Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hollow Leg

Yes, I know it has been awhile since I posted. We’ve had a lot going on lately. I did feel like I needed to let you all know that church school continues to be a huge success. Ella loves going every day! Each morning she has school she wakes up and picks out her clothes, then picks out a bow to match. She is quick to get dressed and eat breakfast because she knows that as soon as she’s done she gets to go to church school.

Ella’s favorite thing at school is to be the Weather Helper. Metti said that she chooses this role almost every day. It means that she gets to look out the window and determine what the weather is. Then she goes and chooses the weather sign that matches what it looks like outside, and she puts it on the weather board. I, of course, have not seen this in person, but from what I get from my conversations with Ella, this is how it works.

The biggest news is that it seems preschool has given Ella a hollow leg. This child eats like she has never eaten before! The other night Grammy Janet was visiting and made a meatloaf. Ella had 3 helpings…yes, 3…and her carrots and I believe she also had macaroni and cheese. I think it’s a combination of 3 things: 1) she’s more active than she has ever been before, 2) she sees the other kids shoveling food in their faces so she decided that she should be doing that too, and 3) she’s having a growth spurt. Ella’s knees are rough right now (actually, the area right below her knees, between her knee cap and shin) and when that happens it’s usually a sign that her skin is stretching and she’s getting taller. I know one thing for sure…her tummy is getting bigger! Maybe some height will stretch out her tummy and it won’t stick out so much.

Yes, Grammy Janet was in town for a few nights and Ella loved hanging out with her. When we told Ella that Grammy was coming to visit, Ella started talking about how they were going to make chocolate cupcakes with brown frosting. She even went into detail about how she was going to put the flour into the bowl and the eggs, and she’d mix it up. She talked about these cupcakes for several days before Grammy’s arrival. Luckily when Grammy arrived I had been to the store and bought special gluten free chocolate cupcake mix and chocolate frosting…with rainbow sprinkles. The next day Ella put on her special apron and hat and helped Grammy make the cupcakes. Oddly enough Ella gets much more excited about making the cupcakes than she does actually eating them. She’ll eat them a little bit, but she prefers a piece of cake. I’m not sure why since it’s the same thing, but if she has a piece of cake she’ll eat the whole thing. She’ll only eat half of her cupcake. I think she doesn’t like picking it up to eat it.

In other exciting Murray news, I have been officially sworn in to the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Alexandria! You know how much Joe and I love the Eagles, so we decided that it was time to just go ahead and join. My swearing in was last week, but I don’t know when Joe’s is going to be. We’re really excited to make our membership official.

GiGi is coming to visit next week. I know she and Ella will have just as much fun as Grammy Janet and Ella had. Ella is eager to show off her new tricks like writing her own name and coloring in the lines.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Top 10 things we love about preschool…so far

10. New clothes! Everyone knows that one of the best things about going back to school is that you get a bunch of new clothes!

9. Less TV time. She’s actually doing activities that stimulate her mind. She loves each and every activity they do and tells Joe and me all about them at night. She even goes into detail about how she executed her art project that day…Thursday they ripped paper…very exciting stuff.

8. I know that at least 3 days a week she’ll be spending a solid hour outside getting fresh air and sunlight. And now that the weather is actually enjoyable, this makes going outside even better.

7. Ella has learned to write her name and how to use scissors. Have I mentioned that our 3 year old daughter is a genius? How many 3 year olds can already write their own name? And scissors…with webbed fingers…very impressive!

6. She’s much more physical and not being carried around as much. She walks the entire time she’s at preschool, so now she walks more when we’re out and about.

5. Ella is making friends. She will even talk about her new friends at school and tell us their names.

4. She is excited to go to church! Not that she’s ever been afraid of church, but to Ella church meant a lot of people she doesn’t know coming up and talking to her. Now church means fun fun fun!

3. She already comprehends more. Maybe this is all in my head, but I feel like suddenly she started understanding that one thing leads to another. For example, if you finish all of your dinner then you get dessert. Or that in order to read a book, you have to first get in your jammies, then brush your teeth.

2. Last night we went to some friends house for dinner. Before she started preschool Ella would have been upset at the thought of going to someones house for dinner. Last night we told Ella that we were going to Molly’s house and she was so excited and talked about it for the rest of the day. When we arrived she didn’t hide her face or ask to go home. Also, we’re having company over for dinner tonight and when we told Ella she started telling me all about what we were having for dinner with our friends.

1. Since Ella has started seeing other kids eating, she has started eating twice as much food in half the time. Ella has always been a slow eater, and sometimes it gets really annoying to have her sit for 45 minutes barely taking bite after bite. Now that she sees other kids shoveling food down, she has started to model their behavior…and we love it!


1. Ella has always been a talker…and now that she has many more exciting things to talk about, she pretty much talks non-stop. I find that I spend much more time giving one-word responses like, “Ok.” or “Really?” or even, “Wow!”

While I realize that a lot of these things might just be happening because Ella's 3, I have to give some credit to preschool because in the last week we have already noticed a big difference in our girl.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Roots and Wings

The job of a parent is to give your children roots to grow and wings to fly.

I remember when I was in college, my parents and I were down visiting my grandparents farm in Texas…it was probably Thanksgiving or something. Anyway, my mom was looking out the window at a tree and started crying. In that tree was a nest with a momma bird and her baby. The momma was trying to teach her baby to fly, so she would gently nudge her closer to the edge of the nest. I’m sure it was scary for the baby, but I guarantee it was even scarier for the momma. However, she knew what she had to do. Her job as the mom was to teach her baby to fly. At that time for my mom, I was in college and my brother was working in Texas. We were both adults and had left our home of Wyoming to explore new adventures. I know us leaving home was hard on my parents, but they also knew that it was what we needed to do…it was what they had raised us to do. They had given us wings, and now we were using those wings. But they had also given us roots…a strong foundation in their love and support, which gave us the confidence to go out.

Today Ella started preschool. I cried…a lot. What happened to my baby? But as hard as it is for me, I know that this is the right step. Ella is ready. She talked about going to “church school” all morning. She picked out her outfit and ate her entire pancake for breakfast. When we arrived we went into the bathroom and washed her hands like a big girl, then headed to her classroom. She walked in like she owned the place. No looking back…just looking ahead and checking out all that was to be her new classroom. She was spreading her wings. As I kissed her goodbye I started to cry. I told her that I love her and that I am so proud of her. Ella was unphased. She walked over to the table and pointed at her name sign, and that was it…she was off on her own. Honestly, I don’t think she even cared that Metti was with her. As much as I want to, I can’t hold Ella’s hand her entire life. This is where it’s my turn to grow. Just as preschool is teaching Ella to grow and spread her wings, it’s teaching me to let her grow.

When I picked her up 4 hours later (the longest 4 hours of my life!), Ella had been crying. My heart broke for her. Metti assured me that she had been fine all day and that as soon as the teacher announced that it was time to go, Ella suddenly burst into tears. She was exhausted and was asleep within minutes of getting home.

It was a big day for all of us. Ella got to spread her little baby wings and venture out onto her own, and Joe and I had to learn to let her go. It’s a good step and she’s already talking about going back tomorrow.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Murray Staycation 2010 – Day 9

Sorry I skipped yesterday. Basically, Joe went skeet shooting while Ella and I stayed home and did laundry. Then he had another meeting last night, so we went out for a late dinner to Pizzeria Uno. That pretty much sums up our day.

Today we got back in action. This morning we skipped church (sorry) mainly because I lost my voice a few days ago and while I’m feeling pretty good, I still have a gross cough and “sexy phlegm” that makes me sound pretty terrible. I didn’t think people would appreciate it. So around noon we headed to Old Town Alexandria for lunch and to walk around a bit. We ended up taking the water taxi over to National Harbor.

Joe only had one request for Murray Staycation 2010…he wanted to take a boat ride. We had one on the calendar, unfortunately the weather was much hotter than we anticipated, so we weren’t able to do any of the outdoor activities we had planned. So today when the weather was perfect, it was the right time to take a boat trip. Ella loved it, of course, and had a smile planted on her face the entire ride!

We love National Harbor. It’s a great place to just walk around, grab dinner, or grab dessert. Of course we stopped in the Gaylord Hotel to see the dancing water fountain (it’s synchronized to music) and walked along the water. They were having a Beatles Festival called “Abbey Road on the Harbor” or something like that. There were Beatles cover bands everywhere!

On our boat ride home we made sure we were first in line so that we could be outside at the front of the boat. I dared Joe to yell, “I’m the king of the world!” but he wouldn’t do it…chicken. When we had gotten to the water in Alexandria Ella saw a man selling animal balloons. We skipped over him, but for the rest of the day all she talked about was how she wanted a doggie balloon. Finally, when we got back to Old Town we went and got her a doggie balloon. She chose orange for his color.

Tonight I made Joe a good, traditional southern meal…chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. He ate two pieces, so I guess that’s a good sign. The funny thing was that I fried it in oil that has Omega-3, so even though we didn’t eat fish, our entire house smells like we did. Oh well, the steak was SO yummy, so it was worth it.

Tomorrow is the last day of Murray Staycation 2010. I’m sad. We’ve had so much fun with Ella, and I am pretty sure she’s had fun with us too. Taking a staycation was definitely the right decision.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Murray Staycation 2010 – Day 7

Today was a great day! We woke up bright and early (ok, 8:30) so that we could be in DC by 10:00. At 10:30 was a special presentation at the Planetarium at the National Air and Space Museum. “One World, One Sky,” which featured the one and only Big Bird and Elmo…and another character (Hu Hu Zhu) from Sesame Street in China. Elmo and Hu Hu Zhu even traveled to the moon! Very exciting stuff! The room was full of kids and the movie was great. They talked about the Big Dipper and the North Star, and even had all the kids count the stars in the Big Dipper, and sing Twinkle Twinkle. Ella loved it…as did all of the other kids in the room.

After the Planetarium we headed to the cafeteria, which happened to be the big yellow M. Could the day get any more perfect for Ella? After lunch and a short walk through the museum, we headed outside (since this is the first day on our staycation that was actually cool enough to walk outside) and walked through the sculpture garden, then headed over to the carousel for a ride. Ella rode twice, once on a horse with me standing next to her, and once on the bench with Joe. She was VERY excited!

Joe and I have learned that Ella loves getting out and doing things. Every day when we go out she has a great time wherever we are, then as soon as we start heading back to the car the tears start flowing. She spends the entire drive home crying that she wants her purple seat (her stroller) and that she doesn’t want to go home, she wants to go outside. Today we decided to take her to the park as a transition spot, so we got out and walked around the lake at the park, played at the playground, looked at the fish and the turtles, and got ice cream. At the end of all that Joe and I were very tired and ready to head home. Ella, on the other hand, was not. She still cried all the way home. The good thing is that when we get home we let her lay on her Elmo couch, or in the basement, and watch TV, and within just a few minutes she’s fine.

We wrapped up our afternoon by baking cookies. REAL cookies! Not the “home baked” kind that I usually make. I pre-measured everything so all Ella had to do was dump it in the bowl. Her apron and chef hat were a present from GiGi’s friend, Judy. Ella loves them and won’t wear the apron without the hat. Today she discovered that the cupcakes on her apron have sparkles. This was very exciting news!

I’m sad that Murray Staycation 2010 is almost over. It has really been a great week. We were reminded how fortunate we are to live here. We have so many activities and amazing things to see right out our front door. What a blessing to be able to experience it all.