After meeting up with a woman about a new job I’m taking on (reviewing family movies), I headed off to school, then work at OLI to make some copies, then back to get the kids out of school early so we could get to the passport office and in line before 3:30pm. We made it, waited our turn and finally made our way to counter. I was pretty sure I had everything in order, but was a bit concerned that I’d never changed the address on my driver’s license. As a precautionary measure, I had earlier visited the Dept. of Motor Vehicles to get the sticker with new address mailed to me. If worse came to worst, I figured, I’d get the kids’ apps turned in and wait for my address sticker so that my license would match my passport application.

Turns out that mine was the only one she could accept. Come to find out, birth certificates are not all created equally. I had the kids’ certificates from their births, hospital records, with their cute little footprints on them. As adorable as they were, it wasn’t what was required. They need state-certified copies, something that (of course) requires me to spend more money. -sigh-

We turned in my application, got the form to pay for the fees and money order, stood in line at the PO, got the money order, gave it to the passport office, did my swearing and we were done with my part. So we headed off to the State office where I could buy the certified copies of their birth certificates, at $20 each. We planned to head back on Friday to get their applications (finally) turned in. I went off to Vietnamese class and the kids hung out with a friend.

I dropped the kids off at school and arranged with another parent for them to be dropped off at OLI because I had a meeting conflict and couldn’t come back in time to get them. Then I head off to the fabric store to buy some fabric and notions for two different clients, but luck wasn’t with me and my car (which I’ve only had for two weeks) decided to freak and the clutch went out in the fast lane of I-5. Luckily I made me way off the highway and was able to eek it onto a side street, where I promptly ditched it to run toward MAX (light-rail train). I was able to get the fabric shopping done and was only slightly late to my meeting, even on public transit.

After the kids arrived, we had lunch and headed back to my new home-away-from-home, the passport office. This time with photos, application, certified copies of divorce papers (highlighted and tabbed) and certified birth certificates in hand. The kids stood in line while I mailed off my fingerprints to the Oregon State Police and caramels to a friend’s dad. The wait was long, but in the end, successful. We were able to finally turn them in, I signed and swore for the kids. We were all ecstatic to finally leave the passport/post office with no plans to return.

Meanwhile, the car is completely dead again. I’ve got 4 in-their-home sewing lessons that I am supposed to teach this week, not sure how that will happen without a vehicle though. The good news is that we are finished with paperwork except for the visas (which I’ll take care of once we get the actual passports), so it’s on to working harder and saving up some cash for this adventure, rather than spending it.

Slowly But Surely

Having to deal with the rules regarding proof that the kids are mine alone has been more work than I figured it would be. I’ve visited the court house twice; the first time, the fellow there had no idea what I would need to provide proof. The second time was today and I knew what I needed. I stopped by the passport office at the Main Post Office and asked her exactly what I needed on Tuesday, then this morning I brought in my divorce papers to find out if it was actually what I needed. Yes, every single page, a copy for each kid and certified as authentic.

So, after dropping $23 at the courthouse for said papers, I was set.  I then set out to find a place to be fingerprinted. This was harder than the handy-dandy list provided by the sheriff made it seem. After two seedy buildings and  wandering dark hallways, I decided I would head to the place I’d seen on the way to school; it was run by a nice Russian lady and only cost me 8 bucks.

I’d brought along our birth certificates, passport applications, now had the certified proof of sole parental rights so after school we headed over to Walgreen’s to get our photos taken (the others had gone inexplicably wrong and I didn’t want to worry about it). Picture-taking wasn’t as easy as it should be: Audrey’s head was too small, then Stuart’s was slightly too small. Mine was do-able, but the kids’ had to be re-taken. Point-click. Oops. The media card wasn’t in the camera. Try it again and this time it worked just fine. At $8/2 photos, it racked up another $24 today.

We headed over to Fred Meyer to make photographic copies of the photos, but that didn’t work well (cut the sides off of the photos) so I said screw it and we’ll just go apply. Finally got back to the passport office to realize that they’d closed 20 minutes before. -sigh-

Thursday’s to-do list:
-apply for passports
-mail in fingerprints for background check
-send caramels to Ron
-send apron to Robin
-start working on new sewing job
-don’t forget homework (again)

Let the Paperwork Begin

Never having  traveled further abroad than Vancouver, British Columbia I haven’t had a reason to get a passport until now. So we took pictures yesterday and I manipulated them in Photoshop. I hope I got it right. I’ll take them in to Fred Meyer and get them printed out today. Then we’ll head to the Post Office to turn in the paperwork. I’m slightly concerned about the kids’ passports. Kids under age 14 are required to have both parents show up when they apply OR bring a notarized release from the absent parent OR provide proof that one parent has full legal/physical custody. Well, I do have full custody, but I still haven’t figured out how to prove it. I’ll take my divorce papers down there and see if that works. I’m hoping for the best, but half expecting to be turned away.

Deciding to go to Vietnam

I’ve wanted to see beyond the Pacific Northwest for as long as I’ve been considered an adult. I married a man who’d spent the previous decade traveling throughout America with his family, then settled into the Portland area, making it only as far as San Francisco in the entire decade we were together. Somehow we both let assumed family obligations keep us here instead of embarking on the adventures we both wanted but never realized together.

Fast forward through divorce and a postponed college education and you get me: single with kids for nearly 7 years, two terms away from graduation and an itch I can’t soothe. My ex-husband spends half his time abroad, traveling through Europe, the United Kingdom and Australia, as well as his tours of America. The man I fell in love with last year is spending this year traveling around SE Asia, most likely settling there for for the near future.

I will admit it. I’m green with jealousy; these two fellows trotting around the globe at their whim and with no one to be responsible for but themselves. And here I am. Feeling tied down to being the “responsible mom” and using it as an excuse to do, still, what others expect me to do. Secretly, though, I’ve been stashing moxie away for a time when I might really need it. It seems that now’s the time.

Spending more time on the internet than I would admit in good company, I searched for, researched, emailed, cried and found a way for us to get out of here. I’d already been hoping/planning for a trip at to VietNam to visit that man, but I knew that 2 weeks would never be enough. We will instead be there for three months, spending our time volunteering at an orphanage/school in the DaNang/Hoi An/Hue area. Where depends on where they need us, since it changes on a regular basis. After that, we will spend a month traveling in Vietnam and then over to Thailand before I start an internship (if all goes right) at a boarding school north of Chiang Mai.

Why? you may ask. For lots of reasons, though most revolve around my kids. I want them to see something besides typical American life. I want them to understand life outside the eurocentric viewpoint, that the world is mostly brown-skinned and non-Christian, and that they are not to be pitied, cursed or blamed for the world’s problems. I need my children to realize that they have been lucky to be born to a mother who loves them more than breathing and for family who would do whatever is necessary to have them happy and healthy, despite the fact that money doesn’t grown on any tree in our backyard. I want them to know that even as a young person, they can make a difference. They can sacrifice and give of themselves to others who have less, because there will always be those who are less privileged. I want them to see just a bit of history, to realize how big the world is and how important the past is to the future.

So, yeah. Big plans with a bigger to-do list.