The Idiot’s Guide To Everyday Life

Visas Are Frustrating – And I Don’t Mean Credit Cards
7.Jun.10, 21:03 pm
Filed under: Goals, Hopes, Plans, Rants, Tidbits About My Life

About a month ago I got word from my Immigration Attorney that she’d finally sent off the packet for my K1 visa petition for Peter. I’ve done my homework, so I know the steps to getting the approval.

  1. Visa Paperwork is received by the Vermont Processing Center (There are 2 K1 processing centers, California and Vermont. Oklahoma residents use Vermont).
  2. Check included is cashed and the Case Number is put on the back (you can get that as soon as it hits your bank usually).
  3. You can log into the USCIS website to track the progress of your case.
  4. The approval from the US side of the USCIS comes (2 to 3 months or more) from Vermont.
  5. The case is transferred to the NVC (National Visa Center) and sent to the London Embassy for their side of the approval.
  6. Peter obtains necessary immunizations, gathers necessary documents and has medical evaluation.
  7. Peter attends visa interview at London Embassy and is given final approval.
  8. Visa is sent in about a week from London to Peter.
  9. Peter comes over!!!

I called several times to see if my atty’s office had received my receipt number/case number, but nothing. Finally this morning I received an email from my attorney saying that my paperwork was being forwarded from Chicago to Vermont.

WHAT? Why was my paperwork even SENT to Chicago in the first place? Chicago doesn’t process K1 visas at all!?!?!?! If she really sends off as many visas as she claims she does, WHY would she send it to the wrong processing center???

Then she asked me if I was planning to contact my Senator/State Rep to assist?

WHAT? If she’d sent my paperwork to the right place to start with I’m sure the check would have already been cashed and I’d have a case number so I could track it on the USCIS website, and we would know how things are progressing. Without a case number, even a Senator/State Rep couldn’t get information out of the USCIS about my case!! I know I’m not the most patient person in the world, but COME ON!!! This is my family we’re talking about. I can’t get Peter over here till that visa comes through. Now we have a Fedex receipt to tell when my paperwork was received at the WRONG place, but no way to tell when/if my paperwork was received by the RIGHT place! I have no way of knowing if it’s sitting in a pile somewhere just waiting for someone to send it off, or if it’s in a mail sorting station waiting to be put on someone’s desk to be processed through.

I keep checking my bank account online every day to see if the check has been cashed, but so far, nothing. I’m getting worried. Most people are telling me that they see the check being cashed within a week of it being received at the processing center. Now, I don’t know when or if I’ll see it go through. I’m feeling defeated. This isn’t good.


London Calling
24.May.10, 21:38 pm
Filed under: Friends & Fam, Goals, Hopes, Tidbits About My Life

LONDON BABY! I flew off for Spring Break with my man! One blissful, albeit exhausting week in Jolly ‘Ol England with Peter and the Allen Family.

The route was to be OKC to Atlanta, Atlanta to Brussels, Belgium, and Brussels to Bristol, UK. Never expect anything involving ME to go according to plan.

I was supposed to fly out of OKC around half-past noon on Friday the 13th, but due to weather delays in Atlanta (my connection), my flight was delayed 3 hours. By the time I made it to Atlanta, I’d already missed my connection to Brussels, so I was rerouted to Manchester, England, and from there to London/Heathrow Airport. When my flight arrived in Atlanta, they were already boarding the connection to Manchester, so I barely made it onto that flight. When I got to Manchester Saturday morning they’d already boarded my flight to London, but hadn’t taken off. I cried and begged and got the ticket counter girl to get permission from the pilot to let me on. I made it to London, only to find out that my bags hadn’t. They’d never re-routed them!! I was assured by two lovely, cake-eating baggage claim attendants that they would find my luggage within 24 hours, anywhere in the world, and courier it to me. Meanwhile, buy some new things and keep the receipts to file a claim against British Airways. (Don’t give me an excuse to go shopping. Seriously.)

I walk into the terminal to see my wonderful man, sitting there with a smile plastered on his face, and a bouquet of yellow roses. (I don’t much care for yellow roses, but they’re his thing, and I adore him, so I was happy.) We sat and talked for a moment while I caught my breath from the flight and then set off for Salisbury so I could get some clothes. Our first stop on the way however was Stonehenge. Peter had lived in England all his life and never visited the relic, so we stopped and took the audio-guided tour, making out at each stone in turn like a couple of teenagers. (Prudish old ppl tut-tutting us the whole way!)

Sunday was Mothering Day in the UK, so we had a special meal with Peter’s parents and half-brother Nick and his lovely wife, Karen. Nick and Karen are really a great pair! I had so much fun just sitting back and laughing with them about everything under the sun. We went to The Smuggler’s Inn in Weymouth and had roast beef and potatoes with Yorkshire pudding and treacle tart for dessert. I was STUFFED, but loved every bit of it. We went for a drive up the coast road afterward and saw all the beauty of the English countryside along the way. Tiny little villages full of houses with thatched roofs and Tudor homes, with cobbled streets and stone walls. These are really fairytale places. I’m so jealous of Peter being able to see these everyday. Though to him, they’re so commonplace they’re nothing.

Monday we took off at silly o’clock and hopped on a plane at Bristol to Edinburgh. We visited Marco and Emma, Peter’s brother and sister-in-law in Scotland, along with thier boys and foster children. If I had ever had a sister before, I bet talking t her would be like talking to Emma. She’s great. I’ve never seen a better mother, or a more kindred soul. She is kind and generous, even taking in a complete stranger for a couple of days, and treating me like family. We talked and laughed, and she showed me around parts of Perth and Aberfeldy, even the castle (I promise, it was a mini-castle, pocket-sized as far as castles go… Shurrup, Peter, it WAS!) We had a great time just getting to know them. If I could live in the UK, I’d definitely want to be there, near Emma. I could learn so much from her.

Tuesday Peter tried to drag me up the Birks of Aberfeldy (read: small mountains with waterfall at top) I tried to tell him, you don’t drag a fat girl with asthma up the side of a mountain. Only one of you is coming back. Either she’s going to stop breathing, or she’s going to shove you over the side of a cliff. Your choice. We both managed to make it down and stopped for cream tea and scones at the Moonstone Cafe in town. We headed back to Marco & Emma’s and listened to Kyle play his cello for us and then had a family meal of curry before looking through lots of embarrassing pics of Peter growing up. (I’ve got blackmail fodder for YEARS to come. Thank you, Marco!)

Wednesday we flew back REALLY early and drove back to Dorchester from Bristol. My luggage had arrived while we were in Scotland, so I was finally able to get my things! We stopped by the Dorchester Market and looked around and I bought some scarves, and picked up groceries for me to cook for the family that night. We stopped at the supermarket for the rest of our ingredients and then headed home for a short nap and then I made American-style chicken-fried-steak with mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner. Peter’s Mum & Dad seemed to really like that.  We followed it up with a bit of ice cream and then got ready to go out for St. Patrick’s Day at the pub in town, first stopping off to see Liz, one of Peter’s oldest and dearest friends. St. Patty’s day at Tom Brown’s was loads of fun! I got to meet Boyd & Wain and Jack Daniels, as well as Christopher, Jude and Karen. Alister, the town cryer even showed up and gave me a small book about the history of Dorchester and told me I must bring the kids back and go on a tour with him.

Thursday we got up early and took the train into London. I had found a really good discount on a room at the Shaftsbury Premier Hotel Notting Hill and we took the tube and two taxi’s (got lost, wrong address) and finally got there. The room was so tiny the bed touched wall on three sides and you literally had to SUCK IN to get in the shower, and still touched glass on all sides, but it was cozy and we enjoyed it. We went up the London Eye and on a Thames River cruise, found a lovely cafe that sold us some delicious chicken, bacon and avacado sandwiches, and then headed deeper into the city. We walked up and down Oxford Street probably five miles looking for stores that would sell plus size clothes, but didn’t have too much luck. We didn’t make it to a show, but did stop in Piccadilly Circus for dinner at the Aberdeen Steak House. Yum! Finally took the tube back to the hotel and were so sore and tired we each had a shower and then fell into bed and crashed after rubbing each others’ sore feet.

Friday we took a stroll through Hyde Park and tried not to think about it being our last day together. I burst into tears a lot. We went to Speaker’s Corner (even though they only speak on Sundays) and then taxi’ed over to Harrod’s for some shopping. Everything was expensive, so I stuck to some chocolate Easter Souveniers for the kids and family. We took the tube back to the hotel and grabbed our things and were off for Waterloo Station and the trip back to Dorchester. Friday night was take-out Chinese and some tearful moments with the family. We snuggled that night, knowing we’d be saying goodbye in the morning until Peter returns for us to be married. It was a sad night, but I was so happy to be with him.

Saturday we headed back to Bristol for me to fly out. We had coffee and scones at the airport, and cried and held each other until I nearly missed my plane home. I would have gladly stayed, but the children need me. I miss him so much. Nothing is the same without him. We just work when we’re together. All the little things fall into place. We do things as a family, and he helps me pick up the pieces that so often get left behind when I have to do everything on my own. I love him so much.

The visa is in the works. We’ll get there eventually. It’s just a matter of time and patience. Please don’t let it be too long. I need him back. If all goes well we’d like to have a Christmas wedding, with friends and family gathered around us. That’s our hope. It’s GOING to happen. I believe it.

A-moving we shall go
11.Oct.08, 20:53 pm
Filed under: Goals, Hopes, My Munchkins, Our Little Nest, Tidbits About My Life, Work

So tonight makes one week that I’ve been in the new apartment, and I’m loving it. I don’t have to deal with Dale at all. The kids and I cook dinner and eat together at the table every night then we clean up and do the dishes, before the kids take turns on who goes first taking their baths. I’m 2 miles from my mother and, in the other direction, a mile and a half from work. I have 2 grocery stores between here and work, and a branch office of my bank next to both of them. My children’s school is half a block away. The school has a Latchkey program that the kids get to stay at in lieu of daycare until I get off work that is cheaper than regular daycare, and they love it. We’re mostly unpacked, just a few boxes left to go through and a few minor things at the old house to pick up tomorrow, but it’s all coming together nicely. I even have new RED furniture!!! It’s so pretty!

I started my new job 2 1/2 weeks ago. I’m the paralegal for the Law Center of Oklahoma. It’s absolutely amazing!! I love what I do, and it’s the job I’ve always wanted. This is what I’ve been going to school for, and the experience I get here will help me get an even better job years down the road when I’ve finished school and decided where I want to spend the rest of my life. Life is going so well for us right now.

And then of course there’s the wonderful man in my life. Right now it’s a long-distance relationship, but we do the best we can, talking several times a day, and chatting all night. He’s the best thing to happen to me in a very long time. He makes me want to be a better me. He inspires me everyday to try harder and to be a better person, a better mother to my children, and a better employee at work. He brings out the best in me in so many ways. He’s so special. I truly adore him.

I will have a good life. I know this. I believe it. Things are working out for my children and I, and I will make them work, because I know that this is MY life now, I am not depending on ANYONE else, I am only relying on ME now, and I’m going to give us a great future.

Artistic Ingenuity
29.Apr.08, 11:30 am
Filed under: Goals, Plans, Tidbits About My Life, Work

I work in an auto repair shop which also rents uHaul trucks. This sounds pretty mundane, until you realize that this auto repair shop also houses the workshop for The Woodchuck Chop, one of my boss’ many other ventures. The Woodchuck Chop is a gallery in the Paseo Arts District that deals in custom cedar furniture and sculptures, wood artwork, custom carved marble pieces, sandblasted stone art and sculpture, sandblasted glass art, and more. We also do custom cut vinyl lettering for signs and window art on cars and buildings. He also installs decorative fountains for ponds, or what I call “waterscaping”.

Basically I’m the new Girl Friday for a Jack-of-all-trades.

Yesterday, my boss told me he really wants to kick the vinyl cutting into high gear. The Paseo Arts Festival is coming up on Memorial Day weekend and he wants me to work at the gallery for him then. He said we can custom cut the vinyl on the spot and make anything the customer asks for. We’re putting together some show boards to preview what we can do, and that way we can just save the files pre-drawn, and add lettering as requested, and sell dozens or even hundreds of them that weekend.

My cut: 50% of everything after costs!

This is a real opportunity to get my finances in good shape for the move. I can pay off the van, and stick the rest back for my new home. This is the best news I’ve had in a while! Things are really looking up for me for the first time in a very long time. I’d kind of forgotten what this felt like.

I’m going to be optimistic. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for everything to fall apart. This will work out. I will move, and start my life over. My kids will be better off elsewhere, I will be better off elsewhere, and there are better things in life than Oklahoma City can offer us. Someone is definitely smiling on me right now.

19.Apr.08, 12:43 pm
Filed under: Goals, Rants

I believed that my entire tax refund was going to be taken by my student loans. I was ok with that, because I knew to expect it. Then I double checked on Wednesday that it was going to be taken and the IRS website said that my refund had been reduced by a small amount, but that the majority of it was scheduled to be deposited on Friday. A LARGE CHUNK OF CHANGE, mind you. I was ecstatic!! I called the people I was going to have to pay and told them to expect payment by today. I was going to pay off my van!! It was a great day!!

This afternoon I checked the mail to find a letter from the IRS telling me that the exact amount that was scheduled to be deposited on Friday was instead sent to the US Dept of Ed on my behalf. Um, hello! If it’s going to be offset, don’t list on your “Where’s My Refund” website that it is scheduled to be deposited!! I had plans for that money when I thought I was getting it!! I had plans for moving out!! I had plans for paying bills!! And now I have nothing!!

Today has completely gone to hell. I am officially pissed off.

The Great Weight Debate
9.Dec.07, 20:23 pm
Filed under: Goals, Hopes

Food is like sex: when you abstain, even the worst stuff begins to look good.
~Beth McCollister

I will readily admit that I am NOT comfortable with my own body. I don’t think I ever have been. Even back in my late teens when I was at my thinnest, I was never skinny. I was recently told that during that period I was closer to Rubanesque. I think the person who gave me that description was a bit overly colorful, but I’ll take it.

I am 5 ft. 2 in. tall with a large build. I got my mom’s height (she’s 5ft even) and my father’s frame (he’s 6’2″). According to my doctors, my goal weight should be 121 lbs. At age 12-14 I was around 140 lbs and a size 12. When I graduated from high school at 17, I weighed 123 lbs, making me a size 8-10. This was the closest to my goal weight I have ever been. Over the first 2 years of college, I gained about 60 lbs from medication and poor diet. When I was 22 and had my first child I gained another 60 lbs. I weighed 249 when I gave birth to Jaden. I lost 15 lbs when he was born, and stayed at that weight until I got pregnant with Jocelyn 4 years later. I actually lost 12 lbs while pregnant with Jocelyn instead of gaining anything. Since then I haven’t lost a pound of it until recently.

In the last 2 months I’ve lost about 20 lbs. This isn’t a big amount for certain when you look at the overall picture of what I need to lose, but it’s a start for me. It’s more than I’ve been able to lose in the last 1o years.  How did I do it? Cutting back and taking things in moderation. I’ve started watching carb intake and eating less in the evenings. Exercise has helped as well, although with my asthma I certainly haven’t done as much as I should.

I went down a size in jeans, which made me feel great, but looking in the mirror takes any joy I have from that weight loss. I still see me, the fat girl who needs to lay off the ice cream and has a veritable road map of stretch marks across her abdomen from having children.

How is anyone going to find me remotely attractive like this? When will I finally begin to see improvement in myself? How much does it take for a person to finally begin to love themselves the way they are? That’s the point I want to reach, where I can just be happy being ME.

Preparations underway
28.Nov.07, 21:43 pm
Filed under: Goals, Hopes, Plans

I began my annual budget spreadsheet for 2008. I listed the average expenses for the first 6 months of the year here, and estimated expenditures for gas, car insurance, oil changes, and other misc. expenses. I estimated income for Dale for January – May, and my income based on minimum wage (though I’ll be making more). This will give me an idea of how much I’ll be able to spend on bills and necessities while saving to move.

I also began a quick-list basic inventory of my belongings. This will tell me how much stuff I’ll have to move, and what basic items I’ll need to purchase or acquire somehow before or after I go. So far, I’ll need living room furniture and a bed for myself. I have living room furniture here, but it’s been through hell here, the recliner is broken, and I don’t even want to attempt to get that couch out of here. Dale can keep it. I’ll find something else. It’s not worth the trouble.

I’ve found a local furniture store with a special on microfiber, a couch and loveseat for $599, but that’s just more to have to move eventually. I’d rather just wait if I’m going to end up buying new. If I found something free or next to free, however, I’d take it.

Six months and counting. I can do this. I will survive, my kids will be fine. We’ll get through this and come out on the other side better than we are now. I finally have a way to give them a better life and a solid plan to make it happen.