Thursday, December 28, 2006

Santa Visits the Steingruebls

We had a fabulous December 25th. We hope that it was a good day for you as well, gentle reader.

Santa came! Elise is a devoted Santa fan, and for the past several weeks every story and game has featured the big guy in one way or another. The wonder and excitement of having some magical stranger invade one’s home and leave gifts is apparently very well-suited to the three year old brain.

Elise decorated cookies to leave for Santa, and chose the ones she figured he’d like most. (The ones with chocolate sprinkles.) She counted baby carrots for each of the nine reindeer and named them by name. (Apologies to those of you who may be offended that we fed reindeer “the veal of the vegetable world.”) Elise carried the tray soooo carefully and so sweetly. It was the first thing she checked in the morning, too.

Santa was exceptionally good to everyone here. While he didn’t bring the dog on a leash for Elise, he did bring her a Mavis engine. He brought Andy “shaving stuff” and brought Heather cleaning supplies in the form of a robotic vacuum. As it happens, Elise’s predictions were entirely accurate, and we’re all scratching our heads because there was no way she could have known!

At least for now, Elise likes to open each gift and play with it a bit before bellowing out “thank you!!!!!” to the person who gave it to her. So, grandmas and grandpas, if you heard something Xmas morning, it was probably a very appreciative little girl.

We have more pictures and some movie footage, but those won’t be up for awhile. (Rumor has it that everyone’s too busy watching the robot vacuum the floor to muck with the video camera.) We’re looking forward to hearing how you spent your holiday-drop us a line! Share some pictures! It’s strange to be sooo far from friends and family this time of year (and to not need jackets outside), so we’re counting on the wonders of technology to bring us closer. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


With Christmas just days away, we’re experiencing a bit of excitement around Santa’s impending visit. There has been much practicing of “fal[ling] faaaaaast asleep,” for example. We’re thinking of making cookies for the big guy, and have keen interest in the lives of those lucky reindeer. (Also the engines from the Island of Sodor who sometimes fill in for them when they get tired, but that is a loooong and too-often-told story.)

Tonight, Elise was talking about what Santa will bring. “He will bring me a Mavis engine!” We have it on good authority that this may well come to pass, but she should have no way of knowing that. Andy used this opportunity to ask what Santa will bring each of us. The results were interesting...

“What will Santa bring you, Elise?”

“He will bring me a dog on a leash!” (jump, jump, jump, twirl, jump, run, twirl)

“Oh, then what do you think Mommy would like Santa to bring for her?”

“Mommy wants cleaning supplies!”

“I see. Then what do you think Santa will bring for me?” (asks Daddy)

“He will bring shaving things for you!”

“And how about Flapjack? What do you suppose she would like Santa to bring for her?”

“She does not want anything because she does not have hands.”

So, there you have it. Great predictions from the family prognosticator. We’ll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pretty Nearly Perfect

Today was a banner day for Elise. She is finally getting over a real bear of a cold (which the grownups now have) and things are going her way. The picture above shows Elise wearing her party clothes and checking out her Xmas stocking.

This morning, we did a make-up class at My-Gym. Our first several weeks there were pretty rough because it is (a)noisy (b)active and (c)structured. None of these conditions really help Elise shine. All together, they spell frustration for everyone involved.

Lo and behold, today was the day that it all just clicked. Elise tried new things, did the group activities, and had fun with the teachers. We’d like to think that the previous leaving early and time-outs helped, but really it seems she just wanted to be there today. At any rate, Elise learned a lot, played a lot and is pretty excited to go back to her regular class on Monday. All of this is most wonderful because it’s increased her confidence at the playground, and increased her activity levels in general. Yay Elise!!!

This afternoon, we went to a birthday party. We’ve only played with the birthday girl twice, but apparently it was memorable enough for her to insist on inviting Elise. Oddly enough, Elise also remembered the name of her friend’s little brother even though we haven’t seen him in something like a month and a half.

The party was a lot of fun. Games galore, and of course cupcakes. Elise likely would have preferred brown frosting (as brown is her favorite color) but the pink tasted pretty good, too. Fresh from her own birthday experience, Elise gave quite the rousing rendition of the happy birthday song when the time came.

We’ve been doing a lot of talking about Santa here, and would like to share Elise’s requests in case he happens to be an avid schmiedesgruebl blog reader. Santa, for Christmas Elise would like (and we quote), “a ball, a brand new book and a dog with a leash.” Do your best, big guy, but that dog had better not materialize...

Yesterday, we watched “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and there is some reason to believe that our girl has an impish streak. Much of the last day and a half has been spent with her running around the house saying, “Mommy, I’m the Giiiinch. Kissmas will not come because I am teeeealing ya onaments and tees and pesents.” We really have no idea from whence this curmudgeonly streak comes...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The new chandelier is here! We’d been eating by lamplight in the dining room since we’ve been here, so it’s fabulous to have some serious overhead lighting now. Not only can we see our food, but it’s a lot easier to see to clean up after meals, too. Tee hee hee

So, huzzah! Light! Right now we have regular old lightbulbs in it, but we’ll eventually make the trek to the store for some compact fluorescent bulbs and then it will be bright, beautiful AND energy efficient.

Today was Elise’s three year check-up at the pediatrician and she is of course amazing. Not only is she healthy and all of that, but thanks to her daddy’s prep-talk she was ready for everything the doctor and nurse asked of her and generally had a good time. We celebrated her good health by going out for pizza before taking Andy to work.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Winter? Fall? !!

This picture of our front “yard” was taken on December 10th. How confusing is that? Pretty leaves, gentle rains-you’d think it was early to mid-October, wouldn’t you? Hahahaha! December 10th! Winter! We’re not exactly dreaming of a white Xmas at this point...

In other news, a pair of finches have been visiting our feeder and keeping Flapjack entertained. They’re bigger than our house finches from Chicago (and look different) and aren’t purple finches either. According to our bird book, they look entirely like Cassin’s finches, but of course they probably aren’t because the map says they don’t live here. We’ll see if we can sneak a picture or two and let all of you hordes of readers decide which kind you think they are.

Heather’s brother Peter and his wife Roni have officially quit the horrible weather of Wellington, NZ and moved to Auckland. They’re expecting great things, since pretty much anything would be an improvement over Wellington weather. (And now we don’t have to worry about those “gale force winds” blowing them away.)

Hope you’re well and feeling in the holiday spirit of things!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Gingerbread House

Here we are, feeling festive and decorating our gingerbread house. Of course, the thing you can’t see from this picture is that one half of the roof cracked in half and the remaining half is deftly being held in place by Heather’s fingers, because it’s about to fall off too.

Elise had a fabulous time decorating the gingerbread house, though, and we’re looking forward to making another one next year-hopefully one that can be on display for a little longer!

Monday, December 4, 2006

Elise's 3rd birthday

Today was a regular birthday extravaganza here at the Steingruebl household. Andy took the day off from work, and the three of us had a fabulous time playing together and doing the various things that make birthdays so much fun. (Look at the page of pictures if you don’t believe us!)

We decided presents were best opened in the morning, so after reassuring ourselves that the engines upstairs in the toy room (it’s also a guest room, friends!) were settled and the cat was fed, the unwrapping commenced. It’s all very distracting, because as soon as you open one present you have to play with it and you kinda forget the others are there...

For breakfast we made cinnamon rolls, fresh from the Pilsbury can. Yum! Elise heard the timer while she was jumping around/in/on the wrapping paper and started chanting, “Beep went the microwave, crash went the paper, crash went the kiiiiiiiiid!”

Sesame Street hand puppets can be the center of quite a lot of confusion. For example, if Mommy and Cookie Monster are feeling silly a big girl will probably have to tell them, “You don’t eat cars, you driiiiiiive them!” And, if nobody’s looking, Elmo will drink coffee straight from the toy coffee pot. (That explains a lot, doesn’t it?)

Elise has started asking for stories at breakfast, and she doesn’t settle for just any story. This may be due to the fact that Mommy is occasionally not on her game at 6:30am and has resorted to Grandpa Karl’s old standby about Jack and Ory. (Is it “Ory?”)

“I’ll tell you a story about Jack and Ory and now my story’s begun. I’ll tell you another about Jack and his brother and now my story is done.”

It didn’t take long for Elise to start saying (with some coaching from Daddy), “I want a good story, Mommy!” Today was Daddy’s turn and he pulled out Hansel and Gretel. Talk of eating candy furniture in gingerbread houses is all well and good until someone takes it literally and starts gnawing on the furniture in a non-gingerbread house.

After a thoroughly exciting day, Elise put the finishing touches on her cake and even helped cut it. She really does like chocolate.

We can’t believe we’re all entering our fourth year together. Babyhood was amazing, toddlerhood was fascinating, and now we walk hand-in-hand with a healthy, happy child. Life is full of wonder! We are so proud of our big, beautiful, bright girl.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Happy Thanksgiving, Gentle Reader!

Well, happy post-Thanksgiving food coma/shopping frenzy.

Things here were quiet but fun. Andy made a fabulous Thanksgiving feast which the three of us thoroughly enjoyed. Well, two of us did. The third was too tired and wound up to at so ended up going to bed after two bites of turkey and three bites of roll.

We spent Thursday morning exploring part of the wildlife refuge up in Alviso. This is the area at the very southern tip of the bay, and we got to see lots of marshy stuff and shorebirds doing shorebird type things. It was neato! Next time, we’ll bring bicycles or at the very least the gigantic stroller so that we can explore a little more.

Friday was dominated by an ill-fated attempt to procure a loveseat for the den. We fell for a fabulous ad that (surprise of surprises) turned out to be a really crummy deal in disguise. Ah well.

Today, we spent the morning at Vasona Park in Los Gatos. Technically, I think we were at the park next door to Vasona Park. It has an awesome playground featuring big shade trees and benches all around, Oh, and the slides and climbing things are cool too. This is the same park we visited waaaay back when we first arrived-the one with the miniature railroad! In the winter months they run a diesel engine instead of a steam engine, so that was a new and exciting experience. Elise loved it, and at $2/head for a 20 minute ride it’s a fabulous deal.

Happily, we have no idea what we’ll be doing tomorrow. Enjoying the last day of our four day weekend is our big goal. Woo hooo! Having all of this time together is really helping San Jose feel like home now. Something to be thankful for indeed!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


We’ve been blogless for awhile now, but that’s mostly because there isn’t much to report. We’ve been settling in, meeting some new people, establishing some routines. Exciting lives!

The rainy season has started here, which so far means that it is cloudy and drizzly about three mornings out of five, and occasionally rains overnight as well. Amazing, eh?

It’s already the middle of November, and we’re realizing that Elise will be three years old in a matter of weeks. Where has all of the time gone? No, seriously, where? We want to know...

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Trick or Treat!

We decided to do all of our trick-or-treating at Andy’s office this year. What a great time! There were nice people with buckets of candy all over the place, and they were willing to just give it away to kids!

At our first stop, Elise was sooooo excited that she could just stand there bouncing and laughing. Finally, she mustered a “trick or treat” and was rewarded with “cAAAAAAAaNDyyyyyyYYY!” There was some parental concern that we’d have to pry the mini Snickers bar out of her fingers before bath time.

Once the thrill of wandering the cubicle maze wore off, we found a place where they were giving away CUPCAKES and we took one to sit and eat on a bench outside. (See picture above.) From there, we went to decorate cookies and learned that frosting on a giant sugar cookie tastes pretty good. Afterward, we all went outside to run around on the grassy hill. It was wildly fun, and none of it spooky and scary for a kid. Hooray! Perfect first trick-or-treating experience.

Of course, the trick came later when some evil cretin ignited an incendiary device near where we’d been playing hours before. Nobody was hurt, but the entire campus was shut down today while authorities investigated. It’s not that fun to work from home after your office campus has been bombed. Things are set to re-open tomorrow, so we take it as a good sign that this was “just” a freak thing.

In other news, today marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month. Woo hoo! Heather is on target to meet today’s word count goal. Feel free to chart her progress and jeer her on through the link provided above on our NaNoWriMo page.

Happy November!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Power of Souvenirs

Some of our faithful readers may recall a time, before this blog began, when the Steingruebls visited in London. The big kids remember the trip, and now it appears that Elise does too!

This morning, Elise was reading The Economist over breakfast and came to a picture of the Eiffel Tower. We talked about that for awhile, and then Mommy hauled out our (somewhat mangled) little statue of Big Ben that we bought in London.

Elise immediately kissed and hugged Big Ben. Then, she took him for a ride of the “Tube Tain.”
“It’s a little bumpy, but you can sit on my lap Big Ben and it will not be scary.”
“Bumpity bump bump. That was the best ride eeeeeever! Now you can ride on the Tube Tain, Big Ben!”

We repeated this scene over and over, complete with cradling Big Ben in small arms.

Lesson to big people: vactions and adventures ~do~ matter!

Monday, October 30, 2006


We’re getting ready for Halloween around here. It’s never been a big part of this Steingruebl household, but this year Elise is ready. We’ve been talking about trick-or-treating and costumes. As you can see from our window, we have also been making decorations. All of this means our house is spooky-or “pooky” if you’re 2 5/6 years old.

Elise and Mommy went to the fabric store yesterday to purchase a pattern and fabric for a really cool costume. We’re not telling anyone what it is yet, but if you can get Elise to stop talking about trick-or-treating after you say the word “costume” you could probably get it out of her. Anyway, we’ll be finding another fabric store since one of the clerks followed us around the store remonstrating Elise for various imaginary breaches of etiquette. Mommy was not amused.

More amusing, though, is Andy’s daily commute. A nice portion of his ride takes him through Guadalupe River Park and he gets to see all kinds of interesting wildlife! So far, it’s the birds who get him off his bike and muttering about bringing a camera along tomorrow. Today’s beauties included a great blue heron and a great egret. One of these days we’ll actually send him to work with a camera and we’ll put some pictures of the birds up!

Finally, in case it seemed like we just couldn’t get newsy enough today, Heather has decided to write a novel next month. What?! Well, there’s this cool thing that Roni mentioned so here goes! Suggestions for characters and plot lines are very welcome...

Here’s hoping that things are ‘pooky at your house too!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Costume

Elise was dressed in style for her first big-kid halloween party today. Making the ears and putting on the face paint were definitely the highlights of dressing.

After awhile, it gets hard to keep up the act of being a bear, especially when some kid in a Spider Man mask runs up to you and tries to take toys away from you (or throw them at your head) so Elise didn’t stay in costume for long. Happily, the purple shirt she wore underneath her mommy-fashioned bear tummy has a Halloween type print on it so she is in costume regardless.

Rumor has it that we may get to trick-or-treat at Daddy’s office on Tuesday afternoon. “Where do you go trick-or-treating, little girl?” “Oh, I go to eBay!”

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mommy Milestones

Mommies collectively and individually spend fantastic amounts of time noticing and documenting the milestones of their children. (So do daddies, but this entry is mommycentric.) It’s exciting to see a little protoperson turn into a real person before one’s eyes, and the progress is apparent and quantifiable a lot of the time.

The same can not be said for the milestones of motherhood. (Or so we think here, a mere 2 11/12ths years in.) The phases of mommyhood aren’t very well documented, and not all forward motion feels like progress. We can look to our memories of our own mommies from when we were kids, but that’s really just a shot in the dark.

Favorite milestones here have included the “aha!” moment of realizing that if one sleeps while the baby sleeps instead of crying about being exhausted, one gets more sleep. Or “Mommy’s Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About X, Y Z and Love the Fact That Childhood Abounds With Such Things and Most Kids and Parents Get Through it Okay.” We gained other valuable milestone attitudes from I Killed June Cleaver, a gift from Auntie Niki and a brilliant read for just about any mommy. These are mental processes, and important ones. But what about something quantifiable?

Tonight, I hit one milestone I’ve been wanting to reach for some time. I made clothing for my child! It’s only a halloween costume, but it turned out pretty well! And I made something for my girl to wear. Cool!

True, I didn’t really follow the pattern. It called for something called basting. Since everyone knows that this is something you do to a dead bird around Thanksgiving that part was skippable. The next time directions call for velcro, I will be asking myself if buttons might not be better. It’s nearly 11pm, and now that I’ve officially unpacked the sewing machine, I have no idea where to put it.

So-one actual mommy milestone out there for the world to see. (I’m very proud of myself.) We’re going to a halloween party on Sunday, so hopefully there will be numerous pictures of the results!

The cat continues to be interested in our new hummingbird friends. She begins to call to mind the story of the toad sucking dog that was on All Thing Considered a few nights ago...

Thursday, October 26, 2006


The Steingruebl family is pleased to announce that we have made the acquaintance of at least two of the neighborhood hummingbirds.

Elise and Heather came home from story time at the library to find Flapjack glued to the window watching this little one. As near as anyone can figure, the cat didn’t leave the window except for water and litter box breaks between noon and 6pm. That’s a long day for a kitty! She has, as of this writing, decided to turn in early for the evening. Presumably, this is to be well rested for tomorrow’s attempts to hurl herself through the thermal pane window.

So-our visitors appear to be Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna. We’ve seen two females at one time, but a male may have visited this afternoon. Heather couldn’t tell because the cat kept getting in the way. In fact, out of 7 pictures taken, the only one that wasn’t blurred beyond recognition by cat intervention is the one you see above.

Elise will tell you that hummingbirds eat nectar. She also squeals with delight when she sees one at our feeder. Then she just gets frustrated that the things are so scared of a cat lunging at them from a distance of 7 inches.

Hopefully, the birds will get used to the cat’s hungry stares and start ignoring her. It’s been a loooong time since we’ve seen Flapjack so excited about anything. In fact, this is about on par with the day we brought Beaker into the family. So, we’ll try not to go on and on and on about the hummingbirds, but they sure are neat and everyone seems to be enjoying having them around!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Great Outdoors

Hmmm...It’s been awhile since we’ve posted anything here, hasn’t it?

Much of our time is spent outdoors these days. We feel like we’ve been given a second chance at summer this year, so we’re taking full advantage.

Andy’s commute sends him along the lovely and scenic Guadalupe River Park and Gardens, where he sees egrets like the one above and herons (which we couldn’t quite capture in the same frame as the egret).

Elise and Heather go strolling in the stroller, and playing in the parks. New innovations this week have included a hummingbird feeder, a seed feeder for other birds, and a kite. Elise really likes the kite. Heather really likes the sound a hummingbird’s wings make in her ear while she’s hanging the fresh sugar water. Flapjack likes the prospect of having her “cat TV” up and running again.

Our social lives have taken off, too. With playdates and parties and the like, we’re lucky to spend an entire day at home. Elise is back to asking, “Where will we go today, Mommy?”

On Monday, we went to play at the home of some new friends. Olivia and her mommy, Sadie, live in an apartment community with a great duck pond. The ducks saw us coming and swarmed, which led Elise to believe this was some sort of petting zoo. Imagine the surprise of the ducks as little hands reached out to stroke their feathers instead of distribute bread! They ran away, trampling one another in the process.

Once the feeding commenced, the ducks were pretty aggressive. At a few points, mommy had to insert herself between duck and child and say, “Step back!” which made Elise giggle. She then went right on holding on to the bread until another hungry duck bit her fingers and forced her to let go. To her credit, Elise stood her ground. She also didn’t seem to mind the duck nibbles.

Telling her Daddy about her adventures later that evening, though, Elise said, “We fed ducks! It was fun!! They bit my fingers, I didn’t like it at all.”

We’re finding that, more often than not, we’re having actual conversations with Elise. She asks really savvy questions about the world around her. (“Mommy, what’s this thing?” “It’s a support beam-it holds up the roof of the car.” “Oh, that’s good.”) She also really “gets” the idea that if she tells us when her diaper needs changing she’ll get to put a sticker on her chart. We know this because she described the process this evening using language we’ve certainly never used, and did so perfectly. Cool!

If anyone out there knows of a book about learning to use the potty chair that does NOT include any reference to all children having accidents sometimes, can you point us in that direction? The biggest obstacle to potty training right now seems to be a fear of failure. Since all of her potty training role models in books have accidents ~every time~ we read the story, Elise has decided it’s a bad racket and wants nothing to do with it.

That’s about it. Halloween is coming and Heather has cut out the fabric for Elise’s costume but it’s still awaiting some sewing. Tomorrow may be the day...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Our Fun Weekend

This weekend marked an entire month that we have lived in our new home! Yaaaaaaayyy-we did it! We’re all finally starting to feel settled, and so this weekend was a good chance to head out and enjoy things.

Saturday, we went to “Pumpkins in the Park” and had a pretty good time. Elise looooved the pumpkins, so we bought a small one which she makes a point of carrying all over the house.

One nice thing about living in a slightly smaller city is that the festivals in the parks don’t have to be gigantic and intimidating. There was good music and good food, and at no time did we worry about any of us getting trampled. Some of the highlights were the story tent where a nice lady reads books and then the kids get to pick a book to take home with them, and a puppet tent with a gazillion fuzzy animal puppets that were there for everyone to enjoy.

Saturday night, we made pizza and Elise was actually willing to eat it. She tried a few bites of pizza when Uncle Peter and Auntie Roni were here, but this time she really ate it. We’re hoping that this means that the moratorium on all “strange” looking food (like noodles) is nearing an end.

On Sunday, Elise and Daddy went to the Discovery Museum and had lots of fun while Mommy stayed home in her jammies and rearranged boxes while listening to the radio. It was a fun time for everyone!

In an attempt to post pictures in the blog and have them visible in all browsers without obscuring text, we’re placing them here at the bottom this time-enjoy!

Monday, October 9, 2006

What's that thing?

Well, wouldja look at that? Not too long ago, we wouldn’t have been caught dead with something like that in our house and now it’s right there in the den cozied up next to the TV and satellite receiver (another item we never thought we’d own...)

An appraisal of the cost of gym membership, childcare, driving to the gym and hassle factor led us to decide that a treadmill at home made the most sense. After three abdominal surgeries in just over a year, the lady of the household is feeling the need for phenomenal physical health and of course a return to her former status as a trophy wife. ;)

It all started back in Chicago at the Galter Center, really, with a great nutritionist and perhaps the best physical trainer on the planet*. The plan and the training were going sooo well, and then the hernia (but surprisingly not the moving across the country) derailed it all. But now, we’re back on track.

We’re not taking a lot of “before” pictures or anything like that and our scale is broken, but we have high hopes of significantly improved health by the publication of our annual Groundhog Day letter. Watch this space! And listen for the gentle whirr of the treadmill motor...

*The best trainer in the world is Kristin. If any of you in the Chicago area are looking for someone, drop a line and I’ll supply the contact info. She is a trainer, massage therapist and yoga instructor as well as being a great athlete. I could go on and on and on here, but suffice it to say she’s amazing and comes with the highest of recommendations!

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Family Movie Night

Last night was our first official “family movie night.” We explained to Elise how it works-first dinner, then bath and jammies, then we all get to sit in the den and watch a movie together. It is amazing what a motivator a movie can be for a kiddo. After inhaling her broccoli, Elise entreated her daddy to take her upstairs for her bath so that she could watch the Curious George movie.

Like so many other “kid” movies, Curious George isn’t really meant for the under-3 set. So, as far as Elise knows, it ends with George and The Man with the Yellow Hat falling asleep in a park.

All in all, family movie night was a big success. We’ll probably find something slightly more kid-friendly to watch in the future and maybe start a little earlier. But, it brings home to us just what a Big Girl our daughter has become!

A year ago, Elise was just learning to talk and was getting ready for a road trip to PA that would set her language acquisition at full throttle. Three years ago this weekend we were in the hospital with pre-term labor, desperately hoping things would turn out okay. ’The past 6 months of change and upheaval have seen all of us grow, but we see it most clearly in the young lady who asked us just this morning, “When we get to the coffee shop, what will my choices be?”

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Kitty Kitty

Hey! Who’s that in the picture?! Meet Meow, the new kitten of the Steingruebl household.
Two weeks ago, Elise fell in love with a stuffed kitty at the Children’s Discovery Museum when she was there with Daddy. We found this little beauty at Target the next weekend, and now Meow goes with us everywhere.

Luckily, Teri Bear seems to have a pretty thick skin. (Maybe it’s that her fur is well-matted after many a turn in the washing machine.) She doesn’t seem to mind sharing Elise’s affections with Meow.

Meanwhile, the living, breathing “meow” of the household has been having some adjustment issues. No destruction, but she’s become a real pain. We leave the bedroom door open at night so Flapjack doesn’t claw the carpet to get in, but then she cavorts around the room at all hours.

We play with the kitty, we snuggle the kitty, we take good care of the kitty’s physical needs, we give the kitty oodles of toys. Near as we can tell, she’s just desperate for even more attention and proof that she’s more beloved than that horrible Elise thing. It’s not gonna happen, so we’ve been looking for coping strategies and behavior modification tools.

Soooo...reprimands and spray bottles don’t work because they grant the kitty the much desired attention. We’re not getting a lot of sleep these days, (oh yes Flapjack-we’ve noticed you!) and it’s getting hard to think clearly on this matter. We’ve placed our order for a scat mat, and we’re hoping that will help solve some of our “territory” issues.

Gentle reader, if you have any suggestions for modifying the behavior of a willful kitty, please leave a comment or drop us a mail. Our sanity may well hang in the balance!

We're Home!

It took awhile, but we’ve finally sent out one of those friendly mass e-mails aimed at notifying friends and family of our whereabouts. Unfortunately, our various address books aren’t very complete and we’re pretty sure we’ve left some people off. If you’re reading this and your inbox hasn’t been cluttered with a mass mail from us, please drop a note and we’ll a)send you our new contact info and b)update our address books.

Sunday, October 1, 2006


Today marks the first official rain we’ve seen here in California! Of course, we’ve driven through mist on the way to San Francisco but that doesn’t count. I am, at this moment, looking out of my window and watching the rain fall pitter patter on the trees and walkways. It’s beautiful!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Visitors from Kiwistan

Uncle Peter and Auntie Roni stopped by to see us for a few days on their way back to New Zealand. It was their first visit back to their native shores since their big move, and we sure were glad to have them here.

After meeting them at SFO, we brought them home and treated them to a quiet afternoon and then a stroll over to Chacho’s (thank you for the recommendation Celerino!)

On Saturday, Andy made a huge breakfast including apple pancake, potatoes and sausages. Yummy! Then, the gang took a walk up the Alameda and found the farmer’s market. Pete & Roni treated us all to Round Table Pizza for dinner, and then Andy drove them back to SFO for the exciting 13 hour trip to Auckland.

Whew! It feels like a whirlwind just writing about it!
Our fabulous houseguests brought a gift from their chosen country for Elise. A book (what else?) about sheep (of course!) We’ve been enjoying Elfrida’s sense of style.

We’ve noticed from previous entries that this blog renders best in Safari-especially when we insert pictures into the text. From here out, we’ll try to avoid putting pics in the middle of entries for the sake of the sanity of all of our IE and Firefox friends. :)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

We're Back!!

And of course, what better way to celebrate your first weekend in your new home than to drive to Oakland to see your favorite baseball team? (Better luck next season, boys.)

Soooo...It’s been something like two weeks since we posted an entry. This might be a longish entry, but I promise to put salient points at the fronts of paragraphs so you can kind of skim through if you’re not wildly interested in all of the details.

Our friend Job flew in the night before our big move to our big new place. The original plan was to take him to see a Sox game in Oakland, but it just happened to work out that he was there to help us get settled. It was awesome. If any of you are considering moving, allow us to recommend becoming close friends with Job. He unpacked our entire kitchen while he was here and generally had all of the steam we didn’t when it came to getting things done. Thank you Job!

One of the best features of this new place, as far as Elise is concerned, at least, is the play room.

As you can see, Flapjack is also a fan. From this window, you can see (but only sort of hear) airplanes landing at SJC. Cool!

Faithful readers will no doubt recall an earlier rant about utilities/services here. It gets worse. Earthlink couldn’t find us to establish service, but they were our first telemarketing call! We have DSL through AT&T but that took a week. DirecTV was pretty inept and I don’t recommend their “Easy Move” program to anyone. The installer guy was great, but the rest of them were what one good friend would describe as “a @#$%ing clown school.” We’re glad to be basically established, though, and will blissfully forget about all of this nonsense now that it’s been complained about in a public forum.

After a week of wrestling with utilities, Heather was off on a whirlwind trip to Chicago. The leader of the Hump Night Thumpers and his lovely bride threw about the most awesome wedding imaginable, and of course the band was there to play! It was a blast.

And, once again Job manages to carry the day by granting a poor jug band musician use of his apartment for the weekend. We’ve been wracking our brains for an appropriate way to show our appreciation for a friend who regularly does such nice things. Please mail us if you have any ideas!

This week has been busy with unpacking boxes and laundry. Elise likes to help with the laundry quite a bit.

Happily, our new laundry-doing machines are high-efficiency and insane capacity so it’s going pretty well. We finally got every last box out of the kitchen and dining room yesterday, so it feels like a real home! (The rest of the boxes are of course scattered about the house and mucking up everything else.)

It’s been getting chilly at night, as you can see from the clothing choices of Elise and Teri Bear.
Tomorrow, we trek to the San Francisco airport at rush hour to claim Uncle Peter and Auntie Roni for a day and a half before they fly back to New Zealand. Woo hoo!!!!! All kinds of plans for fun with them...

And, believe it or not, after that we’re expecting a little peace and quiet. Elise has been sleeping in until about 7am every day-it’s amazing what a quiet house and neighborhood can do for a family’s sleep!!

One of these days we are going to tackle the monumental task of notifying everyone we can think of about our change of address. That might be early next week-if you don’t get a close, personal e-mail from us please drop a note. We’re a little scattered still and can nearly guarantee we’ve lost some addresses somewhere in the move.

From our home to yours-we hope you’re well! Thanks for bearing with us during the long silence of the shifting and settling.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Big Day!

Tomorrow is it-our big day. We’ll be going home! Five months is a long time, but we’ve made it. The movers will arrive sometime after 8:30am, and we’ll be set. Pictures and narrative will be forthcoming when we have internet access again. Earthlink is having trouble locating the place, so it may be awhile. Bear with us! We promise we’ll be back online!

Today was a big day for family. We’ve been a little focused on ourselves, but there are some big things happening beyond Steingruebl World Enterprises.

For starters, Heather’s dad is on his way to teach English in Russia for 3 months. His trip today started bright and early, and he flew from Spokane to Chicago to Milan to Moscow. As of this writing, he’s probably still on part of that trip. From Moscow, he will ride a train for 20 hours or so to get to the city of Izhevsk. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to peruse his blog!

And, Peter and Roni (Heather’s bother and sister-in-law) are on their way back from New Zealand for a visit. They’re spending a few days in Auckland before flying to Montana. Even better, cousin Geetha just happens to be spending a year living and working in Wellington, so she’ll be forsaking her regular housemates to do some housesitting. And, best for last, they changed their plane tickets to include a day and a half with us before they go back home to Wellington.

And, this blog entry is ending now because our friend Job just arrived for a weekend of moving fun, Sox in Oakland, and getting enough frequent flier miles to have platinum status for his upcoming trip to India.

Exciting times! Time for a good night’s sleep!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Delusions of Connectedness

Now that it’s almost time for us to resume “normal” life, we’ve been taking care of a few housekeeping matters like cell phones and banking. Hah! That’s what we thought we’d do, anyway. This blog has been rant-free...until now.

“Hey, we’ll just stop in at the friendly neighborhood Verizon store and claim the new phones they promise us every two years,” we said. Nope. We got our phones in IL and this is CA, so the computers can’t talk to each other. At all.

At the store they said, “Go online!” but online they said, “We can’t help you here-give us a call!” The helpful agent on the phone suggested that we have phones delivered to a friend in IL and then get then con said friends into mailing them to us here. What customer service! We’re still looking into how that can be resolved, but it may be that when I go to Arlo and Sally’s wedding I will do the phone trade thing then. “Verizon: Our network may be big but we’re really very provincial!”

Then, we wanted to arrange to pay our rent electronically to our new landlord. While we were at our nearest Washington Mutual branch, we thought we’d update our address and order new checks. Well, because our account was opened in IL they recommended that we just close that account and open another one here in CA because the computers can’t talk to each other. At all.
Annoyed but undaunted, we spoke with another banker about electronic money shifting. “Too bad you upgraded to an interest bearing checking account, because it would have been free with the basic account!” they chirped helpfully. Absolutely no way to transfer money to the landlord without spending $30 and 30 minutes of my life every month. And had anyone mentioned that we definitely need to close the IL account and open one locally?

Above please find our child clutching her favorite piece of Wells Fargo swag. You have been warned, Earthlink and DirecTV...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Fun Weekend

This felt like a “normal” weekend for us-the first one in awhile! Saturday, we met friends at the SF Zoo. It’s nice that we still get to call the Breindels friends in spite of the fact that we gave all of them a really nasty cold that they’re still trying to shake. Today, Andy and Elise made more pancakes (and bacon!) and then we mucked around and finally met a playgroup for pizza at Round Table. All in all, not too bad.

Elise is busting out with all kinds of interesting statements. Things like, “I am in the mood to read this book.” We were reading Little Pea, and at one point Mommy made Teri Bear jump up and down in excitement. “You should calm down a little, Teri. Sit right here. Good bear. I will give you a big kiss. There. Now we can read the story.”

And, in case anyone worries that the critters are feeling left out (they haven’t really been heard from since they posted a comment back on August 17), the two of them are still doing pretty well. Elise helps feed Beaker every day, and also helps refill Flapjack’s dishes as needed.

Believe it or not, Elise and “Meow” have a routine every morning. Elise starts fussing in her bed, so Flapjack jumps in our bed and starts being a nuisance. As Mommy stumbles out of bed, Flapjack races to Elise’s bedroom door and stands on her hind legs to reach up to the knob, usually meowing. Mommy opens the door, the cat sprints in, Elise hollers a joyful, “Good morning, Meow!” Cat freaks out and sprints out to the living room with Elise in hot pursuit. We all spend about 5 minutes on the sofa snuggling while the cat pretends to hate it. “You are PURRING Meow!!!”

So, we are reminded once again that life is good. We hope you also have reminders like this in your days-and that they don’t necessarily include cat drool at 6am...

Friday, September 8, 2006


Can anyone guess where we found this sign? A tightrope walking demonstration? An obstacle course for drag queens? How about the Discovery Children’s Museum of San Jose?
If you guessed the children’s museum, you’re right! All of the kids seemed to be heeding the sign, but most of the moms missed it.

Anyway-Elise and I headed for the children’s museum in search of fun and excitement for the day. We figured we couldn’t go wrong with a purple building in the middle of a big park. No disappointment here-we’ll be using our new membership to return often!

For those of you familiar with the Kohl Museum, think of this one as a cross between the old Wilmette location and the new Glenview one. A lot of nice exhibits, a few strange ones, and all in a not-huge space.

One of the best things about this museum is its layout. There are places specifically reserved for the under 4 set, which means that the little ones get a chance to play without being trampled by bigger kids. We especially appreciated this in the water area.

There were things on a small scale for the little ones (as seen above) and then the stuff for the big kids was really cool. We’ll be growing into this for awhile.
Much of what was on the main floor was a little beyond Elise’s interest, but upstairs there is an entire room dedicated to preschoolers and younger. It is quiet(ish) and on a small scale.

So many fun things to see and do! It was hard to leave. Next time, we’ll be sure to spend more time upstairs in the preschool area. We’ll also probably hit the pizza parlor.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Almost Home!

Well, it’s official-we’re almost home! As of September 16th, we will be done with nearly five months of temporary housing!!! (We’re excited.) It’s hard to believe that we’re 10 days away from sleeping in our own beds. As an interesting big of trivia-since we purchased Elise’s big-girl bed, she’s spent more nights in other beds than she has in that one. Have we mentioned we’re really glad to be done with our wandering?

Be sure to check out the movie we just posted-Elise and Andy making blueberry pancakes for breakfast!

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Catch that Train!

The long weekend gave us a great opportunity to check out more of our new surroundings. As a result, the Steingruebl clan found its way to a beautiful park in Los Gatos.

We are constantly amazed by the parks around here. For one thing, the grass is usually spongy and not all trampled down. (It also has fewer of the bright green patches that say “doggies visit here! Often!) The playgrounds we have seen have been well designed and well cared for. Elise loves the prevalence of sand for playing. Reeeeaaaaalllly loves it!

So, today’s choice was Oak Meadow Park. The playground is amazing and has lots to do. Elise’s favorite occupation is of course stacking wood chips on any available surface, though her daddy managed to persuade her do to some sliding as well.

There were places to picnic everywhere, and we chose a spot on top of a little hill just to the side of the big grassy area. We heard some kind of strange bird yelling at us while we ate lunch, but have no idea what it could have been. Gotta get that CA bird book soon...

The crowning glory of the day was a ride on the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad. It runs an actual, 100-year-old miniature steam engine. Volunteers handle a lot of the work of keeping the thing running, which might explain why it only cost $2 per person (with 2 year olds and under free) for a 10 minute ride! The tracks go over bridges and up a hill-it’s amazing.

Of course, the best part of the whole thing was seeing the enormous grin all over Elise’s face for the entire ride.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Baking with Mommy

An impulse purchase of Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar at Target last week has brought cookies to the fore in the life of the Steingruebl household. Who knew that one child could read one book nonstop for a week? With all of this talk of cookies, it was time to have The Talk with our little girl. That’s right-the Where Cookies Come From Talk.

With ingredients set out on the counter, we pulled up a chair and Elise climbed up. She poured the granulated sugar on top of the chopped-up, room temperature butter. Then, Elise scooped the required amount of brown sugar and added it to the bowl. Immediately after that, she grabbed a handful of brown sugar to see how it tasted. Her impression seemed favorable. Mommy added the vanilla, and then we set that bowl aside.

Now the fun part! We cooped! (scooped) the flour and measured the baking soda. Then, the stirring commenced. Mommy creamed the butter and sugar (it’s harder by hand than with a mixer!) wile Elise stirred the dry “ingeedients” in her bowl. With wild abandon, we mixed all of the ingeedients together in one big bowl and stirred them together. For about a hundred years. (It’s amazing how help can make things take longer...)

But wait! There’s more! What about the chocolate chips?! Elise had the big job of dumping them in with the dough. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to eat chocolate chips while pouring them into a bowl, so Mommy had to take over the chip adding duties. Elise was a little miffed that she only got 3 chips out of the deal. It’s okay, though-we used fake eggs so we got to sample the dough. Elise thought we’d done a pretty good job.

When the cookies were finally baked and cooled, I brought Elise a plate with a bunch of strawberries and one cookie for a treat. She ate all of the berries and eyed the fruits of her labor suspiciously until I encouraged her to take a bite.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Beginning of an Era

So-after a weekend of whirlwind bike shopping, theatre going and jug band festival attending, we sent Andy off to work riding his shiny new bicycle. Mr. Steingruebl is officially a bicycle commuter! Wahoo! From our current, temporary, housing the trip seems to take between 10-15 minutes door-to-door. That’s faster than the car, and better for the planet! We’re all pretty excited about the new commuting mode.

Our weekend was pretty busy. After bicycle shopping, we loaded up the car and drove to Mill Valley to see the Breindels. Technically, we only saw Adam since Zach was in bed and Sara was already at the theatre. We left Elise happily playing with Adam while we drove into San Francisco to see the closing night of Sara’s play. (Not technically ~hers~ but since she was in it we think of it as hers.) The play was a blast! And it was amazing to be out for an evening. We were zombies by the time we made it back to the Breindel homestead to sleep, but wow was it fun.

The next morning, Sara still had theatre duties so we went out to breakfast with Adam and a very tired Zach. Later we found out that Zach was so out of it because he was sick-poor little guy.

To add even more excitement to our already full weekend, we drove back to SF to attend a jug band festival. Given how tired we were and how little sunscreen we had with us, we weren’t able to stay long. However, Elise got in some good dancing and we met some nice people. (Mostly after Elise had thrown gravel on them, but apologies can make ok introductions...) There’s another festival around here someplace at the end of September, so we’ll be looking into that.

When we got back to San Jose, we stopped off at Target to get supplies for darkening Elise’s room. Our suspicion was that she’d been sleeping poorly because the mini-blinds weren’t keeping out the glare from the security light by our font door. Here’s her bedroom window now-as covered by a fish shower curtain and butterfly beach towel.

(This pic to be added later-sorry folks.)

Pretty classy, eh? Soon, we’ll post some pictures of all of us with no bags under our eyes...

Thursday, August 24, 2006


How do we know we're not in Schaumburg?

A reasonable question with an unusual answer...

Here, at least in this particular part of San Jose, everything is in terms of driving distance. No parks, no playgrounds, no grocery stores, there’s a Starbucks but that doesn’t really count, limited public transit, no public spaces at all. But you can tell a lot about a place like this by its malls...

The nearest mall to us is modestly named “Great Mall.” It is inaccessible by public transit from our apartment except for an hour or so right around rush hour. It is “ginormous,” as Elise would say. We broke the rules this afternoon and got in the car to check it out.

Great Mall is a big outlet mall that’s gone slightly upscale. They even have a movie theater. They also have those little kiosk/cart things that have taken over mall corridors everywhere. And that’s when it hit me. How, apart from the weather, do I know I’m not in Schaumburg?


That’s right, friends. A kiosk at the mall selling Scientology to the masses. And what are the odds I’d make this startling discovery on the VERY DAY that Tom Cruise was being let go from Paramount for excessive weirdness?

So, the conclusion here is that Woodfield shoppers not only have to endure winter, but they have to do it without the sweet comforts of a Dianetics kiosk.

Given the great opportunity practically at our doorstep (it’s only 15 minutes away by car!) it would be nearly criminal not to take advantage. Please use the “add a comment” feature below to suggest the best way in which to introduce ourselves to the staff at the kiosk. Come up with something exciting and we’ll do it, bringing our hidden camera(s) along.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Luckily for us, we have friends. Not only is the mommy of the household ~technically~ not supposed to drive, but all parks, shopping and things of general interest are at least 10 minutes away by car. It can leave little girls and their mommies feeling a liiiiittle isolated.

So, as we stated, luckily we have friends. Sara and Zach arranged to spend their entire Wednesday with us and it was heavenly. The kiddos ran around our living room and had a blast. Zach even brought some of his toys for us to play with while we await “real” housing and the arrival of our own.

The crowning glory of our napless afternoon was a trip to the apartment complex pool. The munchkins mostly wanted to run around and take full advantage of the wet feet/slippery pavement combo. Strangely, we avoided any abrasions/head injuries. Afterward, everyone was tired and we returned to our apartment for stories and supper. A wonderful day all around. We are lucky to have such good friends!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Home Sweet (almost) Home

Above please find a picture of the townhome community where we’ll be living starting mid-September. If everything goes well. Anybody have sway in the world of Spanish work visas?

This place is coming available because the owner is moving to Spain for 2 years. The big wrinkle is that he and his wife are waiting for their visas to come through. With assurances that everything is on track to come together by the second week of September, we paid a security deposit.

We’re pretty excited because this place is HUGE, beautiful, right next to a giant park, up the street from an even snazzier park and children’s museum, near both light rail and CalTrain, walking distance to a few little shops. Also, Andy found out today that there’s a free shuttle to his office that stops at the CalTrain station, so he could potentially commute for free.

Oh yeah-aside from the housing situation...Today was Andy’s first day at his new job! Not a lot to report on that at the moment, except to say it’s weird to be the newest in a group of a lot of new people. He’ll get the hang of it. :)

Elise hasn’t been feeling well, so today we kept pretty close to home. President Bush’s 10am press conference was of course a 7am event for us, and we watched a little of it on TV as we were waking up. Elise snuggled on my lap, pointed and said, “He has ears.” When asked if they were big ears or little ears, she said, “He has BIG ears!”

Then, at lunchtime I knew she was feeling better because when told that she needed to sit in her chair to eat applesauce, our little darling gave me a calculating look and said, “I do not understand what Mommy is saying.” It was hard for Mommy to continue the conversation with a straight face. She knew exactly what I was saying, she just wanted to see if I really meant it.

So-a busy day! We’re already thinking of ways to keep busy tomorrow...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fun with Friends!!

Today, we drove up to Mill Valley for lunch with our friends the Breindels. Adam and Andy have been friends since high school, and were even roommates in college for awhile. It’s hard to believe it had been ~so~ long since we’ve seen Adam and Sara that we met their almost 2 year old son Zach for the first time!

After a yummy lunch at the Dipsea Cafe, we headed back to the Breindel homestead to play with toys and read books. Zach is an amazing sharer! And, he has really cool toys and books.
Elise liked the Golden Gate Bridge, and managed to sleep for most of the rest of the ride each way. She seems to have caught whatever bug her daddy has, so rest in the car was a good thing.

It was great to see such good friends again after such a long time-we’re really looking forward to being able to get together with them often!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Child's Play?

Elise knows how to have fun in a new space, and we’re about to start taking a few more of our cues from her. Apartment hunting has proven a bit more of a challenge than we’d hoped, but not than we’d expected.

San Jose has a lot of interesting neighborhoods, and we’ve driven around a lot of ‘em. There are many ticky tacky style apartment complexes, and we’ve looked at our share of those too. When it comes right down to it, real estate here is wildly more expensive than Chicago.

Once you get over the fact that comparable space is about $1000 more per month, some of the tradeoffs come more clearly into focus. Distance from work vs. distance from parks. Outdoor space vs. sheer square footage. Square footage vs. quality. Neighborhood vs. “community.” Proximity to anything vs. (gasp) buying a second car. We’re definitely holding off on another car, but everything else is pretty up in the air.

So, we put a deposit on a townhome in a giant apartment complex. They gave us 3 days to change our minds penalty free, and that ends tomorrow. One more place to see and we’ll have it figured out.

After 4 months of veritable wandering, we’re really looking forward to settling down again, sleeping in our own beds, eating off of our own dishes, etc. The biggest allure of the aforementioned townhome is that it’s available now, which means the movers can come Wednesday and we could be settled in by this time next week...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Trip to the Park

Today, we decided that we’d dragged Elise around to enough “grown up” type things and she deserved a break at an actual playground. The playground was pretty nice, but the wildlife was better.

We saw shorebirds, geese, redwing blackbirds, a garter snake, a tiny lizard and a couple of hawks. The one pictured above may or may not be the one we saw catch and eat some sort of rodent. It was way cool. We’re going to have to get to the park more often.

Not in Chicago Anymore...

How do we know we’re not in Chicago anymore? Let us count the ways...

1. The climate is completely different. It’s dry. It’s cool overnight and warms up by about the mid afternoon.

2. The attorneys advertising on daytime TV are all different. Farewell Harvey Wallner, Briskman & Briskman and of course Peter Francis Geraci.

3. Everyone drives everywhere, and forget parking at a shopping plaza any time around noon.

4. Food is more expensive than Chicago, both at the grocery store and at restaurants.

5. The plumbing all works. Drains drain, showers are more like power washers. And that’s just here in our corporate housing which isn’t ~that~ new or ~that~ fancy.

6. We have our very own washer and dryer. We’re looking to help that trend continue.

7. People who do service jobs are actually friendly. They, like, smile and stuff. And they seem to even want to be helpful. It’s weird.

8. There are no sirens, horns, airplanes, trains, golden arches adjacent to our living space. It’s eerily quiet.

9. Everything is carpeted. Well, maybe not everything but you ‘d be hard pressed to find an apartment with hardwood floors.

10. There are HILLS! There are MOUNTAINS! We’re living in a flat valley, but there’s actual landscape that’s not paved over.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hello, San Jose!

We made it! Elise was a champion through airport security and on the plane. It was funny to take off shoes and walk through the special gate. It was hilarious to see Teri Bear and our various carry-on baggage “take a fun ride” on the conveyor belt. After a brief bit of hollering, “I want to sit on my daddy’s lap!” she snuggled up and took a nap. The whole ride was sheer enjoyment. (Now, who ever thought we’d be reporting that?)

Aside from not being able to bring along favorite foodstuffs, airport security wasn’t that much more stupid than usual. The pleasant voices over the loudspeakers which calmly told us we were in imminent danger of being blown up were a little sci-fi/future distopia for my taste, but what are you going to do? I mean seriously, what are you going to do? We’re writing our elected representatives. (And for the moment we feel like can claim two whole sets!)

Our temporary apartment is pretty decent. Elise loves having carpet everywhere-we’re in somersault heaven! It’s very quiet-almost eerily so for urbanites like us-which is a nice change. The one downside is that they mucked up the internet access, which is why those of you who’ve subscribed to the RSS feed for this blog are probably stunned to have several new entries to read all at once. We’ll be back to our usual internet addicted selves soon, or so we’ve been told.
It’s early to bed for us, and will undoubtedly be early to rise as well until Elise gets her internal clock adjusted. Thanks to everyone for your good wishes as we travel-we made it!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Chicago Farewell

We spent our last day in Chicago by having breakfast at Metropolis (our favorite Edgewater hangout), playing at Berger Park and playing with friends in the evening. It was a great way to finish up nearly 13 years in the windy city. Thank you, friends! Thank you Chicago!

Friday, August 11, 2006

I'd Rather Ride a Hippo

or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the TSA

Our stuff is pretty much packed and we’re waiting for the movers. We’ve all decided that it’s much more fun to have someone else pack the last little bits of junk that are too good to get rid of but you’re not quite sure where they belong.

Today is Movers Day. Tomorrow is Pet Boarding Day. Sunday is Farewell Day. Monday is Airplane Day (and also Car on a Truck Day). Tuesday is Airplane Day for Critters. It’s nice to have the next several days of our lives so clearly spelled out.

Airplane Day ...It’s not for Sissies
Fear itself, eh? Yeah. I bet FDR never rode on an airplane with a 2 1/2 year old at lunchtime. Would he have let potentially pernicious preschoolers bring yogurt on airplanes in the face of a Terrorist Threat? We’ll never know. We’ll have a pretty good idea which is worse-fear or hungry toddler-after Monday...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Grandpa Comes to Visit

On Wednesday morning, Grandpa Chuck got up reeeeeaaaaaaaaallllllly early and drove all day just to come see us! He brought with him all kinds of amazing toys that cousins Jennifer and April have outgrown and agreed to share with Elise. (Thank you, ladies!)

Elise has been cooking up gourmet hot dog feasts on her new stove, and really enjoys putting things in the oven. We haven’t unpacked much of what Grandpa brought since it’s already going to be hard enough to distract Elise when the movers come tomorrow.

Thank you for coming to see us, Grandpa! You read great stories and are a fun guy with whom to cook. :)

Wednesday, August 9, 2006


Huzzah and Hooray!

Today was Andy’s last day at CCC. He’s officially free as a bird until the 21st when he starts work at eBay. Wooo Hoooooo!

After 5 1/2 years, it’s good to be moving on. Andy made a lot of great friends at CCC and worked with a lot of great people who I’m sure will be a part of our lives as we move on.

Career wise, we’re really excited and hopeful that Andy will have a chance to put his talents and skills to full use at his new position. All of that aside, his new manager has been just a really good guy so we feel like we’re really going in the right direction.


Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Hey, wait! Those aren't Steingruebls!

Hey wait-those aren’t Steingruebls!

Excellent observation, gentle reader. Pictured above you see very dear friend Raeghan Graessle and her darling son Jerome. With the mommy of the Steingruebl household not quite up to snuff, they came to our rescue today and spent the entire day with us. It was marvelous.

Jerome is a super baby and didn’t complain about taking naps in strange places. He also has the most brilliant smile. Elise loooooved bringing him his binky and toys and whatever else she could-she even shared her Thomas sofa with him which says a lot about how much we both enjoyed having “Auntie Waygen and Duhwome” with us for the day.

Raeghan was even kind enough to take our goldfish into the bosom of her family so we know she’s off to a good home. (We didn’t think it would be sporting to add the fish to the pet transportation eBay is providing for us.)
Thank you, Raeghan and Jerome!

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Joining the iPod Generation...

We’ve been thinking a lot about just how long the flight from here to San Jose might be with a bored toddler. Unbeknownst to Elise, her mommy has been squirreling away things to keep her busy and quiet. Today, Elise and her daddy added to the stash by purchasing headphones. The plan was that we’d give her some time to get used to them before trying to explain their merits on a crowded airplane.

So-we took out the headphones and plugged them into mommy’s iPod shuffle thingie. The look of joy on our little girl’s face as she realized that she had her favorite They Might Be Giants tunes playing right in her ear was priceless. The picture above shows her walking around with the music player in her back pocket. :)

Between the mp3 player and a portable DVD player stocked with Thomas the Tank Engine movies, we should be pretty well set. We’ll also bring the obligatory stack of books, coloring book, crayons and maybe even a small amount of playdoh. Woo hoo! Given this evening’s experience, though, we just need to make sure the iPod is fully charged and nobody tries to take the headphones away...

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Looking Ahead (The Viewmaster!)

So-we’ve pretty well got our brains wrapped around this moving thing.
This afternoon, Elise and Daddy put books in a box to take to “San Jose California!” Elise was very helpful. She’s almost as excited as the household grownups.

In the past few days, Elise has benefitted from spending time with Mimi, but we think this next and more intense version of the terrible twos is here to stay. Ah well. When else in life can one be so insanely cute ~and~ a crazy monster all at once?

Thursday, Grandpa Chuck (and maybe Grandma Judy) will be driving in to drop off myriad wonderful toys that the cousins have outgrown. We’d like to state publicly that we think Jennifer and April are being very generous!

Friday, the movers are expected. They’ll load up everything that we currently have in storage, and then they’ll stop by our apartment to pick up the last odds and ends.
All we have left to arrange are the airline tickets, pet transport and car transport, and where we’re going to rest our heads on the evening of the 14th. Lucky us, the nice relocation people are handling all but the car. :)

A busy week ahead-we’re looking forward to it!

Wednesday, August 2, 2006


Wow-things are moving fast here! We’re talking with movers and a pet transport company, getting car transport estimates, figuring out what goes in boxes, using up perishables and waiting waiting to head on out. Assuming the moving company from San Jose can get here before then, our estimated departure date is August 14.

The whole surgery thing has thrown us for a loop-especially as recovery has been a lot more difficult than after previous operations. Suffice it to say that none of the “For a good time call...” notices you see scrawled on bathroom walls have anything to do with ventral hernia repair. (In case you were wondering.)

Having the mommy of the house laid up presents some unique challenges at moving time. Unfortunately, we had to look outside of our normal pool for sitter help and it didn’t work out well. An area nanny agency sent us a lovely young lady who we liked at first, (I’ll call her “L”), but after 4 days with her Elise became an absolute monster. As near as we can figure out, L pretty much took orders from Elise full-time. Give a 2 1/2 year old and inch and she’ll take a mile.

Whether it’s a new phase or bad behavior brought on by an incompatible discipline style, time will tell. We have felt like the meanest mommy and daddy in the whole world the past several days as we work to re-establish our familiar behavioral norms. Elise’s beloved Mimi (that’s Michele to the rest of us) is sailing to the rescue later this week, so let the Wild Rumpus come to a halt! Woo hoo!

Last but not least (it’s been a week so I’m packing lots in) it’s been a blast furnace here the past few days, and we’re looking forward to a cool front moving in overnight. We’re also looking forward to a visit from the Grandparents Steingruebl later next week-stay tuned for more exciting details!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

California Dreaming

Woo hoo! The Schmiedesgruebls have a blog. Or something akin to it. This is one of the new additions we wanted to make to our website so that as we end up traveling farther from so many of our friends, curious people have a way to keep up with us without necessarily having to wait for us to answer our email. Thanks for reading! We’ll try not to fill it up with drivel.

So-as I write this Elise is refusing to nap for a sitter, Andy is waiting for the official written job offer from our new friends at eBay, and I’m in bed healing from hernia surgery. It’s been a busy week! But, we’re all well (if a little antsy) and so that’s good news.

Our next challenge is to figure out the logistics of moving ourselves (and that includes the cat and bird, mind you) alllllll the way to San Jose, CA. We originally thought we’d be moving eastward and figured that we could all survive the 2 days in the car that would take. Not so with the 2000 miles to the Golden State. Regardless of how it shakes out, be sure to read about it right here!