Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  
Also:  I (Ashley) have lost my cell phone.  I'm pretty sure it fell out of the car last night as we were getting out to go to church.  SO... if you need to reach me in the next few days, try the house first (630-868-3036) and then try Rob's cell (773-350-8470).  I'll hopefully have a new one on the 26th.  

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"I heart Riley Green." -Robbie

Robbie has found a precious new friend in Riley Green over the last few months!  Riley is about 2 weeks younger than Robbie (and lives very close) and it is fun to see them developing along the same timelines.  Our recent playdates have included the following activities: always sharing snacks, lots of poking and grabbing at each other, toy sharing (stealing, whatever), talking back and forth ("ba-ba-ba", repeat), and us moms snapping pictures every time something cute happens.  Translation: we take pictures the whole time, pausing only to sit them back up when they topple over!  The bonus is that we all go to the same church, and they get to play in the cry room together on Sundays!  Lucky kids, they are.

This was our 'Christmas' playdate, as I'm calling it.  We set them up in front of the tree and their cuteness did not fail us.

Hi mommies!  We are buddies.

A lot of this goes on... they are very curious about each other's faces.  It usually ends with formerly-gentle Robbie getting excited and clawing Riley's cheek.  We clip his nails just before they come over now, to be safe.

Posing??  I think this is my favorite!  What a sweet girl.

Robbie loves the attention Riley gives him! 

And apparently Riley has a thing for big heads.  Robbie leans in so that she can get a good squeeze!

See?   I told you they were cute together.  ::sigh::

Friday, December 19, 2008

What does it mean when you say you have a 'bun in the oven'?

Guess who is going to be a big brother??

Rob, Robbie and I are excited to tell you that we are expecting baby #2 in early July!  We are just entering the second trimester and I'm feeling great (thanks to the occasional 2 hour nap with my little guy during the day!).  We are looking forward to Robbie becoming a big brother and know that he will handle the roll well.   

This picture was taken just after I told Rob the good news a few months ago!

Introducing: Spiral Macaroni

Yesterday Robbie got to try Spiral Macaroni and Cheese for lunch (...well, after he had polished off a bowl of oatmeal and applesauce and a handful of Peach Star Puffs).  He loved it, and just when I thought he was winding down and getting full, I put one last forkful of spirals on his tray... he grabbed the whole glob with his hand and tried to shove it all in his mouth at once!  He makes me laugh so hard.  Enough of this 'one at a time' thing.  

Monday, December 15, 2008

Deck the halls!

It's finally festive in here!

You will laugh, but I have been waiting my whole life to have monogrammed stockings for my own family.  These thrill me to no end.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

You aren't really surprised, are you?!

Neither am I.   :) 

Robbie's first word was "DADA".  The boy loves his dad.  No jealousy here on mom's end, wishing it were "MAMA" - I love that Robbie adores Rob!  It is what I have always prayed for. 

(ps. for those of you who may be thinking that every baby says dada indiscriminately - you are right.  Robbie has actually been saying 'dadadadada' for weeks now - 'mamamama' too, and lots of other things that sound like words like 'diaper' and 'truck'.  But we got him to say DADA on command, several different times, while pointing to Rob!  So we figured that counted as first word.)  

Robbie tries out the boots I got for Rob (which incidentally were returned - I'm not good at picking out shoes for him!).  These are some big shoes to fill.
Playing in the snow in his snowsuit!  

Please keep praying for our friends Mark and Heidi, whose 9 week old baby Kaiya is still in the hospital.  You can follow Kaiya's progress on their blog here

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Very exciting - it was clear as a bell, Robbie repeated it several times after prompts from both mommy and daddy, and the word itself isn't really a surprise to me!!

Any guesses??!!

(ps. sorry dad, it wasn't "football", although he is working hard on his F sound!  ...soon.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Please Pray

If you have a minute as you read this post, please pray for the DeKorne family.  Their baby girl Kaiya is in the hospital with bacterial meningitis.  You can follow their story as you pray by visiting their blog - click HERE.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


This short 2 1/2 minute video is worth watching... it certainly struck a nerve with me.

What an inspirational message.  It is a freeing thought, isn't it?  

Wishing each of you a special advent season as we worship and prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - "Hello, You..."


Thanks for waiting for this Thanksgiving post for so long!  One day I will actually blog as things happen, not weeks later.  

We spent Thanksgiving with my side of the family, and it was special to have both Collin and Kelsey home at the same time and be able to see them for a few days.  Our friends Cheryl and Megan also joined us, which only felt natural since they are practically family.  We enjoyed cooking together and playing games (anyone heard of Pit or Masterpiece?!), and even attempted an Armbruster family picture.  

My mom made 2 Turkey breasts, and they were amazing!  Less bones to cut around, very tender and juicy meat... I highly recommend this to everyone reading.  It tasted as good as it looks here in the oven!

Kelsey and mom take a break from making mom's famous pistachio cornbread stuffing for a picture

Mom has to take charge if she wants to get everyone in one picture together - as you can see, we are all goofing off and wasting precious daylight.  Places!  Someone sit on this stool now!

The winning picture... complete with holiday wreath around my brother's neck. 

A picture with Aunt Megan - we love her!!  (Isn't she so pretty!?)

As I was thinking about what I am thankful for this year, obviously the family and friends we are blessed to have came to mind first.  I meditated on what it means to live out the Christian life in community with others (friends and family), and how thankful I am for these 'others' who share the journey with me / us.  And I realized that I am not only thankful for each person, but for who God has made them to be and the ways He is continually shaping and growing each of them, and the ways that deeply affects me.  I thought about what my life would be like if even just one of my family members or friends were not a major part of our lives, and I realized that I am so richly blessed by the people who surround me.

Let me lay it out for you.

Rob is my companion and best friend, and he is quick to love me the way God made me.  He is slow to take up offense, and does not measure how much he is 'getting' vs. how much he gives.  He provides stability to our family in many ways, consistently serving and being present.  He seeks God with his whole heart, and is clearly the leader within our family.  He is wise, discerning, humble, and faithful.  His appetite for Godliness has increased my own.

Robbie, although young, has a joyful heart and sweet disposition that I pray one day translates to a heart for Christ.  He is so very forgiving of his imperfect mommy, quick to share smiles and hugs, and just loves life.  He brings more joy to our lives than we knew one little guy could.

My mom models sacrificial love and generosity, and always has.  If she were not my mom, I might not understand what it looks like to be selfless, and how focusing on others' needs is often more important than meeting your own.  She is an example of the kind of mother I dream of being to Robbie.  She is a respectful, loyal, wife to my dad and has believed in him and trusted him throughout their marriage.

My dad shows leadership in our family, but also outside the home in our community, in his business, and in the church.  He lives in answer of God's call to make disciples, and is passionate about caring for those who are less fortunate or overlooked.  He is full of compassion, and quick to give.  He gives glory back to God when blessings come, and holds on to his faith in times of testing and heartache.

My brother desires to live with honor, which is demonstrated by his commitment to his job and his work ethic.  He does his best and is quick to lend a hand to others.  He has compassion for those he works with who struggle or have a hard time 'getting ahead' at work because of their economic status or ethnicity, and desires justice and equality.  He is considerate towards his family and enjoys freely sharing his talents and giftedness (often technologically!) with us.  His sense of humor keeps us all laughing.

My sister is marked by sensitivity and humility.  Nothing less than encouragement comes out of her mouth, which is a clear reflection of her purity of heart.  She makes an effort to be positive, and some mistake this for being 'just a naturally optimistic personality'.  No, she sees the whole picture - she just chooses faith, joy, hope, and love.  She is intelligent but humble, and values relationships above the things we all tend to get distracted by.  She is persistent and loyal, and brings out the best in us.

My friend Cheryl lives with integrity.  She chooses to follow God in big and small ways, fully aware of the cost.  She has perspective that can only be obtained by digging into God's Word and seeking Him wholeheartedly.  She has suffered but counts it joy; experienced loss but counts her many blessings; chooses to walk down a more difficult road for the sake of Christ because she can't live with herself if she takes the easy way out.  She is passionate and honest, true to who God has made her to be, and unashamed.  She encourages and strengthens us spiritually just by sharing her life with us.

My friend Megan consistently demonstrates forgiveness in her friendships, and models loyalty and provides companionship to us.  She is the best listener I know, suspends judgement, looks for the best and is just easy to enjoy being around.  She is generous and appreciative, always thinking about those around her.  She too makes difficult decisions for Christ and encourages us in our journey.  She has strength of character that is hard to find, and is quick to love.

I only wrote out my thoughts about those we spent Thanksgiving dinner with, but I could go on!  Not only would life be very different without one of these family members or friends, but if the good and Christ-likeness that they represent were absent from their lives, I too would be different.  I am so thankful for their hearts, for what God is doing in their lives, and for their place in mine.  

One other way of thinking about Thanksgiving this year that is new for me was presented on another blog (Bring the Rain).  I believe she removed the posting, because she was unsure of the theological accuracy of what she had written and didn't want to mislead anyone.  But the concept was important to me - being thankful for the things in our lives that might not be pleasant or exactly what we asked for.  And maybe not exactly being thankful for the event or situation, but having a thankful heart towards God that he promises to use everything in our lives for his glory and our ultimate good, if we love him.  This is hard to do - especially if we haven't seen His purpose or any redemption in the situation yet.  

I hope your Thanksgiving was meaningful, and that it brought you time to reflect on who God is and what He has done for all of us, especially through His Son, Jesus.  

Monday, December 1, 2008

Let's pretend today is Nov. 15th...

Robbie is 8 months old today!  (Ok, so really he is 8 1/2 months old... and I couldn't feel worse about taking these pictures late.)  This month has completely gotten away from me!  It has been so much fun, and we really have to work to keep up with Robbie and all of his new antics.  

He is still the best eater I know and there's not much he hasn't tasted and liked, except for the pediatrician-restricted foods like berries, eggs, real milk, nuts, etc.  He holds his own bottle much of the time too.

He is now a strong sitter, taking all of his baths upright and playing with dad for long stretches of the evening on the floor with blocks and his activity cube.  He tries very hard to crawl, but often ends up scooting himself backwards.  It's hard to get those arms to pull you forward!  His favorite game is peek-a-boo, and we can usually get belly laughs out of him with it.

His real love, though, is walking.  If you have spent any amount of time around him in the last few weeks, you have experienced his frustration firsthand at not being able to RUN!  He loves when we take his hands and walk around the house - sometimes he marches out of excitement.  And if you try to pick him up and set him on your lap before he's done, he arches his back and tries to squirm back to the floor to stand up.  It's really the only time we experience defiance with him, so it cracks us up.  

Probably the most notable thing about sweet Robbie right now is how cheerful and happy he is all the time.  He never refuses us a smile, and we can even get him to laugh if he is crying (most of the time).  He's developed this new cheesy smile that often comes with sniffing and angled eyebrows (see below) - we have no idea where it came from, but we love it.

He is experimenting with the new sounds his mouth can make, and the feel of his 2 new bottom teeth.  My dad is convinced that he tried to say 'football' one day, mimicking him.  I have to say it was close... he is good at the 'F' sound!  He understands some of our everyday words as well, among them "bottle" or "ba-ba" (elicits a knowing look and then a cry if he's hungry), "dog" or "woof" (when we're at my parents' house he starts looking for the dog), and "all done".  He's starting to try to sign for 'all done' as well, by shaking his hands in the air when I do the sign for 'all done' at the end of his meals.

I am thankful that he is still my little snuggler.  When I pick him up in the morning from his crib, he always pats my arm as I carry him out of his bedroom.  I usually take one of his naps with him during the day (I need a lot of sleep!), and he likes to fall asleep with our faces touching.  I know he will probably grow out of this, but for now it is just so sweet.

We don't have any stats from the doctor for this month since he doesn't go back until his 9 month check up - but Rob unofficially weighed him the other day and he was around 22 lbs.

Hippy is getting smaller by the day!

Looking out the window at our front yard covered in snow for the first time.

Such a big boy.

Cheesy smile, which shows off his new chompers!

We love you Robbie

Sunday, November 23, 2008


So while it is very hard to get a good picture of Robbie's new teeth (his bottom center two teeth are inching their way up!), I do have hot-off-the-press images of his latest trick.  This evening, after yet another blowout (when will they end?), Rob was changing Robbie into his onesie and jammies, and he was not happy.  It was bottle time, so I made one and popped it in his mouth in an effort to calm the fussing, while Rob tried to finish dressing him.  He grabbed hold of the bottle and held it up, all on his own!  For the first time.  Like he had been doing it for weeks.  

We paused the dressing to get a picture

He was very proud and happy to pose for the camera!

What a lucky boy!

What a surprise for Robbie to receive a Thanksgiving gift this past week!  My Aunt Sherry and Uncle Jim live in Cincinnati with their 2 girls, my sweet cousins Courtney and Caroline.  They sent Robbie 2 books about the meaning of Thanksgiving, which I love.  It is one of my favorite holidays because of how important it is to be thankful and how much God has blessed us, and I hope that Rob and I are able to pass down a spirit of gratefulness and appreciation to Robbie.  And what better way to introduce the idea than through kids books!?

Don't be fooled by the raspberries - Robbie is very excited about his present!

Really enjoying digging through the tissue paper - but no, Robbie, that's not the gift.  Keep going!

Ooooh, I know what this is - I love books!
(Note the serious face...)

Grandma jumps right in and reads both books to Robbie, who is completely mesmerized by the sweet stories and cute pictures.

Thanks so much for my new books Aunt Sherry, Uncle Jim, Courtney and Caroline!  You are so thoughtful and I think of you all the time when mommy and I spend time reading at home - lots of my books are from you!  I love you.

Robbie and Charlotte's date in Rockford

We had the chance to get together with our great friends - the Larsons (Jeff, Becky and Charlotte) and the Bellitos (Matt and Becki) - in Rockford 2 weekends ago.  We finally figured out that the best restaurant in town to meet at is Granite City, and it was really the perfect place for us all to have lunch and spend a few hours catching up!  

Robbie and Charlotte have grown so much since our last get together, and they both sat in their seats and ate baby food as well as little star puffs while we all visited.  They were very aware of each other, but are still too young to try and interact intentionally.  

We were very impressed by Charlotte's sweet personality, desire to be so social, always charming hairstyles, and ability to clap her hands when her mommy started singing "If you're happy and you know it...".   When Becky and I swapped babies, I could not believe how petite and light Char was!  Robbie is my little boulder.  He is just a solid boy (as most of them are).  While Charlotte enjoyed her one carton of baby food during lunch, Robbie put away 3. :)  I know he's an eater, but sometimes I'm just amazed by his appetite when we spend time with other little girls his age.

Me and Robbie, with sweet Becky and darling Charlotte

Charlotte and Robbie, side by side!  Robbie reached out and put his hand on Char's shoulder - very cute.  He just loves her.  And who wouldn't!?

We thought it would be really cute to get a picture of Robbie and Charlotte kissing Becki's baby bump... she's expecting identical twin boys, and we are so excited to meet the little guys in March or April!  The picture did not work out at all, but this one just makes me laugh because we were having so much fun.

We can't wait for our next get together!  We love you guys so much.  :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Feel better, Aunt Megan!

I am way behind on my blogging!  Last week Aunt Megan came to visit for the day.  We had so much fun going out to brunch, playing with Robbie at the house, and catching up.  Robbie even got to taste daddy's pumpkin pancakes at brunch... lucky boy.  As was expected, he loved them.

Aunt Megan doesn't feel very well today, and it sounds like work is a drag.  So Megs, I hope this post cheers you up!  We love you and can't wait to see you again next week.  Feel better!

My favorite!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

1st tooth, sitting in the bath, and expanding taste buds

No pictures with this post, because it is a quick update (and 8 month pictures will be coming soon!).  Robbie has been cutting his first tooth this past week, which is very exciting!  It's the lower front right one, and it's sharp.  I keep wondering how teething on just the lower gums doesn't irritate or cut the upper gums?  Anyways, it has greatly disrupted his sleep - he wakes up at 1:00am almost like clockwork, and isn't soothed until I take him into the guest room and sleep the remainder of the night with him.  (That is NOT me complaining!)  He slept most of last night on his own without waking up, so I'm not concerned that this will spoil him or wreck all of the sleep training we've done so far.

Also, he's doing great sitting up for long periods of time on his own.  This morning I decided it was time for Robbie to take his bath sitting up.  Oh my goodness did he love it!  He kept looking around at everything, like this new vantage point was opening up another world to him.  He really enjoyed splashing the water, kicking his legs, playing with rubber duckies and grabbing his feet.  And it was accidentally heavy-on-the-bubbles, so of course he had to sample them once.  Yum.  I have tried to do what I can to encourage water on his face so that he's not a fusser every time water splashes on him, in the bath or at the pool / lake.  Today I poured a big cup of water over his head, slowly, to wash away the soap and shampoo... and he didn't bat an eye!  I got excited and told him what a big boy he was, and he grinned and splashed around like it was no big deal.  I am so thankful for his natural disposition and how ready he is to try new things.  It makes things so easy on me as a mom.

He continues to try to crawl, but has still only mastered rotating in circles, scooting backwards, and rolling anywhere he wants to go (and quickly!).  I find him completely on the other side of the crib when I go in to get him after naps, facing the opposite direction.  Not sure how he spins around in there since it is fairly narrow?!  His evening routine now includes wrestling time with dad, and it is by far the sweetest part of my day to watch them play together.  Robbie cannot wait for Rob to get home in the evenings and he even acts a little differently on the weekends when Rob is around during the day.  The boy loves his dad!  

And finally, he is eating a wider variety of foods.  He got to eat some of dad's pumpkin pancakes when we went out to brunch the other day, and likes to have bits of bread or part of my sandwich bun when I have it.  I made him an apple / pear / apricot with vanilla breakfast blend, and 2 'beef with vegetables' blends this week which will last us a good 2 weeks or so (one has parsnips, potatoes and celery and the other has sweet potatoes and carrots).  Robbie really likes the flavor, and I have to try not to gag as I feed it to him - it looks and smells a lot like wet cat food!  Gross.  But he gets so many different vitamins and minerals from each of them that it's worth it.  I have a sugar pumpkin, acorn squash, cherries, cantaloup, bananas, and more apples and pears to play with for next week!  I am getting my recipes from a great book called "The Top 100 Baby Purees", in case you are interested.  Robbie has tasted vanilla, thyme, parsley and a few other herbs and spices and it will be fun to introduce him to more.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Robbie can sit on his own!

Robbie sat up on his own today for an extended period of time all by himself!  It was on Rob's watch... I think Robbie wanted to impress his daddy!  So I set him up again and took some pictures just for you.  (When I'm shooting, I obviously can't be right next to him, hence the protective pillows all around him.  They were NOT, however, propping him up!  That would be cheating.)

Check me out!

I can sit up, AND I have good balance!

I can even wiggle around, and move my legs and arms without falling over.

This activity cube is my favorite toy.  And good incentive to stay sitting up!

Not sure what happened here.  Well, obviously he fell over... but he put his right arm up in the air and just left it there for a few seconds.  It was really funny.  Like he was saying, "And... the show's over!  Leave me alone."

See, I promised we would be more entertaining.  Also, Robbie had some sort of Chicken and stars baby food for lunch today (Stage 3, Earth's Best brand), and it had bits of star shaped pasta and bits of carrots in it.  He loved it!  He is getting the hang of 'gumming' food to death that isn't totally blended, and also enjoys eating pieces of deli cheese and cheerios as a snack in the afternoons.  What a big boy!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008


We have tucked ourselves in here at 633 Alchester Drive.  It's cold outside (I spotted a little bit of SLEET 2 days in a row!), Robbie is under the weather, and we have house projects to work on.  I have nothing fun or cute to post, picture-wise, which I know is pretty much a cardinal sin in the world of blogging.  I would apologize for the mundane nature of our little world right now, but am well aware that quiet seasons are a blessing and a time to build up and rest up.  So we are not complaining.

We are finally trying to complete our basement clean-up from the water damage we had a few months ago (a drain was overflowing b/c a 2nd sump pump we have that we didn't know about had a dead motor).  Walls, flooring, and trim were ripped out and replaced.  And now they're in raw-material form.  Rob painted the laundry room trim and old brown cabinets white today, and will paint the old neon green walls a pretty new shade of robin's egg light blue.  SO excited.  Seriously.  This room is spacious, functional and great but uuuuuugly.  Not anymore.

Then it's on to the trim in the rest of the basement, the doors on the new closet we had built, and all of the walls.  After trying to find the perfect shade of neutral for the walls that would be different from what was down there before, I landed on a shade of beige that is literally 2 shades darker than the old color.  So boring.  But safe.  It's projects like this that make me wish I had more guts when it comes to decorating.  I am so vanilla.  But I guess I'm afraid of taking another chance, like I did when we first moved in (look up Benjamin Moore's 'Sidewalk Grey' - ugh!! what was I thinking?), and hating the room so much that I avoid being in it altogether.  Or choosing that room to be the nursery so that I could repaint it 'for a reason'.   True story.  Boring, but true.

See, now you wish you hadn't even checked the blog to see what we are up to.  Self-actualization through interior decorating.  That's it for now.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Robbie gets to know Riley Green

We finally got together with our friends, Mike and Heather Green, who also live in Wheaton!  They have a sweet little girl, Riley, who was born in March also but just a few weeks after Robbie.  They had fun Sunday morning in the cry room at church together, and then we had the Greens over for chili later that evening.  Riley and Robbie enjoyed getting to know each other, and were so cute together!  Riley is a pro at sitting up, eats like a lady, came dressed like a doll, and allowed her parents to put her into foreign bouncy seats so that the adults could eat dinner together.  Robbie was, well, in rare form - looking like the guy who got home from work and changed into a pair of sweatpants (not bothering to change out of his white undershirt).  A nice touch was the 'Chicken and Rice Dinner' baby food that tainted the neckline of his onesie.  Thankfully, Riley is not your typical 'cute but shallow' kind of girl, and she might have even flirted a bit with our little chunky monkey!

Riley's dad Mike, and Rob, with the babies

We had so much fun Sunday night that today Heather and I met for Chai Frappachinos and headed over to Seven Gables park for a long walk and some swing time for the babies.  It was Riley's first time on the swings, and she caught on quickly!  She was so cute, smiling the whole time, even trying to lick the swing (to her mom's dismay).

Robbie figured out how to sit up properly in the swing this time - all by himself - and showed us how much fun he was having by kicking his legs and laughing while swinging.  

Our afternoon wasn't nearly as fun after Robbie's date with Riley.  I took him to the pediatrician since he can't shake this cold, and also because this afternoon he developed a diaper rash that bled (!).  When the pediatrician checked him out, they found an ear infection as well.  My poor little guy is just a mess right now!  But I had no idea - he is still very good natured when he is sick, and never tugged on his ears or fussed when he was laying down.  Also no fever.  Anways, he's on the bubblegum medicine (I don't know how to spell it!) and strong diaper rash cream, and we're hoping for a quick bounce back!