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!