3 Weeks in Spain!

Well as most of you know already, James’ company lost a big project and are sending us home after 6 months instead of 13. We flew back on Nov 30th. James had saved up all of his vacation time to use to visit family at Christmas. Since we would be traveling back before Christmas, we needed to burn 3 weeks of vacation so we decided to take a vacation to the southern part of Spain. We decided to visit four different places: Calpe, Granada, Tarifa, and Estepona. We were hoping Spain would be warmer than Germany and the weather didn’t disappoint.

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Living in Germany vs US

A random dragon swing thing on a street in Germany

For every one that doesn’t already know, James’ company lost a big project and is ending his contract early. So his one year assignment in Germany turned into about 6 months. He recently had his last day of work and we are currently traveling southern Spain to use up his vacation time before we head back. He recently put a list together of the differences he’s experienced living in Colorado vs Germany and posted it to facebook. I am re-posting them on the blog and added a few of my own: Continue reading

OMG! I had a baby in Germany!

It’s been a while since my last post (okay, a long while). I didn’t expect to wait so long to write about the arrival of our daughter, Heidi Marie, but she didn’t arrive until 16 days after her due date! It was like Silas’ birth all over again. And now that I have two kids, I can hardly find the time to feed myself or shower which has put blog priority way down on the list.

James’ mom arrived 3 days before the due date on July 12th. I was SO ready for her to get here. I was worried I was going to go into labor and no one would be here to watch Silas (ha!) and I was also getting huge and tired and was looking forward to someone who could help entertain and play with Silas. Well, the days waiting for labor turned into weeks. The midwives here would have probably let me be pregnant forever since the non-stress tests and ultrasounds showed everyone was very healthy. I do prefer the non-intervention mindset but 16 days – geez! By 42 weeks, I would have probably checked myself into the hospital to be induced but labor inductions work differently here. They won’t use pitocin to start labor – they will only use it if labor has already started. So if you check into the hospital, they will try various other homeopathic options as well as some other drugs not used in the US. However, this can take days. James’ co-worker’s wife went past her due date so they checked into the hospital. 6 days later she went into labor! I had a toddler at home and I really don’t like staying in hospitals so we opted to wait it out.

Extremely pregnant. Going in for yet another non stress test. I'm pretty sure I was at least 14 days past due at this point.

Extremely pregnant. Going in for yet another non stress test. I’m pretty sure I was at least 14 days past due at this point.

By day 14, I was getting a little frustrated and emotional. I think the midwives felt sorry for me so they finally decided to do a membrane sweep (something they won’t normally do unlike in the US). At this point I had tried everything including 3 rounds of castor oil. Finally, the membrane sweep seemed to do the trick. I had some contractions that started almost immediately. They stopped later that day but I went back and they did another membrane sweep the next day at noon. This time contractions started again and they seemed to stay. By 7pm I was heading to the birth center with intense contractions 5 minutes apart. I thought surely I was going to have the baby a few hours later since second labors are usually shorter, right??? Wrong. At around 11pm my contractions were getting farther apart. Not disappearing but just spacing out. After an hour or so of fewer contractions, the midwives decided to transfer me to the hospital to get pitocin. We checked into the hospital around midnight. The hospital midwives didn’t really want to use pitocin. They wanted to try some other more natural methods. Normally I’m all for that but come on! I’m 16 days overdue at this point, I’ve tried every homeopathic option, and I’m 12 hours into labor and counting. I was done. They made me wait until 11:30 am before they finally hooked up the pitocin. It took a little while to kick in but 2 hours later Heidi practically fell out. The timing was almost identical to Silas’ birth. With him, they broke my water and contractions started at noon and I had him the next day at 12:30 pm. With Heidi, my contractions started at 1pm and I had her at 1:30 pm the next day. I’m pretty certain I’m done having kids so I’m just happy I don’t have to go through being overdue and 24 hour labors ever again (knock on wood!).

Just moments after she was born. Rather than whisking her away, they give you a whole 1-2 hours to bond with your baby before taking her to weigh and measure. I loved it!

Just moments after she was born. Rather than whisking her away, they give you a whole 1-2 hours to bond with your baby before taking her to weigh and measure. I loved it!

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We are so happy to have her on the outside. This time around has been way less stressful. I know how temporary the difficult first days and weeks are and how fast they will pass. I know that I will sleep again although it may be a year. I remember the light at the end of the tunnel. Although this time the light also includes a toddler; taking care of two kids under 2 does terrify me a little but I know I’ll figure it out.

Family of four taken in front of our apartment a few weeks after she was born.

Family of four taken in front of our apartment a few weeks after she was born.

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OMG! I’m going to have a baby in Germany

With all of the packing, leaving the US, moving, getting settled in Germany, and the small and big details that go with that, I think I’ve been in denial that I’m going to have a baby and soon. I just haven’t had the time to really think about it and I’ve been so relieved that my baby girl is safely tucked away where she doesn’t require around-the-clock care so I can focus on what we need to do to get settled here. But now in a few short weeks, she’s going to arrive and in another country. Yikes!

Before we left for Germany, I started worrying about having a baby over here. I didn’t know how the medical system worked, I didn’t know who to contact to help me, and I had no idea where to start. My plan if we were in Denver was to use the same birth center that I used with Silas. I preferred not to have a hospital birth again even though that’s how it ended with Silas after he was 2 weeks past his due date. The birth was fine in the hospital (honestly I didn’t care at that point – just get this kid out of me!) but I hated being in the hospital for the post-natal care. The nurses come bother you every few hours just when you’ve fallen asleep and everything seems to be a crisis: “Your baby has jaundice? Well, that could lead to brain damage, so we’d better not let you hold him and we need to put him under this light instead and please bottle feed him a lot! It’s the only way for him to get better.”
“Your baby is dehydrated even though he’s one day old and your milk hasn’t come in? We’d better bottle feed him.”
“Since you’re having trouble breastfeeding, here is a recommendation for formula that you can pick up on your way home.”
“Please take the discharge class before you leave the hospital of 101 ways your baby can die after you get home…” Um. No thank you. At the birth center, they discharge you 4-6 hours after birth which may seem crazy to some people but I really just wanted to get home. They still follow up with post-natal care so any of those bad things that can happen after birth are still monitored.

A few months before we left for Germany when I wasn’t even sure if we were actually moving to Germany or not, I started contacting anyone and everyone I could regarding birth. I wanted a birth center but honestly, I was fine with anything – hospital, midwife, english or no english, just someone to help me catch this kid. I sent tons of un-returned emails. In Germany it seems most births are midwife-led which is awesome. Doctors only enter the picture if something goes wrong. The birth center in Dortmund was already full for a July delivery. My preparations were looking futile and my plan became “show up at a hospital and hope someone would help me” until one midwife wrote me back! I had found her on some midwife website and the site said she spoke English. Score! She worked closely with a birth center in a nearby town. She was so sweet and so willing to help me. The birth center she works with was already full as well but she talked to the other midwives in her practice and convinced them to make room for me. We stayed in contact over the few months before we arrived in Germany. I have since met the two midwives who will probably deliver my baby as well has her who will handle my pre and post-natal care. They have all been so kind and helpful. And their medical care is awesome!! All of the rest of my prenatal appointments are done at my house so they come to me and then after the baby is born, they come to check on me at my house every day for the first week and then every other day and then more spaced out – I think she said they will come up to 20 or so times to check on you at home and insurance pays for all of it!

I am also SO fortunate that James’ mom plans to come for a month to help out. I’m not sure how I would manage without her here.

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Getting bigger and bigger! Baby resembling more of a basketball than a bump.

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Silas doesn’t know what’s about to hit him! He isn’t going to be getting all of the attention anymore.

Settling down in Dortmund

Well, we’ve been here for almost 3 weeks. We’re almost unpacked and trying to make our new place a little more like home. James started work on June 1st which means I’ve been home with Silas for a few weeks now. We’ve had fun trying to figure out life here and enjoying our neighborhood.

Here’s a few pictures that shows how we spend our days. I’m really enjoying spending these few weeks with Silas before the baby comes.

We spend a lot of time walking. Usually it's walking to and from grocery stores, prenatal appointments, setting up a bank account, out to a restaurant, etc... I usually let Silas walk there and then he has to get in the stroller when we get there and for the trip home.

We spend a lot of time walking. Usually it’s walking to and from grocery stores, prenatal appointments, setting up a bank account, out to a restaurant, etc… I usually let Silas walk there and then he has to get in the stroller when we get there and for the trip home. Silas probably walks upwards of 2 miles on some days. Doesn’t that mean he should sleep more.

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One of Silas’ favorite things to do is to jump off the stoop of every doorway that we pass. Needless to say it takes us a while to get anywhere.

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Ready. Set. Ka-Jump. Not sure where he gets that extra syllable.

Silas and I checked out the organic food store. It's not quite the same as Whole Foods or Sprouts but I could find a few staples like coconut oil and all natural peanut butter.

Silas and I checked out the organic food store. It’s not quite the same as Whole Foods or Sprouts but I could find a few staples like coconut oil and all natural peanut butter.

Silas spends a lot of time in the stroller and he is always asking to "get down?" It's hard on an almost-two-year-old and tends to end each trip to the store with a whiny toddler. I ended up hiding is favorite snack (dried pineapple) in his snack cup with raisins and nuts. It works so well because he spends so much time trying to find the few pieces of pineapple that it buys me some time to try to figure out what I'm buying at the store (which usually amounts to using my google translate app countless times in one trip)

Silas spends a lot of time in the stroller and he is always asking to “get down?” It’s hard on an almost-two-year-old and tends to end each trip to the store with a whiny toddler. I ended up hiding is favorite snack (dried pineapple) in his snack cup with raisins and nuts. It works so well because he spends so much time trying to find the few pieces of pineapple that it buys me some time to try to figure out what I’m buying at the store (which usually amounts to using my google translate app countless times in one trip)

Aldi is a store here. I think it's owned by the same company as Trader Joes so you find a "few" of the same products.

Aldi is a store here. I think it’s owned by the same company as Trader Joes so you find a “few” of the same products.

You have to put money into the shopping carts in order to use them. That way you return them where they go so you can get their money back. .

You have to put money into the shopping carts in order to use them. That way you return them where they go so you can get your money back. .

We almost always make a stop at the playground that is less than a block from our apartment. He loves playing in the sand and climbing up the ladders.... but the other kids he doesn't like all that much. We're working on that.

We almost always make a stop at the playground that is less than a block from our apartment. He loves playing in the sand and climbing up the ladders…. but the other kids he doesn’t like all that much. We’re working on that.

We still have some colder days here.

We still have some colder days here.

The "USA" aisle at one of the larger grocery stores. Our culinary interests have been reduced to squeeze cheese, hot cocoa, pop tarts, and BBQ sauce - probably not the ones I would have chosen.

The “USA” aisle at one of the larger grocery stores. Our culinary interests have been reduced to squeeze cheese, hot cocoa, pop tarts, and BBQ sauce – probably not the ones I would have chosen.

Sometimes we stop for a donut at ikea :)

Sometimes we stop for a doughnut at Ikea🙂

I'm still trying to figure out the recycling here. It's pretty complicated and almost everything can/should be recycled or composted. You also have to return your glass and plastic bottles back to the store to get your money back. We never leave our apartment empty handed - whether it's taking out recycling, garbage, compost, dirty diapers, replacing the grocery bags back in the car/stroller (you have to pay extra for bags), etc...

I’m still trying to figure out the recycling here. It’s pretty complicated and almost everything can/should be recycled or composted. You also have to return your glass and plastic bottles back to the store to get your money back. We never leave our apartment empty handed – whether it’s taking out recycling, garbage, compost, dirty diapers, replacing the grocery bags back in the car/stroller (you have to pay extra for bags), etc…

On Saturdays there is a big market that sets up in  Dortmund. They have delicious pastries, bratwurst, meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, etc...

On Saturdays there is a big market that sets up in Dortmund. They have delicious pastries, bratwurst, meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, etc…

Silas' favorite are the waffles.

Silas’ favorite are the waffles from the Saturday market

We visited the Medieval Altena Castle built in the 12th century one Sunday

We visited the Medieval Altena Castle built in the 12th century one Sunday

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We have a car and a place to live!

After being on the move for a month, we are finally going to start settling down. James negotiated his contract for this position to include a furnished 3 bedroom place. Knowing that our family would be growing and that we were going to have lots of visitors, we really wanted the 3rd bedroom. However, 3 bedrooms are very hard to come by here especially near James’ work which is in the city. James’ company ended up not being able to find one place with 3 bedrooms so we ended up with two apartments right next to each other – one is a 2 bedroom and one is a 1 bedroom which is really sweet! It will make things much more comfortable for our guests and us.

We just “moved in” yesterday. Everything is still in suitcases and boxes and we expect the arrival of all the boxes we shipped at any time. I’m really antsy to get settled. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m due to give birth in 5 weeks!

Here are some pics of the 2 bedroom unit. It’s so nice!

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Master bedroom

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Entry way – every room is behind its own door. Kind of weird for the US but seems pretty standard here

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our bathroom

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Second bedroom – Silas’ bedroom

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Kitchen. I see a big trip to Ikea in my future. There’s not many dishes or things in the cabinets.

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Living room 

Here’s the 1 bedroom unit which is right next door on the same floor. Come visit us! You can stay here for just a small fee of babysitting our adorable toddler🙂

Entry way

Entry way

Bathroom

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Kitchen

Kitchen

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Dining room

Dining room

Living room with fold-out bed

Living room with fold-out bed

James also got his car on Monday. It’s a Ford CMax. I think he might have been slightly disappointed that it wasn’t something more European that he couldn’t get in the US. However, I think it will work really well since it’s on the “bigger” side (at least compared to how small cars are here) and will fit our family pretty well.

Silas approves

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Silas approves

Off to Germany!

Well, here we go again. I’ve resurrected my old blog that I used while we were traveling South America. South America was supposed to be our last big adventure before we settled down to have kids. Now we’re in Germany with a toddler and a baby due in 6 weeks! After a few months of not knowing whether James’ company would come through with the formal contract, they finally did and barely in time. He accepted a one year position to work in the Dortmund, Germany office at his company Thyssen Krupp. So I left my job who gave me another 1 year leave of absence (seriously, how many times are they going to let me do this?!).

After a whirlwind of packing up our house, renting it out, saying goodbye to all of our dear friends in Denver, and spending a few weeks in Texas visiting family, we’ve arrived in Germany. It was probably the most stressful few weeks of my life. We’re renting an AirBnB for the first week or so while James’ company tries to find us a place to live. James’ contract states that we are to get a furnished 3 bedroom place. However, we’ve looked around and all there seem to be are 2 bedrooms. James starts work on Monday June 1st and I’ll get a taste of what it’s like to be a stay at home mom which terrifies me just a little.

I neglected to take near as many photos as I should have over the last few weeks and the ones I did take were with a pretty old and cheap smart phone since my company took their iphone back when I started my leave. Here are the pics I managed to get:

James' company allowed us a certain # of lbs to ship. I used every last one of them and it seemed like almost all of it was kid/baby related.

James’ company allowed us a certain # of lbs to ship. I used every last one of them and it seemed like almost all of it was kid/baby related.

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Silas and I flew to Austin by ourselves while James finished up moving out of our house. We met him in Dallas a few days later.

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One of the rare occasions I get the tablet out is for airplane flights. It’s finally starting to hold his attention for more than 2 seconds. He will maybe use it for 8 minutes at a time now which isn’t long but it certainly helps!

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Hanging out with Uncle ya-ya at my parents house near Austin.

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At my parents house near Austin. He could play with water all day.

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Climbing trees with the cousins. His exact words “like a squirrel!”

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Just hanging out.

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He had SO much fun playing with his cousins!

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Hanging out with all his girl cousins in Dallas. James’ sister and her family are visiting from Africa for a whole year. So bummed that it’s the same year we’re heading to Germany.

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It took two cars to get all of our stuff to the airport to catch our flight to Dusseldorf.

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We had SO much stuff. It’s no wonder they lost 3 of our bags. Luckily they found them 2 days after we arrived.

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A little snooze on the first flight from Dallas to Chicago.

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Silas’ business class seat! Look at all that wasted leg room.

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Thank goodness for lie-flat seats on our flight from Chicago to Dusseldorf. Silas did SO well.

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Taking a stroll after we arrived. Silas adjusted really well to the time change – thank goodness!

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On our way to dinner one night, he found a horsey.

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On our way to dinner one night, he found a horsey.

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At the playground near our Air BnB rental.

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Matching flannels🙂

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Just hanging out.

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Only a 5 minute walk from our Air BnB rental is a really nice playground and trails through the forest. Too bad this house is too far from James’ work. We will likely be moving into the city.

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Exploring the woods.