Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why Being Pregnant is Like Being a Cactus

Last weekend some fabulous friends put together the last baby shower. It was a relaxed affair with yummy food, a few simple and rather informative games, and good people. Since I was the only there that has so far lost her mind and gotten pregnant, we talked about a lot more than pregnancy and babies. It made me realize that I haven’t been in a group of women without having the entire conversation revolve around our growing bellies for about six months. It did me good.

Long story, short: it was a great afternoon that stretched until almost 11pm and included a lot of laughter. Thank you very much ladies for arranging the shower, for coming, and for those of you that were unable to come: thank you for your messages and your support from afar! We missed you.

So how is being pregnant like being a cactus?

Because as the dear C & T proclaimed pregnant ladies are round and rather prickly. Which is true, so true.

I’m most certainly round and rather prickly. My patience is, well, lets just say it’s rather limited and often tried. I can’t really explain how’s it is being tried considering I hardly see people and everyone I do see is in the take-care-of-the-pregnant-lady zone. I mean, I get ice cream on demand. On demand and I don’t ever need to beg.

I’d also like to add that I feel like I’m in a freaking desert all the time. I’m hot, I’m sweaty, I’m thirsty, and I’m grumpy. I’ve never been in a desert but I think I would feel that way. I would hope I’d complain about it a little bit less.

The poor Mr.

I think he is as ready for the worm to make his entrance as I am. And when he gets here, I’ll be making good use of this baby shower gift.

Who's in?


Friday, May 27, 2011

Colorado in the House

This week a Colorado cousin and two of her college friends stopped over in Heidelberg as part of their six week trip around Europe. Together we took a quick tour of the Thingstätte (in German only) and the monastery ruins above Heidelberg, followed by the mandatory Heidelberg castle tour by yours truly.

It was good fun to meet two new good people and get to know my cousin a little bit more. Listening to their stories and their plans, I was reminded of the awesome trips from my late teens and 20 around the US and the world, first to Spain, Bolivia, and then all over Europe with a short pop to India, and finally New Zealand (link leads to collection of all New Zealand related posts) and Australia. Those trips changed my life: it changed how I think, feel, and act. They opened my eyes and my heart, leading me away from where I shouldn’t and couldn’t be and bringing me to where I should be - which is here with my Mr. Onion awaiting our first little bundle of joy.

Looking back the trip that I carry with me the most was also my first time out of the US when I went to Spain to study abroad. It was tough and lonely and frustrating and a hell of a lot of fun. It was also the first time I realized that just because I’m American doesn’t mean I’m right. That my normal isn’t necessarily normal to everyone and sometimes my normal is just super weird. That history is written by the victor but that doesn’t mean the victims or the losers or the not-quite-victors have lost their voice or have nothing to say. And that sometimes I will be the victor and sometimes I won’t.

What about you - what trip(s) do you carry with you?


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One Handed Count Down

Today is an exciting milestone as we await our little guy: we've both reached a healthy 35 weeks! According to the American Pregnancy Association "The vast majority of your baby's growth is complete by 35 weeks." So we are officially in the home stretch of one handed count downs!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Executing the Transition Plan

Tomorrow is the start of my second full week of official maternity leave. In Germany expecting mothers are required to stop working six weeks before the due date and are not permitted to return to work less than eight weeks after the birth date. After the birth, both parents – so the Mr. and I – have 14 months to share at something like 70% pay so that we can spend dedicated time with our little one. In our case, I will have nine of those months; the Mr. will have five. In addition, one or both of us can register for parental leave for up to three years, protecting us from losing our job and giving us the right to work part-time.

I am grateful for these benefits and protections. It is quite difficult to image being this pregnant, uncomfortable and slightly bitchy and still being expected to perform at work. I do pay slightly higher taxes for these benefits but it seems more than worth it to me.*

Yet, as grateful and as thankful as I am, I’ve been working more or less full-time since 1998. I identify with my work and I have taken great pride in doing my various jobs – waitress, secretary, teacher, consultant, writer, communicator, and change manager – extremely well. I approach my work with intensity, with a need to succeed, and with a piece of myself. Over the past four years I’ve had to learn to say “no” more often and better clarify the working me and the ME me, but I have not and most likely will never lose the joy of working and working hard. Sure the role, the company, the pay, the speed, and the location will change many times over the course of my career, but I am positive that I will be a results kinda person until I die. Most of those results will come from my career – whatever form it may have – and my hobbies.**

Which brings me to the first sentence of this blog: tomorrow is the start of my second full week of official maternity leave. And I’m doing okay. Yes, I’ve cheated a little bit: I used my professional experience to create a personal transition plan months ago; I check my work emails every other day or so; and I went into the office once. Yes, I have gotten lost in the expanse of free time a few times; I do miss seeing the hundreds of people every day that roam my office building; and I really miss feeling pressure to succeed as well as the joy of having succeeded. But 90% of the time I’ve been reading, quilting, writing, blogging, skyping, sleeping, walking, eating cake, printing pictures, sitting in the sun, and just generally doing all those things that I haven’t had time to really enjoy (or when I had the time, not the money) since 1998.

Want to know a secret? I’m enjoying it.

Here is to a possible four more weeks until our little guy makes his grand entrance.

*The difference in taxes really is slight, something between 5 and 10%. Check out some starting information here for the average US tax rate from 2007 and some information about the average German tax rate.
**All jokes of “non-revenue generating projects” aside, may I please somehow be wise enough not to turn my children into results-driven projects.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

First Quilt Finished!

I tried to find a slightly clever title for this blog post but sheer pride and overwhelming excitement made it impossible: I finished my first quilt!

I’ve wanted to create a quilt for over 10 years and I finally started a project in December 2009 based on a book the Mr. gave me for Christmas. That project quickly got overwhelming and I realized that although my nana gave me sewing skills (thanks again for that!), I was in over my head. I signed up for a quilting class in June 2010 and started another, easier project. Although the class was one of the worst classes I’ve ever taken, it did get me going with some quilting basics. Now, almost a full year later, I’m looking back on a journey of many frustrations (like when I realized I’d already spent many hours on the project and wasn’t near being done) and even more exciting successes (like when my project actually started looking like a quilt).

The Mr. was a big part of this project with his encouragement, his patience when I lost my patience, his help with extra hands at difficult times, and his skills as a photographer. Thanks, honey! I’ll try to be less of a pain when I go back to my initial project.

The last stitch:

There are some funny things about quilting that I couldn’t have imagined before I really embarked on this project. For one, quilting is frustrating, annoying, expensive, complicated, and ARGH! But it is also meditative, calming, and rewarding. I believe that it can be addictive too; we’ll find out with the next project. Quilting takes a lot out of you, but somehow it gives a lot back too. I’m not sure how that works but it does.

Secondly, the littlest mistake made at any part in the project will influence the entire project. Yet, unlike when putting together a skirt, it won’t be obvious how big of an influence that mistake will have until much further into the project. My quilt has all sorts of issues but it is still beautiful, still warm, still special. To me it is particularly beautiful and special because of its imperfections and quirks. No one else could have made this quilt (but if someone else tries, I really hope you take out less stitching than I did!) and it won’t mean as much to anyone else.

It’s sort of like life in that way. All those joys, mistakes, chances taken and chances missed, all those everythings are written on our hearts, our bodies, our faces, and our souls, making us who we are. We can either focus on the ‘bad’ stuff, examining every crooked or uneven stitch, every missed turn, and every incorrect folding, or we can step back and look at the wonder that we created. I hope you are in awe of your own wonder.

The final quilt, folded in half:


Friday, May 20, 2011

For the Record: Pictures Galore

Once I finally finished our wedding album (right before our 2 year anniversary, go me!) I decided to go back and print out all those other pictures we’d taken since January 2009 and put them into albums.

It turns out that not only do we travel a lot but we take a heck of a lot of pictures. Even after sorting, I had almost 1500 pictures printed. 1500 pictures. That’s almost a complete shelf of photo albums, all of them full. How do I know? Because I put all 1500 pictures into albums this week. Here they are:

And this was pre-baby…will it be better or worse after the worm arrives?


Monday, May 16, 2011

For the Record – Mr’s Spargelcremesuppe

Spargelzeit continues and with ever increasing rewards: it turns out that the Mr. makes a hell of a Spargelcremesuppe (white asparagus cream soup). The first important step is to cook too many Spargel for us to eat alone:

And then add lots of wonderful things and let it simmer. Then serve it to the Mrs. and watch her get happy, happy.

Yummy, yummy, yummy! We've got a few left-over Spargel in the fridge, lets hope we enjoy a repeat soon!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Belated (First) Mother’s Day

This post comes with a little delay, so I hope it was worth the wait! Another major milestone in the life of this Mrs. Steinbach: my first mother’s day. It was a great day that started with a veggie omelet breakfast and my first mother’s day gift, then ended with time spent at the Mr's family.

We also got copies of the recent maternity pictures that the very talent Aline Lange recently shot. If you are looking for a photographer in Germany for anything coming up soon - check her out! Here are two of my personal favorites from our session.

There are more pictures of Aline's blog.
Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Two Years – Still Hitched

Two years ago the Mr. and I got hitched. We spent the night before our wedding together in a hotel suite in Ohio – we had already spent five weeks apart while I worked in the US and he was still in Germany – and we woke up together nervous, excited, and what-ever-that-feeling-is-right-before-you-get-married-and-are-totally-thrilled-about-it.

And then suddenly we were up, looking good, married, danced-out, and falling back into our hotel bed. I have a hundred excellent (and very few not-so-excellent) memories of our American wedding day but looking back I can’t believe how quickly it was all over.

The past two years have been similar: man, have they flown by, blessing us with far more smiles than raised eyebrows or tears and I cannot believe how quickly they’ve gone by.

Here’s to many, many more years, Mr. I love ya.


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