Posts Tagged ‘Travel’
I don’t know if it will be the last time that we sleep under the stairs, but I’m kinda thinking the odds of it happening again are slim.
I’ve always liked September. It’s a good month. And since both the boy and the baby are Virgos, it has become an even bigger month.
This particular September though, is chasing D and me around in circles. Just one thing after another, you know how those things go. This post for example has been a draft for about a week now.
We spent a good part of D’s birthday at the new apartment, getting paint on old clothes, and the walls – Happy Birthday!
I didn’t suggest it though, he did, so it’s not so terrible. And we did do proper celebrating later.
We‘re moving moved Saturday (yesterday) if all goes well, and it went pretty well. One of our friends came over to help move the big stuff and my other friends watched baby A all day, which was a relief.
Baby A has been moody all day today, while we have been unloading/cleaning/discussing what to do with this and that. You would think she would be in heaven with so much lying around for her to inspect. But I guess it’s a little too much for her at the moment. She finally fell asleep just now for a nap. Right now D is at IKEA, getting random various things we need.
The kitchen, that we bought from the old owners, is our problem area right now. There is no hot water in there, and the faucet doesn’t properly shut off. On the oven, which was also part of the “deal” from the old owners, the temperature dial has no temperature indications anymore (we already decided we are buying a new oven/cooktop). On the bright side, the refrigerator that we bought new is very nice! Go figure.
Okay, back at it, while I still have a sleeping baby!
It’s been hot here. Sweat in your underwear doing nothing hot. And since there is no air conditioning to be found (even in retail shops), we’ve been doing a lot of hiding in the shade. And eating watermelon.
Germany, in May, means lots of time off in the form of holidays, most of them being religious. I’m not sure if this was engineered, or just happened, but it’s rather ridiculous. We ended up having two 4-day weekends and one 3-day weekend within the span of a month.
During one of our long weekends, we went to London. It was our first time, and our first hotel trip with baby. It was amazing how much we packed (for her) for a short 3 night stay. Still, it worked out well and we really liked London. It was beautiful, the food was great (contrary to popular opinion), and there were lots of green spaces to visit. And our hotel had a doorman with a top hat! We managed to see a lot during our short stay, even with a baby-on-board, and I would definitely go back to see more.
Last week we returned from a big trip home to see family. Nine month-old Baby A got see alot of different family and friends for the first time. It feels like the trip was mostly that – time with family. D and I missed some of our old haunts, but hopefully next trip will be a little more relaxed. The flights were okay, all things considered. The plane home was the hardest, it was an overnight flight, and Baby A had a hard time falling/staying asleep. So none of us slept and then we had a 2 hour drive to get home, and the next three days were all out of whack. We found out around then that she is also teething again too. More fun! She has 8 teeth and is working on 1 or more molars now. Poor little petite.
PEKiP, otherwise known as “the naked baby playgroup”.
During one of Chicken Little’s first play dates, one of the mothers said she had enrolled her baby in a PEKiP class. Where in her words, the babies all get together naked on the floor and “go wild”. I must admit, my first reaction was in the range of “what?! why?!” I mean, they invented diapers for obvious and tidy reasons. I really like hanging out with this mom, but she fits more the “free spirit” parenting style category, whereas D and I are still solidly “by the book”.
But then we were finishing up our physical therapy sessions and the doctor said PEKiP would be good for little A. Even though she’s now advanced for her age, the doctor said “it’s good for her to see what the older babies do.” Two endorsements for PEKiP in less than 2 weeks, and one by a medical professional. Hmmm… Let’s try it.
We arrived with some trepidation (on my side) on Monday morning. I paid for the class and left the stroller at the door. Upstairs, the room was set up very similar to any childcare room. Exercise mats covering the whole floor, toys piled in one corner. There was a large plastic mat in the center of the room and some space heaters in the corner making the room quite warm. After we worked out that yes, I was the English speaker with the bad German, and said hello to everyone, we waited another 5 minutes and then the class began.
First off we get the babies naked and then each was given a beach ball to stand/lay over, stomach to the ball, and facing each other in a circle. The instructor said this was so the babies could see and touch each other as they wanted, and at a distance they felt comfortable. I’m not convinced babies this age really have the proper body-to-ball coordination, but okay. At this point I find out that the instructor has her own “baby”, a doll, that joins in on the activities too. Then we sing a song that goes “Guten Tag, something something, Guten Tag” and roll call’s all the mamas and babies in the room (oh yes, the doll has a name too).
Next up, the babies move over to a set of hexagonal-shaped platformed cushions, made of soft (waterproof) material and at varying heights. Perfect for climbing. The babies love this. I was happy that baby A got right in there. And then the instructor brought out two shallow tubs of plastic balls. Another hit.
Towards the end we put on diapers and held the babies in our arms to dip and sway for a song. Then we listened to other music on the floor and played with sheer, colorful scarves, while re-dressing the little ones.
I think 4 out of the 6 peed on the floor at some point during the 90 minute session. You wipe it up with your own towel, and then wash the area with some soap and water they provide. It wasn’t as bad as I imagined. All those baby cheeks were cute but I didn’t want to offend anyone by whipping out my camera, especially one our first day.
This class could be done fully clothed. So why naked? From what I have read, it is for better motor development and a more sensory experience. And just as valid a question, why not naked? Once you have everything waterproofed, a bunch of naked babies playing together sounds like fun (and it is).
More information about PEKiP can be found here.
Or perhaps more fitting:
Should we stay longer or should we go sooner?
I couldn’t count how many times we’ve asked this question. Or the number of tangents explored while trying to answer it.
We considered it carefully before baby A was born last September. Our original work contract and permit were finishing in April.
– Did we want to have our baby abroad?
– Could we handle birth classes and labor and delivery without speaking much of the native language?
Our other friends from Montreal that are also here had drove to Belgium, where they speak French, to have the baby there. And we wouldn’t have much help if we stayed here – no grandparents to babysit or cook us dinner or do laundry.
In the end we decided it made the most sense to stay – considering the excellent parental leave benefits in Germany, and the fact that securing jobs/insurance, a good doctor, a house, and a trans-Atlantic move, in such a short period of time was asking for trouble. Or at very least stress which didn’t seem worth it.
But here we are, April +1, and again, facing the same question. D takes his second month of parental leave this June (2 months fully paid for the father) and my year of leave finishes this September.
Are we ready to end this Expat adventure?
We both know that life doesn’t end with babies (I wasn’t as sure of this during the first two months post birth), but it does change (mostly for the better). And once this one, and who knows maybe another one, are in school, we won’t be wanting to traipse here and there all the time. Probably.
And I won’t even get into the job market/salary comparison/quality of living/culture/exchange-rate discussions here. Or of how sick we are of our small, worn out couch. Or about the growing pile of baby STUFF that keeps getting bigger by the month, stuff we’re probably going to want to ship with us wherever we go next.
I’m in discussions to maybe work part-time from home, which I think may be possible after September too, but we have other immediate concerns – space. We need a bigger apartment, with a child’s bedroom, but haven’t found one yet. In Germany you only need to give 3 months notice (no yearly leases), but still, do we do a small move now or just hold out for the big one?
A bookstore in a church. An 800 year old Dominican church. I wanted to see it.
And it happens to be nearby in Maastricht, The Netherlands, which we drive to often because it has an English movie theater and an Argentinian steak house. For some reason I still hadn’t seen it even though we’ve walked very near it at least a few times. D and his sister stumbled upon it last September and in January we found it again. It’s only a block off the city plaza:
The building itself isn’t so very big, but it is tall, so the designers created space upward. The nave of the old church now holds three levels of steel bookshelves and aisles, all without changing the original building structure. Its conversion to a bookstore makes for an interesting mix of old and new:
There is a cafe and a children’s book section at the back. I was happy to find a selection of English books.
I did a little reading and it turns out this building hasn’t served as a church for a long time. For anyone who hasn’t seen so much of Europe – there are so many churches that it’s not so crazy that they aren’t all being used. It was busy on the Saturday afternoon we visited so I’m guessing business is good. If the building isn’t being used for its original purpose, a place filled with people and books isn’t such a bad fate.
Oh where to begin?
I’ve had so many things that I’ve thought about writing about in the past few weeks but geez, it’s not easy to find time. I have time during the day, but not so many minutes consecutively, the past week anyway. And I’ve been cleaning and doing extra vacation laundry along with the usual baby routine.
The usual baby routine is a bit misleading to say because well, if something happens for 3 days in a row, it seems like a new routine, but the truth is, things change really fast regarding what she doing, how she reacts, what she is interested in. Some things stay the same – the usual routine does involve D and I feeding, entertaining, playing, and giggling with her, and alternately, trying to do none of the above when she wakes us up at 2:30 a.m.
We had a great Christmas at home. It was low key and fun. Then we went and had a great time with D’s parents in France. We were in the 15ème arrondissement of Paris, near Gare Montparnasse. It’s mostly residential there, and we mostly stayed in and visited, and ate, and rested. We searched around until we found a nice grocery and a good place to buy bread (baguettes!!). The apartment was awesome – two bedrooms, two baths.. clean, big kitchen.. The only thing I can think of to add would be a bigger tv and a hot tub.
It’s been cold around here, and snowing, and not warming up at all. Which I’m fairly sure is abnormal for this part of Germany. I’m fairly sure it’s abnormal because I didn’t see anything like this in the last two years (not much reference I know), but also because they really aren’t cleaning the streets here, or the sidewalks. I had to push the stroller through 3 inches of smooshy, dirty snow most of the way to baby A’s doctor’s appointment this afternoon. Yech! And I forgot my gloves (brilliant!).
Our little sack of potatoes was exactly 7.00 kg today (or 15.4 lbs) and turned 4 months old yesterday – go Baby A! She also woke up at 3 a.m. last night when I coughed and didn’t go back to sleep for the next 2 hours. Yay-ehh..
I’m throwing this theme-less post up because it’s late and I’m tired. Pictures next time! Happy 2010!