Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Matilly, okay!

Recently Bean and I went to a small family party in a tiny village. There was a small cabin with a little kitchen right next to an extended batch of woods. After a short period of getting comfortable, Bean took off into the woods.

This was right when my foot was the worst and I could hardly walk, let alone chase an almost-two-year-old into the woods. I called out for her, asking her to come, to return.

Instead, she turned around, look at me, and yelled "MATTILY OKAY!"

Oh, this one, We are in for one heck of a ride. 


Monday, September 28, 2015

Alle Hopp! Fun

A new playground opened up close to our home. This place is extraordinary: made primarily from natural materials and to inspire (rather than direct) creative play. We waited a few weeks to check it out and when we finally did, it was well-worth the wait.

She that little one at the very top. That's my 20 month old. She loved it. PJ ripped up and down the climbing areas so quickly, none of the pictures worked out.

There is even a sand pit. Bean quickly proclaimed herself Queen.

No, seriously, ask Bean, " are you a princess?" Then answer will always be "nope." Ask if she is a queen, and the answer will always be "yup."

The singular picture of PJ that turned out. Just had to trap him with ice cream.


What Love Can Look Like


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Summer Camp & Day Date

PJ attended his first summer day camp this year.

God, that sentence makes me feel old.


The camp included football (soccer), baseball, Frisbee, climbing on a ropes course, walks in the woods, tennis, and every other activity that could lead to little boys and girls getting as dirty as they can (and should!).

Patrick flourished. He was excited, energetic, positive, and integrated into his group. After months of the opposite, both the Mr. and I loved watching him blossom. He came home dirty as dirty can be each day.

After months of hearing "I don't know!" to almost every question, we suddenly heard story after story when we asked "How was your day?" and "Who did you play with?" and "What was your favorite part of the day?"

Stories that took minutes to tell, with bright eyes and a big smile, that included names and laughter and all those little details that matter.

By the third day, he even started teaching little Bean how to play new sports. With confidence and pride.

Confidence and pride carry over, of course. Bean took a page out of her big brother's book and this happened:

PJ's positive experience and our shared, increasingly positive family atmosphere, inspired us old people to go climbing on this amazing ropes course for a day date. 

We both climbed around, pushing the limits. After over two hours, with shaking arms and legs as well as heart soaring with pride, I stepped off the course. From the ground, I watched the Mr. take on even bigger challenges, pushing himself even harder.

Together, we ended our day date, tired, sore, and clear-eyed with confidence.

Thank you, summer day camp and awesomely challenging ropes course, for all the confidence and smiles. We needed you. 


Sunday, September 20, 2015

First Shared Stair Step

A few months ago the kids got their first shared time-out. I can't remember exactly what was going on but I do remember - and snapped a picture of - how unimpressed PJ was and how thrilled Matilda was.

Her entire demeanor and her constant giggle expressed, "This is awesome! A time out! With big brother! I'm a big kid!"

The time-outs have remained just as effective since then. 


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Store Beer Wisely

My brother-in-law started making beer about two years ago. When we were in the US one year ago, we got to taste a few of his brews. Each had a unique flavor and all of them were decent, if not good.

In honor of my brother's wedding (the last sibling of three to marry), he brewed a special batch of richer, darker beer. My sister designed a beautiful label with "SJM" to represent the three married couples. The "S" is for Steinbach. The "J" and "M" for their last names, all in order of our wedding dates. The background is a piece of PJ's art.

Each couple got two bottles and we were each asked to drink the beer on our wedding anniversary. Which I thought was very touching and committed myself to do. And then forgot to actually do.

When we FINALLY got down to trying to beer just a short six months late, we proudly took a before picture.

That was our last smile. Because quite honestly the beer was horrific. Rotten. As if penicillin had gone bad, mixed with some year old eggs, and then joined a motorcycle gang.

Yes, it was that bad.

We actually tried to take another sip. I even poured it into a glass. At that point it became obvious that something had gone wrong. It turns out - who knew! - that how one stores a homemade beer actually matters. It turns out that one is not recommended to allow the beer to get too hot, too cold, freeze (long story), or carried around by a toddler who enjoys rather randomly pulling things out of the fridge and either shaking them about or carrying them around the house for a little while.

In other words, we did a bad job of storing the beer.  As a result it tasted just like it was stored. It sure was pretty though! 


Thursday, September 17, 2015

What Love Sometimes Looks Like

Without going into unnecessary detail, 2015 has been rocky. Health has been a real treat (on a side note, I read that sarcasm is a sign of high-intelligence. My intelligence in 2015 has sky rocketed.) The topic of being a working mother has been even more difficult than I imagined in 2013. In fact, when I read my blogs about being a working mom in Germany, I'm actually somewhat amused at how innocent I was; how I thought I'd 'really' experienced the crushing judgement and loneliness of being a career-interested woman with children in Germany...and I hadn't even gotten past the tippy-top of the iceberg.

But I digress. We've had to all take time to heal-up, strengthen-up, step outside the norm, be true to ourselves. Do stuff we wouldn't usually do or ever want to do because that's what a family member needs.

Stuff like watch BBC's Pride & Prejudice with the one and only true Mr. Darcy while holding your wife's hand and not complaining out loud.

Sometimes that is what love looks like. 


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Kinderwagon, Kinderwagon

During summer break, PJ, Bean, and I did some errands. The kids were awesome and a baby doll stroller was on sale, so picked it up.

Little did I know that it would become the Toy #1 for the Steinbach Clan on the way home and for the rest of the summer.

We weren't more than 5 feet outside of the store when this happened:

After ten minutes PJ declared Bean has been "eating good" and was "just too heavy, you know?". He jumped into the actual kinderwagon and Bean took over pushing her own. 

That lasted for about another 10 minutes before Bean managed to explain to PJ that she wanted him to push again.

Like the big brother gentlemen that he can be, he obliged. All the way home.

Sibling love. It sure is something special. 


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

LegoLand Adventures

Recently PJ and I took an adventure day to LegoLand with Super S and her mom. I had never heard of LegoLand before having my little guy. Turns out it is awesome. Smaller than Disney. Cheaper than Disney. Closer than Disney. Less crowded than Disney.

The drive down was longer than expected due to traffic. The kids were adorable, just like siblings. They loved on each other and they fought with each other the entire time. And not just during the drive, if you know what I mean.

Right at the entrance, there is an entire area built with real Legos. Here is a replica of the Munich airport. The planes moved. The lights flashed.

There were also models of Hamberg, Rome, Berlin, etc etc. I was too impressed to take many pictures. And since I was rushing after a very excited four year old, most of them are blurred. I did manage to catch him from time to time.

We cleverly decided to ride the train as our first ride. We got a good overview of the park and the kids got even more excited.

Yet, even after the train ride and arming ourselves with maps, we still managed to get a little turned around. The kids responded right along the typical gender stereotypes: PJ studied the map while Super S looked around and asked everyone where to go.

Not going to lie, the two mommies had a good laugh about that one.

Check out that rainbow. That thing is made a Legos! Crazy, right?

At lunch time, Super S and PJ played tag. Super S is super fast, PJ ended up being the one running most of the time.

After a few bouts, he got so tired, he needed a cuddle. Heaven! He still fits into my lap, mostly, and these moments don't happen often enough anymore. I enjoyed it.

When we got our move on, we discovered a super nifty playground with all sorts of creatures - including PJ's favorite animal - made (again) out of Legos and with water built into numerous elements.

For me the absolute best part was how my little man really relaxed and enjoyed a wonderful day. We don't get to see PJ this way too often. When I snapped this first picture and realized I had captured my little man happy, relaxed, confident, I teared up. With happiness.

On the little train.

In the canoe ride.

On the safari trip.

On a mechanical horse.

Our last ride was a water based pirate ship. Each boat was armed with eight water canons. We were soaked just from waiting in line and getting 'shot' by the passing pirate ships. When we got onto the ride, we discovered the canons were a little too high for the kids to reach, so the two mommies got to really shoot the canons with a little "help". 

We all laughed so hard. And got sopping, sopping wet. 

By then, a long day was coming slowly to an end. We wandered back towards the Lego cities to make sure we got in a visit to this guy:

And this ship:

And, of course!!, this guy:

Mommy and PJ shared a geek-out moment.

Thankfully, the kids were exhausted and it started to rain right when it was time to head home. The ride back was uneventful and quiet.

We will definitely get back to LegoLand again soon!


PS. No worries about the Mr. and Bean. They had their own ice cream and fun ride adventure at home.

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