Harley is now a two-year-old. I honestly can’t even wrap my head around it. I mean, I can, but I can’t. On the one hand, I look at old pictures of my little monkey and I hardly even recognize that squishy face. She has lengthened and grown and become a real little girl, capable of so much more than I ever thought a two-year-old could do. On the other hand, she is still my baby, my tiny human who seems to take up a huge amount of space in my heart and my home compared to her size.
Harley turned two a couple weeks back, and I kept promising myself that I would write about it. There isn’t much to write about the day itself because we don’t know many people here and decided against trying to do any kind of big shindig. Instead, her school had a small celebration for her with cupcakes I sent in, we gave her a whole bunch of presents from us and her South African grandparents (more on that soon) and saw my mom the next day to celebrate together (and give her even MORE presents) over sushi and soup thanks to the plague Harley gave all of us from starting a new school.
There’s this research that was done back in the 60s all about the amount of stress people go through with various life events. Holmes-Rahe is often mentioned, even by those who don’t know the details of it, to talk about how death, marriage, divorce, pregnancy, and birth can all be so stressful and life-altering that they put a serious toll on the person or people involved. I looked up the stress inventory, as it’s called, and moving or changing residence is towards the bottom of the list. Clearly, these researchers had no idea what they were talking about – starting over in a new country has been one of the most tumultuous things I’ve ever done.
It’s not just the physical moving that’s been difficult, although of course, that has as well. Moving day was a nightmare, one that was compounded by the fact that we were getting on a plane at the end of it. But it’s so, so much more than that. There was all the stress of leaving, the stress of getting things done when we arrived, and only now that we are slowly settling in am I finally unpacking it all – literally and figuratively.
Like many of you reading this, I woke up a couple days ago to news of another mass shooting in America. It was, and still is, devastating. It’s horrible to read about the innocent people killed by this senseless act of violence. It’s particularly upsetting now that I live in the States again, and had even talked with Dean in recent days about making a trip there when his friend comes to visit. It’s also so hard because I’ve been to Vegas, walked that strip and seen those casinos. But there is so much more to the story.
In the wake of the incident, the news still isn’t reporting on what led the 60-something-year-old white man to shoot at a crowd of people. He’s reported as being nice, wealthy and a regular Las Vegas visitor. People can’t imagine what could have led him to do something so heinous. And while I could write about gun control or how we need to work to prevent mass shootings, I’d be willing to wager (so to speak) that this might have to do with a problem at the heart of Las Vegas itself, a problem that is far larger than anyone seems to talk about and impacts almost every family I’ve ever talked to.
This is a post that I’ve been working on for what seems like forever. I thought it would be fairly straightforward to write – I just needed to keep track of our expenses related to emigration, tally it all up and the post would write itself. I figured it would help other people looking to emigrate from South Africa to the US, or really from South Africa to anywhere or from anywhere to the US. It’s a whole lot harder than I anticipated, though.
First up, here is the easy bit. These are the various costs we had to pay before we got to the US and include our various consulate visits, as well as costs related to getting all the necessary documentation in place while in South Africa. It’s important to note that we were only able to file an i130 application because I was an American citizen living in South Africa – there are difficult rules in place if your circumstances are different.
Car seats haven’t been a topic for debate in our family. I was adamant about getting a fantastic car seat for Harley when she was an infant, and when it was time for her to get something bigger, I was lucky enough to get a Volvo Britax seat for her that lets her rear face until she is 4-6 years old. Harley has never been in a car without a car seat. It simply wasn’t an option. If we had to go somewhere, she was in her seat – if we didn’t have a car seat, she simply couldn’t go.
Moms often feel isolated with kids, like they can’t leave the house, let alone travel to cool places, with their tiny person. I always encourage parents to just keep living their lives, with little ones along for the ride, but sometimes this is an easier task than other times. It’s always easiest when we drive in our car. The car seat is installed, and it is quick and easy to just pop Harley in and out. Things get trickier when traveling, but it’s still totally doable. Here are the ways and means that can help you still see the world, even if you aren’t in your usual vehicle.