1 Week!

F.B.'s visa interview at the American Embassy in Manila is 1 week away! It feels like time is going really slow, yet really fast at the same time!

F.B. got his police clearance paper last week. (He needed an original for the visa interview.) And Thursday & Friday he went to get his medical exam. It took 2 days for them to do everything. ($213 USD!) He had to have a physical exam, xray, eye exam, blood tests and he also got 3 vaccines. They have forwarded his medical results to the Embassy so they will have them for his interview on Feb 4th.

If he is approved, there's a good chance F.B. will be able to fly to the USA sometime end of February or beginning of March! (Praying!) I'm sure he will be approved- because he is coming to the USA on a CR visa. (Conditional Resident.)

What does that mean? Well it means we're not nearly done with immigration. In 2 years we will have to submit paperwork and file to remove the conditional status off his visa. ($590!) We will have to submit evidence that we've been living together, affidavits from friends & family that state we have a relationship, etc. Our lawyer has already been preparing us to gather evidence together for that.

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. 

There's so much other stuff to do once F.B. is approved and comes to the USA. We'll need to visit the Social Security office near me and apply to get him an Social Security number so he can work legally.

I also contacted the PA department of motor vehicles, to find out how he can apply for a driver's license. They wrote me back and said:

An international permit, obtained from your home country prior to traveling, may be used in Pennsylvania (PA) for one year from the issue date. You must carry both your international permit and your valid foreign license with you when driving. You may review the documents necessary to apply for a permit by using this link, Non-U.S. Citizens. This will provide the list of documents to take to your local driver’s license center, depending on your immigration status.

They also said he will need to apply for a PA drivers permit and he will have to take the test again before he can get a PA drivers license. But if he's able to get the international permit then at least he will be able to drive legally here- while he's applying for a PA driver's license!

Going to also have to add him onto my checking & saving accounts so there's proof we are living together. And probably get him a cell phone in his name so he has a bill with his name & address on it. I think if I add him to my plan- the bill will still be in my name only?

I also have to demo my room, lol. We are going to be living at home with my parents for probably about a year & a half while we finish immigration, and F.B. gets a job so we can save money to get our own place. My room at home is not very large. It's got this built in desk that I never use that takes up a lot of room. My Dad is going to help me take it out. Then we will need to repaint the whole room. And I want to get a full bed. (I don't think anything larger than a full would fit in my room! And hubby & I are are not sharing a twin!)

So much to do! I can't wait until the visa interview is over and we know for sure what's going to happen next!


Awesome Rat Sketches!

Back in November I ordered a sketch of my Basil boy from one of our Rat Chatter members. She is selling the digital color sketches for $9 and $2 for every extra rat added into the sketch. They are amazing! I decided to get all of my current ratties drawings done. For the 4 additional sketches I emailed photos of the rats and I told Ciara she could pose them however she wanted to fit them into the sketches. I wanted to share all the watermarked versions on my blog here. I love them all!

If you would like to order a digital sketch of your pet or pet rat. Click here for more information. You can also contact Ciara by email too.

(You can click on the pictures for larger versions.)


Sooo... I was... flashed...

Today, heading to the train station after work with my co-worker who catches the same train. We walk into 30th Street Station in Philadelphia and across from the door leaned up against the wall is a very very dark almost Indian looking guy. You couldn't help seeing him where he was standing coming in the door. Well as we walk in the man opens his winter jacket with both hands and holds back his jacket & button down shirt exposing his naked chest for a few seconds and grins weirdly. I was totally shocked. I say to my coworker. "Um... should we call the police?!" He says, "Why?" He didn't see, he was just a few steps ahead of me! I had to tell him and we debated telling someone but we were late for our train and rushing. I said if he had shown anything below the belt I would have had to grab a guard! And 30th Street Station is a BUSY place too! What a creep!!! Sure have a story to tell my coworkers tomorrow... lol!


Yikes! Just 2 weeks until....

Got a very important email today at 4:49pm. It was the NVC telling us that they had already forwarded our documents to Manila, Philippines and....

(Click the picture to make larger)

That's right.....

F.B. has his visa interview at the US Manila Embassy in TWO WEEKS?!?!

When I emailed our lawyer he replied with: 'That was faster than I expected, too'.

Yikes! I was sure they'd give you a month to prepare. It doesn't look like he will need to bring much with him from the rest of the document. But he will need a medical exam and ugh... he's just getting over a head/chest cold he's had for a few weeks. Our immigration lawyer is emailing information tomorrow on what F.B. needs to prepare and bring to the interview.


This should have...

This should have been included in my last blog, but I also ordered the book 'Anna Karenina' on Ebay. My blogging friend Shannon from Misguided Mommy was reading it and recommended it. :)

I also went to see the movie Black Swan after my car inspection yesterday morning. I went to the 9:40am show and there were only 12 other people in the theater, gotta love early movies! (And yes I sometimes go to see movies by myself!) It's a very pretty movie in spots. I like those emotional dysfunctional type movies. (The Virgin Suicides, White Oleander, Girl Interrupted, The Lovely Bones, etc.)

But... if you go see the movie, the one thing you need to keep in mind the whole time, is the girl in it is freakin' insane- literally, lol. (Insane as in she sees some crazy sh#t!) She's also obsessed with perfection & pushes herself to the edge. Her mother is insane & overprotective too. It's a really dark drama and it's got some horror type scenes in it. Though the ending I thought was going to happen- I wish did- instead of the one that actually happens.


Delurking Day & Other Stuff!

It's National Delurking Day! (Thanks Patty for the reminder!) So come on, don't be shy! Today is the day you can say "Hi!" if you read my blog but don't usually comment. :-)

It's also Tastykake Day!

Our own wonderful Philadelphia company, (Established in 1914!) Is having some financial difficulties. Today the company was able to refinance some of their loans. But they are definitely struggling. Unfortunately they will most likely have to sell or complete a merger with another company. Their loans have to be repaid by June. Please support this Philadelphia company by buying a few boxes of Tastykakes (If you're on the east coast!) Or by visiting their website and purchasing some goodies! I picked up some Tastykake mini pies today after work. And am shipping my husband Apple & Blueberry pies for Valentines Day. :)

I am also so excited because I pre-ordered The Pioneer Woman's new novel that is coming out in Feb! 'Black Heels to Tractor Wheels!' (Love her blog!)

And finally got to order her cookbook too! (Love free super saver shipping on Amazon.com!)

I discovered that I like Taylor Swift's music. I needed something new to listen too. She reminds me of Michelle Branch, (one of my favorites). And she also reminds me a bit of Avril Lavigne. Sort of a mix of the two. The countryish sound & then because some of the songs have some smart ass lyrics, lol! I have to get F.B. to listen to her music, because I think he'll like her too.

(I do use Amazon Associates, but not because I've made any money- because I haven't! lol! But I like that I can show a picture/link with a book or music when I'm blogging. Plus I do recommend Amazon.com for their low prices. That or Ebay!)


Immigration Update.

It's been slow going, waiting for the NVC to finish reviewing our paperwork. We are down to the last few steps, but it's just a waiting game at this point. I was optimistic that perhaps F.B. might be here before March, but now that it's almost the middle of January... I'm not really sure. Who knows- perhaps things will start to move faster, but I'm not going to get my hopes up. I'll just say I hope he's able to come to the USA by Spring or Summer.

Where we are right now- email from our immigration lawyer:

The next step is for the National Visa Center to complete the processing of your case and then forward it to the Consulate in Manila.  Once the Consulate Receives the case, we will receive a notice with a date and time for FB to appear for his interview and instructions for FB to complete his medical examination. We will keep you posted as soon as we have new information.

I checked on our case via the USCIS website. You can see we are pretty much on the last step- click for a bigger version:

Here is our immigration process check sheet. (Strike through's are completed steps).

1. USCIS will send our lawyer a receipt notice sometime in the next few weeks confirming they received our I-130.

2. In approximately 3-5 months the USCIS will make a decision on the I-130 and will forward our file to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire.

3. The NVC will then send a packet with instructions to complete our I-864. (There will be a fee.)

4. Once the packet is returned to the NVC, they will review everything and within 45-90 days they will forward the packet to the U.S. consulate in Manila.

5. The Consulate will send a packet with instructions for F.B. to complete a medical examination & obtain a police clearance certificate prior to scheduling his visa interview.

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. 

SRR: Spring/Summer 2011 Rat Train.

Last summer I adopted my 3 beautiful girls Honey, Hazelnut & Clover from Star's Rat Rescue. They traveled all the way from South Dakota to Philadelphia.

SRR is currently planning another trip to PA tentatively set for Spring/Summer 2011 depending on how fast they are able to get drivers and coordinate everything. Anyone along the route in NE, IA, IL, IN, OH, PA or MD can adopt! There are still a lot of rats available for adoption. I'm adopting 2 boys and 2 girls from Star's Rat Rescue.

My boys!

And girls 11H & 11J I will also be adopting!

Here is SRR's plan for the 2011 Rat Train! If you can help fill any driving spots or want to adopt please contact SRR by email at: stars.rat.train@gmail.com

Phase 1

Winner, South Dakota to Joliet, IL
718 Miles - 11 hours 54 minutes
20 Rats

1. Winner, SD to Yankton, SD            149 mi  2 hours 56 mins - Filled! - Thanks Brittney!
2. Yankton, SD to Omaha (I-680), NE  160 mi  2 hour 41 mins - Filled! Thanks Brittney!
3. Omaha (I-680), NE to Adair, IA        82 mi   1 hour 18 mins - Filled! Thanks Barbara!
4. Adair, IA to Des Moines, IA             57 mi  55 mins  - Filled! Thanks Barbara!
5. Des Moines, IA to Williamsburg, IA  90 mi   1 hour 24 mins - Filled! Thanks Kristin!
6. Williamsburg, IA to Geneseo, IL      110 mi    1 hour 45 mins
7. Geneseo, IL to Joliet, IL                  116 mi    1 hours 56 mins - Filled! Thanks Mary!

~~Overnight Stay Needed in Joliet, IL or Chicago area. for 6 rats~~ - Filled! Thanks Pam!

Phase 2

Joliet, IL to Philadelphia, PA and Stevensville, MD
772 Miles - 13 hours 45 minutes
16 Rats

1. Joliet, IL to Chesterton, IN              59 mi   1 hour 17 mins - Filled! Thanks Pam!
2. Chesterton, IN to South Bend, IN    53 mi   58 mins - Filled! Thanks Pam!
3. South Bend, IN to Montpelier, OH    97 mi    1 hour 36 mins
4. Montpelier, OH to Fremont, OH        89 mi    1 hour 32 mins
5. Fremont, OH to Elyria, OH              62 mi    1 hour 7 mins
6. Elyria, OH to Boardman, OH           95 mi    1 hour 37 mins
7. Boardman, OH to Pittsburgh, PA      61 mi    1 hour 10 mins
8. Pittsburgh, PA to Somerset, PA       70 mi    1 hour 15 mins - Filled! - Thanks Samantha!
9. Somerset, PA to Harrisburg, PA      138 mi   2 hour 25 mins
10. Harrisburg, PA to Philadelphia, PA 107 mi   1 hour 55 mins - Filled! - Thanks Sarah!
11. Philadelphia, PA to Newark, DE      45 mi    56 mins - Filled! Thanks Jenn!
12. Newark, DE to Stevensville, MD      70 mi    1 hour 22 mins - Filled! Thanks Jenn!

Want to adopt a Rescue Rat?

If you live along/close to the train route and would like to adopt a rescue rat now, please go to Star's Rat Rescue and check out the available rats and then fill out the Pre-Adoption Questionnaire.

You can still adopt even if you are not along/close to this train route, SRR will have more routes in the future. Please follow the same instructions as above.

For other ways to Help Star's Rat Rescue, please see our note here.

I'll be keeping the list updated as we get new drivers & adopters added! 

(Please cross post or tweet about this if you can! Thanks!)


Poppy: Feb 2010- Jan 8, 2011

Poppy just passed away about 30 minutes ago... I set her in her carrier to rest for a little while, she didn't look any different, I feel so horrible now I wasn't holding her when she passed away... what an awful week this has been....

Pepper & Poppy


Poppy rat has pneumonia...

Poppy rat has always been healthy as a horse (as they say). She's my chubby curious girl who always explores my room. She's never had any health issues until last Wednesday right before her sister Pepper passed away.

I took Poppy to the vet Thursday evening after work. She had me stumped because she became ill so very quickly, with very little symptoms. She didn't have raspy wheezy breathing, no lumps or bumps. But her fur was puffed, she was making a slight whimper/clicking noise, and she was very lethargic and seemed to be in pain. The vet checked her out for awhile, he really listened to her chest for longer than normal. Unfortunately, Poppy has pneumonia...

My vet said sometimes you can't always hear wheezing or raspy breathing that sometimes a healthy rat will just suddenly fall very ill. He said she was in very poor shape. They had to give her IV fluids, She also got a Baytril injection, an injection of dexamethasone and a two week prescription of antibiotic Ciprofloxacin. He wants to see her for a recheck in two weeks- but warned me she's very poorly and to be prepared just in case...

She made it through last night but was still poorly this morning. She wouldn't take any of the Pedialyte in the oral syringe, but kept dribbling it out- so we just had to do plain water. I stopped after work today and picked up Coconut Water (It has more electrolytes than Gatorade!) & some more baby food to give her in the oral syringe, because she's still not drinking or eating on her own.

I also finally figured out a method with the oral syringe that works. I have to feed her very slowly so she won't dribble anything out down her chin. If I feed her slowly, she will lick and swallow what's in her mouth. I was able to get 3 syringes of coconut water and 1 full syringe of baby food into her. I'd been doing that every few hours but before that she was dribbling most of it down her chin. I'm really hoping and praying that with the antibiotic's, and the little bit of liquid/food I'm getting into her will help give her a little strength to help her fight this...

(If you're wondering why pet rats? Please read my article I wrote a few months ago, here.)


Pepper: Feb 2010-Jan 2011

My Pepper rat passed away around 7:20pm. She has always been my runt, she had a lot of health issues- especially lung issues. (She was in cedar chips at the store I got her at.) She's been fighting for her life since I got her. She developed a mammary tumor a few months ago and I think that was giving her even more complications. Yesterday evening she started being not able to breathe and none of the treatments we usually give her seemed to work... I think it was just her time. She seemed a better this morning but this evening was bad again and gasping for breathe.... goodbye my Pepper... you were my spunky funny girl and I will miss you...

Poppy & Pepper


And now my Poppy rat is ill? I'm not sure... she started this afternoon while I was at work (my Brother was checking in on Pepper and noticed Poppy not looking like herself.) Poppy is lethargic and making a chattering/clicking noise. I don't know if she is mourning or ill. I am going to call the vet in the morning. Everyone else seems fine. :-(


Laptop Repair & A New Phone!

My cousin Jessica's laptop screen died a few weeks ago. With her new baby, she didn't have money to have it repaired at a store or money get a new one right now; so we did some searching on ebay and I was able to find her a brand new LCD screen for $79. Her warranty was expired. (If she had taken it somewhere they would have charged $199+ for a new screen plus repair fee's).

I've done repairs on my own laptop before. I've replaced the keyboard, replaced casing, etc. So I was pretty confident I could repair her LCD display after looking at her HP G60 service manual online. I also ordered her a new LCD inverter for $5 since it works together with the display. It took about 3 hours- (I kind of dropped one of the tiny screws in our dining room carpet lol! It took forever to find it!). HP had the LCD data cable running under the hinge, which is a really strange spot because as you open & close the laptop it wears down the wire. I moved it so it was over the hinge. Her laptop is working just fine now, I returned it to her this evening and she was very happy to have it back!

I also got a new cell phone on Ebay brand new. I love my Blackberry- but I hate how with Blackberry Curve it will freeze up and you'll get the hourglass and you'll have to pop out the battery to reset the phone. (It does it often!) I can't get any upgrade deals with T-mobile because I'm on a special $59.99 plan with 500 minutes unlimited nights & weekends and unlimited texting & data. That was the catch to sign up for the plan- I would have to pay full price for a new phone, no special price upgrades.

I'd been looking at the Motorola Charm for a little while so I did some searching on Ebay and was able to win a brand new one for $149. (T-mobile is charging $269 full price). It also came with a car charger, headset, 2 batteries, 2 back doors. It has a touch screen but it also has buttons like a Blackberry. It's also Android so I had to call T-mobile to switch over my data plan.

It's really a nice phone, I love all of the features, how it backs up my contacts into my Motoblur account online. How it streams all my networking sites into one window on the phone for quick updates.

What I hate though is the battery drains extremely fast! It came with a regular and extended battery and I have the extended battery in the phone. Even with a full charge and screen dimmed all the way, by the time I was heading home on the train after work at 4pm the battery so low (30%) it shut off my data service to save energy. I had to order another extended battery on Ebay and I'll carry that & the regular one for emergencies. I remember I had the same issue with my Motorola Razr before. I would have to keep a back up battery with me at all times.

Winner of Holiday Giveaway!

Thank you everyone for entering my Holiday Blog Giveaway! I had 37 valid entries. (If you commented for the initial entry & you already followed me on GFC or Twitter you automatically gained an extra entry). I numbered and entered each entry into a Microsoft Word program and today I used Random.org to choose the winner!

And the winner is...

Number 24!

Stargirl! Congratulations! I will be contacting you by email soon so I can send you your prizes!


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