Holly & Ivy

Even before my Cinnamon passed away, I had been thinking about getting two new female rats. It's been tough losing two rats within two months, I wasn't expecting to lose my Cinnamon so soon. Sugar had been ill and it was expected, but losing Cinnamon was so unexpected...

Friday night I went out to a few pet stores looking for female rats. Two of the stores, just had male rats, the other 2 only female PEWS. I was really hoping they would have other colors, but since they didn't I decided to get two new PEW girls.

Since all of them looked alike, they let me put my hand in the tank at Petco and I just waited to see who would come the closest. The first two girls I grabbed, didn't squirm so much or try to get away so they were the ones that came home with me. I named the larger girl Holly and the smaller girl Ivy

When I got home and gave them a bath, I discovered Holly was missing a good bit off the end of her tail. It's healed over now though. This actually turned out to be a good thing, because my Saffy, who I got back in May is also a PEW, but the tip of her tail is broken on the end. And Ivy, has a perfect tail, so it will be easy to tell them apart even if they all look similar!

Holly's Tail:
Holly & Ivy:
Holly is very curious and was even accepting a bit of people food the first night. I've owned 8 rats all together now, and I've never had a rat accept food or be so trusting the first night home.

Ivy was very scared and jumpy her first night home. She's starting to be more curious, though she is much more timid than Holly.

My Ginger rat, I have to schedule her an appointment at the vet for either this week or next week. So we can get her in and figure out how much it's going to cost to remove the tumor under her right arm. With Spice it was around $200 something, so it will probably be similar.


1st Meeting: Immigration Lawyer

After 2 years of corresponding through phone/emails I finally had an appointment on Saturday around 11am to meet with our immigration lawyer for the first time. His office is in center city Philadelphia, but his father is also a lawyer and has an office around the corner from my house so we decided to meet there for our initial meeting.

It was really great after talking for 2 years to finally begin our immigration process. I brought all of the copies he asked me to bring to the meeting; copy of our marriage certificate, birth certificates, passport copies, passport style photographs. We started working on the I-864 so we can also file the I-130. If you remember, F.B. and I wanted to do a longer immigration process, because when F.B. steps off the plane he will be a permanent resident.

There was still some information I needed to gather before we could finish our initial application. I have to gather my income tax information from the past 3 years, I need a letter from work verifying I've worked there. I need to get some personal information about F.B.'s parents, places of birth, etc.

When I came back from the Philippines I also brought back with me all the letters I've sent F.B. over the past 5 years (Just the 1st page & envelope- we organized them at his house.) I've already made copies of the letter's he's sent to me. I have to make copies of the last two trip journals F.B.'s kept. (He documents what we do on each day of my trips.) I've made copies of all of my plane stubs, e-tickets. The lawyer also wants me to gather photographs of me with F.B.'s family members. All of that will be used as evidence of our relationship the past 5 1/2 years! Especially since we met online 6 years ago, US immigration will want evidence our relationship is legitmate.

My lawyer was genuinely excited to hear I was finally married, we've been talking almost 2 years now. He was excited for F.B. & I to finally begin our immigration process. In fact, he thinks the process will go faster than initially thought. He said to me he thinks there is a real possibility F.B. could be in the USA by the Xmas 2010! He said not to get my hopes up, but he does think it is going to go a lot faster than the estimated 1-2 years.

He also said, because F.B. & I are now married, it will be nearly impossible for F.B. to be granted a visitors visa to the USA. (The US doesn't like to give visitors visas to an immigrant with a spouse in the USA.) He will probably not be able to visit me around Sept 2011. But the lawyer thinks, F.B. will be in the USA before that time period anyhow and that I won't have to go back to the Philippines to see him instead.

Very exciting! I'm so glad we are finally getting our immigration process started! We've been saving money and gathering evidence, etc; for the past 2 years before we were married in preparation for this!

I have a phone appointment with our lawyer Tuesday around 4pm. He is also going to email me some paperwork and I have to email him some more information so we can complete our initial applications. I will keep you updated on our immigration process!

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. 

Cinnamon February 2008- January 2010

When I came home from work this afternoon I found my Cinnamon had passed away. I saw her this morning, she was happy to see me, she had a yogurt peanut.... she wasn't ill... she would have been 2 years old on February 15th. 2 years in a rats life is pretty old. When I came home from the Philippines Cinnamon was so excited to see me. She had been very lovey and cuddly. I'm going to miss my girl... Cinnamon never fought or bit any of the other rats. She was always loving and always docile. She was my big squishy cuddly girl and I'm going to miss her so much....


The Longest Trip Home EVER!

I'm finally home after the longest trip home, I've ever experienced! Saturday morning F.B. drove me to the airport around 8:30am. We arrived a little after 9am so he parked the car and we wheeled my luggage to an outdoor seating area where we could spend some more time together before I went into the airport.

Philippines Flag at the airport:

Our last pictures together:

I went into the airport around 10am. My flight to Shanghai China was around 12:20 in the afternoon. Everything went pretty smoothly. I arrived in Shanghai around 3pm. Then I had to go through immigration in China just to reclaim my luggage and go through customs. So odd. I really don't understand why they make you do that if you're just transferring to another airline- it's not like I was staying in Shanghai.

When I finally got my luggage and checked in with American Airlines that's when things started to get a little crazy... first my 6:00pm flight to Chicago had been delayed until 10pm. But even worse the flight to Philadelphia had been canceled for some reason and the only other flight going out was at 6:20am on Sunday morning- when I was supposed to arrive around 12am Sunday. Ugh.

I was stuck in Shanghai China for about 5-6 hours considering I checked in around 4:30-5pm. I exchanged some money so I could buy something to drink. I ended up getting two Gatorade's... not that I could read that they were Gatorade, LOL! But I recognized the logo!

My Shanghai China, Gatorade!

I also got a pretty glass bangle bracelet for 30RMB, which when I converted online it was around $4-5 dollars.

Finally boarded my flight to Chicago around 10pm in Shanghai. It was a 14 hour flight because we had some delays getting off the ground and when landing. We arrived in Chicago around 8:30pm on Saturday. Going through customs was actually a breeze this time for me, no issues at all. I claimed my luggage and then I had to RECHECK IN AGAIN with American Airlines because of the canceled flight. They re booked me for the 6:20am Sunday flight to Philadelphia.

Then because so many people had missed their connecting flights and because it was the weekend and not many flights were going out until Sunday morning American Airlines had to put about half the people on the flight in hotels for the night. They also gave us meal coupons. I had to get some clothes out of my suitcase, but I just re-checked both my bags so in the morning all I would have to do was go to my gate since I already had my boarding pass.

Well, then I had to go outside in the freezing rain in Chicago to wait for a shuttle bus. Since it was late there wasn't many running and you had to look for the shuttle with your hotels name on it, there were so many people waiting for shuttles. It was around 9:30pm by then. There was a man from Shanghai and another girl that were also going to the same hotel I was. The man finally snagged a cab instead and insisted we both come along because it made more sense to share a cab since we were all going to the same hotel. The girl and I were going to split the cost with him, but he paid for the whole cab ride which wasn't too expensive. That was really nice of him!

Finally checked into the Holiday Inn in Chicago around 10pm. I was EXHAUSTED! I only slept maybe 5-6 hours on my 14 hour flight, but I had pretty much already been up for 30+ hours by then! I was kinda freaked out to be staying in a hotel by myself in a city I don't know. I had all the lights on, the TV on. I locked the door and put the luggage rack in front of it, lol! I didn't really sleep at all, because I was checking out at 4:45am. I think I must have had 5 cups of coffee, while I watched CNN, Dirty Jobs & Nancy Grace on TV, lol! And of course had a shower! They had Bath & Body Works products there, how neat is that?! hehe! Coconut & Lime is my Mom's favorite scent, so I took her home the little lotion.

My hotel room in Chicago:

Sunday morning I checked out around 4:45am. I had called down to the front desk at 4am to ask them to call a cab to pick me up at 5am. They did have free shuttle but since the night before hadn't been a great experience of waiting I wanted to take cab. Well... the cab was late and the free shuttle was there and everyone boarding so I just decided to take that to the airport because it was past 5am already and my flight was boarding at 5:50am. As soon as the shuttle was pulling out- the cab shows up... oh well... too late, I was already on the FREE shuttle, lol.

Airport security wasn't too bad that early in the morning on a Sunday. I got through pretty quickly and even got some Starbucks white chocolate mocha coffee (My fav!) and a blueberry muffin. Though after sipping my coffee my hands were shaking from all the coffee I had at the hotel, so I tossed out the rest of my Starbucks (ACK)! When they announced to board the plane, the lady gave a laugh and says, "All 7 passengers can now board the plane!" I've never been on such an empty flight! It was so quiet on the plane ride home.

We arrived early in Philadelphia around 9am instead of 9:20am. My luggage was already waiting by the time I got to baggage claim, since there were only 7 of us on the flight! My parents picked me up around 9:45am and I was finally home after 30+ hours of traveling, I lost track of how many hours everything took considering I went through January 23 TWICE. Once in the Philippines/China and then again in Chicago!

I was feeling pretty disoriented once I was home. It's pretty weird to come home after being away 2 months, living in another country where you develop new habits and a new way of living, etc. Pretty weird to see my room. And my girls! Ack! So weird to see my ratties after being away for 2 months! Saffy & Nutmeg were a little scared of me at first, but Cinnamon looked like she couldn't believe her eyes and Ginger kept sniffing me. Sad though... my Ginger has started getting a small tumor under her left arm. I'm going to have to get it removed probably in February once I get my first paycheck.

I'm due back at work Wednesday at 7am. So just Monday & Tuesday to recover from traveling. My shoulders, back, etc ache sooo bad from traveling! I didn't go to bed around 3pm and I woke up around 12am and did a little unpacking. Now it's almost 2:30 in the morning so I am going back to bed to get some more sleep! I'm supposed to meet F.B. online around 12pm... I miss him so much...

Last week in the Philippines.

Sunday F.B. and I checked into the 5 star, Manila Hotel. We had a coupon for a free overnight & a coupon for a 2 night stay at a discounted rate, so we decided to stay 4 days 3 nights for our 1st monthiversary of being married.

Our Room:

The chocolates left for us after housekeeping made up our room:

We had another TV in the bathroom in our room. The one night F.B. had to call the front desk though because the remote died. They thought it was just the batteries, but it turned out they had to replace the whole remote control.

F.B. happy the TV in the bathroom was working again!

We also had a coupon for free buffet for two at one of the café’s in the hotel. Normally it costs about P1,000 per person. ($20). They had a lot of good food there, dessert was especially good. F.B. had mango cheese cake (We got one to take home to his parents from the bakery- its amazing!) I had mocha cake and a fruit tart, cream puff, etc. Yummy!

Picture of the dessert:

On the 18th we hung out at the hotel all day and relaxed. For dinner F.B. went out and picked up Yellow Cab pizza. We tried the Barbeque Chicken Pizza, yum! I just checked out the website & there's now a Yellow Cab in the USA in Ohio! If they can just come a little further to Philadelphia, I'll be in heaven! Maybe someday soon!

December 19th, was our monthiversary so we went to Saisaki Buffet at Mega Mall for dinner. When you order an iced tea there they give you a stuffed animal. Here’s our animals!


Dog-a-pillar?! LOL!

We checked out of the Manila Hotel on the 20th and spent the day at Robinson’s Manila in the afternoon. We tried Pancake House for lunch. It reminds me of IHOP. If you want you can get meals with pancakes and fried chicken, etc, lol! But they also have breakfast stuff too. I ordered a ham & cheese omelet and pancakes. (Everything was so good, we actually ate lunch again there today, lol!)

Taking billboard pictures while in traffic on Wednesday:

We spent the evening at Mall of Asia on the 20th and had dinner at Chow King. We also decided to have ice-cream at ‘Haagen Dazs’. They have actual ice cream parlors over here. At home Haagen Dazs is just always in the freezer at the supermarket. It happened to be the most expensive ice cream we ever ate too, lol! I know a pint costs like $4-5 at home but how about it cost us P700 ($14) for each of us to get 2 scoops of ice-cream with one topping and a cup of coffee! Yikes! That’s like what we spend when we go out to dinner around here!

We stayed close to Manila all day on Wednesday because we wanted to pick up the mango cheesecake for my in-laws as a thank you gift and we didn’t want it to melt! When we got home that evening F’s room was decorated with streamers and the mirror said “Happy 1st Monthsary”.

My cute mouse jewelry box from Robinson’s Manila. F.B. got it for me!

One of F.B.’s aunts got me this glass rat from Bangkok, Thailand! I’ve gotten sooo much mouse/rat stuff on this trip in the Philippines!

Pictures from Pancake House on Jan 21st:

Today (Jan 21) we went out to Market Market for lunch and also checked out some stores. F.B. got me a copy of Photoshop, now I have to figure out how to use it, lol! (I already use Fireworks & Paintshop Pro.)

When we got home I did most of my packing. Friday we’re just going to hang out at home and relax before I leave on Saturday. We will probably leave for the airport around 8am. My first flight to Shanghai China from Manila is around 12:20pm. I’ll arrive home around 12am on Sunday in Philadelphia. It’s going to be long days of traveling… wish someone would just invent a teleporting machine! I'm trying not to think about leaving just yet... trying to enjoy my last few days with my husband before I have to go home...

More Adventures in the Philippines

I’ve been in the Philippines 7 weeks now. Saturday starts my last week here. Last Sunday F.B. & I stayed 5 days 4 nights at the Best Western Astor Hotel in Makati City. We’ve stayed there every year I’ve visited. We didn’t really take too many pictures during our stay. I was recovering from a cold and so was F.B. so the first 2 days we just stayed in at the hotel and rested and relaxed. There was a 24 hour Wendy’s across the street from the hotel so F.B. went out and got take out one night for our dinner. We did get to check out Glorietta Mall and Greenbelt. We got to explore Greenbelt 5, which is a new addition. And we finally had dinner at Chili’s, which was superb! Also Robinson’s Manila which is one of my other new favorite malls now, besides Robinson’s Galleria!

While out driving the one day we saw the neatest coincidence. There was a car and a bus in traffic ahead of us. The beginning of the car’s license plate was: NEO. The bus company was called: Genesis. For those of you not familiar with the beginning history of our relationship, F.B.’s user name on the forum we met on was “Neo-Genesis”. We thought it was really neat the car and bus were aligned in that way!

To check out our last 3 stays in Makati City click the links below:

Makati City December 2006
Makati City January 2008
Makati City October 2008

While at Robinson’s Galleria one day we finally got to try the Pizza in a Cone stand! It’s a neat snack type food. It reminded me a little of a ‘Hot Pocket’, but way better because the cone was actual pizza crust and inside was cheese and meat. I had a pepperoni pizza cone and F.B. had one with sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms. Definitely recommend ‘Pizza in a Cone’ if you’re looking for a yummy snack!

When we got back from our Makati City stay, we found F.B.’s door to his room had been vandalized, lol! My name is permanently on his bedroom door now, bwahahaha!

F’s aunt also got me this cute mouse/rat tote purse. I’m getting quite a collection of mouse/rat collectibles here in the Philippines!

This past Sunday we went to Mall of Asia and had dinner at ‘Burgoo’. It was something new to try. It’s sort of like a Friday’s or a Chili’s. And around the same price too. Though definitely not as good as Chili’s! I had blackened salmon & a pina colada; and F.B. had country style pork chops. The tablecloths there are paper and they give you crayon’s to draw with while you wait for your food. You can see our lovely artwork below, lol!

Of course Tuesday we picked up our marriage certificate and you can read about that debacle here!

I found these neat toothbrushes at Robinson’s Galleria in the supermarket. I guess they are like “best friend” toothbrushes. There’s a heart and it separates so each toothbrush has a half. Anyway it was an impulse buy because I thought they were cute. F.B. and I are going to take them when we stay at Manila Hotel for our 1st month of being married and use them, lol! We’re so corny!

I also found this bag of limited edition orange flavored M&M’s! I think they were made in Hong Kong. But it also lists Malaysia, Singapore and Australia on the back of the package. They were pretty good. Orange flavored chocolate. It reminded me of the Chocolate Orange my family used to get at Christmastime.

F.B. got me a “Louis Vuitton” wallet to match the purse he got me last month. Love it!

Thursday we headed off to Enchanted Kingdom Amusement Park. We went last year, but we got lost on the way and it started raining so we didn’t get to ride many rides. This year we left the house around 10am and arrived up in Tagaytay around 12pm. We stopped to check out Taal Volcano for a little while. The weather was really windy and very cool (cold) for the Philippines!

Pictures of Taal Volcano up in Tagaytay.

We had lunch at Chow King after checking out the volcano. We had fried rice called ‘Yang Chow’ and these neat pastry things filled with meat called: ‘Siopao’. They are about as big as a burger. The bread or pastry part is white and really soft and chewy and there was shredded pork meat inside. They are so yummy!

We got to Enchanted Kingdom around 2pm. The line outside the place was really long. A lot of kids were having class trips there. (Did anyone else’s school ever have a field trip to an amusement park?! Because I only remember museums and the zoo for my field trips and I wasn’t home schooled until 6th grade!)

The lines for the most of the rides inside the park were not that long. We stayed almost 4 hours at the park and got to go on 7 rides. We rode a small roller coaster, the swinging ship. Then I begged F.B. to let me ride the biggest roller coaster in the park. He said he had been on it before with his cousins and it always left him dizzy for the whole day, but I still begged so he agreed to accompany me on it. It was a pretty intense coaster. It starts off going the right way and goes around in loops then it takes you completely backwards on the loops. Needless to say afterwards I had a fierce headache and yes F was dizzy. We got something to drink and sat for awhile after that coaster.

The Coaster:

F.B. feeling dizzy after ‘Space Shuttle Max’.

Later we got to go on the Ferris Wheel but it was really windy up there, I had to hold onto my hat when it started going around.

Pictures from the Ferris Wheel:

We also checked out the theater. They were playing a clip of the ‘Speed Racer’ movie. The seats moved in the theater to make it feel like you were driving. It was okay. After a trip to the gift shop. (I got a bubble gun and some light up pens to take home.) We went to the 4D Theater. You had to pay P60 to enter (A little over $1). They had a short movie of ‘Journey to the center of the earth’ with Brendan Fraser. You also had to wear 3D glasses:

See how dorky we look?!

Why was it 4D? Well… the seats moved on that ride too, but also there were these things in front of all the seats- so that when there was air or water in the film- you actually got misted with water or blown with cold air. It was pretty neat, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to get wet during a movie! The last ride we went on was those old fashioned swings that spin you in the air. The park closed at 7pm and we left around 6:30pm.

On the way back home we stopped at a rest stop and had Cinnabon and Starbucks. It was around 9pm when we got back to Cainta. We had dinner at the 24 hour Burger King. Whoppers, Onion Rings & Chicken Tenders. We had a really nice day out.

To check out last years trip to Tagaytay & Enchanted Kingdom click here!

Sunday we’ll be checking into the Manila Hotel for 4 days 3 nights. We have a coupon for discounted rates so we decided to go there for our 1 month anniversary of being married on January 19th. I think we are also going to go to Saisaki Buffet on our anniversary.

Of course next Saturday I’ll be going home, I’ll be leaving the Philippines around 12:30pm. I won’t be arriving in Philadelphia though until Sunday around 12:30am. It’s going to be a long day of traveling. I’m trying not to think about it.

After I get back home, I start work on January 27th. I also have to contact our lawyer so we can begin our immigration process. I think everyone that’s been reading my blog knows, that we are taking a year off traveling in 2010, so we can save money and work on our immigration process. I also have to get a new passport and change my last name at a million places.

We are planning on F.B. visiting me in the USA around Sept-Dec 2011. I know that’s a little over a year, but since I’m seasonal at the Dept. of the Treasury, I’m not usually working around then and I would want to spend as much time with him as I could. Those are our plans for now, they may change, who knows. We’ve been doing this long distance thing for almost 6 years now and we still have at least 1-2 more years to go, while doing immigration. At least we are getting closer to the end, now that we are finally married!

Keep an eye on my blog. I will be doing a giveaway of some Philippine Souvenirs once I’m back in the USA, and I’m also planning on doing a snack blog of some of the snack foods I’ve tried while here in the Philippines!

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