On Thursday evening, I was invited to the bi-annual Oudelande parent-toy-cleaning-session at Lukas' Pre-School. We were instructed to bring our own bucket and towel, and show up at the school at 7:30 PM.
So we quickly ate dinner, then I left Lukas, Tobi, and Tobi's parents behind, for what turned out to be more of a mothers' social function, with the end-result being a clean, tidy, and germ-free preschool.
I have to admit, it was kind of a cute idea. Apparently, they don't do that sort of thing in every Dutch community, so perhaps it's more of a small-town trait.
Then yesterday, while chatting with some friends at a birthday party, I learned that schools here break for lunch, making it both logistically and financially challenging for a mother to return to work, even when her children are school-aged. There is a form of day-care in most communities during this time (and after school), but if you're lucky enough to secure a spot for your child, the programs are often (but not always) cost prohibitive. For this reason, many parents either search for a less expensive alternative in their community, or rely on a support network consisting of relatives and friends.
Another issue foreign to expats, which takes some getting used to, is the fact that, in order to see any specialists, including a Pediatrician, you must register with your local "gemeinde" - the regional government authority. Once you and your children are registered, depending on their age, you might be required to bring them to a designated doctor in the "gemeinde" at pre-determined intervals for exams and vaccinations (previously we've always been able to choose our Pediatrician, be it in America, South Africa, or Germany). According to some sources, these offices can be (but again, are not always) very impersonal... which has got me thinking about whether I want to drive the 45 minutes to Antwerp for any necessary check-ups and doctors visits.
I've written a bit about our experiences with the local Obstetrician on our Pregnancy and Baby Blog. But these are just my experiences, and they're by no means bad, just different from what we've experienced elsewhere. That's the beauty of globetrotting!
I wish I could write more about recent exciting adventures, but we honestly haven't had any. The weather has been terrible and I seem to have yet another cold, so we've been pretty lazy over the past week and a half.
Maybe next week?
Or perhaps you have some adventures that you could share with us...
some sunshine that we could bask under vicariously from this sometimes strange, "foreign" place.
But it won't be long before rose bushes and incredible gardens line every street in Zeeland. And believe "you me" - I'll be the first to rave about it! :-)