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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

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

Christmas with our Families 2014

January 2, 2015
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Christmas Day with The Martins

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This is Gracie, Keith’s other woman

Christmas Celebration with The Sanders’

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waiting in the hallway to see the gifts

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Uncle Matt and Adry look so thrilled to be playing Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em

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Christmas nap with Aunt Becca

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Aunt Nelda came to visit later in the the afternoon

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more brother sister love

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

The Birth Story of Miss Eleanor Joyce (PART IV) ~ Ella’s First Day of Life and Keith’s 30th Birthday!

December 6, 2014
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We celebrated Keithy’s THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY in the hospital the day after Ella was born.

My dearest Keithy,

I’m lying in a hospital bed beside your beautiful daughter unable to sleep. Lucky for you, you’re peacefully passed out on the pull out bed across the room. I thought I’d go ahead and use this time to write you a birthday note to wake up to.

I am so incredibly thankful and happy to have the privilege of celebrating so many wonderful things with you this season. A new Martin life. Parenthood. A new chapter in our relationship. Our growing family. Our daughter’s firsts. How fitting to also celebrate YOU as you begin a whole new DECADE of your life!? Welcome to your 30’s, Husband! I hope you enjoyed your childless 20’s while they lasted; now you have to be a real adult responsible for a whole new life! 

I need you to know how phenomenal you are. Thank you for being by my side during one of the scariest, most physically demanding and exhausting experiences of my whole life. My favorite labor memory was when they had you put my hair net on for the epidural procedure. My whole body was shaking because I was so full of nerves and you put the net over my face “on accident” and I just started giggling. The nurse laughed and said, “it’s nice he can make you laugh through a time like this.” That’s one of the many many things I adore about you. It seems like, when it’s down to just you and I and the moments we have only each other, we are so good at laughing through it. I can’t count the number of times we’ve been in stressful or scary or frustrating situations and found ourselves embracing each other and making jokes and laughing Til our bellies ache. Thank you so much for that tremendous blessing to my life. It’s an incredible gift you have.
Also, holding your hand, knowing you were there for me throughout all the anxiety and pain was my lifeline. Afterwards my heart just melted watching you hold and enjoy your daughter for the first time. She’s a fortunate girl to have a daddy who loves and adores her the way you do. You are less than 24 hours into fatherhood and are already doing such an amazing job. I am so very proud of you, and proud to call you my husband and father of my daughter.

You are hard working. You are talented and creative. You like to make sure people are happy. AND you are so very handsome. I can’t get enough of your soft curls, blue eyes, and that sexy square jawline of yours .

Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being my partner. Thank you for being the father of my children. And Thank you for being my lover.

I’m grateful for these 4 years and all the change, growth, and adventure we’ve packed into that short time. We’ve made a great team if I do say so myself! I couldn’t have done it without you.

I love you very much and I hope you feel valued and celebrated today! I hope you have a wonderful birthday and an awesome 30s. I’m such a lucky girl to be able to spend it with you.

Forever yours,
Lady Lady


In one fell swoop Keith bid farewell to his twenties and a life of being only responsible for his own life. He traded his youth and freedom for being an old dorky dad with a reservoir of pun jokes.

He woke up that morning and saw us snuggling together in bed.

“I turn 30 today. this morning I got to wake up to this and I was enraptured by these two ladies. The moment lasted for an eternity; golden, pure and clear.
I would have never considered my 3 decades of life lacking anything until this moment.”

My mom ordered an Adriatico’s Buckeye pizza and Keithy’s parents brought a huge delicious chocolate cake to celebrate! His brother and sister-in-law joined us.


And a Bella Baby photographer came that afternoon to shoot some adorable photos of our girl. Paying for them was optional, but how could we resist!?



The photographer enjoyed her subject. Ella was completely wide-eyed and alert and even tracked her when she walked behind her to take photos!





the slippers Adry bought for Ella with his money

the slippers Adry bought for Ella with his money



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

Christmas 2012

December 29, 2012
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Christmas was really great this year! Albeit I’m still mysteriously ill and I’ve really been slacking on the whole taking pictures thing, so once again I have to share my experience with a few poor quality phone pics.

(Just a quick update: I’ve done a slew of different blood tests, a round of steroids, a round of antibiotics, and my symptoms have persisted. Full body flu-type aches, no fever, and pressure in my neck/ears/head. Next up: CAT scan and connective tissue test. Ibuprofen has been my best friend, yet it’s totally inadequate. My feelings on the whole thing range from ermergerd what if I’m dying from a brain tumor *panic*! to *sadface* what if this pain will never go away… to I will figure this thing out and everything will be okay *ForcedSmilePositiveThoughts* to meh I don’t remember what healthy feels like, who cares. Right now I don’t care.)

We spent Christmas Eve Eve at Grandma Martin’s house. Keith’s Grandma in Lima.

Keith’s dad, Keith’s brother, and Keith wearing Grandpa’s overalls

Grandma Martin is an incredibly talented seamstress and I will never get enough of her homemade gifts. Ever. Among some other great things we got to bring home this blanket she made for Adry:

It’s just perfect for him.

The next day we went to Christmas Eve service at Cypress, which was just… so awesome.

Honestly, I am totally spoiled. I grew up in a tiny little Nazarene church where the congregation was (and still is!) my family, so I never felt like Cypress was my church… it was just the place I attended. 15 years later, all growed up with a kid of my own, when I visit other churches I feel all aaaaaw I miss Cypress! and I hate missing Cypress services. Now I’m thankful Cypress is my church! It’s just radiating with talent from wall to wall- the sets, the videos, the speakers, the MUSIC. Talent just continually breeds talent in that church, and it’s always so neat to see that people have poured their hearts and souls and hard work into the church for God and for love and for people. Not to mention the constant outreaches we do abroad and in the community, continually making a difference.

Credit: I swiped this video off of Miss Chris Harder’s Facebook

Christmas morning we woke up and enjoyed great family time and a gift exchange.

Keithy got some socks (that he totally needed haha) and I got hypnotic poison perfume! Which I was excited about! Later on Mom and Dad Martin came over and the scavenger hunt for our “big present” commenced! We had no idea there would be a scavenger hunt or a “big present” that our parents and Grandma Martin went in on together. Later on Mom made the comment, “Weren’t you wondering why you got so little before Keith’s parents came over!?” and I realized I hadn’t noticed at all. I had been completely content and got the most enjoyment from watching my family open the presents Keith and I had gotten for them. It’s just an added bonus blessing that we have families that love us so much that they got together to get us something we could have a lot of fun with!

So anyway, they hid 9 clues and little presents around the house leading us to this:

A flat screen TV! We’d been using a clunky hand-me-down TV box with a small little screen. A 46″ definitely transforms one’s entertainment experience. The boys can actually play 2-player Halo!


And it’s definitely super enjoyable to watch our new blurays with our first bluray player on the new TV. I feel as though I am finally living in 21st century Amurica!

Anyway, after our big present the family partook of an excellent Christmas brunch prepared by The Food Woman.

On Christmas night Keith and I took the kid to the Martin household where we exchanged more family time and gifts with Uncle Phil, Scott and Tarah, and ate more wonderful goodies made by Keith’s parents.

Keith and I are very blessed. I love our family. We had a very merry Christmas.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Marrying Keith 5- blue ginger and first dance

October 6, 2012
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After family photos we met at Blue Ginger for dinner.

Blue Ginger is an Asian bistro in Dublin and is the restaurant Keith and I went to celebrate our engagement. We thought it was yummy, so why not celebrate our being married there, too!



I love him!

Jamie and John

Keithy got some sushi. I got duck dumplings, the same thing I got on engagement day.
I also tried to eat sushi for the first time in my life, but that story doesn’t end well.





After Blue Ginger we headed to my parents’ house for our Fire Night Party (AKA reception).

Melissa Foley (wife of one of Keith’s bandmates) made our cake!


My mother (and dad) organized, decorated, set up, and put together the entire Fire Night Party. She did an amazing awesome job and I wish I had more photos of everything she did! (I just didn’t think to grab my camera and/or tell the girl who did our pictures what I wanted. =my one and only big wedding regret.) My mom had the yard all in pretty sparkly lights, she had beautiful autumn-like table cloths and centerpieces on the tables, she prepared make-your-own kabob tables with different meats and vegetables and people cooked their kabobs on the grill. Dad prepared sangria and filled his fishing boat with sodas, beers, etc. T.Matt put together my music mix and Ryan let us use his DJ equipment so the party had music! Dad set up a tent with foosball and the skittles game he made by hand, and also made a big bonfire and fire snacks (smores). Everything was super classy, sparkly, pretty, and yummy! My mother is right in her element when it comes to events. She doesn’t do anything halfway.

Keith and I had sort of been doing our own separate mingling as soon as we walked through the door of my parents’ house. So an hour or two into Fire Night I’d had a few +spiked sangrias to keep warm (and it totally worked) and I also had REFUSED to take off my super long heeled shoes because I loved them. I packed sneakers just in case, but… the shoes! They buckled at the ankle and had an adorable bow across the toes and… they just weren’t coming off, even though no one could see them and the heels were super thin so I kept getting stuck in the grass as I walked through the yard… Aanyway. It was about this time that Keith and I crossed paths on the patio as a song started and we took each other and started dancing.


Now, Keith and I never had “a song”. We tried to have a song, but I always told him that the best couple songs were from shared experiences, not picking and choosing. By Wedding Day the closest I’d come to having a song that reminded me of Keith was Jack Johnson’s Better Together because Keith always seemed to sing it to me on late nights when we first started dating. But KEITH said the song that reminded him of ME was Red Hot Chili Peppers Hard To Concentrate… and so we just never pinned down a couple song. So anyway, on Wedding Day when this song played and we started dancing it took me a minute to piece together what it was because I’m really bad with intros… and also: sangria.

Then Keithy started singing it to me. The first song we danced to. The first song he sang to me. And it turns out it was Jason Mraz I’m Yours.

Sidenote: it’s funny that that song ended up being the song because it’s always been one that’s been kind of unofficially off limits for me because it belonged to my old high school friend/ fellow online journaler who is a SUPER SUPER CRAZY-FOR-JASON-MRAZ FAN (who ALSO happened to date the same high school boy as me, happened to get pregnant a little before me, left baby daddy a little before I left mine, fell in love and got engaged a little before me, got a job very similar to the one I got, HAPPENED to get married on the exact same day as me, who I think ALSO danced to that Jason Mraz song with her son on that day!!!) so I’m slightly concerned (but not really) that she will think I am stealing her life! Ha! But I promise- the parallels are a complete coincidence (and a little weird). Also, she’s not catty, so I don’t think this will be an issue. It’s just kind of funny to me.

When Keith and I were first falling in love he’d say, “I love you so much I have that ache behind my sternum.” That’s how I felt dancing with him. That’s how I feel about him every day. (I am so fortunate.)


I completely adore him.




The next post is my LAST wedding post!!! It will be of cake cutting, Keith’s brother, the rest of fire night, and happily ever after.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Marrying Keith 4- family photos

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Keith and Uncle Phil




Love that smile


Keith and his “brother of another color and a different mother”, Xavier

They man-love each other

Keith’s bandmate Ryan (videographer and husband of photographer) on the left

Keith with Ryan and his son

Little Bro J <3 Photobucket


T Matt <3 Photobucket
Childhood Family Friends (Or as we call ourselves, “The Kids”): Tay, Hutch, Ash, Me, Adry, Ryan, Jamie, Jessie, Mer, Tori


Supporting Mothers: Les, Sandie, Me, Mom, Pammy, Ginny

Ash and I






Next Post: Blue Ginger and Fire Party!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal