Saturday, March 24, 2012


Turns out men can do it.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Not Making This Up

PJ turned eight months old at the start of March. What if I told you that he is already walking around with the help of a walking toy?

Seriously. Really. I'm not making this up. I have proof.

In February we were happily surprised by our little boy as he started to sit by himself, crawl, and then pull himself up all at the same time. Since then he has perfected his crawl - hips swinging madly in his rush to move from place A to place B - and grown increasingly confident pulling himself up all. over. the. place.

Then he started to move around our coffee table and, just a few days later, between the coffee table and the couch. So we ordered a wood walking toy. I specifically chose a toy with various engagement options, thinking that PJ would play with it for a while before he started using it to get around.


First there was all the excitement for his second Daddy & Me project - far more than during the first one. The toy was relatively easy to put together (I think) and PJ wanted to be a part of each and every step, even stealing the screwdriver.

When it was finished, he immediately started to play with the games on each side. But more importantly, within a week, little man started using it to get around our place. In the past few days, his confidence has grown and to get this video I had to literally hold him back for half a second.


Some things do stay the same: PJ remains fascinated by the washing machine.

Eight months and cruising around our apartment on two feet (plus a little trolley). Crazy, super, awesome right?


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Patrick Day Was Great

Yesterday was (Saint) Patrick's Day and our little man enjoyed himself greatly. It was a wonderful, warm, sunny day here. In honor of both his day and the weather, we sat little man in his stroller and then took the street car into Heidelberg together. There we split up for a little while so that I could do a bit of shopping. When I caught up with my boys they were at a local Irish pub: one was enjoying a Guinness; the other all the attention.

Yes, the Mr. bought enough Guinness to be rewarded with that hat.

It might have helped that PJ was not only his normal adorable-self but had added another level of cuteness with his outfit.
Oh, and kiss him they did.
One of the waitresses had a green make-up stick and was thrilled when we allowed her to decorate little man's cheek. 

After enough love was shared and kisses received, we moved on to the Neckarweise, a beautiful park that runs along the Neckar river through the heart of Heidelberg. We were not the only people to have this idea. There were families, groups of friends, pick up games, and picnics all over the grass. We finally found a stop for ourselves and there our little man enjoyed his first patch of grass

He tried to eat it. It didn't taste that great. Not that that stopped him from trying again.

Sadly the time to return home came too soon. There the Guinness caught up with the Mr.

All in all, a pretty great first Patrick Day.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Patrick Day!

Lets be honest, every day is Patrick day. At least today the rest of the world realizes it.

Its Patrick Day?!?! Finally!
  Go have a Guinness or five.
That's right - go celebrate me!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Just Updating My Facebook Page

My little laptop has been stolen by my little boy. Right now it is really cute - when my laptop gets broken I don't think it will be so cute anymore.

But for now, a video that proves even babies are watching us, learning from us, copying us. Scary thought, but such an adorable guy.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First Afternoon Outside!

Since PJ was born in July, he has done all of his crawling, standing up, and solid food eating inside apartments. The weather cleared up just enough yesterday to finally change that. We went over to the American base's playground to play, enjoy a last-minute picnic, and help send off a lovely family who is moving to their next phase in life.

It was just warm enough to enjoy the fresh air for two hours that flew by.

PJ enjoying his first picnic

Swings are the best thing ever!

PJ with one of his most favorite older friends. See the love in his eyes?


Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Remember how excited we all were on the Mr's first day of parental leave? Yeah, that night our excitement morphed into a stomach bug that kicked my butt hard, swatted at our little man, and annoyed the Mr. almost all weekend.

Our little guy wasn't actively sick the whole time, but we could easily tell that he was feeling less than great. He was extra cuddly, way less active, and would uncharacteristically doze for short periods of time in his daddy's arms.

To help bring a smile onto my pale face, the Mr. surprised me with a bundle of my favorite flowers. It totally worked.

Here's to hoping the rest of the Mr's parental leave will be healthier!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ice, Ice Baby

Two week ago I said goodbye to the Mr. around 8pm so that he could attend a bit of a get together for two friends who immigrated to Australia. Imagine my surprise when Vanilla Ice walked through our apartment door at 11am the following day:

Ignoring the amazing hairdo, he looks pretty good for being totally hungover, don't you think? He even pulled out some of his moves. PJ was totally enthralled.

For a comparison, make sure to watch the classic Vanilla Ice from back in those days when we all thought he was so cool. Go ahead and forward to 3:40 to really enjoy the moves.  Or watch the original video here:

ps. The "bit of a get together" ended up in the newspaper.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

8 Months!

Little PJ is 8 months old today. 8 months. Wow. Today is also the Mr.'s first day of parental leave. Big, good stuff is going on in the Steinbach household.

PJ was so excited to get the day started that he woke up at 4:15 in the morning. The Mr. and I were so excited about PJ waking up at 4:15 in the morning that we each took a turn at a two-hour nap later in the morning. Shared parental leave has some serious advantages.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Facebook Follow-up

Recently I posted on Facebook the following statement:

In just seven very short days Mr. starts his parental leave. Part of me excited; but the part of me that realizes that this amazing time with PJ  is coming to an end in just five weeks is very sad.

First thing: wow, I really need to reread my status updates for grammar in the future. Ouchie.

Second thing: I thought I was doing that Facebook thing of sharing what was going on in my head and moving on. But then private messages started finding their way into my Facebook and email inbox. I realized that I had also wandered into that strange world of parenting advice; the role of men and women at home; and the whole stay-at-home vs. career mom debate. Thankfully I'm Facebook "friends" with primarily rational, caring people and the messages never ventured into the aggressive, insulting, black-and-white realm one usually finds on the Internet. Instead they were full of mostly kind, supportive messages...that didn't really relate to what I was trying to express in very poor grammar. Instead they seemed to represent to me so many misunderstandings that pop up in conversations about parenting. 

Therefore, I decided to not just answer those personal messages but to also write a blog post in the hope that maybe I can help influence the overall conversation. Not that I'm asking too much of my little corner of the web.

Wink. Wink.

Please note: none of these quotes are real and have been created to represent those misunderstandings in a broad way.

To the misunderstandings:

1. "Yeah it really stinks when men try to get involved. They don't have the skills and just get in the way. But no worries! The four hours every day will pass quickly and your husband can't kill PJ that quickly." "Write down how to do everything, add a daily list of things to remember, and then call to make sure everything is going the way it should."

I am excited that the Mr. is coming home to be with us. Excited. And not just because he does stuff like laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning the kitchen. I'm excited because I enjoy being with my husband and PJ loves being with his da-da. I'm excited because I live in a time and place which makes extended leave during the first year of a baby's life possible for the mom and the dad. Both of us. The parents. That is awesome.

Know what else is awesome? That my husband, PJ's daddy not only steps up with joy to spend five months of his life to be with his little man but that he is excited to be a hands-on, getting-dirty-and-rocking-the-house stay-at-home daddy for a while of his own free will.

Seriously. Stop laughing. Once I realized how awesome being with little man is, I offered to stay longer ... lets just say the words "No" and "way" were part of the Mr's answer (with a nice big F-word inbetween).

So I am excited!

But to the point about trusting the Mr. with PJ alone...let's be really clear: I don't trust you with my kid. I know, I know, I have become one of those moms. But, hand on the bible, I trust my husband. Yes, the Mr. will do many things differently. He will forget a lot. He will make mistakes. Will that always make me smile? No. Do I doubt his ability and his desire to be the best daddy ever? No. Will he do some things better than me? Oh hell, yes.

So, I won't make him lists of "how to take care of PJ" - nor will I call him every hour just to make sure that he is doing what is on those lists. I may call every 20 minutes to hear what PJ is doing, saying, eating, etc but that because I need to hear it, not because I think the Mr. can't hack it.
The problem - if you can call it that - is me. Not the Mr. Me.

(And, yes, I'll work on that whole trusting you with my kid thing. Sorry about that.)

2. "Since you hate your job, don't go back."

I am sad that my dedicated time with PJ is coming to an end but I am not sad that I am returning to my career. I'm sad about what I'm leaving behind - not what I am moving towards. I am and will always be his mommy. No one can take my place. He is my child. We will have wonderful times together and there are joys that I haven't even thought of yet, but there is a huge lists of won't be able tos:
  • I won't have hours and hours every day for play dates with other kids.
  • I won't always be the person to see all of his firsts. (And, yes, if I told you that you saw something before me - with the exception of rolling - I lied. Sorry about that. But you were so excited and, well, I'm a push over sometimes.)
  • I won't have what seems to be endless time to lay around with him after his naps while he slowly wakes up, casually nursing and playing with his hair, my hair, his nose, my nose.
  • I won't be able to read Chirpy Chick five times in a row every time he wants me too.
  • I won't be able to goof around on the changing table, trying to make each diaper change less of a fight (or wrestling match) and more of a game, for endless periods of time.
...because sometimes I will need to get to work, or an appointment, or whatever.

But who said I hated my job? Not me, cause I don't.

3. "You should have enjoyed your time at home more." "You should be more thankful."
This glorious, blessed, amazing period of life is coming to an end and, yes, I grieve for it. I grieve for it and grieve in part for it because of how much I have treasured it while it was taking place. All good things come to an end. Yes. But being sad about it is natural and human and real. I could not have enjoyed it more and I could not be more thankful for this blessing.

So, since I seem to lack a mature way to deal with this one, a picture in response:

3. "A real mom feels the way you feel - a mom should be at home!" "Being a working mom is the only way to raise successful, independent kids!" "Don't make the mistake of staying home / going to work!"

If I've learned one thing from my career development: know your weakness, know your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and set up your job and your life to build upon your strengths. An easy way to know what your weakness and strengths are is to put yourself into a specific situation, watch a pro at whatever job or life situation you are considering, and then note what you feel. If your response is, "I really admire this professional. Wow." and nothing else ... move on. You've just identified something you can appreciate but you are not interested in.

For example, my new stay-at-home mom friend. She is awesome. I admire her. She is poised, flexible, strict, funny, adaptable, clear, honest, and just damn likable while she balances two extremely different, equally outrageous and wonderful boys; a lovable, energetic puppy; a gregarious husband doing an hour commute each way; a regular exercise routine; a leading role in a local mom's group; a healthy and vibrant group of friends...there is probably more I don't know about yet ...all in a foreign country. Right now, as I type this, she has two extra adults and three extra kids in her house. And she is genuinely happy. I watch her with admiration and think, "I really admire this professional. Wow." ...and nothing else.

So, like race car driving and stock trading, I may be totally impressed but I'm not interested in learning how to do it myself.

However, if you are in that specific situation, watching an expert, and your think, "I really admire this pro and I need to know how she does it." ...stay. You've just identified something you are not only interested in but you are ready to put the work into to become good at it. 

For example, my working mom friend. She is also awesome. I admire her. Over the past seven years, I have slowly grown closer to her. She balances two intelligent and immensely entertaining girls; a key role (including creating and founding) the wonderful Heidelberg International Professional Women's Forum; a lovely and supportive husband; a vibrant group of friends all over the world; a nearly full-time job (the last time I checked)...and more that I don't know about...all in a foreign country and then throughout an international move. And she is also genuinely happy. I watch her with admiration and I want to know how she does it, practice it, morph it into what works for us, and then role model it for others.

So that's what I am going to be doing: becoming a working mom. Is it easier than being a stay-at-home mom? No. Is it harder? No, I don't think that is true either.

My choice to return to work is a choice that goes beyond me. It is a choice, a decision that the Mr. and I have made as individuals, as spouses, as parents, and as a family have made based on what we believe is right for us, for our family. It may change, it may not. Our choice is not a statement or a judgement about your family. Do what is right in your family and for your family. And, please, understand and respect - maybe even accept - that I will be doing the same for mine.

So, now allow me to revamp my original statement:

In just two days the Mr. starts his parental leave. Part of me is excited; but part of me also realizes that this amazing time with PJ is coming to an end in just four weeks and is very sad.


Friday, March 2, 2012

The Toy That Keeps Giving

At just five weeks PJ started playing with his first toy: a silver rattle. Almost seven months later, he continues to be enthralled with that same toy. When he gets his little fist around it, there isn't much that can get between him and his rattle. Now he'll even hold onto it while crawling around the apartment, balancing himself on the rattle for a split second. 


That "vroom" noise is new and entertaining - but that giggle remains my favorite!

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