Monday, December 22, 2008

Growing Girl

When Ella turned 6 months old I went to the store to buy her new pajamas. I searched 3 different stores and wasn’t able to find anything in her size! 3 months later, I went to the store and there was a plethora of 6-9 month pajamas, but nothing for 9-12 months. 3 months later, you guessed it, I couldn’t find anything for 12-18 months. Yesterday I went to two different stores and once again I found a TON of 12-18 month pajamas, but only 1 set of pajamas for 18-24 months! And from the looks of it, 2T seems way too big. This is extremely frustrating! Apparently I have a kid that is the same size as every other kid out there.

The good news in all this is that Ella is growing. She has the most adorable fat belly on her, that Joe and I LOVE! The problem is that none of her 12-18 month shirts will fit over it, and getting her dressed in clothes that are almost too small is very difficult. So now we find ourselves in a situation. Ella is too big for the 12-18 month clothes, but too small for the 18-24 month clothes. I guess we will resort to putting her in the 18-24 month clothes and just rolling up the cuffs. We go to the doctor in a few weeks so we’ll know exactly how big she is!

Her favorite Christmas object, by far, is the snowman. She loves them! That might be because I love snowmen so that is what the basement is decorated in, but every time she sees one she gets so excited and says, “Hi Snowman!” This weekend a couple from church brought her a snowman that sings “Frosty the Snowman” and lights up. She absolutely loves that toy! She cuddles it and carries him around all over downstairs. Just last night she walked right over to it and gave Frosty a big kiss followed by a hug. She’s such a sweet girl.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friends of Joe Murray

During the past election cycle, Joe and I talked and decided that we did not want this blog to become a political platform. I assume that you all come here to read what is happening with Ella and in our family, not to know our political views. So on election day, when I encouraged you all to vote, I left it at that without partisan politics or personal opinion included. Well, this post will officially throw all of that out the window. Not really throw it out the window (we still won’t talk issues here. If you want our opinion you can just ask), but we will be talking about politics. That said, now on to the second exciting thing that happened on Tuesday. I’ll lay it all out in as much detail as I can, so be prepared.

I was in the middle of a staff meeting on Tuesday afternoon at 3:00. I hear Joe calling my cell phone (he has his own special ring) and didn’t think much of it. Then a couple of minutes later he called my cell phone again. Then he called my blackberry. I thought something might be wrong at home, so I left the meeting to answer my phone and see what was going on. Just as I got to my desk my cell phone rang again. I answered it and thankfully there wasn’t an emergency. Instead, Joe wanted to tell me that the House Delegate seat for our district was vacant and they were having a special primary election that night. Then came the question, “Do you think I should run?”

I try to be a supportive wife, but at the point when Joe asked me that question, there was one thing running through my mind…I need to get back to my staff meeting. So I think I said something like, “If you want to run then go for it.” And I didn’t think much of it beyond that.

All of this took place around 3:20. The filing deadline was 4:00. Joe tried to print his letter to add his name to the ballot, and our printer broke, so at 3:45 he turned in a hand written letter. At 4:00 he went to Beck’s house to borrow her computer and printer to print fliers. At 5:00 he came home to shower and get ready to stand in front of the polling place. When he got out of the shower he asked me what he should wear. I told him, “Put on a suit and that red shirt. I’ll go find your Christmas tie.” Within a few minutes he was off, fliers in hand and a smile on his face.

I left a few minutes later for the White House, and we stopped to cast our votes on our way. There were 3 Republican candidates (can you guess who I voted for) and Joe was right at the door so he was the last face people saw before walking into the room. While waiting for people to arrive, Joe was busy calling friends and sending emails asking people in the 46th District to come out and vote. His calls and emails paid off, and at 8:47 pm I got an email with a subject line that read, “I am going to win!”

As soon as we got in the car I called Joe to find out the final results. For the GOP party, 49 people turned out (remember, we are in Northern VA). The first candidate got 13 votes, the next got 16, and Joe got 20! Way to go Joe!

So now we are officially in a campaign. Needless to say, the past few days have been crazy with phone calls, emails, etc. The election will be January 13, 2009 (Joe’s mom’s birthday), so if you live in the 46th District of Virginia please come out and cast your vote for Joe! If you’re on Facebook, you can join the group “Friends of Joe Murray” to share your support. We’ll see how the next month goes.

As the candidate’s wife, I know two things for sure: 1) this will be one of the greatest learning experiences our family will ever go through, and 2) this is just the tip of the iceberg! If Joe doesn’t win this election, you won’t get rid of him that easily because I know that Joe will be out there again in the future working hard for the principles he believes in.

Too Much Excitement for One Post

There’s only so much excitement one post can hold, so I will only post about one thing, then later (either today or tomorrow) I will post about the other. I’ll start with my exciting news, mainly because it has been overshadowed by Joe’s exciting news and I want to tell everyone about it.

So Tuesday night my good friend Beckster helped me cross an item off of my life list. Becky took me to the White House Christmas party and I got to meet President Bush and the First Lady. When my parents were here last week, my mom and I went shopping for a new dress. We came away with a red one, which perfectly went with Becky’s blue dress, and the Red, White and Blue theme. Both of us really hoped Laura would be in white so that she could balance out the trio, but alas, she was in green. She looked beautiful nonetheless.

Becky picked me up for our date at 6 and we headed straight to the voting booth (more on that tomorrow). After casting our ballots, we headed to the White House. Of course it was pouring rain and freezing, and of course the closest you can park to the White House is across a big park, and of course I was wearing a silk dress, and of course I forgot my umbrella (thank heavens that Beck had an extra one in her trunk) and OF COURSE there was a huge line waiting to get inside! By the time we got in our feet were wet and our toes were numb…but we were in and man did everything look beautiful! I have been in the White House before on the standard visitors tour. During the tour they let you walk through the hallway but have all of the special rooms roped off. They tell you about the furniture and how old it is and that no one is allowed to sit on it (Beck confirmed that even when they are in the rooms for a meeting they bring in special chairs for the press because they are not allowed to sit on any of the furniture). But for the Christmas party, there are no ropes and you can sit on any piece of furniture you would like! I took advantage of that and sat in several very important chairs!

The first thing we did was go get our picture with the Bush’s. It wasn’t very glamorous. We stood in line and when we got to the map room (a room full of maps where they planned strategies for WWII) they took our purses. We continued to wait in line through another room where the Bush’s were. Just before meeting them we were accompanied by a Marine. I think she was mainly checking to see if we were drunk (which we weren’t, of course), then she introduced us as “Becky and Katie.” Now, President Bush doesn’t know me from Adam. Becky, however, is a different story. He knows her and even acts like they are actually friends. In fact, the person in line before us told him that it was Beck’s birthday (Happy Birthday Beck), so the President gave her a special birthday kiss (on the cheek…it was in front of Laura and he’s not that kind of guy). How cool is that? I did get to shake hands with both President Bush and Mrs. Bush and we got our picture taken. It was the best 15 seconds of the night! Hopefully I look ok in the picture, and even if I don’t, I at least get to mark “Meet the President” off my life list.

The rooms were decorated beautifully! I couldn’t help but wonder who has to go through and water all of the trees. I think my favorite was the tree with all of the ornaments from each state. I searched for Wyoming but wasn’t able to find it. I think they probably put it at the top of the tree since it’s such an important state. We did find Virginia, Texas and New Jersey.

The food was wonderful! The beef was great, the salad was great, but I think my favorite was the grits! Leave it to a Texan to have a good southern dish like cheese grits. I promised myself that I would try everything on the table, so I did. The food is set up in two separate rooms, so we ate dinner in one of the rooms, then we had dessert in the other room. Dessert was the BEST, mainly because they had bread pudding which is my absolute favorite! I did bring home a Barney cookie for Ella. I didn’t sample all of the desserts, just about half of them, but I did try the egg nog. Apparently the egg nog is made with some really special rum mixture from way back in the day. It was good…strong, but good. I only had half a glass. I had promised Becky that I wouldn’t stand on a table and dance with a lamp shade on my head, and any more than a half a glass of egg nog and that probably would have happened.

It was such a fun party to attend. I am so thankful to have a great friend like Beck who was willing to take an old, married lady to her office Christmas party. And for the record, I would still be friends with Beck even if she didn’t take me to the White House just because she’s nice, but the White House was definitely a perk. I was the stereotypical tourist all night, at least until my camera ran out of battery. Then I started taking pictures with my cell phone. If you want to hear Beck’s side of the story, you can check it out here.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I’ve heard of it happening, I’ve even SEEN it happen, but given that Ella is a pretty calm and gentle child, I never expected it from her. However, last night she did the unthinkable! She was eating her dinner, yummy carrots and peaches, while GiGi and I were cleaning up the kitchen. She was oddly quiet, so I peeked my head around the corner to check on her. There she was, right in the middle of shoving a carrot up her nose! I grabbed her hand and said “NO!” Then I told her she was all done with dinner. Ella just smiled at me and gave a little Ella laugh. Of course I immediately took her upstairs to daddy to tell Joe what HIS daughter was doing (my sweet daughter would never do something like that). Needless to say I’m going to pay much closer attention to dinner time for Ella.

To add to Ella’s “nosey” weekend, she was having a great time walking down the hall and into the living room, when she completely biffed it on the floor. I thought for sure we would have another major head boo boo, but no, this one hit her nose. She rubbed off all the skin on her nose. I rushed her upstairs to the boo boo area and quickly pulled the skin back over her nose (sounds gross, I know). For the rest of the day I tried to keep the skin over her nose to protect it and hopefully reattach so the wound would heal better. Luckily it worked! I’ve tried this with her head several times and it never works, but this time it worked and her nose looks much better than it would if the skin would have stayed off. And hopefully healing time is reduced. This walking business is very hard!

It has been a very busy weekend with GiGi, Paw Paw, Uncle Curby, Aunt Gina, Sam and Nate all visiting. GiGi and Paw Paw arrived Wednesday night and the Burbs (AKA: Uncle Curby, Aunt Gina, Sam and Nate) all got here Friday afternoon. Friday night Paw Paw, and the grown up Burbs and I went to see the Living Christmas Tree at our church. It was a wonderful performance and the choir sang just as beautifully as always.

Saturday was the Alexander Christmas. We had an almost traditional Christmas dinner, and then opened presents. The best was that Ella got a rocker, which she loves. It’s pink and white stripes with flowers, and “Joella” written on the back. She loves to rock and often will sing the “rockie” song when we’re sitting together rocking. So she immediately got on the rocker and started singing “rockie” over and over again, and rocking back and forth. She loves her new rocker.

It was a great weekend with my family. I am so thankful to have a house big enough to accommodate everyone and we weren’t climbing all over each other the entire time. Joe, Ella and I have a week to relax, then we head to Colorado to spend a week with Joe’s family. It’s a great time of year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Baby Proof

Our house is not baby-proof…it hasn’t needed it. Ella isn’t what I would consider an adventurous child. She doesn’t really grab stuff off of shelves, she doesn’t really test the stairs too much, and she doesn’t venture too far beyond her toys. I think part of it is because even at such a young age, she knows her limits (you should see how protective she becomes of herself when other kids are around and they aren’t as careful as she is). The other part is that we don’t tend to let her get too far out of our sights. Anyway, we have one baby gate that we keep propped up next to the wall. It only gets used when other kids are over. Otherwise it stays next to the wall.

Well, now that Ella is officially a walker and is all over the place, I think it might be time to invest in some baby-proof items, ie. latches for the kitchen cabinets, stair gates, and I hope they have something that keeps a kid from going into the bathroom and playing in the toilet! The basement in the best! It’s all her territory and she can go anywhere and everywhere she wants to. It’s when she’s upstairs that things may get risky. We’ll assess the situation after Christmas, but for now we’ll keep her on an even shorter leash!

This weekend we put up our Christmas tree…a REAL Christmas tree. When we were putting on the lights Ella came in and said “Pretty!” She loves looking at the tree and telling us what all of the ornaments are…snowman, hat, ball, star, Elvis...yes, she knows who the king is. We’re working on learning who the REAL King is by looking at our little nativity scene and pointing to baby Jesus. I have pictures of the tree decorating (not uploaded yet…sorry) and will take pictures of the rest of the house soon.

In other Murray news, GiGi and Paw Paw are coming into town tonight. They will be with us for 4 days and Ella is very excited to show them her new room. She recently got a new dresser (thanks to cousin Kit) so everything is arranged and decorated perfectly. Now if her mom and dad could just get their room in order, the house would be completely set up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Joe's First Day

For those of you living inside the DC beltway, you will completely understand this post. For those of you who do not live here, I will do my best to paint a picture for you so that you, too, will understand.

Ahh, life in DC. On any given day 75% of the people you pass will be dressed in black…most of them in a black suit. The other 25% will be mainly tourists (and most of them feel the need to wear red, white and blue while visiting our Nation’s capitol). But what you may not know is that on Capitol Hill there are 2 times of the year…in session, and recess. These can be translated in many different ways: 1) when the member is in town, and when he/she isn’t, 2) Suits, and casual, 3) Busy, and not so busy.

My first day working in the Senate was a Friday. I was very worried about what to wear, but I had gotten a heads up that Senator Thomas was rarely in the office on Friday’s so I could dress “business casual.” Thus, I wore a black skirt, hose, heels and a nice shirt (besides, I only had 2 suits and I had to save them for the following week). I was over dressed…way over dressed. Most of the rest of the office was in khaki pants or even jeans. I learned quickly what they meant by “business casual.” Kind of like my first day here at the ADA when I showed up at 8:30am only to discover that no one else arrives until 9ish…and I use “ish” very loosly.

Well, Thursday was Joe’s first day working for a member of the House. He didn’t say it…he didn’t have to, but I could tell that he was very excited and nervous. He woke up fairly early so he could leave in plenty of time to fight the traffic and get to his new office (I should also mention that traffic flow in DC fluctuates based on in session and recess). Even though Congress is in recess right now, since it was his first day I know that Joe wanted to look nice. Later that afternoon we were talking and I said “I’m going to guess that you were the only one in a suit.” Joe’s response was, “Yes, and as soon as I arrived the Chief of Staff met me at the door and told me I could take off my tie.” I, of course, burst into laughter. Being a former hill staffer, I can just imagine Joe showing up all decked out in a suit and tie, trying his best to make a good first impression, while everyone else in the office wore jeans. When a staffer wears a suit during recess it only means 1 of 2 things, they are new, or they are interviewing for other jobs. While most hill staffers I know keep an extra jacket (and tie for men) at their desk for those “just in case” moments, I can guarantee that Joe won’t wear a tie during recess again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

History has been made

This morning Ella did something she’s never done. As I was leaving the house Joe was holding her. I had my coat on and was walking out the door when she started calling to me and holding out her arms. I went over and we did “family” (a group hug) and she said “bye mommy.” As I was walking out the door I heard the tears start, but I thought ‘she’s with her dad so she’ll be fine.’ A few minutes later Joe called me and apparently as soon as I walked out the door Ella started crying and calling for me and in his words “totally flipping out.” I shouldn’t say it, but I was glad to hear about this! She cries when I leave sometimes, but only when Joe isn’t around. If he’s anywhere in the area then she’s fine. So knowing that she actually wanted me instead of Joe was a good feeling. I, of course, don't like knowing that my precious girl was sad, but I do like knowing that she wanted me. I don’t know if it will happen again, but for today I am Ella’s favorite.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving traffic...UGH!

I hope you all had a terrific Thanksgiving and didn’t deal with too much traffic. We left for North Carolina on Wednesday afternoon. Our time of departure was based solely on one thing…Ella’s nap. Our plan was to leave around noon since she usually goes to sleep between 1-1:30. So when we were packing the car and Metti came upstairs and told me that Ella was asleep at 11:30, I almost had a panic attack. We tried our best to move her into the car without waking her up, but to no avail. She woke up and was ready to play. Ella stayed awake for the entire 5 hour drive! Thank heavens for portable DVD players and Elmo videos!

We had a great time in NC and my cousin’s daughter, Kit (Kathryn…named after me, or at least that’s what I tell people), and Ella developed a special bond. Ella now has a picture of Kit in her photo album and when she looks at it she says “Kit” with a very emphasized “T.” Kit was great with Ella and brought out all sorts of toys that she knew she’d like.

While we were there Joe saw a commercial for Wal-Mart that had a GPS for $97. Since our GPS was stolen a few months ago we have been going without, and anyone who has a GPS knows that $97 is a great price. So at 4:30 am on Friday morning Joe, Lindy (my cousin) and Kit headed out to Wal-Mart. Apparently the store was bananas and Joe and Kit waited in line for a long time to get the GPS.

We decided to head home Saturday in order to avoid most of the traffic, and I’m so glad we did. It rained all day Sunday, and combine that with Thanksgiving travel and I’m sure the roads were a mess! The trip still took us about 7 hours, but Ella at least slept much of the way home and she watched her DVD’s the rest of the time. She was a champ!

Ella continues to grow more and more. She has recently started saying 2 word sentences…and one of the words is always either “yay” or “yeah.” So she’ll say “Yay, baby.” Or if you ask her if that is a star she’ll say “Yeah, Star.” What’s even funnier is that she has started to answer questions very directly. So if we say “Ella, do you want a snack?” She’ll say “Yeah, yummy!” Or if we ask her if she pooped she nods her head and says “yeah.” The best, however, is that now, when she cuddles her toys, she also says “awww, baby” or “awww, snowman.” And she has added “Bless You” to her vocabulary and says it whenever there is a commercial for cold medicine. We really do have a funny kid.

Joe has only one final this semester (the rest were papers or class presentations) so he’s studying hard for that. I got some of the Christmas decorations up yesterday, but there’s still a lot more decorating to do. I am most excited that I’ve discovered battery operated tea lights! No worrying about Ella burning herself, and they look great. Ahhh, Christmas is in the air.