Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2nd Opinion

Last night Ben sent an email to another immigration lawyer for an impartial look at our situation and what possibilities there are regarding our future here. I was given the name of this lawyer by someone I met in the kids school. I was in the office waiting to sign in for a volunteer stint and got chatting to someone who knew a lawyer and gave me her details. Now we have to wait for a response. We are going for this 2nd opinion because we want to speak to someone who has no ties to the company Ben works for. We are not expecting totally different views or be told that there will be no problems at all gaining PR status but we need to ask them what they think anyway.

Friday, March 25, 2011

UK Trip. Day 8. Wedding Day!

Today was the wedding of my little brother David to Sara. They have requested that  no photographs of them be posted on social networking sites until they have had a chance to see the official photographs once they get back from honeymoon in 2 weeks. I know this is not a social networking site but I am going to wait before posting any pictures of them. I will post a picture of them in 2 weeks but believe me when I say the wait is worth it!

The wedding was wonderful and both bride and groom looked fabulous. The meal that followed was also lovely and we all had a great day. Z and K did their roles as page boy and flower girl very well and both looked great in their wedding outfits. K and I had both gone to get our hair and make up done in the morning. I did wear my ridiculous shoes but had to take them off on several occasions as they were very high and I am much more suited to flat shoes or barefoot! Ben and I walked from the church along to the restaurant with David and Sara and I spent about 75% of the walk carrying my shoes.

I only cried twice during the day. The first time was when I gave David a hug after the wedding and we were in the line saying congratulations to them. He had been fine getting hugs from everyone else and then he got to me. I gave him a hug and he wouldn't let me go. He then got all teary eyed and he caused me to do the same. The later on when he was giving his speech he talked about how happy he was that I had flown over for the wedding with Ben and the kids. He looked at me and again he was all teary and he caused me to well up. He ruined my make up! David there was no way we would have missed your wedding!

The reception is tomorrow evening and we fly back to the US on Saturday morning. Not sure how much sleep we will all get!

UK Trip. Day 7.

I decided to be a tourist for part of the day. I met a friend I went to school with for lunch before wandering around Princes Street and taking photographs of landmarks. It wasn't until I left Edinburgh that I appreciated the architecture and beauty that there is to look at in the City Center. It was Ben who pointed out the size of the bricks used to build things in the city.

In the evening I met with some more friends that I went to Tynecastle High School with and had not seen since about 1994! I had been a bit nervous before going out to meet them and I had to remind myself that I was a grown up and school was a long time ago so any anxiety I had about meeting them was ridiculous!

Tomorrow is the wedding of my little brother and Sara.

UK Trip. Day 6.

Day 6 of our trip in the UK was mainly spent travelling up the motorway from Northampton to Edinburgh.

We briefly stopped in Bolton to see some of Ben's family before continuing on to Scotland.

We went round to my brother and Sara's new flat and had some dinner with them before finally getting to bed at about 11pm. We had left Northampton at about 9.30am and it was a quite long day but we still woke at stupid o'clock in the morning on Wednesday!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Today is the day my little brother David is getting married! Tomorrow is the wedding reception.

Congratulations to David and Sara!

Here's a pic of me and my 'wee brother' from a couple years ago. I don't have any of him and my new sister-in-law. That will be remedied as I am going to take LOTS of pictures from the wedding and our stay in Edinburgh.

[This was a scheduled post]

Monday, March 21, 2011

UK Trip. Day 5.

Plans often go awry. I had planned on going to the Borough Council to hand in the forms to enable me to vote from abroad. However, after a call to NBC (Northampton Borough Council not the TV network!), I had to cancel those plans. On the forms for registering to get a postal vote from abroad, it says you need a witness to sign the form. As I would be handing the form in to them in person, I thought I could bypass that. But the guy at the Council told me that I would need to get it signed and it needs to be done by someone who lives abroad, is a UK citizen and has a UK passport. If you cannot find someone to witness your form who meets ALL 3 requirements then you are stuffed and cannot vote from abroad! Luckily I do know British citizens who have British passports so when we get back to Indiana I’ll be asking one of them to help me.

I did take K into town and we got her some things for her birthday from her grandparents. We did tell her though that she would have to wait until it actually was her birthday before she could have them! She was a bit upset as we got her a little Lumpy toy from the Disney Store to replace the one she lost a few years ago. She lost the first one in Abington Park and we had not been able to find her a replacement since, until today.
Z is having a friend that he used to go to school with here come to visit shortly. They have not seen each other since the end of October 2009 so it will be interesting to see how they get on.

I saw this in Waterstones earlier today when I was out with K. Is it me or is there something a bit wrong with seeing the future King in his under crackers in a doll dress up book?!

UK Trip. Day 4.

Sunday brought me another pub lunch. We went to the Toby Inn for a Sunday lunch as it was Ben’s dads birthday celebration. (His birthday is the same day as my brother’s wedding so we brought the festivities forward)

The kids, and grownups, had their plates piled high with food and we all had desserts that we probably wouldn’t normally have. Z had been going on about having a Sunday for about 2 or 3 weeks before we flew over so when he got his hands on the menu and looked at the dessert options he knew exactly what he wanted to have.

After a very filling meal we took the kids for a run around the park to burn off some of the food. We had their old scooter and go cart car with us so they didn’t have to walk a really long way. We also stopped off to look at the birds in the aviary before heading back to the house for a sit down and a rest before having some birthday cake.

On Monday Ben is due to be meeting up with some friends he used to work with and I am taking K into town to chose some birthday presents from her grandparents and I am going go into the Borough Council to drop off some forms to register to vote from abroad. We also hope to stop by the letting agents who are managing our house and sorting out tenants to live in it etc. Well, that is the plan anyway.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

UK Trip. Day 3.

As we are here for the wedding of my brother, and it is a Scottish wedding, it is necessary that Z get fitted for a kilt. Unfortunately due to time constraints we can't wait until we are in Edinburgh for him to get measured for a kilt. So, we decided to drag the poor boy into Northampton town center and get him measured at Debenhams and then call my mum with the measurements and sizes he would need for everything so my sister in law to be, Sara, could order his kilt. I am not totally sure if Z realizes what he is going to be wearing but he has seen his dad wearing a kilt so it won't be a total shock!

On Saturday morning, Ben took K out with him to meet a friend he hasn't seen since they were at school together, and I took Z into town to get his measured. The first stop for us though was Greggs and we got a sausage roll each and a donut. I had not had a sausage roll from there for about 2 years so it was really good to have one again.

I dragged Z into Debenhams and we spent about 10 minutes in total in there whilst he was measured. The woman gave me a card with all the measurements on it and I called my mum in Edinburgh to give them to her so the kilt et al could be ordered for Z for Thursday.

We then took a wander around town and looked in some book stores and toy shops before having our donuts. We called Ben to come and pick us up before stopping for a fruit smoothie and getting a weird little toy thing (bit like a fluffy snake on a stick that cost 50p)

Friday, March 18, 2011

UK Trip. Day 2.

So, after about 14 hours of sleep I ventured out to meet a friend for lunch at a pub in Northampton town center. We went to The Eastgate (formerly Lloyds) on Abington Street. I had a chicken burger and chips. Good pub chips. I even had malt vinegar on them too. Very yummy.

I wandered around the town center for a while after lunch and had a look in  the shops. I saw some of the lions that have appeared in Northampton. Overall not a lot seems to have changed. It looks like time has stood still and all the same shops are there and the ones that were closed before are still closed. Although a Tescos Express is opening where Woolworths used to be on Abington Street and a rather odd little water feature/fountain type thing has appeared next to the Market Square. I bought a couple packets of Cadbury Buttons and a Dairy Milk bar but have been strong willed so far and not eaten them....yet. To be honest I am still stuffed from the burger and chips and don't even feel hungry for dinner yet. Ben has gone out for a meal and drinks with some guys that he worked with in Olney several years ago.

Today is Comic Relief day and K sported a rather fetching piece of headgear earlier. We also have red noses and a laughing soft red nose. I have told Ben I want to get one of the car noses so we can put it on our car when we get back to Carmel.

UK Trip. Day 1

The kids were going to school on the day we travelled to the UK. The plan was to get up and have breakfast together before the kids went to school and then I’d pick them up from school just before their lunchtime of 10.15am (yes I know it is weird to have lunch at 10am!) and then drive to the airport.
However, our alarm didn’t go off and we woke up, rather suddenly as K got into bed next to me, at 7.52am. The kids school bus picks them up at 7.52am and school starts at 8am! Cue mad dash to get them dressed and me driving them to school. No time for breakfast or anything. I pull up outside school and dropped them off. I then spent the next 2 and a bit hours making sure we had everything we needed for our trip. Ben is much better at packing than I am as he has better spatial awareness.
Our flight to Indianapolis was due to leave at 4.11pm with a connection at Newark at 6.40pm and arriving at Heathrow at 6.20am the following morning. When we got to check in the woman on the desk told us she thought 40 minutes from arriving at Newark and then getting the flight to London was too short, especially with kids. So she put us on the flight an hour later. So now we are waiting for our flight in Indianapolis and we notice that the screen in departures no longer says we are departing at 4.11pm, it now says 4.40pm. There have been no announcements or anything telling us this though.  We finally get on board the plane just after 4.40pm and we taxi to the runway. We’re then told they are holding us there for another little while as there is bad weather in Newark and a lot of flights trying to land at the same time. They would rather we wait on the ground in Indianapolis rather than circle in the air at Newark.
The flight finally takes off at about 5.20pm. We arrive in Newark with about 25 minutes before boarding of our flight to London starts. (This being less than the 40 minutes we were initially supposed to have.)
So we try to get off the plane as quickly as possible and make our way to the shuttle bus to go to Terminal C. (We had arrived at Terminal A) I update my Facebook status saying we are running late which amuses and confuses some people but I would like to point out I was “ON THE SHUTTLE BUS” and was simply wasting time. We then run down towards the gate. Z is complaining of needing to go to the restroom and that his trousers are falling down. I simply don’t want to run as I am tired and feel unwell. We make it in time to get to the gate just as they are boarding 1st class passengers. I have to remind the woman to take our I-94s that are stapled into our passports. I really don’t want to pay $330 per person to rectify the situation if they don’t take them at the gate with USCIS!
We sit on the plane and wait for takeoff. It becomes clear that the plane is not full and there are lots of empty seats so we can lie down later for a sleep. The kids decide to watch the movie “Tangled” and I start to watch “Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows. Part 1” By the time they serve dinner I am feeling quite queasy and don’t want to eat my chicken and rice. Both Z and K have the kids meal that has something resembling a burger. They also have Oreos and a packet of M&Ms each! I decide to lie down in the seats behind them and try to sleep hoping it will make me feel better. (The smell of the beef burgers is doing nothing to help my funny tummy either.)
I think I manage to doze for an hour or so. That is the first time I think I have ever managed to sleep on a plane. Z is sleeping in the row in front of me and K is sleeping, and snoring, in the row to the side. The cabin lights get turned on for breakfast and I manage to eat a croissant and some fruit. Not long after that we start the descent for landing at Heathrow.  It is at this point I have another first for all the times I have spent on a plane. I have to use the little paper sick bag. Ick, ick, icky! We land 10 or 15 minutes after the time we would have initially arrived on our first flight before we got changed!
Luckily we get through passport control and customs without incident. We just need to find the taxi that has been booked to pick us up and take us to my brother in laws flat in London. For some reason, which I still don’t quite understand, the taxi driver has decided to park outside departures. Forgive me if I’m wrong but haven’t we just arrived so we would be coming out of ‘Arrivals’?! Eventually we find him and we begin the drive across Central London, in rush hour traffic. An hour and 20 odd minutes later we arrive at his flat and relax until it is time to pick up the rental car and drive up the M1 to see my in-laws.
We drive in the rented car up the M1 to Northampton. I forgot how awful it can be driving on the M1. For a really long period of time we were stuck to driving at 50mph. We arrived and settled in with Ben’s parents and had some dinner. The kids went to bed and slept for about 16 hours. I went to bed at 8.30pm and woke up at about 10am! Roll on day 2. I am meeting a friend for lunch at a pub in town soon. I may also buy a few treats in Wh Smiths or Marks & Spencer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

First we go from Indianapolis International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport

And then we go from Newark to Heathrow Airport.

I am going to be flying back to the UK with Ben and the kids. Luckily the kids like being on planes and really enjoy using the restroom on the plane! As it is a night flight I hope we will be able to get some sleep. I have real problems sleeping on planes though. I am aware that I snore and I can't sleep sitting upright. I need to be lying down to sleep. I think after about 8 or 9 hours on a plane I am going to be a bit irritable when we arrive in London!

After flying across the Atlantic, and probably not in the best of moods, I will then have to drive (actually Ben is doing the driving) from London up the M1 to my in-laws house in Northampton. A few days later we get to drive up the M6, via Bolton where we will see more of Ben's family, to see my family in Edinburgh for my brothers wedding. The wedding reception is on a Friday and at stupid o'clock on the Saturday morning we will need to leave for Glasgow Airport to get the flight back across the Atlantic! I may be slightly worse for wear on that flight but not for the same reasons as when I arrived in London!

What're you doing today? Going anywhere interesting?

[This was a scheduled post]

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Travelling Soon.

This week we are flying back to the UK for the wedding of my little brother. We will be seeing Ben's family first and then driving up to Scotland for the wedding next week before returning to Indiana.

It's been almost 17 months since we left the UK and we've been settling into our lives here in the US.

When we get off the plane we are going to be really tired and I'm probably going to be really irritable as we are getting an overnight flight. I can't really sleep well on a plane as I prefer to be lying down to sleep. Plus I am aware I snore (sometimes very loudly) and that will probably stop me from really settling down to sleep.

17 months is not a really long time but I am sure that there will have been lots of changes. Both changes in the UK and changes with us.

We've gotten used to certain things that we probably take for granted now. Things like quick service in restaurants, bigger cars and cheaper gas/petrol (currently it is quite high and is about $3.50 a gallon, which makes it about £0.60 a liter).

We use American terminology for things now. It's not a toilet, it's a restroom. If you want an American to look at you like you are an escaped mental patient, tell them you are going to wash your hands in the toilet.

Z is going to be writing a journal whilst we are away so he can share it with his class when he goes back to school. Both kids are also going to be taking photographs so they can show their point of view on the trip.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone whilst we are there. I am going to try to meet up with friends and go out for drinks. I've already set up a reunion with a group of classmates from my high school in Edinburgh just before the wedding. It's just all the travelling I am not looking forward to!

We are planning on bringing back UK food and goodies from the trip. We are also going to be bringing back tat. Royal Wedding tat. Basic cheap UK tat that is good for a giggle.

The kids are looking forward to going over but it is going to be a lot for them to cope with. It is going to be a long journey over and a lot of travelling whilst we are there too. I hope they are not going to have to be 'on show' for the whole time. If they get crabby and irritable then so be it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Old Country V New Country

This post is not going to be about how the UK is better than the US or vice versa. It is about something that has been bothering me for some time now. When we were still living in the UK there was a lot of stuff in the media about the number of immigrants arriving in the UK and the fact they were not adapting to the new culture. They were staying with the culture of their old country even if it meant not blending in with the new country and customs. There were complaints about people not learning the language and the amount of things being done to adapt to them rather than the other way around. I saw complaints in the media about the fact some councils were 'banning Christmas' so they would not 'offend' people who were not Christian and would be 'more inclusive'. British born people complaining that people coming to 'their country' and not trying to be more British. There were also complaints about councils doing more to help 'foreigners' than British born people.

Now what about me? I am British but I am no longer living in Britain. I am living in the US. I am using American words for things and my accent has started to change. My children are sounding more American with every passing day and they use American terminology for things every day over using the British words to describe things. That does not mean we are no longer British or that we do not want to associate ourselves with our home Country but that we are adapting ourselves to our new home. Some British people, who I know have complained about immigrants in the UK, seem to take issue with the fact that we are adapting to our life in the US in the very same way they want immigrants to the UK to adapt. They say we are forgetting we are British. We are apparently forgetting who we are. No we're not. We could never forget who we are. How come it is not alright for us to adapt to another country but people going to the UK have to adapt? Why should I have to repeat myself over and over again when it is easier to use a different word or change the pronunciation of a word slightly? My passport is still a British passport. It is still that lovely maroon color. It is not a blue American passport.

Also why would you move somewhere new and not even try to adapt a little to the new culture? Who knows, you may even like it. Why be so close minded that you think no where could be on par with where you have come from? Jealousy may have something to do with it I suppose. The fact that people may see stuff on the news and decide that what they are watching is an accurate reflection of an entire nation and it's people.  Of course the problem there is that usually the things reported on the news are not particularly nice.

I have heard/read complaints from people about the fact that some actors seem to be using a trans Atlantic accent and no longer sound like they should. A prime example here could be Catherine Zeta Jones and the fact that people do not think she sounds Welsh enough anymore. (The comments on this article are just lovely aren't they?! How dare she leave Wales?!) Think about it people! When did she last live in Wales? Is she expected to take classes to keep her Welsh accent? If you are young and always surrounded by people who have a different accent to you then of course you will start to pick up a bit of it. Some people have an ear for accents and others don't.

In a nutshell, I feel that it has to be a two way street when people move to a new country. The new residents have to at least try to adapt a little to the new country and customs but the people born there also have to be a little welcoming and understand that not everyone is like them or wants to be like them. The world would be a pretty boring place if we were all the same.

Remember, my accent doesn't make me who I am, I am the sum of all my parts.

[This post is not aimed at any specific people so please don't hurl abuse at me thinking I am 'having a go' at you because I'm not. It's not all about you, you're not that important.]

14 year olds & Green Cards

Did you know that you need to get a new green card when you turn 14? Do you know the reason why? No really, I'd like to know why. ...