Monday, May 28, 2012

Reporting Birth Abroad

Having a baby in a foreign country - in Germany anyway - involves much paper work.  Before leaving the  St.Marienkrankenhaus hospital after Hannah was born the hospital registration office sent in all the paperwork to the city of Frankfurt including our passports, marriage certificate and birth certificates.  This initial step at the beginning of the paperwork process was super easy.  I requested two official (stamped) copies each of Hannah's birth certificate and report of birth abroad - in total costing about 35 euros.

Approximately one week later I picked up all of our original documents and her birth certificates, which made it very easy as I did not have to go the city and navigate the process with my elementary German.  There they gave me a listing of all the other information and offices for Kindergeld, Elterngeld, Mutterschaftshilfe, Religiöse Zwecke, and Meldebehörde - more on these later.

The next step was reporting birth abroad with the US Consulate, applying for a social security number and a US passport.  As we are both US Citizens, Hannah has US Citizenship and passport - not dual.  In order to have dual citizenship at least one of the parents needs to be a German citizen.

US Passport picture and requirements are the same for babies as adults.  So I was very nervous about getting her passport photo taken and meeting the requirements.  Fortunately, my dread was unnecessary!  The neighborhood photo shop were we had our biometric pictures taken was perfectly prepared for VISA/passport pictures for babies.  The photographer had a white pillow to lay Hannah on and I was able to capture her attention long enough to hold her head straight and he snapped the picture.  So for 10 euros, no pain or problems we had four copies of a sufficient picture.

Once we had the passport picture and completed the required paper work I made the appointment at the consulate. You must have an appoint to enter the US Consulate in Frankfurt, which is done online through their website.  The appointment gadget on the web page is somewhat frustrating and required daily checking to see if appointments had opened up, but finally booked an appointment two or three weeks in advance.

We arrived at the consulate early (because there is always a line) with every document that they might ask for and copies of those documents just in case.  What they required - originals only;
-parents passports
-marriage certificate
-parents birth certificates
-child's German birth certificate
-divorce decree of any previous marriages
-CASH as the credit card machine may not be working

***A prepaid, self addressed, DHL envelope was required, however the website does not indicate this part, but I received an email a few days before with the information.  Some people never got the information and were thus running out to get the envelopes, which also meant going through security again.

Both couples ahead of us were missing documents - proof that they lived in the US even though they were US citizens - in each case the wife was American and the husband was German.   I think because they were married to German citizens they had to prove they lived inside the US with college transcripts, past taxes, or any qualifying document listed on the website.  As we are both US citizens we did not have to prove living in the US, I am not sure how they decide if you need to show proof or not.

Once in the consulate we only had to wait about 20 minutes and then our number was called.  Reporting Hannah's birth and applying for her passport were easier than anticipated.  I can not stress reading through the website to make sure you have all the necessary documents.  The whole process took about a half hour.  Did I mention that everyone was really nice.  Hannah's passport and American birth certificate arrived about two-three weeks later!

Applying for a social security number was super easy.  The Social Security office is in the same building just down the hall, but they have short hours.  The whole process there took about 10 minutes at most.

More on the German side of paper work tomorrow......

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bamburg Trip Pictures

Our little travel buddy, Hannah, waiting patiently

Beer taste test.  Hell, Keller, Hefeweizen, Smoke 

1000 year old cathedral

Ambrausianum brewery 

One of the channels running through the city

Igor Mitoraj's bronze sculpture "Centurione I" depicting the Greek god Eros

Hannah & I trying to stay dry in Bamburg

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bamburg, Germany

**Unfortunately, my decrepit old computer can not find the drive with all of my pictures & music (Argh!) so I will have to upload the pictures for now just words!

Last weekend, Hannah experienced her first overnight trip, first hotel, first road trip, first real adventure!

In celebration of Travis's birthday we went to Bamburg, Germany - they have a lot of beer there and well, Travis likes beer.  Although it rained all weekend we enjoyed our time and spent Saturday walking around with friends - basically eating and drinking all day.  Travis sampled lots of different beers...stuff you can not get in Frankfurt, while I indulged in water, coffee, and apple juice.  

However, I sipped and sampled some beers.  I had to try the "smoke beer" that the guys kept talking about because it is unusual.  The pungent aroma of a wood stove is difficult to get over and a bit deceiving.  Although I'd probably only drink one and not before a meal it was not bad, but not a spring or summer drink of choice.  The smell took me back home immediately.  

On Saturday we walked around and I snapped a few pictures, which proved to be difficult to do while holding an umbrella.  The rain was intense and my pants were soaking wet - definitely need to invest in rain boots!  Regardless, we walked around the cathedral (not open as there was a service going on), which is celebrating it's 1000th anniversary.  I still have to work to wrap my mind around that fact, but coming from such a young country has that affect I guess.  There was much to see and the architecture is so old and the city is charming.

Hannah was super - between relaxing in our arms and being passed out in the back pack she really didn't complain.  Maybe she was sleeping so much because she hardly did the night before!!!  She is ready for our adventure next week - Lake Lucerne, Switzerland.  I am planning the trip now - or at least I should be - we have a hotel booked at least.

So now the adventures really begin for our family.  My "backpacking" through Europe begins albeit my backpack contains the sweetest gift, Hannah, who happens to spit up on me!  The much anticipated travels begin.  Time is also flying by and I feel the crunch and the urge to travel far and wide before we move back home because that date will be here before we know.  We will be hopping in the car, on trains or planes as much as possible - as long as we all have clean underwear and a toothbrush we will be set.

Friday, May 4, 2012


"Hey, that wasn't so bad!"
Nugget is officially a U.S. Citizen!  What a process and judging by other peoples reactions - we breezed through.

First, Lovebug and I both read over the U.S. consulate website to make sure we had everything they required and more.  Apparently some of the folks ahead of us had not read through all the requirements -there are many- and as one might guess they don't accept copies only originals.  Before making the appointment I made sure I had all the required documents and even emailed the consulate to make sure a copy of one of the documents was OK.  Thank God, they said it was fine because the original is deeply buried in our over stuffed storage unit in Michigan.

Secondly, we brought cash because you just never know and good thing we did as the credit card machine was not working.

Three days before I received an email stating that I needed to bring a prepaid self addressed DHL envelope and well everyone in front of us seemed to have missed that email.  Ironically, I got the email as I was walking out the door heading to the DHL store.  Several spouses were out running to the DHL store nearby.

Throughout the whole process leading up to the appointment I will admit my bit of concern about having Nugget's passport photo taken.  Why they put in a picture of a 7 week old baffles me since the passport book is good for five years???  Regardless, we went to the neighborhood photo shop and he was all set up to take passport pictures of babies.  Yes!  Surprisingly, Nugget did well and it only took a few shots before the photographer snapped a decent one.  The standards are still the same for babies as they are for adult U.S. passport pictures - hence my worry as they can be so particular.  The picture above was taken right after our official photo shoot - beaming with success and a bit of relief on my part.

After providing all the documents and paperwork and forking over about 160 euros.....Nugget is officially a U.S. citizen!!!  Now her passport needs to arrive before we leave for Michigan at the end of June....should only take 4 weeks.      

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Muscat Grapes

I love stumbling across a new food, especially when it's tasty and healthy.  Welcome...Muscat Grapes.  These green grapes with a red-ish pink hue are a combination of the best qualities of green and purple grapes.

After finishing the grapes and deciding to blog about them I needed to learn more about them.  Although these sweet little aromatic wonders are new to me they are far from new.  Apparently, these are one of the oldest known grapes and used in hundreds of wines and grown all over the world.  They can range in color from light to very dark.

Maybe it's living in a big city, maybe it's being in Europe surrounded by fresh markets everywhere, but I am discovering new produce all the time whether it arrives in our weekly delivery or I find it at a street market.

Cooking can become very interesting when using new ingredients and translating new recipes.  In this weeks delivery we received a pack of herbs for "Grüne Soße" (green sauce) a Frankfurt specialty.  The sauce even has it's own festival coming up soon - May 21-28.  Once I collect a few needed ingredients I will make my first attempt at green sauce.

Stay tuned!!!