Friday, May 23, 2008

And Just a Few More Pics...

Alexandra at 1 month...

Well what a month it has been! It is hard to believe that 4 weeks have passed already, but here we are with a growing little girl that just seems to fit into our family so well it is amazing!

One of the benefits of birth in Germany is the follow up care. Every woman is entitled to 8 home visits from a mid-wife in the first 2 months of a baby's life. The mid-wife helps out with anything you need that you would normally see the doctor for in the US. She weighs the baby to make sure nursing is going ok, cleans the belly button stump, checks the mom out to make sure we aren't abnormally exhausted & that we are healing ok from the birth process. It has been a wonderful support for a foreigner, and I feel very fortunate that our mid-wife was a very cheerful woman who was an Irish-German. Jessica has been great & today was probably our last day of seeing her, because things are going so well.

Alexandra has taken to nursing very VERY well. Today she weighed in at 4,410 grams or 9lbs 11 oz. 4 weeks ago she was 3,250 grams (7lbs 3oz). She is getting wonderfully chunky in all the right places. Her cheeks are shiny and her legs are getting those great rolls that all babies should have.
Hopefully we are approaching the magic 10lb mark, where the babies start sleeping in 5-6 hour chunks at night. I woke up with a cold yesterday, a bit frustrating because I've been feeling so good not being pregnant after feeling sick for so long, and a 5-6 hour stretch would do me a world of good right now. However, we are going to the US in 7 weeks (only 7 more weeks mom!) and I know it will mess up sleeping again for all of us.

Update on the consulate visit. I cannot tell you what visiting a consulate or embassy is like in any other country (except Paraguay but that is another story), but if you could imagine American Customer Service & German efficiency combined for the best possible outcome I think we experienced it.

We were able to send all of the copies of the paperwork to the Consulate by email & we received a phone call the next morning at 9am to set up an appointment for a CRBA (Consular Report of a Birth Abroad). Monday we presented ourselves to the consulate at 10am for a 10am appt, since our name was on the list we walked right in (there wasn't any line outside that morning either) and the entire process took less than 30 min. The agent working with us told us by sending the paperwork electronically we saved tons of time & they could make sure everything was correct without having to deal with deutsche post.
Also, it turns out that new applicants abroad receive priority for passports from the US & we should have Alexandra's within the next week or so. Her Social Security Number will take longer, but the Agent was sure we would have it in time to file taxes next year!

As we left Troy kept saying, "this was SO much better than trying to go to the Embassy in Paris!"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Alexandra's Video Debut

Our new girl is 1 month old tomorrow!

Alexandra at 1 month from Moya Z on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hanging in Sophia's room

Sophia, Alexandra & the chosen "Doudous."

The citizenship process...

Alexandra's passport photo! 5 min with the eyes open, we had to work fast!

Having a baby in countries other than the US is very interesting for a number of reasons. The interesting process we are going thru right now is getting Alexandra declared a legal citizen somewhere in the world. Unlike in the US, Germany doesn't automatically give citizenship to any child born within its borders (France is the same way - I wonder if it is all Euro countries?). Alexandra would have to attend school in Germany for a certain number of years, and then we could apply, but there are language requirements, and all kinds of other legal issues that we don't want to have to deal with. So she is not, and probably will never be, a German.

However, she isn't an American yet either, as we have to claim her to the US Consulate here in Munich, and fill out all kinds of wonderful paper work & submit that with the "proper" German birth certificate.

In order to get the birth certificate Troy & I presented ourselves, and Alexandra, to the public building last week. Luckily all of our paperwork (passports, marriage certificate, Sophia's birth certificate) were all in english so we didn't have to provide an official translation into German for everything, but the marriage certificate could have been a bit of a sticking point.

In Europe there is a true separation of church & state when it comes to marriages. Civil ceremonies are the "official" unions, and often take place at the town hall or justice center. The Church ceremony is not often on the same day, and the certificate from this wedding is never used as an official document. Troy & I were married in the Catholic church (followed by the best party ever), and our Marriage Certificate was filled out in beautiful handwriting by our priest. The official copy that we have is a xerox copy with a stamp from King County at the bottom, not very official looking. To add to the confusion, there are 2 dates on the certificate; the date we were married & the date that we picked up the certificate from the licensing office. You always know trouble is about when all of a sudden you have extra people on hand to analyze your documents. Luckily I was able to explain what a "waiting period" is, and the difference between the dates. Even more lucky, the agent accepted my [halting german] explanation. We walked out with 3 different kinds of birth certificates for Alexandra: the German birth certificate, the German certificate required by the US government, and the International birth certificate - which has all of the parts translated into about 10 different languages including Greek!

We now have an appointment on Monday to declare Alexandra to the US, and try to make her legal!

In the meantime life at home just keeps moving on. We finally gave Alexandra her first bath, and she is going to be another swimmer like her sister! Although she looks a bit stiff in this photo, she loved the water, her legs were unfolded and she just floated... I can't wait to get her in the pool here!No more baby acne!! Its been tough because we want to take all the photos of her, but the acne was pretty severe. People would come up to look at her in the stroller & say "oh, what a tiny baby - Oh... You must be very proud" It is nice she doesn't look like she was left in the sun too long anymore.

Sophia's new school

We spent yesterday afternoon at one of the International schools just outside of Munich at their spring festival picnic, and were able to avoid most of the rain that came thru town later in the day. Sophia has been attending a bilingual Montessori school this year, however we have decided to move her starting in the fall to the international school near Troy's office. There are a number of reasons to move her, but we both feel this will be a good place for us as a family.
The community at the picnic was fantastic, and the school presented itself very well to new families. In addition to the beer garden, hot dogs & hamburgers, tables selling all kinds of stuff (from jewelry to garage sale merchandise) there was entertainment. We only saw a couple of bands, but the one that impressed us the most were the 14 year old boys jamming on the stage, with all of their "groupies" swaying to the beat with linked arms & surrounding them. All that was missing was a couple of lighters held up in the air!

Sophia really enjoyed the playground, and even made friends running on the grass (did I mention it is still very exciting to her that she can play on the grass!) and climbing the castle play area.

We are also telling her it is princess school since one of the original buildings is the old castle!