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Mom

February 3, 2018
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Drinks with Sandie in WV

Just before New Year’s Eve Mom treated Ella to Paw Patrol Live at The Ohio Theater.

It was actually a lot of fun seeing Ella have an absolute ball. I’m grateful for the experience. Thanks, Mom!

Ella made friends with the neighbor boy

and asked the lady sitting beside me to share her Twizzlers… which she was happy to do!

Then, on Mom’s birthday we went to the Trampoline Park in Hilliard and had a blast. It actually felt pretty nostalgic getting back on a big trampoline for the first time since the one we had as kids.

I forget what those tears were for… maybe because she kept getting kicked out of the ‘big kid’ side of the park and I made her go to the ‘little kid’ area.

We also went to Kyoto Hibachi Grill and saw the movie The Post afterward.

Anyway, I had a good time celebrating your birthday, Ma! Thanks for spoiling my kids, taking an active interest in their lives, making memories with us and everything else you do! I love you!

New Outfits with Sandie in WV

 

 

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

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!

 

Dinosaur!

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

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

5 Year Anniversary

October 7, 2017
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How Keith n’ Jess got started:

A snippet of a conversation I documented, March 2011~

“I was just going to talk to you today about how I can’t do this ‘taking it slow’ thing anymore. I want you to be mine.” -K
“I’m not scared anymore. And I’m okay with having you forever. Are you ready?” -J
“Yeah I’m ready.”
“Sure?”
“I’ve made my decision.”
“Then let’s do it.”

In September of 2017 we celebrated 5 years of commitment to each other.

I am so thankful for us, and I love the life we have built together.

To be honest, I feel insecure about my life *only* when I think about how it must seem from the outside looking in. I do not think I have an enviable life when up against society’s measuring stick. Keith and I, we are poor. We live in a very old apartment in which our children share a bedroom and we do not spend money on any vacations or personal luxuries. Everything we own is either cheap or handed down. We also both struggle with 2 opposite mental disorders which can cause conflict between us. We are often over-worked, overwhelmed by outside life circumstances, sleep deprived, and exhausted (which we’ve learned to call adulthood). Despite all of that- or maybe even because it eliminates the pressure of living up to anyone’s expectations- I can’t help but feel consistently, sincerely, and deeply grateful for what I have and the life I live with Keith.

I feel so thankful. I’m thankful that I still feel very much in love with him. …I keep waiting for that feeling to fade! But now I’m beginning to wonder if it ever will. Maybe I lucked out. Haha, don’t get me wrong! There have been times I’ve been so mad, and so annoyed, and so disappointed and he’s felt the same towards me. But then he holds my hand for 30 seconds or we pause for a minute to say ‘sorry’ or we just make fun of ourselves and laugh it out, and all the sudden my heart is full again and I can’t get enough of him.

I appreciate using him as a sounding board to sort through confusing emotions. I enjoy cuddling, watching him love our children, receiving chocolates, and the many wonderful surprise homemade meals he cooks up.

I love you, Keith! I’m happy to have launched Year Six with you. Here’s to another year of adventure (Lord, have mercy!) and holding on tight to one another while we weather the storm.

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