Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 Here We Come!

Ella's first Christmas was memorable and involved much travel in the Bella Minivan mobile. There are some great pictures and a few videos on the right-hand side entitled Christmas 2007 Pictures and videos. Enjoy!

We returned home from our Christmas vacation travels yesterday that brought us from Alexandria to Gordonsville, VA back again to Alexandria for a short bit, then onto Wintergreen Resort, and finally back home yesterday. Spending time with family and great friends was wonderful! In Gordonsville, VA, the Alexander and Murray families celebrated Christmas at the cozy Shenandoah Crossings Resort. Curby and Gina joined Gi Gi, Paw Paw, Katie, Ella, and me throughout the four days at the resort as we huddled into our log cabin, eating delicious food, talking endlessly while the constant sounds of football games on TV echoed throughout, and rejoicing at the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ's birthday.

After we saw Gi Gi and Paw Paw Alexander off to Reagan Airport on Friday, we got back into the Bella Mobile and headed out to Wintergreen Ski resort in Central VA to spend time with our great friends, Casey and Christy Grubbs. Their little 4 month old, Ginny (short for Virginia), and Ella are friends. They both are so cute together where they just stare at one another and ponder who in the world is that person which looks like themselves. So funny to watch! At Wintergreen we took in the scenes of Mountain living although we did not do much Mountain activity. We did not ski, but rather did the same thing we did in Gordonsville, we just hung out and enjoyed each others' company over excellent food. However, I did get to try out my new Christmas present that Paw Paw Alexander gave me: a .50 caliber Thomson Center Hawken Muzzleloader rifle. It is a beautiful family heirloom which originally belonged to Katie's grandfather. Paw Paw graciously passed it down to me to enjoy and hopefully harvest more game for our freezer. Casey and I made it out to the mountains and fired it a few times into a target. It shoots well.

Speaking of game in the freezer, Katie cooked up the first of what will be many venison meals. For lunch today, she made Venison pepper steak. Yummy! To our delightful surprise, it did not have a gamey taste like a lot of venison meat contains. Needless to say, I was like a kid in a candy store watching her prepare the venison. It is exciting to see what I hunted actually arrive before us in the form of food for the family and good, healthy food albeit. Venison, like other wildlife, is typically leaner with less fat than store bought meat. If you have never tried venison, I recommend you give it a shot (no pun intended:-). You are more than welcome to stop by our place for some as we have over 45lbs of meat stored in our neighbor and friend Becky Brittain's freezer (Thanks for the help, Beck!).

2007 has ended positively for the Murray family! Katie starts her new job on Wednesday, my semester begins next Monday, and our beautful Ella continues to prosper and grow. I used to think it was just a cliche when I would hear parents say that they could see their kids grow up right before their eyes. I no longer believe such, as each day we see Ella doing new things. Recently, she has begun to grab toys, etc. You can see her thinking about what she has in her hands as her imagination expands. Her babbling is becoming more and more like concerted communication. Her weight and length are increasing, and overrall I am convinced she is prettier than the day before.

With her continued growth, Katie and I are experiencing new challenges in protecting and caring for her beautiful skin. She is stronger and able to fight us with more success when we try to wrap bandages on her boo boos which makes the process very difficult. Also, she is giving herself new blisters on her face, ears, and back of her head, everyday. We can't tell her to stop scratching her eyes or grabbing her ears, so we have become more vigilant in putting mittens on her hands while attempting to stop her from scratching herself. However, we are not successful 100% of the time, and therefore, blisters result. In Ella's developmental growth, she has figured out how to get the mittens off. Today during lunch we put mittens on her and while we were eating she seemed to look over at us and demonstrate how well she can grab the tip of the mittens and just pull them off. Then she just held on to them and waved them around her head, just to prove that we couldn't stop her. What is this going to say about her teen years? Anyway, it is a fact of life for EB patients and parents that blisters will occur. It is difficult for Katie and I as we can only do the best we can to prevent Ella from hurting herself. Over time, we are confident that we will rise to the occasion with fresh ideas and strategy on how to help protect Ella from scratching herself and leave the rest up to God to help protect Ella from herself.

You would not know from spending time with her that she is bothered by her blisters. She really does not seem to care, and that is good. She is a normal, happy baby with boo boos is how we like to describe her condition. Really, we are not downplaying the seriousness of EB as a disease. It is just that it appears that rather than being painful, the EB is more annoying to Ella since her Mom and Dad have to pin her down for 45 minutes to an hour each night and wrap bandages on a good part of her body. Throughout each day we constantly monitor her affected areas and make alterations to her bandages if need be. After we are all done, she is either sleeping from being tuckered out from the process or happy-go-lucky. The time in between is spent napping, eating, or playing. Life is good for an infant:-)

It is refreshing to be back home at 5427 Taney and peer forward for a great 2008! We wish all of you a prosperous and blessed year! Thank you so much for standing with Katie and I in spirit. We can't accurately describe what your encouragement and friendship have meant to us since June 21, 2007 (and before), but let us acknowledge that we are blessed to be so loved! Our hope is that we can provide you with encouragement and love when it is needed.


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