Sunday, June 29, 2008

Happy 4 Month Birthiversary!

This has been a big month! No more do we have an adorable, helpless, immobile infant. We now have a baby that is moving toward a toddler at what feels like light speed. I feel like any time I read something like "your baby might be doing __________ right now" she starts doing it that very day. She now weighs just over 17 pounds and is 26 inches long! Nine month clothes here we come!

This month she learned to roll over from her back to her tummy -- first to the right, then to the left. Fairly quickly after that she figured out how to roll from her tummy to her back. She still prefers rolling over her right side, but she can manuver herself across the kitchen around her playmat using her system of rolling. Right now it doesn't seem very purposeful, more like she just likes the freedom of being able to control her body and isn't really choosing where she is going, but I'm sure that is not far off.

In month 3 she developed these sweet little coos. We called it her library voice. This month these noises disappeared and were replaced by an almost caveman like grunting. Sometimes it seemed like she was in a competition to see how long she could grunt. The last few days her sweet little coos have resurfaced and are intermixed with her now perfected grunting.

Another development has been her use of her hands. She now reaches for and grabs just about everything she sees. She enjoys examining her toys and attempts to put everything in her mouth. Lately she has been feeling her legs and reaching for her toes. She's managed to briefly grab them once or twice, but today she actually pulled her foot into her mouth.

Magnolia's hand sucking has continued. Recently she has gotten more coordinated and developed a preference for her right thumb. The strong tradition of Gracey thumb-sucking continues: when I was four, after trying everything short of amputation, my dad, exasperated and confident I would fail, offered to buy me a pony if I stopped until my birthday. I was a determined little girl--and come on, a pony?! I stopped cold turkey and my dad actually delivered even though he knew--maybe because he knew?-- we were moving to Alaska in a few months. Brian and I told Magnolia that we will not be getting her a pony. Maybe she'll have to hit up Grandpa.

For over a month now we have been trying to figure out if she is teething. Its a bit early, but since I cut my first tooth at three months its not out of the question. Her increased fussiness is one of the possible indicators. It is still not very much and could be due to the frustrations she is experiencing as she wants to do more than she can.

As parents our new development is that we decided to try to put Magnolia on more of a schedule. Both Brian and I are pretty laid back and with Magnolia being such an easy baby we didn't really see the need. But since we were in month 4 and hadn't had a full night of sleep yet, we thought we would give it a try. Family obligations have thwarted us left and right, but we're still trying. So far we have had a couple of 5+ hour sleeps and she now goes down pretty easily alone without rocking.

Brian will be in California for school this next month, so I will be a "single mom." He's hoping that she doesn't change too much this month.

Goodbye Grandpa Robbins

Yesterday we attended my Grandpa Robbin's funeral in Ellensburg. It was a full military funeral with flag presentation, gun salute, and taps. Grandpa's air force buddies also led everyone in a nickel ceremony ("Throw a nickel in the grass, save a fighter pilot's ass." I'm not exactly sure of the significance of it). The service was well attended, with friend and family coming from as far away as South Carolina (leaving her family vacation). For me, it was bitter-sweet reconnecting and introducing Magnolia to friends and family but also saying goodbye to my grandpa.

Magnolia was a celebrity and definitely brought some happiness to many grieving people. Her snuggles were rejuvenating for my mom. She also was a real trooper, enduring the sun, heat, and many new faces with a minimal nap.
Following the funeral we had a celebration of Gary's life at Whistlin' Jack's restaurant on White Pass near his old cabin. My dad put together a 20 minute photo slide show as a tribute and several of his buddies shared touching and funny stories from his life.

Five Generations of First Born Daughters!

This weekend we were lucky enough to get this picture (as well as many more -- it took awhile to get us all looking in the same direction -- this is the best we got!)

Me, My GG Nancy holding Magnolia, My Mom Teresa, and My Grandma Pat

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


In what may be the first steps of a long and illustrious career as a comedian, I have made up my first knock-knock joke:

-Knock, knock
-Who's there?
-Gus What?
-Oh you know it?
-Gus What's my name.
-That's what I'm trying to do.

Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Hold your applause.

I also made up this Mad Gab: Bar Knee Hard Annum Else

These are just some of the things my mind does when it is supposed to be considering and expounding upon the effects of free market capitalism on the world of Art Brut and self-taught artists.

Anyone know any good jokes or riddles?

Friday, June 20, 2008


Crawl Attempt #1
Originally uploaded by shannonarush
In yesterday's video, Monster Daddy Brian warned Magnolia, "You better learn to crawl fast, Missy." I think she took him seriously...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

HAPPY Father's Day

If Magnolia's Mother's Day gift was all of her smiles, her Father's day gift was her giggles. She was incredibly happy and active on Sunday so we got out the video camera to capture her cuteness. Over the next few days, I will be posting a few fun clips. I call this one "Monster Daddy."

For the die hard Magnolia fans, you can now find video clips on our flickr page.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Homeland Hassle

December 31, 2005 ~ Bellows Air Force Base Campground, Honolulu, Hawaii ~ approximately 2 pm

Brian, waving his arms frantically over his head, running back toward me at our campsite from the shower house yelling "Someone stole my wallet!"

This may sound like a normal, annoying happening for anyone's vacation, all of the cancelling credit cards and replacing ID, but for Brian and me it was much more. The thief made out with a couple of tanks of gas prior to our credit cards being cancelled, as well as some cash and several gift cards, we received that Christmas. But at some point he or she probably ditched the wallet and with it one of our most valuable possessions.

You see, just one month previous we had celebrated (with MUCH fanfare) Brian receiving his green card. This little piece of plastic was the culmination of the monumental hassle that characterized our first few years of marriage called the immigration process and the promise of 10 years of living happily together in the same country. After completing our police report and making the necessary phone calls, we went dumpster diving in the vicinity surrounding the location of the illegal credit card use, all the while having visions of repeating mountains of confusing paperwork, repaying the financial fees to the US government and our immigration attorney, and possibly having to live in seperate countries and visit each other on weekends like we did for our first 6 months of marriage. Losing that piece of identification was devastating.

Fortunately, the process for replacing his green card turned out to be fairly smooth. After a few short weeks, a smaller payment and shorter application, Brian had his replacement card. Phew!

That is until our next border crossing.

We live 30 minutes South of the Canadian border. Brian was attending University just across the border and his family lives in Canada too. So we cross fairly regularly. What we found out at our next border crossing was that his card will now beep every time it is swiped by a border guard, alerting them that his green card was stolen. That's right the new, legitimate card will beep every time, not just the old stolen one.

You would think that our government could figure out a way to issue him a new card with a new number. Then if the old card was used they could catch the perpetrator but let the victim live in peace. But no, they give him a new card that alerts the border patrol that Brian might be the thief, or in kahoots with the thief. So Brian, and anyone riding with him, including his sleeping baby, have to go into the station to legitimate our story and watch Sergeant Slow-typer work his way through the Q+A his computer takes him through.

So you may not want to cross the American border with Brian until 2016 when he will be issued a new card, though who knows if the problem will be fixed even then.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gary Robbins, My Grandpa

My grandpa passed away this week. It wasn't unexpected since he has been struggling in the hospital for the last few months. But the news has brought waves of sadness as well as happy memories as I grieve with my family.

The night we got the phone call from my parents, Brian and I joined my siblings in Seattle and Honolulu to honor Grandpa by toasting with a Ruby Red, his favorite drink. Brian and I reminisced memories of Grandpa while we drank:
  • I loved the way he always came up and gave you a big side hug and said "Hey there, Big Sis" (or little Sis or Bud depending on which applied to you)
  • He always made a point to go to coffee regularly with friends. I have always been impressed by how he maintained life long friendships despite being in the military. His friends Guy and Joy have been a part of his life since high school and kindergarten respectively
  • I wish I had a tape recording of his laugh. It was similar to his mom's laugh and my uncle always teased that it was "The Robbins' Giggle," though I always that it was more of a chuckle.
  • He loved his little log cabin in the woods and I'll always picture him there relaxing and enjoying his beverage in a foam cozy.
  • In his den he had pictures of his airforce planes, and a stuffed cobra, and my brother and I would amuse ourselves by dumping all of his poker chips on the floor and putting them back in various patterns.
  • The bathroom was always full of wordsearches and I learned his trick of getting a few minutes alone by taking extra long in the bathroom while enjoying a puzzle or two.
  • He never gave up learning. During retirement he learned how to carve wood. He made a wooden chain for my mom out of one solid block of wood, all of the links connected!
  • Grandpa was pretty quiet, but you knew if he got after you about something it was serious.
  • Without fail he and my grandma would share a Ruby Red and vodka in the afternoon.
  • He always had really corny jokes. Or at least I remember my mom saying that her corny jokes were things her dad always said.
  • I loved that he came to our couple's baby shower even though it felt weird for men to be there. He even played my mom's shower games. In fact the Playdoh baby sculpture he made with his brother, Randy, won!
  • I will always remember the last words I heard him say. When we took Magnolia to the hospital to see him, he took one look and said with pride, "She's beautiful." I think we would have loved her as much as he loved the rest of us.

If you read this and knew Gary, please feel free to add to our list by leaving a comment.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Congratulations Little Sis!

Almost 22 years ago, my little sister Alli came along. I was 7 1/2 and yes, I did have a mullet. We shared a room most of our growing up years. Lots of my things were broken by Alli's curious little hands. I was often frustrated by my constant shadow. This was the first day of school. If you look closely you can see that Alli's eyes are red from crying. She wanted to go to school too.
It was hard on Alli when I went to college. She came to visit often, staying overnight in my dormroom, dreaming of her college experience.
Despite our a few early frustrations and our nearly 8 year age difference, Alli has become one of my closest friends. Almost 6 years ago she was my maid-of-honor.
Eventually when it was her turn to go to college. She deliberated long over where to go -- she didn't want to just go to Seattle Pacific University because that is where I went. In the end, that is where she decided fit her best. (This picture is one of my favorites of the two of us. It was taken at her highschool graduation four years ago.)
This weekend she graduated again. This time with a BA in Visual Communication! Congratulations Little Sis!
Eight years later and the other sister is wearing the gown. And by the way, her boyfriend, Taylor, who she met during her freshman orientation, also graduated. Congratulations Taylor!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

R.I.P. Puppy

Today, our betta fish of three years passed away. He was a shimmering crimson fish (I wish I had a picture) my sister got for my birthday when I couldn't have a puppy yet, thus the name. 

He was such a smart little fish...Brian used to tap the bowl before he fed him and Puppy would come up all eager and chomping.  And he would show his gratitude every time we (read Brian) cleaned his bowl by fanning out his beautiful flowing fins.  He was so sensitive too.  One time when I was sad he licked me.  Okay just kidding, that was Otis, but Puppy really wanted to, I could tell.

Puppy, you will be missed.

Graduation Party, Baby Shower, Birth Class Reunion, and Hooray for Maggie!

This was a weekend packed with celebrations! Magnolia and I drove South to Marysville after work on Friday for Peter Clark's Graduation/18th Birthday party. The Clarks are long time family friends and I used to babysit Peter and his siblings. I can't believe he is heading off to college (SPU) in the fall.

After staying the night at my parents' house in Everett, Maggie and I donned our party clothes yet again and drove to West Seattle. There we helped host our good friend Jacqueline Hawkins's first baby shower. We were responsible for the games -- right up our alley. We played guess the flavor of baby food, guess what's in the diaper (mostly melted chocolate bars, but I put in some realistic looking grey poupon in one diaper for fun), diaper bag bingo, and decorating onesies. It was great to celebrate Jacqueline and baby boy Hawkins. It will be fun to have kids so close in age.

Ladies enjoying the yummy brunch.
Jacqueline's sister, Claire, smelling one of the diapers.
Krysta French creating her masterpiece.

Four Firwood Friends

After the baby shower, Magnolia and I again got in the car and drove to Bellingham for our Bradley birth class reunion. Not everybody could make it, but it was fun to see those that did and here about their experiences. This picture was taken at one of our last classes, a few days after my due date. The girl in overalls to my right was due just after me, believe it or not, and had her baby, Ashby, a day early. So Magnolia is the second oldest in class, but she was the biggest and most alert by far. But the boys are beginning to catch up...

Jesse, Truman, Ashby, Magnolia and Justin (not pictured: Tyler and Lucas)

Magnolia loved meeting all the people, especially the other babies. Even though we had a packed weekend she was still ready to play when we got home. She was talking and stretching her legs on her playmat while I chatted with my mom on the phone when suddenly she rolled over!