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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

Thirty Years of Throwback ~ 2012-2015

June 18, 2016
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Mer n’ Chip’s Wedding

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The brief engagement of Keith n’ Jess!

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Becoming a family unit!

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The Fine Lookin’ Sanders Gang- Mom and Dad turned 50!



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2013 makes me miss my long hair!

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Five Iron Frenzy Reunited!

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Keith n’ Jess actually got to go on dates this year!

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Adry still thought I was cool!



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Dancing in Bicentennial Park

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Being enormously pregnant with Ella Bella…

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…at the same time as Jamie!

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Game Night Girls


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First year as a Family of Four!

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Baby’s First Halloween

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Mommy-Daughter Times

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The Sanders Sibs- perpetually children reprimanded by Mom!


I’ve had an enormously rich and blessed 30+ years of life!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Adry’s “Best Day Ever!”

April 23, 2016
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As you may remember, when Adry was in Kindergarten we received a shocking eye exam result– he had 20/200 vision in one eye due to a birth defect. We immediately began a long arduous process of patches and itches and face rashes and tears and ophthalmologist appointments trying to strengthen his eye so he could see as much as possible with corrective lenses.

This past February the doctor said he was making minimal progress and there probably wasn’t much more we could do.

This week we went in for the dilation drops, further testing, new lens prescriptions, and a game plan.

Mom thought I was going to get disappointing news, so she offered to go with me. She picked Adry up from school and treated him to lunch.
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(and Adry got a surprise silly string attack)
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We got to the office and started the testing regimen.
In the midst of it the doctor very unexpectedly said that everything looked good, with his new glasses prescription and both eyes open Adry will have 20/20 vision, and there’s no need to continue patching.

Adry’s eyes shot open.
He made the doctor repeat himself.
No more patching!

If there are stages of pure joy, Adry went through all of them over the hour that followed. Shock. Disbelief. Denial.
Then a huge smile. Then his face turned red. Then he started crying.
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Then doubt, questions, more crying, and finally acceptance.
WE DID IT! We worked so hard and now it’s over. Adry can see! (He can even read maybe the third largest letters with his good eye covered and his glasses on! Before he could only make out shadows!) And now he can just be a kid and not have to organize his day around wearing an eye patch for 2 hours, which is a huge deal for him.
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We got home and he spent the rest of the evening playing outside with Eleanor and swinging on a homemade tree swing my dad put up. When the sun set and it was time to come inside and go to bed he said, “this was the best day ever.”
I am proud of him, and so happy for him.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Enjoying a Taste of Spring in Grandview

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The Martin-Ellwood family moved into a slightly bigger tiny apartment a couple of blocks away in Grandview.

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We gained a basement which we use as a play area, laundry room, and storage space. Just that little bit has made all the difference in the world. The apartment is also in a really great location within Grandview… Basically right outside our front door is a big field with picnic tables, a playground, and a bike/walk path. The kids can take advantage of all of it as though it were our back yard. The pool is pretty much next door (which is getting renovated and fancied up by next summer!), the community center and big newly renovated park is a 5-10 minute stroll away, and the elementary school and playground as well as the First Ave coffee shop/restaurant strip is 5 minutes up the street. And there are big old trees and kids running around everywhere. I am incredibly content here. Keith and I have one main goal for our family, which is to, within one more move, end up in a very very small home or double here in Grandview and stay here forever, haha. I know we dream big we can’t be contained we can’t help it. When you get to a community of zero complaints- a place where your neighbors come find you to invite you to their daughter’s softball games, where you sit in the cul-de-sac by your home and eat dinner while watching a high school baseball game, where no one really cares when your teams lose because participation and inclusion are valued over winning, and art and creativity and innovation and cooperation and HEALTH and academics are valued over competition- you stay, because what more could you ask for?

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal