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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

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

Ella Joyce ~ 10th Month

September 12, 2015
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Reflective of Baby Ella between August 4th and September 3rd

Mia Bella,

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Your tenth month was nothing short of a blast. Daddy, Brother, and I laughed with you every single day. You are a funny little thing, full of expression.

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You pull yourself up, stand on your own from time to time, and we keep thinking you are just minutes away from taking your first step! You also perfected your fake laugh. You use it to try to join in the fun, even if you have no idea what’s going on when the big people are talking and laughing together.
Oh, and when you wave at people you become very distracted and amused by your own hand.

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This month you also got to spend a whole weekend with Grandma and Grandpa Sanders while Daddy and I had a mini getaway.
During that time Reese let you clean him with baby wipes.
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(You LOVE baby wipes!)
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And you also got to enjoy the Food Truck Festival.
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(jamming to the music with Grandpa)
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Your Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Jacob let you try a Schmidt’s cream puff!

You got to spend some time with Grandma and Grandpa Martin.
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And they let you try a frosty!
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(You have all kinds of people around to spoil you, you lucky thing!)

On Wednesdays you take a walk with Grampa Sanders to pick your brother up from school and play on the play ground.
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You love to swing.
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For Grandpa’s birthday we visited Uncle J and Aunt Rebecca’s new place in Athens, and got to hang out at the restaurant – Casa Nueva – at which your uncle works.
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(honking Aunt Rebecca’s nose)
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(honking Uncle J’s nose)

And you and your Uncle Matt had a very important bonding moment over a mango popsicle!
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Your tenth month was the month you LOVED puffs.
You could have eaten them all day every day!
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Your brother would also want me to include in this post that you exclaimed, “YAY!” to him one day after giving him a high-five. He was so excited about that! He is so proud of you!

You also started stepping up on things and climbing and you accomplished ALL KINDS of exploring.
You therefore were taken to Stride Rite by Grandma and fitted for your very first pair of walking shoes!

And lastly, toward the very end of your tenth month – while Mommy and Daddy were at work – you started spending your days with your Aunt Aalliyah and Cousin Juno! Aalliyah dances and sings and watches Doctor Who with you. She loves on you all day while you and Baby Juniper can’t seem to get enough of each other. June ‘n you babble together and make each other grin ‘n giggle and it’s so fun to see and hear about! You seem so drawn to each other and we are excited to watch you grow together. (Bonus: You two are so freakin’ cute on your own, but together it’s almost too much!)
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(your first drop-off picture at Aalliyah’s)

So many people love and adore you, Baby Girl.
Always remember that.

<3 Mommy

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Remembering 2014, Turning 30!

January 5, 2015
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I miss you. I miss your smile. I miss chasing you and fighting for kisses. I miss looking into your eyes and seeing the same love and devotion for me that I have for you. You are the perfect other half for me and I adore you. ~Keith

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I turn 29! …my last year in my twenties.


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We found out we were pregnant for a second time, this time with Eleanor! We weren’t really talking about it because we were still emotional about our miscarriage in December. I was so exhausted from pregnancy and working night shift that I celebrated Valentine’s Day in bed by myself with chocolates Keithy surprised me with.

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Adry was still enjoying Kindergarten.


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Adry turned 6!

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Adry also got glasses! We found out he had 20/200 vision in his left eye. A long road of patching and strengthening his eye to gain sight began. We are still working on it!

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We saw Ella for the first time via ultrasound and heard her heartbeat. We began feeling a bit more comfortable talking about our baby on the way.

I will never forget today. Hearing that heartbeat and how strong it was…it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. I will treasure that memory for the rest of my life.” -Keith, 3.27.14


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Adry and Reese on Easter Sunday


We found out our baby was a girl!

The message said everything looked completely normal and it looked like we were having… a baby GIRL. My jaw instantly dropped and a huge grin spread across Adry’s face. I was so glad to share that moment with him, just he and I. It was really special.

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Mom and I hung out with these crazy boys on Mother’s Day.

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We took a trip to Baltimore to see Alexz graduate with her Masters!


OKAY. We still need HEADBANDS. The kind with flowers. And SHOES. She needs white sandals. I like white sandals. And I think that’s all she needs. OH AND A TOOTHBRUSH. ~Adry

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We spent so many great Friday nights together dancing to music in Bicentennial Park.

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We took a Father’s Day trip to Yellow Springs with the fam.

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We got to see Ella’s profile and all her adorable little body parts during her anatomy ultrasound.


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Adry learned to swim!

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We enjoyed many fun game nights in 2o14!

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Keith and I had a lovely date in Park of Roses.

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And James and I did a lot of pregnancy commiserating!


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We got to get a peek at Ella in a 3D ultrasound!

I enjoy hearing Keithy daydream about his daughter. He wonders what she’ll look like, what kind of person she will fall in love with one day, what kinds of things she’ll do with her life… I like hearing all the possibilities and ‘what ifs’ rolling through his head.

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I wore a heart monitor for 30 days!

We also took a trip to Indianapolis Museum of Art for Dad’s birthday!

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Tara was born!


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Eleanor, I can’t wait to see you take your first breath and take you home. ~Keith

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I was given a lovely baby shower.

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I was so proud of my FIRST GRADER Adry!

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I was also proud of my Market District Gourmet Chef Husband!

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Keith and I celebrated two years of marriage <3.


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I finally met my beautiful daughter.

And Keithy turned 30!

I love you very much and I hope you feel valued and celebrated today! I hope you have a wonderful birthday and an awesome 30s. I’m such a lucky girl to be able to spend it with you.

I turn 30 today. this morning I got to wake up to this and I was enraptured by these two ladies. The moment lasted for an eternity; golden, pure and clear.
I would have never considered my 3 decades of life lacking anything until this moment. ~Keith

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Becca graduated from OSU!

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We had a nice Christmas season and Baby’s first Christmas.


We ended the year at Les’ house. Family and friends enjoyed a taco bar and pinata and gathered in the living room together with champaign to watch the ball drop and kiss our loved ones. I welcomed 2015 beside my husband and snuggled close to my children.

Three days later I celebrated my own 30th birthday and it was really one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a long time. I relieved myself of mom chore responsibilities so that Ella and I could spend the morning and afternoon snuggling and dozing off together. Then for my birthday dinner I requested broccoli cheddar soup and sour dough bread. Mom made it for me even though she was so sick and stayed in bed the rest of the night. Keith’s dad made me a buckeye square dessert that I loved so much when I tried it at their house on Christmas. Dad got some other goodies, added chili to my dinner menu, and set the house up so that he, both my brothers and their ladies, Jessie and Jamie and their guys, and Keith, me, and Ella could come over for a little birthday hang out. We had drinks, ate my birthday meal, played Things and Spoons and had a Skittles tournament. I EVEN GOT PRESENTS FROM EVERYONE and it made me so happy! haha! I’m not really used to getting so many nice gifts on my birthday! I got money, gift certificates, a crafty home-decorated mug, giant Reese’s Cups, the most delicious chocolate buckeye pie, picture frames, a baby supply gift basket and the promise of a pedicure! So many things!

For 2015 and the start of a whole new decade (my thirties!) I am looking forward to more adventures with Keith and watching Ella grow and develop a relationship with her brother. That’s really about as far as my goals and ambitions go this year; I just want to love and enjoy these beautiful people in my life. I’m gettin’ older, keepin’ it simple!

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

A Sanders Thanksgiving 2014

December 20, 2014
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Once again my mother, The Food Woman, and my husband, Chef Daddy, spent HOURS planning, shopping for, and preparing an absolutely delicious Thanksgiving meal for 23 people who got to enjoy it at a beautifully decorated table.

I cannot remember all the dishes, but to name a few: three kinds of stuffing (to accommodate the vegetarians and those with aversions to onions), two kinds of sweet potatoes, church potatoes, brussels sprout salad, deviled eggs, two kinds of soup (one made by Alexz who brought a couple of other yummy dishes), homemade rolls, salad and corn casserole made by Sherry, and several desserts… the list goes on. It was a proper Thanksgiving with stretchy pants and food comas.

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Rebecca and J dressed Ella up in her Chef Baby outfit.

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Adry stood by the window for the longest time anxiously awaiting Tori’s arrival.

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Apparently Mom asked J and Rebecca to set out extra toilet paper rolls in the bathroom.
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The Bird

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Reese decided to cuddle with my poor sick boy.

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Easter 2014

May 1, 2014
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A Bunch of Photos…

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Mom and J were roughhousing at the family dinner table the Thursday before Easter

Egg Hunt at The Martins’

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Keith and his dad were trying to clue Adry into the fact that there was an egg there by staring intently at it until he noticed.

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Easter Morning Basket, Lunch, and Egg Hunt at My Parents’


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Adry searching for his basket

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Adry collapsing on the bed in euphoria when he saw where his basket was hidden

(Don’t tell my mom that I’m posting photos of unmade beds in her home. In her defense, this is the guest bed Matt had been sleeping in, so blame him.)

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Once he saw it he lost interest and wanted to immediately do the egg hunt, lol

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Food Woman and J bringing the fruit to our springy little Easter lunch table

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I. Love. Deviled. Eggs.

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Egg hunt with Uncle Matt!

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Keithy dug in to Adry’s Easter basket toys

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Adry said there weren’t any eggs in this tree. I should be filled with shame and regret to admit that some ‘lack of peripheral vision/blind jokes’ were cracked underbreath.

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Reese loving time

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My favorite

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Ew. I hate all recent pictures of myself. Pregnancy just is not flattering on me, lol. But I love Keithy!

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I have the absolute AWESOMEST brothers, hands down, no competition. I love them to pieces.

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Love Roses


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

Baby #2 On The Way!

December 21, 2013
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A positive pregnancy test actually came as somewhat of a surprise.

I just accepted a new position at OSU Medical Center, so Keith and I decided to hold off on trying for a baby. At least for a short while. So when my period was a week late I decided it must have been a combination of the stress and possible hormone fluctuations of starting a new job and being around different women. After TWO weeks I gave in and told Keith to get me a pregnancy test just to make sure.

The test result showed a very faint positive.

I came out of the bathroom and said, “Uh. Keith. You might want to go get some more tests. This thing says I might actually be pregnant.” So Keithy went out again and came back with the ‘yes-or-no’ digital tests.

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When I came out of the bathroom and showed the clear-as-day “YES+” to Keithy, the biggest grin spread across his face. (I’m pretty sure he’s been smiling ever since. He’s so excited!)

I was a little bit shocked, then kind of in disbelief. I took like 3 other brands of pregnancy tests just to be sure. They’re all telling me I’m indeed pregnant, of course.

I’m guarding myself. It’s still so early. There’s always the small chance it’s a tubal pregnancy, and a bigger chance of miscarriage in the first trimester. But I can’t help it; I’m already happy, excited, and attached! I’m trying to remind myself to stop worrying and just enjoy this! and love the life developing inside of me. If something DOES happen to this baby, I won’t grieve alone because he/she is already loved. And that’s a comfort.

My mom has already made food “for the baby” (she makes sure I know it’s not for ME, haha), my dad was so happy he cried when he saw the “yes+”, and Keithy’s parents are also super happy and excited. Not to mention our excited siblings and friends.

Adry knows he might have a brother or sister one day, and he started to think about what it will be like. He’s very fond of the idea :-).

As for Keith, he’s practically giddy. He bought me a fridge full of raw healthy food and ‘aaaaw’s when he sees kids at the thought of having one of his own. He’s also slightly terrified, but what new parent isn’t?

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We have our names picked out already, and I’ve been keeping track of Baby’s progression.

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I’m about 6 weeks along, estimated due date August 16, 2014. Baby’s about the size of a lentil, a quarter of an inch long. His eyes, mouth, ears, legs, arms, brain, and lungs have already begun to develop.

We are excited about another journey, another new adventure in our lives 🙂

Welcome to existence, Baby Martin!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal