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A New Year A New Age

January 20, 2018
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2018, 33 years old, is bringing with it a lot of new changes.

My father, having previously left his job at FVD and subsequently sold his house, is now a few weeks into the start of his new job aaaand is also currently (literally as I type this) moving from Suzanne’s house to my apartment. I’m not 100 percent certain about the nature of his relationship with Suzanne at this time, but I do know that at some point there was a break up of sorts which I was pretty unhappy about. I told Suzanne that she is always welcome in our family, that I’d already accepted her as part of the family and so as far as that was concerned it wasn’t based on Dad’s choices anymore. (As a side note I am completely happy to live with Dad! The more the merrier!)

But seriously, fuck break ups. I’ve lost a ton of people I’ve loved dearly due to break ups, and I’m done saying goodbye. Seriously, totally done. I regret every break up ‘goodbye’ there has ever been in my life, and in my idealistic little heart of mine we would all get over ourselves and realize we are tiny stupid little humans on this big planet hurdling through space within this huge beautiful galaxy in this vast amazing universe. I’d love to be friends with Ben again and watch scary movies while we eat popcorn — It’d be really cool if Ella could know more about that part of her brother’s life. I’d like for Stephan to pop by and make Sponge Bob or Family Guy references. Shoot, I even emailed the infamous Faith several years ago and extended an olive branch which she accepted graciously. I hate burnt bridges in my life, and I don’t plan on having any more on my end. People can hate me for that- they can get mad at me and walk away from me. That’s really sad, but it’s also not something I can control because as for me and my family, we will welcome any one at any time with grace and forgiveness. Total grace. And total forgiveness. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned lately it’s that we are all messed right the fuck up and trying to hold it together the best we know how. (Some of us are convinced we have it all together. Some of us are delusional.) We all make a lot of mistakes and cause a lot of hurt along the way. There’s brokenness and pain in this life, and I’ve been pulled in way too many directions to even know how to choose sides anymore.

…So there’s that. Anyway, where was I? Oh, Keith is also a couple of months into his new job with OSU!

I’m 33 now, with new lines on my face… and no one in my household wears diapers. Not even me yet, haha. Behold! A new phase of life! If anyone asks me for potty training advice I tell them they’re asking the wrong mom because I’m going two for two, successfully didn’t potty train either of my kids, lol. They each decided they were ready to be big kids and that was that.

Ella wanted to do New Year’s Eve selfies. She chose the faces we were to make in each one:




Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

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

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

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

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

Ella Bella’s 9th Month

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Eleanor Joyce, July 4th-August 3rd

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Yo L,

Whadup, grl?

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During your ninth month you became a great crawling explorer! And made some naked getaways during bath and diaper change times.

You discovered that you love all things nature including sticks, rocks, grass, leaves, flowers, and bugs.

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Grandpa Sanders took you on a few rides in the bike trailer. You’re getting used to it!
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And you got to spend a day at work with Grandpa Martin!
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You also got all fancied up for a couple of weddings.
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You were CONSTANTLY on the move! You do. not. stop. Your daddy and I, and Grandma and Grandpa Martin, set up our playpen gates to try to keep you contained!
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You had your 9-month doctor check up– you weigh a whole FIFTEEN POUNDS, you tiny thing! You are in the 5th percentile for weight and you dropped from the 65th to the 10th percentile for height. But you have a great appetite and you love trying new foods and textures. Even if you’re not quite sure what to think of a new food at first you are more than willing to keep taking bites. I’ve yet to come across something that you refuse to eat.

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You also FORGOT HOW TO SLEEP during your ninth month. You wake up several times throughout the night. Sometimes you just want someone to stick your binkie in your mouth and cover you up. Sometimes you want a bottle. Sometimes you just want to smile and giggle and not waste a single minute of life on sleep… not even at 3:00 in the morning! Your daddy and I are utterly sleep deprived, but completely in love. Just this morning- at 6:30am- Daddy and I were smooching your cheeks and laughing with you and admiring your gorgeous, bright morning smile. I made the comment, “Doesn’t she make mornings so wonderful!?” Your daddy, as he finished chugging a cup of coffee and was walking out the door for work with puffy eyes and a serious case of bed-head, replied, “Yes she does. I sometimes can’t wait until she wakes up at nights just so that I can hold her and spend time with her.”

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We love you, Baby Girl!


Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Adry’s Day Out

July 5, 2015
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Adry got to have a grandson date with Grandma and Grandpa Martin last week.

They got to go to a park,

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see a juggling show, and visit Keith at work.

I’m very thankful for Adry’s day with The Martins! I’m very thankful that my boy is loved by so many people.

…Shared parenting is hard enough, and the total disconnect in routine/discipline/expectations between our households is challenging for me. I’m thankful for the amount of cooperation I get from Ben-I know the situation could be bad, and I do not consider our situation bad. We are civil and work together well with the schedule, clothes, etc., but otherwise Ben prefers for there to be a complete clean split/separation between our families. For example, if I want to ground Adry from Xbox for behaving poorly in my house, I can’t ask or expect Ben to carry out that grounding in his home, or even ask him to have my back and talk to Adry about his actions and consequences. I think he just prefers to not deal with whatever happens in my home, and I also have no idea what goes on in Ben’s house.

Anyway, I initially coped with this complete disconnect between our homes by trying desperately to gain control in my home and it wasn’t working. The more I pushed, the more Adry acted out. Keith and I saw a blended family therapist for a few weeks who basically listened for a few hours, and then was like, look. you’re turning up the volume and what you need to do is just let go– communicate and model expectations, and then let go.

And I did. I pretty much relinquished control and crossed my fingers for the best, haha. And it’s hard for me! Every day it’s hard.

Well, kids are resilient and they adapt well-that’s true. But I rely so much on the people in Adry’s life to love him unconditionally and model for him how to behave, and how to treat me and treat others, and I just want you all to know how much I appreciate each one of you in his life, and every minute you spend with him! He has so many fantastic role models and positive influences, and he notices more than you know!

Thank you, thank you! <3 I love you all.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Le 8th Month de Ella Joyce!

July 4, 2015
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Baby Ella,

This month you discovered that you love ALL the vegetables! (And prunes!)

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You also spent some time at Grandma and Grandpa Martin’s house and played with all the new things they got for you,

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and fell asleep on your Aunt Tarah while you were there.

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(Grandma and Grandpa Martin and their grandkids)

You also… finally became MOBILE! You don’t fully crawl yet. You basically get on your feet and stick your butt in the air, take a little scoot-step, come back down and start the process over again.

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You’ve pretty much been moving that way all month. You get on your knees every now and then, but it doesn’t last long, and I suspect that you just aren’t going to fully crawl… ever. Maybe it bothers your knees, maybe you just aren’t coordinated that way (like those people who can never ride a bike or swim or whistle! [Much to your daddy’s dismay I’m among those who cannot learn to whistle]). Your grandpa Sanders suggests that maybe you’ll become a gymnast because you’ve had to learn creative ways to move your body!

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(Snuggs with Aunt Alexz)

This month we’ve also been practicing proper dog-petting technique because you’ve successfully made all the terriers of the family avoid you at all cost. Louis and Reese want nothing to do with you for fear of losing ears or eyeballs or large chunks of fur, but don’t worry-Brady still lets you come around!

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You also got sick for the very first time in your whole life this month. It really wasn’t bad at all-just a small sniffle and cough-but I was still pretty bummed because you broke your perfect picture-of-health record despite going to childcare and having a school-aged big brother!

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You LOVE grass! Your brother hated it. He’d scream if I put him in it. But you love feeling it and pulling it and playing with it.

And you’ve started making this face all the time:
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It was a fun month, Baby Girl. It’s fun to hear you babble and blow raspberries. It’s fun to watch you explore. It’s fun catch your eye at times and see an enormous grin spread across your face.

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Now if only you’ll call me ‘mama’! 😉

Love you forever,

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal