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Thanksgiving ’17

December 2, 2017
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Last year the holidays sucked. I knew, probably, they’d be the “last” and I was still fighting it. Fighting a losing battle is the worst feeling. My parents moved into their new home last November and I remember feeling very pessimistic. Like what’s the point. I hated that I loved the house. I loved it so much, and I wanted to cling to it and cling to everything I was about to lose. I went through the holidays incredibly morose.

This year I’m going through the holidays having officially lost. The Sanders Family is broken, physically and emotionally. Things have pretty much spiraled into (almost) my worst fears. The house is gone. For some reason, now that it’s reality, living it is almost easier than fearing it. Fearing this and fighting it sapped a lot of my energy. Now I feel defeated.. numb.. dead inside. But it’s better feeling numb than feeling desperately afraid. I’m resting here in my apathy for awhile. I don’t really have the energy to try to revive myself, or feel hopeful or optimistic or vulnerable.

So this Thanksgiving I decided to be thankful for what I have left. Which is still so much. Though we’ve added a layer of crazy complexity and dysfunction to my wackadoo clan, at least I have a clan! Every member is alive, healthy, and together. That’s HUGE and I’m not taking that for granted. Thanks to Leslie (who was, unfortunately for us, in New York to be with Mer and Chip) we had a home in which to have our family Thanksgiving meal. That’s huge, too! There was music, laughter, and more delicious food than we could eat. My little brothers are the best. Literally the best. And they have the best life partners I could ask for. I’m glad I have both my parents, and I’m thankful that Jeff, Sherry, Suzanne, Tay, and (later) Rachel could join us for our meal. I also love my husband and my two beautiful and healthy children.

This was at Keith’s brother’s wife’s (lol) family’s Thanksgiving.

Ella and I all dressed and ready to go to The Sanders Thanksgiving!

Mom set the table, and she and Keith worked hard for two days to make nearly all the delicious food for our meal!

Uncle Matt brought over his Nintendo Switch and we had some Mario Cart fun.

Sadly, Louie was not with us this Thanksgiving. He passed just a week or so prior from Leukemia. This is the new member of the canine extended family, Puppy Huxley (Huck)! Old Man Reese Pete and Brady were also with us.

Too cool for… anything.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Ella’s <3 Princess <3 Party

November 25, 2017
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My Eleanor Joyce turned 3 years old on November 4th.

I had a really good time celebrating her young and incredibly vibrant life with an apartment full of people who also love her. I am so incredibly grateful. My mother generously provided delicious pizzas, chips, drinks, cake, ice cream etc. for everyone to enjoy. Thanks so much, Mom!

Upstairs I set out a make-your-own Princess/King/Queen crown craft and I think the adults had more fun with it than the kids did.

In my basement I had a ball pit, tunnel, art corner, dress-up station, toy kitchen, and our various other play room toys, and the kids pretty much hung out down there until presents, cake & ice cream time.

There was probably a little bit of cheating before we cut the cake. But what fun is it to turn 3 if you can’t break convention a time or two and get hot pink icing all over your face and your friends’ faces, too! Right?


Ella Belle is healthy. she is full to the brim of joy and enthusiasm and wonderment of the world around her. She is curious, tough, brave, observant, and outgoing. She is sassy, dramatic, bossy, strong-willed, defiant, and possibly a bit a lot temperamental. She makes her own rules, and, as a gymnastics teacher of hers once said: “Eleanor does what she wants.”
She consistently wins the hearts of strangers in an instant, and drives Mommy and Daddy certifiably crazy on the daily. She is the most challenging, thrilling, and the most joyful experience of my life. She is quite literally a great adventure in and of herself — We have gone through SO many things with her these past three years, both terrifying and rewarding. I am quite certain she has stripped years from my life, but I’d give even more for this experience of life with her in it.

I know I’ve mentioned this before— I don’t know if other parents have the experience of loving their children in equal but incredibly different ways. Before I had Ella I honestly didn’t know how I’d love anyone like I love Adry. Quite frankly, I don’t love anyone in this world like I love Adry. He is my passion. I love him fiercely; my heart aches with it. And Eleanor, hands down, is my joy. She makes my heart fly.

I love you SO much, El. I’m glad you had a very happy birthday!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Halloween Two Thousand Seventeen

October 28, 2017
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It was gray and rainy on Pumpkin Patch Day.

Did we let that stop us? No. Without regret.

Hay Fight

Jacob continually tossed Adry off the hay stack. As any good uncle should.

I can’t decide if Ella got more soaked from the rain or from splashing in every puddle she could find.

The things we do for our kids…

Adry was over the sticky muddy patch.

Eleanor gor her boots stuck in the mud…

…REALLY stuck in the mud.

Boo at the Zoo with Grandma and Grandpa Martin

Pumpkin Carving at Uncle Matt and Aunt Alexz’s

Alexz designed this, inspired by Sloth from The Goonies

Eleanor designed our jack-o-lantern. I tried to follow her design as best I could, minus the extra nose and 5 extra eyes she drew.

 

 

 

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

First Day of Fourth Grade

September 23, 2017
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My baby is growing up. From cute to adorable to handsome!

baby adry

First Day of Kindergarten

First Day of Kindergarten

 

First Day of Fourth Grade

First Day of Fourth Grade

I think that, up until a few days ago, I was in denial about the challenges a new school, new expectations, the cusp of pre-teenhood, and new hormones would bring. I figured the challenges would creep up one-by-one, gradually. But instead they came as a tidal wave and within the span of an evening I transitioned from being the mom of a kid dealing with simple kid issues, to the mom of a kid with complexities and confusion and insecurities. Like, I should have known that this is the year kids start being hypertuned to what others think.

For example, in first grade when we attempted to get Adry into flag football he was far more concerned with chatting with friends on the field than winning or points or anything else. His teammates would be yelling, come on, Adry, get the ball! And he’d say, but I was talking! I was more than fine with that! I was like, my kid doesn’t give a damn… that’s fantastic. But now, since he’s not macho/coordinated/fourth-grade-gym-class-soccer-champion, it’s become a part of his identity– not good enough, not cool enough, not enough, less than, unworthy. And it’s not just gym class, it’s everything. It’s breakin’ my HEART! As his 33 year old mother who’s been there done that I wish I could just tell him it doesn’t even matter at all but of course I know I can’t say that because that’s not true. It does matter. At least to him, right now in his life, it does matter. And telling him it doesn’t demeans these feelings he has that are great big and overwhelming to him.

But I guess Adry has always been a complex kid, and I’ve found it to be challenging yet endearing because it gives him layers and depth. He’s never been comfortable on the surface. He suppresses, analyzes, explores self-awareness, and inevitably we sometimes endure the mini-emotional breakdowns that coincide with such a personality.

Other things about Adry remain the same: he’s a great big brother that loves his little sister; he’s brave and loves to try thrilling new things (roller coasters, high dives); and he loves the same group of school buddies. His eyes are turning hazel and his hair is blonder than ever. He loves YouTube and video games and playing with friends. I am thankful that he is confident I will be his biggest supporter and his biggest advocate and he can talk to me about anything. That means the world to me. I love him so very much.

So. Fourth grade! …Hold on to yo’ butts.

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Summer of ’17 (Part II)

September 16, 2017
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Ella Bella <3s Tara Bear

Playing Doggies

Playing Doggies at Tara’s Birthday Party

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playtime at Tara's house

Playtime at Tara’s House

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Version 2

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Taylor J. got married!

This kid:

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grew up, got even taller, and became a husband. And I can’t even process it because, like, wait, wasn’t this ^^^ just last month or something?

Ryan was his wedding DJ and introduced the newlyweds and their bridal party to the Blues Brother’s theme song, which was perfect.

It’s always nice to be reunited with the good ol’ Family Frens. I love them all and I am thankful for each of them.

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Dad turned 55!

He set up some yard games, and Ella was the true badminton champ.

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This is what it looks like to be 55. He was riding this kids’ bike trying to dodge golf discs that were being hurled at him. Happy birthday, Dad! 😀

Ella The Artist 

Fun in Grandpa Sanders’ Garage

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Labor Day Poolside Fun

We like to say goodbye to summer by enjoying the Grandview pool on the last day of the season that it’s open.

Adry n' Grandma

Adry n’ Grandma

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The pool wears Eleanor out. She has to take catnaps during each break period.

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Goodbye, Summer 2017! 

 

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Summer of ’17 (Part I)

September 9, 2017
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I am so behind on my journaling. I am going to try to combine a bunch of my summer photos in a couple of big huge picture posts. Here y’go!

Fourth of July

was a lot of fun.

We experienced Red White & Boom at Audubon Park, and I loved it so much there I want to make it my yearly Red White & Boom tradition.

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Thanks for this photo, Matt.

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The next day we went to the Dublin fireworks and saw Peter Frampton live! After the show we were so close to where they set off the fireworks it was probably literally one of the very best displays I’ve ever experienced. I was mesmerized!

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Park of Roses Picnic

I adore this park.

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Photo Cred: Rebecca

Photo by Rebecca

Photo Cred: Rebecca

Photo by Rebecca

Photo Cred: Rebecca

Photo by Rebecca

Attempted Potterfest

For just a minute (30 seconds?) Eleanor was Hedwig and Adry was Dumbledore!

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But Potterfest was a bust. It pretty much went like this:

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A trip to Grandpa’s Cheesebarn and Sweeties made up for it for some of us!

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Misc.

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Adry at Niagra Falls with his dad and Grandma Ellwood

Adry at Niagra Falls with his dad and Grandma Ellwood

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Me n' My Girl

Me n’ My Girl

Eleanor learned how to help with household chores (and enjoyed splashing in a pool and visiting Carl the Turtle and other fun things) with Grandma Martin this summer!

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She also had many great adventures with Aunt Alexz while she was on summer break!

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And Grandpa Sanders, too!

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Dress enhanced by Grandma Martin

Dress enhanced by Grandma Martin

Adry on Lake Eerie during a trip with his dad

Adry on Lake Eerie during a trip with his dad

 

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Spoiled by Grandma Sanders– new dress up shoes and clothes just because

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And although Jazz and Ribs Fest was stressful this year, this full arch double rainbow (can’t make out the second rainbow in these pics) was unforgettable.

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The Bunny Water Park/ Mt Vernon Water Park

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We took a trip to Mount Vernon for Maya’s first birthday party. The kids got to play with Logan and Lilly (my cousin’s son and niece) at the water park up there. We had a lot of fun!

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Easter Sunday 2017

April 29, 2017
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Adry had no interest in being a part of our Easter Selfie Sesh. We wanted him to join.

Adry had no interest in being a part of our Easter Selfie Sesh. We wanted him to join.

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Mom's Easter Sunday Lunch Table

Mom’s Easter Sunday Lunch Table

 

Blurry. Adry is helping Ella find her Easter basket.

Adry is helping Ella find her Easter basket.

Ella's bloomers kept falling off of her tiny self.

Ella’s bloomers kept falling off of her tiny self.

Chocolate!

Chocolate!

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Adry, looking for his basket

Adry, looking for his basket

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Not pictured: Mom, Dad, Uncle Matt, Aunt Alexz, Uncle J, Aunt Becca…

The kids both enjoyed Easter Service at Grace Central, as well as the toys, books, and candy in their Easter baskets. Afterward, everyone gathered for a delicious lunch, and then took a walk to the park in the neighborhood to watch the kids play.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Easter Egg Hunt 2017

April 22, 2017
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Eleanor takes tumbling classes (which, by the way, is adorable. She calls it ‘BOUNCE!’ class, and she proudly shows off her splits, kicks, forward rolls, and top-notch bouncing skills). At the beginning of April we participated in the annual Easter Egg Hunt and Open Gym at the place she has BOUNCE!, and both of the kids had a great time.

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Eleanor is cheating and trying to snatch some eggs before the go-ahead.

Eleanor is cheating and trying to snatch some eggs before the go-ahead.

Grandma is helping her go through the loot.

Grandma is helping her go through the loot.

So is Big Brother.

So is Big Brother.

...using all her strength to try to open an egg by herself!

…using all her strength to try to open an egg by herself!

 

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The Mom and Dad Selfie

The Mom and Dad Selfie

Shamelessly Eating My Kids' Chocolate

Shamelessly Eating My Kids’ Chocolate

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal