Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Am A Guest Poster.

I am please to say that I am a guest poster over at Mid-Atlantic English today. Last month she asked for volunteers, and she has had some great guest posters. I feel honored to be among them, and included on her blog. I have very much enjoyed reading it for the last year.

To read my post, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Date Has Been Set.

We've done. We picked a moving day and bought the tickets today. We will be flying out of London Heathrow early in the morning on June 7th.

It is only 40 days away, and there is still a lot to do. Tomorrow I have a shipping company coming to look at our belongings and give us a quote. I have already spoken to several other companies, and after tomorrow will book with one of them. Most likely we will be taking a taxi to the airport, and we have already gotten quotes for the trip. It is not as expensive as I would have thought. And much easier than taking our bags on the train and then having to take a taxi to the airport, as Heathrow is a bit of a hike from where the train comes into London. Tomorrow I start calling the utility companies.

I am going "back home" in 40 days. It's a weird feeling. I miss my family and friends. I miss the comfort of knowing what things are called, I miss the comfort that familiar food brings. I miss driving and the ability to go to Walmart at midnight. Though now that I have a family I don't imagine I'll be doing that so much anymore. But I could if I wanted to!

My home is where my family is. And right now, my home is Leicester. It is where Nid, Briony, Cale and I became a family. It is where all of our memories are. It is the last time that I will ever see this house, Leicester, England. I knew when I left Virginia that I would see it again. I know that when I leave England I will never see it again. It makes me sad in a way, while at the same time I am so happy to be going "back home."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Random Tuesday... It's All I've Got.


I have approximately 200 cubic feet of belongings to ship to America. 90% of it is stacked in my living room. The rest of our household we are getting rid of. It's a weird life we're living right now.

We (Nid and the children) got approved for their US visas last week. Now the countdown to their adjustment of status in two years and citizenship in three. My life is one big countdown...

I just ordered my second 700 foot roll of bubble wrap. That's a lot of bubbles.

I think that pigeons are smarter than we give them credit for. They have been trying to build a nest in our alley, and we've been chasing them away with a tennis racket. Yesterday tennis racket to pigeon contact was made and they haven't come back. I would have though it would have taken more effort on our part. 

Stop by Keely's Blog at the UnMom for more randomness!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

US Embassy Review: It's a YES!

We traveled to London on Thursday night (April 15) for our interview on Friday morning. I had everything  timed just right on Thursday, as the kids went to school as usual, but we had to get baths and dinner  taken care of before we got our taxi at 6:30 to the station. We arrived in London just after 9pm. It was  a five minute walk to the hotel (Kings Cross Travelodge). We checked in and got ready for bed right away.  We had to be up at 6 the next morning, so we wanted to get a good night's sleep. The hotel was nothing  special (you have to use your key card to get to the elevator, to make the elevator work, to get to the  hall your room is on... and they don't work great sometimes we had to put the card in 5+ times to get the  door unlocked) but it is relatively cheap and it was clean, if sparse.

Friday morning we were up and on our way at 7:20. We had to take two trains and walk aways to get to the  Embassy, and were there for 8:20. It took about 20 minutes to get through the two check points and  through security to get into the Embassy. We got our number I910 and found a seat. It was just before  9am. The room is very large, with high ceilings and one entire wall is windows facing out over Grosvenor  Square. But with the sun streaming in it was very unpleasant and hot. There were 11 windows (like bank  teller windows) in our room and 13 more around the corner. Numbers were being called constantly, but they  were N numbers (non-immigrant) and we were I (immigrant). When we first got seated they called I901. It  was two hours before they got to us. We went to the window and handed over their passports and US photos  we'd had taken. Then we sat down. 20 minutes or so later he called us back and sent me to pay for the  visas. While I was gone, he fingerprinted Nid and Briony, but Cale didn't have to have his done because  of his age. Then he asked for the documents, one at a time and very organized. The gentleman was very  nice and easy to understand, which was amazing because he was speaking through glass and the numbers were  being announced through a speaker right over our heads. He gave us Nid's x-ray and their medical reports  in an envelope and we sat back down. It was about 11am then.

We were keeping an eye on the I numbers that were getting called up again. At about 11:40 we were called  back to a window in the other room for our interview. This guy was American and was still shuffling  through papers, so apologized a few times for making us wait. He had all of our original documents ready  for me to take back. He fingerprinted Nid and Briony to confirm their identity and then made them hold up  their right hands and swear that the information on the forms and anything they told him today was the  truth. That done, he asked Nid where we were moving to. He told us he was from North Carolina. He asked  how long I had been in England, and I told him about 14 months. He explained about domicile, and how I  did not have to be living in the US to take my family there, but I had to prove that I still had ties  there. I was so anxious for him to stop talking because I had an entire folder full of documents proving  my US domicile. When he was done explaining why I needed to show him I had domicile, I said I have a  lease and slid a letter that I had prepared under the glass. He looked at it and said, it says here you  have a voter registration card? I said yes, do you need the copy or the original? He said the copy was  fine, so I slid it along with our emailed lease under the glass. He looked at them, slid them back and  said great. I had nearly 20 things proving my domicile and intention to move back, but that was all he  wanted. He said everything is done here, you'll need to pay the courier on your way out, and you'll  receive your passports and visas within a week. Then he finished with "Welcome to Virginia. Welcome to  the US.")

I paid at the courier desk, and we were leaving the Embassy right at noon. It was all very surreal. Even  though I'd read dozens of reviews on the immigration forums that I frequent, I still was surprised by the  process. The waiting was killer (and the chairs were horrid, uncomfortable contraptions) but when it was  over, it was hard to believe it was over. I've been so focused on this moment since October/November, and  now it's done. The work isn't over of course. I still have to manage the move and the shipping company  and weeding through our belongings, but the question of can we is gone. We can. We will. Very shortly.

Everyone we talked to was very nice, from the people checking our documents in the que to the document  guy and interviewer. We really couldn't have had a better day (unless we'd had less of a wait time, but  we didn't get there as early as I had planned, and we were prepared with snacks and books).

Because we had to be prepared to stay at the Embassy for hours and hours, we had booked two nights at our  hotel. We went back to the hotel to relax for an hour or so, and then we took the Tube to Westminster to  show the kids Big Ben, Westminster and the London Eye. We went to a gift shop that Nid and I had been to  in November and I got Caitlin a gift that I didn't get then and have been regretting since. After that we  thought about going to Buckingham Palace, but the Tube was getting really busy and there were lines  closed because of a "person under train." It shouldn't have been comedic, but it was because they just  kept playing it over and over on the intercom system. I know why they were doing it, to put blame on the  person, alleviating their responsibility for running behind schedule, but still...

We decided to go back and get some dinner, as by then it was after 4pm. We ate at the Burger King right  next to St. Pancras, where we'd eaten when we went to London for the medicals back in January. After that  we went back to the hotel and started showers/getting ready for bed. We watch a couple of hours of really  bad tv and turned in at 9.

This morning we caught the 10:15 train (First Class) and were home by noon. Lunch and laundry and  everything is back to normal, with the exception of the enormous pile of emails to go through.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Well, I can't say just now, but it's a rather short period of time, in the scheme of things, until we have our interview and know - yes or no - if a June move date is feasible. It's not a matter of can we move, as we have done everything right and there is no reason that they can think up to stop us from moving, it's just when can we move.

Today's goal is to sort out the papers. I've started a dozen times in the last few weeks, but I keep getting frustrated and giving up. If there was just one application, piece of cake! But with three, I don't know which pile to put certain documents in. There are originals and copies of certificates and legal documents, but only one original of some, and multiple copies of others. It's a mess. Literally. A mess piled up on the dining room table that gets shuffled around each day to make room for other stuff.. you know, eating. But today is the day that I will sort it out.

The children came home yesterday. Briony and I had a great chat about paint colors and furniture. She's picked a daring green for an accent wall in her room. It is a very appealing shade. Her description of Cale's color choice was "orange" but it turned out to be less orange and and all yellow. That's if he gets an accent wall. If he gets all four walls painted, he'd like a light green. I said we'd wait to see how the renovations looked and then he could decide. It's all very exciting.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Day Behind...

Is it me, or is Virginia behind the times? Or at least, behind by a day...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Packing Commences.

I have a lot to do! I thought I had a shipping company that I liked, but I am going to re-evaluate my options now that I have a better idea of how much we're taking. In order to get an estimate with a company, you have to tell them how much you are taking in cubic feet. Sounds simple enough, right? Okay, then you do it. It's not as easy as it sounds. A cubic foot is quite small. I needed to have a visual, something physical that I could look at and say "that is a cubic foot." What I came up with is my laptop. With the lid up, if you imagine the lid coming forward and down, that is approximately a cubic foot. That is freaking small! I have been to sites where you just plug in a number, other where you plug in how many of each size box you will need, I have measured and guessed.

So, you plug your number into the website and get an estimate. It is just an estimate. And my measurements are just estimates. That leaves a lot of leeway, and I like concrete facts. Because it is basically all guessing, not only do I have to compare the numbers side by side, but I also have to compare the price per cubic foot side by side. If you are under a certain square footage, the price per foot is higher. So if I overestimated and have less than I thought, I might end up paying the same as if I had more in the end. If I go over, how much are those fees, is insurance higher the larger my load?

Until everything is in a box, we don't know how much we have. But some of the companies have to pack it themselves in order to ship it with insurance. Other companies come and pick up what you've already packed. Those have different prices too. Is it worth it just to pay someone to do it for you and for the peace of mind that that brings? I'd say yes, but then where do we put all the stuff that is waiting to be packed? Until we collect it all together somewhere, we don't know how much we have and how much we are looking at spending.

I could go on and on, but it will not lead anywhere. Kind of like my search for a shipping company has not lead anywhere. It is our goal this week while the children are gone to work on sorting things out. We bought a VCR on e-bay and a cable to connect it to the computer. Nid has been busy converting his old tapes to digital so that we do not have a bunch of UK videos that will not play in the US. What a relief it is that it works and is fairly simple to do. I have sorted through all of our clothes and have a pile to get rid of now, a pile to wear until we move, then get rid of, a pile to pack up now that we won't be wearing between now and then and can be packed for shipping, and a pile that we will take with us on the plane. Whew, that's a lot of piles. The toss out pile is bigger than any of the others, so that's a relief at least.

Today is trash day and the bin is already full with more stuff sitting out next to in the yard. It is a great feeling to get rid of things we don't need anymore, but I hate looking out the window and seeing it. I just want it to be gone, already!