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.


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.

Make up your damn mind.
29.Nov.07, 15:38 pm
Filed under: Plans, Rants

Everytime we have an argument Dale reminds me that at anytime he could call his Mommy and have me and my children thrown out on the street. He’s such an adult.

Sunday when we fought, he told me he’d give me until the end of the school year to get my own place. I didn’t go into specifics on why I needed until then, but he agreed to it. Today, of course, when we had another tiff, he brought up his usual threat and told me to be looking for my place asap, and I’d better be out within a month after I have my own vehicle and job. He told me that since money was my main problem that I wouldn’t have to pay bills here the last month before I moved. I told him flat out, if he was kicking me out, I wasn’t going to pay another dime toward his bills. They are all in his name anyway. To this, he retaliated by saying that if I wasn’t going to pay the bills, I couldn’t use the stove or refrigerator anymore. I told him my name is on the lease here, he can’t kick me out yet. His mother could evict me from the house if she chose to, but it’d take a judge to sign off on the eviction and order me out, which would take a month or more.

 He eventually calmed down and said I could wait another month or two, until early April. At this point I began showing him my reasoning behind waiting until May. I’m moving out of state. I’m not staying here. There is no job market in Oklahoma City, especially if you don’t have a degree. In order for me to move, I am going to have to save up quite a bit for first and last month’s rent and a deposit on an apt, utility deposits, and money for food, gas, bills and necessities until I can get a job and get on my feet after I move.

In order for me to save that amount, I’m going to have to work for at least 3 to 4 months and not touch a dime of my cs/a money. December is pretty much shot since we still need to shop for Christmas. January is at least halfway shot because I have to pay for the repairs and parts and insurance on the vehicle I’m trying to acquire. So starting the end of January, early February I’ll actually be able to start saving. If I save for three months, that already puts me in mid to late April.

If I take Jaden out of school at the beginning of the last month of school, he’s going to be completely lost in a new place. He’s in Special Ed. He has severe ADHD. The teachers and principal at his school know him because he’s been there since Kindergarten. They know how to deal with him. They work with me on his behavior issues. Yes, he’s got an IEP that lays out how we are going to work with him on educational issues, but these people KNOW him. A new school wouldn’t. Plus, it would take time for a new school to be able to assess him and know what he is capable of. There’s no way he’d be able to go to a new school for the last month of the school year and survive. They’d throw him into a regular classroom and expect him to work at their level. That’s not fair to him. If I allow him to finish out the school year in a familiar environment, he’ll have the entire summer to be tested and assessed and to prepare to start school in a new place.

If I’m waiting until April anyway, why can’t he just give me one more month? We’ve lived together for 4 years, so I don’t see what waiting until the kids finish school would hurt on his part.

His reason for wanting me out faster: his planned roommate, who is 38 and has been living with his parents for 2+ years, is looking for his own place, and he is afraid he would get into a lease and not be able to move in here with him, so he’d be stuck having to pay the rent and bills here on his own. He should have thought about that before he decided to kick me out. My first priority is my children.

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.

21.Nov.07, 21:25 pm
Filed under: Plans

I swear, flourescent lights over fitting rooms should be outlawed.

I went shopping today. I tried on jeans and a sweater. Not such a bad thing in and of itself. The mirror, on the other hand, decided to ruin my week. Flourescent lights over a full-length mirror when you’re standing in a 3 ft square space in your underwear is never a good idea. The combination shows, in great detail, every bulge, every imperfection, everything you don’t want to think about on yourself.

I’ve recently lost about 20 lbs. I think I found it when I looked in the mirror today. I’ve been doing so well. I’ve cut back on my portions, I’ve been eating healthier, and cut WAY back on carbs, I’ve even been exercising and doing some mild weight training. It’s not enough, apparently.

I don’t know what else to do, but this just made all of my hard work feel worthless. I’m going to go drown my tears in Yellow Tail Shiraz now.

Higher Learning
14.Aug.07, 10:51 am
Filed under: Goals, My Munchkins, Plans, School

Today started the school year for Moore Public Schools. Jaden is now in the third grade. Josie doesn’t start Pre-K for another week at La Petite. Jaden has been saying for the past 2 weeks that he hoped he got Mrs. Crosby as his teacher, because she was “the nicest teacher he knows”. Last night I got a call from Mrs. Crosby, and sure enough, he’s in her class. He was bouncing and grinning from ear to ear!

After I dropped him off at school this morning, I faxed USAO a transcript request and went over to MWC with Wendy. After 12 years, I’m going back to college. Rose State College offers a degree in Paralegal Studies. It’s the only accredited college in OKC that offers it, and I enrolled for my first semester today. I’ll be considered on Academic Probation, because of my lovely history at USAO.

I was totally unprepared for college after MP, and royally messed up my GPA. I wanted to enroll, but I never wanted to go to class. I was enjoying life for the first time. I was on my own and freedom was too sweet. And after the “education” I received at MP, I couldn’t sit through a class with an actual teacher without falling asleep. PACEs are not a substitute for an actual teacher, I don’t give a damn what they say.

As luck would have it, with my mother as a professor at Rose, I get my tuition waived. My 12 credit hours will cost me all of $166 in fees, and then books. I was able to look up my books in the online bookstore and then go to a different site and buy them for $43, so they’ll be here before I start classes next week. That’s an entire semester for $200!! This is a real blessing, because with defaulted student loans I was afraid I was going to have to go completely out of pocket and only take 4 to 6 hrs at a time. I can go full time now and still not have to pay too much.

After this semester, I’ll be eligible for “academic renewal”. Basically, I go in and meet with the Dean, and they will scrub my GPA from USAO off my record. The classes will still show up on my transcript, but they won’t apply towards my GPA. The only bad thing about that is that I passed Comp I already, so I’ll have to clep that in order to finish the rest of my classes. Oh well, the clep for Freshman Comp covers both I & II, so I won’t have to worry about taking the second one as well.

Jaden is home from school and happy about his day, but bummed because he has math homework on the first day of school. Oh well, it’s just addition and subtraction. He’ll have that finished in no time. I’m so proud of my boy. He’s so smart, he’ll do great things this year, I know it.

8.May.07, 16:21 pm
Filed under: Friends & Fam, My Munchkins, Plans

Getting reading for my kids’ birthday party is like getting ready to run a marathon when you’re 100 lbs overweight and have severe asthma and one leg: a big challenge.

I’ve got the party booked at The Perfect Swing, and the cake is ordered from our friend who makes the most gorgeous cakes. The decor is provided there as well as the pizza, and the ice cream will be bought the day before. Josie’s outfit is on its way from Everything But the Princess, and Jaden’s will be purchased this weekend.

I’ve still got to get their presents, finish her beaded bracelet and necklace, and get a gift for Dale’s mother (whose birthday is the day of the party). My mom’s is the day of Josie’s, but I’ve got her gift and her mother’s day gift. I just need to wrap them and get a mom’s day gift for Jeff’s mom from the kids. This is a lot to do on a tight budget.

The child support still hasnt’ kicked in, and without it, I don’t know how I’m going to finish paying for the party. I was counting on it, and they’re supposed to have sent in the first pymt from his employer by the 11th, which is Friday, but if they don’t, it’ll be a while before CSED pushes it in court.

I hope the money comes through in time. Jeff hasn’t even bothered to show up to their last 2 parties, so I hope his not paying child support doesn’t ruin this one too. Oh well, they’ll be happy to have thier friends and family close even if we have to move everything to the park and just have cake and ice cream (sherbet for Josie, since she’s allergic).

I hope this all goes according to plan, I get so stressed out, even though I know that it will be over in a couple of hours and nobody else cares if it’s perfect. I always feel like people are judging me when I’m the one in charge of the event. I guess that’s why I just slink back into the sidelines at family gatherings so I won’t be in the way.