Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Green Card update

Last week we compiled all the information for our Green Card 'Removal of Conditions' process. When you get a Green Card based on a marriage to the US citizen and you got married less than 3 years before you filed, your 'permanent resident card' is provisional. We'll table the linguistics discussion about that for another time.

Today we received the Notice of Action that the case has been received which also means that my Green Card is now extended by 1 year while the US government reviews the evidence we've submitted. Current processing times are relatively quick (4 to 6 months) so hopefully by this summer I should have my permanent resident status. Then in March of 2011 we'll start the application for Naturalization, meaning applying for US citizenship. Oh, and I'm not giving up my Dutch citizenship.

It's a bit of a lengthy -- AND COSTLY -- process, but I mostly agree with the process since it's designed to weed out the 'bad guys'. If you really want it you'll save up and pay for it. Plus, as long as you read-up and actually read the instructions on all the forms, it really isn't all that hard. Just a bit frustrating sometimes.

Oh well, things are progressing nicely so no complaints from me.

Giving to Haiti - update -

The telethon for Haiti here in the States raised $75 million with about 300 million people living in the US.

Another perspective:

The telethon for Haiti in the Netherlands raised EUR 80 million ($100 million) with 16 million people living there...

Just saying.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Six Years Ago Today...

I broke my brain.

I just spent a good amount of time on my old blog looking for an entry that explained my accident, but I couldn't find one.

At any rate, reading through all those entries through the lens of where God brought me to today fills my heart with gratitude. Niels and I joke that God had to slap me 'side the head so I would recognize a good thing when he found me. So true. I miss my creative mind, my organization, my drive, my ability to multi-task...but I love my new life as Niels' wife and Daniel's mommy. I am blessed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Giving to Haiti

Over the course of the last couple days a whole barrage of fundraisers for Haiti took place. We helped through Compassion International, but many reputable organizations are on the ground that all need and continue to need money.

One press-release struck both Jen and myself as odd...

The NFL put out a press release that the NFL Players Association was donating $1 million. Really?? $1 million? From all the 1600 players that all make $0.5 to multi-million dollars each, all you can come up with is $1 million? Granted, the amount is LARGE, but if Gisele Bunchen -wife of Tom Brady, QB of the Patriots, put out $1.5 million ON HER OWN, that $1m sum looks a bit pathetic. Another example, Sandra Bullock just gave $1 million ON HER OWN... and the list goes on...

So, dear NFL, is it really worth putting out a press release for the $1 million? If I were a half-decent NFL player I'd be a little embarrassed. What is your reaction?

Still, every little bit helps...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

We've been a little slow on the posts since we've been back in States. Chalk that up to jet lag and sleep deprivation after our looong journey home! In the ten days we've been home, we've waded through lots of Christmas cards, bills and other mail, e-checked and renewed the tabs on my 1998 Mazda Protege for probably the last time, started getting our tax stuff together and copied lots of paperwork so we can remove the conditions on Niels' green card. Not so much, really. Next up is getting photo cards printed and our Christmas/New Years letters out!

But today, we're celebrating my 38th birthday. Niels and I stayed up til midnight, when he surprised me with another gift. (He bought me season 1 of Big Bang Theory when we were in Holland.). He gave me 3 tulips and a bag of Lindt truffles and...a list of 38 reasons why he loves me. The list is a little tradition we started when we were engaged as a way of showing appreciation for each other. Last year, in the sleep deprivation of having a 3 week old, he forgot and I realized how much I missed it so I had him make a list for me at dinner! This year, he was on the ball and made a very sweet, sometimes funny list of things that both he and Daniel love about me. We joke that I'm easy to please, but I really look forward to my list each year. Thanks, Sweetie!

Daniel was so excited to celebrate with us that he stayed up all night...yawn. He hasn't done that for awhile, so we're guessing something didn't quite sit well with him. Fortunately for me, Niels got up with him most of the time. We figured out in the morning that the reason he didn't drink his bottle was that the nipple was clogged. Oops!

I woke up to an impressive amount of birthday wishes in my mailbox and Facebook, including a e-card from Dutch dad taunting me with the cinnamon ice cream they are eating in my honor today. (If only it could be sent through email!)

Niels is now off to work and Daniel and I will both be napping this morning. We'll have a low key day here at home until Daddy comes home and takes us to Bravo, a local Italian restaurant, for dinner. The chef is the husband of one of my new mommy friends. He grew up in Belgium, so it will be fun for them to meet!

So, I have an awesome husband, a happy son, pretty good health (for me, that's impressive!), a nice home, a little money in the bank (and today is payday!), a cuddly dog, there's no blizzard (a January miracle) and lots of love from family and friends. It's the best birthday ever!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Removal of conditions of the Green Card

Time goes by quick, in March of 2008 I got my Permanent Resident status better known as the Green Card. Since it was based on our marriage and at the time of filing we were not yet married longer than 2 years (barely 5 months at time of filing to be precise) the Green Card was issued with a 'condition'.

Two years after receipt you need to file for removal of conditions and proof that you are still legally married in a genuine relationship and not simply to get a 10yr Green Card. You can file that petition within the last 90 days of the conditional permanent resident status. That time is now upon us so for the last couple of hours I've been searching through our records, copying documents and reliving the last 2 years of our marriage.

Trips we've taken, insurance policies taken out, other documents that proof we are a real couple and not like Andy MacDowell and Gerard Depardieu in the movie 'Green Card'. And of course, informing our friends at the USCIS about this blog which is a pretty cool way for them to see almost everything we went through over the last 2 years. From the birth of our son, to the trips we've taken, to the health scares of Jen, the sale of Jen's condo in Grand Rapids (don't get us started on that one...). It's all there.

I never envisioned the use of social or new media to be such a helpful tool in this process. Sometimes it is good to be a geek... ;-)

P.S.: Yes, this was posted my Niels on my wife's account...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Home... now with details

As promised 2 days ago...


From 17:30h to 23:00h: Newark Terminal C (Continentals Hub) closed due to some nutcase jumping the TSA security lines. See our previous post.

From 04.00h to 08.00h: Flight from Newark to Brussels finally left
From 08.00h to 09.30h: Playing with Daniel
From 09.30h to 11:45h: I slept
From 11:45h to 13:30h: To Brussels
From 13.30h to 14:00h: Got a seat on our flight to Newark and got us re-booked on the last flight from EWR to CLE for 4-jan-2010 (ETD 01:55h)
From 14.00h to 16:00h: Waiting for the plane to arrive in BRU
From 16.00h to 18.30h: Waiting for the Cargo-doors to open (frozen shut) -> Local Continental (CO) crew allowed free rebooking. I told Jen NOT to rebook, since after the Cargo door delay it became a CO issue rather than a EWR security issue > maining free food and lodging if we’d miss the last flight to CLE.
From 18:30h to 19:00h: Got free food from CO due to all the delays (3x EUR 20, 1 p.p.)
From 19:00h to 03.00h: Finally flying from Brussel BRU to Newark EWR

From 03.00h to 04.00h: Customs and Baggage Claim in Newark EWR
From 05.00h to 06.30h: Missed the last flight to CLE… by a good 2 hours. Got vouchers for food, lodging from CO.
From 06.30h to 07:00h: After food we wanted to go to our hotel -> Hotel shuttle wait time was already up to 90min... $18 for cab to get us there in 5min… Ramada Hotel already out of rooms, moved us next door to the Sheraton
From 07:00h to 07:30h: Check-in at the Sheraton
From 07:30h to 09.30h: Slept…
From 09.30h to 10:15h: Back to Newark EWR
From 10:15h to 11.00h: Security and finding the gate
From 11:00h to 12:00h: Food compliments of CO.
From 12:00h to 14.00h: Flying from EWR to CLE
From 14.00h to 14:30h: Baggage claim and getting the car
From 14:30h to 15:15h: Driving home... finally.

So from 4-Jan 04.00h to 5-Jan 15:15u (all times in CET) to get home. About 35 hour all together but we made it home safely and Daniel is an excellent traveler. We’ve had many a compliment on our little boy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Then again, maybe we're not...

Our 9:50am flight is now leaving at 5:50pm. We'll miss our connecting flight to from Newark to Cleveland by a long shot. There's a slim chance we can catch the last flight. Security is going to take a lot longer after the Christmas terrorist attempt and today's excitement, so we're preparing ourselves for a long night at the airport or maybe, if we're lucky, we'll get a voucher for a hotel. I'm very glad I packed a little extra breast milk, but I don't have enough for an extra day. Could be very long day...

Here's the news from CNN:

(CNN) -- Hours after a security breach forced the closure of a terminal at the Newark, New Jersey, airport Sunday, authorities were still searching for a man who went the wrong way through a checkpoint exit.

The incident happened at about 5:20 p.m. at Terminal C, when an individual walked from the public side to the secure "sterile" side for passengers who had cleared screening, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

No flights were allowed to leave from Terminal C Sunday evening and thousands of other travelers who had reached the sterile area after going through checkpoints were moved back to the public area to be re-screened, the TSA said.

Authorities are reviewing video from airport cameras. They are not sure whether the man was once on the sterile side and went back, or if he never went through screening, TSA spokeswoman Anne Davis said.

The incident caused arrival delays and mainly affected Continental Airlines, which is the airport's largest tenant.

CNN's Alina Cho, who arrived at the airport Saturday night on a flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, described the hectic scene: "For the people who are hoping to fly out of Newark this evening, there is not a lot of movement."

She said many passengers who had already boarded outgoing flights had to get off planes to be re-screened.

"I just saw one woman pleading with a gate agent, saying that she had two small children and a heart condition -- that she simply could not take this," Cho said. "But of course, there will be no exceptions."

Newark Liberty International Airport, which is about 15 miles from Manhattan, is the second-largest hub for Continental.

The airport handles about 35 million passengers a year.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Homeward Bound!

We enjoyed a relaxing last few days in Holland. Daniel thoroughly enjoyed his time with Oma and Opa. Sorry about the lack of posts. We'll try to remedy that in a few days. At this moment, it's just before 5am and we are packing up the car for our return home. We should be in our own bed tonight!

Jan and Kitty, dank u wel voor allemaal. Wij houden van jullie...heel veel!