education · elementary education · pregnancy · school · teacher · teaching

First Trimester and First Semester

First Trimester and First Semester

I found out I was pregnant on the first day of school this year. My mood had been slightly off, I was constantly hot, I was crying more than usual during commercials, and, my goodness, was I tired. I mean dead tired. I would pass out on the couch at 1 pm tired after doing not much at all. I was also about a week late, so that morning as I was preparing for school, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to wait until the weekend of even the end of the day; I had to test then. Normally, those little test strips take about five minutes to formulate a response, but it barely took thirty seconds for that second line to appear. I took another one after that just in case, and another one, and then just one more for good measure. I tried to contain my excitement and just go about my normal morning activities. I didn’t even tell my husband because I wanted to surprise him later that day when he got home from work. I went straight to Amazon and found some knock-off baby Chucks, a Guess What?  onesie, and  a We’re Pregnant book to surprise him when he came home that night. I was just glad that it was the first week of school which meant that the after school program that I normally work until six hadn’t started yet. If it had started there would be no way for me to prep his surprise. I also ordered my first set of prenatals. I had already been taking other supplements, but I wanted to be sure that all my bases were covered and that my little bean was getting what they needed to be getting. The first day of school is normally a whirlwind of a day to begin with and with this brand-new information I could barely get through the day. As soon as I got home, I grabbed the packages by my front door (can’t tell you how much I love Amazon’s Same-Day shipping) and prepped his surprise box. When he came home that day he just kept talking and it me a few minutes to get in a word to let him know that he got a little present today. I tried recording his reaction, but I somehow didn’t press the right button on my phone (I’m still upset about it). It took him a minute but his reaction was so sweet and he just kept repeating, “Really?” over and over in a high pitched voice. He even got all teary eyed. I think even now he’s still in a state of shock, but he’s still excited.

The next few weeks at school were interesting to say the least. My doctor’s appointment wasn’t until a few weeks later because I had to wait until I was around eight weeks. I just kept taking more tests to reassure myself (I can’t tell you how may test strips I went through…) and kept trying not to stress myself out at school – which, if you’re a teacher, you know is near impossible to do. It was a new school year, I was in a new grade level, with all new team members, and a new principal. The only things that weren’t new were my students since I had previously had them in third grade, which I think greatly helped out. The schedules were constantly changing, and we didn’t have a second of down time ether. During our planning periods, instead of getting to plan or prep for the day or week, we had meetings upon meetings upon meetings. Never ending meetings. All of this while keeping this new and exciting, yet still scary, secret. I’m a first-time mom, so of course I’m constantly worrying about everything in this pregnancy. I wouldn’t even let my husband tell his parents until after the first doctor’s appointment, and same thing went for me telling my best friend and my family. I wanted to make sure that it was real and that the little bean was actually in there and that all was good and healthy.

Luckily, I didn’t have too much morning sickness. I only ever got sick if I drank too quickly or too much on an empty stomach or if I left my toothbrush in my mouth too long or tried to brush my tongue (sorry kiddos, you’ll just have to deal with your teacher having stinky breath for a while; that’s why we have mouth wash and mints, right?) I was worried the kids would notice when I switched out my coffee for tea, and then for water, but luckily they’re too busy with their own fifth grade drama. They’re usually the first to notice or suggest things though. When I was working with them over the summer, a few of the girls were asking me when I was going to have a baby and that I should have a baby soon. I think they helped with the luck of this process, but they still have no idea. Each time I’ve gone to the doctor, I I get nervous they’ll start getting suspicious because I’m that teacher who is normally always at school. I mean always. Last year, I even had perfect attendance. I thought they’d start asking questions on this third visit, but they stopped when I told them that I just had to get my flu shot.

I honestly cannot wait to tell them. I know that they’ll be excited and I’ll finally be able to explain to them why I’ve just been extra grumpy this year. I haven’t put up with any drama since the year started. In a way, the surge of hormones has definitely helped with my classroom management this year which I know I needed to work on.

For my baby’s sake, I refuse to stress myself out over all the petty little things that happen at work and over all the constant changes. I just need to ride it out this year and make it until mid-April when my very own little munchkin will arrive. For now, I’ll prepare my fifth grade not-munchkins anymore for their state exams and middle school.

I’ll be back in a few more weeks with a second trimester bump-date to keep you all informed!    

immigration · Istanbul · teacher · Turkey · Uncategorized

Journeying to the States: I-130 Stage

 

The first step in coming the US is proving your relationship. Start gathering evidence as soon as you can. Don’t throw away tickets with your names on them. Go back into your hotel reservations, etc. Take as many pictures as you can. Document everything. Save old chats and Skype history.

Form I-130 is filling out basic information about you and your spouse. You’ll need your Social Security number or your A number (in order to bring your spouse to the United States you must be a U.S. citizen or green card holder), your address history for the last five years, your employment history and addresses etc, as well as your spouse’s, and so on. The updated I-130 now has biographic information on it as well (hair color / race / eye color. When I filled out the forms and submitted them I had to fill out forms G 325A for my spouse and myself, but now you fill out for I-130A instead.

Also, try to get your name/ your spouse’s name changed as soon as possible so that you can provide the updated ID, passport, and Social Security.

Here are the updated links to the current forms that you’ll need to fill out:

I-130 Form and Instructions: Petition for Alien Relative
I-130A: Supplemental Spouse Information used instead of G 325A

If you’re having trouble filling out the forms, do not neglect the instructions that are given with them. I know that it’s extra reading, but what’s ten extra minutes of reading compared to a few extra months of waiting because of a silly mistake?

When submitting evidence, be sure to include a cover page detailing everything that you’ve included in the packet.  See the following images. I’ve added some notes on the side.

Cover letter pic 1

Cover letter pic 2

Cover letter pic 3

My summary of our story included how and where we met, places we’ve been to, important dates, our jobs and education, etc. Everyone’s story is unique. Try to keep it to one typed page. I also stated that I moved back to the states and have already secured a job etc even though that information isn’t necessary until NVC gets involved. You want USCIS to know that there is a steady income over a certain amount so that they know the immigrant will not be a burden on the US. This information usually isn’t required until the NVC stage which typically won’t be until at least six months later (earlier if you’re super lucky or had an expedite approved) or much later (like in our case – nearly ten months and we didn’t even have any missing documents). Unless specifically stated, do not include originals of documents. Copies are fine.

When I was including pictures in my Word document (later saved as a PDF and then printed in color, one sided), I made sure to add the date that they were taken (digital copies usually have the date encrypted in them), where they were taken, and who was in the picture. Pictures of your wedding and engagement are very good evidence. Especially if you have photos of you signing your marriage certificate / book. Pictures with your spouse and their family / your family etc are great. I probably went a bit overboard, but I included about thirty pages worth of pictures and explanations. I also included the link and screenshots of our wedding website, Facebook events that I had made for the wedding and bachelorette party etc. I included copies of airline tickets going to see him and even our university transcripts to prove that we were there at the same time. Anything that has both of your names on it especially a rental agreement or something of the sort is wonderful evidence. Do not include CDs or USBs etc. They will not look at them.

Photo evidence 1

Once I triple and quadruple checked all of the documents and signed the I-130 and other forms (make sure your documents are signed or your application will be rejected), it was finally ready to be sent off to the USCIS. Don’t forget the money order for the I-130 fee which is currently $535.
Here are the addresses to send your I-130.

Once you submit everything, you should get your first notice NOA1 which will be the receipt that they received your package and are reviewing it. Don’t lose this receipt number. You can use it to check the status of the application.

There are a few sites that are great for help and questions as well.

VisaJourney.com  is great for creating your timeline and tracking other timelines of those who may have similar cases to yours.

The Facebook group (you’ll need approval to join) “I-130 filers Immigration Visa Group.” is also great for asking and answering questions.

Search around on Facebook as well for groups that pertain to the country that your spouse is from because the information may be more beneficial to you.

Keep doing your research while you’re waiting for you approval. Start getting your documents ready for the NVC stage. I’ll write more about that later. The wait time is probably the most frustrating and painful time. We got our first receipt from USCIS September 8th, 2016 and didn’t get our approval until June 29th, 2017 – that was 295 days or 9 months 22 days.

education · elementary education · Istanbul · teacher · teaching

Journeying to the States: Intro

 

My husband and I met nearly six years ago at college in New York. He was an exchange student and I was a junior trying to figure out if and how I could study abroad. When we started dating, we were both trying to figure out how it would work, I mean I didn’t even have my passport yet! What an ordeal it was for me to get that (that’s another story).

In short, he was just the push I needed to help me pursue my studies abroad. If you’ve been following me for the past few years now, you’ll know that I went to Pisciotta, Italy for a summer semester then visited Istanbul for the first time in the summer of 2012 to stay with my husband (then boyfriend) and his family. After my fall semester in Urbino, Italy we both met up again at our university in New York and graduated together that spring. We were stuck on how to continue seeing each other though. After all, transatlantic relationships and plane trips aren’t exactly cheap and easy.

Then I figured it out. While working a waitressing gig, I also took a TEFL course and powered through it in order to go back to Turkey with him that fall. I started teaching English to kindergartners and preschoolers in August of 2013 in Istanbul. My second year there, I moved to a different school and my husband and I moved in together in our own apartment. We adopted some kitties, got engaged, and then got married. It all just seems peachy-keen, right?

Wrong.

Here comes the hard part. We decided it’d be best for him to get his U.S. citizenship. Now, for anyone currently doing this or who has been through this process, you know this is no walk in the park. It’s a long and grueling, expensive, lonely, stressful, and damn near cruel process. The U.S. does not make it easy for people to immigrate here. In order for him to immigrate here legally, I have to prove domicile (a place to live), a steady job with a certain income, and our relationship. Seems easy enough you say? Just wait. Even once all the items are gathered and double, triple, and quadruple checked, it then takes months  and sometimes and years for everything to be checked over by the government and when you try to call to ask for a status update, no one has any sympathy. I will write about the process in steps to try and help others who are going through the same thing.