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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

The Birth Story of Miss Eleanor Joyce (PART III)

December 6, 2014
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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

The Birth Story of Miss Eleanor Joyce (PART I)

November 23, 2014
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It was an eventful and anxious few days leading up to Ella’s birthday.
I’d gone to see Dr. T and we came to a mutual decision to move my induction day up for ‘better safe than sorry’ reasons.
I’d wanted so badly to go into labor naturally… not only because I was convinced it was healthier, but I also wanted that organic experience; I wanted the thrill of having to time contractions at home and contacting everyone to surprise them with ‘IT’S BABY TIME!’ news.
But alas, my induction was scheduled for 40weeks2days.
I dared my body to go into labor before then.


Ella pushing her butt up. It was crazy looking!

Ella pushing her butt up. It was crazy looking!

Labor never came. What we WERE surprised with instead was a scary diagnosis for Adry. I’d taken him to the doctor a few times for a persistent cough and swabs came up with nothing. Finally, as a precaution since my son is fully vaccinated, one of the doctors did a pertussis swab and put him on a Z-pak. THANK GOD she did, because it came back positive. *Freak Out Freak Out* I was about to give birth to a brand new human with a brand new immune system and my 6-year-old son had just been diagnosed with freaking whooping cough. That totally stressed me out, so to help me feel better we got out markers and crayons and stickers and had ourselves a surgical mask decorating party a few nights before Ella came.


I woke up at 3AM on November 4th to prepare for my 4:30AM induction.

I was thinking about everything that could possibly go wrong and I was so nervous!

When it was time to leave for the hospital I woke Adry up to take him with us in his PJs and a pillow in tow. I naively thought he’d be so tired he’d nap while we were there. Hah. As soon as I tapped him on the shoulder he sprung out of bed and exclaimed, “IT’S TODAY! ELLA IS COMING TODAY!” It’s the day he’d been waiting for and dreaming about for nearly 1/6th of his life. This was an infinitely more exciting day for him than Christmas was or will ever be.

We got to the hospital. I was a ball of nerves. My stomach was churning. Why should I be so nervous, I thought. I’ve done this before. Oh, that’s probably why I’m so nervous- because I HAVE done this before.

They took me back to my room.

I undressed and put my hospital gown on.

I went to the bathroom and I could hear the woman in the room beside me through the walls. She was screaming in agony at the top of her lungs, “NO! NO! AAAAAH NO GOD PLEASE NOOOO AAAAH.”

Holy crap, what have I gotten myself into. Is there an undo?

And then I anxiously awaited my pitocin IV, which, I must say was probably the worst part of my whole experience.

Nurse #1 tried and dug couple of times. Float nurse tried and dug a couple of times. Got one in. Needle was too small. Had to remove it and try again. Anesthesiologist came up and looked at my veins and said, “well if they can’t get it I’ll get one in for you!” Ultrasound guy came up and gave me a shot of lidocaine and finally got a successful IV with the right gauge needle. By the time that was all over I had huge bruises and was in a lot of pain in both arms, and the damn IV hurt the whole time. Me and my veins are the worst with blood draws and IVs. The. Worst.

While we waited for the pitocin drip Mom gave me this pretty barrette to hold my hair back with during labor.


And Keithy also gave me a couple of gifts.


I have several lockets with pictures and charms and dried flower pedals that represent Adry and my memories with him, so Keithy got me this pretty little gold locket for Eleanor. He had her name engraved on it.


And he also got this little jewelry box to keep it in, and had that engraved as well.



I LOVED my gifts. SO much. And they were a great distraction as well.





Then came the pitocin and contractions.


Obviously not that bad at first.

Tori and Adry in the waiting room during my labor

Tori and Adry in the waiting room during my labor

Before too long I was feeling it a little.


At first I was very unsure about getting an epidural. I’d had a poor epidural experience with Adry- it was positional and I only felt the effects in my upper abdomen and the pain relief didn’t kick in ’til Adry moved and it was time to push and they had pumped so much medication in me I couldn’t feel a thing in order to push, yadda yadda that kind of thing. But I’d heard these lovely stories of ladies getting their epidurals and having such comfortable labor and delivery experiences… plus the anesthesiologist had a little chat with me and convinced me to give it another try. So before the contractions got too intense I decided just to get the whole needle in my back thing over with.

They kicked everyone out but Keithy. Just me n’ him. They had him put my hair net on for the little procedure. He stumbled around and put it on my face “on accident” and made me giggle. The nurse said, “Aw, at least you have someone who can make you laugh at a time like this.”  I was nervous and for some reason I was uncontrollably shaking all over. But after a sting here, a pinch there, and the oddest uncomfortable sensation when they put the catheter in, it was done. They pumped me up with magic medication and for the next several hours I had the most wonderful labor. I was numb, but not too numb; I could feel the contractions come and go but I wasn’t in any discomfort. It was amazing. I thought I was going to have the easiest labor ever.

And then the medicine wore off.


I had mistakenly made the decision to wait until I was in enough discomfort to warrant another dose of epidural medication. Gravely gravely mistaken. I let it go too long and by the time I called the anesthesiologist in for more pain medication it couldn’t keep up with the intense and quickly progressing labor. And that’s when I was so so thankful for my labor partners!

…To Be Continued




Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Halloween 2014

November 1, 2014
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Adry was The Joker this year.

He's in character saying, "Why So Sserious?"

He’s in character saying, “Why So Sserious?”


He was pretty proud of how “scary” he was.

On Wednesday evening Dad and I met Jamie, John, Tori, and Baby Tara at Friendship Village of Dublin retirement home for dinner and trick-or-treating.
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The kids ran around laughing and being loud together and had a bunch of fun.

Grandview’s Beggar’s Night was Thursday. Adry spent the evening with his dad and a few school friends.

Adry is trying to be scary!

Adry is trying to be scary!

Ben said he completely filled his bag with candy and they all had a blast.

Meanwhile I was at home in bed (not feeling well) hoping I’d go into labor on my own. Otherwise they’re inducing me in a few days! Eep!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

James ‘n Jess Bellies <3

August 4, 2014
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Have I mentioned that The Best Friend, Jamie, is pregnant, too!?
Well she is! She’s 37 weeks with Baby Girl #2.
We decided, since we will more than likely never be pregnant at the same time again, to hurry up and get some photos before Baby Tara decides to come out.

I gave Dad my camera and asked him to snap a few of us:

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BATMAN! (NOT Batgirl.)

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Brother climbing the tree to get an overhead shot

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Where our toes?

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Keithy and I decided to take advantage of a photo op:
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John joined his three Buccilla girls:
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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Adry Padry’s Sixth Birthday!

March 25, 2014
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Adry woke up on his birthday morning to a card from his Uncle T. and Alexz in Baltimore.
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A kitty playing metal guitar. Two of his favorite things. (I used to wear that shirt he’s wearing up until I was about 19 or 20. I have no idea how I was ever that small!)

To celebrate over the weekend, a few of us were supposed to take Adry to the Five Iron Frenzy concert at Skully’s and grab dinner at Chuck E Cheese beforehand. FIF fell through (Sad face) so we spent some extra time playing games and then went to Uncle Jacob’s house instead.

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Tori saying ‘goodbye’ outside the Chuck E Cheese window

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At J and Becca’s house, Adry got to bounce on the new ball Grandma and Grandpa Martin got him. He also got to visit with Reese and help us play games. Before too long he passed out cold on the couch. I think he was a satisfied birthday boy 🙂

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Boo at the Zoo 2013

October 27, 2013
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My mother was so proud of her witch costume, haha. She looked great. She even risked permanently staining her face green for the occasion!

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We met Tori, Jamie, John, Kema, and Kepa there!

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The kids with Kema

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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Baby Bro is 21!

September 28, 2013
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I can’t believe it. My littlest brother is 21 years old. Living on campus with his love. Holding down a full time job. Bona fide ADULT.
When I was a young teenager- 13ish?- I got in a fight with my mom and told her I was leaving. I probably told her I was going to live with a friend and I never wanted to come home again. I went up to my room to get something or another that a young teenage girl would need in order to leave home forever (like chapstick or something, duh). In the process I walked past my parents’ bedroom and out of the corner of my eye I spotted little five-year-old J’s tuft of hair on the floor of their walk-in closet. Curious, I decided to investigate. Apparently he had been hiding on the floor among the dirty clothes baskets during my teenage tantrum. He’d heard everything I said and was really upset that I was going to leave home. He looked up at me with his huge sad brown eyes (MY GOD he was absolutely adorable) and held up what looked like a copper ring you’d get from a quarter machine. He said, “Take this ring with you and remember me forever.” And I cried!

Y’all. The BEST cure for defiant, strong-willed children is adorable little brothers!

When Mom was pregnant with him I had wished he was a girl. I was at the hospital with friends while Mom was in labor and when he was born I demanded to know if he was a boy or girl. They told me he was a boy. Frustrated I said, “You mean I waited all this time for a stinkin’ boy!?” But then I crawled into the hospital bed with Mom and saw him for the first time. It was literally love at first sight. 21 years ago J won a soft spot in my heart and he’s had it ever since. Happy birthday, Little Bro J.


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Music before the festivities

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J’s monkey shelf, haha

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We got this game for him.

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Keithy and I

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Yard games

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Grandpa with the kids

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal