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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

Memories Reflected Through Tinsel and Light

January 6, 2018
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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

take a sad song, and make it better

July 1, 2017
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I never thought I’d be writing this, but I believe it is time.

A lot has been going on in my little world for years now- a lot that I’ve kept close to my chest; a lot that I haven’t talked about. I can’t talk about some of it and I don’t entirely want to talk about the rest of it. It’s been… overwhelming. Heh. I don’t even really know how I’ve held it together. My whole fucking entire world has been on my shoulders, and now that it’s in pieces, well… I’m just so apathetic about it. I mean. I fought so hard for it… and now it’s gone. I lost. It feels. so. twisted. I feel guilty for even writing that because I don’t want to offend my parents or anyone else, but sometimes when I think too hard, or think at all, I’m just… what the fuck, y’all. What the fuck. How did my life become this?

Anyway, to cut to the chase and to make a very very (very) long and complicated story short and simple— The Sanders Family is now a split family.

Dad is living apart from Mom and they’re working on a disillusion. And that’s not all! They are also both seeing people they intend to stay with. We get to navigate all the life changes at once!

Dad is with a gracious, kind, intelligent and beautiful artist named Suzanne. She is like this sociable Bohemian-esque free spirit with long flowy hair who paints for a living and has friends and stuff, haha.  For those of you who’ve known my dad all these years, your eyes are probably bugging out of your head right now. I know! mine are, too! I used to think- if anything ever happened to Mom, Dad was sure to become a hermit or something in a house full of his hundreds of hobbies. I thought that surely he’d find new instruments to play that no one has ever heard of, and spend the rest of his days playing records/listening to NPR and making things out of wood.  I am, of course, thankful that I like Suzanne, as unexpected as she is! Mom seems to be okay with Suzanne. Suzanne it seems is also willing to accept our wackadoo clan and hang out with all of us as a family… I mean, the situation at this point is as positive as one could hope… And I don’t know what else to say, y’all- that’s that! We will see how the future unfolds.

My mom has been a bit more private about her situation, so I guess I won’t talk about that yet.

Sometimes I have fantasies that we will end up like Modern Family where we are all quirky and dysfunctional AF but we are still one family, for better or worse, forever. But I am also trying not to get my hopes up, because being let down still feels raw and incredibly painful. Right now? I just don’t want to care. I’m done caring. I’m tired of caring. I have cared too intensely for far too long and it’s time to rest. Right now I just want to be selfish. Like, I want to be a child that tests my boundaries to see how unconditionally loved I actually am. (Am I?) I don’t want to be nice. (I am not not being nice!) I don’t want to try to hold this together and make this work. I need other people to figure this out.

I am thankful I have both of my parents, and they love me and my kids. I am sure to not take that for granted, and I count my blessings every day.

 

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal