Saturday, 22 June 2013

21 Weeks (State of the Union)

I have three posts in my drafts folder, waiting to be finished and posted. One of them is an obituary for Aged Parent, my f-i-l, Ted, who passed away last weekend. It has only been a week and, as you can probably imagine, everything since has been coloured by his passing. Little Djinn has really been our saving grace: she's so bright and happy that it's impossible to wallow around her. Feeling sad and overwhelmed? Go play cuddle or play with the baby. She's really enjoyed getting to see so much of h Daddy this week as Chris took the week off to Deal with Things and every day this week has involved a trip to Aged Parent's house or a walk into town as we've sorted through his things and made arrangements, as well as previously scheduled appointments. 
Back at the start of the month, I had ordered a bouquet of our wedding flowers for our anniversary.* I stopped by the shop yesterday and had it converted to an arrangement for the casket: same day, same flowers, same price, different place to take them. After the..hassle isn't really the right word but I can't think of anything better, of everything else it was almost astonishingly easy. We'd agreed not to do presents but now it looks like there won't even be cards exchanged. 

In Little Djinn news, she's 5.65kg (12lbs7oz) and 61cm (24") which keeps her on her 9th percentile weight and 25th percentile length lines. She's a tiny, slender baby. She can sit up on her own for a few seconds before she gets distracted, leans to one side and topples over. She wiggles off our laps to get on her tummy then screams because she can't crawl yet. She also likes to stand holding hands for balance and bounces from squatting to standing. We did a three week baby massage class, to promote bonding and improve circulation. She didn't much care for the class, she wanted me to hold her so she could see what everyone was doing and didn't want to lay on her back, but she loves being massaged. It's now an integral part of her bedtime routine and often the morning one, too. Speaking of bedtime, she's still a really good sleeper though she's pushed her bedtime back from 7-8 to 8-8:30. She usually sleeps through to 5 or 6, nurses, and sleeps again till 8:30 or 9:30. There have even been days I've woken up, had breakfast with my husband, showered and gotten dressed before Little Djin woke up. We usually go swimming on Fridays but this week we needed to meet with the funeral director. Chris signed her up for swim lessons when he went to register Aged Parents death as the archive centre is next to the leisure centre: that will start in September. She's also started being scared of strangers and, when not hungry, didn't seem to notice who held her. Now she grins and bounces when she sees one of her parents and cries if anyone else gets too close or tries to hold her.

Chris and I have made three things from Paul Hollywood's How to Bake: absolutely amazing bacon and cheddar loaves, wholemeal and cheese scones (good, but eclipsed by Aged Parent's death), and really good shortbread biscuits. Though that last recipe almost ended badly when my American brain translated "corn flour" as "corn meal" rather than "corn starch". Fortunately Chris saw my mis en place bowls and questioned my plan. I thought it seemed an odd variation. 

I also, finally, got to try out my sewing machine. Chris settled down to watch cricket with Little Dinn and I got to set up my sewing machine, wind a bobbin, and sew two triangles before she had a melt down and wanted lunch. And, as the cricket match was rain delayed (shocking in England, I know) I had a bit of an audience. Currently the table is covered in legal and financial documents as Chris sorts through his father's life. Bunting doesn't seem quite the thing anyway. Knitting hasn't progressed much though the end is in sight for my cross-stitch.

* an idea I borrowed from my friend Andy though he got married locally and was able to ask the same florist for the same flowers. Chris and i got married a fair bit south of where we live and our florist was even further down the country so I picked the one where a friend's mother used to(?) work. 

Thursday, 6 June 2013

I should change my blog to "Jennifer Lives"

I should change my blog from "Jennifer Knits" to "Jennifer Lives" but I can't edit that from the blogger app. I started off blogging about my knitting and now we're lucky if I mention a project, let alone show pictures and talk about it and I am doubtful that I'll make a better sewing-blogger. 

received a blogging gift! Long time reader, first time gifter, er, fellow knitter / American abroad and occasional (once so far, but we live in hope especially as Ging Kitty actually let her pet him) house-guest Amy sent me a copy of Paul Hollywood's How to Bake. It was only reading the article in Delicious Magazine that I learnt he's famous for judging Great British Bake-Off (and that he'll be judging the US spin-off); I only heard of him when I saw adverts for the BBC's "Paul Hollywood's Bread" which I recorded for Chris, our resident bread baker. Sure enough, he's fairly rapturous about this cookbook and has already picked several recipes we must make forthwith (the first being Chedder and Bacon Loafs). In non-baking news, I made Rhubbarb Fool (stewed Rhubbarb, mashed strawberries, and whipped cream all mixed together). The picture in the magazine looks smooth and pink. Mine is lumpy and pinkish with bits of fruit swirled around. It's tasty, but not something I'd serve at a formal dinner party.

My mother heard my "I want a sewing machine but don't know what to do with one" and, a life-long sewer, decided that if I have one the rest will take care of itself. I bought a pack of gingham squares and a length of bias tape for bunting to hang on the wall leading up the stairs. I hung the advent calendar bunting there over the winter and the wall has looked a bit bare since. It would be a perfect place to hang pictures of Little Djinn as she grows but I usually lean against the wall when going down the stairs to keep from falling. These are the concerns of the clumsy. I've washed and ironed my fabric and, while I could start now, I'm waiting for the rotary cutter, mat, and ruler I bought with a gift card I was sent. 

I finished another mini knitting project, tiny baby booties from the book I got for my birthday. Unfortunately I was using a bit of scrap yarn and ran out so instead of little ducky booties I made little ballet flats. But the pattern was well-written and they're only a smidge large for her tiny feet. I'll try again with more yarn because, even though I know I'll never be able to keep them on her short of sewing them to her outfit, they are awfully cute.

Little Djinn and I finally started our baby massage classes. Chris had a big project due this week and had to miss the first one, but I can catch him up. We covered legs and feet, which she grudgingly liked (mostly she wasn't happy that I wasn't holding here) and lost it a bit when we went on to chests. Another baby had started crying, then a second, and soon all the babies were screaming except the little butterball to our right who was just looking around like "it's cool man. It's all cool." One totally chill dudelet. I did the massages again before bed tonight and she was more enthusiastic. 

It was a gorgeous day so we did a bit of shopping, took a bus into the city centre, and walked home. After lunch we went back out and lay on the lawn for a little while. I had just about convinced myself that my grass allergy is all in my head, but having my bare legs on the grass for a few seconds was enough to turn my legs pink and splotchy and I had to go back for a second blanket for myself. I am clearly meant for pool decks, not back gardens. 

I leave you with this picture of Ginger Kitty helping.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Operation: ILR

We have reached the point in my immigration process where I can (almost) apply for settlement, for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This is the last step before citizenship and grants most of the benefits of citizenship such as "public funds" and no longer being subject to immigration control but lacks certain little things like being able to vote or have actual rights. Think Second Class Citizen only without the citizen part. Mind you, I'm being snarky but I don't actually disagree with the process, at least in broad strokes. I'm not one of those people who think that everyone should be able to up sticks and move anywhere in the world just as easy as deciding. I think the immigration process as it applies to me is fair, if bloody expensive, but I also know that I am fairly uniquely privileged: most immigrants to the UK face more hoops and higher hurdles than I have and do and the rules I'm applying under are no longer available even to relatively favoured immigrants. I want to be here and I don't mind that there is a protracted immigration process but it's easy to feel bitter while doing it.

Things I need to do in roughly the order I need to do them:

1. Have my US passport switched to my married name. I may have already left this too late as the embassy website says it takes five weeks to process and that gets me into my visa application window (I have 28 days before my current visa expires). I don't need to update my US passport but my visa will be issued in the name on my passport and it would be nice to have everything in my married name. The hold up here is that I need a US sized passport photo. 
Cost: $110 for passport, plus courier, plus photo

2. Knowledge of Life in the UK test. This one is fairly self explanatory. The only possible complication is that my ID (Biometrics Resident Permit) is in my maiden name and my proof of address is in my married name. They should accept my (british) marriage certificate as a bridging factor. Good thing we got three "original" marriage certificates as one will be off with my passport. 
Cost: £50 per test (can take as many times as needed to pass) plus study materials. A friend sent me hers for the old test but I didn't get around to taking it before it changed in April.

3. Organise "supporting documents" including proof of cohabitation (official post addressed to both of us at the same address), proof of income to support ourselves, UK passport photos, marriage certificate, passports, etc.
Cost: passport photos, and photocopies...?

4. Apply. Hopefully we can get an in-person appointment for a same-day decision, otherwise it'll be a postal application (with an option on a checking service first) and a six-month wait.
Cost: in-person: £1426 plus biometrics, plus overnight trip to Glasgow; postal: £1051, plus biometrics, plus checking service plus overnight to Edinburg.

So all of that before my current visa expires the first week in August.