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Some Christmassy 2016 Photos

February 12, 2017
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[I am sorry to the people that did not make it in these photos. It was unintentional. …Namely Rebecca and my mother, who seem to have eluded the camera when I was taking photos (I think they were beside me on the couch); and The Martins because I must not have gotten my camera out when we saw them.]

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This gift of Jacob’s was perhaps one of my favorite things about Christmas this year. Back in 2011, Jacob and our boss at work- Robin- started a prank battle with these creepy AF caroling Christmas dolls.
THE STORY IS HERE:
Battle of the Caroling Dolls
When Jacob left his job at The Village, he took one of the caroling dolls with him with every intention of getting the final prank in–maybe even years later when the time was just right he’d take the doll back to The Village and leave it where Robin would find it. The topic would resurface every now and then over the years, and he would confirm his plan to do so.
Well, this year Dad gave a package to J and told him it was NOT from him.
When J opened it and received a caroling doll for Christmas I could not stop laughing. FIVE years later Robin beat J to the punch and remains the prank master.
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Well played, Robin!

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Ella Turns TWO!

February 11, 2017
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On November 4, 2014 The Martin Family lost a baby and gained a toddler.
That morning we woke up and went to Amy’s Donuts
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and Eleanor enjoyed every last bit of icing on her’s.
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She was also treated to an apple and a sucker at the grocery store.
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And she celebrated life and autumn and sunshine by dancing in the leaves at Grandma and Grandpa Sanders’ house.
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Several days later we had a small family party for yummy cake and a few gifts.
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Aunt Alexz made the cutest, most delicious cake!
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And the day after she partied hard, she laid back and read through her birthday cards.
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Ella Bella,
You are such a spirited little girl- so full of life! You are also tough as nails. You’ve been through so much in your young life, and you take everything head-on. I will never forget the time two big, strong male nurses and myself gathered around your bed at Children’s Hospital prepared to hold you down to get an IV in your tiny arm. You were frightened, but you didn’t look away, nor did you cry after the initial prick. …Or the time I put you in the bathtub and took the shower head down. It got loose and hit you in the belly and sprayed ice-cold water on you. You screamed and I whisked you out as fast as I could and held you against me to comfort you, and just a minute later I asked if you were ready to try to take a bath again. You said, “okay”, so I put you back in the tub. You were so nervous you were shaking. You kept your eyes peeled to the shower head, but you didn’t back away or cower when the water came back on. Instead you went up to it and held out your trembling hand to test if it was safe. Baby Girl, I admire your bravery!
You love BeeBee (your baby doll), stuffed animals, and doggies. You have recently begun to let us read books to you! (I love that.) You dance and sing ALL the time, and you like to organize things/put things back where they belong even though you are a tornado that leaves a trail of destruction everywhere you go. You also LOVE to color-even yourself, the walls, and Grandma and Grandpa’s floors and furniture.
You have a mind of your own and you’re difficult to keep up with. (I mean, you really wear us out, El. You are exhausting.) But I am excited to realize the things you are capable of accomplishing with all that energy and determination when you are older! (I just keep reminding myself of that, haha.)
I am so thankful you are part of our family.
I love you very much!
-Mommy

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Halloween 2016

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I finally got a new computer! Hooray! Despite the amount of our savings that Keith’s temporary unemployment ate through, I decided to bite the bullet and invest in a MacBook Air. I was going to wait until after tax returns until I realized I do my own taxes, and… I need a computer to do taxes!

Now I can play catch-up on all my holiday photos.

First: Halloween

Halloween was the most enjoyable holiday for me this year. I was sick on Thanksgiving, and Christmas was the most stressful and depressing Christmas I’ve ever experienced in my life thus far… In terms of circumstance-induced anxiety and depression, it even surpassed the year I had the miscarriage Christmas Eve through Christmas morning. (I am better now.) (Man, it felt good just to write that out, even as vague as it is. I’ve missed journaling.) BUT Halloween was such a sweet, enjoyable holiday for me. I’m glad I made the most of it.

We did our annual Friendship Village of Dublin retirement home Trick or Treat.

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Eleanor used the Max from Where The Wild Things Are costume that Adry’s Grandma Ellwood made for him when he was just a bit younger than Ella was this year. It’s a bit too short for her. But still adorable. Adry was a Civil War Union Soldier. (NOT a Confederate Soldier, for heaven’s sake. That’s a good way to annoy Adry!) His costume was made by his Grandma Ellwood as well.

We also tried a Trunk or Treat in Hilliard for the first time. I loved it so much I’d like to keep it a tradition.

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Uncle Sam told Adry that his costume was the most authentic he had ever seen and wanted a picture with him.

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And my kids enjoyed Beggar’s Night in Grandview, too. Adry got to trick-or-treat with his school buddies while Keith and Grandma and Grandpa Martin spent hours walking with Ella house-to-house up and down Grandview residential streets. I joined them when I got off work. We spent the last half hour at the Grandview library playing games, winning prizes, and getting our picture taken.

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

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