Guerrero, Mexico

The girls taking the public transportation to the swimming pool with their cousins. (February 2015)

Tlaxcala, Mexico

Erika picking out pan dulce at our favorite panaderia. (January 2015)

Bend, Oregon, United States

Our family photo taken in Drake Park with all three of my daughters (October 2014)

San Francisco, California, United States

Enjoying the beautiful view from the top of Twin Peaks (July 2015)

Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Exploring the ruins of Palenque during our Great Mexican Road Trip. (May 2014)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Three Months and Seven Days to an Approval

Mexico City to Tijuana
I haven't been able to sleep since I returned to Oregon. The journey home was exhausting but I made it with the help of some great friends and family. We had to leave for the Mexico City airport at 6am so we could beat the horrific rush hour and allow Victor to get back at a decent hour for work. Our flight didn't leave until 10:50am so we had to wait in the airport for a few hours. Maria made us fresh tamales last night so we sat and ate one for breakfast. Erika and Mia were bawling their eyes out when we had to say goodbye to José before entering the security gates. Erika has developed a very strong bond with José during our exile and that alone has been worth every hardship. My family has united and grown stronger together in ourselves and in our love for one another. All three of them had tears in their eyes as we parted. Mia sobbed the whole time we went through security and into our wait time at the game. Security kept inquiring as to why she was so upset as if I was kidnapping her and taking her away from a loved one so I had to explain that her father was being left behind.
Meeting Andrea in Tijuana
We flew on Interjet from Mexico City to Tijuana and they are a very interesting airlines. Each passenger is allowed up to 110 lbs of luggage and it is a total so you don't have to divide it evenly between two bags. You can actually take three bags and one can weigh 55# and the other 15# and 10# etc. Now this I wish I had known about 10 minutes prior as I was weighing my bags on the airport scale and rearranging everything. I suppose it was a necessary evil anyway since our second airlines didn't share the same baggage policy.
3 Kids, 9 Suitcases, and lots of carry-ons
We were able to save about $210 total by having a friend pick us up at the Tijuana airport and drive us across the border to the San Diego airport, thereby eliminating the higher taxes of an international flight. Andrea and I met online a few months ago in a Facebook group about scrapbooking Project Life style, where else?! She finally made the brave step forward to reunite her family together South of the Border and this was our first chance to meet in person. There had been other opportunities while we were both living in Oregon but busy lives and excuses got in the way far too often. Sometimes we don't realize the impact that our actions may have on one another but Andrea truly is the epitome of why I blog in the first place: to share my story and encourage others. Thank you Andrea for the reminder <3

Baby I'm Coming Home
The next leg was from San Diego to Portland on Southwest Airlines and you get two free suitcases with them as well so I returned with 9 suitcases and several carry-ons for no additional charges. Erika stowed her Kindle Fire in her bag just before landing but it turned up missing when we arrived. I got a call from the airlines two days later asking if she lost an electronic device so miracles do exist! She was pretty upset because I can't afford to replace it at this time. My ScrapDiva Corri picked us up from the Portland airport and brought us back to her house so we could stay the night. Aubrey and Erika has been friends since they were toddlers so they got the chance to visit and catch up that night while Corri and I did the same. I had a hard time sleeping that night and José called to wake me up at 7am and ask me to check his case. I was pretty groggy and couldn't understand what in the heck he was talking about. I know he's eager to come home but he better not expect me to wake up at the butt crack of dawn every month and check his case!! Well I pulled up the USCIS Case Status app on my phone and my mouth dropped open. Jose's I-601 Waiver was approved on the exact same day that I flew home from Mexico. Three months and seven days after our waiver was officially received, it was approved for a permanent resident visa so my husband is coming home!!!

It has got to be one of the sweetest feelings in my life aside from my birth of my three beautiful daughters but my family is going to be united again. My husband's hopes and dreams aren't going to be smashed by the American fist of callous immigration. It's going to take a month or so to get him home as there are a few more steps to take and I need to save up some money. The plan is for him to pack up everything and ship it via courier to Tijuana and I'll come down and pick him and the doggies up in a few weeks and we'll be coming home!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 165 in Exile: The Honeymoon is Over

I came into this with such high spirits and just knew it was going to be so much easier for me than everyone else. I'm the golden one, how could it be any other way? We are so fortunate with everything that we have; two cars that run fine, a monthly check for being alive albeit slightly mental, we're all healthy most of the time, I love Tlaxcala, and I got the best in-laws in the world, right?

I realized the honeymoon was over and reality was finally setting in on Saturday, Mother's Day here in Mexico. A young family member had complained of the beginning of a migraine headache. As I've never suffered one before, I can only judge this by hearsay from friends. A quiet room, no lights, rest and relax, and it will eventually pass in a few hours or whatnot. It slowly progressed into a full blown medical emergency in the living room with burning herbs, the town curadora, and all kinds of crazy medicine like burying the patient in multiple blankets to sweat out the fever, and after the house had been cleansed, we weren't allowed to step outside without wearing a sprig of something green. It only went downhill from there, one little thing adding on top of another forcing us to make a hard choice to leave our new home. José doesn't feel uncomfortable there either so it's going to be a rough summer as he tries to stay on the move visiting his sons and family in different areas.

Now I'm getting ready to board the plane to escape back to my beautiful Oregon while abandoning my husband in the process. I can't be two places at once but I can't handle being here for a few more months. The plan has always been to make our way south to live outside the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala in September. Things have slightly shifted in the last month because we are seeing I-601 approvals for people who have filed in January, February, March, and April. Our official receipt date is March 17 so it's possible that we might hear something any day. Now our plan has been adjusted to account for this new development. I had originally planned on waiting 6-8 months for our approval or denial but USCIS appears to be issuing decisions between 4-5 months now.

We have decided that if José is approved for the visa while the girls and I are still home in Bend, we will stay there, let our housesitters know that we are returning earlier than expected (ooops, so sorry but get the hell out), and start preparing to reintegrate into our American routines. Mia will start the first grade at their old school but since the 6th grade is the start of middle school of Oregon, Erika will be continuing her homeschool education in the house with me. I will try to find a part time job so I can help save up money and pay off any debt that we have remaining after I file bankruptcy next month.

A visa means that I can finally put money into my home without feeling like it would be a waste.
A denial means that we will be finding a third country to make our home in. We can always file a new waiver and spend another $585 but I'm not ready to do that again. We will make our way towards the Tijuana area and set up shop there until the end of the year. As long as I have a California residency, I will hopefully be able to continue claiming my unemployment benefits and support us as well as put away some money into savings. I have family in the San Diego area and lots of other exiled spouses in Tijuana for a support group. After the first of the year, we can pick up our original plans and move south to Guatemala.

Visa or not, I'm planning on taking the family to Spain next fall so I can teach as a part of Spain's Auxiliares en Conversación program and get my Master's and certifications to teach both English and Spanish. If things don't work out for us in the US, maybe we'll just stay there and get our Spanish citizenships.

So it's back to the United States for Erika, Mia, and I. We're not giving up, we're just preparing for the next phase in our journey. And when USCIS decides to update us on which direction our journey will be taking, you guys will be sure to know, right after I inform José and the girls ;)


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