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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.





Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

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

Enjoying a Taste of Spring in Grandview

April 23, 2016
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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

School Conference Time!

November 8, 2015
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It’s that time of year again! When you sit down across from another adult and bite your nails from nerves because they’ve known your kid for 2 months, now, and they’re about to tell you all about him.

But I don’t know why I get nervous because each time I walk away with a smile on my face, and this time was no exception.

I learned some very interesting things about my big kid this year. I think I know him, but he’s so full of surprises. No surprises academically of course– he’s on par with Grandview school district performance, which is already above and beyond Ohio 2nd grade Academic goals… so I’m totally content and thankful for where we’re sitting there. Then Keith asked about his character growth and development, and about who Adry was as a person in the classroom.

His teacher said he is go-with-the-flow and flexible. He likes to socialize. He is kind-hearted and kids like to be paired with him for partner projects because they know he will get his work done. He does not like to be reproached, and when he is- for things like writing notes to his friends or talking when he is supposed to be on task- he writes apology notes to his teacher, which is a thing that is neither expected nor encouraged.

I thanked his teacher and told her I was not expecting to hear some of what she said because he’s different at home. At home, expectation means the world to him, and when things are not as he expects them to be it causes him a lot of stress… (And the apology letter thing just took me by complete surprise!) She said it seems typical that kids who are good at school go home and let loose once they’re with people they know will love them anyway at the end of the day…

which was a complete echo of what the therapist said before Adry even started school… he said Adry’s behavior was classic of a kid letting it all out after working so hard to hold it in… because I’m his safe zone… because he knows I’ll tuck him in at night and tell him I love him. No matter what.

You know what. It’s challenging to be that person on that end of things… It’s challenging when Adry “lets it all out” to me and I listen to a spiel of all the things he’s mad about. It’s challenging when he bangs and he stomps and he fumes. And it’s about all my heart can take when he spends twice that amount of time wallowing in regret and beating himself up about it and telling me he wishes I had a better son than him, and he wishes Ella had a better brother than him… But if I am the one that gets to stop what I am doing to sit down in the hallway, pull him into my lap and hold him tightly as I cry with him and tell him about how passionately and unconditionally I love him, then I am honored. And I pray I will always keep that perspective.

I love that boy so much my heart breaks with it, and I am so proud of him.



Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Baby Boy in Second Grade

August 29, 2015
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My Bald Baby Blue Eyes is now my Blond Big Brother Second Grader.. with green eyes, WHAT!

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I was sad a few years ago when he stopped kissing me, but I was prepared. Then he wouldn’t let me kiss him anymore. Eventually he stopped running to me and hugging me when he saw me, and now he won’t let me hug him either…
But I’ll tell you what I was NOT prepared for– for him to naturally, gradually discontinue nighttime snuggles. Like… I am still in denial about that. I keep waking up at 3AM and walking to his room to make sure he’s okay because it’s weird that Keith and I should have the whole entire bed to ourselves all night without anyone kicking us in our kidneys! And it’s not like one day he woke up and decided he was too old and he was going to try to act like a big boy by staying in his own bed! No, he has just naturally lost interest in being snuggled at night, and I think that makes it harder.

I’ve always had a bedroom open-door policy with Adry and I’ve never turned him away. We co-slept when he was a baby, used the crib in his toddler years, and then began co-sleeping again when his dad and I split. When he got to a certain age he would fall asleep in his own bed, then wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and crawl into my bed for snuggles. I loved it. I loved that time with him. But within the past few months he has not only told me that I no longer need to sing songs to him at night, but that I can also leave his room when I am done reading stories to him… and then he started staying in his own bed all night. What is this all about!

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I tell you, I do not know what I’ll do the day he tells me he doesn’t want me to read bed time stories to him anymore.

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Anyway, he was, of course, not nervous at all for his first day of second grade. The first thing he did after he walked right in and found his seat was survey the classroom to see who his new friends would be for the year.

His teacher is super experienced, patient, sweet, and organized and I’m feeling pretty positive about this new school year.

I am proud of my big kid!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

A Little Bit of Sir Adry

December 20, 2014
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Adry discovered a new love of
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Calvin and Hobbes!
He in turn made my dad an (even more) proud grampa!
Dad loves Calvin and Hobbes. As a matter of fact he bought himself the entire collection from Amazon and that’s how Adry discovered it. Adry used to have me read it to him every time we went over to my parents’ until one day, after about a half hour or so, I told him I was tired of reading and wanted to take a break. Adry was determined to decode every word in that book of comic strips (like transmogrification) and read it all by himself… For a full 4 or more hours- no exaggeration- he sat and read Calvin and Hobbes, often giggling to himself, until he fell right to sleep.
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And now he reads it on his own when we go to visit.

What else did Adry do as we wrapped up another fall?
Well, he fell in love with his new sister of course. And even though the novelty of being a big brother has worn off, he’s just as enamored as ever and that makes me happy.
He’s also been terribly sick just about every other day. This must be a rough cold and flu season; I keep hearing of a bunch of children missing a lot of school! My poor kiddo has gone from whooping cough to throwing up to 105* fevers with blisters on his throat and ear infections… I feel like he was sick October all the way through mid-December. It’s NOT been fun for anyone.
Despite the germs he was able to sneak in a few more autumn days of playing on the playground with his friends after school.

Mom took him to and picked him up from school during the couple of weeks she stayed at my house when I had Ella. She snapped a couple shots of him at the park after school.
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And also one of him playing legos with Les’ little grand-nephew during the OSU-Michigan game.
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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Ode to Grandview

September 25, 2014
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Grandview reminds me of a mixture between a progressive Pleasantville and the cartoon Recess.

All the charm and sweetness of a small town with all the benefits of a suburban and/or urban life.

A place where everyone seems to know everyone and they all smile and exchange greeting.

A place where crossing guards make special trips for mothers-to-be, and with a hint of a drawl they say, “You take your sweet time, now. Don’t worry about a thing.” (His voice reminds me of Alan-a-Dale, the rooster from the Disney Robin Hood cartoon.)

It’s a place where mothers walk the neighborhoods with their strollers and dads bike along with their kids in trailers.

And there are clear social distinctions between the “down-the-hillers” and “up-the-hillers” here, but everyone is respectful and inclusive, and I have yet to experience anyone with the haughtiness or pretension of our Upper Arlington neighbors. As a matter of fact, I once accidently slightly backed into the car of an up-the-hiller. I freaked out and felt so bad. He very calmly drew my attention to the fact that the car he was driving was practically a beater (and I know he has the money to drive whatever he wants). He said, “I drive this car so that I don’t have to worry about it; it’s not worth it. So I don’t want you to worry about it either. You have a nice day!”

Also, around here parents and their kids meet at the same time in the neighborhood playground. 70% of them are dads rather than moms who socialize together, and I think that’s neat to see.

And on the playground there are designated games for designated areas and all the kids know and follow the unwritten playground rules. There are the diggers (the kids who love the sticks and dirt), and the swingers. There are the pale kids who congregate in the shade of the big tree to discuss their gaming secrets while “The Ashleys” are usually showing off their new shoes and gymnastic moves nearby. The savage kindergartners play at a separate playground at the top of “Kindergarten Hill” and the older kids rarely, if ever, venture over there, haha!– so much like Recess it makes me smile.

There is also a kid akin to King Bob. I discovered who he was one day when he happily trotted onto the playground without a care in the world and the kids stopped what they were doing. Adry looked up at me and said with awe, “He’s here, Mommy. The awesomest kid in the school.” When the awesomest kid comes, the children wait in earnest to see what his move will be. He usually just jumps into a game of tag or whatever is being played at the time. If there is a discrepancy with any rules the children look toward him and wait for his decree, which is usually quick and fair and no one argues.

Then when it’s time to go home we drive by all the mom-and-pop places where people are pleasantly enjoying their drinks and dinners on patios as the sun sets.

I just love this town.


Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

One BIG Adry Update

September 13, 2014
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Adry is in FIRST grade!

I believe I’ve mentioned once or twice before how PROUD I am of him! <3 He loves school and is doing so well. He has a cute little classroom, he really likes his teacher, and he has a great group of friends whom he plays with every day after school. Among those friends is his “best friend”, a little boy from his kindergarten class last year. They’re in separate classes  this year, but they still walk into school every morning holding hands ( and have a blast together during lunch and recess and after school. I’ve enjoyed watching how much they delight in each other. There’s no other way to word it; it’s just pure delight.

I’ve yet to stop being impressed by how quickly he is progressing. (I think) he was the only kid who started kindergarten last year unable to write his name. He’s not only caught up, kept up, but has (and I don’t mean to compare! But I totally am) surpassed kids who went to preschool and full day kindergarten.

He says he hates writing because ‘it’s boring; he has to just sit and think, uuugh!’ Haha. So, he doesn’t put a whole lot of effort into his assignments. I never see eraser smudges like I see on other kids’ work when they’ve put forth thoughtful revision… yet his work is neatly organized, in full sentences (minus the occasional accidental missed word), and mostly easily decipherable.

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One day in class they chose people to write letters to and he chose me! 🙂 Also, my baby belly made it into the picture!


Lego Day with Keith

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They spent literally 9 hours last week building with legos and “making stories”. It was neat stepdad-stepson bonding time. I’m proud of both of them… even if the damn sound of legos started to grate on my brain after ALL DAY. I’m glad they had that time.


Adry got a “NEW” bike!

I know, I know. I’m totally late to the whole bike scene. Other first graders are out and about on their big boy 2-wheelers and the last time I went biking with my boy I still put him in the bike trailer. Now he’s outgrown the bike trailer. Sad face. But just in time to pass it along to Ella Bella! So my dad completely cleaned and refurbished (brand new tires and training wheels and all!) the bike on which both the brothers learned to ride.

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And now Adry’s learning to ride it with the training wheels!

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Flag Football!

Adry requested to do flag football through Cypress this year, so of course I signed him up. Today was his first game! His dad brought him and shared this photo and video he got:

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Adry’s First Run

And Keith, his parents, and my parents all came to cheer Adry on. Adry enjoyed himself and we had a nice sportsball morning.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Adry’s Last Days of Kindergarten!

June 13, 2014
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In the last few weeks of school, the Kindergartners of RLS Elementary School got to put on the music performance that they had worked so hard on.

The Kindergartners got to sing, play musical instruments they had made themselves, and they each got one speaking part.

Adry did SUCH a good job. He was fearless and animated and had a huge smile on his face. He had his line memorized and projected his voice. He had zero stage fright; he looked like he was so happy to be up there in front of everyone. Who knows- he might turn out to be a theater kid.

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Doing motions to a song

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Saying his line!

Here’s a video of Adry’s speaking part:

And here’s a video of when Adry got to perform his dramatic fall:

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I’m giving Adry a hug after the show. I was proud of him!

Just a few days after the perfomance Adry had his Last Day of School Party. I didn’t get to make it because of work, but Ben sent me these pics of Adry and a couple of his best friends from class:
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I am seriously INCREDIBLY proud of my Adry Padry. He didn’t go to preschool, and to be honest we didn’t do much with him before he went to Kindergarten either. He started the school year at zero: no educational setting experience, pretty much a complete lack of fine motor skills, and not really reading much of anything. (As a matter of fact, before the school year started I had found a connection with the Grandview School District Psychologist in case he should run into any struggles.) Well, he went on to graduate from Kindergarten with all high marks on his grade card, FOUR reading levels above the reading goal for Kindergarten, and teachers and classmates who love him. Actually, after his last day of school I took him to the school playground to play for awhile and another class of full day Kindergartners was there having recess. When the teacher on duty saw Adry arrive she went to all the Kindergartners excitedly announcing, “Adry is here! Guys, Adry is here! Look!” And they were all so happy to see him.

I’m very open minded and flexible when it comes to education. Homeschool, unschool, private school, public school… ‘Whatever works, whatever’s best’ is pretty much my entire philosophy. My brothers and I used all different methods from public school, homeschooled with accredited private school curriculum and grade cards (bleck, lol. I learned how to “disprove evolution” in BIOLOGY class! Haha), online public schools, to self-made curriculum, ‘tech homeschool’, Columbus State Community College classes, BACK to public school… SO, I’d been wondering what would ultimately be best for ADRY when it came to schooling. It turns out he’s pretty much MADE to be a public school kid, which is totally fine. I’m so glad he’s thriving and happy. He’s the kind of kid that HATES missing school (he once had a fever and tried to convince me it was “just allergies” because he didn’t want to miss GYM lol) and he’s excited to get back after summer. I’m also SO grateful to be in this incredible school district. It’s been so fun to watch him learn, explore, discover, and grow.

…I just can’t believe Kindergarten is over now and in a few short months I will officially have a FIRST GRADER. First grade. Wow.

Good job, Adry Padry. I love you so much. You are such a gift.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal