Saturday, January 28, 2017

No hate, no fear - immigrants are welcome here

As far as I know, the entirety of my family tree came from elsewhere.  England, Ireland.  Eastern Europe.   To my knowledge, I have no indigenous blood running through my veins.  My ancestors came here, to America, seeking refuge, hoping for a better life.   And America was that for them - for so many million of us - a place where we are all invited, where we are all free.  The Statue of Liberty shining in a harbor, emblematic of that welcoming spirit. 

Give me your tired, your poor... your huddled masses yearning to break free.

Today the world was shocked by President Trump's inhumane executive order, which, among other things, banned all people from 7 countries, including Syria, whose citizens were banned indefinitely (and who need our help, desperately).  

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me.

President Trump - you do not speak for me when you say "we do not want them there". I have no hate in my heart, no fear in my head.  We are all immigrants.  I am ashamed that you represent me.   

How can this man (and his supporters) claim to be "pro life" and yet anti-refugee?  Do they see what will happen to these people?  These people are just like our ancestors were, one or two hundred years later.  The hypocrisy is both heartbreaking and enraging.  

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Monday, January 23, 2017

on Barron and the Bully in Cheif

Much was said this weekend about the unkind words written about Barron Trump at his fathers inauguration.   Before I go further, I'd like to state that I believe minor children of elected officials (all minor children, for that matter) should be off limits for analysis or most discussion.  You won't hear me speak unkindly about Barron Trump.  

What I am frustrated about, however, is two fold.  One, the hypocrisy of many people's short memories.  First children have been subject to harsh scrutiny for as long as the press has been around.  Sasha and Malia Obama were subject to many unkind words (and still are- just last week I read a dozen posts asking where Malia was during her fathers final presidential address).  Chelsea Clinton was famously compared to a dog by Rush Limbaugh.  Even the Bush Twins felt the heat of the media (although I'd argue that they were neither minors nor innocent parties as much of their negative attention centered around their underage alcohol consumption).   Presidential children are in the spotlight, rightfully or wrongfully.   This isn't new, and it certainly isn't only when Republicans are in office as some of the commentary I read suggested.  

More importantly, it's bothersome to me how quickly we are to jump on this particular brand of bullying- while we ignore other types.  President Trump himself mocked an autistic reporter.  I wont get in to get in a game of "this bullying is better than this one", but I think we can all agree that mocking someone with disabilities is incredibly low.   This is one example, and there are many: the list of people that President Trump has bullied is long and upsetting.

As a society, if we wish to hold each other to a standard of respect, if we declare that we cannot and will not tolerate bullying, we must start at the top and hold President Trump to the same standard.  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Baby Special 2.0: 33 Weeks

I have been incredibly remiss in documenting this pregnancy (in fact, the photo below is a month old)!  I can't begin to catch up now, but figure I'd post a few things before this sweetie is born.  Here was 33 weeks with JSS, and below are details about 33 weeks with Baby Special 2.0!

Weeks:  33 weeks!

Baby's Size:  Baby Special is about 4.5 pounds and 17 inches – my precious little pineapple! 

Trimester: THIRD!
Cravings: None really.  Jacob and I ate a pint of strawberries in one day earlier this week :) 

How I'm Feeling: DAMN GOOD for 8 months pregnant with a toddler!  I've definitely had some heartburn lately which I don't recall having (much) with Jacob.  My belly is in the way of tying shoes, or picking J out of his crib.  Overall, I'm feeling fantastic (and lucky and grateful).  Bring on the 9th month!  

Movement: A ton (especially after the aforementioned strawberries :)

My thoughts: Feeling crazy excited to find out if this is another boy or a little girl.  I would love for Jacob to have a brother (as I never had a sister!) but I'd also love to have a daughter.  It's so nice that I don't get to pick!  Whichever God has chosen for us is going to make our family better, I just know it.  I'm excited and happy and have very few nerves.  Our home is ready and our hearts are ready.  (But stay put for a few more weeks, baby!)  Baby, you are so loved.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration, 2017

Today Donald Trump becomes president.  I have yet to fully wrap my head about it, but I'm not a denier- as a proud American, he IS now my president, like it or not.  (And to be clear, I do not.  I do not very much).   It's a very strange day.  A very strange time.  

I hope that 4 years from now, that people's lives have gotten better, not worse- in that way I wish him well; I hope his policy changes fail decidedly- in that way I wish him failure. 

I will not be watching the inauguration today.  I do not have to embrace something to accept it.  I will be powering off the TV, closing the browser on CNN and letting my donations do most of the talking today: to Planned Parenthood, to the ACLU, to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.  To the NAACP.  To NARAL Pro-Choice America.  To RAINN.  

President Trump, I am angry.  I’m angry and I’m frustrated and I’m disappointed in you already.  If I have any hope in you at all, then it’s just that you begin giving the sacred office the respect and honor that it deserves.  

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016, a conclusion

2016 started off with a bang, literally, as Scott set off a firework display over the Gulf of Mexico as the clock struck midnight.  We rang in 2016 with champagne, dance parties and too many pina coladas with my parents and siblings (and again with a different kind of bottle 5 hours later when Jacob woke up)!

We rang it in with hope, too, and excitement and optimism.  2015 was a banner year for my family, and it would be tough to beat.  

Our vacation ended and we came back to a snowy Chicago.  Winter turned to spring.  We celebrated Jacobs first Valentine's Day at uncle Matt and aunt Kelly's house (and J celebrated his first bite of donut).    March brought us Jacobs first birthday, and our first anniversary of the profound responsibility of being his parents.   We toasted one year, the gift of JSS and the gift of sleep as he (finally!) began sleeping through the night.  

Spring brought us Easter, a work trip to Scottsdale, and Scott's 31st birthday.  We discovered Jacobs absolute adoration for the park and all things outdoors, and spent more time outside than in my previous 10 years combined.  We enjoyed simple pleasures like watermelon on the porch, squirrel chasing and spraying the garden hose. 

The highlight of our summer was finding out we would be welcoming our second baby!  A joy we discovered on the 4th of July.  Christine's wedding was a highlight of the year- as we got to celebrate a truly solid couple with the 65+ members of my family.

The fall brought the tail end of our two year major renovations (thanks dad and mom!)  It brought amazing baseball and terrible football and a terrible election that I'm still not at peace with- maybe that will be my New Years resolution. (Not holding my breath).

Thanksgiving was spent as it always is- with some of my favorite people at my parents.  We rang in December with more Christmas cheer than I've maybe ever had- Santa and baby Jesus a toddler who was excited about them both. 

2016 was a hard year for a lot of good people (HRC, I'm lookin' at you).  I'm grateful for the profound blessing of a second baby that I learned about in 2016, but I'm otherwise ready to see it go.

I ring in 2017 in a profoundly different place mentally.  Happier than I've maybe ever been, but less optimistic, I think.  It's a weird spot, but it's been a weird year.

2017, lets do this.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

today and tomorrow, for the next four years

I went to bed before the election was called, because with a sick toddler, I wasn't sure what the night would bring for us.

I woke up the one who is sick.  Sick for a nation who could elect this man: misogynistic, racist, sexist, homophobic (not to mention unqualified).  I voted for Hillary Clinton, of course, but I would gratefully take nearly anyone but him.   I've never felt so disconnected from this country- perhaps that's how some felt 4 and 8 years ago.  I'm not sure where to go from here, or even why I feel compelled to post.  I don't discount this election or the results, I believe in democracy and in each persons right to vote.  I believe in the concept of checks and balances, and while I will pray for unity and peace over the next 200+ weeks, I will also pray for strong representatives, who fight for the 50% of us who voted otherwise.

To my beloved friends who are LGBT, of other races, or religions, or women, or simply disagree with Mr. Trump: please know: #imwithher, and today- and for the next four years- I am with you.

It's still dark out- literally and figuratively. But I believe that America is already great.  And I believe that the sun will come out again today, and tomorrow.  And the next four years.  We have a lot of work to do, clearly.  But I believe in the 60M of us who voted as I did, and I know we're up for the task.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Jacob at 16 months

I definitely sound like a broken record, but this age is so wonderful.  Jacob's personality is so adorable - he's so happy, and curious and playful.  I haven't done a thorough update since his twelve-month, so thought I'd take this opportunity to share a few recent stories about our little love.

Jacob is very verbal.  The other night, I put him to bed (which is unusual as normally Scott does it) and I tucked him in and then left the room.  He had shifted while he was falling asleep, so about 20 minutes later I went in to peak in and check on him, and he pops his head up and says "HI!"

He loves to throw his food or water bottle off of the high-chair while eating dinner and then shout "Ut-oh!"

Jacob LOVES being outside, especially going to the park or on wagon rides.  He is obsessed with dogs (which is hard for this non-animal-lover to wrap her head around, but I'm trying!)  The other day we were on a walk with my cousin Jenifer and Scott and came across an older dog who loved Jacob and licked his face.  Jacob was in HEAVEN (and I was super grossed out).

Jacob is SO happy - I love taking him grocery shopping because he just adores people.  He says "HI!" and "BYE BYE" to every single person we pass.  It's amazing.

He loves strawberries- and whenever he gets some he'll say "mo'!" (More).  Other favorite foods include grilled chicken, rice, yogurt, noodles and raspberries.

He says about 20 words - Mama, Dada, Go, Outside, Tree, Dog, Up, Cup, Ball, Balloon, More and a bunch more.  He's very verbal.

Jacob, we love you more than words can say!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fourth of July in Iowa

In true Iowa-ish fashion, we spent our favorite summer holiday in our favorite place: Iowa!

My cousin Christine had a bachelorette party in Iowa on that Saturday, so we decided to make a big weekend of it - Jacob and I went to Iowa on Friday morning with my brother and SIL, who graciously agreed to drive us - along with all of our gear! - so that we could go early and only have one car in Iowa.  They picked us up at 8:30, and drove us to Dubuque, where my dad met us and drove us the rest of the way to CR.  In CR, my dad surprised us with a new slide for Jacob!  Jacob was asleep at the time, and when he woke up he LOST HIS MIND with excitement over it.  It only took three minutes for him to be climbing up it via the slide part ;)

After Jacob went to sleep, my parents and I enjoyed wine on their beautiful patio.  We called it a night relatively early, not knowing how Jacob would sleep in an unfamiliar room in a pack-and-play... BUT... he slept perfectly through the night.  (Go JSS!)

On Saturday morning, Kelly picked me up and drove me and our cousin to Dubuque for the bachelorette party.

There were six of us cousins - which made for a fun family reunion to celebrate Christine.  (Christine, you may recall, was one of my beloved maids-of-honor at my wedding five years ago!)


Her sisters planned a super fun day - complete with a trolley, a picturesque winery, and a fun murder-mystery dinner with eight actors!

After a late night (literally 3 hours after my bedtime, hey-yo!) and relatively early morning, we were back to CR to see my baby :)  I was dying to see him - and literally sprinted in to the house to find that he was ASLEEP!  (Of course). Scott met us in CR after working all weekend, and it was so nice to be reunited with my hubs.   We spent the day swimming at my uncle's pool - Jacob is a little fishy.  He was obsessed with his older cousins.  One of the perks of being from a big family, is that Jacob is one of 15 "cousins" on my mom's side.  I have about 15 first cousins on that side alone, and a lot of them already have children.  It's very fun to get together with all the little ones.

It was a fabulous weekend, filled with celebrations for the bride-to-be, cousin time, and relaxing.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Five Year Getaway

For our five year wedding anniversary, Scott and I wanted to get away.  We tossed around ideas like a long-weekend in Mexico, Boston, Seattle... but ultimately decided that for our first time away from Jacob overnight, that we wanted to go someplace closer to home - a drive, instead of a flight.   We chose Door County  - a location about 4.5 hours north of Chicago.  My parents graciously agreed to watch Jacob (for two days/nights - not a small feat!) and they arrived late Friday of Memorial Day weekend.

On Saturday morning, we were out of the house by 7:30, driving to Green Bay.  Despite being a Bear's fan, I wanted to see the famed Lambeau field.  It was fun!  Still not a Packer's fan, but fun to see.

We had lunch at a local brewery, and walked through their impressive farmer's market before setting out to Door County via the Door County Wine Tour.  The first stop was in Angola, WI at a beautiful and authentic winery and taste room.  I loved it.

From there we stopped at one more before making our way to our hotel.  We stayed at the Ashbrooke, which was a very nice adults-only resort.  (Door County is mostly cabins and cottages - I wanted more of a resort feel).  Our room was huge and lovely and we enjoyed it a lot.  Would definitely stay there again.

Over the course of the weekend, we did a nice dinner, went on a "booze cruise" - a sunset cruise with live music where we drank a nice bottle of champagne, courtesy of my in-laws - and went to a fish boil!  We got a couples massage, went shopping and hiked in the state park.  We just had a really nice time celebrating five years of happy marriage.

Door County was very scenic - gorgeous sunsets, beautiful and calm water, and just lovely.  We had a fabulous five year getaway.  Thanks, mom and dad, for watching our boy!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day 2016

Happy Father's Day to the two most important men in my life - my husband, Scott and my dad, Shawn.

Over the past 15 months, Scott has proven to be an extraordinary father.  He goes in to work early every single day in the hopes of leaving on-time to pick up Jacob early from daycare.  He takes Jacob to the park or pool, and feeds him dinner - all before I get home.  I almost hate to admit this - because so many of my friends are envious - but he also does Jacob's bath and puts him to bed every single night.  The most important factor in my "success" as a working-mom?  A hands-on dad.  I could not do this life without him.  As important as the tactical, boots-on-the-ground work that Scott does to raise our son is the simple moments that make Jacob's childhood.  Scott runs around with Jacob on his shoulders.  He tickles him and rough-houses on the floor with him.  He reads him books (the Giraffe book a million times a day!) and sings him songs.  He explores the park with him, urges him to climb higher, pushes him on the swings, and takes him around the block on his tricycle.  I have no doubt that Jacob will be a spectacular father someday - he's being modeled a version of fatherhood that is impossible to beat.  Jacob's life is better for having Scott as his father. 

A Father's Day post would be incomplete without a mention of my own beloved father.  Shawn Steil was a stranger until I was 11.  The exact moment he became my father (legally) was five years later, when he rose to the challenge, and adopted three father-less children who loved him.   It took Scott and me almost 24 hours to settle on Jacob's name, but one thing we knew from the start - his middle name would be Steil, a name to formally tie him to his maternal grandfather, a man we hoped he'd grow to be like.  In Jacob's first few weeks of life, my dad would take the "early early morning shift" - from about 5-8am - allowing the rest of the house some blessed sleep.  He's been described as a "machine" by more than one person - his work ethic is second-to-none.  (Famously, after his first half-marathon, he went on to hand-sand my floors in preparation for staining).  He has literally transformed my house - but more importantly - our LIVES.   The lights were turned on when Shawn Steil entered our lives.

Happy Father's Day to these tremendous men.  Men who have shaped my life so significantly, and who I am lucky will also shape Jacob's.  We love you.