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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

Thirty Years of Throwback ~ 2009-2011

April 10, 2016
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Adry’s first birthday party!

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Didn’t everyone have a pair of those navy sneakers for a minute?

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This is a photo from the scavenger hunt that Dave and Ginny hosted. I believe Matt, Alexz, Mer, and I called ourselves “Team Awesome” and we did not win, haha.

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This is one of my favorite photos of young Reese and Baby Adry.

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I loved being a stay-at-home momma with Adry this year. I will forever feel grateful I had those couple of years with my baby boy.


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Another young Reese and Baby Adry. I can’t resist posting these pictures.

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Our bowling party! So much skill displayed that night.

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A very Sanders Easter. I believe this is the year I put edible grass in Adry’s Easter basket. Jamie came over later that night and we all sat around in the living room laughing and joking ’til our abs hurt about who-knows-what-probably-something-really-immature and obnoxiously eating the Easter grass ’til we got sick. I actually really miss random hangouts like that.

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Adry, Dad, and I did a TON of biking with the bike trailer and Adry’s bike buddy Charlie the frog that year.

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The year Nick and I decided to spend an entire season in a High School Throwback and he was kinda my 2nd best friend for a minute. It was good for us, though. Well, it was good for me at least; I can’t speak for him.

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I fell head-over-heels for ^^THIS^^ guy! It was a whirlwind adventure and I fell hard.

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Tay, J, and I at the theater for the last Harry Potter movie!

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Little Bro J and I spent a lot of time together in 2011. We roomed AND worked AND hung out as friends together. People used to marvel at how well we got along. They’d say, “If I spent that much time with my [sibling] we’d fight all the time, but you guys are like best friends!” I am thankful for the year I had with my littlest brother.

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Easter Baby

April 9, 2016
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Adry Padry spent Easter with his dad this year. It was just me n’ the girl. We joined my mom at Les’s house with the rest of the Jordan family and it was such a nice day. Les prepared a delicious and beautiful meal and had goodies and toys and a sandbox and a big bouncy house for the kids. Ella had a great day of play alongside Mer n’ Chip’s boy. I only snapped a few photos.

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

THIRTY Years of THROWBACK! 2003-2005

September 13, 2015
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The Sanders kids used to think it was the greatest thing ever to get Coke in our Easter baskets. (I know I’m older here, but J was still a kid, so Matt and I still got Easter goodies.) Contrary to popular belief – probably an assumption based on the Sanders’ undying love of Coke – Mom and Dad did NOT keep Coke on tap in our childhood home. As a matter of fact, sugary treats such as soda, cereals, and candy weren’t brought into the home at all, as far as we knew, except on 3 holidays: Christmas, Halloween, and Easter. So when we got it we made that shit last!

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My two favorite pictures of me n’ Jamie.
We were both dating our future ex-husbands – Stephan and Ben – at the time. Unbeknownst to each other the boys each got the Snoopy and Woodstock shirts for me and James as gifts. Then Jamie and I, entirely unaware of the fact that we possessed these matching shirts, packed them to wear on the same day in Chicago. So of course we had to get corresponding facepaint at Ed Debevics.

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Mer, Dave, Ben, Les, me, Hilary, T.Matt, Jason, Kevin, Eric, Amber, J, and Mom the day I turned 18. Incidentally it was also the day OSU won the National Championship against… er… some other football team. So of course we had a party that was completely about me and not football at all!

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Throwback to Creation Fest days! And thrift store plaid pants, midriff spaghetti straps, dangly belly button rings, pigtails, band t-shirts, and MATT’S MOHAWK in its baby days.

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Throwback to J&Tay on the far right and their Best-of-Pals days. I miss those kids together!



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Jamie, me, and Jessie. Keeping it classy. Jamie is wearing a Jr. Asparagus t-shirt ~ throwback to Veggie Tales!

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The year I wore my mother’s wedding dress to marry Ben! It was a very happy day and I enjoy remembering it.

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Left: Me, Ash, Ryan, Mer, Pammy; Right: Les, Jessie, Jamie, Harriet.
breakfast with the bride’s maids.

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Throwback to the Alternative Christian scene with babydoll band tees, studded belts, and dickies.

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This was the year Pammy was diagnosed with Stage 4 Sarcoma and began an intense fight for her life. The girls and I stopped by the hospital to pamper her with a pedicure.
(Mer, James, Me, Pam, Ash, Jessie, and Harriet)



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This was our last family-friend outing before Dave died.
It was the cookout for which we forgot spoons, so we got creative with plastic cups!
(Tony, Pam, Me, Dad, J, Matt, Les, Dave, Tay)

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Out for Tony’s birthday!
(Me, Ben, Matt, Mom, Les, Mer, Ash’s boyfriend, Ash, Tony, Ginny, J, Tay, Ryan, Ryan’s girlfriend, Pammy)

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Me ‘n Momma <3

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

THIRTY Years of THROWBACK! 1985-1992

April 25, 2015
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Hello, Baby Jessica! And Dad looks like he was about 12 when he had me!


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Sittin’ with Grampa, then in my Miami Vice outfit!


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Coloring. Those eyes remind me of Ella’s.


The year I became a sister!

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Mom was pregnant with T.Matt.
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Snugs with Baby T.Matt!


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Halloween! Me in my little homemade angel costume with Super T.Matt, Clown Harriet, and some other cowboy I don’t remember at all!


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This was that one minute that I liked cats! This cat’s name was Jinglers. He made me forever detest cats. I have memories of watching that thing torture and kill little helpless animals purely for sport. I remember crying and begging him to stop when I saw him batting a baby bird around until it died. Thank you, Jinglers, for my earliest nightmares!


The year I became a sister again!
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Holding newborn J
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THIS is Throwback fun for everyone! My dad, mom, and little brothers to the left; Dave’s trying to duck a little because he’s super tall and right behind the chandelier; Les weighs about 10lb in her little Mickey Mouse sweatshirt; Tony and Pam to the right; the kids (me, Mer, and Ryan) are cleverly giving each other bunny ears, and Toddler Tay is trying to put up with it all!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Adry’s 7th Birthday

April 7, 2015
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IS 7!

He is 7 years old, in first grade, and his favorite things include Xbox, Youtube videos of people playing Xbox games, books written about Xbox games, earning and saving money to buy Xbox games… Lol. He loves zombie games and Minecraft! His favorite color is still green, favorite song is Eye of the Tiger, favorite super dudes are the Ninja Turtles, favorite food is air, and favorite person evar is his sister. (Don’t even try to compete with Ella, by the way. If there is a person in the universe past present or future who is the cutest, smartest, and overall best at anything that can be thought of, it is ultimately Ella, according to Adry.) Adry also enjoys mazes, tic tac toe, Goosebumps, and playing tag on the playground with his friends.

This year I invited a bunch of family and friends and a few kiddos to come hang out and enjoy cake and The Amazing Mr. Magic (Magician Ron Frank) for Adry’s birthday.

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The kids watching the magic show

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^That’s Baby Tara- Jamie’s baby- and the group

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Uncle Scott and Ella

The magic show was super cute. He had the kids giggling the entire time.

We also had refreshments and cake.
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Uncle Jacob enjoying some watermelon pizza!

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I think it was a pretty successful party and a fun day for Adry and the kids. I’ll have to take another long break from kid party planning after that, though, haha. I mean, I have to do the obligatory first birthday for Ella, then I’m not doing another party ’til Adry turns 10! (10 is a good birthday party year, right? Right on the cusp of adolescence, a final hurrah of young childhood…)

Anyway, Happy Seven Years Old, Adry Padry Puddin’ Pie! I love you so much, Kiddo.

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

A Little Bit of Sir Adry

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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

Ella’s First Month Photos

December 6, 2014
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Dear EllaBella,

First of all, you are just a doll. You sleep well and eat well. You transition from nursing to bottle well. About the only thing you don’t do well is burp (obviously because you are a lady!) but you make up for it in all-day farting. And you only fuss if you are in present physical discomfort. You were once complaining very loudly when your daddy was touching you with his freezing cold hands. He felt so bad that he finally threw his hands in the air to give you some relief and you immediately stopped crying the moment his hands lifted from your body- absolutely no recover time.

You really are a trooper, my dear. This has been a challenging month for you! You’ve had 5 different blood draws so far because your jaundice wasn’t clearing: 2 from a vein in your arm and 3 squeezed from the heel of your little foot. We had to do formula feed for a couple of days to get your bilirubin number to drop, and it finally is. Despite what your uncles tell you, you are NOT Mongolian! Nor Eskimo. Nor Mexican. Only jaundiced. And unless you have your uncle J’s olive skin, or your uncle Matt’s Gilbert’s, you’ll be our pale little caucasian in no time.

Sweet Eleanor, you’ve been alert and curious, and your huge beautiful eyes have been focused and able to track sounds all around a room since the day you were born. You’ve actually impressed people by your ability to do so! There are those who claim you are a genius already! Speaking of your beautiful eyes, it looks like you have Daddy’s eye shape and cute little curly lashes, and we are anxiously waiting to find out if they will be brown like mine or blue like Daddy’s. We both want blue to go with your dark hair, but they will be stunning either way.

It also looks like you have your daddy’s nose and your hair curls just like his when we give you a bath. Dark curly hair runs on your grandpa Sanders’ side of the family, too! I think you have my lips, chin, head, and face shape, though. We will see how you grow into things! It could be completely different next month!

You are social. You don’t like to be left out when you hear people talking around you. And your first real smile was Tuesday, December 2nd. Your daddy was holding you and telling you how pretty you were and you flashed him the biggest grin. I was so excited I made all over you and you immediately lost your smile and became very concerned… probably for my sanity. Since then you’ve smiled extremely sparingly. You are mostly just concerned about things right now, but I can’t wait to see more of your pretty smiles.

Also, I need to tell you how much your big brother absolutely adores you. He is head over heels and he can’t get enough of you. He’s been sooo sick this past month, so his contact with you has been unfortunately limited, but he is so excited to cuddle with you and feed you and shower you with big brother kisses. It’s been so hard for him to hold back, but he’s done such a good job protecting you. He’s been such a good brother.

And your daddy is in love with you. I think that when Adry and I came into his life we softened his hardened heart, but you… you’ve gone and melted it completely. When he gets home he puts you against his chest and kisses your head and he says, “How have I lived thirty years of life without feeling this until now?”

We are so excited to have you in our lives, Little Eleanor. We waited so long, and it was so worth it. You are precious to us.

I love you.

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4 days old, comforted by Sweet Big Brother

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Dad calls this the “You Look Like a Pink Nightmare” outfit.

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Keithy loves it when she uses her super long Martin toes to clasp onto his thumbs.

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Her hair gets little Betty Boop curls when it’s drying after a bath!

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Sleeping Pose!

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She had to put on her fancy boots so we could go out to dinner and a movie to celebrate being one month old!

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She finally got to meet Tio X!

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So tiny against him

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Grandpa and Ella and listening to jazz. Ella got so comfortable she passed out.

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with Uncle Phil

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with Les

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

The Birth Story of Miss Eleanor Joyce (PART III)

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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