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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

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

Thanksgiving 2013

November 30, 2013
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This year’s Thanksgiving was an interesting and adventuresome one. From The Great Dog Chase to tipsy cooks, it all made for a memorable event for sure.

Keithy’s parents and The Jordan Family joined us this year. It was good to be with everyone.

Mom and Keithy worked for a combined 30 hours prepping and cooking our meal. (Several other dishes made by Mom Martin and 4 hour clean-up by Dad.)
Salad, french onion and asparagus soups, 3 different kind of stuffing, cornbread casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry salad, brussels sprouts salad, deviled eggs, turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, savory sweet potatoes, lentil loaf, homemade Hawaiian bread rolls, homemade outback bread, peanut butter pie, homemade Jeni’s Buckeye ice cream, apple pie, Italian nobake cake, and water with fresh cucumber, lemon, and mint.

All for one hour of BLISSFUL indulgence!

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A Series of Poorly Composed Selfies:

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This is either Poppy or Pearl. I can’t tell which one.

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Adry loved Alexz’s parents’ dogs.

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After eating we watched A Christmas Story (as is Sanders Family Thanksgiving tradition) and played a few games.

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At the end of the day all of the humans were stuffed and exhausted, and all of the dogs were home and alive and well. Success.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal


November 30, 2012
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The past month has been really hard.

At the beginning of the month I came down with a mystery illness that still hasn’t been diagnosed… It started off as minor fatigue and discomfort and gradually turned into full body aches and pains, sometimes so terrible that I couldn’t get a shower because the change in temperature and pressure of the water hurt so badly. I took ibuprofen like candy and survived without missing a day of work, but I definitely started to get nervous. So far my doctor has done a few general blood tests and all I know at this point is that my inflammatory test was high and I’m on Prednisone for awhile. I think it’s at least starting to make me feel better, but I would just like to know what’s causing the inflammation. I refuse to google health stuff because I KNOW google will tell me I have cancer. Every symptom is a cancer symptom, and I am cancer-phobic. But just from general health knowledge already in this brain of mine I know the inflammation could be anything from an allergy to an incurable -itis of any sort to HIV to, well… cancer.

I remember that several months after Ben and I split I came down with terrible terrrriible body aches without any other flu or cold symptom that just would NOT go away. It felt like I was popping Dayquil by the hour, and eventually I spiked a pretty decent fever… 102 or 103. Everyone was all, “you’re just fighting a virus! No worries!” so I seriously went on living daily life with a crazy fever that I controlled with flu meds…… until the day I broke out in a full body rash and Mother rushed me to the ER where I discovered I had an allergy to an antibiotic I had been taking.

There’s no fever this time, but still… I don’t want to just keep treating symptoms until things get out of control! I want to know what I have. Now. I’m impatient. And nervous.

So anyway. Thanksgiving was wonderful but I felt very sick and was in survival mode. I didn’t get any pictures. It’s my bed time, so I will have to update some more later! I have to wake up in the morning to be with the cute BBs, like these two:

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Thanksgiving 2011

November 26, 2011
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Reese has been visiting our home. You know, besides the fact that he is blind and has trouble finding his food bowls, has laryngitis, and gets leaves and twigs stuck in his tangly fur, I kind of like having him around. AND! He is the happiest that I’ve seen him in a loooong time since he’s been here. And happy Reese is kind of contagious. Plus, we have an understanding, he and I. Like when I have to use his full name, he knows it’s his cue to trot himself right to the basement and out of my way. Which happened when I came home from work to find that my papason chair had toppled over into my blinds. “Reesey Peterson!”  That’s all he needs to hear and he’s all, “Peace gurl, catch ya’ later.”

Earlier this evening Reese and I got comfortable in the living room. The house was peaceful, warm, and cozy. All was quiet until… dog licky noises. Shudder. Most annoying noise ever. I said, “Reese, go to the basement.” He stood up, acting all compliant, and kind of picked up his feet like he was on his way and just had to make sure he wasn’t forgetting anything important. ‘Sad dog eyes, check. Tail between legs, check. Ears back to elicit human compassion, check. Pitiful all-around droopiness, check…’

He looked at me out of the corner of his eye like, ‘If I delay this long enough and look pathetic enough she could give me another chance–‘

“Reese. Basement. Seriously.”

He hopped off the couch all reluctanctly and took his good old time walking over to the top of the basement stairs and then turned around to look at me. ‘I’ve got her attention. I have to really sulk, now. She’ll see how sad and miserable I am and–‘

“Go downstairs, dog.”

He went down one step, behind the wall where I couldn’t see him. ‘She won’t even notice I didn’t go down all the way. Then when she least expects it I’ll just come back–‘


He hightailed it all the way down the stairs in record time- ThumpThumpThumpThump- and tripped over his stumpy legs at the bottom. It made me giggle so hard I gave him pity points and welcomed him back to the living room.  Well done, Reese. Ya’ got me after all.

But enough dog stories. I have a few pictures from our little Thanksgiving. A few from my camera and several that I stole from James.

Mom’s Thanksgiving table setting










This lion has pretty much been J’s favorite thing to wear lately.

Matt the ambiance

Turkey put Keith in a coma.

I failed to get pictures of the meal AND of my mother who did all of the work. She did turkey, stuffing, gravy, church potatoes, corn casserole, sweet potato casserole, brussels sprouts salad, rolls, green beans, deviled eggs, two desserts, and probably other things that I forget. She did a good job!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Thankful 25, 2011

November 22, 2011
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In no particular order:

1) Adry. For bringing so much meaning and fullness and love to my life. I’m thankful that he’s healthy, energetic, and curious. I’m thankful that I get to watch him learn, grow and enjoy life.  I’m thankful that he loves me and excitedly runs to greet me when I pick him up after work (- great feeling).  I enjoy reading with him, snuggling with him, and having conversations with him (- he’s always saying stuff that cracks me up).

2) Keithy. For restoring my faith in commitment and monogamy and giving me my dreams back. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked him for that.

When I met him I had been headed down a pretty wild and self-destructive path. My views had become really warped…  My marriage was the fourth marriage, within my group of friends, to crumble due to scandalous secrets and infidelity.  I’d been with guys before Keith and they and I had agreed that if we ended up together, an open marriage was the better alternative to secret affairs and family splits. I expected and willingly accepted that that was the way life was and I’d better just grow thick skin and get used to it. I thought, if no one was capable of fidelity anymore then hopefully they could at least stay in a marriage if they were able to have a life on the side. I was twisted, damaged, and just didn’t feel worth much at all.

Keith came along and, I’m not going to lie, it was tough to decide to be in a committed relationship with him. And after I decided it, it was painful to follow through with because I was SO scared and insecure and anxious ALL the time… I’m prettyyyy sure I drove him up a wall ALL the time, too. lol. I was constantly drilling him about why he wanted to be with me, when he was going to stop being happy with me, when he was going to become interested in other people, when he was going to break up with me. “INBUWU” became his boyfriend slogan. “I’m Not Breaking Up With U”. He had to say it so much it became an acronym- not even joking! haha. It took me a long while, but now I believe him when he tells me that he IS committed, he DOES love me, he’s going to be honest, he’s not going to keep anything from me, he is going to be faithful to me, and he’s not going anywhere.  He’s been consistent and incredibly patient with me. I love him so much it hurts and I am SO thankful I have him.

3) My parents. For their love and support. For their experience and everything they’ve taught me and continue to teach me. For being excellent grandparents and loving my boy. For all of the fun we have and memories we’ve made.

4) My brothers. For being awesome. For being smart, clever, funny, and talented. For loving me, being great uncles, and making family their priority.

5) JamieBaby. For being my best friend and soulmate. During the absolute darkest days of my life she was the only one who understood exactly what I felt and what I was going through. I do not think I’ve ever been as open or raw or vulnerable with anyone like I have been with her. She knows my ugliest thoughts, insecurities, and struggles. She knows my most painful heartaches and deepest despairs. I honestly do not know if I could have gotten through some of the toughest, most painfully lonely times in my life without her. She’s been by my side through it all, from first grade on.

6) The rest of my awesome friends. For being there for me for a lifetime and making me laugh ALL along the way. I’m amazingly blessed.

7) The beauty and intricacy, patterns and predictability of this created world.

8 ) Music. How it feeds our soul and makes us feel alive. How we use it to experience life and express ourselves.

FIVE IRON FRENZY!!! and the major impact they had on my life when I followed them religiously seventh through twelfth grade, and NOW THEY’RE BACK!!!

9) My home. When it’s clean, laundry is put away, the dishwasher is running, candles are lit, and I feel like I put in a good day’s work and I can rest.

10) General health and opportunities. I’m still young and have a world of possibilities available to me. I hope I don’t take that for granted while it lasts.

11) Pictures and journaling. Looking back. Remembering. Reminiscing. Reflecting.

12) Literature/reading. Getting lost in different worlds. Learning. William Barclay and CS Lewis.

13) Fun girly things. Makeup, hair stuff, nail polish, clothes…

14) Roses.

15) Snuggles, kisses, hugs, and back rubs. Affection.

16) Holidays. Setting aside time to observe, celebrate, remember, give thanks, and spend time with loved ones.

17) Good homemade food.

18) Spontaneity and mischief, all in good fun. You have to live a little and break routine and rules sometimes.

19) Joy. Genuine kindness. Goodness. Gentleness. And, well I guess the rest of the fruits of the spirit while I’m at it.

20) Movies. Cozy nights in or the theater experience.

21) Date nights with Keith. We should do it more often.

22) Road trips. I need one.

23) All of my working possessions: car, computer, phone, cameras…

24) Sleep/Coziness. Naps, beds and blankets, fans and nighttime noises.

25) Columbus. The city, campus, surrounding areas, lots of stuff to do, family is all here, etc… Home.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal


December 1, 2010
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Wow, I canNOT believe I’m coming into the LAST month of appreciations! It did NOT seem like a year ago that I decided to launch the project, and it’s been great… especially after getting to see how many subsequent Appreciation Projects on other blogs and journals it has jump started. For that we can all thank Amanda …and Jason Mraz who inspired her of course.

November 22 AP 326– Drives with music. For being such a homebody I sure do get cabin fever a lot. It’s not even that I need to get out and go anywhere specific or do anything specific, I just need space to be alone and breeeath. And so? Those few moments when I am driving… all alone… just me and music… between destinations… are kind of glorious and refreshing and head-clearing.  Except for when I randomly burst out into tears and then come to a red light beside some guy in a truck who is determined to stare me down until I look at him.

November 23 AP 327– Big comfy beds. Let it be known that I totally cheated this appreciation. This is the FIRST day I accidently skipped since January 1, and I had to go back like five days later and try to remember what I did this day in order to come up with something I hoped I actually did take the time to appreciate…  I came up with big comfy beds and being able to sprawl out on my tummy, propped up on all kinds of pillows with my legs crossed in the air, watching The Office. If there’s one thing I miss about being married and living in the place I called my own, it’s my bedroom. And my bed and my blankets and my pillows. So it’s nice when I can borrow somebody else’s for a minute.

November 24 AP 328– All of my mother’s work and preparation for Thanksgiving. Two days this woman slaved in the kitchen for a meal we inhaled in twenty minutes. I’m not sure Sanders Thanksgiving would exist without her.

November 25 AP 329– Thanksgiving! Is it weird to be thankful for a day set aside to give thanks? Because I totally am.

November 26 AP 330– Finally coming up with a Christmas gift idea for my family that I can afford. That’s always a good feeling.

November 27 AP 331– Buckeye traditions: OSU-Michigan rivalry and Michigan Week, Script Ohio, etc. So much fun!

November 28 AP 332– Getting dressed up. Dresses and tights. I wish I had more. I mean, I’m just as much of a jeans and chucks kind of girl, but I enjoy appealing to my girly side and getting dolled up when I feel like it.

November 29 AP 333– Bright sunshine on warmer fall days flooding my bedroom with natural light. I LOVE being able to both throw on a hoody and drive with the windows down. (…er window singular in the case of J’s car.)

November 30 AP 334– Getting excited to do Mommy-y, tradition-y, Christmas-y things. Ever since Ben and I split I’ve been having trouble rediscovering my passion for and enjoyment of being a mom and making memories with my boy. It’s definitely coming back, though. Eeeee!

December 1 AP 335– The whole privilege and experience of bringing life into the world. Totally random appreciation. I stumbled upon Adry’s birth day pictures, and…   wow, what a magical day. It’ll be fun to experience it again one day.

First Ever Picture of Adry! Two seconds old, straight from the belly 😉

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

thanksgiving. pictures with the family

November 28, 2010
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I didn’t take very many pictures of the whole Thanksgiving experience this year…
Mainly just family members.

Sooo, just a few:


Small and simple this year. Just the six of us.


T.Matt… and, uh, my uncooperative boy

<3 …I told him I’d smile for HIS picture if he smiled for mine. So he obliged (…well, sorta). And then I deleted the picture he took of me. Terrible.


Dad was making fun of J and I because we both went into instant Magical-Christmasy-Nostalgic-Merriment Mode as soon as the Christmas music came on. I believe we are singing Silver Bells.

This cocktail my mom whipped up? Delicious.


Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal