Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 10 Month Birthiversary

***The most noticeable new thing this month, because she does it so much, is how Magnolia spends most of her time pointing at things. The most frequently pointed at object is a light; it doesn't matter if it is on or off. She doesn't really want the object most of the time so we just name whatever she is pointing at and move on to the next thing. Our day goes something like this: "Light!Christmas tree! Doggy! Oh, another light! Teddy Bear! More lights!"

***Magnolia still gives great kisses, when she wants to. This month she added our dogs, Otis and Trudy to her list of recipients. They are usually very patient with her. She has also begun to gently pet them--mostly Otis...Trudy is very protective of her but keeps her distance from those unpredictable hands; Otis will take any loving. It's all great big sister training.

***Well, it's official--Magnolia has said her first words. At the beginning of the month we began to decipher a slight difference between her "mamas." There were definite times that "Mama" referred to Shannon and another common mama sound morphed into more of a "meh." This means milk and she will often combine it with the sign for milk. The third mama sound she makes was for more. This one has recently been replaced by just making a short, loud, distressed sound. The real shocker came upon Brian's arrival home from work one day. Like usual, I would ask her, "Who is here?" and as Brian came into sight Brian and I both said and signed "Papa." Then Magnolia said it, which was a huge surprise because she doesn't really babble any p sounds. She has only done it a couple of times, but it is always clear that she understands its connection to Brian.

***We have had to start using the words "no touch" more and more as Maggie becomes increasingly mobile. One of the most common reminders is the dog food bowl. Sometimes she will be crawling around near the dog food (or something else she has been recently told not to touch) and she will pause near it and shake her head no as if to remind herself not to touch it! Sometimes when she crawls across Brian's studio, which is usually covered in shredded dog toys, she shakes her head the entire time!

***While trying to free our car from our icy-slushy driveway, Magnolia clearly used the sign for eat over and over. This was one of the first unsolicited signs she has used. All we had ready at that time was a bottle, which she hungrily drank down. Also, about 2/3 of the way through she started holding the bottle for herself--another first!
Sidenote: notice in this picture she actually got a taste of frosting this month!

***Our happy girl continues to love people and enjoy life. Almost without fail when music starts, either from one of her many musical toys or a jingle on the radio, she will start dancing, which mostly consists of bouncing up and down, and every once in awhile swaying side to side. A few times this month she also sang along to Christmas music in her sweet Magnolia babble.

***The big parenting adjustment for us this month was dealing with a pregnant mama. My body decided breastfeeding+pregnancy+working was not going to happen and it stopped producing enough milk for Magnolia. So earlier than we would have liked, we switched completely over to formula. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be as I watched my little girl gulp down way more milk than I had been able to give her. I'm betting her weight will be back up at our next appointment. Bottle-feeding has also allowed me to have one less thing to wake me up in the middle of the night so I am getting more sleep and feeling more rested. Most nights Maggie is making it 10 hours, then taking a little milk before bedding down for another couple hours. Lastly, Brian has been a real trooper, and become our sewage specialist. We decided to do cloth diapers--which we don't regret--but my early pregnancy nausea has prevented me from doing much of the diaper cleaning. He has also had to put up with some strange dinner combinations as we try to find foods that I feel like eating--veggie burger, shrimp, and pancakes, mmmm.

Coming next month... First Steps? Over Christmas Magnolia started standing on her own for longer and longer periods of time. Her "cruising" around the furniture and assistd walking have also become more frequent and than her "drop and crawl" tactic.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas 08 - part 3

December 26th we shovelled and ice-picked our way out of our driveway,* heading north to Tsawwassen, BC for part 3 of our annual Christmas celebration. Just outside of Bellingham a blizzard hit and road conditions significantly worsened. After watching a car spin itself across the two lane highway barely missing a major collision, we began to feel like the fellowship of the ring on the snowy slopes of Caradhras -- maybe we aren't supposed to go...

In the end we made it there in one piece and in time to have a few hours with both of Brian's siblings' families, his parents and grandmother.
Cousins: Noah Bryerton, Magnolia Rush, Jamie Rush, Ella Bryerton

I thought the blurriness of this next picture was fitting. It was a frenzy of activity as presents were opened, played with, and traded in a matter of minutes. I missed most of what happened during that period trying to keep Magnolia from eating discarded wrapping paper or opening someone else's gift.

The rest of the evening was filled with a yummy ham dinner with the traditional Ukrainian side dish of cabbage rolls, watching the Canucks' hockey game, playing Wii during intermissions, and Brian's favorite dessert, Mud Pie.

Saturday, my sister-in-law, Melanie and I headed to the mall for some kid-free shopping time. Brian and his brother Kevin, took care of the girls. Not quite a year apart, they are about the same size. They had a fun time exploring Grandma Rush's house and learning to share their Christmas toys. When Magnolia was down for a nap, Jamie would go around the house asking for Maggie ("Monnie?").

Grandma Rush provided some of the day's entertainment by building Jamie a snowman ("No-man!") just outside the family room window.
The visit ended with a fun game of Agricola followed by a discussion as to the truth about Brian's vibrating ears.

We did get a little payback for our generosity with the stomach flu; Magnolia came home with her cousin Jamie's cold.

*Footnote: our very steep driveway is heated and works very well. However, in order to avoid backing into our busy street we tried to turn around in an unheated portion. Bad idea.

Christmas 08 - part 2

This year we decided to extend our time at home between our visits to our families to include all of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There are several reasons for this decision: 1) our church has Christmas Eve and Christmas morning services that we didn't want to miss 2) we needed time to repack and recuperate. It is so much harder to do the turn around when you are pregnant and have a 10 month old! 3) we wanted to start creating some of our own family traditions. (More on this in a later post)

After a good night sleep in our own beds we headed to church Christmas morning before coming home to open stockings and enjoy a brunch of Congo bacon and waffles!

The rest of the day was pretty relaxing. We didn't do as much as we had planned to due to recuperating from our bout with the flu. We did try to teach Magnolia how to use her new crayons without much success. I attempted to use one of her new barrettes, also without much success. She had a great day playing with all of her new toys.

I got to make our family's first Christmas dinner: standing rib roast, white corn saute, baked potatoes, and salad. All in all it was a wonderful, relaxing Christmas Day.

Christmas 08 - Part 1

I feel like every blog I've been reading lately has a story about the stomach flu over this Christmas. Well, we're no different. I had it a few days prior to our planned travels, but thought it was just intense pregnancy nausea. Then the night before we were to head to my parents for Christmas part 1, Brian got it.

We took it easy the next morning, hoping the sickness would pass, and headed down much later than planned. The drive to Everett (1 hour South), felt like we were driving over a mountain pass with all the snow. It was heavenly. :)

My parents had a mission to have an "Unwrapped" Christmas this year. One that was relaxed, free from pressure, and focused on time spent together. My grandma, my Aunt Becky, and her two kids, Cheyenne and Jarod were able to join us from Yakima. My sister and--for one night--her boyfriend, Taylor were also there making my parents' house full of activity.

That first night was miserable. Magnolia got our sickness and didn't want to sleep in her pack and play because she could see us across the room. Since there were so many other people trying to sleep in the rooms around us, Brian and I were exhausted from trying to keep her quiet. None of us slept much after 1:30 am as she tossed and turned, cried and bit. How are we going to do this next year with two little ones??? The second night Grandma and Grandpa volunteered to have her pack and play in their dark walk-in closet in their room. Everyone slept much better!

The morning after we arrived, my dad and I made homemade pasta for the first time. Since my dad got a new video camera we taped the whole thing like it was a cooking show. Of course we weren't dramatic enough for my mom, so she coached us from the sidelines.

That afternoon, my mom took all of the girls to a spa to get massages for our "Unwrapped" Christmas gift. We also had a great time celebrating Aunt Becky's birthday at lunch afterward.

Later that night we exchanged a few(er?) gifts, mostly for Magnolia. It was the first time that she had opened a present. I don't think she really caught on, but she loved her gifts! She got really excited about a Piggy Back that her Great Grandma got her that sings and counts when you put in the plastic coins. She spent the rest of her awake time playing and dancing at the musical table her grandparents got for her.

After opening gifts, my Aunt Becky gave us her "Unwrapped" Christmas present -- Candy making lessons. Everyone received a variety of candy molds and she provided directions and supplies for us to make our own creations. Another fun time in the kitchen at the Gracey house!

It was a great visit and we left with lots of yummy chocolate, generous gifts and happy memories. Unfortately, we also left the flu. The Gracey-Robbins clan did not enoy the anticipated standing rib roast; all they could stomach was soup. Sorry about that :S

RSS Explained

 For those who know what RSS is, you can skip this post.  For those that don't, the tutorial below will make your blog checking endeavors a lot quicker and easier.

Ever since I made this comment tutorial a while back I've been meaning to make one for RSS too. But now, thanks to Mr. Moes who tipped me off to Common Craft's oh-so-simple internet explanations, I don't have to.

If you have any questions after watching it, I'd be happy to help.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our little Kumquat

The first week of December, we went in for our first ob appointment for pregnancy #2. So far we are both really healthy. We got to take a peek at our then kumquat-sized baby. It made it so real!They were able to use the ultrasound to determine a due date -- July 4th! Brian is not so sure about that as a birth date for our equally Canadian child. If we end up with another large baby, they will be encouraging me to schedule another c-section. Maybe then we will split the difference between Canada Day on July 1st and the 4th of July.

Rush Baby #2 - It might actually be a teddy bear...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

9 Month Birthiversary

This month I copied our friend Jodi's cookie idea for this month's cupcake theme. Only two more months of trying to find ways to keep her out of the cupcakes!

Our Muncher at 9 Months!

Nicknames: Munchkin, Munch, Muncher, Munchnolia, Mags, Magno, MaƱolia, Baby

This month it seemed like she did not have any huge milestones; it was more a month of refining previously learned skills.

Magnolia showed no movitivation to walk. She has been quite content with her rapid crawling skills and ability to confidently pull herself to standing just about any where. In fact when we've tried to help her, her independent nature swelled up because she can do it faster on her own.

Our active little lady did start sitting still for short periods this month due to her increased interest in reading books rather than chewing them.

Her social personality continued to shine as she waved at almost everyone in public, often without solicitation.

Magnolia's kisses became more selective. If she ignored our request for a kiss, Brian and I would kiss each other in front of her. It often did the trick and enticed her to give us both kisses. However, she has become tricksy herself. Every once in a while when a kiss was requested, she would lean in, then pull away and quickly give her kiss to the other nonsoliciting parent!

Maggie continued to add new solid foods to her diet, and developed a preference for foods which she can feed herself. One such food was a veggie mix, including her favorite peas. As we watched her we realized that every time she would eat her vegtables in color order: first green, then orange, finally yellow. In some ways, mealtimes have gotten easier as she can take more care of herself. But we did have to start putting the dogs (aka clean up crew) away during mealtimes. She learned how to attract them by dropping food that she doesn't want.

Recently, she started shaking her head. At first we weren't sure how she picked that up since we hardly ever use that to communicate "no," but it often coincided with an appropriate time for her to say "no." Then one day while feeding her, Brian, as is his tendency, shook his loose cheeks from side to side to make an entertaining sound. That's it! That's what she is trying to do. She seems to try one strange sound after another. I wonder where she gets it?

There was much debate this month as to whether or not she said her first word. She definitely babbled a lot, most frequently the "ma" sound. But we were not convinced she was using it solely in connection with her "Mama." It seemed like it might mean "mama," "milk" and/or "more."

At her 9 Month Well Baby Check Up, Magnolia weighed 19lbs, 9 oz (dropping to the 75th percentile) and was 27.75 inches (still 95th percentile!). As always, she was a busy little girl, exploring the exam room, until she saw a Monkey bearing quite a resemblence to her lovey Mona. She stopped, purposefully crawled to the Monkey and, standing in front of it, planted a big kiss on its drywall lips!

You may recognize our nurse, Tara, if you worked at Camp Firwood with us. It is fun to see her when we go in for our appointments, but she hates doing the dirty work. This is moments before a heel prick!***Note: Even though I am late posting this, the cupcakes and picture did happen on time. I also only included developments that happened before her 9 month birthiversary. Just wait for the 10 month post--lots of fun stuff!

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

For those of you that don't know, I LOVE the snow. I check precipitation percentages hourly.

I was a little disappointed to miss the weekend dusting--oh those little granules of diamond dust floating like fairies to bless our world--in the middle of the night even if it did give us a 2 hour delay Monday morning.

Then we got another dusting last night. And I missed it again! Why do you spurn me, you frozen flakes of happiness?! But we got another 2 hour delay so I couldn't complain too much.

Then it started! Coming and coming, in its beautiful sparkly whiteness. Surely, they'll cancel school now, I thought. We live in a city that sold its snow plows(!) so the roads are always a wreck when there is even the slightest snow. It seems like no one knows how to drive in the powdery wonderfulness, especially not teenagers.
I waited until the very last minute to head to work. Alas, while every other school district in the area headed home early to bundle up and enjoy our wonderful winter wonderland of wonderfulness, our new superintendent (from Colorado, grumble grumble) made it clear we were going to make it through the day. Even the mayor sent his workers home! But we were strong...grumble grumble.

When I got home I begged Brian to bundle up and help me capture Magnolia's first experience with the pillowy crystals before dusk descended to whisper sweet-nothings to our newly enchanted fantasy land.

Enjoy the pics!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Baby, It's cold inside!

Last night--the coldest night of the year so far--we had a furnace scare. No heat + 9 month old baby + snow = uh-oh.

Don't worry though. We got it all figured was just our capacitor (flux capacitor???). Who knew our furnace could take us back to the future?!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Iron Chef

While in Everett for Thanksgiving, we also celebrated my dad's birthday. Since he loves cooking and watching cooking shows, my mom arranged for 10 family members to go to the Blue Ribbon Cooking and Culinary Center. There we split into teams (Parents vs. Kids) to compete in an Iron Chef competition! We had access to a professional kitchen, including a stocked refrigerator and pantry, as well as a professional chef for assistance. Both teams had to create a dish with steak and a dish with salmon and a dessert with chocolate.

Brian was our documentarian as well as childcare specialist. Magnolia did super, happily playing well past her bedtime!

The Parents (my mom and dad, and Aunt Sherri and Uncle Craig) may have had fewer people but they had more experience, not to mention all the menu-planning phone calls weeks in advance. 

Mom and Aunt Sherri are making fake raspberry caviar for their dessert garnish!

The "Kids" team consisted of my sister Alli, her boyfriend Taylor, my cousins Matt and Adam, me. Alli and Taylor headed up the dessert and learned how to prepare white chocolate to dip dried fruit in. Adam got a lesson on how to use a knife and Matt learned how to deal with lemongrass after the chef saw us looking confused!

I learned how to make szechuan beans and how to choose which oil to use for a stirfry.

We had so much fun and made so many memories in addition to a great meal! In the end the judges gave the victory to the parents. It might have to do with the fact that it was my dad's birthday, or maybe that our rice never cooked.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thanksgiving with the Gracey's

For our second Thanksgiving of 2008, we headed to Everett to celebrate with the Gracey family, et al. We were greeted by a busy kitchen and yummy smells. After watching the cooking network for a few days, my dad prepared an elaborate menu, with the help of various family members as sous chefs. Several went down due to the newly sharpened knives!

Grandma and Grandpa recently went to a Children's Hospital auction. One of their acquisitions was a giant diaper cake for baby #2!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


That's what Brian said after I had plopped on our bed early one morning about a month ago and informed him, "I'm pregnant."

We weren't planning to get pregnant yet and he didn't even know I was taking a test so it was a little bit of a shock to be yanked out of a dream with the news.

I took the test because the day before my mom asked me out of the blue if I was pregnant. Assuredly I answered, "No, I am just recovering from the cold we have been fighting." But she planted a teeny seed of doubt, so, just to put it to rest, I decided to check.

Sure enough: preggers.

The first morning there were lots of mixed emotions. Ever supportive, Brian, even though he had only been in bed for a couple of hours, woke up to talk through our news before I had to head to work. We are now calling it our pleasant surprise.

It has been so different this time. With Magnolia, we had been waiting and planning for her. There was measured excitement and anticipation as the testing window approached. Then we took great pleasure planning how we would specially announce that we were pregnant to our friends and family. This time we just called or emailed family and have been nonchalantly telling friends as we see them. Sometimes we even have to remind each other that we're pregnant!

We have felt a little bad not giving this baby the same enthusiastic pre-birth introduction to the world. It's not that we're not excited; we are. We just have more going on this time. During the first trimester last time, I was on summer break. When I felt crummy I could just lay on the couch and eat whenever I needed to. This time I am working almost full-time and have a little one to care for when I get home. Most nights I barely make it through dinner and end up heading to bed with Magnolia around 7:30.

Thus the lack of blogging. We have so many posts in draft form. Check back often in the days and weeks to come as we catch up.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Naked Time

Because Magnolia gets really bad diaper rashes, our doctor prescribed daily naked time to air her out and make sure she is completely dry after bathing.

Tonight, post bath we were sitting on our living room floor, Magnolia playing with her toys, me checking blogs on my laptop peeking over at Maggie every few seconds to keep an eye on her.

A few minutes into naked time, I glanced over to see her eating something -- it kinda looked like a Cheerio. But Nana swept the floor for me today. Thinking maybe she managed to remove part of a toy, I quickly leaned over to do a finger sweep of her mouth. As I removed the squishy, wet mass I noticed she was sitting in a pile of similar matter.

Magnolia was eating her own poop! Gross!

Maggie was not pleased when I swept her up, raced to the bathroom to sanitize her and brush her teeth. Naked time was over for tonight.

Cleaned and jammied we headed back into the living room to find the offensive after dinner snack had been magically cleaned up. Brian was at soccer. I'll let you figure out who helped me out. Double Gross!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Ladies and Gentleman, last Sunday, November 9, 2008 Shannon Rush, star defender of Bellingham's finest soccer club, known as Your Grandma, had the rare opportunity to play striker and she did not disappoint. In a hard fought loss Shannon scored her team's only goal, her first in a distinguished 3 year career.

This was no gimme, folks. It was a beaut!!

Her teammate, Erik Meyer, streaked down the right wing before finding Shannon positioned perfectly at the top of the box. He made a beautiful pass right to Shannon, who one-timed it solidly into the lower left corner, leaving the sprawling goal-tender no chance.

Deliberations are currently under way among the management regarding whether Shannon--who has been known as "The Wall" for her defensive prowess--would better serve the team in an offensive role full time. Some commentators speculate Your Grandma is looking into emerging cloning technologies in order to have Shannon play both positions.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy 8 Month Birthiversary!

Things Magnolia has learned this month:

  • ++ To give kisses (she will even give you a kiss when we read about it in one of her books).  So fun!

  • ++ To wave hello and goodbye

  • ++ To put her hands over the side of her high chair tray where they get magically tickled and cleaned at the same time (Consequently, Otis and Trudy have discovered where to hang out at mealtimes)

  • ++ That she prefers one food over another (One day after eating banana for breakfast she was given her staple tofu for lunch. Assuming the tofu cube to be banana she immediately spit it out and started crying.)

  • ++ Moving her hands makes Mama and Papa excited. She is trying to sign to us lately. She has mastered rubbing her fists together (the sign for changing your diaper) but uses it for everything. A couple times, she has been able to sign for "more" when eating by tapping her fists together instead of twisting

Magnolia's Favorites right now:

Food - Peas, Avocado, Sweet Potato, Banana

Songs - Itsy-Bitsy Spider and Old MacDonald (especially when Papa sings it)

Book - Snuggle Puppy

What do you get when you cross a Ladybug, a Bat, and Princess Leia? Halloween '08!

In spite of still being pa-sickie, we decided to join some of our friends with young families for Halloween festivities. The evening began with Princess Leia and a Bear dancing to ghostbusters, which is always awesome.
We warmed up with some yummy soup and made sure everyone had all their appropriate costume parts and candy receptacles.

There were two wagons; one for the little ones and one for the bigger kids. Unfortunately, Magnolia decided she was not a fan of the wagon. She preferred Mama Bear's arms.

The Three Bears

It is amazing how quickly kids learn and how long lasting their memory can be when candy is involved. The three-year-old's were leading the charge, but it wasn't long before the younger ones had caught on.
Already these savvy "big kids" had learned the art of trading and the bonus of the unattended candy jar by the front door. I was impressed by one little boy/bear that very responsibly and nicely informed potential treaters that he couldn't have their chocolate treat because he is allergic to dairy.

It was fun to be with other families on a nice night and laugh at our kids. But with it came a realization that Halloween is forever changed.  We'll miss the grown-up costume parties but look forward to many more Halloweens like this one, filled with squeals of anticipation and candy-induced ecstasy.