck in some sprinkler time, bubbles, inflatable pool games, and an awesome water gun fight– that was a ton of fun! (We made Keith so mad that day.) And at one point Tori spent a whole weekend with us and we took her on a road trip to Lancaster to try to get into the drive-in-theater (fail!), and another road trip to Mount Vernon for Maya’s baby shower where the kids played on the playgrounds.

On our last day of summer together as a family we traveled to Gallipolis, Ohio where Grandma Sanders grew up to attend the burial service of her dad. He passed away from stomach cancer complications. Grandma drove us around and showed us the house in which she lived as a kid as well as her friends’ houses and some places around town that brought back childhood memories for her. It certainly wasn’t the happiest note to end our summertime together, but I’m glad we could support Grandma while learning more about her.

I feel very fortunate to have the love of a bunch of awesome people in my life.

I am never happy to welcome back-to-school time. Adry starts THIRD GRADE this coming Tuesday. It helps that he doesn’t mind going back. Sigh. Here we go! Goodbye, Summer!


Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal