Thursday, October 1, 2015

Summer Fun with Eritrea

The journey continues with our dear friends from Eritrea. As the refugee crisis continues throughout the world, we have had quite a number of little and big joys.

After a private donor funded more than 15 intensive German courses earlier this year -- THANK YOU, Angel! -- we now have 10 friends who are starting an education program for either professional or academic skills. We have a few starting an internship or apprenticeship. We have also welcomed three healthy babies.

All that and now our home is getting healthier. So I decided it was time to celebrate again.

There was food and drinks, music and dancing. Right before the party broke up, we managed a pictures. There are a good number of people missing, especially quite a number of our German friends who have done so much to ensure hope, climb mountains, and discover opportunity.

Our dearest, most engaged, most devoted is right next to me, on the right. She was born in Eritrea and grew up in Germany. She has moved mountains; created miracles; herded a ridiculous amount of cats; victoriously battled bureaucrats; and brought so much hope to us all in such different ways. Dear, if you ever read this, know that you are a role model and a friend. I am so thankful for you.

The struggles and the joys will continue. The dance of setting up new life will continue, two steps forward, one step back, a little twirl, sometimes a dip, and somehow it all comes together.

I am honored and so thankfully that we somehow stumbled into each others' lives.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Matilly, okay!

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

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

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

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


Monday, September 28, 2015

Alle Hopp! Fun

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

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

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

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

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


What Love Can Look Like


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Summer Camp & Day Date

PJ attended his first summer day camp this year.

God, that sentence makes me feel old.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, September 20, 2015

First Shared Stair Step

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

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

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


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Store Beer Wisely

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, it was that bad.

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

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


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