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On Thursday the 12th of February, James, Elisabeth and I trekked to Mayfair to the US Embassy in order to register Elisabeth’s US citizenship and apply for her US passport. Once we got to the embassy, the whole process was fairly straightforward and quick, but we found that the information that we got from the embassy and on their website was not very helpful. Some of the information was incomplete or misleading and some of it was just incorrect. So I wanted to post this in the hopes that it might help other people in the future.

One of the things that the embassy thoroughly communicates is that mobile phones or any electronic devices are not allowed inside the embassy. They suggest leaving such things at left luggage facilities at one of the major train stations (Victoria being the closest). And I suppose if you drive to the embassy, you could leave mobile phones in your car. (Where you would park, I have no idea.) Since we weren’t thrilled with the thought of leaving our phones and James’ laptop at a left luggage facility and we don’t have a car (we wouldn’t drive into town anyway) and we weren’t about to leave our phones at home, James ended up leaving early and bringing our phones to his office in Shoreditch. When we got to the embassy, we discovered that actually we could have left our phones at security. That was a frustrating discovery to say the least. James probably wouldn’t have been able to leave his laptop at security, but we wouldn’t have needed to traverse the city separately sans mobile phones.

One of the things we were told we needed to provide was proof of our plans to travel on March 8th. Since we hadn’t thought to print out our e-ticket confirmation before the day of the appointment and don’t have a functioning printer at home, another reason for James’ early morning sprint to his office was to use his office printer. When we got to the embassy we discovered that they provide both computers and printers. So both reasons for James making the trip to his office before the appointment were both not necessary after all. Grrr. In the end, they didn’t even ask to see the proof of travel. It’s probably still wise to bring proof of travel along, but it’s good to know that if necessary, it’s possible to print things at the embassy.

Another source of stress for us that morning was that we both forgot to bring our cheque book to pay the fee. James spent 15 minutes running around Mayfair looking for a cash machine while Elisabeth and I waited outside the embassy. NB: If you even find yourself in Mayfair needing cash, just go straight to Oxford Street. There apparently are no cash machines in Mayfair. Even the Post Office in Grosvenor Street doesn’t have one. It seems that the limosine drivers just hold the residents’ cash for them. In any case, when we got to the payment window we found out that they don’t take cheques anyway, but they do take cash (pounds or dollars) and they do take credit cards. Had we known credit cards were a acceptable form of payment, James wouldn’t have wasted all that time running around looking for cash and again, we would have been spared some stress.

Finally, the instructions tell you to bring along a Special Delivery envelope to have the passport mailed back to you. I stopped at the post office on the way to the appointment to get a Special Delivery envelope, so we did have that with us. Then the first person who processed our application told us to go down to the lobby to buy a courier envelope which we did. It turns out that since we had the Special Delivery envelope, the courier envelope was redundant. Thankfully we were able to get a refund for the courier envelope which was a good thing because it cost £14.50 compared to £5.05 for the Special Delivery envelope.

While the morning could have been much less stressful than it was, ultimately we were successful in getting Elisabeth registered as a US citizen and applying for her passport. And her passport arrived in the post two days ago so we now have that in hand. We’re very much looking forward to getting her first stamp in her passport on March 8th!

Since Helen from Cheeky Wipes was so kind as to drop by my blog and leave a tip about warming up the wipes, I thought I would put up a little advertisement here.

About a month ago one of my friends from our NCT class sent around a link about Cheeky Wipes – re-usable wipes that you wash rather than using disposable ones that end up in landfills. Being a person who tries to live a conscientious and eco-friendly lifestyle, I thought this sounded like a good idea, so I ordered a starter pack.

I have to say I’ve been very impressed. Helen has put together a great product! The starter pack includes a pile of cloth wipes, two tubs – one for clean wipes and one for mucky ones, two different types of essential oil – one for each tub, a mesh bag to line the mucky wipes tub that can then be lifted right out and put in the wash, and two bags to take wipes on the go – one for clean wipes and one for mucky ones.

Everything is of a high quality and incredibly convenient to use. Also, part of Helen’s philosophy of business is to treat the customer as she would want to be treated, and she certainly succeeds in providing excellent customer service. Plus her website is very nice and easy to use. If saving the planet is this easy and this nice – not to mention much more cost effective over the long term – why wouldn’t you do it?

Two thumbs up for Cheeky Wipes. Highly recommended.

Two months

Dear Elisabeth,

Today you are two months old, and I hardly know where the last two months have gone. I have a feeling I’ll be saying that monthly…

You are an incredible joy to me and your daddy. We can hardly believe how lucky we are to be your parents. You are such a good baby! You hardly ever cry except when you’re hungry and impatient with waiting to get fed. Sometimes you get upset when you’re uncomfortable or want a change of scene or to be picked up, but you are never inconsolable. Most of the time you are content and happy and utterly delightful. You are a gorgeous child too – at least fifty times a day I tell you how beautiful and gorgeous and adorable and sweet you are! You are cutest when you are engaged and curious and into what’s going on around you.

Things you especially like include:

  • Riding in your buggy – most of the time you sleep but when you’re awake you look around curiously at everything passing by. You don’t like stopping, especially when there’s not much to see, and you can be quite vocal and insistent in your desire to get moving again.
  • Lying on your changing table – unless you are really hungry, you look around and kick happily and generally look quite delighted to be lying on your changing table while your daddy or I change your nappy. For the first few weeks of your life you really didn’t like having a new nappy put on, but you seem to have gotten past that. Now you just don’t like the cold wipes. I don’t really blame you.
  • Your daddy – Oh my word, you love your daddy, and it’s so cute the way you do! You stare and stare at him. You look to see where he’s gone when he goes out of your eyesight. And sometimes if he’s sitting next to me on the sofa when I’m trying to feed you, you stop eating to look over at him. The feeling is obviously mutual, and it makes me so happy to watch the two of you together.
  • Eating – You eat with gusto, little girl! Often you are so excited about eating, though, you have a hard time staying latched on and occasionally get sprayed in the face. You take it all in stride.
  • Mummy singing to you – I sing you songs from The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady as well as Sunday School songs that my mommy sang to me when I was your age. You seem to especially like “Do Re Mi” and “Edelweiss”.

This week when you turned two months old has been a week of lots of firsts. We finally started putting you in cloth nappies this week. They make you a lot more bulky but other than that are working out fine so far. You took a bottle (with mummy’s milk in it) from your daddy for the first time. You slept for six hours in a row during the night shattering your previous record of four and a half hours. And you got your first round of immunisations.

I love you so much, Elisabeth. I’m so glad you’re my daughter. And I’m so looking forward to seeing all the new things you will do in the next month!

Elisabeth at 8 weeks

Elisabeth at 8 weeks