Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mad Cow

I used to give blood regularly when I was in the UK. I was on the Organ Donor list and I was on the Bone Marrow register. Since I lived in the UK I am not eligible to give blood in the US. All because of frigging mad cow disease! I do hope that this policy changes soon but I doubt it will. It does transpire though that I am still eligible to be a bone marrow donor. So I have filled out the form online and I will be sent a registration pack in the mail soon. All I have to do when I get it is swab the insides of my cheeks and send it back. Then I wait to see if I am a match to anyone. As K has her Kidney problem, I am well aware that she may need a transplant or dialysis in the future. I am hopeful she won't. In fact I pray she won't and I am not even a religious person. However, if I am a match to someone and can help improve their quality of life by donating some of my bone marrow then why wouldn't I do it? If K needs a bit of one of my kidneys then I wouldn't think twice about it, neither would her father, brother or (I hope) the rest of her family. If we were not a match to her then I would hope that we could find someone who was. Would you help if you could?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

KIndy 500 Race

You will need to turn your head to the side as I had my phone the wrong way round when I was recording this. I really need to get a proper camcorder. Am considering getting a Flip as they are quite cheap at moment. Anyway, Z is in the red car in the middle. He had a big grin on his face the entire time. He got a medal and a certificate. He was in the very last race as they listed all the kids alphabetically by first name.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Carmel Farmers Market Visit

We are just back from our first ever visit to the Carmel Farmers Market. As it was the first market of the year there was free donuts. K and Z had one each but I was good and didn't have one. We then had a wander around looking at all the stalls and smelling all the lovely food that was cooking. We tried a sample of the kettle corn and got a reusable bag from the Clarian North Medical Center stall. (That is one stall I was not expecting to see but the woman there was lovely)

We bought some organic strawberries, bread, herbs and some honey sticks for the kids. All in all it was a good visit and I am looking forward to going again.

Here is a picture of K enjoying the strawberries whilst Z was away with Ben getting the bread.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My son, the Giraffe.

Yesterday Z was in his school show "Kindergarten Sings the Zoo". He had to dress as a zoo animal and sing songs about animals going from A - Z.

We looked for a costume at lots of stores but as it is nowhere near Halloween, we were having a hard time. In the end Ben managed to get a costume from Dan that his niece had used. So Z was now going to be a giraffe.

We took him to school for 6.45pm and went through to the gym hall where the show was being put on. There were a lot of people there and in the end we sat quite far back so were not able to take any good pictures of the show. At just before 7pm all the Kindergarten classes came into the hall and went onto the stage. Z was in the front row and right in the glare of the spotlight. He got a little bit of stage fright and did not sing as loudly as some of the other kids. He did sing a bit and he did do a few of the dance moves but mainly he just stood there. As the lights were so bright in his face he was not able to see us and I don't think that helped his nerves at all. He is quite an introverted boy at times and having so many people looking at him must have been un-nerving. He yawned. He picked his nose. He scratched himself a few times. But the thing that meant the most to me was that he stayed there. He stood in the front row and tried his best. He could have come off the stage. He could have started crying. (Another boy did both of those things) He could have stood like a statue and not moved at all. He faced a fear and did his best. For that I am very proud.

There was a dvd for sale after the show but they only accepted cash or check payment and I did not have my bag with me and Ben didn't have any cash. I collected Z from his classroom and took the giraffe outfit off him., He was so sweaty! His teacher said that for the past month he had been an absolute angel in the classroom and she wished she could have him in her class for another 3 months!

Our next task for Z is to build him a car for the KIndy 500 next week. Luckily it doesn't involve wheels etc. We just need to get a big box, cut out the bottom so he can stand in it and make handles so he can hold it and run. I think Z and K will be in charge of decorating it.


Z is 7th in on the left. It is not a great picture but gives an idea of the number of children on the stage, the spotlight and the audience watching.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

UK Weather v US Weather

The last few days it has been a bit...wet here. In fact it has been very similar to British weather here for the last few days. However, come this weekend it is set to change. As of today this is how the forecast is shaping up on the Weather Channel. I am liking the look of it! Check out Sunday May 23! (I still need to see weather forecasts showing temperatures in C rather than F)

Bring on summer!


10-Day Forecast for Carmel, IN (46032)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Carmel Farmers Market

I like my bed. I like to lie in my bed as long as humanly possible. The weekend is usually the only time I can get at least one morning when I can lie in bed past 7.30am. However this coming Saturday I am going to be up and dressed early so I can go to the Carmel Farmers Market. It is the first one this weekend and I have never been to one before. As I have a daughter who has a love of fruits and vegetables I think I will be able to get a few bits and pieces that she will like. We are also on a quest to get our son to be more adventurous with eating fruits and vegetables so I will probably be dragging him along to see if he likes the look of anything.

Friday, May 14, 2010

CarmelFest 2010



CarmelFest 2010 Entertainment Line-up Announced

C-Fest_Fireworks_2009 Get ready for CarmelFest 2010!  Every year this fun family event celebrates our nation's   heritage on Independence Day weekend with a parade, fireworks, entertainment and exhibits - and every year the Rotary Club of Carmel wows us with new events, fun kids activities and a great way to show our community spirit!  A preliminary entertainment and activity line-up has been set for CarmelFest 2010, Sunday, July 4 and Monday, July 5, at Carmel Civic Square. The festival runs from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday; and noon - 10:45 p.m. on Monday. Admission is free.
CarmelFest parade: 10:30 a.m. Monday, July 5
CarmelFest fireworks: 9:45 p.m.  Monday, July 5
CarmelFest's entertainment line-up as of mid May, 2010 includes:
Sunday, July 4
Gazebo / Main Stage
12:00-2:45 p.m. “CarmelFest Has Talent” Vocal Competition
3:15-4:15 p.m. Carmel Brass
5:00-7:00 p.m. Barometer Soup: Beach/Island Rock
7:30-10:30 p.m. The Wright Brothers: Southern Rock
Americana Stage / North Zone
12:00-1:00 p.m. Charlie's Pocket Jazz Trio
1:00-1:45 p.m. Indy Dog and Disc: Frisbee Dog Show
1:45-2:30 p.m. Actors Theater of Indiana:
Patriotic Theater
2:45-3:45 p.m. Emily Ann Thompson: Celtic music
3:45-4:30 p.m. Indy Dog and Disc: Frisbee Dog Show
4:45-5:30 p.m. Actors Theater of Indiana:
5:30-5:45 p.m.  Carmel Fire Dept: Cooking Fire Demonstration
6:00-7:30 p.m.  Gordon Bonham Blues Band
8:00-9:30 p.m.  Blue Monkey Side Show
KidZone South Stage
1:00 p.m. Indiana Jim's Reptile Show
2:30 p.m. Master Yoo's Worldclass Tae Kwon Do: Interactive Demo
3:30 p.m. ShowTime Dance Company:
Musical and Dance Review
5:00 p.m. Indiana Jim's Reptile Show
6:00 p.m. ShowTime Dance Company: Musical and Dance Review
7:00 p.m. Oogles n Googles: Interactive Rock and Roll Experience
8:00 p.m. Silly Safaris Animal Show
9:00 p.m. Comedy Sportz
Carmel Fire Station
3:00 p.m. Fire Truck Dedication Ceremony - Help christen the new fire truck
Monday, July 5
Parade begins at 10:30 a.m.
Gazebo / Main Stage
12:00-1:30 p.m. The Tides: Caribbean Rock Band
2:00-3:30 p.m.  Deep Breath: Light Rock
4:00-5:00 p.m. Healing Sixes: Original Rock Band
5:30-6:45 p.m. Blair and Co.: Rock and R&B
7:00-8:00 p.m. “CarmelFest Has Talent” FINALS
8:30-9:45 p.m. Carmel Symphony Orchestra
9:45 p.m. Fireworks with simulcast on B105.7
Americana Stage / North Zone
12:00-1:00 p.m. Carmel Voices: Patriotic a capella
1:00-1:45  p.m. Indy Dog and Disc: Frisbee Dog Show
1:45-2:00 p.m. Carmel Fire Dept: Cooking Fire Demonstration
2:00-3:00 p.m. Heavenly Mambo: Jazz Trio
3:30-5:00 p.m. Jimmy the Doorman: Classic Rock Band
5:00-5:15 p.m. Carmel Fire Dept:Cooking Fire Demonstration
5:15-6:00 p.m. Indy Dog and Disc: Frisbee Dog Show
6:00-7:45 p.m. Ben Hammond Rock Band
8:15-9:45 p.m. The Elms: Original Rock Band
9:45 p.m. Fireworks with simulcast on B105.7
KidZone South Stage
12:00 p.m. Silly Safaris Animal Show
1:00 p.m. Oogles n Googles: Interactive Under the Sea Experience
2:00 p.m. Magical Moments with Ryan Demler
3:00 p.m. Comedy Sportz
4:00 p.m. MC Axe and the Firecrew w/ Kasey the fire and life safety dog
6:00 p.m. Oogles n Googles: Interactive Rock and Roll Experience
7:00 p.m. Magical Moments with Ryan Demler
8:00 p.m. MC Axe and the Firecrew w/ Kasey the fire and life safety dog
9:00 p.m. ShowTime Dance Company: Musical and Dance Review
9:45 p.m. Fireworks with simulcast on B105.7


Thursday, May 13, 2010

School Summer Break

When I was a kid I always thought the summer holiday from school was not long enough. My parents always seemed to give the impression that they thought it was too long. I never really felt like that until I became an adult. The summer holidays I had from school in Scotland were from the last Friday in June until the middle of August. (I was never at school for my birthday, yay!) In England they usually seemed to break up from school around my birthday (mid July) and go back the first week of September. In all it was about 6 weeks.

Now I am a parent and I have children of school age I look at it slightly differently! The school summer break here in Indiana is a bit longer than I am used to. Z has his last day of school on Thursday May 27th and he goes back to school (along with K as she will be starting Kindergarten) on Tuesday August 10th. That is 10 weeks off school! 10 WEEKS!!

What am I going to do with them for 10 weeks?! Also as we are currently a 1 car family, I won't always be able to take them places. If the summer gets hot then I won't want to walk too far with them. How am I going to survive 10 weeks with the two of them at home. (We do have a long weekend in St Louis, Missouri arranged as well as a week break in Charlotte, N Carolina.)

How do you survive the school break? Any tips, hints or suggestions that will help me?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Surgery Bill

Got the bill for my surgery today.
Total was originally $6,636.15.
Insurance paid some and 'negotiated a discount' which leaves me to pay $1,127.72!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Car Grumble

I have a couple requests for the drivers out there.

If you are driving a car and are going to make a turn at a junction or something, here is an amazing idea that may not have come to you. Use your indicators/turn signals! They are there for a reason! It really helps other drivers know what direction you are going to go in. Also once you have made your turn can you please turn OFF your indicator/turn signal and not go past 3 more possible turnings with the light still blinking. Same goes for using the indicator way too soon. If there is going to be 5 turning points in a road and you are wanting turn 5 don't indicate at the 1st one!

If you are going to have to use a roundabout during your journey, please know how you are supposed to drive round it. Don't stop half way round to give way to someone else. If you do then you run the risk of being rammed up the backside by another car!

I am not saying I am the worlds best driver. Far from it. It took me 7 attempts to pass my UK driving test. FYI the UK test is harder and longer than the US one and costs more. £90/$135(per test approx based on where I lived) 45 minutes driving, 3 manoeuvres and show knowledge of engine parts and where some things are. This is after completing a theory test (£35/$52.50 per test approx based on where I lived) and a hazard perception test. I just think that if people did the above 2 things then driving would be less stressful/irritating for us all.

Rant over. Enjoy your day.

Cancer is just my astrological sign.

I have just come back from the plastic surgeon where I had my stitches out. As I had not heard anything about the tests on the mole that was removed I thought that meant that everything was fine. After all, no news is good news. Right? Well, sort of. It turns out that the biopsy results came back abnormal. He told me the medical term but it currently escapes me. While the mole was not cancer it was pre-cancerous. If it had not been removed, and it has all been removed, when it was then I ran a very high risk of it becoming a melanoma.

So, what does that mean? Well, I need to go back in 4 months for a check up with the plastic surgeon. (There is always a chance it could grow back). I also need to have a dermatologist for the rest of my life. My plastic surgeon is sending a report to my dermatologist and they will be in touch with me to schedule another appointment. I will probably need to have a full body check so he can see if there are any other moles or areas of my skin that need to be checked. It won't be nice. In fact it will be downright embarrassing. But what is worse? 5 minutes of embarrassment or developing skin cancer?

So for me, right now, and in the future, the only time anyone can ever associate me with Cancer is when they are talking about my star sign. (I don't believe in all that stuff anyway!)


EDIT: I got a letter from my doctor after posting this that I have borderline high cholesterol and my liver enzymes are high and I have to lose 10-20% weight. I am not to take any over the counter medicine like Tylenol if I can help it and I am to go back in 5-6 months for a repeat blood test. On the plus side my blood sugar levels are normal and I am not diabetic.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How long is a piece of string?

How long is a piece of string? That may be easier to answer than how long will we be here for. Currently we are here on H1B/H4 visas. They are due to expire Sept 2012. If they get renewed that will take us to around Sept 2015 most likely. (By then I will be 39(!), Z will be 12 and K will be 10) If Bens employers decided then they were willing to go down the GC route for us then that process could take anywhere from a year if went EB2 route or 7-8 years if went EB3 route. Going by the EB3 route that would take us to around 2022! (By then I would be 46(!!), Z would be 19 and K would be 17) They would be very close to 'aging out' and requiring their own visas to stay, if that is what they wanted. If I am ever to work here and have us become a 2 income family again, we would need to go down the GC route and I am not skilled enough to get my own visa. I know this is an expensive process to go down but part of me wants to know what is going to happen down the road. It is not  my place to question it though. I am not the one currently doing the job. I am not the only one who is affected by this. However, those of you that know me well, know that I am not a very patient person.

If you don't understand Employment Based Green Card then take a gander at this. This is taken from the Visa Bulletin for May 2010 as supplied by the US Department of State.


EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES
First:    Priority Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based
preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.
Second:  Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference
level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.
Third:  Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second
preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to "Other Workers".  
Fourth:  Certain Special Immigrants:  7.1% of the worldwide level.
Fifth:  Employment Creation:  7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of P.L. 102-395.
4.  INA Section 203(e) provides that family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas be issued to eligible immigrants in the order in which a petition in behalf of each has been filed.  Section 203(d) provides that spouses and children of preference immigrants are entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration, if accompanying or following to join the principal.  The visa prorating provisions of Section 202(e) apply to allocations for a foreign state or dependent area when visa demand exceeds the per-country limit.  These provisions apply at present to the following oversubscribed chargeability areas:  CHINA-mainland born, INDIA, MEXICO, and PHILIPPINES.
5.  On the chart below, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed (see paragraph 1); "C" means current, i.e., numbers are available for all qualified applicants; and "U" means unavailable, i.e., no numbers are available.  (NOTE:  Numbers are available only for applicants whose priority date isearlier than the cut-off date listed below.)
 
All
Chargeability
Areas
Except
Those
Listed
CHINA-
mainland born
INDIAMEXICOPHILIPPINES
Employment
-Based
 
     
1stCCCCC
2ndC22SEP0501FEB05CC
3rd22APR0322APR0301OCT01U22APR03
Other
Workers
01JUN0101JUN0101JUN01U01JUN01
4thCCCCC
Certain Religious WorkersCCCCC
5thCCCCC
Targeted Employment Areas/
Regional Centers
CCCCC
5th Pilot ProgramsCCCCC
The Department of State has available a recorded message with visa availability information which can be heard at:  (area code 202) 663-1541.  This recording will be updated in the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.
Employment Third Preference Other Workers Category:  Section 203(e) of the NACARA, as amended by Section 1(e) of Pub. L. 105-139, provides that once the Employment Third Preference Other Worker (EW) cut-off date has reached the priority date of the latest EW petition approved prior to November 19, 1997, the 10,000 EW numbers available for a fiscal year are to be reduced by up to 5,000 annually beginning in the following fiscal year.  This reduction is to be made for as long as necessary to offset adjustments under the NACARA program.  Since the EW cut-off date reached November 19, 1997 during Fiscal Year 2001, the reduction in the EW annual limit to 5,000 began in Fiscal Year 2002.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers Day

Today is Mothers Day in the US so I got spoiled today. I woke up late to find a tidy apartment and some flowers, a message from the kids, a card and a couple pictures and hand made cards from the kids. Ben had taken them both to the Kids Museum so I could have a relaxing start to the morning and catch up on watching "Fringe". It's not really a show I would want the kids to see.

They came back at lunch time to take me out for a meal. We went to The Cracker Barrel. This is a place I have not been to for about 15 years. The last time I went was when I was an exchange student in Michigan. As it was Mothers Day I was anticipating having a long wait but we walked in and were taken to a table right away. There was a large family of about 7 or 8 that were waiting but we had no problems.

We have discovered that when we order for the kids, even though we are ordering from the kids menu, it is best to choose one thing and ask for 2 plates. Otherwise there is just too much food and it is not eaten. The kids decided to have the chicken tenderloins with mashed potato. (When it came to the table it was clear we made the right decision to ask for 2 plates!) I had the Chicken 'n Dumplings Platter with 3 country vegetables. It was lovely and I am glad I had 3 veggies as K and Z ate most of my carrots. Z even tried green beans without fussing about it too much! Ben had the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Country Sandwich Platter. All in all it was just the right amount of food. We left feeling like we had eaten just enough and still had room for ice cream. We drove back to Carmel and went to Handel's Homemade Ice Cream. I had the Cocount Creme Pie ice cream in a waffle cone and it was gorgeous. K had some bright pink ice cream with sprinkles that I think was cotton candy flavored. Z opted for the chocolate chip but ended up not liking the big chocolate bits that were in it. Ben had Chocolate Raspberry Truffle but was not expecting it to be so....chocolatey. I won't say what the kids said it looked like!

I have also gotten myself prepared for Mothers Day next year in the UK by getting some Mothers Day cards now and I'm keeping them till next March. There is no way I would be able to get Mothers Day cards here in March! All I need to do now is remember I have them!

Tequila

I went out the other week for a 40th birthday meal. I know! Shocker, I went out with grown ups. Whatever next?!

Anyway, it was Sian's 40th birthday and she invited me to go for a meal at Kona Grill on Clay Terrace. I have never been there before so had no idea what the menu would be like. I couldn't look online either at my laptop was away in Texas being repaired.

I arrived first and stood outside sending my brother an email. (He is getting married next year and I was trying to get a load of information from him so we could work out flights etc back to the UK for the wedding. Looks like it will cost around $3,500 for flights only!) Angela arrived a few minutes after me and we went into the bar to wait for the others. She said she would get me a drink and I asked for a Diet Coke. She then asked for a drink and the bartender seemed to have a real problem understanding what she was asking for. I seem to recall muumuu being mentioned a few times but I can't quite remember if that was the drink Angela wanted or the drink the bartender thought she wanted.

The others turned up and we were taken to our table. I say table but it was a room. At first it was like we were being taken to the naughty corner. In the room there was a large table with a big tv screen on the end wall. It had  what must have been some sort of screen saver thing to keep with the theme of the restaurant but I just kept waiting for "Finding Nemo" to start.

We ordered our food and started drinking. It was my intention to just have Diet Coke, wine and Jack Daniels. (Not all at same time though) However Melissa decided that I should have tequila. I'm not sure how the conversation came about but I said that I had never had tequila before and Melissa decided we should each have one. So, I agreed. It wasn't too bad. I felt fine for the rest of the evening but the following day my head hurt for a while and I felt a bit woozy until around lunch time. (Ben took the kids out for the morning so that I would have peace and quiet. He also left a bottle of water and the Extra Strong Tylenol by the bed for me)

The meal I had was delicious. I would go there again, possibly forgoing the tequila. Once we had all done eating we went back through to the bar and sat chatting. I think that we were the last to leave. Even though it was around 11.30pm it was not very cold out.

One other thing I maybe should mention is that a few days before this meal out I went to the hairdressers. I got my hair cut short and dyed blonde. Not very blonde but a lot lighter than it was.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It is back.

A lovely FedEx delivery lady just dropped off my laptop. It is all repaired and ready to go. They keys feel weird but it is back and I missed it. Odd how I missed a bit of technology. Don't know how I coped without a laptop for as long as I did.

So, blogging shall be commencing again. I am sure some stuff has been happening recently that I need to tell you about!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why the Silence?

My laptop is away being repaired so no posts until it is returned. It is currently sunning itself in Texas. Lucky thing!

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves. Normal service shall be resumed shortly. Hopefully!

(In case you are wondering am currently using my old Dell laptop that was bought around 2003 and is very very slow! Takes about 10 minutes for it to warm up and start working so not going to be using this one much!)

Off to take K for her KG shots in a bit. I finally had my blood tests this morning. Blood sugar level is 84 which is normal. Got to wait for results of other stuff. Am assuming that is cholesterol tests etc. Back to plastic surgeon next Tuesday (still no word on mole so am assuming all is fine) and K also has her school medical assessment next Tuesday.

Sweets From Back Home

Are you a fellow Brit abroad?  Do you miss sweets like real Cadbury chocolate, not the Hersheys rubbish? I know personally I have regu...