Sunday, May 31, 2020

Official Paperworks When Giving Birth in Germany

The birth of a child is always a unique experience for parents. There is nothing else that anyone would like to do as to just pay attention and dedicate your time to your newborn child. Unfortunately, with the birth of a child comes the important paperworks and formalities that parents need to submit and fulfill. 

For this second pregnancy, it will be like doing things the first time since it is my first time giving birth here. In Germany, there are various things that need to be accomplished, not just for the formalities but also to be able to receive monetary support from the government. Here are important things that you need to take note of in order for everything to be in order and to do them properly.  I should prepare the paperworks before the baby comes out so that processing will be easier and faster.

I have come up with a list of the most important administrative formalities related to birth and have also noted the requirements, deadlines, costs if any and the responsible office.

1. Birth certificate (Geburtsurkunde): The birth certificate should be applied at the relevant civil registry office (Standesamt) within 7 days from the child's birth. This is oftentimes taken cared of by the hospital, since they are required to register newborns. The birth certificate costs €10 for the original and €5 for every certified copy. Documents needed are the parents' identification cards or passports for foreigners (Personalausweis), marriage certificate (Heiratsurkunde), birth confirmation from the hospital (Geburtsbescheinigung), and acknowledgement of paternity (Vaterschaftsanerkennung) for unmarried parents.

2. Paternal Acknowledgement (Vaterschaftsanerkennung): This is only applicable for parents who are unmarried. It should ideally be done before the child is born, so that the father's name could be directly entered into the birth certificate, but can also be done after birth. Otherwise, only the name of the mother will be noted. The father also does not necessarily have to be the biological father. There are no deadlines for the paternal acknowledgement. To apply for this, the following documents need to be presented at the civil registry office (Standesamt) or youth welfare office (Jugendamt): parents' identification cards or passports, birth certificate of the father, consent of the mother. The paternal acknowledgement is free of charge.

3. Health Insurance (Krankenversicherung): Because every person is required to have a health insurance coverage in Germany and so that the child is also insured for later check-ups, it is important to apply the newborn child for a health insurance. The child can be accommodated in the health insurance of the mother or the father by means of the birth certificate and/or paternal acknowledgement. For this purpose, an admission form can be requested by phone from the health insurance company. It is important to perform the official paperworks as soon as possible, so that the child can be insured as soon as possible, too! The costs of the insurance is dependent on the tarif. Documentary requirements include the birth certificate and admission form of the health insurance company, and paternal acknowledgement when necessary, and should be applied at your own health insurance provider.

Having a newborn child also mean that you need some financial support from the government because as an employee, you will have to stop working for a period of time to take care of your baby. In Germany, they provide child allowance until the age of 18, maternity allowance, and parental allowance for a maximum of 12 months should you decide to go on a parental leave.

4. Maternity Allowance (Mutterschaftsgeld): For employed women who are private or family-insured, the maternity allowance can be applied at the Federal Insurance Office (Bundesversicherungsamt). The case is different for statutory insured women, as the maternity allowance will be paid by the insurance provider. The maternity protection allowance is given along with the employer's allowance for pregnant women who are on maternity leave. The maternal protection period for permanently employed pregnant women is from six weeks before to eights weeks after birth. To get this benefit, you should be insured with a statutory health insurance company as this is not paid under private health insurance. The amount of the allowance is maximum €13 per calendar day. You will need the following documents: employer certificate (Arbeitgeberbescheinugung), certificate of the presumed delivery date (Bescheinigung des mutmaßlichen Entbindungstermins), and filled-up application form for maternity allowance. The application should be submitted to the Federal Insurance Office for private or family-insured women or to the health insurance company for statutory insured women in good time before the begin of the maternity leave.

5. Parental Allowance (Elterngeld): The parental allowance serves to compensate for lost income. The administrative procedures after the birth can only be carried out at the offices designated by the state government, which are listed on the website of the Federal Ministry for Families (Bundesministerium für Familien). The amount of the reimbursement is based on the previous net income. An application should be made immediately after birth because the payment is only made retrospectively for a maximum of three months. To apply, you will need the birth certificate, parental allowance application form, and payslip from the last 12 months. The responsible office varies by federal state. You can find information on the parental allowance office (Elterngeldstelle) in your area from your city, district and municipal administration or from family advice centers. 

6. Child Allowance (Kindergeld): Child allowance or benefit is given to children until they reach 18 years. The application for child allowance (Kindergeldantrag) is processed by the employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit), with processing times approximately between 1-1.5 months. It is possible to apply to the authorities for child benefit before the birth, but the application is only valid when the birth certificate is submitted. Payment is made from the month of birth and is paid retrospectively for a maximum of 3 months if the processing time is longer. The limitation period for the legal claim is four years. You will need to submit the birth certificate and the application form, which is available at the Agentur für Arbeit website.  

7. Income Tax Card (Lohnsteuerkarte): Have your income tax card changed. If you want to benefit from the child allowance, you must have your offspring noted on the income tax card. The income tax card can be applied for before birth, however the registration itself only takes place afterwards because the birth certificate is required for this. The change has to be accomplished as soon as you receive the birth certificate at the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt). You will need to bring your income tax card, personal identification or passport, of course the birth certificate and paternal acknowledgment (for unmarried parents). 

8. Parental leave (Elternzeit): As a soon-to-be mother, you will of course want to spend time with your baby for as long as possible. That is why there is the parental leave. Generally, expectant mothers have a legal right to take parental leave until the child is three years old. This must of course be registered with the employer in writing at least seven weeks before the start of the parental leave. Not a classic administrative procedure after the birth, but nevertheless mandatory, the notification of the birth to the employer can be combined directly with the application for maternity protection and parental leave. Most mothers take 12 months of parental leave because during this time, they can also receive parental allowance. But if you financial capacity allows, you can take the maximum of three years. 

So there, hope this list will help other expectant moms like me living in Germany to prepare for the administrative procedures that go along with giving birth here. And I wish for a healthy and safe pregnancy.   

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Self-Defense Helps

When you go out in public you want to feel safe. It is a crazy world to live in, and you cannot control the things that go on in it. Though this is true, you should be prepared for emergencies best you can. If you are properly trained and equipped, you can keep yourself out of harm’s way. Here are a few things you can use for personal defense.

Learning self-defense techniques requires special training. This method means you do not have to be equipped with an item to protect yourself. It is important that you understand hand-to-hand combat is usually not a lethal act. So, if you are trying to defend yourself or getaway, this is a great way to do that.

This is one of the most lethal self-defense tools one can have. This should be used only in the most serious situations. You can have a small handgun with Glock trigger upgrades, which makes for a more user-friendly gun. You want something that has knockdown power but is easy to use. Make sure you look into your local laws to ensure handguns are legal to carry in your state.

Pepper Spray
Having pepper spray is a great way to blind or visually impair your attacker. If you spray the liquid into their eyes, they will have a burning sensation. This will give you the opportunity to either attack or get away depending on the immediate threat. You can purchase mace in a small, easy to carry can.

In close quarters, a knife can be used to protect yourself. With a sharp blade, you can do a lot of damage. You should know how to use it and be comfortable wielding it. You can easily carry a pocket knife out in public. Many come with a clip or are small enough to clip onto your pants.

How you choose to react to a situation should be practiced. You want to make sure that you use discernment when you are faced with an emergency.

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Emergency Items You Should Always Have on Hand

It's good to be prepared. As our world has seen recently, the unexpected can happen at any time to change life as we know it. While we can't prepare for every event, we can be armed and ready for things like minor medical incidents or power outages, like emergency lighting Rockland County NY. The following are the top things to keep on hand for emergencies.

Weather Radio
According to the Red Cross, one of the top things you should have for emergencies is a hand-crank or solar-powered NOAA weather radio. You can find multi-use radio, some with a flashlight and SOS alarm, on Amazon or at your local retailer.

Don't depend on batteries to last forever. Make sure to get a hand-crank flashlight that will provide light when you need it. With LED bulbs, these retro tools will give a surprising amount of illumination and only require another crank if they start to dim.

If you have an emergency during freezing and wet weather, a typical blanket is just going to absorb water and freeze along with everything else. You'll need to get Mylar thermal blankets to reflect body heat not only to keep you dry but to protect you from hypothermia.

First Aid Kit
Of all the preparedness items, this one will probably be the only one that has to be replenished periodically from frequent use. Antiseptic, antibiotic cream, gloves, tape, bandages, OTC pain relievers and medical tools are all staples of a well-stocked first aid kit.

Non-Perishable Food and Water
In the event of an extended power disruption or a natural disaster, you need to be prepared in case you have to shelter in place. Plan for one gallon of water per person per day for a total of two weeks. Good foods to have available are energy bars or meals ready to eat, also known as MREs.

My Pregnancy And Some of Its Complications

So I am now in my 26th week of pregnancy and my belly has bubbled as I have swallowed an entire watermelon! I am feeling the joys of my baby's kicks, sommersaults and punches. Oh yes, this baby moves a lot!

I had two check-ups this week: one for the special organ malfunction screening at a specialist since I belong to the high-risk pregnancy group and the routine prenatal check-up at my OB-Gyne.

During the special organ malfunction screening, a fine ultrasound screening was done to check if everything about the baby is okay. They would look at all the organs especially the vital ones: heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, ets. and measure the size of the extremities, look if the ears, eyes, nose and mouth are where they should be. The baby's heartbeat is also checked and also the flow of blood and "food" supply between mother and fetus. I am happy and relieved to say that everything about the baby is okay, she is healthy and even growing up faster than her gestational age.

The specialist found out during the screening that I have an increased amount of amniotic fluid, a medical condition called polyhydramnios, so I had to do more tests to find out what has caused it. Aside from the usual routine checks at my gynecologist, I had to give blood samples to check my sugar levels and also to check for infections. 

"Should I be worried?" This is what I asked my gynecologist. She told not to worry too much about it because we are still waiting for the results of the blood tests. And as shown in the special screening, the baby is growing despite the increase in amniotic fluid.

I was informed though of the possible complications of severe cases, one of which is the late positioning of the baby because it has extra room to move in the later stage of the pregnancy. It is also possible to have pre-term labor or have premature birth. Or the baby grows too big. The placenta detaching from the wall of the uterus before giving birth is also possible. An umbilical cord prelapse can also occur in which the umbilical cord falls out of the vagina before the baby. In worst cases, it could lead to stillbirth. 

So should I be worried? Thinking about the possible complications, one cannot help but be! But I have a very supportive family and friends who listen to me and my gynecologist and her team are also good and competent so I need not really worry too much. I just have to take of myself, relax as much as possible, take care of my food intake and enjoy this little one growing inside of me. Hopefully, the bloodworks will also turn out well and if not, at least we can take preventive and curative measures and monitor the baby. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

What You Need To Know About Moving To Miami, FL

If you love sun-soaked days, beach weather year-round and a relaxed atmosphere with international flair, a move to Miami, Florida could be right for you. With its subtropical climate and an average of 248 sunny days a year, Miami offers the opportunity to live in paradise full-time. Take a look at what you should know if you’re thinking about moving to Miami.

The Famous Beaches Are Open Year-Round
If you love the beach, you’ll be thrilled to know that unlike many beaches in other parts of the country, the beaches in Miami, Florida are open year-round! That means you and your family can enjoy a day at the beach in December or a picnic by the water in March. Popular beaches in the area include Sunny Isles Beach and the Oleta River State Park, but no matter where you are in Miami, you’re never far from a great piece of shoreline.

It's a Great Place To Raise a Family
Miami may be famous for its downtown party scene, but what you might not know is it’s also a wonderful place to raise a family. The diverse population and numerous parks and museums, like the well-known Miami Children’s Museum, make this a great spot to settle down. If you’re looking for custom homes Miami FL, luxury builders can help you bring your tropical dream home to life.

It's Got World-Class Cuban Cuisine
For foodies and fans of international style, Miami’s Cuban cuisine scene is a must-try. Located only 330 miles from Cuba and home to one of the highest concentrations of Cuban Americans in the country, the city can proudly boast Cuban food that’s second to none. The neighborhood of Little Havana is the center of Miami Hispanic culture and offers restaurants, cafés and clubs. For the ultimate gastronomic experience, try a frita, or Cuban hamburger.

For fans of beach weather, top-notch food and family fun, Miami, Florida stands out. If you like the sound of this world-class city, it may just be the right home for you!

Optimize Your Yard

Now more than ever, it's time to optimize and take advantage of our outdoor spaces. However, it's all too common to have a yard that doesn't provide a good space to hang out and enjoy the fresh air. If you find yourself wanting to go outside but not having any reason to, here are three things to consider.

Flat Spaces
For starters, you need some flat spaces large enough to hang out in. Hills are fun when they're covered in snow and you have a sled in hand, but the rest of the year they're just a pain to get up and down. Look at deck builders Halifax or your area, or see if you have the space for a patio. 

Wherever you live, there's something outside that you need protection from. In many places, it's the temperature which is either too hot or too cold. In most places, some protection from the sun is needed. In other places, you will need something to discourage the bugs. Whatever challenges you face, you want to make sure that you can be safe and comfortable outside. 

It's not enough to have an inviting and comfortable outdoor space, you need something to do in it. Eating is a popular option: outdoor bars and kitchens make a delightful addition to any outdoor space, but there are also plenty of other games and activities that can be moved outside. You need something to do once you're outside, even if it's just to sit and talk to friends. 

Outdoor activities are very much an "if you build it they will come" situation. It's hard to make yourself go outside if you have no reason to stay there and nowhere to stay. Design your outdoor spaces to be inviting and useful, and you will find yourself using them more.

A Name for Baby No. 2

Naming a child is one of the most important decisions any parent is faced with. Because once a name is decided, the child will bear it all though his/her lifetime. It may seem like a Herculian task, and it can at times be so, but thanks for modern technology, there is now a vast database of boy or girl names, along with their meanings, origins or roots, and even name or Saint's days.

But how do you select the name for your baby? Parents may choose popular names, or names which have a relevant meaning for the parents, or they name their child after a person who has a great influence on them. What is important I think is that the child will be identify with the name, and not get bullied for it once he / she grows up.

Since we are having a girl, (yes! it is a GIRL!), it should of course be a girl's name. Our first daughter has two names and I want the second baby to have two names too. So we are thinking of the following names:

Lilly - it is both the name of the flower Lily in english and comes in 150 varieties. A beautiful flower, it is a symbol of purity. It is also the short form for the Hebrew name Elizabeth, which means "my God is abundance" or "pledged to God". My daughter loves this name and wants to name her baby sister so.

Emilia - the Italian name has Latin origins ("aemulus") and is the female form for Emilio. When translated, it means the zealous, the hardworking, the imitator. I love the ring of the "-iya" at the end and I think that when combined with softer names, it gives the person more character and personality.  

Grace - the name is derived from the Latin word Gratia, which means grace, beauty, mercy. In Roman mythology, the three Gratia are the three daughters of Zeus. In Christendom, the name has come to mean "the mercy of God."

Hannah - the name comes from the Hebrew word "channah" and has biblical origins. It means gracious, graceful and lovely. In the bible, the name comes from the mother of the Prophet Samuel and the prophet Hannah. 

Marie - the name means "the stubborn" and "the one loved by God". Marie is considered a variant of the name Maria, the mother of Jesus, which goes back to Mirjam, and therefore has a Hebrew origin. 

Claire - the name has Latin origins and is derived from "clarus", with the feminine form "clara" being used only after the time of the Romans. It means the bright, the clear, the radiant, the shining. The name is known for St. Clare of Asissi, the founder of the Order of Claris. This is also a good name to someone who stands out and inspires. 

So these are our choices. Which name combination can you suggest? I would really love to hear from you. I will reveal in another post what Baby No. 2's name will be once we have decided on one so look out for it!     

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Top 3 Ways To Keep Your Kids Entertained This Summer

The summer's almost here, and that means warmer weather, time outdoors and, for many families, kids on school vacation. Luckily, there are plenty of fun ways to keep your little ones from getting bored over the break. Take a look at the top three ways you can keep your kids entertained at home this summer.

Learn a New Hobby Together
Experts have shown that summer activities are key to staving off boredom and mischief. With many families spending more time together than ever, this is the perfect chance to pick up a new hobby. Kids will love the hands-on messiness of putting together a scrapbook, the sugar rush of baking cookies and the rewards of growing their own vegetables in a backyard garden.

Throw an At-Home Pool Party
If you have a pool, an amazing staycation is right in your backyard. After a long winter, it's easy to get your pool prepped for fun in the sun. For example, if you're looking for pool filter maintenance Myrtle Beach SC, trained experts can help make your pool ready for the ultimate party. Your kids will be thrilled by touches of summer décor like pool floats, beach balls and neon towels. To set the mood, be sure to load a playlist of your favorite hits and keep some healthy snacks on hand, like watermelon or pretzels.

Have a Family Game Night
Summer rain keeping you inside? Try having a family game night! Board games are great for your kids' cognitive and linguistic development and also help teach focus and teamwork. When the kids are full of energy, games such as Charades are a fun way for the whole family to bond and blow off some steam.

It's important to help your kids stay stimulated over the summer. Whether it's baking sweet treats, hanging out by the pool or playing board games, these ideas are sure to keep your kids entertained without ever leaving home!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Simple Apfelstrudel Recipe

I had my first taste of Apfelstrudel on one of our trips in Austria and I fell in love with this warm dessert ever since.

Soft, crisp and best served warm, treat your family and guests with this dessert!  
Apfelstrudel is made from Blätterteig (puff pastry dough) traditionally filled with chopped apples, raisins and cookie crumbs, topped with powdered sugar and served warm with vanilla sauce or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. This is perfect with your afternoon coffee or tea. 

This desert is easy to prepare and bake. I made my first batch last year with my daughter and it was delicious! Since then, I would prepare this recipe whenever we want to have Apfelstrudel. You can either prepare the dough yourself if you feel up to it or you can buy the ready to bake ones sold in the supermarket.

For this recipe, I used the one I found online from the magazine Bild der Frau (in German). It has well explained and simple instructions, ideal for beginners like me.

For the dough (if you want to DIY):
125 g flour
70 mL water
1 TBSP oil
A pinch of salt

For the filling:
3 pieces apples (preferably Elstar or Boskop variety)
40 g sugar
80 g cookie crumbs (e.g. butter cookies or ladyfingers)
1 pack vanilla sugar
A pinch of cinnamon
30 g raisins
Lemon juice

Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Melted butter
Clean dish cloth

1. Knead a smooth dough out of flour, water, oil and salt. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in cling foil and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. You may skip this step if you already have a ready made dough. In my case, I used puff pastry dough.

2. For the filling, wash and peel the apples and cut into small pieces. Drizzle with the lemon to prevent browning. Add sugar, cookie crumbs, vanilla sugar, cinnamon and raisins and mix everything well. (We skipped the raisins because my daughter doesn't like it and added some honey, around 2 TBSP, instead.).

3. Roll out the dough in a square form on a floured work surface. Lay out the kitchen towel, carefully lift the dough onto the towel and pull apart very thinly. 

4. Spread a thin layer of the liquid butter on the dough. Then spread the filling over the lower quarter of the dough, leaving a 1-2 cm wide rim on the outside. Fold the outside over the filling and then roll up the dough tightly using the kitchen towel. 

5. Place the seam down on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Brush with part of the liquid butter and bake in the preheated oven at 180 ° C for 35 minutes. Take out of the oven briefly after half of the baking time and brush with the remaining melted butter. This makes the apple strudel so nice and crispy.

6. Serve while still warm - sprinkled with powdered sugar. You can also serve this with vanilla sauce or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. The warm and cold combination is just wonderful!

Easy peasy does it! Let me know your thoughts once you have tried the recipe.

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