Friday, November 30, 2007

The Return of Gi Gi

Gi Gi is returning back to town this afternoon from Casper, Wyoming.

I have finished classes for the Fall semester and have final exams on December 4th, 6th, and 10th. Her presence will help free me up to study, provide Katie help with Ella, and overrall, allow us to share her great company.

We look forward to her arrival!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Gobble Gobble

Wow, we have so much to report! It has been a very busy week. I’ll start from the beginning so sit back and get ready to read because this is going to be a long post. Before I go any further we need to let you know that Ella has gained another pound. She is now officially 13 lbs 5 oz.

On Tuesday night Joe and I had the opportunity to speak at our church Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently every year they ask someone to speak about what they are thankful for. Obviously we have a lot to be thankful for, so they asked us to speak this year. We are thankful for so much, that we decided the best way to keep things concise was to do a top 10 list. However, we weren’t able to keep the list to just 10, so we had our top 14. Here they are in no particular order.

We are thankful for:

1) All of the love and care from God’s church in our time of need—food deliveries, prayers, notes, visits and encouragement.
2) A chance to bring our two families together.
3) God showing us the skills and patience required to care for our daughter.
4) The opportunity to share about how God attends to our needs and comfort us in our time of need.
5) For the story Joella will have to tell as she grows.
6) Our deacon, Becky Brittain – Beck has earns a lot of deacon points with us.
7) That God’s word is true. Rom. 8:28 – For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
8) New friendships.
9) Strengthening of old friendships.
10) Bringing us closer together as a couple.
11) God’s miraculous healing power on our little girl.
12) The hope that her condition will resolve itself in the next few years.
13) The incredibly talented and caring medical staff and nurses at Children’s National Medical Center, Inova Hospital where Ella was born, and her current pediatrician and dermatologist.
14) God blessing us with the most precious gift we could ever imagine.

The talk went well and I’m so glad we got the opportunity to share our story and how God has worked a miracle.

Wednesday morning at 3:00 am we packed up the car and headed to Baltimore Washington Airport. We took the 6:00 am flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth to visit family for the week. Once we arrived we were walking to the baggage claim area and spotted my mom and dad (GiGi and Paw Paw) and my Aunt Gail and Uncle Clay waiting for us. Aunt Gail was the first to spot us. She let out a yelp, then started running to the door we were walking through. It was so funny because she left the rest of the family in the dust. Everyone else quickly caught up and soon there were tears galore! Ella just kept looking at them like “Who are you and why are you crying?” It was a great moment, one we thought we’d never have.

We had breakfast at Uncle Clay and Aunt Gail’s house so that Ella could get on the floor and stretch her legs. She needed to play after that long plane ride, and we had another 4 hour drive ahead of us. After breakfast we headed to Shreveport to visit Maw Maw, my paternal grandmother. We spent the rest of Wednesday, all day Thursday and Friday morning with her. Dad took Joe and me to the casino river boats for a buffet dinner on Wednesday. Who would pass up all you can eat shrimp? Yummy! Thursday Mom and Maw Maw fixed a fabulous Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings! Friday morning Joe and I met up with some of my friends for breakfast.

A little side note because this is just too weird. My friend, Jenny, and I worked in Boston together for Hearts for Boston. Jenny married Jed (I was in their wedding) and they lived in Arkansas until about 6 months ago when they moved to Shreveport. I haven’t seen Jenny and Jed since their wedding about 7 years ago I think. So we got to meet up with them for breakfast and their twins, Malcolm and Naomi (so cute!!!). Ella was of course wearing her Mets hat, to which Jed said, “I like the hat.” I asked if he was a Mets fan and he said he was. Then Jenny said that Jed was from New Jersey. Joe asked the standard question “What part?” Typically when Joe asks this question people are from north Jersey, but Jed answered “The shore.” So Joe continued, “What part?” To which Jed responded, “Monmouth County.” This led to the discovery that Joe and Jed actually went to High School together, and Joe was only a year older than Jed. Isn’t that crazy! What a small world.

Ok, so back to our weekend. We left Shreveport Friday afternoon and headed to Texas so little Ella could finally meet big Ella, who she is named after (see new video under November 2007 Videos). It was nice to have some play time with just the Bigs (Big Mama and Big Daddy) so they could see Ella and not have to deal with giving attention to other people. The 3 men watched the end of the LSU vs. Arkansas football game while the 4 generations of girls stayed in the living room. There are pictures of the 4 generations, but obviously we need to learn how to use our camera because most of the pictures are blurry.

Saturday was the ever famous Gooch Wing Ding (that’s a party for you non-southerners). Uncle John and Nancy Jane have this Wing Ding at their house every year the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s a great time with great food and great company. This year they served up barbeque ribs and sausage with all the sides you could want. Before the Wing Ding Joe got to do some target shooting with Uncle Clay, my Dad and cousin Hal. Of course he loved that! What was hysterical was that Uncle Clay and Aunt Gail were trying to find some clothes for Joe to wear shooting. They pulled out a pair of Wranglers which were just a bit too tight (see pictures), cowboy boots (I bet Joe’s family never thought they’d see him in those), and topped the look off with a traditional cowboy hat. YEE HAW!!! The Wranglers were too tight, so he ended up wearing another pair of jeans that fit better.

Sunday we rested in the morning, then had Mexican food for lunch. At 3:00 pm we headed to the airport for the flight home. Ella did great on both of her plane trips. On the way to Texas she slept the first half and played the second. On the way home she played the first half and slept the second. All in all she was a great traveler. Now we just need to get ready for Christmas, although we’re sticking closer to home for that.

We hope you and yours had just as wonderful of a Thanksgiving as we did.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ella's New Friend

Just a quick update on the famous girl in the family. That’s Ella, for those of you who were unsure. God answered yet another prayer for us last week. Ella was approved to receive Medicaid benefits, thus providing us with home health care. Needless to say, the schedule we had just wasn’t working. Basically, I worked all day while Joe was home with Ella trying to squeeze studying in during naps. Well, Ella isn’t much of a napper, so that wasn’t working out so well. If he was lucky he’d get an hour or 2 of studying in, and that’s not anywhere near enough for law school. Then Joe would load Ella up and he and I would meet half way between home and my office to do the switch off. We met in a parking lot in Pentagon City where we’d move Ella from Joe’s car to my car, say hi and goodbye all in one breath, then part ways once again. If I was running just a few minutes late or got caught in traffic, then Joe would usually end up being late to class. And all this happened to fall right in the time Ella likes to have her early evening snack and quick nap. We learned very quickly that this wasn’t working! Both of us were stressed to the max!

Ella got approved for Medicaid and within a few days we had home health care in place. Metti started last Monday and she has been a complete God-send. By the second day Joe and I both felt like an enormous weight had been lifted off of our shoulders! Joe is no longer stressed about study time because he knows that every afternoon Metti is going to be here to care for Ella and he can get some good studying in. This also makes their time together in the morning much more quality. I no longer stress about leaving work exactly on time and getting caught in traffic and ultimately making Joe late for class. I know that Ella is safe in her own house with Metti. The best part is that every night when Metti leaves she kisses Ella’s head and says “I will miss you!” That is exactly what a mom wants to hear.

My only worry with having Metti around is that Ella is going to get used to being the center of attention. I think she already has gotten used to it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Celebration of Laura Moutray's Life

Yesterday, our friend Laura Moutray lost her year-and-a-half battle to breast cancer. We were saddened to learn that she had passed away leaving behind her wonderful husband Chad, and their beautiful little 2 year old, Charlotte. We met the Moutray's right after our Ella was born through mutual friends at Church, but in the few months since that time, we sensed a stronger-than-usual friendship bond between our families.

Chad mentioned on a few occasions how uplifting it was for Laura to follow on about Ella and her progress on this blog, and we all got together for pizza one Sunday afternoon about six weeks ago just to hang out. We are grateful for the time we spent with Laura and for knowing that our beautiful, precious little jewel made Laura happy.

Chad mentioned he and their entire family are comforted knowing that Laura is in a better place in heaven as the cancer had caused her significant suffering.

We pray for Chad, Charlotte, and their entire family asking God to bless them with comfort during this grieving time.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fingertip Tribute

Several months ago Ella got a blister under her finger nail. It was her index finger on her right hand. A few weeks later the finger nail fell off completely. In telling my mom about it I told her that I’m not really worried about the loss of the finger nail, that is minor in comparison to other things. My worry is that she will be self-conscious about it. I don’t want her to spend her whole life hiding her right index finger. In response, my mom was inspired to write this poem as a tribute to Ella’s finger. The funny thing is that a couple of weeks ago Ella decided that she no longer liked her pacifier. Instead she has taken to sucking on her finger without a finger nail. Joe and I don’t worry because we know she can’t scratch up the inside of her mouth. The finger nail may or may not grow back, only time will tell.

Fingertip Tribute

Written for Joella Gale Murray by her GiGi
November 4, 2007

When God made Ella, He had in mind
Not the usual girl, but one of a kind.

Between serious brow and the tip of her toes,
Are intuitive blue eyes, and a cute, perfect nose

Round kissable cheeks and fat little knees
Go with a heart that beats ever to please

A broad, winning smile and an enchanting giggle,
Go with two arms and two legs that are eager to wiggle.

He molded two hands with ten fingers of grace,
So she can reach out and touch and embrace

She holds tight to the fingers of Mom and Daddy
To prove how determined and strong she can be

For, when God made Ella, He knew all along
She’d inspire others to be just as strong

And He planned that one precious finger would be
The sign of His touch so that others could see

So…Don’t be embarrassed and don’t be ashamed,
Your finger will help folks remember your name

When all of your body is healthy and healed,
Your finger will prove that prayers are for real

If some say miracles never can be,
Shake your finger at them and say, “Hey! Look at me!!”

God put His mark on you, Joella Gale…
Gave you life to the full, and a story to tell.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Two New Firsts

Ella has had 2 more “firsts” this weekend. The first first, if that makes sense, is that Ella has her first diaper rash. Sad but true. I guess we should count ourselves lucky that she made it this far without diaper rash. And the truth is that the only reason she has any now is because she had to be put on a medication that gives her diarrhea, and thus has given her diaper rash. It was only bad for 1 day, and we kept cloth diapers on her and changed them at least every hour. It was much better yesterday and is even more improved today. Hopefully by tomorrow it will be all cleared up.

Ella’s second “first” is much more exciting. Today Ella had her first cereal! It was probably more exciting for mom and dad than it was for her. Of course we captured it on video, which you will find in “November 2007 Videos” and "November 2007 Photos." She did pretty good considering she didn’t really know what it was or what to do with it.

Ella is now laying on her blanket talking to herself and playing with her blocks. Every so often she’ll go quiet and when I look over to see what she’s up to she’ll start whining wanting to be picked up. She has figured out that mom and dad will pick her up if she whines, so when we check on her we have to be sure to look out of the corner of our eye and be sure not to make eye contact. Otherwise its over. See…she just caught my eye and now is sitting in my lap while I finish this post.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Time!

Yesterday was Ella’s first Halloween! I didn’t go out any buy her a costume, but she did get to wear a special outfit with pumpkins on it, her pumpkin socks and of course her pumpkin hat. She looked very cute! Unfortunately we didn’t get any pictures of her in her Halloween outfit, but we do have pictures of her from the day before Halloween in her pumpkin hat and shirt. There are also pictures from the Ella Fund event last week. Since I’m a professional photographer all of the pictures came out blurry, but you’ll get the idea.

Ella’s first Halloween was a day of both excitement and sadness. Unfortunately both took place at the pediatrician! The exciting part is that Ella continues to grow. She’s on the steady track of about 1 pound a month. According to her pediatrician, Ella weighs 12 lbs 5 ounces and is 25 inches long. This puts her in the 25th percentile for weight, the 75th percentile for length, and the 100th percentile for cuteness!

The sad part was that she had to get yet another round of shots. Those things are brutal! And I almost flipped out because after her shot the nurse put a band-aid on her! Of course I immediately reacted and told her that she couldn’t have band-aids on her skin. It was quickly removed and as of last night she didn’t have a new blister from the band-aid, so that is good news. It was just proof that we always have to be aware of what is going on.

As far as Ella’s first Halloween night, I had visions of what it would be. I would be holding her in the Baby Bjorn with her cute pumpkin hat on…we’d open the door to the trick-or-treaters…she’d look at all of the exciting cosumes…they’d ooh and aah about how cute she is…I’d just smile and say “thank you” while happily filling their bags with yummy candy. Unfortunately the shots made Ella sleepy, so she peacefully slept through her first Halloween night while I sat downstairs with the trick-or-treaters. Oh well. Maybe next year will be more exciting.