Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An Invitation To The Table.

My Anglican background is repeating on me right this second thinking about Thanksgiving and how our histories and experiences affect us.

The line that sticks out from the Holy Communion service is this
We do not presume to come to this your table, merciful Lord...
We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.
There is something about being invited into a family, and a gathering for celebration that is very special to me. I think it's due to these lines, saying them every Sunday and knowing that I don't approach any table, other than my own, with any thought other than humility.

Its also a family thing, it doesn't take much to be invited in, but once you are respect is a must. My favourite memories and times with family are around a table, eating food, attempting to put the world right or make sure there is a running joke.

This is my first family thanksgiving. I'm not sure what to expect, but I know it'll be really good. I know that there will be a ton of people to see and lots of food. I'm excited for this day to arrive. I'm looking forward to creating memories and having happy things to think about.

I'm very thankful for my family worldwide. I'm thankful for my job and all the things we can have. It's been a busy year, and I think thanksgiving is a great time to look back and look forward to all the exciting things the next year brings!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Home; Sweet Home Alabama!

We are just 3.5 months into our lives in America and we are settled into a lovely apartment, easy jobs that fit us for now and great friends to be around.

I passed my driving test with ease and didn't have to sit around too long. So now I can drive in Alabama and all over America without having to take all my ID's with me. It also means that I get to drive a 15-seater minibus for an hour a day, collecting children from Opelika schools. That's definitely a good thing about each day.

It's really good to be working again and doing something that I really enjoy. I'm currently in a classroom with 9 under 12 month olds and 2 other teachers. We are rushed off our feet some times, but other times we just enjoy playing and hanging out with the babies. I love being a daycare teacher. My lovely Mother In Law was a daycare teacher and worked her way up to director, so we have a whole bunch to talk about now. It's amazing how similar and different a care profession can be in a couple of decades.

We are alive and well, happy and fed. It's good to be here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I've been thinking about what to call this for a while, unfortunately most of the titles I thought sounded too cheesy. But here I am and I'm writing, so that can't be a bad thing. I've got one really cheesy title saved up for later, any guesses?

We've been here for 2 months today, and so far everything is going pretty great. We're settled in Auburn, and have even been to a sporting fixture, which means we're here for a good while now. It was a ladies football match, like actual football, with a round ball. Auburn vs Missouri, not a particularly fast moving game and a few people shouting for the wrong type of thing, but good to be part of a crowd and at least know what I was watching.

This week I have to take my driving test to gain an Alabama State drivers license, in order to start work. It should be pretty easy, but then I've not had to drive at any standard for the last 9 years, so we'll see! Tomorrow is the day for that. Written and practical costing a total of $30, how much is a UK written and practical right now? Max 106GBP! Which is crazy! Then I'll be able to drive all over the country. Yeay!

So far, so good really. Nothing horrible to report, nothing untoward going on. It's just good to be in a place where we know we can unpack, relax and start to make friends properly.

Friday, August 24, 2012

...And We're Back (with pictures)

We've been in America 5 weeks today and we are pretty much settled.

We had a lovely two weeks at Piedmont with some of Robert's lovely young people and teachers. Then we returned and awaited the arrival of Abby (our first niece - Roberts brother Josh's baby). She arrived early on Monday morning before we drove down to Florida and had a week of working, sitting out storms and for me getting to know Roberts dad and youngest brother better.

We returned to Georgia and waved DJ off to College/Missions school in Nashville, TN. All the while seeing Abby, family and friends. So week 4 stated with a rest, and then travelling to Auburn, Alabama to find an apartment or house to rent. We moved in, papers signed and delivered on Friday (a week ago). It's so nice to be in our own space.

So here we are, fully internet'ed up and set up mostly apartment-wise. We are working our way through the local eateries as well as finally being able to cook and eat what we want when we want (late night chocolate and cheesy bread). We have made our bed and are delighted to lie in it and have lie-ins without worrying that we are missing someone who is visiting. Bed hopping for 4 weeks makes me tired and achy. But I have loved seeing all the different people and places.

For those of you who don't know, Auburn is a University town, and an American football one at that. Saturdays during football season and home games see an extra 100,000 added to a town of 50,000 or so. We are very close to everything, big shops like Wal-Mart, Sears and McDonalds and then little shops too. We have some good local restaurants, bbq, burgers, chinese, sandwich places. We'll be here for 2 years so I'm sure we'll discover our favourite soon.

I have plenty of things to say about America and my experience so far, the first is the people are great. I have only really dealt with nice people. Sometimes they don't understand me and think that I'm some sort of alien. I've had some very funny looks. Secondly the inability of others to drive is universal. Thirdly, though I am not at what I still regard to be home, I am 'home'. I've got myself confused a couple of times, referring to America as England. I guess I've just got used to being in England. I'm learning a different way to speak and attitude to have. It's all pretty good fun.
Robert and I at Panama City Beach, FL

Abby Kathleen Litton

View from our apartment

The truck Robert drove with our stuff in that was about a third full, for very cheap!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Immigration and first few days

Well, here we are. I'm currently sat in Piedmont, AL, wondering how we're finally here and reflecting on the past few days. One thing I can say is that it is hot and in America we only complain about the heat when its 100% humidity, and like 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It's currently only 93F (34C) at 7pm. Sitting on a leather car seat is horrendous!

So no complaining about the heat. It's actually causing half the country to declare drought and crops are being sold off because they are not producing food.

Anyway, as you now know, we are safe and well. We've had a few days of acclimation and adjusting. I am currently waking up at 6am thinking it's normal. Hopefully I'll get over that and be back to sleeping til 9/10am easily!

Immigration was surprisingly easy. We arrived at Philadelphia after the shortest 7.5 hour flight in a while. I really enjoyed The Hunger Games movie, and if anyone wants to send me the first book then I'll probably snap it up in a minute! When you arrive you go through secondary screening, which is basically handing over the papers that the Embassy has on you to the government in America and they process the papers, and tell you to be on you merry way, which we did.

We arrived in Atlanta a little late due to queuing on the runway and storms over Washington D.C. That was a good flight. Tiny 6 across plane, but no stomach churning turbulence.

The last few days have been a blur of family and friends, old students and just now, new excited students wondering where y'all lived and stopping rumors that we have a child/ren.

We are happy, we are getting settled.

As a side, I'm watching my husband do the thing he loves the most, and you couldn't wipe the smile off my face!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

And so we leave...

We are leaving for the States on Friday.

We've been in this process for a year now, from talking and thinking, to paperwork and money spent, interview and queues, more paperwork and a wait for the post to arrive. A whole year of life changing things have happened, leaving St Hugh's, moving home, and various other things that are family based. I'm most excited about all the babies that will be arriving over the next few months. None of which are mine, it's not that kind of blog post!

So here it is, my horrible visa photo.
I don't photograph well went I can't smile, at least that's my excuse.

We shall get on a plane and leave just days before the Olympics makes living in London hard and will have to watch any British success via buffering BBC world.

I'm most excited about arriving with no fixed leaving date, settling in and knowing that I have a permanent English-American translator by my side, who has sat and listened while I have been scared about leaving my family.

L-R Nan, Mike, Jess, Robert, Me, Liz, Andy, Mum and Dad & Brody in front.

Everyone on Mum's side (minus 4)
Boys - Dad, Robert, Mike, Adam, Graham, Andy 
Girls - Me, Mum, Jess, Liz, Joy, Tasha, Kerrie.

Every one on Dad's side of the family.

We've all grown up so much, and now we say goodbye. But not forever and with trips planned.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

8 days

Within 8 days we will have a Yes or No about me being able to enter the U S of A with my husband at the end of July permanently.

We have to be at the US Embassy in London at 8am! Given my case number, I think I was the first person of the year to be processed in my category, but I could be wrong. I can't believe that the process which started in October is now 8 days out from being done. I guess 8 months is a long wait and 9 months after the process started we'll begin a new phase in our life! 9 months feels like a really long time... that's probably little preparation for the next time we have to wait 9 months for a phase change!!

If you could remember us the night before, or on your way to work that morning, as you pray, that would be great. This is the last 5% of the process.

After that I shall start to think about moving. I was putting away clothes and I am looking forward to two things 1) being warm, and 2) knowing that 'summer' really means hot weather. Though Robert's expecting that my pollen allergies might make me hate summer, more than the heat. We'll see.

Upon reflection, I think we always transition and adapt, whatever life stage we are in. It's a constant change that makes you appreciate the stable, unchanging things in life.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Did I say routine...

... I meant "total ad-hoc having to be flexible and doing what I'm called to do". which is fine, the really great thing about having a part time job and a lovely boss is that I'm excited to go to work and hang out with the children as many days a week as needed.

I did a couple of bedtime shifts last week, and totally learned my lesson about not going up to rooms where there are children making noise, unless it's distress. Cue an extra 30 minutes of bed time soothing and escape before actual sleep. So, now I know, older children sleep better when left alone (in my current role).

I'm working 2-4 days a week depending on the work the mum does and most of those days there is nursery, so I find myself helping out with house work. I really love it. All the parts of the job, especially trips to the park and painting time!

We haven't heard anything from the Embassy regarding THE interview, though we should get the letter in the coming two weeks. I'll let you know when I know.

Those of you who have been reading for a while will know that John Mayer is my favourite singer/songwriter. His new album is out in a matter of days, and having been given an iPod for Christmas and iTunes vouchers, it's already ordered. I am toying with the idea of going to the store or amazon and actually buying the cd as well, the artwork  is stunning and it's tempting. I might just wait a year and find it in a random shop in the states.

The great thing about Mayer is that he has a diversity to his music, not just one sound. So having heard three tracks from this album already, Robert and I are enjoying the difference in the tracks. "Shadow Days" is more commercial, radio friendly song which makes me very happy. "Queen of California" is much more southern rock (so I'm told) and Robert says that that is much better than anything he wrote for Battle Studies. And here is where we disagree... I loved Battle Studies! So we might have found an album we can listen to together, without skipping the tracks (like we did with Battle Studies).

So that's us right now. We rang Roberts Mom for Mothers Day in the States yesterday. Mothers Day in the UK is earlier in the year, so now I have 2 dates to remember. We also got to see baby Aqua Fisher this week. My brother and his girlfriend invited us to join them for their 20 week scan, as we won't be around to meet the newborn. Awesome privilege, and crazy the technology that we have to see a baby before it's born. Everyone is happy, everyone is enjoying life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Joyous News!

I seem to be delivering information only blogs at the moment, but I don't think that's really a bad thing. In depth thinking isn't my forte at the moment.

Any way, I have joyous news. Firstly, my own, the medical I had for my visa was clear. This is really good news, now we gain affidavits and get paperwork all ready for the interview, which will be within 8 weeks. The medical is non-invasive, only one tiny vial of blood taken. I'm happy, now on to the interview.

In other news, here's the new Mr and Mrs Gosseling, with Robert and I.

Here I am doing bridesmaid duties.

We had a lovely time, it's been a while since I've been on the oval at Harpenden, but it was nice to see some familiar faces and even nicer to have a vicar I know lead the ceremony.

It was such a brilliant day, and we wish the new Mr and Mrs Gosseling all the best as they settle in their new home.

There you have it, the last week was crazy busy, what with work and wedding. Now we settle into the last 12 weeks routine, we've been here nearly 12 weeks, so we're half way through a stay. Soon we'll be packing up to leave Blighty for American family and careers.

Monday, April 16, 2012

One Step closer

Promised I keep you all updated as to where we were and what was happening. Today I became one step closer to moving to the States; I had my medical in London, which puts us closer to the interview.

As normal, I was pretty nervous about being in a doctors office. Many people (including my husband) had said that I shouldn't be nervous, it's just a regular check up and a little blood test. It kinda worked, a few literally and figurative deep breaths later and it was done.

As far as the doctor was concerned, she could see nothing to worry about. And the test results will be through on Wednesday and they'll ring me if anything is wrong. I know it won't be, but Wednesday might be a longer day than normal!

Trips into London are uneventful nowadays, it's much easier taking one American who looks after himself than 5-8 Americans who are awaiting your every instruction as the 'expert' (we went in circles more than once). One more trip to go, and I'm not sure we'll be visiting Chipotle on Baker Street again, this last trip will be for interview and visa granting if all goes well.

Friday is a big day, 2nd time taking up bridesmaid duties, this time for Christine and Chris, who will become Mr and Mrs Gosseling.Very excited about this! Then after that, Life will be normal, with work and sleep until interview day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Long neglected!

Hello blog world! I'm sorry I've forgotten about you recently, I've been quite busy.

Most of you will know by now that we have moved from Luton. My time at St Hugh's finished up really well, and I even had time to guest blog for the diocese. You can have a look at that here.

We moved back to Billericay at the beginning of February. We left Luton pretty quietly, as we'll be leaving the country in a bit more style later in the year. After all that happened around Christmas and being unwell in January, it didn't seem right to have a party. But will immigration imminent, we'll do something when the time is right.

The process to immigration is getting there. We had been waiting a while to get our first letter back from the Embassy in London. In the end we waited for 4 months for them to check all my paperwork and credentials. We have to make the next step now, and then things will move pretty quickly, but we won't. We'll be in England for a while as we work and spend time with family. I'm going to try and document the process so that I can look back at it and remember the experience.

Right now I'm not scared about the next steps. I have to go through a medical and interview. Which will be two days in London, but with Robert now working for the train company, we'll be travelling a bit cheaper!

I'm waiting to start nannying as well, I didn't think that changing careers would be so tough. You need experience to gain a job, but you need a job to gain experience. So I'm very lucky that someone will give me a chance to work with their children one-to-one. As for a career in America, we're looking into me teaching at Elementary level. I'm choosing a universal subject so that my skills will be infinitely more transferable. I'm actually really excited about nannying and teaching. 

Keep an eye out for more blogging.