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.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm officially a Mom

It's official...after 17 months of having Ella in our lives I have truely reached motherhood. Do you know how I know? Because today I went to lunch with a friend who has a daughter just a few months younger than Ella. While our lunch conversation revolved around several different subjects, at one point we actually talked about Ginny's puke and Ella's poop. Nice, huh. The worst part about it was that neither of us seemed to mind and we continued with our lunch as though nothing was strange. I guess the sign of officially being a mom is that bodily function conversation at lunch is perfectly acceptable.

On a less gross note, we leave tomorrow for my cousin's house in Durham, NC for Thanksgiving. It will be great to see that part of my family. I just hope that we leave early enough to miss most of the traffic. That could make for a very long and terrible drive. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Weekend!

I have finally added the pictures from our trip to the Baltimore Aquarium. They are in the October 2008 folder, since we took the trip in October. You can’t really see it in the pictures, but Ella had her hair in pigtails and it looked VERY cute!

We are trucking along in the Murray house with not too much to report. I've been completely swamped at work and I am very much looking forward to the weekend (and next week since I took it off for vacation). Everyone is trying to get ready for next Congress. Ella is becoming the expert walker and getting more and more adventurous every day. She is also getting much more verbal. Last night she even talked to GiGi on the phone, although when she was ready to go back to playing she said “Bye Bye” and looked at me. Joe finishes up his internship next week, and all of his classes are coming to an end. I always love December when I can have Joe back to myself again. Of course its short lived, but it sure is nice while it lasts.

I'm having a lot of trouble holding back on the Christmas decorating! I am a firm believer that Christmas decorations can't go up until AFTER Thanksgiving, and usually I'm really good about sticking to this rule. After all, I have plenty of fall and Thanksgiving decorations around the house. This year, however, with a nice new house to decorate, I just can't wait to pull out the Christmas decorations and shower the house in green and red! It's going to look beautiful!

Unfortunately we are in the midst of a rough patch with Ella and her skin. Actually, let me clarify. Her legs, arms and torso look great! Since she's not crawling as much her knees have really cleared up and the rest of her body actually looks really good. It's just her poor face (which of course is the only part everyone sees). I don’t know if it’s the weather, or if we’re keeping our house too warm, or what the problem could be. All I know is that Ella can’t seem to sleep more than 2 hours at a time and every morning when she wakes up she has a new boo boo on her face. The poor girl looks like she’s been through a battle zone. I won’t go into details, but know that we’ve tried every suggestion made and have done all that we know to do (Joe even slept on an air mattress with her the other night to try and prevent her from scratching throughout the night). We are really hoping that this will pass soon or that we will find the “magic bullet” that will help, but until then we ask you to pray for her little face and that the boo boos she has will heal quickly and that she won’t get any new ones. It really started getting worse when she hurt her finger, so I can’t help but wonder if the wrapping on her finger is doing a lot of the damage. Unfortunately we can’t leave it unwrapped just yet.

The best news right now is that we got our fireplace fixed, which means we can have a fire this weekend! I am very excited for that. It is the true sign that winter is here!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Looks Like We Made It

Well, after 4 days and 3 nights without the dad of the house, Ella and I are very excited to have him back. It’s amazing how quickly I got pushed aside once Joe returned.

I had a great weekend with my girl. Friday night was cold and rainy, so we just stayed inside and watched a movie. Saturday morning we woke up bright and early to go to Target. I have learned that if you wait until the afternoon to go then you hit all the crowds, but if you can make it in the morning then you’re usually pretty good. So we made it before noon. However, I got so wrapped up in my shopping that my poor sweet baby actually fell asleep in the shopping cart! A woman walked by and said “Oh, she’s so tired.” When I turned to look, Ella’s head was bobbing off to the side. Soon she was asleep. I didn’t even have one of those nice padded fabric things that makes the cart softer (we have one but I always forget it), so she was just leaning against the metal sides. I felt guilty, so I tried to pick her up and carry her, but as soon as I did she woke up and was ready to look at everything. Of course as soon as we got in the car she fell asleep again.

Now with all my new Christmas decorations I am so excited to decorate the house. Joe has promised me that we can get a tree the first weekend in December. Every year I want a real tree, but every year Joe has finals the first 2 weeks of December, so by the time he’s done with finals and we actually make it out to the tree store, all the good ones are taken. One year we went and there were about 3 dead trees left and that was it. So we’ve had to use a fake one. This year he only has one final so he promised me that we’d go out early enough to actually get a nice tree. We even donated the fake one to the Salvation Army, so we don’t have a back-up plan.

Saturday night I actually changed Ella’s bandages all by myself! This was a major accomplishment for me! I have done them one other time without any help, but Saturday I gave her a bath and everything, which I have never done without Joe or Metti, then I changed her bandages completely on my own. I was so nervous and prayed all day about it. Originally I wasn’t going to give her a bath, but the poor girl has been so itchy with the weather change, and all day Saturday she would scratch and start crying because it itched so much, and she has only slept in 2-3 hour increments all week. So I thought a warm oatmeal bath would do her some good and hopefully ease her itchy skin. Like I said, I prayed about it all day and while I was setting everything up for the bandage change, I just felt like a bath was the right thing to do. Then I started praying that she would stay calm and that I would have the wisdom to handle anything that came my way. Needless to say, Ella did great in the bathtub and played with her toys while I washed her hair and cleaned her up. After the bath the bandage change was good and an hour and 15 minutes later she was all clean. She actually slept for 6 hours straight, which is more than she’s done in a week, so the bath definitely helped. The funny thing is that I did the entire bandage change in my swimsuit just in case I had to jump in the bathtub with her. Luckily that didn’t happen.

Joe came home this afternoon and boy are we glad to have him back. It was fun for Ella and me to have mommy / daughter bonding, but I told him he’s not allowed to go out of town for that long anymore! Now I think it’s my turn for a girls weekend getaway and Joe can stay home with Ella.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Girls Weekend

This morning at 6 am Joe headed to Las Vegas to spend the weekend with his brother celebrating his 40th birthday. So Dancerella and I get to spend the weekend hanging out and doing girl things. We are definitely going to Target (the best store on the planet) and I would like to make it to walk around Old Town if it isn’t too cold. I also have some home projects that I want to finish this weekend, and I’d love to clean the bathrooms. I have high aspirations, but we’ll see how much actually gets done. If the weather stays rainy, we will probably spend the weekend inside watching Elmo.

Grammy Janet came to visit on Tuesday night and left on Thursday. We always love having her visit. She brought Ella a turkey placemat and when she showed it to her, Ella proudly proclaimed “turtey.” I didn’t even know that she knew what a turkey was. Ella also learned how to say “Grammy” and even kept calling for her when she went to the bathroom.

We did have a minor catastrophe this week. Ella is getting very confident in her walking, but the other night she was walking into the bathroom and there is a little step up. When she went to take the step up she grabbed onto Joe’s finger for support, but she still tripped over the little step and fell. Unfortunately in the midst of the fall, she degloved her finger. “Degloving” is what happens when the entire outer layer of skin comes off in one piece, like taking off a glove. It was terrible! We immediately gave her Tylenol for the pain, then wrapped the finger. Needless to say this was traumatic for Joe and me. Whenever Ella gets a boo boo, even a big one like this, as her parents we immediately go into fix-it mode. There isn’t time to get upset about it and ponder over the woulda shoulda coulda’s. You have to address the situation, then after it’s taken care of you can have your melt-down. Once Ella’s finger was wrapped she was totally fine and went about playing. She is such a strong little girl! I talked to another EB mom and her son had done the same thing when he was Ella’s age. She promised me that this experience was much more difficult for us than it was for Ella, and she assured me that Ella’s finger will heal and she’ll be fine and probably not even remember that it happened at all. Ella is doing great in spite of her finger, we just ask for your prayers that it does heal well and doesn’t cause her anymore problems.

That’s about it on this end. The plan for tonight is to go to Target and see what kind of Christmas decorations they have. At my office they have a program where we get a pedometer when we first start working here. If you take a certain number of steps every day you get points, and once you reach a certain number of points you get Cold Hard Cash!!! Actually, you get a gift certificate, but it’s just as good. So I have earned $150 so far and have cashed in $100 of it to spend at Target. I am very excited!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Facts about Ella

1) Ella hates bananas and anything with banana in it. In fact, if we give her something with banana in it she sticks her finger in her mouth and tries to get it out. When she was a baby she would cry every time we gave her something with bananas. At first I thought maybe they hurt her throat, but I talked to a couple of other EB moms and one who even has EB and they said that it doesn’t hurt, so apparently Ella just doesn’t like bananas.

2) Ella loves music. Whenever she sees our MP3 or her CD player she says “mui” and sits in front of the player listening to the music. She learned very early on how to turn on her CD player, and when the music is playing she will sit in front of the player for the entire duration of the CD. She just sits there and stares at the player…and if it’s a song she really likes she’ll dance. At the end of every song she claps and says “yay.” And if there is a pause that’s too long between songs she says “more.”

3) Ella’s favorite color is blue…much to my sorrow (I make her wear so much pink!). If she has several toys that are all different colors she will go for the blue every time. She has this bucket of shapes (green triangles, red squares and blue circles) and she completely leaves out the triangles and squares. She will open it up, take out the blue circles, put the lid back on and put the circles through their designated hole, then open it up again and get the blue circles….wash, rinse and repeat.

In other Murray news, we had our new furniture delivered on Saturday and it is beautiful brown leather for our main floor living room. The old red couch is staying in the basement family room, where it can continue to get trashed by the sweetest 1 year old I know. Sunday afternoon we went and bought a rug and hopefully this week we’ll have the coffee table delivered. We had Metti come in Sat morning so Joe and I could concentrate on getting things ready for the furniture. This meant that I was actually able to hang up pictures, mop the floor and clean up the main level. Joe was able to put together a shed in the backyard, which of course had a book of directions that made no sense whatsoever. Slowly but surely our house is coming together. Whenever we move I always think, “We’re going to have to do this again in a couple of years.” But, not this time! Now that we’re HOMEOWNERS we’ll get to stick around for a while.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I need to confess…I’ve been really stressed lately. Not about anything work related, but about Ella. What exactly? I have been totally stressed out about the fact that at 16 months and 2 weeks she isn’t yet walking! I have talked to countless parents about it and they all say the same thing “It’s totally normal for a kid not to walk until 18 months.” That's easy to say when your kid walked by 10 months, but if your kid was 16 months and 2 weeks and not walking, I guarantee you’d be stressed too! The doctor said it was perfectly normal and that she wasn’t worried at all. I talked to parents in my EB group and most of their kids didn’t walk until later, so they said not to worry. I even took it upon myself to call early intervention services (Ella has never needed therapy of any kind but I was convinced that she needed it now). They told me that they typically don’t offer services until a kid is over 18 months old and not walking. I even had people tell me that I only “thought” I wanted Ella to walk, but once she started I’d wish she was crawling again. No…I really do want her to walk. Forget the fact that Ella’s vocabulary consists of over 60 words and the average for kids her age is less than 20 (according to Baby Center it’s around 10). Forget the fact that she has been saying 2 word sentences for months. Forget the fact that she knows all of her animals and the sounds that they make, and that she is a musical genius and sings along with me. Forget the fact that she’s the cutest 16 month and 2 week old EVER!!! Forget all of that…I want her to walk!

Last Friday I convinced Early Intervention services that because of her physical situation they really needed to see her before 18 months, so they agreed and we have an appointment on Friday. I was telling a couple of friends about it at church on Sunday and they both agreed that she’d start walking this week just to prove me wrong…and she did. Monday morning she woke up around 6 am (thank you Daylight Savings) so my wonderful husband let me sleep while he took Ella downstairs to play. When I woke up he told me that she had taken her first steps. Since then she has been taking more and more steps every day. She’s still a big chicken when it comes to venturing too far outside of her comfort zone, but at least she’s taking steps. I guess that means I need to call Early Intervention and cancel our appointment.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Go Vote!!!

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, all I ask is that you get out there and exercise your right as an American. Tomorrow go cast your vote.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Yesterday was a lot of fun for our little Pink Doggie. Yes, you all voted and doggie won by a landslide! We got her a pink poodle outfit because it was the best of both worlds...a doggie for Ella and pink for me! At first she wasn't sure what to think, but when she realized that it was a lot of fun going to friends houses she decided she liked this thing called Halloween. We didn't get candy while we were out because Ella doesn't need it and neither do we.

The evening started with a trip to mommy's office to show off. Of course Ella was a complete hit! I am the only one on my floor with a baby. There are a few people with kids, but the kid closest in age to Ella is 18, so they love the fact that I have a baby. She came in her doggie outfit and we showed her off around the building. It's impossible to not instantly fall in love with a cute pink doggie.

After work we headed to baby Lilly's house as our first stop (since it was right down the road). This was Ella's first official trick-or-treat visit. After that we headed home for some dinner before the night fully began. Aunt Beck's house was next on the schedule. Ella walked up to the door and everything. Ella always enjoys seeing Aunt Beck. Then we came back home to stop by our neighbors homes to say Happy Halloween. Our final stop was at our neightbor's Brantley and Madison. They have a daughter, Savannah, who just just a few weeks younger than Ella. The girls had a great time playing, and even after they both fell asleep the adults had a good time talking. All in all it was a great Halloween.

I have of course added some pictures and videos of Ella in her costume. Beware...she's VERY cute!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weekend Update and more on EB Awareness Week

This Saturday started off with me participating in the Washington, DC diabetes walk. It was raining so Joe and Ella stayed home. It’s always weird to see colleagues outside of the office. No one is in a suit, no one even really has their hair fixed (I think we all were wearing ponytails) or make-up on, and no one talks about work. We just walk and talk. It was kind of nice and I got to meet several spouses, which is always good.

Saturday afternoon we spent a majority of our time inside since it was pouring rain. But early Saturday evening we did venture out and do some furniture shopping. On the main floor of our house we don’t have any furniture. That’s not completely true, we have a dining table in the formal eating area, and in the kitchen we have a card table (but it is a really nice wooden card table), and in the living room we have my life-size cardboard cut out of Elvis in the gold suit, two lawn chairs, and the new French doors that have yet to be installed. So we are in the process of looking for new furniture. Unfortunately we haven’t had a lot of luck so far. It took me several months to find the perfect couch and chair when I was single (this now is in our basement), so I will persevere and the perfect thing will show up.

Sunday morning we left bright and early to head to Charlottesville to see Sam and Nate’s baby dedication. Those boys are so cute! The dedication was so nice. You can read more about it Here. On the way home we stopped at a couple more furniture stores to check out the selection, but still left empty-handed. That was it for the weekend. Sunday night we just hung out at home and relaxed.

For National EB Awareness week, I want to open the floor to questions. You may not have any, or there may be questions that have been lingering in your head for a long time. Feel free to ask anything, EB related or not. You probably won’t ask a question we haven’t already been asked, so don’t be shy. You can either leave a question in the comments section of the blog, or if you want to remain anonymous you can email it to Ella.

Have a great week.

Friday, October 24, 2008

National EB Awareness Week

Tomorrow kicks off National Epidermolysis Bullosa Awareness Week. We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of understanding EB.

For those of you new to our blog, here’s a quick summary of EB and Ella. Ella has Recessive Dystrophic EB (RDEB), which means she has limited or no collagen VII. In layman’s terms, we all have 2 layers of skin, the epidermis, or top layer, and the dermis, the bottom later. Between the two layers we have a collagen VII protein that keeps the two layers connected. Ella doesn’t have that protein, so with any friction or pressure her two layers of skin separate and either the top layer comes off completely, or the two just separate and form a blister just like if you burned yourself. We keep her legs, arms and torso wrapped to heal current boo boos and to hopefully protect her from new ones. In Ella, this disease is inherited recessively, so in order for her to get it both Joe and I have to carry the gene.

Ella was born on June 21, 2007. We had never heard of EB until that day. When she was born she had what are called “full thickness wounds” (basically, she was missing skin) on her right foot and right knee, and on her left leg from the knee down. We were lucky because there was a neonatologist in the hospital who had seen EB before and was able to quickly diagnose her. He then had her sent to Children’s National Hospital in DC, where she spent the next 34 days. We were lucky there too because we had wonderful nurses who cared for Ella and a wound care nurse who had worked with EB kids before.

I assume that most of you had never heard of EB until you heard of Ella. That is not uncommon. We have met doctors and nurses who have been in the medical field for 30 years and have never heard of EB. This week is our opportunity to spread awareness. Thousands of children and adults face the pain associated with living with EB. These kids, like Ella, have the same heart any other child has. They want to run, climb trees, ride a bike, or roller skate just like their friends, but participating in these activities often causes more boo boos.

This week is also an opportunity to help patient advocacy and research organizations who support EB families. Shortly after Ella was born we contacted DebRA of America (Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association). Within a few short days we received a big box of EB-friendly items (ie. handmade quilt, bath sponge, toy, medical supplies, etc.) As a new family just learning about this disease, it was so helpful to have this stuff that we knew would be helpful for Ella. Once Ella came home from the hospital, DebRA sent their New Family Advocate to our house. She brought Ella soft socks, a very soft sheet for her bed, cloth diapers, and showed us several items that other EB families use, many of which we have adopted for ourselves. She even helped us with a bandage change and gave us ideas for making things better for both us and Ella. Joe and I support this organization both personally and financially, because we have seen first-hand how helpful it is.

The EB Medical Research Foundation (EBMRF) is dedicated to supporting research for EB. The EBMRF is unique in that they pay no salaries. All work, including executive, legal, accounting, development and administrative, is done on a volunteer basis. The goal is to keep operating costs at less that 1% of incoming donations so that a full 99% of contributions can go directly to the research program. They have made great strides in research for RDEB and we are hopeful that in a few years Ella will be able to benefit from the work they are doing. The unfortunate reality for kids with RDEB, is that most do not make it past the age of 30. With this organization there will one day be a cure for EB so that no other baby has to endure what Ella goes through, and so that Ella will live to be a wife, mother, grandmother and even a great-grandmother.

We are well aware of the economic situation we are currently in (hey, we work in politics), but if you are looking for a magnificent organization to support, or two, we ask that you check out these. More importantly, we ask that you take this week to educate just 1 person about EB, and if you want, you can tell them all about Ella!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poor Stinkerella

We have a sick little girl at home. She caught a cold and looks and acts like she feels miserable. Runny nose, watery eyes, the whole gamut. For the last 3 nights she has woken up in the middle of the night inconsolable. She cries for about 40 minutes then after the Tylenol kicks in she will finally go back to sleep. The only thing we can think of is that she has a sore throat. And this morning when she woke up she would take one or two drinks from her bottle, then start crying. We tried yogurt, but she cried with that too and would stick her fingers in her mouth. The only thing she will eat is Cream of Wheat and chicken noodle soup.

Hopefully this will pass quickly. And hopefully it’s just a cold and not some throat infection thing (ie. tonsillitis, strep throat, etc.). If she isn’t feeling better tomorrow we’re going to the doctor.

That’s all the news in the Murray house. We have another big weekend planned, so I hope Ella gets over this before the weekend comes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Charm City

Living on the east coast is different than living in Wyoming on so many levels. One of them is that in Wyoming you have to drive several hours to get anywhere. Denver, the closest “big” city to my hometown, is 4 ½ hours away. It is nothing to drive for 2-3 hours, or even longer, and not pass a gas station. So one of the advantages of living on the east coast is that it’s easy to get someplace new within just a few hours. Joe and I LOVE taking weekend trips. We find somewhere new within just a couple of hours of home, and we go, spend the night, then come home. It’s a lot of fun and has given us the opportunity to see a lot of quaint towns. Since neither of us had spent any time in Baltimore, we decided that now was the time. Ella is old enough to actually enjoy the aquarium, the weather is cool enough to get her out, and we actually had the time.

So Saturday morning we headed up to spend some time in Charm City. Our first stop was the aquarium. We had 11:30 tickets, and were scheduled to see the dolphin show at 1:30. After a quick lunch we started on a short tour of the big fish tanks. Since they have a lot of kids visit, everything was just the perfect height for Ella. She could stand on the ground right next to the glass and watch all of the fishies. She absolutely loved it! She would try and grab the fish as they would swim by and would get so excited when they swam by her face. We almost missed the dolphin show because Ella would cry every time we took her away from a tank. We did make it on time and actually got pretty good seats. Joe thought we were in luck with some seats in the second row, until he noticed the sign that said “Splash Zone.” Needless to say we didn’t sit there. Throughout the entire show Ella kept saying “fishy.”

We also had tickets for the 4-D theatre. There were warnings all around not to take in children who would startle easily, but we figured we’d try anyway. Lucky for us Ella was getting antsy before the show even started, so Joe took her out while I stayed in and watched. Within the first 10 minutes, about 15 kids were taken out screaming. The whole 4-D experience is basically a 3-D movie, with some other effects thrown in for good measure. I got water sprayed in my face about 6 times, and wind blown on me almost as often. They also had bubbles, air that swirled around our feet, vibrating chairs and some pole thing that jabs you in the back. Sounds fun doesn’t it! Of course when any of these things would happen the room would erupt with screams, which just added to the kids getting scared. The show was only 20 minutes long, and after the first 5 minutes I was so glad that Joe took Ella out before it even started. It’s not what I would call “kid friendly.”

We finished up the day with a visit to the Frog display, then up to the Rain Forest, and down through basically the center of a ginormous aquarium with sharks any everything. We even saw a couple of scuba divers. Once again, Ella loved it!

Saturday night we had dinner with some of Joe’s friends from NJ who have moved to Baltimore. They have 2 daughters, a 2 ½ year old and a 10 month old, and they have more than enough Elmo gear to satisfy our Elmo crazed child. They have one that is Elmo holding a pizza and Elmo and the pizza sing a song together. She loved it and wanted it played over and over again. It was a nice dinner reconnecting with Jason and Jennifer.

Sunday we headed out right after breakfast and Joe, being the wonderful husband that he is, let us stop at Ikea. We mainly checked out their furniture, and just bought a couple of little things we needed, power strips, pitcher, a new kitchen rug, etc. Of course we had to have a hot dog and cinnamon roll before we left. Oddly enough, Ella liked the hot dog better than the cinnamon roll. Whose child is she?

We made it home in enough time for Joe to shower and head back out to the Redskins game. Ella took a long nap then she and I went grocery shopping. Of course she had to comment on everything I bought. If it was something she recognized like carrots or her yogurt, then she would say “yummy” over and over again. If it was round then it was automatically a ball, and if someone passed us with a baby, or if she saw a picture of a baby, then she would start repeating “baby.” I did get her some Elmo vegetable soup, so she repeated that for a while too. She was a great shopping buddy.

Now its back to the old grind. I hope you all have a great week.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hound Dog

Well, I just got back from Elvis Fest and I have to say, it did not disappoint! First, let me give a quick shout out to my table...table 19! Now, on to the evening.

I was running a bit late because I made Joe drive all the way to Leesburg to pick up a bookshelf for Ella's room (it was too cute to pass up...more on that in a later post). Luckily my date, Beck, was also running late. I arrived at the church about 2 minutes before she did and took one look at who was walking through the door and knew that we were going to be in a crowd unlike the ones we typically run in. Beck and I were the youngest by probably about 20 years. When we went inside we did find 3 others around our age, so we all sat together (Hello table 19).

Beck and I were also the most committed to Elvis night. I was wearing my Elvis t-shirt (I can count on one hand the number of times I've worn it...there just aren't a lot of occasions to wear an Elvis t-shirt and not get stared at) and I had one of my Elvis purses, and Beck was wearing her Elvis sunglasses (she got a lot of compliments on them).

The dinner was fabulous! BBQ brisket, collard greens, baked beans, homemade macaroni and cheese, cornbread, coleslaw and finished up with yummy banana pudding. They did have several trivia questions, and I knew most of them but not all. They also had a costume contest and while Beck and I didn't win, we definitely held our own.

The evening entertainment was Elvis Impersonator, Michael Hoover. Now, since I am a very loyal fan of the one and true Elvis, I never really know how to respond to impersonators. They are entertaining, and I usually have a good time, but they matter how good...are just a bit cheesy to me. This is not meant to be an offense, and to really think about it, Elvis himself was a bit on the cheesy side, especially in his later years (hello white jumpsuit with a rhinestone eagle and a matching cape). What was hysterical was that a girl at our table, Robin, had seen Michael perform before and she was very upset that at his last performance he had not given her a scarf. In fact, she mentioned it several times throughout the night. Well, he made up for it this time. She got a scarf AND a big kiss on the cheek. He was very entertaining, cheesiness and all, and I would gladly go see him again.

It was a fun night out. Joe and Ella stayed home and had daddy-daughter time. By the time I got home to do boo boos the poor girl was exhausted (she's usually in bed asleep by 9:30 and we didn't even start boo boos until 9:30). She whined through her entire bath, and as soon as she was on the changing table she was out! She woke up long enough for me to brush her teeth, give her doggie and lay her in bed.

Tomorrow morning we leave for Baltimore. I'm sure we'll have a lot to report from the weekend. It's going to be a fun time!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gearing up for the weekend

There are a few new videos in the picture section. My favorite one is of her singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider. She learned it from Elmo, of course, and her favorite part is “out came the sun” when she can put her hands on her face like the sun. I want to teach her more kids songs with motions but for some reason I can't seem to remember any other than I'm a Little Teapot. Any suggestions? Another of the videos is of Ella playing with her baseball and bat toy. Of course Joe is very proud of her hand eye coordination and how she already knows that the bat is used to hit the ball. I just hope that she doesn’t figure out that the bat can be used to hit other things too.

Tomorrow night Beck and I have a very special date. We are going to Elvis Fest at our church! Needless to say, I saw that the church was having this event and knew right away that I was going. Joe graciously offered to stay home and take care of Ella so that I could go…I think it was more his way of getting out of going. So Beck agreed to be my date and go with me. We may be the youngest ones there, but I don’t really care. I just need to get out my Elvis t-shirt and brush up on my Elvis knowledge for the trivia game, then I’ll be good to go. I’m so glad because in this last move the thought of getting rid of my Elvis shirt actually crossed my mind. At the last minute I decided that I would keep it because you never know when something like that will come in handy. Man, that was a close one! And thank heavens Beck has a cool job and got to go to Graceland with the Prime Minister of Japan who gave her some Elvis sunglasses!

This weekend Joe has planned a short family get-away to the Baltimore Inner Harbor. We’ve been talking about going up there since we got married, so he decided that this weekend was the perfect time. He even got us tickets to go to the Aquarium and see the dolphin show. Now that the weather is cooling off and the humidity is gone, it’s much more pleasant to get Ella out and do fun things like this. The summer is brutal for her, so we spend most of our time inside. Kids are great, you always have the perfect excuse to do child-like things! Hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll be able to go to a pumpkin patch and get some yummy apple cider!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Very Busy Weekend

This weekend was chocked full of fun! And Ella seemed to love every minute of it. She had gotten her MMR shot at her last doctor visit, and had been suffering from a fever for several days because of it (apparently this is normal). The fever had caused her to be fussy and lose her appetite, so needless to say, last week Ella was not in the best of moods. Saturday her fever finally went away so we took her to the Seminary Valley Fall Festival. It wasn’t one of these huge festivals that you see in some towns, but it was still great to get out. They had a pony ride with miniature horses (sorry Beck), but we didn’t bother standing in line for Ella to ride one. We know that the next time she’s in Texas her Uncle John and Aunt Nancy will let her ride as long as she wants to! One of the privileges of having a family farm is that all of these things that are novelties to city-folk, are available at your fingertips…well, as long as you’re in Texas. Anyway, we did sit and watch the horses for a long time and our sweet baby girl kept pointing and saying “Moo.” In all of her animal pictures, the cows have spots and the horses are brown. So when she saw a large spotted animal, who can blame her for thinking it was a cow? We had a lot of fun at the festival and Ella really enjoyed her first taste of Kettle Corn.

Saturday night Metti came over and watched Ella so Joe and I could go to a wedding. It was nice to get out and have a date. The wedding was beautiful and the food was even better! Not that we went to the wedding JUST for the food, but it was definitely an added perk.

Sunday morning we drove up to MD to meet Amelia (Millie) Benson. She is a whole 4 weeks old and is so so sweet. Ella learned a new word while we were there…Baby. She looked at Millie for a little bit, but was much more interested in Roux Benson, the family dog. And Roux was very accommodating. She would lay there while Ella just looked at her, poked her and laughed. We are going to have to cave in at some point and get Ella dog. For now, our friends dogs will have to do.

Sunday night we went to dinner with some of Joe’s friends from law school. We went to Hard Times for yummy chili (I had Bubba Chili…cornbread topped with chili, cheese, tomatoes and sour cream). Of course Ella was a hit. Sometimes I think she knows that she’s cute. My mom’s BFF Gretchen talks about how little girls know when they are dressed up because they act differently. Well, Ella is only 15 months old, but yesterday she was wearing a cute skirt and shirt with tights and little brown shoes and her hair was in pigtails. She looked SO cute, and I swear by the way she was acting that she knew it! She was smiling at everyone and even flirted with one of the guys at dinner. It made me want to get her more cute dresses!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ella's Words

Mo – Elmo...of course
Wee – this either means whee (like in the song “The mouse ran up the clock…whee”) or three (when we’re playing and on the count of three we throw her on the bed).
Yummy – she says this when she’s hungry. Usually she is also pointing at the refrigerator
Thank you – believe it or not she knows to say this when someone gives her something, although she also says it when she gives something to us.
Uh oh
Meow – the impressive thing is that she knows what is a cat and she knows what is a dog, and she knows what isn’t either of these animals because she won’t call it anything.
What’s that? – This is code for “Let me see that.”
Flicker – she doesn’t say this very often, but she has said it more than once so we’re going to count it
Done – said while doing the baby sign language for ‘all done’
Bird – she only says this when she sees Big Bird. The term doesn’t apply to any other bird

Ella also has a few words that we don’t really understand. When she wants a bottle she says “guh guh.” The only thing I can figure is that she is trying to say “drink” and just has the last part figured out. She also is always saying “dubbie.” We have no idea who or what dubbie is. There has been the idea that dubbie is really Metti, but there isn’t any confirmation on that.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts on Ella’s Halloween costume. The vote is still going on so keep voting.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ella's Halloween costume

Ok everyone out there in blogland. We need your help. We are trying to decide on what Ella should be for Halloween. So, please cast your vote on the right for your favorite costume. Our disclaimer is that while we will take into consideration the winner, Ella and her parents have the ability to make the ultimate decision. That said, the polls open now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Joella has an Email Address

Katie and I decided to provide a link to our dear little gal's email address in case you are interested in sending us a message for us to read to Ella, or you would like to send us one as well.

The link for her email address is on the right-hand side, or it is listed below:



Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lots of Praises!!!

Ella had a check up this morning with her pediatrician, and we have so much to praise God for! She is doing great and the doctor is very impressed with her development. The first thing the doctor said was that Ella’s skin looked the best she has ever seen it look! Sometimes Joe and I get so focused on making sure her blisters are popped and that anything open is wrapped and infection free, that we forget how far she has come. It is always nice to hear from an outside source how good she looks. Ella was holding a pen and drawing, and the doctor said that she has great fine motor skills. Ella was also talking up a storm, and the doctor was impressed with how many words she says at such a young age (17 words). She was able to look at the picture on the wall and say “quack quack” because she knew it was a duck. I don’t know if I’ve told you or not, but Ella is a genius.

As far as her weight, Ella has gained 3 pounds since her 12 month visit! This is such great news! And she has grown 1 inch in length. Ella LOVES macaroni and cheese, Spaghetti O’s and Yo Baby yogurt, which are all high fat foods, so this has definitely helped in the weight department. At least she loves her veggies too. Last night all she wanted for dinner was corn. I figured that since she ate an entire container of Spaghetti O’s for lunch, then corn was probably a good dinner. She also had yogurt for dessert.

The best news we received was that Ella’s iron levels have gone up! She has been anemic since May and we have had her on iron supplements and increasing her iron fortified foods (I’m so glad she loves Cheerios). A lot of EB kids struggle with anemia, and long periods of anemia can lead to a host of other health problems. The average iron level for “normal” kids Ella’s age is 11. In May Ella was at 9, and in June she was 9.2. Today when they checked her levels she was at 10.8!!! WOO HOO!!! This is such a huge praise for us! We will still be giving her iron supplements, but we are so glad that her iron levels are almost average.

She did get one shot, which was a bummer. Hopefully she’ll recover well and not have any side-effects. All in all, this was the best pediatrician visit yet. We love Ella’s pediatrician! She is always very open to our ideas and fully hears our concerns. Whenever we’ve had something come up with Ella she doesn’t come across as critical, but just gives us ideas for things we can do to help. The best is that she recognizes that Ella’s EB is rare and really lets us take the lead as far as knowing what she needs. She has never come across as the “know-it-all” doctor who tries to tell us what to do, but listens to the ideas and suggestions that I get from other EB parents, since she knows that we are the ones who deal with this every day. We are really blessed to have found her.

Ella's sleeping has also been much better the past couple of days. We have started giving her baths in Epsom Salt, which I hear helps with itching. We have also been trying a new concoction on her boo boos. Last night was a great night, so hopefully it will keep up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

One of “those” weeks

Apparently the Murray family (at least the Alexandria, VA Murray’s) is having one of “those” weeks. Before I explain, let me first thank everyone for the phone calls, email and prayers this week. We appreciate all of the support! Ella’s hand is on its way to healing. She is still very gentle with it and won’t crawl with it, but it looks like its getting better and should be back to normal soon. And Ella has been sleeping better. She’s only been waking up once or twice a night, which is a big improvement to the 4, 5 or more times she was getting up. We've changed things up and are trying some new stuff on her boo boos and in her bath water, so hopefully that will help with the itching.

So now to the completion of the Murray week. Yesterday afternoon I went to a convention for work. I was only there a few hours, but I managed to find some fun freebies that I thought Ella would like, as well as some nice stress balls to add to my collection at work. Not that I’m a high stress person, but when I was on the hill we always had lobbyists bring them to us, so it just kind of escalated into this collection. After the convention I needed to run to Babies R Us to pick up a couple of things. I was inside for 15 minutes when they paged “the owner of a green Toyota Corolla.” I thought someone had probably accidentally hit my car when parking or leaving. Oh no, someone had broken into my car! My first thought was, surely it’s another car, one nicer than mine. Why would someone break into my car? Allow me to clarify…I drive a 1999 green Toyota Corolla. The front bumper is cracked, it has a huge dent in the side and the paint is scratched all over. Needless to say, mine is not a car that someone would typically look in for “loot.” Apparently, however, they looked in the floorboard of my passenger seat and saw the bags that I got at the convention that afternoon and decided that they wanted them. The bad news is that once they broke my window and grabbed the bags, they also saw my GPS which was hidden under the bags, and they took that too. So minus a bunch of free junk, they got away with a really nice GPS.

Luckily we have insurance and by 10 am this morning my car window was fixed. We should be able to get a new GPS soon, so there wasn’t any permanent damage. It was just more of an inconvenience. Joe, being the wonderful and protective husband that he is, came right to the store to make sure I was ok and that everything was taken care of. He made friends with the cops (are you surprised) and he even let me drive the minivan home and he drove home in my car in the rain (it rained all night). When we got home he stood out in the rain and covered my window with a gabage bag. What a good husband.

The trip to the store did bring about a couple of good purchases for Ella. She got a new Elmo sippy cup that she LOVES!!! When I showed it to her she took it and cuddled it, just like she does her Elmo doll. She also got a new Elmo shirt.

To add a couple of funny Ella stories to the post, the other morning Joe and I were in a nice sleep, and all of a sudden we heard a sweet little voice from down the hall yell “Daddy!” The good news is I knew that she didn’t want me, so I got to stay in bed and sleep while Joe got up to play with Dancerella. The other funny Ella story is, we have started using a new cream on Ella. It’s really thick and smooth. We used it on her hands for a while, and just recently started rubbing it on her tummy. What is hysterical is that when I rub it on her, she moans and closes her eyes, like it just feels so good she can hardly stand it! Even when I rub it under her chin she gets a dreamy eyed look and lifts up her head so I can rub more. I don’t know what it is about this new cream, but she loves the way it feels. Of course Joe and I start laughing every time she does it because it’s so funny.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rough Night

Our sweet baby girl has had a rough go of it the past several hours. Last night we were playing and Ella fell and scraped all the skin on the palm of her right hand. It immediately turned into one big, gigantic blood blister. She screamed and cupped her hand in pain. It was terrible! I tried to get her calmed down, but every time I went to look at it she would start crying again. She wanted so bad to hold Doggie for comfort, so she held him with her palm up. And for the rest of the night, instead of crawling like normal, she would either scoot on her bottom or crawl with her elbow instead of her hand. Even this morning she is being very tender with her wounded hand and won't crawl. It breaks my heart when she gets new boo boos, especially big ones like this.

To add to her rough night, Ella was up at least every hour last night. We don’t know if something hurt, or if she was itchy (very common for kids with EB), or if something else was going on. All we know is that she couldn’t rest. Sleeping has always been very hard for Ella, and rest for both her and us has been a constant prayer. She needs better quality rest than what she is currently getting, and we need better quality rest.

To round things out, this morning I was in DC at a meeting and got a call from Metti asking me to come home. Ella had a huge blister on her tongue and I could hear the desperation in Metti’s voice as well as Ella screaming in the background. The older she gets and the more solid food she eats, the fewer tongue blisters she gets, which is a huge blessing. In fact, Joe and I can’t remember the last time she had one. If she does get one they are usually very small and don’t affect her much. She usually just pops them on her own. But this one was big and very painful. I told Metti to give her Tylenol and I’d be home as soon as I could. Fortunately I was able to get home fairly quickly and pop the tongue blister. Within an hour Ella was eating a bottle and now she is fast asleep.

I am telling you this simply to ask that you all continue to pray for Ella. In most respects she is just like any other 15 month old. She is typically a happy and generally healthy baby girl who laughs and plays just like any other kid. But she still faces big obstacles with her skin, and we continue to need your prayers. Please pray for quick and efficient healing on her precious hand (with minimal scarring), as well as continued healing of her mouth. And especially please pray that Ella will be able to rest at night. This is the biggest struggle we are facing right now. With both of us working (Joe with an internship, part-time job and school, and me working full-time) we need sleep. We have tried everything from warm milk and other foods that are supposed to help you sleep, to both over the counter and prescription medications to help her body stop itching. At this point nothing has helped. Her shins seem to be the part that itch the most and the more she kicks them, the more boo boos she gets. We have a lot of prayer warriors out there, and we are so grateful for your love and support. Thank you for everything.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Graduation to me!

I graduated from college in 1999. For my graduation my cousin sent me a picture frame with 5 $20 bills in it. At the time, although I was making VERY little money (we’ve all been there, right?), I decided that I would keep the money in the picture frame and save it for a time when I really needed it. Since then, I moved to DC and the picture frame got put in a box. I've moved 3 more times, and the picture frame has stayed in the box. I've gotten married and had a kid, and the picture frame remained in a box. My wonderful husband and I bought our first house, and I decided to finally go through the box that had been through 4 moves and never opened. I knew that $100 would come at a time when I really needed it! So with that $100 graduation present we were able to get new bookshelves for our basement. As I was going to the store Joe told me to get something for myself too, since it was my graduation gift. I bought myself a new purse and new earrings, and I got Ella new socks (the kind with grippies on the bottom…the poor girl is slipping all over the hardwood floors which is making learning to walk harder than it already is) and of course…a pack of new bows! My disclaimer…for months I have been looking for a red bow. She really NEEDS it to go with her Washington Nationals baseball outfit, and she has several adorable red outfits that it will accent perfectly. The cream and brown bows that came with it are just bonus. Besides, she will need a brown bow for the fall, right? Now if I could just find the perfect bright blue bow (or perhaps blue and orange for the Mets) we would be all set!

I know what you're thinking, how did that $100 buy so much? Well, I have Gooch blood in me, so I know how to find a good deal. (Ok, so I got everything at's all good.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

Congress was on recess for the month of August. They are back in session for the month of September, then will adjourn once again for October so that the members can go back to their respective states and campaign. What does this mean? Probably not a whole lot for those of you who live outside of the DC beltway. For me…it means I am very very busy! Which explains why I haven’t posted in a while. Bear with me. After September things should slow down a bit.

Ella is still an adorable and funny kid! She has recently learned the phrase “What’s that?” So if she sees anything that she wants to examine closer, or if she doesn’t know what it is, she’ll point and say “What’s that?” She has also mastered the skill of calling for her daddy. If she and I are in the basement playing and she knows that her dad is in the house, she’ll crawl to the bottom of the stairs and yell “Daddy” (although it sounds more like daayy). If we go outside to wait for Daddy to come home from class, she will yell while we’re waiting.

The best development we’ve had is that the hair on the top of Ella’s head is finally long enough to put in a little ponytail. It is so cute! She resembles Pebbles Flintstone. I tell Joe all the time that I was put on this earth to be the mom of a little girl. I love having a daughter! I love that I can put her in lace socks every day and cute Mary Jane shoes! I love that she has 15 bows in every color! I love that I can put her hair in a little ponytail and wrap a ribbon around it! I love that her closet is mostly full of pink and ruffles! I love having a little girl! I’d love a boy too, don’t get me wrong, but girls are so much fun to dress up! I know the day will come when Ella won’t let me dress her up in frilly things anymore, so I have to take advantage of it now. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to instill independence in Ella, so I let her pick out her own clothes when I’m around, and at night she picks out her own jammies. Her favorites are, of course, the blue ones with doggies. I know they are for boys, but that’s another great thing about having a girl. Girls can wear blue and no one thinks anything of it. Boys can’t wear pink and ruffles.

As you can see, I changed things around a bit and updated the blog. I figure since Ella is growing up so much, we might as well grow with her.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Sad, the Rad, and the Bad

The Sad

Ella lost another fingernail last night. This leaves her with one left. It’s on the ring finger of her left hand. Part of me thinks God is sparing that fingernail for when she gets married, but the realist in me knows that it will be gone in a few weeks. The first time she lost a fingernail I was completely devastated. I felt like it was the first real tangible sign of EB that wouldn’t heal. Now, I realize that it’s actually a blessing. The fewer fingernails she has, the less she’s able to scratch and get more boo boos.

The Rad

For those of you not raised in the 80’s, “Rad” is short for “radical,” meaning excellent or wonderful. So here is the RAD news. After 9 months of dealing with my new insurance, the DME (durable medical equipment) cap has finally been raised! To look at an insurance policy and see a DME cap of $10,000, it seems like a lot. However, when your DME costs average about $3,000 a month (they have been as high as $5,000), the $10,000 cap won’t go too far. We tried to work things out with the insurance company directly, but after 9 months, several doctors’ letters, pictures of her wounds and 2 appeals, we were again denied. So, we took it to a new level…to the VP of my department. He then sent a personal email to the CEO of the ADA. The next thing I know, the CEO has walked down to the HR department and told them that they need to make sure we have the insurance coverage we need. He even personally came to my desk to tell me that they were going to take care of Ella. He said, “you guys have enough to worry about without having to worry about her supplies being covered.” The next day we got an email from our medical supplier saying that they had raised Ella’s DME cap and were even considering eliminating the cap altogether. This is a huge praise! I know that I am so blessed to work for such a tremendous organization that makes sure their employee’s needs are met. They have been so accommodating with Ella and allowing me to take family sick leave to take her to Cincinnati. The fact that the CEO was willing to personally make sure that Ella gets her supplies just adds to the fact that the ADA is a wonderful organization who practices what they preach! And, have I mentioned that it’s only 1 mile from home!!!

The Bad

While I understand that “Bad” can be a slang term that actually means “Rad,” in this case I am using “bad” in its true sense, meaning…bad. Ella’s separation issues are not getting any better. Every morning when we hand her over to Metti she cries and reaches out for me or Joe. I know that this is all normal and part of being a toddler, and I know that as soon as I’m gone she’ll be fine, but it doesn’t make my heart feel any better. Every time it happens I just want to take her back into my arms and give her a big hug! Yesterday morning she cried when I first handed her to Metti, but when I went down to give her a kiss and tell her good-bye, I also handed her her Elmo doll. She was so excited to have Elmo that she didn’t even care that I was leaving for the day. No matter how much she cries for me, she still cries for Joe more. She is her daddy’s little girl!

In other Murray news, Grammy Janet was here last weekend. She made some of Joe’s venison into yummy meatballs, which he loved, and she made a nice marinade for some venison steaks. I know Ella had a lot of fun hanging out with Grammy and playing. She just can’t wait until she’s old enough to help Grammy make cookies!

On Monday some friends of mine, Dino and Janice Crognale (and Elizabeth and Isabella), from Massachusetts were coming through VA and decided to stop and stay with us for a couple of days. It had been a while since I had seen them, so it was great to catch up. They are in the process of raising financial support to become medical missionaries in Kenya. If you would like to learn more about Dino and Janice and their service, please click here.

This weekend is more of the same, trying to figure out where to put stuff and hopefully hanging some pictures so that our place actually looks like a home. The good news is that the Elvis bathroom is mostly done! My wonderful coworkers bought me special Elvis shower curtain hooks. They are in the shape of a guitar and actually say “Elvis” on them. They complete the bathroom.

Friday, September 5, 2008

La la la...Ella's World

The above title is in honor of Ella's favorite show, Elmo's world. Poor Metti has watched Elmo's Country Songs probably around 900 times (give or take). So in an effort to keep her sanity in tact, we bought 2 more Elmo videos. One is heaven on earth to Ella because it is Elmo and Pets, which includes an entire segment on you guessed it...doggies! She just kept looking at the DVD cover saying "Doggie...Mo...doggie...Mo."

Life around the Murray house has been pretty standard this week. We are still working on getting the boxes unpacked, although most of the stuff left needs to go on bookshelves, which we don’t have. Our other bookshelves have fallen apart over the last few years (that’s what I get for buying cheap ones), so we need to get some new ones before we can unpack the books. Hopefully that will happen this weekend.

Joe started his new internship this week. He is interning with the Alexandria Public Defenders office and spent his first 2 days in court. This is going to be a great learning experience for him.

Grammy Janet arrives today and will spend the weekend with us. Hurricane Hanna is also supposed to arrive this weekend, so we’ll see how our little house handles the weather (and we’ll pray that the basement doesn’t flood). At least we have an awesome new grill if the electricity goes out. Although the grill won’t do us much good if it’s raining.

I have posted a few new pictures and a video of Joe’s Man’s room and Ella’s room. I’ll get more video and pictures of the rest of the house soon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Happy Belated Labor Day

It was a fun-filled weekend. Friday my office closed early, so Joe and I were able to clean up our old place and turn in the keys. It looked so much bigger without any furniture in it! It reminded me of when we first moved in and didn't have Ella. Once she arrived with all her baby gear, the walls started closing in and the house got much smaller.

Saturday our good friend Casey came over and tore off the shutters, fixed the wood around the garbage bin, and installed the screen door on the front door, all with Joe's help of course. Saturday afternoon Uncle Curby and Aunt Gina arrived with cousins Sam and Nate. It was a great few days hanging with them and playing with the boys. They may be 6 months younger than Ella, but they weigh the same and are almost as long. Needless to say, they are two big boys! And they are SO cute! Ella isn’t yet at the age where she knows how to interact with other babies, so she usually just stares at them for a while, then starts playing with her toys. We did have a new experience though when Ella decided that they boys could not play with her toys. When they grabbed doggie, we understood why she didn't like that. And when they grabbed Elmo, again, we completely understood. But when she would take away EVERY TOY we realized that we needed to work on sharing.

Joe took Curby to his first Nationals game on Sunday, so Gina and I got to hang out at the house and take the kids for a walk. We talked to our neighbors down the street that used to live in Wyoming. They actually lived in Fort Washakie (that’s wah-shuh-key…not wah-shake-ee), so it is always good to talk to them about WY. Sunday night after all the babies went to bed, the adults had a great time staying up late and telling funny stories. Sometimes I forget how hysterical my brother is. It was great having the Alexander side here.

Monday morning Joe and Curby put together Joe’s new grill. When we started this whole house-hunting process I promised Joe that he could get a new grill. We have never lived in a place that was conducive to grilling out. At our last place we tried getting this little charcoal grill, but it was too small and would take forever to cook anything and could only hold a couple of burgers at a time. So now Joe has a man’s grill, complete with a griddle and side burner. In honor of the new grill, we had some people over Monday night for a cookout…our first. We cleaned out the living room and set up our card table, and enjoyed some time with great food and wonderful friends.

We were exhausted last night from a busy weekend, but it was so much fun having all of our company. Now I really need to start working on getting our bedroom in order.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We’re getting there

Every day we unpack more boxes. Luckily, since it’s a three day weekend my office is closing at 1 tomorrow, which means that I will have all afternoon to unpack while Metti is there with Ella. It’s hard to unpack with Ella around because suddenly everything becomes her new toy.

Last night I got to try out our new washer and dryer! I love to do laundry. It gives me such a feeling of accomplishment because you can actually see the results of your labor. And I especially love to fold laundry! It’s my therapy…and I’m good at it. I can fold all of Joe’s t-shirts and in the end they will all be folded neatly and the exact same size. Believe it or not I have never worked in a clothing store. Our new washer and dryer are the high efficiency kind, so I was interested to see how well they work. I watched it for the first 10 minutes because I was convinced that there wasn’t enough water. But I waited until the end to actually see how clean they were. Apparently there was enough water because they were super clean! And the dryer dried the clothes in half the time! I am a very happy owner. The best part is that the washer has a “sanitize” setting so we can clean all of Ella’s clothes on that. Apparently it’s supposed to kill all the germs. My coworker says that it takes about 2 hours to run, which is why Ella’s clothes will be the only thing being washed on that cycle.

The other good news is that it’s raining today. Typically I am not a fan of the rain, but now that we have new yard with grass seed, I am so glad that it’s raining and we don’t have to water the lawn. We already have some new grass sprouting up!

Ella loves her new digs. She especially loves the basement that is all hers. It has nice new carpet that has never had shoes on it (except when we were moving in), and everything down there is kid friendly, so nothing is breakable. Ella’s toys are everywhere, which is good in the sense that they are all consolidated to one area and not all over the rest of the house. And I think that she likes that she can go pretty much anywhere down there and not hear the word “no” (when she is told no she promptly yells back “NO!”).

Moving really makes you realize how much stuff you have. We have way more stuff than we actually need, but I just can’t bear to part with it! I feel like we need to keep all of Ella’s baby stuff “just in case.” And I can’t bear to get rid of my Wonder Woman Barbie or my lava lamp! Those will be collector’s items someday! Joe won’t even discuss getting rid of his baseballs from when he was in little league, and don’t even get me started on all the books we have piled in our place! I know that someday Ella will love looking through all of this stuff, but for now it seems to just get in the way.

Monday, August 25, 2008

We’re moved in…sort of

Technically, all of our stuff is in the new place. Well, everything except for one minor necessity…my clothes! We stayed the night at Becky’s house for the past two nights (due to us having our tub redone and we didn’t want to breathe chemicals all night), so this morning I took a shower and got ready at Becky’s house, then, while still wearing my pajamas, I took Ella and Joe to the new place, then I went back to the old place to get dressed, then back to the new place to get my shoes and jewelry. I made it to work and I guess I look mostly put together. My pants are wrinkled (they were in the middle of the floor in a ball) and the only black socks I could find were Mickey Mouse. As long as I’m sitting at my desk I look fine.

As far as the new house goes, the living room is a disaster! I worked really hard last night to get Ella’s room in order. And the only furniture we have in the master bedroom is a bed, two end tables and a hamper, so that’s not looking too bad. Joe is working all day to get the new and improved Man’s Room all set up. Hopefully this will all go by very quickly and we’ll have the house set up in no time!

Tonight will be the first night for Ella in her new, neon green room. It does look more muted with all her stuff in there. And it will be even better when I get everything on the walls. Tonight I am going to work very hard at getting the Elvis bathroom all set up. We’ll see how much progress I make with Dancerella all to myself and Joe away at school.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Moving Day

We currently have two houses, both of which are in complete shambles! One is full of boxes that need to be unpacked, and the other is full of stuff that needs to be put in boxes. Luckily our two homes are only about 2 blocks apart, so all week Joe has been taking van loads of stuff to the new place. Almost the entire kitchen is over there now, and all of the decorations in the living room.

Tomorrow is the main moving day. We have friends coming over and a truck borrowed to move all the big furniture. According to Joe we have to be done by 5:00 pm so that he can go to his NFL Fantasy Football draft. Of course he couldn’t miss that! Hopefully we’ll be done by 5:00 and Ella and I will be able to work on unpacking boxes all night.

When I was in 7th grade my family moved across town. I remember my mom saying that a move across the country was easier than a move across town. This is my 3rd move in town (all within a 2 mile radius), and I have to say that I agree with her. With all my moves in Alexandria I have waited until the last minute to pack (mainly because I didn’t want to waste vacation days just to pack). All of them have been done incrementally, one load here, another load there, come back in a few days to clean the old place, etc. And all of them have seemed to last forever! I think that moving to a new town would be easier. You pack everything up and load it onto a truck, usually done in one day. You get to your destination and take everything off of the truck and start to unpack. It sounds better to me.

Who knows when the computer will be set up, so this may be my last post for several days. Hopefully we’ll be quick in getting things set up so that we don’t live in clutter for months on end.

Thanks to everyone for your well wishes. Joe seemed to skip the illness altogether. I am finally getting my voice back, but I still have the nagging cough, and Ella has a runny nose. Other than that we’re all feeling much better.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Unfortunately the entire Murray household is now sick. When we were on the plane from Casper to Chicago there was a baby a couple of rows behind us that was coughing the entire flight. In my gut I knew that we’d all get what he had, and sure enough we have. I stayed home from work today with a cough, sore throat and fever. Then tonight Ella started acting like she didn’t feel well and she wasn’t eating very much. I gave her some Tylenol and that seems to have helped. And poor Joe is starting to feel pretty cruddy too. It’s bad enough when one person is sick, but it’s even worse when the whole family has it. I just hope Metti doesn’t get it too.

I mentioned in my last post that Ella has become even clingier to Joe. Well, that hasn’t lightened up at all. In fact, now when Joe comes home she lifts up her arms for him to pick her up, then she gives him a big kiss. It’s so cute! And she has started feeding Joe all sorts of things like strawberries, carrots and pretty much anything she might be having for dinner. She is taking this daddy’s girl thing to a whole new level.

Ok, I’m off to bed. My 3 ½ hour nap this afternoon is wearing off.

Monday, August 18, 2008

We’re Baaaack!

It was a great trip! Thursday night we went to the Bar J Chuckwagon and saw their cowboy show. If you’re ever in Jackson Hole this is a must see! Friday we packed up and headed back to Casper to get ready for our early morning departure on Saturday. We had so much fun on the Murrgrubander Vacation (that’s Murray, Grubbs and Alexander all combined).

We have added pictures from our trip (just for you Becky) so you can see how much fun we all had and so you can see the beautiful mountains and water. For some reason our camera started acting up, so we have a lot of pink skies and weird colors.

We got home Saturday afternoon and headed straight to our new house. While we were gone we had painters come in and paint the main floor. We did all the bedrooms and basement. So far Ella’s room is Honeydew green…correction - NEON GREEN!!! It is so bright! We contemplated painting over it, but we decided that all of the pink in her room should balance it out. Our bedroom is yellow. I was afraid we would have a repeat of the green, so we went with a very light yellow. Unfortunately it wouldn’t cover up the old paint in the room. 3 coats later it is finished. Joe’s mans room is a toffee color tan. I hated it at first, but its kind of grown on me. Next are the bathrooms…and one of those will be purple! If I can’t have a pink room, I’ll take the next best thing.

The main level is called Macadamia (tan) and the basement is a very light tan. We got the new carpet for the basement installed this morning and it looks great. The place is now move-in ready. We just need to hang the screen door and new French doors, and fix the tub in Ella’s bathroom. Other than that we are all set. Tomorrow we get the new stove and microwave. I’ll be sure and have pictures up as soon as everything is finished.

We also had a landscaper come over while we were in WY. The front of the house had been overtaken with English Ivy, and unfortunately bugs and other critters made the ivy their home. The backyard hadn’t been mowed in at least 2 years and was covered in weeds. He cleaned everything out and the yard looks beautiful! We bought our first hose and sprinkler this afternoon and we are very excited to water the grass. Hopefully by next summer Ella will have a nice yard to play in.

In recent Ella news, she no longer wants to be held. She always wants to be down and walking while holding our hands. When she does this she repeats over and over “Go! Go! Go!” It is so cute! She has also learned the word “No.” I guess she hears it a lot. When we tell her no she repeats it and shakes her head. Ella’s clinginess to her dad has also been extremely escalated. She used to whimper when Joe left the room. Now it’s a full on cry, complete with crocodile tears. As Joe says, it’s a blessing and a curse.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Boots, Chaps and Cowboy Hats

So far things are going great in Wyoming. Ella had a bit of a melt down on the drive from Casper to Jackson, and then again from Jackson to Old Faithful. But other than that she’s been great. And the Wyoming air seems to be doing well for her skin. It’s cool and dry, which we hear is good for EB skin.

We arrived in Casper late Saturday night. Joe and I were exhausted from the long day, but Ella slept the entire flight from Chicago to Casper, so she was ready to party. By the way, she did great on both flights. She played on the first flight and slept on the second. So we got to Casper and Gi Gi had a nice soft blanket laid out for Ella with toys galore! She loved exploring the new toys, and it didn’t take her too long to discover the one item in Gi Gi and Paw Paw’s house that all kids love…the apple barrel. All kids, including me when I was little, love the apple barrel. The stand at the barrel and throw all the apples out, then pick them up off the ground and put them back. It took Ella all of 5 minutes before she spotted the barrel and was throwing apples out.

Sunday we went to Boyd Avenue Baptist Church with Gi Gi and Paw Paw. It is a wonderful church with a lot of people who have faithfully prayed for Ella and sent us hundreds of encouraging notes. It was wonderful to be able to thank them in person for all their prayers.

We arrived in Jackson Monday afternoon. On the way we stopped in Dubois for a picnic. Joe, being the nice east coast boy he is, kept calling it Doo bwah, like the French pronunciation. While that is technically the correct way to say it, here in Wyoming we say Doo boys. Before Dubois Ella slept the entire way. After Dubois came the melt down. She practically screamed the entire way to Jackson.

Tuesday we spent all day in Yellowstone. It is still as beautiful as it was the last time I was here. We spent most of our time at Old Faithful having a picnic, walking around and watching Old Faithful go off.

Wednesday morning was the relaxing day. We rested all morning, then went into Jackson Hole for lunch and to walk around the town. While there we got Joe and Wyoming hat and shirt. He already has both, but it was time for new ones. We also got Ella a video of Wyoming bears, and a pair of cowboy boot slippers. They are very soft and fit easily on her feet. Wednesday night we introduced Joe and Ella, along with Casey, Christy and Ginny, to the rodeo. They saw real cowboys riding bulls, riding bucking broncos, roping calf, and cowgirls barrel racing. Joe and Ella even got up close and personal with Gus, the wonderbull. I tried to explain what was going on the best way I could. Even though I’m from Wyoming, I’m a city girl and I didn’t do any rodeoing while I was growing up. We went to the rodeo, and I had friends that participated in rodeos, but that’s as close as I got. Joe said that the rodeo was his favorite thing so far. We met up with Grammy Janet and a couple of her friends while we were there. I think everyone had a great time.

Today we went to the Craig Thomas Visitors Center in Grand Teton National Park, then went to String Lake right at the base of the Grand Tetons. We had a nice picnic where Ella finally decided that she wanted to check out this stuff on the ground. I put her on the blanket and turned my back for one second. The next thing I knew Ella was crawling through the dirt, her hands and pants covered. She got her leg stockings, socks, and pants filthy! And her little hands were covered in dirt and left a nice hand print on the blanket for Gi Gi.

Tonight is dinner at the Bar J Chuckwagon. This was my request for the trip. We used to go every year when I was a kid, and I really wanted Joe to see the show. I know he’ll love it as much as I do.

Tomorrow we head back to Casper and Saturday is the flight back to Virginia. It’s been a great trip so far!