Saturday, March 30, 2013
Wow, it has been a really long time and a lot has happened around the Murray house.
Unfortunately on March 6 my beloved grandfather, Big Daddy, left this world and met Big Mama in heaven. Big Daddy was such a solid figure in the family and it’s still hard to believe he’s gone. His health had been declining over the past several years, yet his death still seemed too quick and came as a shock.
I have so many memories of Big Daddy. He was very skilled with his hands and could make anything in his wood working shop. As a kid we would spend hours upon hours out in the shop with him. I would ask for a dog cut out of wood, and within minutes he would have cut out a dog for me to sand and paint. I would also often give me little bits of leather to stamp designs into. One of my favorite videos is of my brother and Big Daddy in the 80’s. Curby was very into break dancing and Big Mama and Big Daddy has a perfect break dancing slat on their front porch. Curby spent hours “perfecting” his moves and brought along his big boom box so he could show off all his skills. During one dance session, Big Daddy decided to show off some of his moves. He had the moves alright! Not exactly break dancing moves…or really any kind of skilled dancing moves, but he had moves. Just thinking about this makes me laugh. Big Daddy had such a wonderful sense of humor.
As is the case with all funerals, along with the bad there is good. We got to fly down to Texas and spend several days with my extended family. We haven’t been able to spend time with them since Ella was about 2 years old, so it was great to see everyone. My parents, brother and his family, and all of us stayed in the Bigs house on the farm. While I wish the occasion had been different, it was wonderful to spend quality time with my extended family. Both Joe and I wish we could get down there to visit more often. He loves all the farm activities and hanging out with my uncles and cousins, and of course I love being able to catch up with the family.
Ella loved being there with all of her family and cried the whole morning we were set to leave. She decided that we should just move into Big Mama and Big Daddy’s house since they were in heaven now and wouldn’t need it anymore, and Aunt Nancy could be her kindergarten teacher (fortunately Nancy really is a kindergarten teacher). She kept telling us over and over, “I don’t want to leave my family! I like being here with my family.”
On March 21st we had a big event in the Murray family…Ella went on her first field trip! And of course, I volunteered to go with her as a chaperone. Ella was really nervous about this field trip. First of all, she was nervous that I would be late and would miss the bus and therefore, miss the field trip (What? Me late? Never!). Second, she was really nervous about riding the bus. She had never ridden a bus before, so the idea was very intimidating. Every Thursday morning for a month she would wake up and ask if this was the Thursday they were going on the field trip. Finally, when the day arrived she woke up ridiculously early and strongly encouraged me to get ready just so she would be assured I would arrive on time. Of course I got there in plenty of time and we headed out on the trip.
The bus was way better than Ella had anticipated. She sat next to a girl from her class (no names mentioned, but Ella has decided that this girl is her best friend…she’s also an only child so they have a lot in common) and they chatted the entire bus ride. It was mostly the other little girl talking and Ella listening or responding, but Ella definitely participated in the conversation.
The field trip was to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Most kids don’t get quite this elaborate of a field trip when they’re in kindergarten, but it’s just one of the many perks of living in the Washington, DC area. Once we arrived at the museum, Ella’s teacher had divided up the class and each chaperone was in charge of just 2 or 3 kids. I had 2, Ella and the same girl from the bus. They had a great time checking out all of the things the museum had to offer.
March 24-29th was Ella’s Spring Break! WOO HOO!!! Joe also took this week off work, so we had an entire week to just have fun and hang out as a family. In 2010 we decided to have our very first Staycation. We both took a week off work and just spent the week doing fun things around Alexandria and Washington, DC. We had so much fun that we decided to do it again this year. Each day we planned different activities to do. It was so nice being at home and able to sleep in, and getting out to do something fun every day. We figure we saved a lot of money by not traveling, so we went out to eat every day. Not every meal, of course, but at least once a day we went out. We all three love eating out, so that was a lot of fun!
Monday we went to Cosi for lunch (I love that place but it’s kind of out of the way, so we rarely get to go) then we hit up Ella’s main request, a visit to Paint This, a pottery place in Old Town Alexandria where kids can come in and paint their own pottery. Ella absolutely loves this place! She is always coming up with new people she needs to paint something for.
Tuesday we had lunch at our very favorite restaurant, Hana Tokyo, then took Sabrina to PetSmart to get her very first professional bath. They even put a big purple bow in her hair! Sabrina and the dog groomer had a rough time together. In fact, we got charged an additional fee because they had to get an extra person to come help with her bath and brushing. She’s still a puppy, so all of this stuff is new for her. At least she’s clean, and she kept the bow in for 5 days, which surprised me!
Wednesday Joe and I decided to take Ella somewhere special…Chuck E. Cheese’s. She had never been before and we both knew she would love it. We were right! She loved the pizza, but especially loved the games. With the help of her parents, Ella racked up tons of tickets for prizes! Fortunately we were able to convince her to get an ice cream cone as we were leaving, and to save all of her tickets for later so she could combine them and get a bigger prize.
Of course with a trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s came a load of stares and questions from kids who wanted to know “what’s wrong with that girl?” I really WANT to be understanding. I know they’re just curious and interested in knowing why she looks different than they do. But the biggest part of me wants to say, “She’s a kid, just like you, who’s just trying to have fun at Chuck E. Cheese’s.” My answers were short and to the point, “She just gets boo boos really easily. Now go back to playing.”
That said, it’s also in places like this where I’m reminded how kind humanity really is. Toward the end of our visit a little girl came up to us and handed Ella the rest of her tokens. She said she had to leave so she wouldn’t be able to use them and wanted to give them to Ella. A few minutes later her mom came back over and handed Ella yet another cup of tokens. Their group was heading home so they decided to take all of their left over tokens and give them to Ella. It was so sweet!
Thursday was a relaxing day at home. Ella woke up with an upset tummy, so we decided it was a good day to just take it easy. Joe went and picked up some Moe’s for lunch, and the rest of the day was spent hanging out in the basement watching movies.
Friday was Joe’s day. All week he’d been asking for one thing…go to Bass Pro Shops. Luckily I decided to post about our endeavors on facebook and a friend of ours asked if we wanted to meet her and her husband for lunch. It was great to catch up with them! After lunch we headed over to Bass Pro Shops. The ladies just sat and talked while the men looked at hunting gear. We made sure to stick around until 6pm because the Easter Bunny would be making a stop and Ella definitely wanted to meet him. We all got our picture taken with the Easter Bunny, then Ella got to make some Easter crafts. We had a great time, but were all exhausted when we got home.
Today we’re just staying home. Ella is busy dyeing Easter eggs and Joe is cleaning up the kitchen. Tomorrow will prove to be a wonderful day of worship.
Friday, March 8, 2013
I wasn’t sure where to begin with creating a costume, and it always makes me laugh when someone says, “It’s so easy to make! You could make one yourself.” Ummm, no. I have not inherited the same skill of sewing that my mother has. I did what most mom’s in my situation would do…I posted it on facebook. Luckily one of my friends from the great state of Wyoming offered to make Ella a Betsy Ross hat and she had an apron that she threw in for good measure. Perfect! Now all we needed was a flag with 13 stars in a circle.
As fate would have it, we went up to Philadelphia, PA for Joe’s nephew’s birthday, and while we were there I mentioned this school project to 2 of Ella’s aunts. They both piped up that Betsy Ross’ house was just 30 minutes away and it might be a fun stop to make on our way home. Joe was immediately on board and Ella thought it was a great idea, so before heading home we made our way to downtown Philly to visit Betsy Ross.
The tour was great! We got to look around the house, pick up a flag and even meet Betsy Ross (at least an actress playing her). The thing I found most interesting was that apparently George Washington wanted the stars to be 6 pointed stars. Betsy convinced him that it was easier to make a 5 pointed star. When he was in doubt, she asked to show him. She took a square piece of fabric and folded it up, made one snip with her scissors and voila…a perfect 5 pointed star.
The day of the event arrived and I knew Ella was ready. She had recited her lines for me, she had the perfect outfit, and she had her flag. One of the greatest parts of being a SAHM is that I get to help with classroom activities, so I arrived at her class 2 hours early for the program so that I could help set up. It’s times like these when I realize just how lucky we are to be at Polk Elementary and to have the awesome teacher that we do!
When I arrived there were 19 chairs lined up near the front of the room, and at the front of the class was a little desk. Who was sitting at that desk, you ask? None other than Joella Gale Murray! Yes, Ella was perched right at the front of the class because she was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the entire program! Why does my child leave out critical details like this when talking about her school programs? Ella introduced the program and laid out the instructions for the competition the parents would participate in (we had to guess each of the characters the kids portrayed…I’m embarrassed at how many I didn’t know), then she would introduce each child before they came to the front to tell about their person. She did a fabulous job and I was so proud of her! She read every word perfectly and spoke clearly. She was confident and poised and didn’t hesitate one bit!
After the program we had a little reception with snacks, and by the time we were finished school was over and it was time to come home. Since daddy wasn’t able to be there, Metti also came to see the program. She’s so impressed with how far Ella has come with her confidence. Ella seems to have gotten the performance gene from her Paw Paw and speaking gene from her GiGi. Who knows where these 2 gifts will take her.
I have kept all of Ella’s Betsy Ross items and will file them away in hopes that some day she can do a more in-depth project on her.
Yes, I do have pictures to share but I'm in a time crunch right now so those will have to wait. Sorry about that.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Well, we’ve made it 3 weeks as dog parents and so far we’re doing pretty well. Sabrina still has the occasional accident in the house, but for the most part she does a good job. She is learning not to chew on everything and hasn’t yet nipped at Ella, which is amazing. She still isn’t much of a barker. She only barks when she wants our attention (like if we’ve left her outside longer than she feels is necessary, or if she thinks it’s time for us to get out of bed and we’re still sound asleep) or when she’s around other dogs. Other than that she’s pretty quiet.
All in all, Sabrina is a great addition to our family. Joe and I are amazed at how a little 11 pound ball of fur just has a way of making everything better. As crazy as it sounds, in a lot of ways she makes me feel like our family is complete (of course on the other hand she also makes me want another baby…then she wakes us up at 2 am to go outside and I’m glad we’re out of that phase of life).
Ella loves having a dog and Joe and I think it has been really good for her. She takes a lot of responsibility with feeding Sabrina, and will discipline her if necessary. Most of all, it’s shown Ella that the world doesn’t revolve around her. It has been good for Joe and I to have someone else to tend to when Ella thinks we need to drop everything and help her. It has also been a great distraction during bath time. Sabrina spends the entire bath just sitting on the floor of the bathroom and if Ella starts crying she’ll go over and lick her fingers. It’s really sweet.
Ella continues to be the awesome kid that she is. She’s reading really well and only needs help on the big words. During church she even tries to read the bulletin. The only problem with that is that she hasn’t yet mastered the art of reading silently. She still loves kindergarten and all that it has to offer. Today I have her second Parent/Teacher conference. While I’m confident that Ella is doing great and the teacher will have nothing but nice things to say about her, it’s hard not to be a little nervous.
Today marks the 100th day of school for this year, so they are having a little celebration in class. Ella has to bring 100 items to show her friends, so she chose to take 100 paper clips. Ella has also prepared all of the Valentines to take her friends at school. The school has pretty strict rules about not allowing candy into class rooms, so we opted for pencils. Ella chose each one specifically for her friends, so I know they will enjoy them.
That’s really about it here in the Murray house. Other than a horrible cold that we’ve been passing around, there isn’t too much happening. I'll be sure to let you know if anything exciting happens.
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?