When Amy was born there was SO much paperwork! We had to get her British birth certificate, send off for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a passport, and a Visa! We tried to follow recommendations and the No-Fee passport was the quickest to obtain. We were going back to the States soon and needed it quick, it took 4 months. Since we’ve been back and settled we’ve wanted to finally take advantage and do some traveling. Come to find out we are not supposed to travel for leisure on the no-fee passport and Amy needed a tourist passport. Seriously?!
I did my research, made an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in London, gathered all the necessary documents and booked a train ticket for last Thursday. Amy and I were out the door by 7AM and on the train to London by 8AM. I contemplated carrying her in the Ergo baby or using a “push chair” or as we call it a stroller. I wanted to enjoy a full day in London so I chose the latter. However, the Underground or Tube system is not known for it’s accessibility. So the day before I mapped out the accessible route to the Embassy and it was a hike if I took that route. So I brought the stroller AND the Ergo carrier in preparation to hoof it up the stairs. We made it to Kings Cross walked past Platform 9 and 3/4 and headed to the Underground. It was, of course, rush hour and packed!! I decided not to strap Amy on just yet and see what I ran into. To my astonishment each and every time I came to a set of stairs a stranger offered to help me up or down with in 5 seconds of approaching the stairs! Or escalator! In fact the first experience was an escalator and this man in a beautiful suit offered to help me down the escalator. Like always, I said no at first saying I’ve never done this before and I was very unsure. He assured me it was no bother and that they had the same push chair. Ok… down we went. It was cake. “Cheers, kind sir!”
I walked the rest of the way to the Embassy with a huge smile on my face and reassured about the kindness of strangers. Then we were crossing Grosvenor Park towards the Embassy and a Taxi did not stop to allow us to cross at the crosswalk like he should have. This man in a flourescent linen suit with flourescent green shoes and Woody Allen glasses said to me, “nice people huh?” Well, actually I was feeling pretty good about mankind so I said back, “I just smile.” To which he said, “That’s right love, just smile.” Here he is crossing the park. The Embassy is that huge 70’s style building on the right. It takes up an entire block.
There was a huge line so I was glad we got there early. Wait…I realized the line was for Visas. We did that already so I looked around and there was a woman sitting at a podium looking bored with a sign that said passports. Sweet! This is going well. We went through airport-like security, went inside, were given a number based on what we needed and our documents were reviewed to make sure we had everything. There was an amazing play area and a few kids Amy was in heaven! A 5 year old boy took her under his wing and they were in love by the end of the day. Amy was laughing and leaning in for kisses!! Uh oh! His brother asked me if the milk in Amy’s sippy cup was from my and pointed to his chest!! Ummm no it’s from the store. Blush.
We were called up to submit our forms, then over to another window to pay, then waited about 40 minutes to be called up again. When we were, there was a problem. The consent Derek had notarized was not done correctly by the notary! Oh no. They were going to have to call a supervisor but it didn’t look good. They asked if there was any way he could come. My response was he is at work and I just took the train an hour alone with an 18 month old. She nodded looking empathetic. Ugh. Seriously! The notary had used his SSN to document his military ID as proof of ID but the Military ID doesn’t have his SSN on it so it was not a valid consent for Amy to get her passport. Please take a seat and we’ll call you up again! Deep breath Sara, you haven’t gotten a definite no yet! She called me up two more times and finally said because we have his passport to match his signature on the consent we feel his intent is for her to get a passport. So I sat down again and about 15 minutes later had an emergency passport in my hands! WOO HOO!! I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the appointment but this was the best case scenario! We didn’t have to document an emergency, I never said we had one, just that we had travel plans in the next week. That accounts for an emergency? Ummm ok. The passport expires in 6 months (we’ll be back in the States) and we can renew it within a year and not have to pay for another passport! It’ll be good for 10 years. We may have to update the photo but I’m not sure how that works. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 🙂
I met another military wife in the waiting room, they are stationed at the base where I went for OB appointments. She has 3 children and her mother was with her to help. Her husband deployed 2 weeks ago to Afghanistan. She offered to help me down the steps to the bathroom with Amy’s stroller while carrying her 3 year old. I had already picked the whole thing up and had it so I said, “Thanks I think I’ve got it.” She said, “As military wives it’s what we do isn’t it?” We got it. I told her I’d only been a military spouse for 3 years but that I was so often in awe of the community and the stamina military spouses have! Derek and I were stationed here only 10 months when 3 women offered to throw me a baby shower, there are spouses who have 2 and 3 kids and their significant other gets deployed for 18 months and they handle it with grace, women have babies with their moms as their birth coaches because their husbands are deployed, they organize support for each other constantly and don’t complain! I don’t feel I deserve the same praise spouses who have been with their service member since they were at the academy or went off to OCS do, they’re amazing. This woman had lived in Korea when her third child was born, moved back to Alabama for her husband to take a year of flight school and now is living in England but he is deployed. Wow! I met Derek when he had already served 15 years but most of the spouses I meet have been with their significant other their entire career. They are amazing and have my complete and total respect. The woman I met is named Julie and I will never forget her and how grateful I am for her and all the others, like her, who completely support their spouse and raise their families sometimes with a partner and sometimes with an absent one. There are so many sacrifices they make everyday for an entire career. I was and often am very moved and proud to be part of this community.
So we left with a passport!! I texted all my friends who were waiting to hear how it went and I called Derek. I looked up the closest Chipotle because I wanted to celebrate. We walked the half mile and the line was out the door! In 5 months I can have all the Chipotle I want. I looked down and Amy and she was crashed. So I kept walking to let her sleep.
We ended up where I alway do on Marylebone High Street. I have always been a creature of habit and I love Daunt Books! So we found the cafe Amy, Kristi, Rachel & I went to when they were visiting and I ordered and ate and she slept! This was a miracle. She woke up to find her favorite sausage and chips!
I can’t remember the name of the cafe but it is where Amy H. snapped one of my favorite shots of Amy B. to this day!
We bought an Olivia book and a couple Chairlie and Lola books at Daunts and slowly made our way back to the Underground station taking some awesome photos along the way!
Definiteyly my favorite photo of the day! Hooray Buckingham Palace!
When I showed this series of photos to Derek he spoke for Amy, “Dad, Mom stuck me in the daffodills AGAIN!” 🙂 I can’t help it! And as you can see they are starting to fade 😦 Tulips are up next!
Then we got back on the Underground and the train home.
Rockin’ what my sister and I call the Chilean or Spanish Mullet
It was a long day, a day with my girl, a day full of new experiences, kind people, amazing people and “We Got It!” We called Derek when we got to our car and got the best news. He is going to start working a normal day shift again! Still working weekends but day shift!! The best part was he’d be home in a couple hours! So proud of him, he’s been working so hard and he too deserves Amy & me at home supporting him. “We got it!” xoxo