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.



True Comfort
29.Nov.09, 01:34 am
Filed under: Hopes, Tidbits About My Life | Tags: ,

Com-fort-a-ble: /ˈkʌmftəbəl, ˈkʌmfərtəbəl/ Spelled Pronunciation [kuhmf-tuh-buhl, kuhm-fer-tuh-buhl]

adjective  1. (of clothing, furniture, etc.) producing or affording physical comfort, support, or ease: a comfortable chair; comfortable shoes.  2. being in a state of physical or mental comfort; contented and undisturbed; at ease: to be comfortable in new shoes; I don’t feel comfortable in the same room with her.  3. (of a person, situation, etc.) producing mental comfort or ease; easy to accommodate oneself to or associate with: She’s a comfortable person to be with. 4. being in love with the person you were made for.

A soft, fluffy duvet on a cold morning. Your first cup of coffee of the day. A perfectly broken in pair of jeans.  It’s not hard to find examples of things that make you feel really comfortable.

What feels even better than those? The person you’re meant to be with. When you’re more comfortable in their arms than in your own skin, you know it’s right. When you can be yourself every minute of every day, and never worry that something off-the-wall that you might do or say will offend them or upset them or make them look at you like you’re from another planet – you know that’s the person you were made for. That’s what I’ve found. (Go ahead, be jealous!)

When you find ‘the one’, it makes you realize why no other relationship in your life ever worked out. You realize they were just put there in your path so that you’d be able to appreciate the real thing when it came along. So few people actually find the one they’re made for. I’m one of those lucky few. I feel so content just thinking about the fact that he loves me, and accepts me for who I am, and wants to share the rest of our lives together. Everyone else, everything else I’ve ever known just pales in comparison. I have few regrets (I won’t say none, that’s insane) because every experience I’ve had in the almost 33 years I’ve been on this earth has lead me to this point.

I have never felt so loved in my life. It’s like a tangible blanket wrapped around me. Even 5000 miles apart I can feel that he loves me. Even 5000 miles apart, I don’t want to be anywhere but with him. I can’t go a whole day without talking to him at least three to five hours, and that’s more than most married couples spend together who live in the same house! It’s been this way for over a year. (Thank goodness for Vonage and free international calls!!)

His pillow is empty and his side of the bed is cold (even though the cat tries to snuggle, it’s not the same). I miss him snoring in my ear. I miss his hand on my hip in while I’m reading before going to sleep. I miss his soft kisses on my shoulder in the morning. I miss laying my head on his chest in the crook of his arm, the perfect little space that I fit into so well. I miss laughing with him until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore and doze off in his arms. But I never miss his love, it’s with me every minute of every day. I couldn’t escape it if I wanted to. I can hear his smile on the phone in the way he says it to me. I can feel it no matter how far apart we are. Seven months isn’t so long. I can do this. He’s worth the wait.



Cymbidiums… and MORE Words I Can’t Spell
22.Nov.09, 20:35 pm
Filed under: Tidbits About My Life, Wedding | Tags: , ,

We have a florist!

I had all but given up on having real flowers at our wedding. After two other florists had left me in tears, trying to rip me off, I’d decided the only flowers would be the sugar ones on the cake that Mrs. Merry is making for us.

One florist, who shall remain nameless, tried to tell me that Cymbidium orchids were sold by the bloom, not by the stem, and each bloom was $10, so if you had an 8-bloom stem you had an $80 flower. This would have gone right over my head, except for the fact that the day before I’d priced the exact same flowers at a local wholesale flower market and was told they would charge $3.50 per stem, or $35 per box of 12. That’s not exactly $80 per stem. Apparently because the shop she worked for had ads in every local wedding vendor mag she thought she could rip me off. No thanks. When I’d told her that the venue includes a wooden trellis arch at the end of the aisle, she just brushed it off, ‘Oh, you can just get some fake vines at Hobby Lobby and wrap it. We won’t worry about that.’ After all of this, she still wanted to charge me around $1200, and it wasn’t even what I wanted.

Another florist took over a week to give me a horrid quote for JUST the personal/carried flowers! Nothing for the reception or the decor. I was losing hope quickly.

Last weekend I’d been driving around and saw Ruth’s Sweet Justice, so I decided to stop in for a cupcake and to take a look at their wedding cake designs. I noticed Tony Foss’ shop down the sidewalk, so I thought I’d pop in, not expecting anything, and just see what he had to say. Tony was busy putting together a wedding at the time, but took a minute to talk to me and book an appointment for the following Saturday. He told me that so long as my budget wasn’t $3.95 he could work with me. His shop looked phenomenal. It wasn’t a large space, but he’d done SOOO much with it. Every corner was packed full of gorgeous plants, flowers, gifts and accessories. I was in awe. There was chiffon bunting everywhere. The hydrangeas he was working with for the wedding that day were perfect and green. I walked out of there with a new confidence, this could just work!

When I went back, I was so excited I got there 45 minutes early! He laughed at me, but we sat down and got to business. Let me just say this: Tony Foss is AMAZING! His talent is extraordinary. I showed him a photo of the bouquet I wanted and he had just done one exactly like it that morning!! My orchids were going to be a reality!! He took every idea I had and just ran with them. I couldn’t believe everything he came up with. And when it got to the price –  unbelievable!! He included EVERYTHING for less than anyone else, and offered to loan me the vases for the tables instead of charging me for them, so I can bring them back to him after. Nobody else offered to help me at all like that. I’m saving a little by picking everything up too, and that’ll free him up to prep for the next day’s weddings.

I just have to mention this GORGEOUS custom flower he had!! He’d taken a purple dendrobium orchid and custom dyed it to where it almost looked tie-dyed!! It was a deep royal blue on the outside (almost purple) and on the inside it was a lighter indigo. The most gorgeous colors I’ve ever seen!! I knew I’d found more than a florist then. I’d found an artist!

Everyone – if you’re looking for flowers, no matter what for, in the OKC area or wherever, seriously give Tony a call. He’s excellent, he’s reasonable with prices, and most of all, he’ll do everything he can to make sure your flowers are fabulous!



Adventures in Online Shopping

Alternate title: How To Lose a Night’s Sleep Without Really Trying

I love window shopping. Going to the mall or my favorite shops and looking at all of the shiny new things on sale. Touching the soft fabrics of clothes and imagining what I’d look like in them. Seeing my dream home furnished and decked out in all the latest finery. But let’s face it – I’m a single mom with two small children, one of whom has severe ADHD. I rarely leave the house. My window shopping usually happens online.

I fell into the ebay game years ago, buying everything from clothes to a jewelry box to books, cd’s and video games. When it came time to buy my wedding gown, I thought, “Hey, why not save a buck or two that I don’t have?” I saw loads of Chinese seamstresses peddling their wares on the ‘bay and decided to give it a shot. The designer gowns were all really made in China by seamstresses just like them, right? They all had great feedback scores, that should count for something. Wrong.

My first attempt at buying an online wedding gown was a disaster. I sent my measurements to the dressmaker of my choice, along with my payment and waited. Suddenly, three weeks later, my seamstress was booted off of ebay. What now???

Thank Bob for Paypal. Luckily, within my 45 day time limit I could get my money back for undelivered goods. The vendor didn’t even respond to my dispute, so I had my money back in a couple of weeks. No real loss. Still, no dress.

Fast forward about four months. I can hear the wedding countdown clock ticking in my ear. I know how long it takes to get a wedding gown from a real manufacturer. (For those who don’t, it’s 10-12 weeks minimum! THREE MONTHS!!!) I only had six and a half months till the wedding, so in order to have time for alterations, time was of the essence.

I decided to still order online, but to go through an actual store, a boutique. A rather “Boutiqueful” shop, to be exact. I placed my order and felt rather chuffed with myself that I saved $550 by going with a less expensive gown than I’d originally planned, and even saved almost $200 off of the same gown from a local bridal shop. All was well, right?

Four days after I placed my order, I ran across the shop’s facebook page. The last entry apparently made was in July or August, but a former client had left a msg on their wall, “Do not buy from them. They’ll take your money and not give you the dresses!” OMG

Have I just been duped a second time around????

To put it mildly, I was ill. I tried calling the shop, but it was late at night there. I sent emails, and within 10 minutes that derogatory post had been taken off of their page. Still no email response, no call back. I woke up the next morning and  called Paypal to file a preemptive dispute until I could get to the bottom of it. I called when I got to the office, and no answer. Finally, at 9am, I got a call from the shop owner. He did everything he could to reassure me, but I still wasn’t feeling it. I was too skeptical. I asked him if he could send me documentation from Mori Lee (the dress manufacturer) that the order had been placed. He said no problem. He emailed me a print of their online order confirmation. He’d blacked out the confirmation code and customer number with asteriks before sending it to me, but it still showed me the order details.

I wasn’t satisfied. I tracked down a customer service number to Mori Lee myself. I wouldn’t settle for just the information he could email me. Anyone can create a document and email you. I could in ten minutes with my laptop. What the shop owner failed to realize was that when you print something online, the URL of your print is at the bottom of the page. And that particular URL contained the confirmation code he tried to black out. This was rather handy when calling Mori Lee. Within ten minutes I had customer service at Mori Lee verify the order was valid, that the dress was exactly as I had ordered it, the shipping date was exactly as stated in my order confirmation, and that it was placed the same day I placed my order. That’s all it took.

Talk about breathing a sigh of relief!! I can’t remember the last time I felt such a weight lift from my shoulders. I would never have taken shop boy’s word for it, but getting a confirmation from the designer, that was what I needed. I know my order was placed. I know my gown is being made. I know it will arrive when they say it will arrive. I called shop boy back. I didn’t tell him I’d spoken to Mori Lee, I simply told him I’d received his emailed confirmation page and I felt better. I thanked him for his help and told him that with all of the online scams out there, maybe references from past brides wouldn’t be such a bad idea. It would certainly put people like me a little more at ease, and would go a long way toward fostering more business.

In the end, some people kill your trust. Others don’t do much to earn it back. The truth of it is – it’s down to you. Do your due diligence when researching the problem. Make sure you know who you’re buying from. Make sure you use something like Paypal so you know you can get your money back within a certain time frame. And for goodness’ sake – DON’T BUY FROM CHINESE SEAMSTRESSES ON EBAY! LOL



Boutonnière, and other words I can’t spell…
5.Nov.09, 17:43 pm
Filed under: Wedding

I’m knee-deep in wedding magazines and swatches and photos of flowers, and music selections.

No, I’m not living out a lifelong dream of becoming an event coordinator. I’m trying to plan my wedding to my true love. This is a bigger job than I originally imagined, and while fun, can also be all-consuming. No matter what I’m doing, I can see something wedding related in it. (I just LOVE the font on that invoice… maybe I can incorporate it into the invitations somehow?) I’m pretty sure I’m going to drive the people at work to the other side of insane before too long.

That being said, I’ve discovered my creative side all over again, and I’m learning that when I want to be, I can be a little bit of a craft snob. I went to Hobby Lobby to find some nice, cream colored silk tulips. And when I got there, their fake flower supplies in white or cream were all just a bit too…. well…. fake. They looked awful. You could see the threads on the edges, they were paper thin, nothing like a real tulip. I was near tears when I got home. Deflated. Kinda like that tulip.

 

So now I’m contemplating what to do. I found some gorgeous silks online, but they’re expensive. (Peonies or Royal tulips are about $20 for 6 stems, and Dutch tulips are $25 for 6!!!) I could do my own bouquet easily, but what about 10 guest tables, as well as 2 bridesmaid bouquets, and the boutonnieres and corsages for 2 mothers, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother? That’s a lot of flowers!!!

All in all… I’m trying to stretch our budget just a little bit further, so we can have a gorgeous wedding and reception, without tearing my hair out in the process. Any ideas from anyone else out there??



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.