Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Imagine It Is 6:45am

...and you walk down your stairs, still half asleep, to this (turn up the volume on your computer):


video


That can only lead to a kick-ass day.

When I know the song and "band" that PJ is singing along to, I will update the blog.

xo


 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sign the Hat

Shortly before Christmas the company I work for invited a number of athletes from professional teams that it sponsors to sign free autographs for employees. I got excited about it because a.) a colleague and I had randomly met a few of the listed athletes at sushi place a few months ago and b.) we still needed a Christmas gift for my hot sister-in-law who really likes sports. 
 
At the appointed time, the same colleague and I walked over my company's reception area; grabbed the free gear that was being handed out for autographs, and then started to hand it over to the athletes standing behind two standing tables. There was a scarf and a hat and some photos of the athletes. The scarf and the hat were blue and white and had some writing on then; the pictures were not. 
 
You know where this is going, right?
 
Sigh. 

I dully handed over the swag first to two tall, rather thin guys standing at the first table. They were nice, made some (forced - they were Germans after all) small talk, and signed the blue and white hat and the scarf. 

When I turned to the second table, I saw a familiar face. It was one of the athletes we'd met at the sushi place. My colleague and I smiled, greeted him, reminded him of how we'd all met, and then I handed over the swag. 

Ready for this? 
 
The guy, Canadian, not quite as tall as the other guys, and far more muscular, paused, looked at me a little strange, and then shrugged. While he continued making (rather smooth - he was Canadian after all) small talk, he dutifully signed the blue and white hat and then handed it back to me with a small smile. Then he graciously signed a picture of himself in his uniform. He even jumped onto a joke and signed it “To Sexy Sxxx” perfecting the gift for my (really) hot sister-in-law.
 
Then my colleague and I turned to go back to our offices. As soon as we got out of the reception area, I realized what had just happened and turned bright, bright, bright red. I had just embarrassed myself. Big time.
 
How big, you ask? This big:

There were two different tables for a reason. And those two tables had different swag on them for the same, excellent reason. What reason you might ask? Well, here is a hint: the company I work at sponsors two teams - who play totally different sports. As in: football (soccer) and hockey (ice hockey). 
 
Get it yet?
 
Yup, that’s right, dear readers. I asked a professional hockey player to sign a hat for a professional soccer team.
 
Oh, lord. The shame....
 
And, yet, not. I mean, he signed it. Sure, it was embarrassing for me. Really, really embarrassing. But it was also a wonderful lesson. It was one of those Big Moments when I can learn something. Because, while he is a professional athlete and part of his job is signing autographs (though I'm guessing this is the first time he's ever been asked to put his autograph on another team's - another sport's - swag), he was a gentleman about the whole thing. He never pointed out what an idiot I was being and still signed "To Sexy Sxxx" after the hat thing.

There were so many ways that this guy could have reacted. So many ways that most people would have reacted. For example, like me. Just earlier that same day I had been asked to language review another document because I'm an 'English native speaker' when in fact I am an experienced and senior change management expert who should have been asked to review it for content and as a favor for language. I was insulted and while I remained professional, I didn’t remain kind. And I didn't review the document.
 
In other words, I didn't sign the hat.

I’m not saying that people should just do anything or accept being treated ‘less’…but there are indeed times and places when its best to act with character, with grace, and allow someone else to walk away with dignity, and, maybe, even an excellent Christmas gift. There are times that we all have the opportunity to suck up our egos and sign the hat.
 
So, thanks Ken Magowan. I've since learned that you are a really good player (oh the shame!) as well as being a decent guy to a goofy stranger. Thanks for signing the hat. Christmas was even more fun because of you.

My hot sister-in-law with her swag.



xo

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How Did That Get To Be Too Small?

On September 21, 2011 I posted this picture with the caption "so...did we order it too big?"

PJ at about 2.5 months
I got some pretty hilarious answers including a hint to shove some "jagerschnitzels into him" as well as a warning that he would be out of it in no time. I laughed at the first and sorta dismissed the second.

Oh. My. God. How does time fly? Because it happened: PJ grew out of that massive sleeping sack. And the kid turned one and a half years old today. That means that tomorrow he will be closer to two years old than one year old. Who approved this message?!

Since PJ was ready to move on but mommy wasn't quite ready (and daddy too although I bet he wouldn't admit it), we ordered him the same sack in an even larger size.

PJ and his sleeping sacks.
The rub? I can already tell he'll be out of this new one far too soon. We've got one healthy little man.

Counting my blessings....


xo

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My New Year 2013

I mentioned in July 2012 that there were a number of worries bouncing around the House of Joy. Back then I wrote “I may share them, when I discover the words to express them, or I may see them float away into the realm of stuff-I-should-have-never-worried-about-and-quickly-forget-about before those words come to me.” Welp, it turns out that some of those worries did just float away but a few stuck around, pulling energy from me. For example, Aunt Sally? She’s doing great. But some other stuff…not so much.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Instead, on my birthday I usually think about what I want my next year to be like; how I want to spend my time; and who I want to be. Yet, this year on my birthday I just couldn’t find the energy or time to think through my new year. I was far more focused on getting enough sleep to get through each week.
But then came the end of the year and a two week break from just about everything. I promptly got sick with strep throat, my nemesis. I slept and complained through Christmas. As I got better, the Mr. and I began the best type of vacation for parents: a sleeping holiday. Essentially one of us would wake up with PJ when he woke up (between 5 and 7am). Then when the other one got up (somewhere between 8 and 10am), the first one headed back to bed. When PJ laid down for his nap (between 10:30 and 12), we’d all sleep together. When PJ woke the second time, our day finally really got started. We’d spend each afternoon with friends or family or together out-and-about.

Rinse and repeat, with each of us taking the earliest shift every other day. Glorious, I tell you, glorious!
But back to the worries: the more sleep I got, the more energy I had and the more I started to think about this past year and, far more importantly, the year I am living in now. The fog started to clear and I gained a lot more clarity about what and who has been taking and giving energy. I also started to think through what I was going to do (or not do) for each of those ‘taking’ and ‘giving’ aspects of my life.
A number of those are too private for me to write about here, but two aren’t.

First, writing gives me energy and it is time for me to get back to my project. The characters and the plot have been running around in my head and I’ll start moving them onto paper tomorrow. I have no idea how I’m going to find time for this but like the very talented Katrina Kittle wrote on Facebook recently, “The secret to finding writing time is similar to saving money: pay yourself first. You will always find time later to clean the kitchen, shop for groceries, or grade the papers because you HAVE to. But the writing is too easily "put off" until everything thing is done...which means you never get to it.” This one, I’m going to start To Do. That feels good.
Second, the battle of being a working mom is exhausting.  Notice that I did not write ‘being a working mom is exhausting’ because being a working mom gives me energy. Its dealing with people who ask me, “Who is raising your child?”. Yup, got that question not once but twice. And who tell me, “Moms shouldn’t work.” Got that once followed by ‘I mean you’ll figure out what is okay for your family, but let’s be honest….’ And in an office environment in which “low performer” and “mother” can be used as synonyms in a meeting with no repercussions (in fact, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that got annoyed by it).  
I know for a fact that I have been passed over for interesting work that fit my profile, growth plans, and willingness to travel to the T. I know that I was passed over because the man in charge of pulling the team together assumed I wouldn’t “want” to attend a weekly project meeting at 6 or 7pm local time without first talking to me. I’m confident that this has happened more than once.

I’ve had women who have children say, “Well, I want to have quality time with my children” and “If you want to work so much, why did you have a kid?”
I’ve had women who don’t have children say, “When I have a family, they will come first” and “Don’t you miss your kid? I would” and “Why does work come first for you?”
I’ve had men tell me, “Children need their mothers.”

I’ve even been asked if my child was an accident because I “rushed” back to work after nine months and when PJ was 13 months old, I started working full-time.
This shit exhausts me. Because, like racism, each time I run into these comments and these situations, I need to push back. Not always directly and never forcibly. But I need to push back. For example: (this is the EXACT conversation)

“Wer erzieht dein Kind?” (Translation: “Who is raising your kid?”)
“I’m sorry. I don’t understand the question. Could you ask it in English?” – me (who totally understood the question)
“Who is raising your son?”

“Are you asking me if he goes to a day care because yes, he goes to a day care. Don’t you have children?” – me
“Yes.” Followed by more details that I won’t share here out of respect for this person.

“Where are your children?” – me
“With their mother, of course!”

…or…
This is NOT the exact conversation – but the general sweep of it.

‘I heard about the XCG work and thought I could fit the profile. Could we talk about it?’ – me
‘Oh, I already have the team together. You would have been great but since the work is global, the meeting is going to be held every week at 6 or 7pm. So I didn’t think it would work for you since you have a kid.’
‘That really is a pity because I work full-time and on global work. I hope the next time we can have a conversation about the work together. Then I can decide if my work schedule and other obligations permit me to join the team. Good luck.’

I’ll be totally honest after both of these conversations -  in fact, all of them - I stewed. I bitched to people I trusted (learning in the process that these aren't personal, lots of working mothers deal with absurdity). I stewed more. I found myself literally grinding my teeth. And then I stewed  even more.
Now after our sleep vacation, I realize that I stewed a shit load of energy right out of my soul. And for what purpose? Those people who believe that people with a penis or an unused uterus are better employees, better team mates, better colleagues, and/or those who believes mothers who don’t work or work part-time are better mothers…they don’t care that I’m stewing. Lord, I significantly doubt they even notice.

This one, I’m going to start To Not Do. I’m not going to assume the burden of pushing back and entering into the battle for all women who work full-time. I’m not going to stew. Instead, I’m going to continue doing my work to the best of my ability with the highest level of professionalism I can muster. I’m going to continue being the best mother I can be (which I’m pretty sure is a great mother). I’m going to continue doing both. That also feels good.
Now, wait, that feels great.
So, here’s to my new year. I think it’s going to be a great one.


xo

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

Happy 2013!

We got to celebrate with Sweetheart and her mom who were visiting Germany from the US. It was a great couple of days together and PJ and Sweetheart had an excellent time together.

 
Beautiful Sweetheart and her mommy.
It took PJ a little while to warm up to sharing his toys but within 30 minutes, he was so overwhelmed with the joy of having Sweetheart in the house that he was a goof the vast majority of the time. We actually have a video of him flipping out with joy but I can't get it to load. Instead, here is one of many silly faces he made at the camera.

 
And once they started playing with each other, there was no stopping them.  Here is one short video.

video
 
And two pictures. Please don't let these fool you, Sophie isn't passive; she is a pro and holding her own ground. Its just that I was able to get decent pictures when PJ had whatever toy it was at the time and wasn't trying to steal back his toys.
 
Though to be honest, those pictures are pretty funny.
 
 
 
To see how much they've grown, check out this blog post with the same toy.
 
Of course, the mommies enjoyed the time that the babies were playing with each other to finally catch up and reconnect. As much as we may try to send back emails and keep up over Facebook and phone calls, face-to-face is just better. Especially now that we are both moms of children the same age, its great to see how similar and how different they - and we - have become. Our children are so different and we have become different parents too, which is such a blessing!
 
Now she just needs to move back to Germany already!
 


We also confirmed, for all three of us adults, that while twins would be somehow manageable, it sure keeps your hands super full! While we were at the local playground, the Mr. took over both kids on the swings. Hilarity ensued.


Before feeding the kids dinner, we put off a short firework display for them. Sophie was totally into it!

video

After a looooong process of getting - and keeping - the kids asleep on New Years Eve, we finally enjoyed significant amounts of wine and champagne and a relaxed meal with just the adults. Then, per German tradition, the fireworks started. Just like last year, PJ joined us for the excitement. Sweetheart slept through the chaos.

The Steinbach clan at midnight.


Little PJ or Lisa from the Simpsons?
 
 
2012 was a good year; 2013 is going to be epic!





xx
The Sandy Hook survivors returned to school today. Please continue to pray for them and please join me in Demanding a Plan.

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