Tag Archives: passport

Travelling is hard

17 Feb

So, as I told you before (well, I think I did, I do have baby brain, so I can’t really be sure), Hannah and I are going to the U.S. so she can meet my family for the first time.  I know, you’re thinking ‘but you’re pregnant, shouldn’t you wait until after you have the other baby so they can both meet your parents?’  Yeah, that seems like a good idea, BUT, then we’d have to pay 2 adult fares (because there is NO WAY I could handle 2 kids on a long flight and through airports all by myself), and a 75% child fare because Hannah will be 2 by then.  This way, we can get over there before the magical no-one-will-sell-you-travel-insurance 26 week mark, and it will be my parents turn to visit us next, so we’ll have many years to save up the enormous amount of cash it costs to fly a family of four overseas.  Hang on, it’s my parents turn to visit this time.  Hmmm….

Before we can travel, there were a few things we needed to take care of.   First off, I’m allowed to stay in the country, but I wasn’t really allowed to return if I left.  My visa expired….  Sigh, that means a trip to immigration, and a rather steep fee to get a Resident Return Visa.  Humph, I guess I should have just gotten my citizenship ages ago when I first took the test.  Oh well, live and learn.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so cheap.

I also had to get Hannah’s birth certificate so I could get her a passport.  Yeah yeah, I should have ordered a birth certificate when I registered her birth (as most people do), but that cost money, and I didn’t need it at the time, and I couldn’t be bothered filling out all the paper work.

Lucky for me, both the Births, Deaths, and Marriages, and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMIA) offices are in Parramatta.  I decided to get up early, and get to the BDM at opening time, 8am, then walk to DIMIA.  I was going to bring Hannah, but it was supposed to be ridiculously hot that day, so I left her at home with Grandma.

Getting the birth certificate was easy, I had it in hand by 8:10.  I walked to DIMIA, only to find that it had moved.  3 years ago.  Sigh.  Found the new office and discovered it didn’t open until 9.  Humph, I thought it opened at 8:30.  There were already 4 guys sitting in the only chairs available, waiting for 9am when we were allowed to go up the lift up to Immigration.  A security guard sat at a portable desk next to the elevators reading a magazine.  I assumed he was there to keep us foreigners out of the lifts before 9am, ensuring all the people who actually worked in the building could get up to their floors.  Not that he did a very good job.

A pair of immigrants came in and went in the lift.  I knew at a glance that they didn’t work there, but did the security guard say anything?  Nope, he was busy, reading his magazine.  They went up the lift and came back down a few minutes later, to loiter around with the growing number of the rest of us.

By quarter to 9, the lobby was pretty full of us immigrants.  I felt rather out of place being the only caucasian person, as well as the only person under 40ish in the entire room.  At 8:55, everyone suddenly made a mad rush for the elevators.  Not that we could go up yet.  There was nothing said.  It was just like BANG, and everyone rushed in.  I, of course, ended up near the back of the orderly-ish line, since I had been sitting near the chairs, not obstructing the path of the office workers getting to the elevators in any way.  A whole bunch of people were standing at the sides of the line.  The men who were there before me were also at the back of the line.  Seriously, what are these people thinking?  Why do they think they have the right to go first when some of us have been waiting for half an hour?

The security guard didn’t say a word.  His magazine was obviously very enthralling.

9am – the doors to the lift opened.  It was like there was a million dollars in the elevator and only one person, the first person in there, could have it.  Or maybe like a mosh pit when the band comes on stage.  Everyone surged forward.  The people at the sides of the line rushed in front.  Still, the security guard said nothing.  Instead, he started packing up, completely ignoring the chaos that was right in front of him.  All the foreigners were allowed upstairs now, there was no need for him, he could be on his merry way. What the heck did they employ him for?  He did nothing!  I wanted to yell at him.  I wanted to yell at all the rude people cutting in the line, pushing and shoving, desperate to be first to get up to immigration, to get in line there to take a number and do more waiting.

“Seriously people, I have been here for HALF AN HOUR!  And those guys over there?  Yeah, those ones.  They were here before me!  What makes you think you can waltz in here 5 minutes before opening time and shove your way in?”  Of course I didn’t say that because a) I’m a wuss bag b) I’m pregnant and didn’t want to be punched in the stomach, and c) they probably didn’t speak english anyway.  I HATE it when people cut in line!  It’s so rude!  Like when you’re at the bus stop and then the bus comes and a person who just got there jumps on the bus as soon as the doors open.  They of course get the last seat and you have to stand.  RUDE!  Lines people, it’s called a line for a reason. WAIT YOUR TURN!

Anyway, the immigration people were super nice to me and didn’t even look at my application form, opting instead to look at my passport, take my money and put in the new visa.  I was out of there before anyone else.  Haha suckers!

Then I had to fill out Hannah’s passport application form.  That was going well until I accidentally wrote my name instead of hers after filling it half way out.  Humph.  I traipsed all the way to the post office to get another one.  That one was going extremely well (haha, name box, you won’t get me again!) until the very end, when I witnessed Aaron’s signature and he witnessed mine.  Then I read that the witness has to be someone not related to the applicant, and not living in the same house hold.  Snap.  Guess I should read things before signing them.  I went all the way to the post office again to get a new form.

Third time lucky.  Finally, I got it right.  I went to get Hannah’s photo taken.  It looked pretty shocking, but whatever.  I went to pay. I rummaged through my purse.  Sigh, I forgot my wallet.  I told him I’d pick up the photos the next day and pay for them.  When I got home, I had a look at the photo guidelines.  Mouth must be shut, eyebrows must be showing.  Humph, her mouth was open, and her fringe was over her eyebrows.

The next day I went back.  I told them my concerns about the photos and the lady looked pretty annoyed.  Not at me, at the person who took them.  “You told him it was for a passport?”  “Yeah, I said ‘Hi, I need a passport photo for my daughter.'”  New lady was really nice and took better, acceptable photos of Hannah.  She had me put a little piece of food in her mouth so it would remain closed while she took her photo.

Phew, sent off the application.  I got it back today.  Yay!

I booked the e-tickets online.  When they hit my inbox, I nearly died.  Ok, not really, that’s an exaggeration, but you know.  The ticket said we get 3 pieces of luggage Sydney to L.A., but then none from L.A. to Seattle and Seattle to L.A.  What, was I supposed to haul everything all that way and then ditch it at the airport?  Sure, I used to work as a travel agent and know all about interline carriers and whatnot, but V Australia wasn’t around when I was a travel agent, and I remember clients coming in and telling me that they had to pay extra for bags in the U.S.  I’m pretty sure that those were separate flights, not all one ticket like mine, but I can’t remember, that was so long ago, and I have baby brain!

Many calls to V Australia later (they don’t seem to believe in holding until someone is available), and they told me it was a mistake, lucky I called otherwise Alaskan airlines might not have accepted our bags, and that they’d send me a new, correct ticket.  Awesome.  Still annoying though.

When I got Hannah’s passport, I had to apply for the visa waiver program for her.  Yeah, yeah, she could be a US citizen, but you know what?  That would mean I’d have to buy another passport, register her birth with the U.S. government, and get more photos taken (because the U.S. and Australia don’t use the same size photos for passports.  Annoying.).  Too much effort, too much money, no thank you.  She can do it later if she needs it for something.  The option is always going to be there.  Unless the U.S. suddenly hates Australia or something, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

We now have all of our documents taken care of (well, I do need to actually print some things out, but I’ll do that later), and we will be on our way in less than a month.  Watch out Washington (state, not D.C., they are, in fact, different places, contrary to popular Australian belief), we’re coming for you!

28 weeks

13 Apr

Pregnancy: 28 weeks 1 Day
Total weight gain: 9 Kilos (but the bump and baby are bigger. Maybe the ass has gotten smaller??)
Baby size: 25cm 9.84in (head to butt)
Baby weight: 1 Kilo (2.2lbs)

Since being pregnant, I have seen the inside of my belly button for the very first time. Before pregnancy, my belly button was just a slit (which I covered with a piercing because I didn’t like it). Now though, the inside is about to become the outside. For a short while, I had a normal belly button, open, but with the inside nicely inside. Currently my belly button looks like something that should be used for target practise. There’s the normal outside of the belly button, making the first ring of the target, but then comes the bullseye – I have quite a large freckle right in the middle of the inside of my belly button (which is nearly the outside now, making it look like a bullseye). So as if having a temporary outie isn’t bad enough, my temporary outie looks like it’s looking at you. I might have already told you about my crazy freckle, and if so, I apologise…I have the baby brain.

The other week I went to put something in the microwave, and something caught my eye, making me let out an involuntary little scream (I am a girl, what can I say). On closer inspection, I could see the offending movement was none other then a cockroach, the first one we have seen inside our apartment (oops, I lie, it was the second). This one though, was very unusual. This one is residing in between the outside glass and the don’t-let-the-microwaves-through mesh in our microwave. Now for the bigger issue here: How did said cockroach get there? The mesh is far too small for even a baby cockroach to get through, or an egg for that matter (they are about the size of sunflower seeds with the shell on). There is no opening between the glass and the mesh, nothing is out of place. He musn’t be able to get out either because he still lives there. That is right, we have had a cockroach living in our microwave for about 2 weeks now. We can’t get it out, he can’t get himself out. I still get a fright every time I go to put something in the microwave. It’s just not natural to have something living in there (and with the baby brain, I always forget about it until I go to put something in there and see him crawling around out of the corner of my eye). Needless to say, we are not taking the microwave with us to the new unit. We will get a new one (and hope a cockroach doesn’t magically appear).

The other day some brand new tenants arrived to live in one of the apartments where I work. They were fresh off the plane from Japan, and don’t speak a word of english. About an hour after they arrived, they came down to the concierge desk (where I work) and tried to tell me something. They kept saying garage, and making a some sort of hand movement that was like opening a door. Of course I had no idea what they were on about, so finally they got their real estate agent Yuka (who speaks beautiful English and Japanese) on the phone to translate. Yuka told me that they had accidentally thrown away one of their passports and thrown the garbage bag down the garbage chute. We had a brand new manager who was in his second day on the job, so he got a nice initiation picking through all the trash in the garbage room with me, searching for the passport. He did finally find a bag containing some Japanese garbage (it had Japanese writing on it), but no passport. I came out and told the upset Japanese tenants (via Yuka), who then insisted that there was not one, but 2 bags of rubbish (how you make 2 bags of rubbish in one hour I do not know). This time new boss had a look on his own. After about 30 mins of searching, he did not find anything. Wouldn’t you know it, later that day the tenants came down with big smiles and held up the passport for me to see. They had never thrown them away after all, but put them in a drawer in their apartment (next time maybe look through apartment before getting people to dig through rubbish??). Speaking of them, they just walked by and smiled and waved at me and said sorry (I’m at work). Aww they are cute (they are quite elderly).

On Thursday night, Aaron and I started our very first antenatal class, Birth and Beyond, at the hospital. As per every antenatal class that has ever existed in movies, we were shown a video of an actual birth. I must say though, it didn’t look quite as bad as I suspected. We also had to do an exercise about what will change when the baby arrives. The girls were to make one poster of things, and the boys another. It was quite funny to see the difference in the poster. The boys’ poster had things like: less time for fishing, more toy magazines laying around (which to them was a good thing as they like toys). Ours was more like: Less time as a couple (bad thing), gives you a sense of purpose. Aaron told me that one of the guys said “less time for titty bars.” Then another said “or maybe more time.” Then another concluded “ok, maybe the same amount of time for titty bars.” Luckily, I’m pretty sure they were joking. We, on the other hand, were discussing how our babies all liked to wake us up at 3 or 3:30 in the morning to have a party in the uterus.

Aaron and I went to Trish and Grandma’s house on Friday night (and so did The Jess and Shane) for a nice family Easter dinner. I would highly recommend staying out of the kitchen while Trish and Grandma are doing any sort of food preparation involving knives. They are both animated hand talkers, and they seem to forget they have a knife in their hands when talking. Grandma came to within 2 inches of The Jess’ ear. I thought she was going to be the new Chopper Reid. We always laugh (and are a bit scared) when we see them with knives. If only we brought the video camera. They don’t mean to be funny, but goodness me, they are hilarious. I’m just surprised there has never been an accident. I suppose that is because we all keep on our toes when we know they have a knife….

When I was little, my mom (I mean the Easter bunny) used to hide chocolate eggs around the house on Easter morning for my brother and I to find. I always thought that was quite fun (and um…still do), so this year, I hid some chocolates for Aaron to find on Easter morning. All was well until he only had one left, the first one (of 8) that I hid. I couldn’t for the life of me remember where I hid that egg (and I had only hidden them about 10 minutes before). So, Aaron and I both searched. We still hadn’t found it some time later and gave up, figuring we would find it. I did eventually find it. I was squatting next to Aaron’s desk getting something out of his backpack when I saw it staring at me from on top the CD filer thing under Aaron’s desk. That is the baby brain for you. You just forget everything!

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