Sunday, April 28, 2013

Little Projects

One benefit of our new home is a nice-sized garden and our awesome new patio. The garden needs a lot of love and work over the next couple of years to rescue a few of the plants and trees and simplify the rest. This year we are focusing on cleaning out the remaining vines above the patio, laying new grass, and growing our first set of plants: pumpkins.

PJ and I have been sharing this project. We started with seeds and then we waited (PJ wasn't very interested in this part). About a week ago the first tiny little leaves poked up above the earth.

PJ was very interested in those first leaves.

Almost every morning we come downstairs and check out how our plants are doing. Out of 20 seeds, four plants are growing. Which, considering we are talking about pumpkin plants here, is more than enough.

Today I realized we've almost reached that magical moment of four-leaf plants, meaning we can replant our pumpkins outside on the pile of leftover earth from our patio and new grass projects. PJ was super, super excited.  

If I may say so myself, they sure do look good!

Another benefit of our new house is that we have four bedrooms. So at the same time, as PJ and I have been working on our plant project, I've been working on my own 'little' project. Just around the time we'll be harvesting the pumpkins, we will also be redecorating one those rooms. Because in October we will be welcoming our fourth Steinbach clan member!

14 weeks
We are super, super excited to welcome our little addition. One of us can hardly wait...

16 weeks


Friday, April 19, 2013

The Least We Can Do

On December 14, 2012 the company I work for hosted the few thousand of us that work in the corporate headquarters for a massive and extravagant Christmas party. Unlimited beer, wine, and other drinks. Never-ending trays of yummy foods all over our massive cafeteria. A DJ that spun one hit after another, under elaborate winter decorations and a light show.

On December 14, 2012 a man attacked a kindergarten in Sandy Hook, CT in the United States, my homeland, and massacred twenty children and six adult staff members. I wrote about my initial reaction here.

I learned about the massacre over my smartphone while at that extravagant Christmas party. I dealt with my shock and my overwhelming empathy the only way I knew how at that moment: I put down the wine and started dancing. I danced so hard and for so long that I bruised all of toenails. I still carry those bruises with me on both of my big toes.

As the days turned into weeks and then into months, I couldn't sleep, and then I could. I couldn't stop crying when I picked up PJ from his day care, and then I could. I couldn't stop watching the news, and then I could. I couldn't stop imagining what those poor parents are going through and, you know what, I still can't. I couldn't believe that my culture could accept the ongoing massacre of citizens - even the shocking massacre of 20 children inside their locked school - as the "price of freedom", and I still can't. I couldn't stop feeling helpless, and then I could.

First I got more informed. I learned about the statistics available about violence in the US. I learned that there are a lot of stats available regarding car accidents as well as violent deaths of just about everything but not gun-related violent deaths. The stats aren't there because the American government voted to make that type of research illegal. So Slate started to collect the data. Turns out that over 3,500 people have died a gun-related death since the Sandy Hook massacre.

I learned about how people can buy guns, sell guns, collect guns in the United States. I learned about how mental health services are available or not in various parts of the country. I learned about how bullying is addressed or not in various parts of the country. I learned about how sex is blocked on almost all TV channels but not scenes of violence. I followed survey data. I watched and read various organizations and people speak about the problem of violence in the US and their suggestions for solving the problem.

Then I got involved. I wrote Facebook posts, tweets. I emailed and left voice mail messages for my representatives, senators, and state government officials. I joined an organization called Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America. I believed that together we would find reasonable solutions that respect our culture, our freedoms, our legal foundations, and our future. It looked like my belief was founded.

Then the Senate voted for the first time on a bill to standardised the background checks required for buying a gun. It was an easy vote for all of the Senate members because across all states, the vast majority of voters support the need to standardised the background checks.

Yet, the bill failed. The bill that the vast majority of voters - these Senators bosses - support failed. It failed because these Senators voted not to represent their voters but their paychecks from a very powerful and very wealthy lobby organization called the National Rifle Association. It was a set back towards a reasonable solution.

But I still believe. I believe that together we will find reasonable solutions that respect our culture, our freedoms, our legal foundations, and our future. Solutions that also respect those 20 children that will never turn 8 years old; that will never be held by their parents again; that will never laugh or learn or cry or grow again.

We can find and create those solutions together. But we have to continue the conversations, the discussions, the debates. We have to continue speaking out, acting out. We have to remain on the right side of history.

This is one chapter. One chapter in a long book that we are writing together. I hope you will join me in writing each chapter of this book. Because this little man - like all of our children all over the world and their parents - deserve at least that from us.


At least.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Right before my mom, Granny, took off back to the US, we took her out for Mexican food in our little town. Kind of ironic that we were in Germany and headed out for Mexican, but the food there is really, really good.

And my mom seems to like irony and I think she was just excited to get out with all of us for one last time, especially since during her three weeks with us we dealt with the flu, a series of infections, a cold, as well as a set of fevers.

The Steinbach clan.
We love this restaurant because they are so friendly to everyone, especially kids, and the food and drinks are all made in-house. They also have kick-ass drinks. I may enjoy the kick-ass drinks the most...though the guac is way up on the list too.

Mom doesn't drink alcohol...but she's a hell of a ham for the camera.
We always start the meal off with guacamole. The guacamole is excellent and the chips are homemade, fresh, warm, and crispy. PJ insisted in helping us all put the guac onto our chips, mostly choosing to either eat (or at least lick) our chips before he handing them over.

Eating with a toddler is not for those with a weak stomach.
Getting the guac onto the chips requires concentration.
When our meals arrived, the "small kids portion of french fries" turns out to be much larger than any of us expected. PJ was thrilled! For the record, we had to get the ketchup refilled and he ate about half of those fries.

Thankfully we actually remembered to bring a bib with us because PJ got just about as much into his face, onto his face, and all over his bib.  

And that was before he started playing around with his Granny. The last few blogs are full of fun pictures and videos of them playing together. Even out to eat, they got on so well together; PJ of course setting the tone and leading the games. Just like here:


Of course, PJ got bored quickly and, thankfully, was free to walk around the room, trying out almost every free seat while the owners goofed around with him. As the three adults finished our meals, we all began to join into the fun. My mom caught this picture of the three of us enjoying each other.

And then dinner was over, just like Granny's three weeks with us: too quickly and although we knew it was coming, still sad when it ended.

The next morning, we finally managed to grab a picture of all four of us right before I drove Granny to the airport.

The next morning, PJ looked everywhere for his "Annie" (Granny). I think its safe to say we are all looking forward to seeing her and other guests soon!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Cookies with Grannie

Another fun experience that Grannie: baking cookies! No story, just enjoy the adorable pictures.




I understand the cookies were pretty yummy too!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Silly with Granny

Turns out that I have been misspelling "Granny" ... whoops.  Will do better moving forward. Promised.

Poor little PJ got my skin in the genetic mix-up. That means that he continues to have challenges with his very dry skin and the cold winter wind. It can lead to cracked skin, bleeding, etc, etc. To help protect his skin we have to carefully smooth lotion all over his body but especially on his face.

PJ isn't a fan of lotion and he does not like lotion on his face.

While Granny was here, she jumped into the lotion-spreading fun. One day she tried a new approach by role modeling (lots of) lotion on her face. PJ wasn't too impressed but Granny did manage to get spots in the most important places. He wasn't allowing her to smooth it out though.

Then she tried a tested method that has had some success, some failure: bribery. In this case a shiny new ambulance that lights up and makes noises.

At first he was interested but skeptical.

Then the lights made him smile...

..and the siren made him laugh.
But we totally blew the bribery angle when PJ got his grubby hands on the ambulance toy before anyone got the lotion rubbed in.

And then he crowed!


Monday, April 8, 2013

PJ Room Upgrade

I'm the best decorator out there. I enjoy letting my home slowly gather the flavor a home does over time. It works - but at first the rooms tend to be pretty sparse and white. Added to that, it's hard to tangibly include my family into PJ's life. While he enjoys an afternoon with his Oma and Opa each week; irregular visits with his German aunt and uncle; and skypes more or less regularly with his American family - I know that my family wishes they could play a more day-to-day role

Enter Grannie!

While she was here she painted PJ's walls. A fun, tangible, long-lasting project that remains with PJ. She did this all freehand (which continues to blow my mind). She worked on this for a couple of days and when it was finished PJ got to enjoy the full view.

Above his bed, she painted a big red tractor that is similar to one that he sees on a children's show about once a week. As soon as he saw it, he tried to get as close as possible, yelling out "Tractor! Tractor! Tractor!"

Grannie helped him get even closer.  

Then he noticed the trucks on the other side of the wall. At the time he called everything a "tractor", now he points to the different types of trucks and either yells their names or "truck!"

The trucks are actually stickers that come off the walls pretty easy. It will be very interesting when PJ realizes that.

I have to say, Grannie did one hell of a job. I'm positive PJ will enjoy his artwork for many years to come. Especially as he started to play with all those stickers! It has been over a month and he still points at it, smiles, and he knows that "Annie" (Grannie) painted it.

That's one proud Grannie, wouldn't you say?


Sunday, April 7, 2013


While Grannie was here she introduced PJ to the joy of bubbles. She had some sort of little machine that automatically spat them out, hilarity ensured. Enjoy the video!


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