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Christmas 2017

January 13, 2018
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The night before Christmas the kids snuggled in with Uncle J and Aunt Becca while Grandpa Sanders read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Picture swiped from Becca! (Hidden Adry)

I tucked the kids in bed after story time and Mom, Dad, Suzanne, J, and Rebecca all spent the night with us to enjoy a bright and early Christmas morning with the kids! And the kids- they were up before the sun! We were all absolute Christmas zombies!



When I crunched the numbers for my Christmas budget this year I came up with $200 total to spend on both of my children. I decided to allocate $150 of it to Adry and $50 to Ella because, frankly, Ella can’t yet tell the difference between a dollar store pony and a brand name My Little Pony. I did my best to stretch the money as far as it could go to make Christmas look and feel as full as possible but I was still a bit nervous that the Christmas morning gift display would not be impressive. My mother helped me and so generously gave “Santa” credit for gifts she bought herself, and I was also able to use some gift cards and early Christmas presents I’d received to fatten things up a bit. After I put the kids to bed and set things up on Christmas Eve, I was more than thrilled to discover that, with everyone’s gifts combined the presents under the tree extended throughout half the living room floor and the coffee table and floor surrounding it were packed full of Santa’s gifts to the kids. (And Eleanor just adored every single dollar store and Target Dollar Spot gift she opened! Haha, as expected! She still carries around that cheap plastic pony with the hair brush it came with as though it’s a prized possession.)

Adry loves getting Reese his annual Christmas doggie treat.

My theory is that kids LOVE Uncle Jacob so much because when he plays with them, he genuinely plays and has fun. I also theorize that every other living being that comes into contact with Jacob ends up adoring him because he finds genuine enjoyment in anything- everything- and it’s contagious.

I mean, he must have plaid mermaids with Ella for half an hour.

Keith’s parents joined us a bit later for the family gift exchange and we spent the rest of the day eating and visiting and resting.

We really missed Matt and Alexz on Christmas Day (they were out of town with Alexz’s family this year), so we did our gift exchange with them on New Year’s Day and, I mean, we couldn’t leave Matt out of the Wookiee shenanigans!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Christmas Eve 2017

January 6, 2018
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I spent the morning of Christmas Eve feeling very blessed and so thankful for time with my girl. She wore nothing but her Santa Claus rattle socks and a Ham puppet on her arm. We played and sang Christmas songs under the light of the Christmas tree.

Later in the afternoon we got all dressed up and went to church service at Delaware Grace where Keith’s dad is now pastoring.

Adry did not wish to join the family photos, so we had to sneak attack when we could.


When we got home from church J, Becca, and Reese joined us for the night. <3


Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Memories Reflected Through Tinsel and Light

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Our Annual Trip to Timbuk Farms

This year I kicked off the new Sanders Family Tradition of opening up my modest, humble home as the focal gathering point of the family for the holidays. And you know what? It turns out I actually kind of loved it. Preferred it, even. Granted, I’m not the perfectionist of a hostess that my mother is… But I think she actually preferred having a break as well! And frankly, I’m pretty damn proud. I pulled myself up by the bootstraps, determined to make the most of the circumstances in order to give my children the same kinds of beautiful and wonderful Christmas memories that I have. And I opined that meant carrying on the Timbuk tradition and putting a REAL Canaan Fir Christmas Tree in my living room. So that’s the first thing we did this Christmas season.

Ella loved Santa Claus. She sat and contentedly talked to him. Later, after she picked out her annual tree ornament (a sparkly snowman), she couldn’t wait to run up to him and tap him on the knee to show him.

Then we enjoyed hot chocolate, nachos, popcorn, and candy.

She’s admiring her ornament on the bus on our way out to the Canaan Fir field.

We ended up backtracking and cutting down the first one I saw.

And we spent the rest of the evening listening to Christmas music and decorating.


Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

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.
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

Christmas Season 2015

January 2, 2016
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Timbuk Farms ~ Santa Claus & Finding the Sanders Christmas Tree!

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Thanks, Grandma Sanders, for this adorable outfit!

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Horseback Carolers

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Christmas Eve!

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Thanks, Aunt ‘Lliyah, for the sparkly Christmassy party girl outfit!

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Christmas Morning!

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Matt’s face after Dad revealed his big gift: Dad had polished up and revamped his drum set and had Alexz, J, Keith, Rebecca, and I each decorate a drum head.

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This is Keith’s drum head. I’m pretty proud of it in part because I came up with the idea, and Keith executed it so well. He chose his own colors and filler designs! I love how it turned out.

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Alexz’s~as awesome as expected!

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The kids and I did the heart in the top left. I let Ella finger paint with acrylic, and Adry filled in the spaces with little pictures and words. Rebecca did the snazzy snare drum head and J’s is the super cool colorful fantastical scene bottom right.

Our Christmas season also included Christmas with The Martins with Uncle Phil and Great Grandma Dee, as well as cookie and gingerbread house decorating with Grandmas Sanders, and a Christmas Eve midnight candlelight service at Rebecca’s grandmother’s church. It was a very nice Christmas and we are very blessed. My kids are loved by so many awesome people!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Christmas with our Families 2014

January 2, 2015
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Christmas Day with The Martins

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This is Gracie, Keith’s other woman

Christmas Celebration with The Sanders’

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waiting in the hallway to see the gifts

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Uncle Matt and Adry look so thrilled to be playing Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em

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Christmas nap with Aunt Becca

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Aunt Nelda came to visit later in the the afternoon

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more brother sister love

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Christmasy Things 2014

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Ella’s entertainment this season was looking at the tree lights.
She loved the lights so much!
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Christmas Girls! Ready for Rebecca’s graduation party

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Santa Socks

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Mom set us all up for gingerbread house decorating on Christmas eve!

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Mom’s house

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My house and Adry’s house were neighbors

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And my personal favorite, J and Rebecca’s house

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Heads on pikes

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Pile of bodies and the sacrificial fire

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Hanging bear

Now if that doesn’t get you in a Christmas spirit, then I don’t know what would!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Cuttin’ Down the Sanders Christmas Tree 2014

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We went to Timbuk Farms again this year to get the family tree and to get pictures with Santa.
They have the best Santa.
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Baby’s First Pictures with Santa
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Each year we go Adry proclaims passionately and with conviction that he refuses to talk to Santa and he absolutely will not get a picture with Santa and will CERTAINLY not sit on his lap!
So we were there and Adry saw Santa and Mrs. Claus waiting to talk to children. He would barely glance in their direction. Even though I told him that whatever decision he made was fine with me and that he didn’t have to talk to anyone he didn’t want to talk to, he still felt the need to put his foot down and adamantly deny that he would be paying Santa a visit.
And then the magic happened.
Mrs. Claus caught his eye and asked him to look at the tree with her… “and since we are here,” she says, “we might as well smile for the cameras.”
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“and just a few steps that way and you can be by your sister.”
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“Hey. Santa has a free knee right beside you. You can just hop right up there!”
And I present: the boy who refuses to sit with Santa:
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After Santa pictures we hopped on the bus to go saw down a blue spruce.
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This is a great grandpa. I hope my children always know how much he loves them and enjoys them.

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We took our tree home and spent the evening decorating with Matt and Alexz.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

One Big Holiday Update Part I

January 4, 2014
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The holidays were kind of a blur this year.

A little stressful. A little depressing. A little frustrating.

In the end I know I am incredibly fortunate and extremely blessed. My heart is full; my life is full. I have so much hope for the future.

On Christmas Eve my miscarriage began. Luckily it wasn’t a huge shock because by the time it started I was expecting it. I’d felt weird about this pregnancy from the beginning, mostly because my pregnancy tests weren’t as clearly positive as I wanted them to be. I got paranoid and must’ve taken 10 or 15 tests over the course of a week with varying results. I was warning people not to get too excited before my pregnancy was verified with an ultrasound, and by the time Christmas Eve rolled around I was telling people I was expecting bad news at my ultrasound. When the miscarriage symptoms finally began it was almost a relief because I could let my guard down; I could let myself say ‘goodbye’ to that particular pregnancy timeline and hopes and excitement and just get sad and emotional.

It sucked. It was painful. It was sad. It went on throughout the entirety of Christmas day. The hardest part was when Adry left to go to his dad’s for Christmas because I just wanted to hold him all day. Although I’m so so glad I didn’t have to go through it alone in secret and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, it was hard to see how the loss of this pregnancy effected Keithy and my family. I felt like I’d in some way let them down, but I know there’s nothing I could have done to prevent it.

Anyway, it’s a perfectly normal thing to experience. 1 in 4 pregnancies end that way, and every woman I know who’s had 2+ kids has had a miscarriage at some point. I can count my blessings that I wasn’t far along and that it happened before I heard a heartbeat. I feel like that’d be a lot harder. At this point I’m convinced that I passed a cluster of cells that didn’t develop properly and my body’s response was to expel it, and that’s a good thing. Thank you, body, for doin’ your job! 😉

Also, Keithy is simply the single best husband I could ever ask for. I could never put into words how thankful I am for him. I had a grief partner, I felt comforted, I felt hopeful… He was available for whatever I needed, whether it was space or hugs or tears.

Besides all that, Christmas day was good.

Adry woke up excited and anxious to see if Santa had come with presents.
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Of course, Santa had.
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We had Adry wait in the hallway for several minutes before he could see the living room. A Sanders kid tradition.
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He was so excited to dig into his loot.
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(My exhausted, sick self)

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Giant Reese’s Cups!

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Keithy, Adry, and I excited about our new XBox

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Adry in his chef garb and Easy Bake Oven

The Martins joined us for a Christmas brunch, then soon after Adry left for his dad’s, Keith and I wrapped up our Christmas at the Martins’ for dinner and a gift exchange.

A week later we celebrated a new year and my parents’ anniversary. I’m breaking that up in a new post!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal