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Keith ‘n Jess Date Night

January 24, 2016
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Keith and I used our stay-at-home date night dinner kit last Saturday evening.
My mother put it together and gave it to us as one of our Christmas gifts.
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We had soup, homemade bread, gourmet chocolate squares, and wine.
Mom also provided a candle, cloth napkins, wine glasses, plates, and soup bowls in the date kit basket.
It was really cute and nice.
We then finally got to see the new Star Wars movie! Which we both liked!

Keith’s parents watched Ella for us and gave us some money to bribe? encourage us to take our time and grab a treat after the movie, so that’s what we did! We stopped by Starbucks and enjoyed a macchiato and snowman iced sugar cookie before picking up our beautiful girl for the night. ūüôā

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal


December 30, 2010
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I feel very bittersweet about this :-(. ¬†Finding a daily thing to appreciate has turned into SUCH a habit. Which is an incredible thing, right? I hope to do this project again another year. I’m thinking, actually, of taking up a journal project every even year. Perhaps in 2012 I will do a 365 Picture Project (a picture/day) and in 2014 I will do another AP.

Without further ado… the last of the Appreciation Project entires:

December 28 AP 362– Adry’s love of music and his natural talent and ability. A few days ago I witnessed something that truly gave me that mommy pride feeling in my gut. It was before Christmas- before Adry got his full drum set- and he was playing around with his little single drum and tambourine. After a few minutes he lined up the drum, the lid to the drum, and the tambourine all side-by-side. He took his drum sticks and hit around on each of them for a while and expiramented with the sounds. When he was satisfied he proceeded to use them as a little makeshift drum set and kept a STEADY 4/4 DRUMBEAT, using the drum for his eighth notes (One And Two And Three And Four) and the tambourine every second and fourth. Um… that’s like the max complex drumbeat *I* can keep, so it will be amazing when my toddler son can out-drum me… Grandpa and Uncle Matt have been teaching him proper form and technique, and he enjoys practicing. It is really amazing to watch him develop. Watch out, y’all. Future rock star. Now someone PLEASE just broaden his musical taste.

December 29 AP 363– Clint Eastwood, John Williams, Joe Wright, The Coen Brothers, Tarantino, and every other behind-the-scenes film artist who help make awesome, magical movies. I believe I’d already appreciated talented actors and actresses. I appreciate how Clint is truly an artist: he draws SO MUCH out of seemingly simple scenes (deep emotion without dialogue, sensuality without sex) and NEVER crosses over into “mushy”. John Williams makes every movie he touches sound magical. He’s directed the music for so many of my favorite films: Hook, Jurassic Park… He’s the one that did Jaws and Starwars, too, by the way. Joe Wright… Atonement and Pride and Prejudice and The Soloist… beautiful movies. The Coen Brothers– too many awesome movies to list, I love them all. Tarantino is a film genre all on his own and I love all of his stuff, too, but PULP FICTION will always be my favorite. And so many other awesome film industry folks.

December 30 AP 364– Me and Ben and our marriage. At the beginning of the year I had decided to reserve this appreciation for our anniversary: December 31. When I left Ben I decided to throw it out altogether. But you know what? I’m not doin’ it. I’m not throwing it out. I’m appreciating it now and I always will. I gave 9 years of my life to that relationship, and it will always be a part of who I am. I appreciate every minute, every day, every year, every laugh, every heartbreak, every memory. I appreciate it all. And now I’m crying and can’t see the monitor anymore through these dang tears, haha.

I appreciate the memory of the first time he told me he loved me. I appreciate the memory of that enormous grin he had on his face as he watched me walk down the aisle to marry him. I appreciate how giddy he got when I told him I was pregnant… how he couldn’t contain himself; he called everyone he knew right away. I appreciate the complete and pure adoration and dedication he had for his son from the minute he was born. I appreciate the years we got to enjoy as a whole family, and how Adry LOVED when we were all together. I appreciate every celebration we enjoyed together and every crisis we overcame together and all the growing up we did together. We shaped each other into the people we are today, for better or for worse.

I really really really enjoyed being young and growing up together. There is a bond there that I think is unmatchable. That’s either an unfortunate or beautiful thing, I’m not sure.

I don’t regret my marriage to Ben. I regret how it ended, but otherwise I have no regrets. I loved him. I loved our family. I would have suffered misery and ¬†fought for our health happiness for as long as I lived. I just hope that one day I can feel whole again. I appreciate everything I have learned from this experience.

December 31 AP 365– New life chapters. This would have been me and Ben’s sixth wedding anniversary. This will be the first year in almost a decade I bring in the new year without him.¬†I do not yet *feel* appreciative of this new life chapter, actually, but I am making a conscious effort. A new year, a new chapter, a new start… In reality this just feels like desperation and fear in limbo, but… like I said, I’m making an effort.

(Is it “ironic” that I clicked on my ‘wedding anniversary’ tag after writing this entry and the post (click link to see)¬†that popped up was from last year- our LAST anniversary together- and the FIRST thing I mentioned was that I was wearing the necklace that “Cousin Sammie” had given me? Humm! I’m so glad I brought her along with me to celebrate my marriage! ūüėČ )

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

“The world was ours and we could do everything or nothing, all we had to do was anything because it was always us.”

November 6, 2010
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November 3 AP 307– Finding perspective.

November 4 AP 308– A random sweet and encouraging phone call from Ryan. Totally made me smile. He called just to check up on me and remind me that he’s considered me a sister since we were little and able to talk- we are family- and that I am amazing and he thinks I haven’t heard that enough. He caught me at the perfect time when I really needed to hear it.

I appreciate my “extended family” and Ryan. I love his sense of humor; he’s always makin’ me giggle. I love all the discussions we’ve had throughout the years, and how we grew up together within a close-knit group and now we can be there for each other as our adult lives unfold. I love how all of “the kids” have stayed connected, and it’d be AWESOME to make sure our kids stay connected, too, so that they can have what we have.

Anyway, thanks Ryan!

November 5 AP 309– Relaxing days with good company and DVR. I get to go to Nick’s house and be lazy and catch up on all my shows for the week. I would not be able to keep up with them if it weren’t for the fact that Nick lets me record them at his place. Also, I’m pretty sure I fell asleep by 10PM, which NEVER happens. Ever. I’m usually far too wound up. That’s what happens when I finally feel relaxed.

November 6 AP 310– HOOK! My ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE EVER! I finally got it on DVD today and am watching it this second. Freakin’ love it.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Sweet tea? Y’all want some sweet tea?

September 23, 2010
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September 19 AP 262– Sweet tea and talented actors. Two totally separate appreciations for today. ¬†Not related to each other. Okay, and we are talkin’ straight up dirty south sweet tea. Like, take-a-gulp-and-get-Diabetes sweet tea. City Barbeque sweet tea. You could pretty much put this sweet tea on your pancakes for breakfast. ¬†I.Love.It. ¬†And on a completely different note, thank goodness for talented actors who can tear your heart to shreds with just one look. Sean Penn. I fell head-over-heels for Sean Penn several several years ago when I watched Mystic River… that part when he found out his daughter was dead? Wow. And from there I saw I Am Sam and then made sure to see every movie starring Sean Penn ever. ¬†There are other actors I like of course, but we watched Dead Man Walking this day, so he gets the special mention.

September 20 AP 263РCandles. No particular reason.  I lit the ones in my room, which is a rare occasion for some reason, and enjoyed it.

September 21 AP 264– Having someone I can talk to comfortably… about anything. From completely random silly things to entirely intimately personal things. Feeling vulnerable and safe. I mean, I am usually an open book and my personal life just kind of flows from me without any filter whatsoever. However, my life is this Crazy Town ride now (admittedly an entirely boring and uneventful Crazy Town ride…) and I suppose I just don’t feel like yapping about it much. As a matter of fact, I have really withdrawn. My own little life is within my own little self where is is safe and secure and no one can touch it. So when someone comes along who can break in and share it with me… it’s nice.

September 22 AP 265– Being able to embrace the present and remember/appreciate the past. Let’s see, when this first went down I was a basket case. ALL I could think about was what I had lost and what would never be. I fought it. Kicking and screaming and crying and turning into a pathetic begging-him-back blubbering basket case, I fought it. ¬†Then when I realized it was hopeless I hardened my heart and pushed it out of my mind. I didn’t let myself even consider it. I put all my energy into other things that made me completely forget about my situation and everyone involved. But lately I’ve been slowly letting thoughts surface, and I am able to linger on memories and cherish them then mourn them, one at a time, while feeling hopeful about and even enjoying where I’m at now. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t still hard as hell, no matter how miserable I was then or happy I may be now. As a matter of fact, I am crying while I write this. I still harden and withdraw, and feel insecure and skeptical.¬†But I guess that’s what grief is: a process.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

The Rest To Date

July 6, 2010
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June 13 AP 164РDiscussions with my dad about anything. He opens my mind and challenges me to a new way of thinking each time we talk.  Also, Momma-Daughter time curled up on the couch with ice cream and a movie.

June 14 AP 165– Fascinating scientific discoveries. T-rex blood cells. ¬†Hello!- Awesome! ¬†Genetics- alleles and switches and loci and how the tiniest variations can make huge differences… Read this: Taxonomic Significance of Racial Classification

“Lewontin used his analysis of variation to mount an un-
justified assault on classification, which he deplored for social

“A proper analysis of human data reveals a substantial
amount of information about genetic differences. What use,
if any, one makes of it is quite another matter. But it is a
dangerous mistake to premise the moral equality of human
beings on biological similarity because dissimilarity, once
revealed, then becomes an argument for moral inequality.
One is reminded of Fisher’s remark in Statistical Methods
and Scientific Inference(12) ‚Äėthat the best causes tend to
attract to their suppor the worst arguments, which seems to
be equally true in the intellectual and in the moral sense.‚Äô”

And how you can follow early human migration and trace ancestry through DNA…. and the light that DNA sheds on natural selection and adaptation. This world and our bodies are AMAZING and I love learning about it!

June 15 AP 166– Our exciting new fishes! Frederick A.W. Bailey, the late Mr. Brown, Eyez, and Diab(lo)

June 16 AP 167– Learning how to create and host my own website… and code and file sharing 101

June 17 AP 168– NAPS!

June 18 AP 169– Dreams and goals. However seemingly impossible they are to obtain, I like to reach for them and work towards them.

June 19 AP 170– Avatar: The Last Airbender the series. Its story and charm.

June 20 AP 171– My dad is here for me to spend time with and talk to, whenever I need him, and Ben is a great dad to Adry.

June 21 AP 172– Summer! Summer soltice- long days, water fun, sunshine, and seasonal festivities.

June 22 AP 173– Baby fever. Also, that Ben is a devoted father who thinks his son is the most awesome thing to walk the earth.

June 23 AP 174– Adry’s new language development and communication skills. I am beginning to be able to reason with him!

June 24 AP 175– Living so close to the dollar movies.

June 25 AP 176– Dozing with babies.

June 26 AP 177– An awesome, wonderful, amazing day of complete pampering from My brother, Matt. Breakfast at Mimi’s Cafe, a Grand Manicure at Charle’s Penzones, awesome ice cream from jeni’s, and an impromptu adorable movie at the dollar theater. Thank you, Matt. I needed that.

June 27 AP 178– Matthew’s birthday lunch and Food Woman MEATLOAF. MMMM!

June 28 AP 179– A wonderful family zoo trip with babies. Pictures to come soon.

June 29 AP 180– My son amazes me every day. He has been pretend-reading books and gets many of the words spot-on because he remembers them from when I read to him. He is beginning to tell jokes and develop a sense of humor (like every letter in the alphabet is “A”- HAH HAH HAH, HILARIOUS!) Oh my goodness, I just love to hold him and pray time stands still so I can take him all in. He is also growing physically stronger and more coordinated– he has a great pitching arm, and loves to shoot hoops. He is a beautifully created being and I am so blessed.

June 30 AP 181– Marriage counseling sessions (Fireproof Series), Week Two and going well. (I winced when I copied this appreciation, but in hindsight I still believe this is true. I’ll just leave it at that.)

July 1 AP 182– Ben got a second interview.

July 2 AP 183– Fireworks! Columbus’s Red White and Boom! Pictures coming soon!

July 3 AP 184–
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life

Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

I haven’t felt anger in this current situation. Not once. Not even for a second. Towards anyone. Embarrassment, yes. Deep, deep disappointment, yes. Disgust, yes. There is no bitterness, there is no grudge, there is no hate. There is heartbreak and numb depression. Upon discovery I wailed. I have never wailed before and I didn’t even recognize my own voice. Ben came in and held me. I tried to get up and my knees gave out and I collapsed on the floor. ¬†All the while I’ve had a peace in my soul, and unconditional love and endless forgiveness for everyone, no matter how I should decide to handle this. ¬†And I believe the folks most intimately involved (S. and B.) are responding in perfect appropriateness to my reactions and the situation. ¬†I hope it doesn’t sound twisted when I say I appreciate that… and them… for doing so.

We are ALL human and we ALL sin and fall short. Yes, some sins have far greater natural consequence than others, but where there is confession and repentance, there is grace and redemption.

July 4 AP 185– Our great nation’s independence.

July 5 AP 186РToy Story 3. AAAAW!  Adry actually let me watch the whole thing, too, which was superb!  And yes I DID cry!  I would have burst out in tears like a big sappy baby, but gosh darnit, I used up all my energies to hold it in because I was too embarrassed.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Appreciation Project Catch Up

March 31, 2010
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Apparently I took a spring break from LiveJournal!  I have a LOT to catch up on including appreciation posts, picture posts, and reading my friends’ page!  So here we go, one step at a time, starting with appreciations:

March 26 AP 85– Showers.  Long, hot showers.  Friday was a really crappy day.  All I’m sayin’ is, a shower can wash away a crappy day. Nothing beats that clean, refreshed feeling.  And it gives me a chance to breath and remind myself that tomorrow is a new day!

March 27 AP 86– Watching Adry grow up and experiencing all of his "firsts".  On Saturday he went to his first theater movie (The Princess and the Frog) and, with the help of NightNight, popcorn, Reese’s Pieces, and soda, he sat through the whole movie.  He must take after his momma because he was truly mesmerized by the whole experience.  For the first hour of the movie he could not peel his eyes off the screen.  I had a lot of fun with him despite the fact a medium soda was spilled on my lap midway through and I had to sit in it for an hour!


March 28 AP 87– Holy Week.  I love Palm Sunday, tonight I am trying out Stations of The Cross, Friday is Good Friday service, and then Sunday is Easter.  Jesus knew what he was walking into and he went through with it.  He loves and forgives those who betray him.  There is NOTHING more important in my life than The Cross and Resurrection and the Man who bore my sins and died for them.  There is NOTHING more important in my life than the tearing of the veil to the Holy of Holies so that I may have a relationship with the creator of the universe.  Wow.  Seriously, what can be said about that?!

March 29 AP 88– Chocolate covered strawberries. Made by The Food Woman with Ghirardelli chocolate. Oh glory be, they were delicious.

March 30 AP 89– 1) My new Francine Rivers book and 2) Girl Time and dinner at Olive Garden.
1) I’d been waiting almost a decade for a new Francine Rivers book (that WASN’T part of her Men of Faith series). I had almost given up. I love her stores; they really shaped my teenage years. When mom gave me her newest one I was so excited! I am a fourth of the way through and I like it so far.
2) Hutch, Jamie, Jessie, Ash, Olive Garden breadsticks, and house salad. Also, cookies. All of these things make for a pleasant day.

March 31 AP 90– Short sleeves, tank tops, skirts, dresses, flat tennies, and flip flops. And a whole new spring/summer wardrobe for my boy. Mom and I had a shopping spree last week- Babies R Us, Carters, and Target- and I am excited for sunshine apparel and our new Easter outfits!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

March 18, 2010
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March 17 AP 76– Greeeeeeen.  And not the earth-friendly kind either.  Not that I’m anti-earth-friendliness.  Anyway, green is my favorite color, I’m pretty sure.  I’m just going to throw that out there.  Adry’s eyes are definitely turning green.  They were super green this morning and green is my favorite eye color.  I’m excited for the grass to be fresh and green again, and for the trees to be green…  and I enjoyed seeing all of the green for St. Patrick’s Day.  Green green green!

I hope everyone had a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day.  I partied it up pregnant-on-bed-rest style.  And then was severely disappointed by the movie Paranormal Activity.  Not.Scary.At.All.  Not.Even.A.Little.  The whole time I was all, ‘Wait, should I be scared yet?  Nah, this is just the build up." And then it was over.  YOU GUYS!  I literally did not sleep for two months after watching the movie Saw– I checked the locks on the doors and windows EVERY night.  And I STILL check the back of my car at nights.  I am a scardy cat!  And this movie did not even startle me in the slightest, nor did it make me feel tense or nervous.  I don’t even think it was well done.  Weak weak weak.  And do you know why this annoys me?  BECAUSE!- This dumb movie took up ALL of the great big theaters at the movies whilst Where The Wild Things Are was pushed back to the smallest very-back theater.  Dear movie-goers, WHAT THE HECK!?  I am about as mad at you as that one time that The Soloist wasn’t showing at The Lennox because all of the theaters were occupied with showing that Beyonce movie.  *shakes head*

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Valentine’s Weekend

February 15, 2010
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Well, Ben and I planned a date night for Saturday night- dinner and a movie. ¬†Then my dear brother, who was alone this weekend with a girlfriend all the way in Baltimore, asked if we had plans. ¬†Ben and I figured that we spend a lot of alone time together and an evening with just the three of us would be nice. ¬†So Matt joined us for our Vday date. ¬†If you consider the fact that Alexz was there in spirit, it was sort of a double date… right? ¬†But it was a good, chill, relaxing night out. ¬†We ate at Applebees and saw the Mel Gibson movie Edge of Darkness, which was very decent. ¬†I had wanted to see Up in the Air, but Matthew informed me that it was not a good Valentine’s movie. ¬†So I still want to see that before the Oscars.

Video: ‘ELLWOOD’. ¬†In the car on the way to the movies, driving past my brother-in-law Josh’s place

On Sunday, Valentine’s Day, my mother prepared a delicious meal of baby back ribs, chicken, broccoli, cranberry apple salad, homemade bread, and potatoes. The Jordans supplied an Oreo ice cream cake for dessert!
The table set:
She put a box of chocolates at each place setting and underneath each plate she taped a little Valentine:
Everything was cute and yummy!

The afternoon was spent shopping for a few baby things for Jamie, a bit of boy-on-boy violence in the kitchen (I suppose it made sense when Jamie said she was glad she was having a girl, heehee), and enormous icicles: (Under the Cut)


(Taylor launching the giant icicle)

Later in the evening we decorated heart shaped sugar cookies that my dad baked.

(It’s good Lent starts this Wednesday. On Vday I ate enough sugar to last me the month. I CANNOT RESIST ICED SUGAR COOKIES!!!)

That night the most intense game of Jenga took place.
35 Tiers


36 Tiers


37 Tiers

VIDEO: ‘Are You Kidding Me?’ I think Rebecca wanted Jacob to be the one to lose.

VIDEO: ‘Intensity’

Aaw, Rebecca lost the game at 37 tiers.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Dad n Me

February 5, 2010
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February 4 AP 35– Father-Daughter Dollar Movie Nights.  Every once in a while Dad and I will get a chance to go to a dollar movie together.  Our tradition has been to meet up at Half Priced books to browse for maybe an hour before the movie starts.  Dad spends most all of his time flipping through records and I usually read part of a Chuck Palahniuk book and then decide not to buy it… because I can never decide which Chuck Palahniuk book to invest my time in.  Play it safe with Fight Club?  Read Invisible Monster because they might be making a movie off of it?  Read Choke because my brother loved it?  So in the end I just don’t read Chuck Palahniuk except in Half Priced Books on Father-Daughter Dollar Movie Nights.

Well anyway, we saw Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was fantastic.  Loved the puppet animation.  I mean, computer graphics has the ‘ooh-aah’ factor, but puppet animation… I don’t know… reaches out and wakes up some deeper part of your imagination…  the magical childlike part.

It was just a great night, spending time with my dad.

Also, Dad is the loudest movie goer ever.  First there is his laugh.  I’m pretty sure you heard it.  Thursday night, 10:00PM Eastern Time Zone.  That noise you heard?  It was my dad.  Then there is his "whisper"- the one that is not a whisper at all.  Not even close.  That, as well as the fact that he has a comment about every single thing that happens during the movie… in his not-even-close-to-a-whisper whisper.

I love him.  I have the best dad, and I really appreciate our time together.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal