Sunday, January 27, 2013


Just a quick note to say that I accidentally marked the new picture folders (December 2012 and January 2013) as private, so no one was able to see them.  I have rectified the situation and those folders are now available for your viewing pleasure.  Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Well, we have a new addition to the Murray family.  For 3 years Ella has asked for the same thing every Christmas and birthday…a dog.  This year Joe and I finally decided it was time.  Unfortunately Santa doesn’t like to bring dogs on his sled (they scare the reindeer) so we talked it over with Santa and decided that it would be best if Ella could pick out her own dog after we got back from vacationing in South Carolina.

So, last weekend we decided to make a stop off at the local Animal Welfare League and just see what was available.  Unfortunately none of the dogs there fit what we were looking for (small, cuddly and doesn’t bark too much).  We even went to another Animal Welfare League nearby and they didn’t have anything either.  Most of the dogs were large dogs and pit bull mix of some kind.  The 2 that we did like had age restrictions and Ella was too young.  (I totally understand the age restrictions, but when they put them in place they are referring to “typical” children.  Ella is not typical.  One of the dogs was quiet and doesn’t like loud noises.  We felt like he would have been a great fit for our family, but they had an age limit of 10 because most 5 year olds are loud and too active for what they thought would be good for this dog…not our 5 year old.)

This weekend we decided to hit up Pet Smart and see what they had available.  However, when we arrived they were only having cat adoptions.  I did give Ella the choice of getting a cat instead of a dog, but she was sure she wanted a dog.

Honestly, my first reaction was to come home and wait until next weekend to get back out.  I was really discouraged by what we saw at the Animal Welfare League the week before, and was sure they wouldn’t have much more variety this time.  Joe suggested we go out and just see if something new happened to come in.  So I suggested we head to another place not in Alexandria but nearby.  Once again, Joe suggested we go to Alexandria since that’s where we live.

We arrived and started looking around.  Imagine a long hallway with cages on either side.  At the far end there was a big dog that was barking very loudly.  Ella did NOT want to go down there with that dog, so Joe went down there and checked things out.  Immediately he waved for us to come down there.  As soon as we arrived we saw what would become our dog.  2 sisters in a cage together and as cute as they come.  2 women came up to the dogs after we got there and as they were oohing and ahhing over them I stated, “One of those is taken.  I don’t know which one yet, but one is going home with us.”

Joe went to get more info and found out that there were 2 more just like them on the other side (another area just like where we were), another sister and the only brother.  We went to the other side but those two were more hyper than the first ones and both nipped at my fingers when I went to pet them.  That wasn’t going to fly with me or Ella, so I knew those were out.

Joe went to tell them we wanted to meet with one of the first dogs while Ella and I went back to check them out.  Of the 2 one (Kelly) was a bit more assertive.  Not mean or anything, she just wanted to be petted first and she wouldn’t stop licking.  Sabrina was a bit more laid back.  She didn’t jump up on the fence as much, and let Kelly take the lead with any visitors.

By the time Joe got to the desk Kelly had been spoken for.  We were next on the list to have our pick and precious Sabrina was it.  I knew she was the right dog for our family.  We got to spend some alone time with her and Ella was in heaven.  Ella would pet her and Sabrina would just lick her fingers (no nipping), and at one point Ella sat on the floor to play with her and Sabrina came over, laid on the floor and put her front paws and laid her face in Ella’s lap.  They were immediate friends and I knew that Sabrina was coming home with us.

We had to run to Target and get some essentials before she could actually leave with us.  Of course Ella picked out a pink collar with glitter in it, and I saw these adorable blue flowers that go on the collar as decoration.  What would Ella’s dog be without some sort of hair accessory?  She got a matching pink leash and of course a pink rope toy to play with.  I’m sure if they had pink dog bowls we would have gotten those too.  Luckily brown was the only choice, so it blends in a bit more with our kitchen.

Here she is ladies and gentlemen…Sabrina!

Look at that face!  Couldn’t you just eat her up?  She’s a 4 month old Cockapoo (mix between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle).  We hear great things about these dogs.  Apparently they are very cuddly and like being around their people, and only shed a little bit (YAY!).  We have only heard her bark twice and both were very brief, and she has the sweetest, most precious disposition. 

This is how she sat the entire car ride home.  Right on Ella’s lap so she could look out the window and see what was going on.

At night she’s been sleeping on Ella’s bed.  It’s so cute!  We’re still working on potty training, but she’s doing pretty well all things considered.  Of course like any baby, after she wakes up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, she was ready to party!  The first night she wandered around our upstairs (which we had blocked off as much as we could…she basically could go into Ella’s room, our room and the bathroom) until she realized that no one was going to get up and play with her, so she went back to sleep.  The second night was much better and she went right back to bed pretty quickly.

We are convinced Sabrina is the best dog on the planet and that anyone who meets her will instantly fall in love.  I mean really, how could you not love this face?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

After Christmas Catch up

Yes, I realize it has been over a month since I last posted.  A lot has happened since then so I’ll give you the quick rundown.

First, and most important, Ella sang her first solo.  I must also add that she beat her Paw Paw by a few years in the solo department (I think he was around 9) so this was quite a big deal on many levels.  What makes it funny, though, is that Ella didn’t think it was a big deal at all.  In fact, she didn’t even tell me about it until after the event.

Ella’s teacher plans special activities every month for the class to do.  Some of these events parents are invited to, and others are just special things for the class to do together.  In December Ella’s class went caroling around the school.  I’m still not sure who all they sang to, but it was not an event where parents were invited, so I didn’t get to actually see it take place.

I picked Ella up after school and asked her how her day was, etc.  Then I asked her how the sing-along went.  She said her typical vague, “Fine.”  So I prodded more.  She had told me earlier that one of her friends was leading the song “Feliz Navidad” because he knows Spanish, so I asked her how that went and if her friend did a good job.  She assured me he did fine.  The conversation continued:

Me: Ella, did you get to lead any of the songs? 
Ella: Yes.
Me: You did?  You got to lead all of your friends in a song?
Ella: Yes.  Wait, is leading a song when you sing by yourself?
Me: Leading is when you tell everyone when to start singing.  When you sing by yourself it’s called a solo.
Ella: Oh, then I had a solo.

Insert me freaking out and asking a million questions to verify that she did, in fact, sing a solo, then texting her aide to confirm that Ella had a solo.  Joe and I were (and still are) beyond proud of Ella.  How incredible that a little girl who is so shy can put it all aside and stand in front of strangers and sing a solo.  What a brave girl!  She sang “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

We of course had her repeat her performance for us, as well as several members of the family.  She even stood up in front of Joe’s entire family and sang for everyone.  She said, “Mommy, I get a little nervous to sing for other people, but I just do it anyway.”  (I do have a video of her singing but unfortunately I took it with my camera and uploaded it to my facebook page, so I can't share it on here.  I'll see if I can figure that out because I know you all are just itching to see it.)

Second, we had Christmas.  It was awesome.  Santa brought Ella a karaoke machine, which she loved (obviously) and sings with almost every day after school.

Third, we headed to South Carolina to spend a week with Joe’s family.  Joe and I were really excited to visit South Carolina because neither of us had ever been before.  Let me say we loved it and are already planning to go back.  Of course Joe loved all of the history Charleston had to offer and loved visiting Fort Sumter.

And as always, it was so much fun to see the family.  Since we only get to see them once every 2 years, we really cherish these vacations.  The kids are all growing so fast and I almost had a melt down when our oldest niece reminded me that she’ll be getting ready for college during the next Murray Christmas.

We also got to celebrate Grammy Janet’s 70th birthday with a big birthday bash complete with slideshow and voice quilt (people from Janet’s life called in and left special messages for her).  It was a wonderful celebration and we are all so blessed to have her in our lives.

For the occasion, one of Janet’s favorite daughter-in-laws wrote a special song.  Janet’s favorite Christmas song is the 12 Days of Christmas, and she forces encourages us to sing it every Murray Christmas, so this year it got a special spin.  Here are the 12 Murray Christmas’.  (I realize that 99% of you won’t get any of these jokes, but I assure you, they are funny.)

On the First Murray Christmas we celebrated with…
1. Awesome Murray Mom
2. Wimpy Brothers
3. Gluten Free pizzas
4. Great Vacations
5. Sausage Bakes
6. Smiling Sisters
7. Blocks of cheese
8. Perfect In-Laws
9. Artichokes
10. Family Pictures
11. Poker Games
12. Basketballs

What was even better was that she had 11 of her 13 grandchildren present, so they all sang #1, and after that each child got 1 day.  Ella was #10.

We had a wonderful time and are already looking forward to the next Murray Christmas.

After leaving South Carolina we made a stop in North Carolina to visit my cousin and her kids.  We don’t get to see them nearly as often as we’d like, and lucky for us their house is half way between our house and our Christmas destination.  We spent a great 2 days with them before heading home on New Years day.

Not much has happened since getting home.  Ella is back in the swing of school and Joe is back in the swing of work.

I promise to try and post more often.  Maybe I should make that my New Year’s resolution (although I’m not really into resolutions).