I forgot my bracelet arrived on Wednesday! (My early birthday gift to myself, hehe.) I ordered it from Esquivel & Fees. They do amazing work. Every piece is custom made. My bracelet also has a lifetime guarantee and I can send it back to them for repairs if needed. Yay for Ratties! I took a picture with the flash & without.

Immigration Lawyers.

Since F.B. & I are getting married December 2009 in the Philippines, I've decided I need to start looking up Immigration Lawyers in my area. I've already contacted about 5. I emailed 3 more tonight and am waiting for replies. 2 lawyers got back to me and I need to call the one back tomorrow. I want to compare fee's to see who is easiest to work with and who will really help me through the confusing process of filing all of the paperwork. Several have gotten back to me, but a few were too expensive, didn't explain the process, and one told me I needed to come in for a paid consultation before he would discuss anything!

The one lawyer I emailed in Center City Philadelphia, called my cell phone the last night but I missed his call. I called his office today but he was in a meeting. Then I ended up missing his call this evening by 15 minutes or so. But he left his cell phone number for me instead so I would be sure of getting ahold of him. He was so incredibly nice! We spoke for about 30 minutes and he went through all the processes/scenarios.

Here is the email I sent F.B. tonight about the immigration lawyer:

Hi Baby, I just got off the phone with the nicest immigration lawyer ever! All week I've been looking lawyers up online and in the phone book. I've emailed a few but they were either too expensive, or not helpful or wanted me to come in for a paid consultation before they would explain anything, even fees. A few were nice but were way too expensive. This lawyer in Center City Philadelphia called me last night after I emailed him but I missed his call. I called him at work today but he was in a meeting. Then I missed his call again when I took a shower, lol. Buttt.... he said he was leaving the office and would give me his cell phone number instead so I would be sure to get a hold of him.

So I called him around 6pm and he was sooo nice! He was actually driving home from the office but talked with me for 30 minutes. He went through each scenario with each visa, told me the processes, the costs, etc. He said his father has an office up around where I live and if I didn't want to travel all the way to center city- he would even come up to where I lived for consulatations, etc.
He said they can do monthly payments with the fees and he usually requests half, but he could do a smaller percentage of that and then monthly fees over the course of the entire application process.

He actually told me a better way to go about the entire process! What I was thinking of doing. Was filing for a K-3 visa. That would get you into the USA. But then we would also have to apply for employment authorization. And then within 90 days we would need to file to change your status to a permanent immigrant resident. But those are 3 different forms, each with their own costs.

He says, we don't even have to file for a K-3 visa. If you just file the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, once you file that paperwork you can at the same time apply for permanent immigrant status. Which means instead of going through 3 different processes we can go through 1 process. Which means when you finally step into the USA, you would already be a permanent immigrant resident. You could apply for a job as soon as you stepped off the plane, because you would be a USA resident. He says filing the I-130 starts off with mailing our marriage certificate, copies of our birth certificates, application, etc in. Then they mail you back a packet for the next step, where I mail in income tax copies, bank statements, etc. Which would cost around $355.

He says that first process takes around 3-7 months. Once that is finished Immigration will mail all of our paperwork to the US consulate in Manila Philippines. From there they would call you in for an interview for permanent resident status. You would have paperwork prepared with medical clearance, affidavits from our family and friends proving our relationship, etc. There would be a fee for the interview of a couple hundred dollars. This is the longest step because it can take 12-16 months for a decision. The lawyer would help us through each step and help us to prepare our applications, the packet you would need to take for your interview at the USA consulate, etc. All together it is an estimate of about $4,000. Really he said just $3,000 for the lawyer fees- the rest is the immigration fees.

If we went the other way that I was thinking we could actually be spending around $6,000 because it is 3 different processes. This way we work through one process you enter the USA a permanent resident, you can get a job and we are together. $4,000 is not a bad price at all, compared to the other lawyers I've been contacting. And none of them helped me through each scenario/situation like this lawyer. He is so nice F.B. we are definitely using him for our immigration lawyer. Even besides chatting about the legal stuff, he talked about how he grew up in Jenkintown, his father has a lawyer office in Feasterville near me. He asked me where I went to school, where I grew up, even said he looked at my myspace page and blog so he knew even more about our situation when I called.

He also said it's great I've kept copies of my plane tickets, itineraries from the past trips. That I have lot's of letters from you, etc. Because we can use that to document and prove our relationship. He advised me to start making copies of those things and getting them in order. I'll have to start doing that!

This is great! And the fact he does monthly payment plans is even better, that he will work with us with the payments and help us through the entire process is just wonderful. Aaah! So much stress is gone! With the time-frames for processing everything, you wouldn't be able to come to the USA until around 2011 at some point. So that's good for us too, since you said you still wanted to find a job over there and save money. This buys us at least another year and a half. What do you think of everything? I think we will definitely work with this lawyer and go the process he says. It will great that you would already be a permanent resident and be able to work as soon as you stepped off the plane! Yay!

I'm so excited that I finally found a great lawyer who will work with us and who takes the time to explain the processes, costs, etc. What he thinks is best and more cost effective. We are definitely going to choose him for our immigration lawyer!

NOTE: Our lawyers Peter J. Gonzales & Shanna Stanton have changed firms. They are no longer with Kahiga Tiagha. They are now with Green and Spiegel LLC, but still located in Philadelphia.

Some Links:

I-130 (Initial Form Filed)

IR1 (This explains what he was talking about.)

Extra Info ( On what the lawyer is suggesting.)

Makati City, Yay!

Yay! So just 6 weeks until I am off to the Philippines! F.B. finally let me book our hotel for Makati City! We always stay in Makati City for a few days whenever I visit. F.B. was actually born in Makati City & it is just special to us, we have alot of memories there. We always stay at the Best Western Astor Hotel. I love that hotel. It's much nicer than the Best Western hotel's in the USA and the buffet breakfast/lunch is amazing! Plus it is within walking distance to Greenbelt & Glorietta Mall. And not such a far ride to Mall of Asia. We will be staying in Makati City October 13th-October 17th. 5 days 4 nights.

Breakfast Buffet at the Best Western Astor:

Hotel Lobby:

I booked the Best Western Astor hotel through It was $100 less than where I usually book our hotel. Whoo hoo! Only $55 a night instead of $80!

Insect Photography

Thought I would share the interesting photos I got yesterday of a lady bug & wasp:

I keep the macro setting on when taking close up shots. The camera I use is a: Sony Cybershot DSC-W55

Goodbye Pusa...

F.B.'s cat Pusa passed away today. I got F.B.'s text message about him this morning when I woke up. (Pusa means cat in Tagalog.) Pusa was a stray cat that hung around my fiance's house. He started coming by about a year and a half ago and became F.B.'s cat. I got to meet Pusa in January. He had a funny meow. He would always meow when we were eating meals, come into the dining room walk under the table and rub up against our feet or hands. He was a boy's cat. He just loved when F.B. would play "rough" with him, by "mopping" him on the floor with his hand or foot. Pusa would get right back up and love up against F.B. It cracked us up. Pusa just loved F.B.

I remember the one night when we were taking Coco his dog out back to put him in the yard. We walked all the way behind the house to put Coco away. Coco started barking up a storm. Pusa decided to stroll on out and steps around the back corner of the house, looks at us and goes, "MEOW?" Like, 'What is all the racket? What are you guys doing?" He was such a silly cat. I also remember F.B. told me one time Pusa snuck in the house and made himself comfortable on his sister's bed. hehe.

He was a stray cat, but F.B. would bathe him sometimes (though he's pretty dirty in the pictures below.) He would always get into fights with the other neighborhood strays. He always ate all the leftover food and he even liked Pringles chips.

I didn't get to say goodbye to Pusa when I left in January, he wasn't around that morning... so I'll really miss him when I go back in October... he was such a friendly kitty. Goodbye Pusa....

F.B.'s email: Got up early to drive today. I saw Pusa just laying around and he really didn't seem like he had much energy. I haven't seen him eat in about 2 days or so too. I just patted him a bit and I actually said "goodbye" to him, cuz somehow I felt that he'd be going soon. Got the news about Pusa through text from Ate Malou after lunch. That feeling I had was correct, unfortunately. And it is sad. I know I've only had Pusa for about a year or so, but I love that cat. haha. I'm gonna miss him. Even though he was filthy and not so pretty, and he had a weird "meow" too. There was just something special about him. hehe. I don't quite recall when Pusa came around here. He was just some street cat looking for food, then he'd hang around more and we'd use him to take care of the mice in the house. haha. Eventually, he became a pet and I got share my food with him and also gave him a few baths lately. haha. I know it's sad that he's gone. But I'm also glad in a way that I got to take care of him cuz no one seemed to care about him before.

Snack Time!

I thought I would share some pictures of the girls enjoying corn on the cob and yogurt peanuts. Hehe. They just love corn on the cob occasionally. Spice especially LOVES it as you can see from the pictures, hehe! (They clean the cob better than a human!) They love yogurt peanuts for a treat too. Though they all have different ways of eating them. Cinnamon will eat the yogurt off and leave the peanut. Spice will eat the yogurt, take the skin off the peanut & then eat the peanut. And Sugar eats the whole thing! Cinnamon is my chunky monkey. Ever since she had her emergency spay she's really chunked up. She weighs 1 pound 2 ounces, while Sugar & Spice weigh 15 ounces each.




I also ordered a rattie charm off of ebay and put it on a necklace. It's really tiny, but adorable!

And for an early birthday gift to myself I ordered a silver charm bracelet from Esquivel and Fees. I am getting my name 'Sarah' engraved on the charm in script. They make really nice handcrafted jewelry. They said it should ship in 2 weeks. I can't wait to receive it!

Only about 8 more weeks until my trip to the Philippines! I'm so excited! I have to start getting stuff I need to take with me. Also I'm still not furloughed from work... we've always been furloughed in August/September. This year we are getting in a ton of paperwork and they said that there was no talk of being furloughed. I talked to both my managers and they said I may be able to use what vacation time I have saved up and perhaps take leave without pay since I'll be in the Philippines for 2 months. They said they would discuss it with our department head. I always plan my trips for later in the year when I know I won't be working and it figures the one year I decide to stay 2 months I'm still working! I'm crossing my fingers that we'll be let go before my trip. The latest I can leave work is Friday October 3rd, since I'm leaving October 6th!

We want to stay in Makati City again for a few days. I really love it there. And last year I got to meet up with my friend Gayle. I think we might stay 3 days 2 nights. And I also want to visit a beach so, F.B. is going to talk to his Mom and see what's close by that we could drive to. Then we could stay a few days at the beach or a beach resort. I want beach pictures!

We'll also be celebrating our birthday's together this year, since F.B.'s birthday is October 9th. I think we'll be going to Saisaki Buffet for his bday. I already got him two gifts. hehe. I just ordered the 2nd today. I asked F.B. if he would get me Cueshe's new album. It came out in April and it's really tough to get Filipino bands here. I have their first 2 albums and I really want the new one!

F.B. and I have been talking about next year. And we've decided we'd like to get married in December, since that was the month we first met each other, first kiss, etc. It would be nice to get married in that month. No date set on that yet though, because it depends on how soon our paperwork gets done when I arrive next year. I have to get a paper from the US Embassy there that says I can marry and then we'd have to apply for a marriage license, then there's a 10 day waiting period & then make an appointment for a civil ceremony by a judge. So I'm thinking I'll arrive November next year and stay until January sometime. Then we want to take a honeymoon to Boracay!

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