Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Visa Interview....

Today has been one of the best days ever....

Mid morning I got a call from my daughter to tell me that the letter had arrived from the US Embassy and my interview date for my visa is the 20th October....OMG....it's finally here, all the months of waiting and slowly pulling my hair out are about to come to an end....I think I may well still be in shock!

So I have been on line and booked my train tickets, and have got myself a real bargain I believe - £62 return from Crewe to Euston...My original plan was that if the interview was at 9 in the morning, I would go down the night before and stay in a hotel, but to be honest I was very enamoured with that, and it would end up being quite expensive when you add up the cost of the train tickets and the hotel room.

So, I have plumped for a real early start and am going to get the train at 5.30 something which will get me into Euston at 7.30 something, and give me enough time to get myself some breakfast (if I am not too nervous to eat that is) and find my way on the tube to the Embassy. Actually the tube is really easy, and I have got enough left on my Oyster card to cover me for the tube, so not additional costs there.

Apparently, I need to be there 30mins before my appointment time, and to be prepared because I will have to queue up outside. I am not allowed to take an electronic equipment into the embassy - not even my mobile phone (that is going to be a toughie - might have to call them and check that one out), and I cannot take a big handbag in with me either, so no stashing a mini-picnic in my handbag on this occasion!

This is it guys - it's really going to happen - at last!
I'm so excited I keep wanting to burst into tears of happiness - what a sop I am

Fingers crossed everything goes well, because if they say no I just don't quite know what I will do.


:-)
xxx

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekends are the worst....

After talking with my wonderful S, we have decided that weekends are the worst time for us....
During the week, we both have work to keep us busy, so time seems to fly by, but the weekends just seem to drag....
Obviously it is better here for me than it is there for S - I have the children to keep me going to a certain extent, but S is quite literally on his own, and the days really seem to drag....
I have suggested keeping the skype line open for the whole weekend to try and make the distance between us a little less, but somehow I don't really think that is going to help....


It has now been a full week since the boys and I attended our medicals in London, so the results should now be with the Embassy. Our final paperwork was all submitted before the medical and actually arrived at the Embassy on the 8th September (sent it by special delivery just so I would know exactly when it was signed for...lol). I have rung the Embassy to try and find out the state of play, but they tell me it could still be another couple of weeks before we hear anything which is a real pain in the ass, but I guess you can't rush these things and lets face it 'nothing worth having is ever easy'....

Pickfords - The Movers
I now have 10 boxes packed and ready to go just as soon as we get the go ahead. Pickfords have sent us an initial invoice which has been paid, so they are just waiting for confirmation of the pick up day, and then I just need to dispose of anything that isn't moving with us. I have made a couple of runs to the tip with stuff I don't want and isn't really any use to man or beast, and I am sure that there will be a few more in the next few weeks. If I am being honest, we are travelling very light - taking just personal possessions and no furniture except an antique chair and stool that I could not possibly leave behind. The one thing I do need to sort out is moving the beautiful A's stuff over to Mum & Dad's, but it isn't really practical to do that until after she has gone back to Uni, which actually is next weekend! I don't think that Mum & Dad will want me to bombard them with her stuff until we have a confirmed moving day though, so I might have to start boxing up her stuff and just storing it in her room for the time being...

I do still believe that we could be on track for flying on Halloween, and according to my igoogle countdown, that is only 36 days away...If I was to have my interview at the Embassy in the 2nd/3rd week of October then allowing time for the passports to come back to us, Halloween is definitely achievable, and my little jokes about hopping onto my broomstick will be able to come true....

All we can do is keep everything crossed and wait....



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Photo Friday....


Well that's it - Medicals done. Now we just have to wait for my interview date. Hopefully I will hear something this week.

The kids and I made the most of our day in London - here are just a few of our photos.
Waiting for the train at Stoke station

Handsome H bored on the train

London Eye 

Big Ben - looking pretty big!

My beautiful A outside the Houses of Parliament

I wouldn't like to clean all those windows!

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace....

A quick photo before lunch with the Queen

Is that Admiral Lord Nelson I spy up there?

The National Gallery at Trafalgar


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Plane for a Classroom Part II....

Having spoken to the Headmaster at Kingsland Primary School about their unusual Geography classroom, I am even more intrigued by the plane than before....

Although I haven't had chance to go and look for myself, I am told that the plane is fitted with cinema style fold down seating, interactive TV, and is also kitted out as a recording studio!

Children at Kingsland Primary School in Bucknall, Stoke on Trent, each have passports in which they collect merits. The merits can then be traded in for various activities that are available on their plane, such as using the recording studio! Along with this the plane is used on a regular basis as an additional classroom. Anyone who knows Stoke on Trent will know that generally Bucknall is not a particularly affluent area of the city and the plane could possibly provide the only opportunity for some of the pupils to ever go on a plane!

The Headmaster, Mr David Lawrence, told me that the school had been visited by delegates from the G8 Summit, specifically to view the plane and find out more about it as a part of their discussions on providing creativity in education. Apparently this was a worldwide first, although there is now another plane classroom at a school in Nottingham!

As you can see from the photo above, which I took today, the plane looks in considerably better shape than it did on the link and video that I posted the other day - I guess that is because it now you can see it in all it's glory with wings and tail back in place.

I think this is an amazing thing for the pupils at Kingsland Primary School - yesterday at work, a gentleman walked into the reception and asked me if it was true that there was a plane here. Apparently he and some friends had heard about it and had travelled from Luton to try and find it - perhaps they read about it on my blog....

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Plane for a classroom????

Some of you will know that I have started a temp job that will hopefully see me through until my visa is granted and the boys and I move.

I am working at  Children's Centre in Stoke on Trent, and the centre is quite literally attached to a local primary school - Kingsland Primary School.

As I have been driving home, I have noticed what appeared to be a plane on the school grounds in an area not visible to me from where I work.

Today I asked one of my colleagues about the plane - her response to me was really interesting. She told me that I should speak to the Head Master to get the full details, but that the plane is actually another classroom for the children!

I thought she was kidding, but she swore that she wasn't making it up - it is an old plane that the school bought. The children designed the interior, and it is used as an extra classroom!

I was hoping to get a chance to speak with the Head about it this afternoon, but sadly he has avoided my little area of the centre and I haven't had the chance to grab him for more information. However not to be perturbed, I have come home and googled "A plane for a classroom" and there it is bold as brass and article that appeared in the Mail on line back in 2009 with photos of the plane and the school etc.

I am gobsmacked - what a fantastic idea..I am going to definitely seek the Head out tomorrow and get some more info and ask him if I can take some photos to post here on my blog, but for now you can read the article and look at the photo's by clicking the link below.


Enjoy!




Friday, September 09, 2011

Why....

I have been somewhat shocked by some of the posts and comments on posts that I have read on others blogs in the last few days, and it has prompted me to speak out and say as I feel - everyone else seems to be doing it so why not me...I may well lose a few followers by writing this but hey, I 've only got 17 to begin with, and my writing was never about the numbers anyway - it was about me getting my thoughts and feelings out of my head and onto paper where they were less of a danger to my sanity!

I accept that everyone is entitled to their opinion - but how on earth can you form an opinion on something unless you have all of the facts? Some of the things I am reading of late are pretty harsh and quite frankly ill informed, which makes them even more dangerous!

Anyone who has read comments that I leave, or posts on my blog will know that I speak from the heart and am never judgemental of anyone else. I am often reminded of the phrase "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones", yet more and more I am seeing lots of stones being thrown, and although I have no proof, I suspect that many of them are being thrown from houses that are made of glass!

If you read something in a blog and it is on a subject that you are well informed on or are trained to deal with, then go for it - set people straight, but do it in a compassionate manner. Read and re-read what you have written before you hit the post comment button. Think to yourself, how would I feel if someone said this to me? Ask yourself whether your words could be interpreted in a way that is different to what you intend? because everyone knows that the written word is open to far more interpretation than the spoken one, and we should take extra care to ensure that our meaning is taken in the right way.

When posting on a subject, unless you are well-informed, try and refrain from giving people so called 'expert' advice because quite frankly unless you are speaking with some authority the advice you give could be damaging and dangerous, and I for one do not want something like that on my conscience. If you want to post your opinion - say "this is only my opinion", and then continue to write with the aforementioned compassion for the reader, and not the mentality of a bull in a china shop!

Life is far too short and too precious for us blogger's to continue with this barrage of sarcastic criticism and well meant but misinformed advice. Experiencing a situation may give you further insight on a subject, but does it really make you an expert. Many of us may have similar stories to tell and experiences to share, but unless you have walked a mile in my shoes, please don't tell me that you have all the answers and this is what I should do. By all means open up a dialogue and lets swap stories and experiences and perhaps help each other that way, but please remember, no two lives are the same, there may be similarities but that is all they are - similarities, and to be quite honest, unless you really know me and I really know you, neither of us in really in a position to comment in a negative and potentially damaging way!


And yes, this is only my opinion, and it is formed by my reading of posts and comments from other blogs as well as my own, but to be deadly honest - would it really kill you to be nice? As I have had it drummed into me over the years

"if you can't say something nice - say nothing at all!"

Rant over....




Thursday, September 08, 2011

Packing....

Today the movers have delivered some packing boxes to me so I can get started on packing up stuff we want to take with us but won't need before the move.

Nothing major, just books and stuff like that, but it makes it all seem just that little bit more real somehow.

The train tickets are booked for next Fridays' excursion to London for the medicals, and actually got a fantastic deal on them which is a bit of a coo considering how expensive the medicals themselves are. I have booked us on an early train so that we can do a little sightseeing while we are there. The boys have never been to London before so it is all quite exciting for them.

My file of info is already and waiting for my interview at the embassy. I just hope that the recent build up of speed on processing everything is sustainable, and we don't suddenly drift back into the realms of the nothingness that was driving me to distraction a few short weeks ago.

The new temp job is going well. I am still twiddling my thumbs to a certain extent, but there is a lot to be said for thumb twiddling in the presence of wonderful people, and I cannot complain about any of my new found colleagues. My work days pass quickly, and it is great to be out of the house again and doing something semi-useful.

I was hoping to find inspiration for a proper post, but I am struggling in that department, so rather than witter in about inane drivel, I will simply thank you all for dropping by and go and watch some TV before going to bed and heading off to work in the morning....

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Versitile Blogger....


Wow - I feel completely honoured - today I received my first Blog award.  Joe Hagy "Cranky Old Man" and author of "Maybe it's just me! The random thoughts ,opinions and reminiscences of a cranky Old Man" has presented little old me with the “Versatile Blogger Award”.

There are rules for winning this award, and they are as follows:
1) Thank the blogger who awarded you and link back to them.
2) Share 7 things about yourself.
3) Pass the award along to 15 other newly discovered blogs.

So - I have already thanked Mr Hagy at the start of this post, and given a link back to his blog, so what's next - ahh yes 'Share 7 things about yourself:
  1. I'm middle aged and female.
  2. I have 3 children, A who is nearly 21, G who is 13 and H who is 12.
  3. I am madly in love with my wonderful S.
  4. My favourite meal is Lobster and a bottle of ice cold Sancerre or Pouilly Fuisse.
  5. I love thunderstorms.
  6. I am an Entomophob.
  7. Before this year is out I will have finally moved to the US

Now for the really tricky part. I read so many blogs and it is very hard to decide who to give an award to:

  1.  Maggie B at Finding Myself because she is just a truly wonderful lady
  2. Sarah at PEOPLE DONT EAT ENOUGH FUDGE another truly wonderful lady
  3. Bug Safari for helping in so many ways with the bug thing and for encouraging me to bring the Hummingbirds into my garden in SM (we now have 2 regular visitors)
  4. The Tiny Team at Tiny Green Elephants because, well just because - go over and have a look. Amazing family photos - lovely family and they make me smile.
  5. Kelly at A place of my own
  6. Michelle at A Red Envelope
  7. Kate at Kate takes 5  for having the best 'about me' video - love the out-takes!
  8. Dana at Lark Creations
  9. Michaela at Meeting myself coming back
  10. Pippa D at A Mothers Ramblings
  11. Claire at Claire, the Bear and the Bunch
  12. Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim 
  13. Kate at Kate Says Stuff 
  14. Amelia at Weddings, Babies... Everything 
  15. Not Just a Mummy  

Have fun with it - Love to you all :-)

A big thank you....

A huge thank you to everyone who so generously made donations to the Christie Hospital 'Walk of Hope'. The walk took place yesterday evening at Tatton Park near Knutsford in Cheshire and was supported by hundreds of patients and families and friends of patients who are receiving or have received treatment at The Christie Cancer Hospital in Manchester. 'Coronation Street's' Sally Whittaker took part and got proceedings under way by releasing some white doves - a symbol of hope to all cancer sufferers and their families.

We personally raised approximately £1,600 (will have the final figure when Dad tots up the on-line and cash donations)

Here are a selection of the photos I took as we walked.
My Dad - Our reason for walking


Dad, Mum, Me, H & G

Everyone waiting to start

Sally Whittaker says a few words about her personal experience of the Christie Hospital - she says "They saved my life!"

Releasing the Doves - The symbol of Hope & Peace to everyone

And we're off

Just a few of the walkers in front of us - we were about halfway down the field

H enjoys hot chocolate at the drink and pebble drop station by the lake. Family members wrote names of lost loved ones on white pebbles that were then thrown into the lake as a memorial to those who had lost their battle with cancer

These girls were our halfway marker - and where quite literally cheering everyone on as they went past

Walking with a purpose - walkers wore the names of their loved ones

Mum, Dad and my boys, doing well, and 3/4 of the way round now

The finish line - a welcome site

Us with our medals

This is what the Christie is all about

Friday, September 02, 2011

Medical....

Well thinks seem to being really starting to move....

I rang the embassy doctors practice today and have booked the appointment for the boys and I to go for our visa medicals....

Our appointment is on the 16th September - 2 weeks from today....

The sad thing is that we have to travel down to London to get them done, so that adds train fares onto the already huge cost of £380 just for the medicals themselves....

However, the embassy will now send me a date for interview that will be a minimum of 5 days after the medicals. Apparently it takes 5 days for the x-ray and blood test results to get through to the embassy, and they do not like to interview without them - or so I am told. Of course that means that the soonest I could have to go for interview would be around the 23rd September, but depending on how busy they are, it could be way after that - hell it could even be after Christmas if they felt so inclined!

We are thinking though, that they will probably send us a date that is somewhere between the start and middle of October, which if all goes well, will mean that we would be able to move just after the beautiful A's 21st at the end of October....

I keep thinking about it and grinning to myself....

Not long now....

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Walk of Hope....

Tomorrow evening my family and I will be doing the Christie Hospital 'Walk of Hope

Cancer research and care is a truly fantastic cause so if you want to make a donation or just read a little more about my Dad and his battle with cancer, please follow the link.

Every little bit helps

And yes this is a shameless plug for the cause...but they saved my Dad's life and we want to do our bit to say 'thank you'.


Staniforth Walk of Hope

This is us - Mum, Dad, 3 sisters and 8 grandchildren  
My Dad - Still beating Cancer & still always there for the whole family, no matter what

VISA News....

It is now 2 weeks since we heard that the USCIS had approved our I-129F petition. Our visa consulting company 'Global Visas' had told me that I should phone the National Visa Center at this point and just confirm that they had the correct contact information from me so that the US Embassy in London would also have the correct address to send the Embassy number to. I need the Embassy number to be able to submit the DS230, DS156, DS157 & DS156K forms for myself and the boys. The Embassy will not send us a date for interview without having processed these forms....

Anyway, during my lunch break today, I phoned the National Visa Center - in New Hampshire - from my mobile, in the UK! Yes I know I'm crazy but sometimes you just have to do crazy stuff! The lovely lady I spoke to on the phone checked and verified my contact details and asked if there was anything else she could help with. I just asked her if she could give me a rough idea how long it was likely to be before they sent my info to the Embassy in London, and then how long it could be before the Embassy sent me the Embassy reference number?

The lovely lady said "Oh I can give you the Embassy number now, and I can confirm that we sent the information by electronic mail to the US Embassy in London on the 25th August" - OMG I wasn't expecting that! I said, is this the number I need to be able to submit all the other paperwork, but she admitted she had no clue how the Embassy operated and suggested I ring them to check....

So I did - I rang them as soon as I got home from work this evening - and - yes the number I have is the number I have been waiting for. The advisor at the Embassy has told me to submit my paperwork and to phone the embassy doctors to arrange for me and the boys to go and get our medicals done.

Once the Embassy receive the paperwork, they will send out a date for me to go for my interview. If I pass the interview they will tell me there and then....

If all goes well, the boys and I will be in the US with my wonderful S by the end of October/ beginning of November....

Life has suddenly taken an upward turn and I am smiling today....





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