Thursday, October 4, 2012

Playing Man to Man- The First Week (and a half) With Two Kids

With Dana’s Mom leaving this past Monday after staying here for nearly one month, we were back to holding the house down on our own.   To sum things up the day she left I used my best Billy Packer impression (college basketball announcer), “The Foltice’s start the week in a MAN TO MAN.”  Already feeling the effects of sleep deprived, Dana didn’t think it was funny.  

We had grown accustomed to having everything cleaned, washed, and cooked for the last few weeks that it was tough adding those tasks back to the schedule.  I worked this week, so it was especially tough for Dana to step into her Mom’s and my accompanying role.  

In Germany, paternity leave works quite differently than in America.  In America, the Dad typically gets one to two weeks paid time off after their child is born, in addition to their normal vacation time.  In Germany, a new father can take a minimum of two months (not a typo), up to 12 months.  Most German men settle on three months.  The downside is that they get paid 67% of their normal wage, but from what I understand, it is tax free up to 1800 euros per month (a fairly livable wage for most German’s).  If you want to take less than two months off (my sweet spot would be 1 month…long enough to help with the baby and stay refreshed, but not so long that Dana kicks me out of the house.) you can only use vacation days.  Don’t feel too bad for us German employees that don't take Paternity leave, I receive 29 vacation days, plus holidays, so I have some extras to use. 

Nevertheless, I changed my mind from taking three months off back to not taking any time off about 20 times…almost as many times as Dana’s birth plan changed.   I felt like Fred Flintstone with the Great Gazoo coaching me, ‘Hey dum, dum.  Why don’t you take the three months off.  You may never get the chance to take this much time off again.  On the other hand, you will get really bored and you will still have to do most of the same work.  Tah, tah.’

Anyway, my final decision was to keep working.  

My other part time job for the last couple of weeks has been filling out paperwork, something that is a huge part of German living.  I thought that it was taking me so long because the forms are in German, but even when I have a native German speaker helping me, it took us almost four hours just to complete some of the forms.  We are, though, becoming quite proficient at organizing the mountains of paperwork.  This was evident when we went to Dusseldorf and took care of Brady’s passport and birth registration at the US Consulate.  We had everything we needed and zipped through the entire process.   It was a breeze.  Meanwhile, we could overhear the other American’s complaining that they couldn’t complete their paperwork because they hadn’t brought all of the required documents.  Listening to their complaining made us feel happy that we were living in Germany and we don’t have to overhear (often) other English people whining about stupid things.   I told Dana that these people must not have tried to get an Authentalstitel (Work Visa) yet.  That will really give them something to complain about. 

Just like playing man to man defense in basketball, communication is a very important component to being successful.   In our case, I forgot about this when we had Dylan, but our conversation topics become so strange when you have a newborn.  The top three conversation topics include:

1.     The color of Brady’s poop.
2.     The amount of Brady’s poop.
3.     The texture of Brady’s poop.  Was it hard or soft?

It isn’t until we have covered all three topics until we ask about each others day, how Dylan’s day at kindergarten was, or what we should do for dinner.

Our man to man was in top form Thursday night, when Dylan came down with croup yet again.  This is old hat by now, but it is always stressful and it always comes about an hour after we fall asleep.   I took over Dylan duty, trying to get him calmed down and breathing normal again.   Dana took over Brady duty, trying to keep the boys as separated as possible.  I stayed with Dylan until morning and Dana stayed with Brady in an opposite room (I think I got the better deal of the two as I was able to sleep more than her.) 

We have friends coming to visit us (last Friday) for the weekend and we have tried to limit their expectations down to pretty much zero.  Hopefully, they stay friends with us after this weekend is over.  Stay tuned.

Update:  Our friends Amy and Rob have come and gone this past weekend.  (We’ve been really busy, so my editor, Dana, hadn’t gotten around to making me sound somewhat coherent this week. I will post it anyway.)  In my humble opinion, I would say their stay was a success.  Of course, my definition of success is that we are still friends…not sure if they actually had a good time.  We set extremely low expectations before they came and they seemed to be okay.  It also helped that they have a (almost) 3 year old boy themselves, so they were okay with Dylan’s constant burping and farting (and subsequent laughing) all day long.  

UBC Münster Basketball game in the evening

Preussen Münster (3rd League) Soccer Game during the day

Soccer Game