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.