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The Birth Story of Miss Eleanor Joyce (PART III)

December 6, 2014
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After the grandparents had their chance to visit with Ella the rest of our friends and family came in to see her.



I would like to say how incredibly thankful I am for all of the love and support we received on Miss Eleanor’s birthday.
First there were the troopers who came in the wee hours of the morning: Jamie (and Tori), Les, and Pam along with the grandparents.
My brothers and Rebecca came soon after.
The group took over and had one of the waiting rooms all to themselves while they took shifts coming back to the labor room to visit me.
My brothers came back during the honeymoon of my epidural. They discovered rolly chairs and played bumper cars with them which made me laugh. THAT’S when they also discovered that when I laughed it showed up on the contraction monitor so they began trying to outdo each other with who could make me laugh the hardest. They tried to time it at the height of my contractions so that my laugh would reach the highest point on the graph and they totally succeeded which goes to show how great I was feeling in the earlier parts of labor! Gotta love The Brothers.

ANYWAY. Back to after Ella was born…

After everyone had a chance to meet her they cleaned me up a bit and wheeled me to my postpartum room where she had her first bath.


And Daddy did his very first diaper change.


Ella and I got to enjoy some skin-to-skin time while Jamie and Ella’s BFF Tara joined us.






Several other people joined us that evening to meet Eleanor including Alexz, Jessie, Keith’s brother and his wife, and Ash.


As the evening was wrapping up we told Adry it was time for him to go home and to bed. It absolutely broke his little heart to have to leave his new sister. He crawled in bed with me and Ella, and I saw huge crocodile tears welling up in his eyes. I could tell he was trying to hold it back but the tears spilled over and he just couldn’t stop crying. Poor little guy. So much emotion for a 6-year-old! I just held him there for awhile.


Jamie took Adry to his dad’s for the night. She stopped by the store to print off pictures of Ella for Adry to keep with him and look at when he missed her. (The next day he went to school and stood in front of his class to shared the pictures: A proud big brother!)

That night, after all our visitors had said goodnight and left the hospital, Keith and I enjoyed some time- just the three of us- to love on our new daughter (and eat up all the delicious chocolaty bark Alexz made for us!). Then I took everyone’s advice and tried to take advantage of the nursery to get some rest. I reluctantly handed Eleanor over to the nurse.

1.5 hours later I was in bed wide-eyed, anxious, and envious of Keith’s peaceful deep-sleep breathing I was hearing from the fold out bed on the other side of the room. So I did what any good wife would do– I woke him up and told him I needed my daughter! When she was back beside me I admired her a little longer before finally falling asleep.


Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

A Shower for Ella Bella Part II

September 26, 2014
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Weeks before the shower my mom had Keith make a list of 23 things about having a daughter that he was excited for, and 1 message to me. She cut the list into strips and taped each of the 23 things to a pink rose, and taped the message to me on a single red rose. She put the roses in centerpiece vases on the tables and during the shower I walked around and read them. It was the sweetest thing.

What Daddy is Excited About:

1) Eleanor, I cannot wait to hold you in my arms. Your mom has carried you enough and I want my turn.

2) Eleanor, I am so excited to see your smile and hear your laugh.

3) Eleanor, I look forward to holding your hands and seeing you learn how to walk.

4) Baby Eleanor, I can’t wait for the day that you learn to say mama and dada.

5) Eleanor, I am so excited to take you out and show you off to the whole world.

6) I am already planning father-daughter dates. Don’t judge me.

7) I can’t wait to watch you grow up and see which of us you look like. I hope it’s your mom.

8) I am excited to see what your interests and passions are.

9) I am beyond excited to see the friendship that you’ll have with your big brother. You haven’t met him yet but he is the awesomest big brother you could ever want to have.

10) Dearest Daughter, I can’t wait for you to meet your grandparents. Be warned, though, they will spoil you silly.

11) Eleanor, I’m excited to take you to your first day of school, even though it means you’ll be growing up.

12) Dear Eleanor, I can’t wait to see the color of your eyes.

13) Daughter, I can’t wait to teach you how to ride a bike, and feel proud when we take the training wheels off.

14) Eleanor, I’m excited to see what your favorite bedtime books are even though I’ll probably get sick of reading them.

15) Dear Daughter, I can’t wait to teach you how to swim.

16) Dearest Eleanor, while it’s true that Mommy runs the bank in our house, I promise to sneak off with the credit card as often as possible to get you whatever you want. (Jessica, please don’t murder me to death.)

17) Eleanor, I’m excited and terrified in equal measures to see you make your own fashion choices. Please, for my sanity, make wise choices, or at least don’t let me see the bad ones.

18) Dear Daughter, I can’t wait to take you to the zoo so you can choose your favorite animal.

19) Dearest Eleanor, your daddy is old and his imagination doesn’t work so well anymore, but I look forward to our tea parties.

20) My dearest daughter, I can’t wait to see the relationship you build with your mom, and the bonds you’ll create with her as you grow up.

21) Eleanor, I can’t wait for the day that you can understand the words “I love you”.

22) Dear Daughter, I can’t honestly day I’m looking forward to you dating, but I swear that I will be a shoulder to cry on and a bringer of ice cream when some damn fool breaks your heart.

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

24) Dear Jessica, I used to think my life couldn’t get any better. Thank you so much for proving me wrong and giving me the greatest gift of my life. I am so excited to meet my daughter and add her to our awesome family. I love you.

Group Photos At The End Of The Shower:

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Keith’s mom, my mom, and I got to share a special moment. While we were standing there together I asked Sherry if she would join Mom, me, and Keith in the birthing room to be my third labor partner and witness Ella’s delivery. She was so happy!
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Jamie was standing nearby and said, “I will pass the trash can to Sherry!”
Jamie was my third labor partner for Adry and she spent a large chunk of that time holding the trash can for me while I puked! It was a glamorous job and she did it well! I will miss her, but I know it will mean the world to Sherry to be there with her son for the birth of her granddaughter.
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Thank you, Mom, for the very lovely baby shower!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

And the game nights go on…

September 13, 2014
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August 9th Game Night

at Jessie and Ben’s condo
(pics given by Ash)

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Photo Bombed

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Photo Bombed

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Photo Bombed Again!

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Photo Bombed One Last Time!

September 6th Game Night

was at J and Becca’s house. No pictures to share, but it was fun! …Even though I was so pregnant and exhausted that I fell asleep, I enjoyed my time.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Gaaame Nite!

July 29, 2014
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Ash held the latest “Kid Game Night” at her place this month.
She took a handful of phone pics for us and I wanted to paste them here for memory’s sake.
It was a fun night, and I am thankful for all these folks. They enrich my life with SO many laughs and a lifetime of support and friendship. Invaluable.

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Playin’ Cards Against Humanity (from Jamie’s phone)

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The Girls- Jessie Alpha (Ryan’s new bride), Alexz, Ash, Becca, me and Ella, Jessie

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The Boys- Ryan, Keithy, Ash’s Ryan, Ben (Jessie’s husband), and the brothers T.Matt and J

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The Rymance. (They both showed up with Ironman shirts, haha)

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Jessie got married!

June 30, 2014
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On June 7th, 2014 I got to watch (and participate as a bride’s maid) another one of my lifey friends get hitched.

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(I feel like there are only a few singles left in the group! We’ve all grown up! Ah!)

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My husband is a .Dancing. .Machine.! Oh my gosh, it is so fun to watch him move and have a blast. He danced his sexy husband butt off the entire frickin’ reception. He’d break for a minute or two, then start bobbing his head and moving his hips to the next song and soon enough he’d leave mid-conversation and move right back onto the dance floor.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

The Jimmies

April 29, 2014
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I grew up going to a Nazarene church in a little facility in Dublin. At one point in time, a little private school rented the facility for use Monday through Friday. I was about preteen age, maybe 11 or 12ish?, and the thought of there being other kids my age in the building when I wasn’t there inspired me to… penpal! So I began writing letters every week and tacking them to the classroom bulletin board hoping to make a writing friend.

And it worked! The Jimmies wrote back! Their names were Jimy, Jimmy, and Jimmie. Each week we tacked new letters to each other on the bulletin board. They wrote all about how they were the best of friends and did everything together. They told me about all their trouble-making, adventures, and misadventures. They had a lacrosse team, which they eventually dubbed ‘Jimmy and The Jimmies’ (because their coach was named Jimmy, too) and they kept me up-to-date on their weekly games. At one point their handwriting changed from hardly-legible chicken scratch to big bubbly lettering. They told me they were having their friend Erin write their letters for them because her handwriting was better.

The Jimmies were funny and interesting, and I truly enjoyed our correspondence.

I remember doing most of the pen-paling on my own, but I did have Jessie and Jamie with me when I wrote the first letter. I’m sure we signed the note something to the effect of ‘~Jess, Jessie, and Jamie’. Maybe more like, ‘*~*~~*<3Jess, Jessie, and Jamie<3*~~*~*’ because that was like totally the cool way to sign notes back then.

And, well… I’m 29 now so it’s been… 17ish or so years… and it took me that long to look back over that memory and realize….

The Jimmies never existed.

Nope. Never did.

The Jimmies and their tales had to have been completely fabricated, poking fun at the fact that Jessie, Jamie, and I were best friends and had such similar ‘J’ names.

Have you ever watched Beautiful Mind? You know the part where you find out the beloved best friend, Charles, doesn’t actually exist? Do you remember how you felt!?

My cool, clever, funny little penpals never flippin’ existed!

Jimmies, you bastards!

Well played.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Baby Bro is 21!

September 28, 2013
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I can’t believe it. My littlest brother is 21 years old. Living on campus with his love. Holding down a full time job. Bona fide ADULT.
When I was a young teenager- 13ish?- I got in a fight with my mom and told her I was leaving. I probably told her I was going to live with a friend and I never wanted to come home again. I went up to my room to get something or another that a young teenage girl would need in order to leave home forever (like chapstick or something, duh). In the process I walked past my parents’ bedroom and out of the corner of my eye I spotted little five-year-old J’s tuft of hair on the floor of their walk-in closet. Curious, I decided to investigate. Apparently he had been hiding on the floor among the dirty clothes baskets during my teenage tantrum. He’d heard everything I said and was really upset that I was going to leave home. He looked up at me with his huge sad brown eyes (MY GOD he was absolutely adorable) and held up what looked like a copper ring you’d get from a quarter machine. He said, “Take this ring with you and remember me forever.” And I cried!

Y’all. The BEST cure for defiant, strong-willed children is adorable little brothers!

When Mom was pregnant with him I had wished he was a girl. I was at the hospital with friends while Mom was in labor and when he was born I demanded to know if he was a boy or girl. They told me he was a boy. Frustrated I said, “You mean I waited all this time for a stinkin’ boy!?” But then I crawled into the hospital bed with Mom and saw him for the first time. It was literally love at first sight. 21 years ago J won a soft spot in my heart and he’s had it ever since. Happy birthday, Little Bro J.


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Music before the festivities

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J’s monkey shelf, haha

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We got this game for him.

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Keithy and I

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Yard games

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Grandpa with the kids

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Sanders Sunday Lunch

September 15, 2013
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mmmm, mom’s meatloaf sunday!

Last Sunday Mom set a beautiful table and cooked a delicious meal to celebrate all kinds of events in our lives: Ben and Jessie’s engagement, Hutch and Corey’s wedding, Tay’s birthday, Jamie’s birthday, Dad’s birthday, and whatever else we wanted to celebrate!

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Hutchy Hall Wedding Part II: ‘Dancing!’

August 17, 2013
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First the kids tore up the dance floor!

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Adry survived the ceremony and cocktail hour and ended up having a blast.

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Then the rest of us joined in.

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Heading to the dance floor

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Selfie: Suitably Sloshed

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Dancing Brothers

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The Journey of the Hat: Whoever got J’s hat throughout the night danced spotlight in the circle!

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I love this, Mom!

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The bride got the hat!!

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MOB with the hat!


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We took a few last pictures before seeing the bride and groom off.

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The girls – Jamie

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Duke and Adry. Guy talk!

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We decided we weren’t ready to end the night so we wrapped up the night visiting and laughing and telling stories at Old Bag of Nails.

And they lived happily ever after!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal